There are lots of “extras” to be enjoyed at Walt Disney World. Some of them are hard ticket events requiring the purchase of a separate (and often expensive) ticket, some of them require that you attend a dinner show (also not cheap), but there are some that only require that you be in the park to enjoy them. These are, again in my opinion only, the three best “Free” extras available and they are so significant that many visitors plan their vacations to coincide with them.
- The Osborne Family Spectacle Of Dancing Lights - We saw this one for the first time in 2009 and it simply took our breath away. The word spectacle simply doesn’t do it justice. Millions and millions (literally) of lights all synchronized to Christmas music put on a spectacular show culminating with a snowfall. The only way to truly appreciate it is to be there to see it for yourself but the next best way is to check out these videos. The whole thing started when the neighbors of Arkansas businessman Jennings Osborne became a bit irritated as his Christmas display grew and grew causing major traffic and other issues in his neighborhood. The folks at Disney, never the ones to pass up an opportunity, asked him if they could move the display to Disney’s Hollywood Studios and the rest is history. This particular extra generally runs from about mid November through New Year’s Day.
- Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival - This one is huge and lots of folks visit in October and November just to be a part of this fun event. If you love good food with an international flair you might want to make plans to visit while it’s happening as we often do. There is so much going on you couldn’t hope to do it all but you can pick from lectures, seminars, samplings, or just strolling around the World Showcase sampling foods ($2-$7) from the 25+ booth located everywhere. The strolling and sampling is great for snackers and you can see some of the things available by clicking on this link. Don’t forget that there is also the Eat To The Beat Concert Series held nightly in the America Gardens Theater so you can enjoy some wonderful music while taking a break – by the way these concerts are FREE. Please be aware that many of the tastings, seminars, schools, etc. have fees attached and some of these fees are significant. But, if that’s the type of thing you enjoy the cost is worth it. The Food & Wine Festival happens in October and part of November each year.
- Epcot’s International Flower & Garden Festival – I must admit that we have never attended the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival and even this year we are visiting during the Food & Wine Festival. BUT – in the spring of 2013 we will definitely be going to see all the flowers and topiaries. It’s all about the flowers but there are also lots of other things to do. This year’s festival was deeply entwined with HGTV and there were a series of classes and lectures presented by that network’s stars but the real stars are the flowers and topiaries that dress up Epcot as far as the eye can see. In order to appreciate tha amazing transformation that Epcot undergoes each spring, take a look at this time lapse video. If you enjoy some of the older (perhaps “classic” is a better term) pop and rock music, do not miss the Flower Power Concert Series. This series also takes place in the America Gardens Theater and yes, it’s also FREE!! This festival generally runs in an April and part of May time frame but watch out for Easter because room rates can be out of sight and the crowds huge at that time of year.
I highly recommend any of these events to you. I’ve found through the years that when Disney puts in as much effort as they do with these particular events that they don’t leave room for disappointment.
You may want to consider scheduling your next trip during one of these events and see just what Disney is capable of. As always, enjoy your visit to Walt Disney World!!
Seniors have different expectations from Walt Disney World than the hordes of younger visitors that visit the parks daily. We look for things that we can sit back and enjoy rather than have our bodies bounced around and exposed to G-forces. Your choices at the Animal Kingdom may be different from mine but if you are a senior I think in most instances you will at least enjoy the ones I suggest.
- Festival Of The Lion King – Perhaps the best stage show at the Walt Disney World resort. It’s more than a show, I’ve actually seen it called a pageant. This show has it all including singers, dancers, amazing acrobats, and some of the most beautiful floats I have ever seen. There is audience participation and a level of excitement that makes this show stand in a league of its own. Don’t miss it!!
- Finding Nemo – The Musical – Yet another outstanding stage show. This one is enhanced by the very artistic use of puppets and puppeteers working together as one on stage. The sets are magnificent and the show itself is wonderfully entertaining. This is another do not miss!!
- Maharajah Jungle Trek – If you love animals and have any interest in Asian culture, this is the attraction for you. It’s a walk through where you can set your own pace and enjoy the beauty of the staging as well as the magnificence of the animals. There are several walk through attractions in the Animal Kingdom, but this is the best one.
- Kilimanjaro Safaris – You may get bounced around a little in this motorized tour of the African habitat. The ride vehicles were built for durability not comfort. BUT – the exposure to all of the animals roaming free (there are invisible barriers) in a very natural habitat makes this attraction well worth the time (and a little bouncing).
- It’s Tough To Be A Bug – O.K. this one is just plain fun and it will return you to the land of fantasy that we all appreciate in all things Disney. This is a pleasant (air conditioned) place to relax and enjoy a fun show while relaxing after a long (and likely very hot) day at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. I recommend it either in the middle or at the end of your day to help you rejuvenate.
These are my favorite Animal Kingdom attractions. We don’t spend a lot of time here but when we do visit we always takein these attractions. As always, enjoy your visit to Walt Disney World!!
- Walt Disney World Quick Tips – Slow down and pay attention (chipandco.com)
- Disney’s Hollywood Studios – Top 5 Attractions For Seniors (chipandco.com)
Disney’s Hollywood Studios has a lot of shows that particularly appeal to seniors. But – there are other attractions that seem to appeal to the youngsters that we seniors very much love. Here are my top 5 attractions for seniors, see if you agree.
- Toy Story Midway Mania! – This one is fantastic and is loved by young and old alike. The games and themes are incredible (so is Mr. Potato Head), fun and a pleasure to play. Even if you are lucky enough to ride it many times in a day you will not tire of the good clean fun. Get there early, grab a Fast Pass and then get in the standby line. You are not too old to enjoy this!!!
- Fantasmic! – This show is and always has been one of my favorites since I saw the Disneyland version many years ago. The Walt Disney World version is spectacular and beautifully staged in an amphitheater worthy of the show’s scope. There are a couple of drawbacks particularly since the number of performances was reduced a couple of years ago.(changed back to daily through Sept 30) the crowds at the Hollywood Studios are huge on Fantasmic! day and the lines for the show are huge. Take advantage of the Fantasmic Dining Package.
- Walt Disney, One Man’s Dream – If you love Walt Disney and Disney in general, take some time to visit this attraction. It will give you an appreciation of Walter Elias Disney and what he did with what he had where he started from. It addresses all the stages of Walt’s life and the development of Disney through the years. Beautifully done!!!
- Beauty And The Beast – Live On Stage – This is another one of those do not miss stage shows appreciated by seniors. The costuming, staging, and choreography make this show an absolute delight. Sure, we all know the story of Beauty and the Beast but this show really does it justice and presents it in a very special way. See it for sure!!
- Muppet Vision 3-D – Muppets = FUN and this attraction is no exception. One thing to remember, this was Jim Henson’s final production and it retains all of the oddities and twisted little things that wandered around in his head. The man was brilliant and this show reflects his talents. Take this sojourn around Muppet Labs with the crew and have a good laugh on them
Disney’s Hollywood Studios has lots and lots of stage shows. Make sure you take the time to enjoy as many of them as possible and you will find out that Hollywood Studios is at least a “full day park” if not more. As always, enjoy your visit to Walt Disney World!!
- Disney’s Dining Plans, which one is best for you? (chipandco.com)
- Video: Cars 2 Meet & Greet Construction Update at Disney’s Hollywood Studios (chipandco.com)
Epcot is absolutely our favorite park. The shows and attractions, with a couple of exceptions, seem to be very senior friendly. As well, a lot of folks think children will have no interest in Epcot because of its educational/informative bent but I beg to disagree. Kids thirst for knowledge and Epcot presents that knowledge in a fun and informative way. This makes Epcot the most universal of parks in overall appeal to all generations. (personal opinion of course) Let’s take a look at Epcot’s top 5 for seniors and see if they match your choices.
- Spaceship Earth – What a way for seniors to start their visit to Epcot. It’s a relaxing, informative and fun way to be exposed to the history of communication, as well, it sets the tone for the rest of the visit. Along with the recent upgrade came a lot of new techie stuff which especially appeals to younger visitors. The upgrade improved every aspect of the attraction including the narrative (Dame Judi Dench fan here). Make sure you take the time to enjoy this attraction. Try it early in the day while everyone else is running for Soarin’.
- Soarin’ – Arguably the most popular attraction at Epcot, this is also a very senior friendly attraction. What you get here is a tour over the skies of California from a perspective that few folks will ever experience. The ride equipment itself looks a bit daunting to a lot of seniors but the boarding and departing of the ride is easily handled by seniors and the ride itself is gentle and the scenery rewarding. Give it a try my fellow seniors.
- The American Adventure Show - The biggest criticism I’ve heard about this show is that it is overly patriotic. Is that a criticism or a compliment – I know how I feel about it. The more patriotic the better, this is America after all!! The animatronics are quite good and the stage is HUGE! Please sit a ways back senior friends so you can take it in without any issues. Make sure you get there early so you can take in the Fife and Drum Corps demonstration and the Voices of Liberty (an amazing a capella ensemble in the lobby), it’s one of the most rewarding hours you will spend at Epcot.
- Impressions de France - If you enjoy beautiful travelogue type photography and delightful music then you will love this attraction. Unlike a lot of the other “country” films, this one is presented in a comfortable theater type setting so there is no standing (sometimes tough on our older legs and feet). This makes for a wonderful break from touring and allows you to recoup from touring; and did I mention, the film and the music are wonderful.
- O Canada! - We can’t forget our wonderful neighbors to the north. This film (sorry, it’s a stand up) had gotten very tired over the years but a fairly recent remake starring Martin Short and several other “surprisingly” Canadian celebrities has given the story of O Canada! a whole new life. If you viewed it a few years ago and were a bit disappointed, give it another chance you will not be sorry.
Epcot is a paradise for us older folks. Most of us love to walk around and look, look, look and Epcot is the place to do just that, Perhaps that’s why we spend 2 1/2 to 3 days there every visit – we are truly hooked!! As always, enjoy your visit to Walt Disney World!!
- Off the Beaten Path: Quiet Places at Epcot (chipandco.com)
- Disney World Fun Facts – Epcot (chipandco.com)
The Magic Kingdom is just for kids – WRONG!! The Magic Kingdom is for absolutely everyone but does have particular appeal to the kids and yes, us older folks!! There are so many wonderful attractions that run the gamut from roller coasters to shows that it’s hard to pick just 5. Let’s check out those that are both entertaining and kind to the bodies of my fellow seniors.
- The - This just could be my favorite attraction at Walt Disney World. It underwent a major upgrade a few years ago and everything (and I mean everything) was improved. I’m excited about this years visit because the queue just underwent a huge overhaul and is now interactive. From what I’ve heard it’s amazing. So – in just the last few years, Disney has taken their best attraction and improved it to an unbelievable level. What can they do with it next? I don’t have a clue but stat tuned, they will come up with something.
- Pirates of the Caribbean – Another Disney classic that just goes on and on. It’s a pleasant and fun sojourn with those evil pirates as they do what pirates do. It’s a comfortable boat ride with a couple of minor drops that will harm no one. The detail is amazing throughout, as you go under the bridge as you leave the town scene, check out the hairy legs of the pirate sitting on the bridge. Make sure you look for Captain Jack, he shows up at least 3 times.
- The Jungle Cruise – This is normally the first attraction we hit on every visit to the Magic Kingdom. Sure – the animatronics are not all that sophisticated and the “skipper’s” jokes are corny and tired (but oddly funny) but it’s a great way for seniors to kick off their Magic Kingdom visit. Take the time to ride it but try to do it early because lines can get long.
- “it’s a small world”-This one goes all the way back to the ’64 World’s Fair, when many of us seniors were still school kids. It’s bright and cheery and young kids (and a lot of seniors) really enjoy it. The music (OH!! that song) is likely to set up camp in your head and spend the rest of the day with you so be warned. It’s not really that bad and besides there are a lot worse things that could be rattling around in your head. Enjoy the very smooth and cheerful time you spend with the world’s kiddies and feel free to join them in song.
- Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress - Another classic oldie!! Do you see a trend here? It looks like the older attractions are favored by the older folks, at least this older folk. This one has changed a little over the years but still focuses on “progress”. The animatronics, again, are not that sophisticated but the story line is entertaining and it’s a very relaxing way to spend a little bit of time. I particularly enjoy the scene changes where you sit there and rotate rather than the scenes rotating. Enjoy this one!!
There are so many of the old classics in the Magic Kingdom that it’s easy for seniors to have a wonderful time without even approaching a roller coaster. Make sure you try some of the older things even if the younger members of your party want to ride Space Mountain – you will not be sorry. As always, enjoy your visit to Walt Disney World!!
- Disney World Planning Tips: Magic Kingdom Edition (couponingtodisney.com)
- Top 10 Things To Do at Night in the Magic Kingdom (chipandco.com)
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