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If you're a Disney World enthusiast, you don't need a park ticket to experience a magical day! Here's a list of 15+ things you can do to make the most out of your visit to the resort without purchasing entry to the theme parks. This is a perfect guide to enjoying a rest day or your day of arrival without plans. Let’s go!
Just a few things you can do without park tickets at Walt Disney World…
- horseback riding
- campfires & s'mores
- Chip & Dale fire songs
- fireworks from restaurants
- boat rides
- mini golf
- character dining
- fine dining
- bar hopping
- and so much more!
See the video of fun things to do at Disney without going to the parks…
This video highlights all of the things to do without tickets to Disney World at just one of the resorts - Animal Kingdom Lodge…
See more tips from Jenna Loves Magic on YouTube…
1. Go horseback riding
Really! You can have so much fun at Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort, including visiting Tri-Circle-D Ranch.
At this ranch there are pony rides and horses in stalls you can check out, amongst other things.
Make a night out of it and book a dinner show at the Hoop-Dee-Doo Review.
It is so much fun! But it books fast, so make sure to make a reservation.
2. Hang out with Chip & Dale for free!
Another one of my favorite things to do at Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort is to go to a sing-a-long campfire and roast s’mores while hanging out with Chip & Dale.
This activity is a complete gem at Disney World that I hope you get to experience yourself!
With so many activities available without a park ticket, you're sure to have a magical time at Disney World!
3. Ride the Disney Skyliner
Take a ride on the Skyliner to resort hop around a few favorite destinations like Pop Century Resort, Riviera Resort, and more.
At each hotel on the Skyliner, you can check out their outdoor games, and other amenities without needing to stay at the resorts - like arcades, playgrounds, and entertainment each night.
For instance, you can check out the fire s’mores roasting times at night and partake, even without staying at the hotels.
I love to take the Disney Skyliner at night because you can catch fireworks during your ride if you time it just right.
4. Catch Disney World fireworks
Yes, there are areas around Disney World, including at resorts and on the Skyliner where you can catch the impressive firework show at the Magic Kingdom and even Epcot.
There are multiple spots to see fireworks without a park ticket.
One of my favorite recommendations is to head over to the Riviera Resort. You can catch glimpses of it from outside the Skyliner entrance…
Or arrange to eat at the rooftop-restaurant above - Topolino’s Terrace (or check out the bar) during the fireworks time - you’ll find this fireworks view from the Riviera resort.
There are quite a few other locations where you can see fireworks outside the parks, I’ll share more soon here on Jenna Loves Magic.
5. Go swimming in one of the resort's many pools.
I’m not *exactly sure* the policy, but I’ve heard people say you can visit pools around the resorts without staying there.
Tour this Animal Kingdom Lodge Pool…
Although, many resorts at Disney and the surrounding areas have great pools, so that’s always a fun way to spend the day without crashing Disney resorts!
6. Check out the free Movies Under the Stars event every night.
Check the schedule for watching movies outside at night at Walt Disney World Resort hotels.
Different movies including Princess and the Frog and Finding Nemo are available on different nights.
7. See animals for free at the Animal Kingdom Lodge
There are a ton of savannah overlooks and animal viewing areas to enjoy for free at the Animal Kingdom Lodge.
Get details on how to see free animals at Animal Kingdom Lodge…
8. Check out the themed miniature golf courses.
Choose from two miniature golf courses to check out at Walt Disney World:
- Winter Summerland
- Fantasia Gardens
9. Watch the Electrical Water Pageant
This is such a fun thing to do at Disney World at night without a park ticket!
You can watch the Electrical Water Pageant at a handful of hotels on the water, including the Polynesian resort.
What is it? Basically, a parade of singing and dancing boats that are lit up at night.
10. Visit the Boardwalk
Check out street performers' schedules before making arrangements, but this is a fun place to be!
You can grab an adult beverage somewhere like BoardWalk Joe's Marvelous Margaritas and enjoy the outdoor show.
11. Visit a Disney arcade
You pick up a game ticket on site and can save it to use at other Disney hotels with arcades - like the Animal Kingdom Lodge as seen above, Ft. Wilderness, The Contemporary, Pop Century, and Coronado Springs.
12. Book a character meal
One of the best ways to enjoy time at Disney World without a park ticket is to get some one-on-one time with characters at a Disney hotel.
Book a popular character breakfast at Ohana’s in the Polynesian Resort, or Topolino’s Terrace in the Riviera for example.
Usually there is singing, dancing, and family-friendly food for everyone to enjoy.
You’ll want to reserve these special character dining opportunities in advance, but I have lucked-out and gotten day-of reservations in the Disney App, so always check!
13. Tour the lobbies of the Disney World resort hotels
There’s a ton to enjoy and some surprising experiences to have - when you visit hotel lobbies at Walt Disney Resorts.
In addition to admiring breathtaking displays and architectural details at places like the Animal Kingdom Lodge…
You can even stumble upon something like the lobby of Disney's Pop Century Resort where the staff literally does a dance – “DO THE HUSTLE!” – but check local times before heading over, and know that you can even join in the dancing fun yourself!
14. Enjoy a playground
One of our favorites is the Animal Kingdom Lodge playground - aka the Hakuna Matata playground…
Steps away is an arcade and a flamingo viewing area, so this is a fun area to hang out in Disney World without park tickets.
15. Have a fancy Disney dining experience
Book a leisurely fine dining Disney World restaurant reservation.
Find out why the Sanaa bread service is so popular…
This is a great idea for a day when you don’t have a park ticket to Disney World, because you can dress up and take your time.
A few fine dining Disney experiences I recommend as a foodie:
- Sanaa at Animal Kingdom Lodge
- Steakhouse 71 at The Contemporary
- Topolino’s Terrace at Riviera
- Yachtsman Steakhouse at The Yacht Club
16. Take a complimentary boat ride
You can take a complimentary boat ride on the Sassagoula River Cruise and explore the hotels along the way.
The “Sassagoula River Cruise” is a free service, and you don’t need Disney World tickets to hop on board.
This ferry transports guests from both Port Orleans Disney World resorts (the French Quarter and Riverside resorts) all the way down the river to Disney Springs.
17. Visit Disney Springs
At Disney Springs, you’ll find tons of shopping, dining, and entertainment.
We recently spent a rest day without Disney park tickets eating a wonderful tapas-style dinner at the flamenco restaurant, Jaleo by José Andrés…
And we got tickets to see the Cirque Du Soleil Disney show, Drawn to Life.
18. Go bar hopping
Stumble upon interesting and beautifully designed poolside bars and restaurant bars.
There are especially-themed cocktails, wines, and beers to enjoy at each one.
19. Roast marshmallows at night
Check out the various Disney resorts for details, but at night, one of our favorite things to do is go to roast s’mores at Pop Century Resort, Fort Wilderness Lodge (as mentioned previously) and other hotels.
Tips for planning a Disney World trip
Shop my favorite things to buy in advance for a Disney World trip:
- Disney outfits for women
- Brooks sneakers for women (see more on shoes for Disney)
- Matching Disney adult and kids hats
- 2 pack of ponchos
- best neck fan for Disney World
Get more Disney World travel tips...
- See the ULTIMATE GUIDE to Disney World resorts
- Get tips for booking Disney World tickets
- See this beginners guide to Disney World packages
- Tips for flying to the closest airport to Disney World
- Learn about taking a Skyliner ride during EPCOT fireworks time
- Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party
Top Disney World ride guides
Top Disney World restaurant guides
- What to order at Topolino's Terrace for dinner at Riviera Resort
- Sanaa bread service
- Where to get breakfast in EPCOT
- Joffrey's Disney coffee
- Le Cellier
See top Disney World hotel tips and guides...
Disneyland travel tips...
- When Halloween starts at Disneyland
- Complete guide to Halloween at Disneyland
- 1 Day Disneyland Itinerary Example
No Disney World park tickets? No problem!
Hope that answers all your questions about fun things to do at Disney World without going to the parks...
Next, see more free things to do at Animal Kingdom Lodge…
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