Traveling to Walt Disney World? Anyone can tell you to ride Soarin’ and it’s a small world – but there are lots of fun, more “off the radar” things to do at Walt Disney World. Of course, this list is just the tip of the iceberg – leave me a comment below letting me know what you’d add to this must-dos at Walt Disney World list. I’ll update this post as I get new suggestions, so it may end up being more than 35 must-dos!
Disclosure: Affiliate links within. Purchasing and/or clicking on some of the links in this post helps support Family Travel Magazine®. I am a former member of the Disney Parks Moms Panel and have been on some complimentary press trips at Walt Disney World, but all opinions are my own.
35 Must-Dos at Walt Disney World
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Food at Walt Disney World
Have a carrot cake cookie at Hollywood Studios: These cookies are delicious and are so unique. You’ll probably need to share it, because it’s very hard to eat just one.
Enjoy a Dole Whip at the Magic Kingdom or the Polynesian: These dairy-free treats are iconic within Walt Disney World and are so delicious. I prefer the float. If you are going on the Disney Cruise Line, you can also get them on board with or without rum.
Eat the famous Grapefruit Cake at the Hollywood Brown Derby: While you are there, you can also get the popular Cobb salad.
Make a custom rice crispy treat at Goofy’s Candy Company in Disney Springs: You can add all sorts of toppings on it. If rice crispy treats aren’t your thing, you can also get gingerbread cookies, candy apples, or marshmallows.
Try Beverly at the Club Cool at Epcot: Or maybe not….. once you try it, trick someone else into trying it too, and maybe record them.
Ask for ketchup at the Whispering Canyon Cafe at the Wilderness Lodge: You’ll be surprised what happens.
Eat beignets at Port Orleans French Quarter: They are absolutely delicious, and can only be purchased on the French Quarter side. It’s a quick walk from the Riverside side.
Enjoy Zebra Domes at the Animal Kingdom Lodge: You’ll find these unique treats in the refrigerated section at the food court.
Have a coffee and Tonga Toast at the Kona Café at the Polynesian: The coffee at Kona is my favorite on property, and the Toast is such a treat.
Challenge your family to eat the entire Kitchen Sink at Beaches & Cream: It serves four and includes scoops of Vanilla, Chocolate, Strawberry, Cookies and Cream, and Mint Chocolate Chip ice creams.
Make an early-morning breakfast reservation at the Magic Kingdom and enjoy the stroll down a virtually-empty Main Street: It’s a great opportunity to get a perfect picture in front of Cinderella Castle. You won’t be able to explore the park, but can stop for a quick shot.
Activities at Walt Disney World
Drink your way around the world at Epcot: Responsibly, of course. My favorite drinks are the margaritas in Mexico and the Grand Marnier Slush in France.
‘Stay until the “Kiss Goodnight”: Maybe wake up a bit late on this day so you don’t get tired before the park closes.
Watch the dueling pianos at Jelly Rolls: Unfortunately, you can’t bring kids, but this is a great thing to do if you are on an adult trip.
Do the Wild Africa Trek at Animal Kingdom: It needs to be booked in advance, and costs extra. You’ll need a valid ticket to Animal Kingdom, so plan to visit the park that day if you don’t have park hoppers.
Rent a surrey bike at one of the resorts that offer them: This can be a fun activity on the days when you decide not to visit the parks.
Watch the fireworks of the Magic Kingdom outside of the park on a fireworks cruise: Book in advance for a special occasion.
Pick up a complimentary celebration button for your first visit, anniversary, or birthday: You can get them at guest services, and the resort check-in desk have them too.
Celebrate a major holiday at Walt Disney World: We’ve always loved celebrating Thanksgiving there. It’s such a special way to celebrate a holiday.
Take a Tour Around Disney Springs with Amphicar Tours: These guided tours depart from the Boathouse in Disney Springs and can accommodate 3-4 people (plus the captain/guide).
Special events at Walt Disney World
See the Candlelight Processional during Christmas time: Book a special Candlelight Processional dining package to make sure you get a seat. You’ll be able to see a schedule of narrators before the season, but the show is great regardless of the narrator.
Cheer on the runners during the annual marathon (or run yourself): Book your hotel early though, because the parks are busy that weekend.
Participate in a runDisney event: I’ve run the Princess Half Marathon and the now defunct Expedition Everest 5K, and these races are so much fun. Book as soon as the availability opens, because they sell out.
Tour the Deluxe resorts at Christmastime to admire their Christmas displays: My favorites are at the Boardwalk Inn, the Grand Floridian, and at the Beach Club.
Attend the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival: It takes place in the fall, and you’ll have the opportunity to purchase delicious food samples at various kiosks located throughout the World Showcase. I always plan to have one meal around the festival. The Greece booth is typically my favorite.
Attractions at Walt Disney World
Sit in the front row, center section on Soarin’: You’ll have the perfect vantage point, but may need to wait a bit for that spot.
Check out the interactive queue at the Haunted Mansion: Go early, since you won’t be able to use a FastPass to view the interactive queue.
Play a character in Storytime with Belle at New Fantasyland: My kids always loved doing this.
Ride Expedition Everest in the dark: It’s easier now that the park has expanded hours.
Ride Dumbo during the fireworks at the Magic Kingdom: I’m always amazed at how much my kids love Dumbo even as they’ve gotten older.
Pick a pearl at the Beach Club, the Japan pavilion, or Disney Springs: Then have it made into a piece of jewelry to commemorate your Disney vacation.
Make and collect pressed pennies: Start collecting the most shiny pennies in advance of your vacation, so you can have perfect pressed pennies.
Buy and trade pins with cast members: Buy some first so you have some to trade.
Get a temporary tattoo: Choose your favorite character and find one of the booths in the parks.
Wear matching tee-shirts to celebrate your trip: There are lots of great options online, or you can choose to make your own.
Here are some Walt Disney World hotels that I recommend – check out prices and reviews at these links. Please note that I experienced some of these resorts as part of press trips, but all opinions are my own. You can also save up to 28% on Disney Resort hotels here, and see various discounts on Walt Disney World tickets here.
- Disney’s Beach Club
- Disney Swan and Dolphin
- Disney’s Art of Animation
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
- Gaylord Palms
- JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes
- World Center Marriott
Thanks to my Moms Panelists friends Susan and Whitney for helping brainstorm ideas to update this list.