Whew...it's been a whirlwind last few weeks....for those who don't know...I took a trip to Disney World with my family, including my 94 year old grandma; found out that that same grandma had a stroke and was not doing well (though she is doing better, she's still not great, but I'm so appreciative of all of your prayers and good thoughts); oh and then I headed back to Disney World for Epic October to see my Be Our Guest Podcast family. So...needless to say....my life has been a LOT crazy!
But, now I'm back and you are stuck with me because I don't have a trip planned for a while (though, that could change at the drop of a hat...) so today, I thought I'd take some of the things I learned when I was down there with grandma, so you could learn some great tips to consider when taking a senior citizen to Walt Disney World!
Now, for those of you who don't follow along, my brother recently moved to Orlando and so my family wanted to go down to see him. This trip included me, my brother, my mom, and my 94 year old grandma who was taking her first ever trip to The World. (That's right, 94 and never been). We had a few days to see it all and we managed to squeeze in quite a bit. It was a fantastic trip filled with a lot of great memories (which helped to keep me sane when I found out grandma had the stroke.) But with this trip, I learned a lot about touring the parks with someone who is elderly. Today, I thought I'd share my Top 5 tips with you.
- Keep mindful of their pace: This I believe was the hardest for my family to comprehend. You see, we still see grandma as someone who can do most things. She is more than capable to us. What we didn't realize is how tiring even sitting in a chair is. So, while we certainly tried to keep things on an easy pace, it likely wasn't on the pace that grandma needed. Try to take breaks in the afternoon and let your senior citizen relax a bit. Even if they don't want to nap. They have the same sort of stamina as toddlers in a way; know that going in and you'll be fine.
- Wheelchairs are your friends (except when they aren't): There is absolutely no way we could have done Disney without putting grandma in a wheelchair. She hates wheelchairs, but for all the walking that you do, the wheelchair was a necessity. I will say, that Disney does an excellent job in accommodating guests in wheelchairs. (And for those who believe that wheelchair guests get right on attractions most of the time, you would be dead wrong...for most rides, we waited in the same line as everyone else does and on quite a few attractions when it was time to ride, we actually had to wait longer for the handicapped accessible vehicle to arrive. It was actually interesting to see what the handicapped accessible vehicles looked like and how they allowed for guests with disabilities to easily ride on attractions.) The only bad part about the wheelchair was pushing it. You don't realize how hilly some parts of The World are (I'm looking at you hill leading up to The Land...I despise that hill now.) Also, while the different and unique pavements are gorgeous to look at...they certainly rattle the chair...I could feel it as I was pushing her...makes me wonder how her booty felt!
- Kids meals are perfect for them: So....Disney meals are very, very large! My grandma doesn't eat a lot, but the kids meals were just the right size for her. The only problem is, there just aren't a ton of choices. (And grandma is EXTREMELY PICKY!) I've said it before and I'll say it again, I wish Disney would create kids meals that were smaller versions of adult meals at more restaurants. They did this at Be Our Guest and it worked out swimmingly. It isn't always kids eating the kids meals Disney...not everyone can and wants to eat a ridiculously large portion...it would be nice to have a bit more variety in kids meal offerings so that those of use who don't eat a lot still get to eat something good. They've done decent, but things could still be a lot better for kids meal offerings.
- They will enjoy the darndest things: My grandma absolutely loved things that I never thought she would. Some of her favorites were Jungle Cruise, Carousel of Progress (her mom actually had some of the things from the first scene in her kitchen), Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin, it's a small world, and Ellen's Energy Adventure (even though she doesn't like Ellen...those were her words describing her liking the attraction...haha!) She also had a great time at Yeehaa Bob's, who is found at Port Orleans Riverside in the River Roost Lounge. (Though she didn't want to meet Bob, despite me trying to get her to.) Did I ever think in a million years that my grandma would enjoy Buzz Lightyear? Nope...but it was a clear winner. Make sure to ask them what they enjoyed and take them on attractions that are similar!
- Remember the time together: I knew this was a special trip, so the memories that I have are priceless, but I made absolutely sure that one thing I did was to take pictures of my grandma. I took tons of her enjoying things. It was so great to see her so happy. (And with the stroke, those photos of her being happy are a source of happiness for me.) Not only did I take photos of her, but I took photos with her. You all may know I'm a fan of the selfie....so selfies with grandma were something I made sure to do. Those are some of my favorite photos I have of the entire trip. Because it shows off the fun that grandma and I were having together. So make sure you capture and remember the memories. They will be so important going forward.
For those who say I can't take the senior citizen in my family to Walt Disney World, they wouldn't enjoy it, I am here to tell you, you are dead wrong. My grandma had a fantastic trip with all of us and we with her. Will the pace be slower, yes; will they get to do everything, no; but no matter what, it will be worth it. Knowing that we all had good quality family time together is all that matters. Because let's face it, this...this trip right here....that's what going to Disney is all about; creating the memories that you will cherish forever. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat, if we could. Unfortunately, that will likely never be the case.
So, my best piece of advice about traveling with senior citizens is don't put it off any longer. Plan that trip with your extended family today. You never know what tomorrow will bring; my family is proof of that.
Have you ever traveled with Senior Citizens? What are your best tips? Let me know in the comments section or on the Facebook page.
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