By Guest Blogger Catherine Cottingham

Are you already looking ahead to your next family trip? Disney World is an amazing family trip no matter the ages of your children. Anyone from age 0 to 100 can have a fantastic time in Orlando! While the four theme parks and two water parks are a huge incentive for a Disney vacation, there are also offers hundreds of activities around Disney’s property that you don’t need a park ticket to do.

Today I’m sharing activities that are great for a weekend trip if you don’t want to purchase park tickets (which can be expensive!), or if you’re seeking days off from the theme parks during a longer trip! I highly suggest making time during any Disney World trip to explore more of the property than just the theme parks. There is magic everywhere!

Here are 10 family activities you can do without a park ticket at Walt Disney World:

1 – Starlight Safari at Animal Kingdom Lodge

Starlight Safari is a night time safari ride from the Animal Kingdom Lodge for their resort guests. It’s perfect for middle school aged kids and up. At sunset you will board their truck and ride through the sarafi that can’t be seen from the Animal Kingdom park. It’s such a fun treat! Be sure to make a reservation for this activity before you arrive.

2 – Design Custom Levi’s Piece in Disney Springs

I love this Levi’s store at DIsney Springs. Levi’s offers the option to customize any clothing piece in their store (most can be done within a few hours) including changing your Levi’s tab, adding patches, and distressing. It’s a really great option for older kids. I also love that you can do a small change or go wild and add lots of patches for a truly unique piece.

3 – Go Horseback Riding

Did you know Disney has a farm?!?! You can take the family horseback riding on your off day from the parks! The ranch is located at the Fort Wilderness Lodge Resort. It costs $55 per person. Click here for a phone number to book your reservation. The experience is offered 5 times a day.

4 – Drawn to Life Presented By Cirque de Soleil

Drawn to Life is a new show that will start this Fall in Disney Springs. It’s a captivating show that combines Disney animation and the amazing Cirque de Soleil skills. The show is for everyone of all ages making it the perfect family show without stepping one foot into a Disney park. The show will take you on a journey at an animators desk and how their drawings are brought to life. It’s honestly such a fitting show that will get everyone excited to see their favorite characters when you do make it into a park. Tickets for this show are now available.

5 – Create Your Own Dessert at Goofy’s Candy Shop

For your younger kids designing their own special treat! Goofy’s Candy Shop is a cute little candy store within Disney Springs but they have the option to walk in and create your own dessert – no appointment needed. You get to choose your base, chocolate sauce, chocolate drizzle, and one topping! If you don’t want them to eat an entire creation, offer to spilt it with them but they get to decide on what it is! Let those creative juices flow!

6 – Character Meals

While many of the character meals are within the park walls there are still many outside the parks. The current favorite is Topolino”s Terrace for breakfast. You can book reservations through the website, app, or calling Disney’s customer service line.

7 – Movies Under the Stars

Many Disney resorts offer outdoor movies on their lawn areas on different nights of the week. When you check in, be sure to ask for a schedule so you can take advantage of their movie nights as well as other activities. The best option is to call a few weeks ahead of time and ask about the resort’s activity schedule since it changes frequently.

8 – Rent Bikes on the Boardwalk

You can rent a single, double or 4-person Surrey bike to ride around the boardwalk area located between Epcot and Hollywood Studios. I love the fact that they have large bikes that four people at a time can fit on for the whole family! It’s $25 a person according to the website (I believe once you get there its a variety of prices depending on the type of bike and ages).

9 – Experience the Rainforest Cafe

There are two locations for this fun restaurant: Rainforest Cafe in Downtown Disney, and Rainforest Cafe in Animal Kingdom. At Animal Kingdom, it’s located at the entrance so you can walk right in. They have a gate at the back of the restaurant to enter the park. I recommend the Animal Kingdom restaurant because it’s the cooler of the two locations and they have a huge outdoor area with a bar, seating, and a waterfall. I loved it as a little girl and I think your whole family will be in awe of how unique this place is! There are even “thunderstorms” throughout your meal with all sorts of animals interacting. Don’t forget to grab dessert -the sparkling volcano is truly a treat!

10 – Raglan Road for Dinner and a Show

Ragland Road Irish Pub and Restaurant is a must do for everyone. The food is amazing and they offer a show throughout your meal. Plus if the adults enjoy a good cocktail or whiskey- this is a great restaurant to end your day at!

Disney World offers so many amazing activities, experiences, and dining locations that are not even in the park! If you plan to go down make sure to check everything out so your entire crew will have a fantastic trip!

** Some activities may not be operating currently due to COVID-19. Disney World is working quickly to get everything back open with safety precautions in place. 

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