Ask anyone who’s taken a family trip to Walt Disney World, and they’re likely to wax poetic about how much fun the kids had and whip out their phone to show you a picture of their tiny tot posing with a princess or maybe even the big cheese himself, Mickey Mouse. But there’s another side to Walt Disney World, and it’s one that in many ways is a well-kept secret.
Brace yourselves, because we’re about to drop a major bombshell on you: Walt Disney World ain’t just for kids.
You heard us.
In fact, liberally sprinkled like fairy dust across the 66 square mile resort are more than a few activities, attractions and entertainment options that are specifically aimed at the parental units of the little ones. Which means that whether you’re a couple of kids at heart heading to the House of Mouse without children or sneaking away from the offspring for some much-needed adult time, Walt Disney World’s got you covered.
But first things first: For those of you who are traveling with youngsters — but not a teen both responsible enough and willing to babysit for a few hours — the biggest question, obviously, is, “What do we do with the kids?” For those staying on Disney property, the answer is simple: Pick up the phone. Because the various resorts offer a service called Kid’s Nite Out. For rates which begin at about $16 an hour, a childcare provider will come to your room to keep the kids entertained while you sneak away for a little one-on-one time. (For information on the service, call 407-828-0920.)
Additionally, deluxe resorts (such as the Animal Kingdom Lodge and the Polynesian Village Resort) offer children’s activity centers where kids 3-12 can play, watch movies and make new friends, all under the watchful eye of friendly staffers.
Okay, so now that we’ve figured out what to do with the kids, let’s get to the more important topic: What are you going to do with each other? (Hmm, that sounds a little more adult than we’d intended! But moving on…) Without further ado, here are our top 10 ideas for how to spend a couple of child-free hours at Walt Disney World!
1) A Touch Of Class
We love a good character buffet as much as anyone, so hanging out with Winnie The Pooh and his pals at the Crystal Palace is always a blast. But tonight, we’re ditching the fries of both the small and French variety. Amongst the most extravagant — and tough to get — reservations is at the posh Victoria & Albert’s restaurant, located at the Grand Floridian Hotel. This is an elegant evening featuring a harpist, candlelight and the kind of haute cuisine you won’t find anywhere else at Disney… or, honestly, anywhere else. In fact, it is one of only 47 restaurants in the entire country to make AAA’s Five-Diamond list. You won’t be able to get this reservation spur of the moment, so plan ahead… and pack something nice to wear!
2) Rubbed The Right Way
After a few days of running around the parks, it’s easy to feel a little bit stressed out. So why not make an appointment for a couple’s massage at one of the spa’s that can be found at several of the resorts. Our favorite of these full-service spas is Senses, located at the Grand Floridian Resort, although it is also the priciest option in the World. But hey, you can’t put a price on this kind of luxury!
3) We’ll Drink To That!
Looking for something a little more low key than a massage or a 7-course meal? Why not head to Epcot’s World Showcase and enjoy a few adult beverages? You can grab a pint in the Rose & Crown pub, try a flight of tequilas at La Cava del Tequila or hit the Bier stand in Germany which sells a nice variety of — bet you didn’t see this coming — beers!
4) Ready? Set? Go!
Feeling the need for speed? Head on over to the Richard Petty Driving Experience at the Walt Disney World Speedway. There, you can live out your NASCAR dreams by jumping behind the wheel of a race car or sliding into the passenger seat and letting someone else do the driving. Make no mistake, this experience is not cheap. But it most definitely falls into the category of “once in a lifetime!”
5) Sing Out!
There are a lot of places around the resort to see others perform, why not head over to Kimonos at the Walt Disney World Swan Hotel and put on a show of your own? Most nights, the sushi restaurant’s lounge transforms into a karaoke bar. So leave your inhibitions behind, pass out earplugs to your pals and hit the stage!
6) Party With Bob!
One of the best kept secrets at Walt Disney World can be found in the River Roost bar at Port Orleans Riverside. His name is Yehaa Bob Jackson and — with his trusty if wobbly piano — he puts on a heck of a show several nights a week. There’s laughing, singing and audience participation. But get there early, because the good seats — as in all of them — fill up fast!
7) Under The Boardwalk
Okay, you probably can’t technically go under the boardwalk, but you can take a lovely, moonlit stroll atop it! Head over to the Boardwalk Resort and enjoy the restaurants, bars, shops and entertainers to be found on the recreation of the Jersey shore, circa 1920.
8) Horsing Around
Two Walt Disney World’s resorts — Fort Wilderness campground, Port Orleans Riverside — offer a particularly romantic way to spend a little time: Why not take a ride in a horse-drawn carriage? The driver will even provide a blanket under which you and a loved one can snuggle! Cost is $25 for 45 minutes, and arrangements can be made by calling 407-939-7529 up to 180 days in advance.
9) Hit The (Down)Town
While some of us still miss Pleasure Island desperately — especially The Adventurers Club (“Kungaloosh!”) — there are still plenty of bars and restaurants to be found at Downtown Disney. At the moment, the area is undergoing a massive renovation which will transform it into Disney Springs, but this is still the place to head if you and your main squeeze want to take in a movie, enjoy a Cirque du Soleil show or have dinner at Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant.
10) Enjoy The Ride
In the old days, folks used to jump aboard the Tunnel of Love so they could smooch in the dark. Well, you know what they say… the more things change, the more they stay the same! All around Walt Disney World, you’ll find rides in which to unleash your inner kissing bandit and steal a smooch. Ironically, the Magic Kingdom — the most kid-friendly place on the property — has the most dark rides, so even if you can’t ditch the kids for a couple hours, you should still be able to get in a kiss or two. The 999 ghosts who inhabit the Haunted Mansion promise not to tell!