pen rainbow

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Wednesday: Good for You, Good for the Home—Indulge Yourself, Disney Style

Poinsettia garden in the Germany pavilion at Epcot
Finding downtime at Disney World

Going commando at Disney World means charging into a pre-planned itinerary with a firm and fixed determination and military precision when it comes to scheduling, i.e. to hit all of the best rides, to make it to the shows on time, to see all of the animals when they're awake, and to dine at your favorite restaurants.

For families with kids, add pix and autographs with the Dis characters, as well as character meals.  Come to think of it, add character meals to the grown-up list, too, because it really is fun when the Dis characters show up appropriately attired in themed costumes.  What's not to love about a children's conga line led by Safari Mickey & Minnie, Safari Goofy, and Pluto in a pith helmet? Or, storybook dining with the beautiful Disney princesses at the Akerhaus Royal Banquet Hall in the Norway pavilion at Epcot?

Forget commando!  Disney World is comprised of four distinct parks—the Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot, and Hollywood Studios—and each one deserves time to explore and fully enjoy.  To do it right, you have to choose wisely and balance uptime with quality downtime, even if it means sacrificing a fast pass or canceling a dining reservation.

The secret is to pace yourself, and be considerate of the people who are with you.  If the kids are complaining, it is time take a break before someone launches into the Tarzan jungle yell.  If your spouse wants to wander through shops or skip a ride, be flexible, grab a chai latté, and unlax.  If a grown kid wants to spend the day hitting up the singles lines, it's okay to split up.  If you have to miss an attraction, it will be at the top of the list for next time.  And chances are, there will be a next time!

So, throttle down and consider these quiet and uncrowded ways to recharge:


Surrey bikes at the Polynesian Resort
Found at various resorts throughout Disney World, including the Polynesian and the Boardwalk, these old-timey carts provide a fun diversion from the crowded parks and long lines.  We saw lots of parents and kids, as well as adult groups riding these fun bikes around the beautiful paths at the Polynesian and along the planked walkways at the Boardwalk.

Stop by and check out the beautiful grounds, the fairy tale wedding chapel, the stunning stained glass windows, and Franck's lovely design studio located next to the Grand Floridian Resort.  If you're lucky, you may even get to see a bride and groom on their wedding day.  The area adjacent to the Grand Floridian is under construction (Vacation Club timeshares), but don't let that discourage you.  The construction guys are friendly, and it was interesting to see the addition of something new at Disney World.

Wedding cake at Franck's design studio

Visitors can hear the fantastic Matsuriza taiko drummers and wander through the enchanting bonsai garden above the koi pond.  The Bijutsu-Kan gallery is a nice way to get out of the crowds and learn about Japanese art and culture.

Beautiful fantail koi in the Japanese pavilion at Epcot
Look for hidden Mickeys!

This is a small garden just off of the main promenade next to the Germany pavilion in the World Showcase in Epcot.  The little path that leads through the garden can be crowded during busy times, but it's a nice diversion as you make your way through the world showcase.

Christmas in the tiny village at the Germany pavilion in Epcot
Located in Future World next to Innovations West at Epcot.  This is a great place to sample flavored soft drinks from around the world!

Located in Future World next to Innovations West in Epcot

Freebie samples of soft drinks from around the world
My favorite is Smart Watermelon from China
It doesn't get much better than the People Mover when it comes to taking the edge off of a busy day in the Magic Kingdom.  Located near Space Mountain in Tomorrowland, this continuously loading easy ride provides a 16-minute relaxing above-ground tour.

We ❤ the People Mover at the Magic Kingdom

Also known as Spaceship Earth, the big ball ride at Epcot is a 16-minute slow ride with a fun interactive twist at the end.  Don't stand in line for this ride.  It's always busiest during the morning hours.  Take it at night when the crowds drop down, and there is no line at all.

Look for the hidden Mickey on the painter's table during the
Renaissance time period

Bring your camera because the rose gardens around Disney World are full of prize-winning beauties!  Our favorite rose gardens are located in the Magic Kingdom just off the bridge in front of Cinderella's castle and in Epcot between Future World and the main entrance to the World Showcase.  Follow the paths and take time to smell the roses.

This smells as good as it looks!
Rose garden with Cinderella's castle in the background

A magical rose

This is a 1-mile, flat, paved walking path along the water between the back of the Boardwalk and the front entrance to the Hollywood Studios.  See the map below.  It's a straightforward walk from the Hollywood Studios to Epcot (easy, even in the dark after a nice dinner at the Brown Derby).  Just follow the river, cross the bridge over to the Yacht Club, and it will lead you right into Epcot.

From Epcot to the Hollywood Studios, make your way over the bridge to the Boardwalk side and follow the path along the water.  If you find yourself going into the grounds of the Swan or Dolphin hotels, back track and find the bridge that connects the Yacht Club to the Boardwalk, then follow the path along the river away from the hotels.

It's a leisurely, 30-minute walk between the two parks and our favorite way to get from one park to the other.

Posted by Robo on the disboards, 6-26-2011

Located in the Morocco pavilion in Epcot, step into the lovely tiled entryway of the Fez House.  The Gallery of Arts and History next door is also worth a visit!

The doors to the Gallery of Arts and History

A welcome retreat at the Fez House

It is hard to miss this beautiful lily pond and its lovely surrounding garden!  Take time to stroll through the colorful azaleas and over the white stone bridge.  The 100-year old weeping mulberry looks like it may have come from China, but it actually originated in New Jersey.  If you are lucky, you may have the pleasure of seeing one of the large white cranes who often fish in this pool.

One of my favorite respites in Epcot

DiVine is a street performer who walks on stilts and channels the elusive spirit of a vine nymph.  She moves gracefully and quietly along the path between Africa and Aisa in the Animal Kingdom.  Watch for her and take a moment to gaze upon her elegance!

Look for the serenity of DiVine

The Yak & Yeti is a fascinating (sit-down) Aisan fusion restaurant located in the Animal Kingdom.  The food and atmosphere are wonderful, and if you happen to eat here, be sure to take time after your meal to appreciate the wonderful Himilayan artifacts scattered throughout the restaurant.  Feel free to wander and take in the sculptures, crafts, and artwork on both floors.  The entire Mission-style decor of the restaurant is a feast for the eyes.  Be sure to notice the variety of beautiful hanging chandeliers.  

Himilayan artifacts & enchanting lighting at the Yak & Yeti

One of the best little hideaways in the Animal Kingdom is just across from the Yak & Yeti next to the Royal Anandapur Tea Company.  Miguided smokers often try to stake out this lovely riverside retreat as a nicotine station, but it is far too nice to be wasted on second-hand smoke.  Park maps show the designated smoking areas, and this is not one of them.  It was designed to provide a peaceful place to sit and have a cup of tea next to the river.  

Not for smokers

We were happy to discover this relatively relaxed open space behind Fantasyland.  It's going to be slammed at Christmas time (as all of Disney World will be during the busiest time of the year), but it's a good spot to sip on a peppermint mocha and imagine the fun and excitement of this major new Dis attraction.  

Something to look foward to at the Magic Kingdom