Grandparents love to spend time with their children and grandchildren. If you’re thinking about including both your parents and your kids in your Disney World Vacation, there are some things you should know.
Multigenerational and all-family vacations are pretty popular in Disney World. It gives the grandparents a chance to get to know their grandchildren in a more connected way and allows the grandchildren to bond with their grandparents in a way that isn’t usually an option in real life. This can help with babysitting at home because they get to know each other’s schedules, likes, and dislikes.
There are some challenges, such as making everyone’s schedules coordinate. You may even feel like their travel agent or tour guide or like you have a couple extra kids in tow.
As long as there is a mutual respect between parents and grandparents (and no one is judging parenting or grandparenting techniques), you can and should have a very enjoyable vacation.
Here are five tips to make it work.
5. Watch the Weather
The younger or older you are, the more susceptible you are to feeling drastic weather differences.
Young children and older grandparents may not deal well with either extreme cold or extreme heat. Fortunately, while there are occasionally a few cold days throughout the year, the extreme, extended cold is rarely a problem in Florida. Extreme heat, however, is common for much of the year.
Be aware of the weather, and try to plan your trip accordingly. If your parents don’t do well with cold weather, avoid January and February, which tend to be the coldest months. If they don’t like very hot weather, avoid the middle of summer.
As the master of ceremonies, it’s your job to remind the whole family that using sunblock and staying hydrated is important regardless of the temperature. Even on cloudy days, you can get sunburned, and walking so much can dehydrate you before you realize it.
4. Consider physical limitations
Disney World will be likely crowded, to some extent, no matter when you visit. If the grandparents in your group tend to be slower, have limited mobility, or must have walking assistance, this will slow down your group. Avoid getting ahead of your family members since this can frustrate them and separate the group.
Consider renting an ECV (electric scooter) to help them keep up. Even for the most able-bodied person, 10-15 miles per day can be exhausting.
It’s important to travel as a unit and maintain the pace of the slowest person in the group. Also remember to help the grandparents out with obstacles such as curbs and the trolley tracks on Main Street USA. Nothing ruins a vacation faster than a twisted or sprained ankle!
3. Have good communication
When there are several people in a group, it’s important to keep everyone on the same track. If you have a schedule to follow, consider giving everyone a written itinerary including FastPass+ reservations, Advanced Dining Reservations, and any other plans. If your parents are tech savvy enough, consider making a digital version of this on the MyDisneyExperience app or in a Google Doc.
Before your vacation, be sure to listen to what everyone’s expectations are and what attractions and restaurants they would like to visit. Try to include as many of these things in your itinerary as possible to accommodate everyone.
Once you’re on property, try to set aside a time each night to brief your group on tomorrow’s plans. If there are any suggestions to change the schedule, give serious consideration to the suggestions and adjust accordingly. It’s important to have a plan when traveling with several people, but it’s also important to be flexible.
2. Understand budgeting
A family vacation with five people or more can get very expensive very quickly especially if costs aren’t shared. Sit down with your parents and talk to them about how you will share costs if at all. Will you each pay for your own transportation, lodging, meals, and park tickets? Is it okay for your parents to buy their grandchildren souvenirs? Are you going to put a limit on how much they can spend or what items they can buy? Keep in mind you have to get everything home. If you’re flying, this can complicate things!
If the whole family would like to stay together, it might be more affordable to rent a villa at one of the Deluxe Resorts. They usually have at least a couple bedrooms, and the living areas often have sofa beds to accommodate more people. What’s more, the villas have full kitchens, which may allow you to make family meals together.
1. Take time to make memories
Even with the challenges that come with traveling with your kids and your parents, these are special times. Remember not to get too stressed if things don’t go exactly as planned. Spend the money to experience a dinner show like Spirit of Aloha at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort or Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort or a character meal like the all-you-care-to-enjoy experience at Magic Kingdom‘s Crystal Palace with Winnie the Pooh and friends. These are the moments that become lasting memories.
For large groups, I also recommend considering Disney PhotoPass’s MemoryMaker service. You can visit as many PhotoPass photographers and get as many photos as you want, and you’ll get them all! Your child’s grandparents won’t be around forever, and your kids will cherish these photos later on in life. The cost of this package is even more affordable if you decide to share the cost with your parents. Only one person in the group needs to have the MemoryMaker, but the whole family can use and access the photos online via MyDisneyExperience.
Have you ever traveled to Disney World with grandparents? How did it go?