What I’m about to say is such sacrilege that it tears at the very fabric that holds this country together. In fact, I suggest that you don’t proceed any further without locking the doors and drawing the shades. It’s this: I love going to Disney World without my kids. There, I’ve said it. It’s true. Okay, truth is, I love going with my kids as well. I love watching their reactions, how excited they are over the smallest thing. I enjoy the opportunity to slow down with them and not worry about everyday concerns. But on occasion, I’ve been known to enjoy a grown-up only trip to Disney World and other than a few guilt-inducing moments, I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. And I think you should as well.
The first time I told a group of mothers about this, I was a little nervous. I wondered if they’d judge me. Perhaps they’d wonder amongst themselves, after I left the room, what other kind of activities I got up to when my children weren’t around. Maybe I had a bunch of tattoos, drove a motorcycle, and considered Happy Meals a food group! Perhaps I even–gasp–let my kids play with plastic toys that weren’t age appropriate! I was understandably concerned, so I let my secret out slowly.
Confessing your love for Disney World in a neighborhood like mine isn’t that big of a deal. It’s the kind place where people tend to go often. But how, I wondered, would they react if I told them I was going without the kids? I brought it up one morning at the bus stop, kicking the ground with one of my Mickey Crocs. “So,” I said. “I’m going to Disney World next month with some of my girlfriends.” “You’re not taking the kids?” a little brunette Midwesterner asked. “No,” I answered, a little worried. “I’ve always wanted to do that,” she replied. And then she proceeded to tell me about all the things she would do if she went on a trip to Disney without her kids. And do you know what the surprising thing is? Almost every parent I’ve mentioned this to has said the same thing: I’ve always wanted to do that.
Now let me just say up front that I don’t necessarily advocate going to Disney World without your kids if you don’t go that often. Disney is set up so well for families, it’s a great place to relax and connect. And it really is a place where you make memories for a lifetime. But if you’re like me and you have little kids, you can’t help but look at bit longingly at the restaurants and rides you can’t experience with small children, not to mention the thought of relaxing back at the resort.
I think a lot of people who aren’t familiar with Disney World would assume there isn’t a lot for adults to do. This couldn’t be more wrong. Besides all the usual activities in the parks, and believe me, this is a big part of why we go, Disney has great restaurants that are more adult-oriented, live music, golfing, spas, and shopping. I love walking around Epcot at night and while my days of drinking around the world are long gone (okay, I never made it past England; I have the tolerance of a gnat.), I love the atmosphere; it’s a lively, fun place to people watch, entirely different from during the day. We always make sure we have a couple of great meals and stay a little late after the park closes to enjoy the peace and quiet of a mostly empty park. Going to Disney with friends or with your spouse/partner is a great way to experience all the things you usually do, but at a slower pace. It’s also a great way to do something that would bore the kids, like really looking at all the exhibits in Epcot or taking a behind the scenes tour. Or if you want, you can just lay by the pool and not have to worry that your boys are dunking their sister or who needs more sunscreen.
When I go to Disney without the kids, it’s usually a spur of the moment budget trip. We’re close enough that we can fly down on a Friday night, stay at a value, and come back that Sunday night. We can cram a lot of fun into 48 hours. And sure, I’ve felt a little guilty. But then I call my husband and the kids are running around laughing and my husband is confused about the casserole I left for them and I know that we’re all going in a few months and I think, “They’re going to be fine.” Then I go ride Splash Mountain again for the third time. I’m not going to say it’s better than going with the kids. It’s different. And if you can do it, I say go for it.
Chris writes here and at Everything Walt Disney World. She’s also a travel agent and a member of the Mouse Chat Podcast. Email her at ChrisW@PixieVacations.com for information on how you can get a free $100, $50, or $25 Disney gift card when you book a new vacation. Don’t forget, free dining for August - September 2011 is now available.