Traveling with Seniors: In the Parks

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TouringPlans logoIn the first part of this two-part series installment, we discussed how to plan and be proactive when traveling with senior citizens. In this second installment, we’ll tackle navigating the parks!

There are some obvious concerns that tend to come to the forefront of park touring with anyone with limited mobility, or anyone who fatigues easily (basically, everyone who’s not a marathon-runner). Standing in long lines, walking miles and miles each day, heat and humidity, are all things to keep in mind when you start planning your park days. Navigating the parks with a senior makes having a good Touring Plan that much more important. You can select preferences in your Touring Plan to minimize walking, minimize waiting in line, or a compromise between the two. The best thing about having a Touring Plan is being able to see more and do more while saving time and energy.

Attractions

Now that you’ve been convinced that you simply can’t go on a Disney vacation without a Touring Plan, let’s talk about which attractions to fit into your Plan. Touring Plans makes it easy with even specific Touring Plans for Seniors, tailored to fit the needs of most seniors and available for all the parks.

When planning a trip with a senior, consider their physical condition. Do they suffer from arthritis? Back pain? Heart conditions? Disney has physical considerations listed on any attraction that may agitate any existing condition:

For safety, you should be in good health and free from high blood pressure, heart, back or neck problems, motion sickness, or other conditions that could be aggravated by this adventure.  Expectant mothers should not ride.

In addition to the health warning, fellow blogger, Erin Foster, has a great series detailing the attraction seating/ride vehicles. This resource is immensely valuable when traveling with anyone with mobility issues. Her articles detail the size restriction, seat belt/lap restraint, and if individuals have to transfer from a wheelchair/scooter.

Be aware of the health warning and help make sure that your senior is safe as well as comfortable in any attraction they may experience.  Here are the attractions with this health warning:

Magic Kingdom

  • Astro Orbiter
  • The Barnstormer
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Space Mountain
  • Splash Mountain
  • Tomorrowland Speedway
Rock 'n' Roller Coaster may not be the best attraction for Grandma.
Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster may not be the best attraction for Grandma.

Epcot

  • Test Track
  • Mission: SPACE

Hollywood Studios

  • Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith
  • Star Tours: The Adventure Continues
  • The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

Animal Kingdom

  • DINOSAUR
  • Expedition Everest
  • Kali River Rapids
  • Kilimanjaro Safaris
  • Primeval Whirl

Seniors who filled out the Unofficial Guide Survey also indicated which attractions were their favorites (with 4.5-5 stars), and here they are:

Magic Kingdom

Casey Jr. Splash 'N' Soak Station was one of the favorite Magic Kingdom attractions among seniors. Do you think Grandma and Grandpa splash in the puddles, or just enjoy watching the youngsters? Photo courtesy of Disney (c)
Casey Jr. Splash ‘N’ Soak Station was one of the favorite Magic Kingdom attractions among seniors. Do you think Grandma and Grandpa splash in the puddles, or just enjoy watching the youngsters? Photo courtesy of Disney.
  • Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
  • Casey Jr. Splash ‘N’ Soak Station
  • The Hall of Presidents
  • Meet Mickey Mouse at Town Square Theater
  • Mickey’s PhilharMagic
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Splash Mountain
  • The Haunted Mansion
  • Walt Disney Railroad
  • Wishes Nighttime Spectacular

Epcot

  • IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth
  • Living with the Land
  • O Canada!
  • Reflections of China
  • Soarin’
  • Spaceship Earth
  • Turtle Talk with Crush
Divine is one of the unique experiences available at Animal Kingdom, and one of the favorites among seniors
Divine is one of the unique experiences available at Animal Kingdom, and one of the favorites among seniors

Hollywood Studios

  • Beauty and the Beast: Live on Stage
  • Fantasmic!
  • Star Tours: The Adventures Continue
  • Toy Story Midway Mania!
  • Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream

 Animal Kingdom

  • Divine
  • Festival of the Lion King
  • Finding Nemo the Musical
  • Flights of Wonder
  • Kilimanjaro Safaris
  • Maharajah Jungle Trek

Scheduling Breaks

Taking naps isn’t just for preschoolers anymore, any Disney veteran will tell you that even the most devout Disney addict has been known to take a mid-day break here and there. Grandpa may tell anecdotes of climbing uphill to school, both ways, in the snow, without shoes, but even touring commando Grandpa may relinquish to a dip in the resort pool or a power nap in the heat of the afternoon.

Even if you don’t leave the parks, be sure schedule in break-like attractions. Theater/show style attractions, like Festival of the Lion King, Hall of Presidents, and Carousel of Progress provide comfortable seats in an air conditioned venue. These great spots to take a break from the heat of the day and the vigor of touring, while still enjoy a classic Disney experience.

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Stay Hydrated!!

Notice the exclamation points? Yep, that’s because this may be one of the most important facts to remember. Dehydration leads to headaches, dizziness, fatigue, confusion, fainting, and overall grumpiness. Don’t ask if your senior is thirsty, just schedule a water break or hand them a bottle of water. Studies indicate that the less water an older person drinks, the less thirsty they become, leaving them open to the risk of serious dehydration and other complications. If the average person should drink 6-8 glasses of water a day, then you should drink more than that when you spend all day in the Florida heat.

Try to avoid soda when you can and drink water or even Vitamin water. If you want to avoid the expense of dropping $2.50 on a bottle of water at Disney 6-7 times a day, visit a counter service dining location and ask for a free cup of ice water. Disney also allows you to carry in refillable water bottles, so that’s an option as well.

First Aid Centers

I hope you never need them, but they can be a great resource, if you do. If you find yourself or Grandma or Grandpa suffering from a headache or blister, these handy spots can help you out in a pinch. They’re also a great place if your senior has special medication that needs to be refrigerated, the First Aid Centers can help accommodate that need.

firstaid

Stay Alert & Check In

The last thing Grandma or Grandpa want to do is spoil anyone’s fun. They’ll likely be great troopers, push their limits, and go that extra mile to soak in every memory possible. Because of this, it’s that much more important to be aware of their subtle little signs. If you see them lagging back while the family is charging forward, check in with them.

Maybe it’s time for break for some tired legs, maybe a band aid or moleskin application to some shoes is needed, or it could be time for dose of their medication. Even though Nana and Boppa maybe perfectly mobile on their own, walking miles in the Disney parks can take its toll. Though they may not need an electric scooter or wheelchair all day, every day, remember that you can rent them for a day at a time at the park entrance. It could be that’s just what they need to make that third or fourth lap around World Showcase.

Hopefully, these tips will help you plan an enjoy your Disney vacations with some of our favorite “golden-aged” family members. What other tips do you have when touring with seniors? Be sure share insights and tips in the comment section!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lisa Gilmore

My passion for Disney runs deep; I've got pixie dust in my veins. Everyone loves the famous Mickey Mouse, but Disney vacations host a wealth of sophisticated experiences, too. On my bucket list is to seek out and enjoy every last one of them!

9 thoughts on “Traveling with Seniors: In the Parks

  • October 22, 2014 at 8:21 am
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    The thing about 8 glasses of water a day and that pop doesn’t hydrate is an old wives tale. Towards the bottom of this article: http://www.snopes.com/medical/myths/8glasses.asp

    there’s a blurb from a study: “The same goes for tea, juice, milk and caffeinated sodas: One glass provides about the same amount of hydrating fluid as a glass of water.”

    You certainly need to drink a lot in the Florida heat, but don’t bother granny just because she thinks her soda water is superior to regular water in every way 🙂

    Reply
    • October 22, 2014 at 10:52 am
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      Hi Tim,

      Thanks for the clarification! A study by the Mayo Clinic also confirmed this. It is true that caffeinated fluids can contribute to your daily fluid requirement.

      Drinking caffeine–containing beverages as part of a normal lifestyle doesn’t cause fluid loss in excess of the volume ingested. While caffeinated drinks may have a mild diuretic effect — meaning that they may cause the need to urinate — they don’t appear to increase the risk of dehydration.

      Still, caffeinated drinks can cause headaches and insomnia in some people. Water is probably your best bet to stay hydrated. It’s calorie–free, caffeine–free, inexpensive and readily available

      Reply
  • October 22, 2014 at 10:22 am
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    I’m surprised that Kilimanjaro safaris has the health warning. I never noticed it. You are basically riding in a keep on a flat road. Why the warning?

    Reply
    • October 22, 2014 at 11:00 am
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      Hi Lee,

      I don’t think you’re only one surprised that the Safaris has this warning. I can’t say specifically (medically) why it has the warning, but I’m sure it has to do with the bumps and jolts in the attraction vehicle. It doesn’t take any sudden dives or go upside-down, but it’s definitely not a “smooth” ride either. I imagine that individuals with severe back pain, or even pregnant women don’t enjoy the jolts and bumps of this attraction and the warning is there to help prevent pain, discomfort, or even medical distress.

      Reply
    • October 22, 2014 at 5:00 pm
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      Keep should have been Jeep LOL

      Reply
  • October 22, 2014 at 9:34 pm
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    My sister and I were worried about my mom, who has a number of health problems that mean she cannot stand for long periods and does better walking with a cane. She does not want to rent an ECV or figure out how to drive one. She came up with what we hope will be a great compromise…a rolling walker with a seat. It will help steady her walking and will give her a place to sit any time she needs it.

    Mom says she will rent an ECV for a day if she needs it.

    Reply
    • October 23, 2014 at 10:04 am
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      I’m older and have issues because of arthritis and knee replacements, and just can’t do all the walking involved in the parks. I was afraid renting an EVC would make me feel really dorky, but they are actually fun and easy to drive, and with one, I can last all day. For most locations, I park it outside in the designated areas and walk into the attraction or building. Works great.

      Reply
  • October 23, 2014 at 7:02 am
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    I’m pretty sure the seven dwarves mine train also carries the health warning. Or it might be for expectant mothers only.

    Reply
  • November 2, 2014 at 6:16 pm
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    My parents are 73 and 75. I have found that having a nice, relaxing sit down lunch is restful enough for them to allow them to keep going. We are at the turnstiles before opening and having that sit down lunch allows them to stay in the parks till about 4pm. In the past we use to do only counter service to minimize time eating but no longer!

    Reply

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