Wednesday, August 12, 2009

People Watching: Tomorrowland

Continuing the People Watching theme…let’s consider the Tomorrowland area. You’re probably thinking: “Tomorrowland? Yeah, right. It’s so crowded and small...and loud.” That may be true, but there are a few fairly quiet spots to sit down, relax and oh, I don’t know, have a snack or something.

Crossing the bridge from “the hub” into Tomorrowland, you will see the Tomorrowland Convention Center on the left, and on the right is Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor. Before these two buildings, though, on both sides are shaded walkways, with sparsely placed benches. If it’s not too crowded and if the Tomorrowland Terrace Noodle Station is closed, these areas can be VERY relaxed. What I like to do is grab a Mickey bar from the vendor in the hub and sit down here in the shade and listen to one of the best background music loops in the Magic Kingdom.

If it’s too crowded around this area, head on back towards the Carousel of Progress. As you approach the Carousel’s entrance veer to the left towards the restrooms located in the now defunct Tomorrowland Skyway Station.

Photo of Tomorrowland Skyway Station courtesy of

In a very quiet corner is an area with covered tables. This is a designated smoking area, but if no one is there smoking, this can be a great place to relax and listen to the sounds of Tomorrowland…the Tomorrowland Transit Authority moving above you and the occasional pass of the Walt Disney World Railroad next to you.

Speaking of the TTA…this is a great attraction for some R ‘n’ R!

Photo by Jeff B at

This attraction rarely has a line, so loading is quick. It’s roughly ten minutes of a slow-moving, almost one mile ride around and through the attractions of Tomorrowland. Originally known as the WEDway PeopleMover when it opened on July 1, 1975, this attraction was based on the PeopleMover at Disneyland. Truly futuristic, the ride vehicles are propelled by use of linear induction motors. In the spring of 1994, Tomorrowland underwent a massive refurbishment and the name was changed to the Tomorrowland Transit Authority.

The TTA gives you a great overview of Tomorrowland and along the way you will get a sneak peek into Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin, Stitch's Great Escape and Space Mountain. Then, next time you ride those attractions, try to figure out where the TTA passes by and give a wave! You'll also get a glimpse of a large, beautiful model for EPCOT as Walt Disney envisioned it...a real blast from the past.

These are the best locations in Tomorrowland for some quiet spots. As we move towards Fantasyland, the Tomorrowland Indy Speedway is fairly loud, so not too many good R 'n' R spots here. If you have a favorite spot, let me know. Please leave a comment or email me your idea for more ways to enjoy some R 'n' R @ WDW.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

People Watching: Main Street, U.S.A.

According to, people watching or crowd watching “is the act of observing people and their interactions, usually without their knowledge. Naturalistic observation is another more formal way of describing people watching.” I think you would agree that there is perhaps no better place to people watch than at Walt Disney World. This post is the first in a series of what I will call “People Watching @ WDW.” I will share with you some of my favorite places to sit down, relax, smell the flowers, listen to the ambient sounds and great background music and engage in some naturalistic observation.

First in the series: the Magic Kingdom.

Let’s break it down by area…

Main Street, U.S.A.

One of our favorite places to sit and take in Town Square, Main Street, U.S.A., and Cinderella Castle is atop the Railroad Station.

View of Main Street Railroad Station courtesy of the Vintage Disneyland Tickets blog.

There are a number of benches on the second floor under a glass-covered promenade that face Main Street, U.S.A. Dusk is my favorite time to sit there and watch the transformation: Main Street and the Castle come alive when the lights come on. It’s a beautiful sight as the temperature starts to drop a bit and the hustle and bustle of the streets below take on a new life. It gets crowded up there for parades and fireworks, but it’s a great viewing spot. If you take the time to enjoy this gem, be sure to explore the Station…the detail here is amazing! Beautifully detailed lighting fixtures, period seating and games, and wonderful artwork will take you back to yesteryear. There is also a bulletin board with arriving and departing trains listed…all the locations listed have a backstory.

View of Main Street Railroad Station courtesy of the Vintage Disneyland Tickets blog.

As you walk down Main Street toward the “hub” you will cross East Center Street. Indeed, Main Street has a side street. Before 2001, it was actually a cross street, but that changed with the expansion of the Emporium, which closed West Center Street. In fact, the Harmony Barber Shop was originally on West Center Street along with the Greenhouse Flower Shop, the Hallmark Card Shop and a few other now extinct shops. So, make a right turn and take a stroll down East Center Street. A caricature artist is usually stationed here; beautifully potted plants and landscaping will invite you to explore the area as the noise of Main Street fades behind. Take note of the detail on the buildings, including the balconies above you and the planters on them. The building at the end of the street has an “Art Festival” sign above it…it really was an art “festival” gallery back in the early to mid-1970’s.

View of East Center Street courtesy of the Vintage Disneyland Tickets blog.

There are benches under the awnings and further in there are seating areas with tables. Grab a snack from the Bakery or some fruit from the fruit stand that is often located on this street and head down here for a respite from the Main Street crowd! Drink in the ambience and background music of the area. Look for the windows marked “Singing Lessons” and “School of Dance.” Listen closely to hear singing, voice and dancing lessons coming from the various upstairs rooms!

I hope you enjoyed this look at some more ways to slow down and relax while visiting Walt Disney World. We’ll be discussing more places to sit down, smell the flowers, people watch and fit in some R ‘n’ R around the entire WDW Resort area. If you have a favorite spot, please leave a comment below or send me an e-mail…I’d love to hear from you. If you have pictures of you and/or your family enjoying these locations, please send them to me and I'll post them in this article.