Disney World tickets can be quite expensive, but you can still vacation at Walt Disney World without ever visiting a theme park. Disney’s property is home to some of the most popular things in Orlando.
Walt Disney World is comprised of four theme parks as well as two water parks. The Florida Walt Disney World is larger than Disneyland and offers more activities.
Looking for ways to spend some time at Disney World without a ticket? Here are nine options. These activities cost around $30, or you can find free or discounted things near the parks.
1. Monorail Resort Hop
People think of Disney rides most often when they think about rides. The monorail at Disney is one of the most popular rides. It doesn’t even need a ticket. The monorail runs on two routes. The main route circles the Seven Seas Lagoon which is the center of Magic Kingdom Park. The second route connects Disney’s Transportation and Ticket Center and takes you to Epcot.
You can experience both routes by starting at Epcot. The monorail route that starts here gives you slightly better views than the one that begins in the opposite direction. You’ll find Epcot’s two main entrances on opposite sides; the Future World entrance is just outside your reach.
Upon your arrival at Disney’s Transportation and Ticket Center you will be able to transfer to another line which makes more stops. These are:
Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort.
Disney Grand Floridian Resort & Spa.
Magic Kingdom Park.
Disney’s Contemporary Resort.
You can hop on and off at any of the resort stops you wish to explore. Each hotel boasts a unique lobby design and unique aesthetic. These are the amenities you can expect from each resort.
Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
You’ll find tropical vibes as you step off the monorail station. You can also enjoy a full meal at Ohana (the hotel’s buffet restaurant). You can’t leave the hotel without trying a Dole Whip, which is basically pineapple soft serve, or a drink at Trader Sam’s – a favorite tiki bar.
Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
A pianist might be seen tickling the ivories in the lobby at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa.
Only the most discerning of people will spend $295 on a prix-fixe meal at Victoria & Albert’s. It is Disney’s top restaurant and has been awarded the prestigious AAA Five Diamond Award each year since 2000.
If you are looking for fancy dining at a lower price, the Enchanted Rose-inspired “Beauty and the Beast”, is the place to go. There are four areas in the lounge that correspond to the movie. The menu consists mainly of French food with a croquette and a charcuterie board.
Disney’s Contemporary Resort
The hotel is unique because the monorail tracks pass through it and the station is located within the lobby.
See the mural at 90 feet tall by Mary Blair, Disney legend and renowned for her design of It’s a Small World.
2. Take the water taxi to Disney Wilderness Lodge
Take a water taxi without tickets to Disney’s Transportation and Ticket Center, or the entrance of the Magic Kingdom Park and travel towards Disney’s Wilderness Lodge.
This resort, inspired by National Parks, has a six-story lobby. Two 55-foot high totem poles, measuring 55 feet in height, and an 82 foot-tall fireplace are just a few of the many wonders found inside. The lobby has a hot spring that flows out to the outside and eventually becomes a waterfall. Fire Rock Geyser is a 120-foot geyser that bursts every hour near the pool.
If you’re hungry, the resort’s Whispering Canyon Cafe is a must-visit for its signature, all-you-care-to-enjoy skillets serving Western fare including buttermilk-cheddar biscuits, sausage gravy, scrambled eggs, maple-chipotle barbecue slow-smoked pork ribs and country potatoes. Be aware that the servers at this restaurant are known for their sassy customers.
3. Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground offers canoeing, fishing and hiking opportunities.
Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort is the neighbor of Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. Uniquely, the resort’s “hotel rooms” can be described as private cabins or campsites that allow you to pitch a tent. There are also hookups available for you to park your RV in. RV rental company RVshare stated that The Campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort was its top RV destination for 2021.
You won’t find a better place to enjoy outdoor and recreational activities, even if you don’t stay there. These include:
Jogging or hiking: This 3.1-mile trail is mostly shaded so it’s easy to find.
Tri-Circle-D Ranch Horse Riding: These horses are located nearby the resort and can be ridden by anyone. Visitors can free of charge visit the stables to meet the horses and vehicles that will take them down Magic Kingdom’s Main Street. A pony ride costs less than $10 for visitors who are less than 80 pounds and 48 inches tall. All others can take 45-minute horseback trails rides for a slightly higher price. For an additional charge, holiday sleigh rides can be booked for a season or year.
Fishing – Renting fishing gear, such as casting rods, at the Bike Barn is possible (fishing is catch-and-release only).
Kayaking and canoeing: You can rent a watercraft at the Bike Barn starting at $15 an hour.
Biking – Rent a bike starting at $9
4. Disney Springs offers shopping, dining and entertainment
You can easily spend an entire day at Disney Springs. It is a shopping, dining, and entertainment area. There are many restaurants in the area that offer a variety of food choices for all price points and tastes.
Many shops have interactive features that you can use even if there is no intention to purchase anything. The Coca-Cola Store’s rooftop offers beautiful views and photo opportunities. The Lego Store’s larger-than-life Disney Lego models are also museum-worthy. You will also find plenty of Disney-themed shops such as The Art of Disney, which offers gallery-style framed prints in gallery style, DisneyStyle, where you can shop for the latest fashion, Disney Candy Cauldron, and Disney’s Days of Christmas.
You might be willing to spend more if you aren’t willing to pay for the free or low-cost activities. You can go to a Cirque de Soleil performance (it’s Disney-themed), ride a vintage Amphicar that can drive on ground and float on the water, bowl at Splitsville Luxury Lanes or fly in a tethered helium balloon.
5. Disney’s BoardWalk offers dining and dancing
Although not as big as Disney Springs, Disney’s BoardWalk is worth a visit. It offers a variety of shopping, dining, and entertainment options. It is a Coney Island-style boardwalk, which frames Disney’s BoardWalk Inn Hotel. It can also be walked from several resorts, such as Disney’s Yacht Club Resort and the Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme parks. You can also access it via Disney’s free-ride boats and gondola lifts (more details on that later span>).
The Atlantic Dance Hall is an adult-only nightclub and Jellyrolls is an adults-only dueling pianist bar. Jellyrolls charges a cover fee.
Although it isn’t technically on the boardwalk you can still head to Disney’s Yacht Club Resort to grab ice cream from its retro soda fountain, the Beaches & Cream Soda Shop.
The Kitchen Sink claims it can serve four people, but could actually serve more. It contains eight scoops of icecream loaded with every topping. You can have it all in the kitchen sink.
6. Navigate on the Friendship Launch Boats
While there are many boat rides on Disney property, the Friendship Launch boats offer the most fun and free way to travel.
The boat route that runs within Epcot is not included in this guide. The other route runs between Epcot, Hollywood Studios and stops at some resorts.
7. Enjoy the views from the Skyliner
The Disney Skyliner, an aerial gondola, connects Hollywood Studios with the International Gateway at Epcot. While the views from the boats are beautiful, the Skyliner’s bird’s-eye view is unbeatable.
The Skyliner, unlike the boats, branches off to several hotels that can be enjoyable to explore, including Disney’s Art of Animation Resort. The resort is an Instagrammer’s paradise that can be easily explored by a 1.38-mile lakeside trail. It passes colorful courtyards inspired from movies such as “Cars”, “The Lion King”, and “The Little Mermaid.” The Big Blue Pool, which is “Finding Nemo,” is the largest on property.
The train can be taken to any station with no ticket. However, you should not miss the route between Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort or Disney’s Riviera Resort for some of the most spectacular views.
8. “Safari” at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
To see live animals, you don’t have to purchase a ticket for Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park. Nearby, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge offers views of four savannas where over 30 species African wildlife live, including zebras and gazelles.
Go through the lobby and to the back patio. There are rocking chairs, designated animal-viewing platforms, and designated viewing areas to view the safari animals.
You can refresh yourself with South African wines in the hotel’s Cape Town Lounge or Wine Bar. Boma, the hotel’s restaurant, offers a variety of dishes that you won’t find anywhere else. Boma offers all-you can-eat African cuisine at a cost of $50 per adult.
9. Enjoy the fireworks
The best places to view the Magic Kingdom fireworks from outside the park are
You can enjoy a spectacular, free view from the dock at the Transportation and Ticket Center. This is where you will find the monorail, many boat departures, and many bus lines. You can also return to Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort to watch the show from the sands on the beach. This itinerary is perfect for post-fireworks drinks at onsite tiki bars.
(Top Photo courtesy Walt Disney World)
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