DOING DISNEY with Grandparents
One of the best ways to magnify the magic of a Disney World vacation is to share it with people you love. Including grandparents requires extra planning but will make your trip even more special.
1. Stay on property. The convenience of staying at a Disney resort is even more important when traveling with older guests. Grandparents – or their grandchildren - may want to take a break during the day, which is much simpler when your resort is nearby. Staying at a Disney resort also makes transportation easier. This is especially true for a larger group that would normally require a minivan or large SUV. As Disney resort guests, you have complimentary access to Magical Express from the airport to your hotel as well as Disney buses, boats, and monorail trains for getting around Walt Disney World.
2. Plan your time at the parks carefully. Many Disney guests walk ten to twelve miles a day. When my mother took her first trip to Disney with me, my sister, and my daughter a few years ago, she was amazed at how much walking we did. Running back and forth across a park may work with teenagers and young adults, but it is not a good idea for older guests. Plan your fastpasses – and your touring plan – carefully so that you can minizime steps. Incorporate the transportation within the parks in your plans. For example, use the train at Magic Kingdom to cross from the entrance to New Fantasyland. Electric scooters are also available to rent through Disney and other companies.
3. Consider what will interest grandparents. Obviously, watching children and grandchildren enjoy the parks will bring great joy. But the reverse is true – the younger generation will enjoy seeing the Disney magic through the eyes of their grandparents. When my mom went to Disney with me, we had only a short window for our trip, and we almost skipped Hollywood Studios. I’m so glad we didn’t! Mom loved the vintage gas station just inside the entrance, the art deco buildings of Old Hollywood, and the Big Band music. Eating at 50’s Prime Time Café took her back to the age of Ozzie and Harriet. Other attractions that appeal to seniors, as well as kids of all ages, are the Carousel of Progress, Disney Railroad, the Dapper Dans in Magic Kingdom, and Soarin’ Around the World at Epcot.
4. Take time to enjoy special dining experiences. Disney has some really unique, wonderful restaurants, and grandparents will love seeing their grandchildren interact with the Disney characters during a special meal. Fans of Snow White and the Dwarves? Try Storybook Dining at Artist Point at Wilderness Lodge. Is comfort food a favorite? Garden Grill at Epcot includes visits from Mickey, Pluto, Chip, and Dale. Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue offers a good old-fashioned song and dance show along with finger lickin’ good fried chicken, cornbread, and strawberry shortcake. Another advantage is that eating at a sit-down restaurant will give the entire group some time to rest, recharge, and refuel.
5. Make appointments for Disney magic. Grandparents will cherish seeing their grandchildren participate in Disney magic. Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, a Pirates League makeover, or a Mermaid package will let children live out their Disney fantasy. Register for a tour, like the Ultimate Disney Classics VIP tour or Disney’s Family Magic Tour. Disney has so much to offer that will appeal to mouseketeers of all ages!
6. Make use of the Disney PhotoPass photographers. A professional photo is a great way to remember your amazing vacation. You’ve got the whole family together in a beautiful setting – make sure that you go home with pictures worthy of framing or perfect for your holiday card.
7. If mobility is an issue, consider Disney Cruise Line or Disneyland. Disney Cruise Line is a great choice for a multi-generational trip. DCL’s activities, dining, and entertainment make it a win for all ages. Celebrate together at the Sail-Away Party, marvel at drawings come to life at Animator’s Palate Restaurant, and enjoy the music and drama at the Golden Mickey’s stage show. Disney cruise ships will make it easy to accommodate any mobility issues that challenge older guests.
The California Disney parks are also a great choice since they’re much smaller than Walt Disney World. Disneyland and California Adventure are just across the street from each other. Guests can easily walk from their resort hotel – or from some Good Neighbor hotels – to Downtown Disney and on into the parks. The Grand Californian even has its own entrance into California Adventure. The parks themselves are also more compact than the Florida parks, so it’s much easier to get around.
Vacations by Shannon is available to provide free vacation planning to help ensure that every member of your family or group experiences a magical Disney vacation.