Visiting Disney World as an adult is a unique experience: you can enjoy all of the youthful wonder and whimsy of the park while relishing in the freedom being an adult brings. Disney parks are always child friendly, but that doesn’t mean they are childish. Here are twelve fantastic activities Disney World has to offer an older audience.

The Best Attractions for Adults at Animal Kingdom

Disney’s Animal Kingdom is a theme park centered around the celebration of the natural world. Hosting incredible wildlife reserves, fantastic restaurants, gorgeous thrill rides, and moving productions, this may be the most impressive of the Disney World parks. Check out a few of the Animal Kingdom’s best offerings for grown-ups:

Inspired by James Cameron’s beautiful and thought-provoking film Avatar, Pandora is a relatively new section of the Animal Kingdom that includes incredible rides, live music, unique dining experiences, face painting, and walking journeys through otherworldly gardens. Avatar Flight of Passage is this section’s most thrilling ride; clocking in at about four minutes, this is a stunning virtual reality experience that allows you to soar over Pandora’s jungles and mingle with the film’s imaginative fantasy wildlife. 

The Na’Vi River Journey is a slower paced boat ride that features some of the most impressive animatronics at any Disney park (seriously, these Imagineers have outdone themselves) and gorgeous “bioluminescent” night time scenery and wildlife displays.

Check out the land of Pandora for the set design alone.

  • The Festival of the Lion King Tier 1 Dining Package

The Festival of the Lion King is one of the most engaging shows at Disney World. Featuring live singing, Cirque-du-Soleil-style circus acts and incredible costumes, as well as fantastic animatronics, this interactive performance is one that shouldn’t be missed. The associated dining package makes this even more attractive: Tier 1 includes a private safari at the time of your choosing AND a reduced cost three course meal (with alcoholic beverages included!) at Tiffins, one of the finest dining establishments Disney World has to offer.

This dining package is incredibly well-organized, includes VIP front row seating at the show, and your safari guide actually meets you at the theatre to take you on to your private safari. Reservations for the Tier 1 dining package cost $99 per adult and can be made by calling (407) 939-3463. (You can see the show without the dining package, but the dining package is well worth the cost!)

  • Savor the Savana Evening Safari

If you are like me and you love amazing wildlife (and delicious food!), I highly recommend the Savor the Savanna tour at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. On your safari you will see an amazing array of African wildlife, including rhinos, giraffes, and even lions. Although you will need to make reservations in advance, and they are a bit costly at $169 a pop, you will enjoy a private safari tour in the evening when primarily nocturnal animals like lions are most active.

You will also be treated to a private dinner selection including fine African wines and beers, and commemorative souvenirs. Check out an in-depth review of this tour here. To book reservations, call (407) 939-8687.

  • The Rivers of Light Dessert Party

If you enjoy low-key entertainment, VIP seating at Disney water shows, cocktails, and posh snacks, this is a dining package you will enjoy. Rivers of Light is a water display featuring illuminated animal floats and gorgeous wildlife scenes projected on screens of water. This show also features original world-inspired music, and is surprisingly devoid of popular Disney film characters, so if you enjoy entertainment that is slightly less commercial, this is the show for you.

The Dessert Party is what really makes this show worthwhile: for $79 you get VIP seating for Rivers of Light (you can choose to sit in the front row of the main viewing area or stay on the exclusive terrace where the desserts and snacks are served) and a delicious buffet of gourmet sweet treats, savory nibbles, sparkling wine, and cocktails that make the event something extra special. Great for a relaxing, romantic evening!

The Best Attractions for Adults at Epcot

Epcot is a park dedicated to multiculturalism and the celebration and exploration of all the world’s nations. Divided up into “countries,” Epcot hosts many special events and performances throughout the year. It is also home to some of Disney World’s most exciting productions, and my favorite Disney World lounge, La Cava del Tequila! Here are some of the best events and attractions at Epcot:

  • Frozen Ever After Sparkling Dessert Party

This is another fantastic dessert party, VIP show experience, and ride package that combines wonderful Disney World elements for convenience and comfort. IllumiNations is one of the largest and most spectacular fireworks shows at Disney World (more about that in the next section), and with this dining package not only are you able to take part in an exclusive dessert and snack buffet (alcohol included!), you also get front row waterside seats for the show and direct passes (better than Fast Passes…you don’t wait in line at all for this attraction!) for Frozen Ever After, a fun new Frozen themed ride.

The menu for this dessert party is different than the one for Rivers of Light; this package features eclairons, winter spiced savory snacks, ice cream, and margheritas. To book reservations, call (407) 939-5277, and let your cast member know you’d like to reserve spaces for the Frozen Ever After dessert party. The cost is $79 per adult.

If you have the chance to see one fireworks show at Disney World, be sure to check out IllumiNations: it is one of the best reviewed attractions in any of the Disney World parks. Telling the story of Earth from its creation to present-day humanity’s aspirations for the future, this show features original music, fireworks, stunning pyrotechnics, and illuminated fountains. Fast Passes are offered for this show to make viewing more accessible. You can watch IllumiNations from multiple locations in the park; check out this guide for a map of the best spots.

  • The Annual Epcot International Food and Wine Festival

If you’re traveling to Disney World between August and November, be sure to check out the delightful International Food and Wine Festival. Featuring special dance nights, musical acts, wine tastings, cheese seminars, sampling parties with gourmet cuisine from around the world, and even a mimosa bar, this festival has something for everyone’s tastes. Events differ from day to day, so be sure to check out the Disney World website for more information. For menus and other scheduling questions, give Walt Disney World Info a glance as well.

The Best Attractions for Adults at The Magic Kingdom

The Magic Kingdom is home to all of Disney World’s classic Disney attractions: Main Street USA, Cinderella’s Castle, and the spinning teacups. It also hosts daily parades and fireworks. After buying a classic Mickey Ice Cream bar, be sure to line up for these nostalgic rides:

Climb aboard a boat with your party to experience adventure on the high seas starring Captain Jack Sparrow! This is a slower thrill ride with short drops over waterfalls that winds along a recreation of a Caribbean port town at the height of the golden age of piracy. Featuring tall ships, fun animatronics, sea battles, swashbuckling sword fights, and the BEST DISNEY SONG OF ALL TIME (A Pirate’s Life for Me, of course), this is a classic Disney theme park ride everyone has to experience at least once. Or twice. Or three times. This is easily one of the best rides at Disney World.

Another Disney theme parks classic opened in the 1970s, this spooky ride also features wonderful animatronics and great music. Gatecrash a ghostly ballroom party, visit headless psychic Madame Leota and gaze into her special crystal ball, wave hello to an undead zombie bride, and pop open a few coffins during your stay, all from the comfort of your party’s giant mobile armchair (or “Doom Buggy”). This is an exciting favorite no Disney visitor should miss. There are no drops or dips on this ride; it’s a very smooth ride throughout (even when ghostly hitchhikers decide to infiltrate your chair).

Space Mountain is far and away the best Magic Kingdom roller coaster. Zip around at warp speed on a winding indoor track cloaked in the dark starriness of space.  This is still one of my all-time favorite thrill rides: you can’t see the track very well in front of you, so you never quite know what curves are ahead as you journey along. Plus, the ride’s retro-space-age exterior and groovy soundtrack are bound to make you nostalgic for the futuristic world of the past, even if you weren’t around the first time to actually experience it!

The Best Attractions for Adults at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Disney’s Hollywood Studios features great shows, great rides, and a fun Hollywood-backlot ambiance, and will soon be home to a new Star Wars themed section! As of now, though, here are the two best attractions Hollywood Studios has to offer:

The year is 1939, it’s Halloween night, and you’re in for a scare. As indicated by the name, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror is a thrill ride that is legitimately frightening. The premise of this ride is relatively simple: after an introduction to The Twilight Zone from Rod Serling himself and a brief tour through the hotel’s chilling boiler room, a giant elevator rockets you up to the top of the very tall tower, and then drops you again. You experience some serious freefall on this ride; I have never once left the elevator without stumbling out on jelly legs. The hotel’s bellhops are always great fun, too; if you’re lucky, they will be even creepier than the ride itself. The designers really went all out with the design details here: the ride’s queue runs through the hotel’s “lobby,” and from creepy dolls, ghastly ushers, cobwebs, books of the occult, and a general air of decay, it is spooky enough all on its own to warrant a visit (if you dare, that is).

Fantasmic is a fantastic water show for fans of Disney films and original characters. Commemorating many of Disney’s best movies, this spectacular production incorporates lasers, projections, music, pyrotechnics, and floating boat stages where characters like Pocahontas, Aladdin and the Genie, and the cast of Snow White sing, dance, and reenact scenes from their respective films. Plus, the Disney villains have their chance to shine in a wickedly exciting climactic scene. This show is a bombastic, nostalgic treat for the senses, though seating can be a little tricky if you’re on the shorter side; be sure to arrive about half an hour before the show starts in order to grab the best seats that give unobstructed views. Fast Passes are available.

Other Adult-Friendly Activities at Disney World

Victoria & Albert’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Hotel: A Five Diamond Award winning gourmet restaurant open to Disney World guests over 10 years of age, Victoria & Albert’s promises a posh evening of fine wine and fine American dishes for anyone who desires luxury on their Disney trip. This is widely considered to be the best dining at Disney World. Guests must adhere to the dress code and advance reservations are encouraged.

Tiffins at The Animal Kingdom: If you aren’t interested in The Festival of the Lion King but still enjoy fine dining, Tiffins is a great choice. Doubling as an art gallery and a restaurant, this establishment is more relaxed than Victoria & Albert’s while still offering an upscale experience. Be sure to stop by Nomad Lounge for signature Disney cocktails, check out the extensive list of African wines, sample fantastic desserts!

Be Our Guest at The Magic Kingdom: For a more whimsical experience, give this delightful Beauty and the Beast themed restaurant located in the Magic Kingdom a try.

Spas

  • Senses at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort
  • Mandara Spa at the Wald Disney World Dolphin Hotel
  • Ship Shape at Disney’s Yacht Club

Bars

Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto at Disney’s Polynesian Resort: This is a Tiki bar that features fantastic cocktails.

La Cava del Tequila at Epcot: Margaritas and cervezas are on the menu at this relaxed Mexican-inspired lounge.

The Edison at Disney Springs: Upscale pub food and live entertainment are the order of the day at this steampunk bar.

Mizner’s Lounge at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort: For old fashioned cocktails, live jazz, and relaxation, check out Mizner’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian.

AbracadaBar at Disney’s Boardwalk: A mid-century inspired lounge featuring signature Disney cocktails and fun magic-themed décor.

Jock Lindsay’s Hangar Bar at Disney Springs: A bar inspired by the aesthetics of the Indiana Jones films, this is one of the most dynamic spots for nightlife at Disney Springs.

The Bottom Line

Disney World is a fantastic place for adults. Between great rides, engaging shows, and amazing dining options, you are guaranteed to have the time of your life, no matter how old you are.

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