Disney Trips with Grandparents
Since our son was born, we have traveled to many locations where we took his grandparents with us or met up with them at our destination. With some advance planning, multi-generational travel can be fun for the whole family.
If your parents and/or in-laws enjoy traveling, then consider a Disney trip with grandparents. Yes, it’s a little extra work to make sure everyone’s idea of vacation is implemented, however the memories made will be priceless.
Once everyone is on board to make a multi-generational trip a reality, the first step is coordinating calendars. First, gather dates that are available for each member of your traveling party, see what dates are mutually convenient, and then price out your vacation.
Nic and Nana with Mickey. Plan the best time of year to visit WDW for your family!
You may want to travel when prices are lower or your first priority might be to share a holiday or enjoy a certain type of weather. Once you get this first stage of planning coordinated, everything else will begin to fall into place.
Visit WDW during the Flower and Garden Festival in Epcot.
Discuss the type of accommodations that are suitable for each traveling party as well as the price point that everyone is comfortable spending.
For a Disney cruise, you’ll want to decide on the type of stateroom desired and whether or not you want adjoining or connecting cabins.
Decide which staterooms are best for everyone in your traveling party.
At Disney’s Hilton Head Island, we recommend reserving a two bedroom villa for a mixture of privacy and family togetherness.
Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort
Headed to Walt Disney World? You will have a large assortment of hotels to choose from. Will you camp? Stay in a cabin? Reserve rooms at a value, moderate, or deluxe resort? Or perhaps, you’d like to rent a condo off-site. There are also villas available from studios to multi-bedroom options at the Walt Disney World resorts.
Port Orleans French Quarter is a charming hotel – a great choice when visiting WDW with grandparents.
Now you need a plan to get the family to your Disney destination. Each travel party should choose the type of travel (car, train, plane) that best suits their budget and travel preference.
Nic and Nana waiting to board airplane.
If you live in different cities, will you meet up and then continue on to your destination or meet up at your Disney locale? Either way, specify clear departure and arrival times and keep everyone posted if travel delays are encountered.
Before you leave home, you’ll want to have some idea of the preferred vacation desires of each traveler. Does Grandma want to shop when the ship docks in the first port of call? Is Grandpa wanting to fish or play golf? Perhaps the kids want to ride Dumbo with their grandparents followed by lunch at Be Our Guest. While compromises will have to be made, it’s important to try to accommodate varying vacation styles, likes, and dislikes.
Take a Fishing Excursion at Walt Disney World.
And no one is immune to getting cranky when they are exhausted. You’ll enjoy more quality moments together if everyone is well rested. So, do allow down time for relaxing pursuits such as afternoon naps, hanging out at your resort, and poolside fun. It’s a vacation, not a marathon!
Relaxing at the Wilderness Lodge.
Be flexible. If Grandpa and/or the parents need a rest, let them sit down in the shade while Nana takes the kids on a Disney ride. Parents want to do some shopping? Grandparents can watch the kids at the playground. The best part of a multi-generational trip is being able to spend time together and sometimes that means the kids alone with grandparents or the moms hanging out by the pool while the dads play horseshoes. There are countless special bonding opportunities!
Grandpa, Dad, and Nic playing horseshoes at Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort.
Also, allow for everyone to have some alone time. This can be during an early morning, afternoon down time, or evening. Allow those travelers needing extra rest to sleep in and then meet up for lunch.
Parents escape to shop while Nic is being entertained by grandparents during rest time at the Polynesian Resort.
Just like at home, dining encourages families to slow down and talk. It’s a time to bond with each other.
Nic escorts Grandma to dinner on the Disney Dream.
On a cruise ship, dinner can provide the opportunity for the family to meet and discuss the different activities that each family member enjoyed that day. Or maybe Grandma wants to hear about your latest school projects.
Animator’s Palate on the Disney Dream.
When traveling with differing ages, you’ll also want to keep in mind a few things when planning reservations. Do you have picky eaters? Does anyone need to eat at a certain time? Any allergies or other dining considerations to be aware of? Ask — before you make reservations.
French Onion Soup at Les Chefs de France.
By taking into consideration these dining preferences, you’ll set up meals that can be enjoyed by everyone.
Capture the memories. Now is the time to let the grandparents pose and smile with their grandkids or get group pictures. However, grandparents can also help take pictures of your family — since the photographer is usually missing from a lot of photos, let a grandparent take photographs of you, your spouse, and the children.
Pose for fun photographs!
Do not forget to get pictures of you with your parents!
There will come a time when you think you are all together, and then… you’re not. Perhaps Grandpa and Dad stopped to look at old-fashioned fudge in the Main Street Confectionery and lost sight of the group. Or Mom stopped to take another picture and she’s been left behind. Whatever the reason, you’ve lost your group and having a plan will get you back on track.
Main Street Confectionery in the Magic Kingdom.
Your plan should go beyond “text if we get separated” because sometimes a phone is left in a room or a battery dies. If you are in the Magic Kingdom, for example, you may want your contingency plan to be a meeting point such as in front of Crystal Palace Restaurant.
Crystal Palace Restaurant in the Magic Kingdom.
A separation plan is for the whole family – kids, parents, and grandparents!
Try Something New
Experiencing a new restaurant, attraction, or activity together creates an instant bond and provides fun conversation for later in the vacation.
Karaoke on the Disney Dream
Age is Relative
The kids are never too young or too old to enjoy time with grandparents. It’s a win-win for everyone.
While the parents take a break, Grandpa plays with Nic at WDW. Hope his back didn’t hurt too much later that day!
Parents get a little break from parenting around the clock, grandparents get to spoil and create lasting bonds, and kids get to soak up the unconditional love from everyone. Plus, your offspring learn to respect their older counterparts and that age is relative; grandparents are fun too.
Challenge Grandma to a spin on Buzz Lightyear.
Then those little ones become young adults before you know it. Sure, teens may go off on their own and meet up only for meals and a few designated activities, yet the conversations when everyone is together are sure to be interesting. And even the teens will remember the laughs they’ve had with their grandparents.
Whispering Canyon Cafe is fun for all ages.
Don’t forget that traveling with your own parents is a great way to reconnect, especially if you live in different cities/states.
Kim and her Mom at Fort Wilderness.
If you are absolutely against your child staying in the parks without an afternoon nap break, set a limit. However, allow plenty of opportunities for the grandparents to spoil your kid(s) or to help out.
Nana spoils Nic with a Mickey Ice Cream Bar. Priceless moment!
On one day in the Magic Kingdom, our son was exhausted. Grandma gave him some sips of a soda and he perked right up. Now, did that lead any of us to start putting soft drinks in his sippy cup? Of course not. But it did solve an immediate issue without any dire consequences. And we still laugh about that memory that took place 15 years ago!
Time to refuel!
Would you ordinarily allow your kid to race down a hotel hallway? Probably not. But watching Grandpa push a stroller crazy fast down the empty (middle of the afternoon) hallway at the Polynesian Village was harmless fun that filled Grandpa and child with in-the-moment laughter. And still gives us giggles when we remember the fun that they had.
Nana or Grandma wants to buy your kid a stuffed animal or a cookie? Well, as long as your little loved one isn’t begging and taking advantage of the generous grandparent (and doesn’t have an allergy or dietary restriction), then let the grandparent have at it. A bag of spun sugar, a sweet confection, or another furry friend (that doesn’t poop) is not going to cause lasting harm.
Mickey Gingerbread Cookies are delicious!
Discuss non-negotiables and then let vacation happen! It’s the spontaneous moments that are usually the most prized.
While traveling with extended family, celebrate milestones. A graduation, birthday, retirement, and other special occasions become even more memorable when acknowledging them during a vacation.
Wishes Fireworks Birthday Cruise
Don’t forget to pack items that will make your travels easier. Good walking shoes, some moleskin, rain ponchos, and a bag for the stuff you want to haul to the parks are essential. Grandparents will appreciate your preparedness.
Planning your next Disney getaway? Don’t forget to invite the grandparents!
What are your tips for traveling with grandparents? Contact Us, Follow Us on Twitter, or comment below to share your travel tips.
Ten Epcot Attractions for Younger Kids at Walt Disney World
Epcot is often viewed as a park for older kids and adults. However, there are many Epcot attractions for younger children!
In fact, if you don’t pay a visit to Epcot while the kids are younger, you’ll miss out on some spectacular attractions that may no longer appeal to your brood once they are older.
With that said, I don’t want you to rush into Epcot without a plan. Utilize FastPass+, escape the park during the busiest (and often hottest) afternoon hours, and/or take breaks when needed. Epcot requires a lot of walking. A lot.
Tired feet will appreciate taking a Friendship Boat across World Showcase Lagoon.
Even with a teen, we tend to tour Epcot on two separate days. We might tackle Future World one morning, and then World Showcase on another evening. Of course, park hoppers help to break up a tiring Epcot day. There are many options for breaking up Epcot days, including touring until the International Gateway in World Showcase and then taking a boat to Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Hop on a Friendship Boat.
If you are a one park per day family, then plan for rest stops. If you aren’t returning to your hotel for a mid-day break, then be sure to sit for small respites — Epcot has some wonderful hidden areas (the park in United Kingdom is a favorite!) where you can relax.
Hyde Park is a lovely place to relax with the family.
Future World Attractions
Touring these Future World attractions first thing in the morning or later in the day (early evening is optimal!) is a good strategy for less crowded conditions. However, since these attractions are not headliners, you may be able to visit throughout the day with little to no wait, depending on the time of year that you visit. Of course, school holidays always yield longer lines.
The Seas with Nemo & Friends pavilion
This pavilion showcases a slow-moving ride in a “clamobile”. Join Pixar friends Marlin and Dory as you search for Nemo through vibrant ocean scenes. After, explore the 5.7 million gallon salt-water tank filled with sharks, dolphins, turtles, and more species. Don’t miss my favorite area — the manatee rehabilitation room. Love those “sea cows”!
Plan to see the first show of Turtle talk with Crush. It’s not-to-be-missed for younger kids and their parents. Children will be invited to sit on the floor in the front of the theater, so that they can peer into the undersea window and vie for a better position in which to chat with Crush. Innocent questions posed by the offspring can result in memorable laughs. This show is totally cool for your dudes and dudettes!
Coca-Cola fans (and visitors looking for a free thirst-quencher ;)) can sample products from around the globe. Kids of all ages have fun sipping these tasty and some not-so-tasty (yep, I’m referring to Italy’s Beverly) beverages. What’s your favorite?!
Take a sip!
Disney Phineas and Ferb: Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure
Phineas and Ferb’s pet, Perry the Platypus takes on an alter ego, Agent P, in this hands-on World Showcase adventure. Kids of all ages delight in becoming secret agents to help foil arch-nemesis, Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz. Clues are sent to a borrowed FONE (Field Operative Notification Equipment) or a family-owned smartphone that direct newly commissioned agents to one of seven World Showcase pavilions. Each location highlights a new 30-45 minute adventure. Try one, several, or all of them!
Help Agent P save the world!
Treats, Toys, and/or Snacks in World Showcase
Look for unique treats, toys, and/or snacks in the World Showcase pavilions. On one Epcot trip, we had our son choose a different candy from each each country — a definite highlight of his vacation. Visit the shops, bakeries, ice cream shops, food stands, and restaurants for a smorgasbord of tasty edibles.
Candy in Epcot’s Japan.
Journey into Imagination
Another slow-moving ride that is perfect for guests of all ages! Dr. Nigel Channing’s sensory labs will delight your senses as you travel through this imaginative journey. Set your imagination free with the mischievous purple dragon named Figment. And, hold your nose in the Smell Lab! There’s a small interactive exhibit, ImageWorks – The “What If” Labs, that follows the ride.
Jump on squares to create different sounds at ImageWorks
Kidcot Fun Stops
Mickey Mouse travels the world with his teddy bear, Duffy. During your adventure around the globe, take a breather while watching the kids join in artistic fun at any of the eleven Kidcot Fun Stops.
Kidcot stations are fun stops in Epcot.
A Cast Member will provide a free cardboard Duffy the Disney Bear for your child to decorate and adorn with a commemorative stamp at each station. Ask the Cast Member about their home country. It’s especially fun to have them write your child’s name in their native language. By the time your World Showcase tour is over, Duffy will be completely decorated for a take home souvenir!
Take a break at Kidcot Fun Stops.
One of the most popular performances to watch with kids is in France. Gravity defying acrobats –Serveur Amusant™ — delight young minds with their balancing acts.
French acrobats amuse young audiences.
Disney characters can be found throughout Epcot. A quick look at the Times Guide (an informational sheet that you can pick up when entering the park) or on your My Disney Experience app will give you the daily schedule for character greetings. Stop by Epcot Character Spot in Future World or seek out Disney friends throughout World Showcase.
Visit characters throughout World Showcase. Don’t forget your autograph book!
World Showcase Diversions
Don’t miss the little things. These unexpected diversions can really add to your youngster’s visit to Epcot.
Watch the train in Epcot’s Germany
Check out the Koi Pond.
World Showcase Attractions
Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros
Young kids love the mystery of Mexico’s pyramid and the twilit Festival Marketplace inside adds to the adventure. Kids like posing for a picture wearing a sombrero, trying out the maracas, and spotting the volcano on the way to Gran Fiesta Tour.
Try a sombrero in Epcot’s Mexico pavilion.
The calm and silly boat ride is inspired by The Three Caballeros, a Disney film that debuted in 1944. What kids enjoy is helping to find Donald Duck. He’s disappeared! So, José Carioca (a Brazilian parrot) and Panchito (a Mexian charro rooster) need your help to find him.
Head inside the pyramid in Epcot’s Mexico.
Frozen Ever After
Travel through Arendelle with Queen Elsa, Anna, Olaf, Kristoff, and other Frozen friends! A “summer snow day” is the perfect time to visit the frozen willow forest, Troll Valley, and North Mountain aboard a gently gliding boat. Along the way, you’ll hear favorite Frozen songs in this attraction at the Norway pavilion in Epcot.
Don’t leave Norway without stopping by Royal Sommerhus to meet Anna and Elsa.
IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth
A memorable fireworks show brings guests together around World Showcase Lagoon at the end of an Epcot evening. Earth’s birth, the history of humanity, and joyful hope for the future are all celebrated in this fiery display. If your little one is unsure of loud noises, visit a nearby shop where the sound will be diminished.
If your child is afraid of loud noises, try watching IllumiNations from inside a shop.
Extra Epcot Tips
Plan a vacation during the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival as the topiary arrangements add an extra layer of free fun to your family’s itinerary.
Check out the floral exhibits at the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival
Never underestimate the allure of the Disney monorail. Take the kids for a ride on the monorail before leaving Walt Disney World!
Consider the Disney Monorail a must-do attraction!
Epcot should definitely be on your touring agenda. These attractions and others like Spaceship Earth will entertain the whole family.
What do your kids enjoy in Epcot?