Growing up in Miami, I spent a fair bit of time in Disney World. As a kid, I loved it. As an adult, I love it even more. I went to college in Orlando for six months and had a yearly pass to the theme parks. It was not weird to find me at Hollywood Studios on a Saturday morning watching the Indiana Jones show, once again.
There are so many people who tell me they are waiting to have kids to go to Disney World for the first time. I then have to lecture them about how silly and wrong that is, and I encourage them ton book a trip asap. Walt Disney World is as much of a wonderland for adults as it is for kids.
Here are some tips for when you finally decide to grow up and visit the happiest place on earth.
1. Leave the kids at home. There are so many reasons to visit the parks without kids. The number one reason is, of course, alcohol. Alcohol is available at all the main parks at Disney world, day and night. The number two reason would be freedom, but that’s self explanatory.
2. Level your expectations. Disney World isn’t Six Flags. Within all the Orlando theme parks there are only a handful of rides you can label “thrillers”. The rides here are not the tallest, scariest, fastest rides in the world. If that’s what you’re after, you’re in the wrong place. Disney rides follow a story, they are about fun, inspiration and imagination. Do make sure to go on the Rock N Roller, the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, Space Mountain and Splash Mountain though.
3. Prepare with Fastpass. All Disney World parks offer the fastpass+ experience. Take advantage and book in for fastpass a week or two in advance. Download the Disney Experience app on your phone, sign up and book in. This will save you so much time! You may still have to wait at some rides, but your wait time will go from one hour to five minutes. Keep in mind you can only book in for three rides at a time. Choose wisely. Once you go on all three rides you can rebook.
4. On that note, always expect to wait in line. No matter how good you are logistics and strategy, you will have to wait at some point. It’s okay. It’s just part of it all. It’s a good time to study the map of the park and plan further, play with lazers, have a snack, take pictures, have a nap standing up, instagram, etc.
But! Do make sure to do research and only line up for rides you think are worth it. My parents lined up for the Toy Story, an hour into the wait they changed their minds but were too far in to turn back. The ride was for 5 year olds – it was a terrible experience for them. We, on the other hand, went on both the Rock N Roller and the tower of terror during that same time. Don’t make the same mistake they did.
5. Do NOT drive your car to the park. Book accommodation in one of the many hotels on Disney property. The provide great and dependable transportation to and from theme parks. You will be drinking and you don’t want to be Sober Sally or Drunk Driving Dan.
6. Leave your selfie stick at home. Things are not allowed on rides. That includes selfie sticks, phones, cameras, hats. You can hide them from the staff, of course, but if you loose them they will be gone forever. So just leave as many things as you can at home. Pack one backpack as a group and bring only what you need. It will be easier to go through security, fill lockers, cut lines, get through crowds, etc.
7. Bring food into the parks. So many people complain about the food at Disney World. I think if you plan your meals and order wisely, you’ll be okay. But another option, which will also save you money, is to bring your own snacks and a packed lunch inside. There are no rules against it and there are open areas where you can sit, relax and take a breather.
But for the love of enjoyment find the frozen coke stand in front of Epcot’s Test Track. Treat yourself to a frozen coke AND a popcorn at the same time. Warn your group that you will not be sharing.
8. Stay until the fireworks. Parks are open until late and each one puts on an incredible fireworks display at the end of the night. I know it’s a long day but suck it up and stay. It will be worth it. You’ll see.
Fireworks are also a great time to go on rides because most people will be on the streets.
9. Remember to learn. Walt Disney was an incredible man and Walt Disney World is an inspiring place full of history. You’ll appreciate the theme parks more if you know how it all happened.
10. Embrace the heck out of the cheesiness. Do not walk, skip through the streets. Dance to the music, sing along to Frozen’s Let It Go, buy (and wear) minnie mouse ears (or bring your own from home like my brother’s girlfriend does)(She actually has two pairs: one for day and one for the night), take part in the kid activities and don’t be scared to look like a fool. Get into it, let go, and be inspired.
11. Don’t be embarrassed to chase characters down. These character stop for nobody and walk around with security protecting them. Stalking them may be the only way to get a picture. I regret nothing.