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Recently, I wrote an article for Earn Spend Live about some of my favorite places to travel for a girls’ trip. One of the places I included on my list was Disney World. Yes, Disney is a family destination, but it’s still a great place to visit—even if you aren’t traveling with anyone under the age of 9. I’ve probably taken more trips to Disney in my twenties than I ever did as a kid.
Truth be told, I’m a self-proclaimed Disney fanatic. I’m sure I’ll be taking trips to Disney World well into my old age—so I don’t need to be sold on the idea of Disney World. But I do realize the thought of taking a trip to the Toddler-mecca isn’t appealing to a lot of people in their adulthood.
So, to those of you avoiding a trip to the happiest place on earth, here are my top tips to actually enjoy Disney World as an adult. (And if you ever need a Disney travel buddy, hit me up.)
Timing is Key
The most intimidating thing about Disney World is the crowds. If you go during the holidays or times of the year when kids are out of school, you’re going to run into more crowds. If you can time a trip in the off-season, you’ll have fewer people to deal with.
My favorite time to visit Disney is mid-October. The crowds have noticeably thinned out and you’ll see the fall Disney decorations—we’re talking the cutest pumpkin Mickeys you’ve ever seen. Avoid summer months and holidays and you’ll have a better chance of avoiding crowds.
If crowds don’t intimidate you and you’re looking for an extra magical Disney experience, consider going during one of the festival or race weekends. Disney recently started an International Festival of the Arts in late January. The Food & Wine Festival takes place each year in the fall (September through mid-November). Wine + Food = Two of my favorite things in my favorite place.
If wine isn’t your thing, but running is, you’ve got plenty of choices for a race weekend. Yes, there’s a Food & Wine race weekend, but in addition there’s a Disney Princess marathon, a Star Wars marathon, and just a classic Disney marathon.
Pssstt…Disney Serves Alcohol
When you’re of legal drinking age, Disney can take on a whole new meaning. In my girls’ trip article, I said that I thought Epcot is the most “adult-friendly” park, probably because it serves the most alcohol in the park itself. Epcot holds a miniature world showcase at the back of the park. Imagine little versions of some famous countries: France, Italy, Germany, Mexico, Japan, Norway, etc. On one trip, my mom and I escaped the throngs of people to go to Mexico and drink margaritas. There’s even a “Drinking Around the World” bar crawl. The concept is pretty simple: have a drink at each of the countries in Epcot.
If you’re looking for more bar crawls, try to challenge yourself with the Monorail crawl. The Monorail crawl is designed to take you to the different bars located in each of the resorts along Disney’s monorail. You’ll be able to visit some of the unique Disney resorts, and it’s a great opportunity to visit one of my favorite Disney dining locations, California Grill. The best part? No DD required to transport you to each bar—the monorail will do that for you.
If the thought of even going into the parks is too much for you, consider visiting Disney Springs (formerly known as Downtown Disney). While still affiliated with Disney World, Disney Springs is just far enough removed from the parks and feels a little more grown-up. This area is less “Disney World” and more “come shop, eat, and listen to live music.” The atmosphere is much more laid-back than the Disney parks.
The Boathouse—While the food might not blow you away, the atmosphere of this restaurant is great if you’re hoping to enjoy a meal while sitting out on the water.
Enzo’s Hideaway—Enzo’s is a 1920s-themed bar with prohibition cocktails. If you’re like me, you love a good theme and creative cocktail menu (that just so happens to be listed as “giggle juice”).
The Daily Poutine—A restaurant dedicated to the classic Canadian dish. French fries, cheese, gravy? Sign me up, please.
Stargazer’s Bar—Head here if you want to enjoy a drink outside and listen to some live music.
Disney After Hours
One of the things I’ve always found the most magical about Disney World is its nighttime fireworks shows. And yes, these shows really bring out the crowds. But if the fireworks shows are on your list of things to do, there are still ways you can avoid the crowds. For most of the fireworks shows, Disney has dessert parties with views of the fireworks.
Right now, Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and Epcot all offer dessert parties for their respective fireworks shows. Ticket prices for the parties range from $60-$80, depending on which park and viewing option you choose. While you’ll definitely pay for priority, you’ll be less likely to fight the crowds.
You will also have an endless supply of desserts to choose from; and isn’t that the dream?
If you don’t want to splurge on a dessert party, you have the option to get a fastpass for fireworks shows. While this won’t guarantee you’ll have a private place to watch the fireworks (you won’t), it can help you get a better view.
Or, consider making a dinner reservation during the fireworks show at a restaurant with a view. California Grill, Narcoossee’s, Rose and Crown, and Monsieur Paul all offer views of the fireworks in different parks. Most restaurants play the fireworks music throughout the restaurant during the show.
If you’re staying to watch the fireworks and you’re staying on Disney property, take advantage of Disney Extra Magic Hours. On select nights of the week, Disney extends the park hours for guests staying on Disney properties. Because only guests staying on Disney properties benefit from Magic Hours, the park will be less crowded.
Disney also offers Magic Hours in the morning. Morning Magic Hours tend to be a little more crowded. Families usually want to get to the park early in the day to keep a naptime/bedtime schedule. If you stick to nighttime magic hours, you have a better chance of avoiding families.