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Welcome to Disney Week at The Points Guy! All week we’ll be covering everything there is to know about Disney parks all around the world. After you’ve read this guide to adulting Disney World, make sure to check out our other Disney stories — the list is at the bottom of this page.
As someone who writes Disney World guides, I spend a lot of time at Disney World either solo or with adult friends. Every time I visit Disney World without children in tow, I hear at least one “Really?” from the peanut gallery.
Said peanut is usually scarred with memories of endless lines, searing heat and screaming kids. But it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, there are at least 10 ways adults can enjoy really Disney World without kids.
1. Grown-Up Entertainment
Recently, a friend and I enjoyed a spectacular view of the Magic Kingdom’s fireworks accompanied by a ukulele serenade at Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto and Tiki Bar in the Polynesian Resort. We added a frosty mug of rum goodness, and it was pure heaven. Best of all, kids were not allowed inside Trader Sam’s after 8:00pm. (They are allowed on the patio outside, though.)
2. Beat the Heat
The 90-degree heat is a heck of a lot more tolerable poolside. Without kids, you can leave the parks anytime you get too hot, or find lots of places to escape within them. You can also ride Donald Duck’s Gran Fiesta Tour at Epcot twice in a row because it’s air-conditioned and there are no lines. I do this every trip!
3. Eat Amazing Food
You heard me. There is amazing food at Disney World, so get off the chicken-nugget express and you will find fresh, well-thought-out and all-around-great eats. Even better, you don’t have to go to the most famous restaurants to find excellent fare. In fact, the only Disney World meals that disappointed me did so because they were at the special-event restaurants and, therefore, overpriced.
My favorite spots for Disney World dining are the sit-down casual restaurants, including The Wave Lounge in the Contemporary Resort, Ale and Compass in Beach Club Resort and Skipper Canteen in the Magic Kingdom. All three offer a dining experience that’s appropriately-priced, and are easy to visit with a last-minute reservation.
Disney even turns salads into art. At some restaurants, the chefs venture into the gardens and pick what they’ll use each day, so the ingredients change with the seasons. When in doubt at any Disney World restaurant, order salad. It will make up for the Dole Whip(s).
4. Take a Flight
Disney prides itself on theming, and every bar and restaurant has a specialty drink selection. The best way to enjoy them is in a flight, which comprises a handful of sample-size beverages of your choice, arranged on a sampling menu like you might see at a vineyard. From the organic beer at The Wave Lounge to the 12-year scotches I enjoyed at Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar in Disney Springs, you will get a variety of top-notch drinks at a value price.
5. Ride the Highway in the Sky
On a recent trip to Disney World, I tried out a new tour: Highway in the Sky. It’s a progressive dining adventure unlike any other meal at Disney World (or anywhere else, for that matter).
On my tour, a group of diners, limited to 25 people, met at Contemporary Resort for a ride around Bay Lake in a private monorail car. At each stop, we disembarked and enjoyed an adult beverage and personalized dining experience. To cap it off, the monorail whisked us back to the Contemporary for dessert, coffee and liqueurs on a private terrace. It provided a perfect vantage point for the Magic Kingdom fireworks, which we enjoyed while the soundtrack played along.
Highway in the Sky has an exclusive vibe, which is hard to get at Disney World. The group of diners self-selects as people who enjoy both Disney as well as high-end experiences. You are fed well, and alcohol pours freely (if anything, too freely). We were served five full drinks in three and a half hours. Kids as young as 12 and teetotalers are certainly invited, but they won’t get as much out of the $170-plus price tag. I only recommend Highway in the Sky for adults who enjoy beverages.
6. Don’t Use Your Fastpass+ to Meet Anna and Elsa
Unless you want to, of course. After all, you can allot your time as you want to when you don’t have kids in tow. You will get more time to enjoy the thrill rides over and over again and have more time for It’s a Small World. Single-rider lines at Everest, Test Track and Rockin’ Roller Coaster will be yours for the taking.
7. Float in an Amphicar
Get to Disney World for no other reason than to ride on the single coolest mode of transport ever created: the Amphicar. It’s an actual car that drives into the water! At The Boathouse restaurant in Disney Springs, eight of the Amphicars are available for half-hour tours around Disney Springs.
The tours are available every day from 10:00am to 10:00pm, weather permitting, on a walk-up basis. I have yet to see anyone wait to get a seat. Out on the water, we felt like celebrities stalked by paparazzi with all of the iPhone cameras aimed at us.
Three adults can share the private tour, and you can bring kids, but the experience is a lot more relaxing if you don’t have to worry about your little one taking a dip in Disney Springs. In other words, this is better as a grown-up experience.
What does it feel like to drive a car into a lake? In a word, surreal. The cars looks quite ordinary (besides being cool 1960s convertibles). Once you’re in the water, it feels more like driving a motorized paddleboat. Amphicars are not fast at all, but the ride is plenty smooth and comfortable. The best part? Sticking the landing.
Get $25 off your Amphicar rental if you eat lunch at The Boathouse and present your receipt.
8. Minimize Lines
You cannot negate lines, but without kids, you can be a lot more strategic. No one will judge you for skipping Dumbo, though you might want to check out the air-conditioned waiting area if you want to sit indoors. Ditto for going around Living With the Land twice in a row just because it’s cool and empty.
9. Indulge Yourself
A couple of years ago, one of my visits coincided with the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. The festival includes Eat to the Beat concerts, which often feature stars from the ’80s and ’90s. I got to sing along to Jon Secada’s “Just Another Day” to my heart’s content in both English and Spanish. If my kids had been there, they would have dragged me away before I finished my first “just another day without you.”
10. Appreciate the Details
Each Disney World attraction, restaurant and resort has an extensive backstory. For instance, at Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar at Disney Springs, the backstory is that Jock, who was Indiana Jones’ pilot and friend, retired and opened a bar. Sitting at that bar, it was a good half hour before I realized the case under my seat was jam-packed with artifacts that supported the story.
I spent a long time last year in the Animal Kingdom noticing the torn layers of posters in Harambe Market, a casual dining spot in the Africa section of the park. Each one had to be hand-painted just to be ripped up so a half inch would show through. I had a chance to chat with the Harambe imagineers who spent weeks in Africa sourcing artifacts and researching the scenery. If you’re chasing rugrats, you’ll miss all of that hard work.
I hope I’ve convinced you to try at least a few days without kids at Disney World. I like coming to Disney even when I don’t have a park ticket. I stay on the property to restaurant and bar hop, and I certainly don’t miss waiting in line with the kids for Slinky Dog Dash.
Want to read more about Disney parks around the world? Check out our other Disney guides…
- The Best Points Hotels Near Disney World in 2018
- TPG’s Ultimate Guide to Disney World
- In the Shadow of the Mouse: Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista – Disney Springs
- 9 Things Families Should Know Before Visiting Disneyland
- How to Save Money By Renting Disney Vacation Club Points
- The 10 Best Disney Thrill Rides Around the World
- How to Use Points to Buy Disney Tickets
- 10 Things Kids Will Love at the Disney Aulani Resort in Hawaii
- How to Ride Every Disney World Ride in One Day
- How to Eat Healthy at Disney World
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