Often on our Walt Disney World vacations we are in a hurry to get from one attraction to another to pack in as much fun as possible. But sometimes, stopping to smell the roses, take in the details, and enjoy the people you are with can be even more fun. I have a few favorite places that I like to rest, people watch or have a relaxing conversation with my traveling companions.
9. The Tangled/Rapunzel Restrooms, Magic Kingdom
This beautifully themed area is a great place to relax around the benches. With wonderful details from the movie and bright colors (and charging stations for your phone) it is nice to stop and people watch here. You can also play spot Pascal (Rapunzel’s chameleon sidekick) around the area. The only reason this area doesn’t get higher ratings is that it is in a high-traffic area and the stroller park detracts a bit from it’s character.
8. Rocky Mountains in Canada, Epcot
If you walk back into the Canadian Pavilion there is an area that recreates the Canadian Rockies (in much smaller scale). There is rockwork, waterfalls and a walkway. There are limited places to actually stop in this area, but you can take your time to walk through and really enjoy the environment.
7. The Fountains outside the Imagination Pavilion
My 2-year-old could spend his entire day watching these fountains and chasing the jumping water—and what better way to spend your vacation than watching your child’s face in pure joy. Most of the time this area is fairly empty. You can sit, watch the fountains, play with your children and just delight in being on vacation.
6. Tom Sawyer Island, Magic Kingdom
Visiting Tom Sawyer Island gives you a unique perspective on the rest of the park—you can see it and hear it, but it is like it is off at a distance. There are plenty of places for kids to play here—caves to explore, forts to commandeer, runaway mine trains to shoot down, and barrel bridges to cross—but, there are also rocking chairs here. One of my favorite places is down at Aunt Polly’s, a great view and so relaxing. Inside the fort you can sit and play checkers too.
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5. The United Kingdom Courtyard, Epcot’s World Showcase
This area has a lot going for it—lots of seating, an urban garden-like setting, and for 90% of the day peace and quiet. The other 10% of the time it is a loud, rocking scene when the British Revolution is playing. Both of these can be a great time to visit. My children love the maze that is in this area—the hedges are short enough for no one to get lost, but they get a feeling of independence doing it on their own. I like to go there to relax without the band, and with the band it is a fun time to sing along, dance and people watch.
4. Resort Lobbies
Every resort has a lobby, some are more spectacular than others. It is always nice to come back to your home resort and enter into a peaceful lobby after a long day in the parks (and the cast member that welcomes you home is always a nice touch). The best lobbies have places to sit and relax too—whether you are just unwinding or waiting for the dreaded “un”-magical express to pick you back up. My 5 favorite lobbies are the Animal Kingdom Lodge (and the outdoor animal viewing area), Wilderness Lodge, Grand Floridian, Yacht & Beach Club (for the smell alone), and the Boardwalk (especially the outside seating).
3. “Hidden” areas of Africa and Asia & the trails around the Tree of Life, Animal Kingdom
If you take your time as you walk between Africa and Asia, behind the Tree of Life, you will see several smaller paths off to the sides. You also see obvious seating areas under covered pavilions. These areas are hidden gems. Nice, quiet places to sit down, enjoy a picnic lunch, or just take in all of the beautiful scenery that the Animal Kingdom has. The trails around the Tree of Life itself are a great place to slow down and smell the roses. You can take in the carved details on the trunk of the Tree of Life up close, wind your way past water features, and even sit on a few of the benches along the way.
2. Resort Beaches
If your resort has a beach go out and enjoy it! There are so many wonderful things you can do there. You can sit in a swing, a hammock or a lounge chair when it is quiet and people watch or watch the sunset. Or, catch the fireworks from your beach (if you can see them). At the Magic Kingdom resorts I love to sit on the beach and watch the Electrical Water pageant. Your kids can play in the sand (but stay out of the water), and you can relax (perhaps with an adult beverage). If your resort doesn’t have a beach don’t despair—you have other areas to unwind. The relaxing walk and benches along the Sassagoula River at the Port Orleans resorts is one of my favorite places on property to slow down. And at the Animal Kingdom Lodge you can hardly beat a Savana overlook to stop and smell the roses (but the smells probably won’t be like roses here).
1. Plaza Gardens, Magic Kingdom’s Main Street USA
So, my favorite “Stop and Smell the Roses” area of all time is the Plaza Gardens located at Magic Kingdom close to the hub of Cinderella Castle. Beautiful green area surrounded with beautiful flowers and shrubbery serves as a Fireworks Dessert Party during the fireworks, but open to anyone most all other times of the day. Enjoy this relaxing area with a Casey’s hot dog or a Plaza Ice Cream while viewing Cinderella Castle’s beauty!
Unfortunately, our moments on vacation are too few and far between. Resist the urge to go, go, go and Walt Disney World and take some time to slow down and enjoy all of the details that go into making the parks such a special place. Take some time out to reflect and just enjoy the people you are there with.
What are you favorite places to stop and smell the roses?