During just about any extended Disney vacation, it’s likely you’ll either have a half day or a whole day without a park pass. Maybe it’ll be the day you fly in and it just doesn’t make sense to add a park pass because you’re arriving in Orlando in the afternoon. Or maybe, you have planned a day off without any park visit. But now, you’re stuck with trying to figure out what to do without leaving the property. Don’t worry, you don’t need to lay by the pool all day – unless that’s what you want to do. There’s nothing wrong with that. But if you have a teen who’s looking to be entertained, try one (or more) of these fun and inexpensive ideas.
1 – Discover New Worlds. Go Resort Hopping
All of the resorts are open to the public and welcome visitors to their areas (except the pool, sorry, only the paying resort guests can go there). It can easily take 2 days to tour all of the resorts, so choose a few that appeal to you and your teen. Does your teen want to feel pampered and high class? Visit the Grand Floridian and sit in its foyer while listening to the live orchestra. Does your family love animals? Then you have to go to Animal Kingdom Lodge which has its own savannah full of African animals like giraffes and zebras. While you’re there, sign up for a free tour of one of their restaurants or listen to the African stories of the Cast Members that work there. Does your teen still love classic Disney movies? Head over to Art of Animation and walk through each themed section of the resort to feel submerged into movies like Cars, The Lion King and Little Mermaid.
2 – Don’t Go Under the Boardwalk, go on the Boardwalk!
The Boardwalk comes alive at night. If you’ve arrived mid-day in Disney, and you’re looking for some nighttime fun with your teen, head to the boardwalk. There are carnival games, street performers and tons of yummy food to enjoy. Let them try to win a prize at the games and then treat them to ice cream at Ample Hills Creamery. There is a slight charge to play the games (and of course buy the ice cream), but the performances are free so this can be a fairly inexpensive night.
3 – Put on your fancy shoes, pick up a ball and go bowling!
Okay, lucky for us, shoe rental is included in the bowling fee at Splitsville Bowling in Disney Springs so you don’t need to pack your fancy bowling shoes. For just $22, you get an hour’s worth of bowling per person. What teen doesn’t like bowling? It’s easy enough that you can’t mess it up too bad, but still can be competitive enough to try to beat Mom or Dad and be the King Pin of the room. Splitsville will let you eat your dinner as you bowl and trust me, they have delicious food that’s reasonably priced, so you might want to plan your dinner here.
4 – Mini Golfing Is Great for Relaxing.
This is another one of those “sports” that it really doesn’t matter if you’re good at it or not. Disney has 2 mini golf courses, both wonderfully themed and a lot of fun. For less than $20, you can putt-putt around an 18-hole course. Sometimes a little break from the chaos chasing a tiny ball up and down and around obstacles is all you need to make everything right in the world again.
5 – Get some exercise and rent a bike
Many moderate and deluxe resorts have bike rentals and they’re not too expensive, easily under $20 per person to rent a bike for an hour. Let your feet pedal you around to areas you don’t normally see as a tourist. We loved renting a bike from the Beach Club and then biking around the Swan and Dolphin Resorts, up to the Epcot World Showcase entrance and then out to Hollywood Studios on paths that were mostly empty of any people. You can even rent a Surrey bike (a bike carriage built for 2, 4 or 6 people who share the pedaling responsibility) if you can get your teen to sit next to you!
Some of our best family memories come from these times that we intentionally stayed out of the parks and enjoyed some of the many other activities that Disney offers. So, the next time you visit Disney World, don’t be afraid to book some non-park time. It may be one of your favorite memories in the making as well.
What is your favorite outside-the-parks activity at Disney World?