Does Monorail Resort Hopping, Resort Dining and Dole Whips have you eager to visit Orlando, Florida? If so, here are some quick tips on how to experience Walt Disney World if you’re strapped for cash and can’t justify the cost of a park ticket. This is how to start your Free Day living the Disney life.
Why should you spend a day at the Disney Monorail Resorts?
We consider monorail resort days the official opportunity for a Free Day at Disney. And while it’s true you don’t enter the parks on your resort day, there is oh so much more Disney than just to be found in the parks. In fact for the weary families who hesitate spending the money on park tickets are aren’t really sure Disney is the right family vacation for them this is a perfect way to get into the “feeling” of Disney. Truthfully, any resort experience will do, but our favorites are the Monorial Resorts, and the Epcot Boardwalk Resorts.
Monorail Resorts at Walt Disney World
Monorail Resorts at Disney are higher end, house some of the best restaurants and gift shops and are essentially open to the public without a magic band or park ticket. From Magic Kingdom station the Monorail Route is as follows: Stop 1 Contemporary and Bay Lake Towers, Stop 2 The TTC ( Transportation and Ticket Center), Stop 3 The Polynesian Resort and Villas, Stop 4 The Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, Stop 5 Magic Kingdom ( again).
Monorail Resort Hopping
Stop 1: Contemporary & Bay Lake Towers
The Contemporary is the closest resort to Magic Kingdom. Guests can walk to the main gates of Magic Kingdom in about 15 minutes and have the luxury of not waiting for buses in the evenings.
As a Monorail Resort Hopper there are a few things you can access here without being a guest. The lobby, courtyards, restaurants and shops are all open to the public. This means you can have breakfast at Chef Mickey’s, Lunch at Contempo Cafe and if you’re feeling a little fancy, The Wave for dinner.
The shopping here is also quite impressive. A larger gift shop than many resorts boasts a full kitchen section, clothes, Dooney and Bourke bags, and a kids section.
You can also see the Grand Canyon Mural here which covers all four sides of the center column. And if the hustle and bustle of the monorail concourse is not your style you can meander out to Bay Lake to have a lakeside lunch, stop by the bar or watch the electric water parade in Seven Seas Lagoon.
Stop 2: The TTC
So unless you’ve parked your car here, you don’t need to disembark at the TTC. However, if you have decided to buy a park ticket to Epcot then this is where you’ll switch trains.
Stop 3: The Polynesian Resort and Villas
Apart from the gorgeous scenery, island atmosphere and connecting walkway to the Grand Floridian, there’s one big reason people visit the Polynesian.
It’s true. You don’t have to be in the parks to get this magical dessert. The monorail will let you out at the second floor of the Polynesian. If you go downstairs and head outside towards the pool, you’ll see Pineapple Lanai, offering dole whips and dole whip floats.
You can also find Kona Cafe, home of Tonga Toast and Captain Cooks Quick Serve here. But a favorite reason to come here is Ohana. Ohana is a family style restaurant experience complete with music at dinner and Lilo and Stitch at breakfast. Another excellent shopping experience the Polynesian has merchandise you can’t find in other shops around Disney. They also carry the painted “Greetings from Walt Disney World” coconut you can mail to your family (or home).
However, if you’re more into just relaxing and living like a local, grab a dole whip and a beach chair. Any reason to get your feet in the sand is a good one.
Stop 4: Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
Next on our Monorail stop is The Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. Can anyone say super fancy? We love going to the Grand Floridian. A character breakfast with the Evil Stepmother and stepsisters is always delightful at 1900 Park Fare. You can stop for an afternoon tea at the Garden View Tea Room or meander over to Gasparilla Island Grill for a mocha. The Grand Floridian houses quite a few restaurants, some fancy, some casual so whatever you’re mood they’ll have something you love.
We personally love the shopping at GF. They have lots of DVC merch, beachy Florida wear, and a Disney shop with fancier things than other resorts. So its always a treat to stop.
The Grand Floridian is also covered in Hidden Mickeys and other characters you’re sure to recognize, so look up and down. Be sure to download the hidden mickeys app on your phone for extra fun. It is for a price, but in our experience totally worth it, because you can never, ever find them all!
Stop 5: Magic Kingdom
From here our Monorail Resort Hopping ends. You can take the monorail back to the gates of Magic Kingdom to watch the fireworks outside of the park, take the monorail back to the TTC to get back to your car, or grab the Disney Springs bus from Grand Floridian to see the evening shows and live bands.
We also like hopping off at the MK stop to catch the boat over Wilderness Lodge- another free excursion with great restaurants, a gift shop and a large lobby to cozy up by the fire, but that’s for another post. The possibilities are endless, it’s all up to you.
Hopefully this has given you a little glimpse of all the amazing fun you can have without purchasing the 100+ dollar tickets into the park. We’ve been amazed at how many things there are to do at the monorail resorts, and so much yet we haven’t tried. We’re hoping to experience the Monorail Crawl, new this year, and get a closer look at what all the resorts have to offer. We’ll be sure to report back. Ask questions if you got ’em.