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Best & Worst – 10 Best Walt Disney World Resort Hidden Gems

There is an assumption among many first-time travelers at Walt Disney World that the entertainment only begins once you’ve entered the theme parks. This simply isn’t true. There are several hidden gems scattered throughout the resort hotels that are some of my favorite experiences. These experiences shouldn’t be just for the experts to enjoy. Almost a year ago, Pete Werner and I discussed 5 of these hidden gems, but I wanted to continue the discussion by adding 5 more.

Here is a basic recap of the 5 hidden gems that Pete and I discussed last year:

  1. A Yehaa Bob Jackson Performance at River Roost
  2. The Wanyama Safari and Dinner
  3. Horseback Riding at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort
  4. The Princess Promenade at the Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
  5. A Free Tour at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort

6. Carriage Rides

Last year when discussing the hidden gems at Walt Disney World we talked about the opportunity to go horseback riding at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort, but for some that might be a little too adventurous. Horse-drawn carriage rides are another option. These carriage rides are 25-minutes long and are offered at both Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside and Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort. This unique opportunity costs $55, which is expensive, but if you are looking to make a romantic gesture for a significant other or want to create a magical moment for your family it is worth it. The carriages can hold up to 4 adults, or 2 adults and 3 children.

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7. Renting a Boat

This is honestly one of my favorite activities at Walt Disney World. Renting a boat at one of the resort marinas is an incredible experience. Motorized boat rentals are available at resort hotels marinas located on Seven Seas Lagoon, Bay Lake, and Crescent Lake. Rentals range in price from $32 to $45 dollar, for every half-hour. When friends and family plan on taking a non-theme park day during their vacation I almost always suggest that they rent a boat.

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8. Trivia Night at River Roost

This is a fairly new offering at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside, but it is already quite popular. My wife and I, along with some friends, went to see what trivia night was all about. We all agreed that it was a lot of fun!

Trivia Night is on Tuesdays and officially starts at 8:30 p.m. but I recommend that you get there about 45 minutes to an hour early if you want a good seat. The house was packed with some very knowledgeable Disney fans, and so our team never won anything. Win or lose we all had a really great time. The night I went they were giving away some pretty awesome prizes each round including free carriage rides and fishing tours.

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9. Port Orleans French Quarter Live Music at Scat Cat’s Club

Many Walt Disney World Resort hotel lobbies have live entertainment, but one of the lesser talked about experiences is the live music that is played at Scat Cat’s Club at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter. This is a smaller venue, which makes it an intimate setting, and a true hidden gem. Disney has hired a variety of talented performers to come to the Scat Cat’s Club, which means there is a good chance it will be a completely new performer the next time you visit. This typically does not attract a very vibrant crowd, so depending on your speed this may or may not be your thing.

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10. Night Vision Goggles at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

There is so much to see and do at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. Obviously, guests love being able to look out into the savanna to see all the amazing wildlife. Unfortunately, many of the animals are sleeping or docile during the daytime. If you are interested, at night guests can view the animals through night vision goggles at select times. Check with the front desk to see when this offering is taking place because the goggles are only available for use when a cast member is on duty. I’m not sure what makes this experience better, the chance to see the wildlife at night, or the opportunity to use night vision goggles!

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Stephen "Steve" Porter started going to the parks with his family in 1996. Since then he hasn't looked back! Steve was a cast member participating in the Disney College Program in 2013. Most recently he graduated from Penn State University!


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