While the theme parks are more than worthy of a visit, you would be missing out by not looking into some of the other activities found throughout the Orlando metro area.
Here are 20 must-visit Orlando attractions outside of the theme parks:
20. Resort Hopping – Many don’t realize that you don’t have to have a room at a particular resort to enjoy the restaurants and ambiance of the location. Take Disney transportation or make a meal reservation to ensure access to the parking lot, since security does have to make sure paying guests have enough spaces.
19. Tee Time – Near the Grand Floridian you can find three 18-hole golf courses and one 9-hole walking golf course. Golf carts are available for rent on the longer courses, and you can practice your swing on the driving range or putting greens before you head out.
18. Tea Time – I’ve mentioned resort restaurants already, but the Disney’s Grand Floridian’s Garden View Tea Room begs special recognition. The Perfectly Princess Tea is a once-in-a-lifetime dream come true for little girls, or you can enjoy a simple, lovely afternoon tea any day. Delightful!
17. Waterparks – Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon are often overlooked because of the draw of the main four parks. But these are no ordinary waterparks! The theming, service, and cleanliness are pure Disney, and because they are smaller you can take them at a leisurely pace. I think my kids *might* even prefer the waterparks over the main parks. Parking is free.
16. Mini Golf – If putt-putt is your game, Disney does not disappoint. Take your pick from two courses at Fantasia Mini Golf or try Winter Summer Land for a year-round holiday feel.
15. Fishing – At Disney’s Port Orleans Resort you can try your hand at old-fashioned cane fishing, or at Wilderness Lodge you can fish off the dock. But the best fishing comes with a guided fishing excursion. A captain will take you to all the best fishing holes around the Disney waterways. A friend of mine took her family and they caught 65 fish in one morning! All fishing is catch-and-release.
14. Boating – If you crave a little more excitement than the ferry, you can rent a boat at pretty much any resort on the water. What a great way to see the property from a new angle! Vessels and packages vary between locations, so call ahead to get the type of craft that’s best for your party.
13. Horseback Riding – At the Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground’s Tri-Circle-D Ranch guests ages 9 and up can enjoy a rustic guided trail ride. Little ones have the option of a pony ride (parents must be present to hold the reins) for just $8. Carriage rides are also available at the ranch.
12. Luau – The Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show at the Disney Polynesian Resort is another dining experience that requires special mention. Though the buffet-style meal is pricey, the atmosphere and entertainment can transport you to the Hawaiian shores…for a fraction of the price of a separate vacation.
11. Dinner+Movie – Sure you can see a movie anytime, but at at Disney Springs you can actually watch a movie AND eat a meal at the same time in their unique dinner theaters! Be sure to purchase tickets before you go.
10. Bowling – Check out the amazing Splitsville Luxury Lanes at Disney Springs. It’s not your typical bowling alley! With two sushi bars, upscale dining, billiards room, and dancing, it’s anything but ordinary. A perfect pastime for when the rainy Florida weather “strikes”.
9. Cirque du Soleil – La Nouba has been a cornerstone of Disney Springs for years with its incredible acrobatics, awesome stage affects, and unique performances. Have you taken the time to see the feats of strength and wonder? You won’t regret it!
8. Amphicars – A new addition to Disney Springs, the Amphicars look like such a riot! Who drives a car in the water? Well, now YOU can!
7. ESPN Wide World of Sports – Check the WWoS website for a complete schedule of live games for the sports spectators in your family. Pretty much every sport you can think of competes here at some point, so chances are good that you can find something you’ll enjoy.
6. Surrey Bikes – Take a ride on the Boardwalk in a vintage-looking bicycle built for two…or up to six (depending on size)! Laughter is a guarantee!
5. Water Sports – Got a need for speed and a love for liquid? Waterskiing, jet skiing, parasailing, and tubing are all available from Disney’s Contemporary Resort.
4. Dancing – Nighttime dancing is available at several resort locations, but the Boardwalk boasts two main venues: Atlantic Dance Hall and Jellyrolls. Shake your groove thang!
3. Street Performers – Both Disney Springs and the Boardwalk come alive after dark with jugglers, musicians, magicians, artists, DJ’s, and actors. They are top notch…and completely free!
2. Night Safari – See the savannah from a new perspective when you leave on a night safari from the Animal Kingdom Lodge. They say the wild things come out at night!
1. Pirate Adventure Cruise – Kids ages 4-12 can depart from various locations for a guided treasure hunt that’s sure to make some awesome memories. And since adults aren’t allowed on-board, it’s a great chance for parents to relax.
There’s so much to do at Disney! And this list only scratches the surface! What are your favorite non-park activities?