By Jane Jones
While a stay at Walt Disney World wouldn’t be the same without a walk down the middle of Main Street or a stroll around World Showcase, taking in some of the other resort attractions can be a nice change of pace, especially if you are an adult. Let’s get out of the hustle and bustle of a day in the parks for some “adults only” fun!
OK, you’re thinking in amazement…but what will we do? Can we have fun without a park ticket? Without kids?
YES! I am an old pro at this! Let me share with you my top 10 ways to have some adult fun at Walt Disney World without stepping foot inside a theme park. Get ready to spend your park ticket savings, though…many of these are not for the “Disney on a Dime” folks, but there is always a way to save a little. Always ask if there is some sort of discount available, because you never know what you might get.
Some of the best shopping at the Walt Disney World Resort is outside the theme parks. Downtown Disney is a great place to start your shopping day. While you can buy just about any typical Disney souvenir you want at World of Disney and similar smaller shops, there are now some specialty shops worth investigating.
Trend D is the new upscale boutique found between Sport Mickey and Once Upon a Toy. This unique shop sells designer-name specialty items for the adult, such as Dooney & Bourke Disney–themed purses, hard-side Disney-themed luggage, and Harvey’s seatbelt handbags with a Disney theme. Of course you can find many of your favorite characters on clothing items, but they are quite stylish and not intended for children. I love this store and always find something exceptional to drool over…and you will, too!
Check out some of the other quaint shops, especially those on the West Side. You’ll be surprised at what you’ll find — a cigar shop, magic store, fine art, and movie memorabilia. Lastly, don’t forget some of the lovely shops within the resorts, especially the deluxe resorts. There you may find that perfect collectable remembrance of your magical vacation!
I love a hot dog from Casey’s Corner just as much as anyone, but you have to admit, there is nothing like fine dining…and Disney has some of the best! Plan a slower paced evening with dinner at one of Disney’s premier eating establishments.
One of the better known dining opportunities is Victoria and Albert’s. This is truly an experience for your taste buds and your soul — amazingly delicious, quietly calm, and simply lovely. I would also suggest trying some of the lesser known but equally delectable dinner locales such as Shula’s Steak House or Todd English’s Blue Zoo. Shula’s (Don Shula of Miami Dolphin’s fame) is known for its outstanding steaks while the Blue Zoo is known for its innovative seafood dishes. Both of these overlooked-yet-outstanding establishments can be found within the Dolphin Resort.
My suggestion: try a new restaurant that you have never been to. Talk to Resort Dining and have them give you some ideas. You never know what you will experience…but being Disney, you know it will be wonderful!
Cinderella Castle isn’t the only place to inspire a little romance in your Disney vacation. Grab the one you love and watch the Magic Kingdom fireworks from the beach at the Polynesian (maybe sharing a hammock?), enjoy the nightly Water Pageant from the dock of the Grand Floridian, take a sunset walk hand in hand around any of the resorts taking in the detailed scenery, or enjoy an evening carriage ride for two departing from either the Settlement in Ft. Wilderness or at Port Orleans-Riverside.
If you want a little more action, check out Downtown Disney and take in a movie together at the AMC theater, create matching T-shirts at the Design-A-Tee shop, or maybe even matching ears, which you can do right next door. Lastly, enjoy the view of all Walt Disney World has to offer from 400 feet. Share a kiss high in the sky as you experience the ride on the Characters in Flight balloon. Top it all off by sharing a decadent dessert at Ghirardelli’s!
Take a day and resort hop. Get out your Walt Disney World map, plot your course, and plan your day. Maybe pick a resort in which to have breakfast as your starting place — Kona Café at the Polynesian is one of my favorites — then go from there. Walk the grounds and investigate the shops. Check out the pool and exhibits — did you know many of the resorts have artwork or other displays throughout? Find out if there are any programs that you can participate in; for example you can take free hula lessons at the Polynesian! Once you’ve explored, move on to the next resort. If you plan it right you can have lunch and dinner at different resorts as well. By the way, don’t neglect any resort because of what you “think” you will or will not find. I am always amazed at the attention to detail at each resort. There is always something special about each locale, no matter deluxe, moderate, or value.
There are so many ways to enjoy the water at Walt Disney World. Obviously, you can spend a day at one of the resort pools, but have you ever thought of parasailing? Fishing? Yachting? Canoeing? Sailing? Spending the day on a pontoon? Paddle boating on a lake? Speeding across Seven Seas Lagoon?
My favorite place to check out options is at Sammy Duval’s Water Sports located at the Contemporary Resort. This is the perfect place to discover how you can have a day on the water, but this isn’t the only place by far. Many of the moderate and deluxe resorts as well at Downtown Disney have some sort of water activities available. Your best bet is to call 407-WDISNEY and find out your options. Prices can range from ten to hundreds of dollars, but depending on the adventure you are looking for, it will be worth it. I have done many of these activities and have never been disappointed!
There are a number of shows you can go to that are amazing. The Luau at the Polynesian is a wonderful mix of traditional dances coupled with some Disney story telling. The fire dancer is fabulous! If you haven’t given the Hoop-De-Doo Review a try, I would highly recommend this entertaining show. Both of these are located within Disney resorts and include all you care to eat dinner. I have done both in the past (Luau for my honeymoon and Hoop-De-Doo for an anniversary) and in recent months with visitors, and truly can’t choose which is the better show. Either way you won’t be disappointed. Of course, there is also Cirque du Soleil at Downtown Disney. The talent displayed will leave you speechless. Don’t miss this!
Take some time to enjoy the lounge at your favorite resort. Sit by the pool bar and enjoy a “boat drink.” Spend some time in a lounge at a moderate or deluxe and listen to music while enjoying a nice glass of wine. Sip a cup of tea at the Grand Floridian’s Garden Tea Room. Join other sports fans with a glass of choice beer in the ESPN Club rooting for your home team. The possibilities are endless…just pick your favorite!
When was the last time you took a stroll on the Boardwalk around Crescent Lake? Plan to spend some time here because there is so much to do! The restaurants are some of the best (Flying Fish and Yachtsman Steakhouse just to name a few) as well as some fun “snackeries” like Beaches and Cream for an ice cream treat or the Boardwalk Bakery for some tasty delights. The Boardwalk does not skimp on entertainment, either. Take in one of the very talented street performers, try your luck at some of the carnival games, dance the night away at the Atlantic Dance Hall, or laugh until your sides hurt at Jellyroll’s Piano Bar. Of course there is plenty of shopping to be had, whether it is for that last-minute Disney-themed item from the Screen Door or a special piece of original artwork from the Wyland Gallery.
Ahhhhh…what better way to spend the afternoon. Take your choice: Will it be a Swedish massage? A steam? A new hairdo? Rejuvenatation at the gym? There are a number of spas, gyms, and salons for you to take advantage on the Walt Disney World property. They offer a variety of services perfect for a day off from the theme parks. My personal favorite is the spa at Saratoga Springs, but the Grand Floridian has a lovely facility, as do some of the other deluxe resorts. Check with Guest Services to see just what is offered and where…and enjoy!
Walt Disney World is well known for its PGA golf courses (which are available to any guests regardless of ability), but there are many other sporting opportunities ready and waiting for you. If you have some extra money to spend, try out the Richard Petty Driving Experience. How about the Ft. Wilderness Back Trail Adventure aboard a Segway?
If you are on a tighter budget, take in some horseback riding at Ft. Wilderness or rent a bike at many of the resorts, such as Port Orleans Riverside. Want to take in a tennis match or even learn the game? Walt Disney World has their very own tennis pros available at their numerous courts. Didn’t bring your equipment? No worries. Whatever you need is available to rest for a nominal fee.
If you are looking some low-to no-cost activities, look for a pick-up game of volleyball at one of the many volleyball nets, walk or jog the paths and trails around the resort, and or swim at one of the fantastic pools (“pool hoping” rules may apply). Lastly, check out Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex. Enjoy lunch at the facility or take in one of the scheduled events. It’s all fun!
If you want more information on any of these more “adult only” activities your best bet is to check the Mouse For Less for reviews, call Disney directly at 407-WDISNEY, or consult your favorite Walt Disney World guidebook.
Don’t be afraid to skip a day at the parks. If traveling with older kids, let them do their own thing while you do YOUR own thing! Lastly, don’t hesitate to travel to Walt Disney World without kids. This is a magical place that can meet the dreams and desires of just about everyone. A morning massage…afternoon tea at the Grand Floridian…dinner and a show at the Hoop-De-Doo…a nightcap at the Territory Lounge at the Wilderness Lodge…it’s great to be an adult!
- Walt Disney World without Tickets Part 1: Young Children
- One Trip, Two Resorts
- The World without Parks
- Activities Outside the Parks at Walt Disney World
- Which Resort Category Is Right for You?