Top 10 Things to Do at Walt Disney World Resort without a Theme Park Ticket

There are so many things to do in the theme parks during your Walt Disney World vacation that it's easy to forget about all the fun things you can do outside the parks. Planning non-theme park fun is easy and it might even save you some money since you don't need a park ticket to have a magical time.

What to do without a park ticket at Walt Disney WorldWhat to do without a park ticket at Walt Disney World

While there are more than just 10 things to do without a theme park ticket, we thought a top 10 list would be a great place to start. So let's get busy having fun! In no particular order, here are our top 10 favorite things to do without a theme park ticket.

10. Ride the Monorail:
We consider the Monorail to be a "ride" and it's always fun to hop on the resort loop and check out the Contemporary, Grand Floridian, and Disney's Polynesian Village Resort. Add some extra fun to the ride and hop off at the hotels and spend some time exploring the grounds of the Deluxe resorts.

9. Enjoy a character meal: Many of the Walt Disney World Resort hotels are home to great character meals. Chef Mickey's at the Contemporary, breakfast with Stitch at 'Ohana, and breakfast at the Cape May Cafe at Disney's Beach Club Resort are a few of our favorites.

Enjoy a character meal at a resort!Enjoy a character meal at a resort!

8. Take a Carriage Ride: Did you know you can take a carriage ride at Disney's Port Orleans Riverside or Fort Wilderness? These 25-minute rides cost $45 per carriage and are offered each night between 6-9:30 p.m. The carriages can fit up to four adults or two adults and three kids. For more information call 407-939-7529. Evening wagon rides are also available at Fort Wilderness for $8 per adult and $5 per child. These are offered nightly at 7 and 9:30 p.m. No reservations are needed for the wagon rides.

7. Visit the Boardwalk: Disney's Boardwalk is a great place to visit day or night. During the day you can rent a surrey bike and take a tour of the area or find a table by the water and watch the Friendship Boats float by. Evenings on the Boardwalk are filled with street performers including jugglers and magicians. You can even test your skills with old-fashioned carnival games or grab a bite to eat at one of the kiosks. If you're in the mood for a sit-down meal there are several spots to choose from including Trattoira al Forno and the Flying Fish Cafe.

Stroll the Boardwalk day or nightStroll the Boardwalk day or night

6. Stop by the Tri- Circle D Ranch: The ranch is located at Fort Wilderness and is home to Cinderella's ponies and the horses of Main Street U.S.A. Guests ages 9 and older can even enjoy a horseback ride through the woodland trails. If you're planning on riding horses you need to be taller than 48 inches and weigh less than 250 pounds. Reservations for horseback riding are recommended.

5. Take a Boat Ride: There are several places where you can board a boat and enjoy a relaxing cruise (for free!). Hop on a Friendship boat and cruise around Crescent Lake while taking in the sights of Epcot, the Boardwalk, the Yacht and Beach Clubs, and more. Or board one of the boats that stops at the Magic Kingdom, Wilderness Lodge, Contemporary, Grand Floridian, or Disney's Polynesian Village. You could even hop off that boat and board the Monorail for more fun! Or, take a short cruise from Port Orleans to Downtown Disney.

Take a boat ride on Disney's waterwaysTake a boat ride on Disney's waterways

4. Watch Wishes from outside the Magic Kingdom: You don't have to be IN the Magic Kingdom to experience the nightly fireworks display. Two of our favorite spots to watch the fireworks are from the beach at Disney's Polynesian Village (with a Dole Whip from the Pineapple Lanai, of course) or from the California Grill at the Contemporary!

3. Play golf: Walt Disney World is home to four incredible golf courses and two miniature golf courses. So if you're a scratch golfer looking to play 18 holes at a championship course like Disney's Magnolia Golf Course or if the kids just want to play 18 hole of miniature golf at Fantasia Gardens, there's something for everyone.

Tee of at one of the Disney World golf coursesTee off at one of the Disney World golf courses

2. Rent a boat: Several of the Walt Disney World Resort Hotels offer guests the opportunity to rent boats including canoes and kayaks. Disney's Contemporary is home to Sammy Duval's Water Sports where you can rent motorized boats including SeaRaycers, pontoon boats, and more. You can also book parasailing or water skiing experiences.

1. Downtown Disney: Our favorite thing to do outside of the theme parks is visit Downtown Disney. From shopping at World of Disney to sitting outside and enjoying an ice cream sundae from Ghirardelli, nothing beats an afternoon or evening at Downtown Disney. We can't wait to see the transformation to Disney Springs as that means even more shopping and dining experiences to enjoy!

Treat yourself to ice cream at Downtown DisneyTreat yourself to ice cream at Downtown Disney

That's just 10 ways to have fun outside the theme parks, but there are so many more things to experience at Walt Disney World.

What's your favorite non-theme park activity at Disney World? Leave us a comment and let us know what you'd add to our list.

Kristen K. wrote on Mon, 03/09/2015 - 21:02:

Kristen K.'s picture

There's so much to do! We just spent 4 nights with only 1 park day and we had a wonderful time filled with all sorts of activities. DIsney is so much more than just the Parks.

Melissa M wrote on Tue, 03/10/2015 - 03:22:

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We love visiting the Boardwalk and spending hours there. So much fun!

alicemouse wrote on Tue, 03/10/2015 - 13:23:

alicemouse's picture

Great article, Traci! I've promised DH that at some point, we'll do a trip to Universal and just stay at Disney. One of our to-do items on that trip is the backstage magic tour. It's expenxsive on the surface, but when you consider that taking the tour doesn't require park admission, it's really not that bad.

Dorothy B wrote on Tue, 03/10/2015 - 14:35:

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The Grand Floridian has afternoon tea at the Garden View Tea Room, and at Christmastime it's fun to shop at the Gingerbread House.

DavidA wrote on Tue, 03/10/2015 - 14:41:

DavidA's picture

Add to your monorail suggestion: a monorail bar crawl. There are great bars and lounges at each of the three monorail resorts. If it's an adult-only group, ride the monorail to each resort, have a drink and maybe some appetizers at each one.

Arnell wrote on Tue, 03/10/2015 - 15:54:

Arnell's picture

Resort hop! Take a Disney bus and visit the various resorts and see what they have to offer.

Lee wrote on Tue, 03/10/2015 - 16:10:

Lee's picture

Downtown Disney drops off the top 10 until all the construction is finished. Just driving past it from the parks to my hotel added 20 minutes to get through the backup. After the first two times, we started going back out into US 4 to avoid it...

Mike C. wrote on Tue, 03/10/2015 - 16:25:

Mike C.'s picture

Don't forget Sammy Duvall's Watersports! Take a Jet Ski Tour, parasail and more! Love those guys!!

Disneyjulie wrote on Tue, 03/10/2015 - 16:42:

Disneyjulie's picture

Don't think you can watch the fireworks from the Poly Beach anymore, they are adding the water villas.

Melissa F. wrote on Tue, 03/10/2015 - 22:10:

Melissa F.'s picture

A couple of years ago my husband was in Orlando on business and we stayed on property. It was Christmas and I spent my days using the Disney transportation system and visiting all the hotels I could to see the decorations. All were decorated different and I enjoyed many meals at the different resorts. I also made stops at all the theme parks seeing the different Christmas trees at the front gates. It cost me nothing except for food, I took amazing pictures and had a wonderful time.

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