Traveling with Older Parents? Check Out These Tips!
Sticking true to Walt’s vision, Walt Disney World is a destination for all ages. From crawling newborns to visitors with walkers, Disney is a family destination.
For those of us who grew up going to Disney, it’s jarring to see things change. Our hearts remain young, but our bodies age. Eventually, we can’t survive twelve-hour park days on minimal sleep. We won’t always run down Main Street U.S.A.
Despite that, the magic doesn’t have to fade. Expectations and plans just need adjusted.
Today, we’re going to discuss tips and tricks for traveling with older family members. With just a few adjustments the whole family (including grandma) can have a refreshing and fulfilling vacation.
Consider Hotel Location
Disney World (and Orlando in general) has no shortage of hotels. Varying in price, theming, and amenities, there are accommodations for every budget.
When traveling with older parents though, convenience is key. Commuting from an off-property hotel could be exhausting. And waiting for Disney buses every day is daunting.
When it comes to convenience, we’re not just thinking about arriving for rope drop. We’re thinking of opportunities to sneak back to the hotel for midday naps. We’re thinking about less painful ways to get back after the fireworks.
In these instances, the cheapest option may not be ideal.
Instead, consider one of the hotels that have non-bus alternatives. Hotels around Disney’s Crescent Lake provide walking access to both Hollywood Studios and EPCOT. Hotels along the monorail line provide walking/monorail access to the Magic Kingdom and monorail access to EPCOT.
Last, but not least, my favorite park transportation is the Skyliner gondolas that connect several hotels to both EPCOT and Hollywood Studios. Do yourself a favor and embrace options.
Pick Family-Friendly Attractions and Shows
The parks have endless thrill rides, but Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind may be a bit much for Grandpa. When booking Genie+ attractions as a family, select options that will make everyone happy.
For example, the Magic Kingdom has a huge selection of calm, dark rides. Hollywood Studios has multiple stage shows, including the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular, the Frozen (2013) sing-along, and Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage.
EPCOT also has its fair share of soothing, indoor rides, and seasonal entertainment. And Animal Kingdom has animal exhibits and gentle walking paths for wildlife lovers.
Theoretically, you could spend a full week in Disney and never get on a roller coaster. Perfect!
Plan a Rest Day
Regardless of your age, resist the “Disney Death March” where guests go to parks from sunup to sundown daily. But you should especially avoid this with older travelers.
Halfway through your trip, make time for a non-park, sleep-in day. Give everyone a chance to recoup and take a break from a packed itinerary. (This is a great opportunity for a pool day or a non-park activity too.)
Take it from an expert. These mid-vacation refreshers give everyone the second wind they need to leap back into the fun.
Prioritize quality time over quantity park time.
Prioritize Food Quality Over Restaurant Theming
The resort excels at theming, but Disney regulars can agree on this. Excellent theming doesn’t always equal excellent food.
Do your research, read reviews, and don’t just pick restaurants based on whether there are character appearances. Older travelers will appreciate meals that don’t just focus on kid-friendly menus. (Plus, most kids barely finish a portion of their meals!)
When booking restaurants, consider some of the beautiful eateries in hotels. Check out the newest additions at Disney Springs. Also, there are character meals (like Topolino’s Terrace – Flavors of the Riviera) that excel at both a fun atmosphere and mouthwatering food.
If you’re overwhelmed by choices, ask your Mickey Travels agent for suggestions. With so many restaurants, a culinary happy medium is around the corner.
If you’re like me, you strive to plan a vacation itinerary everyone will love. This can be impossible.
Making everyone in your family 100% happy 100/% of the time is a high bar. My suggestions come from a place of compromise, not a strict list of “dos” and “do not”.
Sometimes, the best thing to do is split up and give your family autonomy. Grandma and Grandpa don’t want to dine at the loud, colorful kid-friendly restaurant? Encourage them to have a calm, intimate dinner at the Grand Floridian Café.
Are your teenage kids itching to get a boarding group for Tron Lightcycle Run? Let them have fun and meet up for a family ride on It’s a Small World afterward.
In my experience, the happiest family vacations include some alone time. After all, it’s everyone’s vacation and everyone deserves to have the vacation of their dreams.
With this mindset, your older travelers are sure to appreciate the consideration, planning, and thoughtfulness you put into your family adventure. Again, don’t forget to ask your Mickey Travels agent for recommendations and happy planning!
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Feature Image: Disney