Feel the Magic

How to Do Disney World…Without the Kids

Trust us, the experience is just as magical.

By Jenae Sitzes July 1, 2015

Even better when you're all grown up

Image: Shutterstock

Last week I flew to Orlando and spent three days at Disney World with a group of 20-somethings. If you’ve never been or were too young to remember anything, you might be surprised at how awesome Disney is to experience as an adult. Go with your significant other or take a few friends—I guarantee you’ll have an even better time than the kids. Here’s how to enjoy your trip and still feel the “magic” (although in this case, admittedly, the magic is more closely related to adult beverages than Tinkerbell):

Research the attractions and plan your FastPasses accordingly

The most important thing you need to do before you leave for Orlando—preferably, as soon as you buy your tickets—is to plan your days at the parks. I don’t care if you’re a “live in the moment” type of person. Seriously, if you want to have a good time at Disney, you need a plan of action.

Disney uses a FastPass system that allows you to walk past the long lines and wait for a few minutes, rather than an hour or two, at selected attractions. You automatically get three FastPasses per day when you buy your tickets, and you should research the most popular attractions before you go so that you make wise choices with where to use your FastPasses. I mention FastPasses here because the more adult-oriented attractions—like Hollywood Studios’ Tower of Terror or Animal Kingdom’s Expedition Everest—will have the longest lines. Download the Walt Disney World app to easily manage your schedule throughout the day.

Visit all the parks, but spend more time at some than others

I recommend purchasing a 3-Day Park Hopper pass so you can come and go as you please at any of the parks. However, don’t waste much time at Animal Kingdom or Hollywood Studios. There’s nothing worth using a FastPass on at Animal Kingdom, so swing by there first and ride Expedition Everest if you love rollercoasters, look at the animals if you’ve never been to a zoo, and move on. Hollywood Studios has a few nice rides to FastPass, but it’s mostly shops all selling the same thing. Not much for adults at either park.

Now, Magic Kingdom is a good time. Adrenaline junkies should go on any ride with the word “mountain” in its name. Check out some of the stage shows as well; they’ll give you a break from the heat, and they’re pretty entertaining.

Epcot is where you’ll want to kick back and chill after the sun starts to set, which is also why I recommend the three-day pass. There are definitely some cool rides to check out at Epcot, but adults will dig the World Showcase, where there’s an unofficial yet famous “Drink Around the World” challenge that will have you really feeling the magic by the end of the day. The drinking game dares you to buy a drink at each of the 11 “countries” that make up the World Showcase. Our advice: spread it out over a few days. To top it off, there’s a fantastic fireworks show at Epcot every night called IllumiNations that you can view from almost anywhere in the World Showcase. What’s better than hanging out in Disney with friends, drinks and a great show?

Switch things up with Universal’s CityWalk

Known for its relatively new Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Universal Studios is completely separate from Disney World—it’s owned by Comcast—and unless you’re dripping with money and time, save it for another trip. However, there’s an area called CityWalk just outside Universal that you don’t need tickets for. With its Las Vegas vibes, CityWalk is the perfect place to take a break from Disney for a night. From burger-sushi fusion at The Cowfish to seafood heaven at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., you’ll have plenty of choices for dinner. Afterward, catch a movie, play a few rounds of sci-fi-themed mini-golf or settle into one of the various bars or clubs inside CityWalk, including karaoke bar Rising Star, where you can be entertained by drunk tourists taking the stage.

Or get on stage and be that drunk tourist. We totally support you there, too.

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