If you’ve made it as far as Orlando, you’re probably itching to score a park ticket and get into Walt Disney World. However, soaring ticket prices can make it difficult to spend every single day in the parks. If you want a taste of Disney magic free of that ticket price, consider trying these pixie-dusted experiences that are outside the parks. This is a great way to add some Disney magic to your trip if you have a day without a theme park ticket.
Exploring Disney Springs
Disney Springs is the new shopping, dining, and entertainment district at Walt Disney World. If you haven’t been to the resort since this area transitioned from Downtown Disney to its new incarnation, you’ll find Disney Springs overflowing with exciting possibilities.
You can easily spend a day or two just exploring the shopping options. Stores like The Art of Disney, Disney’s Days of Christmas, D-Living, the Marketplace Co-Op, Mickey’s Pantry, Once Upon a Toy, and the Star Wars Galactic Outpost offer Disney-themed merchandise that you can’t find elsewhere. If your favorite part of your Disney vacation is finding home décor, apparel, and gifts with distinct Disney flair, Disney Springs is a must on your vacation. Don’t pay for a park ticket just to check out the stores when you can find it all for free.
If you’re looking for a more upscale shopping experience with fewer mouse ears on your merch, you’ll still find plenty of picks to satisfy your tastes at Disney Springs. Check out stores like UGG, Under Armour Brand House, Sound Lion, Savannah Bee Company, Lilly Pulitzer, Kipling, the Coca-Cola Store, and more.
Once you’ve worked up an appetite shopping, you can stop at one of the area’s numerous fine dining locations. Enjoy waterfront dining at The Boathouse, enjoy American-Irish fare at Cookes of Dublin, get gourmet fare at the Wolfgang Puck Grand Café, or grab a drink and appetizers at Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar. For something quick and casual, you can hit the Disney food trucks or grab a bite from Earl of Sandwich. Kids will enjoy the exciting dining experience available at Rainforest Café or T-REX. There’s something suitable for any taste.
The monorails are regularly hyped as a great way to enjoy Disney without buying a ticket, but simply hopping on and off this sleek transportation option can leave things feeling a bit anti-climactic. If you want to fill a long afternoon with fun on the monorail, plan out a themed monorail hop.
One of the most popular picks is a monorail bar hop. Stop and grab a drink or two at each hotel along the monorail – just make sure you have a bus, taxi, or designated driver to get you back to your hotel when you’re done. There are several options at each hotel, whether you want to take a pool bar hop, or relax in table service lounges like the Citricos Lounge at the Grand Floridian, California Grill Lounge at the Contemporary, and Tambu Lounge at the Polynesian. Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto is a particularly popular pick if you can brave the crowds.
If you’re not interested in drinking your way along the monorail line, there are other fun options as well. Stop for a Dole Whip at the Polynesian, sample soaps in Basin at the Grand Floridian, and browse the Fantasia Market at the Contemporary. All three resorts also have beaches you can stroll along and water sports rentals.