When you think of Walt Disney World, what comes to mind? For many, Disney is synonymous with children – lots and lots of children. It makes sense. My first experience with the Mouse’s house was when I was a child myself. As a ten year old, I lost my Disney virginity a bit later than my peers. Though I had the benefit of being old enough (and tall enough) to ride the “big rides.” In the early 2000s, the band Aerosmith was still relevant, therefore making it especially exciting to ride the Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster. I found Tower of Terror to be accurately named as did my brother and father who are both scared of heights to this day.
I remember being so bemused when I overheard adults complaining. This was because I was blind to the long lines and congested walkways. At that time in my life, I also didn’t know Disney magic cost money. I had no idea the effect this quintessential vacation had on the pockets of my parents. For many adults, The Simpsons’ Dizzneeland (“The Happiest Hell on Earth”) is perhaps a more accurate description.
This was not how my parents thought. As a middle class family of five, we still managed to visit Disney World twice. As a childfree adult now sitting in a similar income bracket myself, I’ve been able to visit Disney twice more.
While avoiding children in Disney World in 2017 may have worse odds than surviving the Black Death in the 1300s, it’s possible to limit your exposure. It’s also extremely possible to have an amazing experience as an adult without children. No wonder almost 20 million of us grown-ups without children visit Disney World each and every year.
Here are my 5 Budget-Friendly Tips for a Childfree Trip to Walt Disney World:
1. Visit in the fall or winter
According to undercovertourist.com, an amazing resource for all things Disney, the best times to visit are the fall and winter. In the fall, you should strive for October and November weekdays (sans Thanksgiving week). In the winter, December weekdays and the two weeks following New Years in January are ideal, as well as almost the entire month of February.
Interested in knowing the absolute worst time to visit? Click here.
Even if you do go to WDW during a less than desirable part of the year like yours truly just did, you’ll likely still enjoy it. Keep in mind though: if your goal is to minimize experiencing zombie-like hoards of children and parents, you’ll need to go during the school year.
Plus, Orlando temperatures and humidity in the summer are close to unbearable, unless you’re one of those freaks who enjoys feeling like you’re walking through a rainforest as soon as you step outside. My friend is one of those freaks. I’m sorry, I love you.
If you need yet another reason to go to Disney World when it’s cooler:
The weeks immediately after the New Year not only have lower ticket prices ($95-$105), but also hotel prices tend to be.
Jordi Lippe-McGraw, The Cheapest Time to Visit Disney , travelandleisure.com
2. Visit Epcot During the International Food & Wine Festival
From late summer to mid-November, Disney World holds an annual Food & Wine Festival in its Epcot theme park. Epcot, said to be the most adult-friendly of all Disney’s parks, is the perfect place for such an event. For those who may be unfamiliar with the World Showcase, Epcot shares the culture and cuisine of 11 countries: Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, the United States, Japan, Morocco, France, United Kingdom and Canada.
During the festival, you can sample small portions of multicultural fare for an almost equally small fare. Well, we’re still talking inflated Disney prices but at five or six dollars a pop, a couple treats are palatable to the pocket.
Another popular grown-up activity to do in this area of the park is to “Drink Around the World”, that is to have an alcoholic beverage in each ‘country.’ Check out this video of Delish editor Philip Swift consuming one beverage from all eleven countries in just ten hours. Note: you could experience a hangover just from watching.
Since this post is not only adult-friendly but also budget-conscious, I must warn you about the cost. Consuming all of these drinks will likely set you back over a hundred bucks a person. The good news? If you’re traveling with your spouse or friend, you can put two straws in that margarita and sip in unison. Of course, you will be significantly less intoxicated but that just means you’ll probably wake up in time for your early flight home.
3. Go Early or Stay Late
Whether you’re a night owl or an early bird, you will benefit. This is bad news for you chronically exhausted pigeons, sorry.
I’ve always found Disney World’s hours confusing as they seem to change frequently or maybe I’ve just never invested enough time in figuring out their algorithm. Either way, the official website has you covered.
My absolute go-to for traffic patterns is touringplans.com. It may sound a little neurotic to check out traffic patterns for a theme park, but if you want your best chance for a good time it’s necessary.
A surge of early birds arrives before or around opening time but is quickly dispersed throughout the empty park. After the initial wave is absorbed, there’s a lull lasting about an hour after opening. Then the park is inundated for about 2 hours, peaking between 10 a.m. and noon. Arrivals continue in a steady but diminishing stream until around 2 p.m. The lines we sampled were longest between 1 and 2 p.m., indicating more arrivals than departures into the early afternoon. For touring purposes, most attractions develop long lines between 10 and 11:30 a.m.
-Magic Kingdom Traffic Patterns, touringplans.com
Although this information is tailored to Magic Kingdom, you can use it as a rough guide for the other three parks as well.
Arriving early does not specifically rule out children but it does equate to fewer people. And where there are fewer people, there are generally fewer children. And they say I’m bad at math.
If you decide you’d rather stay out late than wake up early, I’d recommend avoiding the fireworks. It draws a huge crowd even on the least crowded days. Besides, you’ll probably have a good view walking nearby. Also, when you see the grand finale as you’re just passing through, that’s pretty magical, don’t you think?
4. Know When to Save: Souvenirs
There’s a reason every Disney ride ends in a shop, and that reason is money. People are suckers for souvenirs. Especially when we read signs that declare, “Only available here!” Exclusivity is a brilliant marketing trick but you don’t have to buy into it, especially if you’re a childfree adult.
I will admit to playing with light sabers when my husband and I were in Disney World last week. The thought of buying one however never entered my mind. With a price tag of $39.99, I was amazed at how many children had them in tow. Stroller after stroller was branded either Jedi or Sith. Meanwhile, I wore my free Rebel Alliance sticker with great amusement.
The thing is: children don’t care if their toy was made in China. They don’t care if it falls apart next week because chances are they will only play with it this week. Kids are proficient bargainers and parents (especially in WDW) are natural compromisers. When you don’t have kids, you don’t have to buy plastic souvenirs. Chances are no one will try to talk you into buying one either. We adults sure are suckers for magnets though.
Colin and I spent five days in Orlando and spent a grand total of $0.00 on souvenirs. It can be done!
5. Know When to Splurge: Food
We did spend significantly more on food. And I’m okay with that.
As a recovering maximalist and novice minimalist, I’ve grown to appreciate experiences over things. I feel more comfortable spending money on concert tickets and meals at my favorite restaurants than I do buying clothes at Target. It’s not you, Target. It’s me.
Disney food isn’t cheap, but it is delicious and the quality is unparalleled with other theme parks.
Nothing in signature restaurants is canned, bagged or boxed. It is all made from scratch.
-Rian Lancto (cook), 8 Secrets of Kitchen Life From a Walt Disney World Cook, Nick Sim (writer)
During our latest trip, we dined twice inside the Grand Floridian Resort – once at 1900 Park Faire and once at The Grand Floridian Cafe.
At 1900 Park Faire, I had a buffet breakfast with Alice and The Madhatter, Tigger and Pooh, and Mary Poppins sans Burt. Even though we had no children in our party, these Disney cast members remain in character.
As a kid, I never had the opportunity to dine with the characters so maybe I was living out some childhood fantasy but nevertheless, I recommend this experience to all of you childfree peepz.
Others who do not share my contempt for germs may not appreciate this fun fact but I was enamored by it: the child-friendly foods (think Mickey face-shaped waffles and breakfast pizza) are served at child height in the buffet line. The strawberry soup, 1900 Park Faire’s signature dish, as well as many, many other foods are kept at adult height. Thank you Mr. Walt Disney!
Remember, Disney dining is a splurge. If this is the only thing you splurge on during your trip, I think you’ll be satisfied. You can also more than compensate for this by brown-bagging your lunches and having quick-service dinners.
Some Disney resort restaurants also have affordable meals. Make sure you stop by Trader Sam’s Tiki Terrace at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort for some drinks and appetizers. Asha, a rinky-DINK lifer, tells me no children are allowed here after 8 pm. Even more of a reason to visit!
I hope you enjoyed these 5 Budget-Friendly Tips for a Childfree Trip to Walt Disney World. For a free printable of these tips, click here.
Tell me, what tips would you add? Comment below!