Walt Disney World for Adults: Things to Do (and How to Save Money)

As Disney adds more thrill rides and alcohol to menus, the family-friendly vacation kingdom is adult-friendly, too.
Sally French
By Sally French 
Edited by Dawnielle Robinson-Walker

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Walt Disney World in Florida is great for kids and families, but adults at Disney World can have a delightful vacation there, too. As the park adds more high-speed thrill rides (including Tron Lightcycle Run and Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind) and more alcohol onto restaurant menus, some aspects of Disney World likely aren't designed for tiny tots.

Here’s the ultimate guide to Disney World for adults, including which theme parks to visit, where to stay, what to eat and how to save money.

The best Disney World theme parks for adults

Spaceship Earth is one of Epcot's iconic attractions. (Photo by Sally French)

There are four theme parks at Walt Disney World. Here’s what they are — and what adults can expect when they visit:

  • Disney's Animal Kingdom: The centerpiece of this theme park, Kilimanjaro Safaris, is a solid consolation prize for adults who’ve never been on an African safari. Driving past animals in the Harambe Wildlife Reserve aboard an open-air vehicle can be an unforgettable experience regardless of age.

  • Disney's Hollywood Studios: Many adults flock to this theme park purely for Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, an area of the park with two "Star Wars" themed attractions. You don’t need to be a fan of the franchise to appreciate Oga’s Cantina, a lively bar serving over-the-top cocktails.

  • Epcot: The Epcot theme park is known for attractions that have more of an educational spin, such as the iconic Spaceship Earth, which is a slow-moving ride through the history of communication. There’s also Journey of Water, which teaches travelers about the global water cycle. Epcot stands out for the international cuisine featured in World Showcase, which has food pavilions themed around 11 countries.

  • Magic Kingdom Park: While this park is the most kid-oriented of the bunch, many adults will appreciate the childhood nostalgia. Plus, it’s home to Disney’s iconic attractions including The Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean. Nearly a dozen restaurants inside Magic Kingdom now serve alcohol.

NerdWallet considers Epcot to be the best Walt Disney World park for adults, with Disney's Hollywood Studios as a solid contender.

Margaritas and tequila flights are served at the 30-seat La Cava del Tequila tucked away in the Mexico pavilion at Epcot. (Photo courtesy of Disney)

Epcot stands out if you're looking to imbibe at the World Showcase area. Try Japanese plum wine or sake at Kabuki Cafe. Sip on Canadian ice wine at Le Cellier Steakhouse or sample one of more than 200 tequilas at La Cava del Tequila in the Mexico pavilion. Aficionados might even book the $180 tasting experience with a certified Tequila Ambassador, featuring a selection of rare and unique agave spirits.

Visitors sample menu items from the more than 25 festival food and wine marketplaces located throughout Epcot as part of the park's International Food & Wine Festival. (Photo courtesy of Disney)

Plus, Epcot’s rides, from the slow boat ride through a greenhouse system called Living with the Land to the intense, G-force simulating Mission: SPACE, are often more appealing to adults.

One of the newest attractions, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, is like Space Mountain on steroids. It features the first reverse launch on a Disney coaster, and its ride vehicles rotate rather than point straight ahead — bringing a bonus thrill.

The best Disney World hotels for adults

The best Disney World hotels for adults vary based on how much you prioritize design and amenities over affordability.

The pool complex at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort. (Photo courtesy of Disney)

NerdWallet’s pick for the best Disney World resort for adults in the deluxe tier is Disney’s Yacht Club Resort. The elegant, New England-style inspired resort has a lazy river within its 3-acre pool complex and is also the site of the Yachtsman Steakhouse. It also sits against Disney’s BoardWalk, a hub for nighttime adult entertainment including the Atlantic Dance Hall and the Jellyrolls dueling piano bar, both of which are limited to adults ages 21 and up.

The Oak Manor Lawn at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside boasts towering oak trees that provide a lush backdrop for wedding ceremonies, which can be held at the resort. (Photo courtesy of Disney)

Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter is the best moderate-priced resort for adults seeking a subdued stay. Resembling New Orleans’s historic French Quarter, the calm Sassagoula River flows quietly throughout the grounds. Its sister resort, Disney's Port Orleans Resort – Riverside, is also an excellent pick.

Kids might not even recognize the 23-foot-tall Roger Rabbit, who sits atop a 12-foot barrel at the 1980s-themed area of Disney's Pop Century Resort. (Photo courtesy of Disney)

If cost is most important, the best hotel is Disney's Pop Century Resort. In addition to having its own Disney Skyliner station, adults might appreciate the thematic nods to the 1950s through the 1990s, such as the 1960s-inspired “Hippy Dippy Pool.”

Benefits of Disney hotels

Disney-owned hotels are almost always more expensive than nearby hotels, but staying in one provides benefits that you might not find elsewhere.

  • Early theme park entry: People booked at Disney hotels can enter theme parks 30 minutes before everyone else (park admission is required). 

  • Extended evening hours: Visitors at Disney’s deluxe resorts are entitled to stick around longer (typically two hours past standard closing time) on specific nights at some parks. 

  • Free mass transportation: Every Disney hotel is served by buses, and some hotels provide other modes of transportation including boats, monorails or an aerial gondola called the Disney Skyliner.

  • Free parking: If you drive your vehicle, people staying at Disney Resort hotels receive complimentary standard parking at Disney theme parks, Disney water parks and the Disney Springs area.

The best Disney World restaurants for adults

Disney restaurants break down into three categories: food carts, quick service (you order at the counter or through mobile order) and waiter-service restaurants.

Best food carts for adults

For the quickest snack option, head to the food carts to buy theme park classics like ice cream, pretzels and popcorn. There’s also not-to-be-missed Disney icons, including the Dole Whip, a sort of frozen pineapple soft serve.

Hawaii’s booth at the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival has been known to serve Spam sushi with teriyaki-glazed Spam, spicy mayonnaise, eel sauce and nori. (Photo by Sally French)

During the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, you’ll find food carts offering dishes from countries around the world in smaller portions but at lower prices. The festival dishes are outstanding because they embrace cultures beyond the 11 countries represented in the Epcot pavilions. In 2023, you could order Kenyan coffee barbecued beef from the Kenya stand, a lamb gyro from the Greece stand, or Pão de Queijo (a type of cheese bread) from the Brazil stand.

Best quick service restaurants for adults

The Ronto Wrap is filled with spiced grilled sausage and roasted pork. (Photo courtesy of Disney)

Affordable Disney World meals that adult foodies seek out include Flame Tree Barbecue at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park, which serves plentiful protein like pulled pork and ribs.

At Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo (located in the Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge section of Disney's Hollywood Studios), adults can feast on elevated dishes like a smoky braised beef glazed in tamarind sauce, tuna poke or a Ronto Wrap, which is a pita-wrapped pork sausage named for the fictional four-legged herbivores on Luke Skywalker’s home planet of Tatooine.

Best waiter service restaurants for adults

As far as the best restaurants in Disney World for adults with waiter service, foodies flock to Jiko – The Cooking Place, which serves African-inspired dishes like oak-grilled filet mignon and cocoa-crusted venison loin.

For ultra-fine dining, consider the opulent Victoria and Albert's restaurant at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. The Victorian restaurant set under a grand rotunda isn’t cheap, though. The prix fixe menu begins at $295 per person, and there’s no a la carte option available.

Disney considers Victoria & Albert’s, located inside Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, as its culinary crown jewel. (Photo courtesy of Disney)

Free or cheap Disney activities for adults outside the theme parks

There are plenty of free or cheap activities outside the Disney parks that are appealing to adults. After all, the characters, parades and shows inside the parks might feel chaotic for adults, especially those seeking to relax.

If your idea of relaxation means going on a run, Disney has a long list of jogging paths, each of various distances (and using them for a stroll is OK, too). At night, you might get your cardio in at the Atlantic Dance Hall.

Visit Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge for free views of wildlife. (Photo courtesy of Disney)

And if that’s too much movement, you might curl up in a rocking chair on the back patio of Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge, which overlooks four savannas that house more than 30 species of African wildlife, including zebras, giraffes, gazelles, kudu and flamingos. While there, stop for a sampling of the South African wines at the hotel’s Cape Town Lounge and Wine Bar (though the wine isn’t free).

Disney Springs offers plenty to do, including hot air balloon rides. (Photo by Sally French)

For entertainment, head to Disney’s free outdoor shopping district, Disney Springs where many bars and restaurants play free live music on the patio. Don’t miss Raglan Road, which usually features Irish musicians and dancers.

Other ways adults can save money on a Walt Disney World vacation

Even without kids, don’t expect a Disney World vacation to be cheap. NerdWallet analyzed hundreds of individual prices that could potentially go into a Disney vacation and found that the average cost of Disney World for two adults can easily top $4,000 for a seven-night trip — and that’s for frugal travelers.

NerdWallet’s analysis broke down trips by travel style, with the knowledge that some folks might demand white tablecloth dining while others are fine with food carts. Similarly, some adults might splurge on tickets with line-cutting privileges while others are fine waiting. With that in mind, here’s how much you should anticipate spending per day, per person (with hotel prices based on double occupancy), based on travel style.




1-day, 1-park theme park ticket




1-night hotel room (Saturday night)




Individual meal




Disney costs add up, but here are some ways you can save money.

Commit to Disney’s free mass transit

An aerial gondola vehicle from the Disney Skyliner glides in front of Disney’s Pop Century Resort. (Photo courtesy of Disney)

Unlike families who might require a rental car to use a child car seat, adults can rely solely on Disney’s extensive free transportation network of boats, monorails, buses and gondolas.

Seek out discount Disney park tickets

Vacation packages, discounted ticket sites, airline apps and points can all get you cheaper Disney tickets. Here’s a guide to buying Disney tickets for cheap.

Don’t be afraid to order kids meals

Satu’li Canteen is the fast-casual restaurant located on Pandora – The World of Avatar. (Photo courtesy of Disney)

If you’re dining at a counter-service restaurant, no one will know if you’re ordering a kids menu item to be consumed by an adult. Often, kids meals offer the same items as the adult version, albeit a smaller portion (and a lower price tag). If you’re seeking to try everything, this strategy enables you to try more for less money.

For example, you might want a cheeseburger pod, which is a bao bun stuffed with classic cheeseburger ingredients sold at Animal Kingdom’s Satu'li Canteen. The adult serving costs $13.29 while the smaller portion for kids is $8.59 — 35% less.

What about Disney Good Neighbor Hotels?

The Drury Plaza Hotel Orlando - Disney Springs Area is considered an Official Walt Disney World Hotel, though it's typically cheaper (and offers more free amenities) than Disney-owned hotels. (Photo by Sally French)

Disney Good Neighbor Hotels are owned by other companies (mostly large, international hotel brands that offer loyalty programs), but they are formally recognized by Disney as recommended places to stay. Many can be booked at lower cash rates — and sometimes even for free (assuming you have hotel points, earned through frequent stays or credit card rewards).

For adults who prefer staying off-property to get out of the Disney bubble, Good Neighbor Hotels offer other cost-savings such as breakfast, kitchenettes or pet-friendly hotel rooms.

Plus, many of the Disney Good Neighbor hotel benefits match those that people staying at Disney hotels get, including early theme park entry. For proximity to nightlife, restaurants and other entertainment, adults will want to consider Disney Good Neighbor Hotels in the Disney Springs area.

Stay for 'free' when you book with points

Staying off-property (such as at one of those Disney Good Neighbor Hotels), can eliminate a huge expense if your credit card points cover it.

Disney Springs area hotels that can be booked on loyalty points include:

Breakfast is free at Drury Plaza Hotel Orlando - Disney Springs Area. With abundant hot items including eggs and waffles, it's a good way to fill up before a big day at the theme parks. (Photo by Sally French)

The Drury Plaza Hotel Orlando - Disney Springs Area is one of the few hotels in the area that doesn’t charge a resort fee — yet offers resort amenities. People staying here have access to free hot breakfast and the 5:30 Kickback, a happy hour to nosh on soups, salads, grilled chicken and veggies (plus snacks like nachos). The 5:30 Kickback also features free drinks — including alcohol.

Cheaper alternatives to Disney World

If you’re a proud Disney adult but are looking for other ways to experience the magic, there are other, cheaper alternatives to Disney World.

Disney cruises

On Disney's newest cruise ship, the Disney Wish, adults might find refuge in the Quiet Cove, an adults-only district with an infinity pool and poolside bar. (Photo courtesy of Disney)

Another NerdWallet report analyzed Disney Cruise versus Disney World prices and found that the average Disney cruise is typically cheaper than a Disney World vacation, especially for longer and luxury-style vacations.

Sure, Disney cruises are great for children and families. Still, there are plenty of activities including live music and variety shows that cater to adults, plus adult swimming pools, spas and dining.

Here’s a breakdown of prices for Disney Cruise Line vs. Disney World, illustrating scenarios where Disney cruises net out cheaper than the theme parks.

Average price for two at Walt Disney World

Average price for two at Disney Cruise Line

Price winner

3-night, Value trip



Disney World (23% cheaper than a cruise).

3-night, Moderate trip



Disney World (8% cheaper than a cruise).

3-night, Deluxe trip



Disney Cruise (10% cheaper than Disney World).

7-night, Value trip



Disney Cruise (5% cheaper than Disney World).

7-night, Moderate trip



Disney Cruise (8% cheaper than Disney World).

7-night, Deluxe trip



Disney Cruise (33% cheaper than Disney World).

Disneyland Resort in California

The Pym Tasting Lab at Disney California Adventure Park's Avengers Campus, is popular among adults, as it serves craft beer and cocktails with ingredients like habanero and mango syrup. (Photo courtesy of Disney)

If you’re accounting only for tickets and food (not hotels) Disneyland is cheaper than Disney World. In a NerdWallet analysis, Disney-owned hotels in California averaged 49% more expensive per night than Disney World hotels, making trip costs overall more expensive. But if you can find lodging elsewhere, then a Disneyland trip will likely cost less (Disneyland tickets average 3.9% cheaper than Disney World, and Disneyland meals average 9.9% cheaper).

Here’s a breakdown of prices for Disneyland vs. Disney World, so you can see which line items are cheaper or more expensive, depending on the coast:

Disneyland average price

Walt Disney World average price

One-day theme park ticket



Value property room rate (Saturday night)



Nightly Moderate property room rate (Saturday night)



Nightly Deluxe property room rate (Saturday night)



Average cost per meal at Value restaurants



Average cost per meal at Moderate restaurants



Average cost per meal at Deluxe restaurants



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Rewards rate


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