We are seniors and proud of it! We've earned our gray hair and discounts, but don't call us old. We're really just kids at heart. We've grown up with Disney World and while we've never outgrown it, we may just need to march to a little different vacation beat... perhaps more classical than hard rock. Of course, that doesn't mean that we have to give up the fun. If we still like the thrills of a good coaster, we should go for it!
However, let's face it, Disney World can be a bit overwhelming at any age, but especially for older travelers with diminished energy, some physical limitations and possible medical issues. Disney World's theme parks are large expanses with miles of concrete pathways that can be confusing and disorienting. Seniors paired with exuberant grandchildren can find themselves outpaced in energy and stamina. Add to that Florida's heat and a vacation could easily turn from magical to miserable. But with a few precautions and a little planning, Disney World can be welcoming and wonderful... even for us grown up kids.
If you're a senior adult traveling to Disney World, here are tips to keep your next visit to Disney World magical:
- Avoid crowds. If you're free to choose the time of year to visit Disney World, choose a month with no holidays and mild temperatures.
- Always wear sunscreen. The Florida sun can be unrelenting any time of year, but it is particularly brutal during the summer months. One of most common medical maladies reported at Disney World is sunburn.
- Avoid excessive heat. It is best to avoid midday heat (between noon and 4:00 p.m.) and follow these other helpful ways to beat the Florida heat.
- Consider your physical abilities. Walking distances can add up to three or more miles in a day. Unless you are physically fit and used to walking, consider renting a wheelchair or an ECV.
- Read and plan. Familiarize yourself with Disney World's theme park programs — Disney's Rider Switch Program, Disney's Single Rider Program and learn how Disney's Fastpass system works. They do not cost you any more, but they will help save you steps and time.
- Take frequent breaks. It's important to pace yourself. Sit down and people watch, enjoy an ice cream or head back to your hotel for an afternoon dip in the pool or a nap.
- Stay hydrated. Bring along a refillable water bottle.
- Avoid mealtime crowds. Eat early or late and select sit-down restaurants like the Coral Reef at Epcot or the Hollywood Brown Derby at Disney's Hollywood Studios. Also, a ride on the monorail is relaxing and can take you to either the Polynesian, Contemporary or Grand Floridian resorts for a different lunch experience.
- Traveling alone? Consider signing up for a behind-the-scenes tour. They are interesting and you'll meet people with the same interests.
- Lost? It's easy to get separated from traveling companions at Disney's theme parks. Some ride venue exits are on the other side of the entrances and it can be quite confusing to find your way back. While cell phones are handy for keeping in touch, they do not always work or the ring may not be heard. Did you know that messages can be left for others in your party at Guest Relations in any of the four theme parks?
If you have a chronic health problem or find yourself in need of medical care, follow these tips:
- Special parking at Disney World's theme parks is available for those with disabled permits.
- Handheld captioning devices are available for the hearing impaired.
- Those with chronic health issues should carry a copy of all prescriptions.
- If you should have a medical emergency while at Disney World, there are four emergency medical facilities, along with medical assistance response carts with paramedics and professional equipment stationed at each of the resort's four parks and Downtown Disney.
- Disney World resorts provide refrigeration services for insulin. All villa accommodations have their own refrigerators, and small refrigerators are available for rent at other resorts.
- Disney World can accommodate special diets, like vegetarian or gluten-free.
So, with just a little planning ahead, Disney World can be magical at any age... even for "older" adults.