My husband thought that Disneyland without the kids would be “too sad” because he’d miss experiencing the parks as a family. He said that the week before we left on a trip for two to Disneyland and it didn’t take long in the park not only to know that leaving the kids behind was the best decision, but that this was one of the best couples vacations we’d ever had. It was better than Vegas, and definitely better than a remote B&B. Seriously.
We never traveled to Disneyland together before we had kids, but even if we had, we wouldn’t have been able to appreciate how liberating it is to be kid-free at the Disneyland Resort until we’d been there with kids, then gone back without them. We love family vacations to the Disneyland Resort, and we plan to go back with the kids in September, which is why I jumped at the invitation to go alone with my husband recently, guilt-free.
We held hands and were together instead of team captains leading a small and sometimes onry brigade. It was the best two days away that we’d had in ages.
Why Disney Parks without the kids is awesome:
* You are the decider! You aren’t at the mercy of little people schedules. No worrying about naps or bedtimes. No small person dictating when it was time to eat.
* No one hangs on you while waiting in line.
* You move through the park at Olympic-speed. My husband said he didn’t realize how slow our kids were until we walked the park alone. We zipped around, unencumbered by little, tired legs or bulky strollers. No one needs shoulder rides that leave your back and neck aching at the end of the day. It was a great trip for my Fitbit stats!
* No bulky gear, in fact, my husband carried a wallet, we both carried our phones, and that was it. No backpacks, no water bottles, nothing. It was incredibly liberating. We didn’t bring my professional camera on the trip at all because of the heft. We decided that all photos could be taken with our phones or by Disney staff photographers positioned around both parks.
* There is plenty of together time. None of the lines were very long, but still they gave us time to talk and interact without any interruption.
* Fine dining! In case you’ve missed it due to your traveling companions’ demands for chicken strips, Disney has upscale dining geared toward adults. We didn’t partake in this, only because it was a short trip and we wanted to maximize our time at the attractions. Next time. Actually, I’ve always wanted to go to Blue Bayou in Disneyland since I was a little kid, and while we could have tried to finagle a table for two, we decided to wait because we want to dine there with the kids.
* Adult beverages! We went to a bar at California Adventure! We’d been to the park many times, but had always overlooked the Cove Bar until it was recommended by someone riding the ferris wheel with us. She said that as soon as she turned 21, she was going to the Cove Bar. It turns out, those under 21 are welcome at the Cove, but not to be seated at the bar. We stopped here for lunch the next day, having to wait in line for a table longer than we waited for any ride (tip: arrive before a meal rush begins and the wait should be minimal). It was worth the wait. We got two seats at the bar, and were handed a menu filled with colorful cocktails. It was the best! We shared really yummy lobster nachos and tri-tip sliders for the perfect lunch.
* None of the rides were too scary! Our kids are almost at the age where the rides aren’t scary, yet, though he won’t admit it, our seven year old still gets a little nervous at The Haunted Mansion and he openly says no to Tower of Terror. We didn’t have to negotiate who would go on which ride while the other adult and scared kid stayed back. We both agreed on the rides and got to ride together for the first time ever, instead of pairing one parent and one kid.
* No one begged for anything. We walked by carts, stores, and all kinds of candy and not one person begged for any of it or claimed their survival depended upon a new character pillow pet.
* No one got aggressive by hoarding the shared churros in Carsland. I couldn’t believe how many churros were in the pack, probably because I’d never seen the pack without little hands grabbing as many as they could.
* We had a huge room. We always get a room at the Grand Californian or the Disneyland Hotel with two queen sized beds. This time we got a king sized bed in a room that also had a couch. I never knew how much I missed having a couch in a room instead of four people fighting over one desk chair. It felt luxurious. The room was most certainly the same size as the rooms in which we normally stay, but without two other people and their extra gear, light up spinning toys, and a lightsaber or two, it felt grand.
* You don’t have to watch out for anyone at the pool. Read a book, float around, go in the hot tub because it is all about you.
* Animation Academy isn’t only for kids! Activities that I always thought of as aimed at kids aren’t only aimed at kids. We saw more adults join the Animation Academy than kids. You don’t have to be young to want to learn to draw.
* Everything was more relaxed, even in a crowded park. I keep coming back to the lack of a schedule because it’s noteworthy. We didn’t stress about time at all. The only time we needed to watch the clock was for our FastPass times. We had a leisurely coffee at Starbucks, we went on the rides we wanted, when we wanted, and we moved as fast or slowly as we wanted, without worry about time.
The downside of being without your kids:
* We missed character meals. Sure, we could have gone without the kids, but it didn’t feel right.
* We didn’t reapply sunscreen like we would have if traveling with the kids.
That is it, character meals and sunscreen!
Every single trip we’ve taken to the Disneyland Resort has been special and uniquely memorable and this trip definitely ranks toward the very top. All of the carpool rearranging and extra care for the kids was worth it. Sure, a weekend away at the shore with books and quiet is nice, but we had more fun and laughs in two days at Disneyland than we’ve had in a long time. Get in line for Dumbo without any shame. You don’t need a kid to enjoy Disneyland because everyone is kid while at Disneyland.
We were guests of Disneyland Resort while attending the 24-hour summer kick off event. Tips on how to prepare for 24 hours in Disney will follow soon.