By Marilyn Jones
More and more families are including grandparents when they plan their Walt Disney World vacations. There are great advantages to having more adults along — especially if children are younger. Plus it’s fun to share magical Disney moments with other members of the family.
When to go, where to stay and what to do? Those are big questions when planning your Disney adventure. Trying to avoid crowds and Florida’s scorching summer weather seem obvious, but another advantage is when this resort destination isn’t as crowded, on-site hotels and admissions aren’t as expensive either. Additionally, one of the effects of COVID-19 on theme parks right now is fewer crowds during otherwise busy times. Consider a visit after Thanksgiving weekend and before the week of Christmas when crowds are down and Disney’s holiday finery is up.
Once these decisions are made, this framework will enable you to fine tune your plans. Have family meetings and talk about what everyone’s expectations are for the trip, taking into consideration the slower pace of grandparents and the seemingly endless energy of children.
There are rides, shows and attractions everyone can enjoy as a family and other times when it’s best to split up. Young children can’t ride certain rides and there may be adults in your party who don’t like fast and furious attractions. If this is the case, it’s a great time for children and non-riders to peruse the gifts shops or take in a gentler ride.
Disney has put a lot of effort into accommodations, no matter what your price point is. Take advantage of all hotel amenities from casual to fine dining, character meals, swimming pools, arcades and shops.
When you book your accommodations, request adjoining rooms — especially if you’re traveling with smaller children. Grandparents can help with the kids, like tucking them into bed when the parents are out for a date night.
Disney also provides an efficient transportation system for hotel guests to whisk you off to one of the four parks, Disney Springs, other hotels and other sites including water parks.
Another advantage is if you shop in the parks, your purchases can be sent to your room the following day. This way you can shop in the parks without worrying about carrying your purchases the rest of the day.
Disney parks are all designed in a hub and spoke fashion. It’s most efficient timewise and energy wise to make your way around the circle instead of cutting across the middle.
And remember, you may be pushing a stroller and there is a vast difference in your group’s ages. Everyone goes at a different pace and has a different idea of the perfect Disney experience. One person might want to peruse a gift shop and another might want to queue up for an iconic Disney snack. Realizing this ahead of time lessens the stress.
When I traveled to Walt Disney World with my family recently, we visited a park every day for four days bookended by travel. Leaving the park in the afternoon, when it is the most crowded, was a smart move for us. This is a great time for families to split up as well. My then three-year-old granddaughter loves to swim, so her parents took her swimming one afternoon followed by a nap while I leisurely explored Disney Springs. Another evening, while my daughter and her husband enjoyed the fireworks, I tucked my granddaughter into bed and enjoyed a quiet evening.
One of the best investments you can make is the Disney PhotoPass. There are Disney photographers set up at iconic locations throughout the parks. You simply show your MagicBand or PhotoPass card and your photos will be linked to your Disney account.
Also included are photos and videos taken while you are enjoying ride attractions. There is no limit to the number of photos or videos you can collect during your visit.
When you get home, you simply download the photos and videos onto your personal device. This way, no one has to bring along a camera unless they want to and you end up with a portfolio of professional photos.
The number one thing to remember is everyone has their own opinions, expectations and preferences. By planning, being considerate and sharing a variety of experiences, together or separate, you’ll enjoy a perfect multigenerational Disney vacation.