I love Disney World: the characters, the rides, the food. But not everyone in my travel party is always a fan. They don’t like crowds or rides. So I’ve wondered, what can we do so they have fun as well? Our Disney experts came through with some fantastic suggestions. Heck, I might even plan a trip, and only hit the parks if I have time!
1. Sangria University
Coronado Springs Resort
Laura Liden has been helping families enjoy the magic of Disney for more than a decade, so she knows a few things about those unique family members who just don’t love Disney.
Sangria University at Three Bridges Bar & Grill inside Coronado Springs Resort is a little known secret, yet a tough reservation to score. It’s an afternoon class that’s held just 2 days a week where Disney experts share not only the history of sangria but also the recipes used to make four varieties of sangria served at this restaurant. When it’s all done, you are treated to a tasting and some light appetizers. You also get to make your own glass of custom sangria using fresh fruit and base spirits provided. This delightful experience currently has a cost of $59 per person.
2. Monorail Pub Crawl Or Progressive Dinner
Polynesian Village Resort, Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Or Grand Floridian Resort
Chris Cook-Leitz is the owner of On The Road Travel. She’s often on the road enjoying the wonders of Disney. A progressive dinner or pub crawl utilizing the monorail is genius! You can board the Monorail at Polynesian Village Resort, Disney’s Contemporary Resort, or Grand Floridian Resort.
Cook-Leitz suggests Enchanted Rose at the Grand Floridian, Outer Rim at the Contemporary, and of course, Trader Sam’s at Polynesian Village for a one-of-a-kind pub crawl. If you’d rather eat your way around Bay Lake, Cook recommends starting with the pulled pork nachos at Captain Cooks at Polynesian Village, dinner reservations at Grand Floridian Café, and finishing up with a sweet treat from the Contempo Café bakery case at the Contemporary. You can also go at night and plan around Magic Kingdom fireworks and enjoy the show from a resort.
3. Mickey Dome Cake Decorating Class
If you’ve ever stepped foot in Amorette’s Patisserie in Disney Springs, you’ve probably seen the beautiful Mickey dome cakes they sell. Liden suggests taking one of their cake decorating classes. The class is 90 minutes and takes place before the bakery opens. While the $199 price tag may seem steep, it includes yourself and a guest who will create 1 cake while enjoying bottomless beverages like specialty coffees, teas, and even select alcoholic treats. You even have the chance to purchase additional treats before they open to the public. Linsen says it’s worth every penny!
4. Fireworks Cruise
Epcot, Magic Kingdom
Another of Liden’s favorites is a fireworks cruise. You can charter a boat into the International Gateway at Epcot or Seven Seas Lagoon at Magic Kingdom for a private viewing of the evening fireworks. Your cruise includes a captain, assorted snacks and drinks, along with a bird’s eye view of the show. The boat can seat up to ten people and advance reservations are required. Another bonus: Since you’re not in the park, you don’t need a park ticket.
5. Animal Kingdom Lodge And Kidani Village
Sarah Armbruster just returned from Disney World and can’t wait to go back. She’s an avid Disney traveler, season pass holder, and travel planner for families.
One of her favorite things to do at Disney without visiting the parks is simply to visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. Anyone can partake in the experience and view the animals on the savannahs behind this breathtaking resort. You can interact with cast members, who will gladly fill you in about the animals or you can enjoy some quiet time on a rocking chair on one of the patios. Try out the buffet at Boma, or for a little more of a fine dining experience, you could enjoy dinner at Jiko.
Liden is also a fan of the Lodge and Kidani Village. She likes to explore the lobby and then enjoy the outdoors around the Arusha Rock fire pit. At the Arusha Rock savanna overlook, you will see some of the animals that call Animal Kingdom Lodge home. Around the pool, the naturalists are happy to talk about the animals with you and the night goggles are an interesting way to check out the animals after dark.
For dinner, head over to Kidani Village and make a dinner reservation at Sanaa. You can use Disney transportation to get between the Lodge and Kidani Village. Sanaa is a hidden gem because not only does it have a great menu, but the African and Indian decor paired with excellent views of the Sunset Savanna set the stage for a delightful evening. Be sure to get the bread service — it’s fantastic!
6. Wine Tasting
Enjoy a little adult fun with a wine tasting at Wine Bar George at Disney Springs. Liden says it’s a great experience. You can taste most of their wines by the ounce, glass, or bottle, but her favorite is The Chocolate Experience. It’s 3 wines paired with 3 different chocolates from The Ganachery (also in Disney Springs).
7. Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue
Seana Beard has enjoyed event planning for more than 20 years. She has turned those experiences into planning amazing, unique Disney trips and shares some of her favorite out of the park experiences.
Beard is excited about the return of Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue. It’s a fun way to experience dinner plus all you can enjoy drinks (including the sangria) and a participatory show. As you enjoy your cornbread and fried chicken, you will watch a show full of song, dance, and comedy unfold on the stage and among the tables around you. There are two shows each evening, and throw in the ferry ride to get over the Fort Wilderness and Beard says you have an adventurous night to remember.
Disney’s Boardwalk Inn
Another great adult-only adventure is Jellyrolls at Disney’s Boardwalk Inn. Cook-Leitz says you and your pals can sing the night away to your favorite songs. Jellyrolls is open from 7 p.m. until 1:45 a.m., with entertainment starting at 8 p.m. Jellyrolls is for guests 21 and over. This is a popular nightspot in Orlando, and there can be a wait, especially on weekends. Dueling pianos are featured and the musicians take requests from the audience. While no food is served (other than complimentary popcorn), there is a full bar, including specialty cocktails, beer, wine, and hard seltzers. There is a nightly admission fee starting at $18 per person.
9. Character Breakfast
Four Seasons Resort
If you’re looking for a character experience outside the park, Cook-Leitz highly recommends The Good Morning Goofy character breakfast at Ravello at the Four Seasons Resort. It’s held on Thursdays, Saturdays, and select Tuesdays from 7 a.m. until 11 a.m. It’s an off-the-beaten-path experience and great for larger parties. Goofy and his pals bring the fun and will keep you entertained while you enjoy the delicious breakfast. The Four Seasons is a gorgeous property, and a great way to work off your breakfast is to take a walk and explore. The character breakfast here is often overlooked because it’s not held at a Disney resort, but it’s no less magical and the food is outstanding.
10. Carriage Rides
Armbruster’s last trip to Walt Disney World Resort included a memorable visit to Fort Wilderness for dinner at Trail’s End. After a delicious dinner, they rode a horse-drawn carriage. She said it was positively fantastic! These carriage rides run all year in the evenings for 25 minutes each ride. The only time they don’t offer the regular horse-drawn carriage rides at Fort Wilderness Resort and campground is during the month of December, when they transform the carriage into a Christmas sleigh for the Christmas season. Simply put, this was a perfectly relaxing way to spend some time with her family. Armbruster highly recommends trying this and booking reservations online.
11. Surrey Bike Rentals
If you’re looking for some fun and a little exercise, Liden suggests Surrey bike rentals. This is a fun way to explore your resort or a resort you are just visiting for a few hours. There are 2- and 4-seat bikes available, and rental is by the hour. Her expert tip: Make sure everyone is willing to help pedal. Her family rented one at Boardwalk Inn, and the two teens felt they didn’t need to help. She says those hills around the lake are killer on the legs.
12. Rides, Shows, And Shopping
Beard discovered a variety of options at Disney Springs to create a fun day without being in one of the theme parks. Like the theme parks, you can find rides and shows! The Amphicar is a unique tour on dry land and the open waters of Lake Buena Vista. If you are looking for a show, House of Blues is a great option for live music, and Cirque du Soleil performs their beautiful show Drawn to Life nightly. This is a great show combining beautiful acrobatics with classic Disney theming that’s guaranteed to put a smile on your face.
13. The Resort Pools
When heading off to Walt Disney World Resort, Armbrusters says people don’t always think their resort is that important. But in her book, it’s more than just a place to sleep. The resorts are almost a destination within themselves. With that being said, she loves pool time with her daughter in the afternoons as often as possible when at Disney. Her three favorite resort pools are The Polynesian Resort, The Grand Floridian Resort, and Stormalong Bay at Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Resort. Of course, you do need to be a guest at the specific resort to enjoy the pools.