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.