Huh? Relax at Walt Disney World?
No, seriously. It’s the best. Instead of running ourselves ragged and subsequently dragging screaming or sleeping kids around the park at all hours of the day and night, we have learned that the best plan of attack is to take things slow. You’ll learn that about us if you stick around here, but I’ll start as clear as possible. Sometimes, even (especially?) with kids, some of your best memories will be made not while running from mountain to mountain in the Magic Kingdom, but while hanging out, taking in everything around you. Find the other pieces of this series here: Magic Kingdom | Hollywood Studios | Epcot
Animal Kingdom has long been known as the hottest park, with fewer shaded areas and rides – but that doesn’t mean it has to be completely exhausting. For our family, this park is generally one of the most relaxing. To us, it isn’t a half-day park, thanks in large part to the very things I’m going to mention —
- Discovery Island Trails. Aside from the new locations of a few character meet and greets, we have pretty much never seen another person on these trails. Under and around the tree of life, these areas have wonderful tree cover and lots of intriguing plants and animals to scope out while escaping the crowds and the heat.
- Wilderness Explorers. We’ll be writing more about this one shortly, and certainly it isn’t a place to relax – but it absolutely fits the bill of a slower paced, relaxing, fun activity for an Animal Kingdom day. For no additional cost (no seriously, free! At Walt Disney World!) kids and their grown-ups can explore the park earning badges from troop leaders positioned at various stations. Don’t tell your kids if this will bug them… but they might learn a thing or two along the way, too!
- Baby Care Centers. Mentioned in coverage of each park, the care centers are my hidden gem of advice for anyone with small kids. Even if nobody needs a diaper change or a nursing session, don’t overlook these rooms in each of the four parks. They’re air-conditioned, staffed with friendly cast members, full of toys and coloring pages and a break for over-stimulated kids (and their grown-ups!).
- Dawa Bar. Outside of the Tusker House restaurant in Africa (on your way to Kilimanjaro Safaris), there is a charming little outdoor bar. They serve some specialty drinks (alcoholic or non) but it’s also just one of our favorite places, especially at off-peak times, to sit and take in the atmosphere. There is almost always a band or other form of live entertainment appropriate for the land, and plenty of room for kids to run around nearby. It’s covered, too, to keep you out of the sun!
- The Boneyard. So this one isn’t going to be relaxing for your kids – but it may allow you to take a breather (with no lines!) while they wear themselves out! A large playground plus an equally large mammoth dig site make this one a favorite of our kids every trip, at any age.
- … and an Honorable Mention goes to Camp Minnie-Mickey (in general) – may it rest in peace. I loved the quiet and the atmosphere music back there. Well, except for every time before and after a Festival of the Lion King show. But I digress…
Did I miss any of your favorite still-in-existence Animal Kingdom spots? Leave a comment below!