Many people schedule down time when making a Disney vacation. What to do with that downtime is always an interesting question. What some people might not know is that there are plenty of free activities to do around the WDW resort.
Visit the Fort Wilderness Stables, otherwise known as the Tri-Circle-D Ranch.
To get there, you can take a resort bus to the Magic Kingdom and then either take a Fort Wilderness bus or the ferry boat. Parking is provided, but you will have to leave your car behind in the main lot and take a Fort Wilderness bus to the stables.
There are two separate barn areas. One is located near the main parking lot and houses all the trail riding horses. The other is near the Hoop Dee Doo Musical Review which is in the Pioneer Hall area, you’ll need to take an internal bus to reach it.
Once there you can check out the white ponies who pull Cinderella’s carriage. You can also walk through the main horse barn and look at all the big draft horses who pull the Main Street trolley. The horses who live here are also used for weddings and special events. One particular horse you might be familiar with is the Headless Horseman’s horse, who can be seen during Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween party. Fun fact: there are actually 2 horses who play this iconic steed.
The stable has a nice little display on the history of horses and Walt Disney World. Also on display is the historic Dragon Calliope, which is a musical instrument that is drawn by 8 horses. It was originally used in the Mickey Mouse Club Circus Parade at Disneyland in the 50s.
The last time we visited we were lucky to see one of the blacksmiths working on a horse’s hoof. Once he spotted us watching he was more than happy to chat with us and pass on some wisdom about the Disney horses.
Some people may not realize this, but going for a ride on the monorails is completely free. You may have to pay for parking if you are staying off site. If you are staying at a Disney resort you can take a bus to the Magic Kingdom and hop on the monorail. The Magic Kingdom has 2 different loops, one goes to the ticket and transportation center and the other loop stops at all the Magic Kingdom hotels. If you’ve never been, all 3 of the hotels are definitely worth checking out.
At the ticket and transportation center you can transfer to the Epcot line. This monorail will take you on a scenic survey of the park. This is a great way to get excited for Epcot and to get a feel for the park if you’ve never been.
Animal Kingdom Lodge is arguably one of Disney’s best resorts. As its name would suggest, the hotel features animals. You can drive to the hotel or you can take a resort bus to Animal Kingdom park and then another bus to AKL.
The lobby is fantastic and is a great place to kick back and relax. If you’d like to see some animals you can head outside of Jambo House. Among the many animals I’ve seen here are Ankole cattle, zebras, giraffes, impala, and flamingos. There are also many other animals I can’t think of at the moment. Oftentimes there will even be an animal guide out on the main patio who will answer any questions about the animals.
There are several places on property to catch Magic Kingdom’s fireworks show, Wishes. You can watch from the Ticket and Transportation Center. There are limited views from Disney’s Fort Wilderness docks. The Polynesian and Grand Floridian beaches also offer great views. If you are staying off site you might have some trouble parking at and watching fireworks from the Polynesian or Grand Floridian. That can be easily solved by dining at a restaurant at the resort.
Downtown Disney was recently remodeled into Disney Springs, a premiere shopping and eating experience. You could easily spend a few hours window shopping. Even better, once evening hits live entertainment starts to spring up. The entertainment is varied and has always struck me as extremely good. If you get tired out from shopping you can always take a boat to the Port Orleans Riverside Resort and stop by the River Roost Lounge to listen to the ever popular YeHaa Bob Jackson.
Riding the boat around the Epcot resorts is a great way to relax. These boats go from Epcot’s International Gateway to the Boardwalk, Yacht and Beach Club, the Swan and Dolphin and then finally all the way over to Hollywood Studios. I’d also recommend getting off at the Boardwalk and enjoying a stroll along the way, you might even get to see some free Boardwalk entertainment.
After a few busy days at the parks, you can also relax and enjoy a pool day at your resort! This activity requires a little more forethought, as Disney resorts do not allow pool hopping (going to a pool at a resort where you are not staying). All Disney hotels do have multiple pools, but it might be worth doing some research into the pool areas if you want to spend a lot of time at the pools. All resort pools are not created equal, while I would say that a good time could be had at any of the pools, the Beach and Yacht Club’s pool, Stormalong Bay, definitely has them all beat. The pool has a lazy river, sandy beaches and an impressive pirate ship slide.
There you have it, these are just some of the many fun, free activities you can do at Walt Disney Resort! Did I forget some of your favorites? Let me know in the comments.