A Rest Your Feet Photo Tourby Shoshana Lewin, staff writer
There was a funny interlude on Walt Disney World's 15th anniversary special between co-hosts Betty White and Bea Arthur. Bea commented that she was exhausted and all she wanted to do was sit down and soak her feet. Betty responded "'Sit-down-and-soak-your-feet' land. That's the one area Disney didn't think of."
Well at least it wasn't a conscious thought... but, believe it or not, there are PLENTY of ways and places to relax at the Happiest Place on Earth. From quiet nooks and shows in air conditioned theaters to wine-tastings and relaxing massages, Disneyland is one big "sit-down and soak your feet" land. And while you can't always actually soak you feet (unless you opt for a luxurious pedicure at the spa), these spots will definitely help destress even the weariest Mouseketeer. [If your favorite place isn't mentioned here, please let us know about it.]
The first stop on our tour of "Sit-Down-and-Soak-Your-Feet" land takes us to Disney's Grand Californian. Hidden behind the shops in Downtown Disney you will find patio areas, chairs and quiet atmospheric music—save for the occasional monorail. Grab a drink from Jamba Juice or La Brea Bakery and enjoy the fresh air.
The patio areas of Disney's Grand Californian Resort provide a quiet hidden spot for relaxing. Photo by Shoshana Lewin.
Our next stop is the majestic Grand Californian lobby. The "living room-like" areas—complete with uber comfy chairs and couches make it very easy to nod off. Beware... it happens to everyone. And while the lobby isn't always the quietest area to rest in, it offers a welcome respite from boiling hot and rainy days in the park.
The lobby of the Grand Californian Resort offers comfy furniture. Photo by Shoshana Lewin.
Head over to the Hearthstone Lounge and grab a drink and a book or magazine and settle into this comfy couch alone or with some friends. The lounge is peppered with intimate areas, as well as tables and a great view of the courtyard.
The Hearthstone Lounge at the Grand Californian is peppered with intimate areas. Photo by Shoshana Lewin.
Back in the lobby of the Grand Californian you can warm up by the fire in a rocking chair—or snuggle up next to the one you love on the padded benches around the perimeter. Warning: When I was there, a not-so-considerate guest was playing movies on his laptop (at an annoying volume).
A rocking chair in front of a warm fireplace is a great place to snuggle. Photo by Shoshana Lewin.
Make your way over to Disneyland Park and let the tension of the security line float out of your mind as you settle in behind the Disneyland Tour Gardens to the left of City Hall. You'll encounter some tours, as that's where they begin, but once they are gone, it's pretty quiet back there (although you might hear the shot from the gun of a Jungle Cruise skipper).
A small courtyard behind the Disneyland Tour Gardens counter provides a relaxing spot right inside the park. Photo by Shoshana Lewin.
Cross the Town Square and into the former (and hopefully future) "Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln" theater. The turn-of-the-century lobby has plenty of carpet space (perfect for those long days like July 17, 2005 when some of us were up at 3 a.m.). Enjoy the great music, narration and classic artwork and models. When you feel up to it, make your way into the air conditioned theater and enjoy the show.
A small carpeted nook in the Mr. Lincoln theater provides quiet. Photo by Shoshana Lewin.
Head up the street a bit to the silent movie theater. In addition to catching several classic Mickey Mouse cartoons, you'll get a break from the heat. Although the center platform sign notes that it is just for children, the floor surrounding it is for everyone. Have a seat and watch the show—although you'll have to get a bit close to "Steamboat Willie" to hear it.
Have a seat and watch some Mickey shorts in the silent theater on Main Street. Photo by Shoshana Lewin.
If the scream of Dr. Drillum's patients don't bother you, grab a shady spot on the east side on Main Street between the fruit cart and the lockers. Although this area gets a lot of foot traffic, it's a good spot to enjoy some pastries or an ice cream cone from the nearby eateries.
A small cul de sac provides some shade right off of Main Street. Photo by Shoshana Lewin.
It's got bathrooms, a water fountain, benches and a great view of the line around the Matterhorn. It's the area next to Alice in Wonderland and it's got more tush room around it than most places in the park. If you want a good spot for the parade get a place on the bricks.
The area next to Alice in Wonderland has everything you want to relax. Photo by Shoshana Lewin.
In Fantasyland, right next to the former Gummi Glen—I mean the Motor Boat Cruises—is this great seating area. Although the shade shifts, it's a good spot to enjoy some frozen lemonade or a churro off the nearby carts.
Enjoy some frozen lemonade in the shaded area in Fantasyland. Photo by Shoshana Lewin.
The seating along Small World Way was created for Light Magic, but it makes the trek to and from Toontown so much more bearable. It offers great views for the parade and fireworks, but isn't so great if you are looking for something quiet. Note: the shade shifts from one side of the street to the other—but the character meet and greet is on the east side.
Seating along Small World Way provides a great viewing spot for parades and fireworks. Photo by Shoshana Lewin.
Make your way to the second level of Innoventions for a great rest area. In the future people will be able to relax, trust me: the Pioneer pavilion offers a virtual vacation. Two rooms make for little waiting (you can sign up with the Cast Member for a slot). Enter the room and select a vacation—complete with sights, sounds and smells—and settle in for some peace and quiet (if you can block out the product plug). My visit to the New England seaside came with apple pie scents and a spring storm.
Enjoy a virtual vacation in Innoventions. Photo by Shoshana Lewin.
What's more relaxing than a visit to Hawaii? How about a visit to Hawaii while enjoying a Dole Whip? Grab a spot in the waiting area of the Enchanted Tiki Room and enjoy the film on Hawaii, then make friends with some tikis before entering air conditioning and padded seats. If you want to really relax, grab a spot along the back benches once you get inside (the best one is the are farthest from the door when you enter). And the best part—no need to get rid of your food before the show.
Take a Dole Whip break before heading into the Tiki Room. Photo by Shoshana Lewin.
Go back to a gentler time in the Court of Angels. Located in the back streets of New Orleans Square this gem of the South is a twofer: relaxing spot during the day; romantic spot during the night. Not too many benches, but the area is shady almost all day long.
Court of Angels provides a romantic, relaxing spot in New Orleans Square. Photo by Shoshana Lewin.
This seating area next to Fowler's Landing (aka the McDonald's spot across from the Haunted Mansion exit) has more seats than you can shake a fry at. Plus it offers a great view of the Rivers of America water traffic—and the Pirates of the Caribbean line. Open one of the many umbrellas for some shade. During Fantasmic season you might not be able to see very much—but you can hear it all.
Eat french fries while viewing the Rivers of America at Fowler's Landing. Photo by Shoshana Lewin.
One of my favorite spots to kick back on is the beautiful Mark Twain. If you are lucky enough to enjoy a trip around the river early enough in the day, you can have your pick of seats on the bow. Yours truly even once took a trip where I was the only passenger on board. If you get a spot on the bow, you can enjoy the entire trip seated. If not, the second floor railings along the side and in the back are equally peaceful.
The Mark Twain offers a few seats. Photo by Shoshana Lewin.
If the smell of French fries with your riverside view isn't your thing—how about pancakes (yes, the one in the picture is mine). The River Belle Terrace at the intersection of three lands combines music, views and delicious smells to make a great morning or afternoon break. I'd avoid it in the evening during "Fantasmic!" though ... highly stress-inducing atmosphere.
During the day, the River Belle Terrace is a great place for pancakes and relaxation. Photo by Shoshana Lewin.
Between Frontierland and Main Street, next to the Westward Ho Trading Co., catch your breath on these benches. While the area gets some foot traffic, almost no one actually sits... so you can feel free to do so for as long as you'd like.
Benches by Frontierland offer a spot in between foot traffic. Photo by Shoshana Lewin.
What do you get when you take a former commissary and add some shade? The perfect spot to take a break on the Hollywood Pictures Backlot in Disney's California Adventure. Its proximity to a food cart makes it a great place to grab a snack before venturing onto the Tower of Terror (or the tamer Monster's Inc. attraction). Then head next door to the Hyperion Theater and catch the "Aladdin" show—you can decide if the kid-friendly musical is worth a shot when the payoff is more than 30 minutes of sitting time.
Hollywood Pictures Backlot offers quite a bit of shade. Photo by Shoshana Lewin.
The serene Napa Valley-like atmosphere of the Golden Vine Winery is the perfect spot to grab a glass of wine and hang with some friends. Pick up lunch at the Boudin Bakery and enjoy a spot on the patio where you can do some of the best people-watching at the resort. If you are willing to spend a bit more, you can treat yourself to a wine tasting of some of the best Mondavi has to offer. But take our word for it—don't go right onto California Screamin'.
Enjoy the serene atmosphere of Golden Vine Winery. Photo by Shoshana Lewin.
And speaking of drinking ... the Cove Bar is one of the hidden treasures of the Paradise Pier area. Watch the sun set behind a giant orange as you enjoy a concoction from the bar (with or without alcohol). Bring your sunglasses though, the patio gets mighty hot in the summer. Then head over to the Sun Wheel (the nonswinging cars line is usually very manageable) and enjoy life "up where the air is clear."
The Cove Bar is a hidden treasure in Paradise Pier. Photo by Shoshana Lewin.
Mandara Spa. Think of it as Fantasyland for grown-ups. This very plush spa at Disney's Grand Californian, located between the entrance to Disney's California Adventure and Whitewater Snacks, is something you'd expect from the place where dreams come true. I invested in the $130 Balinese massage. For 50 minutes I was treated like a goddess via several different types of massage: reflexology, Swedish, Hawaiian lomilomi, aromatherapy and some other exotic methods. The spa, which provides fluffy robes and sandals, also has treatments for couples, teens, men, and mothers-to-be. Afterward, guests can take a shower or enjoy a wet or dry sauna. You don't need to stay at the hotel to enjoy the spa, but reservations are needed. For spa menu, visit their Web site.
The Mandara Spa: The ultimate in relaxation. Photo by Shoshana Lewin.