Hi there! We are Elizabeth and Sara, two travel planners with Middle of the Magic Travel. And we both love visiting Disney without kids! If you’ve only ever visited WITH children, you might have a hard time not seeing Disney as a family destination. But it’s worth taking another look at all there is for adults to enjoy- especially the young at heart!
1.Tour at YOUR Pace
E: When you take an adults-only trip, you don’t have to worry about working around someone else’s schedule. Want to do rope-drop till fireworks at Magic Kingdom? Go for it! Want to head out of the parks and check out one of the lounges at a resort hotel? You got it! If someone in your party wants to take a midday break, or go off and do their own thing, they are welcome to do that while you keep doing you. Because you’re all adults!
S: It’s so freeing to not have to keep track of nap times, snack times, or rush back to the hotel to make it by bedtime! And forget waking up at the crack of dawn (because children wake up earlier than roosters on their own- no matter what day it is). You can sleep in until you’re ready. But, to be fair, I find myself being much more of a morning person at Disney than I ever am at home!
2. Dining Experiences
E: Disney does a great job of providing kids and picky eaters with options anywhere you choose to dine. But let’s face it: There are some restaurants you look at online and think “That won’t work with my kids”. With an adults-only trip, you can dine at that signature restaurant you’ve had your eye on for years. California Grill, Tiffins, and Citicos are just a few of the great options available with signature dining.
S: It’s so true! Plus, some of the Signature Dining options serve multiple courses. On an adults-only trip, you don’t have to worry about anyone getting antsy because you’ve been sitting there “foreverrrrrr”. Bonus: you get to eat all of your delicious food while it’s hot and fresh, since you don’t have to worry about cutting up anything into little bites, or who got the wrong veggie, or who is having a fit because there’s sauce touching their noodles. You can sip, savor and enjoy at your own pace- and Disney has some of the BEST restaurants to enjoy!
3. VIP Tours
E: Disney VIP Tours are an awesome way to tour the parks and get the ultimate celebrity treatment! While many tours are good for families, some are not. For example, the Ultimate Day of Thrills VIP Tour is best enjoyed by guests 44” or taller, in order to ride all the rides included on the tour. Rider swap is not available on this tour. Additionally, the Taste of the Magic Kingdom VIP Tour is only for guests ages 16 and up, while the Wild Africa Trek at Animal Kingdom is for guests ages 8 and up. Take full advantage of an adults-only trip by booking one of these amazing experiences.
S: VIP tours are a great way to see and do even more while you are at Disney! And even if you don’t book one of these tours, if you are visiting without kids, you can ride ALL the thrill rides! With no one having to use Rider Switch for younger guests, or sticking to only gentle rides, your whole (adult) party can ride (and scream) together! Makes for better Photopass pictures on the rides, too!
4. After Hours, Evening Extra Magic Hours, and Nightlife at the BoardWalk and Disney Springs
S: Once the sun goes down, there is so much to enjoy at Disney! If you have little ones with you, you’ll be dragging their tired ragdoll bodies back to the hotel, wrangle them into the bathtub and pj’s, before you can finally get a shower yourself. The evening is exhausting when you travel with kids. . .but the fun is just getting started on an adults-only trip! If you haven’t attended an After Hours event yet, you are really missing out! Picture the entire Magic Kingdom being empty. . .just you and a handful of people there. Then throw in unlimited popcorn, ice cream bars and sodas! These After Hours are sooo much fun, and usually run until midnight or 1am. Perfect for an adults-only trip!
Besides After Hours, the theme parks often have evening Extra Magic Hours for guests staying at a Walt Disney World resort hotel, and even these can run until the wee hours. Not very useful if you’re traveling with children, but LOTS of fun if you like to stay up late! And every night, there is fun entertainment at both the BoardWalk and Disney Springs, including Jellyrolls (the dueling piano bar), live music, and a variety of themed lounges to enjoy! Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar at Disney Springs is a must-do for any Indiana Jones (or Star Wars) fan!
E: Bedtimes are for the weak! Just kidding. But in all seriousness an adults-only trip is the perfect way to make sure you get the most out of your Disney trip. The parks come alive at night! The lighting, the entertainment…to quote Jasmine “It’s all so magical!”. I attended a Disney After-Hours event at the Magic Kingdom in September and it was without a doubt the best money I ever spent at Walt Disney World. Sara is totally right: the park is EMPTY! A dream come true.
5. Pool Time!
S: It’s the ultimate picture of relaxation: laying back in a lounge chair, with a fruity drink, feeling the warm sun. . .without having to listen to, “Mom, watch this!” 700 times. Let’s be honest, pool time means something completely different when you’re traveling with children. And the pools at all the Walt Disney World resort hotels are nice- and heated, so you can enjoy them year-round. You can order a cocktail, sit back, read your book or magazine, and soak up the sun. Aaaaahhhhhh. . . .
E: Absolutely! Plus, you can plan to go to the pools during off-times when families with small kiddos are likely to not be there. Piggybacking off of our last point, being able to stay in the parks later means you don’t necessarily have to get there as soon as they open. During the summer months, grab some pool time to start your day on a relaxing note. Then, head into the parks in the afternoon when everyone else is taking a midday pool break!
S: Let’s face it: “kids” and “spa” don’t exactly go together. Both Walt Disney World and Disneyland have some incredibly relaxing spas on property, with a variety of treatments available. So, if you’re looking for some real me-time, this is one for your adults-only trip!
E: Plus…NO GUILT! Chances are, if you’re heading to a Disney Spa on a trip with kids, you’re not taking them with you. It’s probably difficult for you to completely unplug while you’re watching the clock knowing you need to get back to your kids. But on an adults-only trip, you can relax in the knowledge that there is nowhere else you need to be right now.
7. Travel Light
S: No strollers, diaper bags, extra outfits or snacks to carry. Ok, can we just talk about HOW MUCH gear kids need? But the best way to handle any situation with kids is, to quote Scar, “Be prepared!” The average Disney guest walks 7-8 miles per day. So, even kids who have outgrown a stroller in real life will still want one at the end of your long Disney days. Plus a jacket for nighttime, snacks, water bottle, autograph book, sunscreen. . .the list goes on and on.
Not to mention that strollers must be folded up to ride the Disney buses. And, if it’s the end of the day, that means a tired kid slumped over one shoulder, a bag over the other, and wrangling a folded stroller, all while trying to not kick any other guests in the head with your kids’ feet.
But if you’re going without kids. . .it’s just you! Personally, I still prefer a backpack, but many adults just bring a small bag- or even just their phone and sunglasses!
E: Great news, guys! The fanny pack is BACK IN STYLE! And there is nowhere on earth I’m more grateful for this than at Walt Disney World. I rock the fanny pack on most of my trips. It’s large enough to carry my wallet, a couple of emergency ponchos, and my phone, but I don’t have to worry about removing it when I go on Space Mountain or any other ride! Such a small luxury, but a major win none the less!
8. Be a Kid Yourself!
E: When you take your kids to Disney, you often get caught up in their enjoyment and wonderment of the Most Magical Place on Earth. And rightfully so! It’s so much fun to see Disney through the eyes of a child. But when you take an adults only trip, you’re only responsible for your own enjoyment, so live it up! Be a kid again and allow yourself to experience that same wonder you’ve seen your kids enjoy! Sing along to “Grim Grinning Ghosts” on the Haunted Mansion! Go meet the characters and ask them questions! Oo and Ah at Happily Ever After fireworks! Race to Splash Mountain! It’s incredible to have that kind of freedom.
S: It’s so true! One of the things I love most about Disney theme parks is how immersive and detailed everything is. When you travel without kids, you can take the time to really appreciate all the details of the queue for Expedition Everest, talk to the Cast Members from the various countries in Epcot, marvel at the gorgeous landscaping, stop and watch the shows, and just go at your own pace. And yes, if Mary Poppins is your favorite character ever, and you want to go have breakfast with her, DO IT!!! Scream on all the roller coasters! Wave at all the characters in the parade! And don’t even worry about wiping away that tear when you see Cinderella Castle for the first time, or hear the music begin for Happily Ever After and feel like they’re singing just to you. . .it’s all part of the magic.
*Elizabeth Etienne is a co-author for this article.
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