Magic Kingdom: the epitome of Walt Disney World. It is the main attraction to Walt’s Florida project. When you go to WDW for the day, it is the park to hit up. But what happens when you are there for a week and you have already done it once or twice and you just don’t want to even deal with the crowds? Sure, you could head to another park, but here is your guide to alternative fun at WDW besides the parks.
1. Head to a water park: You are in Florida, so unless it is 40 degrees (or cooler), it will always be a good day for the water park. It is a very rare day when both Disney Water Parks are down, that being said during the winter season, at least one is always closed for refurbishment. Take that into account if you are there on an unseasonably warm winter day, and everyone else has the same idea as you.
2. Resort Hop! One of my favorite things to do while a Cast Member, I loved to see all the different resorts. If you haven’t noticed, Disney takes a ton of time to put details into every little thing, including where you stay! If you are already at a resort, take a day off to hang out by the pool and relax and walk around. There is tons to see and do at your resort alone. Once you have seen all there is to see, hop on the first bus to a different resort and start exploring there too! Some of my favorites were: Fort Wilderness! All Star Movies, Art of Animation, Port Orleans French Quarter, Animal Kingdom Lodge, Wilderness Lodge, Polynesian, and of course the Grand Floridian! (these are actually in order from cheapest to most expensive also.)
3. Drink Around the World: So this one is kind of cheating, since it is in EPCOT, but EPCOT happens to be one of the largest parks and can hold a ton of people (more than literally!) With a capacity almost larger than MK, there is a lot more room to walk around the spacious countries. So why not take the day (if you are 21 and older) to drink around the world! Most people get a group of friends together and order a small drink from the 11 countries. If you are not a drinker or if you just like food a whole lot more than alcohol (like me!) try food from every country! Almost every country has at least one small restaurant or quick service to try out! Just be wary, both drinking and eating (since you should eat if you are drinking 11 drinks), or just eating around the world is going to add up QUICKLY! If you are eating around the world with friends, try splitting all of the dishes for just a bite or two, trust me you have a lot of eating to do!
**Tip: if you do drink around the world, start at Canada and end in Mexico. There is nothing worse than getting super drunk on Tequila, just to have 10 more countries you want to try.
4. Universal Studios: I love Disney, but ever since Harry Potter took over Universal, I LOVE UNIVERSAL. If you are looking for a little more oomph to the rides and you love Harry Potter, give Universal a try. A lot of their rides are outdated and no longer popular (Shrek, Fear Factor, Simpsons, Beetlejuice, etc. etc. etc.), but in my opinion I could spend the entire day (week!) at Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley. There is enough to do and see to keep any HP fan occupied for a very long day.
If you are a HP fan here are my suggestions to check out:
A. do Escape from Gringotts later in the day, everyone rushes to see Diagon Alley in the morning, which is okay, but standing in a 5 hour line to see a 5 minute ride is not okay (guilty).
B. Buy a wand. This is the keepsake I kept bringing back and still have on my desk as I type. But if everyone in your group goes, only buy 1 interactive wand. There is no limit on what spells you can do or how long it takes you to figure it out, so if one person has the interactive wand, your whole group is set!
C. Take the Hogwarts Express from Diagon Alley to Hogsmeade (and don’t forget to go back, trust me! It’s a different experience!)
D. Eat at Florean Fortescues Ice Cream! You probably will have to try something new, may I suggest the Peanut Butter and Strawberry Hard Packed cone?
E. Find Knockturn Alley (and take out your interactive wand map along the way, it has a hidden surprise in Knockturn Alley).
F. Go through the Forbidden Journey Queue, even if you don’t want to ride the ride. You can always ask the Team Member to exit before getting on the ride. GO THROUGH THE ENTIRE THING TOO!!! Just when you think you are close, you get to see more!
G. Eat at the Three Broomsticks in Hogsmeade or the Leaky Cauldron in Diagon Alley. Both are fantastic.
H. Try Butterbeer at least once. If it isn’t your thing, I seriously love the pear cider (pictured above).
I. Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes is a must! It’s so authentic.
If HP is not your thing, don’t worry! There is still tons to see and do! Try out some rollercoasters like: Hollywood Rip Ride Rocket (this one gets even the bravest scared outta their pants!), the Incredible Hulk, REVENGE OF THE MUMMY! (my personal favorite), Dragon Challenge! Dudley Do-Rights Ripsaw Falls (water ride), and Jurassic Park River Adventure (you will get soaked.) And if you have some little ones, check out Seuss Landing, the comic book area, Men and Black (Chelsea and I love this ride, we got caught riding it 5 times in a row, and got called out! 😉 and Despicable Me.
There is seriously something for everyone!
5. Cirque du Soleil in Downtown Disney. It’s no secret Downtown Disney (DTD) is free and has a hopping night life. One of the more formal (still expensive, but 100% worth it!) things to do in DTD is Cirque du Soleil. This fascinating and entertaining show holds up to the Cirque name and is designed specifically for DTD. Check it out if you have a chance!
**Note: we bought our tickets like a week before (we got a huge discount.) and had one of the “farthest” seats away from the stage, but there is really no bad seat in the house! If you are worried you are in the last row, don’t be, you are still SO close to it all!
6. Splitsville in DTD: two level bowling with food, drinks, music, it’s bowling like you have never seen before.
7. DisneyQuest: I had the privilege to get free tickets as a cast member to DisneyQuest. Most people (including me!) do not shell out buku bucks to Disney just to spend more on “arcade games”, but some do!! If this is your thing and you don’t mind shelling out up to $50 per person, this place is seriously awesome. It has Disney-themed attractions including: Pirates of the Caribbean, Jungle Cruise, Aladdin, Kilimanjaro Safaris, Buzz Lightyear, and even Space Mountain. DisneyQuest is 5 floors of an Indoor Interactive Themepark (a fancy way to say arcade, in my opinion!) It has every kind of game you could ever dream of, and then more! They offer animation classes, racing games, old arcade (think pacman), trivia, skee-ball, guitar hero, and then they have attractions you have never seen before! Plus on the top floors, it has its own food court!
**Note: I had a very hard time trying to find out if you had to pay for the games inside, YOU DON’T! Once you pay the entrance fee, everything inside is free to play, just don’t forget lunch/dinner which is separate!
8. Explore DTD: so by now you have seen a lot of what there is to do in DTD, but there is so much more! There is shopping, food, sweet treats, live entertainment, and so much more just waiting out there to see! DTD can be explored for an entire day if you give yourself the time to check it out!
9. Backstage Magic: when googled, this appears to be a specific tour, but in my blog, this is a broad topic of any kind of tour you can take at WDW. Let us begin. Backstage is a World some are brave enough to discover. Here lies the secrets to WDW and when you are a Cast Member, you are bound to see a LOT of backstage. Some tours are a few hours long while the Backstage Magic tour is 7 hours long. They range in prices and parks and you can book specific tours too! My family has done the Backstage Magic Tour and also the Yuletide Tour (Christmas!) Depending on how large the group is, there may be 2 or more guides. Here is a list of tours given at WDW! This is a great way to see more of the parks on a much more intimate level.
**Note: be advised some tours are strictly 16 and older. They will not make any exceptions on this either, so please don’t ask to. But a lot of tours and events happen for every age, just not the backstage one. If it involves going backstage, you will most likely have that age limit! Just to preserve the magic. If you take a look at the list you will also see that a lot are seasonal so plan accordingly (aka ahead!)
10. Boardwalk: this hidden gem is just waiting to be discovered! I didn’t even know about it until I did my college program! Boardwalk is a lovely area with lots of restaurants and bars along the way including: ESPN Club and Jelly Rolls the Dueling Pianos bar (check these places out, for real!) There is tons to do and see here and it is almost always so quiet because not many people know it even exists! You can get there by bus and the Friendship Boats take you there from EPCOT and Hollywood Studios!