Looking for somewhere to book for a multi-generation holiday? Don’t count out Walt Disney World – it has something for everyone, as Alison recently discovered…
When my mum announced, over ten years ago, that she wanted to gather the family together in Florida on her 70th birthday, to celebrate, I’ll admit, I was surprised. I mean, how many women in their late 50s decide that hanging with Mickey and co is their ideal way to turn 70?
But as the big year approached, the excitement built, and we calculated that my daughter would be six when we’d be there – surely the perfect age for all that Disney magic? But can Walt Disney World really deliver for all three generations of a family? Here’s the verdict from me, my mum (now 70 and a quarter) and my six-year-old…
WHAT THE SIX-YEAR-OLD THOUGHT
“I loved going to Disney World. My favourite park was Hollywood Studios because there were more cartoon characters there rather than rides. I loved meeting the princesses – especially Ariel because she’s my favourite princess. She was nice to me. I also liked Belle because I was Mrs Potts in Enchanted Tales With Belle. I loved the fast scary rides but Mummy didn’t go on them, she sat there with Gran while I went on them with Daddy and Uncle Rod and Auntie Lacey. The food was good – but the milkshake we had one day was so sweet I couldn’t even drink it. Oh my word, it was so sweet, I just couldn’t believe it. It felt like it was sour! We ate lots of chips and chicken nuggets and my favourite thing was an ice cream in the shape of Mickey Mouse. And Gran had a Mickey ice cream sandwich.”
My favourite ride was: “The Seven Dwarves Mine Train! It went really fast!”
If I went back again I would: “Stay there forever. I want to live there! I love Florida. I want to marry it!”
My advice for anyone thinking of going is: “YEAHHH! Go because it’s really fun and it’s got really fun rides and I think you’ll really like it.”
WHAT THE 30-SOMETHING THOUGHT
“For me, our Disney World trip was a lovely mix of 40% nostalgia – memories of my childhood holidays coming back – and 60% joy at seeing the six-year-old experience it all for the first time. I loved being able to spend time with my extended family somewhere so fun. And there were things for all of us – fast rollercoasters for my husband, my brother and my sister-in-law, slow rollercoasters for me and my mum, characters for the six-year-old to meet, frozen cocktails for the grown ups to drink, sunshine for everyone to enjoy – it was just ideal.
“Because Walt Disney World is such a full on place, we got into a bit of a routine where we went back to our hotel (the Boardwalk Inn) mid-afternoon to have a chill out before heading back out for dinner and evening activities. This worked well for both the six-year-old (whose bed time at home is usually 7pm, and we wanted to keep her up later) and my mum, the 70-year-old (whose energy levels weren’t quite as high as they once were!) Likewise, we had lots of stops for tea/water in cafes around Disney World to rest our feet and rehydrate before we attacked another part of a park. It’s a holiday where your inner-child can really come out – before you know it, you’re wearing Minnie Mouse ears, a Mickey t-shirt and humming “It’s A Small World”, and no one bats an eye at you.”
My favourite ride was: “The Seven Dwarves Mine Train, in Magic Kingdom – loved how fast and fun it was – and the Toy Story Midway Mania ride in Hollywood Studios – SO MUCH FUN.”
If I went back again I would: “Go for longer – a week was fine as we managed to do all the parks, but there was lots more like adventure golf and swimming pools that we didn’t get to do. Some downtime in between the park madness would have helped with energy levels too.”
My advice for anyone thinking of going is: “Book your fast passes and restaurant reservations as early as you can. Some meet and greets and fast passes get filled up quickly so booking early gives you much more chance to do everything you want to do.”
WHAT THE 70-YEAR-OLD THOUGHT
“Disney holidays appeal to all ages so it was possible to have a fun time with my grown up children, their spouses and my six year old granddaughter. It was such fun for me to spend fun time with all of them – it’s not often that we all get together. It was so funny to see my granddaughter head off confidently with her dad, uncle and aunt to go on rides that were too scary for both me and her mother. “Gran it was so good! Mummy why don’t you come on with us? I want to go on again!” There’s an excellent range of places to eat, wonderful variety of cuisines and food suitable for all ages at Disney World – essential for our group which ranged from 6 years to 70.
“Disney World was an excellent place to celebrate – we celebrated two birthdays there. We were able to have a pub lunch for my 40-year-old son in The Rose and Crown pub in the United Kingdom section of the World Showcase in Epcot. He has lived in the USA for almost half his life now so fish and chips, steak pie and waitpersons with British accents added to the fun of the day. For my 70th birthday celebration, later in the week we went to Monsieur Paul for dinner in the France section of the World Showcase. There we had lovely food and wine and a fabulous view of the fireworks. All so good.
“Brilliantly, my room in the Boardwalk Inn was adjoining the room which my daughter and family were in. This meant that I could be part of the family hustle and bustle or have some quiet time – essential for 70 year olds! It also meant that babysitting was easy. My granddaughter could be fast asleep and I could be in my room with the adjoining door open to keep an eye on her.”
My favourite ride was: “I unashamedly preferred the tame rides. Taking me to a great height and dropping me at speed into darkness while swinging me from side to side just means that I will have my eyes tight shut for the whole experience. Not fun for me but amusing for my family so I would opt out and go to see a quiet film or a gentle ride instead…”
If I went back again I would: “Go for a fortnight. We were there for seven days. We realised that staying for 14 days would be preferable – more time to rest and recover. Time to chill, rest, swim, visit a spa and enjoy being there with family. Definitely worth considering.”
My advice for anyone thinking of going is: “Stay in a Disney hotel. I have visited Disney parks over the years and driven in each day from Orlando. However, I would definitely now recommend staying in a Disney Hotel. Being on site is so much more convenient. The hotels allow you to relax with easy (and free) access to all the parks.”
Watch Alison’s video of her week at Walt Disney World…
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Great post! We’re going for the first time ever later on this year and while we haven’t quite got the three generations in terms of a grandparent, we will have my teenage stepdaughter with us as well as our three younger girls, so making sure we cater for everyone is going to be important. Thanks for the info about the Magic Bands – I was finding that a bit confusing while I was researching it so that was really useful. Looks like you had a fantastic time!
Nice post! Disney has always been the happiest place for many families. It’s such a great feeling to go back there as an adult and still feel the same joy and excitement like you’re still a child.
Disney is on my must-do list. I will wait until our little boy is a bit older, but I think he’ll love it. I’m glad to see that it can work for three generations.