Empty Nesters
Let's Play! - Recreation

The Empty Nester series was written by Barbara Rubenstein and edited by Debra Martin Koma.
All information was current at the time the article was written.

Part I - Deciding to Go
Part II - Child-free Dining
Part III - Recreation


I have previously talked about how satisfying a trip to Walt Disney World can be for Empty Nesters taking a trip without the kids, focusing on where to stay and where to eat, as well as some touring strategies. There is so much else to do at Walt Disney World especially for folks finally getting the chance to experience it without the little ones in tow.

Here are some ideas to get you started... but I bet you can come up with even more!


Several of Disney's resorts offer tennis. If tennis is your sport, why not indulge in it at Disney? The courts at Disney can be a pleasurable escape for anyone who likes to play. Book court time early in the morning, since it gets quite warm during certain times of the year in the afternoons. I have never seen the courts at Disney overly crowded, so you can probably get court time whenever you want. Imagine an early morning tennis match or maybe even a lesson, followed by a late character breakfast and an afternoon at the pool/beach or spa. What a wonderful, RELAXING way for a couple to spend a vacation day.


Could there be any more wonderful golf courses than those found at Disney World? Whether you choose the spectacular Osprey Ridge or Eagle Pines or any of the other perfectly manicured and maintained Disney courses, I recommend considering Disney as you would any golf vacation resort. Again, a half day of golf, a wonderful lunch and some pool time makes for the perfect Disney day.

For the "kid" golfer in all of us, there are also the Disney miniature golf courses, Fantasia Gardens and Winter Summerland, a fun after-dinner activity.


When running through Disney with kids, the last thing on your mind is working out or taking a beauty treatment. But now that we travel without the kids, my husband loves a visit to the gym and I enjoy being pampered for a few hours. Some of the Disney resorts have beauty salons or spas on their premises. A manicure, pedicure and hair treatment are things I would have never considered doing at Disney several years ago, but now we try to set aside something like this every trip as our "private time." After we do our own thing for a bit, we feel relaxed and ready for a great dinner and evening activity together.


You don't have to be Steamboat Willie to partake of the many boating opportunities available at WDW. It's great fun during any part of the day, but the marinas tend to be less crowded early on. We love to have a lazy morning and then take one of the different types of watercraft (pedal boat, water mice) out onto a lake or bay. What a nice way to bond, talk and relax!

Fishing is not our forte, but if it's yours, Disney even offers a variety of fishing excursions. During the early part of the day, the waterway is not crowded and at times you may even feel that you are the only ones out there.

After spending some time on the water, it's fun to sneak over to one of the parks for an afternoon parade. We have done this many times, watching the parade from near the park entrance, then going right back to the resort at the completion of the parade. Without kids, we don't feel as though we have to push our way to the very front to enjoy the parade or that we have to wait on the curb for an hour before the parade begins. We really have a wonderful time doing this, knowing that we won't be cajoled into going on any rides or waiting in lines that we do not wish to wait in.

There are many other sports-related activities at Disney that adults without children can indulge in. Swim, engage in sporting activities and indulge your taste buds, just as you would at any fine resort. Read up on your favorite activities and plan a day or two to participate in them -- a visit to Guest Services at your resort will help you plan wonderful Disney days together.


It's no oversight that I have left the parks for the end. Even though the parks are the mainstay of Disney, you can have a complete and fulfilling vacation without ever setting foot inside a theme park.

Here's a brief overview of what it's like to tour the parks from an adult-only viewpoint:

Even though Disney offers Extra Magic Hours for on-site guests (which allow guests into a park for certain attractions an hour or so before and after the general public), we usually don't take advantage of them. Unless you are very very early risers, why rush in the morning to get to a park if you don't have to? Now, I am not saying not to get an early start -- it really pays to do so for a number of reasons -- it's not usually as hot early in the a.m., for one thing. But without the kids along, it's much nicer to take things at a slower pace.

When arriving at the park that we have selected for that day, we of course go to the one or two most popular attractions first. This is probably the only time of any day that we really rush to do anything. After doing the first or second attraction, we then will look for a place to have a quick breakfast. We tend to select a bakery type of eatery where they offer both baked selections and boxed cereals, then sit and eat our breakfast looking over the brochure that lists the attractions and shows that may interest us.

We pick a few things that we want to see and do a little planning due to time constraints (especially for shows). (Of course, now that many attractions have FastPass, waiting in lines is not really a necessity.) We then proceed to have a leisurely visit to the park.

It's nice to be able to browse without anyone tugging on your tail. We find that in this respect the Disney parks can really be an enjoyable and very relaxing experience. We always leave around the lunch hour and select somewhere to have our afternoon meal, then return to the parks in the evenings, again planning to see one or two attractions in an evening. Of course, this is the time that you may want to view a parade or fireworks show or participate in one of the evening dinner/concert series.

We usually hop over to a park during one afternoon if there is a particular parade that interests us. As I discussed before, we go to the park, see that parade and leave.

In visiting the parks at a nice, leisurely pace with breaks in between, we sometimes feel we actually get more accomplished than we did frantically racing around with the children. Of course, everyone has their own itinerary and should proceed at the pace they are comfortable with.

I can't emphasize enough how important it is to ENJOY Disney and all it has to offer for the Empty Nester guest. As the saying goes, "Rome was not built in a day." Neither was Disney. Take advantage of ALL of Disney's activities and you, too, will be planning your next Disney vacation before you arrive home from your current one.

Part I - Deciding to Go
Part II - Child-free Dining
Part III - Recreation