People watching is something of a hobby of mine. To clarify, I'm not talking about scanning the beach with binoculars - no, this is far more civilized and less skeevy. In fact, one could argue that my all time favorite hobby - sitting in a hotel lobby with a libation or ice coffee and watching the world go by - is actually nothing more than people watching, and I suppose that would be true. And if there's one thing I've learned about this little hobby over the years, it's that people watching at Disney is unlike anywhere else in the world.
If you're in to sensory overload, give people watching at Disney a try. Every culture, every creed, every walk of life, every brand of fanny pack - you'll see it all in the span of roughly 6 minutes. And like many things at Disney, a range of emotions are involved here too. One minute you'll be misty eyed when a little kid hugs Mickey, the next you'll feel sheer terror when another one goes by screaming bloody murder.
So where does one find the best people watching at Disney? Well, I'm glad you asked.
Technically, the walk-up pizza window at Disney's Boardwalk Resort is a part of Cat Cora's Kouzinna restaurant, but we've always referred to it as Boardwalk Pizza. This joint and I go way back from late nights at Jellyrolls to dinners on the run after a long day at Food & Wine. Heck, I even had Boardwalk Pizza on my wedding night.
So what makes this place so great? Well, it's not the pie, though it doesn't take much to pass muster here given how many Totino's I consume in a year. Instead, what I like about Boardwalk Pizza is sitting at the little red tables nearby, where the atmosphere is nostalgic and the people watching is as good as the cheesecake brownies at the bakery next door.
Fountain in France
Aside from the ever present bottle neck of traffic in Mexico, the area in front of the France pavilion is arguably the busiest spot in Epcot's World Showcase. But if you're lucky enough to snag a spot on the leading edge of the water fountain, then you've grabbed probably the best place to people watch in Epcot. Being two steps away from the Grey Goose Slushie stand definitely helps this ranking.
Although the constant stream of people makes for great people watching, I've had to learn to turn a deaf ear when sitting here. Otherwise, statements like "Wow, the Eiffel Tower is so big" really start to kill the atmosphere.
|Well, the flowers aren't usually there...|
Grand Floridian Lobby
The closest thing the House of Mouse has to a "Grand Dame" hotel also happens to be one of the best places for people watching at Disney. The lobby of the Grand Floridian hotel is usually a relatively boring affair, but if you visit at night or during the holidays, well, you're in for a real treat. My suggestion: do both.
We like to enjoy a few songs from the jazz band while watching families marvel at the enormous gingerbread house and pose for Christmas car photos under the incredible tree. Naturally, this all goes pretty great with a couple glasses of bubbly from Mizner's Lounge or the bar at Citrico's.
|Call this a slow night.|
Yeah, I know it's a ride, but one can do some pretty solid people watching on the PeopleMover. Specifically, you can look down on the hoards of tourists in Tomorrowland and be thankful that, for at least the next few minutes, you're not one of them. Catch the PeopleMover on a slow day and it just might become your favorite ride at Disney - as it is mine - because the cast members will let you go round and round without getting off.
Of course, these days are few and far between. On our last few visits to the Magic Kingdom I've witnessed something that is simply unheard of with the PeopleMover... a line.
|Sadly, this version is no more...|
Terrace at Club 33
Just like the final bite of a great meal, I've saved the best for last. MJ and I have been fortunate to visit Club 33 on two occasions, and the people watching here is just as memorable as pressing that iconic little doorbell. The trick is you gotta know how to find it.
The dining room at Club 33 is surrounded by a terrace that overlooks New Orleans Square. What would appear to be windows around the room's perimeter are actually doors that give access to the terrace and its one of a kind view. Most of the doors are blocked by tables, but if you happen to land one or you simply have no qualms with invading someone's personal space to squeeze by, then you'll have access to the most exclusive people watching spot at Disney.
Tip: Order champagne - drink it here.
I know people watching is an unorthodox hobby to openly claim, but given the number of "people watching games" found on Google I'm clearly far from alone. So if you enjoy people watching, check out one of these spots, or just find a bench and enjoy the show.
Enjoy Your Stay