Where Are People Going Instead of Disney World?

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Starla is a valued contributor to the Sampling America writing team, passionately sharing captivating narratives from adventures across the country and beyond.

According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, Disney World’s attendance is down this summer, with this year’s Independence Day weekend being one of the slowest the happiest place on earth has experienced in a decade. 

There are a couple of common guesses as to why vacationers are going elsewhere — high ticket prices and divisive state laws, for example — but “why” isn’t the question we’re answering here. It’s “where.” As in, “Where are people going instead of Disney World?” Here are 10 alternatives to a summer Disney vacation. 

National Parks

National parks
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Some families prefer hiking scenic trails over waiting in line for a rollercoaster. So, spending time in a national park like the Great Smoky Mountains or Yellowstone might prove more fun than the House of Mouse for nature-loving vacationers. 

Besides, annual trips to Disney World usually involve doing the same things, give or take a handful of new attractions every once in a while. There are 424 national park sites in the United States, offering families new sights to see every summer. 

Other Theme Parks

Other amusement parks
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While undeniably one of the most famous, Disney World isn’t the U.S.’s only theme park. Other notable examples include Universal Studios, Six Flags, Busch Gardens, and Cedar Point. Families won’t find Mickey, Minnie, and the gang at any other location, but they will find hours and hours of fun. And they’ll probably pay a few dollars less for it, too. 


Photo Credit: Canva

Theme park vacations are always a good time. But sometimes, travelers want something a little more relaxing. That’s why they might spend their summer vacation on a cruise ship instead. Cruises allow plenty of time for relaxation, and since there are usually multiple stops, adventurous cruisers can explore new destinations and cultures with minimal stress.


Beach resort
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Feet in the sand, a book in your hand, the sound of crashing waves, and maybe a fruity drink next to you — those are things beach getaways give vacationers that busy theme parks don’t. Water activities, beautiful sunsets, and plenty of downtime make beach trips appealing to families searching for nothing but R&R.

International Destinations 

International destinations
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Some choose to venture outside the country rather than moseying down to The Sunshine State. The world is full of fascinating cities to explore and cultures to experience, so it makes sense that a family would grab their passports and hop on an international flight. 

Plus, Disney Parks are international. So, while travelers might not plan on visiting WDW in Florida, they might catch up with Mickey at Disneyland in Paris, Tokyo, Shanghai, or Hong Kong.

Iconic Cities

Iconic cities
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All of the United States’ major cities — Los Angeles, NYC, Chicago, etc. — offer all sorts of fascinating things to see and do, not to mention yummy things to eat. A few days of exploring museums, galleries, and historical landmarks appeals more to some summer travelers than spending a week or so on theme park rides does.


Family staycation
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As fun as travel can be, some families stay home during the summer. Staycations give families what they want from a vacation — rest — without the stresses or expenses of traveling. Plus, they can appreciate their local surroundings and discover hidden gems in their backyards. It’s a nice change from the daily routine, just as a vacation would be, but it makes a much less significant dent in a bank account.

Farms or Ranches

Farms or ranches
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A stay on a farm or a ranch offers a nice change of pace from daily life, and it’s a unique switch-up from a yearly WDW trip. Farms and ranches let families get hands-on with activities like feeding animals, riding horses, and going on hayrides while teaching them more about nature, animals, and agriculture.

Wildlife Safaris

Wildlife safari
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Unless you’re in Animal Kingdom, you probably won’t see many animals at WDW. So, those wanting to observe a few four-legged creatures are more inclined to pick an animal-centric vacation — a guided tour, wildlife cruise, or a safari adventure in a location like Africa or Costa Rica, for example — over a theme park getaway.

Volunteer Trips

Volunteer trip
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Sometimes, families want a way to make a meaningful impact and give back during the summer. So, rather than splurging on a few days of fun for themselves, they might head out on a volunteer trip. There, they’ll work on projects that align with their interests, like environmental conservation, community development, or animal welfare. Trips like these let groups do a bit of good and bond through a shared experience — it’s the best of both worlds.

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Lake Tahoe
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Arches National Park
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