If you’re in Orlando for long enough, or you go to Disney World fairly often, you’ll know there’s so much more to do than the Parks! Whether it’s a gap to feel some space in your trip or you want to see something new, there’s always something at the resorts. On days off, I loved hotel hopping and just having a wander. We’ve always stayed in a villa so I hadn’t really seen the hotels properly before. There are a range of things to do at them, some of which are completely free! I’ve managed to compile a list of my top things to do at Disney World resorts in Florida to make the most of your holiday/vacation.
Campfires, S’mores and Movies
Most of the resorts in Walt Disney World offer marshmallows, a campfire and a movie under the stars. My favourite place to do this at is at the Polynesian resort. It’s set up on the beach and you get to see Wishes (now Happily Ever After) too. The only downside to this is because it’s close to the water, you do get a few mosquitos so make sure you have some repellent.
Another favourite place to do this at is Fort Wilderness. You don’t get marshmallows for free here but you can either take your own or they sell s’mores kits there. Another reason this is a favourite is because it is also a campfire sing-along with Chip n Dale. It’s a lot bigger here and there are benches to sit on too. This can get a little busy during peak times so make sure you head there and grab some seats early.
You can find out which films are playing by calling the hotels, they tend to be on a rotation so will be the same for a few weeks I believe.
Bike Rides, Kayaking and Trail Walks
One of my all-time favourite resorts to go to is Fort Wilderness. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s the Disney campsite for those with RVs or if you want to rent out a log cabin. It’s connected to the WIlderness Lodge resort and amongst the woods. It has some really beautiful short trails through it but you can also rent bikes for a couple of bucks. One of the best days I had there was canoeing with Delaina there. You can also rent a kayak and go along the river there, you might even spot the odd alligator at the edges. This is normal but they don’t tend to show much and the large ones are obviously removed after last year’s tragedy.
This is something I used to do a bit if no one else was off just because I hadn’t seen a great deal of the hotels and their settings. Buses, boats and monorails between resorts are free, but bear in mind you might have to go to a park to switch to another hotel (with buses) as they only go to the parks and Disney Springs. My favourites to wander round are The Polynesian, Port Orleans, Animal Kingdom Lodge, Yacht & Beach and Grand Floridian. A lot of the bigger hotels have large food courts but all will have quick service foods available. They often have something different that you won’t necessarily get in the parks too.
There are so many incredible restaurants outside of the parks! My favourite that I’ve been to is Boma – Flavours of Africa at Animal Kingdom Lodge. It’s a little pricey but it’s a buffet and well worth it. There’s lots of different meats and seafood available, stews and some incredible desserts. Make sure you try the chocolate Zebra Domes! This one needs to be booked at least three months in advance usually. Boma is honestly one of my top things to do at Disney World resorts, the food is incredible and I will go back for this buffet every time I go.
Another favourite of mine is 1900 Park Fare at the Grand Floridian for breakfast. Again, it’s another buffet and fairly pricey but if you have children, it’s great as characters from Winnie the Pooh, Mary Poppins and Alice in Wonderland join you at your table. Make sure you try the strawberry soup – a strawberry creme fraiche style yoghurt.
Although Ohana at the Polynesian Resort is incredible (also a buffet), my favourite there has to be Kona Café. This is a full service restaurant and a lot cheaper than the extravagant buffet. If you go for breakfast, try the Tonga Toast – a banana stuffed French toast with breakfast meats. A strange pairing but delicious. If you go for lunch or dinner, they have really nice sushi available which is around $20-25.
One of my favourite places to either sit on the beach, go for an ice cream or grab a cocktail or two would be Disney’s Boardwalk. It’s themed on an American seaside resort in the 1940s and is so pretty. There are always entertainers about so there’s plenty to see. Jelly Rolls is a duelling pianos bar (over 21 only) where you can get the pianists to play songs of your choice (for a tip). You can actually walk along the river from Hollywood Studios, to the Boardwalk, to Epcot or you can grab the Friendships (a boat) between the parks and resort. You can also see the Illuminations fireworks if you are stood on the bridge and don’t want to deal with crowds in Epcot at 9pm.
I thought this deserved its own section rather than putting it under restaurants. The Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue is another activity held at Fort Wilderness on the lake side of the resort. It’s a dinner show that involves audience participation and is an incredible night of entertainment. Again, it is pricey but it’s ‘eat as much as you care to enjoy’ with alcohol included. There aren’t many places that includes beer, wine or sangria in the price so make the most of the magic! The Pioneer Hall Players tell the story of Davy Crockett whilst you tuck into corn bread, ribs, fried chicken, mash potato and cowboy beans. All washed down with strawberry shortcake if you’ve still got room.
I’m sure that as soon as I post this, I’ll think of some more great things that you can do at the Disney World resorts. Each one is unique so I’d always recommend trying to see as many as you can. You can find out about all the activities available at the resorts here. Some are free but you can also get quite a few for less than $10/person.