If you aren’t visiting the theme parks on your arrival or departure days, you may be wondering what you should do. The good news is there are lots of fun things to do at the Walt Disney World® resort that do not require theme park admission.
A character meal on your arrival day is a nice way to kick off the trip. If it is your first visit to Walt Disney World®, it will give you the opportunity to see how your children react to the characters without having to wait in line. My two favorite character dinners located outside of the theme parks are Chef Mickey’s at Disney’s Contemporary resort and 1900 Park Fare at Disney’s Grand Floridian.
Mickey’s Backyard BBQ, Hoop De Doo Musical Review and Disney’s Spirit of Aloha Shows are all fun evening entertainment. While these shows don’t require a theme park ticket, they do require a ticket. Plan ahead and ask your Key to the World Travel® planner about this option.
There is something for everyone at Disney Springs™. Grab a bus or boat, depending on where you are staying, and head down for some shopping, dining, and entertainment. With lots of options for both quick service and table service restaurants, there is something for every taste and budget. Wolfgang Puck Express, D-Luxe Burger and The Polite Pig are a few of my favorite quick service restaurants. Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’, Frontera Cocina, and The Edison are my favorite table service restaurants. Your Key to the World Travel® planner will help you make reservations ahead of time for the sit-down restaurants. If you purchased the Disney PhotoPass®, visit the Disney PhotoPass® Service Studio for a photo session with unique Disney backgrounds. Catch a movie at AMC Theatres® or go bowling at Splitsville Luxury Lanes™.
Enjoy Your Resort
Take a dip in your resort pool — the pools at the Walt Disney World® resorts are great. Pool parties are available on most afternoons including trivia games, dancing, and other fun activities. Keep your swimsuits in your carry-on bag, if you plan on swimming on arrival day. If you can’t check in to your hotel right away, the front desk staff can direct you to a bathroom you can use to change. Ask for an activity guide when you check in. Many resorts have other fun activities such as movies under the stars or crafts.
Kids love the monorail…in all honesty, I love the monorail too! Take a bus to the Magic Kingdom® and then hop on the monorail and visit Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, Disney’s Contemporary Resort and Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort. Check out the hotel lobbies, shops and grab a snack or a drink. Making reservations for dinner at one of the monorail area resorts is also a great idea.
Disney’s BoardWalk Entertainment District
Take some time to visit the shops and restaurants around the BoardWalk. Grab an ice cream at Ample Hills Creamery, play some classic arcade games, or rent a surrey bike for four. There are some great options for dinner on the boardwalk as well. Flying Fish and Trattoria al Forno are great table service meals located on the BoardWalk.
If you do want to visit the theme parks on arrival day, ask your Key to The World Travel® Planner how much it will cost. If you have already purchased tickets for several days, you may be surprised at how affordable it is to add one more day. Here are a few tips and tricks for visiting the parks on your arrival or departure day.
- Take advantage of bell services to store your bags for you. Don’t lug around things you don’t need.
- On arrival day make sure that you have your park bag with you, don’t put it in your checked luggage if you are using Disney’s Magical Express.
- Pack clean clothes in your carry-on bag for departure day. The theme parks can be hot and sticky and kids often spill things, no one wants to travel home in yucky clothes.
- Don’t forget to account for travel times. Disney suggests allowing an hour to get from the parks to your hotel.
- Take advantage of Resort Airline Check-in if you are traveling with a participating airline.
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