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6 Tips for Grandparents Going to Walt Disney World

Walt Disney World forever endeavors to be a family affair, so no matter your age, young or old, the Imagineers have designed something to appeal to your wonder and amusement. Grandparents are especially important in the life of children, so sharing Disney memories can only draw them closer together. After deciding to join their family on a vacation to Walt Disney World, grandparents should consider the following six tips, which we’ll label “The Six Bs.”

6. Be Energized

Every park guest should follow this tip, but grandparents should consider it more closely. Unless you’re a world-class athlete always on the lookout for the next marathon, you probably don’t have the same energy you enjoyed in your youth. There’s a lot of walking involved in Walt Disney World, so keeping energy levels high is crucial to enjoying the theme parks and avoiding the kind of pain that traps you in your room all day with a bottle of aspirin. It’s important that you get an early start and turn in at a decent time, even if your family scampers all over Magic Kingdom until 1:00 a.m. If you carry a day bag or oversized purse, make sure you pack lightly. Also, be certain to pace yourself…even a marathon runner follows this advice, so grab a bench and take a break from time to time.

5. Be Prepared with Activities

Some grandparents love to hop on the thrill rides and face drops, loops, and corkscrews with a passion, but if you’re not that kind of person, then consider the fact that you’ll have some long waits while your loved ones nourish their thrill-seeking appetites. Some wait times may be as long as 90 minutes or more. This would be the perfect time to browse gift shops, grab a snack, or catch a nearby show, if it’s conveniently scheduled.

Other options include bringing a book to read or an electronic device to play games, check e-mail, or watch a show. Walt Disney World offers free Wi-Fi in most public spaces, so if you’re a tech-savvy grandparent, the opportunities to keep busy are endless. Finally, many like to bring a hobby to work on while their family drops thirteen stories on the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. Think about crocheting, knitting, Sudoku, or whatever interests you.

4. Be Flexible

Some vacationers plan every activity; others fly by the seat of their pants. No matter what your preferences are, remember that flexibility is vital for a pleasurable vacation with your family. You may have been on a thousand trips, but your grandchildren may be doing this for the first time, or at least a lot fewer times than you. Little ones will get tired, some will throw tantrums, and others may change their minds a hundred times. The key is to take everything in stride, realizing that you’re in Walt Disney World! You’re on a magical vacation with the ones you love, so consider relaxing your desire to control things. Your tranquil attitude will help you to enjoy yourself and reduce annoyances that spring up from unexpected changes.

3. Be the “Babysitter,” But Not Always

The temptation for grandparents to watch the little ones can be irresistible, but it doesn’t lead to a memorable vacation if you’re always the designated babysitter. First, playing this role often disengages you from the Disney experience. Also, it may foster feelings that you’re being taking advantage of, and no one wants to be marginalized while visiting the best vacation destination in the world. Of course, it’s perfectly all right if you want to spend a little alone time with your grandchildren while the parents are off enjoying some hard-earned “we time,” but this shouldn’t be the norm. Let your children know ahead of time that you would rather participate in vacation activities rather than being stuck at the resort with infants and toddlers all day long.

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2. Be Adventurous

Many aging adults prefer to stick with the familiar, especially when vacationing. After developing lifelong patterns of likes and dislikes, it can be scary to venture outside of our comfort zones. Well, when going to Walt Disney World, grandparents need to set aside the familiar to engage the magic of the theme parks. This means intentionally seeking to encounter the unknown.

Walt Disney World offers a variety of fine cuisine influenced by cultures from around the world. The Disney chefs serve up creative entrees that are sure to dazzle the taste buds, so leave behind the usual pizza, fried chicken, and burgers to try something new. Besides the cuisine, the attractions and shows are creative and unique to Walt Disney World, each of them spinning a story that draws in guests. Some grandparents can get set in their ways, but those opening themselves to new experiences find pleasure in sharing an adventure with their families.

1. Be Your Inner Child

The most important tip you can follow if you’re a grandparent visiting Walt Disney World concerns unleashing the inner child within you. Walt’s dream for his theme parks always included creating a place where families enjoyed spending time together in an imaginative setting. Imagination is not the realm of children only; it’s available for parents and grandparents, as well. Therefore, allow your “child-self” to emerge when going to Walt Disney World.

The first step in channeling your inner child is becoming involved in the activities that interest your grandchildren. In fact, it will serve you well to let them lead the way. Get photographed with Mickey, fly with Dumbo, hop on the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, or dig for fossils with your grandkids in the Boneyard. There’s no reason to be dignified because of your age. Sure, you may be old enough to get a senior discount for dinner, but you can always tap into childlike imagination in order to delight in the wonders of Disney with the kids. All it takes is the desire to look at your vacation through your grandchildren’s eyes.

About D.W. Noonan

D.W. Noonan was blindsided by the magical universe of Walt Disney when he married a dedicated Disneyphile in 1994. His wonderful wife dragged him into countless days of binge-watching great Disney films. As children began showing up in the Noonan home, D.W.'s growing passion for all things Disney led him to vacationing with his family in Walt Disney World each year and taking a journey to visit Disneyland. He is especially proud of his two teenage daughters, who danced for Disney Performing Arts at Walt Disney World in 2015. Though D.W. lives in Maryland, he longs to hear these familiar words when he returns to the resort: "Welcome home."