Home » 6 Places Every Disney Fan Should Explore While Walt Disney World is still QUIET

6 Places Every Disney Fan Should Explore While Walt Disney World is still QUIET

It’s sort of an amazing time to visit Walt Disney World…

I know times are still weird—the continuing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have made travel challenging, and at Disney parks, strict requirements surrounding social distancing, temperature checks, sanitation, and mandatory masks may make it seem like the worst time imaginable to visit The Most Magical Place on Earth.

Not necessarily.

There’s no question that for many families, it is not an ideal time to visit Walt Disney World, whether for safety reasons or because of certain entertainment experiences like character greets and fireworks shows are missing. However, for others, this may actually be an ideal time to visit the parks—particularly if you enjoy exploring.

We recently visited Disney’s Hollywood Studios on a quiet weekday and were shocked how much space we had to explore. Areas like Dok Ondar’s Den of Antiquities and the Millennium Falcon spaceport were surprisingly empty, and we had a great time hanging out in Star Wars Launch Bay (which is currently designated as a relaxation zone). It ended up being one of our favorite visits in recent memory. While crowds have increased somewhat at this park, limited park capacity means that attendance is still far lower than average.

This really got us thinking, what other places in Walt Disney World might be ideal to explore while the parks are quiet? If you like a bit of unhurried wandering without the press of crowds, you may want to plan these stops into your next visit.

1. World Showcase

This is a broad one, but this really is a great time to explore World Showcase. Epcot’s portal to the nations has always been one of our favorite places to drift, but some guests are reporting that it’s a particularly pleasant time to enjoy World Showcase’s quiet corners.

Horticulture has always been one of Epcot’s strong points, and this is an ideal time to take in Epcot’s gardens. Some of our favorites include China’s lily-pad dotted reflecting pool, Japan’s serene bonsai garden, and Canada’s vibrant tribute to Victoria’s Butchart Gardens. The United Kingdom pavilion also holds a small quaint garden with a waist-high hedge maze.

Probably our favorite stop in World Showcase is the courtyards of Morocco. It never fails to amaze me how mesmerizing this pavilion is. Its intricate corridors and stone courtyards feel a world away from the rest of Walt Disney World, from whispering fountains to lanterns of dazzling colored glass. My favorite spot is the little resting area just a bit beyond Restaurant Marrakesh—it’s magically peaceful.

Oh, and don’t miss the chance to hang out in Akershus Royal Banquet Hall in Norway. It’s a relaxation zone during this season.

2. Tom Sawyer Island

Tom Sawyer Island remains one of our favorite underrated attractions in Walt Disney World (even if it may hide the scariest attraction in the entire resort). We were actually surprised when Disney opted to leave the island open during this season—after all, how do you socially distance in the Mystery Mine or Injun Joe’s pitch dark murder cave?

It looks like Disney figured out some procedures to make it work, including one way travel in the tunnels and limiting access to some of the island’s play areas. They’ve also limited capacity on those usually-packed-like-sardines rafts to get people to and from the island. If access to the island is open during your visit to Magic Kingdom, take advantage of the chance to enjoy this classic Disney attraction with a little more space to breathe. For both kids and adults, the island remains a massive playground, and it also houses some of the most peaceful places to kick back in all of Walt Disney World. We’re particularly fond of the rocking chair deck that overlooks Big Thunder Mountain.

3. Walking trails at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

I love Kilimanjaro Safaris, but I’ve always felt that the walking trails at Disney’s Animal Kingdom are the highlight of that park if you want to soak in nature. In particular, the Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail and Maharajah Jungle Trek remain two of the most beautiful areas in Walt Disney World.

Both Gorilla Falls and Maharajah Jungle Trek offer unmatched opportunities to get to know Animal Kingdom’s residents. The problem is the Gorilla Falls Trail is often known for being over-crowded. Even the Maharajah Jungle Trek loses its magic sometimes when too many chattering families pass through, quickly hurrying from one exhibit to another.

This is the season to slow down while visiting these trails. We’ve seen so many fascinating behaviors when we take time to watch the animals go about their day. This particularly applies to the aviaries. After waiting long enough, we’ve seen birds curiously approach guests, weavers quibble back and forth over nesting materials, and even saw a calling demonstrating from a massive… pheasant? Bustard? I don’t know what it was, but it was one big bird, and he had love in his eyes for a passive stroller.

Oh, and don’t discount the Discovery Island trails. They may not sound that exciting as the other two treks, but you can really enjoy some peace and quiet wandering through the riverside paths under the Tree of Life.  

4. The World of Pandora

Other than Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, The World of Pandora at Disney’s Animal Kingdom remains one of the biggest draws at Walt Disney World. It’s pretty difficult to catch this land with no crowds, but this is a great time to explore it with lower crowds.

Pandora was a world designed to be taken in at an unrushed pace. The juxtaposition of its looming floating isles, bioluminescent flora, and converted military bunkers is a gorgeous love letter to modern science fiction. You don’t even have to like the movie Avatar to enjoy the place, and though the land houses a fantastic ride, there’s a real joy in just exploring how much creativity and care Disney Imagineers put into its design.

5. The Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse

Most guests walk right by this Adventureland staple, but it really is a gem in the midst of the bustle of the Magic Kingdom. I recall several fond memories enjoying a Dole Whip float on its porches.

Capacity limits and social distancing are a real boon for visiting the Swiss Family Treehouse. Nothing ruins a trip through this place like the press of people. The treehouse offers unparalleled views of the park, particularly of Adventureland and the Jungle Cruise. Similar to Tom Sawyer Island, it’s a strangely peaceful hub in the midst of the craziness of Magic Kingdom. It’s also a great example of how this is a good time to try attractions you may not have before.

6. Star Wars Launch Bay

Star Wars Launch Bay has been one of our favorite havens in Disney’s Hollywood Studios for some time, particularly for Star Wars fans. Normally, the complex is comprised of several parts including character greets, a museum, a theater, and a gift shop. It’s also the first place fans saw Disney start hinting at Oga’s Cantina to come with a basic replica of a Star Wars cantina.

Star Wars Launch Bay has currently been designated as a relaxation zone for guests who want to take off their masks and rest in some air conditioning. During our visit, we were surprised to see that most guests did not head inside the complex, stopping instead at an outdoor resting area with fans. We are pretty familiar with Launch Bay, so we headed inside. While there were a few guests resting on socially-distanced dots throughout the museum, we continued all the way back to the cantina where we perched by the bar with only one other family present in the room. That family left fairly quickly, after which, we had the place basically to ourselves for around half an hour.

It was introvert heaven.

While you are limited how much you should be moving around without a mask inside Star Wars Launch Bay, this is kind of a great time to take in its details and what prop replicas are accessible (just put your mask back on if you’re planning to wander). We got some great pictures during our visit, and it made for a truly unique memory of Walt Disney World.

7. Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge

Speaking of Star Wars, we almost didn’t include this one, but Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge actually still deserves a spot on this list despite being the biggest draw in Walt Disney World at the moment (largely thanks to Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance).

Disney did an outstanding job designing the Black Spire Outpost on Batuu. It holds a different kind of immersive beauty compared to Pandora. It’s a place of untold stories, where you can feel hidden history in the towering spires, strange buildings, and ancient statues perched outside of Dok Ondar’s Den of Antiquities. You don’t necessarily have to read the ever-growing library of books and tales attached to Batuu to enjoy a visit here (though some are quite good!). Galaxy’s Edge is a land that invites exploration, right down to the way the whole place integrates with the Star Wars Datapad feature of the Play Disney Parks app. Features throughout the land including computer consoles, landspeeders, antennas, droids, and starfighters–even that nasty-looking drinking fountain—all come to life with unexpected movements, lights, and sounds when guests use the app. You can even run missions that require you to chat with “locals” to achieve specific tasks.

There are times during this season that Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge definitely feels more crowded than the rest of the Walt Disney World—particularly on weekends and holidays, though even weekdays have seen a recent increase in crowds. However, the land is very well designed for crowd control, and lower capacity means that there are only so many people who can even be there at one time. It’s still a better-than-average time to explore the Black Spire Outpost while capacity restrictions remain in place. Towards the end of our day, we got some pretty amazing pictures of The Millennium Falcon without a single guest in sight. That’s a photo opportunity that may prove difficult to get once restrictions are lifted and the park fills to the brim once more.

Enjoy this article? Keep reading to learn more about what it’s been like lately inside Disney’s Hollywood Studios, or dive with us into 6 Ridiculous (but kind of adorable) Things You Totally Believed as a Disney Kid.