Disney vacations are marketed as the quintessential family trip. The commercials, the planning DVDs, the website, the mailings, and oodles of other Disney vacation propaganda all showcase the glowing, smiling faces of cherub-cheeked tots in addition to the satisfied radiance of their perfectly coifed parents. No doubt about it – if you have a family, Disney is on your radar.
But what about a Disney World trip, without the kids? Disney World is a popular destination for honeymooners, to get engaged, and even for a couple to get married, right in the parks. Millions of couples choose to vacation in the House of Mouse without their progeny for many, many reasons. It could be celebrating a special anniversary, only in town briefly for a conference or work trip, or perhaps, they just it’s time to rekindle that romantic spark sans diaper bags and sippy cups. Whatever the reason for your adult-inspired journey into America’s Neverland, let’s explore the pros and cons of traveling to Walt Disney World without kids.
Limited Baggage. This perk has so many levels. For those who travel on airlines with baggage fees, this could be a huge savings! And if you’re brave enough to venture into the parks with just your ID, MagicBand, and credit cards, you can skip the bag-check line at the parks head straight to turnstiles… er…glowing Mickey heads…entrance. No heavy diaper bag slowly dislocating your shoulder throughout the day or leaving you with those flattering sweat marks on your back. Just you armed with nothing but your sense of adventure (and credit cards, of course)!
Adult Beverages. Whether you’re staying on Disney property or not, the prevalence of transportation options (buses, boats, monorails and cabs) means you can indulge in that adult beverage you’ve always wanted to try (or indulge in a few more)! The only thing holding you back is your alcohol tolerance and your bank account.
Fine Dining. The Walt Disney World Resort has some of the most eclectic fine dining experiences east of the Mississippi. Without having to worry if they have “mac ‘n cheese” on the menu, you can treat yourself to five-star dining complete with the magically immersive atmosphere that Disney is renowned for. And without a curfew or bedtime to worry about, stretch that evening out and top it off with a nightcap at any one of Disney’s luxurious lounges throughout the resort.
Exploit the Thrill Rides. You want to ride Expedition Everest seven times in a row and skip Tricera Top Spin? I applaud your adrenaline rush ambitions! No need for Child Swap, just queue up and keep on riding.
Single Rider Line. Now you say you want to ride Expedition Everest seven times in a row within an hour? You are my people! The beauty of the Single Rider Line is its typical minimal wait. If you have older kids, this could definitely be an option for you. But as childless adults loose in the parks, I say, live it up! Single Rider Lines are your friends (and friends of any Touring Plan you’re using).
Late Nights. Tired little legs and droopy eyes usually make families head to the front gates right after the evening fireworks. But not you! You’ve just stopped at the most recent Starbucks addition for your caffeine infusion and you’re ready to go! Time to hit it hard until they kick you out, right? If you’re in the Magic Kingdom, see if you can stay late enough to watch the Kiss Goodnight, an end of the night castle light show.
Missing Little Details. Little legs and little eyes mean seeing little details. Disney has so many magical details that adults can just blast past while on the mission to complete their Touring Plan. Sometimes, spending 40 minutes playing in the dancing water fountain outside of Journey Into Imagination With Figment can be just as magical as conquering Test Track. Or watching the miniature train display in the Germany Pavilion in Epcot is just as special as getting that 60th picture with Mickey. Little ones can help us big kids slow down and really take in the magic in a different way.
Experience Magic through Young Eyes. You’ve never seen fireworks until you’ve seen them with a four-year-old. Their whole face lights up because for them, it isn’t a feat of pyrotechnics, it’s pixie dust. And as cool as pyrotechnics are, I’ll be the first to admit, that pixie dust is far cooler. Spinning in a dancing, enchanted tea cup, meeting the real Cinderella, and having Chef Mickey make you breakfast are magical experiences, all made that much more magical by the pure belief and wonder of little ones. And watching those moments happen make us all choke up (even if they’re not our kids)!
“Excuse” to Nap. “Little Jimmy’s tired and cranky, time to go back to the room to take a nap” is perfect code for “my feet are killing me and I’m on the brink of heat-exhaustion, get me to the AC, stat!” We all need a break sometimes. Having the kids with us can be the excuse we need to keep from having parental meltdowns.
No Stroller. What? How is this “con”? Bear with me, I have a point. Strollers are arguably the greatest child-accessory invented. They hold your kid, they hold your stuff, they’re on wheels, all you have to do is push – if they were motorized or remote controlled, everyone would have one! It’s portable storage. Not sure if you need extra sunscreen? Bring it anyway, just toss in the stroller. Impulse purchases in gift shops? No big deal, just toss it in the stroller. However, if you’re one of the poor saps traveling through Disney World without kids (without a stroller!) you’ve gotta schlep that stuff around in a backpack or *gasp* a fannypack! Not only do you risk a run-in with the fashion police (no matter how handy fannypacks are…) but you’ve essentially turned into your own pack mule. Suddenly the needs of the day turn into a mental battle of “do I really wanna lug that around all day?”
With or without kids, solo or in a group of friends or family, every Disney vacation has its own “pros” and “cons”. What are yours? Do you have any “pros” or “cons” to add to this list? Share them in the comments below!