Relaxing at Walt Disney World
your batteries for a more enjoyable trip
Friday, May 14, 2004
by Sue Holland, staff writer
Photo by Sue Holland.
For many families a vacation spent at Walt Disney
World is anything but relaxing. They might return home needing a vacation from
their vacation! Particularly if a family has had to save and plan for many years
to make the trip, there is a tendency to try to do everything there is to do,
for fear of missing anything.
After a few visits, though, most people
start to get less frantic, and might actually build in some time to relax during
their Disney vacations. Then there are people like me who make trips to Walt Disney
World primarily to relax, without getting caught up in the mad dash from Dumbo
to Splash Mountain.
Most visitors intend to keep pretty busy during their
stay, wanting to see and do as much as possible. It is still possible to build
in periods of time for relaxing and recharging your batteries (or letting the
children burn off a little pent-up energy). One approach is to determine what
activities or settings are relaxing back home, and then look to duplicate some
of those while on vacation. For example, if lounging by your pool while reading
a book is something you enjoy, it would make sense to plan an afternoonor
at least a couple of hoursdoing exactly that by your resort pool.
resorts have quiet pools in addition to a busier themed pool, and sometimes it's
possible to be the only person or family there. The busier pools tend to have
water slides to amuse the children, and lifeguards to help keep everyone safe.
They also usually have a bar nearbygreat for a delicious tropical frozen
drink, with or without the alcohol. Nothing says vacation like a frozen drink
by the pool!
Boating is another popular pastime, whether it is done as a
recreational activity or simple transportation. The resorts in the Magic Kingdom
area are the best locations for renting boats, since the vast Seven Seas Lagoon
and Bay Lake provide the largest area to explore. Water Mouse are small speed
boats that hold one or two people (up to 300 pounds), and zip along so low to
the water your speed feels faster than it actually is. There are also large pontoon
boats availablea perfect choice for a large family looking to meander slowly
over the water.
Popular with teens, Water Mouse boats are a fun way to relax on a warm Florida
day. Photo by Sue Holland.
Disney watercraft transportation can also provide
a relaxing break during a busy day. Unless the boat is crowded, hop onboard and
just ride. The boat will eventually return to where you boarded, and you may enjoy
the view, as well as the chance to get off your feet for 30-60 minutes. If something
looks interesting ashore, go check it out and return later to catch a boat to
finish your excursion. Riding the monorail (during non-busy times) would be similar,
with the loop from the Ticket & Transportation Center to Epcot and back providing
the longest ride.
Most of the deluxe resorts have many quiet areas to sit
and read or do some people-watching. At the Wilderness Lodge, there are rocking
chairs located overlooking the beautiful lobby. The Polynesian Resort has a large
waterfall in the lobby, providing very relaxing background noise. The Grand Floridian
Resort and Spa lobby is just plain gorgeous, especially during the holiday season
when the tree is lit and the smell of gingerbread is in the air.
moderate resorts have peaceful areas, and except for the swimming pools (restricted
to guests registered at that specific resort) everything is available to be used
by anyone who visits. Coronado Springs has a long path circling the lake, which
is especially beautiful around sunset. Along the way you can stop and rest in
a hammock on the beach or sit on a bench. Port Orleans Riverside and French Quarter
are connected by another path, which is also quite nice.
However, if walking
is not your idea of relaxing, rent a surrey bike that seats up to six people and
ride along the paths instead. At Fort Wilderness and Port Orleans Riverside there
are also horse-drawn carriage rides available nightly (starting by 6 p.m.). Every
resort has an informational newsletter that describes the amenities and activities
You can rent surrey bikes at most resorts. Photo by Sue Holland.
children are raring to go and the adults just want to rest, consider one of the
resort playgrounds. While the young ones are having fun playing on the equipment,
parents can find a shady spot and perhaps enjoy one of those cold drinks from
the bar while keeping an eye on the kids. Try not to view time like this as being
a waste of your vacation time and money because you are not in the theme parks.
When my son was a toddler and preschooler, his favorite attraction was riding
the Disney busesso you just might be providing your child's best memories
Fort Wilderness is a destination with plenty of opportunities
to relax. Easily accessible via boat from the Magic Kingdom or bus from any of
the other parks, it is possible to spend a good portion of a day here without
running out of things to do. The petting zoo is free of charge, and located right
next to Pioneer Hall at the hub of the campground. Bicycle or boat rentals are
available, along with evening hayrides and a campfire program that includes a
singalong, animated movie and character visit. A hammock on the beach can be the
perfect spot to relax with a good book (or without one for a nap) while the kids
or rest of your party is busy with other Fort Wilderness activities.
also possible to relax while inside one of the busy theme parks. Epcot has live
entertainment occurring several time daily in the countries around World Showcase.
In some cases people stand to watch the brief show, but at some locations, seating
is provided. Getting off your feeteven for 20 minutescan be a big
help in boosting your energy to continue touring.
A couple of years ago
Disney experimented with lounges for annual passholders. These were intended to
be comfortable places for passholders to take a break and relax during their time
in the theme parks. By far the nicest one was at Epcot, located above the revolving
restaurant in The Land pavilion. Cold drinks, restroom facilities, videos, toys
for children and even the characters were available exclusively for passholders'
enjoyment. There have not been any plans announced regarding future lounges, and
currently none exist.
No longer open, the passholder lounge at Epcot was a popular spot to relax. Photo
by Sue Holland.
Interrupting your touring for a leisure lunch or dinner
can also be a great way to relax. Lunch is the more peaceful of the two meals,
and the restaurants at the resorts are generally more relaxing than those in the
theme parks. Unfortunately, not all resort restaurants are open for lunch, so
definitely check that out before making the trip. Usually priority seatings are
not necessary for lunch, even at restaurants where they are necessary for dinner.
relaxing massage or other spa treatments are available at the Grand Floridian
and the new Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa. Golfing is available, on several excellent
courses. Booking golf or a spa treatment in advance is recommended. There are
also four miniature golf courses on Disney property, a 20-screen movie theater,
and seemingly unlimited merchandise shops available to visitors who enjoy relaxing
by doing any of these activities.
Once you start building time to relax
into your Walt Disney World vacation planning, you might just find after the trip
that the favorite memories will come from those more relaxed moments.
Thoughts, questions, or comments? Contact Sue here.
Sue has been hooked on Walt Disney World since
her first visit in 1972 with her parents and younger brother. She kept returning
more frequently until she moved to Florida in 1986.
After joining the Disney Vacation Club (DVC) in
1997, she now visits almost monthly. She also spends time at
the DVC's non-WDW locations, and is experienced with the Disney cruise ships.
She takes many of these trips on her own, but
she's also toured WDW with large groups of people, including families, the elderly,
and people with disabilities.
She works as the Administrative Services Division Head
for a large residential facility administered by the Florida Department of Children
and Families. She currently resides in Southwest Florida with her teenage son.
Sue is one of our most prolific trip report writers.
Read her trip report archive here.
You can contact Sue here.
Get the latest info about the resort at Park
Update: Walt Disney World.