Many people think that Disney World is just the 4 parks, but there are many things to do outside of the parks that do not cost a lot and some are even free !
Here is a list of a few of my recommendations of some free or cheap things to do outside of the parks, in no certain order.
1) Visiting the many Disney resorts. Disney has over 20 resorts and each of them has a different theme, You can make a day of just going around and checking out all the different resorts. They are all beautifully decorated and worth seeing. Keep in mind that all Disney resorts, just like the parks, sell different merchandise and some merchandise is only sold at certain resorts. Check out Chip’s Series Resort Hopping 101 here.
2) Riding the monorail. I know that most of us already know this so this tip is directed more to the first time visitor. The monorail loop circles The Magic Kingdom, The Polynesian Resort, The Contemporary Resort, The Grand Floridian Resort, and the Transportation and Ticket Center. I recommend getting off the monorail and the resort stops and taking a walk around. These resorts are some of Disney’s top resorts and of course that means they are some of the most expensive resorts, so for those of us who can not afford to stay there we can always go and dream.
3) Taking a boat ride. Between Hollywood Studios and you can ride the Friendship boats that goes between the resorts and the parks. Riding one way is about 20-30 minutes. It is very relaxing to just sit back and enjoy the view of all the resorts. It’s also fun to take the day off for a boat ride.
4) Wishes or Water Pageant. You can take a boat ride or you can take a monorail ride over to the Polynesian and sit out on the beach and you will get a great view of the fireworks from the Magic Kingdom ( Wishes) and you can also see the Electric Water Pageant. You can also see these shows from the Contemporary and the The Grand Floridian Resort but in my opinion The Polynesian has the best viewing because you can hear the music and you can relax on a hammock. If sitting outside is not your thing then you can go in the Polynesian and go up to the second floor and have a seat by the huge window and you can relax in the air condition and order a drink if you like while you enjoy the shows. Check out Chip’s secret spot for couples.
5) Visit the Boardwalk. Disney’s Boardwalk Resort reminds me of the Boardwalk of Atlantic City, minus the gambling of course. You can use Disney transportation to get there or you can get a 3 hour parking pass from security. You can see performers, Jugglers, Fire Eaters etc. Keep in mind the performers are not out all day it is mainly at night. You can try some carnival type games, for a small fee. Visit Jellyrolls, which is piano dueling bar, there is small cover charge and you do have to be 21 and over. There are also vendors selling some good but inexpensive food. If none of the interests you then you can just sit back and relax and watch the boats go by.
6) Downtown Disney. DD is a unique shopping center that has some awesome stores. You can also play and see some amazing Lego statues. Most of the restaurants are expensive so if you are looking to save money I recommend Earl of Sandwich, you can get a meal for around $10.00 and the sandwiches are really good. A big selling point for Downtown Disney is FREE PARKING. You can easily spend the day in Downtown Disney.
7) Spend the Evening at Fort Wilderness. Over at Fort Wilderness you can take an evening Wagon Ride for around $8.00 for an adult and $5.00 for a child. The rides are offered at 7pm and 9:30 pm. It departs from Pioneer Hall and takes about 45 minutes. No reservations needed but you do have to pay in cash.
8) Campfire or Sing a long. While you are at Fort Wilderness you can catch a free movie and campfire sing along. It starts with a sing along and marshmallow roast. You can bring your own or by them there. I recommend buying your own because I believe the kit they sell costs around $10.00. Chip and Dale meet everyone and sign autographs. The Disney movie is shown on a large outdoor screen. There is some seating on benches and bleachers or you can roll out a blanket. No reservations required and it is free to all Disney Resort guests. Many of the other resorts have moives too. Check this website out for details.
9) Hanging out at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. At the Animal Kingdom Lodge you can walk out to the viewing areas and see the wild animals walking around. I have heard at night there is cast member there with night vision goggles so you can see the animals. The Animal Kingdom Lodge itself is beautiful so take some time and enjoy the lobby.
10) Pressed Pennies. Some cheap souvenirs are pressed pennies. My daughter loves these! Some cost 50 cents and other cost a dollar. If you get a few every time you go they add up quickly and are really affordable, great memories.
11) Bonus Tip for the Holidays: If you will be at Disney World around the Holidays be sure to check out the different decorations at the different resorts. The Grand Floridian has an amazing Gingerbread house.
There are so many things to do outside of Disney World. Do you have any free or cheap activities that you would like to share? Let us know in the comment box below.
Sunshine is a Disney fanatic. You will find her counting down the days until she goes back to Disney, while annoying her daughter with all things Disney.
- Top Ten Off the Beaten Path Experiences at Disney (chipandco.com)
- Relaxing Evening Activities at Walt Disney World (chipandco.com)