Five Simple “Hidden Spots” Most Disney World Guests Never Uncover
While that reality is an incredible blessing, and one that I know many of you have in common with us, it’s also a strange frame of thought for many first time guests embarking on their first Walt Disney World vacation. You see, for us Disney isn’t about the next big thrill coming to the parks but rather uncovering those little details that are hiding in plain site that so many guests entirely overlook.
1. The “Hidden Fireplace” of Wilderness Lodge
This “hidden spot” is one that is the near perfect example of a simplistic location that can yield incredible stories. It’s no secret that I love Wilderness Lodge and the experience it creates through the vast and intricate theming, but it took me nearly 8 years to uncover this little gem of a hideaway located in plain site. It’s so off the radar in fact that I do kind of have trouble spilling the info on how and where to find it (but I’m going to anyway).
On the floor above the grand atrium lobby level this little alcove area is quite literally hiding right in front of your eyes. It’s not a place you’ll simply stumble into in a high traffic area of the resort but rather one that you have to explore a bit to uncover. It’s not a grand spectacle but rather a quite spot that is a near ideal place to escape for a few minutes after a long day in the parks, a place to sit and do some work (or photo editing in my case), or perhaps a spot to gather with friends to tell stories and enjoy the moment.
As you sit in front of the fire (which is far smaller that the one in the lobby below) the worries of the world seem to melt away as you sit in a comfortable chair and the subtle music of the lobby overflows into this quaint space. At its core, it’s a feeling that cant be explained in words. Much like the Carolwood Room, this spot will always be a “hidden gem” in my opinion and a spot that consistently exceeds expectations. It’s just one more reason why Boulder Ridge (the villas section of Wilderness Lodge) truly is one of my favorite places to stay.
2. Canada Fireworks Viewing – The Pyrotechnics Guy In The Chimney
Moving in an entirely different direction, we have the most overlooked pyrotechnic “secret” of Disney, “the Chimney guy.” You may be asking why this makes our list but it’s simply because you have to be in the right place at the right time to see it unfold.
If you’re waiting for Illuminations, or looking for a viewing spot, head to the Canada pavilion. At the top of the main staircase take a step to your right and there will be a chest high rock wall. Not only is it a near perfect spot to view the show, it’s also the perfect place to catch this little known Disney secret hiding in plain site. The view of Illuminations certainly speaks for itself in the image below, but the reason this makes our list is because of the “chimney.” I know that sounds absurd but stick with me.
If you’re standing in this spot, turn around and you’ll see a small building at the top of the hill. About 3 minutes before showtime, watch the top of that building and what looks like a chimney facade. Minutes before the show a door will open at the top of the “chimney” and a controller for the show with what I assume would be a pyrotechnic specialist background (or at least I hope lol) will pop out, lay out his controls, and remain in that position the entire show. He’s wearing all black, is typically wearing what looks like some type of vest with any number of technological devices hooked to him, and truthfully I have no idea what he does. My guess is he controls the show or monitors intently for safety reasons, but I don’t entirely know the details of the role. Either way, it’s something neat to experience.
About 2 minutes after the finale, you’ll see him climb down out of the chimney, walk quickly and causally to the front of the pavilion, and then briskly walk around the World Showcase promenade to disappear backstage somewhere. If you time it just right, you can occasionally catch a small crowd that’s “in the know” greeting him with high fives and thatks for an awesome show. Typically he just smiles and quickly acknowledges the crowd but it’s one of those subtle looks “behind the curtain” at the magic that you’ll likely remember visit after visit. I assume this is still true with Epcot Forever recently replacing Illuminations.
3. The Second Floor Balconies of the Grand Floridian
4. The Wyland Gallery
The Wyland Gallery is perhaps the least talked about gem of an experience (mostly for adults) anywhere on property. The gallery, which is a true fine art gallery showroom is located over at the Boardwalk resort – a resort I rave about in my Boardwalk Villas Review. It’s a fairly inconspicuous storefront behind the surrey bike rental area of the Village Green and near the tunnel to the main pool. It’s not heavily Disney themed but rather acts as an incredibly classy art exhibit of sorts that flies under the radar of most guests. It is quite pricey and opposed to the Arribas Brothers style locations, this is far more wall art focused.
Personally, I’ve never bought anything here but it is a beautiful spot to look around and enjoy for a few minutes while enjoying all the Boardwalk has to offer. Even on the most crowded nights down on the water, this hidden gem remains fairly quiet. Nobody is going to try to pressure you into buying a $1,000 piece of art but the staff typically has a certain passion for what they do and are more that happy to explain various things to you about the location and what you’re looking at in the moment.
5. The Beaches of the Yacht and Beach Club
As perhaps the most mainstream item on the list, I have to say the beaches surrounding the Yacht and Beach Club are perhaps one of the most under appreciated gems of Walt Disney World. Sure, they’re not an ideal place to watch fireworks like the beaches of the Polynesian but at the same time they are home to one of the most incredible nightly views in all of Disney property. From the glimmering water to the Boardwalk lights, this is without a doubt one of the most picturesque resort offerings you’ll find anywhere in the country. If you are looking for fireworks viewing, you can catch glimpses of certain Hollywood Studios shows and even subtle glimpses of Illuminations if you time it right.
The greatest key to this is the fact that the adults can relax in a swing or lounge chair while your kids head to the pool, roast marshmallows around a fire pit, or even play in the sand near by. It’s a large open area and truthfully one that very few take the time to appreciate. Chances are you’ll be the only one on the beach (with the exception of a special event) and it is perhaps one of my favorite places in all of Walt Disney World. Part of that is because this area is a photographers dream, but another part is that it creates a unique feeling being there in the moment that is indescribable in words.
As with many of the items on our list, you truly have to witness it in person to fully understand it! If we missed your favorite “hidden spot” be sure to contact us via email at email@example.com or reach out to us in the comments on your favorite social media platform! This is far from an all inclusive list and more that anything we appreciate you taking the time out of your day to spend a few moments here with us! Have an incredible day wherever you are and we hope to meet you in the parks one day!
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