There is something very special about sharing a wonderful Disney vacation with those who may be older in years, but are young in heart. In fact, those that have done so often say that these vacations are some of their most memorable. But while most of the time we think about the needs of our youngest Guests when planning, if you are bringing any seniors with you on your trip, you may need to do things a bit differently in order to accommodate the needs of Grandma and Grandpa.
So if you are thinking about including seniors in your Disney vacation plans, here are a few things you will want to consider as you plan your trip.
Take your time
While there is a lot to see and do at Walt Disney World, planning to take it easy will make things much easier for everyone. Think about the needs of the seniors in your group and go at their pace when needed. Plan for downtime: whether it is a break for a snack, or some much-needed rest at one of the many great Disney shows, building in time to unwind periodically will help make the trip more enjoyable. If possible, go to the parks early, and head back to your resort for the afternoon for a break and even a nap or time by the pool. Especially during the hot summer months, getting out of the heat/humidity will do wonders to recharge everyone’s battery, no matter the age!
Plan for their needs
Grandma or Grandpa may have some needs that the younger members in your group may not. It may be special dietary needs, or there may be physical requirements to consider such as the need for a wheelchair or scooter. Find out well before you leave what these might be and make plans in advance. If your seniors have special needs when it comes to their diets, you may want to contact Disney dining in advance if you have any reservations at any table service restaurants. Or perhaps you may want to bring some simple snacks to the parks with you, especially for those who may need to eat at certain times of the day.
Think ahead too about the potential need for a wheelchair or scooter, as it may be more cost-effective to rent one in advance from a specialty company who will deliver to your resort hotel, rather than rely on those that you rent in the Disney parks. Doing this will insure that your senior will have access to it throughout their stay and not just in the parks. Of course, it is also possible that the need for one will arise during your stay, as many seniors are simply not used to the amount of walking that a visit to Walt Disney World will involve. If so, it is very easy to rent a wheelchair at any of the parks, and doing so can be a great help for both the walking as well as standing in line!
Remember too that things like excessive heat and cold can bother the elderly more than younger people, so be mindful of the importance of things like finding shade, or getting out of the damp/cold when visiting with seniors.
Togetherness is good, except when it’s not
While the entire point of a family vacation is to spend time together as a family, sometimes it is good to spend a little time apart, especially if there is a wide range of ages. Doing so will be good for everyone! It will give parents time to focus for a bit on their younger children (which the children will appreciate) and will also allow for Grandma and Grandpa to look into some attractions that they may be interested in, but no one else is. For example, they may love gardening, and time spent in the Land pavilion at Epcot, learning about the agricultural strategies that Disney uses may be just the thing for them, but for the preschoolers in the group, not so much. Allowing everyone some ‘free’ time will insure that everyone has a chance to see/do what they are most interested in, and will also provide a break from each other…which is never a bad thing on vacation.
Yes Grandma and Grandpa may have some physical needs that the younger members of your group may not, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t have a sense of adventure! Many a family has been surprised to find out that the seniors in their group were far more excited about trying out rides such as Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster and Tower of Terror at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, or Expedition Everest at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, than they were for the more ‘tame’ rides and attractions. Just because your seniors are older doesn’t mean they have lost interest in thrills and trying new things! So don’t assume you know what they want to do….ask first. You might be surprised at the response you get.
The key to a successful Disney vacation with the senior members of your family is communication and planning. Talk to Grandma and Grandpa in advance to find out what their needs are, and anticipate others that they may not have thought of. Then plan your trip with those needs and interests in mind….while keeping the needs and interests of the rest of your family in mind as well. Doing so will insure that your Disney vacation will be a magical experience that will create some very special memories for everyone