If you aren't an Orlando local, there can be a sense of urgency to your Disney World vacation. A feeling that you have to see it all and do everything before the timer runs out. This can leave you less than impressed with your vacation and a sour taste for all things theme park. Between wait times for Peter Pan's Flight and crowds, reservations at Be Our Guest and fastpass returns for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, it can be daunting to fit it all in and actually enjoy yourself. You've planned every minute down to the last detail of your vacation, but what if I told you that it's okay to take a break?
This Thanksgiving, my family and I decided to mix it up by skipping the traditional meal and heading to our favorite place, the Magic Kingdom. The capacity had been increased. so as expected with any Disney holiday, it was leaning towards thicker crowds and longer wait times. The plan was made: start in Adventureland and Jingle Cruise and work our way around Cinderella Castle, ending in Tomorrowland at sunset. We realized that we had never sat and watched The Enchanted Tiki Room but that could wait; we were on a mission. We had to stick to the plan!
By the time we made it around to Fantasyland, we were exhausted. Queue after queue, we hopped from attraction to attraction never taking the time to admire the artistry and detail that makes the Magic Kingdom just that: magical. So we tossed the plan off the top of Cinderella Castle and decided it was time to enjoy Disney World as it was meant to be enjoyed.
When Walt Disney began his idea for Disneyland, it wasn't an idea to spend as much as you can on souvenirs or stand in line for hours, it was an idea meant to bring families together. Young and old enjoying a break from reality. The wait times and merch are now as much a part of the experience as the character cavalcades and meet and greets. Everyone loves a new pair of ears and the latest themed popcorn bucket, but it was now time to find the magic that Walt wanted to share with the world. May I present the Hub.
Remodeled in 2015 to alleviate congestion and provide more viewing for the nightly fireworks, the Hub is the ultimate place to soak in the Magic Kingdom and really feel how enchanting this theme park can be. We settled into an empty space of grass, actually EasyTurf artificial grass, unpacked our snacks and officially began our break.
From our Hub set up, we had a beautiful view of the castle as the golden hour peaked, we had front row (physically distanced) seats to all of the cavalcades, we laid on our backs and watched the birds fly past and the sun slowly fade as the holiday lights began to twinkle. From the golden hour to sunset, we watched the projections change the Magic Kingdom centerpiece from rose gold to ugly Christmas sweater and knew that it was our turn to relinquish our place in the Hub to the next tired family needing their break. We were renewed!
We wandered back into Fantasyland, not looking for which line to hop into but for more of the pixie dust that we would have previously walked right past. This little break was great for our bodies (boy oh boy did my feet hurt) and our sense of wonder. It gave us a chance to absorb some of what makes the parks so unique: the feeling of otherworldliness that is close to reality but not quite. That when you walk back down Main Street, you're not heading toward an exit, but toward a town square where you truly feel like you're home.
I had recently seen a shirt that said "Hub Grass Is My Favorite Color." I get it now. Did we ride every ride? No. Did we make it to Tomorrowland? Also, no. We did, however, make a few memories that we wouldn't have if we had stuck with the plan of "ride it all." We never would have seen the couple next to us surprise their friends with news that they are having a baby, or noticed how lovely the Main Street Bakery smells when you're not breezing past it on your way to somewhere else. For many, this vacation is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, one that is easy to get lost in with all the tips and tricks for making the most of your day. So my biggest tip, and my insider trick to those who are planning, is to relax. The allure of the Magic Kingdom isn't in the itinerary. Take a break.