In the midst of tragedy, I’ll admit my heart was not in penning Disney tips for this week’s Park Wise. My mind kept wandering to the brevity of our time. I’m reminded to be in the moment and really make the most of the time we have with family, friends and in our favorite places, which for a lot of us are the Disney parks and resorts. Lives can change or vanish in an instant. Take it in while you can, enjoy the moments and stop and smell the roses.  – What follows is a slightly updated article I first ran on this site in 2013, but one which resonates with me today. I hope you’ll join in adding your own thoughts in the comments.

We just flew home from another great trip to Walt Disney World, and, boy, are my arms tired.  Yeah.  I went there.  Although we had newbies with us, we ended up taking a lot of time to slow down and do some things we often breeze past simply because we’ve “been there, done that.”  Here are a few ways we took it down a notch.

1. Pick One Must-Do

Like I mentioned, we did have friends who were experiencing Disney for the first time, so we’d be remiss not to hit a few headliners.  We chose one or two major attractions at each park and FastPass+ed them.  For me, it’s just not a trip to Hollywood Studios without plummeting thirteen stories, so I knew we’d hit Tower of Terror, and Toy Story was a must, as the kids are not fans of the Hollywood Tower Hotel.  After you hit your must-dos, you’re ready to relax.

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2. Revisit the Classics

Instead of running from mountain to mountain, we spent our day at Magic Kingdom hitting some oldies but goodies.  At the request of my grampa, we took in a viewing of the Country Bears and The Enchanted Tiki Room.  Are they the same thrill level as Space Mountain?  No, but they were comfy, cute and a nice dose of classic Disney Park for both us and the newbies.

 

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3. Enjoy the “Street Performers”

At all parks, there are short yet entertaining acts that seem to pop up around every corner.  From the Hollywood Studios’ Streetmosphere performers to the various musical acts around the World Showcase to the Dapper Dans and beyond, there’s something for every taste.  Similar to street performers found on big city sidewalks, these acts offer a fun and unique diversion.  Oh, and they don’t have a hand out looking for a tip after the show.

Get Park Wise: Audience participation is often a part of these performances.  If you’re ready to be part of the cast, be attentive, smiley and front and center.  If you’d rather just watch, stay back a little.

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4. People Watch

This may be one of my favorite activities at a Disney Park.  This is really fun at Halloween parties as you watch all of the costumes parade past you.  My little mouseketeer and I counted all of the red shirts that passed as we took a rest in Mexico (76 in about five minutes, in case you were wondering) and saw some very interesting outfits.  Whether you’re raising an eyebrow at the girl hitting California Adventure in stilettos or oohing and ahhing at the Dapper Day duds, taking in the sights of fellow Disney travelers is never dull.

 

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5. Look for the Details

We all know Disney is in the details, but how often do we really look at our surroundings?  Intricate animal carvings adorn several buildings in Animal Kingdom, not just the Tree of Life.  Take a look at the impressions in the concrete around the different themed lands. Take time to read the windows on Main Street USA.  Don’t worry about the climbing wait times and just take in the Disney details.

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I love the intentionally misspelled sign!

 

Get Park Wise: A great way to really notice the details is to search for hidden Mickeys.  Several books and web sites are dedicated to the hunt for the famous silhouette, so take a look before your next trip and plan to spot as many as you can.

 

How often do you stop and smell the Disney roses?  What are your favorite ways to slow down?

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