When I first began writing about theme parks, the Disney Parks worldwide, in particular, I began receiving questions from other adults who weren’t sure why I would go to amusement parks without any children of my own. I explain to anyone who asks that these parks are fun for everyone, no matter how old a person is. That’s why when Walt Disney World invited me to spend a week with them to help promote their parks to adults, I was ecstatic! Here are some of the main reasons Disney parks aren’t just for kids; Walt Disney World is for adults too. If you have any reasons to add to this list, please comment below.
Walt Disney World’s Attention to Details
One of the first things that drew me to the Walt Disney World parks as an adult was their incredible attention to detail. Even the smallest things are carefully planned out, from the immersive music and attention to detail in each section of the park, like hidden Mickey Mouse shapes to the fragrances used in the park and the plants they use in landscaping, everything is there for a reason.
Above: Japan Pavillion at Epcot without Crowds
Did you know that they oftentimes source the building materials from parts of the world related to the story they are telling in their theme parks and rides for maximum authenticity? They employ people, called cast members, from all around the world, they also serve food in the various sections of their park that would be authentic to the setting of the story they are trying to tell. For example, African and some Asian dishes abound, made with authentic ingredients and Disney’s interpretation of regionally specific recipes. You can travel the world by exploring the different parks, all without leaving Florida!
Above: Hollywood Tower Hotel aka Tower of Terror Ride at Hollywood Studios
While, of course, these details are there for everyone to see (or hunt for), oftentimes, it can be overwhelming for children to appreciate it all, and they might miss things. Adults, on the other hand, especially those visiting without children, are able to slow down, explore the parks more carefully, and fully appreciate all of the talent that goes into making Disney magical. Take, for instance, the character’s costumes.
The above photograph of Mulan I made on this press trip with Walt Disney World demonstrates that every small detail, right down to the various textures of the fabric of her clothing to the handmade floral hair ornaments she wears, are incredibly well made, truly bringing the character to life. The other characters also wore incredibly intricate outfits. I could spend weeks slowly meandering through the parks, looking at little details like that, or the individual tiles of the mosaic inside Cinderella Castle, or the hidden Mickeys on water fountains, light fixtures, and more. Walt Disney World is truly a photographer’s playground!
Above: Details of Morocco Pavillion at Epcot
Fine Dining Around the Parks & at Disney Springs
Speaking of excellent food, Walt Disney World has a vast selection of fine dining options for adults with more discerning palates. Morimoto Asia pan-Asian restaurant at Disney Springs is one of the most beautiful modern Japanese restaurants I’ve been to in North America, with an incredible wrap-around bar that gracefully connects the upper and lower levels of the restaurant.
Raglan Road Irish Restaurant, also in Disney Springs, serves incredible, authentic Irish foods, including an expansive selection of vegan and gluten-free interpretations. At the same time, live dancers and musicians regale audiences with traditional Irish dances and music from Irish bands like Flogging Molly, Gaelic Storm, and many more.
Paddlefish restaurant is located inside an old paddleboat that is permanently moored inside Disney Springs Lake Buena Vista. Diners here can enjoy beautiful water views, fresh seafood, and a nautical selection of cocktails, mixed-drinks in a very elegant, nautical setting.
If you’re looking for an even more “elevated” experience, head to California Grill on the rooftop of Disney’s Contemporary Resort for fine dining. There, guests can enjoy unbelievably fresh sushi and seafood, wood-fired pizzas, a full bar, and a plethora of indulgent desserts, all while overlooking the Magic Kingdom park and the Seven Seas Lagoon. I also have it on good authority that once the fireworks resume at Magic Kingdom, this is undoubtedly the most memorable and exclusive way to view them.
These 4 restaurants are just the tip of the iceberg of the fine dining, adult-oriented restaurants around the Disney properties near Orlando, Florida.
Fireworks & Live Music
Fireworks are currently suspended at Walt Disney World due to the pandemic, but they are likely to return soon. When they do, guests of Walt Disney World are treated to an incredible, nightly fireworks display that truly is magical.
All around the parks and Disney Springs, guests can find performances, live music, dancing, and so much more live entertainment. For example, on our first night at Epcot, there was a live rock concert near Liberty Square just before the park closed. It was the first time I’d seen live music in more than a year, and it was just such a welcome experience that it almost brought a tear to my eyes. Putting aside how great it was to attend a live music performance once again, the musicians, who played their own renditions of classic rock ballads, were excellent and so exciting.
This is just one example of the dozens of live performances around the parks every single day. Nearly all of the performances are included with the price of a park ticket. However, like the live music I mentioned at Raglan Road Irish Restaurant, some are exclusive to the restaurant’s diners.
Flower & Garden Show (and Other Special Events)
I’ve mentioned that Walt Disney World’s landscaping team and horticulture crew do an incredible job making the parks look and feel as though you’ve been dropped right into the middle of a Disney movie or storybook tale. This talent is showcased during Epcot’s Flower & Garden Show. Spring-themed food and alcoholic drinks (and non-alcoholic version) are available around Epcot as seasonal delights during this festival. Check out dozens of living topiaries around Epcot; all painstakingly made down to the smallest details to look like Disney characters. It’s something children might not fully appreciate, but adults can enjoy this attention to detail, all while enjoying adult beverages and artisanal snacks around the park.
The Flower & Garden Show isn’t the only special event around the parks. In the second half of the year, Epcot has an International Food & Wine Festival where participants and guests of Epcot can eat and drink their way through the specialty cuisine of 6 continents. I haven’t yet visited during this food and wine festival, but it sounds like so much fun, and from what I’ve been told by others who have done it, it’s their favorite time to visit Walt Disney World.
Food & Drinks at Epcot & Beyond
One of the most popular “adult” activities at Walt Disney World is actually at Epcot. If you’ve heard of people “drinking around the world” at Walt Disney World, that means that they head to Epcot’s World Showcase and go to each of the 13 countries and drink (alcoholic or non-alcoholic) beverages that are related to each country. There’s even a passport you can pick up at the park entrances and at most quick-service food stands where if you eat or drink certain items at some of the locations around Epcot, you receive a stamp in your passport. If you fill-up the stamps on the passport, you earn a prize!
Above: Shakshuka in Morocco, Frosé in France, and Pecan Praline Dessert in The American Adventure, all at Epcot
In addition to drinking (and eating) worldwide, Epcot has rides, excellent snacks, themed shops that are my personal favorite shops within the 4 parks, and more that all make you feel like you’re traveling the world without ever having to actually leave the United States.
Above: Cajun Roasted Oysters at The American Adventure in Epcot
Sangria University Sommelier Course for Adults
Sangria University, located at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, is a masterclass on the art and history of Sangria. During this fun, adults-only class, participants sample various types of sangria and learn about the history of this fruity drink, as well as its connection to Walt Disney World. You’ll also enjoy chips, guacamole, and plenty of fresh fruit. By the end of the class, participants will learn how to identify, classify, and create their own sangria. Upon completing the class, you’ll receive a diploma stating that you’re now an official sangria sommelier. If you love sangria, mixology, history, learning about other cultures, or just relaxing on the waters of a beautiful resort, you’ll love this class!
Keep an eye out for a full post about Sangria University and everything I learned in class, that goes to show that Walt Disney World is for adults too!
Indulge Your Inner Child
Craving Mickey Mouse-shaped ice cream and a nostalgic look back on your childhood? Look no farther than Walt Disney World, where guests can find everything from subtle references to full-blown dedicated areas & rides related to classic Disney stories. There’s nothing wrong with going to Walt Disney World for the sake of enjoying Walt Disney World for all it has to offer. Grab a pair of mouse ears, a friend, or five, and have fun reconnecting with your inner child. It’s easy to get lost in the magic at any age!
Above: Mickey Mouse Ice Cream Sandwich in Animal Kingdom
Rollercoasters & Rides
Like any amusement park that has rides, many rides at Walt Disney World are more geared towards adults, although, of course, some children still like them too! Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, the Tower of Terror, and the Star Wars rides inside Hollywood Studios are geared towards adults, either for high speeds, high drops, or complex backstories. Again, these rides can be enjoyed by anyone regardless of age. Still, whenever some people think of Disney, they may only picture the Mad Tea Party teacups ride or the It’s a “Small World” ride at Magic Kingdom, rather than the bigger, faster rollercoasters.
Above: Rise of the Resistance at Hollywood Studio’s Galaxy’s Edge
I love a fast, exciting rollercoaster, which is why the Tower of Terror, Expedition Everest, Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster, Big Thunder Railroad, Space Mountain, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Slinky Dog Dash, and Splash Mountain are my favorite rides in the parks. If you’re a thrill-seeker too, there’s plenty to enjoy at Walt Disney World, proving again that Walt Disney World is for adults too!
Shopping at Disney Springs
Looking for a great place to shop brands like Lilly Pulitzer, Coach, Vera Bradley, Kate Spade, Alex & Ani, Anthropologie, Lacoste, Superdry, Pandora Jewelry, and dozens more? Disney Springs has plenty of incredible shops and boutiques, as well as the restaurants and entertainment I mentioned earlier. During my visit, I customized a Vera Bradley bag with their team, shopped around the Disney Springs stores, and had an incredible time. It truly is a world-class shopping experience that you don’t even need a park ticket to enjoy; everyone’s welcome to visit and catch a glimpse of the Disney magic!
Above: Shops at Disney Springs Shopping Center
What are your favorite adult-oriented things to do at Walt Disney World? Let me know in the comments of this post why you think Walt Disney World is for adults too.
Thank you so much to Walt Disney World for hosting me at their parks and for sponsoring this post. I had a truly magical time, and I can’t wait to share more of my experience with all of you!