20 Fun Things to Do at Disney World without Park Tickets

Characters in Flight Disney Springs

It seems like a good idea at first: you plan an “away from the park” day at Walt Disney World so you and the family can spend some precious hours to relax and recharge, but, after only a few hours, you begin thinking you need to get out of that resort room and do something – but not hit another WDW park. Things to do at Disney World without park tickets? Here’s 20 fun, cool, and awesome things you can do at Walt Disney World without park tickets- and they all have our shining stamp of approval.

Ready to have fun without hitting the Walt Disney World? Here's 20 awesomely fun things to do at Walt Disney World without needing a theme park ticket!

I used to be a Disney world go-getter. I’d take my family and spend all day, everyday in the theme parks. Then reality set in. We’d be utterly exhausted and that crazy pace was just too much. So now we take plenty of time away from the parks. We hang out in our resort room or head to Disney springs and wander around. My family’s favorite part of the day has become afternoon nap time.

There are even folks I know that have visited Walt Disney World and don’t step a foot in front of the park turnstiles. Why? Because WDW is so much more than its parks! Here’s my favorite things to do at Disney World without park tickets.

Disney Springs

Disney Springs

Fill Your Bellies– Yes, there are restaurants at Disney Springs that accept the Disney Dining Plan, but you don’t have to stay onsite to enjoy them. Compliments of the parking area additions, it’s easier than ever to drive there, park the car, and walk. Of course, if you are staying onsite you can take advantage of Disney transportation to take you from your resort straight to Disney Springs.

DisneyQuest- A fun indoor area on the west side of Disney Springs, it’s all fun and games with coaster simulators. Technically called DisneyQuest Indoor Interactive Theme Park, there’s plenty of Disney-themed high tech adventures. Prices at the time this post was written are:

  • 1 Day: $47.93 (Ages 10+); $39.00 (Ages 3-9); children under 3 are free.
  • Disney Quest Annual Passport – Good for one year from date of purchase (not use) and includes unlimited admissions to DisneyQuest. Adults $95.85; Children 3-9 $76.68.. Shopping

Catch a Show- There’s plenty of spots to catch a show at Disney Springs including Cirque Du Soleil La Nouba (I had the chance to check out the new scene additions and they were crazy cool!), watch a movie at AMC Disney Springs 24, or even see a free show in the amphitheater. Performance troupes from all over head to Disney and offer free shows.

Free Samples at Ghirardelli- You can always visit the official Ghirardelli store at Disney Springs on the east side and enjoy some free chocolate samples.

Pin Trading- Yep, there’s pin trading at Disney Springs at Disney’s Pin Traders. You can also keep an eye out for cast members that love to trade as well.

Take a Ride in an Amphicar- This one’s such a big hit! Head to The Boathouse on Disney Spring’s west side to make a reservation. The Captain’s guided Tour are from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. (weather permitting). Walk-up reservations can be made at the Ship’s Store and cost is $125 per car for a 20-minute water ride.

Characters in Flight Hot Air Balloon Ride- If you want to take a hot air balloon ride 400 feet above the ground at Disney Springs to check out some Disney landmarks, head to West Side Disney Springs for Characters in Flight. Each ride lasts 8-10 minutes and the balloon operates from 8:30am to midnight providing there’s good weather and little wind. Cost per ticket-  Adult $18, Child $12.

Resort Fun

Coronado Springs Resort pool

Scavenger Hunt at Pop Century- Ask the resort front desk cast members for a scavenger hunt map and get to know the Value Resort a little better. The map is a super cool souvenir and even comes with a toy!

Hourly Pool Activities- All of Walt Disney World’s onsite resort main pool areas have hourly activities including pool games, trivia, and cool music. Check with the resort front desk for hours and activities when you check in.

Catch a Movie Under the Stars- Also at WDW resort main pool areas, each night an inflatable movie screen is blown up to show a different Disney movie. You do have to be a resort guest to take advantage of this fun perk.

Pin Trading- There’s always cast members that love trading pins, so walk around your resort (or any other one, for that matter) and trade pins. My daughter is a huge fan of pin trading and we buy inexpensive pins from eBay to trade with.

Make some “Wishes” on the Beach- “Wishes Nighttime Spectacular” is one of my family’s favorite fireworks displays but we really don’t dig the crowds racing from Main Street U.S.A. to get back to the resorts or cars. There’s a great alternative: watch it from the beach at Polynesian Resort or Grand Floridian.

Electrical Water Pageant- This classic water parade is one of Mr. Locke’s favorite memories of visiting WDW as a young boy. Feel free to sit on the beach of Polynesian Village or Grand Floridian Resort and watch the Electrical Water Pageant on Seven Seas Lagoon. The parade is nightly at 10:35 pm and lasts for only a few minutes, but it is worthwhile to watch at least once.

Water Sports- If there’s a lake near a WDW resort, there’s water sports to go along with it. From renting boats to parasailing, there’s something for everyone’s thrill level. Note: water activities are an extra charge.

Arcade- If you want to feel like a kid again or want the kids to have a few moments of gaming fun, head to the resort’s arcade and try your luck. Each game is pay-as-you-use – and the lights sure are pretty.

Hop on a Horse – Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground is the resort to visit for pony and horseback trail rides. You can also take a wagon ride or even take a leisurely roll through the woodland area in a horse-drawn carriage. Each is an additional charge.

Sing Along with Chip ‘n’ Dale- Another reason to head to Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground is for the Chip ‘N Dale’s Campfire Sing-A-Long. You can bring your own marshmallows or purchase a s’mores kit at the Chuckwagon Snack Bar. There’s music and meet and greets with Chip ‘n’ Dale, too. While you’re there, catch a Disney movie at Campground Cinema.

Disney’s Boardwalk

Rent Surrey Bikes- For $18 you can rent a 2-person, 4-person, or 6-person Surrey bike at Disney’s Boardwalk. Official WDW notice: Florida law requires bicyclists under 16 years of age to wear helmets. Guests must remain within the Resort area where the bike has been rented.

Not planning a visit to Disney’s Boardwalk? You can also rent them at the following resorts:

  • Boardwalk Inn
  • Caribbean Beach Resort
  • Old Key West Resort
  • Port Orleans Resort – Riverside
  • Art of Animation Resort
  • Pop Century Resort

Watch Street Performers

Thursday-Saturday evenings are the times to hit Disney’s Boardwalk to catch a performance from a performance troupes. Jugglers, balancing acts, and live music from amazingly-talented street musicians give the nights a fun feel.


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11 Thoughts to “20 Fun Things to Do at Disney World without Park Tickets”

  1. Boss Penguin

    Thanks for the post. I’ll have to check out the amphicar.

    I personally don’t think that Disney Quest is very good value. The park tickets we purchase in the UK (7,14 or 21 day) include Park hopper and access to Quest. As a “freebie” it’s OK but at those prices not so good especially as some of the activities such as the VR is very dated. The 2 golf courses -fantasia gardens (near epcot) or winter summerland (near blizzard beach) are in my view better value for a nice activity $14 per adult and $12 per child. So you could visit there and do the balloon or lunch for the same price as Quest

    My favourite non-park day activities are
    If it’s Christmas time visiting other resorts to see their decorations. The gingerbread house at Grand Floridian is a favourite. Also characters often visit the resorts during this time – the wilderness lodge with Minnie was quite special.

    I do like to find Hidden Mickeys. Many of those are outside the parks and can be tied in with another activity. I think there are blogs on it but I like my trusty hidden mickey book purchased from The Writers Stop.

    Finally although we haven’t been yet (next trip though). ESPN wide world of sports can be visited without a park tickets. There are admission charges but there are often events on too like the recent invictus games

    1. Karyn Locke

      You’ve got all of the extra WDW goodies down pat- love it! You’re right, I do think that DisneyQuest is pretty expensive but, when you get passes for free, it would be a fun way to spend a few hours. Resort hopping to see Christmas decos is a super fun idea, especially Grand Floridian. It’s so beautiful! I have not been to ESPN WWoS yet, but I can say that my friends that have visited do love it.

      Thank you so much for stopping my the blog! Please feel free to give me your suggestions anytime!

  2. This is a great post. I go to Disney so often and I love doing all of these things Not only are they free but it’s a break from the hustle and bustle of all the parks. Your pocket and sanity are important to hold on to when going to Disney. Thank you again for the great post.

    1. Karyn Locke

      Thanks for the awesome compliment! You’re right, you have to spend some downtime away from the parks to save both your sanity and budget. Plus, you’re feet will thank you, too!

  3. Emma

    Awesome post. Something worth noting is Disney Quest is closing next year. Also, most resorts have restaurants to give you a reason to resort hop.
    We had a great time playing minigolf outside of Blizzard Beach and by the Epcot resorts and bowling at Splitsville in Disney Springs.

  4. Tata victoria

    I am a mum of two taking two toddlers for the first time _ any ideas of what tickets are worth my while and my babies time? I know they won’t last a full day, and honestly all my daughter wants to see are the princesses _ we are staying at a water resort, so, entertainment won’t be lacking, I am just unsure how much my toddlers can handle _?

    1. Karyn Locke

      Hi Tata, thanks for reaching out!

      When talking tickets, do you mean theme park tickets? If so, you’d definitely want to visit Magic Kingdom and schedule Fastpass+ selections for as many princess meet and greets as you can. You’ll Find Cinderella, Aurora, and two of their friends at Princess Fairytale Hall. Tinkerbell can be found in town Square. Minnie Mouse and Daisy Duck can be found in Pete’s Silly Sideshow in the New Fantasyland.

      Hope this helps! If you have any additional questions, please reply.

      1. Anonymous

        I will have to say.. if you can afford the character meals, I would definitely do those as opposed to waiting in lines,

  5. Great list. I love just riding around the park and exploring the resorts. And, as you mentioned, Disney Springs and BoardWalk are fun as well. (although I end up spending a lot of money!).

  6. Anonymous

    Thank you ,for interesting info ,I want to try hidden Mickey and pony rides in fort wilderness but I have to be stay in this resort or no? Can we join its activity without stay in resort? If yes,,what we have to do .Thanks

  7. PegP

    Coronado Springs also have Surrey Bike rentals. And the Port Orleans resorts (Riverside and French Quarter) have horse-drawn carriage rides.

    The Animal Kingdom Lodge offers a TON of thing to do, some free. And you don’t have to be a resort guest to take advantage of a lot of them. Go in the evening and watch the animals on the Savannah with night-vision glasses. Take a culinary tour of Jika and Boma restaurants. African face painting, and more.

    If you have pirates, there’s a pirate adventure cruise that takes off from the Beach Club or the Caribbean Beach resort. Kids will sail around the lake, hear a pirate adventure story, and discover a treasure chest filled with goodies.

    And then…the POOLS! Stay at the Beach Club Resort and you’ll have a 3-acre water park right outside your door. Stormalong Bay has a lazy river, hot tubs, swimming pool, sand-bottom pool (that’s only about 2-feet deep for the little ones), and HUGE water slide (230 feet long!).

    If you’re into cooking, take the cake decorating class at Amorette’s Patisserie in Disney Springs. It’s $149 for two people to learn how to do the Mickey Mousse cake

    We go to the Disney parks, but I think we honestly spend more time out of the parks than in them. My granddaughter is just as happy in the pool than in a park, so we head back to the resort at mid-day until around late afternoon. We stay for 8 nights but we’ve cut our tickets down to a 4-day ticket with a park hopper because we like Disney Springs, our resort, and resort hopping so much.

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