Have I got a crazy proposition for you: You have been banished to spend the rest of eternity within a 100 yard radius of a single spot. On the bright side, that site is at Walt Disney World, and you get to pick the spot. What would be the best spot in each park, and the best non-park location, to select? First, the rules:
- You still need to account for your basic human needs, so make sure you have access to food, potable water, and, unless you’re a complete degenerate, a restroom.
- Anything that can accessed from within this radius can be experienced. Put another way, as long as the entrance to an attraction, show or restaurant is within the radius, it doesn’t matter if the entire show building or attraction fits within the space.
- Anything outside of this radius is completely off-limits to you, forever. You cannot set up shop in Tommorowland but have a friend bring you a churro from Frontierland. If it’s not within your circle, you can’t have it, ever.
Other than these rules, let your imagination be your guide. Where did I choose and why? Find out after the jump!
I am by no means a survival expert, so I enlisted the help of some people that are: Zombie Squad. Zombie Squad is a group dedicated to disaster preparedness, with the idea being that if you’re prepared for a zombie apocalypse, you’re pretty much prepared for anything. I asked them for some feedback on what sort of qualities you’d want to have in a place you’d be spending the rest of time, and what sort of stuff you’d want to have on hand, and here’s what I found out:
- The most important things are food, water, and shelter. Disney supplies you with ample opportunities to buy food and drink regardless of where you are, so we’ll focus upon the quality and variety of food available within a given radius, and access to a solid shelter option to keep you out of the Florida sun and protect you from afternoon thunderstorms.
- The next most important survival item would be fire. From a traditional survival standpoint, it is useful for providing heat, light, and for cooking food and sterilizing water. Again, however, food and water aren’t so much of an issue at Walt Disney World, so the emphasis here will be upon ensuring that we can still see at night, and that we don’t freeze on those rare occasions when it gets uncomfortably cold in Central Florida.
- Other things that would be preferable, but not necessary from a pure survival standpoint, would include the companionship of others (hardly an issue even on level 1 days), a renewable source of energy, and reference guides to help you learn to better use your environment. Your Touringplans.com subscription will meet your needs for that last item.
Also, while it’s not really important from a raw survival standpoint, we as Disney fans want to pick a location that is going to include things that we actually want to do. With that in mind, attraction density around the spot is going to be a critical consideration as well.
Let’s get one thing out of the way right off the bat: there is really nowhere in the Magic Kingdom where access to food and water is an issue. Walt made sure you didn’t have to walk more than 30 steps to find a trash can, and his successors seemed to favor a similar approach when planning food options at the Magic Kingdom. Some food is certainly better than others, but we’re only going to starve if we set up shop on the rear of Tom Sawyer’s Island.
That directs the focus to attractions (and shelter) and that makes it a tough one, because the whole park is pretty dense, there are great attractions spread out all over, and picking one spot necessarily means that you are going to be excluding some pretty awesome stuff. I ultimately chose a spot that is more or less right in the middle of the Hall of Presidents. While this unfortunately excludes all of the Mountains, this provides access to The Haunted Mansion (barely), Peter Pan’s Flight, it’s a small world, Mickey’s Philharmagic, the Hall itself, Prince Charming’s Regal Carousel, and even the Liberty Square Riverboat should you want the opportunity for a change in scenery.
On the food front, you have about as much variety as you could hope for, collecting Columbia Harbour House, the Liberty Square Market (which is a great place to grab a quick hot dog if you’re just looking to eat and run), and Pinnochio Village Haus. I also made sure I shimmied my circle down to the south to make sure I got the often overlooked Sleepy Hollow Refreshments, which has both sweet (read: Nutella!) and savory waffle sandwiches. Also, while it’s very close, I’m pretty sure I managed to loop in the entrance to Cinderella’s Royal Table, so there’s that.
Comfortable shelter is also a given in this location, with popular resting spot Hall of Presidents at the center of everything and the Cinderella Castle Suite, and you even have access to some of the finest restrooms in all of Walt Disney World with the Tangled restrooms, complete with charging stations (when they work)! There may be other places that have attractions or restaurants that are individually better than those noted, but I was actually unable to locate anywhere else in all of Walt Disney World that had so many quality attractions and food options in such a dense area.
The primary problem with this exercise at Epcot is that the park is very large, and everything is pretty spread out. There are very few restaurants in Future World, and very few attractions in World Showcase. Rarely are great restaurants and attractions found together.
There is, however, one area in particular that is comparatively dense, and that will safely provide you with everything you’ll need for eternity — right outside of entrance to Soarin’s queue in The Land pavilion. Here, you can access headliner Soarin’, quaint and pleasant Living with the Land, and Circle of Life all without going out into the Florida sun. If you take advantage of some backstage pathways, it sure looks like you could make it over to Journey into Imagination with Figment as well. Also, you’ll have access to two restaurants — The Garden Grill and Sunshine Seasons, the latter of which is well-known for its wide variety of freshly prepared, tasty food. Also, with Living with the Land you have access to boundless fresh produce and even some seafood. All things considered, there’s nowhere else in Epcot that really comes close to presenting this much to do with such varied food options in a condensed space.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Disney’s Hollywood Studios at this point in its lifecycle is tricky, because an as-yet-unidentified swath of the park is going to be behind construction walls at some point fairly soon. Also, the way the park is laid out, the better restaurants tend to be more than 100 yards from the better attractions, so you have to make a choice between food and fun. While access to food and water isn’t really an issue at most Disney parks, there will at some point be plenty of real estate that isn’t serviced by anything other than construction equipment, so we need to make sure we stay away from that area.
With that in mind, there’s really only one spot that’s truly safe — right in front of the entrance to the Beauty & the Beast – Live on Stage show. While we don’t know exactly where the new park additions are going to be, it’s a safe bet that as home to Tower of Terror, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster starring Aerosmith and Fantasmic!, Sunset Boulevard is safe for the foreseeable future. In addition to these headliner attractions, the area currently hosts the outstanding Beauty & the Beast show, and the always entertaining Citizens of Hollywood will keep your entertainment options from becoming stale. The Hollywood Tower Hotel can also be accessed from within this space, so shelter is not an issue — even if it can be a little dusty. Finally, from a food standpoint, there are frankly places to set up shop that have better food — you’re pretty much limited to counter service options like Fairfax Fare and Catalina Eddie’s. With that said, there is a fair amount of variety among the counter service places in this area, and looping in better food options would have come at the expense of really anything to do.
Honorable mention goes to the area outside of Star Tours. Even though there are fewer attractions, the randomization of the scenes in Star Tours means that you are unlikely to have the same experience twice, even over a long period of time. It also gives you access to Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater, which is another unique environment that serves decent enough food to meet your needs over the long haul. Ultimately, however, the uncertainty about the future of the area and the lack of variety with respect to food makes this area less than ideal to commit to forever.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Animal Kingdom will truly put your actual survival skills to the test — the park is very large, spread out, and there’s simply not as much there as some of the more mature parks. Moreover, the quest for shelter at Animal Kingdom is something that you really need to give some thought to, because many of the attractions and walking trails are primarily outdoors with at best intermittent cover from the top only. Spending the rest of eternity in Central Florida without access to air conditioning is brutal, and there are plenty of spots in the park where you could be more than 100 yards from the ability to cool down.
My knee jerk reaction was that Asia would be the best pick here: the food at both the table service and counter service incarnations of Yak and Yeti are very solid, and the Maharajah Jungle Trek, Kali River Rapids and Expedition Everest all seem to be fairly close together. Alas, however, when I tried to map it out, I couldn’t get all of it or even much of it into my 100 yard radius — in fact, if I wanted to include Everest, I really couldn’t include any substantive food. The area has a palpable hustle and bustle energy, and I suppose it makes it seem more dense than it actually is.
I ended up going with more or less the middle of Harambe Village in Africa. In that area, you have a nice shelter space (along with a great show) at Festival of the Lion King, in addition to the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail and the park’s raison d’être, Kilimanjaro Safaris. Food options are somewhat sparse — you’re more or less limited to Tusker House and the Harambe Market — but there are both table service and counter service locations in this space. I’m ultimately not overly concerned about the absence of food options in this area, however, because worst case scenario, Kilimanjaro Safaris and the Pangani Trail are, you know, right there. I understand that giraffe pairs wonderfully with the Sugar Cane Mojito at the Dawa Bar.
For me, this was a pretty easy one — just as I like to do myself, I dropped this pin smack dab in the middle of Stormalong Bay at Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resorts. In addition to having access to what is generally recognized as the best resort pool on Disney property and deluxe level shelter at either the Yacht Club or Beach Club, this location also stands out for having several noteworthy restaurants packed closely together. Whether it’s character dining at Cape May Cafe, fountain shop favorites at Beaches & Cream Soda Shop or signature dining at the Yachtsman Steakhouse, there are plenty of great places to eat that transcend routine resort food. Also, if I had to pick one view to have for the rest of my life, the view looking out onto Crescent Lake is not a bad option.
OK folks, so these are the places I’d pick, but I will freely admit that intelligent minds can differ on this critically important topic. With that in mind, I’m curious to see where all of you would spend your days! Let me know in the comments!
All maps were drawn using the Radius Around a Point tool at freemaptools.com, which creates overlays for Google maps. Feel free to use it for your responses!