Tag Archives: Resort Hopping
When families travel to Walt Disney World they they know they will spend lots of money. They spend money on transportation to WDW, hotel room(s), meals, souvenirs and more. But did you know there are many free or cheap things to do at the Walt Disney World Resort that won’t break the bank?
1. Downtown Disney- Downtown Disney is a shopping, eating and entertainment area on Disney Property. Along with shopping and eating there are several free things to do.
- You and/ or your children can play in the interactive fountains to cool off on a hot Florida day. You can visit the Ghirardelli store and get a free sample of chocolate!
- At the new Lego Imagination Center, you and your children can play with thousands of lego blocks to build something special- just don’t forget to snap a pictur
e of your finished product!
- You can also ride the carousel for $2 a person. If you are 21 and over, you can enjoy free live music at House of Blues and Ragland Road (with the cost of a drink!).
- At times, you can enjoy free entertainment (singing, concerts, dancers, etc) at the outdoor amphitheater outside of The World of Disney.
2. Fort Wilderness- movie, petting zoo, playgrounds, wagon Fort Wilderness Campground certain resorts for $8/adult, $5/child, ranch farm animals to see and pony rides for very small children from 10 am to 5 pm for $5
3. Electrical Water Pageant- This boat light parade, set to music, sails along The Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake nightly, usually starting at 9:00, from The Magic Kingdom resort area. The pageant takes about an hour, passing each resort along the way: Polynesian, Grand Floridian, Wilderness Lodge, Ft. Wilderness and Contemporary.
4. Resort hopping- All of the resorts on Disney Property are beautifully themed! It’s fun to just visit different resorts to take in the sights and theming and take fun photographs.
- The pools are only for resort guests, but I enjoy seeing the slides, waterfalls, bridges and geysers! Some of the deluxe lobbies offer entertainment, especially at Christmas.
- Some of the resorts (Animal Kingdom Lodge, Wilderness Lodge, Grand Floridian and Yacht Club offer free tours to any Disney guest staying at any resort on property.
- Other resorts offer hidden Mickey hunts and other activities for children. While you’re there, check out the fun playgrounds as well!
5. Boardwalk- The Boardwalk is located around Crescent Lake nestled between Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. You can find several resorts around Crescent Lake which are in walking distance to the Boardwalk entertainment district: The Swan, The Dolphin, The Yacht Club, The Beach Club and of course The Boardwalk. Once at the Boardwalk, you can shop and eat at several different stores and restaurants.
- Some of the free and cheap things to do at the Boardwalk are watching the street performers, play some carnival style games (for a small cost), take a ride on the Friendship Boats or rent a pedal boats for less than $10 an hour.
- If you are 21 and over, you can visit Jellyroll’s dueling piano bar for a $10 cover charge or visit Atlantic Dance Hall for dancing to DJ spun hits which usually has no cover.
6. Monorail/ Boat Rides- Most people ride the Monorail just to get from Epcot to the Magic Kingdom or from the Ticket and Transportation Center to the Magic Kingdom. But did you know you could hop on the Monorail and get view of other areas?
- You can ride the resort loop from the Magic Kingdom to the Grand Floridian, Polynesian and Contemporary ending back at the Magic Kingdom. This is a great, free way to “resort hop” and see different resorts on property while enjoying the air conditioning on the Monorail!
- Boat rides are other free ways to see new things on property. You can ride the Friendship Boats around Crescent Lake (see above #5) or the boats that cruise around the Seven Seas Lagoon in front of the Magic Kingdom. The Seven Seas Lagoon boats will take you to the same resorts the Monorail Resort loop will take you.
- The last area where you can take a free boat ride is from Downtown Disney to Port Orleans along the Sassagoula River. This is my favorite boat ride as you pass Saratoga Springs, the Tree House Villas, Lake Buena Vista Golf Course, Old Key West and both Port Orleans Resorts.
7. YeHaa Bob- On Wednesday-Sunday nights at the River Roost Lounge at Port Orleans Riverside Resort, you can enjoy the free entertainment of Bob Jackson, aka YeHaa Bob from 8:30-midnight. YeeHa Bob is a musician, singer, comedian who will entertain the entire family. After the show he hangs around to sign autographs and take pictures.
8. Rent Entertainment- You can rent boats, canoes, and bikes at many different locations.
- Most of the Moderate, Deluxe and Vacation Club resorts have a marina where you can rent various types of watercraft. A kayak, canoe or pedal boat will be less than $10 for a half-hour rental
- All of the Disney resorts have some type of trail, but the trails around Wilderness Lodge and Ft. Wilderness are especially fun to rent a bike and explore. Bikes will cost $9.59 an hour.
9. Fishing- At all Disney fishing holes, the policy is “catch and release.” You can rent cane poles (worms are provided) at Port Orleans Riverside or Ft. Wilderness. The cost is $4 per half-hour per pole, or $9 for a full day per pole. For families, they run a special: $14 per half-hour for 4-6 poles.
10. Walking/ jogging trails- I believe all of the resorts on property have some sort of walking/ jogging trail, but some are more scenic than others! Here is a link to Disney’s list of jogging trails.
- At The Polynesian, you can walk along the beach and through the gardens between the Great Ceremonial House and beach. From the beach, you can view the Electrical Water Pageant and the evening fireworks over Cinderella Castle.
- At the Grand Floridian, you can walk around Seven Seas Lagoon and pass by the Wedding Pavilion. If there is not a wedding taking place, feel free to look inside!
- The Contemporary Resort and Fort Wilderness both have Butterfly Gardens. At The Contemporary it is in the back by the pool. The garden at Fort Wilderness is outside the Outpost.
- The Boardwalk has a beautiful path all around Crescent Lake that will also take you from Epcot to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. If you walk this path at night, you may be able to see parts of IllumiNations or Fantasmic!.
- If you spend time at Wilderness Lodge, stroll back past the pool and see a geyser spout on the hour beginning at 7am and ending at 10pm. You can also explore the woods between Wilderness Lodge and Fort Wilderness.
- It’s worth it to spend time at Animal Kingdom Lodge to view the savannah outside the main lobby. You can walk around and see the different African animals roaming free. At night you can find cast members who will let you view the animals through night vision goggles.
What other free or cheap things have you found at the Walt Disney World Resort?
- The Best Things in the “World” are Free (chipandco.com)
- Disney World Quick Tips – Ten FREE Things To Do At Disney World (chipandco.com)
My writers and I love offering you Disney World Planning Tips and Tricks. Using our collective knowledge we like to prepare you for what to expect before, during, and after your Disney World vacation. In case you missed my last article I discussed Resort Hopping over at the Magic Kingdom.
Today I want to talk to you about something outside the Disney World Theme Parks and that is the Disney World Resorts, specifically the ones between Epcot and Hollywood Studios.
This is one of my favorite Resort Hopping experiences as you get to use the Friendship Boats. There is no way you can fit this resort hop into one day unless you took the whole day to do it. We like to split them up into 2 days. Also I find that this resort hop is better around dinner time or in the evening as the sunset on the BoardWalk area is breath-taking.
There are 5 Resorts that make up the Epcot & Hollywood Area Resorts.
Since our Resort Hop today has more of a nautical theme to it, just imagine your Friendship Boat is a Pirate ship and your sailing the high seas in search of treasure. Trust me you will find it at these Disney Deluxe Resorts!
This resort hop works best if you are starting in either Epcot or Hollywood Studios. Driving by car is very tedious and I would not recommend it. But if you must, park your car at Disney Board Walk and just go from there as parking will be free.
Quick Tip – Just tell the Gate Guard you would like to walk around and look at the Resort. If you have a parking pass and Keys to the World Card I usually just flash those and they wave me on through.
However you chose to get there, I am going to start this plan at Disney’s BoardWalk. Here you can walk the BoardWalk, take in the sights and sounds, stop off for a bite to eat, or even check out the street performers. A visit to the BoardWalk is a must for us on every visit.
While here you can also check out the Boardwalk Inn and the Boardwalk Villas. Both resorts capture the charm, whimsy and elegance of 1940s Atlantic City. Sitting along a boardwalk packed with amusements, the Resorts offers dynamic views of the BoardWalk and of the glittering waters of Crescent Lake.
Be sure to walk around and explore. There are literally hundreds of points of interest to check out. Make sure to bring your camera for pictures, and a stroller for little ones. The walk around the BoardWalk is perfect for couples and for families too, as it is nowhere near as packed as Downtown Disney or some of the other resorts. Try having a treat at the BoardWalk Bakery or rent a surrey bike and ride around in style! My writer Melissa lists all the fun things you can do at the Boardwalk in this great article. Is Disney’s Boardwalk Villas Resort For You?
At this point you can continue to-day 2 or you can wait and come back here to this area later.
After a nice stroll down at the Boardwalk our next stop is across Crescent Lake to the Yacht Club Resort & Villas & Beach Club Resort & Villas. All of these resorts have a New England feel to them. I would say probably for me some of the best looking on Disney property. I love the crisp colors with white contrast on all the buildings.
I suggest when you are walking through Disney Beach Club Resort stop off at Beaches & Cream Soda Shop. My favorite place to get Ice Cream at Walt Disney World. We have no set way to walk around these Resorts we usually just start at the Yacht Club and work our way down to the Beach Club taking in the beautiful surroundings. Both resorts are connected together and share many amenities. The pool area is one of the best on Disney property! The Beach Club is literally a stones throw from Epcot so Illuminations: Reflections of Earth can get quite loud at night.
After you have taken in the sights and sounds of New England its time to jump on the Ferry again for a stop off at the Disney Swan and Dolphin Resorts. While not owned by Disney I consider them as much Disney’s as any place else on site. Be sure to take plenty of pictures! I have never eaten at any of the restaurants at the Swan and Dolphin but I hear they are very good.
If you want to check out a map of the Resorts and Ferry Route check it out here.
So that’s it for our Epcot/Hollywood Studios Resort Hop. If you are lucky enough to stay at one of these Disney Deluxe Accommodations then your already home I hope you enjoy Resort Hopping as much as my family and I do. Stay tuned next time as I discuss the Animal Kingdom Area Hop.
If you have anything little tips or suggestions on things to do and see at these resorts be sure to let us know in the comment section below.
- Disney’s Boardwalk Villas Review, Part 1 (disneyonwheelsblog.com)
- Disney World Quick Tips – Ten FREE Things To Do At Disney World (chipandco.com)
My writers and I love offering you Disney World Planning Tips and Tricks. Using our collective knowledge we like to prepare you for what to expect before, during and after your Disney World vacation.
Today I want to talk to you about something outside the Disney World Theme Parks and that is the Disney World Resorts. Specifically the Monorail resorts. They are the Polynesian, Grand Floridian, and the Contemporary/Bay Lake Tower Resorts.
Most people spend about 90% of the their time visiting the parks. I mean that’s what you’re paying an arm and leg for right? I want to share with you something fun my family and I like to do outside the parks while at Disney World for FREE!
When we buy our park tickets we normally buy one less day just for touring the other things Disney offers. This tip is also great for rainy days or on days you need a break from the parks.
Resort Hopping is time-honored tradition with my family dating all the way back to the 80′s and my first trips to WDW. My family would stay off site and we would drive to and walk around some of the Disney resort just to get a feel what it was like to stay in these super expensive, posh resorts.
As I got older and started taking my own trips with my wife we would make our Disney Dining Reservations at places like Ohana’s and just find ourselves walking around, exploring, shopping and taking tons of photos around the various resorts. After more and more trips to Disney World we started to work them into our planning till we started to make a check list of resorts we have been to and ones we still needed to visit. Needless to say there are still a few we haven’t been to.
The Big 3 as we call them are the Resorts that the Disney Monorail stops off at, and some of the easiest to Resort Hop. All you have to do is jump on the Monorail and your there. Depending on where you are staying you might have to take a ride to the Ticket and Transportation Center or TTC first then ride the Monorail to the resorts.
We like to Resort Hop for meals and to break up the days. It’s nice if you have a child in a stroller as they can nap as you are walking around and shopping. Be sure to bring your camera! Disney’s attention to detail is everywhere. You can easily do all 3 resorts in a day. Each one is different and has tons of things to view and experience. My favorite is the beach at the Polynesian Resort. Stop off for a snack or drink, check out the arcades, or go for a leisurely stroll.
Quick Tip – One of the best places to see the Wishes is from the beach at the Poly! It is Chip’s Secret Spot.
If you have never tried Resort Hopping and have never spent time at the Big 3 Resorts I suggest jumping aboard the Monorail Express and checking them out, it is very relaxing and a welcomed change from the Disney Parks. Also it is a great way to save a few bucks since that is one less park ticket you have to buy.
If you have ever tried this or have some must see’s at the Monorail Resorts let us know in the comment box below.
- Table Service in the Parks vs at the Resorts – Which is Better? Part 2 (chipandco.com)
- The Best Things in the “World” are Free (chipandco.com)
If you’ve spent any time in a Disney resort room, you’ve seen Stacy’s Must-Do list highlighting the top attractions at Walt Disney World. Well, no disrespect to Stacy, but there are some low-key activities that deserve just as much attention.
1. People Watching. Quite simply, a Disney park is a buffet of humanity! On any given day, it seems like people from every walk of life and from all corners of the globe are walking down Main Street. Grab a cold drink and a chair and watch the world go by while everyone else is rushing.
2. Resort hopping: Spend an afternoon or even the entire day checking out how the other half vacations. You don’t have to be a guest to enjoy the amenities (minus the pool, of course), shopping, or restaurants. Even when I’m not staying there, I love to sit in the lobby of the Grand Floridian a few minutes and just soak up the atmosphere.
3. Eating in a signature restaurant. Don’t be afraid to try Disney’s signature restaurants, even if you have small children with you. Most, if not all, are appropriate for children. My personal favorite is the Californian Grill on top of the Contemporary Resort, which is the perfect introduction for small children to the better restaurants on site.
4. The walkway from the Polynesian to the Grand Floridian. Next time you go to the Magic Kingdom, stop by the Poly and walk to the Grand Floridian. Most guests who aren’t staying at these resorts don’t even know it exists, but it’s one of the prettiest spots in Disney World. The walk itself gives you hints of what’s to come, with glimpses of Space Mountain and Cinderella Castle in the distance.
5. Stay in the Magic Kingdom after closing. No, I’m not suggesting you camp out on Tom Sawyer Island (Note to self: Buy scuba gear and a tent.) But did you know that you can stay in the park for about an hour after closing? Cast members won’t allow you on the rides, but shops stay open a full hour after closing (except after special parties), so you can slowly make your way out of the park and avoid the crowds. I like to find a bench and watch the castle turn colors for a while and then do a bit of last minute shopping. Try to be out within that hour–cast members want to go home too. You’ll get some great pictures of an almost-empty Main Street and you’ll be rewarded with an empty bus back to your resort.
What are your must do’s?
This question comes from Heather A.
Is there a list of places and what snacks they offer for the quick service dining plan? Can you go to hotels and swim in there pools or are you just allowed to walk around, we are staying at Pop Century and wanted to check out other resorts but weren’t sure if we were allowed. Is the Chip and Dale sing along movie thing worth it? I think that is it for now, we leave August 10th and are staying longer than we normally do so I am trying to find things that we can do besides the usual parks. Thanks!
Heather. Thanks for reading the site and for your question. Let me answer these in order.
1. There’s no official list for snacks. You’ll recognize what’s available by the dining plan sign next to the item, however. Most drinks, bakery items, some candy items, and small servings of fries and even chili are included. You can read more about maximizing your snack credits here.
2. You can’t pool hop. You can visit other resorts, but you can’t use their pools. Feel free to grab a drink from the pool bar while you visit another resort or have lunch or shop. You can even just sit in the lobby and enjoy the beautiful theming. “Resort hopping,” as it’s called, is a popular activity in Disney World and a nice way to spend a non-park day.
Chip has a whole series of Resort Hopping articles located here.
3. Chip and Dale are a lot of fun and the sing-a-long gets rave reviews for the character interaction. I recommend it, especially if you’re looking for activities to do outside of the parks.
There are lots of fun activities to do that cost very little and don’t require theme park admission. A movie and some shopping at Downtown Disney is a nice way to spend the day. There are entertainers at night on the Boardwalk and it costs nothing to watch and walk around. Resort hopping, as mentioned above, is totally free and gives you an opportunity to see all the extraordinary theming that goes into the resorts. Take the kids over to Ft. Wilderness and ride horses or visit the petting zoo. If you have a car, the Mall of Millenia is only about a 15-minute drive and has lots of great shopping. Attractions like Gatorland are inexpensive and fun for the kids. And if you like thrill rides and Harry Potter, consider a day trip over to Universal Studios Orlando. Finally, I love the town of Celebration, just a few miles off property. Grab some food and explore all the wonderful little architectural details of this planned community.
Also check out this article where we share free things to do at Walt Disney World. It might help too.
Have a wonderful trip!