Think a Walt Disney World vacation is just for kids? Think again! More than just theme parks and character meals, a Disney vacation has something to offer to kids of all ages!
Sure, theme parks are great – and there are tons of rides for adults to enjoy (with or without the kids). At Magic Kingdom, you can climb the mountains! Take a trip through outer space on Space Mountain, a journey through the canyons on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, or you can experience Song of the South and get all wet on Splash Mountain. Of course, a trip around the world on It’s a Small World, and a whirl around Fantasyland with Dumbo are must-do’s too.
At Animal Kingdom, you can climb Mount Everest – or at least experience the thrill or riding through the Mountain, on Expedition Everest. Watch out for the Yeti! Other popular Animal Kingdom thrill rides include Dinosaur, and Primeval Whirl. Adults and kids alike enjoy seeing all of their favorite wild animals during the Kilimanjaro Safari.
Hollywood Studios offers one of Disney World’s most thrilling rides – Tower of Terror – don’t get spooked and you’re in for the elevator ride of your life! Fans of Aerosmith (and awesome roller coasters alike) enjoy high speeds and rockin’ music on the Rock n’ Roller Coaster. Movie fans can revisit class movies like Alien and Casablanca on the Great Movie Ride. Budding artists can try their hand at animation, during a session with a real Disney animator. Guests will learn how to draw one of their favorite Disney characters! Toy Story Midway Mania is a must-do for all visitors. Get ready to take aim at all of your favorite Midway games.
Epcot offers a tremendous amount of attractions offering grown-up appeal. In Future World, you can experience the thrill of hang-gliding through some California landmarks on Soarin’, on of the most unique rides you’ve ever experienced (and this author’s favorite ride of all-time). Test Track lets you experience the thrills of the track, as you are the crash test dummy, testing your car’s abilities as it is put through the elements. The single-rider line at Test Track can save you tons of time. Last time I was there, I walked on, bypassing 2 hour wait times in the stand-by line.
Epcot’s World Showcase is a foodie and cultural lover’s dream. You can enjoy just about any cuisine you’d desire, from Moroccan to Japanese to Mexican, and of course, American food. If you’re lucky enough to visit during the Spring Flower and Garden Festival, or Food and Wine Festival in the fall, you can sample even more fantastic food (and adult beverages) at kiosks set up around World Showcase. These $5-$7 samples are great for sharing, and you can eat (and drink) your way around World Showcase! This year’s Food & Wine Festival takes place September 27 – November 11. I suggest getting one of the super convenient gift cards you can wear on your wrist – they will just scan it at each country’s kiosk. Bon appetit!
Not that you’ll have any room left after sampling food from around the world, but if you’re looking for great meals, there are plenty of choices! Epcot’s World Showcase countries offer fantastic table service dining options, whether you enjoy a casual Mexican meal, a lively dinner show and German food at Biergarten, or a more upscale meal at Le Cellier steakhouse in Canada.
If you’d like a cocktail or two, there are plenty of drink choices around World Showcase as well. Try the margaritas in Mexico, or sample a beer flight in Germany. My favorite is the Orange Grand Marnier Slushie at the kiosk in France. Tastes like an orange creamsicle (for grown-ups).
At Magic Kingdom, if you’re lucky enough to score a reservation at Be Our Guest (this restaurant is booked solid 6 months in advance), you can try a variety of French-inspired menu items, and even enjoy a glass of wine with your meal. Be sure to save room to try the delicious desserts!
The resorts offer an unbelievable array of dining choices. For the most upscale meal on property, don your formal wear and visit Victoria & Albert’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort for a 6-course meal. You can even make a reservation for the Chef’s table, and have a meal prepared just for you and your party.
The Grand Floridian offers 2 other amazing restaurants: Citricos, with a Mediterranean flair, and Narcoossee’s, my very favorite restaurant on all of Disney property, featuring seafood and one of the best filet mignons I’ve ever had. My husband and I enjoyed some drinks at the bar (mine even had a hidden Mickey), before ordering one of the best meals we’d had in a very long time. He ordered the scallops and filet mignon. I ordered the filet as well – and it was fabulous. The atmosphere at this restaurant is wonderful. By the time we were finishing our entrees, we were able to enjoy Walt Disney World’s nightly fireworks show, Wishes, from our table! The restaurant is situated on the shores of Bay Lake and has a wall of windows facing the Magic Kingdom, for an incredible view of the fireworks! The Wishes music was piped in and you can even walk out onto the deck to watch the fireworks. What a wonderful experience!
As if this restaurant needed anything else to make me love it, the dessert was the piece de resistance! I ordered the coconut-chocolate crème brulee, and it was by far the best crème brulee (and maybe even dessert) I’ve ever had. I can’t say enough good things about Narcoossee’s – check it out next time you’re at Walt Disney World, and be sure to time your reservation so you can see the fireworks.
California Grill at the Contemporary Resort is a favorite among many. Unfortunately, it was closed during my recent adults only trip to Walt Disney World, but is expected to re-open in November 2013.
Wonderful dining options abound in Disney’s Boardwalk area, conveniently located between Epcot and Hollywood Studios, and home to 3 beautiful Disney resort hotels. Guests can enjoy a Mediterranean meal at Kouzzina, renowned chef Kat Kora’s restaurant. If you’re looking for a good steak, you can find one at the Yachtsman Steakhouse in Disney’s Yacht Club resort. Great seafood is just steps away at the Flying Fish. The Swan and Dolphin Resorts (not Disney-owned, but located in the Boardwalk area) also have some great restaurants, including Todd English’s Bluezoo, and my husband’s favorite restaurant just about anywhere, Il Mulino, featuring authentic Southern Italian food.
The Boardwalk offers more low-key dining options as well, including: Big River Grille and Brewing Company, Beaches and Cream ice cream shop (great burgers and home to “The Kitchen Sink.” You’ll have to see it for yourself).
By now, you’re probably too full to do much of anything else, but if you’re looking for after-dinner entertainment, visit Jellyrolls, a dueling piano bar in the Boardwalk area.
Recreation activities abound at the resorts. In addition to the wonderful pools and hot-tubs on property, many resorts offer water-craft and bike rentals. Grab a surrey bike and take a ride down the paths on the shores of the Sassagoula River at Port Orleans resort, or ride around the Boardwalk area, and stop to see the street performers.
Romantic carriage rides (and haunted carriage rides near Halloween) are available at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge/Ft. Wilderness and Port Orleans resorts.
Downtown Disney features a wide variety of shopping, dining and entertainment options as well. Some of the dining options include, Raglan Road Irish Pub, Wolfgang Puck’s and Fulton’s Crab House. You can stroll and enjoy the shops, or a delicious treat from Ghiradelli’s, and can even take a balloon ride high above Downtown Disney.
If you’re tired from all the recreation and dining (and oh yeah, touring the theme parks), grab your favorite treat and find a place to watch the fireworks. You can visit one of the monorail resorts for a different perspective. The balcony at the Contemporary Resort, or the monorail itself, offer unique views of the Magic Kingdom’s nightly fireworks show. My favorite place to watch Wishes is on the beach at Disney’s Polynesian Resort. Grab a Dole Whip (a pineapple-y piece of Heaven J) from Captain Cook’s quick service restaurant, and head down to the beach and watch Wishes over Seven Seas Lagoon. Afterwards, you can see the Electrical Water Pageant – a water parade that makes its nightly promenade around Seven Seas Lagoon, passing the Polynesian first each night.
There is so much for adults to enjoy at Walt Disney World, both inside the theme parks and out. So, next time, ditch the kids and enjoy all the finer things Disney has to offer for grown-ups.
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