Adulting at Disney World: A Grown-Up’s Guide

Disney World is a must for families across the globe, but it can also be a fun place to travel even without the kids. Not sure what to plan for your adult Disney vacation? Read on as we break down everything you need to know about doing Disney World as an adult, from the best hotels and restaurants to which Disney World park is best for adults. 

First, let’s get right to the heart of the issue.

Is Disney World Worth It for Adults?

Dumbo in front of castle

Wholeheartedly yes. Disney World for adults may seem like a bit of an oxymoron. But we promise, there are plenty of fun things to do at Disney World for adults. Whether you’re looking for lighthearted, theme park thrills, a sophisticated escape with luxurious touches, or anything in between, you can find it at Walt Disney World. 

Best Disney Park for Adults

If you’re ready to take on The Most Magical Place on Earth without the kiddos in tow, you’re probably wondering which Disney World park is best for adults. It really depends on what you and the rest of your group are into. To get started, we recommend you talk to the other members of your party to find out what their interests and travel style are and go from there. 

Here’s our take on the best Disney World theme park for adults. 

1. Epcot

With foodie festivals happening throughout most of the year and a Disney bar crawl as its unofficial pastime, you can’t beat Epcot for adults. Disney World’s most educational park, Epcot is a celebration of culture, science, and technology. 

While the whole park is worth a visit – especially rides like Soarin’ Around the World, Test Track, Spaceship Earth, Living with the Land, and the soon-to-open Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure – the real draw at Epcot for adults is World Showcase. Here, guests 18 and up embark on a whirlwind tour of shopping, entertainment, eating, and drinking around the world, visiting 11 unique country pavilions. 

Waterfalls of Canada at Epcot

For the quintessential Epcot experience, plan your adult Disney trip for when one of the annual Epcot festivals is happening to sample drinks and small plates themed after each of the seasonal soirees. Here are the months when the festivals at Epcot have been held most recently:

  • Festival of the Arts – January to February
  • Flower & Garden Festival – March to July
  • Food & Wine Festival – July to November
  • Festival of the Holidays – November to December

2. Animal Kingdom

A laidback vibe, fascinating animals, transportive theming, delicious dining, and some can’t-miss attractions make Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park our next pick for the best Disney park for adults. Whether you’d like to traverse the savannas of Africa or the mighty Himalayas without having to stamp your passport or you’re hoping to soar on the back of a banshee across the otherworldly land of Pandora, Animal Kingdom is all about adventure and the wonders of nature. 

Some of the best Disney World rides for adults can be found at Animal Kingdom. Avatar Flight of Passage and Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain are musts for adventure seekers, while Kilimanjaro Safaris provides thrills of a different kind with its up-close views of African animals.

Large tree with animal carvings

And Festival of the Lion King may be inspired by some of the characters from the Disney animated classic, but it’s also one of the best stage shows at Walt Disney World. Looking to make your trip to Disney’s Animal Kingdom extra special? Consider booking the Wild Africa Trek for a truly unforgettable experience that feels worlds away from Central Florida

During your visit, escape the crowds and the heat at Tiffins Restaurant and the Nomad Lounge. This signature restaurant and delightful Disney World bar offer worldly libations and elevated eats inspired by flavors and ingredients from across the globe. We like grabbing a drink from the comfy, cushioned seating on their wraparound porch. 

3. Hollywood Studios

In recent years, Disney’s Hollywood Studio has become a mecca for geeky grown-ups everywhere, and it’s all because of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. This out-of-this-world land transports guests to the rough-and-tumble Black Spire Outpost on the Outer Rim planet of Batuu. With its elaborate, immersive theming and rides like Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance and Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run, it’s a must for any fan of the Star Wars universe. While you’re there, be sure to save some time for a drink at Oga’s Cantina. 

Mickey with fireworks at night

Adults don’t need to be Star Wars enthusiasts to appreciate Disney’s Hollywood Studios. For adults, there are also a few other must-try attractions, especially for those looking for an adrenaline rush. Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith and The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror are two of the best rides at Disney World for adults. Cap off your night with a showing of Fantasmic!, the theme park’s headlining nighttime spectacular. 

4. Magic Kingdom

Hoping to get in touch with your inner child? Then there’s no better park than the Magic Kingdom. This Disney World theme park is pure nostalgia, with many rides inspired by beloved Disney movies. Whether you want to conquer the Magic Kingdom mountains (Splash Mountain, Space Mountain, and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad) or stick to something a bit slower like the Jungle Cruise, Haunted Mansion, or Pirates of the Caribbean, you’re sure to find a Magic Kingdom attraction that’s your speed. 

Walt and Mickey Statue

Although you will find a fair amount of standard theme park food here, there are a few standout restaurants to suit more refined palates. Be Our Guest Restaurant in Beast’s Castle serves up French-inspired dishes for the prix fixe meal, while Jungle Navigation Co. LTD Skipper Canteen is a winning mix of global cuisine, kitsch, and puns. Looking to treat yourself like royalty? Dine with the Disney princesses in the heart of the Magic Kingdom castle at Cinderella’s Royal Table. 

Best Disney Resort Hotels for Adults 

Not sure where you should stay during your adults’ trip to Disney World? With transporting theming, delectable dining, fun nightlife, relaxing spas, and more, several of the moderate and deluxe resorts at Disney World are perfect for guests with more grown-up sensibilities. 

Wondering why Disney’s value resorts were left off the list? Blame it on their kid-centric, over-the-top design and lack perks. In short, unless you’re ok with supersized Disney characters or you aren’t planning on spending any time back at the hotel, we suggest staying at one of our picks for the best Disney World hotel for adults below. 

Romantic Disney World Hotels for Couples

Whether you’re on your honeymoon or simply having a little getaway away from the kids, there are plenty of hotels at Disney World that bring the romance. Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort and the Polynesian Village Resort both immerse guests in an island paradise. The Caribbean Beach Resort charms with its Easter-egg-hued buildings and budget-friendly room rates. Or if you’re willing to splurge, the Polynesian Village Resort is a lush escape with some must-try restaurants. You can even get an overwater bungalow with a view of the Magic Kingdom.   

Grand Floridian Hotel and pool

For dreamy vibes that feel a little bit closer to home, Disney’s Port Orleans Resort is a winner. Cobblestone streets, wrought iron, and gas lanterns at Port Orleans French Quarter are sure to enchant. While next door at Port Orleans Riverside, southern belles and gentlemen will feel right at home beneath the Spanish moss and magnolia trees. And honestly, what’s more romantic than a horse-drawn carriage ride?

Best Hotels at Disney World for Adults with a Great Location

If you’d rather not have to drive very much or take Disney transportation to get around, then consider booking a reservation at either Disney’s BoardWalk Inn or Saratoga Springs resorts. Part of the Epcot Resort Area, the BoardWalk Inn is brimming with nostalgia. While the rooms are cute in an old-fashioned way, the real draw here is the location – just a short walk away from Epcot’s International Gateway entrance and World Showcase with a front-row seat to Disney’s BoardWalk entertainment district. Perfect for safely stumbling back to the room after a day of drinking around the world!

Boardwalk on lake with hotel

For those planning to hang out a lot at Disney Springs, there’s no better resort than the Saratoga Springs Resort. As a Disney Vacation Club property, Saratoga Springs is a bit more mellow than some of the other resorts and is just a short, scenic walk away from Disney World’s premier entertainment destination. Reserve one of the treehouse villas for an especially memorable stay. 

Elegant & Elevated Disney World Hotels for Adults

We know Disney World probably isn’t the first place that comes to mind when you think of an elevated, upscale experience. But with the right room reservation, you’ll be feeling like a Disney World VIP in no time. Disney World’s flagship resort, the Grand Floridian Resort combines Victorian charm with sunny days in old Palm Beach. Along with the newly reimagined Enchanted Rose lounge, a classy Beauty and the Beast-inspired bar, you’ll also find a spa as well as some of the best dining at Disney World. 

Hotel lobby with furniture
Riviera Porte Cochere

Want to be in the Epcot Resort Area but not a fan of the old-timey stylings of the BoardWalk Inn? Disney’s Yacht Club offers sophisticated rooms and an on-site steakhouse, as well as a covetable location. Best of all, it’s also home to not just one of the best Disney pools for adults, but arguably the best hotel pool in all of Walt Disney World: Stormalong Bay. The sprawling aquatic playground features secluded whirlpool grottos, a lazy river, and even a sand-bottomed pool. 

Or how about a hotel that’s elevated both literally and figuratively? With a rooftop restaurant and theming inspired by the European Riviera, Disney’s Riviera Resort is downright chic. And not only will guests staying in the Gran Destino Tower at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort love the views, but as Disney World’s main convention hotel, they’ll also appreciate the lengthy list of amenities. 

Best Disney World Hotels for Adults With a Unique Theme

While you could stay at one of the more subdued Disney World hotels, why not embrace all that Disney magic and opt for something more memorable instead? Featuring incredible dining, a convenient location near the Animal Kingdom Theme Park, and savannas teeming with wildlife, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge plops guests into the wilds of Africa. That’s right. If you’ve ever wanted a giraffe for a neighbor, this is the hotel for you. To fully appreciate the hotel’s unique setting, don’t miss the exclusive safari for resort guests.  

Bench near a pool at night

Tucked back off the road near the Magic Kingdom along the shores of Bay Lake, Disney’s Wilderness Lodge is one of Disney World’s more secluded resorts and is inspired by the grand national park lodges of the Pacific Northwest. This rustic retreat also boasts one of the best pools for adults at Disney World thanks to its convenient location near a truly epic pool bar, the lakefront, open-air Geyser Point Bar & Grill. Stay in the main building or treat yourself to a soak in the hot tub of one of the resort’s lakefront cabins. Looking to really rough it? Go camping or book a cabin at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground instead. 

Best Restaurants in Disney World for Adults 

Hamburgers are fine and turkey legs are dandy, but if you’re anything like us, you’ll be on the hunt for more grown-up flavors during your adult Disney trip. For those with refined palates, you can’t go wrong with booking an advance dining reservation for one of Disney World’s signature restaurants or a Disney dining event. 

Signature Restaurants at Disney World

There are tons of restaurants available at Walt Disney World, from casual counter-service joints to family-friendly buffets and character dining. However, if you’re looking for a meal to please more mature tastebuds, we suggest you try one of Disney’s signature restaurants. With prix fixe meals and occasionally a dress code, you’ll feel worlds away from those theme park crowds. 

Although you’ll find a smorgasbord of global cuisine at Epcot’s World Showcase (including an actual Norwegian smorgasbord at Akershus), foodies won’t want to miss out on the fine dining available at the Japan Pavilion’s Takumi-Tei, Monsieur Paul in the France Pavilion, or the Canada Pavilion’s popular steakhouse Le Cellier

Inside Canadian restaurant with tables

In Magic Kingdom, Be Our Guest Restaurant cooks up French-style dishes with fairytale flair. Tiffins Restaurant is a blissfully air-conditioned oasis in Animal Kingdom Theme Park, dishing up worldly eats inspired by the Imagineers that designed the park. And at Hollywood Studios, The Hollywood Brown Derby recreates the original LA restaurant which was once a favored haunt of celebrities during Hollywood’s golden age.  

Outside the parks? Victoria & Albert’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort is about as fancy as it gets, winning AAA’s Five-Diamond Award every year since 2000. Over at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, the California Grill is a popular choice for its bird’s-eye views of the Magic Kingdom fireworks. Or stop by Jiko at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge for sophisticated, fire-kissed takes on the flavors of Africa. 

Special Disney Dining Events

For a truly unforgettable dining experience, set your sights on one of the special Disney World dining events. From lunch at Dine with an Animal Specialist overlooking one of the savannas to the Wanyama Safari, a private excursion followed by a prix fixe meal from Jiko, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is home to some incredible meals. Wine connoisseurs can also savor the flavors of some of South Africa’s best varietals at the Jiko Wine Tasting

Hawaiian performers on stage

Want to turn your meal into the main event? Book a table at one of the Disney dinner shows. The Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue at Fort Wilderness is a Disney World mainstay and a raucously good time filled with Wild West hijinks and cozy comfort food. The Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show at the Polynesian Village Resort, a Hawaiian-style luau serving up tasty dishes fresh from the islands, is the dinner show at Disney World. And to top it all off, alcoholic beverages are included at both. 

The pièce de resistance of Disney dining experiences, however, is Delicious Disney: A Chef Series. Held at the Four Seasons Resort Orlando, this exclusive meal combines fine dining with some of Disney’s most beloved movies and attractions for a dinner that can only be described as culinary magic. 

Nightlife at Walt Disney World

What would an adult trip to Disney World be without a little nightlife? While the House of Mouse isn’t exactly known for its grown-up entertainment, you will still find some adult things to do at Disney World during the evening hours.  

Best Bars in Disney World 

Just because Walt Disney once banned booze in his theme parks doesn’t mean you can’t find a place to get alcohol at Disney World. Bars in The Most Magical Place on Earth can be either mediocre affairs or extravagant lounges that are worth a visit as a destination alone. Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto at the Polynesian Village Resort is an immersive tiki bar that only Disney could create, while Oga’s Cantina at Galaxy’s Edge in Hollywood Studios recreates the iconic Star Wars scene for force-obsessed guests. 

Bar with liquor and glasses

La Cava del Tequila at the Mexico Pavilion in Epcot is a popular pick for margarita lovers, drawing lines that sometimes stretch from the bar to the outside of Mexico’s Mesoamerican pyramid. Music enthusiasts and beignet aficionados alike will get a kick out of Scat Cat’s Club at Port Orleans French Quarter thanks to its classic NOLA baked goods with a boozy infusion and live jazz band. 

Disney Springs

Of all the must-visit places at Walt Disney World, none is more grown-up than Disney Springs. Not just a popular spot for guests of the Central Florida resort, the entertainment and shopping complex is also a hotspot for Orlando locals. A playground for souvenir hunters and foodies, Disney Springs offers some of the city’s best shopping and a delectable array of restaurants. At night is when the place really comes alive, however, as local musicians take to the streets for impromptu performances. 

Adventure themed bar

Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar and Wine Bar George mix up some killer cocktails, and you can catch live entertainment many nights during the week at Raglan Road Irish Pub, The Edison, or House of Blues. For a more active evening, Splitsville Luxury Lanes offers bowling and surprisingly yummy food in a spiffy setting. Or slow things down with a movie at the AMC Theaters. Soon, you’ll even be able to catch Disney World’s new production from Cirque du Soleil, Disney Drawn to Life

Disney’s BoardWalk

Although it doesn’t pull as much traffic as Disney Springs, Disney’s BoardWalk is well worth a visit once the sun goes down. With the lights of the boardwalk glistening off Crescent Lake, street performers dazzling guests with their skills, and fireworks bursting in the background, the BoardWalk is a picturesque place to spend an evening. 

Liquor glass with pink and ice

The smaller of Disney World’s two dining and entertainment complexes, you’ll find an array of delightful dining and nightlife offerings. Our favorites, however, are AbracadaBar and Jellyrolls. The former is yet another must-try bar at Disney World featuring classic cocktails, vintage illusions, and other magical décor. The latter, meanwhile, is a Disney dueling piano bar, where you’re just as likely to hear a lively rendition of “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” from Toy Story as you are Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer”. 

Other Things to Do at Disney World for Adults

Going on rides all day is fun – for the kids, anyway. But if you’re doing Disney World as an adult, chances are that you’ll be itching to spend some time out of lines and away from the crowds. Luckily, there are tons of fun things for adults to do at Disney World that don’t require a theme park ticket. 

Disney World Golf Courses

Those looking for an outdoor escape from the theme park crowds will enjoy getting in a round at one of the award-winning golf courses at Disney World. Managed by Arnold Palmer Golf Management and certified as a Cooperative Wildlife Sanctuary by Audubon International, the Lake Buena Vista, Palm, and Magnolia golf courses have played host to a number of prestigious competitions including the PGA Tour, LPGA Tour, and events held by the United States Golf Association.  

Guests of all ages are welcome to hit the links, but you’re sure to find way fewer children here. Keep in mind that you are required to wear proper golf attire, so save your flip-flops for another day. 

Fairway and pond in the morning

Of course, golf isn’t for everyone. For those who prefer to shoot their shot on a fun-sized hole with quirky theming, Disney World mini-golf courses are a hole-in-one. The fairways course at Disney’s Fantasia Gardens is a challenge and perfect for those wanting to work on their putt. Winter Summerland, meanwhile, brings the charm. 

Motorized Boat Rentals at Disney World

Still too many people? Get away from it all with one of our favorite things to do outside the theme parks: A motorized boat rental. Disney World hotels with or next to one of the resort’s many picturesque lagoons or lakes often boast marinas offering motorized watercraft rentals. Whether zipping around with a friend on a speedy Sea Raycer or lazing about with a group on a laidback pontoon boat, you couldn’t ask for a better way to get away from it all. 

Or, for something that’s as much of a workout as it is a good time, opt for a For Wilderness kayak or canoe rental instead. At a reasonable rate of only $13 per hour, it’s a creative way to get in your arms day during your adult Disney vacation. 

Disney World marinas can be found at the following resorts:

  • Disney’s Beach Club Resort 
  • Disney’s Contemporary Resort 
  • Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground
  • Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
  • Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort 
  • Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort
  • Disney’s Yacht Club Resort

Disney World Water Parks

Things can get pretty sweaty in Orlando during even the “chilliest” of times. Fortunately, guests can cool off in not one, but two different water parks at Disney World. All decked out in elaborate theming, these aren’t like any local waterparks you’re used to. While Blizzard Beach Water Park is a cute spot to escape the heat, our pick for the best water park at Disney World for adults is Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon

Icy water slide at sunset

A lush, tropical paradise, this Disney World water park offers the aquatic thrills of water slides and a wave pool along with a lazy river. During the water park’s off-hours, you can even take part in group surfing lessons in the Typhoon Lagoon Surf Pool. To make your visit especially luxurious, splurge on a Beachcomber Shack (Typhoon Lagoon’s take on cabana) or a Getaway Glen Umbrella. 

Fitness Centers, Salons & Spas at Walt Disney World

Hoping to indulge in a little self-care during your adult trip to Disney World? From challenging workouts to relaxing massages, Disney has everything you could want to spoil yourself. 

Fitness Centers at Disney World Hotels

One could argue that all that walking you’ll be doing around the theme parks is more than enough to stay in shape while on vacation. If you’re not one of those people, however, you’re probably wondering how to keep up a workout routine at Walt Disney World. For those staying at one of the Disney World hotels, the easiest way to work off all those calories is with a visit to the resort health club. 

With the exception of Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, deluxe hotels are the only Disney World resorts with a gym. Fitness centers at Disney World resorts typically come stocked with some cardio machines, free weights, weight machines, and even kettlebells. Some gyms at Disney World hotels will also offer group fitness classes like yoga, pilates, aqua aerobics, and more. Other Disney resorts even hold weekly fun runs, like Beignet Dash at Port Orleans French Quarter or The Running of Coronado at Coronado Springs.

Fitness centers are located at the following hotels at Walt Disney World:

  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge – Jambo House – Zahanti Fitness Center
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge – Kidani Village – Survival of the Fittest Fitness Center
  • Disney’s BoardWalk Inn & Villas – Muscles & Bustles Health Club
  • Disney’s Contemporary Resort – Olympiad Fitness Center
  • Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort – La Vida Health Club and The Fitness Center at Gran Destino Tower
  • Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort – Grand Floridian Spa & Health Club (also open to guests at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort)
  • Disney’s Old Key West Resort – R.E.S.T. Exercise Room
  • Disney’s Riviera Resort – Athlétique Fitness Center
  • Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort – Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa Fitness Center
  • Disney’s Wilderness Lodge & Villas – Sturdy Branches Health Club
  • Disney’s Yacht Club – Ship Shape Health Club

Salons & Spas at Disney World Resorts

After a hard workout (or lots of walking), what better way to unwind than with a restorative treatment at the salon or spa? After all, everyone deserves a little bit of luxury while on vacation. Pamper yourself with a massage, facial, manicure, or even a haircut during a trip to one of the several Disney spas on property. 

A full-service spa or salon offering all the essentials can be found at these Disney resorts:

  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge – Jambo House – Zahanti Massage & Fitness Center
  • Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort – La Vida Health Club 
  • Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort – Senses Spa and Ivy Trellis Salon
  • Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort – Senses Spa
  • Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort – Salon by the Springs
  • Disney’s Yacht Club – Ship Shape Health Club

Other health clubs at Disney’s deluxe resorts may also offer spa treatments, though in a much sparser setting. Although they aren’t operated by Disney, two other hotels on Disney World property also boast indulgent spas. Over at the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resorts, the Mandara Spa envelopes guests in relaxing, Balinese-inspired treatments. For an even more extravagant experience, book something at The Spa at Four Season Resort Orlando, an elegant retreat at Disney World’s most exclusive hotel. 

Well all you adult Disney fans, that’s a wrap on our grown-up’s guide to Walt Disney World. Whether you’re planning a romantic getaway, a vacation with the girls, or a mini-reunion of friends from college, we hope we’ve given you some ideas for your next adults’ trip to Disney World.  

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 done an adult Disney vacation? How do you like to do Disney World as an adult? What do you think is the best Disney hotel, park, or restaurant for adults?  Let us know in the comments!

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