It really is true what they say – Disney is the happiest place on earth. Between the technology, nostalgia, and the desire to create unforgettable memories for all its visitors, you’d have to try really hard not to have a good time. With 12 theme parks around the world, Disney is not just for kids because there are many places to experience the Disney magic even as an adult.
I recently had the good fortune to make my way to Disney World in Florida for my very first Disney trip. My parents had decided a few year back that, for their 40th wedding anniversary, they wanted to plan a big family trip with their children, their children’s significant others, and their grandchildren. They saved up and this year was the year to go. When the idea first came up, however, I thought to myself that while Disney World doesn’t seem all that exciting to me as an adult, with my nieces and nephew going, it would be fun to enjoy the trip through their eyes.
There are lots of different options and add-ons when planning your Disney World trip around where you stay, which parks you go to, etc. But two things you should definitely consider taking advantage of: Fast Pass+ and the Disney Dining Plan. They will save you a lot of time and aggravation.
With the Fast Pass+, the concept is pretty simple. You get to choose 3 rides per day that you can use the pass to cut down the wait time significantly. You pick the ride, the time you’d like to go on it, and you have an hour once the time arrives to make your way to the fast pass line. The amount of time you save varies depending on the popularity of the ride but I was happy not to wait the 2 hours for the Avatar rides.
The Disney Dining Plan has a little more to it but is also well worth it simply for the ease of not having to deal with the exchange of money. Once you have purchased the plan, each day you have bought it for gets you 2 snacks, 1 quick service meal (fast food ya’ll) and one full service meal (wine and dine me). Having it all attached to your magic band (a bracelet used as a room key, park admission ticket, and for making purchases) means no need to carry a wallet or purse around. The magic band is one of the greatest Disney innovations and some days I wish I could have one in everyday life (oh wait, thank you Apple Watch).
So, if you have your fast passes, your magic band, and your dining plan, then you’re all set and ready for some Disney-style, grown-up fun. There are a great many things you can do during your time in Disney World – some of them are nostalgic and will help you relive your childhood and others use technology that seem so advanced it’s amazing to see how far we’ve come. There’s lots to eat, see and do, and even places to shop. Disney World is the place where kids can be kids and adults can let their spirits soar too.
Grown Up Dreams Come True at Disney World
The Epcot International Food and Wine Show
This annual event has just passed its 22nd birthday and runs for 75 days every Fall. The Epcot International Food and Wine Show brings delicious ethnic and specialty cuisine, refreshing new beverages, and a variety of concerts and musical acts. You’ll be treated to cheese and beverage seminars, culinary demonstrations, and specialty dining and pairings. There’s even Living with the Land, a boat ride that takes you around to see the fruits and vegetables growing right before your eyes that are then used to make the various dishes you’ll find at the show.
Disney Springs is a dining and shopping experience that connects the various different parks that make up Disney World. While children are welcome, it really caters more to the adult park guests with late night hours to eat and shop or simply stroll around catching the various musical acts sprinkled throughout. With 53 dining options, 108 shops, and even a movie theatre, Disney Springs could almost be considered a Disney park of its own.
Disney Hollywood Studios
Of all the different parks that make up Disney World, in my opinion, Disney Hollywood Studios felt the most geared towards adults. Many of the attractions seemed to revolve around characters and properties that were popular when I was younger (or have since seen a resurgence as is the case with Star Wars). Even Marilyn Monroe can be seen being driven around in an old fashioned car at various points throughout the day.
Park Rides and Attractions
The rides at Disney World are designed in a way that allows both children and adults to enjoy them. The technology and innovation that goes into their creation means that you can go from playing in a game of quidditch with Harry Potter and friends to swimming under the ocean with the Little Mermaid to flying through space with R2D2 and C3PO from Star Wars. From the littlest in our group to my parents, everyone had a great time on the rides.
Located at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Pandora is Disney World’s current must-see. It was my favourite part of the whole trip and gets even better when you visit at night. Based on the film (and soon to be 5 film franchise by 2025) Avatar, Pandora is a magical world that combines the latest technological innovations with the fantasy of a new and different planet. It’s the home to my favourite ride at Disney, Avatar Flight of Passage, where you fly on the back of a mountain banshee during an exhilarating, 3D ride across Pandora. The ride offers more than just the standard 3D film experience with an apparatus that you sit on (the banshee) as it moves according to the sights before you (the sides even move like it’s breathing) while you feel the wind and water across your face.
Once your flight is done, you’ll probably have worked up an appetite so head on over to the Satu’li Canteen for cheeseburger steamed pods (bao buns) and a glass of Pandorian Sunrise (tropical juices blended with melon Powerade). Make sure you save some room for dessert though, because they’re not only Instagram-worthy but also delicious! When the sun goes down, Pandora really comes alive as bioluminescent Valley of Mo’ara lights up the nighttime. There’s even Windtraders, an Avatar-themed shop where you can get your likeness turned into a take home avatar or even adopt your very own banshee.
By Kevin Joseph