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Taking It Easy at Walt Disney World: Downtime at Disney

Walt Disney World photo
by Cheryl Pendry, PassPorter Featured Columnist
Last modified 04-20-2012
  

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Filed in Articles > Walt Disney World > Making Magic  

It's all too easy to find yourself rushing from one attraction to the next whenever you're in a Disney park, frantically trying to see, and do it all in the time that you've got there. It's very hard sometimes to wind down, and relax, which is, after all, the aim of a vacation.


It's supposed to be a break from the "real world," a time when you can take it easy, without fear of falling behind on something, either at work, or at home. However, how many of us can honestly put our hands up, and say, "Yes, I took some time out on my last Disney vacation?" I'm proud to say that I can, and here's how we do it.

First off, don't program things for you and your party to do every single second of each day. Been there, done that one, and it doesn't make for a pretty result! Instead, try planning just a few "must-dos" for each day, and then if you can achieve anything else, you've done well. Don't be too ambitious with this. If we have a day at the Magic Kingdom, we may say that we'll aim to hit four or five attractions, and that's it. If we do anything else, then it's a bonus.

Secondly, and on a similar view, make sure you allow yourself time to get from one thing to the next. I've been guilty of not building that into our plans in the past. Remember that it does take some time to get from one park to another, or from a park to a resort. Don't plan something at Epcot, and then something at the Magic Kingdom half an hour later. It just makes for a stressful time, trying to run from one thing to another.

Number three is an easy one, and probably one that a lot of people do. Take a regular break from the parks. Usually it's in the early to mid afternoon for us, as that's when the day is at its hottest, and despite our attempts to visit Walt Disney World at cooler times of the year, we seem to be failing more, and more! We've seen record-breaking heat in both December and April on recent trips, which has made us even more thankful for some downtime in the wonderful air conditioning of our room. However, some days, we may decide to go to the park that's open the earliest, have a couple of hours, and then have a break. Another option can be going in later in the day, and having the morning to just relax, and unwind, before getting some touring under your belt.



Hammock on the Grand Floridian beach photo
Hammock on the Grand Floridian beach

For a little R & R at Walt Disney World - photo by wetojn@optonline.net

Ok, so that's the timing side of things. But what can you do that's a bit more relaxing to refresh the batteries while you're at Walt Disney World? I've already mentioned heading back to your room for a break, and there are plenty of other options at the various resorts on Disney property. Of course, the swimming pool is a logical one, particularly if you have a water baby in your family. Do remember though that when the heat is on, often the pool can be just as packed as the parks, which may not make for the most relaxing time! If you're from a colder climate, you may want to hit the pools on days when a lot of people wouldn't even consider it. For us, anything in the high 60s is warm, and I'm happy to swim in those temperatures. We've even had days when the lifeguards are bundled up in their coats, and we're happily swimming, and sunbathing by the pool!

Another option at your resort is to explore it. You'll often find that there are some wonderful hidden nooks, and crannies, where you can just settle down, perhaps read a book, or just watch the world go by. For me, there's nothing I love more than being able to grab a few minutes in the communal areas of the Beach Club, and its beautiful Villas. Sitting either in the lobby (now that the ghastly pumpkin chairs are finally banished from there!), the Solarium as you head out to the Villas, or the Breezeway, or Drawing Room in the Villas, is my idea of heaven. You can just take your time, and soak up the atmosphere.

As well as soaking up the sun by the pool, don't forget that many of the Disney resorts have beaches, where you can just watch the world go by. Think of the Polynesian, with its views across to the Magic Kingdom, the banks of the Sassagoula River at Port Orleans, or even alongside Hourglass Lake at Pop Century. You don't even have to stay at your own resort. You can visit other resorts to explore them or just sit in the communal areas, either inside or outside. You may find access to swimming pools restricted, particularly at those with the more popular pools, but apart from that, everyone's welcome!

Ways to relax can also be found at the Walt Disney World spas. Although the Grand Floridian Spa is currently closed, I can heartily recommend the Saratoga Springs Spa, and don't forget that you can get massage treatments at the fitness centers to be found at Animal Kingdom Lodge, BoardWalk, Contemporary, Coronado Springs, Wilderness Lodge, and the Yacht and Beach Club.

Personally, I always find being out on the water relaxing, of course provided it's nice, and calm, and that's one thing you can guarantee at Disney! If you want to unwind, consider taking the FriendShip between the Studios, and Epcot. It will take longer, but it gives you a chance to get your weight off your feet, and just refocus your mind. And if you want some longer time messing about in a boat, consider booking some time to do that at one of the various marinas around property.

The final idea is probably a funny one to many people, but I always find it relaxing to head off Disney property, albeit for a short period of time. It just gets you away, and when we return, I always find I appreciate the Disney bubble even more! One of my favorite getaways, apart from my favorite pastime of shopping, is visiting Disney's own town, Celebration. There, you can step back in time to an era when life seemed to go more slowly.

Whatever you do on your next Disney vacation, try and take the opportunity to slow down, and take things easy. You'll find it not only helps you to make you truly feel like you're on vacation, but it will also help to refuel those batteries, ahead of more touring of the parks we all know and love.


Beach Club Villas photo
Beach Club Villas

The exceptionally relaxing Breezeway, a place to just kick back and relax in the Beach Club Villas. - photo by chezp




About the Author:
Cheryl and husband Mark live in England and love to travel, particularly to Disney, and they have made numerous visits to destinations across America and Europe. They recently completed their tour of every Disney theme park around the world, which culminated in their visit to Japan, including the Tokyo Disney Resort. Click here to view more of Cheryl's articles!

Related Links:
Gardens of The World Tour - A Guided Tour During Epcot's International Flower and Garden Festival last updated 5/28/2009
Star Wars Weekends - Feel the Force at Disney's Hollywood Studios last updated 6/4/2009
Unusual Photo Opportunities - Getting Unique Photos at Disney last updated 6/18/2009
The Osborne Spectacle of Lights - Disney's Hollywood Studios last updated 7/6/2009
Dashing Through The ... Snow? - Sleigh Rides at Walt Disney World last updated 11/30/08




Reader Comments:


I like the article on relaxing at WDW...it's how we roll! We've been visiting for 20+ years....and I never get bored.....we play,then find places all over the resort to relax! It could be riding the boats everywhere(and nowhere) or sitting by a shore on one of the many pretty lakes at the resorts....or riding the monorail just to look around(I love going over Epcot) or sitting in a hammock...shopping at resort hotels, walking thru the campground,etc etc. I think this is why many people don't understand that for us,Disney is not just parks,it's enjoying the WHOLE property,slow,fast,and everything in between!

     hsmama on April 20, 2012 @ 10:11 am
I appreciated all the ideas listed. If I may add what we have found works well for our family:
We live in Indiana. So, trips to Florida are not very close. Yet over the years we have managed 12 trips. When we vacation at Disney we usually are there no less than 10 days, commonly 14. The reason is so there is no rush and no exhaustion from back to back park days. For example this September we will be on site for 15 days. There will be a "day-off" after each park day. Those off days are not scheduled as yet, but are tentatively planned for off-site trips, resting pool side at the resort, shopping at DowntownDisney. Near the end of the trip we will have two days to kick back and relax before returning home. This is so we don't feel wiped out when arriving at home. I realize that not everyone can take such long trips, but we have also done a similar thing when having just a week. Then we decided which parks we will go to and realize we cannot do them all. So, for one week we only go to two parks. This process works well for our family. The children are now older, 25 and 15, but there were a couple trips we didn't follow this plan and the end results were unpleasant.

     bmj721 on April 20, 2012 @ 12:07 pm
bmj721;3928005 >I appreciated all the ideas listed. If I may add what we have found works well for our family:
We live in Indiana. So, trips to Florida are not very close. Yet over the years we have managed 12 trips. When we vacation at Disney we usually are there no less than 10 days, commonly 14. The reason is so there is no rush and no exhaustion from back to back park days. For example this September we will be on site for 15 days. There will be a "day-off" after each park day. Those off days are not scheduled as yet, but are tentatively planned for off-site trips, resting pool side at the resort, shopping at DowntownDisney. Near the end of the trip we will have two days to kick back and relax before returning home. This is so we don't feel wiped out when arriving at home. I realize that not everyone can take such long trips, but we have also done a similar thing when having just a week. Then we decided which parks we will go to and realize we cannot do them all. So, for one week we only go to two parks. This process works well for our family. The children are now older, 25 and 15, but there were a couple trips we didn't follow this plan and the end results were unpleasant.


Just wanted to welcome you to the boards! :wave: Thanks for contributing your thoughts. smiley for :waytogo:

     chezp on April 20, 2012 @ 1:28 pm
Thanks for the article. My favorite places to just hang and / or explore

Solarium at BC
Places off the lobby at WL
Boardwalk

     jimmymac on April 20, 2012 @ 5:30 pm
Great article!
We plan a "break day" in our touring schedule. . . sleep later, breakfast at the resort, pool time, Downtown Disney, and possibly returning to say EPCOT later in the day for dinner and Illuminations.

     toddjodybrent on April 20, 2012 @ 7:21 pm
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Updated 04-20-2012 - Article #798 



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