TRAVEL // DISNEY WORLD AS AN ADULT


Disney World is commonly thought of as being just for kids. There's no denying the fact that it's extremely family-friendly and many attractions are aimed at little ones, however there's so much that adults can enjoy in "the world" too. So whether you're going on a family vacation or heading to Disney with friends, there's SO much to see, do, taste and experience as a grown up in "The Happiest Place on Earth." With Pandora opening at Animal Kingdom this month and Star Wars land on the horizon at Hollywood Studios, it's the perfect time to start planning a trip to Orlando...you just have to know some tips and tricks to make the experience a great one.


Know The Basics

Disney World is not really a trip you can wing. Sure, you don't have to make restaurant reservations or map out a plan or schedule rides (more on that below), but to avoid a headache and being blocked out of things, you really should plan ahead. There is so much to Disney World... seriously SO much, it's easy to get confused and frustrated with the planning process. Especially if you went as a child and are heading back for the first time in years, it can seem like a totally new destination. This website and this website are fantastic resources to get a comprehensive overview. Here are some key points:
  • There are four parks- Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. Downtown Disney, the shopping and dining area on Disney property, underwent a massive update, it's now called Disney Springs and houses world-class restaurants, fun bars and lots of great shopping. A trip to Disney Springs is a must-do on your adult trip to Disney.
  • Disney has tons of hotels on property offering accommodations of all sorts. Staying on property has many benefits like easy transportation and extra hours in the parks. You could rent a cabin at Fort Wilderness, a suite with a view of Cinderella's castle at Grand Floridian or a room overlooking the savannah at Animal Kingdom Lodge. This is a great guide to Disney hotels.
  • Paper fastpasses are no more. Disney World now uses Fastpass+ which is sort of like a restaurant reservation. With FastPass+ visitors can reserve up to three attractions in a park in advance (30 days for people not saying on Disney property, 60 days for on-property guests). Here is a great overview of the system.
  • Everything is digital. Download the My Disney Experience app to book FastPass+ and dining reservations from your phone. You can also easily check attraction wait times and see park hours in the app. Guests staying on-property also get a "magic band" wristband that links to My Disney Experience and can be used with a tap to get you into the parks, open your hotel room door and register your FastPass+ rides.
  • If you can be flexible try to go during a down time. Disney World is pretty much always busy, but there are certain months that are a little more manageable. Definitely avoid holidays and the summer and instead go in January-February or September for lower crowd volumes. 

Best Adult Activities


Drinking in EPCOT

Topping the list of  BEST adult activities at Disney World is visiting EPCOT and eating and drinking "around the world." For those unfamiliar, EPCOT is a park with two main areas- Future World and World Showcase which contains 11 pavilions themed to different countries. Each country has architecture, shops, restaurants, bars and entertainment completely themed to its culture. EPCOT also hosts many festivals throughout the year including fall's Food and Wine Festival and spring's Flower and Garden Festival, which bring extra food stands and bar pop-ups. 

"Drinking around the world" is a popular thing to do where you start in one country and have one drink from the area (margaritas in Mexico, champagne in France etc) and continue around to each country (they're set in a circle). This is a great resource on all the best food and drink options "around the world." (Hint- Try the avocado margarita in the hidden bar in Mexico and the Grand Marnier Slushie in France!)


Disney's Boardwalk

The Boardwalk resort area is situated between EPCOT and Hollywood Studios (you can walk or take a boat to the parks from here!). At night the Boardwalk area is super adult-friendly with a great piano bar- Jellyrolls, a club- Atlantic Dance Hall and a new magic themed bar- Abracadabar. There's also plenty to see and do from boardwalk games to renting a surrey bike to watching the nearby fireworks at EPCOT.


Thrill Rides

While Disney is an expert at creating children's rides and entertainment, the four parks offer some seriously amazing thrill rides for adventurous adults. And these aren't your standard Six Flags roller coasters... the theming is out of this world as well. Daring guests can enter an abandoned Hollywood hotel and ride a doomed elevator, venture through the Himalayas on a forwards-and-backwards search for the Yeti or blast through outer space on Disney's classic Space Mountain coaster.

Are you a Disney World fan? Have you been as an adult? I'd love to hear your must-dos in the comment section!

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