There’s always something new and exciting happening at Disneyland and Walt Disney World. For example, there’s always a limited-time menu item you need to get for Insta or a brand new ride or roller coaster, like Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, that you haven’t tried. While there’s plenty to see, eat, and experience in the parks, there’s plenty to do at Disney without needing a park ticket, too.
Let’s face it, a Disney day doesn’t come cheap. While there are ways to spend a budget day at Disney, park tickets start at $104 for
Disneyland in California and $109 for disney world in Florida. If you’d rather save that money for food and shopping, you can have just as much fun at the Downtown Disney District, Disney Springs, and at one of the on-site resort hotels. In fact, you can find some of these Instagram-worthy snacks outside of the parks, too. You just need to know where to find them. You can also ride the monorail or Skyliner while shopping in Disney World, which could be just as fun as any ride in the Magic Kingdom.
If you’re looking to have a park-free or budget-friendly Disney day, here are 12 things to do at Disneyland and Disney World, no park tickets required.
01 Do the Dole Whip Challenge
You don’t have to go to Disneyland or Magic Kingdom to enjoy a classic Disney Dole Whip treat. the
Swirls on the water at Disney Springs offers an extensive menu of Dole Whip treats that includes more than the traditional Dole Whip whip and float. Challenge your friends to try some of Dole Whip’s unique treats like Habanero Lime Nachos and Sangria Float before ranking your favorites.
You can also find Dole Whip candies at
Pineapple Lanai at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort and Tangaroa Terrace Tropical Bar & Grill at the Disneyland Hotel.
If you’re looking to spend your money on brand new Minnie Ears instead of a park ticket, you’ll want to stop by the World of Disney store at either
Downtown Disney or Disney Sources. These huge stores carry all the latest Disney memorabilia, from Loungefly backpacks to Spirit swimwear.
03 See the brand new Cirque du Soleil show
At Disney Springs, there’s a brand new Cirque du Soleil show that’s a must-see for Disney fans. The brand new production,
Perfectly Drawn to life, mixes Walt Disney Animation with classic Cirque du Soleil acrobatic stunts. It’s impressive, nostalgic, and has great characters, like an early villainous design. Tickets are $85 per person.
Instead of jumping aboard the Jungle Cruise, you can cruise around the water in a car-boat at Disney Springs. This
retro Amphicar experience takes you on a 20 minute guided tour of Lake Buena Vista. A ride costs $125 but can accommodate up to four people, so it’s still cheaper than a park ticket.
05 Watch the fireworks from the contemporary resort
Did you know you can watch the fireworks without needing a ticket? There are plenty of free vantage points to watch the fireworks at Disneyland and Disney World, but if you want one of the best spots, you’ll want to make reservations at Disney’s Contemporary Resort.
Celebration at the top: 50th flavors and fireworks The experience lets you enjoy delicious appetizers and beverages while watching the fireworks over Magic Kingdom. It’s $129 per person, but well worth it for the sparkling cocktails, stunning views, and tasty desserts.
06 Try all the cookies from Gideon’s Bakehouse
A must for anyone who loves sweets at Disney Springs is to stop
Gideon’s Bakehouse for their “almost half a pound” cookies. The viral cookies on their menu are so popular that you have to join a virtual queue just to stand in line to buy some. However, they are definitely worth the wait, and not only will you want to buy all the cookie flavors they have, but also their iced coffee drinks and cakes.
07 Try a Viral Downtown Disney Corn Dog
If you follow
Lizzo on TikTok, you may have seen when she went to Downtown Disney to try out the viral pickle dog. Pickle is a hot dog breaded in panko and wrapped in pickle with a peanut butter dip. In the same corn dog basket you can also find this giant mozzarella stick coated with crispy puffed rice, a must for gourmets.
08 Ride around the Magic Kingdom Resort monorail
If you want to shop while enjoying a free Disney ride, take the monorail around the Magic Kingdom stations – the Contemporary, the Polynesian, and the Grand Floridian. Each of the resorts has its own shops and restaurants for you to enjoy.
Once you’ve finished at one station, simply hop on the monorail to get to the next one. You might even end your adventure with tiki drinks at
Toddy Grotto and Trader Sam’s Tiki Bar in the Polynesian.
09 Find some of the most Instagram-worthy Disney treats
While many of the Insta-worthy snacks you see on the ‘Gram are exclusive to the parks, there are also a ton of delicious treats available at the many Disney Resorts, Disney Springs, and Downtown Disney.
You can even make it a day of foodie adventure by finding all of the Disney menu items on your food to eat list. A place for food that is almost too good to eat is
Amorette pastrywhich has Mickey Mouse dome cakes.
ten Have a drink at Disney Springs
While drinking around the world at EPCOT is something on your Disney bucket list, a pub crawl around Disney Springs is just as much fun. The restaurants and bars around Disney Springs also offer tons of cute cocktails and delicious snacks.
If you only choose one place to have a drink with your best friends, you can’t go wrong
Hangar Bar by Jock Lindsey. the IndianaJones– An inspired bar inside an airplane hangar is themed and offers happy hour Monday through Friday.
11 Take a ride on the Skyliner
New to Disney World is the
skyline system that takes guests from different resort hotels to theme parks. You can ride the Skyliner for a free Disney ride with stunning views of Walt Disney World. Be sure to stop at Disney’s Riviera Resort on your Skyliner day to take photos in front of their beautiful mosaic murals and grab a Parisian-inspired coffee The Little Cafe.
12 Host a princess brunch with your best friends
The CDC recommends traveling only after being fully vaccinated and your vaccine has become fully effective. If you are not fully vaccinated and need to travel, check CDC guidelines before booking. Check your destination vaccination and screening requirements before your departure.
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