Wondering what to do outside of the parks with your free day at Walt Disney World? You could relax around the pool, decompressing after a long day in Magic Kingdom. Or, you could have a day jam-packed with fun and the multitude of other entertainment beyond the theme parks in the Vacation Kingdom of the World.
In this touring plan, we take a look at how you can fill that free day from morning until night, exploring parts of Walt Disney World you might not otherwise see. Unlike our other 1-Day Disney Parks Itineraries, here we have a “choose your own adventure” element as some of the options here may not appeal to everyone.
So, we have an alternative path: Adventure B. This path is geared more towards families, but when you don’t see it as an option, it’s because the recommendation is the same for all. (Except Trader Sam’s…that’s for adult playtime after the kiddies are in bed.)
It’s also worth noting that you could literally fill a week or more enjoying the non-park side of things at Walt Disney World. There’s a lot to do in the parks, but it’s much easier to narrow each of the parks–even the Magic Kingdom and Epcot–down to a single day.
If this full day schedule is too ambitious for your “relaxation day,” feel free to cut elements and slow things down. You could also use the second half of the touring plan for your arrival day at Walt Disney World if you’re not heading into the parks! Even with the full day, a lot of possibilities have to be cut, so I’m hoping those of you Walt Disney World veterans who read the blog make additional suggestions in the comments to help the first-timers out.
Alright, let’s get started with our day…
Trail Start for Breakfast – Our tour begins here, on this haunted trail. Well, I’m not sure Trail’s End is actually haunted, but it’s where I recommend starting for breakfast, with a 7 am reservation (no sleeping in on this “relaxation” day!).
Adventure B: Breakfast at Cape May Cafe at Disney’s Beach Club Resort. This is a character breakfast, so it might be a better option for those with kids.
Wonders of Wilderness Lodge – In our Free Things at Walt Disney World post, we cover some of the free tours at Walt Disney World. One such tour is the Wonders of Wilderness Lodge tour, which is held at 9 am Wednesday through Saturday.
The tour covers everything from Walt Disney’s love of trains to the materials used in building Wilderness Lodge to its backstory and inspiration from Old Faithful Inn at Yellowstone National Park, among other National Park Lodges. As this review accurately states, the content on this free tour rivals many of the paid tours.
Head to the Springs – This blog used to rag on Downtown Disney as being a waste of time. With Disney Springs, this is no longer the case. If anything, you need days (plural) to try all of the exceptional restaurants at Disney Springs. The shopping is good, too–but we’re all about the food.
The new shopping and entertainment district also has a great vibe to it, and there are some interesting stores and entertainment options. Plan to spend 2-3 hours here, doing whatever interests you.
After this, head to Jambo House for more fun. You can start by heading out behind the building to the trails that allow you an up close view of the savanna. Here, there are Cast Members who are incredibly knowledgeable, and can teach you about the animals and life on the savanna (some nice “edutainment,” so you don’t feel as guilty about pulling the kids out of school for the week! 😉 ).
After this, at 4 pm, head to the Boma restaurant podium. No, we aren’t going to eat again already! This is for another free tour, this one the Culinary Tour of Animal Kingdom Lodge. This is a 30-minute tour covers the art and culinary inspirations of Boma and Jiko (plus free samples!), and is fascinating even if you aren’t a foodie.
Adventure B: Play a round of miniature golf at Winter Summerland, located near Blizzard Beach water park.
Transportation Fun – Once finished at Animal Kingdom Lodge, catch a bus to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. From there, catch a boat to the BoardWalk to enjoy a pleasant afternoon (perhaps sunset, depending upon the time of year) stroll there, perhaps stopping to split a snack at Boardwalk Bakery (one of the best bakeries at Walt Disney World) if you’re at all hungry.
Walk around the full loop that goes past Yacht & Beach Club and the Swan & Dolphin, and then take the walking path back to Disney’s Hollywood Studios (or take a boat). From the Studios, catch a bus to the Magic Kingdom and then take a monorail to Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. Walt Disney World transportation is a means of getting from point A to point B, but if you slow down and enjoy it, boat and monorail transportation can be attractions unto themselves.
Adventure B: Take a bus directly to the Magic Kingdom, then a boat to Wilderness Lodge.
Polynesian Dinner Delights – There are a lot of great places to eat dinner at the Magic Kingdom area resorts, but I’m going to suggest dining at either ‘Ohana or Kona Cafe at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort because of the way it sets up the rest of the evening.
Both of these restaurants are delicious, family-friendly places. If you want something more romantic, try Artist Point at Wilderness Lodge or The Wave at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, both of which I consider hidden gems. After dinner, you can enjoy the Electrical Water Pageant from the Poly.
Adventure B: Head to Wilderness Lodge for a hijinks-filled meal at Whispering Canyon Cafe, and then head to Fort Wilderness for the free Chip ‘N Dale’s Campfire Sing-A-Long.
Free-irworks – There is no better way to end a day at Walt Disney World than with fireworks. Fortunately, with fireworks being so high in the sky, it’s pretty easy to watch them for free.
Nightcap – Since you’re only a stone’s throw away from the #2 bar in all of the worldwide Disney Parks, it would be a crime not to go to it, right?! (Yes, yes it would be.) From here, take the walking trail back to the Poly, which makes for a delightful nighttime stroll. Once there, end your night with drinks and kitschy fun at Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto.
After this, stumble back to your room and you’ve just completed quite the jam-packed “rest day” outside of the Walt Disney World parks!
What do you like to do outside of the parks at Walt Disney World? Do you typically plan a “rest day” outside of the parks? Anything on this plan you’d change? If you have any thoughts or questions, please post them in the comments!