Panicked sweat was dripping down my face as children with Mickey Mouse ears surrounded me and shrieked until their voices became hoarse with rage. “ICE CREAM!” they roared. Embarrassed parents fumbled through their princess Jasmine fanny packs looking for money to appease their child’s demands. This was not the Disney World I remembered from my childhood.
When my family first told me they were planning a trip to Walt Disney World for my six-year-old cousin, I was ecstatic. I couldn’t wait to re-visit “the most magical place on earth.” But the constant yelling and the wiping of streaming tears deterred me from making the most out of a trip back to my childhood. Life had forced me to change and grow up.
However, I found that despite the earsplitting screams and hectic nature of the parks, Disney still manages to turn your family vacation into an adventure you never outgrow. Here are 10 ways to enjoy Disney World as an adult.
1. Take advantage of the Evening Extra Magic Hours.
Disney understands that not every visitor is a child that goes to bed at 9 p.m. Evening Extra Magic Hours allows certain parks to stay open two hours after closing to the general public. The parks are notably less crowded and rides are so much more fun at night.
2.Go see the fireworks.
The parks have extravagant fireworks every night and you don’t have to be a kid to enjoy them. Also, can we make fireworks an everyday thing?
(Day fading into night at Animal Kingdom)
3. PLAY DRESS UP
Everywhere I went, kids, parents, grandparents, dogs(?) were dressed up. At first, I thought it was dumb. Then I tried on a pair of sequined Minnie Mouse ears with a big red bow and immediately shut my mouth.
4. Enjoy the fun rides.
You may not be a big fan of the Teacups, but Disney World has a lot to offer when it comes to rides designed to be enjoyed by all ages such as the Kali River Rapids in Animal Kingdom, Test Track in Epcot, and The Great Movie Ride in Hollywood Studios.
(The Great Movie Ride, “Follow the Yellow Brick Road”)
5. Epcot – enough said.
From going inside the giant globe on Spaceship Earth to flying over California in a flight simulator, Epcot is just as interesting to experience as an adult as it is sheer fun for a child.
(Wall mural at Spaceship Earth)
6. “Drink Around The World Showcase.”
Make your way through the 11 countries featured in Epcot’s international pavilions and grab a drink from each stop. It’s a pretty solid plan until the world starts spinning by the time you get to Germany.
(Moroccan Pavilion at Epcot)
7. Go behind the scenes.
Watch how movies are made and how high-speed car chases are filmed at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. I promise you lots of explosions and hunky men in spandex.
(Muppets display at Hollywood Studios)
8. Chill with animals.
Animals are cool, man. You can play with baby goats at Affection Section or pet ferrets and snakes at Conservation Station in Animal Kingdom. Not to mention, the Kilimanjaro Safari rides that take you through an African Savanna full of wildlife.
(Wood carving of Simba at Kidani Village in Animal Kingdom)
9. Embrace your inner child.
Growing old is mandatory. Growing up is optional. Disney World is a place where it’s completely okay to be a kid again.
10. Now, do everything I said drunk or buzzed.
Trust me, it’ll make things a lot more interesting. Whether it’s the bar at your resort or a stand selling drinks at Magic Kingdom, Disney World is well aware of the alcoholic anesthesia you need in your life when it comes to being on vacation with your family.
Walt Disney once said that Disney’s enormous success came in part from creating “a believable world of dreams that appeals to all age groups.” He was absolutely right.
All photos taken by Maria Ying
Huffington Post, Maria Ying