For many of us Disney-obsessed adults, the constant implication that Disney is only for kids and that we’re somehow suffering through our family trips is alarmingly common. It’s almost as though people think that just because you’re a grown human person it’s somehow impossible to enjoy Disney in the same way that your children do. Let’s go ahead and squash this myth right now.
I love going to Disney, as much as or more than the rest of the Rad family. Even though our trips are as much for Rad Mom and I as they are for the Rad Girls, people continually imply that we are somehow saints for taking our children as often as we do because how much could we possibly enjoy opening and closing the Magic Kingdom for eighteen hours or waking up at 5am to beat everyone to Flight of Passage? Let’s look at a few reasons why Walt Disney World is most certainly not just for kids. (In fact, it might even be more for adults.) Don’t believe me? Read on…
Don’t Pretend Like You’re Not Scared
I hear this one a lot: “The coasters at Disney are all for little kids.” They are? I wasn’t aware that a limousine ride through the pitch black while neon signs are hurled at your face as you rotate and loop was intended for children. All this time I thought it was rather intense. I suppose there should be more stroller parking in that area if they’re going to let infants ride the coaster. (Just kidding, all the babies would go flying out of their seats during the ride thereby negating your need for a stroller anyway.) And don’t kid yourself and act like you’re the Neo of the coaster Matrix. We all know that you almost puked the last time you were at Six Flags and cried yourself to sleep for weeks afterwards muttering hateful things about the DC Characters and their deadly rides. The point is that people always act as if there aren’t fun thrill rides in Walt Disney World, and that’s simply not true. Rock ‘n’
Roller Coaster is a blast, Tower of Terror is a classic free fall ride, and Slinky Dog apparently runs a bit faster than people expected — and those are just at Hollywood Studios. Flight of Passage is the coolest ride I’ve ever been on, full stop. If you’re not blown away by Flight of Passage then you’re a soulless robot who probably shrugged at the end of Old Yeller and thought, “What’s the big deal? It’s just a dog.” Expedition Everest is a ton of fun, and Kali River Rapids has the potential to be a soaking good time (which sounds like the tagline for an upcoming movie about bath time hijinks). Oh, you were talking about the Magic Kingdom? The one that has the fifty foot drop into the briar patch? Or the one that has the OG roller coaster in the dark? You know, like Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster but without the loop. Or the one that’s a runaway mine train? Was that the one that was too boring for you, Sultan of Speed? Look, I’m not saying that there aren’t more thrilling rides in other parks, but there are few places where you can get such a diversity of rides all wrapped up in the legendary Disney experience. Seriously, the last time I went to a non-Disney park here in Atlanta — you know, the one with all the flags — I was blown away by the difference. The landscaping was
overgrown and every visible surface seemed unwashed and covered with the sort of stuff you’d find at the CDC, sort of the theme park equivalent of Gary Busey, and it was full of people who looked as though part of their morning routines involved checking the batteries on their ankle monitors and making sure that they didn’t leave the state in the next six to eight weeks. But please tell me again how those places are better than Disney…
Disney has been struggling since the opening of Epcot in 1982 to nail down exactly what they want Epcot to be, but I think they’re actually a lot closer to perfecting the formula than people give them credit for. For better or worse, Epcot has become a more adult park in many ways, and I think this is fantastic. You can openly drink in Epcot; they have multiple festivals during the year that have each become quite popular for different reasons, especially Food and Wine; they have all
sorts of amazing live music performances, during which you can drink; it has become quite popular to “drink around the world,” sampling the most interesting beverages from each country in the World Showcase; and they have some of the best food in Walt Disney World — with which you can get a drink if you’re on the meal plan.
And, uh, they have the Frozen ride, too, I guess. (RIP Maelstrom…)
The point is that Epcot is awesome. It’s like the party park, the place where all of the college kids go to get away from the children and the place where all of the parents go to get away from their own children — which is awkward because their children are usually with them. Epcot has a few key attractions to keep kids interested, with more on the way, but it also has more opportunities to kick back and relax than all of the other Disney parks combined. And have you ever noticed that most of the Epcot rides seem to favor intoxication? Think about it…
Living with the Land: “You mean I can grow barley and hops in my fish tank at home?! I am totally starting my own craft brewery! Then I’ll better blend in with my hipster friends!”
Spaceship Earth: “Whoa! My face is on this little cartoon body! And it says I’m going to live on Mars with my space family and eat space food!”
Soarin’: “We’re flying! I bet this is exactly what it’s like to be Superman. Or Jesus.”
Test Track: “This doesn’t count as a DUI, does it?
Mission: SPACE — actually, on second thought, you should probably avoid Mission: SPACE at all costs if you are partaking in the imbibements around Epcot. You’ll thank me later.
Clearly there is a lot of fun to be had in Epcot for the average adult — and by “average” I mean over the age of twenty-one and breathing somewhat regularly. It’s the kind of park that you can visit separate and apart from the Disney experience just because it’s a cool place to go with cool events going on. It’s more accessible and less fast-paced than the other three parks, and it caters to people’s desire to do their own thing on their own time. What’s more adult than that?
The Excitement is its Own Reward
I’ve never rope dropped another theme park or briskly speed-walked my way to a ride in order to stay ahead of a surging crowd at my heels. I doubt you have, either. Failing to get caught up in the fervor and excitement of a Disney day isn’t the fault of the park; it’s yours. If you’re not willing to set aside your pride (or dignity, or public image, or…), then you’ll never fully embrace the Disney experience as an adult. Just as there’s no crying in baseball, there’s no judgement in Disney. You can wear whatever you like, do whatever you like, and be whomever you like. It’s not like going to the beach where everyone is silently judging you for that extra basket of fries you ate along with your hush puppies and a side of Texas toast, which all came with your Fisherman’s Sampler meal — that was probably purchased “fresh” at Sam’s Club. Nope, not at Disney. Have another Mickey head ice cream while dashing towards Space Mountain wearing Mickey ears and laughing the whole time. It’s not the Rad girls who make the decision to get up and get to the parks in time for rope drop; it’s us. Because we know that at the end of the day we’ll have more fun if we’re constantly doing things
rather than standing in a line. When the Rad Girls were younger, we didn’t let them dictate what we were going to do; we planned it for them. (Young children don’t really approach theme park adventures with a solid sense of strategy. They just look for whatever will provide instant gratification and — look, something shiny!) You’re in charge of your destiny at Disney, so you need to decide what kind of trip you’re going to have: will it be the all out, non-stop Disney experience that is characterized by fun, memories, and exhaustion, or will it be the lackadaisical approach dictated by a sub-seven-year-old who just wants something that makes bubbles?! That’s not a trip; that’s a nightmare, and you’d be forgiven for thinking that Disney is stupid, only kids get it, and it would take a world full of drinks to ease the pain.
As it happens, I might know just the place…
Rad Dad, out.
Thanks to the photographic skills of @home_at_disney, @mickeys_photographer, @magicalshannonmarie, @zipadeedoocrew, and @thedisneygrl (Nicole Ellington). Oh, and me, too.