Tuesday Disney Tips: Free Fun at Your Disney Resort

As my family has grown older we have come to appreciate more and more the offerings around our chosen Disney resort when we are having some down time. As you can see from this picture, lying around in hammocks at Disney’s Contemporary Resort has been a relaxing thing for my teens to do, and I really enjoy lounging on the beach there as well.

Every Disney resort is themed and has its own unique style, so there are a wide variety of different activities from which to choose, depending upon which resort you have reserved. Today I wanted to give you some information on FREE resort fun that I hope you will find helpful in planning your daily itinerary. Here are some of my favorite things to do, or hope to do during my trips to Walt Disney World.

Day at the Pool

The resort pools at the Walt Disney World Resort are amazing. Designed to go along with the theme of the resort, you can find a volcano at the Polynesian Resort or a geyser that goes off every hour at the Wilderness Lodge. Moderate pools also follow the theme of their resort as you can find a pirate adventure at the Caribbean Beach Resort or a giant serpent slide at the Port Orleans French Quarter. The value resort pools are definitely themed as well. You can find a giant piano pool at All Star Music and a bowling pin shaped pool at Pop Century. I have only named a few resorts here but rest assured that every Disney resort pool has its own magical theme. All of the main pools have slides and water activities to provide lots of opportunities for fun with the kids.

Beach Picnic

Growing up on the Texas Gulf Coast, there are two things that I grew up loving: the beach and picnics. When we are staying at a resort with a beach (Contemporary, Caribbean Beach, Polynesia, Grand Floridian, etc.) it is nice to just grab some food at the food court and take it out to the beach and have a picnic. Now we can even add some music from an IPod to make it even more enjoyable. This is a relaxing thing to do and that is what vacation is all about.

Playin’ Around

Many of the Disney resorts have awesome playgrounds where kids can slide, climb, swing, run, laugh and play to their heart’s content. One example is at Caribbean Cay at the Caribbean Beach Resort. They have created a full acre of fun in the middle of Barefoot Bay.

Strolling the Grounds

There are beautiful grounds at the moderate and deluxe resorts especially. Some provide just the healthiest and most beautiful vegetation, while others offer nature trails. During the day you can visit the nature trail at the Fort Wilderness or Caribbean Beach resorts, just to name a couple. You can also visit a Butterfly Garden outside the Outpost at Fort Wilderness. At night, you can take a stroll through the tiki-torch-lit pathway from the Ceremonial House to the beach at the Polynesian Resort. One of my favorite places to take a stroll is the walkway all around the Port Orleans Riverside property. It is truly lovely.

Strike a Pose

If you are a picture fanatic, looking for the best place to take a Christmas card photo, or just want to preserve memories of your trip on film or media, you can find great locations at your resort to plan a photo session for you and your family. Some of the most beautiful scenery at Walt Disney World is at the resorts. In fact, the deluxe resort lobbies provide many photo opportunities such as the bridge over the stream at the Wilderness Lodge or by the piano in the Grand Floridian. There are also fun photo spots such as the giant mickey head outside the Contemporary on the way to the lagoon. There are numerous and fantastic locations for great pictures at the resorts and you are sure to take home some great memories.

Lounging on the Beach

As you can see from the picture, my teenagers love just vegetating in the hammocks at the Contemporary when we are having down time at the resort. I don’t blame them; in fact,  the only reason they made it into the picture is because they out-ran me. HaJ  Still, I found a nice, comfy lounge chair with my name on it and had a nice, restful afternoon!

Touring the Resort

You may take a free resort tour at the Grand Floridian, Animal Kingdom Lodge or Wilderness Lodge. There is also a free garden tour at the Yacht and Beach Club Resort. Some of the tours require reservations for space availability but the tours are free.

Animal Watching

No, I’m not talking about watching your husband or wife sleep; I am referring to real animal watching. At the Animal Kingdom Lodge you can walk outside the lobby into the viewing area and see many species of animals running free in the savannah. There are zebras, giraffes, exotic birds, and many other animals on the savannah. Go out at dusk, as that is when the animals come out. There are cast members from that region of the world also who are placed in the viewing area to answer questions and teach the children about the different animals. They even have night vision glasses for viewing the animals at night.

Going for a Boat Ride

There are several resorts that offer free rides by boat to other WDW locations. For instance, you may take a boat from the Port Orleans Riverside to Downtown Disney. You may also boat from the Contemporary to the Fort Wilderness Campground or Magic Kingdom. You can find information on the Disney transportation options here.

Campfire Sing-alongs

The Fort Wilderness offers an evening campfire, complete with a marshmallow roast and sing-along. You may bring your own food or you may buy S’mores kits from the Chuckwagon. Chip and Dale are there to meet you and sign autographs as well. A Disney movie is shown after the sing-along. A similar campfire experience can be found at the Grand Floridian, Beach Club Resort, and at the Port Orleans Riverside during certain times of the year. Be sure to check to see if your resort offers this amenity. It is a lot of fun.

Dive-in Movies

You can also find dive-in movies at resorts such as the Contemporary. On certain nights they show a movie on a huge screen while you also enjoy the pool. Other resorts offer the same so check with your front desk for a schedule of activities.

Fun and Stress-free Fireworks

The Magic Kingdom fireworks can be seen from the Grand Floridian, Polynesian and Contemporary Resorts. The Epcot fireworks may be viewed from the bridge at the back entrance of the park, located near the Boardwalk and Yacht & Beach Club resorts. I enjoy watching the fireworks without any of the stress involved in the mass exodus from the parks.

Electrical Water Pageant

The Electrical Water Pageant can be viewed from the resorts around the Seven Seas Lagoon. Check with the front desk of your resort for viewing times and to make sure the pageant has not been cancelled due to inclement weather. The EWP is a long-lasting Walt Disney World staple. It is a parade on the water and it is very nice to sit out with a drink and enjoy the spectacle.

Petting Zoo

A really fun activity if you are staying at the Fort Wilderness is to pay a visit to the petting zoo located on property. The kids can even take a pony ride, but that requires a small fee.

Children’s Recreational Activities

Disney’s deluxe resorts usually have a very busy recreation program for kids, including coloring, storytelling and making crafts. Be sure to ask for a list when you check in to the hotel.

A Friendly Game of Volleyball

The Disney resorts with beaches such as the Contemporary, Caribbean Beach and Coronado Springs, just to name a few, also have beach side volleyball courts. Playing volleyball is a great way to have some fun, meet new people and get a little exercise as well.

Crazy Poolside Games

The deluxe resorts and villas, such as Saratoga Springs, offer poolside games and activities for the kids alone, as well as for families to do together. This is a great way to spend the afternoon. Be sure to ask for an activities sheet when you check in.

As you can see, there is a large selection of opportunities for free resort fun during your Walt Disney World vacation. Going to the park is awesome, of course, but if you want to hang out at the resort for a day without spending any extra money these are some great options. Hope you will find this information helpful when planning your itinerary.

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Brenda is a native Texan born and raised on the Gulf Coast. She visited Disney World twice as a teenager and always dreamed of growing her family Disney. She took her first-timer husband and their three children to Disney World in 2000 and they now spend every Thanksgiving there. Brenda writes with a comedic twist on various Disney topics. She will be sharing tips she has learned during her travels and also hopes to enlighten people on little-known freebies that Disney has to offer. She wishes she could have met Walt Disney and considers herself to be a student of Walt. In parallel to his dream it is her wish that everyone would take at least one trip to Disney World in order to share in its magic with their families.

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7 Responses to Tuesday Disney Tips: Free Fun at Your Disney Resort

  1. Sarah says:

    It should be clarified that not all main pools have slides, none of the pools at the value resorts have water slides! 🙂 You also mention the deluxe resorts and villas have poolside games but All Star Music in particular usually has poolside activities all afternoon long (my favorite is when they throw out the huge beach ball). And it is a great way to spend some downtime from the parks!

    • Nancy says:

      Great point Sarah. Most of the resorts have some kind of pool activities, thanks for pointing that out, as well as the part about the slides. I appreciate you taking the time to comment! 🙂

  2. Brenda says:

    Thanks, Sarah. You are awesome. Thanks so much for your insight on the value resorts. I sure appreciate it! Have a magical day!

  3. Jen says:

    I love the idea of a beach picnic, especially if you have a dining plan – it’s like a proper event! x

  4. Great article! Just wanted to add that Animal Kingdom Lodge also has a great campfire. The Polynesian is my favorite place to catch a movie (on the beach no less) and the Electrical Water Pageant also goes onto Bay Lake so people at Fort Wilderness and Wilderness Lodge also can view it.

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