PlanningThe ParksTips

No Park Ticket-No Problem. How To Enjoy Disney Magic Outside the Parks


We all understand wanting to rush right to a Disney Park when you arrive at Walt Disney World.  You have been planning and waiting for so long that it seems impossible to wait any longer to head into a Disney Park.

If your flight arrives later or you just aren’t sure how everyone will do traveling, it is okay to not head right into a Disney Park when you arrive.  There are still a lot of activities and fun to have around Walt Disney World without a Disney Park ticket.  Take a look at these options to see what you can do on your arrival day outside of the Disney Parks.

Caribbean Beach Resort Pool
Credit: Disney

Take a Swim

The pools at the Walt Disney World Resorts are fantastic and so much fun!  Start your Disney vacation with a dip at the pool.  Even if your room isn’t ready, you are more than welcome to visit the pool.  Pack those swimsuits and sunscreen so you are ready to jump in!  In the afternoon, you will find activities on the main pool deck.  These are a fun way for kids to compete in pool games and receive some fun prizes.

After a busy travel day, taking time to chill in the Florida sun and take a ride down a slide or enjoy a drink at the pool is a wonderful way to start a Disney vacation.

Disney Springs

Head to Disney Springs

If you prefer to leave the Resort, think about heading to Disney Springs.  Disney Springs is a great location to enjoy entertainment, shopping, and food.  Visit World of Disney, the Lego Store, or Uniqlo for some great shopping options.

Try some delicious snacks from Everglades Donuts & Cold Brew or Gideon’s Bakehouse.  If you are looking for a meal, there are excellent options for a quick meal or a nice, sit-down experience.  Chicken Guy, Polite Pig, and Deluxe Burger are all good options for those quick, but delicious meals.

Looking for a sit-down meal, there are excellent options in Disney Springs.  Homecomin’, Morimoto Asia, Raglan Road, or Boathouse would all be fantastic options when it comes to getting delicious food while providing excellent service.   Walk around and enjoy the beauty that is now Disney Springs.  Spending some time at Disney Springs is a good way to get that Disney magic without a Park ticket.

Resort Movies

Disney Resort Activities

When you check into your Disney Resort, make sure to ask for an activities guide.  There are always so many fun activities going on throughout the Resorts that you can easily miss them if you don’t know about them.

We already mentioned the poolside games and trivia that happens most days at the feature pools at the Disney Resorts.  There are also fun scavenger hunts, Hidden Mickey searches, and even crafts that you can enjoy at the Resorts.

These are fun activities that you can do right at your Disney Resort without having to rush to a Disney Park or purchase a Disney Park ticket.

Walt Disney World Monorail

Visit Other Disney Resorts

Disney Resorts are all part of the Disney magic.  Take time during your arrival day to not only explore your Disney Resort but consider visiting other Disney Resorts as well.

Hit up the different lounges or pool bars at the different resorts for some fun and a great way to experience what could be your next Resort.  On the monorail, make sure to visit Enchanted Rose at Disney’s Grand Floridian, a Beauty, and the Beast-themed lounge.  At Disney’s Polynesian Resort there are a few great options to try.  Tambu Lounge and Trader Sam’s provide a fun, tropical experience.

Disney’s Riviera Resort, Disney’s Caribbean Resort, Disney Pop Century as well aa Disney’s Art of Animation Resort are all located on the skyliner.  Enjoy a beverage at Banna Cabana or visit the skyliner Resorts near EPCOT for some fun drinks and food options.

Taking time to visit some of Disney’s other Resorts is a great way to experience some Disney magic outside of the Disney Parks.

Watch a Movie

On most evenings, Guests can enjoy a Disney movie outside under the stars at their Disney Resort.  Get into Disney mode by enjoying a favorite Disney movie, at a Disney Resort with some fun Disney snacks.  Check out what movies are showing during your stay by asking at the front desk.

Boathouse Amphibicars

Have a Nice Meal

Eating is an important part of a Walt Disney World vacation.  For a nice way to start off your Disney vacation, consider booking a nice meal at one of the many signature dining locations throughout the Disney Resorts.

At Disney’s Contemporary Resort, you can enjoy a meal at California Grill and then experience the fireworks.  Other outstanding dining options are Citricos and Narcoossee’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa.

As we mentioned before, at Disney Springs there are numerous options for a great meal.  Boathouse is fantastic as is Morimoto Asia or Wine Bar George.  After a long travel day, a nice meal out is a fantastic way to start your vacation.

Fantasia Golf

Get Active

If you have a lot of energy after a long travel day, consider looking into some of the recreational activities found throughout Walt Disney World.

There are four golf courses throughout Disney property providing pro-level experiences.  You can choose to visit Disney’s Palm Golf Course, Disney’s Magnolia Golf Course, Disney’s Lake Buena Vista Golf Course, or Disney’s Oak Trail Golf Course.  You will want to book tee times ahead of arrival to make sure you are able to get in.

Not a pro golfer?  Consider visiting one of Disney’s mini-golf courses with the whole family.  Fantasia Gardens and Fairways Miniature Golf as well as Winter Summerland Miniature Golf both offer fun, family-friendly options.  These are first come, first serve tee times.

You can also rent bikes and boats, and even go on a segway tour at Disney’s Fort Wilderness.  There are so many recreational activities throughout Walt Disney World that you will have a lot of options to choose from if that is something you are interested in doing.

Even though we all want to rush right to a Disney Park when we arrive at Walt Disney World, there are tons of magical experiences outside of the four main theme parks.  Think about choosing one of these options for your arrival day fun and hit the Disney Parks the following day more relaxed and refreshed.






Jennifer Retzlaff

Jennifer became a lifelong Disney fan during her first trip to Walt Disney World in 6th grade. From that moment, Disney became a big part of her life. She quickly started to introduce her love of Disney to her family with a Disney honeymoon and then family trips when her youngest was 18 months old. She loves the magic that Disney brings to people through theme parks, cruises, and adventures. As a teacher, she tries to bring Disney magic into her classroom to help kids believe that “If You Can Dream It, You Can Do It.” She is also part of the Magic Vacation Planner team as a personal travel advisor. With this team, she can now help others plan magical vacations. She loves bringing her love to Disney to readers with How to Disney.

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