I am a planner. Shocking, I am sure! I know how to plan a super fun day at Disney. (Just ask me!) I know how to book must-see character dining reservations and maximize fast passes, which rides to do at rope drop and which rides to visit in the evenings.
But, it is slightly embarrassing to admit that it took my family (ok…me) 10 years to figure out that we needed a “rest” day in the middle of our Walt Disney World vacations. Ten. Long. Years.
A vacation at Walt Disney World is an adventure like no other. Most trips are go-go-go, crazy family fun, out in the sun, jam-packed days full of laughter, theme park food and let’s be honest…exhausted kids (and adults!).
I am here to encourage all of you to PLEASE learn from my mistakes!
It seems backwards, but the constant fun can be overwhelming. I have a “secret” solution to the madness–Consider planning a day to rest in the middle of the excitement. EVERYONE can benefit from a day of recharging. Trust me. It’s a game changer.
After ten years of trying to ignore the signs, a rest day (or two!) is a permanent, non-negotiable part of my planning for each Disney trip. Below, you will find a list of super awesome things to do on your next rest day–and they are all FREEEE! You are welcome.
What can you do on a rest day?!?
Check out this list of the top 10 super awesome and FREE things to do that do not require a theme park ticket. And, click here to see a list of 10 MORE super cool things that do not require a theme park ticket, but cost a little $$$.
- Pool Day At Your Resort! Disney resorts have some pretty amazing pools and a day of swimming, lounging and relaxation just might be what the Mouse ordered. 2 tiny things you MUST know: (a.) All Disney pools are heated, so you can swim year-round. YIPPEEE! (b.) Disney resort pools are for the enjoyment of resort guests. You can visit any resort, but you can only swim in the pool at your resort. And yes, they scan your bands. And, yes that is true. Please follow the rules, my friends.
Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
2. Take everyone to check out Disney Springs! All Disney resorts have free transportation to Disney Springs (DS), which is an outdoor shopping, dining and entertainment marketplace. The complex sits next to the peaceful Sassagoula River and has four main areas: The Landing, Marketplace, Town Center and West Side. Check out the open-area splash pad and the Lego Imagination Center, an outdoor play spot with bins full of Legos!
3. Make it a TRUE rest day! Sleep late, snuggle up, kick back and watch cartoons (maybe a Disney movie??) Play board games and cards all day! Extra hint: This is a great day to do laundry, too!
4. Go exploring at your resort! If you haven’t had the chance to walk around your resort, a rest day is the perfect time to take a quiet stroll to new areas and possibly discover something fun! Find out if your resort has a playground, splash pad, arcade, ping pong tables, hammocks, volleyball courts, benches or walking trails. Get outside and just go exploring! You never know what you might find.
5. Skip on over to the front desk or concierge at your resort and ask for a calendar of resort activities, which might include super awesome things–outdoor movies, cookie and cake decorating, educational lectures, game night, roasting marshmallows and pool parties–all for FREEEEEE!
6. Exercise! Many Disney resorts have fitness centers, walking paths and running trails. Burn off some of those theme park calories (excessive intake of Dole Whips anyone?!?) and make your heart happy in the process. I don’t have a picture for this suggestion because I have never done this on a rest day. LOL It sounds like a good option, though, right?!? No excuses! Get out there and sweat!
7. If exercising on vacation isn’t your cup of tea (or even if it is), I have just ONE word: MONORAIL! (See what I did there? The prefix “mono” means “one”. LOL I am so clever.) Anyway, all Disney resorts offer free transportation to the Magic Kingdom (MK). Once you get to the Magic Kingdom theme park, walk to the monorail boarding station and hop on! You can ride all day long if that makes you happy. You can even get off at the Ticket and Transportation Center (TTC) and transfer to the Epcot monorail and ride that one, too! No ticket required!
8. Visit other Disney resorts! At the time of this post, Disney does not offer direct resort-to-resort transportation. However, that tiny challenge is quite easy to remedy. While you are jet setting around the Disney property on the super awesome monorail system, disembark and check out one of the deluxe hotels near the Magic Kingdom (MK). You can also ride a Disney bus (or boat, if available) to a theme park and then transfer to a bus going to ANY resort you want to scope out. Each resort has an unique theme and super cool things to see! You do not have to be a resort guest to look around! Just ask a cast member or concierge what is the quickest way to get where you want to go. My recommendations, you ask? Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge (AKL), Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort (CBR), Wilderness Lodge (WL), the Grand Floridian (GF) and the Polynesian Village Resort (Poly). You can even walk from the Poly to the GF.
9. Ride some ferry boats! Disney resorts have multiple forms of transportation: bus, monorail and/or boat. There are boats that stop at multiple resorts, theme parks and even Disney Springs. Hop aboard one of these and see where it takes you! Some of the ferry boat routes to enjoy: Magic Kingdom to Fort Wilderness to Magic Kingdom. Magic Kingdom to the Grand Floridian to the Polynesian Village to Magic Kingdom. Disney Springs to Saratoga Springs to Old Key West to Disney Springs. Disney’s Hollywood Studios to Boardwalk Inn and Villas to Beach Club Resort, to Yacht Club to the Swan to Dolphin back to Hollywood Studios. Disney transportation changes often, so ask a cast member or the concierge to share the best way to get to a boat dock. Feel free get on and get off at your leisure–the ferries run approximately every 45 min-1 hour, depending on route, crowd level and weather, of course.
10. Fireworks! Fireworks! Fireworks! You don’t have to be inside the Magic Kingdom theme park to enjoy a spectacular nighttime fireworks show. Head on over to any of the resorts serviced by the monorail (Contemporary and Bay Lake Tower, Polynesian Village and the Grand Floridian). I recommend the Polynesian because it is directly across Seven Seas Lagoon from the Magic Kingdom. Find a cozy bench and wait for the magic to happen! This is also a great option for people who want to enjoy the show without the loud noises, explosions and booms. Extra Hint: You might get the added bonus of experiencing the Electrical Water Pageant, which appears on Seven Seas Lagoon at varying show times throughout the year.
11. Eat a Pineapple Dole Whip! (Or 2 or 3–no one is counting) Ok…so, this isn’t actually free…unless you can get someone else to pay for it. But, it is my favorite thing to do on a rest day. So, to make this a money-free splurge, I suggest you make a friend and celebrate that new friendship by allowing said friend to purchase you a tasty treat! Or Plan B–Eat someone else’s Dole Whip when they are distracted by a camera!
***There is only one place outside of the theme parks to find Dole Whip and that Heaven-on-Earth location is Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. Make a friend. Be a friend.
I hope you enjoy your “rest” day and find yourself recharged for whatever Disney adventures come next!