Since this blog’s creation we have continuously preached that theme parks are often meant to savor as much as they are meant to run through. While most first time guests have an inclination to run from attraction to attraction, we don’t often enjoy that style of touring. Don’t get me wrong, Melissa and I will do a number of attractions each day and our mornings are usually full. Once she gets her fill of attractions though, our pace slows and we start to enjoy the nuances of the theme parks. Much of this is simply walking around and soaking in the sights and sounds. There are places that we return to frequently though where we’ll sit and relax.
Each park has a few of those places, although some certainly have more than others. Today’s post is going to dive into that my favorite spot to relax at each park. I could have made a separate list for each park (and still might) but trying to think of multiple in Hollywood Studios wasn’t my favorite task. Having said that, if you enjoyed this post and would be interested in ones for each park let me know in the comments!
Naturally, some parks are more accommodating for slowing down and finding a place to relax. Epcot and DisneySea have a more adult theme, so places to enjoy a drink with a nice view certainly aren’t hard to find. On the flip side, Animal Kingdom is a thoughtful park but is meant for adventure making places to sit slightly less commonplace.
My criteria for this list of favorite spots to relax is pretty simple – a less crowded, unique area that has places to sit. This can include restaurants, lounges, lands, attractions, shows, and whatever else you might think of. I’ll go ahead and tell you now that it’s not going to include attractions because that’s a post for another day. Likewise, shows are left off the list because most Disney Park shows are not created for relaxing. If you fall asleep in a Disney show it’s probably because you are tired and the A/C is on and you finally don’t have to hold your backpack and you are sitting down for the first time in 3 hours. Not that I speak from experience.
As custom on the blog, we’ll include all of the parks that we’ve been to (WDW, DLR and TDR). Let’s get to it!
Magic Kingdom – Sleepy Hollow Refreshments Seating Area
Strangely, this has been the toughest pick for me of all the eight parks. Columbia Harbor House’s upstairs seating has become more crowded over the last few years or else it would have earned the crown. Instead, we’ll go with Sleepy Hollow’s seating narrowly edging out the section of Fantasyland near the Tangled bathrooms. Sleepy Hollow Refreshments can get crowded but there is ample room on the walking path that runs past the castle, as well. Settling down here with a snack and enjoying the view of the castle is nice, especially if you can time it right with a parade going by or a show going on.
Epcot – Back of the France Pavilion
Epcot’s France Pavilion is one of the busier places in World Showcase. There are a couple of restaurants, an ice cream shop, a short film, and a beautiful fountain to explore among other things. The further you go into the pavilion though, the less crowded it gets. Once past the fountain, head towards L’Artisan des Glaces, buy an ice cream cone and sit down at one of the small tables right outside the door. Admittedly, I wouldn’t do this during the day. The crowds will be much heavier and the heat can be overbearing. Doing this at night, a few hours before closing is one of my favorite pastimes at Epcot and something I’d recommend. For a more suitable option during the day, check out the Japan Pavilion’s gardens.
Hollywood Studios – Echo Lake
While the area is devoid of attractions (at least the part that I’m referencing), Echo Lake has a dinosaur hovering overhead and a boat across the way, both of which are home to ice cream. If that’s not enough to sell you on the area then… Sunset Boulevard is Hollywood Studios crown jewel in terms of successful lands and has been for some time. Echo Lake quietly executes an interesting theme and is far less crowded with places to sit. Dinosaur Gertie sits overhead (our preference is to sit just to the right of her), invoking the California Crazy architecture. Neon lights come on once the sun sets and the boat reflection on the water is pretty. While the choices are somewhat limited here, Echo Lake is a beautiful place to relax for a while especially with ice cream in tow and once the sun goes down.
Animal Kingdom – Flame Tree Barbecue Seating
So many places to choose but such little seating. Flame Tree Barbecue’s seating area is relatively well-known at this point. Along with serving quality barbecue, this counter-service restaurant serves up quite a view. After getting your food or mandarin lemonade (get it!) follow the seating area path as far as it will go until you are right next to the water with a beautiful view of Expedition Everest. The water is relaxing and most guests don’t walk all the way down there. A nice alternative is along the path that runs from Asia to Africa, there are a couple of short little side areas with benches and chairs that have a great view of the Tree of Life. Don’t worry, finding animals on the backside of the tree is just as much fun as the front.
Disneyland – New Orleans Square (French Market)
An obvious choice, New Orleans Square will always be the ‘cool’ land. The pace in the area slows considerably and the architecture is somewhat striking compared to the lands surrounding it. Rivers of America is across the way and the pastel tones are inviting. I like to take up a seat at French Market, especially once the band starts playing. This is a perfect place to people watch, watch Fantasmic! from a distance or just enjoy the scenery and sounds. Of course, the food is good too.
California Adventure – Flo’s V8 Cafe Outdoor Seating
Honestly, I tried not to pick somewhere in Cars Land. There are places near Grizzly Peak that I love but unfortunately lack sitting options. Even if they had places to relax, they still wouldn’t beat some of the seating at Flo’s. No, this doesn’t fit the crowd portion of the criteria but the views are spectacular. In the morning, we prefer the outdoor seating near Radiator Springs Racers (go through the restaurant to enjoy this area). This path is less crowded and soaking in the Cadillac Mountain views is pleasant. Once the sun goes down and the neon is turned on, taking a seat near Flo’s entrance is fantastic. Grab a pie or milkshake while you’re there and take in one of the best theme park lands in the country.
Tokyo Disneyland – Deck at Camp Woodchuck
There were a number of places I could have picked here, with the Splash Mountain mini land coming in a close second. If you have never been to Tokyo Disneyland, think of Camp Woodchuck as having the same location as Hungry Bear Restaurant. There is a nice deck to people watch and a fun mountain lodge aesthetic. Grabbing one of Tokyo Disneyland’s many snacks and taking a seat up on the deck as the Mark Twain Riverboat passes by makes for a very enjoyable, relaxing time. The restaurant is fairly new and up to date, as well, so there are plenty of fun details abound.
Tokyo DisneySea – Teddy Roosevelt Lounge
One of the inspirations for this blog post, Teddy Roosevelt Lounge is a perfect place to take a load off. Sitting inside the S.S. Columbia, the lounge is full of rich wood and lavish design. There is a beautiful fireplace towards the back of the lounge with over-sized chairs and couches beside it. Curling up there for an hour and dozing off doesn’t sound like that bad of an idea. All of that isn’t what makes Teddy Roosevelt Lounge stand out though. Instead the theming is what sticks with me. A lounge in Japan that pays homage to a U.S. president is strange. But, this lounge fits in with the American Waterfront – a land based on industrial aged New York. Before his presidency, Teddy was governor of New York. There are portraits of the lounge’s namesake throughout as well as hunting trophies and bear statues. Everything about Teddy Roosevelt Lounge feels cool, like you and your friends snuck into some place you weren’t supposed to be. I don’t know why this place doesn’t exist stateside but it would immediately be the best lounge at Disney World and/or Disneyland if it did.
What are your favorite places to relax at Disney Parks? Let us know in the comments! If you enjoy what you are reading here on Wandering in Disney please share this post with your friends, as well as like our social media pages. You can also subscribe to the blog via WordPress or email. All of those links are on the right side of this page. Thank you for reading, we really appreciate it!
Categories: Vacation Tips