I was recently shared a survey by The Vacationer where they asked the question, “Should family resorts like Walt Disney World have adult-only days or times?” The results of the poll showed 44.66% of the voters said yes and 55.34% said no. Although the majority of voters were against the idea, it’s quite a close race considering that most people would probably agree that Walt Disney World is innately a place built for children and families. But it got me thinking about how I would vote, and the reality is… I’m not quite sure.
I have extremely fond memories of visiting Walt Disney World with my family when I was a kid, but in more recent years, I definitely spend more time with adult friends in the parks without any children accompanying us. Some folks have strong opinions about that concept in general, but that’s a whole other topic of conversation.
I’ve seen people get quite defensive when the idea of an adult-only Walt Disney World is even brought up, but I wouldn’t be surprised at all if this thought has been tossed around in corporate meetings. When it comes to Disney Cruise Line, there are adult-only areas of the ship as well as on Castaway Cay. These ships are primarily built for family vacationers, but the options are there for those who want a more calming vacation experience that still includes that touch of Disney magic. Why shouldn’t that be an option in the parks, as well?
When it comes to visiting a Disney Park, there are a list of things you can count on, like rides, characters, a sense of childlike whimsy, and so much more. But you could also include on that list of guarantees things like children crying, teenagers bickering, an insane amount of strollers, and more unpleasant moments brought on by younger guests that can tarnish the magical experience.
I know what some of you are thinking: “Then don’t go on a Disney vacation,” right? It’s not quite that simple. Although the parks may have been built with the intention of family vacationing, there’s no denying that that is very often not the case. Us “childless millennials” bring a lot of money into the parks. We all know that Disney loves making money, even if it’s by doing something that strays off of their muddled brand.
When it comes to angering some guests, there seems to be an endless supply of people willing to take their place if they choose not to return. Angering Disney fans doesn’t seem to concern the company like it once did. Otherwise, the way they broke news and handled certain situations would be presented differently.
Let’s just imagine that Disney did decide to have an adult-only experience in the parks. What would that look like? I couldn’t imagine a full day of the park being reserved for 21+ only, but I could see a late-night event where that was the case. In the past, the domestic parks have thrown some wild 24-hour days in the parks, so the idea of keeping the parks open all night long isn’t unprecedented. If I were put in charge of an adults-only event, I would suggest that we run the park like normal until 7 p.m., and then until 7 a.m., have a separately-ticketed event for the older crowd. This should satisfy both those visiting with their families as well as guests visiting without children. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if even some of the family vacationers got a babysitter for the night in order to take advantage of the childless parks.
If Disney were to actually do something like this, my guess is it would be one of their standard Disney After Hours events, which would run for far fewer hours. In either case, I think the event would sell very well. It could anger a lot of families who were visiting the resort at the time of the event, but as long as some of the parks were available with later hours, I believe it’s a reasonable practice.
Overall, I’m not sure whether or not we’d ever see anything like this actually happen, but I’m not entirely against the idea if it did. At the very least, I’m all for putting a 7 p.m. stroller curfew in place. If the child needs to be in a stroller, it’s probably bedtime anyway and the loss of strollers at a certain hour would help relieve the innate nighttime spectacular congestion.
What do you think? Would you like to see some times in the parks where anyone under twenty-one years of age wasn’t allowed in? Why or why not? Leave a comment and let me know.
If you have any theme park topics you would like to hear my opinion on, let me know in the comments. You might just see it pop up in a future DePaoli on DeParks.
Jeff DePaoli is a producer and voiceover artist living in Los Angeles, California. He can be heard as the voice of Disney Trivia on Alexa as well as the host of “Dizney Coast to Coast,” a Disney fan podcast. He is offering the free gifts of “America’s Hidden Mickeys,” “On the Rohde Again,” “Theme Park Comfort Kit” and more at DizneyCoastToCoast.com. DePaoli’s opinions are his own and do not necessarily represent Attractions Magazine.