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My First Empty Nest Trip to Walt Disney World

My First Empty Nest Trip to Walt Disney World castlemine

I won’t leave you hanging until the end of this article; I highly believe that adults with no children do belong in Walt Disney World. There is a sweet spot: the years between your kids are “adulting” and when (hopefully and/or maybe?) they have children of their own. I am just beginning this journey into the empty nest. My toe is in that doorway with three children; my husband and I chose our first solo trip without them to be at our happy place, Walt Disney World.

I can tell you it was different. The first thing you must do going forward is let go any guilt about going to Walt Disney World without your kids. I think that guilty feeling lasted me, oh, maybe five minutes? On this vacation, my husband and I did many things that we typically don’t do with our kids and I would love to tell you about it. If you have any suggestions, please feel free to comment below!

We didn’t rope drop. Typically we are up and out and make sure we use our time wisely, and rope dropping is essential. Without children, we didn’t feel the need to run to an attraction. We didn’t miss it, either. My husband tends to get motion sickness so he “rope drops coffee” anyway. Our coffee was leisurely in our resort, we didn’t have a set time, and we didn’t look at the clock. Whatever it was, it was. Oh, how lovely. No pressure, no rush, no running; just being present and in the moment.

It’s cheaper without kids! We were not used to this one! Ah, now I see how the other half lives. Three kids always joining us for many Disney vacations from Disney’s Aulani Resort & Spa to Disney Cruise Line to Disneyland; we have done it all (mostly) and our wallet was challenged. This time with just the two of us? Wow! It’s been a joy to spend money with our core five, enjoying Disney vacations and making incredible memories, but we didn’t even realize until we saw our final room resort charges what a difference it is to just have two of us in our party.

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We strolled, moseyed, paced, relaxed, stopped and smelled the roses. And we took really bad selfies and sent them to our kids. When you have children, no matter how old they are, a parent is consumed by their needs. My eyes are on them, my ears are listening to them, and my mind distracted. Pictures are always of and with them. Over time you don’t realize how much vacation attention is navigated according to their worlds, and not your own. When they aren’t with you, there is a clarity in your mental state. You can read signs, you look up, you look down, you explore for yourselves. I stopped and looked at landscaping, noticed my surroundings, and had longer discussions with cast members. I was able to visit my favorite gorillas in Animal Kingdom and stayed for however long I wanted. I even chatted with fellow empty nesters sitting next to me in lines, on Disney transportation and during meals. I had no idea there were so many of us! Hello, friends!

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The best part was the presence we had for each other. Focusing on just your partner is golden. My husband and I reconnected and only did what we wanted, when we wanted. We had numerous meals together in beautiful surroundings and this time, it was our first choices. Our moods were bright and we enjoyed each other’s company again. It was full circle from before we had our beautiful children but it felt like a celebration of our accomplishments together, too. Victory, freedom, and a pat on the back for a job well done together. It was like we had an accumulation of many floated anniversaries in just a few days and it was so worth it and needed after these past two years especially.

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So what did we do with our good cheer and happiness? We purchased our first annual pass! In the past our vacations with children were once a year, but this time we’re hoping to enjoy the 50th Anniversary at Walt Disney World many times together throughout the next 18 months!

Are you an empty nester who travels to the Disney parks and resorts? Offer your comments below! ­

Shari Kessler loves the Disunplugged and all things Disney. She has imparted her passion for the parks along with her husband of more than 25 years to their three young adult children. Their family vacations have included Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line and Aulani but their home base is Walt Disney World as she resides from New Jersey. Shari also loves her cats Ricky and Lucy(RIP Lucy 2021). As a former early childhood educator she is now assisting at an animal hospital in NYC. She enjoys the Disunplugged community and hopes her articles connect with the Dis family.
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