Let's face it, family vacations can be a little stressful. (Especially if you have not figured out that EVERYONE needs a midday break!) Sometimes we all just need a little break. There are places on Disney property that are quiet, beautiful, and make you forget about your worries, at least for a moment or two. This list is only a few of the little getaways and it is not in any particular order. You can do and get to all of these places even if you are not staying on property.
1. Caribbean Beach Playground is on its own island of solitude.
I completely missed this playground the first time we stayed there. It wasn't until we were “visitors” of the Resort that I finally found this beautiful place. The kids can play. The parents can relax. How perfect is that?
2. Beaches at the Yacht and Beach Club are perfect for recovering.
The beaches at the Yacht and Beach Club are a great place to meet friends before catching a boat over to Epcot or Hollywood Studios or simply relaxing. The views are breathtaking and the sand is divine. I have even recovered from a surgery on this beach. No joke. We left the hospital and I was asked where I wanted to go. Where else? Disney. The Beach. Take me to the beach. Give me some iced tea in my Disney mug and let me be.
3. Marshmallow Roasts are for Disney guests.
Buying dinner in the quick service counts as being a Disney guest, right? It works for me. I have never been questioned if I was staying at that resort when I have asked for my marshmallows. During the “winter” months, the marshmallow roasts at the resorts is earlier in the evening. During the summer, they are closer to 7pm. Aside from Value Resorts, most resorts on Disney property have marshmallow roasts. Check with a cast member to find out when and where it will be. All of the roasts we have been to has free marshmallows and sticks. I have heard that Fort Wilderness charges, so check first before you just show up there. One of the reasons I love the marshmallow roasts is for the scenery. Most are on beaches and you can watch the sun set, the boats go by, and hear the waves come up onto the beach. This event in a special place in my heart due to the beautiful and yummy factor.
4. Hammocks can be found at the resorts with beaches.
My favorite hammock is at the Caribbean Beach Resort. The beach is to the right of the “dining hall” and also has some beach chairs and a volleyball net. Bring a ball so the kids can play, get them some kid's meals so you have sand buckets and shovels and you are set! (You can also bring your own bucket and shovel and save the money.) I could lay on this hammock and read for hours. Every now and then I do have to flip my hammock because sandy kids tend to sit next to me and cover the hammock and my body in sand. Other great places for hammocks are on the other side of the Caribbean Beach, Coronado Springs, and the Polynesian.
5. Geysers don't naturally occur on Disney property.
Really, who can tell? The geysers at Wilderness Lodge and at Big Thunder Mountain Railroad look real enough for me. There is a small collection of tables tucked next to the bar at Wilderness Lodge. Don't worry. This is Disney and I don't drink and I still feel comfortable sitting at these tables. Depending on which table you choose, you can see the geyser, the stream and flowers that are right next to you, parts of the pool and hot tub, and the campfire! Now that is a seat for me! I can work and still see the kids!
6. Artist's Palette at Saratoga Springs is more than a quick service.
If you can catch the Artist's Palette on an off day, it is a wonderful place to sit, sip coffee, and let the kids explore their artistic abilities. The lights, decor, and feel of the Artist's Palette make it a favorite in my book. If you get to the Carriage House and make your way to the Artist's Palette and it's swamped, no worries. There are plenty of places on Saratoga Springs property that are quiet and relaxing. Ask a cast member where the campfire is and follow the trail to relaxation. The campfire is in a little area that is enclosed by the buildings and has lots of grass for kids to run and play. I have even seen a cast member do a backflip here once. So it must be safe to play on!
7. Sand Castle play area is larger than life at Old Key West.
I know. Sand… Palm Trees… A play area… It all sounds familiar. No hammocks here, though. The playground itself is small but the play area with the enormous sand castle makes up for it. There are tables near the play area for parents to work (or relax) and the kids can play. The quick service is actually outside at Old Key West and is not far from the play area. It is easy to get a drink and a quick bite and relax while the kids play. If you are staying at Old Key West, the pool also hosts a similar structure with a Mickey for the slide exit! Awesome. The tables are on hard ground, so if you want to really relax, put away all the work and go sit in the sand and let the kids bury your feet. If you are visiting without kids, you may ask a stranger. You never know, they just might do it!
8. Pepper Market has an outdoor market feel.
Even though Pepper Market is a quick service, it feels more like a restaurant and authentic outdoor market combined. I find this place very relaxing because I don't feel overrun with Disney characters and music. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE all of that, but I need a break too. Breakfast and lunch, I believe, are now a set price and are like a buffet. I tend to go at dinner time. You can choose from a variety of foods and scrumptious desserts. The “waiter” comes to the table to collect your refillable mugs to fill them himself. When we first starting going to the Pepper Market, the waiter would bring out our drinks in a cup and we would have to fill our own mugs, due to sanitary reasons. I am not sure if they got rid of that policy or we have just gotten lucky. You pay for ALL of your items when you leave at the cash register. I believe 10 percent was tacked on for the extra service. If you do not wish to eat here, you can still visit and take in the amazing authentic atmosphere of the outdoor market. I also suggest visiting the bathrooms right inside the adjoining restaurant so you can take in the guitar player and the restaurant's atmosphere. There is an even quicker food service between the Pepper Market and the lobby. They have sandwiches and a drink refill station.
9. Riding the Monorail can provide a break for families.
Of course, riding the monorail during the holiday season is spectacular but the monorail can provide a much needed break for families during the hot and humid afternoon. You can ride all the way around on the monorail and just get a quick and hopefully cool break, or you can stop at the different Resorts. This is a great way to see the Resorts without having to park at each one. Grab a Hidden Mickey book or use one the Hidden Mickey apps and explore the resorts. The Contemporary Resort hosts a large collection of pressed coin machines near the elevators. They even have a change machine right there! Make sure to bring your own shiny pennies though. The balcony at the Resort provides wonderful views of Magic Kingdom and is also an excellent location for watching the fireworks. There are even beaches here to relax while the kids play if needed. I tend to just stay on the monorail and take in the views as we zoom around and around Disney property. Watch for the Mary Poppins topiary at the Grand Floridian as you zoom by!
10. Take time to watch the sun set.
No matter where you are on Disney property, the sunset can be beautiful and provide a relaxing moment. I have seen the sun set as I waited for the boat to come to Magic Kingdom. I have seen it set from behind rides and Disney Details. I have seen it set from atop a mountain when I was about to plunge five stories towards cold water. It does not matter how irritated I might be, what child is not listening, or what line is too long, the sunset stops me. It reminds me of the beauty of Disney and mother nature and how important my family is to me. As the sun gets closer and closer to the horizon, I hug my kids and my husband and am thankful that I got to witness another magnificent sunset with the ones I love at Disney World. The happiest place on Earth.