Sunday, November 29, 2009

And She Told Me To WALK This WAY

Nope, this doesn't have anything to do with Aerosmith's Rock N Roller Coaster (unless you're using this walkway to get to Hollywood Studios). This is to espouse the virtues of a road less traveled in Walt Disney World: the walkway connecting Epcot to Disney's Hollywood Studios.

Some are saying...huh? A walkway? Between theme parks? That sounds far - is it far? Some have seen it from the Friendship boats that ferry guests between Epcot and Hollywood Studios (and include the Swan/Dolphin, Boardwalk and Yacht & Beach Club stops in between parks) and never even considered attempting the "trek". Others have tried it and may not do it again. And finally, some have tried it, and it's become one of their favorite strolls in The Mouse.

First of all, let's explain where and what we're talking about. Epcot and Hollywood Studios are actually very close in proximity, and essentially have only the Boardwalk area separating them. There are several ways to get from one to the other including by car, by bus, by boat (the Friendship Boats previously mentioned) walking.

Walking can be very advantageous for several reasons: no waiting for boats or buses to arrive; no crowds on said bus or boat; no going all the way out to your car to lose your parking spot and fight traffic on the way; it gives you the opportunity to slow down and see the Mouse at your own pace; and it's very healthy for you (especially important considering you're most likely not eating very healthfully on vacation - activity can help out tremendously in that situation). These are all great reasons to do some extra walking while at WDW.

From first glance, this route indeed looks long. Really long. But it's deceiving; using the route we've drawn up, including the shortcut, it's just about 1.2 miles long - in actuality, a shorter distance than the World Showcase loop (which is about 1.3 miles long). The graphic is from and its purpose is to tell you how far your plotted running course is over a given distance on the map. This is what we used to make the determination for this route. So to keep it simple, we've drawn up the route from the front turnstiles of Hollywood Studios to the International Gateway turnstiles of Epcot.

You start out from DHS, walk along the walkway next to the parking lot, then down a slight slope and you're next to the waterway. This continues on for just under a mile until you reach the Boardwalk Resort and Villas. Across the way, you get a great view of the Swan and Dolphin and the boats that run along the waterway (including the wooden Breathless II and the Friendship boats). Here is where the shortcut comes in - instead of continuing along the path which curves up and around Jellyrolls, cut through the Luna Park pool area of the Boardwalk Inn. This will bring you out by the Muscles & Bustles fitness club and Side Show arcade, and into the courtyard. Continue your walk along the Boardwalk by ESPN Zone, over the bridge, and back out to the International Gateway. This should take about 20 minutes, depending on the speed of the walkers in your group.

By contrast, the Friendship boats take between 20-30 minutes because it does stop at Y&B Clubs, Swan/Dolphin, and Boardwalk before it makes its way to either Epcot or DHS. So you can either take the long boat tour (which has its advantages during the summer), or get some exercise in to combat that turkey leg!

Personally, I'm a huge fan of these scenic Disney walking opportunities. Be it the Boardwalk, the walkway on Downtown Disney's West Side that runs along Lake Buena Vista, or the path between Toontown and Space Mountain, the tranquility and scenery is part of the magic.

So next time you might have a day where you're juggling Epcot and Hollywood Studios, consider this path and don't be afraid to Walk This Way.

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