The Magic of Slowing Down: A Walt Disney World Feature
|by Thomas Cackler, PassPorter Guest Contributor|
Last modified 06-06-2011
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Filed in Articles > Walt Disney World > Planning
The scene is not uncommon. Mom, armed with a park map, leads Dad pushing the stroller while Junior is lagging behind looking at all the interesting shops on Main Street USA. As they rush past Cinderella Castle and into Fantasy Land, they stare at the already insurmountable line at Dumbo. Frustrated that they now won't make their dining reservation at Crystal Palace for lunch, they begin to lament the rat race that Walt Disney World has become. They wonder aloud, "What has happened to the 'magic' at Walt Disney World?"
Does this sound like you? Too often, the term "weary traveler" is appropriate for a visitor to the Magic Kingdom and the other parks as well. What with show times, parade times, fireworks times and advance dining reservations, our days on vacation are more booked than a sports agent on draft day. With the World becoming bigger and bigger with each new visit, do we simply resign ourselves to exchanging the magic for the notion of a complete vacation?
Just as one appreciates a museum best at a slower pace, so too should our pace slow when we pass through the gates of Walt Disney World. As Jennifer and Dave say in the recent edition of PassPorter "Despite the temptation to see and do it all, an overly ambitious plan will be more exhausting (and frustrating) than fun." However, it's not as if the average person has very much time to stop and smell the roses, right?
While it is true that the average family vacationing at Walt Disney World is there less than a week, a lack of time should not be an excuse to push oneself beyond reasonable limits. As the old saying goes, we need to "stop and smell the roses" if we hope to experience the magic that Disney has to offer. So in order to do that, we have to change our way of thinking.
Yes, I just said, "We need to change our way of thinking." We have to remember that in order to reclaim the magic of a trip to Disney World, we must not rush from E Ticket to E Ticket attraction. Instead, the magic happens when you slow down to see the little things and enjoy the plethora of lesser-known (yet perhaps entirely more magical) attractions. Just as the Louvre doesn't have a Mona Lisa hanging on every wall, we should not expect Disney World to be one intense experience after another.
Although authors mean well when they write touring plans for guidebooks, too often the reader assumes that this is the best way or the only way to enjoy a Disney vacation. After all, these are the professionals. They know Walt Disney World. Unfortunately, that attitude locks you into a death march mentality that screams, "Splash Mountain or death!" This is not a healthy attitude while someone is at home, much less at the "Happiest Place on Earth."
In fact, many of the most magical things at Disney World don't happen while shooting through Space Mountain or while on a Kilimanjaro Safari. We all know it was all "started by a mouse," but have you ever stopped to watch Steamboat Willie, the film that started it all? You can, at the Town Square Exposition Hall. We all know what happened when she met Beast, but would you like to hear a story from the beautiful and talented Belle herself? You can, at the Fairy Tale Garden near Cinderella Castle. These are just a couple of the lesser-known attractions that the Magic Kingdom has to offer. The other parks offer similar magical adventures if you take the time to discover them.
Trying to list the multitude of magical moments would take too long and defeat the purpose of this article. What is magical for one person may not be as magical for the next and it makes little sense to replace a list of big time attractions with a list of little known attractions. However, when you realize that you cannot and will not see everything in your stay, you are free to live in the moment and experience the parks in an entirely new light. Whereas in the past you didn't have time to explore some of the off the beaten path areas to their fullest, you now have the opportunity to explore to your heart's content. It is in that exploration that you truly grow to appreciate the hard work the Imagineers put into each aspect of the parks.
Now that we have thrown away our touring plans and commando itineraries, we are free to enjoy those magical moments that do not appear on a park map or in a guidebook. No longer do we need to fret about a longer line just because we want to enjoy the majesty of the Castle or the wonder of Innovations. We won't find ourselves rushing past the Hollywood Glee Club just to get in line for another attraction. Likewise, we do not need to worry about missing something at the parks because we want to sleep in or spend so much needed time at the pool. Because when you slow down, you free yourself up to enjoy what any trip to Walt Disney World should be: a vacation!
By taking time to enjoy things based on your desires of the moment, you begin to appreciate that the magic isn't dead. It also opens your eyes to the creative minds of the Imagineers and the hard work and dedication of the cast members. Many magical memories happen when you least expect it. If you don't slow down to enjoy them, you will most likely miss the magic altogether.
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DonaldGirl1 on May 18, 2010 @ 1:30 pm
We like to do a Hidden Mickey hunt. It gives you time to slow down and relax. Plus, you have to look at the details to find them. And seeing a little Mickey head somewhere in the parks always brings a smile to my face. And yes, you're right. Disney trips are a blessing.
kbken on May 18, 2010 @ 1:40 pm
Ah yes Amanda-
You are seeing the wisdom of age even before you get old - congratulations!!! Taking your time at WDW is so very important to really appreciating everything it has to offer. I know it's expensive, and a lot of people feel they have to "cram to get everything in" to get their money's worth but WDW is so much more than just the attractions. It's discouraging to see families rushing through the parks with crying kids - no one there is having a good time. Besides that, my ankles have been bruised and battered by these crazed parents rushing around with the dreaded strollers. Enough of my whining - I'm glad you have discovered that taking time to smell the roses adds to rather than subtracts from a WDW vacation!!!!
SARH7 on May 18, 2010 @ 1:57 pm
kbken;3278392 >Besides that, my ankles have been bruised and battered by these crazed parents rushing around with the dreaded strollers.
LOL! Rest assured, there is at least one less stroller pushing parent who feels the need to rush around!! We try very hard to be as considerate as possible with our stroller....we've had our ankles rammed too! LOL! And we just don't see the point in running around the park. Nothing aggravates me more than leaving the park at night....and how much of a hurry everyone is in!
Take the path less traveled...sit and relax for a few minutes with a smoothie or ice cream bar. Try things you think are boring...you'll be surprised at what you find! Try restaurants you've never tried, counter places especially. Explore every nook and cranny of World Showcase!
jimmymac on May 18, 2010 @ 2:00 pm
-the movie in Canada
-the gardens in England
=movie in France
-the gardens in Japan
-movie in China
-rose garden in MK
honeybee723 on May 18, 2010 @ 2:20 pm
SARH7;3278427 >LOL! Rest assured, there is at least one less stroller pushing parent who feels the need to rush around!! We try very hard to be as considerate as possible with our stroller....we've had our ankles rammed too! LOL! And we just don't see the point in running around the park. Nothing aggravates me more than leaving the park at night....and how much of a hurry everyone is in!
Same here! The hustle and bustle can be so much after a while, and that's why we just like to take our time and enjoy where we are...especially WS at Epcot, just like Stephanie said.
Even after all these years there are still things I have yet to see and experience, and it just keeps giving me a reason to go back!
Evil_Queen on May 18, 2010 @ 2:43 pm
What is really sad. I have been to the parks a on so many trips but I can actually say that I have not been thru all of the World Showcase. I have seen the buildings and eaten at a few places but have been rushed to either catch a fast passs or to make a ADR.
I would like to take a trip that I explore the showcase. Just a lazy day of shopping and very little attraction time.
ilovejack72 on May 18, 2010 @ 2:52 pm
were leaving tomorrow and we are goin to see the lion king show this time in ak. this is something ive always wanted to do but never done before. and when i was there last july with the hubby we took one day to sleep in have a nice breakfast and just lay by the pool all day and had a lazy late lunch then headed to the mk for extra magic hours it was the most relaxing day ever
minnie025us on May 18, 2010 @ 3:00 pm
Our trip is in October and on MNSSHP day we are going to take it easy and hang out at Fort Wilderness to let dd ride the ponies and just enjoy that side. We may or may not hit Main Street during the day, but we are lucky that my Inlaws love taking it easy at Disney too. I understand wanting to cram everything in, but I love going at a slower pace and know that if we don't see something this time, we'll do it next time.
P.s. I am a stroller mama, but honestly have only clipped one person at WDW and that was my own FIL.. he stopped suddenly. I always feel for parents who look so crazed and frustrated with crying kiddos rushing from place to place. I'd rather miss something than be crazy and frustrated.
DMA on May 18, 2010 @ 4:20 pm
One morning DH and I had a Keys to the Kingdom tour scheduled for 8:30 and arrived about 8:00. After checking in and getting our badges we were told we could wander about until 8:25 when we should meet back at City Hall. DH needed to use the restroom and so I told him I'd wander down Main Street for a bit. What an experience that was to be on Main Street pretty much by myself! The Main Street vehicles drove by occasionally and the driver would wave to me. I took pictures and enjoyed the wonderful music. Very cool!
We have ADRs at Crystal Palace this year and hope to recreate that scenerio.
oldmom on May 18, 2010 @ 4:22 pm
i love to listen to the piano player at Casey's. he is awesome!
vitamingirl on May 18, 2010 @ 4:35 pm
You know what, that is a great point. Some of my best memories of last trip was when we slowed down. I guess I was able to be more in the moment and enjoy those moments too then when you are in the parks or buses, mentally preparing your next plan of action.. I was looking at my plans last night and trying to rebalance a little because DH wants to enjoy and relax Disney and not run around this time. Its hard!
However, I really enjoyed taking it easy around WS.
Movie in France is very relaxing and enjoyable, I loved it.
Drinking a German beer with a big pretzel sitting on a bench at night near Germany.
We looked for hidden mickeys around our hotel. It was also fun to look for them on thegreat movie ride and throughout WS.
Got cupcakes from Starring Rolls and watched the MGM parade.
Watching the kids play in the sand at the stormalong bay (while eating ice cream)
Have you noticed the food theme. I guess food also helps make happy memories.
But one of our best nights was swimming in thequiet pool at night and it was empty except for my family and it was just perfect.
DH rented a boat at the BC and that his favorite memory along with DS. They loved that.
hockeyguysmom on May 18, 2010 @ 6:00 pm
A couple of our favorite slow down moments have been spending time at the Campfire Sing-a-long with Chip & Dale at FW after we went to the HDDR a few years back. They sell smores kits and marshmellos and have fire pits set up. It was really alot of fun.
Also just spending some time in the evening walking around the Boardwalk, watching the performers and playing the little carnival type games. The sweet shop & bakery have lots of yummy treats and there is usually a cart with funnel cakes.
We haven't tried mini-golf at WDW yet but really want to do it someday.
LoriMistress on May 18, 2010 @ 6:55 pm
DH and I try to do at least a handful of new things during each trip. On our last trip we did visit some deluxe resort, and checked out the Christmas decorations. We also had a private photo session at the GF. We did a sleigh ride at WL, and we would eat a meal at the deluxe resort. It was so nice to just relax, take in the atmosphere, enjoy fine dining, and just take it in. We also enjoyed seeing La Nubla @ DTD. And this time, we checked out the AC and loved it! (So sad it's gone now).
mom23k9s on May 18, 2010 @ 7:07 pm
One of my favorite memories is DH and I buying pretzels in Germany and feeding the little birds in the bushes. Some of them would even catch the bits in the air!
And we love to watch Wishes from the beach at Poly.
Disney 4ever on May 18, 2010 @ 7:22 pm
I love to go to Tom Sawyer Island and just sit and take in the sounds around me. And last September we saw several new shows that I had never taken the time for. This year mom wants to see some of the shows she has never seen.
kbken on May 18, 2010 @ 7:25 pm
When you look at all the possible diversions it seems very possible that you could have an absolutely amazing vacation with very limited time in the parks themselves. (hope Mickey didn't hear that!!)
My2suns on May 18, 2010 @ 9:43 pm
Wishes from the beach at Poly was very nice and we did the "Legend of Sleepy Hollow" carriage ride at Fort Wilderness. We were so glad we did. We too, love to meander tom Sawyers Island. I must say, tacking on an extra couple of days if you can is so worth it. It really helped with getting in all the attractions we wanted plus some we had a tendency to skip for whatever reason. Like you, this last trip had the most relaxing, stress free moments and they are by far some of the best memories...what a great post!
chezp on May 19, 2010 @ 2:14 pm
We don't plan that much anymore - literally just which parks on which day and which restaurants we're eating at and that's it. We now go with a very small list of rides/attractions we want to do and that allows us to slow down a lot more.
Carousel96 on May 19, 2010 @ 2:39 pm
DMA;3278654 >One morning DH and I had a Keys to the Kingdom tour scheduled for 8:30 and arrived about 8:00. After checking in and getting our badges we were told we could wander about until 8:25 when we should meet back at City Hall. DH needed to use the restroom and so I told him I'd wander down Main Street for a bit. What an experience that was to be on Main Street pretty much by myself! The Main Street vehicles drove by occasionally and the driver would wave to me. I took pictures and enjoyed the wonderful music. Very cool!
I LOVE being in the MK before it opens. I know a lot of people like getting the pic by the castle without the crowd in the background. But I love how quiet and peaceful it is. Then when the music comes on, it's like the park comes to life.
YOLANDA on May 19, 2010 @ 2:49 pm
I always try to book a dinner that we've not been to before. As my kids have grown, I've added rides and deleted some. Last year I sent my kids on the Pirate cruise that left from the Grand Floridian and spent two hours there, eating breakfast and people watching. This year we will try one of the tours and I think we are finally doing the water parks. I also want to pick a character and see how many times we see them and it what capacity.
honeybee723 on May 19, 2010 @ 3:14 pm
chezp;3280044 >We don't plan that much anymore - literally just which parks on which day and which restaurants we're eating at and that's it. We now go with a very small list of rides/attractions we want to do and that allows us to slow down a lot more.
That's pretty much how we do it too. Just wing it!
Muffinator on May 19, 2010 @ 4:11 pm
I like to sit and people watch. There are some nice benches, but even better are the out of the way places- like all the stone walls in Epcot. Going up and down Main Street looking at all the windows is great too. Plus in one of the shops there is a glass figurines place and sometimes they are making them. It's fascinating to watch. Another nifty thing is to check out the mail boxes all over the parks. Most of them are antiques from all around the country. (I have a friend who's grandfather made one.)
jlp222 on May 20, 2010 @ 2:05 am
My daughter and I had the BEST vacation last year. We just went with the flow. We woke up when we woke up. We decided which park to go to that morning (we did make sure we went to each park. Breakfast? We didn't have a set meal schedule. We ate when we got hungry.
Things we did
We LOVED the World Showcase. We stayed for probably 8 hours. The Food and Wine Festival was going, and there was so much to see and do.
We did the "Behind the Seeds" tour. It was awesome!
We sat outside at Pecos Bills and watched people go by. It was so relaxing! There was a light rain, but we were under a tree and just got misted.
Our FAVORITE thing to relax in the MK was Pooh's Playful Spot. I sat while my daughter ran around like a tiny crazy person. She had a blast!! It was a great spot to cool down. I wish they hadn't closed it. :(
Also, we got a table at Tony's as soon as we got to the park one day. It happened to be right before a parade was coming through. It was such a great spot to sit and watch people. The restaurant was not busy at all, so it was OK for us to sit for a while.
HollyH on May 20, 2010 @ 7:22 am
One thing that I did before my trip was to read the Imagineers' Guides. It was cool to read about the backstories and all the subtle theming in the parks that help to tell that story. Once in WDW it was fun to notice all those little details. The AK is my favorite park for this and I especially enjoyed the backstory for Dinoland.
But some of my favorite stop and smell the roses moments have been because we stopped to interact with the CMs. Like the time DS was doing a kidcot stop in the Land. The CM running it was an art student and when he found out he and DS had the same name (Josh), he showed DS how to turn the word Josh into a shark. Or talking with the skipper on the launch from WL to Contemporary and having him point out the wild life and tell us stories about the gator that was spotted that week.
mandy1627 on May 21, 2010 @ 11:02 pm
These are all great responses, stories, and suggestions! Thank you so much!
Having done different things so many times, it is fun to see things you haven't seen in a while, or even ever. Shows are one of my favorite things to pull over and see because it gets you out of the hustle and bustle of the streets and I really enjoy them.
We don't do very much planning anymore either. Just the parks what day and just kind of eat when we're hungry. Going with the flow makes things a lot less stressful, and I love it that you pick so much more up too. Over the next few years I would love to keep exploring things I haven't seen because there really is soo much to discover, in and out of the parks.
And thank you for the compliment, Ken! I am thankful for that perpective on things because it really helps to have a better more relaxing and worthwhile vacation and have a better outlook on life!
OneLittleSpark on May 22, 2010 @ 5:40 am
Muffinator;3280236 >I like to sit and people watch. There are some nice benches, but even better are the out of the way places- like all the stone walls in Epcot. Going up and down Main Street looking at all the windows is great too. Plus in one of the shops there is a glass figurines place and sometimes they are making them. It's fascinating to watch. Another nifty thing is to check out the mail boxes all over the parks. Most of them are antiques from all around the country. (I have a friend who's grandfather made one.)
I see on your countdown timer you leave in 112 days, I leave in 114 days!! And I am staying at the POP too! Just me (32) and my mom (51), Yay!
Muffinator on May 22, 2010 @ 10:30 am
OneLittleSpark;3283719 >I see on your countdown timer you leave in 112 days, I leave in 114 days!! And I am staying at the POP too! Just me (32) and my mom (51), Yay!
How fun! Maybe we should meet-up during our trips!
Danielle Harmon on May 22, 2010 @ 10:46 am
We always take the time, as the parks are emptying to take it slow, grab a snack and a seat. It is fun to people watch and the parks are extra magical at night. We usually catch the "kiss goodnight" and then wander out to the buses...we miss a lot of the lines.
We also go back to the resort during mid-day for a swim, a rest and a freshening up, then back to the parks for the evening. We have had some of our best times either floating in the pool or resting in a dark, quiet room with a beverage of our choice.
Charlie97 on May 22, 2010 @ 11:09 am
On our first trip, my daughter and i sat down at DD and people watched for while...while we ate McFlurries. It was very fun and enjoyable. one of the Daughter/Father highlights of the trip. just yesterday we were talking about it as a matter of fact. We talked quite a bit during that WDW moment we shared. It was our first trip alone before the divorce, so we got to talk a bit about it.
Another thing we did was lounge around the pool at POFQ all morning long. It was her idea, so i went with it. That was very fun.
OneLittleSpark on May 22, 2010 @ 3:08 pm
Muffinator;3283854 >How fun! Maybe we should meet-up during our trips!
That would be cool!! I arrive 9/14, still till the 18th.
Shelli on May 26, 2010 @ 5:01 am PoohBearFreak32 on May 26, 2010 @ 8:06 am
I can totally understand where you're coming from. Hubby and I have decided to do the same thing this trip. Enough of the rushing around. This trip is for relaxing and doing all the stuff we never have time to do :-)
View all 33 comments in forum thread RobDVC on May 26, 2010 @ 9:26 am
Here are some relaxing things we freqently do to slow our day down:
-Ride the TTA. We love to sit there and watch everyone in Tomorrowland hustling to-and-fro, people "racing" on the Tomorrowland Speedway, the Astro-Orbiters circling the galaxy, the "sneak-peeks" of Space Mountain and Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin.
-See Carousel of Progress. We enjoy sitting in the back and singing "There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow" while the theater rotates to the next vignette.
-Walk the "back way" between Tomorrowland and ToonTown.
-Watch the miniature trains in Germany.
-One Man's Dream.
-Leisurely walk the Maharaja Jungle Trek.
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Updated 06-06-2011 - Article #677
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