For some parents, and even adults without children, the idea of spending days at Walt Disney World Resort is a dream come true. For others, the thought of waiting in line for the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train with an eight-year-old can bring on a panic attack. The good news for the latter group is that planning a trip to Disney is easier than you might think, and there are plenty of adult perks to make up for the princess breakfasts, from Michelin-star food to scalp massages.
The trick to winning at Disney, reveals Naseem Khonsari, a travel agent who specialises in the destination, is to plan ahead and splurge on key perks. If you can afford it, she advises, stay six nights. “The best way to do Disney World is to do a park each day with a break day in the middle,” she says, adding that it’s also worth it to stay at one of the higher-end hotels, like Disney’s Grand Floridian, inside the complex. This allows for early entry and extended dining hours.
Booking at least four nights at Disney also means you can benefit from the free services of a travel agent like Khonsari, who can help clients secure game-changing Lightning Lane passes, which means you rarely wait more than 10 minutes in a line.
But even if you stay fewer than four nights, there are experts for hire who are worth every cent. Independent coordinators like Rob Yaw can help book Lightning Lane passes and escort clients within the resort. They can also advise parents on hacks like where to find the strongest margarita (according to Yaw, La Cava del Tequila), the best lobster roll (the Boathouse), and the most all-generation-friendly rides (those based on Star Wars and Avatar).
If you can’t imagine living at Disney 24/7, booking a room at the Ritz-Carlton Orlando is the perfect compromise, with a spa and access to a water park. The sweet spot, according to parents in the know, is spending half a day at Disney, the other half at the resort. “I thought it was a trip I wanted to get over with,” says a The New York Times editor and mom of an eight-year-old, “but it ended up being one of the best vacations ever, for both of us.”
This piece originally appeared in the November 2023 print edition of Harper's Bazaar USA.