Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Team Favorites--Non-park Activity

While the theme parks at Walt Disney World are certainly the main reason most people visit the resort, don't miss out on some of the other great recreational activities available to you.  From boating and fishing to golfing and horseback riding to shopping and dining, there are many things to do at Walt Disney World that don't involve turnstiles.  Here are a few favorites of the Growing Up Disney team.

Amy:  I obviously love the theme parks but I also think the resorts are an attraction unto themselves.  My favorite is the Grand Floridian.  It's so beautiful and I find it relaxing just to walk into the lobby.  Afternoon tea with my mom is one of my favorite things to do at WDW and I highly recommend the Garden View Lounge and its tea service.  Depending on the time of day, you may hear a pianist or an orchestra entertaining in the Grand's lobby.  Many times you may spot a bridal party taking pre-ceremony photos on the grand staircase.   They have a great system for taking both the groom's and bride's photos here without the couple seeing each other.  (I really do have to blog about my wedding soon....)  Other favorite resorts for relaxing and exploring include the Polynesian and Animal Kingdom Lodge. 

Heading to breakfast at Kona Cafe
While this is often more transportation than recreation, I love riding the boats at Walt Disney World.  To get to the Grand for tea, I like to take the Monorail over from the Magic Kingdom and then leisurely make our way back on the boat that provides service to Magic Kingdom, Grand Floridian, and the Polynesian.  We normally stay at Old Key West and the water taxi to Downtown Disney is fun.  Again, we typically take the quicker option, in this case the bus, to get there and return by the more leisurely transportation choice.  If you are going to Wilderness Lodge from the Magic Kingdom, be sure to take a boat! 

Walt Disney World is a great place for shopping.  Since Disney has been homogenizing their merchandise over the last few years, I like to window shop during my trip and then go to Downtown Disney's World of Disney store to purchase.  This ginormous store has much of the merchandise you see at the parks and I like making one big purchase.  Thankfully, not every store on property features the same Mickey 2010 t-shirt.  The World Showcase shops in particular have some very interesting merchandise.

TIP:  Most merchandise locations at Walt Disney World theme parks and Downtown Disney will offer resort delivery.  If you've bought something you don't want to carry around with you, the store can have it sent to the gift shop at the WDW resort where you are staying.  This takes a couple of days, but if you are at the end of your visit or staying off property, they still have you covered.  Your purchase can also be delivered to the front of the park.

Miniature golf is a favorite activity of our family.  I peeked ahead and saw that DisneyDad is covering that so I'll leave it for him.  I already have a full post scheduled for next Monday for Winter Summerland Mini-Golf, so be sure to check it out.

Confession:  I haven't been in a Walt Disney World pool since college.  We're more hit the parks people.  However, now that we have Tink, this will be changing.  WDW has some great resort pools.  I'm especially interested in staying at Kidani Village to let Tink check out the vast water play area there.  Most resorts have both feature pools with fancy theming, slides, etc and quiet pools which are more simple.

Click here for my post on jogging at Walt Disney World.  Most of the resorts offer walking/jogging/running paths and a morning jog is a nice way to watch the World wake up.

Mom at the 18th hole, winning again
DisneyDad:  We usually plan a day where we do not go to a park when we visit WDW.  My wife loves to play mini-golf  and she has a tendency to beat me when we play.  We enjoy Disney's Winter Summerland Miniature Golf Course near Blizzard Beach Water Park.  The fun begins when you pick up your club at the small airstream looking camper - the Winterbago - which is the starters booth as well as snack bar and gift shop (Annual Passholders get a 50% discount on golf.)  Be sure to bring your camera and climb into Santa's sleigh for a quick picture before you begin.  Then choose your Santa-themed course...Sand or Snow.

The Sand Course takes you on a summer trip to the beach with Santa.  On one hole you'll find him buried in the sand as you putt over his belly.  There is a large sand castle with a drawbridge for you to test your luck.  The Snow Course takes you on a winter trip with Santa and his elves along with some of the Disney characters.  It has a snow castle that matches the sand castle.  Watch out for Squirty the snowman who just might get you wet as you pass.  Both courses end up with a special message from Santa on a computer screen as you finish up on the 18th hole.

Watch out for alligators!  Both courses are near a lake and I have seen a small alligator sunning himself.  This is central Florida after all.

Ridge:  My favorite non-park activity, besides taking a break and just grabbing a nap in the room, is going to Downtown Disney or the Boardwalk to hangout.  Both have shopping and pretty nice restaurants.  At Downtown Disney my favorite restaurant is Raglan Road and it's ESPN Club at Boardwalk.  New to the Boardwalk is Kouzzina by chef Cat Cora and has a Mediterranean menu.  Also at the Boardwalk is the Big River Grille & Brewing Works where they make their own unique beers.  It's nice to get out and people watch sometimes, especially at Jellyrolls dueling piano bar.  There really isn't a song these guys don't know.  There is also other entertainment to be seen here right out in the open, so keep your eyes peeled.


  1. We love DTD! We've been there after a busy day at the parks for dinner - we love Planet Hollywood and Portabello - or we can spend a whole afternoon there, shopping - I love WoD and the Xmas shop - having coffee, people watching and of course, Cirque!!!
    Boardwalk is also lovely way to wind down and relax, the bakery is awesome!
    I would just love to have tea at GF! Maybe I'll meet you there one day :)

  2. Those are some great locations. I agree that Cirque is amazing! Would love to meet you for tea!!!

  3. GREAT ideas! We're trying to come up with some new and different things to do for our next trip. Very helpful! We enjoy strolling around the Boardwalk as well. My son loved the magician!

  4. Another nice thing to do is to rent a boat and explore the river. From Port Orleans (Riverside and French quarter), Old Key West, and Saratoga Springs you can follow the river to DTD. Exploring the river is amazing. In the middle of all the excitement of WDW is a laid back place you'd almost think you were alone. If you don't want to rent a boat, catch the ferry from these resorts to DTD and back. It's a very relaxing ride.

  5. We will have to do that if we are ever at wdw at the same time then! And have a meeting of the Tinks lol :)


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