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Resort Hopping: Making the Most of a Resort Only Vacation

I recently wrote an article about using resort hopping (when you stay at more than one resort on a trip) to help make the most of limited availability. I focused on how this could be used to your advantage when visiting the Disney Parks. However, it got me thinking about the other advantages of resort hopping, and how it could also benefit you when you’re visiting Walt Disney World with no park tickets. There are so many different things to do around the resorts that I think you could have a vacation to remember without ever setting foot in a theme park. So, here’s my itinerary for my ideal resort only vacation. 

Nights One and Two: Animal Kingdom Lodge

Is there anything more spectacular than walking into the beautiful lobby at Animal Kingdom Lodge? It really is a hotel that has to be seen to be believed. I’d start my resort only stay here, as arriving at this magnificent hotel feels so far removed from a theme park that it would stop any last-minute regrets about not having park tickets in their tracks. I’d make sure to book a Savannah View room to be able to make the most of the animal spotting right from the comfort of my balcony. On the morning of my first full day, I’d book the Wanyama Safari. Whilst this experience is not cheap (currently priced at $209 per person), it’s an experience like no other. You enjoy a 90-minute Safari around the Savannah, getting unbelievable views of the animals and a proper tour from your Safari guide. Then you can enjoy dinner in one of the best restaurants on Disney Property – Jiko. Considering the price of dinner in Jiko alone, I think this experience isn’t actually bad value, and it will start off the vacation in the most memorable way.

Night Three: Riviera Resort

Now, I’ve never stayed at Riviera Resort, so I don’t know exactly what it would be like here, but that would be part of the fun. I love to try new hotels and Riviera looks stunning. It has some great new food options with both a character breakfast and a signature dinner available at Topolino’s Terrace on the tenth floor of the hotel. Both of which I’d book for during my stay. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I’d also take a trip on the Skyliner. I’m yet to experience it and would love to use this as a means to visit some of the other resorts. After my evening meal at Topolino’s Terrace, I’d finish off my night here by watching the fireworks from both Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. It might not quite be up there with the California Grill experience of watching Happily Ever After, but who doesn’t love ending the day by watching fireworks from a luxury rooftop terrace.


Night Four: Saratoga Springs Resort

When you’re in Walt Disney World, and you can’t go into the parks, where’s the next best place to go? Disney Springs! And where better to stay to visit it than Saratoga Springs Resort. I’d book a preferred room and request to stay in Congress Park, which is a short leisurely walk away from Disney Springs. There are so many options of things to do in Disney Springs that I’d be spoilt for choice, but I’d probably settle on watching a movie, doing some shopping, and having a meal in one of the many excellent restaurants Disney Springs has to offer. Whilst at Saratoga Springs Resort, I’d also book a session in the amazing Senses – A Disney Spa for a truly relaxing time. While I’m in the spa, my husband can finally get around to doing something he’s always wanted to do. Enjoy a round of golf on Disney’s Lake Buena Vista Golf Course, which runs right through the resort.

Night Five: Polynesian Village Resort

I’d finish up my no parks trip at the Polynesian as it has to be one of the most relaxing, true ‘vacation’ style resorts Walt Disney World has to offer. Here I’d rent a boat and take a trip around Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake. I’d spend some time relaxing in the volcano pool with Dole Whip in hand. Then after a dinner of ‘Ohanas ordered straight to my room (yes, that’s right in the Polynesian, the room service menu offers you all that amazing ‘Ohana food without even having to step foot outside you’re door). After I was suitably full up, I’d head out onto the beach overlooking the Magic Kingdom to finish off my vacation in the best way possible. Watching Happily Ever After Fireworks with the music being piped in. I don’t know about you, but I love being able to watch this spectacular show from the comfort of a beach chair, rather than being surrounded by thousands of people all bustling to get the best view in front of the castle. Absolute bliss!


There are so many options for things to do in Walt Disney World without ever setting foot in a theme park, and I’ve only covered a tiny proportion of them here. With the ever-increasing ticket prices, as DVC members, it’s something we definitely plan to do some years when we want to save a bit of money. Have you ever taken a resort only trip to Walt Disney World? Where did you stay and what did you do to fill your park free days? Let me know in the comments below.

6 thoughts on “Resort Hopping: Making the Most of a Resort Only Vacation

  • I would enjoy this trip anytime. Sounds great.

  • As much as Animal Kingdom Lodge Lobby is beautiful, i prefer Wilderness Lodge. I agree about Polynesian Resort., I would add Boardwalk and/or Beach Club Villas before Riviera. They have nightlife and multiple restaurants (ESPNZone, Flying Fish, Beaches and Cream, Cape May Cafe, Jelly Rolls as well as Big River Grille and Atlantic Dance Hall) as well as the Boardwalk itself You can walk around from one to the other as well as other entertainment. You can see Epcot fireworks without even going in. You can either walk or take the boat ride down to Hollywood Studios and watch their fireworks from outside the park as well. Not to mention the non Disney Resorts of the Swan and Dolphin. Just a different opinion.

  • YEP! We’ve done these types of stays before, and we are doing one again in 88 days!

  • First, I m no English speaker, I’m from Argentina and apologies me if there are mistakes.

    I agree with there is no necessary to going to parks for enjoy Disney’s. Each resort brings you a different ambiance and quality. Depends on you stay, and which one you enjoy more. I like to spend hours on animal Kingdoms Pool, walks, see the animals, goes to Sana’a at Kidani village, and eats breakfast in Boma.
    I have two home resorts, Polynesian and Cooper Creek. I have being many stays there. I have Only one thing that I don’t like of Poly. It is crowed in the mornings and evenings, I think because of Ohana and Luaus It’s very loudly sometimes. The villas pool is quiet , but haven’t got view. Is in the middle of buildings. Songs of Polynesian music Sound on the paths while you walk. It’s relaxing.

    For me and my family, watch the Magic Kingdom fireworks from the beach or pool, or in a lakes view room in Morea is one of the best experience in all Walt Disney World. Specially the New Year fireworks, they are amazing and unforgettable. Every year we stay
    In a lake view oom the 30th of December to see one of the two fireworks That Disney offer to us this day..

    I love the banana bread pudding they offers Ohanas dinner but I you can also buy on the lounge and take to the pool or room. It’s amazing and huge to shear with a coffee. Coffe used to be very bad inside property in the past. But now, if you are a coffee adict. There are lot of places to enjoy a good Italian expresso, California grill, the wave at contemporary, and Bellevue at boardwalk. The best for me is at tiffins and nomad lounge. But those are inside parks.

    My kids enjoys so much the s’mores offered each evening at the deluxe hotels and villas. There are free activities too.

    Always I enjoy the theming of the resorts, the music, the atmosphere is different in each one.

    And spend time only at resorts gives relax and a lot of experiences that if you go to parks all day, you never experiment.

    • Nice! I’m from Brazil and just bought my first contract this year! First trip to go: August. It is fun to know that are other DVC owners as my home neighbours argentinians!

  • We’ve enjoyed many resort only trips! This gives more time to fully enjoy the resort’s pool and amenities (golf, boating, spa, movie nights, kids’ activities, etc.). We also enjoy monorail hopping, Disney Springs, fireworks from Top of the World Lounge, eating at various hotels, etc. It’s so relaxing to sit at the pool and not worry about a fast pass or crowded parks. We also enjoy the water parks and miniature golf, so we never lack for things to do.

    This is great for a couples trip; but if you’re bringing kids along, make sure they’re involved in the planning so they have plenty to do and not feel “cheated” since they aren’t visiting the theme parks. Our kids loved the parks, but they also enjoyed a more relaxing vacation. Being DVC members, they always knew there would be another vacation to WDW soon!

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