The first time Anna and I went to Disney as a married couple, we weren’t sure what to expect. Would it feel weird just walking around as a couple twenty-somethings in a park filled with kids? Where would we go? What exactly would we do? Would Mickey still be willing to sign my autograph book?
Fortunately, all of our concerns were completely unfounded! Disney really and truly has something for everyone. I know that is a tired cliche, but it could have been coined by Disney for how true it is in this respect. In this post, I’d love to discuss just a sample of the countless things for the adult Disney fan to enjoy at Disney.
Before we jump in, I’ll give you a couple points to keep in mind, just in case you aren’t already familiar with the set up of Disney’s parks in Orlando. Walt Disney World property is divided into 4 distinct parks: Magic Kingdom (Cinderella’s Castle, classic Disney rides and imagery, etc.), Epcot (A park that is part world’s fair, part exploration through rides, and a little bit of future world building tossed in), Disney’s Animal Kingdom (Animal conservation, exotic destinations and theming, thrilling rides), and Disney’s Hollywood Studios (Park celebrating the golden age of film, now includes Toy Story Land, and will soon feature a Star Wars themed area called Galaxy’s Edge).
Each park is an entire experience in and of itself and can’t possibly be covered in one post. At least not satisfactorily! Knowing this, we’ll just be discussing some general tips on how to enjoy yourself in the parks. Look to future posts to discuss in length each park’s many magical aspects.
Back to our original question. What can I DO to have a blast in Disney?
This seems a little obvious, right? You’re thinking, “Sure, Zach. Food. I can’t wait to pay exorbitant prices for limp fries and a thin hamburger patty. While I’m at it, I’ll spend ten dollars on a bottle of water!” Ok, ok, before you meander off to instagram or twitter to catch up on the latest nonsense your Uncle Simon is up to, stick with me for a few minutes.
Disney makes its business to build an experience from the ground up. This means a lot of attention is paid to details that are considered trivial to other entertainment venues. Food is one of those things that gets the star treatment. Whether you choose to dine at a quick-service location, pick up a snack from a vendor cart, or sit down for a full dining extravaganza at a location such as Cinderella’s Royal Table you are guaranteed a meal that has received the same attention in its design as the largest ride in the park. No, you won’t be finding any soggy hot dog buns here.
Again, the list would be miles long if I gave you every food establishment that Disney has to offer. Let me just give you a couple options in different price ranges.
For the budget conscious, you can’t go wrong with Casey’s Corner on Main Street Disney in Magic Kingdom. With its American Baseball inspired food, charming atmosphere, and great location along the parade route, Casey’s is a definite win. My personal favorite here is the Bacon Macaroni & Cheese All-Beef Footlong Hot Dog. (Look, I didn’t say you’d be losing any weight this trip! Better get those steps in while in the parks!)
If you are looking for something a little quieter (A relative term, keep in mind there are families everywhere at Disney) I’d recommend giving the ABC Commissary in Disney’s Hollywood Studios a try. This Art Deco themed restaurant provides standards such as chicken club sandwiches, but offers some international fare such as a delicious Mediterranean Chicken Salad. Centrally located between the new Toy Story land and the Chinese Theater, the commissary makes for a tasty and practical stop during your flurry of activity in the park.
Lastly, if you’d like a nice sit down meal with an opportunity for character encounters, consider making a reservation at the Tusker House in Animal Kingdom. Albeit a little more expensive, the food and ambiance are well worth the price! Delicious dishes inspired by African flavors and served in a buffet style (Oh yes, all you care to enjoy, my friends) enjoyed in the company of Mickey and his Friends will leave you feeling contented in mind and stomach!
Now, this could potentially be controversial because I know many folks who don’t particularly enjoy shopping. I often times count myself among that camp. That being said, I’m sure we could all agree that shopping becomes WAY more fun when you are looking at things you are interested in! You’d be hard pressed to not find something you’d like to take home. From book bags, dishware, light fixtures, and cooking utensils, to books, art, sheet music, and clothes. If you have an interest, chances are good there is a store on property that tailors to that niche.
One of my favorite shopping opportunities comes around each year when Epcot hosts its International Festival of the Arts. This festival typically takes place from mid January until late February each year and celebrates all things Art. Visual, performing, culinary, you name it! Take a stroll around the World Showcase and you’ll see numerous temporary art vendors from all over the world displaying their gorgeous work for sale. Regardless of taste, you’ll find a piece that speaks to you. I always find it difficult to walk away with only a few select prints. I also picked up a fantastic collection of sketches by Disney artists for my coffee table. It is quite the talking piece.
This next idea isn’t technically in Disney World but it is about as close as you can get. Just off property, Disney owns and operates a destination centered around shopping, dining, and entertainment called Disney Springs. Take a glance at the previous link, and you’ll see just how many opportunities are presented to you at this location. Filled to the brim with upscale shopping like Coach, DisneyStyle, Pandora, Kate Spade, Oakley, or Sperry, and everything in between, it is a shopper’s dream come true. Finish that with fantastic eateries, great live music, and more and you’ll find yourself lost in a Disney fan’s wonderland.
Ok. Hang in there. You’ve done a lot of reading and I’m sure you just read that heading and thought “Geez, you don’t say! Rides at Disney?”. Well, tone down the sarcasm and allow me to take just a few more moments of your time. Many times, people think rides are divided into two groups, hardcore roller coasters, and slow casual kiddie rides. I just simply don’t agree with that assessment. It is much too broad, especially when it comes to the attractions offered at Walt Disney World.
Firstly, yes you certainly can find thrilling rides such as Space Mountain, Rockin’ Roller Coaster, and Expedition Everest. Oh, and naturally there are slower paced rides perfect for young kids like The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh or the Prince Charming Regal Carrousel. You should know that the options span that entire spectrum, allowing you to find your perfect balance of relaxation and fun.
When I say Tea Cups, I’m sure an image pops right into your mind. Well, as an adult the Mad Tea Party is truly a blast. You can really spin those things fast when you have more strength than the average 8 year old. I highly recommend it. For the Star Wars fans out there, I highly suggest checking out Star Tours. This ride is presented as a simulation style attraction featuring footage from the beloved films. What makes this ride particularly enjoyable is the frequent addition of new scenes and adventures from the new movies. It makes it feel fresh every time you ride! Another ride really worth checking out as an adult is Splash Mountain. This is Anna’s absolute favorite. For good reason, too! The theming is really spot on, it has great catchy music, and just the right mix of cruising and thrilling drops to keep you on your toes. Another plus is the length. You really feel that it is worth the wait.
Phew! That was a lot of info and opinion I just tossed your way. I cannot stress enough that I have only given a teeny tiny sample of the options at Disney World. I wouldn’t even say we scratched the surface. Don’t take my word for it though! Grab your Mickey ears and hit the monorail!