Most people’s Disney vacations are made up of long days at the Parks, water parks, or Disney Springs. There’s so much to do at each and every one of them; it’s hard to squeeze it all into one trip! Especially if you don’t visit the Parks often, it can be easy to forgo things like sleep in favor of getting everything done.
However, what if you’re a frequent visitor looking for something new to do? Or a local who doesn’t feel like going to the Parks? Exploring a Walt Disney World Resort can be just as exciting as spending a day at a Theme Park if you know where to look. It’s a great way to spend an evening after being at the Parks all day or a “middle of your trip” day when you’ve decided to take it easy.
Keep in mind that during the busier seasons, some Resorts will have rules and regulations about parking at a Resort if you’re not staying there. However, you will usually have no problem hopping on Disney transportation and visiting for the afternoon. Here are some of our picks for the best Resorts to Explore at Walt Disney World and some of our favorite things to do there!
Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
This beautiful Deluxe Resort is across the water from the Magic Kingdom and is a tropical oasis. One of the best highlights here is the beach, where you can relax on the sand with a Dole Whip – and, if you’re there at night, catch the fireworks at the Magic Kingdom. The Resort plays the music from the show on the beach, ensuring you get the full experience. Cap off the night with dinner at ‘Ohana or drinks at Trader Sam’s, the enchanted tiki bar.
- How to Get There: Bus from any Park, Monorail & boat from the Magic Kingdom, walking from the Transportation & Ticket Center
- Best Food and Drink: Breakfast and dinner at ‘Ohana, drinks at Trader Sam’s, Dole Whip
- What to Do: Watch the fireworks on the beach
Disney’s Riviera Resort
One of Disney’s newest Resorts, this luxurious destination takes you to the heart of the French Riviera. The grounds of this Resort are stunning and relaxing, and the Resort has some of the best food of any Disney Resort hotel. Enjoy a drink at Bar Riva or an authentic Parisian treat at Le Petit Café, and play a game of bocce ball out on the lawn. This Resort is also connected to the Skyliner, making it easy to explore all the Resorts connected to it.
- How to Get There: The Skyliner, Bus from any Park
- Best Food and Drink: Breakfast at Toppolino’s Terrace, drinks at Bar Riva
- What to Do: Enjoy a campfire or a game of bocce ball, and explore the Resort’s art and mosaics
Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground
Ever thought you would camp on your Disney vacation? Even if the great outdoors isn’t your ideal accommodation, exploring this rustic Resort is still worth it. This tranquil, lush campground is famous for the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue at Pioneer Hall, a fabulous dinner show with homestyle cooking. Surrounding the area is also the Tri-Circle-D Ranch, where you can enjoy pony or wagon rides or just get an up-close look at the horses that work at Walt Disney World! Finally, stick around for Chip ’N’ Dale’s Campfire Sing-A-Long, a complimentary event (s’mores kits are available for purchase) where you can have a hoedown with everyone’s favorite chipmunks!
- How to Get There: Boat from the Magic Kingdom, bus from any Park
- Best Food and Drink: Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue, P & J’s Southern Takeout
- Things to Do: Chip ‘N’ Dale’s Campfire Sing-A-Long, Tri-Circle-D Ranch, Fishing, Rentals (bike, canoe, kayak), Archery Experience, volleyball and tetherball on the beach
A fan-favorite Resort and nightlife destination all in one! Disney’s BoardWalk harkens back to the classic days of Coney Island and Atlantic City. This is a great location to grab dinner and drinks, go window shopping, or dance the night away at Atlantic Dance Hall. It’s also connected to FOUR other resorts (Disney’s Yacht and Beach Clubs and Disney’s Swan and Dolphin) and EPCOT, meaning you could spend a whole day in just this Resort area, which is also connected to the Skyliner via EPCOT.
- How to Get There: Skyliner, boat from EPCOT or Hollywood Studios, bus from any Park
- Best Food and Drink: Ice cream at Beaches & Cream, drinks at Abracadabar
- Things to Do: Watch live entertainment on the Boardwalk, go dancing at Atlantic Dance Hall, watch the dueling pianists at Jellyrolls, Surrey Bike rentals, the nearby Fantasia Gardens Mini Golf
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
Last but certainly not least, this is one of the most unique Resort experiences you’ll find anywhere in the world. The beautiful hotel surrounds four living, breathing savannas featuring a large variety of live animals like giraffes, zebras, and wildebeests. There are even options for private safari experiences! Enjoy a classy dinner at Jiko or a quick bite and drink at Victoria Falls Lounge – and don’t leave without trying a famous Zebra Dome!
- How to Get There: Bus from any Park
- Best Food and Drink: Breakfast at Boma, dinner at Jiko or Sanaa
- Things to Do: Explore the savannas, enjoy a Starlight Safari, go on a wine-tasting tour, learn about the cultural representatives and animal care