by Fancy Free Diva
If you’re planning your next (or your first) Disney vacation, you might be trying to cut costs, not add them, but there’s one expense you should definitely consider: bringing the grandparents along for the ride. We have traveled with at least one grandparent on four of our last five trips to Walt Disney World, and our family wouldn’t have it any other way. My mother most often travels with us, but my husband’s father has joined us for a trip, too. In both cases, there were special memories to be made and definite benefits to having an added grown-up to help out with all of the small children. Here are some reasons why you might want to bring Mimi and Peepaw (or Grammie and Grandpa) along the next time you’re headed to a Disney Park:
Reason #1: Extra hands and extra eyes.
Because I’m a teacher, we can only travel to Disney during the hottest and most crowded times of the year. It’s helpful to have additional adults in our travel party to help make sure everyone if staying hydrated and to keep extra eyes on the little ones so that they don’t inadvertently wander off to go exploring. Not only that, but at the airport, suitcases, carry-on luggage, boarding passes, and small children are sometimes difficult to juggle, especially when you’re going through airport security. That extra grandparent or two can really come in handy when you’re trying to roll along a suitcase, push a stroller, and calm a crying child.
Reason #2: You love your spouse.
My husband and I have two small children, aged 2 and 5. Whenever we travel to Walt Disney World, our approach to rides is one that requires us to “divide and conquer.” One of us takes one child; the other takes the other child. That means we almost never get to sit together when we ride certain rides. If you have a grandparent in tow, you can let him or her ride with one or both of the children so that you and your spouse can hold each other’s hands and sit next to each other.
Reason #3: Family magic and making memories.
Grandparents want to make memories, too, and Disney is arguably one of the best places to do that. It’s a place that appeals to the young and to the young-at-heart because everyone can find something enjoyable. One of my favorite pastimes on vacation, though, is to watch the people I’m with so that I can see their eyes shine and their smiles blossom. It’s even more magical to watch your parents and your children recreating some of those moments you remember from your own childhood. Not only that, but the multi-generational photographs are really spectacular with Cinderella Castle in the background.
Reason #4: Disney souvenirs are expensive.
If your children’s grandparents are anything like my children’s grandparents, they love to spoil the little ones. The more people on hand on your trip who are willing to buy that extra Mickey ice cream bar or that cute little princess doll, the better. Having other people on the trip who want to spoil your children can help defray costs from your own souvenir budget.
Reason #5: Extra Magic Hours
One of the most magical evenings I have ever had at a Disney park involved super late night Extra Magic Hours, my sister and her husband, my husband, and me. That’s it. After a long day in the parks, we went back to our resort, tucked the four young kids into bed, and left them with Mimi. Then the four other grown-ups went back to the Magic Kingdom to play until 2am. It probably would have been irresponsible of us to keep our small children out in the parks until 2am, and having my mother on hand meant that we didn’t have to. Not only that, but we got to leave our children with someone we trusted and with someone they knew and loved so that they would be comforted if they woke up in the middle of the night in a strange place. That night was also liberating for us parents, as we got to ride the rides we love over and over again without worrying about dirty diapers.
Reason #6: Special Dining Experiences
One of the most memorable meals I’ve ever had on Disney property was the evening my husband and I went to Jiko. It’s a gorgeous restaurant with a delicious menu, but it’s not someplace I wanted to take my two small children. Since we typically stay in Kidani Village at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas when we travel to Walt Disney World, it was easy enough to book a later dinner reservation at this signature restaurant, put the kids to bed, leave Mimi to keep an eye on them, and go out for a fancy and romantic meal, just my husband and I.
Reason #7: It’s a way to say thank you
Let’s face it: most of us owe a debt of gratitude to our parents for a lot of things. I know my list of things to be grateful is pretty long, and taking my Mom to Disney is just one small way to repay her for the endless patience and love she has shown me.
Reason #8: The Unexpected
Whenever you go on Disney trip-planning sites, there are touring guides for single people, families with small children, families with tweens or teens, couples, older people, etc. And, to some extent, it’s true. If you’re traveling with several preschoolers, you’re likely to visit attractions that you might skip if you were single or traveling with an older crowd. What I’ve found, though, is that having a wide spectrum of ages in our travel party has meant that we’re more open to trying attractions or experiences we might have been tempted to skip otherwise. It’s one of the reasons why my mother can now sing along to her grandkids’ Disney Junior favorites (thanks, Disney Junior – Live on Stage!) and why my daughter knows and can sing every word to “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” from the Carousel of Progress.
Reason #9: Convenience
Extra grown-ups in your travel party can make things more convenient. For example, there are more people to help out with potty breaks, more people available to snag tables at crowded quick service dining locations, more people to snag strollers from the parking areas while you head towards the next attraction, and more people to stake out fireworks or parade viewing spots. That’s not to say that there aren’t inconveniences about traveling with a larger travel party, but there really are some helpful things about having grandparents along. This is especially true if one of the children falls asleep in a stroller. That child probably really needs a nap, and you may not want to wake them, but you might also have a FastPass coming up. Grandparents need breaks, too, and it has been really helpful to be able to leave a stroller-sleeping child with Mimi or Peepaw so that we could still make it to Expedition Everest on time.
Reason #10: Delicious Food and Drink
One of the things I really enjoy doing at Disney is eating. Every other day of the year, I try to be healthy and nutritious with my dining choices, but on vacation, there are totally different rules. Sometimes, though, there are a number of things on the menu that I’d like to try – it’s hard to narrow it down to just one. With more adults in your travel party, you can sample more. My mom and I have very similar tastes, so she and I will often each order something different, then split our entrees once they arrive at the table – two amazing meals for the price of one, and all thanks to Mimi.
I hope these ten reasons have convinced you to add grandparents to your next Walt Disney World trip. Having them along makes the vacation more magical and more convenient. I can’t say enough how much I have appreciated having my mother and my father-in-law along on our trips. I know they had fun, and my children were so excited to have their Mimi and Peepaw along, too. If you need help planning your next Disney vacation for your extended family, please contact contact Patricia from All for Dreams Travel, our favorite travel agent here at Tips From the Disney Divas and Devos. She can accommodate all of your travel needs, from small children to grandparents. Multi-generational trips can really add extra magic to your vacation!
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