It may seem counterintuitive, but making time to rest during a trip to Walt Disney World is vital to saving time in the long run. Building this time into your schedule is crucial for saving time in the long run by avoiding time wasting tantrums and increasing your ability to maintain energy over the course of your vacation.
We’ve all seen kids have meltdowns in the parks after rushing from one ride to another all day, often in hot weather, becoming physically exhausted. Brains are also taxed to capacity by hours of sensory overstimulation by the sights, sounds and smells of Disney. Sadder still is witnessing a parent yelling at a child for a tantrum that could have been avoided or seniors struggling to keep up with families bent on sprinting through the park.
This article presents three strategies for making time to rest during your Walt Disney World vacation.
If you are staying on Disney property, many times it is feasible to go back to your room for a rest—perhaps combined with a visit to the pool—before returning to a park for after dark entertainment. If you are relying on Disney transportation, travel time from the park you are visiting that day to your resort can be long if they are on opposite sides of the property.
Examples of inconvenient pairings for this strategy include the Magic Kingdom to Saratoga Springs, or Animal Kindgom to Fort Wilderness. For the most part, however, if you want a longer and more restful break, nothing beats stretching out on a bed in a climate-controlled environment for a nap, or spending a couple of hours by the pool with a book.
If you don’t want to take a long break or doing so is inconvenient, there are many options around each park to create some sensory down time and get off your feet for an hour or two.
On an Epcot day, and moreso when visiting Hollywood Studios (which has fewer dining options), my family likes to have a late lunch at Captain’s Grille in the Yacht Club, then sit out at the resort's beach for an hour or two. A Disney-operated ferry runs between the International Gateway at Epcot, the Boardwalk Resort, the Yacht and Beach Club Resorts, the Swan and Dolphin Resorts, and Hollywood Studios, so the Yacht Club is convenient from both parks, and the boat rides to and from can be a relaxing part of the journey. Captain’s Grille is rarely crowded for lunch, so you shouldn't need to make advanced reservations.
Visiting Animal Kingdom, in the southwest corner of Walt Disney World, is not usually conducive for going to and from a resort to rest, but since the park has no nighttime parade or fireworks, you can either leave the park for good by mid-afternoon or take a midday break in the park.
Our favorite spot to rest in Animal Kingdom is at one of the plentiful and scenic pavilions at Flame Tree Barbecue, a centrally located counter-service restaurant. Grab lunch and snag a pavilion spot along the water, then spend an hour off your feet enjoying the view of Expedition Everest and planning the rest of your day. If you want to spend more time away from the park, take a Disney bus to the Animal Kingdom Lodge for lunch or to enjoy the rocking chairs on one of the observation decks overlooking the savannah, and see what critters pass by.
Options are plentiful at Magic Kingdom, including taking a ride or rides on the train, which encircles the park, or on the slow moving and continuous Transit Authority PeopleMover in Tomorrowland. If you want to take a longer break, plan dessert at or relax in the lobby of one of the monorail hotels-- the Contemporary, Polynesian or Grand Floridian Resorts. Holidays are a particularly good time to visit resort lobbies to view decorations and other special touches on display for each season.
A final option for building rest time into your vacation is to take a morning—or even a full day—off from the parks if your schedule allows. There are days when you won't want to leave the parks or take much of a break because of an afternoon parade or show, or you may have scheduled only one day for a specific park.
Even families with young children can usually squeeze out a fast-paced and long day or two in the parks with nary a tantrum, but beware the third or fourth day when exhaustion strikes and every step is drudgery. For most of us, the body and mind are simply not seasoned to go full tilt in Disney parks for several days in a row without consequences. Those consequences can spoil an afternoon—or worse, the remainder of your trip. So take a morning off, or even a full day, if your vacation is long enough that you can afford it.
Vacations serve many purposes, including resting from the hustle and bustle of our daily lives. While it’s tempting to go full bore and soak up every bit of Disney our hard-earned money can afford, resting regularly is critical for all ages and will help maximize your time so you can return to real life refreshed and full of magical memories. A trip to the World presents many options to take those breaks and the tips in this article are just a few of many.
Does your family have a favorite resting strategy or spot when you visit Walt Disney World?
(Send an email to Margie Binder)
Margie Binder lives in Shoreview, Minnesota with her husband and three Disney-loving children. She has been a DVC member since 1995 and uses any excuse, including inviting herself along on relative's trips, to visit her Happy Place. She has been a helicopter pilot, special education teacher, stay-at-home mom, and corporate employee. Like many, she is either in Walt Disney World or planning her next trip. She still has her stuffed Pooh from her first visit in 1975.