25 Best Hidden Gems At Disney World (2024)

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Want to know all the best hidden gems at Disney World? We’ve got you covered with everything you need to know!

As someone who spent their entire childhood vacationing at Disney World, spent their college years working at Disney World, and now has several family members working at Disney World, I know a thing or two about the hidden gems at Disney World.

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Best Hidden Gems At Disney World

There are so many Disney influencers and bloggers that show you all the best viral things to do at Disney World.

But I personally enjoy the quieter, secret spots that haven’t been overrun with guests yet.

Most of this list consists of activities that have been around for years and regular visitors may have already heard about or experienced, but the average Disney visitor has no idea about.

Did you know on any given day 75% of visitors in Magic Kingdom are there on their first (and possibly only) visit?

So with that being said, here are our favorite hidden gems at Disney World that most guests miss.

1. Movies Under The Stars At Disney Resort Hotels

One of the perks of staying on property is the resort activities that are available every single day.

When you check in, you’ll receive the activities schedule for your visit.

Most resorts have a set movie schedule for each month, though sometimes it may change weekly.

Some of the resorts do movie nights out at the pool, while others are on a lawn.

They’ll have towels to lay on if you’re on the lawn, or you can always bring your own.

While it’s usually a little pricier to stay at the Disney hotels, there are so many built in perks that you’ll get your money’s worth.

Read our Guide To Planning An Affordable Trip to make sure you get the most bang for your buck on your Disney vacation.

movies under the stars at Disney World

2. Roasting Marshmallows At Disney Resort Hotels

Usually before the movie starts, they’ll have a campfire set up where you can roast marshmallows.

The resort activities team is there to help you every step of the way.

You can even upgrade to a s’mores kit for a small fee.

3. Campfire Program At Fort Wilderness

The campfire program at Fort Wilderness was always one of my favorite parts of any Disney trip.

If you’ve stayed at the other resorts, but not this one, then this is really one of the best hidden gems at Disney World.

It’s similar to the marshmallow roasting and movie night like the other resorts, but this one also includes live entertainment and Disney sing alongs.

There’s also bench seating like in an outdoor amphitheater, so it’s a much bigger production than at the other Disney resorts.

4. Catch And Release Fishing Excursions

On Bay Lake, you can charter a fishing boat for day time fishing excursions.

These are guided, catch and release bass fishing trips.

So much is included with these like the rod, reel, tackle, live bait, and Coca Cola drinks.

You’re free to bring your own drinks and own alcohol if you’re 21+.

These can be booked at the resorts along Bay Lake and Seven Seas Lagoon, as well as at Caribbean Beach, Old Key West, Port Orleans, and Yacht Club.

If you want to go fishing solo, they offer excursions at a reduced rate.

Check out some other fun ways to enjoy the boats around Magic Kingdom in our other blog post.

fishing boats at Disney World

5. Cultural Immersion Activities At Animal Kingdom Lodge

Animal Kingdom Lodge is my all-time favorite hotel to plan a resort day.

They have all kinds of activities where you earn beads that will ultimately create a necklace.

You can play Bingo, decorate cookies, and do other arts and crafts at certain times throughout the day.

All of these activities are hosted by cultural representatives from a variety of countries around Africa.

The last cookie was decorated to look like the old Dinoland costumes that were multi-colored.

6. See Savanna Animals At Animal Kingdom Lodge

Another great activity you can do at Animal Kingdom Lodge is see the savanna animals right outside the lobby.

Plus at night time, you can use night vision goggles to see the animals too.

This is available not only at the main lodge building, but also on the Disney Vacation Club side – Kidani Village.

savanna animals at Animal Kingdom Lodge

7. Horseback Riding At Fort Wilderness

Another great leisure activity is horseback riding at Fort Wilderness.

I’ve gone many times and every time I get Cooper!

A guide will take your group out and around the campgrounds, then back to the ranch.

horseback riding at Disney World

8. Authentic African And Indian Dining At Sanaa

Back before social media was as big as it is now, this truly was a hidden gem at Disney World.

It was always available with no reservation and cast members received a 40% off discount for lunch, so we frequented this place a lot.

Sanaa at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge

Now it’s much more well known and you’ll almost always need an advance reservation.

Here at Sanaa, you’ll get to try authentic African and Indian flavors.

I recommend starting off with one of their loose leaf teas.

You can choose from Organic Rooibos, Vanilla Rooibos, Thunderbolt Darjeeling, Herbal Spice Chai, or Organic Assam.

african tea from Sanaa at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge

Their signature dish is the Indian Style Bread Service.

It comes with 5 different naan breads and 9 accompanying dips.

Five Breads – Traditional Naan, Garlic-Ginger Naan, Spiced Naan, Onion Kulcha, or Paneer Paratha.

sample of naan breads and accompaniments from Sanaa at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge

Accompaniments – Cucumber Raita, Roasted Red Pepper Hummus, Mango Chutney, Tomato-Date Jam, Tamarind Chutney, Coriander Chutney, Garlic Pickle, Red Chile Sambal, or Spicy Jalapeño-Lime Pickle

For entrees, my personal favorite is another sampler where you can try their butter chicken and braised beef with a side of basmati rice.

Butter Chicken, Braised Beef, and Basmati Rice sampler at Sanaa at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge

Last but not least, you’ll want to finish off this amazing meal with an equally amazing dessert.

The dessert pictured on the left below is from the 50th anniversary celebration, but their current selections include things like Serradura which is Butterscotch Pudding, Almond Coffee Streusel, Pineapple, Mango, and Breton Shortbread.

This one is pictured on the right.

dessert selection Sanaa at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge

9. Wine Tasting In Epcot

There are a few ways to go about this.

For one, you can visit Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar in the Italy Pavilion and enjoy one of 4 Italian wine flights.

Another option is the Wine Walk.

With this, you can visit France, Germany, and Italy while sampling six two-ounce wine pours.

It’s a $32 wine tasting pass you can purchase at either Weinkeller (Germany), Enoteca Castello (Italy), or Aux Vins De France (France), then sample any 6 wines of your choosing off of their menus.

As part of this price, you’ll get to keep 2 re-usable acrylic wine glasses.

10. Behind The Seeds Tour

When you ride Living With The Land at Epcot, you’ll see and hear about the Behind the Seeds Tour.

This is a special, one hour behind the scenes look at the greenhouses in The Land pavilion.

It’s only $35 per person and you can book it in advance of your visit.

11. Carriage Rides At Port Orleans

Whether you’re at Riverside or the French Quarter, you can enjoy a leisurely carriage tour of the two resorts.

They happen just before sunset and into the evening so it’s not quite as hot.

You’ll get to ride along the water admiring the views and architecture around the resorts.

Carriage Rides at Port Orleans Riverside

12. Yehaa Bob Jackson At River Roost Lounge

Most nights at the River Roost Lounge at Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside resort, you can enjoy fun entertainment from Yehaa Bob.

He plays 2 back to back sets lasting about an hour and a half each.

Audience participation is highly encouraged and the entire thing is family friendly.

The earlier show in particular ensures that the kids get all their energy out before going to bed.

Bob Jackson at River Roost Lounge at Port Orleans Riverside

13. Free Boardwalk History Tour

You’ll have to check the activities board or ask at check-in, but the Boardwalk resort has been known to give their guests free tours of the Boardwalk.

They share what each building is meant to represent as well as all the decor in the lobby and where it all came from.

14. Sand Bottom Pool At The Yacht & Beach Club Resorts

Just across from the Boardwalk is the Yacht & Beach Club resorts.

This pool is highly coveted by Disney guests.

Not only does it have a sand bottom, but there’s also a life-size shipwreck slide, lazy river, and several hot tubs.

While this pool makes for the perfect rest day in-between visiting all of the parks, Florida is known for it’s frequent “inclement weather”, especially during hurricane season.

So you’ll always want to be come prepared.

Read our Tips For Staying Safe When Traveling During Extreme Weather to make the most of your Disney vacation if you get rained out.

15. Free Celebration Buttons

Most retail locations carry a variety of celebration buttons at all times that you can get for free!

They have buttons for birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, generic celebrations, and more.

What we love to do with these is to have the cultural representatives at Epcot write them out for various celebrations.

For example, for my 16th birthday, I got a few birthday buttons and had them write “happy sweet 16” in Arabic in Morocco, Chinese in China, and Japanese in Japan.

16. Disney Trivia At Disney Retail Locations

Especially at the resort hotels, you’ll find Disney trivia whenever you walk into a gift shop.

They usually have a board set up with a variety of Disney trivia questions and if you can answer them all you’ll get a sticker or another sort of trinket they have available.

Each place has different trivia questions and they change them up regularly.

Disney Trivia Board

17. Daily Pool Parties at Resort Pools

The main pool at each Disney resort has it’s own dedicated children’s and resorts activities that always have something fun planned.

When you check in, they’ll give you an activity schedule for your stay so you’ll be able to make plans around the activities you want to do.

One of our personal favorites is Disney trivia at the pool.

You can play in teams and the winning team gets to pick a prize.

Some other activities include dance parties.

Back in the day this used to include everybody knowing every move in the Hoedown Throwdown from Hannah Montana and We’re All In This Together from High School Musical.

18. Kayaking At Fort Wilderness

One of the lesser known activities at Fort Wilderness is that you can rent kayaks and canoes and take them out on the waterways throughout the resort.

These waters do have alligators in them, so you’ll want to stay aware of your surroundings, though they’re *usually* not more than a few feet long.

I recommend doing this as a group activity, not a solo activity.

19. Fireworks Cruise On Bay Lake

Watch the Magic Kingdom fireworks on your own boat from Bay Lake.

Boats can accommodate up to 10 guests and snacks and drinks are provided.

You can even ask for some festive decoration that is also included in the cost.

They also offer these fireworks cruises at Epcot.

20. Electrical Water Pageant On Bay Lake

This is a night time water parade that takes place across Bay Lake and Seven Seas Lagoon.

You can see it from the shores of any of the resorts in that area.

Most of the time, it runs between 8:20 pm and 10:30 pm, but that can change seasonally.

It’s about a 15 minute long experience that is sort of like a call back to the Main Street Electrical Parade era of Disney entertainment.

21. The Bathrooms Behind Journey Into Imagination With Figment

Disney bathrooms are a pretty big deal if you frequent the parks enough.

There are some that are much more popular than others, and others that regulars know to avoid.

The bathrooms behind Figment are large, away from all the crowds, and never have any lines.

There are a few benches right outside in the shade, so it’s a great place to get a little bit of peace and quiet during your day at Epcot.

Though no one plans to get sick when they travel, it’s good to know for emergencies where you should go.

Read our Tips For Staying Well While You Travel to make sure you’re prepared for your Disney vacation.

22. Phone Charging Stations At Rapunzel’s Tower In Fantasyland

Hidden in the tree stumps of this area are phone charging stations.

There are benches and tables to sit at just under Rapunzel’s Tower in Fantasyland if you need a break and to re-charge any devices.

Disney also offers Fuelrods which are $30 portable phone charging banks that you can rent out if that fits your needs better.

Rapunzel's Tower in Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom

23. Dining Upstairs At Columbia Harbour House

The Columbia Harbour House in Magic Kingdom is a popular quick service dining spot for New England inspired foods.

Whenever I eat here, I always immediately go upstairs to find a table which is much quieter and you get views looking out over Liberty Square.

24. Treasure Hunt In Adventureland

The Treasures of the Seven Seas pirate adventure in Adventureland in an interactive and immersive treasure hunt.

There are 5 missions in total and you can do however many you want.

Each one takes about 20 minutes or so, but you can take as long as you’d like doing each one.

When you complete each mission, you’ll collect a special treasure finder card.

If you collect all 6, you’ll receive an exclusive 6th card signed by Jack Sparrow.

And it’s completely free!

25. On Property Resort Exclusively For Military Members

By far, the best deal you can get on property is staying at Shades of Green (and purchasing your park tickets here).

It sits back just behind the Polynesian resort and pricing is based off of your military rank and usually is priced similarly to the value and moderate resorts.

You can see some of the Magic Kingdom fireworks from the pool and hot tubs.

You must be an active or retired military member or spouse to book a stay here and you need a military ID to get on the property.

Military members can bring any guests they’d like with them though!

More Fun Destinations In Florida To Visit

While a Disney World vacation is my idea of a perfect trip, there are plenty of other places to explore around Florida too.

You can pair these destinations with your Disney trip by adding a 1-2 day road trip or plan an entirely Disney free trip to Florida.

But either way, these are our favorite places in Florida to visit.

☀️ Kennedy Space Center

The Kennedy Space Center is only about an hour away from Disney World over on the Cape Canaveral coast.

It has indoor and outdoor interactive exhibits and tours of the launch pods, past space shuttles, and future technology.

You can even dine with an astronaut!

Kennedy Space Center rockets

☀️ St. Augustine

St. Augustine is just 2 hours north of Disney World.

It’s close enough to make a day trip there during your Disney vacation or spend one night away from the resort.

St. Augustine’s claim to fame is that it’s the oldest continuously occupied European settlement in the US and you can tell by the historic architecture still standing throughout town.

The Best of Florida in 9 Days - Part III - St Augustine

☀️ Florida Road Trips

Florida is the perfect state for road trips.

You can make a full loop around Florida or drive down the coastline.

Either way, you’ll get to experience a variety of historic destinations, popular tourist attractions, and some of the best beaches in the world.

I highly recommend our Ultimate One Week Florida Road Trip Itinerary which circles the entire state.

If you’re feeling a little less ambitious or don’t have quite as much time to explore all of Florida, consider making a road trip along Florida’s A1A.

You can even make a road trip just through the Treasure Coast if you’re looking to stay in one area.

sunset from Mallory Square in Key West

☀️ Florida’s National Parks

Did you know Florida is home to 3 different National Parks?

First there’s Biscayne National Park, just outside of Miami.

The entire park is underwater and you can book half day sailing or boating excursions that include activities like snorkeling, stand up paddleboarding, kayaking, and a picnic lunch on one of the keys.

Biscayne National Park in Florida

Then there’s the Everglades National Park across the southern part of the state.

This is another park that is made up of a lot of water, mostly swamp and marsh lands.

You can take an airboat ride around the park, hike along some boardwalk trails, and look for gators, snakes, birds, and more.

Everglades National Park airboat ride

Lastly, there’s the Dry Tortugas National Park, which is out around Key West.

You have to take a boat or seaplane to get to it, so we’ve actually never been yet.

But we have been to Key West a couple of times now and have the perfect Key West Day Trip Itinerary for first time visitors or those looking to experience more of the tourist attractions.

Southernmost Point buoy in Key West

Conclusion: Hidden Gems At Disney World

These hidden gems at Disney World make the magic of a Disney vacation just a little more special.

It goes beyond just riding the rides at all the parks and meeting all the characters.

There are so many things to do here that it would be nearly impossible to do it all even if you live here.

For tips on planning your Disney World vacation, be sure to read our post on Tips For Planning A Trip To Anywhere (A Step-By-Step Guide) and check out our favorite resource for ride share FAQs around Disney World.