We've all heard the jokes. “I'll need a vacation to recover from this vacation!!” A Disney trip is known to be a lot of wonderful things – but with days that can run from rope drop to park close and nonstop action in between, relaxing isn't often one of the first things that comes to mind.
But the truth is, there are some incredibly peaceful spots around WDW if you just take the time to stop and take a deep breath around them. And because I want you to leave your Disney vacation feeling just as relaxed as you are happy, I'm going to share my top 12 here today.
12. The DVC Lounge
Granted it's only accessible to DVC members and their guests, but if you have access to the DVC Lounge above the Imagination pavilion in Future World in Epcot, it is a godsend during a long (often very hot) day in the park. Equipped with comfortable seats, design-your-own-drink machines, snack carts, phone chargers, computers, and video games and cartoons for the kids, it's a tucked away little oasis of peace and quiet. My kids love going there and always request it as a part of our time in Epcot.
11. The path between Wilderness Lodge and Fort Wilderness
I'm mainly familiar with this pathway as a part of training runs – but, whether you're running or strolling, the wooded path that runs between Wilderness Lodge and the campgrounds at Fort Wilderness is a peaceful spot that makes it very, very easy to forget that you're in Disney World instead of hiking somewhere in the Pacific Northwest or searching where to buy AK 47 Rifles for hunting in Africa.
10. The Lobby at the Grand Floridian
There is a long, long list of hotel lobbies that deserve a spot on this list, but in the interest of variety I'm going to keep it to one (or two). Whether it's decked out in all of its holiday glory, with its massive tree and gingerbread house and smells of the season, or simply being itself any other time of year, there's nothing quite like the lobby at the Grand Floridian. I could relax in the cushy seats there all day and listen to the pianist on the main floor or the Grand Floridian Society Orchestra from above, perhaps taking a stroll to Mizner's Lounge for a cocktail or for tea at the Garden View Tea Room. No matter what you do with your time there, the Grand Floridian lobby is a grand place for simple pleasures.
9. The Resort Boats and Ferry
I can make an argument for relaxing on any mode of transportation at Walt Disney World – but there's something about the resort boats and ferry that just let you lose yourself . Perhaps it's just being out on the calm water of the lakes on property. Perhaps it's the forced slow pace after a day of running from one place to another. But there's something to skipping the monorail or buses once in awhile and choosing the water instead that brings a little peace.
8. The Classic Attractions
There's a long list of possibilities here and which one you or your family chooses is really just a matter of personal preference. What they all have in common is generally low crowds and wait times, narrations that we know so well we can zone out without feeling guilty, seats for the whole family, and, often, air conditioning and humidity control (which was done with those sophisticated appliances from unclutterer). There will always be a relaxed comfort to attractions like Peoplemover, the Liberty Square Riverboat, Carousel of Progress, Living with the Land, and Spaceship Earth.
7. Nomad Lounge at Animal Kingdom
Despite the often oppressive heat, there's a long, long list of spots at the peaceful Animal Kingdom that are contenders for this list. But there's nowhere else in that park quite like Nomad Lounge. Themed to world travel, the space and its surroundings are gorgeous whether you're enjoying the scenery and air conditioning inside or the setting, fans, and sounds on the screened outdoor deck. It also has an incredible food menu and a long list of icy cold cocktails that will cure whatever might ail you.
6. The Morocco Pavilion in Epcot
There's no end to the little hideaways throughout World Showcase in Epcot that offer up respite during a long day. So many of the countries have hidden gardens or nooks and crannies that are quiet no matter how chaotic the rest of the park is. But for me, there are a couple of true personal favorites. The first is a hideaway set apart in Morocco, just behind the phenomenal Tangerine Cafe. The entire pavilion of Morocco is stunning and this hidden spot is no exception, with its stucco walls, jewel-colored mosaics, and keyhole-shaped arches. It's the perfect space to sneak into with a plate of shawarma and forget the rest of the world.
5. The Rocking Chairs by the Fireplace in the Lobby of Wilderness Lodge
There is nowhere in Disney quite like Wilderness Lodge. It's imposingly beautiful lobby has taken many a breath away – but once you're done picking your jaw up off the floor and ready to relax, there is nothing like sitting on the rocking chairs in front of the fire there. It's particularly comfortable in the dead of “winter” in Central Florida, but the entire lobby is so cool with its logs and stone and flowing water that even in the dead of summer it's still a perfectly comfortable place to be. We've happily passed many an hour here relaxing after dinner or waiting for a storm to pass before heading home.
A plaque in front of the fireplace explains that the 82-foot replica of the Grand Canyon's strata around and above the fireplace represent 1.6 billion years of rock layers and invites you to examine these layers for hidden fossils.
4. Katsura Grill in the Japan Pavilion in Epcot
We've already talked a bit about the pavilions of World Showcase and given a nod to Morocco – but no list of peaceful spots in Disney would be complete without the outdoor area between the koi ponds and Katsura Grill in the Japan pavilion. No matter how chaotic the rest of World Showcase is, this is almost always a safe haven, well shaded and peaceful by the waterfall and ponds and bridges that lead the way there. You can take in some food from Katsura here or an iced Violet Sake from the Garden House – and of course the Taiko drummers will be just below at regular intervals to show their craft.
3. Crescent Lake at the Epcot Resorts
Whether you're relaxing over the water outside the Boardwalk Bakery or taking a break from the rest of the world at the beaches outside of the Yacht Club and Beach Club, the loop around Crescent Lake surrounded by the Epcot Resorts is it's own bit of beauty on Disney property. Whether you're running that Boardwalk loop at sunrise or watching the sunset over dinner or campfire toasted marshmallows, there will forever be a place in my most peaceful heart for Crescent Lake.
2. Geyser Point at Wilderness Lodge
Want to know a secret? This entire list exists because I wanted to write about Geyser Point.
Geyser Point is an outdoor bar and grill at Wilderness Lodge and it is my happy place. You'll find it by walking around the main pool at Wilderness Lodge to the right and continuing out toward the water and Copper Creek.
Whether I'm sitting inside under the fans or out on the couches by the water, it feels a thousand miles away from the chaos of Disney. Whether I'm with my kids or alone with my computer, my time there is some of my most cherished – and as the weather begins to cool this time of year it becomes more and more perfect.
1. Main Street, U.S.A., in the Magic Kingdom
Want to know another secret? Even though I wanted to write this article because of my love for #2, Geyser Point…and even though I've lived a mile and change behind Cinderella Castle for over a year – Main Street, U.S.A. is still my #1 happy place and the place that soothes my soul more than anywhere else on property. I know it can be sheer chaos. I know it's full of crowds and screaming children and people running in the gate to their first FastPass sometimes without stopping to look around. But it's also the Disney of my childhood and the Disney that people picture for years when saving for that one trip. And there is still nothing in the world like grabbing a popcorn or a Casey's hot dog or a cup of coffee and sitting on a bench somewhere along Main Street to watch the people as they turn that corner and see the castle for the first time, taking in the Dapper Dans, or watching the citizens of Main Street dance and sing from the Trolley. The chance to have an unrushed moment here to just sit back and watch the people and smell the smells with no agenda of your own can be the most wonderful thing in the world.
And so on that lovely note….I would love love love to hear from you on this topic. Now that you've read my list – where are YOUR favorite places to relax and take a deep breath in Walt Disney World?