Monday, November 27, 2017

Disney World for Adults

Some people manage to schedule a "babymoon" during their pregnancy with their partner, but a combination of work and our holiday plans kept us from having a nice getaway.  But I did have a girls' trip planned for Labor Day weekend that ended up being the perfect substitute!

A while back, my friends and I were imagining the perfect girls' weekend... and for us, that meant staying at an amazing resort at Disney and enjoying the parks.  I know what you're thinking.  "Disney World?  For a bunch of grown women in their 30s?"  Oh, yeah.  When I was a kid, I loved Disney World.  As an adult, I realized they have a LOT of high end and delicious offerings and fun that exhausted parents can't take advantage of on family trips!

Tip #1:  Stay at a Disney resort, near your priorities.  There are resorts at Disney World of varying levels of cost, as well as off-property hotels and resorts.  For our weekend, we felt it was a priority to stay on property, and we favored the resorts that would allow us to walk to the back entrance of Epcot by the World Showcase.  After all, we were visiting during Epcot International Food & Wine Festival!  We stayed at Disney's Beach Club Resort.  I like staying at the resorts because they have shops, restaurants, and so many conveniences.  Beach Club is also near other resorts, which once again expands your restaurant options.

Tip #2:  Make reservations for your top experiences.  I had two wishlist items: Afternoon Tea at the Grand Floridian, and dinner at California Grill during the Magic Kingdom fireworks.  My friend wanted to do the Akershus Royal Banquet Hall with the princesses.  All of these were wonderful, memorable experiences, things that I knew I would probably be less able to enjoy with an infant/young child or a husband who is not a fan of Disney stuff.

Tip #3:  Take advantage of your flexibility as an adult.  Even though Labor Day is a holiday weekend, many kids are back to school by then.  So traveling during the "school year" calendar reduces your crowds and increases chances you can do special stuff.

We also didn't have to deal with naptimes or bedtimes, because we're grownups.  So when we found out there were tickets available for Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, we bought them the day of the party.  We also didn't overplan, just had 1-2 things per day based on those reservations we made for our top wishlist items.  So we planned our park visits around those reservations too.  When it rained, we ran for cover.  When we were tired, we sat down for coffee.  When we needed to just lay down by the pool, we did just that.  We'd change course and randomly do a ride because the wait time wasn't long.  We stopped for photos.  We did things we didn't plan on doing.  Being pregnant, I really appreciated the flexibility!

Tip #4:  Make choices where you splurge, and where you save.  My friend didn't want to deal with the free bus service, so she splurged on a car to take us to and from the airport.  I splurged on food for sure.  But we made up for it by eating some of our "on the go" meals at the quick service restaurants, and by ordering kids' meals.  Yup, one of my favorite Disney money-savers is ordering kids' meals!  They're usually enough to fill me up, and they're way less expensive than the fast food for adults, because they know they can't jack up the prices as much on kid food versus adults.  I never had anyone question it when I ordered a kids' meal at the counter!

Pro Tip: We were concierge level at the resort, so we tucked in big time during their free breakfast and snack times when we could to save $$$!  I think my husband would have loved this, so I'm keeping it in mind for the future.  He could make the cost worthwhile just in wine alone.

This poolside kid's meal came with a bucket and shovel to play with!  LOL

Tip #5:  Make it special and memorable!  I ordered sparkly ears and tank tops for the group.  One of the girls gifted us Alex & Ani bracelets.  We wore our ears everywhere like kids and just embraced our inner child.  It was really fun, so it felt like a celebration and not just a trip to the parks.

For pregnant ladies:   I really didn't feel limited during my Disney experience.  The few things I couldn't ride (the new Pandora rides, Space Mountain, Thunder Mountain, Expedition Everest) had such long lines my friends didn't even want to attempt them.  (The Pandora rides went down for most of a day so the wait times were 3+ hours!)  I rode a number of my favorites, especially at the Magic Kingdom.  And by saving money on alcohol, I was able to stop for delicious snacks (like a Dole Whip!) as a trade-off.  Honestly, I think Disney was great because there are ample benches to take a seat, shade from the heat, and more for the comfort of the entire family.  They really planned the parks with family in mind, so preggos can enjoy it too.

Watchouts for Adult Groups:  Firstly, Disney is designed for families, so sometimes it's hard for them to figure out three adults who want three different credit cards on their Magic Bands.  We had to do a lot of work on the tail end of our trip for incidentals, because most things were charged to our room (one friend's card) instead of the cards we painstakingly set up at the front desk from the get-go.  So realize that sometimes the Magic Band thing works against you as non-family, so paying with cards (not bands) is probably the easiest way to make sure stuff doesn't get jacked up.

Secondly, if you want to take advantage of Fast Passes, you need to buy park tickets ahead of your trip and link all of your My Disney Experience accounts online.  *Or* you need to link accounts ahead of time at a minimum to reserve available Fast Passes upon arrival.  That's the only way you can all reserve Fast Passes together through the website or the app.

Lastly, Disney World is honestly for families first.  So just keep in mind that the place will be crawling with kids (I know, I know, this seems obvious) which means having some patience and sympathy.  I for one used it as an opportunity to see what strollers and baby gear everyone was using as intel for my baby registry.  If you need an escape from kids, I recommend focusing on Epcot and places like Disney Springs.  The higher-end the restaurant, or the later you stay out, the fewer crowds (and kids) you'll usually find.

I'm not sure when I'll next be at Disney... but I'll probably have a kid in tow!
That will make for a whole new blog post.
But this trip was one of the best, and I'm happy we went and enjoyed it as grown-ups.

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