Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Where to “Park It” in the Parks

By Ryan Reed


We all say it before we leave for our Disney World vacation: “Let’s try and hit everything but I want to relax too!”  Next thing you know you’re four days in still grabbing clothes out of your suitcase right after waking up to the seven alarms you set so you don’t oversleep.  Everyone is exhausted, their legs are aching and they could even become a little bit “hangry”.  If you are unfamiliar with the expression “hangry” let me enlighten you: it’s when you become so hungry you get irritable or angry, hence, hangry; it’s one of my girlfriend’s favorite terms.  Although naps are the best remedy, who wants to nap when you’re finally at the best place in the world?  If you’re at all like me, I don’t want to spend too much time at the resort so I try to recoup in one of the Parks.  To me, although the resorts are world class, I’m not there for them.  I have a few places I love to relax when I’m beaten up from the Florida heat, road-rage-stroller-pushers, and non-stop walking.  There are a ton of great attractions to sit back and relax, but that’s a completely different conversation.  So, I’ll be sharing my favorite places to unwind and replenish while still making the most of my Disney vacation. Join me after the page break and I'll fill you in...


Once you’ve done the “Dash for Splash” or “Race to Space” and it’s time to rest those legs, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better spot than Liberty Square.  Yes, this is a little vague but, even at its busiest, you can find a spot away from everyone yet still be in the middle of everything.  Sitting within earshot of the Haunted Mansion and just close enough to smell those delicious waffles coming from Sleepy Hollow makes this a nice spot to kick back without feeling like your wasting your vacation.


Hollywood Studios can be tough due to its small size in comparison to the other Disney Parks.  This can lead to overcrowding and, sometimes, an overwhelming experience.  After fighting through the crowds to make your way down Sunset Boulevard to hit Tower of Terror and Rock ‘N Rollercoaster, it’s time to take a load off, find some shade, and (most importantly) grab yourself a drink.   Head on over to Min and Bill’s Dockside Diner at Echo Lake.  Here you’ll find a nice selection of craft beer; which is rare to find elsewhere on property.  If you’re a beer connoisseur like myself, you’ll appreciate the variety of beer they have to offer here.  Grab a cold one, stay close by for round two (or three), and enjoy some live entertainment - such as Mulch, Sweat, and Shears - while sitting on a shaded park bench.
This one is the easiest. Epcot is just the perfect blend of thrills and relaxation.  As a child, I scoffed at my mother when she suggested spending some time at Epcot – boy, have things changed.  Epcot has now the title as my favorite Disney park.  With so many options around World Showcase to sit down and grab an adult beverage, you really can’t go wrong with any spot in this massive Park.  This also gives you the opportunity to enjoy an interpretation of various cuisines found in each country.   But when I want to unwind and just feel completely relaxed, I love to head over to the Jumping Fountains outside the Imagination Pavilion.  This is probably all about the nostalgia but, for so many of us, what isn’t in Disney World?  Spending time in this area with the distinct music in the background immediately takes me to another place and allows me to unwind.  There’s just so much to take-in, yet you feel secluded from everything.  It’s a nice way to enjoy Epcot without feeling like you’re wasting away your day.
Dawa Bar offers an excellent opportunity to be surrounded by the hustle and bustle of a Disney Park, yet you’re protected from it all.  Right next to Tusker House, Dawa Bar has some nice drink choices, including a couple of brews native to Africa.  The drinks and shade are welcoming but my favorite part about Dawa is its location.  You have plenty of options for food right nearby, a gift shop with wonderful African themed items and the live entertainment.  The Tam Tam’s of Congo put on a great show while you’re cooling off in the shade enjoying a Harambe Cooler, Safari Amber, or (my girlfriend’s favorite) the Sugar Cane Mojito.
I’m not going to hit every single Park but I’m including Typhoon Lagoon because I feel it’s such a better option than just heading back to your resort pool.  You have so many opportunities to relax here.  Between the best lazy river on the planet, great drinks you won’t find anywhere else on property (Tea Breeze, Tea Breeze, Tea Breeze) and the sandy “beaches” riddled with lounge chairs, you’re forced to kick back.  When we consider going back to the hotel to relax by the pool I always feel like we are missing out on something; going to Typhoon allows you to be out and about enjoying a water park Disney style. 
Everyone has their own places to relax and their own ways to enjoy their trips to Walt Disney World.  These were just a few alternatives to allow you to unwind without wasting anytime napping on your Disney World vacation. Feel free to add to my list in the comments below.

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