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Credit: Disney

How to Vacation at Walt Disney World With a Non-Disney Fan

Disney friends are the best! They share your passion for all things Disney, they’ll stay up for that Disney+ marathon with you, and they’ll even help you plan your next Walt Disney World vacation. But if you’re like us, you also have a friend (or significant other, or teenage son or daughter) who raises an eyebrow at your repeat trips to the most magical place on Earth (“Um, haven’t you already been to Disney?”), or thinks you’re the slightest bit odd for traveling to WDW without kids (“Isn’t Disney World, you know – for KIDS?”).

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Credit: Disney Tips

Your non-Disney fan of a friend might be surprised to know that, as weird as it sounds, you don’t have to be a card-carrying Disney superfan to enjoy a trip to Walt Disney World. In fact, there are plenty of activities, restaurants, and theme parks that someone who can’t tell Goofy from Pluto will adore!  Here are some tips on how to vacation at Walt Disney World with a non-Disney fan.

Parks

For most Disney fans, Disney’s Magic Kingdom Theme Park is the one Park they don’t want to miss. But your friend might be underwhelmed by sights that bring you to tears, like Cinderella Castle. Think about spending more time in parks with areas that aren’t so classically Disney.

Pandora World of Avatar
Pandora (Credit: Disney Photo Snapper)

Pandora – The World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park is a masterpiece, no matter how you feel about Disney!  Wander around the land at night and watch it come to life with glowing plants, waterfalls, and footprints. Over in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is the most immersive land on Disney property and even Guests who don’t know the first thing about the Star Wars universe are blown away by the level of detail here.

Disney’s EPCOT Theme Park is an excellent place for a Guest who doesn’t love Disney. Spend the day in the World Showcase, eating, drinking, and shopping around the world, and soaking up different cultures, and your friend may just change their tune about WDW!

Rides

Chances are your non-Disney-lover friend doesn’t actually dislike ALL things, Disney. After all, Disney’s reach has never been more expansive, and your reluctant WDW companion might be surprised at some of the rides available in the parks. Avoid potential pitfalls like “it’s a small world” and Dumbo the Flying Elephant at Magic Kingdom, and Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, perhaps.

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Credit: World of Disney

But does your friend like rock music? What about horror movies or sci-fi? Try Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster Starring Aerosmith and Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Haunted Mansion at Disney’s Magic Kingdom. Expedition Everest at Disney’s Animal Kingdom is another great bet if your friend loves thrill rides, and who doesn’t love Jack Sparrow? Try Pirates of the Caribbean on for size.

Resorts

It might sound obvious to Guests familiar with Disney Resorts, but if you’re vacationing with someone who isn’t besties with Mickey Mouse, you won’t want to stay at a Disney Value Resort. Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort, Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort, Disney’s All-Star Music Resort, Disney’s Pop Century Resort, and Disney’s Art of Animation Resort are budget-friendly options and they’re great for Guests who may otherwise not have the chance to stay on Disney property. 

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Credit: Disney Tips

But at all of these Resort Hotels, you’ll be constantly surrounded by colorful, larger-than-life Disney characters, Disney music, and loads of kids. Your non-Disney-loving friend will be on the first flight out of Orlando. If your budget allows, consider a Disney Moderate Resort or Disney Deluxe Resort, for more sophisticated theming and amenities you won’t find at a Disney Value Resort.

Deluxe Resort options include Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, which is fabulous for animal lovers, and you can even stay in a room overlooking one of the four savannas if you want to wake up to a giraffe or antelope out your window.  Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Resorts are perfectly situated within walking distance to EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios Parks, and also close to Disney’s BoardWalk for entertainment, shopping and great eats (of course, the hands-down best pool complex in WDW, Stormalong Bay, is also onsite, which doesn’t hurt!).  Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa is the ultimate in opulent luxury, and you can walk to Magic Kingdom or take a quick monorail ride.

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Credit: V Mills

Moderate Resorts will also offer excellent theming that’s not character-driven or brimming with primary colors. Port Orleans Resort – Riverside is a stunningly beautiful choice themed after rural Louisiana and situated on the serene Sassagoula River for easy boat access to Disney Springs. Beach lovers will adore Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, which channels the relaxing island vibe you’d enjoy on a Caribbean vacation – it also has a Skyliner station, so you can hop on a gondola when you tire of taking the bus.  Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort sprawls around an idyllic lake, with fantastic dining options including Toledo – Tapas, Steak & Seafood on the rooftop of Gran Destino Tower.

Restaurants

Character Dining may not be the best idea if you’re vacationing with a reluctant Disney fan. Try table service options that are less obviously Disneyfied, like Yak and Yeti at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, The Hollywood Brown Derby at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, or Coral Reef at EPCOT.

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The Edison (Credit: Disney)

Don’t forget that Disney Resorts, Disney Springs, and Disney’s BoardWalk all boast fabulous restaurants devoid of cartoon characters. Yachtsman Steakhouse or Ale and Compass at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, Morimoto Asia, The Edison, and BOATHOUSE at Disney Springs, and Flying Fish on Disney’s BoardWalk are all excellent options!

Bottom Line

If you’re taking a WDW vacation with someone who doesn’t love Disney, involve this person in the planning process. That way, they’ll be able to choose attractions, restaurants, and activities that appeal to them.  They might even be converted into Walt Disney World fans by the end of the vacation!

About Stacy Milford

Stacy has lived in 4 countries on 3 continents, and travels whenever humanly possible. Passionate about music theatre, dessert, and adventure in the great wide somewhere, she visits Walt Disney World every year, usually during Halloween! Stacy currently divides her time between writing and teaching English as a second language to children in China, and is pretty sure growing up is over-rated.