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Image - Flickr, christiantlambert

What makes a Walt Disney World vacation great? Is it the thrilling attractions? Is it the entertaining shows? Is it the beautiful golf courses and immaculately designed resort hotels?

Well, the answer is: All of the above. And more.

But, to put it less flippantly, what makes a Walt Disney World vacation great is the feeling of exploration you get as you discover every inch of the property. They don’t call it Walt Disney World for nothing — there’s an entire world to explore, and on your vacation, you’re the one to blaze the trail.

Everyone visits the resorts. Everyone rides the rides. You’ll no doubt find the time for that. But, if you want to make your trip unique, and if you want to see a side of Walt Disney World that many will pass by, you have to get off the buses and out of the parks. In fact, some of the best parts of Walt Disney World are best experienced by boat or by bike.

If you like being active and outdoors, try these special bike rides and boat tours — they’ll give you a perspective on the Vacation Kingdom you’ll never forget.

1. Explore Fort Wilderness by bike

Image - Flickr, cdharrison

If Walt Disney were alive, and if he could visit Walt Disney World, his favorite place to stay wouldn’t be concierge level at the Grand Floridian or a tower room at the Contemporary. His favorite spot would be the down-home, rustically charming Fort Wilderness.

More a community than a resort, Fort Wilderness is Disney’s natural beauty turned up to 11. It doesn’t have the artifice of Animal Kingdom or the exoticism of the Caribbean Beach. Rather, it feels like untamed old Florida.

And, the best way to see the resort is by bike. Rent your bicycles at the Meadow bike barn and explore the marked bike trail — riding around the campsite property, and even transiting over to the neighboring Wilderness Lodge.

Intrepid bikers can even spot the train tracks for the old Fort Wilderness Railroad, which closed in the early 1980s.

Make sure to check out this bike tour during the holidays, too: festive vacationers have a tradition of bringing portable light shows with them on vacation to Fort Wilderness. Exploring the campgrounds by bike can give you the best view.

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