Needless to say, life is a little stressful right now…
Stress can happen any time, but at the time of this writing, we’re all facing something very new—the massive ramifications of the coronavirus pandemic. Social gatherings have screeched to a halt. Kids have been sent home from school. Businesses have closed for extended quarantine, including Disney theme parks. Life is not normal right now.
It’s a lot to take in.
During a time like this, we all need to be able to take a breath and let our hearts settle, to take things one day at a time. That can mean learning how to manage stress and anxiety as we go. We explored this a little in our article for dealing with panic attacks at Disney parks (which was recently included as one of the top articles for helping those with panic disorder), but one very helpful technique for dealing with stress and anxiety is getting grounded by focusing on something familiar and calming.
Let’s do some of that right now by taking a little journey together to the Most Magical Place on Earth—specifically, to eight of the most peaceful places you’ll find in Walt Disney World.
1. The Tomorrowland PeopleMover (Magic Kingdom)
Video: YouTube, User: 4K WDW
What is it about the PeopleMover that makes it so wonderfully relaxing?
By all rights, the PeopleMover doesn’t look like any sort of oasis away from Magic Kingdom craziness. With the Astro Orbiter spinning above and Tomorrowland crowds below, it’s actually very easy for visitors with a frantic eye to miss it entirely—yet a whole new world awaits on those swift little blue trams.
Maybe it’s the sweeping views of Tomorrowland and Cinderella Castles that make the PeopleMover so entrancing, or the way it lift you above the hustle below to sit back, relax, and enjoy the view. Maybe it’s the PeopleMover’s uniquely smooth magnetic propulsion system which casts a cooling breeze against your face as you ride. Maybe it’s those strangely-calming tunnels full of visions of an Asimov and Bradbury future that didn’t quite come to be or even passing unseen through Space Mountain.
There’s a reason the PeopleMover remains so many Disney fans’ favorite ride, and it definitely has something to do with the fact it’s one of the most peaceful places in the Most Magical Place on Earth…
2. The World Showcase gardens (Epcot)
Video: YouTube, User: MousePlanet.com
Epcot is seriously special. There truly is no other park in the world quite like it—a celebration of discovery, diversity, innovation, and human spirit.
It’s such a unique park that Epcot can often throw off visitors who are used to jumping from one ride to another. A visit to Epcot is just as much about exploration as it is about rides, and nowhere is that more apparent than in World Showcase. While World Showcase has plenty to offer the fleet-footed traveler in its restaurants, shops, performances, and attractions, for those who are willing to slow down, surprising havens of tranquility await.
Gardens are an integral part of World Showcase’s beauty, and three stand out above the rest. The first doesn’t take visitors too far off the main path—the reflecting pool of China. Located immediately outside the entrance to the Reflections of China theater, this lily-pad garden may be small but offers unparalleled serenity. A small walking path allows guests to explore the edges of the mossy pond, an ode to greenery that contrasts richly with the vibrant reds and blues of the theater.
Our second stop takes us further around the lagoon, up stone steps to Japan’s Katsura Grill. Immediately outside of the restaurant sits one of World Showcase’s most peaceful gardens—a koi pond surrounding by bonsai, azaleas, and trickling waterfalls. Perhaps you choose to settle on the red bridge to watch the fish, or you choose instead to find a bench to drink some warm green tea while taking in the serene beauty of rocks, trees, and water woven into living art.
Finally, no tour of the gardens of World Showcase is complete without a stroll into the Canada pavilion. Based on the spectacular Butchart Gardens of Victoria Island, a carpet of brilliantly-colored flowers meets a shimmering blue pool beneath a towering. The Hotel du Canada, based on Ottawa’s Chateau Laurier, completes the view for one of the most gorgeous landscapes in Walt Disney World. Stay as long as you like…
3. The courtyards of Morocco (Epcot)
Video: YouTube, User: ThemeParkHD
We can’t depart Epcot without one more stop on our journey, and it’s proof that you don’t necessarily need flowers or ponds to find a peaceful spot in Walt Disney World.
Morocco might be one of the most unique pavilions in World Showcase. There’s something uniquely enticing about it as you approach—a wondrous realm of sandy towers, colored glass, and winding streets.
Past its looming arches, the Morocco pavilion holds a world all its own—an entrancing market full of silken scarves, rich spices, and bronzeware gives way to winding streets and quiet corners. I’ve enjoyed some of my favorite moments at Walt Disney World sitting just beyond Restaurant Marrakesh, eating a falafel plate and listening to the nearby fountain trickle as the sun set over the towers. The pavilion is full of havens like this. Just short walk down the road, the courtyard of Fez House offers a similar rest spot surrounded by tile mosaics, glass lanterns, and intricately-carved wooden balconies.
Whether you wander through Morocco’s wondrous shops, linger in its museum, or just enjoy a mint tea by the lagoon, there is possibly no more enchanting place in Epcot.
4. Maharajah Jungle Trek (Disney’s Animal Kingdom)
Video: YouTube, User: ThemeParkHD
All of Animal Kingdom’s walking trails offer an element of serenity, but one stands out from the rest. Located in a quiet corner of the Asia section a bit beyond Kali River Rapids, the Maharajah Jungle Trek draws guests on a journey into the entrancing beauty of the jungles of south Asia.
A winding trail leads guests into a realm of gentle flying foxes, roaming tigers, and grazing deer. Guests can linger inside the aviary to take in over 50 species of colorful birds, where golden pheasants and Victoria crowned pigeons explore the forest floor while Asian weaver birds flutter about competing for nesting materials (you can meet their African cousins on the Gorilla Falls Trail as well).
The resident animals are only half the beauty here. Local Florida wildlife like lizards, butterflies, cardinals, and owls call this refuge home as well. We once saw a massive fledgling barred owl learning how to use his wings along the ruins path. In short, when you next visit the Maharajah Jungle Trek, take your time—find a bench and wait to see what mysteries this beautiful place reveals. You’ll see something different every time.