Did you know that each Disney resort comes with a whole host of children's activities that in many cases the whole family can enjoy? One of the reasons why some families are hesitant to take breaks from the parks at Disney resorts is that they think the kids will get bored, but this is not the case at all! Children's activities encompass all of the poolside activities, movie nights, trivia, crafts, smores-making, and more, and they are one of the best ways to "relax" away from the theme parks while still having fun.
Children's activities cast members can be found daily by each of the resorts' pools where they organize events like trivia, 'guess that song' and various other pool games. You might catch them hosting dance offs and even some arts and crafts activities. Many of these events can be enjoyed by the whole family, and most of them come free of charge. (The only poolside events that typically come with an added fee are the ones that require materials be purchased, like tye-dye t-shirts for instance.)
Though many guests do take advantage of poolside activities, the majority of them tend to just stumble upon them when they happen to be spending time at the pool. There is actually a set schedule for each resort however, and it's worth taking a look if you plan on having any pool days to see if any of the events interest you most. You can pick up a schedule right at the resort's front desk, and we highly recommend checking it out especially during holiday weeks as limited-time and holiday-specific events may be taking place.
All Disney resorts offer "Movies Under the Stars," nightly events where various Disney movies are shown throughout the week. The times and movie titles can also be found on that same recreation schedule seat from the front desk. These events can be a fun way to relax as a family when you've either spent the entire day at the parks or when the parks close earlier during the off-season.
You can even make this experience into a sort of "dinner and a movie" by picking up dinner from the quick service restaurant at your resort and having a picnic under the stars while watching a classic Disney film. This event is entirely free and open to guests from any Disney resort, so if you prefer a movie that's being shown at a different resort, you can always check out a different quick service restaurant and watch the movie from there. It's a fun way to explore the resorts during a more relaxing family activity than simply visiting the theme parks.
Roasted Marshmallows & Smores
Most Disney resorts host nightly marshmallows roasts, where guests of all ages are welcome to come together around a campfire for marshmallows and maybe even smores. (Graham crackers and chocolate come with a small fee, but marshmallows are free to all for roasting and toasting!) These campfire events are perfect for the cooler times of the year, when you're spending time outdoors as you should during a Disney vacation but you could also go for something warm and toasty.
Do you have professional pin-traders in training in your family? If so, you're in luck as Disney resorts are among the best places on property to get out and do some trading. Many Disney resorts have full sized pin boards, either at the front desk or in the resort's merchandise locations (and sometimes in both!) Since most guests do their pin trading at the theme parks, the resorts often have some of the best pins.
With resort-hopping being an easy process with the resorts along the Magic Kingdom monorail loop and the Epcot Area Resorts, checking out some different resorts and pin trading and interacting with the various cast members there is one of the most unique ways to break up park time.
This may sound crazy, but some of Disney's resort transportation options are truly fun! One of my favorite ways to relax with the family outside of the parks is to hop on one of the resort launches at Disney Springs. These boats that carry guess between Disney Springs and Disney's Port Orleans Resorts, Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa, and Old Key West, take a decent amount of time to get back and forth, which means they offer some serious relaxation and sightseeing. The same goes for the FriendShip boats that visit the Epcot Area Resorts and Disney's Hollywood Studios!
Another method of transportation that is always memorable is the monorail! For the longest and most 'relaxing' monorail ride, visit the Transportation and Ticket Center and go for a ride along the Epcot line. When the monorail arrives at Epcot you'll get a quick mini-tour of sorts of Future World. From there you can either hop off and enjoy the park or stay on the monorail and loop back to the Transportation and Ticket Center.
What About Children's Activity Centers?
You may be wondering why this post about children's activities did not actually mention any of the children's activities centers at the resorts. Unfortunately Disney's children activities centers (currently located at Disney's Polynesian Village Resort, Yacht & Beach Club Resorts, and Animal Kingdom Lodge) are all permanently closing this summer. While the current centers are closing (due to low-usage), Disney is imagining up different ideas for what kinds of activities will be replacing them. In the meantime, the children's activities center at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort, Camp Dolphin, will remain open if you happen to be staying there, and Kids Nite Out will continue to provide in-room babysitting services (at an additional fee) for resort guests.
Have you used Disney's Children's Activities Centers? We're excited to see what Disney comes up with to replace them, but it's still sad to see them go (especially with such adorable names like 'Simba's Cubhouse!')