Ask Amy: Traveling to Disney Without Kids

Many people think you can’t – or shouldn’t – travel to Walt Disney World unless you have kids in tow. For this month’s post, I interviewed three colleagues about their trips to WDW sans kids in an attempt to dispel this myth. The subjects:

  • Judy, a young professional and runner at this year’s Princess Half Marathon, she’ll attempt a Coast to Coast Challenge Medal next month at Disneyland
  • Pat – an empty nester who formerly worked in the travel industry, Pat has traveled with small kids and extended family, in addition to more recent trips with her husband
  • Melissa – an active college student and all-around Disney fan who has traveled with both family and, in more recent years, with friends

Here’s what they had to say:

Q:  Why do you travel to Walt Disney World?

Pat:  Many times you can get great deals on flights to Orlando. With Disney’s resorts and activities, the trip can often cost less than heading to the Caribbean. You can golf, have a frozen drink by the pool and maybe not even go to a park.

Melissa:  Disney was always my favorite vacation spot as a child, and it still is as a young adult! I have never been disappointed by a Disney vacation. Even as I’ve gotten older, I’ve been able to adjust my itinerary so that I enjoy a week spent in Disney World as much now as I did when I was 5 or 6 years old.

Judy:  My parents are Disney Vacation Club members which is why we travel to Disney so often, ever since I was a little kid. While we no longer take the 17-hour family road trip from Illinois to Florida each summer, we are still drawn to the magic of Disney where I feel like a kid again, but now with a lot more freedom and some adult fun! We also always stay at the Old Key West Resort – it’s a family favorite and feels like it hasn’t changed all these years.

Q:  How are your daily Disney itineraries different than when you have traveled with, or as, children?

Judy:  My friends and I still get up really early to hit the parks, but we wear our gym shoes and go all day. We don’t stroll or take in the sights until later. One time my sister and I did all four parks in two days.

Melissa:  We stay late at Extra Magic Hours. Where else would teenagers be safe to run around without parents until 3 am? We also only visit the pools at the end of the day.

Pat:  I wish I could wear gym shoes, go all day, and stay up until 3 am!!

Q:  What attractions are on your must do list, or are those that you enjoy more now?

Judy:  We do all of the roller coasters, like Space Mountain, Expedition Everest, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster.

Melissa:  We do all of the roller coasters also, but like checking out Hidden Mickeys too.

Pat:  I like many of the favorite rides, but no longer enjoy the Tower of Terror. But I have a new appreciation for some attractions, like Living with the Land. It was really interesting to learn how Disney produces some of the food for its restaurants. My husband is a history buff, so we actually watched the Hall of Presidents two times in a row. The air conditioning didn’t hurt either.

Q:  At this point in my life, restaurant dining at Disney has more to do with keeping our kids occupied than fine dining, for instance, we eat at T-Rex and Chef Mickey’s. Have you tried any of the signature restaurants?

Pat:  We have visited the Yachtsman Steakhouse and Hollywood Brown Derby, neither of which I would have done with kids.

Judy:  Our friends like 50’s Prime Time Café – being harassed at dinner is fun at any age. We also have had drinks ‘around the world’. We liked the margaritas in Mexico, but beware of the specialty shot in Norway.

Melissa:  My friends and I have enjoyed a few great meals at Wolfgang Puck’s, Boma, and Chefs de France – options that I might not have been too excited about when I was younger. That being said, all three of those restaurants definitely had good options for kids, so don’t be afraid to try them if your family is looking for some new flavors! We’ve also enjoyed a few visits to the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue – the food is delicious, and audience participation is key, so it’s perfect for a loud group of people my age!

Q:  What tips do you have for our readers who are traveling to Disney without kids for the first time?

Judy: If you like the popular rides designate a runner for fast passes. Also, remember to do some of the activities that were fun as kids. We have some very funny pictures of our friends with Buzz Light Year and we always enjoy the fireworks.

Melissa:   Take advantage of the single rider options. We were able to ride many more rides than if we had waited to ride together and had just as much fun. Single rider was very helpful for Soarin and Test Track. I also tried speaking French with cast members in Epcot. It was fun to practice after many years of French classes!

Pat:  Disney is a brief escape from reality. Even though I love the other parks, I try to visit the Magic Kingdom on each trip. The fireworks are amazing. On Main Street you just get that special feeling that comes with no worries, that feeling of being a kid again.

A special thanks to our guests! Let’s hear about your kid-free Disney vacations. Did you try a spa or special tour? Any romantic dinners?

P.S. – I’m headed to the World soon – any questions you’d like me to research from the ground? ~Amy

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Amy works as a college administrator and instructor in the Philadelphia area, where she lives with her husband and two children. She visited Walt Disney World for the first time as an adult for a conference. But Amy truly caught the “Disneybug” when she traveled with her young daughter. Amy loves all things travel and especially enjoys trip preparation and strategy: trying to find the best deals, exploring new resorts and restaurants, and planning an extra something special for each trip.

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