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What are the best things to do at Disney and Universal, other than visiting theme parks?

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Published: April 8, 2013 at 10:15 AM

When the parks get crowded, experienced Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando visitors know that they can find much more to do at those resorts than just go to their theme parks.

Whenever I visit Disney World, I love to get a boat and drive around the waterways between Port Orleans and Downtown Disney. Maybe it's the old Tom Sawyer Island raft driver in me, but I could happily spend an entire day doing nothing but riding and driving watercraft around the Walt Disney World Resort.

Boating at Disney World

Other visitors like to supplement their theme park visits with rounds of golf, fine dining at resort hotels, or -- going in the other direction -- gathering around a campfire for a roasted s'mores dessert. Last week, I asked Theme Park Insider's Twitter followers for their recommendations on what to do at Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando resorts, other than visiting the parks. Here are some of their responses:











What's your favorite thing to outside of visiting the parks when you go to Orlando? Please share your secret tips, in the comments.

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Readers' Opinions

From Anon Mouse on April 8, 2013 at 10:56 AM
After 6 days of intense fun and sun, in the last and seventh day, I just want to stay in the room and watch television.
From Tracy Bates on April 8, 2013 at 12:34 PM
If staying in Bay Lake Tower, watching the fireworks at the magic kingdom from the viewing area on the roof.

we've been saying we were going to rent on of the little speedboats, but have never gotten around to doing that.

From 208.65.59.11 on April 8, 2013 at 12:47 PM
Hollywood Drive-In Golf at Citywalk at night. AWESOME!!!! Plus, walking around the resorts and taking the water taxis.
From Brandon Townsend on April 8, 2013 at 10:53 PM
Traveling to the various hotels around Disney World is one of my favourite activities. This can give you ideas of where to stay and eat for future trips. It's also fun to experience the various transportation modes around Magic Kingdom. I love riding the boats to and from the Wilderness Resort to MK.
From Melissa Donahue on April 9, 2013 at 5:41 AM
When staying at a Disney property, we enjoy resort-hopping for sight-seeing and dining options as well as renting the boats on the various lagoons.

At Universal, we like to take some time away from the parks in order to see a movie or walk around CityWalk. Exploring the different resorts or strolling along the water taxi trail is also relaxing and fun to do when it's not scorching hot outside!

From Evan Lucas on April 9, 2013 at 6:37 AM
One of my favorite things to do at Universal is to take the water taxis to other resorts! The Hard Rock Hotel has a large selection of rock n' roll artifacts, and is great to check out. It's also fun to go eat at one of the resorts for another point of view. Finally, all the resorts are great for taking pictures. Feel like going to Italy? Try the Portofino! Maybe the Caribbean? Go to Royal Pacific for some great photo ops.
From Mike Gallagher on April 9, 2013 at 7:32 AM
Robert, how come your wife is wearing a life vest and you are not? For shame!
From Thomas Caselli on April 9, 2013 at 9:10 AM
Every time that we are at Walt Disney World we go to Downtown Disney and walk around and check out the stores. Also we usually eat at at least one restaurant at one of the Disney Hotels. One of the many things that I love about WDW is that there is so much to do, other then the theme parks and water parks.
From Donna McKay on April 9, 2013 at 10:10 AM
I agree with Brandon- I love going round various resorts to get a feel for which I might like to stay in. I have been known to abandon a day at EPCOT for a few hours so tha tI can visit the hotels on the Boardwalk. I've always found the staff really helpful and more than happy to show me around

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