Think Disney World is just for kids? Definitely not! I’ve been to Walt Disney World quite a few times in my life, and at all different ages. This last time was the first without my parents, and my sister and I planned it ourselves. We had the best time in Disney World as adults, but it wasn’t without planning and careful execution.
It is such a different process when you’re the one planning vs just along for the ride. I definitely learned a lot, so I’m happy to share the best parts of our trip and the things I wish we did differently. I went on this trip with my sister; Megan, her roommate; Kat, and my boyfriend; Kale. If at all possible, keep it to even numbers. It was Megan’s Birthday and Kat’s first time there. If you’re celebrating anything in the parks, you’ll want to grab buttons at guest services! Megan got so many birthday wishes over the weekend, and she loved it!
Before You Go
First thing is first, and I cannot stress this enough, GET THE APP! The app will be your map, fast pass, tickets, dinner reservations, ride planner, and so much more. I highly recommend getting it as soon as you decide to go. We even bought our tickets through it!
Through the app you can set your meal reservations and fast passes. If you are staying on Disney properties or have certain special privileges you’ll be able to book your Fast Passes 60 days in advanced. Everyone else can book 30 days in advanced. We didn’t even plan our trip 30 days out, so we missed the boat here.
You can book Fast Passes in one park per day. If you plan to park hop, you’ll be forced to pick one. Each day you’ll get 3 fast passes to book ahead, and then after all three are used, aka you’ve swiped your pass at the ride to get on, you’ll be able to book one at a time for the rest of the day. For this reason, I recommend booking all of the passes that you can get in the morning or early afternoon. That way you can snag anything left at the end of the day. Below I’ll share which rides are the best to grab fast passes to if you can.
What to Wear
Of course your clothing depends on the time of year, so I’ll do my best to break it down by season. In the summer it will be hot. Wear shorts and a t-shirt or tank top, light colors. Fall and Spring will be warm, so you’ll still be able to wear shorts. It will be chilly in the early morning and evening, so bring a sweatshirt or jacket. In the winter, the weather will be all over the place. I’d recommend jeans and a t-shirt, but expect to wear a sweatshirt or light jacket the whole time.
Watch the weather closely because Florida is known for its mid-day rain storms! You may want to bring a raincoat or umbrella.
One more thing you’ll really want is a bag to carry your things in. I loved carrying a tiny backpack. This one was small enough that it didn’t get in the way and it couldn’t be -packed too much to be too heavy.
What to Bring
Let’s talk necessities, first. Your ID, your wristband/ticket, and your phone with the app on it. Other than that you can buy just about anything else you need, but to make your life easier I’ve made a list of things unordinary things that came in handy.
- Water Bottle
- Allergy Medicine
- Anti-nausea medication
- Hair Tie
- Portable phone charger
- Minnie Mouse Ears
- A small backpack to put everything in!
Magic Kingdom for Adults
As soon as you have your dates you can start to plan. Your first decision is which parks to visit. We spent only 2 full days in Orlando, so we intended to maximize our time at the parks. In my opinion you can’t go to Disney without a visit to magic Kingdom. If you’re a rides person, you’ll want at least one full day here. Magic Kingdom has the most rides, but the bulk of them are fairly tame.
Magic Kingdom Can’t-Miss Rides
Thunder Mountain: Hop on a train ride through the mountain where Fast Passes encouraged.
Splash Mountain: Following the story of the rabbit and the hare, this is a flume ride that takes you down a steep hill creating a large splash. If you sit in front you will get soaked, any other seat you’ll be splashed. Fast Passes encouraged.
Space Mountain: This ride takes place in the dark, it’s a roller-coaster like ride through “space” Fast Passes encouraged
Seven Dwarves Mine Train: A quick roller coaster-like ride through the mines of the Seven Dwarves. Fast Passes encouraged.
Pirates of the Carribean, The Little Mermaid, Winnie The Pooh, and all other indoor character themed rides: These are all slow thematic rides, through the stories of their corresponding movies. Each different and unique in their own right. Fast Pass encouraged for Peter Pan if possible, the others, it’s suggested, not necessary.
Jungle Cruise: Go on a boat ride through the jungle with a sarcastically hilarious tour guide. It seems to the bet only place in the park people have some snark and aren’t just there waiting with a smile. It’s a welcomed change to the norm of the park. Fast Pass suggested.
It’s a Small World: Don’t hate me, it’s a classic! Go on a calm float around the world listening to the repetitive song over and over. The adorable dolls are too cute!
Haunted Mansion: You’re taken on a tour of an old haunted mansion, following the story of the Haunted Mansion movie. (The movie is actually based on the ride.) There are great effects, it isn’t scary, but beware of hitch-hiking ghosts! Fast Pass suggested.
Magical Meals: Where to eat in Magic Kingdom
There are tons of restaurants in this park, and I’ve been effectively, to none of them. We’re typically on the go all day long so we don’t stop for much of a sit down meal. There are quite a few places to grab quick meals throughout the park, and the only places with alcoholic drinks are the sit-down restaurants. Below are my favorites.
Casey’s Corner: This one is my favorite stop! Aside from the obvious fact that it’s my name, it’s pretty good, and a really fun baseball fandom atmosphere. Stop at Casey’s for a hot dog. Mobile ordering encouraged.
Columbia Harbour House: To be completely honest we all got chicken tenders, but I’m recommending it because it’s in a good location, about where you’ll end up when you’re hungry!
Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe: Another great spot for a bite to eat. Grab a burger, sandwich, or other American dishes.
Food Stands: There are tons of great places to stop for a snack as you’re walking around. You can grab a Mickey shaped pretzel, ice cream sandwich, or ice cream bar. You could also do a frozen banana!
Dole Whip: This is a hugely popular sweet treat in Disney World! I’ve never had one, or wanted one, but people say they’re great. Mobile order encouraged.
Anything Else To Do in Magic Kingdom?
Yes! I believe Magic Kingdom has the best souvenir shop, especially for clothes. They also have a Pandora store with charms exclusive to the park. I got one for my bracelet while I was there! (Note: They don’t accept Pandora gift cards, I tried.)
Epcot for Adults
Epcot is the best Disney World theme park for adults. It was Megan’s birthday and her roommate’s first time there, so we had big plans to eat and drink around the world. Epoct was an absolute must-visit. We ended up making it our last park, spending the afternoon of our second day there.
Throughout the year there are several great festivals in the park. The most well-known being the Food & Wine festival. While we were there, the International Flower and Garden Festival eas going on and there were amazing topiaries of different characters throughout the parks!
Remember, the World Showcase is actually only part of Epcot. You also have Future World where most of the food and drinks are. We didn’t actually make it to the world showcase until about 3:30pm.
Can’t Miss Rides in Epcot
Test Track: This one is a ton of fun. Residing in Tomorrowland, it’s one of the best rides in all of the parks. You even get to design your own car and test its capabilities. At the end your car will be matched up against the group. Fast Pass encouraged.
Frozen Ever After: Formerly one of Megan and I’s favorite rides in Norway, Epcot. It was closed the last time we were there, in 2015 because they were turning it into the Frozen ride. By adding a few characters and “Let it go!” it tripled the wait time. We got our margaritas from Mexico and waited in line with them. It was cute, but if you aren’t a huge Frozen fan, or nostalgic like us, you could miss the leisurely boat ride. Fast Pass encouraged .
Soarin’: This ride is highly recommended on other sites. I remember it being cool, but I get super sea-sick (air-sick?) on it. Any ride that is mostly simulation gives me horrible motion sickness, so I’m out on those! Fast Pass encouraged.
Where to Eat and Drink in Epcot
You can’t go wrong with any restaurant or stand in the World Showcase. Each has something they’re known for, but I’d recommend to try out whatever looks good!
San Angel Inn Restaurante: Mexico’s sit down restaurant. I was here ages ago with my family, and I remember a Mariachi band coming up to our table and playing! Reservation encouraged.
La Cava del Tequila & Choza de Margarita: All of our margaritas were amazing! They have rotating seasonal flavors. The stand outside is quicker, but doesn’t have the full menu of drinks.
Lotus Blosson Cafe: We stopped here in China for a snack. Get the egg rolls or pot stickers, skip the chicken. The Foo Draft Beer was also good, it had a floral after-taste.
Sommerfest: Possibly my favorite stop in Germany. Get the Jumbo Pretzel (not the mickey mouse shaped one, while cute, tastes a little like cardboard) and a Schofferhofer Pink Grapefruit Beer.
Teppan Edo: A hibachi style restaurant in Japan with great sushi! Reservation encouraged.
Restaurant Marrakesh: Morocco’s sit down restaurant, we made reservations for Megan’s birthday dinner. We each got a different meal, and everything was amazing. Start with Goat Cheese with Crispy Bread, between us we got the Lemon Chicken Tangine, Chicken Kebabs, and Braised Beef Short Ribs. We even watched a belly dancer as we dined. Reservation Recommended.
L’Artisan des Glace & Les Halles Boulangerie-Patisserie: Hello? Ice cream and pastries! Located in France.
Tutto Italia Ristorante: A classic sit-down Italian Restaurant in Italy. I’ve been here several times and have fond and vivid memories of Megan throwing a tantrum over her spaghetti and meatballs on our very first trip in 1999. Reservation encouraged.
How to Drink and Eat Around The World
We didn’t actually succeed, so I don’t have the best advice, but I can you what not to do: Don’t show up after 3pm expecting to A) have energy, B) want to get drunk, C) even close to make it around the world in the rest of your time.
If you’re just looking to sip as you wander through the World Showcase, here are a couple drinks not to miss: the margaritas in Mexico and the grapefruit beer in Germany. (Note: If a beer say it’s $5, you aren’t getting a deal. You’ll effectively be getting a drink in a Dixie cup!) If you actually plan to drink around the world, I recommend a full day in Epcot, or at the very least, making it there before noon. Oh, and lots of water!
We spent the first half of our second day in Hollywood Studios. This is the park with the most “big kid” rides and actual roller coasters. The streets look like old Hollywood until you get to Toy Story land where army men walk around all day! One group was even a drum line and played for us while we waited in line for our first ride! This park is also home to the Star Wars Rides, and soon to be new section of the park.
Can’t-Miss Rides in Hollywood Studios
Aerosmith Rock n’ Roller Coaster: My personal favorite, and the biggest roller coaster in the parks. I saw fast passes for this and still kick myself for not grabbing them immediately! Fast Pass encouraged.
Slinky Dog Dash: This new roller coaster resides in the brand new and really freakin’ adorable Toy Story Land, known to the inhabitants as “Andy’s Backyard”. Fast Pass encouraged IF they are available.
Toy Story Mania: Megan and Kat rode this one while Kale and I went to Rock n’ Roller Coaster. They said it was a blast! Throughout the 4D ride, you got to play tons of carnival-type games with the Toy Story cast. Fast Pass suggested.
Tower of Terror: Based on the Twilight Zone series, you ride an elevator and let it drop you over and over again. I’m pretty sure to this day why I don’t like elevators. I’m not a fan of this one, but it’s extremely popular! Fast Pass encouraged.
Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular!: While technically not a ride, this is something I look forward to every time! It’s such a fun interactive show, and the effects are amazing! If you need a break, want to sit down, or just a break from endless line-standing, check it out!
What to Eat and Drink in Hollywood Studios
Woody’s Lunchbox: This is the easiest park in which to find alcoholic beverages, or “Grown-Up Drinks” as they’re called in Andy’s backyard.
Oasis Canteen: Whatever you do, stop here for a Funnel Cake! We got ours covered in Oreo crumbs, powdered sugar, a glob of ice cream and two Oreo’s to represent Mickey’s ears. It was possibly the best funnel cake I’ve ever had! We were able to bring it into the Indiana Jones pavilion and eat as we watched.
Dockside Diner: Here you’ll be able to grab a quick bite of a hot dog or sandwich and be on your way!
In my opinion, Animal Kingdom is the most underrated of the parks. You do not need a full day here. However, there are some great rides, and last time we were there, I had the best time! I was bummed we couldn’t make time for it this time. Since we didn’t go this year, I don’t have great food recommendations, but I don’t believe there are tons of options.
Can’t-Miss Rides in Animal Kingdom
Avatar Ride, Flight of Passage: The underrated-ness may be going away now though, with this new ride! You ride a banshee and ride through Pandora on a simulated adventure. I’m not a huge fan of this type of ride since I’m easily prone to motion sickness, but I’ve heard it’s amazing! Fast Pass highly encouraged, if its available.
Expedition Everest: My personal favorite part of the park is this ride. First you ride the rollercoaster forwards, then you get to the top of the mountain, see the Yeti, and then do the whole thing again backwards! Fast Pass encouraged.
Primeval Whirl: Small, but a fun ride to start on! No need for a fast pass, just hop in line.