Sometimes, amid all of the hustle and bustle of theme parks -- running to a ride to make sure you don't miss your FastPass+ window, rushing to a restaurant for your Advance Dining Reservation time, and elbowing your way into a good spot to watch a parade -- it's nice to stop and take in the sights and sounds around you. Luckily, there are plenty of spots at Disneyland and Walt Disney World to take a break, and you might find that the time spent at these places garners more fond memories than all of your turns on Toy Story Midway Mania and Space Mountain combined. Here are 8 picturesque places to take a break at the parks:
1. Liberty Square
There are plenty of quiet spaces in this land in Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. A forest gazebo at the edge of Liberty Square is a great place to visit, and the view of Cinderella’s Castle that it affords isn’t bad, either. Tiana, of “The Princess and the Frog,” is sometimes available at the gazebo for a visit. Other beautiful places to explore near Liberty Square are Sleepy Hollow, a restaurant where you can get a Nutella and Fresh Fruit Waffle Sandwich and sit on a somewhat shaded patio, and the Liberty Belle riverboat, which offers peaceful views of the river and Tom Sawyer Island. Later, you can follow that Sleepy Hollow waffle with a meal at Columbia Harbour House – the restaurant’s second floor provides a great view of the Liberty Square-Fantasyland concourse.
2. Victoria Gardens
Canada’s pavilion is a wonderful place to escape the crowds and noise in Epcot. The flowers, trees and waterfall at the walkway to O Canada! are tranquil and beautiful. While seating isn’t available, this site is still worth a stop. Another gem at the World Showcase is the France pavilion, where you stroll over a footbridge inspired by the Pont des Arts and you can sit and relax at the center fountain, admiring the World Showcase’s only “carrot” – the Eiffel Tower, which is the only thing that can’t be reached by the general public.
3. Pangani Forest Exploration Trail
Disney’s Animal Kingdom can be a very crowded place, but this trail in Africa offers a way to get away from it all. As you follow the trail at your own pace, you’ll see native wildlife like gorillas, hippos and zebras as well as lush forests and savannas. A similar self-guided tour is available in Asia, where the Maharajah Jungle Trek is home to tigers, birds and other animals, along with waterfalls and a canopy of trees.
4. Echo Lake
Quiet spots to relax may be harder to find at Disney’s Hollywood Studios than at other parks, but this area has tables that are often overlooked. And where else can you find a spot where you can sit and admire a fountain as well as a huge brontosaurus? Gertie might even entice you to go for a snack at her Ice Cream of Extinction stand.