When Seniors travel to Walt Disney World we go in different configurations. We travel with extended family, we travel with friends, and we travel by ourselves. I’m going to address primarily those folks who travel by themselves as “empty nesters” or those who have never had children. For hints on traveling with extended family and friends I would suggest you read a recent Chip and Co. article by Lisa entitled Visiting Walt Disney World with Extended Family and Friends. The article is extremely well done, very logical, and has lots of very sound advice. It is well worth your time especially if you will be traveling with your family. It will save you lots of headaches by eliminating issues before they rear their ugly heads.
When Seniors travel by themselves a whole different approach to Walt Disney World is necessary. No longer are we asked to babysit or endure open to close “Commando” style touring. We can do exactly what we want to do. I have many visits to Walt Disney World under my belt and it’s only since our 2003 visit that I suddenly realized – hey, we’ll be back, Walt Disney World will still be here, and just like us Walt Disney World gets better with time. No more psycho touring with every minute planned, that’s for the younger folks. We need to take the time to appreciate everything that Walt Disney World has to offer.
A lot of folks develop detailed touring plans for every park day during their visit. They plan what time they get to the park, which attraction is first, which Fast Pass do we get and when, etc. etc. etc. This leads to a couple of things – disappointment and fatigue. I know most of you are familiar with Murphy’s Law, yes, if something can go wrong it will and when you plan too tightly something going wrong, no matter how minor, can throw your whole plan out the window. I can appreciate why families with children do this because a family vacation at Walt Disney World can be expensive and they need to maximize their visit. We, as Seniors, do not have a need to do that. Yes, we want to get our money’s worth but that comes from things other than just hitting as many attractions as possible in the shortest amount of time.
I plan which park we will visit on which day (my wife trusts me) and I plan our meal reservations. The meal reservations are based on where we will be rather than basing where we will be on our meal reservations. We love Disney restaurants but if one of them doesn’t work out this visit we will catch it next visit (remember, Walt Disney World will still be here). With few exceptions, that is the extent of our touring plans. We know what we want to see (experience helps here) and that’s how we tour. We definitely take our time in the parks and have rarely missed anything we wanted to see.
There are things one can take advantage of to aid in overall planning and I use some of them. A good planning site (unfortunately they are not free) is very useful. A lot of folks swear by Touring Plans.com but I prefer Tour Guide Mike (TGM). As I said above I do not develop formal touring plans and do not use TGM’s plans either. The things I rely on most from his site are the “Least Crowded Parks” charts and have always found them to be right on. I went against his advice on one day last November and paid the price by having to deal with huge crowds. I also rely heavily on his advice for “best locations” to watch parades, fireworks, etc. The locations he shares are never crowded and the views are always spectacular. These two things alone make the price of the site worth the dollars. Check both sites out to see which one meets your needs.
If you take the time to plan where and when and use the tools available you will not have to fight the huge crowds or have the backs of your ankles shredded by an over enthusiastic stroller pusher. Don’t just rush from attraction to attraction, take time to look around you and enjoy the detail all around you. As an example, in World Showcase as you leave the UK area headed toward France look off the right side of the bridge and you will see an easel, bicycle, and other accoutrements of an artist who has taken a break from his work, probably for lunch at Les Chefs de France. It is simple, yes but very appropriate for the area and totally charming. These types of things are everywhere in Walt Disney World and if you rush around you will miss so much. There are a lot of books available that tell you what little secrets to look for while you are at Walt Disney World. I have my share in my Disney library but when I find something on my own it is so much more enjoyable.
Don’t always take a bus. When a boat is available you will see so much more and have the time to take it in. You can cover a lot of Walt Disney World by boat if you take the time to look. Two examples are 1- The “Friendships” from World Showcase to Disney’s Hollywood Studios with stops at the Boardwalk Inn, Yacht Club, Swan and Dolphin, and on to the Studios and 2- The boat from Port Orleans Riverside to Downtown Disney with a stop at Port Orleans French Quarter. Do they take longer than a bus – yes, but think about pleasant a boat is when compared to a crowded bus loaded with tired and cranky people. In November we met up with some old friends who knew nothing about the availability of boat transportation. They were overwhelmed at how pleasant and relaxing the ride was.
This will sound a bit trite, but as a Senior take time to smell the roses, and the candy, and the cookies, and whatever other wonderful smells and sights abound at Walt Disney World. Your visit will be enhanced and you will be less tired. Make sure you take rest breaks and PLAN a no park rest day in the middle of your visit. Trust me on that last one!!!