Free or Inexpensive Fun at the Walt Disney World Resort but Outside of the Theme Parks

September 17, 2009 at 5:29 pm Leave a comment

If the crowds in the park get to be too much for you or you have some extra time, you may want to check out some of the fun and free (or low cost) activities listed below that are outside the theme parks.  

Are you staying at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel? Ask for your resort’s monthly Recreation Activities sheet (may not be available at every location) when you check in.   Some activities may have a fee.   You can also request the Recreation & Activities sheet for any resort you dine in or visit just to check the place out.

Boats There are several boats throughout the resort that you can ride for free without needing a park ticket:

  • Boats run between the Magic Kingdom resorts and the Magic Kingdom theme park.
  • There is a ferry that runs between the Ticket & Transportation Center and the Magic Kingdom.
  • There is a boat that runs between the Epcot resorts and the “International Gateway” entrance to Epcot.
  • There are boats that run from Old Key West and Saratoga Springs resorts to Downtown Disney.
  • There are boats that run from Port Orleans Riverside and Port Orleans French Quarter resorts to Downtown Disney.
  • During certain hours, there may be a boat that goes between the two sides of Downtown Disney.

Monorails – no park ticket required:

  • The resort Monorail runs between Polynesian, Grand Floridian, Contemporary Resorts and the Magic Kingdom and Ticket & Transportation Center.
  • The Express monorails between the Magic Kingdom and the Ticket & Transportation Center.
  • The Epcot monorail runs between the Ticket & Transportation Center and Epcot.

Recommended routes:

  1. Park the car at – or take a Disney Bus to –  Disney’s Wilderness Lodge.   Go through the resort, past the pool and see the artificial geyser go off on the ½ hour during daylight hours.  Afterwards, head to the boat dock.
  2. Option 1: Shorter boat ride – take the boat to the Magic Kingdom.   Option 2:  Longer boat ride – Take the boat that goes to the Ft. Wilderness Campground and the Contemporary resort.  Exit at either the Magic Kingdom or Contemporary resort, depending on which boat you rode.
  3. Ride the Monorail to the Ticket & Transportation Center.   From the Ticket and Transportation Center – take the Ferry Boat to the Magic Kingdom.  If you used the Disney bus system, you may want to catch your resort bus here.
  4. If you drove – from the Magic Kingdom,  take the water launch back to the Wilderness Lodge to return to  your car.

Electric Water Pageant:  – this nightly floating parade can be seen from the Magic Kingdom area resorts.  My favorite is to watch from the beach at the Polynesian Resort.    I like to get a Dole Whip (Pineapple soft-serve ice-cream type dessert) from Captain Cooks, (the resort’s food court) to take with me to watch.   Typical times:

  • 9:00PM – Floats past the Polynesian Resort
  • 9:15PM – Floats past the Grand Floridian Resort
  • 9:35PM – Floats past the Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
  • 9:45PM – Floats past the Ft. Wilderness Campground boat dock
  • 10:05PM – Floats past the Contemporary Resort.
  • These times may be adjusted slightly depending on when there are fireworks at the Magic Kingdom.  The Polynesian Resort beach area is a great place to watch the fireworks too.

Campfire Sing-Along with Chip & Dale at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground  – You’ll have to park the car and take the campground’s internal bus system to the Meadow Recreation Area for this event. 

Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground also has a  horse drawn wagon ride every evening – there is a fee for this.

Many other resorts have outdoor/poolside movies – check the resort activity sheet for dates and times.

Animal Kingdom Lodge – this resort has its own Animal viewing area.  Just pass through the resort to the other side to see the animals.  There are two fire pits – one indoors and one outdoors.  They have a nightly story time at the fire pit – ask for the scheduled time when you arrive.

YeeHaw Bob at Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside Resort.   Bob Jacksowagn is a very fun performer who leads a boogy-woogie, rag-time sing-along at the River Roost Lounge in the Port Orleans Riverside resort.  This event is family friendly.   He typically performs on Wednesday – Saturday nights.

Downtown Disney

  • See the Lego Store sculptures – they always impress us. 
  • The Characters in Flight balloon is neat to see, even if you don’t ride it.  It’s very pretty at night.  
  • You can sometimes take a boat from one side of Downtown Disney to the other.    You can also ride a boat from the Market Place Area to Old Key West & Saratoga Springs or to Port Orleans Riverside and Port Orleans French Quarter resorts.  
  • Celebrate Tonight –  Downtown Disney’s West End Plaza.  Mini-street party with fun dance parties, limbo, stilt walkers, etc.   These occur Sunday – Thursday from 5:00pm – 11:00pm.   Friday & Saturday from 6:00PM – Midnight.  They do have periodic breaks through the evening so check back if there’s nothing going on the first time you pass by.

Inside the Parks – 15 Great Free Things that Walt Disney World Doesn’t Advertise.  Disney adds special touches throughout the resorts and theme parks to make your experience just a little more magical. Most people have to just stumble across these hidden gems and many people miss them completely. You don’t have to depend on luck. You’ll receive the benefit of our years of experience in the Disney theme parks when you get this list of the very best free souviners and activities with their locations.  See:

 Build A Better Mouse Trip
Toll Free Phone: 877-815-6515

Build A Better Mouse Trip is a full service travel agency specializing in Florida vacations & Cruises. Build A Better Mouse Trip is not affiliated with or in any way officially connected with, The Walt Disney Company, Disney Enterprises, Inc., or any of their affiliates.

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