I have been to Walt Disney World more times in my life than I can count. My first trip was when I was under a year old, and I’ve never stopped. Being 25 now, I felt like I had experienced Disney from many different perspectives: As a young child experiencing the Magic of your favourite characters coming to life, as a tween braving my first thrill rides, as an adult family enjoying eating and drinking around World Showcase, and as a couple with my boyfriend soaking up the romantic atmosphere of Main Street during Wishes. I thought I knew how to plan a trip for any age group or family dynamic, until I decided I wanted to bring my 78 year old grandmother back to Disney World. Her last trip with us to Disney was over 20 years ago, and being as close as we are, I wanted to experience my favourite place in the world with my favourite person. I quickly realized that my usual planning strategies would need a serious overhaul. Although the trip was completely different to the trips I am used to taking, it was one of the most amazing trips of my life. Here are my top 5 reasons to bring your grandparents to Disney:
Reason 1: Experiencing the rides that you normally skip over
Confession: there are certain rides at WDW that I hadn’t gone on in years. I am a total thrill ride junkie, so I usually spend my days at Hollywood Studios running between the Tower of Terror and Rock n Roller Coaster. Would I ever usually choose a Fastpass for Winnie the Pooh over Space Mountain? Doubtful. Going into this trip with my grandmother, this was the biggest change in my planning. She gets motion sickness, and isn’t interested in anything that goes faster that 10 miles an hour, so I knew my priorities would be changing in what rides were must dos. This turned out to be such a welcome change! I hadn’t been on Peter Pan in years, I forgot how great Living with the Land is, and I’m ashamed to say I had never even been into the Hall of Presidents! Not only did my grandma love everything that she went on, but I have some new must dos for my next trip!
Reason 2: Stopping to smell the roses
My usual game plan for Walt Disney World is to run from must do ride to must do ride, only stopping for food. I always figured that I’ve been so many times, I know my usual routes, and I am non-stop on the move from rope drop to wishes. Being 78 years old, my grandmother moves at a slightly slower pace than I do, which meant that we walked at a leisurely pace, instead of my usual speed walking, and we stopped to take little breaks every couple of hours. In doing so, I noticed so many little details that I had either totally forgotten about, or simply overlooked because of my usual rushing around. The theming of Walt Disney World is really something to be marveled at, and if you stop and look around anywhere in any of the four parks, there is something interesting see. From taking in the authentic African feel while sitting at Harambe Marketplace, to enjoying the lights of Tomorrowland at night, to sitting outside at the Rose and Crown before Illuminations, this slower pace really allowed me to appreciate Walt Disney World in a way I haven’t in a long time.
Reason 3: Exploring the shops
If your grandparents are anything like my grandmother, they will want to make sure they have a thorough look around at every location, including all of the fabulous shopping opportunities that are throughout the parks. Of course, I have my few go to stores that I go into every trip (I’m looking at you Memento Mori!), and I might stop to look at a souvenir at the gift shops you exit through after a ride, but I’m not one to make a point of stopping to look at all of the merchandise available. Until now that is! I found so many things that I didn’t even know Disney sold, and so many hidden treasures that I ended up taking home. For example, at Animal Kingdom I don’t think I’ve ever really even noticed the Yak and Yeti Bhaktapur Market in Asia, but because my grandmother wanted to go in, I ended up buying a Tervis tumbler that is now one of my favourite souvenirs. Who knew!
Reason 4: Setting up early for the fireworks and parades
Don’t get me wrong, the fireworks have always been one of my favourite things about going to Disney World, and I never miss them, but I’ve also never been one to camp out for hours to find the perfect spot. I’m usually okay to sit on a rock to watch Wishes or squeeze into a tight space around World Showcase for Illuminations. The fireworks and the Main Street Electrical Parade were two of the things my grandma was most excited about seeing, and we knew she would have to have a comfortable seat where she would still be able to see everything. For Illuminations we decided to eat dinner at the Rose and Crown so that we could use their outdoor viewing area to watch Illuminations. We were there really early, since we wanted to make sure we had good seats for my grandmother. I cannot tell you how refreshing it was to sit and talk to each other, and reminisce about our day while it was still fresh in our memories, while we waited for the show to start. Sitting at a table outside of Casey’s Corner watching Wishes with my grandmother is something I will never forget.
Reason 5: The memories that you will make you will cherish forever
Did we have reservations about the trip? Absolutely. We weren’t sure that my grandma would be able to keep up with us and finish four parks in four days! We worried about her back problems and her diet restrictions, and even just how much walking we would be doing over the four days. In the end, every minute of the trip was worth it. I don’t have many experiences that top singing along with my grandma to Mickey’s Philharmagic. We took fabulous pictures, laughed for four days straight, and I now have memories that will last me a lifetime
Giselle started travelling to Disney with her family when she was 8 months old! Her Disney obsession has taken her to Disney destinations over the world. Giselle focuses on planning Disney vacations for multi-generational family visits for guests from Oakville, Burlington and Southern Ontario. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org for your vacation needs!
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