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36 Free Things to Do at Disney World Outside the Parks!

Dragon leading the Electrical Water Parade in Seven Seas Lagoon Photo Credit: Walt Disney World Travel Company

Many of us go to Disney World and are hard-core park attendees. If we\’re in Orlando, we\’re going to the Disney parks! However, there are others who enjoy a down day or two–a chance to explore other areas of Disney World outside the parks and (GASP) even some things that are free or are included with your resort stay!

These are also great things to do on your arrival or departure day if you have lots of extra time!

  1. Hear Yeehaw Bob at Port Orleans Riverside.

  2. Watch the Electrical Water Pageant from the Contemporary, Wilderness Lodge, Polynesian, Fort Wilderness or Grand Floridian beach areas (around 9 pm).

  3. Attend Chip & Dale’s campfire/sing-along, nightly at 7pm behind the Meadow Trading Post at

Chip & Dale\’s Campfire Sing-Along

Fort Wilderness. Movie begins approximately 7:40pm. The Fort Wilderness staff will provide a campfire; bring your marshmallows, hot dogs and sticks if you have them. Marshmallows and sticks are available for purchase at $2 for 2 sticks and plenty of marshmallows; $5 for a s\’mores kit. The movie shown is different each night of the week. In the event of inclement weather, a \”Porch Jam\” sing-a-long will take place at the Ol\’ Meadow Swimmin\’ Hole. Movie & Sing-a-Long free of charge. Note: All movies & characters are outside! Campfire Show is held nightly if weather is good.

  1. Watch Wishes (fireworks) from the Polynesian beach area or Grand Floridian beach area.

  2. Ride the monorail. 

  3. Check out other resorts—each is uniquely themed!

  4. Enjoy the pool at your resort—most have fun activities

  5. Watch a movie at night at your resort (Movie Under the Stars)

  6. Go to Disney Springs to browse—build Legos at the Lego store, check out the stores, people watch, or find live entertainment.

  7. Walk the Boardwalk at the Boardwalk Inn; they often have live entertainment like jugglers,

Entertainer at the Boardwalk

fire-eaters, musicians, magicians, etc. 

  1. Go to Wilderness Lodge.  See the Old Faithful geyser near the pool.  This is also a great location to see the Electrical Water Parade.

  2. View the animals at Animal Kingdom Lodge.  At night, you can view with night vision goggles!  They usually have someone out at the observation deck who can tell you more about the animals.  Many of the cast members at Animal Kingdom Lodge are from Africa—it’s a great place to meet people from other cultures.

  3. Take the boat from Port Orleans Riverside or French Quarter to Downtown Disney on the Sassagoula River

  4. Ride the boat from the Yacht and Beach Club or Boardwalk to the back entrance to Epcot, or all the way to Hollywood Studios.

  5. Ride the ferry from the TTC to Magic Kingdom

  6. Ride the boat from Fort Wilderness or Wilderness Lodge to the Contemporary or Magic Kingdom.  Pay attention to the water bridge on this ride.  There are only a few in the world!  Water goes over the bridge, not cars!

  7. Search for Hidden Mickeys!  (Ask at the front desk of any resort for a list at that particular resort!)

  8. Play in the fountain at Disney Springs.

  9. Visit Cinderella\’s white carriage horses at the stables at Fort Wilderness! You might even get to see them being fed or give them a pat!

  10. Check out the activities for your resort—they vary from cookie decorating to trivia games, pool games, ping pong, duck races, chalk art, water balloons, campfires and/or storytelling, dance parties, outdoor movies or Bingo!

  11. Enjoy a playground at one of the Disney resorts

  12. Have a car? Visit Celebration!  Disney has its own town.  It is like going back in time and it\’s neat to see. 

  13. Talk to resort employees about historical Disney events.  John Lennon signed the contract to break up the Beatles at the Polynesian.  Richard Nixon gave his “I am not a crook” speech at the Contemporary Hotel.

  14. Listen to some jazz at Port Orleans French Quarter Scat Cat’s Club

  15. Boardwalk Ballyhoo Tour (9:00 am, 45 min tour):  meet at Belle Vue Lounge inside Boardwalk Inn at 8:45 am

  16. Watch a game at the ESPN Club at Boardwalk

  17. Watch the Parasol Parade at the Grand Floridian (Mon and Fri at 8:00 am)

  18. Take a culinary tour at Animal Kingdom Lodge (visits Sanaa and Boma)

  19. Hear the Grand Floridian Lobby Society Orchestra or listen to the Grand Floridian Lobby

Grand Floridian Lobby Society Orchestra Photo Credit: Walt Disney World Travel Company

pianist at the Grand Floridian.

  1. Around the Christmas holiday, visit the resorts to see the beautiful themed decorations! Don\’t miss the campers and RVs decorated at Disney\’s Fort Wilderness!

  2. Go for a run! Each resort has a jogging trail–some more picturesque than others! Ask at the resort front desk for a map or directions.

  3. Visit All Star Movies, Pop Century, or Art of Animation and take some photos with the larger than life icons–Andy\’s room set up (All Star Movies), all the cars from the

Ballew and Mowgli at Pop Century

movie Cars (Art of Animation), a 3-story tall King Tritan or a giant Mowgli and Ballew (from The Jungle Book).

  1. Take a walk around the grounds of any resort. Some lovely ones to explore are Port Orleans French Quarter, Port Orleans Riverside, Boardwalk, Grand Floridian and Beach Club.

  2. Visit the stables at Fort Wilderness and the horses that work on Main Street in Magic Kingdom. Watch the blacksmith make horseshoes or change horseshoes!

  3. Build a sand castle! While you can\’t swim in the water, you can still play in the sand on the beach at Beach Club, Wilderness Lodge, Polynesian, Grand Floridian, and Caribbean Beach (and others).

  4. Get in a workout at the fitness rooms at Coronado Springs or any of the Deluxe resorts. (Resort guests only)

Susan Burks is a Disney travel planner at WishdrawalsTravel, a

military wife, and a homeschooling mom to a 

robot-programming, space-loving 11 year old!  

She and her family love visiting Disney World and taking Disney cruises. With six Disney cruises under her belt, she is now preparing to embark on a seventh Disney Cruise–this time to Norway–and planning her next Disney World visit, too!

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