Most people think that visiting Disney World is all about the parks. Although Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios are the main draw to this Orlando-based resort, they are also the most expensive activities on property. Fortunately, there are many things to do outside of the resorts.

But what if you have young kids? Are there things outside the parks that even they will enjoy?

The answer is yes!

You may be asking, “Why would I want to go to Disney World and not go to the parks everyday?” Well, as I mentioned above, park tickets are pricey. It can easily cost you as much or more to visit the parks than to stay at the resort hotel. Including resort activities outside of the parks in your vacation plan can be cost-effective for families on a budget without sacrificing the fun of a Disney World vacation.

What’s more, park days are busy, so scheduling relaxing days in between park days can be a good way to rest and rejuvenate tired kids.

Resort pools are fun, but they may not be able to entertain young kids all day, so here are five activities that kids will enjoy even more than the resort pools.

5. Disney Springs

Disney Springs, formerly known as Downtown Disney, has several stores and restaurants that adults will love, but there are some dedicated to kids as well. If your little one likes Dinosaurs, visit T-Rex Restaurant and enjoy a pre-historic meal in a dino-themed atmosphere. Even if you don’t want to eat here, you can still visit Build-A-Dino Workshop by Build-A-Bear Workshop to select, fill, and dress your very own dinosaur.

Visit some dinosaurs in Disney Springs!

Visit some dinosaurs in Disney Springs!

The Lego Store is also an awesome place to spend some time. The Pick a Brick Wall allows guests to fill a bag with individual Lego bricks and figures for just a few cents each. There’s also an outdoor table filled with Legos that’s free to play at. Don’t forget to check out the huge models like the nearby water dragon in Crescent Lake. It’s a great place for a photo-op!

4. Rent a Surrey Bike

Five resorts including Disney’s Boardwalk Inn, Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, Disney’s Old Key West Resort, Port Orleans- Riverside, and Disney’s Wilderness Lodge have two, four, and six-person surrey bikes to accommodate the whole family. This is a good activity for families with kids who can’t ride a bike on their own, and it’s a fun way to see around resorts without tiring out your legs. What’s great is you don’t have to be a guest at these resorts to participate in this activity. Although there is a rental fee, it is affordable.

Surrey bikes are plenty of fun.

Surrey bikes are plenty of fun.

3. Fort Wilderness

There are a ton of activities to do at Fort Wilderness, but one of my favorites is the Tri-Circle-D Ranch. You don’t need to be a guest at the resort to meet the horses that participate in the parades on Magic Kingdom’s Main Street USA including the ones that pull Cinderella’s carriage. Guests can even take a short ride around the ranch or go a little longer on a trail ride. There are also carriage and wagon rides available for a fee.

Visit the working horses at Fort Wilderness.

Visit the working horses at Fort Wilderness.

Another great activity at Disney’s Fort Wilderness is Chip ‘n’ Dale’s campfire sing-a-long. Several resorts have similar campfires, but this is the only one with Chip ‘n’ Dale! There’s also a movie under the stars after the campfire.

2. Animal Kingdom Lodge Savanna

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is unique in that it has an African Savanna surrounding the resort. It’s free for any resort guest to visit, and you’ll see zebras, giraffes, gazelles, and flamingos to name a few. It’s no replacement for visiting Disney’s Animal Kingdom, but it is an inexpensive way to see the animals outside of the park.

Animal Kingdom Lodge also has some of the best restaurants on Disney World property. Jiko- The Cooking Place is a Signature Dining restaurant that has really cool ovens that change colors to simulate the African sunset. If Jiko is too formal for your young family, Boma may be more your style. It’s a family-style dining experience that looks like a marketplace with food from over 50 African countries. Sanaa is my favorite restaurant at Animal Kingdom lodge, though, because there are large windows that overlook the savanna. There’s nothing like watching the animals while enjoying the Indian-style cooking.

1. Character Dining

Of the several hundred restaurants on Disney World property, many of them have special character dining experiences. Disney’s Beach Club Resort, Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, and Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort all have character dining experiences available outside of the parks. Each meal has different characters; if you’re looking for someone in particular, check the list online. This is a great option for meeting characters because it saves time once you are in the parks. Even better, you’ll get to spend much more time interacting with the characters at the meal than you would in the park. Don’t forget your autograph book!

You can get some personal time with Disney characters outside the parks.

You can get some personal time with Disney characters outside the parks.

What do you like to do with young kids on non-park days?

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