When I received this next Chip Panel submission I felt honored! This article is from one of my favorite Disney Examiner authors Debra Peterson. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
When I first started visiting Walt Disney World Resort, I was the guest who was at the theme parks open to close, all day, every day. In those early trips, I received real satisfaction in checking things off my to-do list and the thrill of the touring challenge. My strategy made sense – I was new to Disney, it was new to me. And there’s no doubt I saw a lot in the theme parks this way.
But here’s the thing. I didn’t see everything or enjoy all that I saw. In my rush to experience E-ticket shows and attractions, I missed out on many of the Disney details that make up the magic.
So as much fun as it to go full-on tour commando at Walt Disney World, I learned that sometimes I needed to take a deep breath – and take five. Just five minutes, give or take, to notice some of the Disney details, to rest and recharge.
In alphabetical order, here are a few of my favorite “Take Five” moments at Magic Kingdom:
Checkers: There’s just something about a quick game or two– engaging in a little semi-competitive “King Me!” banter – that encourages an entire day of whimsical play. Set up your boards at Main Street, U.S.A. Frontierland, or Tom Sawyer Island. And don’t forget…King Me!
Frontierland Shootin’ Arcade: At Frontierland Shootin’ Arcade, sharpshooters and gamers alike can test their skills at this classic arcade. Disney’s not-so-wild West shootout is themed to Tombstone, Arizona. Boot Hill features almost 100 pop-up, moving, and stationary targets that light up when they are hit by shots fired from .54-calibur Hawkins rifles, all refit for safety with infrared lights. No prizes are won, but bragging rights can last for an entire vacation. There is an additional charge for this attraction of $1 per play (35 shots).
Mutoscopes: Although Main Street’s Penny Arcade no longer exists, you can still watch an early motion picture. For just one cent, experience one of these early silent films, operated by hand crank, at Main Street Station. A handful of Mutoscope machines and an antique music box (play a tune for a quarter) can be found there.
Plaza Rose Garden: I’ve learned to stop and smell the roses, literally, during my Disney trips. The award-winning Plaza Rose Garden near Tomorrowland offers a picturesque and peaceful view of Cinderella Castle. Couples seek it for evening romance, while fireworks fans enjoy it as a site for Wishes. During the day, check out the no-longer-used Swan Boat dock. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for ducks. After all, sometimes it’s nice to see animals that aren’t Audio-Animatronic figures (I think).
Rocking Chairs: Just need five minutes off your feet? Disney populates its parks with seats in scenic spots that are suitable for people watching, which is amazingly entertaining by itself. But settling into a rocker ups the comfort level for that activity. These snooze-worthy seats can be found in Main Street, U.S.A. and Liberty Square, Frontierland and, my personal favorite, on Tom Sawyer Island.
Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover: For those who love classic Magic Kingdom attractions, the TTA PeopleMover offers a compromise between touring the theme park and taking five. This leisurely, gentle ride offers a second-flour tour of Tomorrowland, including Stitch’s Great Escape, Space Mountain and Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin.
Tom Sawyer Island: Frontierland’s Tom Sawyer Island (TSI) is an extended, bonus version of a Take Five opportunity – think of it as a Take Five times Five! The land-within-a-land offers guests a welcome break from Disney civilization, the well-managed queues and carefully orchestrated entertainment that make up so much of Walt Disney World.
Tom Sawyer Island offers plenty of places to climb and explore – all inspired by Mark Twain’s imagination and pay homage to spirit of the title character. Disney calls TSI an outdoor playground, and rightly so. With its fort and tunnels, dark caves and barrel bridge there’s plenty of active fun to be found. And if you’re looking for something a little time off your feet, TSI also offers rocking chairs at and checkers, Take Fives in their own right.
“Take Five” opportunities exist everywhere in Disney theme parks. They may be as simple as enjoying a favorite snack in the shade or as silly as the found joy in trying on Mickey Ears. Although they are easily overlooked or passed over in favor of just-one-more-ride commando touring, I recommend trying these small delights.
So take a minute to Take Five. If you’re like me, you might find you enjoy these experiences so much fun that you’ll want to Take Ten!
Author: Debra Peterson
Website: Debra Peterson is the National Disney Travel writer at Examiner.com.
Photo by Brian Rechenmacher licensed under Creative Commons for commercial use.