Four Generations, Four Parks, One World: Multi-Generational Vacations to Disney
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The pomp and circumstance of my long-awaited college graduation was nothing short of incredible!
It was a hard fought five and a half years (yes, I took a little time off), but it was all worth it to hear my name, walk across the stage and get that empty diploma holder (the diploma came later). I'd be lying, though, if I said I wasn’t impatiently awaiting the post-grad reward I'd been working on for a year. A few weeks after my commencement, I was taking my family to the World! That's right, our multigenerational clan was Disney or bust that fateful May, the start of a yearly (at least!) tradition of a week at the Mouse House to ride, revel and, yes, even relax.
Even though I first hit the Disney parks as an infant, this was my first time to be on the planning side. That first trip had a bit of a learning curve. Six of us, my two grandparents, my mom, the kids, and me, in one room at the Polynesian. Enough said. However, I wouldn't trade that trip to the World for the world, watching everyone's eyes light up when the kids walked through Town Square for the first time and laid eyes on Cinderella Castle. It's a cliche, maybe, but that moment is etched on my heart. Magic around every corner, character hugs, and that impeccable service Disney is known for, rounded out the week.
But I knew it would be like that. The TV commercials say it. Your friends tell you stories. It’s just how it is. What I didn't realize, however, is that there truly is something for everyone at Disney World. I knew we'd love experiencing everything through the eyes of the kiddos as they took everything in for the first time, breathing in the magic. I didn't know that Gramma would leave us in the dust for the gift shops every time we stopped so, "Gramma could rest." Or that Grampa would become a Disney foodie. Or that my mom would conquer her fear of the Tower of Terror!
Yes, we all know that Disney parks are known for amazing attractions, but beyond the mountains and 3D experiences are seemingly endless options for everyone. We spent a lot of time on those headliners, but almost five years and ten trips later, we've experienced so much more that Walt Disney World has to offer for all ages and tastes.
Polynesian Resort - Beach
Every year, four generations of our family head to Disney World for a week of magic, memories and mayhem! This was taken at the Polynesian, our Disney World home. - photo by MagicMemoriesMayhem
Let's start with the grandparents. Mine are in their seventies, and we definitely had lots of breaks in mind for them. I think the rest of us needed the breaks more than they did! Like I said, we often got left on benches outside of gift shops, especially in Epcot. Grampa did take a few breathers, so do stake out a few shady seats or air-conditioned areas for those times that anyone needs to admire the magic from a bench. Innoventions in Epcot is great for this, and there are several comparable areas throughout the parks.
When they weren’t resting or shopping, both grandparents really enjoyed all the delicious dining options Disney has to offer. In fact, we started a tradition of sending the grandparents out for a "grown-ups only" meal. They’ve enjoyed Artist Point at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, Coral Reef at Epcot, and Kona Cafe at Disney’s Polynesian Resort, just to name a few. Even when dining with the characters, though, we found lots of delicious items around Walt Disney World. Strawberry soup at 1900 Park Fare comes immediately to mind. So. Ridiculously. Yummy.
My mom, a decidedly young 50-something, enjoyed a lot of the same things I did while at the World, as well as a little lounging around the resorts. As a bit of a thrill ride junkie, I couldn’t wait to make the rounds of the Magic Kingdom's mountain range and check in at the Hollywood Tower Hotel. Mom breezed through the mountains but walked up to the Tower with trepidation. After a little coaxing and seeing a grey-haired grandma saunter into the line, we were soon careening down the elevator shaft...four times in a row. So, encourage the adults to try new things just as you would the kids, they may just find a new favorite!
It’s no secret that my favorite thing is experiencing Disney with the kiddos. I'll gladly hop in line to ride Mad Tea Party and Prince Charming’s Regal Carousel, over and over and over again. I make dining reservations 180 days in advance so we can chow down with Mickey and friends. I live for a great character encounter. All that said, I like some grown-up time, too. It’s a given that Disney is a place where people go-go-go to catch the next ride or snag a seat for a Broadway-caliber show, but not everyone may know that Walt Disney World property offers some fantastic spas when mommy needs a little time to wind down after the parks. I enjoyed a wonderful (and decently priced) spa day at the Mandara Spa at the Walt Disney World Dolphin last year, and I can’t wait to experience the new Senses Spa at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa!
The little ones, of course, are completely content almost anywhere on Disney property. They love the parks, the pools, and the playgrounds. You name it, they love it. With so much to do, though, it’s easy for the younger set to get over-stimulated or tire out quickly. We always plan at least one down day mid-trip so everyone can recollect themselves and recharge. My kiddos can spend hours swaying in the hammocks at the Polynesian or watching the zebras graze at Animal Kingdom Lodge.
While we try to do something new every trip, we’ve hardly scratched the surface of all the experiences to be had at Walt Disney World. World-class golf courses, fishing expeditions, Downtown Disney, water parks, tours... the list goes on and includes something for everyone.
When traveling with extended family, take some time before the trip and chat about what everyone has on their must-do list. With all of the recreation, entertainment and experiences Disney has to offer for everyone ages one to one-hundred, chances are you'll have to plan another trip to get it done. At least that's our plan.
Magic Kingdom - Cinderella Castle
Every year, four generations of our family head to Disney World for a week of magic, memories and mayhem! This was taken on the very first morning of the kids' very first trip to Disney World. My grampa is leading the way followed by my mom, me and the kiddos as we make our way in an empty Magic Kingdom to breakfast in Cinderella Castle. - photo by MagicMemoriesMayhem
About the Author: Jessica is a special education teacher by day and travel agent by night. Well, late afternoon and evening. She and all four generations of her family are looking forward to their 2013 trips to Disneyland and Walt Disney World!
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kaygee10 on February 28, 2013 @ 8:30 pm
I thoroughly enjoyed this article. I, too, have made a couple of multi-generational trips to The World. The last one had 9 members of my family ages 1 to 78. The first half of our 10-day trip began with things planned out so we all did stuff together. Then, in the second half, we planned only our dinners. That way everyone could revisit, discover or none of the above on their own schedule. My parents, both 78, used the second half to sleep in a little later and stroll along the boardwalk with their coffee. My in-laws, in their early 60's, revisited EPCOT. And my wife and I (36 & 45, respectively) then did things together and separately with our 3 girls (1, 6 & 12). At the end of the day we all met for dinner, then over cocktails and Shirley Temples we'd talk about our various adventures. We then discussed the plans for the following day to find out who was doing what, where and when. Since this wasn't our first trip, this type of plan worked for us. We still enjoyed the parks and everyone, but still were able to slow down or speed up as we wanted. And everyone had a great time.
View all 2 comments in forum thread ksimas on March 1, 2013 @ 9:13 am
I just loved reading that article. It put a big smile on my face remember the times that my kids and my grandchildren walked down main street and saw the castle for the 1st time. It is truly something you will never forget.
And yes when you are going with a group you really need to ask each of them to list what they must see, what they must rides and where they must eat. I always have each of them plan 1 must see, ride and eat for each park..it keeps everyone happy.
And we are all adults, older adults so we always have a down afternoon and we always stop and smell the roses (is what I say...when it is time for a break).
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Updated 02-28-2013 - Article #913
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