I’m not going to cover each of the water parks (Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach) in detail because they’re pretty similar. Both have a wave pool, a lazy river and enough slides for everyone to find something they like (huge drops, long windy twists, speed, etc). Just remember that the pavement is hot – so you’ll want to roam around between attractions with at least flip-flops if not something more. Again, some attractions have height restrictions… but both parks have a kids-only area, too. So you shouldn’t have any disappointed children.
Disney World is home to 5 championship golf courses: Magnolia, Palm, Osprey Ridge, Lake Buena Vista, and Oak Trail, as well as 2, 36-hole mini-golf courses: Fantasia Gardens and Winter Summerland. At the pro level, Disney provides for lessons and rentals with PGA instruction.
When you don’t feel like burning a park ticket, or just want to try some different restaurants (or go shopping in the largest Disney Store on the planet), head to Disney Springs. Formerly known as Lake Buena Vista Village, and most recently as Downtown Disney (DTD), Disney Springs is actually 3 separate entertainment “districts” all connected into one large playspace.
The Marketplace is the first bus stop from all Disney resorts. Here you’ll find the bulk of the shopping – World of Disney, Art of Disney, The Christmas Store, Tren-D, Once Upon a Toy (where you can buy a make-your-own Mr. Potato Head with custom Disney-related accessories), The Goofy Candy Company, the largest Pin Trading Station on property, and many other places to spend your souvenir money. In addition, you’ll find nearly a dozen eateries, including my favorite: The Earl of Sandwich. A watertaxi can also whisk you away to the Port Orleans Resort (and is fun for just cruising the river). Or you can brave one of the two Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutiques.
Town Center (formerly Pleasure Island) and The Landing is the second bus stop and is simply the other end of the Marketplace. Most of the historic attractions that were once a part of the Pleasure Island “lore” are long since removed (all of the dance clubs, the comedy club and the Adventurer’s Club). Left now are a more restaurants and shops, with even more coming in the next few months.
West Side is further down and is home to more shops and the brand-new Splitsville bowling area, as well as old favorites such as the 24-screen theatre, DisneyQuest (a large arcade, supposedly closed, but yet still randomly open for business), and Cirque du Soleil’s La Nouba.
While parking is available at DS, bus service comes from every resort (and some of the Parks on a seasonal basis). Disney Springs busses, in fact, run later than virtually any other bus on property. So if you find yourself at one resort (such as going to the Yacht Club for dinner at the Yachtsman’s Steakhouse) late one night and don’t know how to get back to your room at any other resort, take the next bus to DS and connect there.
Note also that DS is not “protected” in any way and there have been reports of car break-ins and other such mayhem. While Disney does have plainclothed and uniformed security milling about, no tickets are necessary to walk around any portion of DS (you used to have to be 18+ to get into Pleasure Island – that restriction no longer exists). Be a little more alert than you might be within a Park.
While most people think of the BoardWalk Resort, they forget that the BoardWalk itself is a stand-alone shopping and dining area. Between Wolfgang Puck’s and ESPNZone, there are a variety of places to eat. There are dueling pianos at Jellyrolls and a 21+ nightclub at the Atlantic Dance Hall. In addition, you can always go shopping or rent a bike to cruise the BoardWalk. To get to the BoardWalk, board a watertaxi from Epcot’s International Gateway or from the front of Disney’s Hollywood Studios and you’ll be there in a few minutes.
ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex
Most people who go to Disney World have either heard of, or experienced, the crush of people that exist during the Pop Warner Football weeks or the National Cheerleader Championships. And while these two events are held at the WWoS Complex, there are also dozens of other things, many of them professional sporting events, that you’re welcome to attend if you want to buy a ticket.
Fun & More
- Free Movies
- Animal Programs
- Fitness Centers
- Kids Programming
- Bike Rentals
- Watercraft Rentals
- Specialty Cruises
- Carriage Rides
But as I note elsewhere, it’s the tours that hold the most special place for me (my favorite is DiveQuest – scuba diving in the Living Seas aquarium). While you usually have to be a little older, these tours are an excellent way to “see Disney” in a way that you may have not experienced – especially if Disney is starting to feel old-hat to you. Besides DiveQuest (which I’ve done more than a half-dozen times if that gives you any indication of how awesome it is), I can also vouch for Keys to the Kingdom, Around the World on a Segway (now known as Keep Moving Forward: See the World, Share the Dream), and the Specialty Cruises (there’s nothing like watching Wishes on your own private pontoon boat in the Seven Seas Lagoon). We’ve also done Backstage Magic, but it’s very similar to Keys to the Kingdom and doesn’t do that much more overall.