For decades, Walt Disney World has boasted of being the ideal vacation destination for visitors of all ages. From toddlers to teens to parents, Disney World has attractions, shows, and restaurants for your target demographic. This also means that your party impacts your itinerary. Exploring the Magic Kingdom with a baby is far different than going with your parents. Speaking of parents, let’s discuss how to enjoy a trip with an older generation. Grandparents are delightful, but their vacation style is probably different from yours. Despite that, you can still have a wonderful trip that keeps everyone happy and comfortable. Let’s discuss some of our favorite tips for enjoying Disney with grandma and grandpa.
1. Splurge on Bigger Accommodations
When traveling with grandparents, it makes sense to book a larger room. Grandparents often have earlier bedtimes and may need personal space when they want a break. Consider booking a deluxe villa, a family suite at the Art of Animation resort, or even staying off-site. You could also book several standard rooms at the same Disney resort. Either way, having several sleeping/showering areas for a multi-generational trip, can be a life-saver. Helping your grandparents get a great night’s sleep is vital, and that will be easier without fussy grandchildren.
2. Book a Convenient Resort
All Disney resorts are not created equal. Well, they’re all wonderful, but some have better locations. When traveling with less-mobile family members, book a resort with multiple transportation options. Getting crammed into a Disney bus is tiresome, and for many resorts, this is the only way to travel to the parks. If you’re not renting a car, consider staying at a resort on either the Monorail or Skyliner Gondola line. Both transportation options are more comfortable, less crowded, and get you into the parks faster. Currently, the Monorail line is running to the Magic Kingdom. The Skyliner is making daily trips to EPCOT and Hollywood Studios. Hotels on these ‘lines’ include the Grand Floridian, the Polynesian, the Contemporary, Art of Animation, The Riviera, Caribbean Beach, and Pop Century. Take time to figure out what works for your family’s budget and book accordingly.
3. Rent a Sweet Ride
Even if you’re staying at a convenient location, your grandparents may need help with mobility. An average day of walking in Disney World can add up to almost ten miles! Look into renting a wheelchair or an ECV (electrical conveyance vehicle). These can be rented at any of the parks on property or Disney Springs. Best of all, when cast members see that someone in your party needs a scooter, they will do their best to help you find accessible, chair-friendly routes. Disney transportation will also assist with getting chairs on and off busses/other vehicles as needed. Plan to give your grandma’s feet a rest and rent her a scooter before any fatigue sets in.
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4. The Softer Side of Riding
One of the greatest perks to Disney World is the variety of attractions. While your grandparents may be stuck on a bench at Six Flags or Universal, Disney has a plethora of calm attractions and shows. Skip the roller coasters for now and check out one of the many non-thrill rides like The Haunted Mansion, It’s a Small World, the Na’vi River Journey, and (if they’re a little more daring) Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway. And don’t forget about the shows! While some have yet to re-open, there is still a heathy selection of live entertainment and films in air-conditioned theaters. Shows like the Voices of Liberty, the American Adventure, and Feathered Friends in Flight all provide a breather from the park hustle. Encourage these breaks for grandma and grandpa.
5. Be Mindful of Meals
When it comes to dining in Disney World, take your grandparents’ needs into account. For example, does grandma want to stand in a hot, mile-long line for a churro? Probably not. Book at least one table-service meal a day so the whole family can get off their feet. Additionally, pick your venue carefully. Keep everyone’s dietary restrictions in mind and pick restaurants with home cooking inspired entrees on the menu. Grandparent-approved restaurants include places like the 50s Prime Time Café, Garden Grill, the Plaza Restaurant, and the Grand Floridian Café. With so many choices on property, you’ll be able to find plenty of choices for sensitive stomachs.
6. Smell the Roses
The attractions may be plentiful, but Disney is so much more than rides. If you’re traveling on a special trip with your grandparents, you can soak in the park atmosphere. From the themed lands within the Magic Kingdom to the deeply intricate pavilions in the World Showcase, Disney is a treasure trove to explore. Enjoy some leisurely strolls. Take pictures in less-populated nooks and crannies. Find benches and do some people-watching while you listen to carefully selected background music. (If you’re a Disney veteran, you probably have some favorite spots!) Just take advantage of the opportunity to slow down and embrace the Disney magic. This could become your favorite pastime.
7. Don’t Make Them Keep Up
If you are a Disney fan that literally runs between the attractions and parks, you can still do that. Don’t make your grandparents join you though. Instead, plan some quality time for the family each day. Plan to meet up for meals, favorite attractions, or for a couple of hours when the sun has gone down. As long as you make your older relatives feel included in the trip, some alone time is fine. Plus, it can make the moments you share all the more special! Whatever you do, don’t expect your grandparents to rush around the property in Florida heat. The result could be resentment, heat exhaustion, and plain old irritation. And none of those things belong in your vacation.
The sheer diversity of Disney World makes it a wonderful destination. And even if this vacation looks different than others, it doesn’t make it any less enjoyable. Treasure your elders and show them how to fall in love with this magical place.