10 Tips for Going to Disney World with Older Family Members

by  Christine Dayao | Oct 14, 2014
Epcot / Jonathan Novack/iStock

[Updated June 2016]

Disney World is for guests of all ages, despite what some folks might say. Little ones and kids-at-heart can both have a great time at the Orlando resort. Of course, for older guests, it might take a little tweaking, since a trip to the House of Mouse isn’t the senior's textbook vacation. Here, 10 tips for making it work.

1. Choose a resort with boat or monorail service.
Throughout Disney World, transportation options abound; visitors can choose from buses, monorails, and boats to get from point A to B. All onsite resort guests have access to some or all Disney transportation -- while all the hotels have resort buses, most of the Magic Kingdom-area properties are on the monorail loop, and most Epcot-area properties have boats that transport guests to Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. For faster travel, look into resorts that offer monorail or boat service in addition to buses.

2. Forgo park hopping.
Schedule at least two hours to get to your destination if you plan on park hopping with Disney buses. While older visitors have varied amounts of stamina, park hopping requires a good deal of waiting for buses and can require making transfers. Try sticking to one park per day.

3. Make lunch reservations.
Don’t think of lunch as a time-waster that takes up a big chunk of time. Instead, make reservations so that you’ll have a much-needed midday break, allowing time to sit back and relax. Plus, early reservations means you’ll beat the rush, and lunch at table-service restaurants is often less expensive than dinner.

4.  Have dinner at the park at which you’ve spent the day.
If you decide to make dinner reservations on the days you’ll be at the parks, make sure the restaurants are located at the park at which you’ve spent the day, so you won't have to rush from one park to another. For example, on your Magic Kingdom day, plan to eat at a table-service restaurant on-site, like Be Our Guest or The Crystal Palace. (Many of the table-service restaurants are situated toward the back of each park, so you’ll need to do a significant amount of walking if you’re park-hopping to grab dinner.)

5. Wear the right shoes.
Don’t misjudge the power of proper footwear for a place where you can easily log four to 10 miles a day. Make sure that everyone has good walking shoes, preferably sneakers. If blisters do form, take care of them before they become full blown.

 6. Have at least one rest day.
You’re on vacation, so rest should be a given. Older guests might want to schedule at least one rest day to lounge around the hotel and pool, for a change of pace from racing around the parks and waiting in long lines.

7. Consider a wheelchair rental.
Even though most guests won’t need to rent a wheelchair, it’s good to know that they’re available. Wheelchair rentals can be made daily or for the entire length of stay. Should you need one when going to multiple parks in a day, return your wheelchair to get back your deposit in the first park, then show your rental receipt at the second park to get another wheelchair at no additional charge.

8. Take breaks.
Seniors have varying degrees of stamina; some can buzz around a park for an entire day, while others might require frequent breathers. No matter how much (or little) energy they may have, it's a good idea to take breaks for five or 10 minutes every couple of hours. It should be easy to find a shaded seating area and re-hydrate.

 9. Don’t overestimate or underestimate tolerance for certain rides and attractions.
If you're traveling with older family members, don't try to trick them into going on a ride that they might now want to experience. On the other hand, if you're a brave grandma or grandpa, don't let well-meaning younger family members dissuade you from having your fun, either. The important thing is to always read the ride restrictions, which are posted at all attraction entrances. You can ask a cast member (park staff) for assistance.

 10. Be patient.
This speaks for itself!

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