Tips for Relaxing at Walt Disney World
Even if you are a frequent visitor to Walt Disney World, you may find it difficult to unwind when you have nearly 50 square miles with very tempting shopping, dining, rides, food, and recreation to explore. Can you really find relaxation during a theme park vacation?
Just today, I was planning my FastPass+ selections and itinerary for a quick trip that we are taking at the end of August. And guess what? I found myself quickly filling up my Disney days from morning to night. Sigh; I know better.
Some of the most priceless moments that I’ve savored at Disney World are those that were during break times. And so, just as soon as I fill you in on these tips, I’m going to revisit my August plans and make sure I’ve allowed time for relaxation at Walt Disney World.
Leave the Real World Behind
Most of us find it fairly easy to purchase and don Mickey Ears. We’re all pretty good at embracing Mickey-shaped food. And I think WDW newbies and veterans alike have no issue with shrugging off stress while riding our favorite attractions.
But, what about technology? Some of us need it for work (even at Disney!). Some of us love sharing our family moments (and favorite Disney snacks!!) on social media. And now, My Disney Experience and other apps make it actually easier to tour Disney World with the use of our smart gadgets.
Still, try to allow some time during your Disney days to unplug. Silence your phone while at the pool with your family. Keep your electronic tools quiet during meals. Try taking an entire morning or evening unplugged. After the initial withdrawal, you’ll find these moments liberating.
The Road Less Traveled
While you watch the herd of guests run to their first attraction, linger on your way into the theme park. With your FastPasses pre-selected, go ahead and browse the nooks and crannies on Main Street U.S.A. in the Magic Kingdom. Grab a morning pastry and actually sit at a quiet table while the magic wakes up all around you.
Some of my favorite pathways for calm moments at WDW include:
- Along the boardwalk at the Rivers of America in the Magic Kingdom
- In the back of Fantasyland (near the train track) to Tomorrowland in the Magic Kingdom
- The trails at Epcot’s Canada pavilion
- The Hyde Park area and maze at Epcot’s United Kingdom pavilion
- The quiet nooks and crannies within Epcot’s Morocco pavilion
- The off-the-beaten trail between Animal Kingdom’s Africa and Asia
- The walkway between Disney’s Polynesian Village and Grand Floridian resorts
- The walkway between Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside and French Quarter resorts
- The walkway between Disney’s Wilderness Lodge and Fort Wilderness
- The walkway from Disney’s Hollywood Studios to the BoardWalk area
There are always secluded areas at the resorts to settle back and talk about your day.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to dine early or late. If you are touring in the busy season, you really want to grab your quick-service lunch meals right at 11AM. This dining strategy not only saves your family from the chaos of long lines but also gives everyone a chance at unwinding in quieter restaurants. Refreshed and refueled, you’ll be back to touring the park while the crowds are at lunch.
We also like the early strategy for table service lunch as well. We were one of the first patrons at Epcot’s Via Napoli in the picture below and while the restaurant filled up quickly, most of our meal was extremely quiet.
At dinner time, dine early or late. Your hotel’s food court will be chaotic after the parks close, especially when closing hours are early in the winter time. Dine before the crowds return to the resort.
Try late night dining for empty dining rooms — whether you stop by for a full meal, snack, or beverage, quick service dining rooms are usually quiet later at night.
We like to take a breather at Backlot Express in Disney’s Hollywood Studios before this restaurant closes. Watch the park’s Times Guide for official hours as this venue often shuts down before park closing time.
Be strong. Fill out your itinerary and then check it over for downtime opportunities. If you are repeat guests, would the family benefit more from riding a couple of your not-so-favorite attractions or swimming in the resort’s pool?
And doesn’t that apply to newbies too?! If your heart is not set on seeing the afternoon parade, maybe some time playing miniature golf or enjoying another recreational activity would be more memorable for everyone.
Take Advantage of FastPass+
Picture this: It’s early morning and my family is waiting at the gates prior to the opening of Disney’s Hollywood Studios. When the park opens, my husband “runs” to Toy Story Midway Mania for FastPasses while the rest of our traveling party grabs food at Starring Rolls Cafe (now closed) or meets in front of Tower of Terror. Yep, that’s how we used to tour.
FastPass+ and My Disney Experience (MDE) allow us to pre-plan many of our must do attractions so that we can slow down and enjoy more leisurely family time at WDW. Now, we are more likely to reserve a nice meal at the park, followed by a leisurely stroll over to our FastPass+ attraction.
This strategy really works well on a day that follows a late night in an Extra Magic Hour park. We can then sleep in a bit, enjoy time at the pool, then head to a park later in the day for a meal and our FastPass+ selections. With a teen, late nights and lazy mornings work very well.
On days that we are at a park for rope drop, we are prepared with FastPass+ for morning attractions before heading back to our hotel or Disney Springs later in the day. By mixing up your itinerary, you’ll definitely discover that relaxation at Wald Disney World is indeed possible.
With the Epcot festivals becoming longer each year, more runDisney events being added, and Free Dining offers filling in the gaps, Walt Disney World seems to have three seasons: busy, busier, and busiest.
Okay, there are still a few times per year when crowds are really light. We are still fans of late January, for example.
If you can, avoid holiday school breaks as these usually cause a huge influx of guests. Don’t want crowds? Stay away from actual holidays such as New Year’s Eve.
The Rest of the World
“There’s more to see than can ever be seen. More to do than can ever be done. There’s far too much to take in here. More to find than can ever be found.” — The Circle of Life lyrics say it all.
Yes, there is more to do at Walt Disney World than touring the four major parks (Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Epcot, and Animal Kingdom).
The resort hotels all offer dining and recreational fun for all ages. Take in a campfire night at your hotel or stop by a different resort for a new experience like a Pirate Cruise. The resorts are usually a refuge during the afternoon hours.
Disney Springs has some of the best shops and dining choices on property. And don’t forget about the water parks and golf courses. Plus, there are out-of-the-park places to watch the high-flying fireworks if you don’t want to return to a park in the evening.
Taking in the Details
Sometimes all you need is a moment of calm in a busy day. Slow down and take in the details all around you; the creativity of the Imagineers is awe-inspiring. Don’t forget to look up, down, and all around.
Find a place to sit down and just gaze.
A walk around your resort in the late morning, afternoon, or late evening is a great time to get pictures and unwind.
Vacationing at Walt Disney World can include relaxing recreation.
From running to horseback riding, you’ll find a plethora of activities to engage in throughout the resort.
Let’s not underestimate the calming effect of a delicious adult beverage.
Find an out-of-the way location later in the day — we like to sit in the back of Yak & Yeti Local Foods Cafe with a refreshing beverage.
Also, resort lounges are a terrific place to hideaway while sipping on an alcoholic or non-alcoholic refreshment and/or relishing some good bites to eat.
Of course, if you are on a once in a lifetime trip and your priority is to see and do everything that you possibly can, we completely appreciate that mindset. Even so, try to find small breaks to add some relaxation to your Walt Disney World vacation.