Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens
Nestled in lush, tropical foliage, the Central Florida Zoo is home to 23 acres of native gardens and more than 500 animals. It also features an insect zoo, a reptile house, a childrens area with animals you can feed and pet, a splash playground, and the Seminole Aerial Adventures zip-line attraction. The zoo is located in Sanford, about 40 minutes north of our main tourism districts.
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex
Head to Floridas east coast, about an hour from our main tourism districts, to explore the past, present and future of space travel without ever leaving earth. Admission to Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex nets you the chance to see Space Shuttle Atlantis and the Saturn V moon rocket, plus a wealth of other artifacts, replicas and displays, but the fun doesnt stop there. You can also experience Heroes & Legends, an immersive experience where the stories of NASAs pioneering astronauts come to life, plus other features.
Eat Everything Including The Kitchen Sink
It has 28 ingredients total. Five different kinds of ice cream. Seven different kinds of sweet sauces. Eight tablespoons of various toppings. And not one cherry, but an entire half cup of cherries on top.
Its the legendary Kitchen Sink dessert at Beaches and Cream, the ice cream parlor at Disneys Beach Club Resort. That is my kind of dessert.
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Enjoy Some Al Fresco Animation During A Disney Movie Under The Stars
Theres no question that Disney movies are beloved throughout the world. Heck, theyre the reason the Disney parks even exist. So, its only right that you should have a chance to watch one or two during your visit. Luckily, Mickey has you covered with Disney Movies Under the Stars. Available at all Disney resorts, these complimentary movie screenings by moonlight are a magical, lowkey way to end a day of theme park adventures. Movie schedules change frequently, so be sure to ask for the most up-to-date calendar at the front desk.
/2 Swimming At The Disney Water Parks
Sure swimming at the resort pool is great but what if you want to cool down and still enjoy theme park rides at the same time?! Splashing and swimming at either Typhoon Lagoon or Blizzard Beach water park is so much fun for preschoolers! We took my kids on the last trip and wished wed be able to spend more than just a half-day at each.
Theres so much for preschoolers to do at these water parks from mini-slides, splash pads and water play activities. Theres even a lazy river with overhead water falls and big wave pools. There are complimentary life jackets in a variety of sizes available for young kids, pre-swimmers or those who dont feel comfortable in the water yet.
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Track Down Some African Animals At The Disney Animal Kingdom Lodge
Animal Kingdom Theme Park is a wildlife watchers dream, and the same can be said for Disneys Animal Kingdom Lodge. Enveloped by African savannas teeming with animals, the resort has tons of opportunities for wildlife encounters no room reservation necessary. The animal viewing locations just off the hotel lobbies have great views of giraffes and zebra roaming. Plus, theyre often staffed by animal experts to answer any questions you might have or hand out night-vision goggles in the evening. Or, spend some money on an official safari like the Sense of Africa tour or Starlight Safari.
Dining In Animal Kingdom
- The Yak n Yeti is one of our favorite places to eat in this park it serves delicious Asian food and cocktails.
- If you want to see some Disney characters during your meal, dont skip the best buffet at Tusker House, featuring Mickey and Minnie in safari gear and the popular jungle juice my kids are obsessed with.
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Try A Guided Fishing Excursion Along The Many Waterfronts At Disney World
Experienced fishers and newbies of all ages can enjoy fishing at Disney World, both in guided fishing excursions along locations at Bay Lake, Seven Seas Lagoon, Village Lake, Crescent Lake, and World Showcase Lagoon or try dockside fishing at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort Riverside. You don’t need to bring any equipment just a sense of adventure and sun protection, and you’re good to go.
Sing Along At Jellyrolls
We had a BLAST singing along to popular tunes as we sipped beer, ate popcorn and spent four hours at Jellyrolls one Saturday night.
This dueling piano bar is 21 and over, and not to be missed if youre of age . We even stepped outside to see the Epcot fireworks that night and went right on back in with our hand-stamp when they were over. Note there isnt food here aside from popcorn so dont go hungry. You can always grab a bite at a place like Big River Grill, just a few shops down from Jellyrolls, before the show.
Jellyrolls is currently open Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday starting at 7:00pm. They charge a $15-$20 admission fee, which they accept either credit or cash for. Its worth EVERY PENNY!
They dont have a break or intermission because two sets of dueling piano performers simply rotate throughout the evening, until they close just before 2:00am.
Note they dont take reservations but seats fill up fast. That being said as people come and go as they please its entirely possible to get a table any time throughout the evening. Timing is everything!
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Start Collecting Sorcerers Of The Magic Kingdom Trading Cards
Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom Cards games objective is to stop Hades grand plan by defeating Disney villains who can be found in portals throughout the park.
There are 60 cards you can get for free that are given out in blind packs of 5.
Each time you start a new game, youll receive a fresh pack of cards. However, each new pack is only given out once per day to the same person.
Enjoy The Electrical Water Pageant
The Electrical Water Pageant is a floating light parade that takes place every evening on Walt Disney Worlds Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake. It features 14 floats with lights that depict images of sea creatures.
The Electrical Water Pageant is free and can be easily viewed from the shores of Disneys Grand Floridian, Polynesian and Contemporary Resorts. One of our favorite things to do outside the parks is order a Dole Whip at the Pineapple Lanai at Disneys Polynesian Resort and watch the parade from their beach!
Walt Disney World is filled with a seemingly endless array of things to do with kids outside the parks as well as in. Whatever activities you choose to fill your days, your family is sure to have an amazing time!
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Rent A Sea Racer Mouse Boat
There are several places on property you can rent motorized boats. Its likely if theres a marina at the resort they have boat rentals. Our favorite boat is the little two-seater Sea Racers. We lovingly call them mouse boats.
The rentals are under $35 per half hour. We saw kids zipping under the Boardwalk driving them, having a blast.
Things To Do At Disney Resorts
The resorts have an extensive array of activities to keep guests of all ages well entertained. And you arent limited to just the activities at your Disney World resort. Use Disney transportation to visit any of the other resorts and check out their offerings.
Quite frankly, I think this list of things to do at Disney resorts is probably not even close to complete. There really are just that many things to do at the resorts.
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Chip N Dales Campfire Sing
Chip n Dales Campfire Sing-A-Long at The Campsites at Fort Wilderness Lodge is a family fun way to end the evening. Purchase a Smores kit and roast marshmallows and sing songs with Chip n Dale. This free activity is offered to all guests and even visitors to the resort can attend. Other Walt Disney World resorts have campfires but Chip n Dale are only at the campsites.
Wander Through The Wilderness
The Wilderness Lodge, that is. Inspired by the great lodges of the Pacific Northwoods and American West, this Disney resort has a penchant for rustic theming, stick-to-your-ribs comfort foods, and an adventurous spirit. Theres even an ode to one of Yellowstone National Parks most popular attractions. Like Old Faithful, Fire Rock Geyser at Disneys Wilderness Lodge is on a schedule. Tucked at the back of the resort near the pool, the geyser erupts every hour on the hour between the hours of 7am and 10pm. Thats a whole lot more precise than its inspiration, Old Faithful! Grab a Magic Cookie Bar from Roaring Fork or an outdoorsy cocktail from Geyser Point Bar & Grill, then stop by Fire Rock Geyser for the show.
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Fireworks From The Polynesian
The beach behind Polynesian Village Resort is a great spot to watch the Magic Kingdom fireworks from outside the park. You wont get the projections, obviously, but you will typically get the music, as the speakers along the beach play the Happily Ever After music during the show.
Keep in mind that on dates with Mickeys Not So Scary Halloween Party and Mickeys Very Merry Christmas Party, Happily Ever After is not showed, and Ive read mixed reports about the music being played at Polynesian for these events.
You can pair this with a visit to any one of Polynesians restaurants or bars, but Trader Sams Tiki Terrace, the outdoor part of Trader Sams, is an obvious option.
Disneyland Resort And Disney Resort Hotels
Stay in the magic at a Disney Resort hotel and experience all of the glitzy décor, gingerbread displays and seasonal menu items your heart can handle. Wondering where to begin? Start by reading our Disney Rewards Dining Perks Guide to map out select dining locations where you can save 10% most days by using your Disney Visa Card.34
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Visit Disneys Boardwalk For Free
You can visit Disneys Boardwalk for free at any time. The Boardwalk Resort allows you to park for free for a few hours so you can watch the various talented street performers solo or with your family.
You can also enjoy all of the delicious dining options and nightlife happening on the Boardwalk every day!
Enjoy The Free Live Entertainment
Disney Springs has so many local bands for you to enjoy. You can find them in areas such as:
- The Westside food truck courtyard area
- Area near Paddlefish
- Next to Ghirardelli Chocolate Shop
Disney Springs entertainment usually starts around 7 p.m. during most evenings during the peak season.
The perks dont stop there either.
In addition to the free things to do at Disney, there are a variety of souvenirs you can pick up before you exit the parks at no additional cost to you.
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Kings Dining & Entertainment
This is the perfect place to bowl, eat and lounge in a comfortable, fun and luxurious environment. Located on International Drive, Kings Dining & Entertainment features 22 bowling lanes, billiards, ping pong and even bocce ball, plus two premium bars serving innovative cocktails. It also boasts a chef-designed menu centered around fresh takes on American classics.
Enjoy Professional Golf Lessons Or Even A Round Of Miniature Golf
Disney has four official golf courses on property, along with one at the Four Seasons Orlando, so golfers from the age of 7 and up can try a professional golf lesson taught by a PGA instructor for a memorable vacation experience.
If you’re more into the idea of a leisurely round of miniature golf, Griswold notes that the two mini golf locations Disney’s Fantasia Gardens and Disney’s Winter Summerland are “often overlooked,” but a great way to relax and have fun outside the parks, and still feature Disney’s signature theming and attention to detail.
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Go Disney Resort Hopping
Disney World resorts have a lot to offer, whether youre staying there or not, including incredible theming, delicious restaurants and bars, unique Disney experiences, hands-on activities, stunning Christmas decorations during the holidays, and so much more. If youve got some time to spare, we highly recommend you pop in for a visit to some of these amazing hotels.
You Don’t Need To Stay At A Deluxe Resort To Enjoy Some Cardio Though Try A Jogging Trail
Griswold notes that the many jogging trails and paths at Disney World are a great way to clear your mind and go for a jog, without the breakneck pace of park-hopping. They’re also great for leisurely strolls, too, taking in the sights and sounds of the resorts without worrying about making that Fastpass+ reservation or combing through crowds to get somewhere.
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The Best Things To Do Outside The Parks At Disney World
From mini-golf to big-time flavors, here’s the best way to spend your time at Disney World without going into the theme parks. No ticket required!
There could be many reasons that you might want to skip the parks entirely on a day or two during your Walt Disney World vacation. Maybe youve just arrived in Orlando in the afternoon and dont want to use your precious Disney World park ticket on a partial day. Maybe you got a great deal on a 4 day ticket, even though youll be in Orlando for 6 days. Or maybe youre a bit worn out in the middle of your vacation and need a break. Whether its due to schedule, budget, or energy, taking an off-day from the parks is a great idea, and a tip that we give to our readers regularly. But whats the best way to spend those vacation days when you dont head into the theme parks?
It depends on you! There is so much to do at and around Disney World thats not in the parks that you could spend an entire vacation without stepping foot inside the parks and still have a week full of activities, adventures, and amazing food. These are the best activities to do outside of Disney Worlds theme parks no ticket required.
Get Your Sweat On With Disney Resort Fun Runs
Hoping to keep your workout routine intact while you indulge in all that Disney food? Dont miss out on Sunday Runday with one of the Disney resort fun runs . Both Coronado Springs and Port Orleans French Quarter host their own fun runs, clocking in at 1.7 and 1.5 miles, respectively. At the end of your jog, youll be rewarded with a finishers pin or medallion, as well as a morning pastry. Not sure which one to do? Let your sweet tooth be your guide. At the Port Orleans French Quarter Fun Run, youll be treated to a sugary beignet. While over at Coronado Springs, youll earn yourself a magdalena, a Spanish muffin made with lemon and olive oil.
Well intrepid Disney World explorers, that wraps up our list of fun, unique, and occasionally off-the-beaten-path things to do at Disney World that arent in the theme parks. One thing is certain, no matter which you choose, youre sure to leave with an unforgettable memory.
Hoping to maximize your time in the parks so you can spend even more time out of them? Take a look at our one-day plans for Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom. And, why not save some extra cash in the process? Check out our discount Disney World tickets to make your trip budget stretch further.
Whats your favorite thing to do outside the theme parks? Is there anything we left off of our list? Let us know in the comments!
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Dining Options For Every Budget
If youre anything like me, youre a firm believer that Disney has the best snacks and meals on planet earth! You can find anything from McDonalds to AAA 5-Diamond award winning culinary experiences on property. Therefore, there arent any budgets Disney cant accommodate.
Disney is well known for its iconic and beloved characters. Therefore, it makes sense Disney would create a meet and greet that would delight guests both while meeting their favorite characters and eating in between! Its called character dining and some of the best locations for it, believe it or not, are outside of the theme parks.
1900 Park Fare at The Grand Floridian is one of the most popular Character Dining Experiences! At this location, youll mingle with Mary Poppins, Alice in Wonderland and friends and Winnie the Pooh and friends at breakfast. Or join the princesses at dinner while stuffing your tummy full of everything from delectable carving station meats, seafood, pasta and more ! Other character dining locations outside the parks include
- Chef Mickeys at The Contemporary Resort with Mickey Mouse & his friends
- Ohana at The Polynesian Village with Lilo and Stitch
- Cape May Cafe at The Beach Club Resort with Minnie Mouse and friends.