Walt Disney World is a sprawling resort, boasting four theme parks, two water parks, a shopping and entertainment district and dozens of on-site hotels. There's a huge amount to see and do, and cramming everything in to a one or two week vacation can be incredibly challenging. Sometimes, though, you may want to take a break from simply riding theme park attractions and watching shows or parades. If that's the case, you have plenty of options. There are lots of unusual and unique activities on offer at Walt Disney World - and we've listed twenty of the best below!
20. Learn to surf
The wave pool at Disney's Typhoon Lagoon water park is not just there for show - you can really surf on it. Lessons are offered on select days prior to the park opening, for guests aged eight and over. Two professional instructors are on hand, first teaching you the basics on-land. Then you'll head into the water on a soft-sided surfboard, and by the time the lesson is over you could be riding six-foot waves. The price at the time of writing is $165 per person, including tax. Times vary by season and are subject to change, so call (407) WDW-PLAY to check and to make reservations.
19. Take a FREE tour of two amazing restaurants
Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodgeis one of Disney's most unique hotels - and it boasts two excellent, African-themed table service restaurants: Jiko, The Cooking Place and Boma - Flavors of Africa. It's possible to learn more about the culinary delights on offer at these eateries by joining the Animal Kingdom Lodge Culinary Tour. The tour is led by two of the Lodge's Cultural Representatives, who come over from Africa to work at Walt Disney World for a year. You'll receive a short tour of the Boma restaurant area, and learn the story behind the decor. You'll then be taken along the buffet line, learning about the African influences on the different dishes on offer. Next you'll move over to Jiko, where you'll take a tour of the main bar and dining area. Finally, you'll get to taste some free samples! The tour takes place at 4pm daily, and it is not possible to make a reservation. Simply show up at the Boma podium in the Animal Kingdom Lodge. The tour last 30 minutes - but it's worth checking in advance by calling (407) 938-3000 to check the tour schedule.
18. Dine out while you watch a movie
Back in 2011, the AMC Theater at Downtown Disney launched a new range of "Dine-In" screens, which enable to guests to eat a meal while they watch a movie. Six theatres at the complex were converted into Dine-In Theaters, which offer restaurant-style dining options with seat-side service. Guests are able to reserve seating for movie screenings, and can then call servers at any time by pressing a notification button. The menu offered by the Dine-In Theaters includes typical fare such as burgers and pizzas, alongside desserts and candy. Both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages are served alongside the food. You can check showtimes on the AMC website.
17. Fly overhead in a hot air balloon
The Characters in Flight balloon offers guests a birds-eye view of the Walt Disney World Resort, floating into the skies from its tethered position in Downtown Disney's Village Lake. It was one of a spate of minor additions to Downtown Disney in 2009 following criticism that the closure of the Pleasure Island nightclubs had reduced the area's appeal. If you want to experience a flight in the world's largest tethered hot air balloon, it'll cost you $18 per adult and $12 per child at the time of writing. Full details are available on the Walt Disney World website.
16. Drive a racecar
There are a range of different experiences on offer at the Walt Disney World Speedway, where you can hop behind the wheel of a racecar. The Richard Petty Driving Experience enables you to take the wheel of a NASCAR vehicle for between 8 and 50 laps (prices currently start at $449/person), while the Exotic Driving Experiencelets you choose from a range of exotic sports cars (prices start at $169).
15. Take a segway tourImage: Disney
At Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort, you can hop onto a two-wheel Segway X2 for a two-hour trip along a variety of surfaces, from paved paths to woodland trails. The tour includes stops at Disney's Wilderness Lodge, the stables of the Tri-Circle-D Ranch and Bay Lake. The real fun, though, comes from riding one of these all-terrain vehicles. There are normally two tours per day - call (407) WDW-TOUR to make reservations.
14. Go on a VIP tour of an African savanna
The Wild Africa Trek at Disney's Animal Kingdom sees small groups go on a gided hike into the "Harambe Reserve" area of Kilimanjaro Safarisat Disney's Animal Kingdom. The three-hour safari will see you crossing a shaky rope bridge over crocodiles, riding through the savanna in a safari truck and enjoying the "Taste of Africa" from a special private safari camp. There are several tours every day. Prices vary seasonally from $189 to $249 per person, plus tax. Bookings can be made by calling (407) WDW-TOUR.
13. Watch Illuminations from a pontoon boat
If you're visiting Epcot in a large group, you can hire a private pontoon boat, which will sail from the Yacht and Beach Club Marina or the Boardwalk Marina to the International Gateway bridge inside Epcot itself. The boats do not sit right next to each other, so you'll feel like you're having a private viewing of the spectacular Illuminations: Reflections of Earthshow. The boats accommodate a maximum of 10 guests, and prices start from around $350. Reservations can be made up to 180 days in advance by calling (407) WDW-PLAY.
12. Take a trail ride on a horse
The Tri-Circle-D Ranch at Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort offers trail, pony, wagon and carriage rides. There are a number of different options. Guests aged 9 and up can go on a horseback trail ride through woodland teeming with wildlife for $46 for a 45-minute ride. Wagon rides are cheaper at $5 for children aged 3-9 and $8 for those aged 10+, while horse-drawn carriage rides cost $45 or $64 per carriage. Call (407) WDW-PLAY to make reservations.
11. Enjoy a campfire cookout
Head to Fort Wilderness any day of the week for a free nightly movie and sing-along. You do not need to be staying at Fort Wilderness to attend, just show up ready to enjoy a movie under the stars. Your night begins with a fun half hour of old fashioned live campfire music with hosts Chip and Dale. You can roast marshmallows over the campfire, enjoy the music and then relax for a full length feature. Movies vary from High School Musical-type teen films to Pixar animation and classic Disney movies. There is no admission fee, and you can drive, or take a bus or boat to get to the campfire. This is a fun family event that is a nice switch from the bustling activity of the theme parks.
FYI for anyone still referencing this list. #2, Learn to draw a Disney character, is no longer an option. The attraction closed permanently on July 12, 2015. This was one of our favorit things to do at WDW.
Since I was a child, I have loved racing around Seven Seas Lagoon in a Water Sprite. These speed boats and other boat rentals are available from Polynesian's and Contemporary's docks. Floridian probably rents these, too.
Ft. Wilderness offers carriage rides around the grounds.
Don't forget the "Disney's Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show" in the open-air theatre in Luau Cove at the Polynesian Resort.
Children's Activities at the Grand Floridian. Pirate Cruise for kids 4-12 in the morning. Afternoon Wonderland Tea Party with Alice and Mad Hatter.