Occasionally our family needs a break from running around the theme park. One of the best way’s we found to grab a few minutes to relax is at the play areas provided at each park. These areas are also provided at Disney Resort Hotels and are a great excuse to walk around and see some of the beautiful theming and landscaping.
As recommended in The 5 Keys to Keeping Your Cool at Disney World, sometimes you need a few minutes to let the kids play while the adults have a seat.
My only word of warning is this: Sometimes the whole “relaxation” thing can backfire if you flip-out at losing sight of your child for more than 5 seconds at a time. Not all of the areas listed below are formatted well for keeping a close eye on the little ones. If this is the case with you, you can choose to go along with them (somewhat defeating the purpose) or maybe wait until they’re old enough to check-in with you at an interval of your liking.
5. Hollywood Studios – Honey I Shrunk the Kids: The kids LOVE this spot. It’s located near the Streets of America section of HS. As you can probably imagine, everything is oversized and children love this larger-than-life experience. (Update: Unfortunately this play area will be removed in April 2016 to make way for Star Wars and Toy Story expansion in Hollywood Studios. Being the only play area in HS, let’s hope they have an area like this planned in the expansion)
4. Epcot – The Seas: There are actually a couple of different places in this area to let the kids have fun while you catch your breath. There is a toddler play area inside (Hallelujah for Summer Guests)… but my favorite is actually not a play area at all: The aquarium inside the seas keeps my kids in awe for as long as we’ll let them stay there. The variety of sea life swimming around just fascinates them and gives everyone an opportunity to sit for a few moments in a cool environment. (Great for all ages – especially the younger ones)
3. Magic Kingdom – Tom Sawyer Island: The rafts leave from the area right across from Splash Mtn and Thunder Mtn. The island is better for older kids who you can trust with moderate supervision. They will have a blast going on an old fashioned adventure pretending to be a pirate or explorer (my boys will probably pretend to be Jedi no matter where they go). (Best for older children)
2. Magic Kingdom – Dumbo’s Circus Play Area: This is actually a really innovative and creative idea for the Dumbo Ride Queue. You get in line and are brought back to an indoor area where you are given a pager (like at a restaurant) and your kids can play inside while you sit and wait. Once there is about 15 minutes wait time left (or less) they will page you can you can make your way into the short line for the ride.
Our family has actually forgone the ride before just to go in the play area. The kids beg us to go! My only complaint is that it can be dark and sometimes hard to see the kids once they enter certain sections. (Great for kids up to 7,8, or even 9)
1. Animal Kingdom – The Boneyard: Located in the Dinoland portion of Animal Kingdom. The Boneyard is actually a two-part play area that has only one entrance/exit. First is a huge section split up into four-plus areas of slides ranging in height and speed. The second area is a sand pit where kids can use tools to dig up (fake, of course) dinosaur bones.
My two boys could spend at least half a day here exploring all of the different slides and heading over to dig up the dinosaur fossils.
I have to admit, while this area is good for all ages, if you are an anxious parent you will definitely need to make sure your kids have the presence of mind to come check with you often because you will lose sight of them. It took me until my 3rd trip to start to feel comfortable knowing where the kids where even though I may not see them for a few seconds. Again, it helps that they couldn’t slip past me to the exit if they were somehow confused.
-Toddler play area under Splash Mountain. Near the Frontierland train station.
-Mission Space tunnel play area.
-If you are in Epcot during the Spring there is usually a temporary play area near the entrance to the World Showcase