Disney World may be the most magical place on earth, but there are still two complaints that I hear regularly: It’s expensive and exhausting. Well, I have the perfect way to cut down on your Disney budget and take a break from the hectic park pace: picnics.
When it’s time for lunch in the parks, my family always does the same thing. We head to our favorite spot, pull out the blanket, and chow down on the spread Mom has prepared. Whether it’s chicken salad or just some slices of cheese and a pack of pepperonis, every meal is supplemented with plenty of snacks and candy. That means that if – no, when – we get hungry again later, there are plenty of leftovers to go around. Mom perfected her picnic lunches over our many trips to the mountains, the beach, and Walt Disney World. But picnicking in the parks has the extra challenge of finding a place to spread out. Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. After years of research, I can now confidently present the top five park picnic locations.
- Flame Tree Barbecue – Animal Kingdom
Okay, I had you all ready with your blanket and your snacks, and here I go suggesting you sit at a table. Don’t worry; you’ll get to use that blanket later. There are more tables behind this quick service restaurant than the customers ever need, so no one will mind you setting up shop. The theming in the area is incredible, and there is just tons of shade. No matter where you sit, you end up with a gorgeous view of the water or the plant life. We always like to imagine that we’re eating in our backyard, and this beautiful view is just normal life. As you sit, I’m sure you’ll have the same wish!
- Japan – Epcot
Almost every country in the World Showcase has hidden nooks worth discovering, but Japan’s is my favorite. I’ve been going to Epcot for years, and I just recently noticed this spot. If you’re facing the pavilion, head to the left. There’s a little tea garden, and it’s absolutely charming. Lanterns adorn the entire area, and it feels like you are in another world. It seems very far away from the bustle of Epcot, and the garden itself is usually almost deserted. If you’re looking for a minute or two of tranquility, take in the view from this beautiful spot.
- Future World – Epcot
Too vague? Maybe. But we’ve picnicked all over Future World. The front half of Epcot has a lot more green space than many people realize. It’s especially beautiful during the annual Flower and Garden festival, when you may find yourself surrounded by flowers and topiary. My mom often says that her perfect Disney moment happened when we were eating on top of a hill in Future World. The breeze was blowing, the music was magical, and my mom was completely happy. It just goes to show that your favorite part of a trip may not be a ride or a character interaction; you may find yourself at your happiest just sitting down with your family, enjoying the atmosphere.
- Tom Sawyer Island – Magic Kingdom
Who here always skips Tom Sawyer Island? We always try to, and Mom always drags us out there. It really is a beautiful place, but there’s not a whole lot to do over there. Then there’s the fact that you can only get on and off the island via raft. As it turns out, the things that people dislike about Tom Sawyer Island are what make it a wonderful lunch locale. Sit in a rocking chair down on a dock and play some checkers while you eat. Snag a bench by one of the mines or forts and let the kids play between bites. Just make sure you don’t wander off the beaten path, and be ready to leave by sundown!
- Liberty Square – Magic Kingdom
I cannot remember how long this has been our go-to place, but I know it’s always the one my mom looks forward to the most. Every time I pass the Hall of Presidents, I think of our picnics. To the right of the Hall of Presidents, there’s a little porch with two rocking chairs. We always spread our blanket right in front of that porch. It’s out of the way, but a great place to people watch. I’ll never forget seeing Tiana and Naveen dancing to the Main Street Philharmonic right in front of us as we ate. The spot is also great for meeting new friends; those rocking chairs can quickly become someone’s favorite spot.
Next time you’re looking for a place to have a snack, or just wanting to sit down for a few minutes, check out one of these sweet spots. Maybe you, like me, can make some of your favorite memories taking a break with friends and family on your favorite blanket.