There's no better place on earth to work a little magic.
If you’ve ever been confounded to hear of adult couples traveling to Disney World together—without kids—you’re not alone. But there’s a good reason so many duos head to Florida's most magical destination. A grown-up trip to Walt Disney World can be a responsibility-free break to experience thrills and to experience global tastes (without buying an international plane ticket). It's also, unsurprisingly, one of the best ways to get in touch with your inner kid and relax. Best of all, you're bound to encounter a fantasy-worthy proposal or even a wedding inside Cinderella's castle.
With world-class wine bars and gorgeous sights, there’s plenty for couples to do sans family: even if most of Disney vacation planning is geared towards larger broods. If you’re heading to Disney World with only your significant other in tow, here’s what no one has told you about conjuring a little romance.
Get a bed fit for a king
Hotels at Disney World come at three price points—Value, Moderate and Deluxe—which work great for families, but not necessarily for couples. If you two are tight on cash, consider staying off property instead of at a lower-cost Value resort, where the over-the-top themes and large groups of traveling athletes will ruin the romance. If you stay at any of the hotels on-property, pay extra for a king bed while booking, or prepare to find two separate beds upon arrival. This is, after all, a family-friendly resort that’s not really designed for snuggling. You can request a king bed for free, but nothing is guaranteed, so be sure to put it in your room notes and to call ahead to confirm it’s on your profile.
Make your own magic
Just because you’re at a theme park built on Floridian swampland doesn’t mean you can’t vacation like you’re traipsing across Europe. The France and Italy pavilions at Epcot are home runs where romance is concerned, particularly the latter’s Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar, which stocks more than 200 bottles of fine Italian wines. Fortunately, many families wind up at Via Napoli next door. Top your evening off by splitting a gorgeous gourmet dessert at Amorette’s Patisserie at Disney Springs, or even a horse-drawn carriage ride for two.
Carve out quality time, even within the crowds
There are plenty of ways to sneak some alone time in the wildly popular parks. Admire the gardens at Epcot’s Canada pavilion and explore the hidden pathways at the front of Animal Kingdom’s entrance, as there are animals living in there, too. If you’re both night owls, be sure to embrace it. The grounds stay open well after the parks officially close, allowing you to utilize the empty walkways for a romantic midnight stroll through your favorite lands. It can ctually be a bit eerie when it’s especially late, which will give you an excuse to hold on tight to your beau (or your Belle).
Split your spending
When you stay at a Disney World resort, a credit card will be put down for incidentals, but everything you do will be charged to it through your complimentary MagicBand bracelet. (You can trade off paying out-of-pocket for purchases, but the MagicBand is so easy to use that you never will.) Raise a flag upon check-in and request to assign each band to separate, individual credit cards so no one is accidentally saddled with the entire bill. Be sure to check the following day that the charges are actually being split, too—this can only be done in person, at the hotel front desk.
Be a grown-up in the right place (at the right time)
Even with the occasional screaming baby, there’s plenty to make a couple’s trip at Walt Disney World a real-life fairytale. Seeking relaxation? Spend the early morning poolside, when most families are racing to hit attractions before lines get long. If it’s fine wines you’re after, aficionados will adore the bar at Jiko, in the Animal Kingdom Lodge, which holds the largest collection of African wines outside of Africa. And if you like trying new adventures as a couple, braving the roller coaster you’ve always feared will bring you two closer than before.
Get ahead of the game
Your best bet for having a lovely evening for two in a vacation wonderland for tots is to visit anything brand new. Families often plan and book their trips so far in advance that recent openings, like AbracadaBar at Disney’s BoardWalk Resort, aren’t on their radar. Animal Kingdom’s Nomad Lounge at Tiffins Restaurant is not only new, but it's quite upscale and adult-centric; guests are encouraged to write favorite travel memories on tags and hang them from the ceiling. It's great for sparking evening conversation, though the innovative cocktails certainly don't hurt. If you’re really seeking alone time, head inside to Polynesian Village Resort’s tiki-themed Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto—it becomes adults-only after 8 p.m.
Pick the right seat
Under The Sea—Journey of the Little Mermaid and Haunted Mansion are examples of rides that have two-passenger vehicles. If you’re heading to a water park, opt for Typhoon Lagoon and two-seater Crush ‘n’ Gusher water rollercoaster over Blizzard Beach, Disney’s other water park. While the water slides there are equally stellar, the chair lift up seats three, so you’ll be arm-to-arm with a shirtless stranger. Talk about a major buzzkill.
Explore the grounds
Looking for a date vibe on a day without park tickets? Walk the grounds of Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside resort, where large-scale hotel wings are designed to look like massive southern mansions. In the winter, you can hop a monorail at Magic Kingdom to tour awe-inspiring Christmas decor at the surrounding resorts, or even enjoy some two-on-one time with a giraffe for free, sans crowds, at Animal Kingdom Lodge hotel. The resort offers a savannah-facing lookout where anyone can come observe the animals, but if you instead turn left when you enter the hotel and head to the end of the hallway, there will be an outdoor staircase that functions like a private balcony, providing a clear view of the wildlife below.