5 Things To Do Outside Of The Disney Parks In Orlando

5 Things To Do Outside Of The Disney World Parks

I loved Disney. Orlando is magnificent. But the little bubble of magic you walk around in all day whilst there often needs an afternoon off.

Gathered here are my top 5 things to do outside of the Disney parks.

  1. Watch Fireworks for FREE from the Beach at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort.

It’s easy to enjoy the magic of the fireworks without park admission as anyone can visit the Disney World resort hotels. Even without staying at the property.

TIP: At the Polynesian enter through the lobby and exit the rear of the building passing the pool. The beach will be directly in front of you. We arrived 1.5hrs ahead and watched the electrical water pageant first. An empty beach meant we easily located a free lounger with a perfect view.

We enjoyed a dole whip from a window outside the back of the building and watched wishes from the same spot on the beach. It was a fabulous night.

Wishes started at 10pm by which time the beach had attracted a crowd (we counted approx 75 people) so it’s worth getting there early and making a night of it.

You can find the show times for Wishes  Here.

2.   Resort Hop and catch a Movie Under The Stars.

Travelling from one resort to another to explore the interior, gardens, beaches, bars and restaurants is a great way to fill time in the afternoons between park hoping.

For an interesting break grab a coffee and view the animals from the Animal Kingdom Lodge. Or for an upscale environment the Grand Floridian Hotel offers sophisticated surroundings.

We saw a giant, real life gingerbread house whilst we listened to background music from the live pianist.

Resort hoping is a great FREE thing to do on Disney property and you really don’t need to pay a penny.

Tip: From 7pm-8pm every evening Disney resorts also show a free Disney Movie Under the Stars, either around the pool area or on the resorts beach. Google ‘ (resort name) movie under the stars schedule’ to see each resorts timetable of showings.

3.   Discovery Cove.

Be still my beating heart. Discovery cove is PARADISE. Well my idea of it. Admission comes in on the pricey side; around £127 per person or around £170 per person with a 30 minute Dolphin swim. Prices do, however, include all food and drink consumed on the day.

Also included is complimentary use of all snorkel equipment, wet suits and vests.

TIP: The cove operates from 9am-5pm but you can start checking in and eating breakfast at 7.15am.

With no rides, Discovery Cove is a Tropical Paradise away from the craziness of Disney. Park admission is limited to only 1500 guests per day so you really notice the extra space and time.

The Grand Reef and the Fresh Water Oasis give you the chance to snorkel in shallow waters at your own pace alongside tropical fish and rays. Whilst the Wind Away River is an area filled with small waterfalls to relax without fish swimming around you.

In the Explorer’s Aviary you can feed tropical birds and wander through the rain forest type surroundings. Throughout the day there are plenty of chances to grab a drink in the restaurant or relax on a sun lounger by the beach.

Our day here was one of my favorites from our trip and I would recommend the visit 100%. We also experienced the dolphin swim (7/10) and sea venture (10/10). The latter should seriously not be missed.

(That’s me on the right)

4. Water Parks.

Disney World has 2 Water Parks housing copious amounts of fun without setting foot in a Theme Park.

Typhoon Lagoon has EVERYTHING. Body slides, Raft slides and a lazy river. The lagoon is also home to the only water coaster raft ride I’ve ever seen, The Crush ‘n’ gusher. The ‘water slide’ uses powerful jets to push your double raft uphill rather than a constant downwards slide.

TIP: The new Crush ‘n’gusher is tucked away in the park to the right of the entrance. It’s an area often missed by visitors as it remained quiet. We spotted lots of guests surprised that they hadn’t noticed the new addition before.

With waves reaching 6 foot, the park holds the title for the largest wave machine in North America.

We only visited the Lagoon as Disney’s Blizzard Beach was closed due to refurbishment.

5. Ride a Boat.

The Disney World hotel resorts provide transportation ferries as well as their famous buses. You can hop on any of these ferries for FREE and take in the surrounding scenery along the route.

In The Magic Kingdom area, there’s a boat that circles between the Magic Kingdom, Polynesian and Grand Floridian. A second route circles be
tween the Contemporary, Wilderness Lodge and Fort Wilderness.

There’s a ferry that connects Epcot with Disney’s Hollywood Studios making stops at the Yacht and Beach Club, Swan and Dolphin, and Boardwalk.

And if you’re in the Disney Springs area, try the ferry between there and Saratoga Springs and Port Orleans resorts.

For a thrilling experience try an Amphicar ride at the Boathouse restaurant in Disney Springs.

The Boathouse has a beautiful dock over the water and for $120 you can take a 20 minute ride in a vintage amphicar (a car that’s also a boat!) which drives straight off the dry dock directly into the water.

Although a little pricey, the Boathouse is the only place in the world that you can take a captains guided tour in one of these rare cars.

TIP: Eat lunch at the Boathouse and take your receipt to the ship’s store before 3pm to receive $25 off your ride.

What’s your favorite thing to do outside of the parks in Orlando? Let me know in the comments.

Planning a trip to Disney World? Take a look at my guide to planning your trip

13 Comment

  1. I’ve never been to Disney World, but I’ve been to Disneyland multiple times. The fireworks are so fun to watch there as well! I saw some of them from my hotel while I was out there for the Tinker Bell Half Marathon this past May.

    1. LondonToEverywhere says: Reply

      I watched the magic kingdom fireworks 3 times! The display really was the highlight of my trip. We visited just after the wine and dine weekend. I’d love to take part in a run!

      1. It was a wonderful experience! I highly recommend it!

  2. I’ll have to do some of these the next time I go to Orlando! And that gingerbread house in INSANE!!

    1. LondonToEverywhere says: Reply

      It smelt so fabulous!

  3. Marcie says: Reply

    The boat ride is a great idea! We’re hoping to make it to Disney World sometime in 2018 and I was thinking that our little kids might need a break from the parks at some point. The outdoor movies also sound like a great way to relax!

    1. LondonToEverywhere says: Reply

      It’s a wonderful way to take a break. Have dinner in the food court just before and take dessert outside with you!

  4. That gingerbread house is amazing! Not that interested in Disney parks but I would love that lagoon! 😍

  5. Laura says: Reply

    We’ve never been to Disney World, but I had no idea there was so much to do outside the theme parks! Saving this one for later!

    1. LondonToEverywhere says: Reply

      Orlando is pretty amazing. There is SO much to do 😍😍

  6. Not a Disney person myself but I would LOVE to visit that Lagoon 🙂

    1. LondonToEverywhere says: Reply

      It was so much fun!

  7. […] Looking for other things to do during your trip? Check out my top things to do outside of the Disney world parks post […]

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