Saturday, April 20, 2013

Top 5: Rest Stops

When you're walking throughout the park, it can be difficult to find a nice place to stop and rest your aching feet. There's so much going on, it's hard to get away from the bustling crowds and constant parades, and just kick back in a quiet and reserved location. But fear no more, fellow patrons, because these are the top 5 places where you can chill in the breeze and perhaps enjoy lunch. The top 5 rest stops in Disneyland.

5. Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta (Paradise Pier)

This is a nice outdoor setting where guests can either purchase lunch, or simply relax under the many awnings and tables/chairs. I included it on the list because even on the busiest days, finding a table is never a problem. Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta offers so many seating arrangements that it just becomes a matter of choice. You can sit in the shade, under a tree, or under the sun. You can even sit by the bandstand and listen to a Russian folk band play Katiusza. It's awesome.

4. Innoventions Dream Home (Tomorrowland)

Yes, I actually happen to enjoy one of Disneyland's most hated attractions. The relatively new Dream Home occupies the first floor of the infamous product placement-fest known as "Innoventions". It's basically a gigantic commercial where famous companies such as Microsoft and Samsung advertise their products to create the perfect home, complete with surround sound stereos, voice-activated kitchen sinks, and reclining chairs. Everything is top-notch and it's actually very nice to lay back and relax in one of their armchairs. Pick up a remote and select a song from the screen, they have everything from the B52's and the Beach Boys to classic Disney favorites. Innoventions is now a great place to sit in the cool air-conditioning and wait for your Space Mountain Fastpass to activate. Why not? It's only a short walk away.

3. Under Silly Symphony Swings (Paradise Pier)

This little nook is highly overlooked. On the ground-level of the Silly Symphony Swings, there's a small patio on top of the water with wooden benches and a great view of the boardwalk. The Ferris Wheel, California Screamin' and World of Color, are all in view. This scenic spot is especially great at night, when all the lights on the boardwalk are illuminated. I can think of no better place to watch World of Color, as you don't have to stand, and you're right on top of the water looking straight at the show. If it's a nice summer evening and the day has been spent, you can be sure to find me here.

2. Hungry Bear (Frontierland)

I really do love these waterfront patios. It's very peaceful to sit under the shade and look out at the rippling water. Here, it's a much more rustic, even outdoorsy feel than the one mentioned above. There's something about being surrounded by nature that's hard to come by at a place like Disneyland. Every so often, the Mark Twain will circle around, or the Sailing Ship Columbia will fire off its cannons. Davy Crockett's Explorer canoes will paddle by. Even ducks like to swim around in the water in search of bread. It's just a great sit-down venue where you can enjoy the ambience of Frontierland, and one of the truly adventurous rest stops the park has to offer.

Honorable mention: Before we move on to number 1, I'd like to acknowledge a couple places that couldn't fit the list but are great nonetheless. Frontierland's Golden Horseshoe Stage is a nice, dimly lit saloon that feels like an authentic, old west restaurant. It's also one of the few venues in the park that opened on day one: July 17, 1955. They have played many shows there over the years, but if you want a good laugh check out the always hilarious Billy Hill and the Hillbillies.
Another great rest stop is the Refreshment Corner on Main Street. They have tables and umbrellas and an charming 1920's feel that only Main Street can have. They have also got a set of ragtime piano players who periodically appear throughout the course of the day and converse with guests. It's a great throwback to Walt Disney's time, and will hopefully remain forever.

1. Grand Californian Lobby (California Adventure)

The lobby of The Grand Californian Hotel is the definition of comfortable. It's got sofas where you can lay down and stretch your legs, a TV playing Mickey Mouse cartoons for the kids, and a fantastic live piano player who takes requests. The hotel was modeled after northern California lodges and has a very distinct, peaceful mountainy feel that few other areas in the park can capture. When you walk through the sliding doors on a hot day the first thing you'll notice is the great gust of cool air that blasts from the building. It's so nice in here, just passing through to Downtown Disney could take a few extra minutes... or hours. They have a huge fireplace to make it feel even more cozy, and an enormous, ornate Christmas tree during the holidays. If you are in DCA and need a place to rest, this is easily the most comfortable location you'll find.

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