PlanningThe ParksTips

Things to Do at Disney That Aren’t Rides

Yes, Walt Disney World is a theme park and some amazing rides. But rides are only a FRACTION of the fun you can have at Disney! If you aren’t much of a ride person, here are some ideas for you to still go and have an amazing time!

Mickey Mouse dressed as a jester
credit: Disney

Enjoy the shows!

Disney is an entertainment company first and foremost. The entertainment they provide through their shows is unmatched. Not only do they have parades and fireworks, but there are spectacular stage shows at each of the parks that are worth checking out. (Plus a lot of them are inside air-conditioned buildings – a great break from the heat.)

One of my favorites is the castle stage show! It is performed a handful of times during the day, and brings out some very popular characters! Mickey Mouse, Rapunzel, Goofy – and there even might be a rare snow sighting with a famous ice queen.

popcorn cart

Eat & Eat & Eat

The food at the Disney parks is always changing – it is part of the fun of going multiple times. Especially during different holidays, you can find fun-themed snacks through the parks. I love stopping at the Main Street Bakery at Magic Kingdom to see the seasonal candy apples!

You can never go wrong just snacking your way through the parks. Mickey pretzels, Dole whips, corn dog nuggets… the options are endless. You can never go hungry there!

Back in Fantasyland, Storybook Treats offers different ice cream options through the year! My favorite was the Peter Pan ice cream they had a few years ago. It is fun to see the creativity through their menu!

Family observing artist at EPCOT
credit: Disney

Festivals at EPCOT!

During most of the year, EPCOT hosts a variety of festivals. Festival of the Arts, Flower & Garden Festival, Food & Wine Festival, and International Festival of the Holidays. Each event provides different themed booths around the World Showcase with various food and beverage selections.

My personal favorite is Festival of the Arts. This traditionally occurs mid-January through mid-February. This is when the Central Florida weather is absolutely glorious, and the entertainment is AMAZING. Disney Broadway stars come to EPCOT and perform at the American Gardens Theater. The talent is jaw-dropping and the duos are so much fun. Try to plan a trip out to Disney for Festival of the Arts if you can!

A Pirates Adventure

This one is Magic Kingdom-specific. Over in Adventureland is arguably one of the most impressive interactive experiences at Disney. A Pirates Adventure – Treasures of the Seven Seas, begins at The Crow’s Nest where you receive your instructions. Follow the map and watch Adventureland unfold in ways you have never seen before!

There are five separate missions, and if you complete each one of them, Captain Jack Sparrow has signed a card JUST for you.

teenagers enjoying ice cream at Hollywood Studios
credit: Disney


Disney offers a fairly new package called Capture Your Moment. You can hire a Disney photographer to do a private photo shoot for 30 – 60 minutes inside of the park of your choosing. It is so much fun to get dressed up and capture some memories around the parks!

If you don’t want to use a Disney photographer, hire a local Orlando photographer for your family! They can be a little more flexible with the location and their products are much better than what you get with PhotoPass.

If you are by yourself or don’t want to get pictures with the whole family, one of my favorite things to do is find details I have never noticed before and get pictures of them. It forces me to slow down and appreciate things I hadn’t before. The Disney parks are stunning – they make it easy for a fun landscape photoshoot!

Minnie Mouse posing at a meet and greet

Meet characters!

We grow up seeing these iconic characters on a screen. It is part of the incredible magic to give them a hug and interact with them in person. Think of some fun questions for the characters you are going to meet. Having something prepared always makes it a personalized interaction and creates something memorable for the whole family!

One of my favorite memories as a kid was when Jafar made me cry. It may have not been pleasant then, but that informed my relationship with the movie Aladdin for a long time. I had a personal interaction with Jafar and that made the movie even a better viewing experience for me.

Depending on the season, the characters may be dressed in different outfits! Especially if you go to a special ticketed event, there will be incredibly rare character interactions. Princesses with their princes, villains, full groups of characters, and more!

Winter Summerland Mini Golf
credit: Disney

Play (mini) golf!

Did you know you can play golf at Disney? There are four regular golf courses around the property, so there is definitely variety! Two of them are located just west of Magic Kingdom, and the other two are toward the Disney Springs corner of the property.

There are also mini golf courses for the whole family! Winter Summerland Miniature Golf is the most family-friendly. There are two 18-hole adventures – one is Winter themed, and the other is Summer! They are super fun, and located right next to Blizzard Beach.

Fantasia Gardens & Fairways Miniature Golf is another option on property – right by the Swan & Dolphin hotels. The Fairways course is a fun, family-friendly adventure for everyone. But Fantasia Gardens on the other hand is one of the most difficult mini golf courses in the world. It was designed just like a regular golf course, just on a miniature there. There is no wild theme, just a great opportunity to practice your short game.


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