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by Military Diva

Year after year, travelers flock to Disney Parks seeking a break from reality.  The fantasy driven excursion is a way for most of us to return to childhood.  But what happens when this return to youth turns ugly?  In an attempt to share what I love most about Disney World, I recently found myself in just such a place; I found myself in a very childish, very selfish position.

My most recent trip to Disney World was a special  trip shared with my Father.  This was his first true vacation and his first trip to my happy place.  Read that? Yes I said it-MY happy place.  I was so excited to be sharing my joys and experiences with him that I hadn’t taken a moment to consider his needs.   I was that six year old jumping up and down screaming “look at me, look at what I found!”  In my excitement I forgot to think of how special it would be to see Disney through his eyes and on his terms.

My Father is a very healthy, energetic 68 year old gentleman.  But let’s face it, his body is not accustomed to the hectic pace my family of six endures daily.  While he is more than capable of traveling around  Disney World parks and having a wonderful time, I’m pretty certain his body could not take the race car pace our family typically follows.  Fortunately, I realized my mistake early and quickly began to plan a more relaxing trip.  A vacation that focused on enjoying our time together, without running to exhaustion.

Below you will find a few of the tips I thought of when planning for my Father’s needs and HIS first trip to Disney World.

*Consider traveling off season when temperatures and lines are usually lower.

                                Crowds, lines, heat and humidity can ruin a trip for any traveler.  A vacation in early fall or mid winter can alleviate some of these stressors.  The weather during these seasons, while not always perfect, is typically cooler while the crowd levels at the parks are relatively low. My Father and I traveled in January, just after Marathon weekend.  The temperatures only rose to the mid 70’s and the crowds were certainly manageable.

*Consider specific health needs that need to be addressed.     

                                It is important to keep in mind any medical or dietary issues your fellow travelers may have. Be mindful of medications that recommend limiting sun exposure and also take dietary restrictions into consideration.  My Father needs to be cautious of his sugar intake.  It would have been dangerous and slightly inconsiderate for me to reserve a table for a dessert buffet.  Instead we typically opted for restaurants with healthier meal options and lighter snacks.

*Consider a slower paced touring plan with plenty of down time.

My travel day plans with my Father were definitely calmer than when traveling with my children.  We planned a few “off days” to relax around the resort and spent more of our afternoons at the pool, strolling around the shaded walking trails or enjoying our room.  The lower crowds allowed us to enjoy the parks from rope drop until lunch, have the afternoon off and return to a different park for the evening activities.  We never felt rushed or as if we were missing out on park events.

*Consider reservations that offer views of fireworks or guaranteed show seating.

                                There’s nothing worse than walking all day, then struggling to stand in a huge crowd for fireworks or parades.  Consider reserving late meals that provide views of the entertainment and a seat: Tomorrowland Terrace Wishes Dessert Party, Narcoossee’s and the California Grill offer wonderful views for the “Wishes” Fireworks.My Father and I opted for an Ohana dinner, enjoyed a stroll around the beautiful Polynesian Village Resort and quietly watched the Magic Kingdom Fireworks while seated on the docks.    


*Consider your use of FastPass+

                                Last, but not least, take full advantage of the new FastPass+ system. This system allows you to reserve your place for attractions, character greetings, shows, parades and fireworks in advance of your trip.  You will eliminate the early morning rush to acquire the Fastpasses utilized by the old system, have a better chance to schedule your day around your dining plans, and limit time waiting in lines.   We opted to be in the park for early rope drop(opening),  allowing us to enjoy most of the rides without FastPass+.  We saved our FP+ options for the evening park and  found we had more options and flexibility available. 


While applying all of these tips to our trip, I realized how exciting it was going to be to spend so much time with my Father. I could not have anticipated the true joy of seeing Disney World through his eyes though.

I am so fortunate to have had the chance to visit “our happy place” with my Father. This was truly a once in a lifetime trip that I could have tainted by dragging him to all of my favorite places. Instead I was taught to smile, try a few new things, and take a moment to enjoy the special people in my life.  I was reminded of the need to plan for the needs of every traveler in the party and to not focus on a vacation of my making.  I learned that Disney World is even more amazing when viewed through the eyes of someone you love.