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Vacationing at Walt Disney World without going to a theme park?!

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Vacationing at Walt Disney World without going to a theme park?!

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Here's an idea that - I know - will shock you theme park fans out there. But there are people (lots and lots of people, I might add) who actually go to Disney World to relax.

Seriously, these are the folks who look at the Walt Disney World Resort and don't just see theme parks. They see 24 different resorts, each with their own signature restaurants, pools and amenities. Not to mention 5 world-class golf courses as well as a wide variety of on-site retail and entertainment opportunity.

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

Now factor in the convenience of Orlando International Airport and you then begin to see why there are people out there who think of WDW as their perfect get-away spot. Not because they're anxious to experience the high-speed thrills of GM Test Track. But rather because they're looking forward to dozing in a hammock along the shores of Seven Seas Lagoon at Disney's Polynesian Resort.

"I know that this may seem counter-intuitive. There are a lot of people who'll book a 3-bedroom villa at someplace like Disney's Old Key West Resort not because they're planning on hitting the parks. But because these folks were looking for a fun place to stage a family reunion or because they were looking to do something different for the next holiday gathering," said Lisa Griswold of Pixie Vacations.

Take -, for example, - those families who have made a tradition out of staying at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa every year during the 2nd week of November, just so that they can then stay up all night and watch as this WDW hotel is transformed for the holidays.  A talented group of artisans erect the Grand Flo's 40 foot-tall Christmas tree which is festooned with 45,000 lights.

Photo by Diana Zalucky. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

"There's also this dedicated group of campers who always make a point of booking campsites at Disney's Fort Wilderness in October and December, " said Lisa Griswold. "They can then see how the other campers have decorated their sites for Halloween and Christmas."

In a lot of ways, the Campsites at Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort are the perfect place to go if you'd like to try a theme-park-free vacation. Here amid 750 acres of pine and cypress trees, you can start your day off with a brisk run along Fort Wilderness' 2.3 mile-long exercise trail and then spend your afternoon lounging by the pool at the Meadow Swimmin' Hole.  Once night falls, you and the family can either take part in Chip'n Dale's Campfire Sing-a-Long or head down to Bay Lake where you can all enjoy Movies Under the Stars.

"If you're looking to do something a bit more exciting during your stay at Walt Disney World, you can easily have an adventure without going into a theme park. You can rent a Sea Raycer and go bombing around Bay Lake. Or, better yet, go parasailing and get an unparalleled view of the Resort," Lisa continued.

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

Mind you, if the whole reason that you and the family went on vacation was because you were looking to slow things down for a while, you can book a guided morning excursion where a Disney cast member will then point out some of the flora & fauna that can be found along the shores of Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake. Or if  fishing's more your style, you can sign up for one of the two hour-long fishing excursions that the ESPN Wide World of Sports regularly runs around the Resort.

"That's what a lot of people seem to forget about why Walt Disney decided to build this resort in  Central Florida. He was hoping that people would really appreciate this environment, enjoy the natural beauty that always surrounds them here," Lisa said. "Of course, when you're constantly moving from your hotel room to the monorail to a theme park and then back again, it's sometimes easy to overlook WDW's white sandy beaches or the tall cypress trees."

Of course, the problem with trying to book a theme-park-free Disney World vacation is that you're still in competition with all of those other would-be WDW visitors when it comes to booking on-property rooms. This is why it always helps to plan ahead.

This life-size edible carousel is a holiday tradition at Disney's Beavh Club Resort.
Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

"That's especially true if you're looking to do something special with your family around the holiday season. The room rates on-property go up. Likewise lunch and dinner reservations are harder to come by," Lisa stated. "Which is why, if you're thinking of surprising the family with a Christmas-time trip to Walt Disney World, it'd probably be best if you started planning things a year or more ahead. That way, you will have a better chance at booking the room you want at the resort you want, when you want it. Plus securing your dining reservations at 180 days out then gets a whole lot easier."

So please keep this in mind if you've ever thought about visiting the WDW Resort during the month of December just so that you can then see all of the holiday decorations. Not to mention checking out some of the hotels' Gingerbread villages.  Or, better yet, if you've ever dreamed of dozing in a hammock down along the shores of Seven Seas Lagoon.

Today's JHM article was sponsored by Pixie Vacations, a no-cost travel agency that specializes in helping guests with Disney Vacations. If you'd like to learn more about the fun that can be found right outside of Walt Disney World's theme parks, please click on this link. And the nice folks at Pixie Vacations can then help make you aware of Disney World's other wonders.

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  • I stayed in the Yacht Club Hotel recently and, sure it's good to relax. They have everything you need and more, but I just couldn't avoid the theme parks knowing they are right on my doorstep. That said, there is so much more Florida can offer on a holiday than just theme parks. Miami, the Keys and the Everglades are just as awesome.

  • WDW is a marvelous place, but its in a middle of a swamp. If it isn't for the horrid weather, I might want to visit for the resorts alone, but this isn't so.

  • A couple years back we spent 6 nights at the Animal Kingdom Lodge with no visits to the theme or water parks.

    We did make a couple visits to Downtown Disney and a other Disney Resorts for meals.

    It was awesome!!  The pools, lounges and other good stuff was more than enough for a relaxing, fantastic vacation.

  • We haven't done an Orlando trip yet with NO theme parks.  But we've stayed at Disney (campground and DVC) and only gone to Universal and Sea World parks - no Disney ones.  I didn't even feel like a traitor.

    Our best trips always have park-free days to just relax and enjoy.  It's a vacation, after all, with no bonus points for playing Orlando Commando.  I like all the other stuff to do!

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