Nomad by Trade

A travel blog for the kid at heart.

Tag: Florida

Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom - Disney World for adults

The Grown-Up’s Guide to the Magic Kingdom

As a former Magic Kingdom Cast Member, this park will always have the fondest memories associated with it for me. It was the first Disney World park and is home to the iconic Cinderella Castle. I know what you’re thinking. “Isn’t the Magic Kingdom just for kids?” Nope, not at all. Despite its reputation as the “kids’ park,” there is plenty of fun for guests of all ages, as I’ll demonstrate in this very in-depth guide for adults at the Magic Kingdom.

Cinderella Castle lit up at night - adults at the Magic Kingdom

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The Grown-Up’s Guide to Epcot

After being a bit neglected over the last few years, Epcot is about to see some big changes that will be a bit of a departure from its original vision. I picked it to be my first park guide in my series about Disney World for grown-ups because it’s historically been considered the non-kiddie park. I dispute that, as it was always my favorite as a kid, but I was also kind of a weirdo. This is the place where you’ll see the most childless adults hanging around, so feel free to start here if you still feel awkward. Read on for my top tips about Epcot for adults. Don’t forget to check out my grown-up’s guide to all of Disney World here.

Drinking around the world

I guess I have to start with this one. Any Disney fan over the age of 21 (sorry, even though you’re drinking in pavilions made to resemble other lands, the standard American drinking age still applies) has probably heard about drinking around the world. It’s a pretty simple concept: you head to World Showcase – that’s the part around the large lagoon at the back where all of the different countries are– and have a drink from each of the 11 pavilions. You’ll want to get an early start – most places open at 11 – to make sure you can pace yourself throughout the day. You don’t want to be the person who gets kicked out of Epcot because you’re falling over drunk. I highly recommend saving your last drink for just before Illuminations so you can enjoy it during the fireworks show.

Margarita inside of Epcot's Mexico pavilion

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Disney Springs is a great spot for adults at Disney World.

The Grown-Up’s Guide to Disney World

Disney is just for kids, right? Think again. Whether you’re reliving childhood memories or visiting for the first time, a Disney vacation is a blast for adults of all ages too. As a veteran of several grown-ups only trips, here are my best tips for making the most of your vacation to Disney World for adults only.

Don’t be self-conscious

A bus ride at Disney World - Disney World for Adults

I’m wearing a Pocahontas tank top. I’m drinking pop for breakfast. I am ready for some Disney magic sans kids.

Even if friends and family back home think you’re a little weird for going to Disney World or Disneyland without kids, no one at the parks will care. If you look around, you’ll see plenty of adults there by themselves from college-aged travelers to honeymooners to retired couples to intrepid solo travelers soaking up the magic on their own. And even if you were the only adults there sans children, everyone else would be too busy enjoying themselves to care. Don’t let worrying about what other people think of you put a damper on your fun.

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Cinderella Castle and the Hub at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World

The Most Important FastPass+ at Every Disney World Park

Booking your FastPass+ reservations is an essential step when planning a visit to Walt Disney World. Not all FastPasses were created equal, however, and it’s important to make the best choices when making your selections. I’ve put together a guide to the most important FastPasses at each Disney park. I factored in the popularity of the ride and the usual standby wait time along with my own personal preferences. Your choices will obviously vary based on your tastes and the people in your travel group, but here are my best recommendations for your initial three Disney World FastPasses.

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What to Pack for a Disney World Vacation

Your resort is booked. Your dining reservations are set in stone. Your FastPasses are all scheduled. The only question that remains is what to pack for your Disney vacation.

Packing for Disney parks

Packing for Disney parks can be daunting for first time visitors. There’s a lot to think of ahead of time, and I really don’t like having to waste money buying overpriced essentials at the airport, parks, or hotel just because I forgot to bring something I need. I usually start my packing lists about a month in advance and keep them on my laptop so they don’t get misplaced. I have sort of a “master” list in one file that I alter for each specific trip.

Suitcases and a dog

My dog wouldn’t stay out of the picture, so I gave up and just took the shot with him in it.

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An Ode to Wishes

The Magic Kingdom’s nighttime fireworks spectacular, Wishes, will soon be performing its final show. It has been inspiring guests to trust their heats and make wishes since it debuted in 2003. As a former Cast Member who spent several months working at the park, I’m particularly attached to Wishes and was devastated to hear of its upcoming finale. Wishes’ replacement, Happily Ever After, is slated to have its opening performance on May 12th. The clips of the new show that have been released look very good, but before we welcome that new show, it’s time to look back at what has made Wishes so magical for so many years.

From the iconic flares that kick the show off to the castle-framing fans of light to that evil face that I was always determined to see right-side up to the spectacular beauty of the finale, Wishes was not to be missed. No fireworks show will ever capture my heart quite the way Wishes did.

Wishes fireworks show at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World - Orlando, Florida

Who would think something as simple as a flare would be such a dramatic part of the show?

Being an intern at Disney World meant working the closing shift, and while that had the downside of ending late at night most of the time, it also included the perk of daily Wishes viewing and/or listening. Within a few weeks, those of us who worked at night had seen and heard the show so many times that we could tell how far into the performance it was based on just the sound of the firework bursts. The soundtrack wasn’t played in the ride station, and even though it’s open air, you couldn’t see the fireworks in the station, but we quickly learned to judge how far along the show was by the sound of the explosions echoing through the park. The light, airy bursts from the love section, the crackling sizzle that accompanied the villains portion, and the thundering booms leading up to the finale were as distinct as the music that accompanied them. This wasn’t just fun – it was a valuable skill on nights when the park remained open after Wishes, because the end of the show would signal an upcoming rush of people wanting to board.

Wishes fireworks show at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World - Orlando, Florida

That silhouette still makes me smile.

If there weren’t many guests around to load and unload, we’d have our own sing-alongs providing an off-key, but spirited soundtrack to the invisible fireworks. And, let’s face it, sometimes the presence of guests didn’t even deter us from performing – hey, they call us Cast Members at Disney because we we’re all part of the show, right?

Wishes fireworks show at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World - Orlando, Florida

It’s even pretty when viewed from across the Seven Seas Lagoon!

By the end of our time working there, Wishes was so ingrained in my heart that it would bring a tear to my eye during the finale. That’s also when my favorite firework of all time explodes – the biggest, loudest shimmery gold one you can imagine. Wishes was an almost nightly ritual for several months, and I spent my last evening as a Cast Member standing on Main Street singing along. Just like certain songs can transport you back to a place and time that you remember fondly, this 12.5-minute long combination of lights, music, fireworks, and a flying fairy will always make me think of some of my happiest days.

Wishes fireworks show at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World - Orlando, Florida

This one! This is my favorite firework of all time.

I tried to make it back to Orlando to watch it one last time, but the whole full-time job thing made that impractical. I’ll have to console myself with listening to the soundtrack over and over again. As luck would have it, I’ve taken enough pictures over the years that I could probably reconstruct it if I arranged them all together. These are some of my favorites.

Wishes fireworks show at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World - Orlando, Florida

What would you wish for?

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“When you wish upon a star, makes no difference who you are.”

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“If your heart is in your dream, no request is too extreme.”

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This is perfection.

Wishes fireworks show at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World - Orlando, Florida

The genie has some wishes to grant!

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Uh oh, be careful what you wish for.

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Always let your conscience be your guide.

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Good news: the Blue Fairy is here to save the day.

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The Hercules music used in this section is perfect.

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“Wishes! Dream a dream. Wishes! Set it free.”

Wishes fireworks show at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World - Orlando, Florida

“Wishes! Trust your heart. Just believe!”

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And the grand finale.

I know Wishes isn’t the height of all entertainment, but it will always be near and dear to my heart. I have so many amazing memories associated with this show, and it’s the only way I want to end my evening at Disney World.

Check out this incredible video by OnlyHDVideos:

Do you have any fond memories of Disney shows or attractions?

Planning to go visit Disney World solo? Here are some tips to make the most of your trip.

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The Wishes firework spectacular is ending its 13-year run at the Magic Kingdom. Look back on some great memories and photographs with a former Cast Member.Pin - Wishes2The Wishes firework spectacular is ending its 13-year run at the Magic Kingdom. Look back on some great memories and photographs with a former Cast Member.
Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom - Disney World for adults

How to Visit Disney Parks Solo

When you tell someone that you’re going on a trip to Disney World or Disneyland, one of their first questions is usually, “Who are you going with?” If your answer happens to be “no one,” frequent reactions include disbelief, confusion, or, worst of all, sympathy because poor little you couldn’t find someone to go to Disney World with you. Visiting Disney parks solo isn’t for everyone, but for those of us who like it (or have no other options), it can make for some of the best experiences you’ll ever have.

As a veteran of several solo trips to both Walt Disney World and Disneyland, here is my best advice for making the most of your time alone…with thousands of other people.

Paradise Pier at California Adventure

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