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When we think of a trip to Disney World, we think family vacation, right? And that’s with good reason! The happiest place on earth and children go together like Chip and Dale. But there’s lots of reason to do Disney World without kids…and it’s not just because we don’t have to carry anyone else’s backpack!
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Disney World Without the Kids
Ah, Disney, the land of pixie-dusted perfection. You see a child with an expression of absolute wonderment around every corner. We eagerly plan our kids’ first trips, then dread the day they tell us they’re too cool for Disney.
Everything about a trip to Disney is centered around our kids, right? How you’ll get there, where you’ll stay. Which park you’ll visit in which order, and how long you’ll stay at each. Which character dining experiences you’ll sign up for. Planning your Disney family trip gets complicated, but we still love it.
But, you know what I really love? Disney World without kids. That’s right. NO KIDS. Disney is still the happiest place on earth when you don’t have your kids in tow. Maybe even happier.
I recently traveled to Orlando for a blog conference. I had an extra day and the company of four Disney-loving girlfriends. We decided to hang out at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and we had an absolute blast. My kids have no idea I went to Disney without them. Hopefully, no one rats me out. Shhh!
If you get the chance to do Disney World without kids, here are seven reasons why it’s awesome:
1. No giant backpacks
Disney with kids means toting water bottles, snacks and sunscreen. Don’t forget hand sanitizer, wet wipes and the mouse ears your kid won’t wear because they’re pinching her head. Oh wait, there’s more. Autograph books, pens, and rain ponchos for everyone. The glow sticks you brought from home because you’re too cheap to pay sky-high prices for the light-up trinkets they sell in the park at dusk. A gazillion plastic baggies, extra clothes in case someone gets wet on the water rides, and all the portable chargers.
Whew! That’s a lot.
Without kids, you need a small crossbody bag or cargo shorts. A stick of sunscreen and your phone and you’re all set. Exploring Disney when you’re not a human pack mule is something every mom should experience at least once.
2. You can eat real food…
…AKA something not chicken nuggets. Disney has some world-class dining experiences which might be wasted on small humans. One of my kid currently eats only chicken nuggets, grapes, and Cool Ranch Doritos. Sigh.
My friends and I ate at Tiffin’s. It’s a cool, travel-themed restaurant with an adventureously trendy menu. My kids would have totally hated it. I’m not saying Tiffin’s isn’t kid-friendly or that your kids wouldn’t like it. They might! Disney dining for my family means quick service meals or character dining. And I’m okay with that.
I enjoyed Tiffin’s succulent chicken with sweet potato puree paired with a tall, refreshing cocktail with an edible flower. No one asked me to pause in the middle of my meal and take them to the potty. No one cried about their juice box or asked when we were leaving. This was a whole new level of magic.
Yes, you can imbibe when you’re visiting Disney with your kids. You might feel you need to, no judgement from me. Disney without kids offers you a guilt-free cocktail. Or two. Grown-up Disney drinking is a different situation than having someone give you the side-eye because you ask for a cocktail menu at character dining.
The new Satu’li Canteen in Pandora: The World of Avatar has fun adult beverages. I didn’t get to try them on this last visit. I always like to leave something to look forward to for next time.
4. Take advantage of the naptime wall
Most families with young kids go to the park early, leave for a snooze or pool break during the afternoon and return in the early evening to check out the fireworks and parades. When visiting Disney with younger kids, that makes sense.
Shoot for a 2 p.m. arrival. The hardcore rope droppers (AKA the folks who line up to get in the park before opening) are leaving. They’re leaving because their kids are melting down. They’re leaving because they’re tired, hangry, or out of snacks. Who cares why? They’re out, you’re in.
Upon entry, head for the ride with the longest wait time. Even long waits are bearable when nobody is whining about the wait or informing you of the need to pee ‘really bad’ when you’re smack in the middle of the line. Plus, waiting in line while having adult conversation can’t compare to waiting in line with people who ask you “how much longer” every 43 stinking seconds.
5. No ride drama
One kid wants to ride all the thrill rides. The other kid is crying that you’ll ruin his life if you force him to ride Space Mountain. Nope, you don’t have to deal with that.
The tears of a child who is just a smidge too short for the roller coaster she desperately wants to ride? You don’t have to deal with that, either.
No child swapping or splitting up your group in the name of family unity. Visiting Disney without kids takes away all the ride drama and leaves you more time to…well, ride.
6. The chance to stay off-property
I’m a big believer of staying on the Disney property…usually. The ease of getting your family to and from the parks via the Magical Express. The extra magic hours. The ability to charge purchases in the park that will magically appear in your room. The general level of awesomeness we’ve come to expect from the Walt Disney World Resort Hotels. A shorter trek to the parks each day. All the reasons.
We stayed at the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek because it was our conference venue. It’s the perfect place to stay if you’re doing an adults-only Disney trip. Conveniently located near Disney Springs, the hotel provides free shuttle services to the parks. Amenities include an amazing pool with a lazy river and 12 dining outlets. It’s a little “less Disney” although the magic is definitely felt here.
I would hesitate to stay off property on a family Disney trip but for our adults-only adventure, it was perfect!
7. This one might be obvious but no kids at Disney just plain rocks
No holding anyone else’s stuff unless your friend asks you to hold her beer. You don’t have to eat chicken nuggets unless chicken nuggets are your thing. You won’t have the urge to wipe your companion’s nose with the hem of your shirt…at least let’s hope. And, it’s a safe bet that no one will whine because you’re not buying them souvenirs. When you go to Disney with other adults, they generally bring their own money and can wipe their own behinds. Winning.
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