Reader Question: Traveling as an Adult Family

Hey Pete!

We’re heading to Disney THIS SUMMER! My family is a lot like yours, but reversed! We have a son who is in his 20s and a younger daughter who is finishing her junior year of college. It’s been a few years since my family got together for a vacation. My kids have been traveling on their own lately, so it’ll be nice to get the family together.

My daughter is all about Disney, but my son is a hard sell. We’ve only been to Disney once before and the entire family enjoyed it, but it was about 12 years ago. How does an older family enjoy Disney World? My son has been to all inclusives and loves to eat. Should I send him to EPCOT?

Thanks so much!

Caryn, North Carolina

Hey Caryn!

First of all: Disney is for kids of all ages!

That’s the mantra I told my family friends when they joined us on our Christmas vacation. The parents were a little younger than my parents; and the kids were a little younger than me and my sister, but right around your kids’ ages. The dad was “all in” and was very excited about the trip. He even bought us all matching shirts for Christmas Day! After examining the shirt, his son looked at me and said “we’re gonna look ridiculous, I’m not wearing this.”

I’ll tell you the same thing I told him. Like I said above, Disney is for kids of all ages and is a judgement-free zone. No one cares if you’re running around wearing Mickey Ears, if you sing along to your favorite Disney songs, or dance as the parade passes.

There’s a special feeling when you arrive at Disney –  you’re fully engulfed in the magic. Once you pass under the Disney arch and enter the property, you’re no longer in the real world – you’re in Walt’s version of it. Everything is themed, to the extent that you’re not sure what’s real and what’s “fake.” People seem happier in Disney. Everyone is friendly and has a “we’re in this together” mentality. The best way I can describe it: while Disney may have a reputation as a vacation for kids, it also serves as a chance for adults to get in touch with their inner child.

You mentioned that your son loves food. Disney caters to all ages. One way they do this is by offering sophisticated dishes and twists on your favorite food. From different variations of waffle sandwiches, to loaded french fries and tons of different sweets and desserts, Disney has something for every taste bud!

While EPCOT is an excellent place to pig out, there are so many options for fantastic food throughout Walt Disney World. I definitely recommend spending one day eating around the world in EPCOT. I’d also recommend doing a sit-down dinner at one of Disney’s deluxe restaurants. California Grill, at the top of the Contemporary Resort, offers breathtaking views of the Magic Kingdom area. It has delicious food and if you plan your reservation right, you can watch the fireworks from your table or outside on the viewing deck. Narcoossee’s is my family’s personal favorite. Found at the Grand Floridian, Narcoossee’s offers fresh seafood and delicious steaks. It is also home to (in my opinion) the best dessert on property: the almond crusted cheesecake!  I’ve never tried Flying Fish, but have heard terrific things! Be sure to check out the Disney website and find a menu that meets your family’s tastes!

The delicious Almond-Crusted Cheesecake!

The delicious Almond-Crusted Cheesecake!

There are also plenty of fun activities to do outside the theme parks. All resorts have a pool that fits its theme. Chill out by the pool or head to one of Disney’s water parks for the day. Disney also features championship golf courses, spas, and arcades. You and your daughter can spend the day at the spa while your son and husband tee off at one of Disney’s challenging golf courses.

Disney’s Boardwalk has plenty of activities for adults, including a dueling piano bar named Jellyrolls. I believe you have to be 21 or older to enter the bar at night, so you may have a problem depending on the age of your daughter. Much of Downtown Disney, soon to be Disney Springs, should be open by the time you get down there. I’d definitely recommend checking out The BOATHOUSE. The BOATHOUSE promises to offer live music, guided tours aboard the captain’s 40-foot Italian Water Taxi, and guided Amphicar rides that launch from land but enter the water for a 20-minute tour of Disney Springs. The BOATHOUSE will feature steaks, chops, seafood and a raw bar, giving guests an upscale waterfront dining experience. I’ve read that The BOATHOUSE will remain open later than the rest of Disney Springs (and later than some parks.) Also opening is STK and Morimoto Asia. I’ve eaten at STK in New York City and would personally recommend it.

You can also get some shopping done at Disney Springs. The area currently has a solid array of shops and restaurants and more are due to open. Pick up an iced coffee from Starbucks and sit back and relax by the water, or go shopping for the day. Disney Springs already features plenty of cool Disney souvenir shops, with APEX by Sunglass Hut, Art of Shaving and Sanuk, due to open soon.

As you can see, there’s plenty to do at Walt Disney World, and don’t forget about the parks!

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