If you’re planning to take your grandchildren to Walt Disney World, don’t make these five mistakes that can turn a dream trip into a nightmare:
Taking the grandchildren to Disney World when they’re too young
Yes, Disney is for kids, but they need to be a certain age before they can really appreciate it. If your grandkids are still babies, they won’t remember the trip. Worse yet, you’ll be stuck with a stroller and the task of soothing a fussy baby and tending to his or her needs instead of enjoying the vacation. If you have older grandchildren with you, too, that’s going to get in the way of their fun.
Don’t feel bad about leaving your youngest grandkids at home until they’re old enough to fully enjoy their Disney trip. They won’t even realize that you’ve taking their older siblings, and you’ll all have a much better time.
If you’re wondering how old is old enough, that really depends on the child. Some toddlers absolutely love Disney World. They enjoy seeing the characters, riding the rides in Fantasyland, and running free in the playgrounds at each of the parks. Others cower in fear when Mickey Mouse approaches and hate being around so many strangers.
Only you can judge whether your grandchild is ready for his or her first Disney World trip. The main criteria is whether it’s something the child will really enjoy.
Picking the wrong parks
Disney World is made up of four separate theme parks: the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom. They all have great attractions, but some are more appropriate for certain age groups than others.
For example, the Magic Kingdom is a paradise for younger kids. They love the fairy tale world of Fantasyland and get so excited at the prospect of meeting Mickey Mouse, Cinderella, and other favorites. Most of the rides are geared for the younger set, so they won’t hear, “Sorry, you’re too short” very often.
However, their teen siblings might be bored to tears in that same park. Sure, they might like Splash Mountain, Space Mountain, and Big Thunder Mountain, but they’d probably prefer a ride with more thrills, like the Tower of Terror and Rock N Roller Coaster over at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Star Tours is a big hit with tweens and teens, too, especially if they’re into the Star Wars movies, and they’ll enjoy the two stunt shows.
Kids of all ages enjoy Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The little ones love to see live lions, zebras, elephants, and other animals on the safari ride, while the thrill seekers gravitate to Dinosaur, Kali River Rapids, and the Expedition Everest roller coaster.
Epcot has some appealing fun for youngsters, but overall it’s very much an adult park. Most of the kid-friendly attractions are in Future World, like Soarin’ and the Nemo ride. Your grandkids will enjoy the hands-on aspect of designing and testing their very own car at Test Track, too. However, World Showcase won’t hold young attention spans for very long until you sign the kids up for Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure, an interactive game.
Staying at the parks too long
Kids can only take so much before they get tired and cranky. You might want to get the most possible out of your Disney trip, but balance that with your grandkids’ needs. You want them to have a great memory of enjoying themselves at the parks with Grandma and Grandpa, not awful recollections of being forced to stay from opening till closing time every day, getting dragged from ride to ride in the Florida heat.
Give the kids a break and let them sleep late some days instead of always hitting the gates at opening time. If needed, take a break in the afternoon and go back to your hotel for a swim or nap. Don’t yell at them or make them feel guilty when they’re cranky or overtired. Keep their ages in mind and make sure you work around their needs.
Visit during Christmas or Easter
Yes, in theory it sounds like a visit to Disney World would make for a wonderful, memorable Christmas or Easter. In reality you’ll pay top dollar to push your way through crowds and stand in lines for hours. Stay home for the holidays and plan your trip for a slower time of year when you can enjoy yourself more fully. The grandkids will get to ride a lot more rides when the lines don’t span multiple hours, and you’ll pay a lot less money for a better time.
Visiting the Disney parks every day of the trip
Yes, you’ll want to hit all four of the Disney parks if possible, but when you’re traveling with youngsters it’s not such a good idea to hit a park every day. Sure, it’s fun, but it also takes a lot of energy. You’re constantly on the go, hurrying between all the rides and attractions.
Your trip will be greatly enhanced if you take a day or two off. Hang out by the pool, go to a water park, or explore some of the other Central Florida attractions. From nearby go-karts, air boats, and miniature golf courses to beaches just an hour away, you’re got an endless world of possibilities.