You might think of a Disney World vacation as one that’s exclusively for the kids, but it’s also a great place for adults to visit. Because there are so many enjoyable entertainment options for adults right on site, it’s especially convenient for a grown-up date night. We love family time in our household and our vacations are about being together, but even the most close-knit bunch needs a little alone time for the parents. My husband and I usually plan a night out in the middle of our trips, preferably when the Magic Kingdom is open late so we can visit the attractions the kids are too young for or don’t like. Add a nice restaurant at the beginning of your night and you have a very special, and fun, date night that you can’t have anywhere else.
Sitter Options. Unless you’re traveling with extended family or friends who will offer to watch your little ones while you go out, you’re probably going to need a sitter. Fortunately, there are two very convenient, safe options.
In-Room Babysitting: This option is great for larger families or families with kids who are either too young or too old for the childcare centers. There are several services around Orlando which will send a sitter to your room; they’re all thoroughly screened and are familiar with the resorts. Your sitter will feed the kids, take them to your resort play areas (but not the pool), entertain them, and put them to bed. Coming home from a relaxing evening to sleeping children is a nice way to end your night.
I usually use Kids Nite Out when we visit Disney World, but there are several other services in the area that will send a sitter to your room, either on-site or off.
On-Site Childcare Centers. The last time I told my son that we were going to Disney World, his second question (right after asking where we were staying) was if he could go to the Neverland Club, the childcare center in the Polynesian Resort. Disney’s childcare centers, which are located at several deluxe resorts, have everything a kid could want: Age appropriate games, entertainment, and friendly cast members. You don’t need to be a guest of that resort or even a guest of any Disney resort to use this service, which is usually open from 4:00 p.m. to midnight. The cost is $11.50 per hour and includes a kid-friendly dinner of your child’s choice.
Great Grown-Up Restaurants: All Disney restaurants (with the exception of Victoria and Albert’s, the super-fancy restaurant located in The Grand Floridian) are kid-friendly, but the honest truth is that some are more kid-friendly than others. I wouldn’t hesitate to take young children to The California Grill; it’s sometimes loud, busy, and always fun. But restaurants like Yachtsman’s Steakhouse, Bistro de Paris, and Citricos, with their understated décor and quiet atmosphere, just seem a bit grown-up to me. I’ve seen children in these restaurants a lot and they have childrens’ menus, but I think most kids prefer eating elsewhere. That doesn’t mean you have to miss them, though. They’re perfect for a grown-up evening out.
My husband and I usually like to start the night off at one of these restaurants and then head to the parks. It’s nice to sit and reflect on the trip so far and have a great meal where we don’t have to worry about cutting up someone’s food or taking someone to the restroom.
Entertainment: There’s so much to do, there’s no way you can do it in one trip . . . or ten, really. Plan a late night in the one of the parks, drink, or eat, around the World Showcase in Epcot (and have a Disney bus take you back to your resort!), or spend some time wandering the shops in Downtown Disney, where you can eat at restaurants like Wolfgang Puck’s or House of Blues and see the world famous Cirque du Soliel perform.
You can even—gasp– venture off site. See a concert or a show , get tickets to an NBA game, or check out one of Orlando’s eclectic little neighborhoods like Little Saigon and experience a part of Central Florida that visitors rarely see. If you’d like a little more adventure in your nightlife while still staying in familiar territory, check out the clubs and restaurants at Universal Orlando’s Citywalk.
Parents Night Out on the Cheap: Not every date night needs to be expensive. I love to resort hop, which is visiting various resorts and checking out the themes and shops. You can get an inexpensive counter service meal at any of them; after a fun but busy day in the parks, a quiet meal can seem like delicious downtown, no matter where you are. The Polynesian has an excellent counter service sushi bar called Kona Island Sushi where you can get a very reasonable meal. Grab a cocktail and head on down to the beach, where you can enjoy fireworks from the Magic Kingdom any night of the week for free. Or check out the entertainment on the Boardwalk at night and then take one of the boats over to Epcot or Hollywood Studios.
Date night on our vacations is a ritual for us. It’s a unique kind of experience that energizes us for the rest of the trip. You don’t need to go all out, but take some time to give yourself a break. You’ll be ready to take on the parks the next morning.