Family

Disney World’s Top 7 Surprises

Filed Under: Family, Orlando

There's more to Orlando's Walt Disney World than theme parks and resort pools. While everyone rides It's a Small World and Space Mountain, there's a whole roster of activities that has nothing to do with long lines, FastPasses or parade times. Check out these top 7 things you never knew you could do at Walt Disney World.

Exotic Driving Experience
Get behind the wheel of one of the world's most expensive cars in this new, adrenaline-charged experience at the Walt Disney World Speedway. Guests can ride-along or drive themselves in one of 5 high-performance machines: a Porsche 977S, an Audi R8, a Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4, a Lamborghini Gallardo LP570-4 Superleggera or a Ferrari 458 Italia -- a supercar valued at more than $280,000.

Experience a ride-along around the special-built track for 2 laps. Or go for an instructional session followed by a 6-lap driving experience, complete with a professional driving instructor in the seat next to you. A video of your performance and a photo of you with your car are available for purchase following the experience.
Segway Tour of Epcot
Zip through the 11 countries of the World Showcase atop a Segway in the Around the World at Epcot tour. Guests will first acclimate themselves to the gyrating, rotating, yet ultimately organic mode of transport during an indoor training session. Once everyone is comfortable with their high-tech chariots, it's time to head out into the World Showcase Promenade for the remainder of the 2-hour tour.

The group is led by expert Segway pilots who guide participants into and through each World Showcase pavilion. Guests must be 16 years or older and weigh between 100 and 250 pounds. The tour takes place before the World Showcase opens, giving the group an unfettered and wide-open view of the fantastic details that make up this theme park. Pro tip: Watch out for the column bases in Italy -- they're wider than they look.
Guided Fishing Excursions
The placid, glass-like surface of Bay Lake explodes into churning, splashing foam as a largemouth bass dances across the top of the water. The rod dips, the drag sings and there isn't a churro or Mickey Mouse balloon in sight. Wet a line in one of Walt Disney World's many lakes, canals and waterways and you may just land a renowned Florida lunker during a guided fishing excursion.

A healthy and carefully managed fishery has resulted in world-class angling in the shadow of Cinderella Castle. Excursions leave from several resort marinas, including the Grand Floridian, Contemporary, Saratoga Springs, the Boardwalk Inn and Downtown Disney. Book anywhere from a 2-hour excursion to a 4-hour trip. All fishing equipment, bait and cold drinks are provided. Reservations are required.
Parasailing Over Bay Lake
Hook into a multicolored, billowing parachute, let go and make like Tinker Bell. Tethered to a boat cutting back and forth across Bay Lake behind the Contemporary Resort, guests are unreeled into the sky high above Walt Disney World. The hum of the motorboat starts to fade away until it's just you, the blue sky and an unmatched view of the entire property.

Taking flight over the resort provides unmatched sightlines of all 4 theme parks, Downtown Disney and straight into downtown Orlando. You'll know you've reached cruising altitude when the birds are circling below you. Choose from among a single flight or tandem flights.
Indulge in a Spa Treatment
There isn't a better way to rejuvenate after a long day at the theme parks than by taking advantage of Walt Disney World's top-notch spa treatments. Full-service spas at Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa and the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin resort hotel provide much-needed pampering for tired guests.

The spa at Saratoga Springs Resort offers massage treatments, a beauty boutique and access to a health club in surroundings designed to whisk visitors to the picturesque upstate New York racing community. Mandara Spa at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin boasts Balinese tranquility while providing massage, spa and hair and nail salon services. Ask about Mandara's special teen-focused offerings and bring the family.
Scuba Dive at Epcot
Epcot DiveQuest plunges guests into the 5.7 million-gallon saltwater tank at the park's The Seas With Nemo & Friends Pavilion. Scuba-certified guests can sign up for a 3-hour experience that puts them among sea turtles, dolphins and even sharks.

Crystal-clear waters, absolutely no currents and a look at the adjoining Coral Reef Restaurant from the other side of the glass makes this adventure a memorable way to spend the day at Epcot. A tour, instruction and 40 minutes underwater are available for anyone ages 10 and up.
Learn to Surf
Hang ten at Disney's Typhoon Lagoon water park. Guests can catch a wave in the park's 2.75 million- gallon wave pool, guided by the pros from the Cocoa Beach Surf School before regular park hours. Three- to 6-foot waves come crashing in every 90 seconds, giving guests a chance to jump up on their board and carve some whitewater.

The 2-hour session includes the expertise of 2 instructors, use of a soft-side surfboard, 30 minutes of dry-land instruction and 2 hours of surfing in the water.

About the Author

Bill Burke is an award-winning humor columnist and writer with 20 years experience in the newspaper and magazine industry. He is the author of Mousejunkies (Travelers' Tales 2009) and Mousejunkies: Second Edition (Travelers' Tales 2011) --a humorous look at Walt Disney World addiction.

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