By Ann Dunnington
The holidays are upon us! Family parties, holiday shopping, crowds, baking, rushing around… it all comes with the season, I guess! If you’re one of the many families going to the Walt Disney World resort over the holidays, there is almost a guarantee that the parks are going to be crowded. If you are worried that you’re going to need a ‘vacation from your vacation’, never fear! There are some wonderfully ‘Zen’ places at Walt Disney World to enjoy! Here are a few of my favorites:
The Beach at the Polynesian Resort – Wishes!
We love to watch the nighttime fireworks show “Wishes” that takes place at the Magic Kingdom from the beach at the Polynesian Resort. Pull up a lawn chair, or just stick your toes in the sand and enjoy the fireworks. The Poly also plays the firework soundtrack over the speaker system at the beach, too, so you can really enjoy the full experience. Be sure to bring a jacket- it can get quite breezy by the Seven Seas Lagoon.
Poolside Movie – Any Resort
All of the resorts offer evening movies. Even if you’re not staying at that resort, you’re welcome to enjoy them! Most of the time the movies are shown close to the resort pools, but our favorite movie viewing location is on the beach of the Yacht and Beach Club Resorts. I must have a thing for sand…
Evening Stroll at the Boardwalk
To us, nothing ends a day like taking a walk around the Boardwalk (at Disney’s Boardwalk Resort). There are some out of the way rocking chairs on the back side of the green space at the entrance of the Boardwalk that are wonderful to sit in and people watch. During December, there are often times some choral groups that sing in this area, too!
Mandara Spa at The Dolphin
There are a number of spas on the Walt Disney World property, but the Mandara Spa at the Dolphin is my favorite. They offer everything from manicures to haircuts to massage… you name it!
The Magic Kingdom Rose Garden
Talk about a beautiful spot to get away from the crowds! I like to wander and smell the roses, hot tea in hand. Ahhh, the castle, beautiful flowers, beautiful music… there are even some benches in the area to sit on as well.
The Magic Kingdom Hall of Presidents – Rocking Chairs
There is a little porch to the right side of the Hall of Presidents with a few rocking chairs, set back off of the main pathway. This is a fantastic little spot to get out of the crowds without going too far. Grab a snack from Sleepy Hollow and rock the day away.
Morocco – Epcot
One of my favorite spots at Epcot is way back in Morocco. If you exit the “Moroccan Style” Arts and History exhibit out of the side door, you will enter into a courtyard with a water fountain, a high roof and beautiful mosaic tiles that visitors rarely ever encounter. Seek this out–the water fountain drowns out a little of the “hustle and bustle” for a nice little refuge.
Animal Kingdom – Behind the Tree of Life
There are some wonderful little pathways behind the Tree of Life that get you out of the main walkway and wind you past water falls and shaded areas that few guests know about.
Magic of Disney Animation – Disney’s Hollywood Studios
A nice place to relax and slow down a bit is the Magic of Disney Animation at Hollywood Studios. After you get through the theater show at the beginning, in-between the character meet and greet area and the gift shop, there is a series of rooms with original concept drawings and artwork for Snow White. This area is almost always quiet and rarely ever crowded. If you’re a Snow White fan, you’ll really enjoy looking at this artwork. Also displayed are Walt Disney’s Academy Awards.
Have an Early Dinner – Anywhere!
If you’re looking to avoid crowds, consider doing an off-hour dinner. We like to dine at 4:00pm because it’s early enough to beat the crowds, but late enough that we don’t feel like we’re missing out on park touring time. A few of our favorite “calm” restaurants are by the water at the San Angel Inn (Mexico, Epcot), Tokyo Dining (Japan, Epcot), Coral Reef (Future World, Epcot), Hollywood Brown Derby (Hollywood Studios), and Sci-Fi Dine In (Hollywood Studios).
There are a few attractions that I feel are also very relaxing, and rarely ever crowded. They are:
Tomorrowland Transit Authority
Hall of Presidents
Liberty Square River Boat
Living with the Land
Impressions de France
One Man’s Dream
Magic of Disney Animation
Great Movie Ride
Maharaja Jungle Trek
So just remember, use your Fastpasses, breathe, and take time to stop and smell the roses! There are many more “hidden gems” that I didn’t have time to mention that are just waiting to be discovered. What are your favorite places to “get away” while at Walt Disney World?