When planning a Walt Disney World vacation, it’s important to include some downtime in your itinerary. Most first-time guests don’t realize just how much walking there will be, and how taking a day off from the parks will lead to everyone having a better time overall. Or maybe you’re arriving early or departing late due to your travel arrangements and are looking for something fun to do, without using a park ticket. Did you know that you’re welcome to visit and explore different Walt Disney World resort hotels during your vacation, even if you’re not staying there? Whether you’re looking to take a break in the middle of your trip, or for some fun activities during your arrival and/or departure days, here are my Top 5 Resorts For Non-Park Days.
Disney’s Yacht Club & Beach Club Resorts
Spend some time relaxing by Stormalong Bay, the largest, and in my opinion, the BEST pool on Disney property. Explore the EPCOT Resort Area, including the BoardWalk and taking a ride on the Skyliner gondolas. So much to eat here! Wonderful casual dining options like the ever-popular Beaches & Cream Soda Shop, character breakfast or seafood dinner at Cape May Café, or an upscale Signature Dining experience at Yachtsman Steakhouse. After dinner, walk to the International Gateway entrance to EPCOT, where you can see the nightly fireworks show – the view isn’t as good as from inside the park, but it’s a great, ticket-free way to end your day.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
This resort offers a huge amount on onsite activities throughout the day, including resort tours, scavenger hunts, poolside games, nighttime storytelling by the fire and even nocturnal animal viewing with night vision goggles. Meet and get to know the friendly cast members, many of whom are on exchange programs from Africa! One of the best resorts for dining, with tons of options, including wonderful quick-service options, casual table-service such as fan-favourite Sanaa and the buffet at Boma, or an unforgettable Signature Dining experience at Jiko.
Disney’s Port Orleans Resorts
My favourite Disney Moderate Resorts for a day off! The Riverside location has an enormous pool, tons of activities and a great arcade. The French Quarter property is quiet and relaxing, and very well themed. You’re encouraged to explore both resorts, and they’re located just a few minutes apart. The food here is excellent – I especially love the Cajun and Creole options served in the food courts, such as the Shrimp & Grits, Jambalaya, Gumbo and Beignets. And you’re just a short boat ride away from Disney Springs, which would be a great way to end your day.
Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
One of the original Walt Disney World resort hotels, “The Poly” is one of the most immersively themed resorts to this day! It really captures the retro tiki culture vibe in the colours they use, the background music and other design elements. Grab a Dole Whip at Pineapple Lanai and head over to the lovely pool area for some rest. In the evening, don’t miss the nightly torch lighting ceremony. Have a wonderful meal at ‘Ohana (reservations highly recommended) or Kona Café, a real hidden gem. You can even attend a Hawaiian Luau in the evening. If you’re willing to wait, Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto is a real MUST-DO here – an enchanted tiki bar, where magical things happen depending on what you order. At night, watch the Magic Kingdom fireworks from the beach.
Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
Considered by many to be Walt Disney World’s flagship resort, this beautiful Victorian-style property is a great place to spend the day! Lots of lovely grounds to explore, including a massive main building and an amazing pool. A huge variety of dining options here, including quick-service, character dining, casual table-service and several Signature Dining locations, including Victoria & Alberts, recipient of the illustrious AAA Five Diamond and Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Awards. In the evening you can listen to the Grand Floridian Society Orchestra perform live. Take a ride around the monorail at night, which allows you to explore two other Disney Deluxe Resorts. Cap off your day by watching the Magic Kingdom fireworks from the beach.
Those are my 5 favourites, but there are so many different, wonderful Disney resort hotels for you to explore. Which resorts are your favourites for spending days off from the parks? Please share your recommendations in the comments.
If you’re looking for date night ideas – you can find my recommendations here
This article was written by Aydin Turgay at Pure Magic Vacations