Resort Hopping with Kids: A Fun and Cheap Way to Spend a Non-Park Day

Looking for something to do next time you visit the Walt Disney World Resort with your kids that won’t break the bank? Visiting the Disney Resort hotels can be a great way to spend a non-park day. You do not need to be a guest of the resort to visit, and there are usually many fun, family-focused things to do at each one.

Here are some of the best things you can do while resort-hopping with your kids:


There are lots of hidden gems to be found when your family goes resort hopping at Walt Disney World.

The Monorail Resorts

Kids — and kids at heart — love riding the monorail. Hop aboard, stand clear of the doors and visit the three resorts on the monorail line. First up is the Contemporary Resort, where you can bask in breathtaking views of the Magic Kingdom from the Concourse level and do a little souvenir shopping at Fantasia. Then hop back onto the monorail and head over to the Grand Floridian Resort, where kids can get their hands wet all while trying out the scrubs and soaps at the Basin store.

If visiting during the holiday season, be sure to check out the fully edible life-sized gingerbread house and Christmas tree. Last, but not least, take one more monorail ride over to the Polynesian Resort, where kids can get a tropical lei and enjoy a Dole Whip at the Pineapple Lanai. This is an especially fun thing to do on a rainy or excessively hot (or cold!) day.

TIP: There is now a bag check at the monorail resorts, so be sure to factor in enough time when planning to visit.

Take a ride on the monorail and visit all three of Disney’s monorail resorts: The Contemporary (seen here), The Grand Floridian, and The Polynesian.

Art of Animation

Do you have a budding artist in your family? Then you must plan to visit Disney’s Art of Animation Resort. Your kids (and adults too!) can take a free drawing class in the lobby. Hours are subject to change, so contact the resort to confirm times before heading over. Also be sure to walk around the property outside the Cars buildings and check out the larger-than-life Radiator Springs, with lots of life-sized Cars and props for epic photo ops.

Art of Animation resort at Walt Disney World is perfect for Radiator Springs photo ops. Photo: Lisa Rufle

Art of Animation resort at Walt Disney World is perfect for Radiator Springs photo ops. Photo: Lisa Rufle

Animal Kingdom Lodge

Here’s a little known secret: You don’t have to go to Disney’s Animal Kingdom park to see animals. As a matter of fact, guests can see animals for free by heading over to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. The only property with three 11-acre savannahs, you can view a wide variety of species including: giraffe, gazelle, zebra, and kudu.

TIP: Remember that the animals are most active at dusk and dawn!


You can view animals (for free) at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge resort.

Wilderness Lodge

If your family enjoys a good Hidden Mickey scavenger hunt, head over to the front desk at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. They have two Hidden Mickey scavenger hunts that you can do, one for Wilderness Lodge and one for Boulder Ridge Villas, its Disney Vacation Club component. Both will give you a fairly good look around the beautiful Northwestern inspired property, and upon completion you can get a fun prize.

Tip #1: Check out the erupting geyser on property!

Tip #2: This resort is accessible by bus and boat, but take the boat if you want a much more relaxed and laid back experience.

Enjoy the ambiance of Disney’s Wilderness Lodge while finding Hidden Mickeys.

The Boardwalk Area

Hop onto one of the Friendship Boats from either Disney’s Hollywood Studios or Epcot and head over to Disney’s Boardwalk Inn Resort. Take a walk around the “turn-of-the-century Atlantic City” inspired waterfront and enjoy the street performers, play some carnival-style games, and grab an ice cream at Ample Hills Creamery.

Visit the Boardwalk area and grab some ice cream at Ample Hills Creamery! Photo: The Dis

Visit the Boardwalk area and grab some ice cream at Ample Hills Creamery! 

Port Orleans Riverside Resort

In the mood for some family-friendly music and fun? Then you can’t miss Yehaa Bob Jackson performing at River Roost Lounge at Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside resort. Check the resort’s activities schedule for dates and times of his performances. Show up early because he always draws big crowds.

Stop by River Roost at Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside resort and check out Yeeha Bob.

Is resort hopping a must-do when you visit Walt Disney World? What are your family’s favorite resorts and why?

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Born with the "D" gene and happily passing it along to my son. Still mad that I can't wear my Minnie ears 24/7. Love Dole Whips and Mickey Pretzels with plastic cheese, but think Turkey Legs are overrated. Lives on Long Island, NY but looks forward to annual pilgrimages to WDW.

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