Please welcome guest poster Kristin, one of my best friends who accompanied me on my August trip to Disney World! She likes doing the parks slowly and taking her time, and shared some tips on how she does that!
Calm. Relaxing. Peaceful.
Maybe not the words that spring to mind when you think “Disney vacation.” 😉 But, it’s absolutely possible to have a trip in Disney that doesn’t make you need a vacation from your vacation! When I take solo trips to Disney, I always go at a slower pace, with a minimum of planning, and it’s honestly one of the most relaxing vacations I can take. Here are some of my strategies for doing Disney without the stress or rushing around.
First of all, sleep in! It’s vacation, after all. There’s no reason I need to get up at the crack of dawn. Instead, I luxuriate in the fact that I don’t need to set an alarm. The parks will still be there whenever you get to them, I promise.
Once I’m awake, I need to get some coffee. Folks who have seen me before my first cup can attest that I’m pretty zombie-like first thing in the morning. But there’s no reason to rush through the parks while I’m enjoying that sweet, sweet caffeine. If I’m at one of the moderate or deluxe resorts, I’ll have my coffee at the hotel, and spend some time just enjoying the atmosphere. It’s a great way to start the day.
Once I’m ready for the day, about mid-morning, I head over to one of the parks. Sometimes I don’t even plan which one – I just go to the bus stop, and whichever bus comes first is the one I take. If I can swing it, I don’t carry a bag at all. With the MagicBands, you don’t really need your wallet since it acts as both room key and park ticket. And if you’re using PhotoPass, it can act as your camera, too. All I need is my sunglasses perched on my head and I’m ready to go!
If I have my phone with me, I can keep an eye on wait times by using the MyDisneyExperience app. If not, I’ll just head toward something I want to do and see if the wait time is reasonable. I might get sidetracked on the way, though, especially if one of my favorite entertainment groups is out. I always stop to watch the Jammitors! But I consider these “distractions” a feature, not a bug. 😉
If the ride I want to go on has a super long wait, no worries. I can always catch it later. Or if I don’t have time this trip, I can use it as an excuse to plan another trip to Disney! If I need a break, I’ll spend some time sitting in the shade reading or people-watching. I almost always bring a book with me on solo trips (one of the only reasons I carry a bag into the parks, to be honest). With the cheerful Disney music and the warm Florida air, it’s a great way to polish off that “beach read” from your library. Maybe while also polishing off a nice beverage. 😉
One of my favorite places is to sit on the train station deck on Main Street. This is particularly nice if the characters are out, and you can watch all the families interacting and taking pictures. Make sure to take a picture of Cinderella Castle before you head back downstairs! You can go right up to the railing and not have to worry about people getting in your way. Another good spot is in Epcot, outside the Starbucks. There are a few semi-circular concrete benches, a little out of the way of the main traffic. And every fifteen minutes the fountains dance to the music. It’s one of those small details you’ll only find in Disney!
Once it’s mealtime, I try to find a quiet(-ish) spot to eat. There are some places if you know where to look! I love the second floor of Columbia Harbour House, where you can get a table by the window overlooking the Haunted Mansion. I’m also partial to an out-of-the-way area in the Animal Kingdom, between Asia and Africa. If you take a side path, you’ll find a lovely little stream and nearby a few tables under a deck roof – perfect if you buy food from Mr. Kamal’s or one of the other food trucks. But I think my favorite lunch spot is in Epcot, in the Japan pavilion. Their counter service restaurant has both indoor and outdoor seating, and the outdoor seating is basically in the middle of a garden. There’s peaceful music, paper lanterns, and a gentle fountain with the occasional duck taking a swim. You can pretend you’re a million miles away from Test Track and all the other “busy-ness” of a theme park.
Before, I mentioned those small details that make Disney, well…Disney! I like to spend some time looking for those. For example, as you go through Adventureland and Frontierland, look up! There are windows and balconies on the second story, with lots of little details to make the buildings look lived-in. I don’t think many people notice this in their rush from ride to ride, but I think it really makes the story come to life.
Take some time to look for the different animals carved into the Tree of Life – the longer you look, the more you’ll see. Check out the shops in World Showcase, and maybe even talk to some of the Cast Members working there. One of my favorite “hidden treasures” is the art gallery in the Morocco pavilion. It’s to the left, just as you enter. Currently the exhibit is about jewelry and personal adornment. It’s always cool and dark in there, which can be wonderful relief when you’re about halfway around World Showcase!
Most of all, take the time to enjoy yourself. Remember, it’s your vacation, your time AWAY from stress! And have a magical time. 😉
How do you “do” Disney? How does this relaxed approach sound to you?