12 Things to Do at Disney World Without Going Into the Parks (7 Are Free!)

One of my best tips for visiting Walt Disney World is to plan a rest day. With so many Disney World activities to choose from, a rest day (or non-park) day can be filled with relaxation and a lot of Disney magic. Try one of these Disney World activities on your next visit to and give yourself a day of Disney magic without stepping foot inside a park.

I love visiting Walt Disney World. Most people would think it is because of the rides at the parks but I have to let you in on a little secret. I love visiting Walt Disney World because it is a step outside of the real world.

Visiting Walt Disney World is magical. The amazing attractions bring people to the parks but the food, resorts, and all around Disney magic sprinkled everywhere you go is what brings people back year after year. It is what brings my family back and is why I am always planning our next visit the minute we leave.

We made our first visit to Walt Disney World when all three kids were under 5. It was our first visit as a family and it is one of my favorites. (These 6 Tips for Your First Visit will help you get started with planning.)

The only thing I would change is adding in a day to rest and recharge. We were so busy that we never enjoyed the resort or experienced all the magic around us. On our next visit I planned a rest day and now we always add a day or two in every vacation.

Why Plan a Non Park Day at Disney

A non park day gives you a chance to move at a slower pace and recharge after a full day at the parks. Planning a rest day at Walt Disney World doesn’t mean there is nothing to do. You could spend a full week enjoying the Disney World activities outside the theme parks.

Now that you have a rest day planned into your itinerary you need to decide what you would like to do. I came up with our top ways to spend your non park day at Disney World.

Plan them all or pick and choose. Your rest day should be planned based on your what your family likes to do.

12 Amazing Things to Do at Disney World without Going Into the Parks

#1 Explore Your Walt Disney World Resort (We Love Art of Animation!)

On our first visit we had little time to explore the resort because we were up early to go the parks and home late. For our next visit we made sure to plan time to explore our resort.

Exploring your resort is so fun. Walk around to get some energy out. Most resorts have playgrounds. Playgrounds are a great time for parents to regroup and kids to run around. Search for hidden Mickeys. Disney does a great job of hiding Mickey throughout different places at the resorts. Count how many you can find.

One of our favorite resorts is Disney’s Art of Animation Resort. Art of Animation rocks!!! It has so many fun photo-ops that you could spend all afternoon exploring.

Head over in the afternoon and walk around the four themed areas: Finding Nemo, The Little Mermaid, The Lion King and Cars. Then enjoy a lunch or snack at the Landscape of Flavors, Art of Animations quick service dining. There is also a nice playground and if you have more time walk across the bridge to explore the Pop Century resort.

Read More:  Why Your Family Will Love Art of Animation Resort

#2 Spend Time at the Resort Pool

My kids love spending time at the resort pool. This is a Disney World activity that takes no planning at all! The moment we arrive at a Disney Resort the kids make dart to the pool.

Visiting the pool gives the kids an opportunity to get their energy out. They can play freely and this is really important for most kids. Walt Disney World resorts have some really amazing pools and it is worth making time to visit the pool at your resort. (Walt Disney World does not allow pool hopping. You are only permitted to use the pools at the resort you are staying at.)

rest day at walt disney world
#3 Explore Another On-site Disney Resort

Walt Disney resorts are amazingly themed and it is worth it to take time to explore them. We spent time visiting Animal Kingdom Lodge during our last visit. This is a great resort to visit because it overlooks a Savannah and the animals roam free. Exploring other resorts also gives you an idea of where you may want to stay during your next visit.

rest day at walt disney world

#4 Take a Ride on Disney Transportation

Disney Transportation is for all guests visiting the Walt Disney World resort to use for free. That is one of my favorite reasons for staying on-site. Take a bus to the Magic Kingdom and ride the monorail. It loops through a few resorts. You can take the time to get off, explore a resort, and get back on or just take the full loop. Disney also has a Ferry and boats to take guests from Magic Kingdom to different resorts. Take time to enjoy the ride.

rest day at walt disney world

#5 Make Character Dining Reservations at a Resort

Typically I don’t like to make dining reservations during park days because I want to maximize my time at the parks. Using a rest day at Walt Disney World is a great time to make reservations to meet your favorite characters.

On our last visit we booked a late breakfast at ‘Ohana. I booked it later so we could sleep in and it covered lunch. When booking consider the time it takes to arrive at the resort. I usually give myself about an hour from resort to restaurant, depending on where I am staying.

#6 Enjoy the Day Shopping

I might be in the minority here but I am not much of a shopper. It’s just not really my thing but if you like to shop Disney has some serious shopping. The resorts have large gift shops and you can stop over at Disney Springs to really immerse yourself in all the shopping you’d like.

rest day at walt disney world

#7 Visit Disney Springs

Disney Springs offers Disney and Non-Disney shopping as well as a multitude of entertainment and dining options. Try getting dessert at Sprinkles or go Bowling at Splitsville. The dining ranges from casual to upscale and there is something for everyone. Some dining also accepts your Disney dining plan and you can use your MagicBand for charging purposes.

rest day at walt disney world

#8 Time for Mini-Golf

One of our favorite Disney World activities is mini-golf.  Walt Disney World has two Mini-Golf courses. Disney’s Fantasia Gardens is themed to Fantasia and is located in the Epcot Resort Area. Disney’s Winter Summerland is a fun take on bringing the winter to Florida and is located near Blizzard Beach Waterpark. Both mini-golf courses are open year round and are a fun activity for a rest day at Walt Disney World.

#9 Daily Resort Activities

Each resort has activities unique to the resort. During our stay we have done dance contest, trivia games, challenges, and made tie-dyes. It is really fun for the kids and adults to get involved. When you check-in you will receive your Disney World activity schedule for the week at your resort. Use this to guide plan your rest day.

rest day at walt disney world

#10 Watch a Movie Under the Stars

Another activity to look for on your weekly activity schedule is the Movies Under the Stars. At each resort they have a Disney movie playing outside. This is one of those activities that we always miss. We either have an early morning or we arrive late. Hopefully someday we will make it!!

#11 Electrical Water Pageant Parade

This is one that you don’t have to plan too much if you are in the right place! The parade runs nightly on Seven Seas Lagoon. The best place to see it is outside the Magic Kingdom or at one of the resorts that surround the lake.  It starts at the Polynesian at 9:00pm and runs through there. We have always caught pieces of it as we exit the Magic Kingdom and it is a magical end to our evening.

#12 S’mores by the Fire

Chip n Dale’s Campfire Sing-A-Long at The Campsites at Fort Wilderness Lodge is a family fun way to end the evening. Purchase a S’mores kit and roast marshmallows and sing songs with Chip n’ Dale. This free activity is offered to all guests and even visitors to the resort can attend. Other Walt Disney World resorts have campfires but Chip n’ Dale are only at the campsites.

Sample Disney World Activities Itinerary for a Rest Day


  • Sleep In
  • Late Brunch Reservation
  • Pool Afternoon
  • Movie at Your Resort


  • Pool
  • Lunch at Resort
  • Visit another Resort
  • Dinner Reservations


  • Breakfast Reservations
  • Resort Activities
  • Pool Afternoon
  • S’mores at Night

A rest day can be a great addition to a week at Walt Disney World. Spending a week at the resorts gives you the opportunity to enjoy the theme parks but also all the Disney World activities outside the parks.

Want to Learn More about Planning a Walt Disney World Family Vacation:

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Disney World Nonpark Day Activities

rest day at walt disney world

Disney Activities not at a park

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