Would you go to Disney World as a couple with no kids? Crazy? Fun? Disney World as adults is a completely different experience.
We went last month and had a great time. I have been to Disney 4 times now as an adult (3 trips were for work) unaccompanied by any rugrats. This last trip, was booked just for fun as we wanted a quick getaway over the holiday weekend (Presidents day and also Valentines day). We decided fairly last minute to meet up in Orlando.
While we had a really great time, there were a few things I would have done differently and can give you a few tips if you are considering a trip. The previous adult Disney trips I had been on were planned around conferences at Disney resorts, so I always just stayed at the hotel where the conference was held. This time we were picking our own place and we went with the Wyndham Lake Buena Vista.
Pros and cons of staying at Disney Resort. This will of course come down to personal preference, but as an adult, it’s really not necessary to stay at a Disney Resort if the prices are considerably lower elsewhere. The complimentary Disney shuttle from the airport is a big perk for families schlepping bags and kids but with Uber in Orlando you don’t even need to rent a car anymore as long as your hotel has a Disney Park shuttle (which most do). If you are driving, you don’t even need the shuttle. Hotels I would recommend are the Waldorf Astoria, the Swan or Dolphin, and anything on the Disney Springs strip within walking distance of “Disney Springs” preferably (previously called Downtown Disney). I have not stayed at all the Disney Resorts but if I had to choose based on location my picks would be the hotels closest to Epcot.
My two favorite non Disney hotels are the Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista and The Wyndham Lake Buena Vista. The Hilton has magic hours which can be worth it- but only if you check the calendar in advance and will actually be utilizing them. I have stayed at the Hilton and used the magic hours to stay at the Magic Kingdom until 3 am. Depends on how crazy you are feeling. Both the Wyndham Lake Buena Vista and the Hilton Orlando are walking distance from Disney Springs and have their own shuttles to the park. I think the Wyndham feels more like a resort than the Hilton which had more business travelers but both are really nice places to stay and the prices are usually reasonable. I like having the option to walk to Disney Springs to shop, stroll, and eat. The other hotels on that strip of hotel plaza blvd are really not walkable. The strip is long and the hotels are spaced very far apart. Disney is hot, you are walking in the parks all day, the last thing I want to do is walk more than 10 minutes to get to a restaurant. So I would only stay at those 2 as they are a very short walk (I am lazy, I promise they are not a far walk). In Disney Springs I love Goofy’s Candy Co., and Disney’s Days of Christmas. It can be hectic to shop at the Magic Kingdom, so I like to relax and pick up things at these shops on my last day before departing. This last time we were there I got an adorable ornament and they offer to customize it for you (extra fee) with the date, or your names. We were there on Valentine’s Day, so I got a Mickey and Minney Valentine ornament. I try to get an ornament on every trip we go on as I am fairly sentimental. The customized ones are a cute idea and I would love to get one every time. Disney Springs also has Fulton’s Crab House which is a favorite restaurant I like to eat at on the water. Speaking of restaurants, make reservations!
Ok so I really cannot emphasize this enough. Even though it seems tedious and type A, you must make dining reservations before your trip for your meals on days in the park. At the very least, dinner. I cannot stress, you do NOT want to eat at the counter service in the Magic Kingdom. There are lot of negative things I could write, but I will refrain, and just beg you, to make reservations at the restaurants. On our last trip, we didn’t, we thought we could wing it, no big deal, we’ll eat wherever. BAD MOVE.
It was hot, crowded, we were tired of standing, getting hangry, very hangry, and we could not find a restaurant to eat lunch. It was late lunch at this point because we woke up too late for a proper breakfast and we thought we could hold off and eat at the park. So we got ready, got coffee, took our time (on vacation!), and by the time we arrived at the Magic Kingdom- it was 2 pm. We had fast passes for 3, so we made our way over there, and then we are pushing 4 pm and no food! My boyfriend ended up putting his foot down on this food situation and got in line for hot dogs. After inhaling two of them, we went on more rides, and of course, he started to feel ill. By 6 pm I was eating mac and cheese and fearing carb hangover. It was bad. Make reservations. Eat at Be Our Guest. You will not regret it. We didn’t eat a proper meal at all for the 10 hours we were in the Magic Kingdom. Dinner was spent standing through the electric parade sharing a turkey leg and dole whip. Needless to say we are just too old to eat like this and and felt sick when we finally made it back to the hotel at 1 am. It was very crowded (even in February) because of the holiday weekend. In hindsight, we should have made a reservation beforehand- even though it seemed hard to commit to a specific time and type of cuisine weeks before a trip. A benefit of being at disney as adults without kids is taking advantage of the nicer restaurants.
At Epcot, especially, make reservations at the restaurants. For counter service we loved Tangierine Cafe in Morocco, and the pastries we had in France. When dinner rolled around we were almost out of luck. We went into a few places to see if we could sit down but they were booked for the night. Luckily we stumbled upon Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar- and it was perfect! From all the snacking we did, we wanted good food, but not a huge meal. We split a cheese and meat spread and did a wine tasting. I would definitely eat there again. After that we wandered out to watch the fireworks show from Japan before heading out for the night.
Since we were only here for the weekend we had flights out the next morning and we were very sad the trip was over so fast. I think 3 days is perfect for adults at Disney though, just enough time to get in and get out without overdosing on Mickey Mouse. We have already talked about going back and hitting up Universal for the weekend. We also want to eat at a few restaurants not in the parks, especially Victoria & Albert’s.
Things I always forget at Disney-how much my feet hurt! I didn’t mess around this trip and wore sneakers. My feet were still killlllling me though. Make sure you have an extra pair of shoes to wear, don’t pack old sneakers. I was wishing I had my comfy Sketchers with me.