Time is Money: Making Time to Rest

by Margie Binder, contributing writer

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.

Afternoon rest at your resort

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.

Rest during the day at or around the parks

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.

Epcot and Hollywood Studios

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.

Animal Kingdom

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.

Magic Kingdom

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.

Take a morning or full day off

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?



  1. By Jimbo996

    Personally, I feel the afternoon breaks to be the worse use of time. You're already enjoying the park, probably had lunch at the park, then boom, you decide to head back to your hotel for a break and for what exactly? The trek to your room is a long one. You have to walk from the park to the bus stop, your car, or the monorail. You take some travel time on such vehicle. Then walk from the bus to your room. That's at least 30 minutes to an hour. You're probably still very wound up from the morning and not feeling you need the rest. So you decide to visit the pool. Okay fine, then you go swimming. It is quickly becoming 4pm at the resort pool. You take a shower, then you're tired and decide to sleep for 1 hour or 2.

    Now its 6pm. You go to the restaurant for food. You eaten and it is close to 7:30pm. You feel you have some remaining time left for the parks. You go to the park. It takes about 40 minutes to get to the gate. You show your hand print. You're in at 8:30pm. You enjoy the park for 2 to 3 hours. Fireworks. 11pm!!! You go back home.

    That's a full day where you barely even enjoyed the park because you're going back and forth and you taken diversions since it is so easy to do them.

    If you want to take rest breaks, which gives you the benefit of not feeling so tired, either sleep late or come back early from the parks.

    If you sleep late, you wake up, eat breakfast, and get ready at a very slow pace. You might not get to the park until 11am. You enjoy the full day at the park until 9 to 10pm.

    Alternatively, you visit the park very early at 8am and stay until just before dinner at 4 to 5pm. Return to your room, clean up, and have a nice leisurely dinner. Then sleep at 9 to 10pm.

    You can take the full morning off. Use the time to visit the pool or water park for the full day. Then visit the park in the early evening for the shows.

    If you're truly the type that need substantial rest, a theme park trip is not your type of trip. Or perhaps visit during the off-season when the lines are non-existent so you can enjoy each park in a morning quickie.

  2. By GoofyMomInMN

    Hi Jim--

    Well, your sleeping-in idea depends a lot on whether you want to hit the headliner attractions. If you don't arrive at a park until 11a, as you suggest, the lines for the headliners will be at least an hour long, with the FastPass return window out 3-4 hours or more. My family loves the roller coasters, and whether an early Extra Magic Hour or regular opening, we can ride Expedition Everest 5-6 times in the first hour if we choose, or Rockin' Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror 4-5 times, picking up FastPasses for another ride, or for a different attraction, to use later in the morning. We have often knocked off 8+ attractions by 11a without feeling like we're rushing. Those same 8+ things would probably take the rest of the day if we did not show up until midday.

    That said, nothing wrong with sleeping in one morning, or arriving early at a park, staying most of the day and returning for good early, as we usually do on our Animal Kingdom day. I think it goes back to the importance of pre-trip planning and discussion; of knowing the priorities, habits, and stamina (particularly in the Florida heat) of yourself and your traveling party, and enjoying whatever time you have in Walt Disney World. Different strokes for different folks!

    Thanks for writing in.


  3. By spectromen

    I have pretty good luck with the leaving at 3, coming back at 6 model. The worst part though is waking up from that nap; it's usually a brutal experience. But it does help in the long run.

    If I took naps like that at home, I'd be up all night tossing and turning. Doesn't seem to happen at WDW, lol!

  4. By danyoung

    Excellent article, Margie. I'm all for the afternoon nap. I usually head back for my room shortly after lunch, enjoy a nice air conditioned rest, and then make it back into the parks around 4pm. Works great for me!

    The only thing I disagreed with was the idea that some places on WDW property are too far away to do the mid-day break. I always rent a car, so I don't usually have to depend on Disney transportation. That said, while the property is pretty large, it's not like driving from city to city. Depending on where you're park storming and where your hotel is, it might take you 30 minutes go get there instead of 15. Not really that big of a difference, and the benefits far outweigh any time lost.

    And I really don't like the idea of sleeping in and getting to a park by 11am (sorry, Jimbo). You can get so much done it that first 2 or 3 hours that it more than makes up for the hours during the hot crowded afternoon that you spend blissfully napping in air conditioned comfort!

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