Walt Disney World is a place where dreams come true. The new slogan, "Unforgettable Happens Here" also rings true. But how do you navigate the laughing, screaming, crying kids (and parents) and enjoy the happiest place on earth as an adult? Recently I traveled to Orlando, Florida with family to visit my cousin, who is participating in the Disney College Program. We were a group of 5 young adults hitting up every park and activity during our long weekend - and we had a blast.
Here I'm leaving you with my tips for having a magical time in Disney World, as an adult:
Go to the International Food + Wine Festival // This trip was the first time that I was in Orlando during the International Food + Wine Festival at Epcot, so I was really looking forward to it. And I have to say, I wasn't disappointed. Epcot has always been one of my favorite parts of Disney World because, well, I appreciate when other people and places appreciate other cultures. Though Epcot doesn't have the same hype as the others, I love that this park gives American families in particular the opportunity to get a taste (literally) of different cultures around the world, especially when they're sharing that experience with their children.
We spent the first half of our first day at Animal Kingdom, so we arrived to Epcot in the early evening. We only rode 2 rides in the park because we spend the rest of our night enjoying the sights, sounds, and flavors, but we didn't mind. Among the various activities that accompany the Food + Wine Festival (find a full list here), we chose to check out the craft beer tasting room. We sampled both of the flights that were available and the snacks were divine. Throughout the park itself were various stands and stations that provided more food and drink options than we even knew what to do with. Wine, beer, dinner, desserts - we never ended up making it through the entire park because we stopped so often to try something new! So if you have the time, I'd recommend spending an entire day and night at Epcot alone. The International Food + Wine Festival is the perfect way to get the most out of a visit to Epcot and have memories to savor.
Prioritize your day // A trip to Disney World can be overwhelming for anyone, no matter how many times you've gone or how many days you'll stay. You should consider building some sort of schedule for your trip in advance to keep everyone on track and keep your momentum going. Outlining which park or activity you'll do each day might be all you need. Then you can prioritize each day based on the wants and needs of your group. As an adult you can skip certain rides, shows, or character visits and focus on fitting in the things you really want to see and do. Disney now offers FastPass+ selections to all guests for free, and I highly recommend that you schedule your FastPasses in advance. Otherwise you can schedule them with a Disney cast member when you enter the park or throughout the day, but time frames will be limited. If you think ahead and plan for what you want to do beforehand, you can enjoy your favorite rides without the long wait time (and leave room for things like enjoying a sit-down meal, taking a pit-stop for a seasonal beer, or going shopping). You can learn more about FastPass+ Planning here.
Leave time for relaxing // With all that there is to see and do in Disney World, sometimes it's nice to just take a day to relax. And let's be honest, being an adult is tiring. Staying at a Disney resort gives you the opportunity to experience the magic of Disney every day, but have access to pools, spas, and amenities that can give you the perfect balance to your busy days on-the-go. There's also plenty to see and do in the Orlando area if you want to take a break from seeing Mickey Mouse on every thing and at every turn. The weather in Orlando is pleasant most of the time, but if you do encounter a rainy day you can always go to the outlets, see a movie or a show, or take a drive to one of the nearby beaches an hour or two away.
Visit Disney Springs // Formerly referred to as Downtown Disney, Disney Springs offers fun for all ages, day and night. During our trip we went to Planet Hollywood one night and Portobello Country Italian Trattoria another. We had a great time at both, enjoying a full dinner and wine flight at Portobello presented by the sweetest French man. But just walking around Disney Springs gives you good vibes. There are a million things to do from seeing Cirque du Soleil's La Nouba show to bowling at Splitsville to shopping to dining and more. Disney Springs can be accessed by car or via any Disney resort bus and mostly everything is open late, even on weekdays. Check out a full list of of everything you can do at www.disneysprings.com
Act like a child // It's fun to visit Walt Disney World as an adult because it gives you a chance to act like a child! Reminiscing about childhood memories, your favorite characters, and the rides or things you used to be scared of brings laughter and joy to any adult. We ran around Epcot with the same excitement that we used to run around Magic Kingdom with. We took all the classic pictures, wore Minnie ears, danced at every parade and show, and ate Mickey Mouse-shaped rice krispies treats daily because we embraced the opportunity to see life as magical and remember what it felt like to be a kid and see the world through a child's eyes. If you haven't been, now's not too late. If you don't feel like it's worth it to go again, maybe reconsider. All it takes is a little faith, trust, and pixie dust :)