ROMANTIC DISNEY: Taking the Time to Stop and Wander in the Parks

Romantic Disney WDWNT

Grizzly River FallsVirtually any Disney day can be described as “go, go, go.” From arrival to departure there’s more to do than can realistically be done, so… go, go, go! And there’s nothing wrong with that! But amidst all that go, go, go-ing, there’s room—and opportunity—for standing still and seeing where that takes you.

We didn’t always think this way.

For years, go, go, go was all we did, because no matter how much we ever did it was never enough. There was no day empty enough and no ride we could ride enough to make us ever entertain the idea of not go, go, go-ing.

It wasn’t until we became passport holders and increased our frequency that we started to feel a little less competitive towards time. Instead of trying to race it to the finish line, we allowed it to pass. This idea became even more compelling when we began making our annual pilgrimages to Walt Disney World. Our first trip was for 5 days. Our longest trip was for 10. Being able to visit the parks multiple times within the span of a week (or so) both afforded—and necessitated—the idea of stopping and letting time pass.

Wait… isn’t that just a snack break?

At first, it was a snack break that got us to stop long enough to regenerate our cells and take it all in. But gradually, between our love of photography and the desire to inhale the happiest molecules on earth more deeply, we agreed to take more time just being.

To be clear, this wasn’t a new mandate on how we treated our park days, but a possibility we could be open to should inspiration and circumstance collide. An unexpectedly crowded day, for instance, can be enough to inspire a less aggressive approach where we shift the emphasis from attraction acquisition to peaceful exploration.

When it works

There are places within every Disney park that give pause—sometimes in retrospect upon reminiscing, or from looking back at our photos upon our return—that make us think, “Hey, that’d be a really cool place to take a break and hang for a while.” We’d look so forward to incorporating our new secret hideaway into our next visit, only to finally arrive and discover it overrun with hyper kids and their slogging adults. Oh, well, so it goes, best laid plans, right, right. As ironic and disappointing as this can be, it’s a good reminder that no two days at Disney are ever the same, and it’s best to just laugh, shrug, accept defeat and move on. But, when everything comes together, and the day and the place invite you to linger, that’s when you can discover an entirely new Disney attraction: the perfect place at the perfect time.

So, where are those places?

Every Disney park offers numerous possibilities quality for hang time: a bench on Main Street, an outdoor lunch spot off-hour, a discreet little table for two in a nook or cul-de-sac…. It all depends on the park, the hour, the time of year, the weather, your exhaustion level, etc., etc.. The point is, it’s always there, you just need to find it.

The upside/the downside

In your desire to “Zen out” Disney-style, beware of getting so focused on a “Shangri-La” destination that you exceed your stamina or expectations, as both can be lethal. You may want to check out our lesson learned the hard way in Burnout: It Happens, where we confronted those very limitations—and big time. In our determination to find that serene, meditative spot in Disney’s Animal Kingdom—and on one of the the hottest and most crowded days we’d ever encountered—we nearly killed ourselves, and then took it out on each other. Epic fail, but an invaluable success.

Wherever, whenever

To help jumpstart your own repertoire of happy finds—even if they’re just going to roll around in the back of your mind until such time that go, go, go becomes stay, stay, stay—here are some of our favorites. For us, it’s about giving the body a break while giving the mind the opportunity to wander.