Whether you have been to Walt Disney World over and over again, or you are planning your first trip, there are hidden gems you do not want to miss! In the Disney theme parks, resorts, and Disney Springs, it’s easy to overlook some of the most intricate details and experiences! Here is my list of hidden gems at Walt Disney World that you don’t want to miss!
When planning a Walt Disney World vacation, every guest has their list of “must dos”. Those are the attractions, dining experiences, or resort experiences that will make a Disney trip so magical that you won’t want to return home! But, did you know that Walt Disney World is so much more than seeing Cinderella’s Castle and waving to characters on Main Street USA?
Mickey pretzels, riding the Skyliner, see Mickey Mouse……Making a list of “must dos” at Walt Disney World is one of my favorite parts of the planning process. We certainly have our favorites every trip….dining, attractions, shows….but sometimes we like to change things up, and today I am going to share some “out of the box” Disney World must dos you may want to consider for your next trip! Or, if this is your first visit, you’ll want to choose a few to add to your list! What does your family consider a “must do” or a “hidden gem”?
hidden gem at walt disney world #1: Ride the monorail
No matter what, we find ourselves on the monorail, looping the Magic Kingdom resorts or heading to EPCOT. This is a classic form of Walt Disney World transportation! It certainly makes for a nice break from the parks, which is always nice. If you want a shorter ride, take it around the Magic Kingdom Resorts. A longer loop? Ride it to and from EPCOT. You can explore the Disney resorts, and get some great views of EPCOT while riding the monorail! Regardless of where you are staying, you can definitely ride the monorail!
hidden gem at Walt Disney world #2: Resort hop
Resort hopping has become extremely popular, and easier with the installation of the Disney Skyliner system. This becomes super easy when you combine it with riding the monorail or Skyliner, since both forms of transportation give guests easy access to a wide variety of resorts.
Why resort hop? Each resort has some spectacular theming, dining options, and even lounges or bars if you want to drink or dessert hop around the resorts. This idea is easily doable with the Skyliner and monorail, giving guests easy access to resorts start at the Grand Floridian Cafe for breakfast and mimosas. After, take the boat over to Wilderness Lodge to explore the amazing lobby and look for Hidden Mickey’s. Next, take the boat to the Contemporary for lunch at the Wave…and end your resort tour with a drink or sweet treat at the Pineapple Lanai at the Polynesian! That is a perfect “non park day”!
Guests on the Skyliner Resorts have an amazing way to travel, and access to SO many resorts! The Skyliner will give you access to Disney’s Riviera Resort, the Boardwalk area, Caribbean Beach, Pop Century, and Disney’s Art of Animation Resort! Not only does the Skyliner provide amazing views, it also allows you to easily travel between several resorts. Guests can visit each of those resorts for food, shopping, and to explore! Taking advantage of easy transportation to multiple resorts is so fun, and allows you to explore resorts you may want to enjoy on a future trip.
hidden gem at Walt Disney world #3: Walk down Main Street USA
This may seem obvious….how else are you going to get anywhere at Magic Kingdom? Maybe “wander” is a more appropriate than “walk. Instead of rushing to Tomorrowland to hop on Space Mountain, make a point to stop and wave at the characters greeting you from the train station upon entering the park. Then, stop and get a picture with some Mickey Balloons, and enjoy a stop at each of the Photopass photographers along the way. Main Street is especially magical in the morning, as guests are taking in the first glimpse of the castle. There are so many magical experiences on Main Street USA, in the shops and along the way to Cinderella’s Castle. Soak it in, take some photos….it is totally worth it!
hidden gem at Walt Disney world #4: See the Fab Five
Who are the “Fab Five”? Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Goofy, and Donald! These are your classic Disney characters. And the really cool thing, is that you can see them in all the parks! The pop up character cavalcades feature all your favorites! Or, you can find them at some of the most popular character dining locations. If you want to see them all together, then you need to book a meal at Chef Mickey’s, as they all make an appearance at that Disney Dining location. Over at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, you will find them at Minnie’s Seasonal Dine at Hollywood and Vine or Tusker House at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park. Several of these “fab five” also make an appearance at Topolino’s Terrace at Disney’s Riviera Resort.
hidden gem at Walt Disney world #5: Visit Disney Springs
Disney Springs houses so much shopping and dining experiences, and makes a great option for time outside the parks. Disney Springs is one of our favorite places to shop on our arrival or “down day” at Walt Disney World. We also like to see a movie at the AMC, or go to Splitsville for bowling. Disney Springs is a fun experience to do some souvenir shopping at World of Disney, or enjoy some unique food at Paddlefish or Ghiradelli. It doe not require park admission.
hidden gem at Walt Disney world #6: Take a photo in front of the park icons
Taking a photo in front of each park icon is a MUST! And, this is where MemoryMaker really comes in handy! Walt Disney World has really stepped up their game with some great additions to photography in the parks. Now the MemoryMaker photographers have frames you can hold up, you can ask for Magic Shots, and they will even pose you in creative ways. So fun! One of my favorite memories is looking back at our family photos in front of each park icon and seeing how our kids have grown up at Walt Disney World over the years! These are your “must have” photos, whether you purchase MemoryMaker or not.
hidden gem at Walt Disney world #7: Take on a “Disney” challenge with your family.
With older kids, one of our favorite hidden gems at Walt Disney World is to do a “challenge” in the Disney parks. On one of our past trips, we took on the challenge of visiting Four Disney Parks in One Day. This experience was SO fun! We’ve also tasted a different flavor of a Dole Whip in each park. Another fun challenge is to ride all four mountains during your trip ~ Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, Expedition Everest, and Splash Mountain. Three of the four of these are found at Magic Kingdom park, so it’s easy to ride three of the four in one day!
Another fun challenge is to eat and drink around the World at EPCOT. You can make this challenge as family friendly as you want! Perhaps get a snack from each country, or an ice cream treat. Maybe you get a glass of wine while the kids enjoy a fun tea or non alcoholic beverage in each country. There are so many fun ways to do this!
Or, you could challenge yourselves to use all forms of Disney transportation in one day! Combine this with a “resort hop” and you have a great day exploring Walt Disney World without a park ticket.
Have you enjoyed any of these hidden gems at Walt Disney World on past trips? If so, what did you love? Are there some I am missing ~ I am sure there are! Drop them in the comments!