Is this a crazy idea?

A little background - My family, which includes my nine year old son, lives about 4 hours from Disneyworld. We have visited all the parks twice over the last two years. We have an RV and stay at Fort Wilderness. I am a teacher and can only go on school holidays (can’t stand the heat or crowds in the summer), so we tend to take several short trips a year. We always bemoan the fact that we are so busy rushing to parks (we typically stay from opening to closing in order to do everything that we want to do) that we don’t have time to take advantage of all of the other things to do at Disney - especially at Fort Wilderness. So… this spring break we have planned to go and stay at FW and NOT go to the parks. We are planning several other adventures such as Typhoon Lagoon, DisneyQuest, Cirque de Soleil, the Richard Petty Driving Experience, a concert at the House of Blues and so on. We are also planning to do several dinners/shows at the resorts as well as take advantage of all the things offered at FW. We just thought it would be nice to have a more relaxed trip and get to experience new things. We were just at Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios last week. (We did Animal Kingdom and Epcot in October.) I guess my question is - do you think it is crazy to go to Disney and not do the parks? My son is already begging to go back… do you think he will be entertained enough by the other activities? Any suggestions for other fun things to do outside the parks? I’d love any advice.

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I think it would be awesome! There is so much to do at Ft. Wilderness and around Disney. I’m just not sure I could do it! :smile:

Even though there is so much to do outside of the parks, I also don’t think that I could go and not go to a park.

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I don’t think I could stand to be so close and not go to the parks. My family would be excited for a 1/2 and 1/2 trip though, every other day in the parks. That actually sounds great to me too!

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I agree that it would be hard for me to not go to the parks at all- but I could see hitting the highlight reel (maybe a four parks/1 day challenge?) and spending the rest of the trip relaxing and enjoying other things. We have done most of the things you mentioned- we usually get up early, go to a park, then leave when it starts filling up. Also, water parks are tiring- if we are there at opening we are usually finished by 3:30. When we did Cirque we went to TL for the day, put our “out for the evening clothes” in a locker, and changed there for dinner and the show. It was a long day but a lot of fun.

You could also do DisneyQuest for the afternoon and HDDR for the evening - DisneyQuest is fun but my kids get bored after a couple of hours.

I would do it in a heartbeat. My DS is dying to do Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon but with our limited ability to get to the World coupled with the fact that we only go in October or December (I’m a teacher, too), we just never go. Heck, last trip was the first time we’ve scheduled a break day where we don’t actually go into the parks.

Chip n Dale’s Campfire sing along at Forth Wilderness is great. Smores and a movie…can’t beat it! Maybe hit the marina and rent a couple of SeaRaycers or a pontoon boat.

Love this idea and think you could pull it off since you’re “local” :wink: we live 2 1/2 hrs north and do day trips often… Last oct we did a short weekend of mnsshp and a day at blizzard beach instead of another park day… It actually turned out to be one of my fav days ever!! It was so much fun and different then the usual park days :slight_smile: don’t get me wrong, I love love love the parks but there is so much they we haven’t done yet! And since you were just there I think you will be ok :wink: So I say go for it!!

Again I would do it in a heartbeat if I didn’t live in the UK and only lived 4 hour away. Having said that on our August trip I have put in quite a few days to stay on site at SSR to chill and enjoy…it should be a great trip for you.

Oddly enough, the TP Blog just had a post about “A Non-Park Disney Vacation”

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Thanks brklinck!

FWIW, I think it’s a marvelous idea, given your circumstances, and it doesn’t preclude doing parks on other trips. Sounds like an AP might be advantageous in your situation if you go often enough, especially since WDW is doing away with the non-expiring tix.

My daughter just got into the Disney College Program, so I’ll be taking multiple trips this year & I’ve actually considered doing something similar to what you’re suggesting for all the same reasons. I’ve always wanted to check out the other resorts. A short solo trip to visit her would be a good time to do so.

You can enjoy boat rides & renting boats on Bay Lake from FW too, if I recall.

Go well! :smile:

I thought I would report that we did take this trip. We had a great time. I kept asking DS -9- if he missed the parks - he said no … probably because we were just there two months ago - but he never asked to go to the parks. Here’s what we did:
Arrival day - Monday - checked into Fort Wilderness - took a trail ride. Very nice horseback ride through the woods. Rode our bikes and had lunch at the pool. Then dinner at Trail’s End. (Not fabulous -except for the cornbread- but convenient…after spending 4 hours in the car we did not want to drive anywhere… and we have already done the Hoop-Dee-Doo…By the way… our dining was chosen for experience (and sometimes convenience) for a 9 year old more than food…and he is NOT into character dining or exotic food.) After dinner we took a carriage ride around the campground. We finished the day with a boat to the Contemporary and a monorail tour of resorts. (We have already done the campfire with Chip and Dale and the movie on a previous trip… DS said he did not want to do it again…)
Tuesday - We did both water parks - you can now do both parks for one admission. They key is to get there early. We had finished at Typhoon Lagoon by lunch and went to Blizzard Beach. Loved both of them…lots to do at both parks. Took a boat to Wilderness Lodge for dinner at Whispering Canyon - not fabulous food either (the ribs were pretty good…) - but DS thought it was fun… and loved seeing the Lodge. We got back to the campground just in time to see the fireworks from the beach.
Wednesday - We started the day with a balloon ride at Downtown Disney. Lots of fun. Then we did some shopping and went to Disney Quest. Again, we got there when it opened and it wasn’t too crowded. DS LOVED it. We spent four hours in there. … and had to drag him out then. He wants to have his birthday party there :). We saw La Nouba at the Cirque de Soleil (incredible) and finished the day with dinner at Fulton’s (very good seafood -DS was very excited that they had crab legs on the kids menu! Don’t try to go without reservations… it was PACKED). (We have also already done all of the kiddie restaurants there… Rainforest, T-Rex, Planet Hollywood on previous trips.) Downtown Disney at night is a really fun place!
Thursday - DH and DS did the Richard Petty Driving Experience. Both thought it was the most fun they had ever had. Then we went to Port Orleans for beignets (not as good as the original - but better than no beignets). Then we played mini golf at Winterland Summmerland. It is a great little course…really nicely themed. Then we went out to Animal Kingdom Lodge to look around. We saw lots of animals and Jay from South Africa answered lots of questions about the animals. Then we played more golf at Fantasia (played the challenging course- it is real putting… but there was an hour wait for the other course). We went back to the campground and rode bikes again. Then we took the boat to the Contemporary and the monorail to the Polynesian for the Spirit of Aloha show. The food was eh…so was the first part of the show… but the fire dancer was incredible.
Friday -We went to Splitsville for bowling - then to the dine in theater for a movie. Both were great. Then we went to rest a bit… we were getting really tired at this point. We had dinner at the House of Blues (for the pass the line privilege) and then saw Sister Hazel (one of our favorite bands) at the concert hall. Both were great!
Sadly, we came home today. We have decided that it was the best Spring Break ever. We were so busy we really didn’t have time to miss the parks. I was very happy to get to see parts of Disney that we haven’t had time to see before. I am really glad that we didn’t try to fit the parks in and just took time to see everything else this trip. I do love, love, love all of the parks and I am sure that we will go back soon and visit them, but I am really glad that we did this trip! All of us had a fantastic time! Now… if only I didn’t have to go back to work Monday…


Thanks for the follow-up report - glad to hear that it went so well for you!

Sounds great!!! It’s like you hit the list of everything to do without parks!!! Thanks for all the reviews!!!

What a nifty report to read. Certainly unique with lots of wonderful ideas. My DW is not a fan of the parks other than WS at epcot, so this was helpful to read. Thanks for the follow-up.