College is a great time to experience new things, learn who you are, figure out what you want to do with your life, and make lasting memories. If you’re looking for a vacation that you’ll remember for years to come, consider visiting Disney World. It’s four parks in one location, and each park is completely unique.
With all of the suggestions below, don’t be afraid to splurge a little. I’ll also mention some great ways to save money along the way. Here are the top ten things to do while visiting Disney World as a college student.
1. Experience another Culture
Epcot, one of Disney World’s four parks, has two sections: Future World and World Showcase.
As the name suggests, Future World offers a futuristic view of the world we know today: experience the adventures of tomorrow by taking a rocket to Mars or testing your own SimCar on Test Track.
World Showcase is home to eleven country pavilions including Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, Japan, Morocco, France, the United Kingdom, and the American Adventure. Each of these pavilions is unique to the country, and the Cast Members working in them are natives visiting from their home country. Most of them are even college students just like you! Explore the rich culture and heritage that each country has to offer, and don’t be afraid to ask Cast Members about their country. They’re usually happy to talk. You can even pick up some unique souvenirs from your favorite countries!
2. Eat and Drink Around the World
Epcot’s World Showcase has more to offer than just culture and heritage. There’s plenty of food and drink too!
Each country pavilion has at least one restaurant with authentic cuisine and beverages and most have several food carts along the path. The restaurants will likely be a little pricey, but the portions are large so consider sharing them with the friends or family with whom you’re traveling. The carts will have less expensive and smaller food offerings, so if you’re on a budget and not super hungry, this is the place to stop.
If you’re visiting during a festival like Food & Wine or Flower & Garden, there will be even more food and drink carts to choose from. Small plates at these locations usually run around $5, and drinks are about the same. Specialty items can cost more though, so be sure to check the menu.
If you’re up for the challenge, eating and drinking around the world can be a great way to spend a day in World Showcase even if your memories are a little fuzzy. Just remember to stay well hydrated and well fed throughout the day.
3. Meet the Characters
You’re never too old to meet and greet your favorite characters.
If you don’t mind splurging a little, consider making an advanced dining reservation for a character meal with your favorite Disney pals. This way, you’re sure to get some quality time with them and more than a couple good photos.
If you’re doing Disney on a dime, look for meet and greet locations in the parks. Although you won’t get to spend as much time with the characters, the PhotoPass photographer will snap some great shots that you can buy as souvenirs.
This is a good time to mention Disney’s MemoryMaker. With this option, only one person in your party has to have the MemoryMaker. That person can share all of the photos with the whole group. Splitting the cost of this option makes it much more affordable.
4. Enjoy all the rides
Yes, I do mean ALL the rides! I know you’re an adult and everything, but while in Disney you need to experience even the kiddie rides. Don’t worry- you’ll feel the nostalgia in now time. No one will judge you here!
Since you’ve probably reached the mark to be tall enough to ride all of the thrill rides too, don’t leave them out. If you’ve never been to Disney before, ride all of them. If you have visited before, consider riding something new. If you’ve always been afraid of The Tower of Terror, what better time than a college break to overcome your fear? After all, you finished that term paper in record time; could Tower of Terror be much worse?
5. Splurge on a nice dinner
There are so many dining options in Disney World that you’re sure to find something you like. Consider a night out and a nice dinner for either your first night there or the night before you leave. It’s a great way to start or end your magical vacation.
You’ll find everything from unique cultural cuisine to the classic American meal of burgers and fries. Don’t be afraid to try something new. If the restaurant is a little pricey, ask a friend to split an entrée or consider getting an appetizer. The atmosphere is really what you’ll enjoy anyway.
6. See a Concert
When you think of Disney World, you probably don’t think of concerts, but you might be pleasantly surprised to hear that Disney World does in fact have plenty of good concerts. In addition to the free, live concerts in the parks, check out the Sounds Like Summer concert series, which featured tribute bands for Journey, U2, Billy Joel, Boston, and the Eagles in 2015. If you’re visiting during one of the festivals, there will be even more live bands like Fuel.
House Of Blues in Disney Springs is also a great place for nightlife. They even host live bands every night. Some are local and some are headliners. Check their website for the schedule.
7. Explore the West Side
The House of Blues isn’t the only gig in town for nightlife. Disney Spring’s West Side is also home to AMC Disney Springs 24 Movie Theater with dine-in options, Splitsville Lanes bowling alley, which also offers wonderful food, and trendy shops. Any of the restaurants can split your check, so enjoy all that Disney Springs has to offer without spending a semester’s worth of book costs.
8. Enjoy the Resort
Whether you splurged on the Grand Floridian or the Contemporary or counted your pennies just to stay at Pop Century or one of the All-Star Resorts, your Disney World Resort hotel will likely be one of the nicest you’ll ever experience.
If you’re traveling with friends, consider booking a moderate resort like Coronado Springs or Port Orleans which will give you more amenities than a value resort without costing a fortune – and splitting the cost of the room. Sharing expenses is a great way to stay within your budget while experiencing all that Disney has to offer.
The resorts are all themed with great detail and precision, and you’ll find plenty of food and entertainment to keep you busy. Plan to spend a day just enjoying your hotel; after all, you’ve paid for it! You can also save money by ditching the parks for a day.
Make a splash in the pool, eat in the food court or at one of the restaurants (see number 5 above!), or get some R&R at the spa. You’ll be happy that you spent a day enjoying Disney World’s fabulous resorts.
9. Stroll the Boardwalk
Disney Springs isn’t the only place for great nightlife. In fact, the often overlooked Boardwalk is themed like a turn-of-the-century seaside resort. The Atlantic Dance Hall features a DJ playing the Top 40 Hits complete with music videos every night. If dancing isn’t your thing, check out Jelly Rolls, a 21+ dueling piano bar sure to have you singing and laughing all night long.
10. Learn Something New
Hear me out on this one. I’m not asking you to pack up your books and study poolside, though it isn’t a bad way to spend a day on Thanksgiving or Spring break if you need to cram for finals or midterms. There are actually locations in Disney World that will teach you to draw your favorite characters, make a meal, or what it’s like to live in another country. In Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon, you can even learn to surf!
If you’d like to extend your Disney stay, consider applying for the Disney College Program. Earn college credit and get paid doing it with Disney University. It’s a great way to spend a semester or more, and that line on your resume can’t hurt either!
What’s your favorite thing to do as a college student in Disney World?