WDW: Thinking outside the box

12 09 2009

There comes a time in everyone’s vacation when they’re just not up for more time in the parks. It may come when the lines are getting big at noon or it may happen when guests have been waiting in lines all day and simply want a break from walking from attraction to attraction. In this blog I’ll look at some things guests can do outside of a normal day at the park.

1. Go on a tour
Disney do some great tours at Walt Disney World that are not only really interesting but also give you an inside look into how some of the most popular theme parks in the world are run. Not only this, but some Disney tours offer you unique experiences which you may never have the chance to do again. I mean it’s not everyday you ride a Segway around the World Showcase is it? Depending on the tour prices are not all that high, around the same area as the cost of one days park admission, and don’t forget there are discounts to be had for Annual Pass holders.

So, what’s the best tour? Well, it really does depend on what you’re looking for. IF you’re a big theme park fan and would like to know more about how the parks are run and how they were constructed then Backstage Magic is a great tour which takes an extensive and detailed look at how Walt Disney World is run, from operations to special effects. A smaller, yet just as fun tour is the Key to the Kingdom tour, which takes a look at the Magic Kingdom and it’s themed lands.

If you’re not into the backstage experience then why not take a Segway tour around Epcot’s World Showcase Lagoon. This exciting ride around the world has been critically acclaimed as a must-do by theme park journalists and Disney fans worldwide. Outside of a park the Fort Wilderness Segway tour has also been given high marks, another must-do when looking for something different at Walt Disney World. Take note, the segway tours do come with certain restrictions on both age and weight.

Backstage Magic: $219 (7 hours duration)
Keys to the Kingdom: $65 (4 and a half hours duration) also requires park admission
Epcot Segway Tour: $95 (2 hours duration) also requires park admission
Fort Wilderness Segway Tour: $85  (2 hours duration)

For information on these tours simply contact Walt Disney World guest services. Also, don’t forget to ask about the many other tours and experiences Disney offer to guests.

2. Downtown Disney
Really this is quite an obvious choice on the face of it, after all it’s the biggest source of entertainment outside of the parks on Walt Disney World property, it seems though that many people forget just how much there is at Downtown Disney and seem to abandon it after the closing of Pleasure Island. Downtown Disney has a lot to offer, including some truly spectacular experiences the whole family will enjoy.

I’ll start off on the West Side with House of Blues, a great place to eat and drink with some world-class entertainment thrown in courtesy of some of the best musicians in the world. That might be a bit too much of a glowing review but House of Blues does have some great acts that really get the audience going. Even if you’re not into Blues it’s really worth visiting at least once, just for the experience.

The second thing to do at Downtown Disney is probably my favourite- Cirque Du Soleil. This show really has it all, a world-class performance in great surroundings that is sure to have something for everyone, a real treat to see and it’s something different to the nighttime spectaculars to be witnessed at the three parks in WDW. The show is a little pricey, with prices starting at $52.00 and getting as expensive as $114.00 but if your willing to splash out that little extra this show is well worth the money.

There’s plenty more things to do at Downtown Disney, from having a bite to eat at one of the many restaurants to doing some shopping, everyone will find something they like. Although you may think you’ve done it all before just give it another visit because you’ll never know when you’re going to spot something new or just something you really enjoyed the last time you visited.

3. Disney’s Broadwalk
I’m not going to go on too much about the Broadwalk, as I’ve covered a lot of what I wanted to say in the Downtown Disney section. Broadwalk is great, there’s not as much to do as in Downtown Disney but Broadwalk seems to offer a more quiet and adult atmosphere in comparison to the more child-friendly Downtown Disney. Whether you want a night on the tiles at the Atlantic Dance Hall or want to watch your favourite team the ESPN Club you won’t be disappointed with Disney’s Broadwalk, whether you are going night or day.

I only really have one dislike about the Broadwalk area and that is that it seems to have attracted those looking for a night of partying now that Pleasure Island has closed. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, it adds something more to the atmosphere. It just may not be the most suitable area for children during later hours in some of the venue’s along the Broadwalk. But certainly don’t let that put you off this great area.

4. Disney’s Wide World of Sports
Wide World of Sports is great for the amateur athlete’s amongst your group. It really is a one-stop destinations for all things sport and allows you to try your hand at all different kinds of activities. From relatively standard sports to the more specialised ones Wide World of Sports has most of them covered. Not only does Wide World of Sports offer you the chance to get some exercise in whilst on your vacation it also allows you to witness some of the greatest in the world at their given sport practice/compete in front of your very eyes, at least on selected dates.

Being a sports fan I love the place and I’d recommend it to anyone who shared my passion. If you’re not into sports this may not be your idea of a day well spent when the parks are a few minutes away but just give it a try, you may find the right sport for you during your visit.

Prices for certain events are different from others at Wide World of Sports, so it’s worth checking the website (www.disneysports.com) before you visit to see what’s on at the complex whilst you are there. Don’t forget that a lot of Disney’s ‘fun run’s’ and marathons take place around the Wide World of Sports area, or at least start there, so don’t forget to look up the dates for these when planning your vacation.

There’s plenty more to do at Walt Disney World, these are just my favourites. Have a look around the internet at sides like Theme Park Insider and listen to WDW Today and other podcasts to find out about more hidden gems at Walt Disney World. If you find one you really like feel free to get in touch and I’ll try it out on my next trip.

M. Owen

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