Note: Since this article was written "Be Our Guest" at Fantasyland now serves beer and wine and Cat Cora’s Kouzzina at the Boardwalk has closed.
I recently took a family vacation to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla. Why might this be odd? Because the age range of my family is 26-61. But what I learned is that going to Disney World as an adult is just as fun, if not more so, than going at age 6. And here’s why...
Experiencing Disney World with an adult beverage in hand is an entirely different experience, if not jarring at first. Disney Hollywood Studios, EPCOT and Animal Kingdom all serve adult beverages from beer to cocktails to wine. Try turning the World Showcase at EPCOT into a global drinking game, tasting specialty drinks from each nation. Beer lovers should head to the Animal Kingdom to find some rare finds from Africa and India. But Mouseketeers beware, the Magic Kingdom is a dry park.
Evening hours: Disney keeps its gates open late for guests staying at Disney resorts. And we’re talking late ... as in 2 a.m. in some instances. These "Magic Evening Hours" rotate which parks are offering them on particular days during peak seasons, but it’s worth investigating. Most of the rides and some shops stay open, and it’s perfect for night-owl adults who want to enjoy the parks after most of the kids have gone to bed.
Culinary delights: You might not expect it, but Disney World is home to some fantastic, upscale restaurants featuring some of the world’s most renowned chefs. From Wolfgang Puck’s Café in Downtown Disney, to Todd English’s bluezoo at the Swan & Dolphin hotel to Cat Cora’s Kouzzina at Disney’s Boardwalk Area, there’s something for every palate. There’s even a AAA 5-Diamond restaurant, Victoria and Albert’s, that has a dress code and age requirement.
Tours and activities:
There are countless activities in Disney where you won’t likely find a throng of screaming children and appeal to a more mature audience. EPCOT offers a Behind the Seeds tour of their state-of-the-art greenhouses; Animal Kingdom's Wild Africa Trek offers a three-hour safari not far off from the real experience; at Hollywood Studios you can dine with an Imagineer, the creative minds behind the magic; and several resorts have their own marinas where you can rent boats of all sizes by the half hour and hour.
My family’s visit to the happiest place on earth was one filled with unconventional experiences (including my mother being honored in Disney fashion for drinking a liter of German beer by herself). But for a family who hadn’t been on a vacation together in nearly a decade, it was a memorable trip of a lifetime. I hope Walt would be proud.