Some years, Leap surprises me for my birthday with a trip to the Most Magical Place on Earth —Disney World! Sometimes when I share this with others, I get the side-eye. "Without the kids?" I get asked. Um, YES! Goodness knows I love my tadpoles, but Walt Disney World Resort is waaaaaaaaay more than just a family destination ... and these trips without them are toadally different and amazingly fun! Whether you're thinking about a bachelorette party, girls' trip or couples getaway, if you've been considering an adults-only vacay, we've got everything you need to know! (TLDR: Just say "yes!")
Why Plan a Trip to Disney World for Adults?
The first time Leap and I hit the parks by ourselves, I wasn't sure what I would think. After all, so much of our trips are generally centered around Tad and Lily. When we walked into Magic Kingdom and Leap said, "Well, what do you want to do now?" I was sold. You better believe I ate a Mickey-shaped doughnut as big as my own head, then beelined it to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, followed by Haunted Mansion. An adults-only trip means you get to indulge in the things that you'd like to do. Don't want to ride Dumbo eight times? No worries! Kiddos bored halfway through World Showcase? No big deal, those aren't your kids! You are calling the shots and building the day of your dreams. Don't get me wrong: Family trips are what magical memories are made of for all of us. But an adults trip makes me feel like a big kid, with zero responsibilities except not losing my MagicBand (or Leap).
What's more, an adults trip may mean you venture out and get to explore some entertainment or dining options that you wouldn't normally on a family trip. It was on an adults trip that Leap and I tried the Edison and STK at Disney Springs. I danced the night away, ate until I could barely move, enjoyed some adult beverages and definitely stayed up past a tadpole's bedtime. And I did it all with zero guilt in wondering whether Tad and Lily were having fun, or if they were ready to leave the restaurant, or was I giving them too much screen time on their iPads at dinner ... you get the point! It is toadally acceptable to take some "me" time, and now more than ever, Disney World has some fantastic offerings catered to adults.
If you're a tadpole-less adult just wondering whether or not Disney World is a suitable vacation for adults, we've got the rundown on all of the fun just waiting for you. There's thrill rides, of course. But there's also gourmet dining, world-class shopping, hoppin' entertainment (did someone say karaoke?) and so much more at Walt Disney World Resort!
The Best Parks at Disney World for Adults
We get asked a lot about the "best" Disney park, and honestly, our answer is always "that depends." Consider your group's interests and go from there. In our humble frogpinion, Disney has done a fantastic job of creating something accessible for adults at each of their theme parks.
Magic Kingdom Park transports guests to the lands of Fantasy, Tomorrow, Adventure and Frontier. For some, that means reliving childhood on classic rides such as Dumbo or Pirates of the Caribbean. For others, that means hitting the big-ticket attractions such as Big Thunder Mountain Railroad or Space Mountain, and eating iconic snacks like a turkey leg, churro or anything Mickey-shaped.
Over at Disney's Animal Kingdom, you can get lost in the wonders of nature, walking from Asia, to Africa, to the wilds of Pandora. Fly on the back of a banshee, or make a dashing escape from a yeti on Expedition Everest. Of course, nearly everywhere you turn, there are also animals to learn about!
The glitz and glam of Tinseltown welcome guests to Disney's Hollywood Studios, home of thrill rides like the Twilight Zone Tower of Tower and Rock 'n' Roller Coaster, plus Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge.
And EPCOT literally transports guests around the world, with specialty cuisine, beverages, shopping and shows in each locale. Not to mention, you can still hop on fan-favorite attractions such as Test Track, Spaceship Earth and Frozen Ever After.
The Best Resort Hotels at Disney World for Adults
Much like its immersive theme parks, each Walt Disney World Resort hotel offers its own unique theming, which expands across the hotel grounds, from decor, to cuisine, to feature pools, to the music piped in. Here are a few of our standout favorite hotels for adult trips.
With cobblestone streets, magnolia blossoms and gas lanterns, this smaller-scale moderate resort transports guests to New Orleans. Just like NOLA, you can enjoy some jazz, jambalaya or beignets (Mickey-shaped, naturally), take a horse-drawn carriage ride or jump on a boat to Disney Springs. (Note that currently, the Port Orleans Resorts' reopening dates are still TBD.)
Under the boardwalk, down by the sea ... Reminiscent of the bed-and-breakfast inns of the 1940s along the Atlantic Coast, Disney's BoardWalk Inn is right on the BoardWalk entertainment district and features a pool themed to seaside amusement parks from the same era (including a waterslide that looks like a wooden coaster track!). Disney's BoardWalk Inn is within walking distance to EPCOT, but also offers water taxi service to both EPCOT and Disney's Hollywood Studios.
Another resort within walking distance of EPCOT is Walt Disney World Swan Dolphin Resort. The property is sprawling, with five heated pools (including one with a gorgeous grotto), frogtastic dining options (including sushi with a side of karaoke at Kimonos) and water taxi service to both EPCOT and Disney's Hollywood Studios. While not technically Disney-owned, Swan Dolphin still offers Disney World bus service.
Disney World's newest resort hotel, Disney's Riviera Resort took its inspiration from grand European Rivieras. As you might imagine, the resort is magical, with touches of elegance around each corner. The resort has an artistic focus, complete with its own art collection, and curated murals and mosaics! Guests can take a gondola ride to the parks using the on-site Skyliner transportation station, with service to both EPCOT and Disney's Hollywood Studios.
For a more peaceful, quiet resort, look no further than Disney's Wilderness Lodge Resort. Modeled after the National Parks lodges, the towering, wood-cabin-esque, rustic feel extends throughout ... but the grounds are beautiful too! Amid the woods, look for the resort's geyser. Magic Kingdom Park is a quick boat ride away on Bay Lake.
Yes, you toadally read that right! Disney World has treehouses! Sitting near the water at Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort are treehouse villas that can host up to nine adults. Sit on your porch and watch the boats go by to the Port Orleans Resorts, or catch one yourself to head to Disney Springs!
Another group lodging option, the cabins at Fort Wilderness evoke Frontierland vibes, giving your group a rustic getaway that's a boat ride away from Magic Kingdom Park. What's more, there are a ton of outdoor activities to partake in here, which we'll get into below!
The epitome of elegance, Disney's Grand Floridian Resort is a mixture of Victorian style and Palm Beach days of yore. Enjoy the lobby's live orchestra, indulge in a massage, watch the evening's fireworks over Cinderella Castle from the comfort of the resort or hop on the monorail for quick access to Magic Kingdom. Disney's Grand Floridian is also home to several delicious fine dining choices, including the newest addition, the Enchanted Rose lounge.
Things to Do at Disney World for Adults
The next question I get asked is always, "well what is there to do at Disney World for adults?" SO. MUCH. Hang onto your ears!
Take It At Your Own Pace
You'll likely find that your touring plan is toadally different at the theme parks with adults. You aren't counting your duckies (well, maybe you are, depending on the group you're with ;) ) as you enter, trying hold anyone's stuff or thinking about who needs to eat or nap when (though we definitely aren't hating on an afternoon nap!). The activities you choose are likely much different.
Since it's your vacay and your itinerary, don't be afraid to take your time. Spend time in the detail-laden areas, such as Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, Pandora - the World of Avatar and World Showcase. Maybe you've never experienced Pandora's bioluminescence at night, or perhaps there's an attraction you've never ridden and want to add it to your list now. There's no time like the present!
What's more, with capacity limitations in place at the parks, there is no rush to rope drop right now. Read that again. Sleep in. Relax. There's a latte with Mickey on it waiting for you when you wake, Sleeping Beauty (no, really — Joffrey's has both Disney coffee art, and some alcoholic add-ons like Kahlua and Bailey's at their kiosks).
Sip, Savor and Enjoy
For those of you looking to have an adult beverage, all parks but Magic Kingdom serve alcohol outside of table-service restaurants. Beer-lovers, keep an eye out for brews made specially for the theme parks, including Mo'ara High Country Ale and Hawkes' Grog Ale (in Pandora the World of Avatar at Disney's Animal Kingdom), Safari Amber (also at Disney's Animal Kingdom) and the brews at Oga's Cantina in Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge at Disney's Hollywood Studios (which obviously, come from a galaxy far, far, away and are served in rancor teeth).
Outside of beer curated specifically for the parks, you'll also find some brews that you wouldn't encounter normally, curated just for the area you're in. Beverages and food offerings tend to be hand-picked to fit their locale, such as EPCOT's World Showcase's country-specific drafts, or Tusker Lager at Disney's Animal Kingdom, which originated in Kenya and is sold in the Africa area of Animal Kingdom. Of course, you'll also find Florida favorites such as Cigar City Brewing's Jai Alai around property. At Be Our Guest at Magic Kingdom Park, expect French wines and Kronenbourg 1664 (you're in the Beast's castle somewhere in France, after all!). The same goes for signature cocktails, each chosen to fit right into your current location (the Surly Sarlacc in Galaxy's Edge, limoncello in Italy and the Grand Marnier slush in France, to name a few!).
Likewise, take this time to take a culinary adventure if you're into it! There are, of course, familiar favorites to fall back on (such as Italy's Via Napoli, which has amazing pizza), but if you're looking to expand your horizons, or are visiting with foodie frogs, make a table-service reservation for something new. We tend to bring Tad and Lily along on a dress-up dinner on our vacations when we can (one obviously likes that more than the other). But we don't tend to get too adventurous, because, well, Lily's gonna eat chicken fingers or mac and cheese anyway. When it's just Leap and me, we like to try something new and really take the time to enjoy one another's company.
Disney World has no shortage of fine dining experiences, including Victoria & Albert's at the Grand Floridian, a AAA, Five Diamond recipient since 2000. Monsieur Paul serves up classic French cuisine in the France pavilion, or hop over to Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge to try some African cooking with Indian flavors at Sanaa, complete with Indian-style bread service with nine spreads and jams, from sweet mango chutney to spicy red chile sambal. There are also several steakhouses on property ... really, there are options for every taste! Not only is there a ton of variety, but also, Disney has many options for those with food allergies or sensitivities. (You can customize Mobile Orders accordingly, or, for table-service options, be sure to mention any allergies or sensitivities both when making your reservation and speaking with your server. They'll take good care of you!) Recently, Disney World has also expanded its plant-based offerings; look for the green leaf symbol on menus (both physical and digital in My Disney Experience) to spot the vegan options. From fine dining to casual bites, you'll find something to please every member of your squad.
I don't know about you, but we frogs are amphibious ... so a pool day is a must for us! Disney World Resort hotel pools are heated year-round, making any time a good time for a dip. It should come as no surprise that each resort's hotel is themed along with the resort (think: a pirate fortress at Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort; a Mediterranean oasis at Disney's Riviera Resort; a volcano at Disney's Polynesian Resort). All of the resorts have self-service pool bars (with snacks), so if a lounging day is in the cards for your trip, you'll be well stocked. Looking for a quieter option? Many resorts have smaller pools near each building, in addition to the feature pool.
OK, I know I may be a little biased, but the shopping at Walt Disney World Resort is some of my absolute favorite. Even if it's just window shopping, if retail calls to you, be sure to do some browsing (and maybe spending!). If you're looking for a special memento to remember the trip by, you won't go home empty handed. (And of course, if you forgot, well, anything, these shops will have you covered!)
At Disney Springs, you'll find the largest Disney Store in the world, in addition to retailers like Sephora, Pandora and Lily Pulitzer. You'll also find Christmas goods year-round (including customizable ornaments) at Disney's Days of Christmas, try on some fun and fancy free headwear at Chapel Hats or even watch caramel apples being made at Candy Cauldron.
Keep an eye out in the parks for specialty merchandise. Did you know that World Showcase is the only place in the U.S. you can find some of the merchandise offered there? If you're at Disney World for a special event, keep an eye out for limited edition merchandise, including ears, pins and spirit jerseys to commemorate the occasion.
Don't Froget the Extras
Did you know that you can ride a horse at Disney World? How about kayaking? Archery? Wood crafts? Yes, really! All of this and more is available at Disney World. (These examples are all from Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground). Take in a dinner show such as Fort Wilderness' Hoop-De-Doo Musical Revue, or the Poly's Spirit of Aloha. Make your own sangria at Sangria University at Disney's Coronado Springs. Enjoy high tea at the Grand Floridian, or catch live Irish dancers hailing from Riverdance at Raglan Road at Disney Springs. Rejuvenate with a spa day at any deluxe resort. For you pastry chefs, take a cake decorating class at Amorette's Patisserie (and bring that bad boy back to your room for everyone to enjoy!). (Note that during this initial reopening phase, some activities at Disney World may be modified or unavailable.)
If you're visiting during a special event, be sure to check out the offerings ahead of time! Often, there are paid extras such as seminars, tours and classes available to enhance the festival offerings.
Hop Around Property
And by that we mean don't forget about the additional districts on property that make for excellent stops! Disney Springs is a shopping, dining and entertainment district like no other. We always make a stop at Disney Springs, and it's not unusual for us to look at the time and realize we've spent most of our day there ... which then transitions into catching the nighttime entertainment! You can't go wrong with any choice at Disney Springs, but our personal favorites are Wine Bar George, STK and Jock Lindsey's Hangar Bar (keep an eye out for "Indiana Jones" easter eggs!). The food trucks are also amazing (Cookie Dough and Everything Sweet, especially!). Keep an eye out — often restaurants have walk-up windows (for a Dole Whip Froscato or Frose on-the-go from Wine Bar George, for example) and there are drink kiosks around the property. Brunch and lunch specials are pretty regular occurrences. We do recommend snagging a reservation for table-service restaurants, as they can fill up quickly.
Near EPCOT, Disney's BoardWalk also offers hoppin' nighttime entertainment, including Jellyrolls, a dueling piano bar that is toadally fun, or Atlantic Dance Hall (both only admit froggies 21 and up).
And on that note, Trader Sam's is a must-do for Leap and me. Take our accidental finding and do it on purpose: Head to the patio at Trader Sam's about an hour before "Happily Ever After." You can see the fireworks from the patio, and even pipe in the music. Tiki drinks + fireworks for the win! (Did I mention they have adult Dole Whips with rum?)
Do a monorail hop! Now is a perfect time to check out any of the resorts you've wanted to explore. Take in the theming, get a bite or grab a drink from the lounge before moving onto the next resort.
Catch a Special Event
There are so many toadally fun special events at Disney World! EPCOT alone hosts four festivals each year. A few even offer concerts that are included with your cost of admission. Whether you're an art aficionado, a wino or a horticulturist, there's a festival you'll love. All around property, guests can enjoy holiday decor for both fall and the holidays, including some seasonal events that are separately ticketed, such as Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party and Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. Disney also offered special After Hours events in early 2020, allowing guests to stay after the parks closed to the general public. Be sure to check the calendar of events as you begin planning!
Tips for an Adults-Only Vacation
- While it's a grown-up frog vacation, keep in mind that you're still in a tadpole-friendly destination.
- Consider visiting during one of EPCOT's festivals for delicious drinks and bites, plus live music and entertainment.
- If you're celebrating a special occasion, such as a birthday, let the cast member know when you make your dining reservation.
- Don't miss photo-ops! You can find PhotoPass Photographer locations in your map on My Disney Experience.
- No matter the occasion, don't froget to grab a celebration button! City Hall has all kinds available to customize with a name (and they are free).
There you have it, frog friends! Have you taken an adults trip to Disney World? What was your favorite part? Be sure to share any tips you have with us in the comments below!