Walt Disney World for Grownups

Written by Jessica Ma'ilo. Posted in Disney, Disney Parks, Epcot, Features, Park Wise, Walt Disney World

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Published on July 11, 2013 at 2:00 am with 23 Comments

Remember a couple of weeks ago when I hopped a plane from the Sooner State for a week of kid-free fun at the Most Magical Place on Earth?  Well, it turned out to be a pretty intense, tiring and hot week of hiking around the Most Humid Place on Earth, fitting in site inspections, tours and seminars while wearing “resort casual” attire.  I totally missed my tennis shoes.  However, the evenings were mostly ours, and I selflessly dedicated my time to trying a few fun things you can experience at the East Coast Disney Parks when you’re leaving the kids at home, brought along a babysitter, or just decided not to have any at all.

Spa Day
Walt Disney World offers several spa experiences for guests of all ages, but these relaxing venues tend to provide a respite from the toddler-packed parks.  With the newest offering, Senses at the Grand Floridian, Disney seems to have upped their game in the relaxation department.  The brand new facility offers a wide array of services along with fantastic Disney service in a practically perfect atmosphere.


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ŸGet Park Wise: Schedule a service for the middle of your vacation to make the most of it.  A couples massage after a few days in the parks will be heavenly and may leave you a little more relaxed for the second half of the trip.

The Walt Disney World Dolphin also offers up a perfect spot for a mid-trip pedicure at the Mandara Spa.  This Balinese oasis is a full service spa and salon.  If you’re staying at the Swan or Dolphin, check your room literature for specials, and other guests can check the official site for promotions, as well.  I’m not sure if the spa was slow that day, or if they just do a really great job at giving you the illusion that you’re the center of the world, but I was feeling totally catered to while waiting for my services.  In fact, a gentleman even directed me to a second waiting room to get more pictures when he saw I had my iPhone out and was snapping away.  Yeah, I know.  I can’t completely relax when I know there are articles to be written and pictures to be posted.  It’s a sickness.

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Drink Around the World

This one’s a classic, and I would be remiss not to include it.  There are even Epcot shirts featuring an adult beverage from each country in the World Showcase.  With eleven different pavilions, there’s sure to be something for every palate.  The stakes are raised when the International Food and Wine Festival rolls around in the fall, with a plethora of international libations just begging to be sampled.  I definitely suggest tackling this one with a friend or two to avoid getting tossed out the International Gateway, especially if your day starts at La Cava del Tequila.  Eleven (or more!) drinks in the Florida sun in a limited amount of time does not a smart decision make.

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ŸGet Park Wise: Make sure you take Disney transportation if this challenge is on your itinerary.  Being fall-down drunk in a park is lame, but driving afterward is just stupid!!  If you did drive, please make use of Disney transportation or taxi service after you’ve made your rounds.

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If you’re not quite ready to tackle the Word Showcase, consider drinking around the monorail with a stop at each of the hotel lounges on the resort line.  If you’re lucky, you can even sip some wine with dinner at Be Our Guest and make it a complete monorail crawl.  For extra credit, you can hit Wilderness Lodge, too.  Or maybe hit the Epcot area resorts for a nightcap times five.

Disney’s Boardwalk

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While you’re throwin’ ‘em back around Crescent Lake, you’ll no doubt make your way to the Boardwalk.  With the ESPN Club, Atlantic Dance Hall and a margarita lover’s dream at Boardwalk Joe’s, this is a great spot for the big kids to kick back.  The crown jewel of the Boardwalk, though, is the high-energy dueling piano bar, Jellyrolls.  Boasting some of the most talented performers on property, the bar features four piano players each night cranking out classics, top 40 hits, tv theme songs and, of course, a little Disney here and there (Carousel of Progress fans won’t be disappointed).  The entire show is totally audience-driven with the guys taking requests in the form of song titles scrawled on bar napkins and wrapped in dollar bills (or higher denominations if you want your song played sooner).  With patrons ranging from convention attendees to parents on their Disney date night to locals to cast members, each night is different.

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ŸGet Park Wise:  Have fun on purpose!  A couple of the piano players tossed out this gem when we were chatting about the bar.  If you come in ready to have fun and get a little goofy, you’re sure to have a great night!

Although you’re at a 21+ bar, the Disney aura is still in the air.  As a couple of girls, we felt completely safe both in and around the bar.  In fact, it really has the feel of a neighborhood joint (except with a $12 cover charge) where everyone is glad to see you.  The drinks may also run a little more than your corner bar, but they’re pretty much on par with other on-property options in terms of price.  And for my frugalistas, you’re totally welcome to sit there and drink water and eat free popcorn.  Of course, only tell them I sent you if you’re building a decent tab…not if you’re just eating free popcorn. ;-)

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What’s your go-to when you’re fleeing the kiddos at Disney World?

About Jessica Ma'ilo

Jessica is a special education teacher by day and blogger and Fairy Godmother Travel agent by evening. When not supervising play dates or sleepovers, she can be found creating, sewing or singing. She loves hitting the Disney Parks, and she and her family escape to the World and Land as often as they can. She can be contacted at [email protected], and you can also check out her family blog, Magic, Memories, Mayhem.

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23 Comments

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  1. We are in our 30′s, no kids, and go about once a year – and none of that sounds terribly appealing to me, but we’re not big drinkers and have lovely spas in the city where we live! What we enjoy, compared to our friends who travel with kids, is the opportunity to visit at non-peak seasons, eating longer meals at off-peak times, spending more time appreciating the details, artwork, etc. at the resorts and in the parks, not spending as much time on character photos (although we do enjoy a few ourselves!), lingering on Main Street in the morning to try out all the different vehicles and watch the performers or in World Showcase later in the day…. Really, a lot of the same things people with older kids enjoy! If we had any inclination to bar hop, we could do it at home much more easily and probably with more variety – we visit Disney for things we can only do there!

    • Interesting! We enjoy all of those things and travel WITH kids. Guess it just goes to show that Disney really appeals to all its fans differently.
      I will also say that there’s a whole heck of a lot more atmosphere at the Disney resort lounges than anything here in this college town. But, I’m not much of a bar hopper, anyway. There’s definitely something Disney-esque about sitting in the Polynesian lobby, Lapu Lapu in hand and gazing out at the castle, though.

  2. I’m with poohmeg. The drinking does nothing for me, and honestly, seeing someone who has overindulged at Disney is a bit disturbing to me, with all of the kids around. Last year I encountered someone at Epcot who was literally falling down drunk. They had to bring in medical personnel to cart them off. It was sad. So, folks, if you are going to “drink around the World”, PLEASE be responsible.

    I’m 40, and I travel with friends in their 60s. We go every year for the Food and Wine Festival, which adds that little something extra. We love going to special events, lingering and enjoying dinner at all of the amazing restaurants, spending time just looking at the details of all of the stunning design work around the resorts and parks, and just being leisurely about everything we do (except our power walks to work off all of that food).

    I’d be up for trying a spa, but I wonder about the value for the money. I’ve also wanted to go to Jelly Rolls for several years (we stay at Boardwalk, after all), but a few times, the cover has made us think better of it… I mean, there’s free entertainment all along the Boardwalk… and other times, time has just gotten away from us.

    In any case, I think Disney World is PERFECT for grown-ups. It’s the ultimate getaway where you can forget everything going on in the outside world, eat amazing food, be constantly entertained, and not have to think about anything but what time your next reservation is.

    • I am so with you! Disney is not the place to get sloppy. I haven’t ever seen it personally, but I heard Food and Wine can get a little messy on the weekends. We love going during the week, though, to avoid the crowds during the weekends.

      We, of course, can always do a spa day at home, but I got a great deal when staying at the Dolphin for a “taster” facial and mani/pedi. It was the perfect way to relax mid-trip and it rejuvenated me for the rest of the week.

      We’ve hit Jellyrolls a couple of times, and it’s always been a blast! Like I mentioned, a lot of the fun depends on the crowd, but it’s definitely worth a try, especially if you’re staying at the Boardwalk!!

  3. We have no kids and visit WDW 2 or 3 times a year. Usually, we just slog through the parks and plan out our meals. But as the attractions in the park become less important to me as I get older, I’m finding all the shows and alternate experiences more interesting. I’ve never been to the spas at Swan/Dolphin or Grand Floridian. Sounds wonderful. And although we’ve stayed many times at the Boardwalk, I’ve never been to either Jelly Rolls or the Atlantic Dance Hall. I’ll check that out next time!

    Though I’ve got to say that I REALLY miss Pleasure Island and think its a huge loss for adults that its gone.

    Next stop for me . . . Food and Wine Festival with the MiceChatters on October 18th. Save the date folks!

    • We still love to hit the parks, but I know what you mean. We’ve started branching out and trying a lot more around the resorts and the other guest areas like water parks, etc.

      I had a fantastic afternoon at Mandara, and I can’t wait to try Senses. Jellyrolls is super fun, and Atlantic Dance Hall has the potential to be fun if you get a good crowd, or if your crowd takes over the place (which isn’t too hard). Haha!

      I really wish they’d have added some more Pleasure Island-like venues in the revamp of DTD, but it really just looks like more shopping. Don’t get me wrong, I love shopping, but I also love a good night out!

      Wish I could make the October 18th shindig!! We’re there the week before, then it’s back to the grind. Have a blast and a drink for me!!

  4. It is funny being sober in Epcot and watching the people who have drank, now that is entertainment! In particular I recall my sister and I being put through single rider on Test Track with a group which had just gotten back from the Germany Pavilion. My sister was soon told by the drunk group she was the designated driver on Test Track!

    However it seems to me WDW has a lot of non-drinking entertainment to offer, such as the spas you mentioned, golf courses, shopping venues, and boats on the lakes. WDW excels in being a resort destination.

    • Yes, there are lots of other options for grown-ups, but I was definitely thinking along the lines of the adults looking for maybe a date night or something to do while the kids are at the kids’ club or hanging out with the grandparents (or childless adults who are looking for a little break). I’ll have to explore some general recreation options for a future column! Well, except the shopping…I have that down!!

  5. Maybe there should be a guide on “rides to go on” while drunk. It would be a fun experience, but it should offer the shortest path to the toilet in case of emergency.

    Soarin’ is great while sober. I wonder how it would feel when slightly drunk. Watch out down there!!! Oops.

    • I hereby put you in charge of that guide. And Soarin’ when feeling, um, gurgly. Gross.

  6. For me I am single and I just totally enjoy all of the rides and magic Disney has to offer. I appreciate all of the little details. I may be older but I am 10 when I visit Disney. Anyone who knows me will tell you Peter Pan and I are close relatives.

    • So true!! It’s an awful lot of fun to just be in the moment wherever you are at Disney!

    • If being a grownup means drinking and lying around in the beauty parlor, I think I’ll stay 8. But Dobby will take you up on the bar with the free popcorn on the floor…

      Seriously, two drinks is definitely my limit if there’s future motion involved!

  7. Welcome back Jessica! Next time go when it’s not hurricane season — it’s a totally different experience weather wise and makes things so much nicer. I’m not a big spa guy, but since I also work in the travel industry I have had the occasion to try a few, and I can definitely say that Westin’s Mandera Spa (the Swan & Dolphin are Westin hotels) is one of the better ones I’ve ever been to. First of all, they do have some kind of scented air when you walk in, but it’s the only place I’ve ever been to where it was actually a nice scent and not a horrible chemical scent like you would get at Bath & Body Works or the perfume counter at Macy’s. I like the Balinese theme and it does feel really fresh and clean and kind of rejuvenating. For some reason I get a little creeped out by the idea of a strange person touching me all over my body, so when I’ve gone I’ve always stuck with the hot stone massage. I did get one at the beach cabanas on a Disney cruise and they did a great job (like many things onboard, the spa is contracted out to a Canadian company and the spa staff work for that company, not Disney Cruise Line), but I don’t know if I’d trust the spa at a Disney hotel. I walked through the one at Aulani when I was there in December and it seemed fine and very upscale, but it just concerns me because Disney is very hit-or-miss when it comes to luxury, high-end kind of stuff.

    I’m also not much of a drinker, but I did try the specialty drink at the Polynesian and it was pretty good. I’m more into the dining though then the alchohol, and I think dining at a nice restaurant and really taking your time and spending an hour or more enjoying the food, the ambiance, and the theming is probably my favorite thing about doing Disney without kids. Oh, and not having to go on Its a Small World.

    • Thank you! Glad to be back…well, not too glad. ;) Yeah, we’re normally October and December travelers due to weather (and we LOVE the fall and winter holidays at WDW!). June was definitely a different monster.

      Mandara is gorgeous!! I absolutely loved my afternoon there. I would do it again in a heartbeat! That’s an interesting thought about Disney spas. I guess I’ll take one for the team and test your theory at Senses. I’m a giver.

      Oooh, and I definitely agree about dining! I got to enjoy a nice, long, drawn-out meal with some friends during my training week, and it was wonderful being able to really relax and enjoy the atmosphere.

  8. I’m in my 30s, no kids and visit WDW monthly since I’m a “local” (though I drive up from the Tampa area) and have an AP. The only thing on that list I want to attempt sometime is the drinking around the world. One day the boyfriend & I are going to try it and just split one drink between us at each country. Thing is though… we’re beer drinkers (don’t care for hard liquor/mixed drinks), but as long as each country has a beer we’re willing to try, then I say let’s go! :D

    But most the time when I’m at the parks I just like to soak it all in, hit the rides and the shows, meet some characters… I have to appease my inner 5 year old, you know? ;)

    • Splitting is definitely the way to go with that particular challenge. I just can’t imagine 11 drinks in a hot day.

      I know what you mean about letting the inner child out to play. I get to do all that stuff with the kidlets, though, so I do enjoy my grown-up time at the World. They also tend to enjoy their kids-only time, too, at the kids’ clubs and the kids-only cruises, so not too much guilt for indulging at the spa or a night out. ;)

  9. I can’t wait to visit Epcot for F&W this year. My little sister just turned 21 (the one you met at DHS last December) and she wants to attempt to “drink around the world”. Since we know neither of us will make it all the way around World Showcase, we’re splitting (along with her bff and my hubby). We’re also considering splitting F&W into 2 separate days just so we can pace ourselves. There are lots of yummy looking mixed drinks we want to sample!

    • Sounds like you guys are prepared! Haha! Have you considered doing one of my mixology seminars? We did one, and it was a lot of fun! Very affordable, and a nice little break from the crowds of the World Showcase. Have fun!

      • Let’s talk… :-D

      • Absolutely!

  10. [...] you follow Park Wise, you may have seen this week’s article on grown-up fun at Walt Disney World that featured Disney’s Boardwalk (aka my almost-favorite resort) and its hot spot, [...]

  11. my partner and i are in our thirties, no kids, and we’re big drinkers. you can’t beat getting a bit tipsy at WDW!