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Op-Ed: Disney Doesn’t Need ‘Adult-Only’ Spaces

Spend any amount of time in a Disney fan group and you’ll find a common theme: Disney adults who want child free spaces. Some have even gone so far as to say they want entire child free hotels and days where only adults are allowed in the Parks. The idea has grown in recent years and is, at least to this author, preposterous.

I’ve never been one to say “Walt would be rolling in his grave,” and I don’t intend to start now but to think that Disney should cater to adults only goes against the founding principles the Parks were based on. To understand the basis of what I’m sure is an unpopular opinion, we need to go back to the origins of Disneyland itself.

Walt Disney daughters

Credit: D23

One sunny afternoon Walt Disney had taken his daughters to Santa Monica’s Griffith Park to ride the merry-go-round while he sat on a bench and ate peanuts. It was on one of these afternoons that the inspiration for the Parks that we all know and love came to him. He decided there should be a place where children and their parents (and everyone for the matter) could come and enjoy rides and attractions together.

Dumbo queue

Credit: Dad Logic

As a child-at-heart parent myself I completely relate. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat watching my son play and said “man that looks fun, I wish I could too.” That’s one of the reasons we love Disney so much– because we get to play together. This is exactly what Walt had in mind when he designed the Parks. Disney Parks are, and have always been, places for everyone. From the youngest to the oldest among us, Disney is a place that everyone is meant to enjoy.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not “the pretzel lady” reincarnate, there’s a place at Disney World for everyone– childless adults included. The key word though is everybody. That includes children, who have just as much right to take up space as anyone else. In recent years there has been a growing hostility toward children, even amongst Disney fans. My son is growing up in a world where he asks if something is “friendly to kids” before we do something new. That is…sad.

Victoria and Albert's

Credit: Disney

To be fair, some places are and should remain child free: Victoria and Albert’s for example. Bars are another place where adults should be able to congregate child free. Even perhaps a late night After-Hours event could be a good idea.

However, for the most part children are a part of life and occupying the same spaces as them is just one of those things you deal with. Are they sometimes loud? Yes. Do they sometimes run around when they shouldn’t? Also yes. They are learning, just as you did at one point, how to behave in society. That can’t happen by shutting them out of society.

If you find yourself I’m the “I hate kids but love Disney” camp, consider how you felt when the pretzel lady said Disney wasn’t for you. It is, but it’s for them too. If child bother you so much that you need spaces where they aren’t allowed maybe, just maybe, Disney World isn’t the place for you. There’s nothing wrong with that either, there are plenty of places for adults. Insisting on removing spaces for children to suit your preferences however, isn’t ok.

About Jill Bivins

Jill Bivins has been visiting Disney Parks since she was 2 years old and loves sharing her Disney adventures with the world. She likes to say Disney is in her blood and writing is in her bones — so any time she has the opportunity to combine these loves she is one happy camper! She has a deep abiding love for Epcot and as a die hard Star Wars fan has a serious love for Hollywood Studios as well. When she isn't exploring or writing about Disney Parks, Jill is homeschooling her 7 year old son or pretending to be a farmer on her family homestead (despite being unable to keep even a cactus alive). Find Jill on Instagram @minnieonmain.