If you are visiting Walt Disney World, you’ll have the option to stay on or off property. While you can sometimes save money by staying off the Disney property, the themes, amenities, and convenience of an on-property resort can definitely be appealing.
One way to save money on your Disney World vacation is to plan a day or more at your resort hotel. Whether you are staying at a deluxe resort, a moderate resort, or a value resort, there are always activities and amenities that can be a fun way to spend your day. While some of these are free activities, others come with an additional fee.
Note that we are only listing activities that take place at a Disney Resort hotel – not the two water parks, mini golf courses, or Disney Springs. There are plenty of fantastic activities outside of the theme parks that do not require a park ticket but this post focuses on resort hotels.
Here are some of the most exciting and entertaining amenities at the Disney hotels. If we left out your favorite, leave us a comment below.
This post contains affiliate links. A purchase/click through one of these links may result in a commission paid to us at no cost to you. I’ve been to Walt Disney World on press trips and discounted trips and have also paid my own way.
Save money on your Walt Disney World theme park tickets by booking through Get Away Today. They offer vacation packages as well as individual ticket sales. Disney travel agents don’t charge guests an extra commission and can help you find deals.
Fantastic Fun Things To Do at the Disney World Resorts
Pools, Spas, and Water Slides
All of the Walt Disney World resorts offer pools, and often have several different options. The large, feature pool is typically themed, with most of the resorts offering quieter, smaller pools for those who don’t want to be in the middle of the action.
The pools at the Moderate and Deluxe resorts also offer water slides in the feature pools (the value resorts don’t, however. In addition, there are typically jacuzzis (called spas at Walt Disney World), and some of the resort pool areas also have splash pads.
Our favorite pool area at Walt Disney World is Stormalong Bay, which is a shared amenity between Disney’s Beach Club and Disney’s Yacht Club. Stormalong Bay is a 3-acre water play area with a water slide, sand bottom pool, and a lazy river. You’ll need to stay at one of those two resorts to be able to visit Stormalong Bay.
Another incredibly popular and well-loved pool is the Big Blue Pool at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort. The largest pool at Walt Disney World, the Big Blue Pool is themed after Finding Nemo. While it doesn’t have a water slide, it is definitely a must-visit pool.
With so many lakes and other bodies of water, Walt Disney World is a prime location for a boat ride. There are a number of different resort locations where guests can rent motorized boats, kayaks, and canoes for a fun time on the water.
Sun Tracker® Pontoon boats can be rented for a half-hour, for up to 10 guests. Marinas can be found at Bay Lake Tower/The Contemporary, the Beach Club, the Grand Floridian, and the Yacht Club.
If you’d prefer some exercise while boating, there are some other options. Canoe and kayak rentals are offered at Disney’s Fort Wilderness. Reservations are not required, and availability is first-come, first-served. I’d recommend checking first before heading over to the resort (if you aren’t staying there) just to confirm availability.
Catch and release fishing is another popular activity at Walt Disney World, and could be a great option for a day that you aren’t planning on visiting the theme parks.
Fishing excursions are offered for both 2 and 4 hours (with an optional additional hour). These excursions are offered on both Sun Tracker pontoon boats and NITRO® bass fishing boats, which include a guide, equipment, and non-alcoholic beverages (alcohol is not permitted). The following resorts have marinas where you can get your fishing excursion:
- Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground
- Caribbean Beach Resort
- Contemporary Resort
- Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
- Old Key West Resort
- Polynesian Village Resort
- Port Orleans Resort – Riverside
- The Wilderness Lodge Resort
- The Yacht Club Resort
You’ll want to make an advance reservation if you plan on doing a fishing excursion.
In addition, another catch-and-release fishing option is available. Dockside fishing is available at Port Orleans – Riverside and Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort.
Electrical Water Pageant
The Electrical Water Pageant is a nostalgic nighttime show which takes place on the Seven Seas Lagoon each evening. It features lighted floats (headlined by a giant sea monster) and classic Disney music, in a 15-minute show.
The Electrical Water Pageant can be seen from the Magic Kingdom-area resorts, including Disney’s Contemporary, The Polynesian Village Resort, the Wilderness Lodge Resort, Fort Wilderness Resort and Campgrounds, and the Grand Floridian Resort. If you are staying at one of these resorts, be sure to watch it.
The Magic Kingdom fireworks are some of the most beautiful fireworks around. While they are typically viewed in the theme park, there are some places outside the parks where you can still enjoy them. I’ve seen them from the Polynesian Village Beach, a theme park-view room at Disney’s Bay Lake Tower, and at the California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort.
This list on the Undercover Tourist website has some great options for seeing the Magic Kingdom fireworks outside of the park (scroll to the bottom).
Several resorts at Walt Disney World offer traditional and surrey bike rentals. These can be a fun (and fit) way to explore the area around your hotel. Resorts offering bike rentals include Disney’s Boardwalk, the Old Key West Resort, Port Orleans Riverside, Port Orleans French Quarter, and Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort.
The most unique resort amenity is the Tri-Circle-D ranch at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort and Campgrounds. The ranch is home to approximately 90 horses, at two separate locations at the resort.
Activities include pony rides, horseback riding, horse-drawn carriage rides (also offered at Disney’s Port Orleans resort), and wagon rides (currently unavailable). Pony rides are offered as walk-ins only, but the other activities can be booked online.
If you just want to see and visit the horses, you are able to visit the stables near the Settlement area of Disney’s Fort Wilderness. Confirm in advance, but typically they are open from 10 am to 5 pm each day.
Movies Under the Stars
Want to watch a popular Disney movie at your resort? Most of the Walt Disney World resort hotels offer movies under the stars on select evenings. These are complimentary, and are held outdoors (weather permitting).
Visiting other Disney resorts, especially during the holiday season, can be lots of fun. I’d recommend taking the Disney Skyliner when possible to enjoy visiting in that way. There are Skyliner stops at Disney’s Riviera Resort, Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, Disney’s Art of Animation/Disney’s Pop Century Resort, as well as at Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Keep in mind that there are some restrictions when it comes to resort hopping, especially with parking and using the pool. When resort hopping, you may also consider making a dining reservation at one of that resort’s restaurants.
There are plenty of other activities at the Disney resorts. Most of the resorts offer an arcade, which can be fun on an excessively hot or rainy day. In addition, most of the resorts offer family-friendly activities, some for an additional fee. These include campfire activities, animation lessons from cast members, tie-dye, and more.