We all know that a trip to Walt Disney World can be expensive. And with Park ticket prices rising all the time, it can be difficult to figure out how long you should go for, what’s worth it and what’s not, and how to get the biggest bang for your Walt Disney World buck. There are plenty of things to do at Walt Disney World without a park ticket; so save yourself some money and some stress and be sure to check out some of our favorite activities outside of the Parks!
Walt Disney World Without a Park Ticket
One thing we cannot stress enough to you is that it doesn’t have to be as expensive as you think it is! We’ve written posts about saving money at Walt Disney World, free things at Walt Disney World, and how you can score discounted or even FREE resort stays at Walt Disney World.
But getting tickets cheaper can be a little more difficult. And unfortunately, the reality is that ticket prices are likely to continue to rise as long as visitors are willing to pay for these increases. So if you’re looking to visit Walt Disney World and can’t justify adding another day onto your Park tickets, never fret. Maybe you’re only going to be there half a day when your flight arrives/departs, or maybe you’re not sure if you or your kids will last that many days navigating the Parks and the crowds. Or maybe, you just want to do something else. Maybe it’s just not in your budget. That’s ok! Whatever your reason, don’t feel the need to pay for a Park ticket in order to have a great time.
Even if cost isn’t a factor for you, getting those Park Pass Reservations can be a little tricky. Sometimes there just isn’t availability and sometimes you really don’t have the time to continuously check to see if something comes open for the Park you want. There are plenty of things to do at Walt Disney World that don’t require you to have a Park ticket. These are listed in no particular order, but here is a quick list of our favorite things at Walt Disney World without a Park ticket!
Visit Disney Springs
If you remember Disney Springs as Downtown Disney, then you’re in for a treat as Disney Springs now has more destinations than you could hope to cover in a single week. From restaurants to shopping to snacks galore, Disney Springs has really become a force to be reckoned with on Walt Disney World property. Aside from shopping and food, they also offer lots of fun activities including virtual reality, hot air balloon rides above WHATEVER lake, and live music. Perfect if you’re looking for a little less “Disney” at Disney!
Disney Springs has really become an all-day affair and we actually think it’s a must-see when visiting Walt Disney World. Save yourself a Park ticket and check out all they have to offer.
See the Animals on the Savanna at Walt Disney Without a Park Ticket
Animal Kingdom Lodge has quickly become one of our favorite spots on Walt Disney World property and for good reason. On the hunt for unique and absolutely delicious treats?! Want to escape the crowds? Love animals and want to learn more about them and their habitats? Well, Animal Kingdom Lodge can offer you all of that and much, much more. Animal Kingdom Lodge can really be a destination all in itself as they offer so many activities throughout the day that are completely free! And it costs nothing to visit the Disney resorts, so it can be a great, budget-friendly way to spend a day at Walt Disney World.
Head to the Water Parks
Although you will still need to purchase a ticket to enter the Water Parks at Walt Disney World, they aren’t as expensive as Park tickets and can offer a great escape from the crowds and relief from the heat. There are two water parks at Walt Disney World: Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon. Although they are enjoyed for different reasons, we love them both and think they’re a nice change from the Parks especially when you have a longer trip.
Hang out on the Disney Boardwalk
By now, it should be noted that we are huge Disney Boardwalk enthusiasts. Whether we are in the mood for some carryout from Ale and Compass Marketplace, some downtime from the Parks or just looking to chill on the beach for a moment, the Boardwalk is where we end up. It’s a calm, chill vibe, but with plenty to see or do. Or do nothing at all! It’s one of our favorite places you can go without a Park ticket at Walt Disney World; there’s so much to see and do and the vibe is just such a nice change. Check out everything you can do on a Free Disney Day at Disney’s Boardwalk.
And if you want to take some time and get your steps in while not in the Parks, we always recommend the walking trail to and from Hollywood Studios. It was a pretty great secret for the longest time and no one was ever on the trail; but even as it’s become more popular, it’s usually a pretty calm spot.
Enjoy Nature at Fort Wilderness
If you’re more the outdoorsy type, then the Walt Disney World bubble may be a bit claustrophobic for you. Never fear though, Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground is a nature lover’s paradise. Take a hike through the woods, ride horseback, and enjoy the beach at Walt Disney World’s own campground. Not only can you do all the outdoorsy things here, but you can also rent a golf cart and explore the campground and all that it has to offer.
We have grown to really love Fort Wilderness Campground and if nature is more your thing, we think this is a great place to stay if you’re feeling adventurous. Grab our Fort Wilderness Bucket List for an even bigger list of what you can do at this Disney resort.
Play Mini Golf at Walt Disney World without a Park Ticket
If you’ve ever stayed at The Walt Disney Swan and Dolphin, you may have noticed that there are signs for a place called Fantasia Gardens. Fantasia Gardens is one of two mini-golf courses on Walt Disney World property, and both offer a fun change from your every day Park going experience and will also save you some money!
Located on the Disney Boardwalk you’ll find that Fantasia Gardens is accessible via a walking path from the Swan and Dolphin area, or obviously by car. Fantasia Gardens is themed to Disney’s Fantasia movie and offers 18 holes of mini-golf. Pricing is $14 for adults and $12 for kids.
The other option for miniature golf on Walt Disney World property is Winter Summerland, which is located at Blizzard Beach Water Park. So if you’re already at the Water park, this is a fun add-on; or can be an adventure all in itself! Winter Summerland isn’t open all year round and closes when Blizzard Beach does, which is usually a couple of months throughout the year. This mini-golf course has a similar theme to Blizzard Beach, with a Christmas theme around Santa and his elves taking a little bit of a golf vacation. There’s a summer section and a winter section in this 18 hole course and the pricing is the same as Fantasia Gardens.
Relax on the Beach with a Dole Whip in hand!
Disney’s Polynesian Resort has always been a favorite of ours and for good reason! With a laid-back, tropical vibe, this resort offers a little bit of Hawaii without the expensive flight. The music, the smells, and the food are all a great way to enjoy this tropical paradise right on Walt Disney World property without a Park ticket. And with Pineapple Lanai right on property, you can grab a dole whip and head to their white sands beach to enjoy it. It’s a really great way to decompress after a long day or spend an afternoon.
Walt Disney World Without a Park Ticket: The Skyliner Edition
Have you tried the Skyliner at Walt Disney World yet? While we were definitely hesitant at first, we’ve come to like it more and more. It’s a great way to travel from place to place and is almost like a ride itself! And it takes you to some of the most beautiful places on Walt Disney World property, no Park ticket required. You can pick the Skyliner up at Hollywood Studios, the International Gateway at the back entrance of Epcot, Pop Century, Caribbean Beach Resort, and The Riviera. Check out everything you can do at the Disney Skyliner Resorts.
From there you can explore places like the Boardwalk, take a stroll along the sandy beaches of the Caribbean Beach Resort, or grab a carryout meal to enjoy outside from any of the resorts. You could probably spend an entire day exploring the areas that the Skyliner can take you to! And if your kids enjoy the Skyliner this is basically like free entertainment for them!
Find Some Really Great Coffee at Walt Disney World Without a Park Ticket
Gone are the days that Walt Disney World is known for well, very bad coffee. At least to us, this is true! Walt Disney World has really stepped up its coffee game in the last few years and we are here for it. Sure this might seem more like a Disney Adult-Only activity, and maybe it is, but if you’re traveling with kids, they’ll thank you late for being properly caffeinated.
We’ve done a round-up of where to find Coffee at Walt Disney World. But, here are some of our current favorites on Walt Disney World property are Kona Island at the Polynesian, Le Petit Cafe at the Riviera Resort, which is accessible by the previously mentioned Skyliner, Barcelona Lounge at Gran Destino Tower in Coronado Springs, and The Joffrey’s Stand at the Skyliner Station at Caribbean Beach Resort! Part of the fun is actually finding the coffee, so feel free to check Instagram for any special coffees being offered at the moment. We love following @disneycoffeeblog on Instagram for all the latest news in coffee at Walt Disney World.
Get your Steps in without a Park Ticket
Eating at Walt Disney World can easily creep up on you and we all know the feeling. You’re walking 12-18 miles a day in the Parks but still, you come home with a few extra vacation pounds. Some people look at it like calories don’t count on vacation which is a great mindset but sadly, it’s not actually true. And while we don’t personally feel you should stress about the little extra you’re consuming while on a trip, if you’re on a fitness schedule, trying to lose weight, or just really want to keep yourself in check while on your vacation, there’s nothing wrong with that mindset either!
Luckily, there are plenty of places to get your steps in on Walt Disney World that don’t require you to be inside the Parks. All of the Walt Disney World resorts have a New Balance Running Trail; the Boardwalk is a great place to walk or get a run in; Stroll along the beaches of the Polynesian to the Grand Floridian; Fort Wilderness Campgrounds has plenty of trails to hike and Port Orleans Riverside has some of the prettiest areas to go for a run or a stroll along the water.
Take a Trip on the Disney Monorail
Although taking a trip on the monorail does require bag checks to board at each stop, it doesn’t require a Park ticket! It’s no secret that the Monorail resorts are some of the best on Walt Disney World property, and a trip to the monorail resorts can easily fill a few hours. Whether grabbing lunch at Captain Cook’s at the Polynesian or stopping by Basin on the top floor of the Grand Floridian to get yourself some self-care necessities or checking out the fun gift shop at The Contemporary, these resorts are well worth a visit. The quick-serve restaurants at the monorail resorts are also some of our favorites; so even if you are in the Parks during the day, checking them out is a great break from the chaos of the Parks.
What is your favorite thing to do at Walt Disney World without a Park Ticket? We would love to know!