While I'm at Disney World, one of my favorite activities is resort hopping. There is a wealth of surprises waiting to be found at the various resorts around the Walt Disney World complex. If you ever have a chance to venture away from your resort to visit some of the other resorts, you’ll see what I mean. The décor, ambiance of each resort is unique. Imagine you are in the South Pacific at the Polynesian or deep in the heart of the savannah of Africa at Animal Kingdom Lodge. Take a look at a highlight from each destination! Most of these activities are free; check with your resort concierge for times, locations, and directions.
Contemporary Resort – View the Electrical Water Pageant from the beach on the Bay Lake side of the resort.
Polynesian Resort – Experience the torch lighting ceremony featuring a Polynesian dancer who does a traditional fire-knife dance and lights the torches leading to the Great Ceremonial House.
Wilderness Lodge – View the Geyser. Located between the pool and the beach, this 120' Geyser spouts every hour on the hour from 7:00 am to 10:00 pm. While the geyser does look real, surrounded by hot springs that create “steam”, the water is not hot. On occasion you can find ducks swimming in the “hot springs”.
Animal Kingdom Lodge – Nightly African storytelling next to Ogun's Firepit outside the Lodge.
Grand Floridian – Listen to the soothing sounds of the piano player in the lobby from around 3 p.m.; alternating with the orchestra until 9:45 p.m.
Fort Wilderness – Chip and Dale sing-a-long, campfire, and movie. This campfire program is free open to all WDW resort guests. It is held near the Meadow Trading Post in the campfire area. The program begins with a sing-along and a marshmallow roast around two campfire rings. You may bring your own marshmallows or buy them at the Chuck Wagon. While this is going on, Chip and Dale make an appearance to visit with guests and sign autographs. Afterwards a Disney animated feature is shown on a large outdoor screen.
Yacht & Beach Club – These two resorts also offer a campfire program and Disney movie on the beach. Stay around long enough and you can view the high fireworks from Epcot’s Illuminations.
Boardwalk – Reminiscent of the early 20th century East Coast beachside resorts, the Boardwalk itself is a big draw, but I really enjoy the ambiance of the hotel's lobby. Look around for the carousel chandelier, roller coaster model, and antique novelty machines. Step outside and you are taken to a bygone era on the Boardwalk. Relax "beachside" with a drink and sit in the comfy rocking chairs.
The following resorts are listed in the Moderate and Value categories and, as such, are slightly more difficult to get to if you don’t have a car. Never-the-less, they are filled with theming and hidden gems equal to those at the other resorts. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend making a special trip to see them, but if you happen to be dining in the vicinity or have an afternoon the kill, these are great places to check out.
Port Orleans Riverside – Take a leisurely and scenic boat ride to Downtown Disney along the Sassagoula River.
Port Orleans French Quarter – Enjoy live entertainment at the Scat Cat Lounge in the evenings.
Caribbean Beach - The centerpiece of this resort is its 45-acre lake, Barefoot Bay, surrounded by a 1.4-mile promenade which connects to winding paths leading to guest rooms and common areas. In the center of the lake is Caribbean Cay, an island with a picnic area and beautiful foliage. Caribbean Cay is connected to each side by a footbridge.
Coronado Springs – Explore the grounds of this resort via a 0.9 mile Esplanade as it winds its way through the wooded areas of the grounds. Check out the partially buried large Mayan head statue in the middle of the Explorer’s Playground.
All-Star Music, Movies and Sports – Check out the larger-than-life icons in and around each of the All-Star Resorts.
POP Century – Nostalgia overload reins king at this resort! In the lobby, you will find numerous wall-mounted shadow boxes full of fads, fashions, music, toys and other trinkets from the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. You can’t help not to smile when you these.
I’ve only touched the tip of the iceberg for what you’ll find at the various resorts around the complex and did not even get into the Disney Vacation Club Resorts.
What’s your favorite resort hopping activity?