Monday, September 24, 2012

Minnie Moms: Extending Your WDW Vacation with a Non-Park Day

Enjoying non-park days is a great way to extend your family's Walt Disney World vacation.  You can enjoy the magic of the World just a little longer without another day's park admission.  The Minnie Moms share their favorite tips.

Amy: I suggested this month's topic because I'm planning a trip with my kiddos and my BFF for January.  I told her we'd take a day off from the parks but once I start planning I just can't do it.  My annual pass burns a hole in my pocket and I feel this need to enter a park every day I'm at the World, even if it's only for a short time.  So, learn along with me and let's see if we can all take a non-park day.  

Janine: As we fly over to the US from the UK, we always stay in Florida for 2 weeks. We buy park tickets to cover the whole time we are there which are available to pre-purchase in the UK. On previous holidays, we have also spent time in those, ahem, other parks in Orlando so we don't have an awful lot of non-park days even with being there for so long!

We do like to factor in a so-called rest days though. I say so-called as our non-park days tend to be shopping days! We usually spend a lazy morning by the pool and then head off to the Malls and Outlets to stock up on jeans, trainers, and other clothing items which are so much cheaper in America.

We also usually (although not this year with it being our first trip with Tink) go down to the coast for a couple of days, St Petes Beach is our favourite. Here we go to watch the Tampa Bay Rays play and enjoy a dolphin watching trip and paddling in the sea. Of course we make time for yet another well known theme park here too.

This year we have factored in 2 non-park things I'm really looking forward to. On one morning we are going to head into the Grand Floridian Resort for a nosey around and maybe a cup of tea. I'm super excited about this as we always stay off-site so I have never been in a WDW hotel before. And secondly, we are going to head to Celebration for a look around. I have heard that this quaint little town is just beautiful and I'm hoping some of the houses will be decorated for Halloween by then.

Of course, if I had my way, I'd spend the entire 2 weeks just in the Magic Kingdom ;-)

Corby: When we first started going to Disney World as a family, we would literally go from park opening to park closing, we would stay in a moderate resort for about a week and get 6 or 7 day park tickets. We started to change things up a couple of years ago when our daughter was born. We realized our park touring plans would have to change with an infant in tow. For the past couple of years we have chosen to stay in deluxe resorts for added convenience and get fewer park tickets so that we can actually enjoy where we are staying. We now take a much more laid back approach which has been a change of pace for us.

The Disney resorts have so much to offer! You could easily spend an entire vacation at the resort alone! We find each resort offers something different and I find it fun to run with whatever particular theme that resort we're staying in has. Some fun things you can enjoy are swimming, games/dancing/entertainment by the pool, and movies under the stars for example. Some resorts offer activities such as fishing, canoeing, water slides, boat rental, shopping, wonderful restaurants onsite, special tours, ability to view animals on a savanna from your balcony, fireworks viewing, campfires (some with characters), musical entertainment and so much more! You can literally choose to make your Disney vacation unique each visit and that's what keeps us going back for more. The possibilities are endless. You can make your vacation as action packed as you like or do what we do and take some breaks every now and then, slow down, relax and enjoy all that the Disney resorts have to offer. I'm sure we'll go back to commando park touring as our kids get older but for right now taking it easy and having some downtime works for us and I highly recommend trying it sometime!

Natalie: When heading to Disney World, often times it is a good day to take a dayaway from the parks. This allows for you to do some of the many other things that are available in the Disney World Resort area. It also allows you time to recuperate from your many hours of walking in the theme parks!

Here are some suggestions of things you can do for your day in the Disney Resort while not spending time in the theme parks:

1. Visit other Disney Resorts in the area. You will find beautiful landscapes, pools, and entertaining decorations. In addition, there are shops and a wide variety of restaurants to try. Check the listing of amenities as well for additional fun things to do!
2. Take the monorail around both loops. It is quite entertaining to see the various theme parks and Resort high above.
3. Take a stroll around Downtown Disney. At Downtown Disney, you can find a variety of entertaining things to do to include entertainers, jugglers, balloon artists, and magicians. All of the entertainment found in the walk-through of Downtown Disney is free. In addition, there is a large variety of shops and restaurants that offer hours of entertainment. The property for Downtown Disney is quite vast and takes up a good 2-3 hours of a day.
4. From Downtown Disney (or a variety of other locations), you can take a ferry ride. From the ferry you can head over to Port Orleans Riverside or Port Orleans French Quarter. If you time the visit to these Resorts right, you can see a show performed by Bob Jackson at Port Orleans Riverside. Bob typically performs Tuesday through Saturday nights and plays from 8:30PM-Midnight but the schedule is subject to change. There is no charge for admission.
5. Head over to the Resorts for nighttime fun. Head to Fort Wilderness Campgrounds for the Camp Fire Sing-A-Long with Chip and Dale. This is a great way to have loads of fun with characters. Typically after seeing Chip and Dale, a movie is shown. Double your entertainment for FREE! Be sure to check other Resorts for their offerings of free entertainment.
6. Spend time at the pools! Each resort has a great pool area. There are typically fun activities for everyone to include singing, dancing, and games.

These suggestions are all FREE as well! Have a great day, at a great price!

Be sure to pick up your copy of Strategies for Paying for Disney for other great advice on how to save money so you can afford your dream Disney vacation!

Danielle: We love non-park days! Don't get me wrong, we love our park days, too, but lately, as the kids are growing, we've really come to enjoy our free days, as well. My family doesn't believe in leaving the Disney bubble while on a WDW vacation so going to outlet malls or other local attractions doesn't do it for us. We prefer to sleep until whenever we feel like waking up (or rather, when the kids feel like waking up) and enjoy our wonderful home resort, Disney's Animal Kingdom Villas. The grounds are so amazing, the animals are an attraction in themselves, and the Uzima Pool is beautiful. Being on Disney property still gives us the Disney fix we need while being on a WDW vacation, but we don't have to follow a schedule! Occasionally, we will also visit Downtown Disney and that fulfills the same needs, but the long bus ride from Animal Kingdom Villas is pretty prohibitive with the little ones. Non-park days are necessary in our opinion, because they provide a nice break for us to re-charge our batteries. We are fresh and ready to hit the parks the following day! :)

Beth: Taking a day off from the parks is something our family has done every trip with the kids. Walt Disney World has so much to offer, and with three little ones, some of those out of park experiences are their favorites. It gives a nice break from having to be anywhere at a particular time and has become a day for the kids (especially when they were younger) to rest their legs and get rejuvenated.

There is plenty to do for adults and children alike outside of the parks. For Joey, Hayley and Emily, they love when we spend an afternoon just playing in the pool. The resort pools are so themed that it probably seems to them that the pools are a park in themselves. Being from New Hampshire, our season to use the pool is short, so being able to take a swim is always something they look forward to. For the adults, my dad and husband can take a morning to go golfing. Between all the resorts and Downtown Disney, there is something for everyone of every age.

When my children were really young, taking a day off from the parks was a nice break for their little legs. All three of my kids were never really fans of being in strollers and most of our Disney vacations have been spent pushing a stroller with our backpack in it. Now as they have gotten older, the break from the parks isn’t for anything more than to take advantage of some of the out of park experiences, such as a Kitchen Sink from Beaches and Cream, shopping at Downtown Disney and something new we are trying on our next trip, the Bayou Pirate Adventure Cruise at Port Orleans Riverside.

Many thanks to Janine, Corby, Natalie, Danielle, and Beth for sharing their tips this month.  With these great ideas, I might just be able to pass up the parks for a day.  Please check out our Minnie Moms page for past articles and more information about this terrific team. 

1 comment:

  1. Loved it, great tips about time for the pool and resort hopping. We have done that and it's so much fun checking other resorts out..


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