No-Park Trip?

If you were thinking about a no-parks trip with 2 small children, how would you plan it? Debating on whether we want to renew our APs for a February trip or just do a “take it easy” shorter trip with the kiddos and do no-park or non-Disney Orlando things since we will have just been to the parks in December on our existing APs. AKL maybe? Legoland? Disney Springs and Water Parks if not too cold?

We have toyed around with this idea also. AKL would be our go to resort for activities. Legoland has a 36 inch height requirement on most rides just in case you have a toddler.

Good to know. That won’t work for our youngest. I guess Legoland will have to wait another year.

1 Like

We’ve thought about doing some of the resort activities on a non-park trip like Pirates and Pals, character meals, and mini golf. We’d love to get over to POR for YeHaa Bob. We never seem to have time for these things on our park trips.

1 Like

I would love to spend a day at Fort Wilderness. Campfire, horseback riding, carriage rides, etc. TONS to do over there.

With or without children, I would never plan a no-park trip. The parks are the “reason” I go to Orlando, and if I wasn’t going to the parks, I’d go somewhere else (NOLA, Boston, DC, to name a few). Now, I have been in Orlando to attend conferences and could not fit in any park days. I’ve spent several afternoons/evenings at DS and did some deluxe resort hopping - and had fun (and met up with Liners).


@bswan26 Where would you recommend taking a 4 year old and a 1 year old other than Disney or a beach in February? Looking for suggestions. We took them to Chicago this summer. Museums and park were fun, but certainly not as small child friendly and a lot harder on Mom than our Disney trips. My hesitation for going back to the parks for this trip is that we will have just been, but if there is another great place to go, I’m all ears. Thanks!

We’ve gone to the Orlando Science Center (they have a nice preschool area). There is a petting zoo in Orlando called Green Meadows. There is also Gatorland. I have only done the Sea World in California but my young kids liked that a lot. I don’t know your expectations for a vacation but we’ve enjoyed these activities with our young kids.

Having never had kids, I’m not really a good one to ask. But I think if you went to “Disney World”, and didn’t at least go to the MK for a day, you would have a disappointed 4YO. IMHO, for the 1YO, it really won’t matter much, so plan for the 4YO. If you’re set on Orlando, there’s Sea World, Legoland (not too far away) and a number of museums, most of which probably have kid-focused areas. Busch Gardens in Tampa, about an hour away, has animals and a number of shows. At that age, I’d skip Universal. Outside of Orlando, San Diego, one of my favorite cities, has an awesome zoo and a separate, equally awesome safari park. It also has Sea World and Legoland is about an hour away. Plus everything else a large city has to offer. DLR is less than 2 hours away if you need a Disney fix. And nice weather in Feb. Although I love Boston, DC, and NOLA, I’d save those for when they are older.


I’ve never done a completely no-park trip, but we did do 5 days at OKW (we had DVC points in holding that had to be used) with just a trip to MVMCP. The rest of the time we went to Disney Springs, had pool time, went to Sea World, and went to Universal for 1 day.

I don’t think I’d ever pay to stay at WDW without going to a park, though… there are plenty of cheaper (and often nicer for the price) options.

1 Like

I agree with@bswan26 - I would not go to a WDW resort if I were not going to the parks. IMO they are not good value for money if you are not taking advantage of the on-site park benefits, and more importantly there are too many amazing things to see and do in this world to waste precious vacation time on “sort of” going to WDW.

Regarding your question about where to go with young ones in Feb, we took our daughter everywhere - we even have pictures of me holding her at 11 months on the Great Wall of China. Mind you, she was a great traveler, so we might have done things differently if we had one of those squalling monsters that I seem to encounter everywhere nowadays…


Where do you live? Would WDW involve a flight or are you local? I agree that it’s hard to stomach the price of a Disney hotel without the park perks that go with it. You could do a park-free trip at one of the non-Disney hotels in Orlando and save a bundle in hotel costs. A lot of them have better pools than a lot of the Disney resorts too. Or, I have just heard fabulous things about some of the all-inclusive resorts (Atlantis, etc) in the Bahamas with kids.

1 Like

About 5 years ago our family did a non-park trip. The reason? It had been almost 3 years since my last Disney fix, but we just didn’t have the money to go due to medical bills. So I rented an off-site condo and we spent time touring resorts, Downtown Disney/Disney Springs, mini-golf, shopping and went to the Space Coast one day and the gulf coast another. The downside was the kids (preteens) asking for just one day at Disney, but we just couldn’t do it. The best things about that trip were the relatively low cost of that trip (compared to Disney), the lack of pressure to hurry up and fit everything in or get there at a certain day/time, the lack of pressure to try and get our money’s worth by being in a park during every waking hour, and the fun we had doing things we never let ourselves do when we had park tickets. We saw Yeehaw Bob for the first time, took a leisurely boat ride from Downtown Disney to see him, spent time hanging out at AKL, saw tons of animals at the Merritt Island wildlife refuge and spent way more time than we expected (and enjoyed) the American Police Hall of Fame (Titusville). Since we drove, we also took time along the way to see things we hadn’t done before in Georgia. The trip is what you make of it. If you need Disney magic you can find it outside of the parks if you make an effort to do so. You just have to be a bit more intentional in doing that. Hang out at Fort Wilderness for the day, rent a golf cart, have a picnic, sing along with Chip and Dale, watch the outdoor movie and see the fireworks from the beach/dock area. Explore Art of Animation resort. Have a Dole Whip at the Poly, watch the electric parade and the fireworks from the beach. Before our trip I did TONS of research on all of the free/non-ticket activities we could do to get a bit of magic each day. It was enough to get me by (for a little while).

There is plenty to do at Legoland for toddlers, It is aimed squarely at kids under 12, and Lego fans which is why we never miss it (and the boys are now 18 and 21 lol)!

Some things have a toddler version, like the driving school. There are some more thrill type rides but have a look at the website before writing it off. The old Cypress Gardens are fantastic for just unwinding and exploring too.

But I agree about the disappointment factor. I think any child old enough to know where they are would be disappointed not to be going to the parks. I would be too. AKL might be a possibility, there’s not too much of the Mickey factor, but I think he/she would cotton on fairly fast.