By Carol Garcia and Kate Abbott
Magically Speaking recently received the following questions from reader Olivia:
- I am planning our second trip to Disney World in spring ’09. In some literature and on websites, I have seen reference to some slightly different activities to take part in at Disney, such as carriage rides, sing-a-longs, and multi-seat bikes. As we are coming for three weeks, it would be nice to kick back and enjoy some activities like these whilst still being in the Disney zone. Can you tell me more about these, and any other similar activities? Are they only open to resort guests? (We are staying off-site.) How do I find out what is available? Hope you can help.
We think you’ve got a great, leisurely vacation coming up, Olivia, and we hope the following suggestions help you enjoy it even more. The great thing about a Disney vacation is that you can go as fast or as slow as you would like. There are so many fun diversions at Walt Disney World aside from the parks that guests could spend weeks without running out of activities.
The great news is that these special activities are available to everyone visiting Walt Disney World. You don’t need to stay on property to enjoy any of them. Although one of the great benefits to staying on-site is that these activities are at your doorstep, anyone can travel to a resort and participate.
So what are some of your options?
- Campfire Sing-a-longs: Originally only at Fort Wilderness, these events are slowly popping up at other locations around property. At Fort Wilderness, the evening begins with a campfire and dancing with Chip and Dale. Guests can either bring their own s’mores fixin’s or they can purchase a kit. After the dancing, guests are treated to a Disney movie. Best of all, there is no cost for this event!
- Surry Bike Rentals: Two- and four-seat bikes are available for rent. Take a thirty-minute ride around the grounds of most Deluxe or Moderate resorts. Think that time is too short? Your legs will be thanking you for only taking a half-hour. Some of the locations are a lot hillier than they look, and the bikes tend to be heavy. This is a fun and memorable way to see the sights.
- Horse Fun: Fort Wilderness offers a trifecta of horse events, including horse-drawn excursions, horseback riding, and pony rides. The ponies are for children under 48 inches tall. Older kids and adults could try horseback riding, a 45-minute event complete with cowboy or cowgirl guides along a beautiful trail. The horse-drawn excursions vary by season. There are hayrides and seasonal carriage rides. A 30-minute ride around the resort is a relaxing way to end the day. Carriage rides are also offered at various resorts during December, and are offered at Port Orleans Riverside year-round.
- Fishing Excursions: If you enjoy fishing, or would like to give it a try, you can book a fishing excursion. This is a guided tour, so first-timers can get help with bait, etc. If you’re experienced, the guide won’t interfere with your fishing experience. Read more about Jane Jones’s fishing excursions here. Boats leave from the resorts around Bay Lake, Seven Seas Lagoon, Crescent Lake, or Downtown Disney. This is a catch-and-release excursion, and guests can book a two-hour or four-hour trip. If younger guests (ages 6-12) would like a fishing experience, they can be paired with a guide and fish from the shores for an hour. For an even quieter fishing experience, can poles are available for rent at Port Orleans Riverside.
- Boat Rentals: Resorts with a marina, plus Downtown Disney, rent several types of boats. There are the little two-seater Sea Raycers that you often see zipping around. Guests can also rent a Boston Whaler or a pontoon boat. Some locations even have sailboats, pedal boats, kayaks, or canoes. Most boats are rented for either a 30- or 60-minute time frame. Guests must have a valid driver’s license in order to drive a boat.
- Mini-golf: There are four mini-golf courses on-property. While everyone can go mini-golfing somewhere near their homes, we bet your local putt-putt park doesn’t feature Sorcerer’s Apprentice fountains or year-round holiday theming! These courses are beautifully maintained and fun to see, even if your putting isn’t any better when you are on vacation. You can read about Jane Jones’s mini-golf report.
- Specialty Cruises. This is definitely not a cheap option, but it is one you’re not likely to soon forget. You can get a unique view of “Wishes” fireworks show at the Magic Kingdom from the Seven Seas lagoon or “Illuminations” fireworks show at Epcot from your private boat under the bridge between the UK and France. Some cruises even have the music piped into the boat. You also get a short tour of the waterways and some fun Disney trivia from the boat driver. If you’re celebrating something special, food items can be arranged for the cruise.Be warned, though, that these cruises book very early. Reservations open 90 days ahead of cruise date, so get on the phone early if you would like to make special plans.
- Parasailing/Water-skiing: If flying high above Bay Lake sounds like your cup of tea, this is the place to do it. If you prefer to stay a little closer to the water (or in it), you can also book wakeboarding, waterskiing, kneeboarding, or tubing excursions. Sammy Duval Watersports offers several options. Excursions leave from the Contemporary Resort. Any of the Sammy Duvall activities must be booked directly with the company. More information can be found at http://sammyduvall.com/parasailing/.
You can read a first-hand account of Binnie’s parasailing adventure
Ready to book or looking for more information? All of the information you need can be obtained by calling 407-WDW-PLAY. This is the recreation hotline for all things Walt Disney World. You can also check out Disney’s website to fully explore your options. Enjoy your added extras!