There are a lot of people that think Disney World is just for families with kids. That statement couldn’t be less true. I’ve been extremely fortunate in taking eight Disney vacations without kids and had an amazing experience each time. Disney has done a fantastic job of incorporating attractions, shows and cuisine for all ages. Here are my top ten tips for making your adult Disney vacation magical!
Disney Without Kids: 10 Tips for a Magical Grown-Up Vacation
Talk to the Cast Members
I may be biased, but Disney cast members are some of the greatest people on earth. They have a huge passion for making people happy. The cast members also have great insights to the best dining, rides and firework viewing locations. They know where you can find those silver sequin Minnie ears, what time the 3:00 parade starts (yes, I’d been asked that) and where the restrooms are. Cast members may also be able to get you on rides before they’re open, trade you a ‘hidden Mickey’ pin, get you to the front of the line on your favorite ride or bump up your room type because you’re celebrating an Anniversary (all of which has happened to us).
See the Fireworks
You have got to see them all. Magic Kingdom (Happily Ever After), EPCOT (IllumiNations), Animal Kingdom (Rivers of Light) and Hollywood Studios (Star Wars) each has a nightly firework show (not every night of the year). Every one of these shows is spectacular for different reasons. I watched the fireworks from Wishes shooting over my head every night while closing down the rides as a CP. The new firework show that replaced Wishes is called Happily Ever After. It is also fun to watch from California Grill (top of the Contemporary Resort) or the beaches at Polynesian or Grand Floridian. You can stroll around the world with a drink in hand watching the awesome fire and lazer firework show that is IllumiNations in EPCOT or watch while having dinner (which is super romantic). At Hollywood Studios you can get VIP treatment with a dessert party at Launch Bay while getting quality time with your favorite Star Wars characters. Check Magic Kingdom and Epcot for more dessert party fun.
If you’re not big on fireworks, enjoy no lines on the rides! It’s possible to run through the lines of Tower of Terror and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster so many times that you feel you’ll never need to ride them again (although you totally will). Outdoor rides like Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, Astro Orbiter and Test Track become much scarier. Dumbo and Prince Charming’s Carrousel are absolutely stunning at night. It’s a little bit like you have something better than FastPass+ for every ride because everyone’s watching the fireworks or trying to beat the crowd home.
Disney Springs is the new hot spot for Disney shopping. The biggest Disney Store on property is at this location as well as the Disney Christmas store and Disney Art store. Former ‘Downtown Disney’ is full of high end shopping as well. Anthropology, Coca-Cola, Johnny Was, Kate Spade, Lilly Pulitzer and MAC are just a few of the big names that attract shoppers from around the world. My favorite part about shopping at any WDW Resort location is having your merchandise magically shipped back to your room on property so you can shop hands free!
It’s so tricky to eat anything but quick service and counter service when you have little kids. My three year old only wants to eat fruit, burgers and chicken fingers so we never spend much money on food. I have been fortunate enough to have some nice meals on my last media trip to WDW. The ambiance is second to the amazing cuisine. There is only one place in Disney World that requires a suit anymore (Victoria and Albert’s) but it is kind of fun to get dressed up for a nice long meal in Disney. My favorite meals have been at the Flying Fish at Boardwalk, Jiko at Animal Kingdom Lodge and California Grill at the Contemporary. If you’re interested in restaurant reviews you can check out WDW Radio podcast where Lou Mongello frequents restaurants all over Disney property and takes his friends and family to try a large portion of the menu.
Take a Break
It’s so much easier to take things slow and really soak Disney in when you’re not worrying about whiny kids or trying to hold your lunch down after riding Tea Cups four times in a row. Finding those quite spots throughout the resorts and parks is one of my favorite things to do when visiting WDW. The zen gardens in Epcot is my favorite spot to sit and relax. You can also find a bench, anywhere, and people watch while having a snack. Most days we take a ‘nap’ break back at the resort even without kids so we’re able to go from rope drop through the fireworks without burning out. I might do laundry or lay by the pool but we always have that chance to take a breath and escape the stimuli of the parks.
Speaking of taking a break during the day for the pools, I just love hanging out at the pool on a busy Disney trip. We like to visit various resorts to try out different pools. Most resorts have ‘quiet’ pools that are smaller and have less chaos. Our favorite pool locations are the cabanas at Grand Floridian, the Wilderness Lodge and Art of Animation.
As a hospitality major, visiting hotels and resorts brings me great joy. While working at a college program student for a semester I took my time visiting every Disney property and seeing the rooms. If you are staying on property it is very easy to take the free transportation to resort hop and visit the various properties. Ask the front desk to see a suite if possible and while you’re on your tour ask about the added amenities the resort offers. I wrote about a few of the amenities in my Why Staying at a Disney Property is the Best Decision post. You can find family bikes to rent, sprite boats, massages, yoga classes, the newest technology in arcade games, street performing acts, night vision glasses for watching savanna animals and much more!
Disney Bound, Wear Buttons and Lanyards
Even though you don’t have kids with you, there’s no reason to bring out the ‘kid’ in you when visiting Disney World. Disney bounding is dressing similar to a favorite character by wearing clothes you already have in your wardrobe. It is very popular at Disneyland but has become more popular at WDW in the past few years. Each resort and park has free buttons at the concierge desk or guest relations to announce what you’re celebrating (anniversary, birthday, first visit etc.) It’s a great conversation starter with other guests as you’re waiting in line. We’re big pin traders so we’re always sure to wear our lanyards to the parks to trade with guests and cast members. Again, another great way to start up a conversation with people in the parks.
Ditch the camera/phone for a night and just enjoy being together. If you need photos to document your evening there are Disney Photopass photographers all over the parks that can snap photos as you go. Keeping your phone out of your hand helps to really connect with your partner. With your MagicBand you have access to your dining reservations, FastPass+, room key and Photopass account. If you want a backup you can always print out reservation information (like the old days) to have on hand in case of emergency. It’s really quite nice to step away from the electronics an fully experience the magic of Disney.
Let me know what you do to enjoy your adult-only vacation at Disney World. I’d love to know ways to make it even more magical on my next kid-free vacation.
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