Invasion of the Large Family: Finding a Place to Stay Put for a Whileby Joe Needham, contributing writer
by Joe Needham, contributing writer
When touring with large families or groups that need to stay somewhat together, the act of moving can be stressful. Without diligence, it is easy for people to get separated. As the group leader, the stress of just getting everyone from place to place can start to wear on you over the course of the day. Experiencing this has caused me to scope out certain areas in each park where I can stay put for a while. In order to identify a good spot, I ask myself:
- Is there something for every age/interest group to do in nearby?
- Will everyone be close enough to easily hand off babysitting duties?
- Is there a good place to sit down that can serve as a gathering point?
- Is there food close by?
- Is there a restroom close by?
Depending on the age range, likes and dislikes, and interests of your group, there are multiple options throughout the parks for your group to stop and enjoy some time without having to constantly gather and herd everyone.
Disney's Animal Kingdom
With my crew now being old and tall enough to ride all attractions on site, my favorite place to "park it" is outside of the Yak & Yeti Local Food Cafes.
This area provides a good location for people who want to get a bite to eat and sit for a while. It also serves as a good central gathering point.
For the thrill riders, Expedition Everest and Kali River Rapids are close by and can be easily found from this location. For members wanting a show, the Flights of Wonder is in close proximity. Also, there are three good bathrooms at this location; one beside the entrance to Flights of Wonder, one before you get to Expedition Everest, and one past the entrance to Kali River Rapids. Shopping options are also readily available.
There are numerous street vendors, a good gift shop outside of Expedition Everest and right over the bridge back to Discovery Island. Finally, the Maharajah Jungle Trek is close by for those who want to take a leisurely stroll.
If your group has some toddlers, you may find that Dinoland is a better option in Disney's Animal Kingdom.
Disney Hollywood Studios
The table area around Anaheim Produce on Sunset Boulevard is my favorite location to "set up camp."
Rock ‘n' Rollercoaster Starring Aerosmith and the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror are close at hand for the thrill seekers. Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage is right across the street. Food is all around at this location. Shopping is also just down the street and in view. Three bathrooms also serve this area.
Also, and my most favorite part of this location is that you can also participate with and/or watch the wonderful street performers. One of my favorite memories from Disney Hollywood Studios is when I was pushing my toddler in the stroller down Sunset Boulevard. He had taken the lid off of his juice cup and one of the police officer street performers pulled us over and gave us a ticket for having an open container in the vehicle.
Outside the entrance to The Land is a great spot for "taking a load off."
Inside The Land you have Soarin' for the more thrilling attraction. The Living with the Land boat ride is very pleasant in the same building. The Seas with Nemo and Friends is in view of this location as well as Imagination!. Food is available inside The Land. The Land also serves as a good place to sit in the air conditioning.
Shopping is not too abundant from this location, but there are plenty of bathrooms. One of the quietest bathrooms on all of Disney property is to the right of the Imagination! entrance. It is tucked out of the way and normal traffic patterns don't go by it. Innoventions West and the Epcot Character Spot are just across the courtyard and a good place to take toddlers.
Of all the parks and possible locations to "stay a while", Tomorrowland is probably the most versatile.
Tomorrowland definitely has something for everyone. Space Mountain serves as the main thrill ride. Depending on your feelings about heights, Astro Orbiter is a second thrill-ride activity.
For the more docile activities, both Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress and the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover give a relaxing and entertaining activity. Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin covers the young and older crowds alike. Shopping and food are both close at hand.
Two bathrooms cover this area. One is between Space Mountain and Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress. The other is between Mickey's Star Traders and Cosmic Ray's Starlight Café. I haven't even mentioned Tomorrowland Speedway, Stitch's Great Escape! and Monster, Inc. Laugh Floor.
Tomorrowland has a little of everything and can entertain a group for hours. My favorite time is between 7:00 and 9:00 p.m. at night, with the lights and music, and relatively smaller crowds from earlier in the day, making for a great place to let your group roam free.
You have numerous choices depending on your group'.For groups that have older members that don't need as many chaperones or the need to swap babysitting duties, they can wander farther afield than I have the locations I've suggested.
Just know that when the stress of constantly moving through the parks starts to get to you, you can find a place to take it easy.