Private Cabanas at Disney’s Paradise in the Bahamas

Did you know that when you sail with Disney Cruise Line, most itineraries make one or even two stops at Disney Castaway Cay? This Disney island is located in the Bahamas and offers many excursions (Port Adventures) for Guests of all ages. You’ll find a Family Beach, Adult-Only Beach called, Serenity Bay and a Teen Beach, where you’ll enjoy complimentary beach loungers, chairs and large umbrella. As if that’s not enough, you’ll be treated to a delicious and bountiful beach barbecue!

We love renting a private Cabana for our day at Disney Castaway Cay because it offers peace, shelter and a lot of privacy which is perfect for keeping our son comfortable, enabling him to enjoy a full day on the island. The private Cabana offers, a roomy interior with sofa, chairs, a stocked mini-fridge, face towels, magazines, sunscreens and lotions, a corner change area with curtain, an outer covered verandah with large, cushioned loungers, a hammock, outdoor shower – great for rinsing off the sand, beach loungers, chairs and umbrella, the use of beach floatations, snorkel equipment, bikes, beach toys and a buzzer near the entrance, which will beckon a Cast Member who can restock your mini-fridge with water bottles, juices, fruit and snacks…and yes, they’ll bring you a Konk Kooler, or libation for a cost.

My experience with booking private Cabanas is that you have to book within your booking window for Port Adventures and do so as soon as possible, because they’re popular. I have a few tips (not guaranteed but worth a try) if you can’t book one online. Keep checking back online because someone may cancel. As well, when you board the ship on the first day, check again and every day of your sailing with the Port Adventures Desk. The day you dock at Disney Castaway Cay, catch the Tram to Pelican Point and go to the Cabanas Check-In Booth and inquire again – this is how we scored our very first Cabana the year they became available. Now, as Platinum Castaway Cay Club members, we have an earlier booking window. As well, if you are sailing in Concierge Level, you too, will have an earlier booking window.

As a mom of an autistic teenage boy, I cannot say enough how helpful it is utilizing a private Cabana. My son, enjoys the beach, but will tire easily, so he has the option of resting on the covered verandah on a cushy lounger watching his favourite Disney movies, or swinging to his hearts content on a hammock all to himself and for my motion seeker, that’s the perfect solution!

Disney Cruise Line, where “There’s Something for Everyone.”

Cabana Sign Psarianos

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Andrew Soared Sailing with Disney Cruise Line

Who would have thought that we could take our son to Europe? We never, ever thought this would be possible, ever, and we consider ourselves hopeless optimists which has kept us going year after year after year through these chapters called, autism.

We were blown away during our recent sailing on the Disney Magic throughout the Mediterranean seeing our son acclimate so well and I’ll say this – it’s because of our past sailings with Disney Cruise Line. It’s because of the familiarity having sailed all four ships in the fleet (with more to come in the near future). You see, while each ship has its own distinctive features, there are many similarities with the others that create consistency and through that, foster an environment of security. Here’s how they do it:

  • the staterooms all have similar layouts, furniture design and fabrics
  • the basic colours both inside and out are similar
  • the basic layouts of the ships are basically similar
  • the rotational dining system in the three main dining rooms carries throughout the fleet
  • the youth clubs, while slightly varied, do evoke a sense of familiarity offering a welcoming and friendly vibe in all

Andrew can take you almost anywhere onboard. In fact, he quite often leads the way, usually ten paces ahead of us. Yes, it’s become that easy for us. He knows the routine well now. When we open our stateroom door, he knows exactly what to expect and where he will sleep and proceeds to ‘organize his space’ if I may, where he lays out all his comforts from home – his iPad, his tactile, sensory toys to name a few things. It’s all become systematic and seamless. You can see him doing this in the photo below – he’s organizing, as he calls it.

Then, let’s talk about the Port Adventures. We did all of them in Europe because of all the logistical planning and mostly the peace of mind. With Disney Cruise Line you get all of that and much more. On each and every Port Adventure, the guides did all they possibly could to ensure Andrew was comfortable, safe and happy, but most of all, they valued him for who he was and made him feel included. One example, is how Andrew was asked to lead the Port Adventures group straight to the Acropolis of Athens by carrying the group sign. I cannot tell you how his confidence soared right before our very eyes and what great hope that gave us, seeing him so proud and happy. He was all smiles for the entire cruise.

This is what keeps us coming back for more with the cruise line where “there’s something for everyone.”

 

2018 Disney Social Media Moms Celebration

Have you ever heard of the Disney Parks Blog? Did you know that you can follow any official (and I take ‘official’ seriously because there’s merit to that word) Disney news and information by connecting with Disney Parks on Social Media? These social media outlets are where you will read about factual information so you can form your own opinion based on your personal needs and likes. Many enthusiastic contributors through many hours of dedication, create entertaining and pleasingly informative posts filled with news and photos that bring ‘happy’ news straight to you.

Through these social media platforms be prepared to connect and hear all about what’s new, what’s re-imagined and what’s on the horizon from the colourful palette steered by The Walt Disney Company at the 2018 Disney Social Media Moms Celebration – from what I feel is the ‘most Magical & Happiest’ conference this year! This conference will take place at Walt Disney World Resort placing paying attendees at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort – (which itself is undergoing a massive re-imagination, so stay tuned), followed by a sailing on the third ship in the Disney Cruise Line fleet, the Disney Dream.

For all official announcements during this conference, please follow the handle @DisneyMoms with Hashtag #DisneySMMC on Twitter; the official Disney Parks Blog website; their Facebook Page – Disney Parks Blog; their Instagram page – @DisneyParksBlog; the Disney Parks and Resorts page using their Twitter handle- @DisneyParks.

I will be sharing official news during my attendance, as well as posting, at times, my personal experience (not opinions) as a parent travelling with a special needs teenage son, mostly in part to help other people in my similar situation understand the value and benefits of vacationing at the Disney Parks, Resorts and Destinations, so that, hopefully, one day soon, they too, may experience life-changing moments at “The Most Magical Place on Earth” at Walt Disney World Resort, “The Happiest Place on Earth” at Disneyland Resort, or where, “There’s Something for Everyone” sailing with Disney Cruise Line.

Those that have followed me on social media, know that for years, I have been diligently and consistently sharing the Disney brand throughout all my social media outlets, multiple times daily (not only when I believe it will benefit me) but because I have a passion for this brand and all that it has done to positively impact my family, especially my son. Testament to this, is that we’ve visited both Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort a combined 45 times, sailed with Disney Cruise Line 12 times on all four ships in the fleet, including a Mediterranean sailing, toured The Walt Disney Studios in Burbank California and have visited Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa in Ko Olina, Hawai’i all since 1998. We definitely love experiencing “The Disney Difference”!

Thank you and get ready for the “Most Magical & Happiest News on Earth” with the 2018 Disney Social Media Moms Celebration!

 

 

Andrew and Disney’s MagicBands

Andrew would never tolerate wearing anything on his wrist in the early days, so when the whole Disney MagicBand system came about I knew I had to do something and not resort to relying on my Theme Park Admission Cards for fear of losing them. Not only that, taking them out of my wallet every time was something I really didn’t need to do. I also didn’t want to exclude him from wearing a MagicBand by carrying his. Andrew needed to learn, so I began with ‘first and then’ using the attraction visuals I could pull up with My Disney Experience mobile app. I would show Andrew the attraction photo paired with the actual MagicBand, because I knew he loved the attraction – thereby he would associate the MagicBand with ‘good things’. From there, I phased in ‘first MagicBand, then attraction’ with an immediate, tangible reinforcer – his ‘in a million pieces Oreo cookie’ from which I would give him a snippet so he wouldn’t be emptying an entire bag of Oreo’s – see where I’m going? Repeated trials? Many. Was it worth it? Yes. He eventually tolerated and wore the MagicBand. Today, he wears two MagicBands, one on each wrist – that’s how much he loves them!

Customizing the MagicBand with his favourite colour certainly helped a great deal, too. Once your Walt Disney World Resort vacation is booked and you’ve linked your Disney Resort hotel reservation to your Disney account, you can begin personalizing your complimentary MagicBand – one of many select Disney Resort hotel Guest benefits.

MagicBands

Photo Credit: The Walt Disney Company – Disney Parks Blog

Disney Parks has also helped us out a great deal with their FastPass+ Service at Walt Disney World Resort because we can book 3 select attractions for each Theme Park, each day, 30-days before our scheduled visit, or, 60-days before our select Disney Resort hotel reservation check-in date. All this is linked to our MagicBands (after we associate our Disney Resort hotel reservation to our Disney account) and managed with My Disney Experience online and through the My Disney Experience mobile app. So now, Andrew can see what his day will look like by viewing our FastPass+ selections, dining reservations, shows and much more, for each day of our visit, which resembles his daily schedule board at home. It’s a perfect ‘first & then’ scenario and Disney got it just right! There are a lot of dedicated folks behind the scenes, doing a lot of research and working really hard.

Then, to make things even better for Andrew – Disney Parks offers Services for Guests with Cognitive Disabilities in efforts to afford all Guests an inclusive and enjoyable experience. A plethora of services are offered with special needs Guests in mind, and if you need any help you can stop by Guest Relations inside any of the four Theme Parks and speak with a Cast Member, who will help you select the service that’s best for you or your family member. This is one of the many reasons we keep coming back – all of these services have assisted and fostered Andrew’s developmental growth over the course of our vacations, bringing him even closer to us and affording him the chance to experience true, sincere happiness.

Andrew is now able to look at all of our FastPass+ selections and direct us to the respective attraction. He is able to approach the FastPass+ queue, wait his turn and tap his MagicBand to the Mickey Touch-Point. He loves it when the light spins green (that’s a totally sensory-driven thing) which gets him all excited and thus reinforcing in itself!

That is HUGE for our family!

For Disney Vacation planning assistance please stop by the Disney Parks Moms Panel where you can ask my fellow dedicated panelists specific questions, or check out some of my answers on the site.

Thank you for visiting  my Blog and remember, “Life IS a Bowl of Cherries”.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Kidani Village, Walt Disney World Resort

No vacation to Walt Disney World Resort is long enough, be it 5-days or 5-weeks, in my opinion, so when we decided to return for our adventures with close family, we booked Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Kidani Village for 2-weeks. The plan was to alternate Theme Park with Resort hotel days – the best of both worlds, and it worked like a charm. The benefits of staying on property are plenty, with the biggest convenience of being able to head back to your Resort hotel to relax and enjoy the unique theming, which for us was to watch an active savanna from our authentically themed main lobby or Guest Room balcony.  We truly were just as excited about hanging around Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge and Kidani Village, as we were to tour the Theme Parks and Disney Springs. The view of the savanna from our balcony was incredible. Disney Resort hotels can easily be vacation destinations all on their own.

Kidani Balcony

The best part? Andrew and his look of realization seeing the animals in their natural habitat right from our accommodations. Now that was something to see and hear about, with bursts of verbal animal identification that we didn’t know he knew.

Andrew Kidani

And, this look of wonderment at The Most Magical Place on Earth, where many think it’s all about amusement parks. Well, that may be, but Walt Disney World Resort Theme Parks are on another level – a level of uniqueness and immersion that magically transports you to a place where all your troubles are left behind – thanks to the creativity of talented, enthusiastic and dedicated Disney Imagineers.

For us? It’s about the entire vacation experience and all the surprises we see from Andrew. It’s about the bursts of language, the connections he makes to his beloved Disney animated movies when the Disney Characters come alive, or, when he walks into a storybook setting that he becomes a part of. This makes leaving our Disney vacation extremely difficult for fear of what we will miss upon our return home.

Andrew and Buzz

Such as this photo above with his buddy Buzz Lightyear, during our visit to Disney California Adventure Park, Disneyland Resort. The direct eye contact took mere seconds and Buzz had Andrew’s attention for a solid 20-minutes of fun and frolic. We can’t wait to take him to experience Radiator Springs Racers back at Disney California Adventure Park this summer, which I’m certain he’ll make the connection to his beloved Test Track attraction!

That’s the magic of Disney.

My BIGGEST Personal Dream Came True

Disney MP 2016

The Disney Parks Moms Panel is an official Disney online forum where Disney travel enthusiasts with first-hand knowledge answer returning and potential Guests questions regarding Disney Parks planning. The advice and tips presented to Guests is unparalleled with the abundant depth of knowledge from first-hand experience. Panelists represent various Disney Parks destination specialties around the globe, such as Disneyland Resort in California, Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, Disney Cruise Line, Disney Vacation Club, runDisney and ESPN Wide World of Sports. As well, panelists are well versed with Aulani, A Disney Resort and Spa and Adventures by Disney. Best of all, most panelists have a rich tapestry of combined destination experiences, as well as knowledge of travel with special needs family members, and multiple languages such as Spanish, Portuguese and French.

After eight years of applications, (which typically begin in September), progressing through three rounds, and a telephone interview, I was invited for a coveted spot representing the Walt Disney World Resort Specialty! I couldn’t be more grateful and pleased for this important opportunity in assisting returning and potential Disney Parks Guests with their vacation planning. This year for me will be one that I cherish every single moment of answering questions and helping people create life-long, unforgettable memories with their visits to the Walt Disney World Resort. If you’re interested in applying, check the Disney Parks Blog for official application announcements late August or early September.

My Disney Parks experience begins with over 30 visits as a Walt Disney World Resort hotel Guest at over 12 of their resort hotels and Disney Vacation Club Villas. I have celebrated each of my children’s birthdays, except 5 at Walt Disney World Resort and with Disney Cruise Line. I have stayed and played at Disneyland Resort in California and at Aulani, A Disney Resort and Spa in Hawai’i. As well, I have sailed with Disney Cruise Line fleet wide on the Caribbean, and Mediterranean itineraries as a Platinum Castaway Club member with over 11 sailings.

That’s how much I love anything related to Disney! I would be honoured to assist you with your upcoming or potential Disney Parks vacation, just look for Jacqueline P. from Ontario over at the Disney Parks Moms Panel representing Walt Disney World Resort.

Jackie Acropolis

“Mummy, Give Me a Kiss”

 

My son is primarily non-verbal. It is difficult engaging him in any conversation. He does not like to be touched or hugged.

Andrew is fifteen with a developmental age of three. He loves the movie Toy Story and the Disney characters Buzz Lightyear and Woody. It is for that reason we love Disney’s Hollywood Studios’  attraction ‘Toy Story Midway Mania!’.

Every time we vacation at any of the Disney Parks we see great social and developmental improvements. Andrew comes into his own and into our world many times during those vacations. That is what keeps us coming back time and time again, coupled with Cast Members anticipating our needs, makes for a positive and memorable experience.

One visit to Toy Story Mania stands out in my mind, Andrew was thirteen at the time and up until then I had never heard any terms of endearment or had any hugs from him.

While in the attraction vehicle, Andrew’s aim at the targets was incredible, he was pointing and shooting at all the targets on the screens, breaking them one after the other and becoming increasingly engaged by the minute.

Andrew that day scored 89,000 points, a personal best!

What a huge stride Andrew took that day, it was massive and I was so excited.

Upon exiting the attraction, Andrew turned to me and said, “Mummy, I love you, give me a kiss!”

I was floored! Not only did I give him a kiss, but I got a great big hug out of him for the first time in his thirteen years. For the very first time!

Imagine my delight. It’s a moment I will never ever forget and will hold close to my heart always.

Andrew came back to us if even for a few minutes. I have not heard those words from Andrew since, nor can I predict what he will say or do in the future. I am going to hold on to that special moment for the rest of my life and it’s all because of incredible, unforgettable moments while vacationing at Walt Disney World Resort!

I am so grateful for that special, special moment.

Andrew Toy Story Mania

Sailing the Mediterranean with Disney Cruise Line

For years and years I dreamed about exploring the historic sites of Europe. As an art history minor in university, I had written countless essays on architectural and artistic genres, I had identified slide upon slide of famous sculptures and paintings, and I knew I could navigate my way through these incredible places from all the readings I had done.

Europe had to wait, however, our son was unable to make the lengthy overseas trip, let alone be expected to stand around the countless museums and fully appreciate what he was looking at. What he could do, to his immense pleasure, was to visit Walt Disney World Resort, Disneyland Resort and sail with Disney Cruise Line.

We’ve sailed ten cruises on all four ships in the fleet, with the great majority of those sailings including itineraries of seven days or longer. These cruises laid the groundwork for my son and helped him acclimate to vacationing because there were many rewards all around him. It was on these cruises that we saw huge developmental improvements, there was motivation everywhere. I could use my ‘first and then’ routine and get him to do just about anything. After all, who wouldn’t want to finish their dinner to go and greet Mickey Mouse, or play in the full scale version of Andy’s Room from the hit movie ‘Toy Story’, after many attempts at minor social behaviour training sessions while sailing. Reinforcement was instant and anything we attempted to teach our son was a hit.

Without fully realizing it, vacationing with Disney Cruise Line and the Disney Parks had laid the foundations for expanding our horizons beyond and had prepared us to embark on new adventures.

We decided to sail with Disney, on our first ever, family trip to the Mediterranean, with stops at our ancestral homeland of Greece. We were beyond excited! We selected the nine day Disney Cruise Line itinerary aboard the re-imagined Disney Magic, in our regular mid-ship verandah stateroom. Sailing the Mediterranean with Disney Cruise Line meant peace of mind and stellar standards. We would know exactly what to expect each and every day. We would be sleeping in the same bed every night which would afford my son consistency and no transitioning issues, which can make or break a vacation. So, I began to plan the port adventures in the Mediterranean with ease right through Disney Cruise Line’s online Planning Center. I selected a port adventure at every single port and all were almost day long excursions with outstanding and well planned itineraries.

Our adventure began in Venice, Italy where we decided to spend a few days before the cruise in order to visit various historical places. I booked a private tour company for these days and although the tours were extensive and detailed, they were exhausting, demanding and proper breaks were not included, you kept going all day long. I tried my best to keep up with the groups all the while attempting to keep my son comfortable, well-behaved and happy. That was difficult for me.

Andrew Venice

I secretly couldn’t wait to board the Disney Magic and was excited when our Saturday came along and we boarded our motor coach for the ride to the port. The port, owned of course by the port of Venice didn’t look anything like the one in Port Canaveral, but Disney Cruise Line made many successful attempts to make it look and feel like the one in Port Canaveral, with colourful Captain Mickey banners, booths and cast members wearing the familiar outfits and big, white Mickey Mouse hands waving away. Boarding process and screening was similar, but we had to walk outside, alongside the ship towards a make-shift building with huge elevators and a stairwell in order to reach deck three and board the ship.

DCL Venice Port    DCL Venice Gangway

Once inside, it was as if a huge burden was lifted off my shoulders because we were home and all would be well. My son even lead the way to our stateroom and helped me decorate our stateroom door. Things were back to normal now, we were on the Disney Magic.

Jackie Selfie with Helmsman Mickey      DCL Venice Stateroom Door

Right away normalcy dominated because we knew the ship well, and knew what to expect at every turn. It truly was just like being at home, with a whole lot of fun everywhere you looked.

The first port of Katakolon, Greece, took us to ancient Olympia and here, my son had the unique opportunity to stand on the actual marble starting point in preparation for his sprint through the length of the stadium. In Pireus, we were taken to the Panathenaic Stadium, Athens Acropolis, Plaka and the Athens Museum. We visited Kusadasi, Turkey and went through an extensive tour of the last known House of the Virgin Mary, saw the magnificent ruins of Ephesus, followed by an outstanding lunch at a replicated version of ancient Ephesus. The Lindos Acropolis fascinated my son and we tried to get him on a donkey but he felt too shy. Old Town Rhodes was breathtaking and we always caught a brief glance of the beautiful Disney Magic, which dominated the sea and land. The windmills in Mykonos captivated my son because they were enormous and he’d never seen anything like that before. Upon our return for two glorious days in Venice, in the luxury of the Disney Magic, there was nothing better than looking out of your verandah and seeing St. Mark’s Square a stone’s throw away. Andrew at that point said, “Epcot.” Imagine that! He made the connection and I was so grateful.

Photos below at Olympia’s Stadium marble starting line and the Disney Magic docked at Katakolon, the port nearest Olympia.

My children enjoying the views atop the Athens Acropolis.

Pete Andrew Olympia starting point   Disney Magic Katakolon

Pamela Andrew Parthenon

Below, a most captivating day at Ephesus.

Psarianos Ephesus

Siblings getting along in Rhodes.

Pamela Kissing Andrew

Approaching the fortress of Old Town Rhodes.

Andrew going in Fortress Rhodes

Strolling through Old Town Rhodes.

Andrew Pamela Rhodes Old Town

Andrew winding his way through Mykonos.

Andrew Mykonos

Andrew and my mom.

Andrew and Grandma Mykonos

Andrew made many connections to the Italy Pavilion at Epcot’s World Showcase at St. Mark’s Square in Venice.

Psarianos St marks

Here is what I was most grateful for. On every port adventure, every guide made Andrew feel valued and important because he was given the opportunity to have a purpose. Andrew was presented with the task of leading each of our tour groups and I cannot express how that made him or us feel. What I do know is that I saw his confidence soar, right before my very eyes. I saw a joy in my son’s eyes and a happiness I had never seen before, all because the tour guides afforded him a completely inclusive experience. All this because of Disney Cruise Line port adventures.

Andrew Holding DCL Sign   Andrew DCL Sign Acropolis

Watching my son leading the tour group by holding the Mickey Mouse tour group sign was one of the most gratifying moments of my life. Andrew has come such a long way and the majority of his developmental improvements have happened during our Disney parks vacations and sailing with Disney Cruise Line.

Psarianos DCL Europe Dining Room

Autism and Disney Parks Disability Access Service Card

“I’m doing this because I want to do it better.”

-Walt Disney

They did do it better.

People were initially freaking out when changes to Disney’s Guest Assistance Card were announced. People don’t like change, it’s inherent. Criticism and blame were at the forefront and negativity spiralled to new depths.

It’s like looking at a new food that doesn’t look appealing, yet when tried tastes delicious.

My point?

Try it first and then let’s talk.

The new system that accommodates people with invisible and/or physical disabilities that is in place at the Disney Parks is called the Disability Access Service Card. The function of this system affords guests a return time based on current attraction wait times.

I, having a moderate-severely autistic teenaged son had initial pangs of panic. Questions surfaced, such as, “what will I do when we approach an attraction for a time stamp and then we have to leave and return later, how will Andrew cope not going through?”

That’s easy. When approaching the attraction queue for a time stamp, Andrew, the Cardholder, doesn’t have to be there, one of us does, that way we don’t have to tease him by taking him up to the queue and then leaving. One of us can wait with him close-by while resting or enjoying a treat.

And if you plan your day properly with the assistance of Disney’s incredible planning tool known as “My Disney Experience” you can further book attractions using the FastPass+ for your day and then also use the Disability Access Service Card in between the designated FastPass+ attractions that you booked ahead of time.

What does this do?

You can create a visual schedule board using My Disney Experience right on your tablet or your regular, small, portable one. Our kiddos love schedules right? Well here you go. Your entire day is planned and your child will know exactly what to expect.

Let’s face it, while at the Disney Parks, you have to have some sort of plan. I’ve experienced this first-hand and can vouch that the system in place works.

Our experience for our return time, was that we were directed (based on Guest Services’ assessment of our needs) to the FastPass queue. Other people may have different accommodations based on their specific needs.That needs to be determined when at Guest Relations.

Bottom line? The Disney Parks Disability Access Service Card worked for us. It can for you too.

Here are some guidelines to help you out:

  • head over to Guest Relations main entrance at any Walt Disney World Resort or Disneyland Resort to discuss needs, register and have a photo taken
  • once you have the card, you get your time stamp two ways depending on which Disney Parks resort you are at AND the Cardholder does NOT have to be present for the timestamp
  • return times at Disneyland Resort are to be arranged at specific kiosks (with all of your travel party tickets in tow) located throughout the park and you are told when to return; all tickets in your party are electronically updated with the return time
  • time stamps at Walt Disney World Resort are to be done at the specific attraction
  • you don’t have to ride at the exact return time, rather times are valid until redeemed by the DAS Cardholder, how awesome is that!
  • register over at “My Disney Experience” and book all dining reservations and FastPass+ attractions for each day of your visit
  • download the “My Disney Experience App” on your device to link all resort, dining, theme park tickets, FastPass+ reservations together, as well, you’ll be able to adjust your FastPass+ times and dining reservations on the spot
  • consider staying on property, it’s just SO much easier and in the long-run saves you a bundle of money

Vacationing at the Disney Parks and with Disney Cruise Line has changed our lives in a positive manner forever!

Andrews DAS

 

Basking in the Quieter Areas of the Walt Disney World Resort- Special Needs or Anyone

The excitement and thrills are everywhere at Walt Disney World Resort and sometimes, especially with a special needs family member it’s just nice to sit back and relax at the ‘Most Magical Place on Earth’.

With a comforting snack in tow of course, here are some of my favourite spots to just bask in. You never know who you’ll meet and have a chat with, some of my good friends now are folks who I met just relaxing at these very spots.

The best way to discuss this would be by resorts and theme parks and I will focus on quieter, non-stimulatory areas and attractions. Ones that are calm.

Walt Disney World Resort Hotel Quiet Spots

With twenty-six Disney owned and nine privately owned hotels there are a multitude of spots which are off the beaten path and quiet. Of importance is staying relatively close to the theme park you visit the most, making travel time as short as possible, allowing you to head back to your room and relax if that is all you wish to do. While I can’t go into great detail on every Walt Disney World Resort hotel, I can personally attest to the one’s we’ve indulged in.

Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa is a beautifully themed resort on the Monorail line within easy reach to Magic Kingdom Park. The vast lobby is relaxing with calming selections from the Grand Floridian Society Orchestra. As well, near the marina you can find a nice spot to sit and watch the Electrical Water Pageant and the Fireworks from Cinderella Castle while enjoying a nice treat from Gasparilla Grill and Games nearby. You can also enjoy the pageant and fireworks from the beach nearby.

Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort is also a Monorail resort and offers beautiful grounds for strolling and relaxing in the shade or at night through the torch lit pathways. The beautiful beach has clear views of Magic Kingdom Park and quite often guests can be found enjoying the Fireworks from Cinderella Castle and the Electrical Water Pageant right on the beach. The lobby here is comfortable, offering many seats and charging stations at almost every side table that has a lamp. Just outside the Polynesian’s Great Ceremonial House is a new amazing snack spot with delicious pineapple dole whips called the Pineapple Lanai with ample seating in a cool, comfortable spot.

Disney’s Wilderness Lodge is a relaxing water taxi ride away from Magic Kingdom Park through Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake where you’ll be transported right into a re-creation of America’s Great Northwest! The nature trails take you through mature pine forests and guest areas that are quiet and relaxing. The grand lobby of Disney’s Wilderness Lodge will captivate you with its massive themed Totem Poles and interesting fireplace, definitely a great place to relax and unwind.

Disney’s BoardWalk Inn is a resort you could easily spend an entire vacation at. This waterfront hotel places you right in the middle of Atlantic City at the turn of the century. It’s connected to Disney’s BoardWalk Villas and across the way on Crescent Lake sits Disney’s Beach Club and Disney’s Yacht Club Resorts. The BoardWalk Inn and Villas are flanked by two theme parks, Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, easily reached on foot or by Friendship Boat.

Stroll on the massive Coney Island themed promenade, enjoy the dining and carnival games and entertainment or just sit back on one of the benches and watch IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth fireworks celebrating the spirit of humanity from Epcot nearby.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, close to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park will stun you with its’ authentic representation of the African kraal, the true ‘village’ enclosure in a horseshoe curved layout. This allows the most spectacular views of the real savannas on the property boasting over 200 animals. The lobby alone has real African artwork, the largest collection outside Africa, and ample seating in a most relaxing environment.

Walt Disney World Resort Theme Parks

Magic Kingdom Park boasts six differently themed lands, each with little pockets of quietude.

At the Walt Disney World Railroad, at the top level platform, near the train entrance, is a covered viewing area with seating. It’s quiet, yet provides spectacular views of Main Street U.S.A. and Cinderella Castle.

East Center Street, just off Main Street U.S.A. is a small, quaint street tucked away with some seating and faint sounds of music and dance lessons from above.

The covered pathway dotted with benches and a water fountain leading to the Baby Care Centre and First Aid Station is a nice quiet little spot to have a quiet moment in the shade.

The Tomorrowland Terrace Restaurant, opens on a seasonal basis yet has a breezy, covered seating area with clear views of Cinderella Castle. It is also beside the restrooms and a water fountain.

Catch a ride over to Tom Sawyer Island and enjoy some shady peace while rocking your cares away.

Directly behind Memento Mori is a shady spot with seating, near the restrooms, offering a quieter spot to relax and people watch.

Calming and relaxing attractions at Magic Kingdom are: Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room, Jungle Cruise,  The Hall of Presidents,it’s a small world, Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover and Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress

Disney’s Hollywood Studios buzzes with the excitement and glamour of Hollywood’s Golden Age and Star Wars thrills and chills, yet offers many pockets of quietude and comfort.

Right in front of The Hollywood Brown Derby there is ample shade and bench seating.

The Studio Catering Company is a quick service eatery with ample covered areas with seats and overhead fans.

The Backlot Express is a breezy, shaded seating area at the threshold of the parades, yet it’s mostly quiet before and after the parades. Enjoying an ice-cream here is refreshing.

We get the best slushies and head over to the serene Echo Lake, an expansive, bi-level, paved area with shade and benches. It’s quiet yet not away from favourite attractions or dining spots.

Calmer attractions at Disney’s Hollywood Studios are: Beauty and Beast-Live on Stage, The Magic of Disney Animation, Voyage of The Little Mermaid and Walt Disney One Man’s Dream.

Epcot is massive, two incredible sections called Future World and World Showcase. Future World features innovations and thrilling attractions whereas the World Showcase houses eleven authentically famous country pavilions.

Great rest spots in Future World are at Electric Umbrella which is a quick service eatery but has ample indoor and covered outdoor seating, neat restrooms. It’s a comfortable spot but can get busy, also a great place to work on boarding and getting off escalators and where my son mastered this behaviour appropriately.

Not far from the Electric Umbrella, is FountainView where you can grab a ice cold drink from Starbucks or Club Cool and then sit out by the wall ledge, which is sheltered and relax while watching the dancing fountain show, every fifteen minutes, at the Fountain of Nations.

We like to hang out near Showcase Plaza quite often while enjoying a coffee and at night if you time it right about a half hour before IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth you can have a perfect view while sitting down.

Head over to Canada Pavilion and enjoy and rest at the recreation of Vancouver’s Butchart Gardens, shady comfortable areas provide a welcome reprieve.

My favourite spot, the United Kingdom Pavilion has in my opinion many quiet, shady and quaint areas before or after any concerts, especially at the back near the performance gazebo where the British Revolution performs. As well, you can stroll through the shady, quiet footpaths nearby.

Over at the The American Adventure Pavilion behind Fife and Drum and Liberty Inn there is shaded outdoor seating which is quiet and relaxing. The funnel cakes here are delicious.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park  is the largest theme park at Walt Disney World Resort and one of the largest animal theme parks in the world. Carrying forth Walt Disney’s commitment and love for animals, their research and care, guests have the opportunity to explore 6 lands holding more than 1,700 animals.

Over in Dinoland you can find many footpaths lined with benches in shady areas to sit and relax and especially in front of the Dinosaur attraction there are little spots with seats affording folks a chance to relax.

 

The Wildlife Express Train is an opportunity to view some animals and enjoy the breezes on the open air train.

The Pangani Forest Exploration Trail is a relaxing, yet interesting and informative foot path with many animal encounters along the way.

Kilimanjaro Safaris is a way to relax on an open air vehicle, a bit jerky at times, but a great way to see the larger animals in their habitats, try the soothing Nocturnal Adventure for a completely different experience.

Flights of Wonder is a great short show displaying exotic birds in an educational way and is in a relaxing environment.