Monday, August 4, 2014

Can You Stay on Disney Property to Have Fun While NOT Paying to Play?

By: Beth Skarp

What an odd title—whatever can it mean? 

Who in their right or even wrong mind would come to Disney, stay on property, and NOT pay to play in the Parks? Well, this family has.

We have had several occasions where we needed to be in the Orlando area for either business or pleasure. We had funds to take care of the business at hand, funds to find good food to eat, but not to pay for a day of playing in the Parks on these particular visits. If you read my earlier article regarding staying in non-Disney affiliated resorts, you will understand why we opt to stay on Disney affiliated property.

The burning question becomes, what in the World (or in this case, outside of the World) is there to do that is FREE? Where is the entertainment? Where is the “fun” in staying but not playing? What can you learn by just walking around the various resorts? What can happen if you just ask a simple question or are observant while out and about in the various Resorts? Lots actually, if you want to take the time to look and see what each resort has to offer.

Granted, just because these experiences have happened to our family or individual members of our family, there is no guarantee that something similar will happen to you. For this multi- part series of articles, I want to share with you some things that still take place today as well as experiences that we have enjoyed that no longer are offered or take place. Others were just something that happened spur of the moment, and no amount of planning could make it happen again.

We have stayed at every resort level within property except for the Villas—it is still on our bucket list to stay in one. Each and every time we have stayed but not played, we have found so much to not only entertain us but to educate us as well. 

Every lobby on Disney property has a waiting area with a television that shows a continuous loop of Disney cartoons. The area in front of the television has a comfortable seating area. The couches or places to lounge are indeed comfy, and one can pass several hours in comfort resting or just people watching.

There are tables set up with pint sized chairs that offer smaller guests or guests who are children at heart the opportunity to practice “staying within the lines” as you color a page that has a favorite Disney character or scene from a Disney movie on it. Each lobby is set up differently, with a place for lounging or relaxing as you wait for the dreaded Magical Express or just to pass some time. It is like sitting in a different room within your house to watch some television or color.

In the Value resorts, the themes alone can keep us occupied for days.

Here are a few pictures of us just having fun:
My husband and I were talking about a new vehicle to purchase....I think my husband found his new “ride.”

We have had a blast exploring and playing in the All Star resorts. We have played a game of Twister with other park guests. We have had fun being the human ball while playing Foozball on the giant game table on the lawn.

We have gotten wet while splashing in the fountains near Goofy and his Surfboard.

We were surprised when we found ourselves getting wet taking pictures of Herbie the Love Bug at All Star Movies (he loves to squirt water from his windshield wipers on unsuspecting guests). 

We were part of the cheering crowds watching a group of young men, who appeared to be about college aged, played a rousing game of flag-football on the football field at All Star Sports. We listened to some high school band members practicing on the lawn at All Star Music. 

While at Pop Century, my girls enjoyed learning a new cheer or two as several cheerleaders were practicing their routines during the cheer leading competitions. The cheerleaders even took a few moments out to teach my girls a cheer. Such fun. 

Before Art of Animation was built, we enjoyed a leisurely walk around Hourglass Lake, taking in the various trends or accomplishments for each year within a specific decade. We almost always paused along the walk to snap a picture of a year that held special significance for us. 

The lobby of Pop Century is a true history lesson. We spent many hours truly looking at the displays and talking about what the objects were, how they have been either updated or forgotten over the years. The girls never got tired of asking their Dad or I “did you use to do that, use that, wear that” and listening to their responses when we said YES! 

AND, you can now take a tour of the "Shadow Boxes" at Pop Century!

With the addition of Art of Animation, the bridge connecting Pop Century with Art of Animation is now open. We have enjoyed walking over this bridge several times. 

In keeping with the theme from Pop Century, as you walk around Hourglass Lake on the Art of Animation side, you can find signs with Pixar Movie trivia. The trivia corresponds with the section of the resort you are in ---Cars, Finding Nemo, Little Mermaid or Lion King. It was always fun to take the time to learn something new about these movies. 

Have you truly looked at the artwork within the lobby of Art of Animation? The conceptual designs are fun, and to see where the Animators got their ideas is also interesting. 

We had the opportunity once to speak with an Animator. The girls spent about 15 minutes asking her questions and learning what it takes to be an animator. We even spent some time talking with one of the people who does the caricatures in the lobby.

Taking a walk from the main lobby of Art of Animation to the various sections of the resort, especially going as far as the Little Mermaid section, can be fun and entertaining as well. So much to see and experience. The walkway changes and the scenery as well to keep up with the backdrop or theme for the movie. So much to explore and take a look at. 

Every gift shop has a “trivia board” with questions of the day. Taking the time to read these questions or silly puns is not only fun, but can be an educational experience as well. I remember two question my girls laughed and laughed over...”What does Ariel use on her toast in the morning?”......”Mermalade of course!” OK......”How many tickles does it take to make Ursula laugh? ….........”Why 10 tickles (tentacles) of course!”

If you have younger children who enjoy swimming, the pools are fun. Sadly, there are no slides for the pools in a Value resort, but there are still lots of fountains that will spray you as you swim along. The pool staff also has fun games with silly prizes that you and your children can participate in. Anyone up for a water balloon toss?

While the Value resorts do not have a table service restaurant associated with them, you can still find lots of interesting food to eat that is much more than just chicken nuggets, hot dogs, pizza and hamburgers. Art of Animation has some amazing sausages and their monk fish for dinner is moist and very delicious.

And finally, as always, you can be on the lookout for Hidden (and not so hidden) Mickey's!


1 comment:

  1. what great tips...will be bringing this on my next november trip when we have a day planned with no parks!


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