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Whenever we compare Walt Disney World hotels or talk about ways to save at Walt Disney World, we inevitably mention the “no parks day” or “resort day.” This might sound like we're telling you just to hang out at the hotel or at best nap by the pool, but actually the no parks day at Walt Disney World can be so much more!
What is a No Parks day?
At Walt Disney World, a no parks day is what it sounds like—any day that you spend outside of the parks. There are lots of activities at Disney World hotels and outside the hotels and parks that you can easily fill an entire day without ever setting foot in one of the theme parks. We’ll cover some of these in more detail below.
Why should I consider a Disney World No Parks day?
For starters—a no parks day can save you money…but it might not. Especially on longer stays, adding extra days to your Disney World tickets is relatively inexpensive (sometimes even $0), while packing a day full of non-park activities can get quite expensive. That said, a no parks day in the middle of your trip is a good way to recharge.
Moreover, Walt Disney World is so, so much more than the parks. Just visiting the resorts is a magical way to spend the day. Your own resort pool might be one of the best spots on property—and you might not even know if you’re always in the parks.
There are world-class restaurants. There are three great bar crawls you can do without setting foot in a park. There’s are even miniature golf courses!
Especially on days when the Disney World crowd calendars tell you the parks are going to be a nightmare, consider spending your time elsewhere! One of our favorite no parks days was on July 4, for example!
What Are Some “No Parks” Activities
Some of these are obvious, others not so obvious, but even for the obvious we like to give some extra tips to help you plan the perfect no parks day. Here are some activities for your no parks day. Did we leave off something you love? Let us know in the comments!
Advance Dining Reservations
Okay—everyone knows that booking Advance Dining Reservations (ADRs) is an option. We mention it here not simply because it’s an option for a no parks day, but because a no parks day can make scheduling your ADRs much easier.
With a no parks day, you don’t have to worry about how you’ll get from your hotel to breakfast to the first park of the day. You don’t have to worry about whether that 7PM dinner is too early or too late. And you don’t have to worry about lunch conflicting with your FastPass+ bookings.
A no parks day is a perfect opportunity to schedule some ADRs you might not otherwise have been able to fit into your schedule.
Another obvious one, Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney) is the major shopping and entertainment district at Walt Disney World. If you’re not into dining or shopping, there are a few other activities, including bowling at Splitsville, the AMC movie theater, and the balloon ride.
Miniature Golf at Fantasia Gardens or Winter Summerland
There are four miniature golf courses at Walt Disney World. Fantasia Gardens, across the street from the Swan & Dolphin, has one traditional mini golf course and one “fairways” course that is a miniature version of a real golf course, with hazards like sand traps.
Winter Summerland is a pair of two miniature golf courses just outside Blizzard Beach Water Park. You don’t need admission to Blizzard Beach to visit Winter Summerland. Price is about $14 per person.
Disney World has several golf courses, including a few that host PGA tournaments. This is one of the pricier items on the list, but these are some stunning courses.
Resort Pools, Activities, and Club Levels
If you're lucky enough to be at Yacht Club or Beach Club, you'll have access to the best hotel pool in Walt Disney World in Stormalong Bay. All the Disney resorts have good pools, though, and keep in mind that all have multiple pools, in case the feature pool is too loud or crowded for you.
Besides just lounging poolside, every resort has an activity schedule that includes things like campfires, yoga pool games, art classes / activities, and movies under the stars. Here’s an example activity schedule, but you should always get the schedule from the front desk of your resort:
If you're building a no parks day into your plans, now is the perfect time to consider a club level stay at Walt Disney World. Enjoy some of your no parks day by kicking back at the club with some snacks and ambiance!
Bar crawls Or Resort Crawls
A bar crawl is a great way to experience Disney World spots you might not otherwise have visited, but there’s no reason you can’t visit those same spots without getting alcohol.
We’ve already mentioned Disney Springs, which has more than enough bars for an afternoon. A Boardwalk Crawl, anchored by a visit to the stylish AbracadaBar, is a good excuse to pop into the resorts around Crescent Lake. And everyone knows the monorail crawl is a good excuse to visit the beautiful monorail resorts outside Magic Kingdom.
Finally, a Bay Lake Crawl can take you between the Contemporary, Wilderness Lodge, and Fort Wilderness. The latter two of these are especially stunning resorts, and a walk around Fort Wilderness during the holiday season—when guests put out their holiday decorations—is a beautiful and underrated Disney World activity.
Bonus Tip: Speaking of holiday decorations, turn any of these crawls into a “Holiday Crawl.” Visit the life-size gingerbread house at Grand Floridian, or the gingerbread carousel at Beach Club. Read more about Disney World hotel Christmas decorations here.
Surrey bikes can be rented at Port Orleans, BoardWalk, Old Key West, and Saratoga Springs. If you’re not staying at one of these, our recommendation is a visit to BoardWalk, where you’ll also have access to the restaurants of the Boardwalk, along with the surrounding resorts if you’re interested in visiting.
Boats and Fishing
There are a variety of boating and fishing excursions in Walt Disney World, most notably at Bay Lake (between Contemporary, Wilderness Lodge, and Fort Wilderness), the Seven Seas Lagoon (the lagoon in front of Magic Kingdom), and Crescent Lake (the lake by the Boardwalk).
Fireworks from the Polynesian
The beach behind Polynesian Village Resort is a great spot to watch the Magic Kingdom fireworks from outside the park. You won’t get the projections, obviously, but you will typically get the music, as the speakers along the beach play the Happily Ever After music during the show.
You can pair this with a visit to any one of Polynesian’s restaurants or bars, but Trader Sam’s Tiki Terrace, the outdoor part of Trader Sam’s, is an obvious option. (Note: The below photo is actually from a Theme Park View room at Polynesian. The beach has a slightly different view.)
How am I supposed to get everywhere?
Our go-to option for getting around Walt Disney World in a pinch is to use Uber. Rides around Disney property should cost between $10 and $20. Uber will estimate the price for you before you request the ride.
It helps to be based out of a Disney deluxe resort with easy access to other resorts, but you’re just a short trip from any resort to any other resort.
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Obviously you don’t want to pay for too many Uber rides if you don’t have to. So here are some other tips for getting around.
Remember that every park connects to every hotel. Worst case, getting from one Disney hotel to another hotel requires two bus rides—one to a park and one to the other hotel.
Some hotels are walking distance from some parks. You can walk to all the Crescent Lake hotels from Hollywood Studios bus stop or from Epcot’s World Showcase entrance. You can also walk to Contemporary from Magic Kingdom, and a walking path connecting Magic Kingdom to Grand Floridian (and Polynesian) is under construction.
Boats, monorail, and walking connect some resorts. You can boat between the Bay Lake Resort. You can walk between Grand Floridian and Polynesian. You walk between Yacht Club, Beach Club, and BoardWalk Inn.
All Your Other Disney World Planning Questions Answered
Don't be overwhelmed by Disney World planning! Take a second to check out our most important content and you'll not only be an expert, but you'll save big $$$ along the way.
Just starting out? Check out our Walt Disney World planning guide! If you're still picking dates, we've got everything you need to know about Disney crowd calendars. For picking your hotel, check out our Walt Disney World hotels guide.
When it comes time to book we’ll help you find discount Disney World tickets. Decide whether you need a dining plan in our Complete Guide to Disney World Dining Plans! And at 180 days out it's time to book those Disney World Advance Dining Reservations!
Don't forget to master your Disney World FastPass+ strategy a few months in advance. We'll keep you out of long lines so you can maximize the magical time in the parks! We've got park-specific guides as well: Magic Kingdom FastPass, Epcot FastPass, Animal Kingdom FastPass, and Hollywood Studios FastPass.
Know what to ride with our guides to: Magic Kingdom rides, Hollywood Studios rides, Epcot rides, and Animal Kingdom rides! Plus learn about the water parks with our guide to Blizzard Beach and our guide to Typhoon Lagoon! And for some some fun prep, check out our Ranking of Every Ride at Walt Disney World.
Finally, before you head out, be sure to check out our to-the-point packing list, 10 essentials you forget to pack for every Disney trip. And if you're interested in saving, there's no better list than our 53 Ways to Save on your Disney trip from start to finish.