I have to admit that my love of all things Disney was started by my parents. They took me to the movies, bought the toys, and, most importantly, took me and my siblings to the theme parks. I was fortunate enough to go three times in my childhood years, and every time we went there was something new that I grew to love.
Eventually, though, my family moved into the college years, where my parents couldn’t afford to go to the theme parks because they were putting the four of us through school. Regardless, I still made a point to request a trip every year, to which I was met with a patient “no.” Even when I was doing my solo or friend trips, I always yearned to have the whole family back in Walt Disney World again.
To my shock and amazement, my father told me the last time I was home that they were indeed planning a Walt Disney World vacation for next summer, and that I should come along. My youngest brother is now done with college, and they felt it was time to enjoy the parks again. (Plus my mother is a huge Harry Potter fan, and she has been dying to go to Universal Orlando, too.)
My parents are in their late 50s, so this is not a post about getting around the parks with elderly parents. (For tips on that, you can check out the comments section in this article.) But if you have done the parks as a child and now are going back as an adult with your parents, you know full well that things are going to be very, very different!
I’m *kind of* in charge
My father loves planning trips. He makes reservations, plans out each day’s itinerary, maps out the routes, and finds fun things to do along the way. (The Northwest Trip of 2002 is his crowning jewel of trip planning.) He also did this for our Disney trips. I remember his purchase of the Birnbaum’s book back in 2000 for our last Disney vacation.
I know where I get my love of trip planning. But now that the two of us will be vacationing at Walt Disney World together, I am the one who knows more about the parks than he does. When it comes to shortcuts, the best food, or the closest viewing locations, I have more knowledge in those areas than him.
However, this doesn’t mean I will become the dictator of the vacation! I need to gather their interests (fewer rides, more shows, some characters), their food preferences (more counter service), and their general Disney love (moderate Disney lovers) and give them suggestions. I can use my knowledge to make the trip better, but better for them.
Fastpass ain’t what it used to be
Back in 2000, the FASTPASS system had just rolled out, and my father read all about it and loved the idea. He was so excited to get a little card that said he could “cut to the front of the line.” We used the FASTPASS system as much as we could on that trip, and he had such a good time with it.
Now, the original FASTPASS system is gone; replaced by FastPass+ and the My Disney Experience. My parents have a pretty good handle on technology, and I hope that we don’t cross major issues trying to sync everything up.
For a trip planner, though, FastPass+ might be right up my father’s alley. I hope he likes it just as much as the original system.
The best place to stay
My parents both really enjoyed the Fort Wilderness cabins on our previous two trips. It meant paying for one cabin instead of two hotel rooms for the six of us. When I asked my father his lodging thoughts, he immediately said “I really liked the cabins.”
The cabins have climbed in price, and they are classified as Moderate resorts. We aren’t sure how many of us will be on this trip, but my initial thoughts were that the cabins might not be the best bang for our buck. It would also mean a lot of travel time: theme park to TTC, boat or bus to Fort Wilderness, internal bus to cabin loop (we aren’t rental car people). When we were all younger this worked. Now? I’m not so sure.
My mother has always mentioned that she would like to stay at the Grand Floridian Resort. This would be perfect for them, since it would require minimum travel time to the parks. Even if they decide it’s too expensive, maybe something along the lines of Disney’s Art of Animation Resort or one of the Port Orleans resorts might provide a great on-property experience. I’ll make sure they have all the resort information before they make the final decision.
The wonders of the cell phone
If you can recall, back in 2000 cell phones were not quite mainstream. We used to keep together a lot more, or if any groups wanted to break off, we were given explicit instructions on where and when to meet up. We were expected to be at that specific place at that specific time.
Now everyone in my family has a phone. If there ever is a time where my parents want to go off and enjoy themselves, or I need to do some research for future articles, we can keep in contact with each other. Although the cell service might not be stellar, we can at least keep some sort of communication open for when we need to meet up. (Although talking to each other in person about where and when to meet might still be the best thing to do if cell service was to be spotty.)
While our family trips were planned out, our days at the park weren’t. One day it would be “Epcot.” The next day it would be “MGM Studios.” What we did during that time was up to us. I only recall one time in 1995 where we got to Magic Kingdom park at rope drop; my mother ran with my sister, brother, and I for Splash Mountain while my father hung out with my baby brother.
I’m not sure that my parents are touring plans people, since they have never done them before. But I’ll always remember this bit of information I heard on the WDWtoday podcast: Ask them to do a touring plan for one day (like this one). If they enjoyed the amount of attractions done in one day, see if they want to do more touring plans. If not, just go with the flow.
This will be made even easier with the Lines app. Touring plan or not, I can immediately tell them where the lines are the shortest, and we can make the most out of a great trip.
Many of you readers probably have experienced what I’ll be doing next year. Do you have any tips for my family? We have a year to plan this thing, so I’m ready to take notes and make this the best vacation we’ve ever had!
More updates on this vacation to follow. Please comment with your tips and stories from your vacations below!