Best Non-Park Things To Do At Disney World

In case you didn't notice from my recent social media updates, but I've just gotten back from popping back to Florida for a week! Yes, I know it was less than a month after we got back from our US road trip, but it was for my sister's wedding and seeing as we grew up visiting Florida on our family holidays the place has always held a special place in our hearts it seemed inevitable that at least one of us was bound to get married over there (although I'm sure most of our family would have bet their money on it being me!) Anyway, seeing as we'd only been in Orlando this September just gone and given that the park tickets are kind of eye-watering when it comes to price, we prioritised visiting parks that had received new attractions since our last visit and skip the Disney parks altogether.

I knew this would be difficult - as much as I don't think the Orlando Disney parks are the best in the world I do absolutely love them and think Florida is bloody magical so I wasn't sure how I'd feel driving down the 192 and catching a glimpse of Tower of Terror as we sped past. Turns out it was weird as hell and made me come home gagging for another Disney trip, so looks like we're off to Paris in November for a fix! But anyway, just because we didn't actually go INTO the parks (although we did discuss realistically how difficult it would be to just run in the park and dive in a queue seeing as they don't have turnstiles?) doesn't mean we didn't manage to get a dose of Disney magic. We spent a fair bit of time on property and it actually made me appreciate just how much non-park stuff there is to do, and even then we only scratched the surface! Here's my recommendations for the best non-park things to do at Disney World!

Boat Hire
Whenever I visit the Resort I always try to make some time to explore on or two of the Resort hotels. Realistically I don't think I'd ever stay at one - given that I personally don't think the room quality is that great for the price vs what you can get for your money off site plus the ludicrous parking charges it's just not something that's ever appealed. But what I do love about the Resort hotels is all the added extras and activities you can partake in, and none moreso than can be found at Fort Wilderness. The Fort Wilderness lot is HUGE. From log cabins, to camping, to RVs to the huge Wilderness Lodge hotel, this place is absolutely gigantic. And themed with a classic frontier style there's a whole bunch of extra activities to enjoy, many of which can be experienced even if you're not staying on site. One of those activities is hiring a small boat or kayak out and rowing it around the mini creek that flows throughout the middle section of the Resort. It's something I've wanted to do forever because it's such an odd little activity to partake in so I was super stoked to be able to finally try it this time. And it was only $9 for an hour of boat hire! Can you believe it? I genuinely don't think you'll find a better deal on Disney property and it was just wonderful sailing around the Resort and taking in nature.

Obviously you have Disney Springs which has a ton of restaurants to enjoy but did you know that you're welcome to visit the Disney Hotel restaurants too even if you're not a guest? You absolutely can! Obviously it helps if you have the MyMagic app so you can ensure your table gets booked, especially if you're after a table at a more popular area. I absolutely love being able to wander around the hotels and soak up that Disney hospitality essentially for free - you get all the excitement of being a hotel guest, only difference is you don't get to rest your head there for the night.

World of Disney
How the hell did I spend $200 on Disney crap and not even step foot in the parks?! Well, somehow I managed it and honestly I was buzzed wandering around World of Disney at Disney Springs. One of the things I love most about visiting any Disney Resort is looking around all the souvenir shops and buying some merch so I thought why deny myself that pleasure this time around just because I'm not heading into the parks? I got a lot of cute stuff including a Haunted Mansion make-up bag, Magic Kingdom pen set, an Up jigsaw puzzle and a fabulous keyring consisting of keys to all the different Disney Resorts around the world! I do draw the line at buying things like Minnie Ears, for example, if I'm not going into a park because to me that just doesn't feel right, and this time because it wasn't a 'proper' Disney trip for us I didn't do my one 'big ticket' item spend like I usually would as a memento of the holiday but aside from that we had a ball looked around the stores and for a while it made me forget that we wouldn't be seeing the castle on this visit.
Trader Sams
One of the these I strongly identify with the Disney brand is tiki so Trader Sams at Disney's Polynesian Resort just oozes Disney magic to me. It's one of my favourite themed locations on property so how fabulous that I still get to enjoy it without a park ticket! The theming is so extensive and the use of theatrics and special effects alongside the food & cocktails is as good as any themed dining experience you'll get inside the parks and I know if I were an Orlando local this is definitely somewhere I'd end up more often than not. And souvenirs are great to grab here too - if you request it you can purchase the souvenir cup your cocktail comes in and I'm not talking a collins glass with a logo slapped on it. We have a shrunken zombie tiki head and an erupting volcano from our last visit and they're easily some of my favourite souvenirs I own.
The Void
Honestly this interactive VR adventure game would not be out of place in the likes of EPCOT or Disney's Hollywood Studios so how magical it is that one can simply swan into Disney Springs and purchase a ticket to play without stepping foot in a theme park! Playing The Void felt like I'd glimpsed the future of theme parks and is easily the most immersive experience I've ever encountered. It's still slightly clunky in terms of alignment and graphics but in general it's absolutely fucking insane how good it is and it gave me just as intense a 'WOW' feeling as Tower of Terror or Soarin'.

Mini Golf
For me it wouldn't be a trip to Orlando without a spot of mini gold and the Walt Disney World properties is home to some fabulous courses! Yes, you do get these included for free before 4PM if you have a multi-day park hopper ticket with Disney but it's just a few dollars to play if you don't and these are some of the best themed mini golf courses around! The best course in my opinion is Fantasia Gardens which can be found near the Swan & Dolphin hotel behind Tower of Terror. The course is full of large, interactive sets complete with music and water effects! Then you've also got Winter/Summerland which can be found near the entrance of Blizzard Beach. Some of the sets here are very dated now giving off a mega late 90s/early noughties vibe but again the special effects and gags are super cute and who doesn't want to play a Christmas themed golf course under the blazing Orlando sun?
Of course, these suggestions only scratch the mere surface of the abundance of non-park things to do at Disney World. I guess it's a good way of seeing that you don't have to break the bank to get that dose of Disney magic if you're just passing through like we were and further proof that Disney are just amazing in every way.

Did I miss your favourite non-park thing to do at Disney World? Let me know in the comments what your suggestions are!

Talk later xoxo,