One of the (many) perks of working at Walt Disney World is the year-round theme park admission. It takes all of the pressure off of a Disney trip; I don’t have to worry about packing everything I want to do into one day, so I can take my time wandering around or even just sitting and enjoying the very pleasant atmosphere of the parks. On my days off I sometimes just grab my notebook, go to a park, and find a spot to sit and write, not going on any rides at all; I just hang out.
Here are my favorite hang-out spots in all four Walt Disney World parks.
Magic Kingdom – The Hub
I only discovered how good this spot is during my most recent visit to the Magic Kingdom. Usually I go to that park with a destination in mind – an attraction, or a restaurant – and I rush through the central hub on my way to the themed lands beyond. But the hub itself is a beautiful place, with Cinderella’s castle standing tall at one end, the shops of Main Street U.S.A. at the other, and wide stretches of grass in between. The grassy parts are lined with low stone bench-wall combinations which, at the right time of day, provide shade from the sun. It’s very pleasant to sit on one of those walls and watch all the other guests rush by, hearing the music of Main Street and the occasional performance of Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire.
Epcot – Norway Pavilion
During my first Disney College Program, I became friends with a few International College Program participants who worked in the restaurant at Norway. Even though they’ve long since gone home, I still love the Norway Pavilion. I can get some lefse at the Kringla Bakeri, pull up a piece of pavement along the fence surrounding the World Showcase Lagoon, and watch the world go by. Some evenings I go to Epcot a couple hours before the park closes, stake out my spot there, and sit and write until the fireworks start. IllumiNations is my favorite Disney World nighttime spectacular, and Norway my favorite place to watch it from.
Animal Kingdom – Pandora Drum Circle
To be honest, Animal Kingdom is a park I more love to walk around than to sit – there are so many great trails for animal-watching! But when I do want to just sit with my notebook, I head over to Pandora and find the Swotu Wayä drum circle. This spot is a little noisier than the others, due to the aforementioned drums, but I like it all the same. There are lots of rock-structure benches around there, perfect to sit back and listen to the sounds of Pandora’s wildlife or to look up at the floating mountains. And as a bonus, when the drummers come out to perform, I already have a great seat!
Hollywood Studios – Sunset Market Ranch
I’m definitely biased because I worked here so often when I was in Custodial, but on a hot day, it’s great to come to Sunset Boulevard, get something to eat or drink, and sit in the shade at one of the many picnic tables. There’s always jazz music playing and a good amount of background noise besides to get the creative juices flowing. It’s nice on cold days, too, when we get them – the Ranch has heat lamps! Hanging out there is what inspired me to write this article – I realized, sitting there with my notebook and hot chocolate, that I had this theme-park location as sort of my own personal coffee shop. And that’s a pretty magical thing to have.