Traveling to Disney with your grandparents can be a nice change of pace for those of us who have visited WDW with younger children. Traveling with younger children entails very specific rides and areas that are specifically designed with them in mind, such as the recently closed Toon-town, Fantasy Land, and of course all the wonderful character greetings. A lot of time is spent keeping all the kiddos happy and minimizing melt-downs. Visiting with Grandma allowed me to slow down and enjoy her company at my favorite place.
We visited WDW with my grandmother when she was 80. Although she had been active in her younger years, I knew she would need a wheelchair in the parks, to make it easier on her, and so she didn’t feel the need to speed-walk. Grandma was not a “ride” person, especially with anything that went fast, had too many dips or was too scary – taking all that into account, we decided on Epcot for the day. Grandma was able to visit the other parks, but this day was a very special day with just her and me.
Grandma had never been to Disney before, so I wanted to make sure she really enjoyed Walt Disney World for what it was – a Very Magical place! WDW has so much to offer for all ages, but we did our homework to narrow down things closer to our interest. Grandma was able to easily walk holding on to my arm, so we waited and got a wheelchair once in the park. Timing our trip to the parks to avoid peak bus times, only meant missing the first buses of the day, not an obstacle at all.
As luck would have it, entering Future World, we saw Spaceship Earth was an immediate load. Anxious to share this with Grandma we made our way up the ramp, leaving her wheelchair with the stroller parking and without forewarning her, I put my hand under her arm and gently lifted her onto the moving walkway. Grandma was only 4’9” and soaking wet maybe 110 pound, so this wasn’t a big feat! Mistake one, I should have warned her! Word of caution, these walkways can be a little unnerving to those with balance issues. Hey, even those of us with good balance have been known to miss that transition step. As we journeyed our way back in time, I was quick to point out some of the things coming up, so she would know what to expect. My family is more adventurous if we have an idea of what is going to happen.
We were able to visit several pavilions in Future World that morning and finally wound up in The Land. Grandma really enjoyed Living with the Land. This definitely was her type of ride and she was amazed at the details WDW puts into everything.
Before heading to World Showcase we just had to have an ice cream and enjoyed it watching the musical dancing waters in the fountains. I honestly think Grandma could have sat there all day with me, but on to the countries.
Starting in Mexico, I leisurely wheeled her through the shops she seemed interested in. Although the wheelchair was convenient, at times the ramps were a little out of the way. I think this was designed to keep foot traffic down.
Grandma and I prioritized the shows and rides to a select few. On our list were Mexico, Norway, America, France and Canada. We did visit the other countries, but only the shops. It was nice to have quicker access on The Gran Fiesta Tour and Maelstrom because of the wheelchair. It was just a matter of checking in with the cast member as we entered the queue. With only two of us, I didn’t feel too guilty for line jumping. I am a real stickler about not getting in line until everyone in our party is ready to avoid line jumping, so this was a huge step for me. O’Canada allowed Grandma to stay in her wheelchair during the show which eliminated any issues with balance she might have.
It was so nice to slow down through World Showcase and enjoy the gardens and all the little quiet areas it had to offer. We took the time to enjoy several performers along the way and finally ended up in England for some fish and chips. After dinner, we strolled around to the main entrance of World Showcase and checked in with the cast member on duty, for front-and-center seating in the handicap section for Illuminations. It was the perfect spot. With America in the center, it gave us goose bumps. After the rest of our group met up with us, we let the younger kids sit with Grandma, in the front, while the rest stood behind the roped off area.
One thing I failed to mention earlier was that this trip consisted of 4 out of our 5 generations. We had a total of 13 people in our party. The youngest was two and Grandma was the oldest. There is nothing like Disney to bring everyone together for a special trip. You see this was not only my last family trip with Grandma, but it was also my 40th birthday. I still have so many wonderful memories of this trip. I would encourage anyone who is hesitant to take their grandparents on a family vacation to WDW to GO FOR IT! Slowing down and seeing WDW through their eyes will let you relax and enjoy things you could normally miss.
Debbie and her husband live in Collegedale, TN where her youngest son is going to college. She is a huge Disney fan who dreams of someday retiring and working as a tour guide at Walt Disney World. She has enjoyed many trips to WDW with children, grandchildren and sometimes adults only. It is her ultimate goal to make sure everyone who visits WDW has the same magical time that she enjoys every time she visits.