Category Archives: Disney for Seniors
Boats! Boats! Boats! In Part 1 I covered almost every alternative form of Walt Disney World transportation except my favorite and a favorite of a lot of my fellow Oldies – BOATS!!! You might be surprised by just how much boat transportation there is at Walt Disney World. Three of the theme parks are serviced by some sort of boat transportation as well as a lot of the resorts. Rather than explain each one I’ll just outline them here by venue.
- The Magic Kingdom area has a large number of boats traveling to and from all of the resorts in the area and the Transportation and Ticket Center (T&TC). You can get to and from the Magic Kingdom by boat from the T&TC, the Contemporary, the Wilderness Lodge, Fort Wilderness, the Polynesian, and the Grand Floridian.
- You can go between Downtown Disney and the Port Orleans Resorts (pictured above) on a particularly lovely and serene trip. You can also use boat transportation to get to the Marketplace section of Downtown Disney from Old Key West and Saratoga Springs.
- Epcot has some internal boat transportation with two Friendship Docks on the north side of the World Showcase Lagoon. The internal boats go to docks near the Germany and Morocco pavilions. One hint, if you are looking to save time, walking is generally quicker but the boats give you an entirely different perspective of the World Showcase. There is also boat service from the International Gateway to the Boardwalk Inn, Yacht Club, Swan/Dolphin, and on to Hollywood studios.
- As mentioned above, you can take a boat from Epcot to Disney’s Hollywood Studios and back. The trip takes about 25 -30 minutes each way because of the stops but if you are staying at any of the Epcot resorts it’s a great way to relax after a long day in the parks.
I can’t speak for all of my fellow Seniors but I know that after a tiring day at Walt Disney World it’s often a better to take a boat rather than fight the crowds on the buses. The bus system is terrific but as we all know – they do fill them to capacity. Using boat transportation allows you to unwind and relax so you can get a good night’s sleep and do it all over again the next day. As Oldies, we don’t rejuvenate as quickly as the youngsters so it’s always better if we are relaxed and ready to sleep when we hit the bed.
We always use the boats when we can and find that it’s not just good for the body but good for the mind also. Give it a try, I’m sure you will like it. As always, enjoy your visit to Walt Disney World!!
There are a lot of folks who think that the only way to get from point A to point B at Walt Disney World is by using the bus system. There are many other ways to get around and this week and next I’ll try and address those alternatives. First of all, the Disney bus system is incredibly efficient and handles the majority of the needs of visitors beautifully. Even for us, the Oldies, the bus service provides a break from the heat (if not always from the crowds) and a worry free way to get from place to place.
The first alternative, surprisingly enough, is walking!! I walk for exercise on a regular basis and have noticed that a large percentage of the folks out there walking are from our age group – Oldies! Seniors love to walk, at least a lot of them do, and there are places at Walt Disney World where walking is sometimes quicker than other transportation options, plus, it’s better for you. Take a look at the picture above. This sign is very close to the Contemporary Resort and the walk from there to the Magic Kingdom is a pleasant 10-12 minute stroll. Other walkways run from the International Gateway at Epcot to the Epcot resorts. The walk to the Beach Club is fairly short but a bit longer to both the Boardwalk and the Yacht Club. All of these strolls are very manageable for folks without mobility issues. Perhaps the most surprising walkway runs from the Boardwalk area to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. It is a solid 15-18 minute walk at a steady pace and may be a bit much for some but generally is not that difficult. The nice thing about this walk is that it is never crowded and runs along the same waterway that the Friendships use. It’s a very pleasant way to relax. We all know that walking in the theme parks is a way of life at Walt Disney World and the additional mileage you would put in on these strolls may be too much. If you feel able, give them a try but if you don’t, please don’t push it.
Another favorite alternative is the Monorail of course. It is ideal for those folks staying at the Magic Kingdom Resorts where a lot of the Oldies gang stays. There is nothing easier than walking out the front door of your resort (except of course at the Contemporary where you don’t even leave the building) and catching a smooth and comfortable ride to the Magic Kingdom or one of the other resorts. Perhaps my favorite Monorail loop runs from the Transportation and Ticket Center (T&TC) to Epcot and back. You can get to the T&TC by driving, bus, or either of the other 2 Monorail Loops. The first of those Loops runs clockwise and stops at the Polynesian, Grand Floridian, Magic Kingdom, Contemporary and the T&TC. The express loop runs counterclockwise from the T&TC to the Magic Kingdom and back to the T&TC. When you get to the T&TC just follow the signs to the Epcot Monorail and sit back to enjoy the approximately 20 minute ride to Epcot. Just a quick hint, if you want a great view of Spaceship Earth sit on the right hand side of the cab as you face the front of the Monorail. For a view of the World Showcase, sit on the left. I’ve noticed that there are quite a few Seniors who just like to ride the entire Epcot Loop as a way to take a break from the parks.
These are a couple of alternatives and I will address what appears to be the most under used method next week. The numerous opportunities for boat travel are particularly attractive to us Oldies because it is such a pleasant and unhurried way to get from place to place. As always, enjoy your visit to Walt Disney World!!
Vacationing at Walt Disney World is an expensive proposition and most of us (particularly us, frugal Oldies) generally look for whatever ways we can to minimize costs without impacting the fun. One way you can impact these costs, even in today’s expensive air travel market, is to look for the flights or other travel options that fit your needs best. There are many options, some of which are cheaper but may not meet your needs. Cheapest is not necessarily the best especially if you look at just the basic cost and convenience of the tickets or means of travel themselves. Here are some ways to get the best travel situation for you.
- DRIVE – This is good if you have the time, like to drive, live fairly close to Orlando, and consider the expense of hotel accommodations in your travel costs. It works well if you really like the person you are traveling with because you will be spending a lot of time together in close quarters.
- TRAIN TRAVEL – This is a wonderful way to go if you have the time, which many of us Oldies do. It’s also a great way to really get a good look at our beautiful country. It’s not really inexpensive but may well be worth it.
- LOW COST NO FRILLS AIRLINES – These airlines (Jet Blue, Southwest, etc.) have become a huge part of the travel scene to Walt Disney World because what they do is get you from point A to point B and that’s it. It does need to be mentioned though, these airlines are among the safest in existence, an important point to us Oldies. One precaution, if you are planning on using Disney’s Magical Express, make sure the airline you choose participates in the program (both Jet Blue and Southwest do participate).
- FREQUENT FLIER MILES - A lot of folks, including us Oldies, charge most of their day to day living expenses to an airline frequent flier miles card and pay it off monthly. This eliminates interest charges on the card and rapidly accumulates miles to be used for airline travel. A lot of cards also pay double miles for purchases such as groceries and gasoline so you can maximize your purchase dollars.
- COMPANION TICKETS - This is what I do. I use a Delta Platinum Sky Miles card as do several people I know. Each year when I pay the renewal fee I receive a certificate good for a free coach companion ticket. The renewal fee is $95 and when I pay for the tickets using this card the first bag for both me and my wife do not have the customary fee of $25 each way for each bag. This puts us ahead $5 and the ticket for my wife is free. The only costs involved on the companion ticket are the standard taxes and fees that are on every ticket, currently $42.80 for a one stop round trip ticket. That’s a pretty good deal.
- DISNEY’S MAGICAL EXPRESS – Always, always, always use Disney’s Magical Express. It’s free and it works beautifully, enough said!!
These are just a few ways to minimize your travel costs. I’m sure there are many others and even when you find one that suits your needs, keep looking because a better opportunity just might come along. Start looking at ticket prices early and when one comes along that meets your needs, grab it because prices can vary wildly even from hour to hour. It’s like the stock market and almost impossible to time for the best price. Good luck and as always enjoy your visit to Walt Disney World!!
PHOTO BY DISNEY
There are lots of wonderful times for everyone including us Oldies to visit Walt Disney World. There are times, however, when we are unable to really choose the best time for ourselves. If you are traveling with a group that includes school age grandchildren the trip windows are limited by school commitments. If you are traveling with a group of adult family members the visit time may be determined by their job commitments, and if you are traveling with a Senior group, the schedule for the trip is likely also out of your hands. The only real time that you can pick and choose is if you travel by yourselves or with a small and very tight group of other Seniors or adult family members.
We, like a lot of Oldies, don’t mind being around people but at some times of year the crowds are absolutely psycho and shoulder to shoulder. We avoid these times and unless you have a specific reason for being there I recommend that you avoid Easter(Spring Break), the 4th of July Holiday period, and the week between Christmas and New Year‘s Day. There are three other periods where the crowds are very heavy but not quite at the levels of the above three. These periods are President’s Week, Memorial Day, and the week after Thanksgiving – very busy!! Mid June through mid August are manageable but the heat and humidity are incredible and unless you are very heat tolerant you might want to pick another time frame. We have lived in Southern Arizona for the last 26 years where we have 100+ degree temperatures at least 100-125 days a year and temperatures of 110 to 115 are not at all uncommon. We do not go to Walt Disney World in the summer because the humidity amplifies the heat. Oldies, if you do go at this time please read up on precautions you need to take and please take those precautions.
We generally visit during October (after the Columbus Day holiday) and November (prior to Thanksgiving) because crowd levels are lower and the weather is magnificent. Park hours may be shorter but because of the lower crowds you can get a lot more touring done in a much shorter time. January traditionally has the lowest crowd levels but we have a very low tolerance for chilly weather so we avoid that time frame. If you can handle the cool weather that is the easiest time to tour but remember that is also a big time for attraction refurbs ( ex. Splash Mountain closes each January). We are now thinking that two visits from now we will likely visit in the spring for the Flower and Garden Festival and give that time of year a shot depending on how Spring Break and Easter fall.
It seems like there are pluses and minuses no matter when you visit. But – Walt Disney World is still the most magical place in the world and with proper planning you can always be assured of a good time. As always, enjoy your visit to Walt Disney World!!
I’m not generally known as a fun loving and happy go lucky guy. As a matter of fact for the three years before I retired it was part of my job to be stern and intimidating because I was dealing with bad guys every day. I know that many of my fellow Oldies had high stress jobs that didn’t allow for a lot of frivolity or may have had stressful family situations that held them back from being silly. There is a place for us to finally relax and be goofy (not the character, the personality trait). Walt Disney World is the perfect place to let go and do the things you might not normally do in your day to day life.
When you are at Walt Disney World, no one really cares if you act a bit silly. You might find a lot of admiring and supportive faces if you are in your sixties, seventies, or older and find it necessary to skip down Main Street USA or gush a little when you get to meet Mickey for the first (or fifth or tenth) time like I do. There will be a lot of folks surrounding you who wish they had the nerve to do the same thing, who knows, you may even inspire someone. Your admirers don’t really care who you are they are just happy to see you having a wonderful time!!
Go ahead and get in line for the character meet and greets because you might just make a friend with someone fifty years younger than you are and no one will criticize you or think you are dumb. I make it a point to search out the Queen of Hearts on every single visit so I can have my photo taken with my favorite villain. Deep down she really is a sweetheart. We also make the Epcot Character Spot a must do and we have never heard a – What are you doing here this is for kids? At Walt Disney World, everyone is a kid. Some of us are just a little taller and have gray (or like me – no) hair. The characters love to have fun with us Oldies.
Try to get to a character meal also. Dinner at 1900 Park Fare at the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa is a lot of fun because the stepsisters are excellent at getting everyone in the mood. Another reason for trying 1900 Park Fare is the food quality – YUM! Try the strawberry soup. There are lots of other character meals but I feel that this one is the most Senior friendly. After dinner you can go out into the lobby and listen to the orchestra. Don’t stay too long though because you might turn back into one of those Oldies who don’t like to be silly again.
Please take this advice and let go a little bit when you are visiting Walt Disney World. It will absolutely enhance your visit and make you feel young(er) again. I’ll be one of the silly ones!!! Enjoy your visit to Walt Disney World!!