|Cinderella Princess Dinner // Photo by Maureen Stone|
While active grandkids are never stress-free for even the most patient grandparents, here are some ideas for making a Walt Disney World visit easier for grandparent clients based on recent experience.
• Clients get their best price deals from travel agents able to create customized packages called “Magic Your Way” packages based on what the client wants. Guests can book any type of hotel along with single or multi-day theme park tickets bundled in a package. Clients can book packages with base park tickets or park-hopper tickets as desired.
• Automated wheelchairs rentals, very popular with older guests, are available in the theme parks for about $12 per day and are complimentary for guests in Disney resort hotels with a $315 deposit. Child strollers or double strollers can also be rented for about $15 per day
• All of Disney’s internal resort and park transportation is wheelchair accessible.
• Theme park tickets need not be used on consecutive days, but any purchased tickets and options must be used within 14 days of first use.
• Advise that clients use free FastPasses to bypass the longest ride lines. Plan which popular attractions to go for and obtain the passes at the ride entrance for each family member. They enable guests to return within a reserved time window to enter via the shorter FastPass lines.
• Look for a new FastPass+ system coming soon that may allow for advance ride time reservations on a limited daily basis.
• Use buses and water launches to travel between hotels and theme parks and leave the car in the hotel parking lot. Based on two recent Disney trips that included visits to three WDW theme parks, buses are more time efficient than monorails.
• Consider booking only one Disney park ticket per person per day unless time is limited and the client wants the park hopper. Traveling between parks in the same day is hot in summer, tires out the young kids, and uses up valuable time. Plus park hoppers cost extra money.
• Make Disney character encounters – known as “meet and greets” – a highlight of the grandkids’ visit with some advance planning. Pick up the Times Guide and Guide Map at the entrance to each park to minimize wait times, or plan ahead at this Disney web site: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/calendars/magic-kingdom/#timeofday=allday
• EPCOT is a great theme park for the kids to meet favorite Disney characters including princesses, with usually much shorter waiting lines than in Magic Kingdom. Check times to find Belle and Princess Aurora (the Sleeping Beauty) outside the France pavilion, Snow White outside Germany, Mary Poppins at the United Kingdom, Mulan at China and several others.
• Plan to book at least one Disney character meal, usually a breakfast or dinner, in one of the theme park or resort restaurants. They are more expensive than regular meals but well worth having the Disney characters arrive at your table to greet your grandkids for photo opportunities.
• Don’t rush with grandkids. Yes, guests can see more attractions quickly by arriving at the theme parks early, but it is just as much fun to enjoy a leisurely breakfast with the grandkids in the hotel room or restaurant before heading out to the theme park.
• Carry a small soft cooler bag with water, juice and snacks. We froze small water bottles that kept cold as they melted. The kids get thirsty!
• Don’t feel a need to go to a theme park each day of a Disney world visit with grandkids. An ideal plan is to stay in a Disney hotel for four nights and five days to alternate days in the theme park with days on resort property.
• Relax in the pool, join the many kids’ club activities and attend hotel Disney character meals. Visit some of the other Disney hotels as we did, such as the animal viewing area behind Animal Kingdom Lodge. Grandkids love pool play time, which allows the elders to recharge their own batteries for the next theme park day.