Disney World is a Magical Place! It’s not just the parks that are fun though, Disney has thought of many cool things that don’t require a park ticket!
But isn’t everything fun INSIDE the parks? No!
There are so many things to enjoy on a non park day at Disney! To name a few options, you can go horseback riding at Fort Wilderness, enjoy resort hopping the monorail or skyliner resorts, spend time at Disney Springs, play two different disney themed mini-golf courses, relax by the amazing pools, go bowling with a meal, catch a movie, meet characters, and go to the boardwalk.
Just a note- many of these options are smaller paid options- if you want a list of FREE things to do at Disney you can check out my guide on that!
P.S. Most of these things are contingent on the weather being agreeable. Find out what to do at Disney if it rains on your vacation!
This post contains affiliate links at no extra cost to you, check out my affiliate disclosure for more information and all the legal mumbo jumbo.
Disney World without tickets – ideas and activities
Go to the Disney Boardwalk
Anyone can access the Disney Boardwalk without a ticket, but you may need to evaluate how to get there! The Boardwalk is free, and you can access it by the International Gate Back Entrance at Epcot, taking the Skyliner over from Hollywood Studios, Staying at a Boardwalk Hotel, or Having Reservations to eat at one of the Boardwalk Restaurants.
Eat at World Famous Disney Restaurants
A big question I get from those who’ve read my book on Disney with Food Allergies is, ‘can I do Disney restaurants without park admission?’
As of 2021, all guests can access Disney World Restaurants that are in the resorts and Disney Springs without Park Admission. It is very helpful for you to have a restaurant reservation if you are planning to drive instead of using Disney transportation to access the restaurant. For Restaurants inside the Disney World Parks, you need a valid ticket + a park reservation + a possible restaurant reservation.
It is recommended to check the MyDisneyExperience App to make sure that they are accepting guests. Simply type in the resort and see if anything pops up.
Here’s the screenshot of the notification I got when typing in Art of Animation. It reads: ‘select disney world resort hotels’ including Disney Deluxe Villa Resorts are open to Members and Guests.
Some resturants we love in the resorts include:
Kona Cafe at The Polynesian
Grand Floridian Cafe at the Grand Floridian
Trails End at Fort Wilderness
Sassagoula Floatworks Factory at Port Orleans
Did you know that you can eat with the characters without having a Disney Park Ticket?
All you need to do is set up an ADR at one of these restaurants to enjoy all the perks of the characters without stepping inside the parks.
The restaurants are:
- Chef Mickey
- 1900 Park Fare
- Cape May Cafe
- Trattoria Al Forno
- Garden Grove
- The Good Morning Breakfast
If you want a full breakdown with all the details, you can check out my guide to character dining without a ticket!
Chip and Dale at the Bonfire
Every night around 7, at Fort Wilderness they do a campfire with Chip n’ Dale! They have marshmellows for sale- or you can bring your own (we do, because allergies!)
They also do a movie after the campfire! Cool right? This is only available to guests staying on Disney World Property.
Head over to Disney Springs
Disney Springs is a fun place to spend the afternoon! You can go window shopping (or for real shopping!) enjoy a bunch of samples, get pictures taken at the photopass studio and just hang out!
We also love to get our Mickey balloons from Disney Springs so it’s less stressful than lugging them around the parks (we leave the balloons at the resort!)
There are a TON of free things to do with your kids at Disney Springs too!
Fun for the Whole Family
Outside the parks, we have a hidden mickey scavenger hunt at Fort Wilderness (most resorts have hidden mickeys, just FYI!! Always be on the lookout!) Port Orleans also has a scavenger hunt for the kids.
Ok, so here’s how resort hopping works. You can do the monorail loop (which is absolutely MAGICAL at Christmas time with all the decorations and amazing photo ops- hello instagram worthy holiday cards!)
Quick note though. While you can enjoy the sites at the resorts, the food and the gift shop you CAN’T do the pool. So don’t even get all excited about the cool water areas at each resort unless you are staying there.
-Port Orleans French Quarter and Riverside is simply beautiful. And they have Beignets. GLUTEN FREE beignets are also available. We are in heaven!!!
-The Wilderness Lodge and Fort Wilderness Campground are amazing too. They have some quality restaurants and a playground. Yep, I’m all about that playground life!
–The Boardwalk is super fun to go during the early afternoon and enjoy the water. They also have Beaches N Cream- for all your ice cream needs (and ALLERGY friendly- I love when Disney goes all gluten free on me!)
–Animal Kingdom Lodge has some amazing restaurants. They also have a safari area where you can relax and watch the animals. I’m not lying when I say that I take my kids here on every off day we do on our vacation. It’s great for pictures and it doesn’t matter if they make a ton of noise!
Have fun with Mini Golf
There are TWO mini golf setups on Disney Property.
Fantasia Gardens and Minature Golf is themed after Fantasia- with hippos and broomsticks and Mickey the Sorcerer. It has a lot of weird and wonderful setups that will have you laughing and enjoying Fantasia brought to life.
The other course is a winter wonderland named, Winter Summerland. It is a play on words, because it looks like snow and sand and winter- it’s two courses in one. You can pick the Florida winter with palm trees decorated with lights, or the actually winter, with snowmen.
Enjoy the downtime
Yes, you can have a Disney Vacation where you relax. No need to run yourself to the ground for the entire time you are there!
Grab a coffee and relax by the water at one of the many locations on property. Disney has done a really nice job of making their resorts and grounds areas enjoyable for the kids and relaxing for the adults! One of our favorite places to grab a coffee and enjoy the morning is at the Port Orleans Riverside and French Quarter. Another area we really like is the Boardwalk.
Not feeling the coffee? Grab an adult drink and chill out by the pool! We enjoy this on those lazy afternoons where we just need a break from the parks!
Better yet, grab a late brunch (at one of the places that don’t need a ticket like I described above!) and then chill out at the pool in the afternoon. A nice relaxing day if you ask me!
Maybe you want to sneak away though? Disney has two kid areas on property where you can pay for your kids to hang out. Then you can sneak off to the spa or one of the nicer restaurants at the resorts- All without a ticket!
>>>Check out these Important Essentials for your next Disney World Trip<<<
Go on a Bike Ride!
Many of the resorts have options for renting bikes! You can explore the area and the trails close by while having lots of fun riding around. Disney provides helmets and kid seats.
Here’s a list of resorts where you can find the bikes!
- Caribbean Beach Resort
- Old Key West Resort
- Port Orleans Resort- French Quarter
- Port Orleans Resort- Riverside
- Saratoga Springs Resort
- Wilderness Lodge
- The Cabins and Campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort
What’s there to do at Disney at Night without a ticket?
Catch a Movie
If you are staying on Disney Property, Many of the resorts have a movie night by the pool or campfire. You can get the list of times, locations and movies from your resort (though sometimes they have it posted in the cafeteria or the check in area!)
Disney Springs is the other options for movies! They have a gigantic state of the art theater showing all the latest flicks. This luxury theater has all the standard concession foods AND they also have a dine in movie portion.
Check out the Restaurants and Bars
Disney has some world famous dining and night time attractions that can be really fun for older teens and adults.
Disney Springs has a number of Bars, and double the restaurants, where you can go to enjoy the nightlife, shop around and take in the festivities.
The Boardwalk has three adult only locations, a dueling piano bar, sports bar and a dance hall.
Not sure what to do with the kids? Disney has you covered with their own set of baby sitters! Ask your resort for the number and arrange childcare so you can enjoy all that Disney has to offer at night.
Enjoy the street performers
At many of the locations on Disney Property their will be street performers and restaurant performers at night. Disney Springs is probably the most popular option for this with many outdoor stages and bands inside the restaurants.
The other resorts have options too. New Orleans normally has a group playing live music. The Boardwalk will also have multiple street performers and games laid out for the whole family to enjoy.
Let the Adventures Begin
Did you find some new exciting things to do outside of the standard four park ticket for your next vacation?
I encourage you to think outside of the box when it comes to your vacation, especially if you are on a budget. Definitely check out my budget section to learn all my tips and tricks for my monthly visits to Disney!
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