Are you heading to Walt Disney World with your children? Here are the best places to play!
The Importance of Allowing Time for Play
If you are planning to travel to Walt Disney World with children, you have likely thought a good deal about how to load your vacation with magic and fun. But, do not forget to build a little play time into that fun.
You might think your children will be having too much fun doing all the Disney things to need any playtime. However, while rides and shows and characters and Mickey Shaped foods and fireworks are certainly fun, a day full of such things can be a lot for some children. In fact, your children may need playtime to get the most out of your trip. Perhaps they need to play to process many of the things they have seen and experienced. They might even just need to give their brains a break from the constant intake of new information, the likes of which they have never encountered. Play is a way for children not just to burn off energy, but to make sense of the world.
Moreover, if your children are accustomed to plenty of active play at home, they will need it as part of their day in Walt Disney World, too, the same way they need snacks. And, if they are not accustomed to it, they will enjoy its novelty.
Many parents loathe the idea of spending a large sum of money on vacation only to see children “waste” time on playgrounds. After all, there are perfectly good playgrounds at home that cost $0. But, I assure you, stopping to play is no waste of time. In fact, it is one of the things you can include in your trip to prevent meltdowns.
Besides, Walt Disney World has some of the best play areas, filled with magic for memory making. You will find playgrounds, splash pads and interactive areas across the park and at the resort hotels. Here are three of the very best play places in Disney World!
The Bone Yard
If you head to Dinoland USA in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, you will find a state-of-the-art playground called The Bone Yard. This playground is a dinosaur lover’s dream. However, you do not have to be a dino fan to enjoy it.
There are activities for dreamers of all ages in this massive play space. You will find everything from small slides that delight toddlers to obstacles that will challenge older kids. There is something for everyone in these prehistoric stomping grounds.
The explorers in your family will love all there is to see and do. For example, children can climb rope walls and cross rickety bridges. There are Cast Members available to keep the more difficult obstacles safe and orderly.
The primary drawback to the Bone Yard is that since it is large, it can be difficult to keep up with your children. It is important to know going in that for the most part, this is not a great place to sit in one place and keep a watchful eye on your little ones the entire time. If you do want to have eyes on them at all times, you will need to plan to migrate with them as they move from area to area.
This is less of a problem if you have older children and you want to stay in one place while they explore. However, having a meeting place will be very important, especially if they do not have phones.
There is a place to go in the Bone Yard if you need a break and want to sit still while your younger children play. If you cross over the bridge (and under the brachiosaurus skeleton), you will come upon a dig. The dig site is filled with buckets and shovels. Children can dig for fossils at the site.
Or, if they’d rather they can simply fill up buckets with the ground cover and dump them out over and over again to their hearts’ content you might even join the “my child filled up approximately 756 buckets with fake dirt club” (iykyk). Because it is somewhat contained, it is the easiest place in the Bone Yard to rest your feet while keeping an eye on your children. So, grab a Joffery’s and have a seat!
The Bone Yard is also a stop on Wilderness Explorers. If your kiddos are participating in the program and are set on earning all the badges, know that one of the badges requires some time exploring the Bone Yard.
The Play Area in the Dumbo Queue
If you are in the queue for Dumbo during the day, you may notice a charming indoor playground as you make your way closer to the ride. Since this playground is in the ride queue, it follows an interesting system. If it is not at capacity, you and your children can enter and have some fun!
Assuming there is a relatively long wait for Dumbo, upon entry, you will receive a pager. It is similar to what you may get at a restaurant. When it is your turn to progress through the ride line, your buzzer goes off! Until that time, your child can enjoy the playground instead of enduring the wait. On the other hand, if the wait time is short, you will not receive a pager. Instead, you will simply leave your spot in line, play, and return to the queue when you are ready to fly.
As you enter the playground, you will notice that Dumbo circles overhead as children enjoy the various elements of the space. You will also notice that there is plenty of Dumbo theming including the burning house he leaps from during his circus performance. Throughout the space are slides to ride, tubes and tunnels to climb through, and interesting sound effects to set off.
So, if you are visiting the little elephant with big ears, you may want to build a little extra time into your ride experience. This way children can enjoy the little playground.
You might even enjoy the playground because there is plenty of seating for spectators. It is a contained area, so you will be able to sit while your children play. Plus, it is indoors. The big top keeps it completely covered and protected from the elements.
Additionally, this is one of the easiest playgrounds to get your child to actually leave. The excitement of hearing “it’s our time to ride Dumbo,” will probably do the trick of getting your child to come along with no argument.
You can visit this playground even if you do not want to ride the attraction. Simply hop in line, play, and ask the cast members where to exit after you have had your fill of fun.
Advanced Training Lab
My (Katie’s) family’s favorite play area in Walt Disney World is the Advanced Training Lab. This fun interactive play place is located in Epcot at the Mission: Space exit. Don’t worry, you do not have to ride the attraction to get to the play place. But, you can ride it if you don’t like yourself.
Advanced Training Lab is an indoor play space. It has a number of interesting video games kids and even adults can enjoy. My husband and son play one that takes place on the surface of Mars. They enjoy beating it, especially because they discovered a Toy Story Easter egg hidden in it. The whole game takes about four minutes to beat.
There is also a massively alluring playground. It is what I call a “hamster tube” playground. I say this because it is made of floor-to-ceiling twisty, turny tubes that fill an entire room. Of course, there are also slides and rocketships to fuel the imagination. It is adventure and fun waiting to happen.
The best part is that it is indoors and air conditioned. There is also a good deal of seating so that grownups can sit while their children enjoy the playground.
Even better, Advanced Training Lab is very close to both Joffrey’s and Connections (Starbucks). If you wanted to, you could send someone in your group to grab Joffrey’s or Starbucks drinks for everyone. You can sit and sip inside an air conditioned space. It is perfect for the heat of the day when the parks are most crowded. I have done it many a time myself.
My family has been known to use Advanced Training Lab as a nice midday break, not just from Epcot, but from Disney’s Hollywood Studios as well. You see, in the absence of the Honey I Shrunk the Kids Playground, there are not many play spaces in Hollywood Studios, other than perhaps the ride queue at Alien Swirling Saucers.
So, we have been known to hop on the Skyliner and grab lunch in Epcot and enjoy the Advanced Training Lab in all its air conditioned glory. Refreshed, we can head back to the Skyliner to finish the day at Hollywood Studios, or we can stay and hang out in Epcot.
Of course, there are plenty of other play areas spread about the resorts. Even if you don’t hit one of the larger, more heavily themed spaces, you will be able to find a place to embrace a bit of playtime.
The moral of the story is this: when you are in Disney World, you should make time to stop and play! Your children and your sanity will thank you!
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