What to do on days you aren’t at the parks at Disney World

For whatever reason, there might be a day or two in your Walt Disney World vacation where you don’t end up going to a park. Sometimes it’s because you get in late or it’s the day you are checking out, sometimes you purposely schedule a down day to regroup and get your energy back. Having an off day or scheduling some off time is always a great idea. Remember, the point of a Walt Disney World vacation is to enjoy yourself, not feel like you’re at work, meticulously going by a schedule to pack everything in. Here are six great options that you could devote a whole or half day to and work on getting your energy levels back to normal.

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Each Disney World pool is unique.

1.Pool Time
Save for a couple exceptionally cold days in the winter, it’s basically swimming season all year round in Florida. Most kids go absolutely nuts around the pool, and Disney has done a great job of catering towards kids’ interests. More and more splash zones are popping up at Disney pools, and there are some very cool pool area themes depending on what hotel you are staying at. The Yacht and Beach Clubs’ Stormalong bay is very popular, with a sandy bottom lazy river, and shipwreck waterslide, it’s almost like a mini water park. Caribbean Beach’s pirate theme allows you to explore like a pirate on the open seas. And even the value resorts will have larger than life statues to immerse you in the theme. Disney pools have several lifeguards on staff, and there are complimentary lifejackets for the little ones. So grab your refillable drink mug and sunglasses, and relax to the sounds of some of your favorite music (and splashing kids) and soak up some rays and relaxation.

downtown-disney-00-full2. Downtown Disney
Downtown Disney (DTD) is currently undergoing a massive renovation to be reopened as Disney Springs. What you can expect from Disney Springs is even more dining and shopping, mixed with some entertainment. Heading to DTD can take a long time depending on what hotel you are staying at, so make sure you give yourself plenty of time to get there and back. DTD is a great place if you saw something in the park but forgot to buy it then and are now having buyers remorse. The World of Disney Store will have what you need, but the Disney themed stores don’t end there. You can look for toys, art, candy, and even Christmas Disney themed trinkets. And if eating is your thing, there is something for everyone, from food trucks and grabbing a quick bite, to more formal steak and seafood restaurants. This is a great non-park day stop, especially if your definition of relaxation is retail therapy.

Q4-29 Winter-Summerland June 1999    MRA3. Mini Golf
If you’re looking to do something with your kids, why not try some miniature golf? Disney World has two mini-golf courses, Fantasia Gardens, located by the Dolphin hotel, and Winter Summerland at Blizzard Beach. If you are staying on property and purchased a package, you will probably get a coupon for minigolf in your package info packet. Because it’s a Disney mini golf course, you can expect terrific theming and creative shots to keep the whole family interested.

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The Boardwalk has places to eat, shop, drink, and relax.

4. The Boardwalk
Some people don’t know that you can visit the boardwalk area even if you are not staying at an Epcot resort (Boardwalk, Beach Club, Yacht Club, Swan, and Dolphin.) The Boardwalk has some restaurants, surrey bikes to rent, and street performers throughout the day. Or you could take a stroll all the way around the lagoon to take in the beautiful sites. Almost like a mini Downtown Disney, the boardwalk has everything from hot dog stands to more upscale options. There are even some nightclubs if you’re interested in evening entertainment. If you want to get there and aren’t staying close to Epcot, you can always get on the bus to Hollywood Studios and walk or take the boat over. If you are driving, there is parking across the street.

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Enjoying the food and dancing at the Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue

5. Dinner Shows
Going to a dinner show is another great option for an off day since you won’t need a park ticket to get to any of them. The Spirit of Aloha show is located at the Polynesian hotel, and both the Hoop Dee Doo Revue and Mickey’s Backyard BBQ are at Fort Wilderness. If you are on the Disney Dining plan, you can use two table service credits for these shows. They are roughly two hours long and pack some good food and entertainment into that time. While you are at Fort Wilderness, you could also have your kid ride a pony, or even go on a horse drawn carriage ride. Plus, alcohol is included which never hurts.

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Your Disney World hotel has more going on than you might even know.

6. Enjoy the activities at your hotel
When you check into your hotel, they should give you an activities sheet of things that are going on around your hotel that week. This might include activities for kids like making a craft or decorating cookies, it might be learning how to make towel animals, it might be movies under the stars or a campfire. Sometimes there will be singers or musicians depending on the time of year or the hotel. When you take some time to really enjoy your hotel, you might not feel as bad about the extra money you decided to spend to upgrade yourself, because suddenly you can see the value that higher-priced resorts offer.

So whether you feel like shopping, eating, or doing something new for your kids, Disney World is much more than just the parks. This is just a small list of extras to experience on your vacation. If you’re looking for even more, make sure to contact me. There is truly something for every interest, ability, and age. When you stop and take some time to slow down and relax, you will probably find everything more enjoyable (your own family included.)

Getting Around Using Walt Disney World Transportation

If you have ever been to Disney World, it doesn’t take long to notice the sheer size of the place. It really is it’s own city (about twice the size of Manhattan), complete with a variety of transportation methods to get around. While it is sometimes really cool to think that in one day, you might have been on a plane, train, bus, monorail, boat, and spaceship, it can get confusing knowing when to use what, and how to get around. This post will provide a basic rundown of getting around using the Walt Disney World transportation system.

 

Monorail entering the Contemporary

Monorail entering the Contemporary

Monorail:
The monorail’s iconic yet futuristic design makes it a favorite mode of transportation for people of all ages. It is a great way to travel in the sky and get some great views of the property. Knowing that there are 3 different monorail tracks will help you determine what you have to do to get to where you want to go. Track 1 is the resort monorail, and makes stops at the Contemporary, Transportation and Ticket Center, Polynesian, Grand Floridian, and the Magic Kingdom (in that order). This is why if you are staying at the Contemporary, it might make more sense to walk to the Magic Kingdom. You will get there way before the monorail makes it all the way around the lake. Track 2 is called the Express Monorail. It only makes stops at the Transportation and Ticket Center and the Magic Kingdom. If you drove to the Magic Kingdom, a tram will transport you to the Transportation and Ticket Center. The Express Magic Kingdom monorail will get you there faster than the one that stops at all the hotels, but even the resort monorail will get you there if you need to use it. Finally, Track 3 takes you back and forth from the Transportation and Ticket Center to Epcot. When you travel to Epcot, the monorail actually goes over the park to provide some excellent views. So let’s say I’ve been chillin at Epcot all day but I need to get to the Magic Kingdom for dinner reservations. The best way would be to hop the monorail back to the Transportation and Ticket Center, switch to the Express Magic Kingdom monorail, and then you’re there.

Ferry heading to Magic Kingdom

Ferry heading to Magic Kingdom

Ferry:
There are 3 Ferry boats that transport guests from the Transportation and Ticket Center to the Magic Kingdom. Currently, they are building another dock so both Ferries can load or unload guests at the same time.

Friendship boat heading back from Epcot

Friendship boat heading back from Epcot

Boats:
There are many options to getting around the Walt Disney World property by boat. Allow me to break it down for you. You can get to the Magic Kingdom by boat from the Grand Floridian, Polynesian, Wilderness Lodge, and Fort Wilderness. These resorts all transport back and forth across the lake. You can get to Epcot and/or Disney’s Hollywood studios on a Friendship boat at the Yacht/Beach Club, Boardwalk, or Swan/Dolphin. The boats go in the order of Epcot, Boardwalk, Yacht/Beach, Swan/Dolphin, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Swan/Dolphin, Yacht/Beach, Boardwalk, Epcot. This entire loop takes about 25 minutes or so. Lastly, if you want to get to Downtown Disney, you can take a boat to and from Port Orleans French Quarter and Riverside. Old Key west and Saratoga Springs also have boats that travel to and from Downtown Disney (name soon to be changed to Disney Springs). Don’t forget that at most hotels, you can also rent boats if you’re feeling one with the water.

Enjoying my own private bus

Enjoying my own private bus

Bus:
The bus is the primary mode of transportation to the parks. If a hotel was not mentioned in any of the above transportation sections, the only way to get around is by bus. If a hotel was mentioned, but only about going to one particular destination, all other transportation from that hotel will be by bus. For example, from the Beach Club, I can take a boat to Epcot and Hollywood Studios, but I will have to take a bus to get directly to the Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Downtown Disney, Blizzard Beach, and Typhoon Lagoon (assuming I do not

Bus stop from Port Orleans

Bus stop from Port Orleans

have a park hopper pass). A couple things to keep in mind about the buses. Value resorts have separate lines depending on where you want to go and are not covered, therefore you may be waiting in rain or extreme heat. Moderate and Deluxe resorts have bus stops where you have to keep an eye on what bus is coming. They are covered, and some of them have fans and vending machines for a little additional comfort. Also, be aware that the buses at Downtown Disney will take on guests from a couple hotels. This can tack on additional travel time, so plan accordingly. At times it has taken me almost an hour to get back to the Contemporary from Downtown Disney.

Walkway to Epcot

Walkway to Epcot

Foot:
At the very start of your vacation, when you are still bright eyed and bushy tailed, you may want to forgo Disney transportation and just walk to a park. You are able to walk from the Contemporary to the Magic Kingdom, and from the Boardwalk, Yacht Club, Beach Club, Swan, and Dolphin to both Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios (depending on which hotel you are staying it may be a 5 -25 minute walk).

The Disney property is a magical place to be. I’d recommend making every minute matter by using a variety of transportation — there are few places on earth that offer free rides on boats, trains, busses, and especially monorails. With a small amount of planning and a keen sense of adventure, it’s really easy to make transportation to the park attractions as much of an attraction as the parks themselves.