Beyond the Disney Parks

Did you know you can spend an entire week at Walt Disney World, have a blast, and never enter Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios or Animal Kingdom? It’s true! There’s so much to see and do at Disney that you don’t even have to enter the big 4 parks to have fun. If you have a half day scheduled at Disney or even a whole day, these activities can be a great way to fill any gaps in your stay.

Waterparks

Disney has two waterparks on-site that are both fun to go to. While they technically are Disney theme parks, they cost extra above the other parks and require separate tickets so I’m counting them separately.
Blizzard Beach (Florida, Honeymoon)

    • Blizzard Beach is based upon the idea of a blizzard hitting Florida, a ski resort being built, and all the snow melting leaving behind a water park. With that in mind, you can take a ski lift up to Mount Gushmore and ride down one of the fastest and tallest waterslides, Summit Plummet. Also on top you can ride down the family ride, Teamboat Springs, or go airborne on Slush Gusher. There are 4 more rides here, a kiddie pool, a teen zone, a lazy river, and a wave pool. There are plenty of lunch and snack shops in the park so you can stay all day.

2009-09-04_Typhoon_Lagoon_24

  • Typhoon Lagoon is based on the destruction of the powerful typhoons and the waves that come with them. This is the most visited water park in the world and my personal favorite. There are 9 waterslides here, a kiddie pool, a shark reef, and an amazing wave pool. You can even take surf lessons here. The wave pool here was my favorite attraction because there are 6 foot waves that just keep coming. My top waterslide picks: Storm Slides, 3 different courses of body slides that make you want to test all 3 , and Mayday Falls, the longest slide in the park with drops, twists and dips under waterfalls.

Downtown Disney

I’ve already talked about the shops and dining spots of Downtown Disney in Day 1 and Day 3 of my trip report. But shopping and eating aren’t the only ways to have fun in Downtown Disney.

Disney's Cirque du Soleil La Nouba Aerial Ballet

Image Courtesy of Cirque du Soleil's Véronique Vial

    • Cirque du Soleil La Nouba is an amazing theatrical performance. The story begins with a parade, introducing the personality of the characters to the audience. From there you’ll see performances with many props, acrobatics, tossing of people, and floating mid-air with only silk to support the performers. The trapeze and trampolines are also used to make the performance enthralling. The music, the storytelling, and the performance make this a can’t-miss show.

DisneyQuest

  • DisneyQuest is an indoor park featuring video games and virtual reality. Not returning here is my one big regret from my 2010 trip. In 2007 I just fell in love with the games and fun inside. There’s a virtual jungle cruise where you have to row to survive and get sprayed with water. On Aladdin’s Magic Carpet ride you put on a virtual reality simulator and fly a magic carpet across the city. For baby boomers there’s a section of classic games we could barely pry my mother away from. My favorite attraction here is Cyberspace Mountain. You design a roller coaster and all its twists, turns, and upside downs. Once you’re done you actually get to ride on the idea you’ve created, courtesy a simulator. You may regret your decision to go upside 3 times before spinning so plan ahead and don’t be too cruel to yourself.

Resorts

Just because you aren’t entering the parks doesn’t mean you can’t stay at your resort or visit another one. There’s always something to do or somewhere to eat around Disney.

    • Movies At Disney’s All Star Music, movies are played outdoors on a screen. Guests from the All Star Resorts can come over and watch a movie while swimming in a guitar shaped pool. It’s one of my favorite memories from my 2007 trip.

Hoop-De-Doo Musical Revue Dinner Show | Walt Disney World Resort

    • Fort Wilderness: Hoop-de-Doo Musical Revue is the longest running show at Disney and features a dinner show, music, dancing and laughs. It’s classic Disney. The food includes all-you-can-eat classics like Fried Chicken, Barbecued Pork Ribs, Mashed Potatoes, and Baked Beans. If shows aren’t your thing, there are also horse, pony and wagon rides at Tri-Circle-D Ranch.
    • Monorail Resorts:
        • The Contemporary: This resort features a lot of water activities, from parasailing and boat rides to wakeboarding and waterskiing. One of the perks of this resort is its close proximity to Magic Kingdom and its fireworks. Watch the show from a boat ride or from your dinner at the California Grill.
        • Grand Floridian: While this resort has plenty of golfing and spa services for adults, it also has fun for kids. Children can go on a pirate adventure to search for buried treasure or enjoy a Wonderland tea party with Alice and friends. Narcoossee’s is also a great place to catch the fireworks from.  In the winter, there’s a giant gingerbread house that you can walk inside and explore.
        • Polynesian: The Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show is one of the top draws. It’s a family-style dinner show with a luau right in Florida. There are 2 shows a night, 5 nights a week. ‘Ohana also features a popular character breakfast with Lilo & Stitch. For more great food, there’s even a sushi bar here.
        • Monorail Pub Crawl: There’s no worrying about drinking and driving on this drinking adventure. You just ride the monorail from one resort to another and drink till you’re done. Top Picks: The Wave at the Contemporary, Tambu Lunge at the Polynesian, and Mizner’s Lounge at the Grand Floridian.

Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge

  • Animal Kingdom Lodge: This deluxe resort sits on 30 acres of savanna. If you stay in the lodge, certain rooms have views overlooking the different animals. You can also book a sunset safari tour of the grounds that comes with dinner. Off-site guests can enjoy the animals on the grounds and dinner at Jiko or Boma.
  • Disney’s Boardwalk: This is a perfect resort to spend some time. It’s themed after historic Atlantic City and Coney Island. As a bonus, this resort is nestled between Epcot and Hollywood Studios so if you are in the parks, you can easily walk right to the resort to spend the rest of your day. You can walk down the boardwalk to go shopping but remember to keep your eyes open for caricature artists, hair wrappers, carnival games, bike rentals, jugglers, jazz trios, and tarot card readers. There’s so much to see here:
    Disney Boardwalk

Have any other ideas for Disney fun outside the parks? Let us know in the comments section!

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Author:julie

I’m Julie, I love to travel, I’m very hyper and I like to “hype” things and from that, TravelHyper was born.

I’m a Missouri native and I cover St. Louis travel ideas as well as my own travels. I also like to focus on places I want to visit and budget travel ideas by creating trip plans. There’s so much world out there and I hope you’ll find that it’s worth seeing and that vacation doesn’t have to be out of reach to you.

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