8. Fort Wilderness

Fort Wilderness campsite at night
Image: Disney

Fort Wilderness has often been described as one of Walt Disney’s World’s most underrated gems—it is largely known as Disney’s official campground, offering both cabins and campsites for tent and RV campers. What most people don’t realize is it is an impressive recreation destination, even for guests not staying there.

Fort Wilderness offers some truly magical recreation options with delightfully rustic roots. Without even getting into paid activities, guests can enjoy movie nights under the stars, sing-alongs over s’mores, jogging trails, playgrounds, and arcades. Guests can also book special experiences like horseback riding, archery, or canoe / kayak rentals via Disney recreation or by stopping at the Tri-Circle-D Ranch.

9. Disney’s Wide World of Sports

ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex
Image: Disney

Despite a lengthy closure due to the pandemic, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention Disney’s expansive sports complex—the ESPN Wide World of Sports. This 230 acre complex hosts an eclectic range of sporting events throughout the year, including national championships and RunDisney events.

At this time, it’s unclear what Disney’s plans are for the Wide World of Sports—the facility is still being used for special events, but it isn’t quite the draw for casual guests that it used to be. Still, if you are a major sports fan and things reopen, taking a tour of the facility could be quite the enjoyable experience.

10. Behind the scenes tours and special experiences

Mama and baby elephant at Disney's Animal Kingdom
Image: Disney

There’s no question—pandemic closures have hit Walt Disney World beyond the parks hard. While Disney still has a lot to offer outside of the parks, we’re still waiting with bated breath for many of the resort’s previous experiences to reopen.

One category of these experiences are Disney’s behind-the-scenes tours . While V.I.P. tours of the parks are still available, Disney’s general tours are not. These delightful experiences have allowed guests for years to get a glimpse behind the magic, such as through touring the secret Utilidors of the Magic Kingdom or meeting animals behind the scenes at Disney’s Animal Kingdom or Epcot’s The Seas. Over the years, Disney has also offered many unique dining experiences as part of this same program like fireworks cruises, dessert parties, and Safari dinners.

Our experience with these offerings over the years has been largely positive, particularly for longtime Disney fans or guests of an inquisitive nature. I’ll admit that my own experience on Disney tours played a part in me eventually becoming Disney parks writer. While these experiences currently remain unavailable, we hope they return soon as another option for guests looking to enjoy Disney magic beyond the parks.

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