Mickey ear headbands, delicious food, and rides that’ll make you feel like a kid again. You’ll find it all at The Happiest Place on Earth! But, what exactly is there to do in Disney World for adults that justifies the hefty price tag?
In this guide I’ll share with you my own reflections and advice for a Walt Disney World vacation if you’re traveling as an adult, with no children!
What is in Disney World for Adults?
In a nutshell: a lot.
While some aspects of the parks will inevitably be more fun for little ones, there are now some that only adults can enjoy.
Generally speaking, you’re more likely to prefer Epcot to all other parks if you’re an adult at Disney World. It’s tailored more to experiences foodies love, and even more so if you enjoy pairing alcohol with your dining experience.
Aside from signature cocktails themed for Disney restaurants, there are rides and character interactions that will undoubtedly transport you back to childhood.
For Star Wars fans, there is a utopia for you in the form of Hollywood Studios!
Grew up on the Disney princesses of the 90s? Go to town in Magic Kingdom!
Love traveling the world? See Disney’s (freakishly realistic) replicas in Epcot!
Enjoy strolling through stunning foliage? Animal Kingdom is calling your name!
Aside from the fun childlike experiences, just walking through Disney parks and seeing their architecture was entertaining enough for me. Of course, a Walt Disney World vacation isn’t for everyone. But, it will surprise many that there’s more for adults than meets the eye.
How to Plan a Walt Disney World Vacation for Adults Only
Like just about every attraction out there, Disney World tickets can be purchased online! You also have the option to purchase at the ticket booths, but I don’t recommend this over buying them in advance on Disney World’s website.
When you book, you have the option to buy a Park-Hopper Pass or a single park ticket. I’d recommend getting a Park-Hopper Pass, but to each their own!
Staying on-property vs. off-property
At Disney World in Orlando, they make it as inconvenient as possible to stay off-property. Of course, Disney resorts are often priced at a premium, but they include a plethora of benefits intended to make visitors’ vacations stress-free.
It’s a brilliant business strategy. Truly.
While I normally wouldn’t say this, it’s worth it to stay on-property. If you stay off-property, you can expect to pay $25 per day to park on top of your entry tickets. Staying on-property means complimentary airport transfer, complimentary park transfer, character dining right in your hotel for breakfast, and many more amenities.
Disney dining options
One of the main reasons Disney stands out from the competition is its theme park dining.
I’m not joking — their options are next-level amazing. At Disney World, you can get anything from street cart food to fine dining.
Included in your booking options is the Disney Dining Plan. By paying a flat fee per person, per day up front, you can save on your dining for your vacation. I did not use it, and I doubt I would because of my dietary restrictions. However, the dining plan may be perfect for you! I would read more about it on blogs like WDW Prep School before choosing to purchase.
Please note that you cannot book a Disney Dining Plan unless you are staying on-property!
How to get to Walt Disney World
Unless you live near Orlando, FL or love road trips, you’ll likely fly there for your Walt Disney World vacation. The closest airport to Disney is MCO, which services many nonstop flights from all over the U.S. and internationally.
I also recommend flying into MCO specifically if you’re staying on-property and can use the Magical Express bus. This made our travel day so much easier after a very early morning at the airport. In order to book, you’ll want to fill out this online form or call +1 (407) 939-1936 with your Disney resort reservation info, and the Magical Express team will email your confirmation.
Ideally, you’d receive a letter in the mail detailing your Magical Express reservation before leaving for Disney. However, we were not mailed a letter and still got on the bus easily! All you’ll have to do is tell the Cast Member at Disney’s area of MCO, and they will search for your reservation before pointing you to the correct line.
If you live close enough to Florida to make the drive, you do you! Just know you’ll have to pay $25 per day to park at Disney. If you’re staying on-property, that $25 fee will apply only to your resort; parking for resort guests at the parks is free.
But, if you’re staying off-property, you do have to pay the $25 fee per day that you visit Disney World parks.
I love a good road trip, so this sounds like a fun option! Just know you may not save as much money unless you find an amazing deal on a hotel or Airbnb outside Disney property.
The only exception to this is RVers and van lifers. There is a Disney property offering full hookups at the Fort Wilderness Resort! This includes the full privileges of staying on-property with a lower price and the option to sleep in your own recreational vehicle. Of course, this is priced at a premium compared to average prices at RV parks.
Pssst! If you’re staying off-property but still don’t know how to choose the right place for you, check out my guide to booking the ideal accommodations!
Using the My Disney Experience App
This was hands-down one of the most convenient experiences I’ve ever had while traveling. The My Disney Experience App is a central place for guests to order food from quick service counters, make reservations at table service restaurants, and see wait times for rides.
You can even use the app just as you would Google Maps — it’ll allow you to use your current location and add a destination, then gives you directions with a live map to where you’re going.
This was such a benefit for planning our day! Before walking across a park or taking the monorail to another one, you’ll know in advance how long the wait is for the ride you want to go on. It also helped me see how far we were from the restaurant for our reservation, so I could plan what time we should start walking that way.
You can also sign into your online account to see your resort reservation, dining reservations, and add a credit card for convenience when ordering quick service. I didn’t add mine, but appreciated the option.
Lastly, you can see the hours each park is open. This can make a big difference in your planning for each day!
A Planning Tool for You:
I’m a seasoned travel planner after exploring over 22 countries across 3 continents, and even I was overwhelmed with the planning process of a Walt Disney World vacation. The specifics to the Orlando parks were overwhelming, and the pricing differences mattered to us.
So, I used my Travel Planning Spreadsheet to compare costs in a package vs. buying tickets separately from our resort reservation. It saved us money to book separately, and I wouldn’t have known that without the spreadsheet!
Magic Kingdom Visitor Guide
Magic Kingdom is by far the most highly-visited theme park in the world. On average, it receives 57,000 visitors per day.
Suffice it to say, you should plan your time in Magic Kingdom very carefully. No one wants to wait in 3-hour-long lines to ride Seven Dwarves Mine Train with screaming kids all around you in 90+ degree heat.
Did you picture that? Yeah, I though so.
Instead, I would plan to use Extra Magic Hours in Magic Kingdom to enjoy it before it’s completely overrun with visitors.
In my experience, you won’t find amazing food options in Magic Kingdom. So, I’d go for a Park Hopper pass and jet off to Epcot for the good stuff!
The main reason Magic Kingdom is so crowded is because it has the most to offer with experiencing Disney movies in real life. My favorite rides were Peter Pan, The Little Mermaid, and The Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.
Go to Magic Kingdom to reminisce, and truly feel like a kid again. Top off your day with a stunning fireworks show at Cinderella’s castle, too!
Animal Kingdom Visitor Guide
Out of the three parks we visited, Animal Kingdom was my mom’s favorite. I’d say it was may second favorite, because Epcot is my number one.
One of the best things about Animal Kingdom is it’s less crowded than other parks by far. If you’re looking to have a relaxing day, stroll amongst stunning foliage, and not face insane crowds, then Animal Kingdom is the best place to do that.
If you’re looking for excitement, you’ll find it at the Mt. Everest roller coaster, and you can travel on a safari through their wildlife refuge.
Tiffins is a fine dining option in Animal Kingdom that is renowned for its dishes that are truly unique to anything else you’ll find in Disney.
And finally, Pandora is absolutely amazing. It’s modeled from Avatar, and is unlike any other place I’ve been — in all the best ways. Hop on Na’vi River Journey for a slow boat ride with very impressive animatronics.
Epcot Visitor Guide
I suppose I’ll save the best for last! I absolutely loved Epcot. Whenever I go back to Disney, I’ll stay in an Epcot resort and eat my meals almost exclusively in this park.
Immediately upon entering the park, you’ll see the famous Spaceship Earth ride, (a.k.a. The Giant Golf Ball 😂). I didn’t get to ride it, so I can’t vouch for it just yet. It’s on my list for next time, though!
After walking about 10 minutes, you’ll arrive at the entry to the World Showcase, which is the best part of the park. The featured country pavilions are laid out in a circle, so you can start by walking towards the right or the left.
As of the time this post was written, the pavilions in Epcot represent the following countries:
- United Kingdom
I haven’t been to every country on this list, but I can tell you that the Japanese, French, Italian, and British pavilions are very accurate. The replicas feel so similar to the real thing that it brought back so many fond memories of traveling to all these countries!
For those I have yet to visit, it made me even more excited to finally get to travel there.
Aside from the architecture, Epcot has the best food hands-down of the three parks I’ve visited. Not only are there more dining options, but the options in Epcot are of a much higher quality.
If you’re a foodie and a world traveler (or you want to become one!), then Epcot is for you.
Which Disney World Park is Best for Adults?
This is highly subjective, but I’d say Epcot. And not just because it’s my favorite park personally.
Out of all three parks we visited, Epcot is most likely to appeal to adults over children. There are more fine dining options in this park that offer a higher standard than other Disney parks. Options like the $150 Omakase Tasting Menu at Takumi-Tei in the Japan pavilion come to mind.
There’s less character-driven entertainment than Magic Kingdom, and more informational exhibits about Disney worldwide, and cultural facts about the countries of each pavilion.
During my own visit, I noticed many more adults in Epcot and many more children in Magic Kingdom. The reasons I gave above are my best guess as to why that is.
Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort: A Short Review
Simply put, Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort is absolutely stunning. It’s on-property, a distinction that matters quite a bit in convenience. It also has top-notch service, like any Disney resort, and has very comfortable rooms.
The only drawback? The food.
Apparently, the dining options at Coronado Springs are rated lower than at other Disney resorts. After trying the breakfast at Rix, I can agree. We didn’t eat the food at Coronado again for the rest of our stay.
Vegan Options in Disney World
The main driver for me to visit Disney World is the overwhelming amount of positive reviews its vegan food has received.
Better yet, they had gluten-free options with meat for my mom. It was a win-win for everyone!
Some of the dining options I found to be just okay, but everything else was wonderful.
By far, my favorite dessert was the Dole Whip Float. I find in the U.S. that sweets are far too sweet for my taste buds after traveling. I prefer for desserts to be lightly or mildly sweet, and not induce a sugar coma. The Dole Whip Float has pineapple soft serve and it’s sitting in pineapple juice. It made such a refreshing treat amidst the Floridian humidity!
When it comes to coffee, I knew I had to try Joffrey’s. If you don’t know already, Joffrey’s is a Disney-exclusive coffee brand that you can only get through Disney. I must admit, it’s 100% worth the hype! I was also pleasantly surprised at its low price (for Disney, anyway).
Here is my review of each restaurant we visited:
Earth Eats (Epcot) — ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Our visit was during the Epcot Food & Wine Festival, so we lucked out! Earth Eats was one of the first places we ate, and had such delicious quick service.
We ordered Impossible sliders, chocolate mousse, and a berry iced tea. Highly recommend grabbing a bite from Earth Eats if you’re just wanting a snack or something light!
Rose & Crown Dining Room (Epcot) — ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
This is the only dining reservation I made before we left for Disney, and I am so, so glad I did. Located in the U.K. Pavilion of Epcot, Rose & Crown favors a traditional British pub — it’s almost indistinguishable, really.
On their allergy menu is vegan bangers and mash, as well as vegan fish and chips. We ordered one of each, and both were delicious! The portion sizes are absolutely massive, though. So. Many. Leftovers!
I’d recommend sharing or ordering from their Pub instead. The Pub has smaller portion sizes for a lower price!
Satu’li Canteen (Animal Kingdom) — ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Satu’li Canteen is a quick counter service spot where you can order your food in the My Disney Experience app, and then pick it up.
They offer a power bowl with tofu, and it’s a good meal. The only thing that knocks this place down a star is its flavor combinations. I found that they didn’t really complement one another, which left this dish below its potential.
Be Our Guest (Magic Kingdom) — ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Aside from Cinderella’s Royal Table, Be Our Guest is one of the most sought-after Disney dining experiences in the parks. It’s easy to see why, considering guests dine in a ballroom replica of the waltz scene in Beauty and the Beast.
I absolutely loved the ambiance of Be Our Guest! The vegan three-course meal was good. I enjoyed the salad and dessert; the entreé was okay. I wouldn’t go back unless their plant-based three course meal were to offer a different main dish.
However, I in no way regret eating dinner at Be Our Guest!
Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn & Café (Magic Kingdom) — ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Pecos Bill’s is another quick service spot offering tex-mex bowls, burritos, and tacos. We ordered a vegan bowl here and split it. It was plenty for two people!
The standout of this meal was their dairy-free sour cream made in house. It’s the best vegan sour cream I’ve ever, ever had. I wish I could buy that in my local grocery store!
Liberty Tree Tavern (Magic Kingdom) — ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Liberty Tree Tavern is a table service restaurant in Magic Kingdom with a set menu offering traditional American fare. They also offer a vegan set menu, and can accommodate for gluten-free diets as well.
For the vegan set menu, they offer a salad and bread, a meatless loaf plate with garlic green beans and mashed potatoes, and an apple cake for dessert.
Out of all our table service meals, this one fell flat. I’d previously heard their vegan meatloaf is made with Impossible, but it was made with a different meat substitute that isn’t best for a meatless loaf. The sides were good, but could have been better. And finally, the apple cake had a very dense texture.
What It Was Like to Visit Disney World During a Pandemic
After cutting my Southeast Asia trip short at just six weeks, I didn’t do much traveling at all in 2020. The risks were too high. I’d seen how poorly safety measures were being handled in tourism all over the world.
However, when Disney World reopened its gates, they did so differently. Their restrictions were so tight and upheld so professionally, I felt safer at Disney than I do at the grocery store.
All guests were required to wear masks inside and outside, unless eating while sitting. This also applied to taking photos — if a Cast Member saw guests without a mask on for a photo, they would ask the guest to put their mask back on.
There were also designated rest areas with socially-distanced seating and a Cast Member counting guests to make sure it wouldn’t be over capacity. In these rest areas specifically, guests were allowed to remove their masks.
There was hand sanitizer everywhere. I’ve truly never seen (or used) that much hand sanitizer in my life.
In order to maintain 25% capacity in each park, guests were required to have a park reservation in addition to park tickets for each day. Dining reservations were strongly encouraged, because restaurants were also adhering to social distancing. When waiting in line for rides, guests stood six feet apart by following designated line markers.
My experience at Disney was by far the most attentive, safe, and well-managed trip I’ve ever been on. I can only imagine how it is under normal circumstances.
Disney in the USA vs. Abroad
I know I shared that this was my first time at Disney World since I was seven, but I’ve technically been to a Disney park in-between.
It was Tokyo DisneySea when my mom and I went to Japan for my college graduation present.
After a day at DisneySea, I can say with confidence that one of the most fascinating experiences when traveling is visiting a Disney theme park outside of your home country.
Because Disney is a global brand, they will prioritize characters and stories that locals love. This means you’ll have a vastly different experience at a park in Tokyo versus Orlando, for example. Not only is this a unique view into the local culture of the country you’re visiting, but it’s also a way to experience Disney completely anew.
Aside from the cultural differences, I found that staying off-property was easy in Japan, while it is very inconvenient to stay off-property in Orlando.
The Verdict: Would I Go to Disney World Again Without Kids?
My one-word answer: Yes!
As a matter of fact, I’m already (loosely) planning a return trip in my mind. You see, I have this ambitious goal of running a marathon. I figure if I’m going to put myself through such cardio suffering, why not do it in the Happiest Place on Earth?
The course also looks very interesting — you basically run through all four parks. Check out the details on Run Disney’s website, along with other running events if that’s your jam!
Aside from any running events, I’d love to do a Disney Land and Sea vacation. Because Port Canaveral, FL is a quick drive from Orlando, it’s easy to combine a trip to the parks with a cruise!
What I Would Do Differently on a Future Trip to Disney World
On a future trip to Walt Disney World, I would likely stay in either the Dolphin or Swan resort.
Because I’m a travel hacker, and these two properties are the only ones remotely tied to Disney that offer Marriott Bonvoy points. They are both located near Epcot and are considered “Epcot resorts,” which is a huge win for an Epcot lover like me.
Guests can still access free transportation to the parks and Disney Springs by water taxi or bus. Also, Land and Sea vacationers will be picked up from either hotel on the Disney Cruise Line bus (for an additional fee, but no higher than other resorts).
The only distinction (which is major for some) is that the Disney Magical Express bus will not drop off guests at these two resorts from MCO airport. Sure, it’s not ideal. I’d use my American Express Platinum Card $15 Uber Cash credit and then pay whatever’s leftover to reach the hotel.
• • •
As you can see, visiting Disney World in my 20s was an absolute blast, simply because there is so much to do in Disney World for adults.
If you’d like more info about how to plan a Walt Disney World vacation and the least-crowded times to visit, I recommend reading the blog WDW Prep School. I’ll be using their crowd calendars to plan my own next trip!
Also, if you’re a vegan Disney lover, check out blogs like Vegan Disney World and Vegan Disney Food. They’ll give you honest reviews of vegan options in the parks before you spend precious dollars on a meal!
Which park are you most excited to visit?