There is more to Disney World than just four theme parks. In fact, there is so much more that you may not know exactly where to start when deciding what to do on your Disney vacation. A trip to Disney does require some planning, but doing that little bit of research will make a world of difference in your vacation. Here are just some of the many things there are to do on a Disney vacation.
Editor’s Note: We understand that with the phased reopening of Walt Disney World, some of the advice in this article may not apply if you visit while park hours are reduced, capacity limits and physical distancing are in place, and some of our favorite experiences—fireworks, parades, and character greetings—are temporarily suspended. (You can read everything you need to know about the phased reopening by clicking here). We will continue to share articles that give guidance on a “normal” vacation to Walt Disney World, along with any special changes or instructions you may need to be aware of during the phased reopening to provide the best tips we can regardless of when you are visiting. ~ Chad & Cindy
8 – Dining
Editor’s Note: During the phased reopening of Walt Disney World, the dining booking window is 60 days.
The food is one of the best things about Disney. Whether it’s snacks, quick-service, or table service meals, they each have their place in a Disney vacation! Do a little research and check out the menus. Every food service location on Disney property has its menu listed on the Disney World website. Consider the tastes of your party and family, and make choices that will appeal to everyone. Some table-service restaurants even have character dining experiences or live entertainment. Don’t just stick to the parks, but look at the resorts too. And remember, if you’re thinking of dining at a table service location, always make a reservation, which you can do 180 days in advance.
7 – Water Parks
Editor’s Note: During the phased reopening of Walt Disney World, the water parks are not open. Blizzard Beach is scheduled to reopen on March 7, 2021.
Disney has two absolutely fantastic water parks. If you and your family enjoy swimming, waterslides and fantastic theming, plan on visiting either Typhoon Lagoon or Blizzard Beach, or both! It’s easy to spend a whole day on the slides, in the waves or relaxing in a cabana. You can purchase a one-day water park ticket and visit both parks on one day. Check ahead of time to make sure they are open when you plan to visit, as the water parks do close for refurbishment and due to weather.
6 – Golf
If golf is your game, there are several courses to choose from, like Disney’s Magnolia Golf Course, which is the longest course and designed in the classic Tour style. If you’re traveling with your family, then perhaps miniature golf is a better fit. There are the Fantasia Gardens and Fairways Miniature Golf courses located at the Swan hotel, or the Winter Summerland Miniature Golf courses by Blizzard Beach, which are two fun themed courses, one with a summer theme and the other with a winter theme.
5 – Disney Springs
Disney Springs is the entertainment district at Disney. It is the perfect destination for unique dining options, entertainment, and shopping. Disney Springs offers more than just Disney themed dining and shopping, and is guaranteed to have something for everyone. It also boasts the world’s biggest Disney Store, the World of Disney. There’s a good mix of locations with both entertainment and dining, like bowling at Splitsville Luxury Lanes, music at the House of Blues, and the Irish pub Raglan Road, which features Irish dance performers. You’ll also find restaurants from some of the top chefs in the country! Best of all, there is no entrance fee to Disney Springs.
4 – Tours
Editor’s Note: During the phased reopening of Walt Disney World, backstage tours are temporarily suspended.
Disney has a number of tours available for guests. There are tours for every type of Disney fan. For fans of the man himself, there is the Marceline to Magic Kingdom Tour or the Magic Behind Our Steam Train Tour. For animal lovers, there is the Wild Africa Trek Tour, there’s also the five-hour walking tour of Magic Kingdom, Keys to the Kingdom, and many more. The price does vary, depending on the tour. Disney tours are a fantastic option for guests who have been to Disney before and want to experience the magic in a new and exciting way.
3 – Meet Characters
Editor’s Note: During the phased reopening of Walt Disney World, character greetings are temporarily suspended. Chef Mickey’s, Topolino’s Terrace’s Breakfast a la Art, Minnie’s Seasonal Dine at Hollywood & Vine, and Garden Grill offer a modified character dining experience.
If meeting characters is something you’d like to do on your vacation, it can take a little planning. The characters don’t just simply walk around the parks, it takes a little effort to find them. For example, if you want to meet Rapunzel, you have to visit her at Fairytale Hall in Fantasyland, but if you want to meet Pocahontas, you’ll have to find her at Animal Kingdom. Characters have designated spots and appearance times. Check the schedule at each park to see when and where your favorite characters will be appearing so you don’t miss out on meeting them.
2 – Special Events
Editor’s Note: During the phased reopening of Walt Disney World, the parties at Magic Kingdom were cancelled in 2020. No decision has been made for parties in 2021. Epcot festivals have been modified.
Depending on the time of year, there may be a special event going on at Disney while you’re there. If you’re visiting around Halloween, Magic Kingdom hosts Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, which starts in September and runs until the end of October. Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party begins in November and runs at the Magic Kingdom well into December. These are special ticketed events, and only happen on certain days, but they are definitely worth attending. Epcot also has four festivals: the Epcot Festival of the Arts in early winter, the International Flower and Garden Festival in the spring, and the International Food and Wine Festival in the fall, and the Epcot Festival of the Holidays during the holiday season. With special events come special snack items, entertainment, parades and much more. It’s always a magical time to visit Disney during a special celebration.
1 – Nighttime Shows
Editor’s Note: During the phased reopening of Walt Disney World, nighttime spectaculars, including fireworks shows, are temporarily suspended.
All four theme parks now have nighttime entertainment. Magic Kingdom has “Happily Ever After.” The show is fantastic. You don’t want to miss it! At Epcot, guests can see the Epcot Forever. Over at Hollywood Studios, guests have two different night shows to choose from: Fantasmic and Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular. I would strongly recommend seeing all the shows, they really are some of the most magical experiences to have at the parks.
Do a little research ahead of time and find out what appeals to you most. Look at what there is to do at each park, but also look beyond the parks because there is fun and magic waiting for you everywhere you go on Disney property.
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