When thinking about a day at the Disney parks, relaxation usually isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. However, when spending 10+ hour days running around in the Florida heat, getting some time to recharge your batteries becomes critical to be able to continue enjoying the magic. I’ve experienced so many instances of families (mine and others) breaking down after the stress and exhaustion of long days in the theme parks. Kids get tired, parents get tired, and the whole vacation gets messy. But, all that can be avoided! By simply taking some time each day to relax and hit the brakes, you can keep everyone happy and going strong the whole trip.
In this blog, I’m going to be sharing some places and things to do at each of the Walt Disney World parks to relax during the day. Even though it can seem like every inch of the resort is completely packed with people, this isn’t always the case. From great air-conditioned shows to quick hotel stops, there’s great areas to chill out around all four parks, you just need to know where to look!
Neighboring Hotels at the Disney Parks
Next to both the Magic Kingdom and Epcot are some amazing resorts. And although it may seem crazy to think about leaving the parks and coming back, these hotels are a safe haven from the peak crowds of lunchtime on a hot Summer day. Not only that, they’re a quick ten-minute or less trip to get there.
Getting to and from these resorts is very simple. At the Magic Kingdom, a fun little trip on the monorail can bring you to either the Contemporary, the Polynesian, or the Grand Floridian. Each of these are deluxe resorts, and they’re exciting for the whole family to explore. The resorts are huge and have a variety of spots to sit, relax, and take in the ambiance. During the day, the resorts are mostly empty, providing a nice people-free couple of hours.
While you’re there, you’ll also have the chance to eat lunch (or any other meal depending when you go) at the many different food places at each of the resorts. Each one offers some great dining options on all scales, whether you’re looking for a quick bite or a nice sit-down. Compared to the mediocre food offerings of the Magic Kingdom, it’s a no brainer.
The resorts are stocked with things to do for the whole family. The kids can keep busy in the arcade while the parents grab a drink at the bars, the possibilities are really endless. You’ll come back to the Magic Kingdom refreshed and ready to enjoy during the less crowded hours.
This is a great way to experience some iconic resorts and get some great dining while dodging a hectic Magic Kingdom lunch. Especially for those who haven’t gotten to experience these elite resorts before, it’s a must do.
When at Epcot, it’s even easier to make a midday departure. The Epcot resort area is accessible through a smaller park entrance located in the World Showcase, in-between England and France. A nice walkway will take you directly into the Yacht and Beach Club Resorts. Or, walk two minutes extra and head over to the BoardWalk Inn and Villas. Both are great options. The Yacht and Beach Club Resorts have a more tropical, beach vibe that’s really quaint and pretty. It’s a perfect contrast to give you something different on your Disney trip. Beaches and Cream is a great spot to grab lunch and ice cream there. It’s a retro-themed beach ice cream parlor with some unique ice cream treats, perfect on a hot day.
The Boardwalk Resort is another great option. The hotel takes its name from an entire boardwalk full of dining and entertainment that makes it almost an entirely separate entity from the hotel in and of itself. At the Boardwalk there’s a ton of different snack and dining options to choose from. However, on a hot day there’s not a lot of indoor areas to escape the heat. I find it most enjoyable a bit later on in the day. Still, at both of these hotels you’ll find a much more relaxed atmosphere and some open space to rejuvenate you and your group.
Indoor Shows at the Disney Parks
Moving back inside the parks, there are many indoor shows that are comfortable, air conditioned, and entertaining. These attractions offer a nice 15-30 minute break from the heat and walking around (and also the chance to even take a little nap). Also, there’s hardly any waiting involved-a rarity for most in-park experiences. I’ll highlight some of the best in each park below.
- Mickey’s Philharmagic: A 12 minute 3-D show located in Fantasyland. Philharmagic is a personal favorite of mine. It features the fab five and ties into several classic Disney movies and is entertaining for the whole family. Donald Duck fans will be especially happy.
- Carousel of Progress: This one is iconic, and also an iconic source of air conditioning. The longest running show in America’s history, the Carousel of Progress is a charming show directly from Walt himself. It’s 21 minutes long and although some claim it’s boring and dated, you can’t help but sing the song in your head on the way out. Definitely a must do for the nostalgics.
- Spaceship Earth: Yes, I know Spaceship Earth isn’t a ride, however it serves the same purpose as the other shows on the list, and it does it well. It’s a very slow moving, 15 minute dark ride typically with very low wait times. The ride is fun and educational, but for those looking for thrills, it’s also perfect for a little rest.
- Disney and Pixar Short Film Festival: The show is 18 minutes long and it shows three of the Disney and Pixar short films that play before the Disney feature films. You can also watch these shorts on Disney Plus, so I can’t say it’s a super unique experience, but it’s still a good place to relax.
- It’s Tough to Be a Bug: This show is located directly inside the Tree of Life. It’s eight minutes long and has a cool blend of practical animatronics and 3D scenes. There are some frightening parts that might be a little too much for younger kids, so be aware of that. This one is a bit more of an attraction than the other one’s on the list.
- Finding Nemo- The Musical: The show is currently closed due to Covid, but when it comes back it’s a nice indoor stage show that’s perfect for fans of Finding Nemo.
- Muppet Vision 3D: This Muppet-themed show is one of my favorites. It’s full of classic Muppet-filled shenanigans, while also offering 15 minutes of comfy seating and A/C. This show was the last project Muppet creator Jim Henson worked on before his death, so it’s a special one.
- Vacation Fun- An Original Animated Short with Mickey and Minnie: This is a 15 minute short animated to the style of the Mickey Mouse cartoons on Disney Channel and Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway. It’s a specially-made short for Hollywood Studios that has some fun Mickey Mouse content. The theater chairs here are also very comfortable. Not super unique or engaging, but that might be a good thing in the middle of a tiring day.
Relaxing Areas in Each of the Disney Parks
Now I’ll be going over some areas of the parks that are usually empty, open and free of people. Each of these spots provide a nice place for your group to get away from the crowds for a while.
- The Hub Grass at Magic Kingdom: This turf area is a little known spot dead-smack in the middle of the action of Magic Kingdom. The “hub grass” is in front of the castle in between the Partners Statue and the end of Main Street. When you first come across it, you get surprised for two reasons. First, it’s a large space that most people completely miss. Two, it’s usually empty! Even though there’s nowhere to get any shade, the area offers great views of the castle and great vibes. If your group needs to sit and rest for a little while, I recommend going here, especially later in the day when the sun is down. It’s also a great place to people watch since it’s in the heart of the park.
- China Pavilion in Epcot: The China Pavilion has a large indoor area with exhibits and some nice seating areas. The pavilion is beautiful inside and out. The best area to sit down and relax is inside the large Temple of Heaven replica building. There’s a nice large area (usually empty) full of comfortable places to sit. Also, Chinese art and cultural items are around to look at.
- Rivers of Light Seating Area at Animal Kingdom: Rivers of Light may only be a nighttime show, but the massive bleacher section bordering the lake in Asia remains open and accessible the entire day. Hardly anyone takes advantage of this open space. There’s nice views, a bunch of room for the kids to run around, and even a chance to see some character’s going by on boats. Try to get a spot in a shadier area higher up on the bleachers, and you have yourself a great spot to take some time away from the craziness.
- Star Wars Launch Bay at Hollywood Studios: While everyone flocks to the main Star Wars offering in the park, Galaxy’s Edge, the Star Wars Launch Bay exhibit sits practically empty. For those not actively looking for it, it’s tough to come across. The exhibit is located to the right of the Chinese Theater next to Disney Junior Live on Stage. It’s an all indoors walk-through area with some cool stuff to look at and some character meet-and-greets. Also in the launch bay is a quick 10 minute behind the scenes documentary with some of the creators of the franchise. If you’re looking for somewhere empty and cool to unwind for a while, this is definitely it. The stuff inside is also more than enough to entertain the kids (and adults) for a while. Absolutely perfect for Star Wars fans.
With the Summer months approaching and things getting back to normal, Disney will be ramping back up. The Summer months can be particularly brutal, so using these spots can really be a key factor in having a successful Disney vacation.
I know that especially nowadays a trip to the parks is typically just go go go, but don’t be afraid to give yourself a break. I’ve found that when I take a quick rest from jumping from attraction to attraction (which I do often) I can save myself from getting burnt out and miserable towards the end of the day. Besides, Disney is all about just enjoying and being happy anyways, so prioritize it! I hope that you can use these tips in your next vacation to the happiest place on Earth, you’ll be glad that you did!
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