Hey there My Favorite Finds readers! I’m so thrilled that Carrie asked me to share some Disney World tips with you! My husband and I don’t have kids yet, but we had an amazing Disney vacation anyway! Disney World is a great place for families with young kids, but don’t let that stop you from taking a grown-ups only vacation! Disney World is fun for adults too!!!
But first, let me introduce myself! I’m Jessi, and I blog at Practically Functional, a blog about simple, practical ways to love your home, no matter where you live!
We have a tiny apartment just 5 miles north of downtown Chicago, but the small space (and lack of a car!) doesn’t stop me from crafting, cooking, gardening, organizing, and even big DIY projects! We love every single square foot of our little home, and you can love yours too! And don’t worry, I’ll give you detailed instructions and pictures in every tutorial, so stop by for a visit and see if you can find some inspiration!
Now onto the Disney World tips!
10 Tips For A Grown-Up Disney World Vacation
#1 – Stay on property in a Disney hotel! We stayed at Disney’s Boardwalk Inn, and it was awesome! Disney hotels might not be a little more expensive than an off-property hotel, but the benefits to being on Disney property more than make up for the extra expense!
When you stay at a Disney hotel, the only thing you need to bring with you (anywhere you go on Disney property) is your room key! Your park tickets are loaded onto your room key, your credit card can be linked to your room key, and they even note if you’re over 21 on there so you don’t need an ID! Everywhere we went we were able to pay with our room key, including restaurants, food vendor stands, gift shops, Downtown Disney, and more!
When you stay in a Disney hotel, you also get to take advantage of Extra Magic Hours – additional hours that the parks are open only to Disney hotel guests! Not every park has Extra Magic Hours every day, but when they do, they open one hour early in the mornings or stay open two hours late in the evenings!
And not only that, as adults you will appreciate the nicer hotels. I know as a kid I didn’t care whether we were in a Hilton or a Motel 6; jumping on the beds is the same everywhere! But now I really appreciate nice hotels. Plus there are a lot of great things to do in and around the Disney hotels. JM and I spent a lot of our time on the Boardwalk just hanging out before and after visiting the parks, and we really enjoyed it!
#2 – Skip the rental car! If you are staying at a Disney hotel, you don’t really need a car for transportation to and from the airport. The Magical Express bus will take you for free, and Disney will handle your luggage both ways! We didn’t have to wait at baggage claim; Disney picked up our luggage and put it in our room a few hours later. At the end of our trip, we were able to check in for our flight AND check our bags right from the hotel’s valet! Our bags met us in Chicago! AMAZING!
Also, you don’t need a car to get anywhere on the Disney property; Disney has buses, boats, and monorails that will take you anywhere you want to go! You don’t have to pay for parking or tolls. Best of all, you don’t have to know where you’re going! Just let someone else do the driving!
And for those of you who are Harry Potter fans, we were also able to get to and from Universal Studios without a car! We just called the valet and they had a taxi ready and waiting for us by the time we got outside!
#3 – Ditch the bags! Like I said before, all you need to bring with you to any of the Disney World parks is your hotel room key. But even if you are staying off property, you really only need your tickets and one credit card or some cash. You won’t have a stroller or diaper bag with you, which already lightens your load, so why not just take the bare essentials?! Grab some sunscreen and maybe some bug spray, stick them in a tiny purse or cargo pocket, and go! There are water fountains or beverage stands if you’re thirsty, first aid stations if you get a blister, and restaurants all over the place for when you’re hungry!No bags!!!
#4 – Take advantage of the parks at nighttime! A lot of people try to get to the parks for rope drop: standing in line an hour early so they can be the first ones in the park. Ok yes, the lines are shorter early in the day, but that’s not the only time of day when the parks are less crowded.
If you don’t have to put kids to bed at a certain time, you can be a lot more flexible about what parts of the day you spend in the parks. Obviously the middle of the day, from 11am to around 3pm, is the most busy, but if you’re willing to stay up until 1am and take advantage of the Extra Magic Hours, you can still get a full 8 hour day in the parks, even if you don’t show up until 3pm! Plus, the rides are super fun at night, and even before the Extra Magic Hours kick in, it is not nearly as crowded!
#5 – Don’t spend your entire day at the park! You don’t need to spend all day in a park to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth! Leave the park just before lunchtime and visit Downtown Disney for lunch and some shopping, or head back to your hotel for a nap. The middle of the day is the perfect time to go relax by the pool (or the poolside bar!), and the Disney hotel pools are all really cool! They all have water slides, and tons of lounge chairs for sitting and sunbathing. Or just go take a nap in your room! It’s the perfect way to beat the heat and the crowds!
#6 – Use the heck out of the Fastpass system! The Fastpass system is one of the coolest things about the parks for anyone who likes the rides. (A Fastpass is basically a ticket for a specific ride within a specific time frame. So instead of standing in line for two hours, you can grab a Fastpass for Space Mountain, go do other stuff, and then just come back to Space Mountain within the 1 hour window printed on your Fastpass.) You don’t get to cut right to the front of the line, but the Fastpass line is usually a 2-10 minute wait rather than a 2 hour wait! It takes a bit of forethought and planning to get the most out of the Fastpasses, but if you don’t have to go on Pirates Of The Caribbean RIGHT THIS VERY INSTANT CUZ IT’S YOUR FAVORITE, you can avoid a lot of waiting in line!
#7 – Know where to get your caffeine fix! I don’t drink coffee or soda, so this was especially difficult for me. I (stupidly) assumed I could find a Starbucks and get a chai latte, but that is not the case! You can make coffee in your hotel room (they provide some grounds and a tiny brewer), and there are a few cafes where you can get a cup of hot coffee. But you’ll be hard-pressed to find anything “fancy” like a mocha, cappuccino, latte, or even an iced coffee. But sodas are in no short supply, so if you need a caffeine fix, you can grab a Coke from pretty much anywhere!
#8 – Alcohol! First, let me set the record straight: Alcohol is available in all four main parks at Disney World, even the Magic Kingdom! The Magic Kingdom used to be a dry park, but with the new Fantasyland expansion, the Be Our Guest restaurant serves wine and beer. Stronger drinks are available at a lot of places outside the Magic Kingdom. Disney has a few signature cocktails on their restaurant menus, and most of the fancier restaurants have a full bar.
In Epcot, there’s no end to the different kinds of alcohol you can find! Each country has it’s own marketplace where you can find alcohol specific to that country. Mexico has an entire “Cava de Tequila”, Germany has a giant store where you can buy alcohol and a bar where you can purchase a flight of beer for tasting, Japan has a huge collection of sakes…you get the idea. You can also usually find a premade cocktail or drink in the small food stands at Epcot.
Plus, if you’re staying on property, feel free to have a drink or two with dinner, cuz you don’t have to drive back to the hotel! Just hop on a bus, boat, or the monorail, and you’ll be back to your hotel in no time. Also, most of the hotels have a bar, and don’t forget the poolside bars!
#9 – Eat some fancy food! Disney World has some amazing food options, so if you are a “foodie” you can really find some great stuff! There are awesome restaurants for any kind of palette, but if you don’t have to limit yourself to a restaurant your picky eater will enjoy, a lot of options open up to you!
Now, theme park food (pretzels and popcorn, etc.) is still mostly theme park food, even in Disney World. But there are some amazing sit down restaurants, especially if you leave the theme parks and visit the resorts instead! If you’re on a vacation with your spouse or significant other, doing a dinner date at a fancy restaurant is a great way to spend an evening!
Just remember, most sit down restaurants recommend that you have an ADR (Advanced Dining Reservation) in order to be assured a spot at the time you wish to eat. But if you’re travelling without kids, this might actually work out in your favor. You can plan your meals ahead a bit and book a reservation without worrying that your kids will be dying of hunger two hours before you’re supposed to eat!
#10 – Do “kid stuff” anyway! This is clearly the most important tip! Just because you’re an adult and you’re travelling without small children doesn’t mean you can’t act like a kid! I spent a lot of time taking pictures or just enjoying the scenery, but we also did a ton of “kid things” as well!
JM laughed at me a bit when I told him we were going to do a character breakfast at The Crystal Palace on Sunday morning. He figured it would be kinda lame, and was mostly just excited about the buffet. But meeting Eeyore, Tigger, Pooh, and Piglet turned out to be his favorite part of the entire trip!
It’s really easy to act like a kid at Disney, and it’s totally encouraged for people of any age! I dressed up in some Minnie Mouse ears for the days we spent in Magic Kingdom. We rode the Dumbo ride in Fantasyland and it was awesome! We spent a bunch of time in Dino-Rama, the dinosaur section of Animal Kingdom clearly designed for 4 year olds!
It doesn’t matter how old you are, Disney will bring out the kid in you, so make sure you let it!
Thanks a ton to Carrie for letting me share this with you guys today! If you liked the post, make sure you stop by Practically Functional for a visit! I’d love to see you there!