Why Even Skeptics Will Love Disney World: Top 3 Experiences For Just Adults, & For The Family
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Normally, The Pitt Stops travel to the less common, more obscure destinations. However, sometimes we splurge and venture to the more popular travel spots, like Walt Disney World.
I know you skeptics out there are rolling your eyes, saying, “Disney World! It’s just for kids!” or “Seriously, why would I want to read a blog about Disney – it is definitely not my type of vacation!”
Stop there. We challenge you “non-believers” to re-think your anti-Disney, preconceived notions.
Having had the luxury of traveling to Disney almost every year since age 12, it is hard not to enjoy a special attachment to the parks. Our extended family would travel together, four generations to be exact. We traveled with so many people that we filled two, sometimes even three elevators. We probably looked like a herd of typical New Englanders roaming the park with sun burns, fanny packs, and light-up Mickey ears. Why would we put ourselves through this every year, you may ask?
The truth is that Disney is clean, safe, entertaining, and friendly for people of all ages, from great-grandparents in wheelchairs to grandkids in strollers. Where in the world can you travel with a group of twenty people ages 1-through-92?
So, being Disney-goers for the past 20-something years, here is our well-researched (and tested) list of top Disney World rides, shows, hotels, restaurants and shopping spots that either adults, or the family will enjoy…
FUN FOR JUST ADULTS
Epcot’s World Showcase
Have you ever heard of someone “drinking around the world” at Disney? What this phrase refers to are the tasty libations at Disney’s World Showcase at Epcot. Disney’s World Showcase contains 11 pavilions, each representing a specific country. The pavilions surround the World Showcase Lagoon, a large manmade lake with a perimeter of 1.2 miles. Here, you can get a taste of each country’s respective cuisine, shopping, or adult beverages. These are our suggested stops for yummy cocktails:
Drinks Around The World…
- Japan: Saki tasting or plum wine
- Morocco: A local wine flight
- Mexico: Tequila tasting or delicious specialty margaritas
- Norway: A yummy Aquavit shot (potato-made liquor flavored with caraway and herbs)
- China: Plum wine, Green Tea Plum Slush, or the Tipsy Ducks in Love (cold tea, coffee, bourbon and chocolate – OMG)
- France: Glasses of wine
- Germany: Wine and beer (they use to have tastings, but now only serve by the glass)
- Italy: Wine samplings and yummy Prosecco-mixed drinks
- United Kingdom: Beer flights (what else?)
Restaurants and Bars at The Boardwalk and Swan & Dolphin Resorts
When we venture to Disney World, we always stay at either The Boardwalk or Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resorts. They both sit on a beautiful waterway which connects to the Epcot and Hollywood Studios theme parks. The resorts provide free boat transportation to the two parks, but if you prefer walking, each hotel is within 20 -30 minutes of your destination, making the commute convenient and enjoyable. If you are not in the mood for a park, venture no further than the beautiful resort pools, which are clean, relaxing, and offer poolside libations and food, too.
The best part about the hotels, however, are the nightlife offerings. A Pitt favorite, Jelly Rolls, provides nightly dueling piano shows, and the talent is never short of incredible. If music is not your thing, and you enjoy being propped in front of the big screen for the game, try the ESPN club. This restaurant/bar has over 100 big screens, and don’t worry, if nature calls at an inopportune moment, they even have TVs in the bathroom! The final two watering holes worth mentioning are the Big River Grille & Brewing Works and Kimonos. Big River has delicious food, and an awesome selections of in-house brews to taste. Try doing a flight of their top sellers – and you should note a flight of seven is under 10$! Lastly, if you enjoy karaoke, don’t miss Kimonos at the Swan Hotel. Voted top restaurant for sushi by the Orlando Sentinel readers, this entertaining sushi bar hosts Karaoke every night. Don’t be surprised if you have a few singing Disney Princesses make appearances that knock your socks off!
After a day at the pool or parks, hop a complimentary shuttle to Disney Springs, an outdoor venue with over 180 shops and restaurants to choose from. There, you can check out posh stores, listen to blues at the House Of Blues outdoor stage, hit up happy hour at Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar, a “1940s airplane hangar turned dive bar” which is home to Indiana Jones’ sidekick and pilot, or make your way to our personal favorite, Raglan Road. Raglan Road offers hourly Irish dancing and live music, along with delicious food and yummy beer flights.
FUN FOR EVERYONE
Disney’s Newest park, the Animal Kingdom, allows you to to enjoy the magic of nature. At this park you get to explore the animals and landscapes of Africa, Asia, and the world of the dinosaurs. Take a safari ride in Africa, time travel to the Jurassic period in Dinoland, or go yeti hunting on Mount Everest at Animal Kingdom’s most thrilling ride, Expedition Everest. This ride is listed in the 2011 Guinness Book of World Records as the most expensive roller coaster in the world (100 million to be exact), and totally worth every penny. With a serious vertical drop (going backward and forward), this ride is not meant for the faint of heart. Interesting factoid – it is the tallest attraction at Walt Disney World, and the artificial mountain is 199.5 feet tall, just under 200 feet because law requires any structure 200 feet or taller to have a blinking red light for low-flying planes. Disney felt this would ruin the ride’s experience, and therefore built it just shy of this mark. The park also just added a new nightly show called Rivers of Light. This visually stunning nighttime spectacular sports a light and water show with beautiful floats, music and performers.
Disney is known for their beautiful, nightly firework and light shows. The following are our favorites:
- Fantasmic: A musical and firework production at Hollywood Studios where the forces of good and evil battle it out in Mickey’s dream. Almost all of your favorite Disney villains and heros make an appearance in this musical wonder.
- Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular – Also in Hollywood Studios, this is a must see show for every Star Wars fan. The breathtaking production of fireworks and the heart pounding, memorable music by John Williams will even leave the non-fan in awe.
- Illuminations: Reflections of Earth – Illuminations is one of the older Disney firework shows, but it is a constant crowd pleaser. It takes place on Epcot’s World Showcase Lagoon, and sends a beautiful message: We are one.
- Rivers of Light: As mentioned in the section on Animal Kingdom above, Rivers of light is a beautiful light and water show that captivates from the second the first musical note strikes.
Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom deliver several Broadway-quality shows that take place at set times and locations around the parks. A personal favorite, Beauty and the Beast, boasts incredible dancing, singing, sets, and costumes. It often times fills up fast, so make sure to get there a half hour early if you want seats! At Animal Kingdom, the must-see shows are Finding Nemo and The Lion King. Having seen the Lion King on broadway, and can legitimately conclude that the Disney Park’s version is just as good or better! The costumes are fantastic, the acrobatics are incredible, and the music is beautiful.
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