So-called “Disney adults” have been getting a lot of flak these days for their undying devotion to the Disney theme parks and animated films. We can only chalk this criticism up to the fact that they must not have been on a Disney vacation anytime recently – at least not without their little ones in tow – because there is actually a ton of things to do at Disney World for adults.
As a family-friendly destination inspired by the likes of Mickey Mouse and Cinderella, Walt Disney World can feel a bit on the young side sometimes. Ok, a lot of the time. And while you could certainly plan a visit that would please kids of all ages (no judgments here, we love nostalgia) there are also plenty of grown-up activities around The Most Magical Place on Earth to keep even mature Disney fans busy all vacation long.
So, whether you’re arranging an exclusively adult Disney trip or simply planning a night away from the kids during your Central Florida vacation, read on for our list of adult things to do at Disney World.
Top 13 Things to Do at Disney World for Adults
Is Disney World worth it for adults? We think so! While you could get in touch with your inner child for your entire trip, there’s a good chance that you’ll be in the mood for some more grown-up goings-on at least a little bit (or a lotta bit) when doing Disney World as an adult. Here are some ideas we think you should make time for:
Slow Down a Bit
When visiting Walt Disney World with a family, the long days spent waiting in line for each and every ride can feel more like a marathon than a vacation. Trying to check all the attractions off of everyone’s to-do lists can be exhausting, to say the least. Luckily, when you’re going on an adult trip to Disney World, you don’t need to spend every moment riding everything in Magic Kingdom. That is unless you want to, of course.
Instead, we suggest you take your time doing the things that really make you happy. Love playing photographer in your spare time? Disney World is incredibly photogenic, so take some time to snap some shots. Consider yourself a foodie? Make it your mission to try all the best Disney World snacks. Fascinated by design, architecture, nature, culture, or history? The House of Mouse has it all. You just need to pump the brakes to enjoy it.
Best of all, by slowing down, you’ll also be able to really appreciate some of the incredible details that the Disney Imagineers have sprinkled throughout the parks like pixie dust while also keeping yourself from getting tired out.
Spend Some Time Outside the Parks
Although the Walt Disney World theme parks are magical, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Heavy crowds, hot temperatures, and long lines can all add up to a very short fuse if you aren’t careful. So, to avoid getting burned out, don’t spend all day every day in the parks.
We get it, those Disney World tickets aren’t cheap and you want to feel like you’re getting your money’s worth. But trust us, there is just as much available to experience outside the parks as there is within those turnstiles, from dinner shows and resort hopping to miniature golf and Disney Springs, and so much more.
Thanks to the steamy Florida weather, we’re also huge supporters of returning to your hotel room in the middle of the day for a rejuvenating nap, some A/C, and a dip in the pool. Afterward, you’ll be ready to hit the parks hard for the rest of the night – or rally for a night on the town.
Take a Disney Backstage Tour
Have you been to Disney World a bunch over the years and feel like you’ve seen and done it all? Unless you’ve been on one of Disney’s backstage tours, we guarantee you’re missing out. Walt Disney World behind-the-scenes tours pull back the curtain on everything from the utilidors that crisscross below the streets of Magic Kingdom to the creatures that call Disney home. At the end of it all, you’re sure to come away with a whole new perspective on the busiest theme park in the world.
Animal lovers will go crazy for exclusive experiences like the Wild Africa Trek, a private safari through Animal Kingdom’s Harambe Reserve, or Dolphins in Depth, an Epcot Seas Adventure which includes 30 minutes of swimming with the lovable marine mammals. Those who can’t get enough of the great outdoors will love zipping around the backwoods of Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground on a Segway during the Wilderness Back Trail Adventure. Green thumbs, meanwhile, will enjoy digging into the Behind the Seeds tour at The Land pavilion or learning from Disney’s Horticulture experts during Gardens of the World.
Go to One of the Special Events at Disney World
Visiting the theme parks is fun all year round but grow-ups will find even more to enjoy during one of the many Disney World special events.
Over at the best Disney park for adults, Epcot comes to life several times a year during its seasonal festivals, featuring food booths, themed decorations, live entertainment, educational offerings, and more. Foodies and wine connoisseurs won’t want to miss out on the Food & Wine Festival in the fall, while budding horticulturists will love spring’s Flower & Garden Festival. Art lovers will appreciate the kaleidoscope of colorful activities at the Festival of the Arts towards the beginning of the year and it’s hard to not get in the festive spirit during the winter Festival of the Holidays.
Don’t want to let your fitness fall by the wayside while on vacation? Why not just turn your trip into a workout by traveling over one of the runDisney marathon weekends. But be sure to register for the race ahead of time, as Disney World marathons and half marathons are incredibly popular.
Do Some Drinking Around the World
Of all the Disney World theme parks, Epcot is without a doubt the best Disney park for adults. While kids have been known to get a little bored exploring World Showcase and Future World, with attractions based around the ideas of innovation, exploration, imagination, and celebration, there’s a lot to like here for those over 18. Or rather, over 21.
Although there are several rides and shows to experience here, one of the major draws (for adults, at least) is all the delicious things to drink and eat. So much so, in fact, that it has sort of become Epcot’s unofficial pastime. With 11 different countries represented around World Showcase – all with their own restaurants, snack stands, and drink kiosks – you could spend all day eating and drinking around the world. And many people do.
As you’re working your way around World Showcase Lagoon, be sure to stop by such perennial favorites as the Rose & Crown Pub in the UK Pavilion or La Cava del Tequila in the Mexico Pavilion, two of the best places to get a drink at Disney World.
Get a Taste of the Disney Nightlife
Disney nightlife might seem like a bit of an oxymoron, but you’ll find a few adult-friendly offerings at Disney World after sunset, especially at the resort’s entertainment districts. Now, before you get too excited and we set you up for disappointment, keep in mind that this is still Walt Disney World. So, expect the evening activities that are available to be on the more wholesome side of things.
Disney Springs (originally known as Downtown Disney) is Disney World’s headlining entertainment complex, with live music in the evenings and some of the resort’s best shopping and dining. If you’re looking for a hip meal, look no further than the STK Steakhouse with its live DJ and club vibes. Several restaurants also offer live entertainment here including Raglan Road Irish Pub, House of Blues, and The Edison, along with the Splitsville bowling alley. Looking for something more chill? The AMC Theater offers both regular and dine-in movies. Or for something really special, be sure to check out the incomparable Cirque du Soleil’s new Disney World show when it opens: Drawn to Life, an acrobatic ode to Disney animation.
The Disney BoardWalk is Disney’s World’s most nostalgic entertainment district, taking its inspiration from the grand beachfront boardwalks and classic amusement parks of the turn of the century. With the candy-colored buildings of Disney’s BoardWalk Inn in the background and the string lights twinkling overhead, this postcard-perfect promenade comes alive when the sun goes down. Stroll along the lakefront to try your hand at midway games and watch street magicians and jugglers work their magic. Or pop into Disney’s Jellyrolls, a dueling piano bar, for a night of music- and alcohol-fueled shenanigans.
Savor a Decadent Disney Dining Experience
For most people, Disney isn’t the first place that comes to mind when you think of fine dining. But trust us, there’s a whole lot more to Disney World than just turkey legs and Dole Whip. Not only does The Most Magical Place on Earth have some incredible signature dining options, but it also offers a few unique dining experiences that give a whole new meaning to theme park food.
Signature restaurants are Disney’s version of fine dining, and you’ll find many of them throughout the parks and hotels. Victoria & Albert’s at the Grand Floridian is Disney World’s preeminent culinary experience, earning the coveted AAA Five Diamond Award every year since 2000. Here, diners relish in 10 delicious courses during the Chef’s Degustation Menu from the elegant dining room or in the heart of the action at the Chef’s Table. Guests can also indulge in other memorable meals at such restaurants as Epcot’s Monsieur Paul and Takumi-Tei, Hollywood Studio’s The Hollywood Brown Derby, Animal Kingdom’s Tiffins Restaurant, hotel restaurants like California Grill, and much more.
Love a good vintage? Sip on some of South Africa’s best varietals at the Jiko Wine Tasting. Or for a taste of true Disney luxury, consider booking a reservation for Delicious Disney: A Chef Series. This exclusive dining experience melds the magic of Disney parks and animation with the delectable culinary alchemy of some of Disney’s World’s most talented chefs and sommeliers, making for an unforgettable dinner.
Keep in mind that while this is Disney World, some of the dining options above do require a dress code, so be sure you don’t show up in cutoff shorts or risk going back to your hotel hungry.
DIY a Disney World Food Tour Around the Monorail or Disney Skyliner
While you could just sit down to a fancy dinner at Disney World, consider turning mealtime into an event with a DIY Disney dine-around. One of our favorite things to do outside the Disney World theme parks is ride around on the Disney Skyliner and Monorail. Both complimentary transportation options do more than just ferry guests to the parks. They also connect diners to some tasty food options.
So rather than just booking a dining reservation at one restaurant, design the Disney food tour of your dreams and sample a little bit of everything. Stick with a theme like a Monorail bar crawl or opt for progressive dining instead, working your way from course to course and restaurant to restaurant until you reach dessert.
Unwind With a Disney World Spa Treatment
There’s nothing more luxurious (or grown-up) than a spa treatment. Fortunately, there are a few places at Disney World to get your zen on and indulge in some personal care. Senses Spa, Disney’s flagship wellness offering, is available at both Disney’s Grand Floridian and Saratoga Springs resorts. Each serene retreat offers similar treatments ranging in price from $50-100 for nails or for $135 and up for soothing therapies like Citrus Grove signature facials and massages.
However, our favorite Disney spa isn’t even at an official Disney World hotel. It can actually be found at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resorts in the Epcot Resort Area. Inspired by Balinese heritage, the Mandara Spa is as beautiful as it is tranquil. And best of all, if you’re looking for an excuse to escape the kids for a bit, they even offer free childcare if you book a treatment over $75. Or if you’re looking to really treat yourself, The Spa at For Seasons Resort Orlando is an ultra-luxe sanctuary offering everything from standard treatments to more cutting-edge therapies like IV vitamin infusions, cupping, and even cryotherapy.
Cruise Around on a Walt Disney World Boat Rental or Private Fireworks Cruise
Orlando may be landlocked, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t get out on the water during your adults’ trip to Disney World – and escape the crowds while you’re at it. Florida can feel a bit like one big swamp at times, but Walt Disney World turns the state’s soggy nature into a positive. Lagoons and lakes are dotted all around the resort, with many of the resort hotels boasting their own marinas. There, guests can rent out everything from speedy 2-person Sea Raycers to a 10-person pontoon boat by the half-hour.
For adults really looking to upgrade their Disney World experience, a chartered fireworks cruise (starting at $399 for up to 10 people) should do the trick. Departing from marinas in both the Magic Kingdom and Epcot resort areas, private fireworks cruises are one of the best ways to watch the Disney World fireworks outside the parks. Not only do you get to skip the crowds completely, but you and the rest of your 18-and-up crew will feel like real Disney VIPs. Chartered specialty cruises include (non-alcoholic) drinks, snacks, a captain, and even festive decorations if desired.
Get in a Round at a Disney World Golf Course
Spanning around 40 square miles or 25,000 acres, Walt Disney World is a truly massive resort. And surprisingly, only 38% of it is actually developed. That’s a TON of natural space. One of the best ways to discover Disney World’s natural beauty is by enjoying a few holes on one of the Disney World golf courses.
And we aren’t just talking about kid-friendly putt-putt, although that is available too. No, we’re actually referring to Disney’s world-class Lake Buena Vista, Palm, and Magnolia golf courses. Managed by Arnold Palmer Golf Management and certified as a Cooperative Wildlife Sanctuary by Audubon International, these Disney golf courses have hosted such illustrious championships as the PGA Tour, LPGA Tour, and United States Golf Association events.
Enjoy a Nightcap at a Disney Bar
A Walt Disney World vacation can be stressful even if you do follow our list of fun things for adults to do at Disney. Luckily, we have a simple solution for taking the edge off. Go for a drink (or two) at some of the best bars at Disney World.
Along with refreshing craft cocktails, wine, cider, and beer, many Disney bars also feature equally tasty bar bites and immersive theming. Disney Springs bars like Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar and Wine Bar George are popular options for their convenient location. However, we also suggest you check out some of the many lounges at Disney’s resort hotels. Trader Sam’s, Disney World’s ultimate tiki bar, is the perfect blend of kitsch tropical cocktails. While the Grand Floridian bar, the Enchanted Rose, is a grown-up twist on Beauty and the Beast.
Feeling like you could use a pick-me-up as you’re exploring the theme parks? Never fear, Disney has you covered there too. Inspired by the iconic Mos Eisley Cantina scenes in the films, Oga’s Cantina at Hollywood Studios is a must for any Star Wars fan. Or if you’re looking for a spot to unwind for a while at Animal Kingdom, the Nomad Lounge at Tiffins Restaurant offers a worldly selection of food and drinks and comfortable seating on its wraparound porch.
Explore Disney Springs
Disney Springs is a veritable mecca for adults at Disney World. This premier entertainment complex is home to some of the resort’s best restaurants and shops, as well as other fun Disney diversions. If you’ve got time in your schedule, we highly recommend spending at least an afternoon or evening here, though there’s a good chance you’ll want to visit more than that. The last day of your vacation is an excellent option for picking up any last-minute souvenirs and ending your trip on a high (but relaxed) note.
As we mentioned earlier, you’ll find a host of must-try dining and shopping outlets, as well as a handful of unique activities like the NBA Experience, Splitsville Luxury Lanes, and Aerophile Characters in Flight, a massive helium balloon that offers bird’s-eye views of the Walt Disney World from 400 feet in the air. Live music lovers will especially want to plan their visit for in the evenings when local acts take to the spotlight throughout Disney Springs for live musical performances.
Well, dear readers, that concludes our list of the best things to do at Disney World for adults. As you can see, whether you’re stuffing yourself to the brim with delicious food, sipping on tasty drinks, or exploring the theme parks and hotels, there is more than enough to do at Disney World as an adult. So go on, get your grown-up siblings or over-18 friends together and plan your adult Disney vacation today.
To make the most of your Disney World vacation, maximize your time in the parks with our one-day plans for Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot, or Hollywood Studios. Looking to maximize your budget instead? Save some cash with our discounted Walt Disney World tickets.
Have you traveled to Disney World as an adult without the kiddos in tow? What do you think is the best Disney resort for adults? Are there any grown-up Disney World experiences that we missed? Let us know in the comments!
Dean has been writing and blogging for over 10 years. He specializes in Disney theme park news including updates, openings, special events and general advice for travelers. He doesn’t shy away from the good, the bad and the ugly. His previous work includes being a Cast Member at Disneyland and working as a travel agent.