Growing up I was always a fan of the magic of Disney movies. It was impossible not to be drawn in by the thrilling tales of good versus evil, enigmatic heroes, camp villains and of course, the catchy West-End worthy soundtracks. The fabulous escapism that came with the exciting tales all complete with Walt's underlying ethos of “If you can dream it, you can do it”. But as I moved into my adult years I lost some of that magic, settling for spreadsheets, emails and iPhones. Disney was something for the children to enjoy and the adults to endure. I was happy to go on with my life as a magic-free zone, that was until recently when I went on what was dubbed as the 'Ultimate Disney Experience'; a few days at the Disney World Theme Park in Florida staying at The Animal Kingdom Lodge where giraffes and zebras rome around the Savannah that you could see from your balcony window. This was then followed by a three-night cruise around the Bahamas on the Disney Dream Ship. This trip was child-free, I was just accompanied by my partner. There is no doubt that if we brought our nieces and nephews then it would have been a wonderful family experience, but I believe we probably had as much fun, if not more, without them. Here are 4 reasons why:
I challenge any adult not to feel a little but excited when they walk through the doors of the Magic Kingdom and first catch sight of that iconic Disney castle. There's a little piece of childhood hidden inside that just comes bursting back to the surface. Particularly when the characters, such as Tinkerbell, literally come to life in your hands at various photo opportunities around the park all captured on an app through the 'Memory Maker'. But the magic really starts later in the day with the wonderful character parade through Times Square. All the favourites are in attendance with Belle, Ariel, Cinderella, Mickey, Minnie and co gliding through on amazing floats with Disney classics playing through the park to cheer them on. That's all before the fireworks. Did I mention the fireworks? Whether you find yourselves at the end of day fireworks at the Magic Kingdom, watching them from the comfort of the rooftop terrace of the California Grill or enthralled for the Star Wars Galactic Spectacular at The Hollywood Studios these will leave a sprinkling of Disney Magic at the end of any day.
Rides are not just for kids “” fact. Although there are plenty of the tamer attractions to cater for the children like meeting Disney princesses, there is more than enough for the adults too across the six differently themed parks. The Soarin' ride at Epctot that makes you feel as if you are flying across different parts of the world is simply incredible. The Aerosmith inspired Rock 'n' Rollercoaster at The Hollywood Studios is fun and scary with twists and turns hitting a max speed of 92km/h and Expedition Everest that sends you backwards down a mountain in The Animal Kingdom is thrilling, particularly in the dark. But if you really want terrifying then try pushing yourself off the highest free-fall vertical drop slide in the world at the Blizzard Beach Waterpark. Again there is something here for everyone “” mild to wild. I had a great time on the thrill- seeking rides but equally just couldn't resist queuing up to get my photograph taken with Belle.
There are endless places to eat across the multiple Disney resorts and I'm not just talking burgers and chips. The dining options for breakfast lunch and dinner are incredible and varied. Go to Trattoria al Forno restaurant at The Boardwalk resort and decide which you would prefer from a breakfast pizza or a breakfast calzone. Yes you read that right, a breakfast pizza and a breakfast calzone. Or head along to Boma at the Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge for a delicious buffet of classic dishes, African inspired grub or French toast bread and butter pudding with maple pecan syrup and vanilla cream. Gluttonous? Yes. But worth it? Absolutely. There are also multiple fine dining restaurants to take your pick from. Sushi and steak at The California Grill has the fireworks but it's not the only option. Try out Morimoto Asia at Disney Springs's for high end interiors alongside incredible Japanese food and The Flying Fish at the Boardwalk resort boasts fantastic seafood and moreish cocktails in an elegant setting. The only challenge is deciding where to go when.
Finishing off the Disney Experience with a cruise is something I will never forget. The ship is incredible with a whole host of facilities and gorgeous staterooms with subtle Disney theming throughout. There's no shortage of different restaurants to visit on board with waiters who follow you around so you get to know them throughout the course of your stay as you try each one. There's even Palo which is an adult-only fine dining restaurant where the service is impeccable and the food is divine, particularly the chocolate souffle where the sauce is poured into the middle at the table in front of you. There is a whole host of bars on board both inside and out as well as a spa and a fully equipped gym. Oh and if that wasn't enough there's a waterslide running around the whole top deck as well as a basketball court. The first stop is at Nassau where there are a whole host of excursion options including visiting a private beach or snorkelling in The Atlantis ruins at the famous hotel followed by a trip to their gigantic waterpark. But this is just the warm up for the stunning Castaway Cay the following day, Disney's private island. Here there are a whole host of activities such as a couples massage on the beach which is so relaxing you will struggle not to fall asleep during it, or just sitting at the adult only area of Serenity Bay looking out to the gorgeous clear waters and sipping on a frozen Margarita. The perfect way to end a perfect trip.