I'll admit it - I am a Disney Adult. You know, the subsection of millennials (along with some Gen X and Boomers) that feel the unshakeable bond with Disney as a brand, destination and overall magical, happy vibe. I was privileged to be able to go with my family many times growing up and have continued the tradition well through my twenties.
While Walt Disney World is aptly deemed the most magical place on earth, I'm grateful that Dallas is both my home and home to many opportunities, activities, bars and restaurants that will make you say, "this feels like Disney!" As the Walt Disney World Parks turn 50 years old this Oct. 1, you can feel some Disney Magic from Dallas without braving all the humidity, long lines, intense crowds and high price tag. My VisitDallas colleague and friend, Kelsey, and I are fresh off a Disney trip and can confidently point you to many places around Dallas that will make you believe Dallas has a bit of magic of its own.
For those that love Disney's coastal resorts such as the Boardwalk, Saratoga Springs, and the Yacht & Beach club, visit Hudson House to get your fix of those yachty vibes.
For fans of the beautiful tropical vibes at the Polynesian resort, Trader Sam's Grog Grotto, the Enchanted Tiki Room, check out Swizzle Tiki Bar. You'll feel like your back in Poly or Adventureland in no time when you enter the dark tiki bar and take your first sip of the Boo Loo, a tropical rum drink served in a real pineapple, or the giant Scorpion Bowl that's big enough to split with your crew.
Love the Grand Floridian Resort? The Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek is one of Dallas' favorite 5-star hotels that is sure to dazzle you with grand design, top notch amenity offerings and high quality service.
Like in the Parks
If you enjoy visiting waterparks, The Hilton Anatole's Jade Waters will remind you of Disney's Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon.
A visit to the George W. Bush Presidential Library will make you feel like you're back in the Hall of Presidents in Magic Kingdom or visiting the America Pavilion in Epcot. One way the Bush Library is sure to wow you over the Hall of Presidents is through viewing some of President Bush's own paintings! Check out more about them here.
Feel like you're walking around Frontierland in Dallas' West End. Visit Wild Bill's Western Store to complete the ensemble if you're missing wandering through Disney's many post-ride gift shops. Continue the Frontierland inspired journey to Dallas Heritage Village as you learn more about Dallas' history.
Fans of Disney's Animal Kingdom (like myself – it's the best park, right?!) will love visiting the Dallas Zoo. Take a walk on the wild side and feed giraffes, visit young lions, hippos and many other amazing wild animals!
I'd be remised if I didn't add that you can use the imagination that Figment from Epcot's Journey into Imagination taught you about to imagine that flying into Dallas can feel like the crowd favorite Soarin' ride in Epcot! Bonus - both Dallas Love Field and DFW Airport have connections to Orlando if that's your next stop.
Food and Drinks
Love the Disney pubs or drinking around the world at Epcot's Food & Wine Festival? Dallas' Harwood Arms in the Harwood District will remind you of Ragland Road in Disney Springs and the Rose & Crown in Epcot.
Bobber's in the AT&T Food Hall offers a Dole whip comparable to everyone's favorite Disney Dole Whip if you're craving Disney park's frozen treats! Swizzle also serves delicious pineapple dole whip that you can try with the rest of your tiki drinks.
The State Fair of Texas (SFOT) offers it all - rides, crowds, turkey legs, cotton candy, popcorn, funnel cake, churros and so much more. Just like how Disney World offers more than tradition theme park food, the food at the SFOT is hands down a main attraction! Go for the Big Tex selfie, stay for the Deep Fried Pancakes and Fletcher's Corny Dogs.