Staying sane. Usually fairly easy. Staying sane at 1 pm in June at Disney World. That’s a bit harder. Add 100 crazy points per kid (or spouse) and eighty beskillion points per ten degrees over 70 or under 50 (it happens). By the time that magic hour called “just after lunch wears off” hits, you have a whole bucket of meltdown waiting to happen. And I will just start out by saying that I often have no kids with me, if I do it is my teenaged niece, and there are still meltdowns that would make Pripyat go “Holy s^&%!”
The problem with being an on the cheap, Florida, annual passholder type is that unlike those lucky buggers with their on property hotels and their pools and cool, dark, nearby rooms, we have little alternative than to remain at the parks, sweating, or freezing, definitely unhappy and worn out by mid afternoon, and often miles to go before we sleep, and that at the end of a two hour trip home. Folk with young children have access to the Baby Care centers which provides a nice, calm, cool, out of the way spot for families to take care of babies’ needs and even grab a quick nap should they need it. But not having wee bitlets attached to me, I would look creepy and unsettling hanging out with the toddlers and nursing moms. Blech and blerg. What is the cheap Disney wanderer to do?
Plenty, my friends. In a word, plenty. There are some surprisingly awesome places to recoup and get a second wind both in the parks and out. You can spend some scratch on them, such as one of the many fine lounges around property, but we rock it cheap-like up in this parts, and I am going to point you towards the cheapest of the cheap.
You must first keep in mind the layouts of each park. Magic Kingdom tends to have the most “don’t touch me! Keep off the grass!” landscaping, while, say Epcot is filled with lush expanses of grass covered in Brazilian tour groups. Animal Kingdom is shady, but hot as the blazing Gates as no wind moves through the thick vegetation. And Hollywood Studios is pretty much a parking lot.
First, Magic Kingdom. The noise and crowds of the most kid-friendly park are tempered by the blessed proximity of the the “monorail” resorts nearby. All offer a number of benefits to a weary traveler anxious to get away from the crowd for a little bit. The Polynesian, of curse, has the most lovely beach, and wait…what’s that by the pool? Hot DAMN! It’s a bar! A BAR! Yay! After the dry lands of the Magic Kingdom, a frosty margarita or rum and coke goes down right smooth. The bar is excellent, the drinks are reasonably strong and not too expensive (though not cheap), and the view sublime. Access to the Poly is by monorail, or my favourite, groovy little launches that take you around the lake in a leisurely “I’m on vacation” kind of way. Recently, we went another way and headed over to the Grand Floridian to have a midday break, and I will be honest, I fully expected that at this most exclusive and glamorous resort, that the staff would look down their noses at us, grimy and sweat covered and declare “Zat yu are too nasteh to come to zis niiice ‘otel.” (in my imagination, they developed outrageous French accents…for the snootiness) Imagine my delight when I found every person we came across to be warm and kind. Make no mistake, we CLEARLY did not belong there and were obviously not guests. They weren’t being nice because we were spending 800 a night in their lovely rooms. We were simply welcome. Now don’t go cannonballing fully clothed nto their pool, but come on in, have a seat in the stunningly beautiful lobby, listen to the piano player often in attendance there, look for hidden Mickeys, and check out the adorable little Mary Poppins garden. Also in the lobby are televisions showing classic Disney toons, though the furniture was a bit wee for us. Didn’t stop us.
Another trick to getting some much needed down time, especially if you don’t want to leave the parks, is to ride long crap. There, the mysteries of the ages revealed. Most of us know to hit the old PeopleMover if we can’t take the heat anymore- the breezes that hit as the car whips gently around corners is legendary among the Disney-loving lazy. The Carousel of Progress is another tried and true favourite, renowned as a place to take a nap, or nurse a baby discreetly. A new favourite of mine are the tables by the race track in Tomorrowland. They are tucked behind a screen of planters, across from Auntie Gravity’s shop and I never really thought to stop there. They tend not to be busy, so there is no one to care if you pull up two chairs to prop your legs on and have a light snooze when you wait for the more adventurous to finish riding Space Mountain. Check out the Liberty Square riverboat for a nice gentle ride round the Rivers of America. Seating is sparse, and it can be warm, but it is still a relaxing getaway for 20 minutes or so. Tom Sawyer Island, maligned by some as a time waster (and I can see their point if you are aiming to get as much done as possible; it’s not exactly a thrill a minute) is the best place, hands down, to take a picnic lunch and get away from crowds for an hour.
From any of the parks, it’s merely a bus ride away to any number of resorts that offer cool quiet and a long frosty beverage. I won’t go into detail on all of them, but will cover a few more, as well as Epcot: Land of Naps in Part Two.