No matter what resort category you choose for your next stay at Disney, from value resorts to luxury villas, Disney’s resorts are always top quality in every price range. They all offer wonderful convenience, spectacular swimming pools, and unique themes that are so well-executed that you’ll swear that you’ve stepped right into another time or place, or straight into the heart of a Disney movie! Disney resorts are certainly not just a place to lay your weary head after a full day in the parks! There are so many fun and unique activities to enjoy at the resorts themselves and, with only very limited exceptions, they are open to guests of any resort.
Here are 10 of the top resort activities that you might want to try on your next Disney trip:
10. Fitness Centers:
They say that the average guest walks approximately 8 miles during a day in the park, so don’t worry if you’re not able to work your regular exercise routine into your busy vacation schedule! But if that isn’t enough to satisfy your urge to exercise and you can still manage to walk at the end of the day, most of the moderate and luxury resorts offer formal fitness centers. All of these offer state-of-the-art exercise machines and weights and massages are also available at some.
You might think that the best shopping would be available in the parks, but some of the resorts have unique stores as well and they’re far less crowded than the World of Disney! For example, unique African-inspired items can be found at the Zawadi Marketplace at Animal Kingdom Lodge, an extensive range of Disney-inspired Precious Moments figurines can be found at Bayview Gifts at the Contemporary, and Hawaiian-inspired items can be found at the Polynesian. Certain character items are more likely to be available at locations with a similar theme, such as Lilo and Stitch items that can be found at the Polynesian.
8. Animal Watching:
It’s worth hopping aboard a Disney resort bus and taking a trip to the Animal Kingdom Lodge to spend an afternoon or evening dining at one of its fabulous restaurants and then watching the zebras, giraffes and many other African animals that call this lodge home freely roaming the resort’s savannas. There are many guides that are happy to discuss the animals and their care as well. Animal Kingdom Lodge is a very peaceful place and can be much more relaxing than a visit to Animal Kingdom Park on a busy, hot day.
7. Jogging or Walking Trails:
Though not all of the resorts offer formal fitness centers, most of the resorts offer jogging or walking trails. A trail map with distances is available from the concierge at your resort. Some of these trails are worth visiting even if you just need a break from the parks. The trail between the Polynesian Village Resort and the Grand Floridian is set alongside the Seven Seas Lagoon, and passes by white sand beaches, tropical flowers and the Disney Wedding Pavilion. This path has some of the best views at Disney World! The Boardwalk jogging trail goes all the way around Stormalong Bay and has beautiful views of the Boardwalk area and its beaches and ferry boats.
6. Campfires and Movies Under the Stars:
After a long day in the parks, it’s nice to go for an after-dinner swim and then wind down with a movie under the stars. All of the resorts offer outdoor Disney movie screenings in the evenings and guests are free to watch a movie at any resort. Certain resorts also host a campfire beforehand with smores and other campfire activities which can be a lot of fun for families. All of the Boardwalk and monorail resorts offer campfires, as well as Animal Kingdom Lodge, Port Orleans, Saratoga Springs and Old Key West, and the Cabins and Campsites at Fort Wilderness Resort. A campfire and movie on the beach at the Polynesian, across from Cinderella’s Castle, or in the woods by the lake at Fort Wilderness might be worth travelling to another resort for!
Disney does so many things so well and spas are one of them! Several moderate and luxury Disney resorts have spas that offer limited services like massages and facials, but there are also 3 full-service spas available for the ultimate in relaxation. As with everything Disney, they’re also conveniently located across the Disney resort property with one on the Boardwalk, one at Disney Springs and one on the monorail, so that one of them should be easily accessible for you, wherever you’re staying! The Mandara Spa at the Dolphin, located in the Boardwalk area, is a full-service spa inspired by the island of Bali and features a mediation temple as well as a tea garden. Full-service Senses spas are available at both Saratoga Springs, located in the Disney Springs area, and at the Grand Floridian, located on the monorail in the Magic Kingdom area. The Senses spa at the Grand Floridian is inspired by the grand Florida retreats at the turn of the 20th century, while the spa at Saratoga Springs is inspired by the 19th century wellness retreats of upstate New York. Both offer an extensive range of spa services. If you want to make sure that your vacation includes some relaxation, a visit to a spa is highly recommended!
Many of Disney’s best restaurants are located at its resorts and you should definitely make a point of venturing out of the parks to try them. Some notable resort restaurants include the signature dining experiences at Narcoose’s at the Grand Floridian or the California Grill at the Contemporary, which also have spectacular views of the fireworks at Cinderella’s Castle, or the truly unique dining experiences like the African-inspired restaurants of the Animal Kingdom lodge, or the Hawaiian feast and luau dinner show at the Polynesian Village and Resort. Several of the most popular character dining experiences are located at resorts as well, like Chef Mickey’s at the Contemporary, the Best Friends Breakfast with Lilo and Stitch at the Polynesian or Cinderella’s Happily Ever After Dinner at the Grand Floridian. The Boardwalk and monorail resorts are located so close to the parks that it is quite easy to dine at one of these locations and be back in the parks again in no time.
All of the resorts have spectacular swimming pools and Disney does actually allow guests to “pool hop” to experience the pools at other resorts as well, subject to certain exceptions. During peak times like the wild and crazy Christmas holiday season, pool hopping may be prohibited. As well, pool hopping is never permitted at 4 of the most fabulous resort pools: the Grand Floridian, the Polynesian Village Resort, Animal Kingdom and the fabulous 3-acre sand-bottomed paradise of a pool at the Yacht and Beach Club. Always confirm with your resort Concierge before you go if you want to try another resort pool!
2. Water Sports:
With so many resorts located on the water, there are ample opportunities for fishing, both dockside and by guided excursion, power-boating, and both canoeing and kayaking are available at the Fort Wilderness campsites. There are numerous specialty cruises available and you can even rent a yacht at the Grand Floridian if you are so inclined! If you’re really into water sports, or you’re looking to learn a new skill, Sammy Duvall’s Watersports Centre at the Contemporary is a must stop for you! Here you can go tubing, parasailing, wake boarding and water-skiing, all on the clear, open waters of Bay Lake. This is a great place to learn a new skill as it is not that crowded on the water, like it might be at many other seaside resorts.
1. Unique Recreation:
Besides the water sports, there are so many other fun and unique recreational activities to try at the Disney resorts. Bicycles can be rented at various locations and, since this is Disney, children’s bikes are also available, including some with training wheels. Surrey bikes seating up to 6 people can be rented on the Boardwalk and for unique recreation (pictured above), Fort Wilderness Resort and the Cabins and Campsites at Fort Wilderness is an absolute paradise! Here you can rent golf carts, learn archery, go horseback riding, take a horse-drawn carriage or wagon ride, and see Cinderella’s ponies and the horses of mainstreet in their off-hours at Tri-Circle-D Ranch.
Your Disney vacation can be anything you want – just the parks, parks and lots of swimming, or an opportunity to try something you’ve never tried before, like archery or wakeboarding! Everything is at your fingertips, you just need to figure out what to do first! Enjoy!
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