What is there to do in a Disney park? A Disney resort is not just a theme park with rides. It's a well flushed out world where you can do many different things. One day is absolutely not enough to do everything.
Disney resorts offer a wide array of activities from shows, interactive experiences, rides, spas, and pools, to dining, shopping, and learning. The overall environment and ambiance is perfectly aligned with the journey the theme park and resort offer. You will be able to flow from one thing to another rather easily without having to search or worry, although you may have to wait in line.
A Disney Park resort has generally more than one theme park, a Disney village or downtown, and a series of hotels. The Disney village is a shopping and restaurants area outside of the parks. You don’t need a ticket to access it.
- How to Know What to Do
- Indoor Shows
- Outdoor Shows
- Interactive Experiences
- Wellness, Sports and Fitness
How to Know What to Do
Disney has an extensive and up-to-date website where you can find the list of activities, park hours, maps, and program schedule. If you want to prepare ahead of time, visit the resort’s site and select what you’d like to do. Take note of which theme park it's in. You may not need to visit all the parks. This will help you determine how many days you’d like to stay.
If you have a Disney account, you can login and add the attractions, events, dining experiences, and so on to your Wish List.
Unless you have a very well oiled schedule, you won't be able to visit two theme parks in one day without running and skipping several activities, especially on a crowded day. If you are a frequent Disney park visitor and you want to do specific things, than it might be possible, but again you would be rushing.
In California and Paris, you can walk directly to the second park in a couple minutes, but in Tokyo and Disney World Florida, you need to take a bus or a train. It's less convenient to jump from one park to the next. In Tokyo, you could still walk to the other park, but definitely not in Orlando.
For sure, one of the main activities in the parks are the rides. There are plenty of family and young children friendly rides. There are also thrilling grownup rides and everything in between.
Here are some of the type of rides you can find:
- Thrill Rides
- Young Children Rides
- Interactive Rides
- Movie Rides
- Sightseeing Rides
- Animatronic Rides
These rides are fantastic. The entire site and cast members’ outfit and acting are designed to match the theme. The waiting line has a ton of interesting details to look at, especially for the big attractions like Tower of Terror, the Haunted Mansion, Indiana Jones (Tokyo and California), Pirates of the Caribbean, and Journey to the Center of the Earth (Tokyo).
Another great classic in all Disney parks are the daily parades. Wonderful floats of your favourite characters stroll up and down Main street a few times a day. Parades change throughout the year and from theme park to theme park. Check the daily program for the following parades:
- Classic Daytime Parade
- Thematic and Celebration Parade
- Night Electrical Parade
Disney specializes itself in wonderful stage shows including musicals and acrobatic presentation. Le Cirque du Soleil is actually at Walt Disney World resort with the La Nouba show. Different theme parks will present different shows in their indoor theatres. Check the program. For Cirque du Soleil, you have to purchase tickets, but most other shows are free.
Beside indoor shows, Disney has outdoor presentations of all scales, from princess storytelling, barbershop quartets, to life size fire-spitting dragons and water screen shows. Many times during the day, you can go sit down to hear one of your favourite characters tell a wonderful story. At night, you can get your mind blown with incredible shows such as Fantasmic. Always check the schedule. You must arrive early for big shows. They are all free.
Here are some of the shows you can go see:
- Celebration shows
- Barbershop Quartet, Marching Band and Big Bands street performance
A day at Disney is not complete without it's crown jewel, the closing evening fireworks. They are grandiose, lighting up the sky just above the Magic Kingdom and Disneyland castle. You can see them from anywhere in the park. They are accompanied by music and short narrations. You’ll remember them for a long time.
Sometime toddlers and children just want to run around and play. Both resort hotels and theme parks have splendid playgrounds and splash zones to spend energy and have a fun time without waiting in line.
Beside playgrounds, there are exploration zones where children can become adventurers. They can run around in an intricate tree house, grandiose fortress or pirate ships. Animal Kingdom has a real safari parcour where you encounter African animals. To explore the park in depth, you can even go on a Hidden Mickey hunt. Disney also organizes scavenger hunts throughout the park.
For a fee, you can embark on park tours where you can discover behind the scene information. You can do a family tour all the way up to a VIP tour. You need to reserve in advance for this.
Here are some of the exploration activities you can do:
- Park Tours
- Tree House
- Lilo’s Playhouse, Camp Dolphin
- Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom
- Hidden Mickeys
- Photo and video spots
- Animal Kingdom Zoo
Disney is not only a series of rides. There are interactive experiences of all kinds. The main one is meeting characters. Even as an adult, it’s always a special moment to meet Peter Pan or Cinderella. You can take pictures with them as well as get their autograph. At any Disney shop, you can get an autograph book and collect all the signatures. You can get the daily park program to know at what times and where the characters will appear. Beyond that, there are dining experiences with the characters. You need to reserve several days or weeks in advance for these ones.
You can also stop by a shooting arcade or attend one of the animatronic attractions such as the Tiki Room or the Hall of Presidents. When you get to a main photo spot such as in front of the castle or meeting with a Disney character, you will generally encounter official Disney photographers who can take you picture and give you a PhotoPass. All official pictures will be added to this pass and you can then go their photo store or online to order some prints or digital download.
Here is a list of some of the interactive experiences you can find at Disney:
- Meet the characters
- Eating with characters
- Animatronic Shows (Tiki Room, Country Bears)
- Shooting Arcade
Disney is also a learning experience. Theme parks like Epcot provide a lot of opportunities to learn about the environment, the future, science, and so on. At Animal Kingdom, you can learn everything there is to know about animals. That goes without say that you can also learn about animation and movie making. Disney is filled with learning experiences.
Here are some of the topics you can learn about:
- History of Animation
- Conservation and Environment
- Animals and Wilderness
Wellness, Sports and Fitness
Outside of theme parks, there are plenty of outdoor, wellness, sport, and fitness activity. First of all, Walt Disney World resort in Florida has two water parks. A lot of the hotels and the Disney village (Disney Downtown, Disney Spring, etc.) have spas where you can relax and get wellness care such as a massage.
Disney World also has the gigantic sportscenter ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. You can attend sporting events or even organize competitions.
Different resorts will have different activities, but they may include some of the following:
- Water Parks
- ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex
- Running Tracks
- Canoe Rental
- Bike Rental
- Carriage Ride
You will definitely encounter several shopping opportunities. If you are looking for Disney branded anything, you will find it in the multiple Disney shops either inside the theme park, outside the parks in the Disney village, or at the hotel resort shops. You will find clothes, houseware, toys, collectives, movies, books, theme park exclusive items, headwear, jewelry, bags, accessories, and anything else you can think of.
The shops are mainly located here:
- Resort Hotel Shops
- Theme Park Shops
- Disney Downtown Shops
You cannot spend an entire day in the park without eating or drinking. You will find various level of restaurants and pricing throughout the parks and at the hotels. Disney Downtown (or Disney Village/Disney Spring) also have a series of restaurants.
You will find snack stands with popcorn, soft drinks, and candies. You will also find quick-service counters, closer to the fast food model where you line-up and the counter and your receive your food in your tray. Beyond that, you will also find buffets. There are also several table-service restaurants. You should reserve in advance for some of them to insure availability.
There are always one or two very high class restaurants where you need to reserve several weeks in advance such as the Cinderella’s Royal Table (Disney World Magic Kingdom) and the SS Columbia (Tokyo DisneySea).
You cannot bring your pic-nic in the park. There are areas reserved to this end. That involves getting back to your vehicle to get your lunch and going to these areas. That’s generally the least expensive solution, but not always the most convenient.
Here are some of the restaurants you will find on-site:
- Quick Service
- Table Service (Seated Meals)
- Priority Seating (Reservation)
- Souvenir and Souvenir Snacks
- Meal Plan
If you are a Disney collector, you will have a blast. There is always a new collectible to get such as the Anniversary ears, new movie release collectibles, toys, and clothing. On top of it, you can collect pictures with all the characters and try to collect all the autographs (you may need two books!). Finally, you can get into Pin trading. Disney has magnificent pins of all theme parks, rides, movies, and characters. You can then exchange them with other collectors or cast members.
Here are some of the items you can collect:
- Pin Trading
- Character Signatures
- Thematic and Celebration Hats and Accessories (Name signature)
I wish you a very magical day!
Who Am I? I'm many things. I'm passionate about tons of stuff. I love travel. I love self-improvement. I'm a sucker for optimization, efficiency, and minimalism. I renewed with mathematics and science, those are so amazing. Astronomy and chemistry are just plain awesome! I'm a student, a mentor, a traveler, a learner, an artist, an animator, and Disney brings me tears of joy! I love to grow and I will never stop! So who am I? All that and everything else I have not discovered about myself yet. It's a never ending answer!
Qui suis je? Je suis beaucoup de choses. Je suis passionné des tonnes de trucs. J'adore voyager. J'adore la croissance personnelle. Je suis vendue à l'optimisation, l'efficacité et le minimalisme. J'ai renoué avec les mathématiques et les sciences, des mondes tout simplement incroyable. L'astronomie et la chimie sont tout simplement génial! Je suis étudiante, mentor, voyageuse, artiste, animatrice et Disney m'apporte des larmes de joie! J'aime me pousser à fond et je ne cesserai jamais! Alors, qui suis-je? Tout cela et tout le reste que je n'ai pas encore découvert de moi-même. C'est une réponse sans fin!