Planning a Disney World vacation takes a lot of planning and decision making. Your first big decision is where to stay. There are many factors that go into choosing the resort you would like to call home for the duration of your trip, price and location being two of the bigger factors.
Disney has so many different resorts to choose from and they all have fun themes. So it can be a hard choice to make, but there is a way to see the resorts you don’t choose. It’s called resort touring.
Lots of people do this on non park days. You can hop on the monorail and tour the monorail resorts or take a bus from any park or Disney Springs to the resort you want to see. It actually makes for a pretty relaxing day. Riding the monorail is fun and it will take you for a spin around Epcot.
We usually have more dining experiences at the resorts than in the parks and it works out pretty well for us. If we show up a little early we can look around the resort before our reservation, otherwise we tour the resort after we were done with our meal.
Dinner at California Grill is a great experience outside of the parks . The view of the Magic Kingdom is great and if you have time before the fireworks viewing you can do the monorail loop.
Here are some things to see on your resort tour:
Obviously, there are areas you will not be able to go to if you are not a guest at that resort, but there is plenty to see in the areas that are open to the general public. The grounds of the resorts are fun to walk around, because so much goes into the theme of each resort. It does not matter if the resort is a value, moderate, deluxe, or deluxe villa, all of the grounds are well-kept and make for a fun way to tour a resort.
At Pop Century there are signs positioned along the walkway with fun pop culture tidbits. It’s fun to read the signs as you have a leisurely stroll around the resort.
The grounds at Kidani Village and Animal Kingdom Lodge are the savannas. So, seeing the grounds means watching the animals, and that is fun for both kids and adults.
Wandering around the grounds of the Polynesian Village Resort will make you feel like you are in the tropics. I love taking pictures of all the tropical plants and the decorations.
Another fun resort to tour is Port Orleans Riverside. It has walkways that wind with the river and it makes for a very peaceful stroll. You definitely get that southern charm feel when walking around this resort. I love the big waterwheel that’s on the side of The Riverside Mill (the food court).
Another area that you can visit are the hotel lobbies. Those are also fun to walk around. Some are pretty grand, like Animal Kingdom Lodge and Wilderness Lodge, and others are just fun and colorful, like Pop Century and Art of Animation. The Port Orleans lobby is very inviting, with its southern charm feel throughout.
Off of the lobbies you will find the resort gift shop and those are always fun to poke around in. The gift shops are designed to the theme of the resorts. So it is fun to look for those extra Disney touches, even in the gift shop.
A dining reservation is a good excuse to tour a resort. You are already at the resort, so if you have no where else to be that day, I would definitely recommend sticking around to see the rest of the resort.
Whether you try a quick service or a table service, make sure to look around at the decor of the restaurant. Like the resorts, the restaurants have themes.
Here are some of our favorites:
- Cape May Cafe
- Location: Beach Club
- Theme: Beach
- Type: Buffet with characters at breakfast (characters are in beach attire).
- 1900 Park Fare
- Location: Grand Floridian
- Theme: Whimsical Decor with Carousel Horses
- Type: Buffet with Character
- Supercalifragilistic Breakfast with Mary Poppins, the Mad Hatter, Alice, and more.
- Cinderella’s Happily Ever After Dinner with Cinderella, Prince Charming, Lady Tremaine, and more.
- Yachtsman Steakhouse
- Location: Yacht Club
- Theme: Nautical
- Type: Table Service
- Chef Mickey’s
- Location: Contemporary Resort
- Theme: Fun with Disney Characters
- Type: Buffet with Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Pluto, and Goofy
- Location: Polynesian Village Resort
- Theme: The Pacific Isalnds
- Type: Family Style with Character Dining at Breakfast (Lilo and Stitch’s Best Friend Breakfast)
Some resorts will have special activities that you can take part in even if you are not a resort guest. For instance, there is nightly viewing of the animals at Animal Kingdom Lodge that everyone can enjoy. So if you are there for dinner at one of their delicious restaurants, head up to the viewing area afterwards and check out the animals with night vision goggles. Please note that the night viewing is different from the Night Safari. The Night Safari is only available to guests who are staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge, Jambo House, and Kidani Village.
Another activity that is offered at many of the resorts is nightly campfires. The activities at the campfire will vary depending on the resort, but there are usually stories, singalongs, and marshmallow roasting.
Some other activities that can be found at different resorts boating, parasailing, bike riding, horseback riding, carriage rides, surrey bike rentals, pool parties, and more.
Some restaurants even offer special tours or events. For instance, Jiko-The Cooking Place at Disney’s Animal Kingdom offers a wine tasting every Wednesday. Fun!
Sometimes it is fun to just spend the day taking different forms of Disney transportation, especially if you are staying at a resort that only has bus transportation. The monorail is fun to ride and you can take it to the monorail resorts or you can transfer and take it to Epcot and back.
There are boats that will take you from some resorts to Hollywood Studios, Epcot, Magic Kingdom, and Disney Springs.
You can also walk to some parks from certain resorts. Epcot is a short walk from Yacht and Beach Club and from the Boardwalk Inn, you can also walk to Hollywood Studios from these resorts (about a 20 min. walk). The Magic Kingdom is a short walk from the Contemporary. So you can walk to and from the parks and just enjoy the scenery and landscaping.
Another Bonus of Resort Touring
There are lots of ways to experience different resorts at Disney World. Not only is it a nice relaxing day, but it can also help you decide which resort you would like to book for your next trip. When we had our first breakfast a Boma, we knew we wanted to book a stay there at some point. We did end up booking at Kidani and we were certainly not disappointed. The same thing happened with the BoardWalk Inn.
So, if you know you want to try different resorts for each trip, I definitely recommend giving yourself a tour of different resorts. Plus, it is good to have days off from the parks to relax and this is a great way to do that. Happy exploring!
Thanks for reading!
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