Discover the undiscovered at Walt Disney World: 17 experiences you didn’t know about

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Walt Disney World: Take a spin on a Segway Personal Transporter
Walt Disney World: Take a spin on a Segway Personal Transporter

High-flying elephants and spinning teacups usually take center stage when a guest is thinking of Walt Disney World. But did you know that 9-pound lemons flourish at The Land pavilion at Epcot, or that safaris explore Africa-inspired savannas in the middle of Florida? Guests who take a second – or third – glance will come across countless undiscovered gems within the 40-square-mile Vacation Kingdom. Here’s a sample of “the unexpected” (prices subject to change):

  • Embark on a Wild Africa Trek – Guests wanting to venture off the beaten path at Disney’s Animal Kingdom have the chance during a new, immersive, add-on experience, Wild Africa Trek, that takes a small group of adventurers on personalized, guided excursions that include a bushwalk through unexplored areas of the forest along with over-landing in customized vehicles across an animal-filled savanna. On these expert-led treks, extended time is spent observing and learning about the wildlife. Reservations for Wild Africa Trek (ages 8 and up) can be arranged by calling 407/939-8687. The experience starts at $189 per person. More information: Disneyworld.com/disneyafricatrek.
  • Find treasure at The Pirates League at Magic Kingdom – This buccaneer experience in Adventureland features makeovers that turn guests ages 3 and up into savvy swashbucklers. Guests who want to join Captain Jack’s motley crew will receive a pirate identity, be transformed into a pirate by a sea-sailing Pirate Master and gain access to a secret treasure room. Packages include a sword and sheath, earring and eye patch, temporary tattoo, exclusive pirate coin necklace and a personalized pirate oath. Packages are $29.95 plus tax (407/WDW-CREW). Pictures and costumes are also available for an additional charge.
  • Take a spin on a Segway Personal Transporter-The Segway PT, originally the “Human Transporter” first displayed to the public at Epcot Innoventions in 2002, is the world’s first self-balancing personal transporter that uses advanced technology, gyroscopes and tilt sensors to emulate human balance. Guests can put these high-tech machines to the test in two tours offered most days at Epcot and also at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground.
    • Around the World at Epcot is a two-hour tour that allows guests to operate the device throughout World Showcase before the area opens to park guests ($105.44/person including tax; tours are daily at 7:45, 8:30,
      9 and 9:30 a.m.).
    • The Wilderness Back Trail Adventure at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort is a two-hour beginner’s tour that allows guests to experience the outdoors first-hand on a Segway X2 Personal Transporter. The program also includes a product overview and training ($95.85/person including tax; tours are daily, 8:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.).
  • Harmony Barber Shop a cut above the rest – Sit back in the barber’s chair and experience a good old-fashioned haircut at Harmony Barber Shop on Main Street, U.S.A. in Magic Kingdom. Located near the Emporium and with a signature candy-striped pole outside, the shop transports guests to a simpler time when barbershop quartets entertained and getting a haircut was a real treat. Haircuts are $15 for children age 12 and under; $19 for adults; first-come, first-serve. ”First Haircuts,” the establishment’s specialty, treats young’uns to pixie dust, bubbles, Mickey Mouse stickers and an extra-special “My 1st Haircut” set of Mouse Ears; price is $18.
  • Everybody’s Gone Surfin’ at Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon– Adventurous guests can catch a wave and feel like they’re sitting on top of the world at Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon water park. Its 2.75-million-gallon wave pool provides consistent waves every 90 seconds that can range from three to six feet high — and no sharks! Cocoa Beach Surf School invites guests to learn from professional surfers how to cut, carve and “hang 10.” The program is available by reservation for $150 on selected mornings prior to regular park hours. Guests may call 407/WDW-PLAY (939-7529) for more information.
  • Make a Splash with Watercraft Rentals – Walt Disney World Resort offers a fleet of motorized and non-motorized watercrafts for vacationers looking to make a splash around Vacation Kingdom. Sea Raycers by Sea Ray® boats ($30.08/30mins, $42.60/45 mins., $47.93/60 mins.), Boston Whaler Montauk boats ($47.93/30 mins.), sail boats ($21.30/60 mins.) kayaks ($11.72/60 mins.) and canoes ($6.93/30mins.) are just a few of the available options for rent at various Walt Disney World Resort hotels.
  • Take a High-Speed Chase Around Walt Disney World Speedway – Race fans and adventure seekers can enjoy the ultimate thrill of riding in or driving a racecar around the one-mile tri-oval speedway. The Richard Petty Driving Experience takes motorsports fans out of the grandstands and behind the wheel of a stock car, offering several ride and drive programs to race enthusiasts, thrill seekers and corporate groups. Three driving experiences and a ride-along program are offered at the Walt Disney World Speedway location:
    • Rookie Experience: A 3-hour program that includes eight laps of driving thrills. Cost is $478.19.
    • King’s Experience: Features 16 laps of driving divided into two 8-lap sessions. Cost is $904.19.
    • Experience of a Lifetime: Participants work on establishing a comfortable driving line and building speed in a series of three 10-lap sessions. Cost is $1,383.44.
    • Ride-Along Program: A 3-lap thrill ride as a passenger at a top speed of 145 mph. Cost is $105.44.
  • Sunset Safari at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge offers up-close encounters with exotic creatures – Guests staying at the lodge can enter a serene animal reserve for an up-close encounter on the Wanyama Safari. Just before sunset seven nights a week, guests board a specially designed vehicle that explores the resort’s three savannas. Guests get picture-perfect views of more than 200 mammals and exotic birds and then partake in a savory South African feast at the resort’s signature restaurant, Jiko-The Cooking Place. The 3 ½-hour experience, including dinner, is $170. For reservations at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, call 407/W-DISNEY.
  • A Fisherman’s Dream Come True– Even sport fishermen’s dreams really do come true at Walt Disney World Resort, where trophy-sized largemouth bass in the 14-pound range sometimes lurk in lakes and canals almost within casting distance of Cinderella Castle. But this fish story gets even better: “Wannabe” sports fishermen’s dreams also come true. On BASS fishing excursions led by expert guides, guests with lots of experience — or with little or no fishing experience — can enjoy the exhilarating thrill of a feisty largemouth “striking.” The two-hour catch-and-release excursions are for a party of up to five people and are on a boat stocked for the excursion with Bassmaster rods and reels and other fishing gear, cold drinks, and a camera to prove you’re not telling “fish stories.” All guests receive a one-year membership to BASS, the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society, and other benefits. The 2-hour excursion is $235-$270 and the 4-hour excursion is $455, both can accommodate up to 5 guests. Additional information and reservations are available by calling 407/WDW-PLAY (939-7529)
  • Parasail Around the ‘Kingdom’ –The sky is the limit when guests take a parasailing adventure high above Bay Lake. Single and tandem fliers can have a bird’s-eye view of Magic Kingdom at altitudes nearing 600 feet for 8 to 10 minutes. Instead of the traditional water approach, the uniquely designed boat enables a “dry” take-off and landing from the back of the boat. The cost for a single sailor is $95 – $130, tandem is $170- $195. For “flight” times guests may call 407/939-0754.
  • You’ll Feel at Home on the Range! – Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground invites adventuring “trail” seekers to discover the beauty of Bay Lake Beach, relax on horse-drawn carriage rides, tell tales and catch all at fishing spots, explore running and biking trails, and much more. Take the reins for a 45-minute Horseback Trail Ride ($46) through the natural wonders of the resort and you’ll feel right at home on the range!
  • The Land at Epcot mixes science and entertainment to grow one-of-a-kind plants – Behind the brightly colored, mosaic façade of The Land pavilion at Epcot sits offices where greenhouse magic takes place. “Horti-tainment,” a mix of horticulture and entertainment, creates some of the most visually interesting fruits and vegetables found under one roof anywhere in the world. Among the highlights: a world-record harvest from a single tomato vine (see below); Mickey Mouse-shaped cucumbers, watermelons and pumpkins; 9-pound lemons, and more.
  • ‘Tomato Tree’ sets record with 32,000 tomatoes – The Tomato Tree at The Land pavilion at Epcot has blossomed into a record-setting plant. The tree was recognized as an official Guinness World Record Holder, with a one-year harvest of more than 32,000 tomatoes and a total weight of 1,151 pounds. Guests can spot the tree during the pavilion’s Living with the Land boat ride.
  • Take the ultimate dive in a 6-million-gallon indoor aquarium with more than 65 species of marine life, including sharks, turtles, eagle rays and diverse tropical fish. DiveQuest at Epcot offers guaranteed calm seas, no current, unlimited visibility, incredible marine life and bright coral structures. Additionally, you become part of the show. Your family members and friends (with Epcot admission) can view your dive through any of the 56 giant acrylic windows at The Seas with Nemo & Friends. Guest must be at least 10 years of age and must provide proof of SCUBA certification to participate. Price of $186/person (not including tax) includes a limited edition T-shirt, refreshments, dive certificate and a dive log stamp. Call 407/WDW-TOUR for information.
  • Build your own roller coaster at the DisneyQuest CyberSpace Mountain attraction – Bill Nye the Coaster Guy walks guests through the design process where they choose from three different speeds, three world settings (fire, ice or outer space) and an infinite number of track combinations. The roller coaster of your dreams (or nightmares!) can do flips, corkscrews and even wild maneuvers such as a loop that flies off the tracks. A digital card tracks guests’ personal coasters and the simulator re-creates it both visually and physically. Downtown Disney guests must be 51″ to ride, 407/W-DISNEY for more information.
  • Learn to hula dance at Disney’s Polynesian Resort, where complimentary classes take place most days in the resort’s lobby. Auntie Kaui, a hula dancer and instructor with 50 years experience, leads most of the classes offered Monday through Saturday at 3:45 p.m., and Saturday mornings from 10 a.m. until noon. Weekday classes are geared toward the younger set, with leis and grass skirts aplenty, while the Saturday morning lessons encourage guests of all ages to do the hula shake. And whether guests stay for five minutes or the full two-hour Saturday classes, they’ll learn a variety of chants and dances from such tropical locales as Hawaii, Tahiti and more.
  • The Archery Experience at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground – Whether novice or expert marksman, an archery guide offers training and tips on how to hit the bulls-eye. Open to resort guests (ages 6 and up) and non-guests alike, the 90-minute experience costs $26.63 per person including tax, and includes equipment and instruction and can be booked up to 180 days in advance by calling 407/939-7529. Offered Thursday, Friday and Saturday afternoon.

For more information about Walt Disney World Resort, guests can visit www.disneyworld.com or phone 407/824-4321.

Walt Disney World: Take the ultimate dive.
Walt Disney World: Take the ultimate dive.
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SarahW
SarahW
August 25, 2012 12:47 pm

I love this site!  My family had a wonderful vacation in June to Universal thanks to all your wonderful advice in planning  and tips on touring the parks.  We definitely received the most bang for our buck!  Now we are considering next spring/summer revisiting Walt Disney World.  I love all the Walt Disney information and tips you are providing.  Keep up the good work!  This site is the “Go to site” for the best vacation advice and tips for Orlando!  Thanks for all your time spent providing all the wonderful information and insight.

About Taylor Strickland

Taylor Strickland is the Owner & Publisher at Orlando Informer, the internationally awarded independent resource for guests visiting Orlando. In this position, he leads the website's overall direction and day-to-day operations, working with a team of writers, editors, developers, and producers.