Labor Day is here, and that means the arrival of my "Disney season." Each year, between now and the first week of November, MJ and I make several trips to visit the Mouse for runDisney races and the Epcot Food & Wine Festival. With so much Disney in such a short period of time, the theme parks can get a little old. Thankfully, there are plenty of great things to do at Disney besides theme parks to both keep us busy and keep my bank account from imploding. Here's a few of my favorites.
Naturally, golf is the best thing to do at Disney outside of the parks. So, I'm a bit biased here. However, with four championship courses at their disposal, don't be surprised if the golfer in your family decides to skip the theme parks. My personal favorite is Osprey Ridge - a Tom Fazio design which can be brutally difficult, yet lies close enough to the Magic Kingdom that you can hear the train whistle in the distance. Sure, golf isn't exactly going to save you any money over a theme park ticket, but it sure beats a two hour wait at Toy Story Midway Mania.
|The best kind of Hidden Mickey.|
Cirque du Soliel - La Nouba
One of the longest running Cirque du Soliel shows, La Nouba brings a little bit of Las Vegas to Walt Disney World with high flying acrobatics and jaw dropping stunts that will amaze everyone in the family. Easily one of the best attractions at Walt Disney Wold besides the theme parks, La Nouba will cost as much or more than a day at Epcot. Still, in the humble opinion of yours truly, every Walt Disney World itinerary should include Cirque du Soliel La Nouba. Period.
|The best show in Disney, under the big top...|
Rent a Water Sprite
Not all of the non-theme park activities at Disney will break the bank. For example, one of my favorite things to do as a kid - and still to this day - is renting a mini water-sprite boat and riding around the Seven Seas Lagoon. A half hour will set you back about $30, and it's a really fun way to see the Magic Kingdom and nearby resorts. Just take my advice and avoid jumping the wake of the Magic Kingdom ferry...they kinda frown upon that.
|My favorite view at Disney.|
If you're looking for something fun to do besides another theme park, then consider packing your beach bag and checking out a few of the amazing pools at the Disney resorts. Doing so, however, will require a little bit of - how should I say - deception on your part. See, in most cases, pool hopping isn't exactly allowed at Disney, but once you're past the Mickey's Marine - read: security guard - out front, then you're golden. Saying you're having lunch at one of the restaurants will usually do the trick, just be sure you actually know the name of an eatery at the resort. Oh, and don't try this at the Yacht and Beach Club: Mickey keeps Stormalong Bay on lock-down for guests only.
|Or skip the pool and take a nap in a hammock at The Polynesian|
No, I'm not joking. Believe it or not, the lakes and creeks around Walt Disney World are known for their stock of bass and other freshwater fish. So if you've ever wanted to take little Johnny fishing, but have no clue how to tie a fish hook - I'm told it's different than shoe laces - then good old Mickey has you covered. Plus, the relative serenity of Bay Lake is a far cry from the crowds and chaos of Fantasyland. Besides, how many kids can say "I went fishing at Disney World" on the first day of school?
|It doesn't look like they're catching much...|
There's an old saying that "Vegas wasn't built on winners." If there were a version for Disney it would have to be "Disney wasn't built on free." As you can see, there are plenty of great activities at Disney besides the theme parks. Some are free, others are cheap, but most will still set you back just as much as a park ticket - or more. Either way, there are plenty of great activities at Disney besides theme parks, just be sure your wallet is still close at hand.
Enjoy Your Stay