Continuing my riff from yesterday, this entry will discuss Disney’s Epcot Resorts.
My friend Sean suggested that the only way for an introvert to enjoy Walt Disney World was to stay in your hotel room. There’s a slight element of truth in that, if you’re seriously into avoiding people. That said, the Disney Resorts are a lot more relaxing–and most of them are less crowded–than the theme parks. The Epcot Resorts are favorites of mine and my family’s because we all like to walk and because they are within walking distance of Epcot itself.
As with the theme parks, the hotel lobbies, restaurants, bars, and pools are all subject to random loud noise on occasion. Don’t like crowds at check-in? Wait until evening. Don’t like screaming kids at the main pool? Visit one of the quiet pools. Go where the noise isn’t.
One thing that I find refreshing and curious about the Disney Resorts is that unlike the theme parks, they don’t have background music playing everywhere. This alone is worth the visit when I go on one of my walks. It’s as if Disney understands that they hyperstimulate everyone at the theme parks, so they try not to do it in the hotels. You can hear background music in the hotel lobbies, but that’s it. The hallways, outside areas, and rooms have mostly human noise. Below is my list of favorite quiet (or less noisy) spots in and around the Epcot Resorts. Again, the goal is to help the curious introvert find places to go, not to bash on the noisy stuff. If that’s you’re thing, go forth and enjoy. Just follow your ears, you’ll find it.
BoardWalk is half hotel, half Disney Vacation Club. Both the hotel and DVC sides have a quiet pool for those who want to chill out on a lounge chair. On the whole, however, BoardWalk is pretty loud, especially at night. It’s meant to be like an East Coast boardwalk (Atlantic City, Coney Island, wherever), with lots of bright lights, plenty of peppy background music, and indoor and outdoor restaurants. If you plan to stay there and want a quieter room, it’s probably pretty easy (and a bit less expensive) to get a room away from the lagoon (Crescent Lake), where all the action is. On the Villas side, there are water-view rooms that don’t face the BoardWalk. They’re a bit quieter.
Of the restaurants I’ve visited at BoardWalk, the quietest one was the new Trattoria al Forno, which is a pretty big place, and really not too quiet. However, I do give them points for giving me a room toward the back of the restaurant and for apologizing when they seated a large group near me. That said, most of the restaurants there are pretty loud. There is a nice, tucked-away lounge on the second floor (Belle Vue Lounge), but that can get crowded on occasion.
One nice store for the peace-seeking introvert is the Wyland Galleries. These folks feature both marine art (paintings of seashores, sculptures of whales/dolphins), Disney character-themed portraits, and other pieces, usually by a local artist. The artwork is expensive (usually north of $300), but you can get smaller prints for less. I’m not sure how much art they actually sell in a given week, but I’m betting most of the visitors are just there to browse, so browse away!
Walt Disney World Swan
The Swan and Dolphin Resorts are massive hotels, with the Dolphin set up with its own convention center; neither of them is owned by Disney, if that’s a consideration for you. I’ve not stayed at the Swan, though I’ve walked around their property quite a bit. The hallways are usually pretty quiet, as is the convention area, unless there’s an event in progress. Nicest quiet place to visit is Kimonos, their sushi bar. It can get loud, but often isn’t. A tad expensive, but hey, the rooms aren’t cheap, either.
Walt Disney World Dolphin
I don’t think I’ve stayed here, either, though I do recall visiting one or two of the rooms during a convention. I am not a huge fan of the decor–heavy on the pink and teal–but like the Swan it’s pretty quiet in the hallways. I was at a diner there with my sister once. Everything seemed perfectly normal until the staff disappeared. A minute later four or five of them were doing a dance routine in the middle of the floor. A bit random, but there it was. I’ve not eaten in too many places there, but my guess is that the Shula’s steak house is relatively child-free (would you take your six-year-old to a place with $50 steaks?).
Disney’s Yacht Club Resort
The Yacht Club is the gray side of the Y&B complex, with dark woods and a nautical theme in the lobby. I especially like their massive globe in the center. The grounds are well kept and ornamented with flowers and topiaries. They have a couple of saloons worth visiting: the Ale & Compass bar off the lobby and the Crew’s Cup lounge, which is adjacent to the Yachtsman Steakhouse. Crew’s Cup is larger and generally busier, as a lot of people have cocktails there while waiting for a dinner seating at Yachtsman; however, they do have their own menu as well. You might be able to find some quiet Zen time in the Ship Shape Health Club–they have a fitness room and spa treatments.
Yacht Club has two large table-service restaurants: Yachtsman Steakhouse (dinner only) and Captain’s Grille (breakfast, lunch, and dinner). It’s hard to say which one’s quieter based on my experiences at each, though a cast member said Captain’s Grille was usually quieter. The food’s better at Yachtman, IMHO, but more expensive.
Disney’s Beach Club Resort
Beach Club really doesn’t have a quiet restaurant. However, between their hotel and DVC halves, they do have a couple of quiet areas for reading–the hotel-side Solarium and the DVC lobby (I once did a telecon there with minimal interruption). The Solarium can have a TV going, but when it’s not on, there’s just the resort lobby background music.
There are a couple of saloons worth checking out at Beach Club: Martha’s Vineyard, which is a nice, quiet place to hang out during the day (they don’t open until 4 p.m.) and is relatively out of the way. Hurricane Hanna’s is the pool bar by the main pool area, Stormalong Bay. I’m not going to lie to you: this place isn’t quiet. It is next to the main pool, after all. However, the staff is always friendly and their tropical drinks are made well (they have the best rum runner on Disney property). There are only about a dozen seats at the bar, so even when there’s a line, people tend to take their drinks and leave.
And if you just need to get away from it all, the walkway around the Epcot Resorts provides plenty of quiet space. There’s also a separate walkway that leads from BoardWalk to Hollywood Studios. Plenty of leg-stretching room for you running fans, at any rate.
Bottom line: the Epcot Resorts have plenty of spaces–even in the public areas–for an introvert to find some quiet time alone while still providing convenient access to Epcot and Hollywood Studios. Go forth and chill out.