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What to Do in Disney as an Adult

Visiting Walt Disney World in Your Twenties

Written by: Celeste Zirm

Ah, Disney World — the perfect place to meet your favorite characters, dress up like a princess, ride Dumbo the Flying Elephant and eat a Mickey-shaped ice cream bar. Wait, none of that sounds fun because you’re in your twenties? Not to worry: this guide is filled with all the fun things to do in your twenties at Disney. I’ve been to Disney 13 times, so, as a Disney connoisseur, here are my recommendations for fun things to do as a young adult in Disney World.


Eating and Drinking Around the World in EPCOT:

EPCOT’s World Showcase is a walking path with pavilions for 12 different countries. These pavilions feature cultural representatives along with authentic food and drinks. For example, you can get margaritas and tacos in Mexico, schnitzel in Germany, gelato in Italy and so much more. This is a super fun way to try foods and drinks from around the world without needing a passport.


My recommendations:

  • Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe in Norway for schoolbread

  • Rose and Crown in the United Kingdom for fish and chips

  • Les Halles in France for crème brulee


Amazing Dining Experiences:

World-class dining experiences aren’t just limited to EPCOT. All four parks have a range of dining experiences, from quick-service carts to multi-course sit-down meals. The table-service restaurants across the parks and resorts feature uniquely themed storytelling and mouth-watering dishes. These are experiences you won’t get anywhere else.


My recommendations:

  • ‘Ohana in Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort

  • Skipper Canteen in Magic Kingdom

  • Beaches and Cream Soda Shop at Beach Club Resort


Themed Lounges and Bars:

Disney lounges and bars are the perfect places to sit back and relax in the middle of a hectic park day or while resting at your resort. These highly themed experiences give you the opportunity to unwind without feeling like you're missing out on your vacation. (Pro tip: many lounges feature menu items from the restaurants they’re attached to, so if you couldn’t get a reservation, be sure to check out the lounge.)


My recommendations:

  • Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto in the Polynesian Village Resort. Have you ever wanted to order a drink that upsets a tiki god? If so, this is the place for you.

  • Nomad Lounge in Animal Kingdom. I recommend the bread service and churros.

  • Oga’s Cantina in Hollywood Studios. This Star Wars-themed bar has a droid DJ, out-of-this-world drinks and in-character waiters.


Unique Shopping:

Shopping in Disney World isn’t limited to just Disney-themed merchandise. In Disney Springs, you can check out mall must-stops including Sephora, Lululemon and Free People, as well as unique stops like Basin and the M&M’s store. Over in EPCOT, you can shop for Helly Hanson jackets in Norway or buy perfumes in France.


My recommendations:

  • Laila perfumes in EPCOT (Norway)

  • Helly Hanson in EPCOT (Norway)

  • Pandora Jewelry in Magic Kingdom


EPCOT Festivals:

Every year EPCOT is home to four different festivals, including International Festival of the Arts (January 13-February 20), Flower and Garden (March 2-July 4), Food and Wine (July 14-November 19), and Festival of the Holidays (November 25-December 30).* These are unique opportunities to check out fun foods, beverages and other activities that aren’t available year round.


*Dates are subject to change


My recommendations:

  • Do the cookie stroll during the Festival of the Holidays. Purchase 5 of the official cookies, get your Festival Passport stamped and win a prize.

  • Walk around the unique gardens during the Flower and Garden Festival

  • See a celebrity narrator do the Candlelight Processional during Festival of the Holidays. This year, I got to see Neil Patrick Harris.


Thrill Rides:

Us Clevelanders are accustomed to the thrill rides of Cedar Point, and while you won’t be getting anything like that at Walt Disney World, there’s still plenty of thrills to go around. One of the things that sets Disney rides apart from any others is the storytelling that happens throughout each ride. Pay special attention to the pre-shows and details of the ride queues to be fully immersed in the story of the thrill ride.


My recommendations:

  • Tower of Terror in Hollywood Studios

  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in Magic Kingdom

  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train in Magic Kingdom

Star Wars:

Have you ever wanted to drink blue milk, get interrogated by a Stormtrooper and fly the Millennium Falcon? Well, you can actually do all of these things in Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge in Hollywood Studios. This highly immersive land exists in the timeline of the sequels and you get to live your own Star Wars story.


My recommendations:

  • Ride Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run. This ride allows you to be a pilot, gunner or engineer, and actually fly the Millennium Falcon.

  • Ride Rise of the Resistance. This trackless ride gives you the chance to escape the First Order.

  • Build a droid at Droid Depot. Pick from an R-series or a BB-series and put it together.


Resorts:

The Disney Resorts provide comfortable accommodations without ever having to leave the “Disney Bubble.” Resorts come at a variety of price-points, with a variety of theming so you can pick the place that works best for your group. You’ll definitely want to do your research to find the right resort for you. Some advantages of resorts include proximity to the parks, complimentary transportation and early park entry.


My recommendations:

  • Disney’s Port Orleans Resort: French Quarter. This resort is brimming with New Orleans vibes, beautiful scenery and beignets.

  • Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort. This resort has fun restaurants and a beautiful pool.

  • Any of the EPCOT Area resorts. These include Disney’s Yacht Club, Beach Club and Boardwalk Resorts, as well as the Swan and Dolphin Hotels. The ability to walk to both EPCOT and Hollywood Studios makes these resorts an ideal location.


Transportation:

Navigating between the parks and resorts is a breeze. All Disney resorts offer complimentary buses that drive you to and from the parks and many resorts have other transportation options as well, including boats and ferry service, monorail and the Skyliner. As long as you know where you want to go, you’ll be able to get anywhere on Disney property easily.


My recommendations:

  • If you want to “resort hop,” or visit a restaurant at a different resort than the one you’re staying in, take transportation to the nearest park and get on a bus for your desired resort.

  • Boat transportation is slow, but scenic.

  • Buses are the most common form of Disney transportation, and buses arrive approximately every 20 minutes.

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