As a child, your first trip to Walt Disney World is a moment you will never forget. Now, imagine this feeling from the perspective of a grandparent experiencing the magic for the first time. If you ever have the chance to visit Disney World with grandparents, I cannot recommend it enough. Watching my Grandmother’s eyes light up at the sight of Cinderella’s Castle and her favorite Disney character (which happened to be Tigger) encapsulated the true magic of Disney.
I was about 12 years old when we brought my Grandma on her first trip to Disney World. She was more excited than my sister and I, and her energy didn’t slow down once we reached the parks. In fact, she beat us to every ride line, every character, and every show. And she beat my sister’s score on Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, repeatedly. As a kid at heart, my Grandmother adored her first trip to Walt Disney World.
Making memories with your grandparents at Disney World is a magnificent experience. But before you go, use these tips to guarantee a memorable trip.
What to Do at Disney World with Grandparents
Embrace Their Inner Child
I’ve found that kids and adults act the same way at Disney World: full of wonder, excitement, and positivity. Elderly individuals are no different. While at Disney World, let your grandparents embrace their inner child.
To help them let their inner child loose, take a hint from my Grandmother. Throughout the trip, she did the following:
- Met her favorite Characters and got their autograph
- Took pictures non-stop
- Rode as many rides as she could
- Watched the parades, shows, and fireworks with awe
- Ate around the world in Epcot
- Went behind-the-scenes at Disney’s Hollywood Studios
- Saw her favorite animals at Disney’s Animal Kingdom
No matter how your grandparents choose to feel like a kid again, let them.
Go at Their Pace
While my grandmother ran circles around us at Disney World, not all grandparents are able to do so — and that’s perfectly fine. Remember, the Disney World theme parks are massive! For perspective, here are the sizes of each park:
- Magic Kingdom: 105 acres
- Epcot: 300 acres
- Disney’s Hollywood Studios: 135 acres
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom: 403 acres
A day at the theme parks requires a significant amount of walking. Be prepared to take breaks, walk slowly, and take it all in.
If necessary, you can rent a wheelchair for $12 or for several days at $10 per day. If you believe you’ll need a wheelchair for your grandparent(s), be sure to get one right away! They are available on a first come, first served basis.
Wear Appropriate Clothing
It’s no secret that Orlando is hot. As elderly individuals may have difficulty regulating their body temperature, it is imperative that they wear appropriate clothing. Talk to your grandparents before the trip to ensure they pack the appropriate clothing for their body type, medical conditions, and the Orlando weather.
When visiting Disney World with grandparents, make sure they wear a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen on at all times. The last thing you want to deal with is sunburn and heat exhaustion.
Disney World, although magical, is a crowded and hectic place. It never hurts to be cautious while navigating Disney World. Keep this advice handy for a safe and remarkable vacation with grandparents:
As I mentioned, it is hot! Combined with the significant amount of walking, dehydration can become a serious problem. Stay hydrated throughout the day by either bringing or purchasing a water bottle to refill throughout the day.
Be Mindful of Crowds
With the massive amount of families entering the parks each day, crowds can be an issue for grandparents. If possible, have a parent or older child walk with the grandparents to avoid others from bumping into them and accidentally causing injuries.
If your grandparents require certain medications throughout the day, make sure they take them. Simply tell the security professional at the front gate that the medicine is in your bag and you’ll be all set. To avoid forgetting about the medications, set an alarm on your phone or smartwatch as a reminder.
Lines at Disney World are the norm. However, sometimes grandparents cannot stand for this long period of time. While the line queues often have poles, railings, and other areas to rest upon, there’s a better way to avoid this exhaustion—FastPass+. Using this feature, you’ll skip the lines for popular rides, shows, and more.
Eat, Eat, Eat!
When at Disney World, you not only want to stay hydrated but also fueled up for the day. Fortunately, Disney World offers a whole new world (see what I did there?) of cuisine for you and your grandparents to dine on. Also, when visiting Epcot, you can’t help but eat around the world.
Don’t forget to keep your grandparents’ dietary restrictions and food allergies in mind. If you have questions about dining in Disney, simply talk to your waiter or the restaurant host. The Disney cast members are always happy to help!
Snacking throughout the day also helps curb “hangry-ness” (for all parties involved) caused by long lines and sun exposure. Disney World allows guests to bring outside food and drinks into the park so long as it does not require a heating implement and the cooler or bag does not exceed 24″ long x 15″ wide x 18″ high.
Take It All In
There’s a lot to see and do in Disney World! Whether your grandparents are visiting Disney World for the first time or the hundredth time, stop to take it all in. From the nostalgia to the new memories as a family, this is a moment you don’t want to forget.
What to Avoid in Disney World with Grandparents
As with all vacations, there are some things you should absolutely avoid to have the best experience possible. Visiting Disney World with grandparents can already be tricky, so steer clear of these items to guarantee a great trip.
Avoid Peak Season
If you’re worried about the heat, the crowds, and the lines, peak season is out of the question. During the summer months and holiday weeks, the parks are jam-packed. Instead, bring your grandparents to Disney World during the following times:
- The month of January through President’s week in February
- Mid-February (after President’s week) through early March
- Late April through early June
- Mid-September through November
- Late November (after Thanksgiving) to late December (before Christmas)
While the crowds will not disappear during these times, there will certainly be less of a wait at rides.
Avoid Booking a Hotel Outside of the Disney World Resort
Although there may be cheaper hotels outside of the resort, Disney World provides their hotel guests with phenomenal amenities and benefits. From complimentary theme park transportation to onsite restaurants and activities, families have everything they need at their Disney hotel.
Grandparents appreciate these added benefits as it eliminates additional walking, the need for driving, and other burdens. Also, if your grandparents need a break from the theme parks, they can take the Disney World bus or monorail back to the resort with ease.
Avoid Nagging Your Grandparents
Naturally, you will be concerned about your grandparents’ well-being throughout your trip. Do your best to avoid nagging them about the sun, drinking water, eating properly, etc. They know what to do and just want to have a good time! Disney World is the happiest place on Earth; do your best to make sure it stays that way. Your grandparents will let you know if they need something, I promise.
Avoid Extreme Rides
Disney World provides detailed descriptions for their rides, shows, and parades. Some of these experiences are more extreme than others. While there are numerous rides for all ages and abilities, several are not safe for elderly individuals.
While every grandparent is different, these are the rides my Grandmother adored:
- Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin (uses special effects)
- Peter Pan’s Flight
- The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
- Haunted Mansion
- Dumbo the Flying Elephant
- “It’s a Small World”
- Mickey’s PhilarMagic (uses special effects)
When going to Disney World with grandparents, read the descriptions thoroughly. Some rides and shows will surprise you! For instance, “It’s Tough to Be a Bug” is a 3D interactive show in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. At one point, the audience is “stung” on the back. As an elderly woman, my grandmother noted that this sensation, although brief, was quite painful.
Make Memories Together at Disney World
Although my grandmother is no longer with us, I cherish our time at Disney World together. Watching her sprint from ride to ride and character to character with a big smile is one of my all-time favorite memories with her.
If you decide to go to Disney World with grandparents, be sure to check out the packages from Reserve Orlando for savings and fun the whole family can enjoy.