Taking Your Parents to Walt Disney World: Final Preparations

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My parents! Aren't they adorable?
My parents! Aren’t they adorable?

In Part 1 and Part 2 of my ongoing series, I discussed how the goal of my upcoming June trip would be to make sure my parents were at the center of the entertainment of Walt Disney World, and not myself. Before we depart on our trip, I thought I would provide an update of our plans. It isn’t very long now!

Touring Plans

Being a Type-A personality, I sent my parents a list of all the attractions and shows in all four theme parks. I had them tell me which ones they had to do, which ones were ones they were indifferent to, and which ones they’d rather not do.

My father had read (well, skimmed) The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World and was aware of the attractions, old and new, and my mother could ask my father if she had questions. Eventually, I knew which attractions and shows they wanted.

Screenshot (2)With this information (and my own preferences as well), I put together Touring Plans. For the most part, these Touring Plans are guidelines to help us determine when to do certain things. (I made sure to do the “minimal walking” option as I personalized – I don’t think my parents are too keen on cross-park touring!) I plan on utilizing the TouringPlans app and optimizer throughout the vacation, because I am not expecting to follow the Touring Plans to a T.

I did ask them to give me one day of following the Touring Plan: our first day in the Magic Kingdom. While the other three parks offer flexibility, the Magic Kingdom has so many attractions, and my parents want to see most of them! Hopefully following the Touring Plan will give them a chance to see everything they want. And if they don’t like it the first day, they have another day in the Magic Kingdom where they can be more flexible.

Screenshot (1)Fastpass+

I used their preferences to make our Fastpass+ reservations, as well. Epcot was very easy to prioritize, since there are so few attractions that require Fastpass+. Thanks to the new TouringPlans strategy, I only made one reservation one of our days there. I even made a reservation for meeting Disney Pals!

Magic Kingdom Fastpass+ reservations were much more tricky. Out of all the options, I had to narrow the initial reservations down to six. I knew that Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Peter Pan’s Flight were absolutes, and I was pleased to get them without trouble. (Of course, I made these reservations at 10:00 pm on the first day I could make them.)

The nice thing about making Fastpass+ reservations is you can adjust the times so that the Fastpass+ reservations aren’t so far apart. So when I had initial Fastpass+ times that went all the way to 4:00 pm, I was able to adjust and have the final Fastpass be at noon instead!

What a great effect!
What a great effect!


My family enjoys quick meals with a table service or two thrown into the mix. One of the deals of the trip was that I would treat my parents to a nice sit-down meal somewhere, and they agreed to the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical review. (They’re big into musical theater, and I’ve heard tons of great reviews about this place!)

They also wanted to eat at Be Our Guest. With the help of Jan at Mouse Fan Travel, she secured a reservation for a Saturday evening! I am excited to show them the fantastic ambiance of the restaurant.

The rest of the meals we’ll do on the fly. I’m looking forward to seeing where they want to eat!

diagon alleyNon-Disney Planning

We will be finishing our vacation with a day at Universal Orlando, preceded by a stay at the Cabana Bay Beach Resort. Even though we were not getting Park Hopper passes at Walt Disney World, we had to get the Park-to-Park pass at Universal, so we could enjoy the full Wizarding World of Harry Potter experience!

Since we were visiting both resorts, I decided to get a rental car. This not only would help us transport our luggage between the four hotels for the trip (Disney’s Art of Animation, Disney’s Yacht Club, Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort, and a TBD-near-the-airport hotel for our last night), but also take us to the parks, if we didn’t feel like utilizing Disney Transportation. I used Priceline’s Name Your Price option, and secured an economy car for almost 60% off the normal price!


When my parents have made reservations or ordered something for our trip online, my dad has been putting all the printed paperwork aside, for safekeeping. Our Magic Bands will also be arriving at their house, and he plans on keeping those in the same spot. I plan on printing everything out once I finally find a rental car, and then keeping a folder with all the reservation numbers. (Everything will be on my phone, too.)

I am currently training for a 10K here in Colorado, which means my feet are in pretty good shape. As much as I encourage them (or even write a whole article for them!), my parents insist their feet will be fine without increasing their walks over the next few weeks. They’ve done pretty well on previous Disney vacations, but I will pack blister patches regardless. Hopefully they – nor I! – will have to use them.

So excited to see this view again!
So excited to see this view again!

If you’re not careful, planning a Walt Disney World vacation can turn into work instead of pleasure. So in February I sent them two CDs: one had music from the Harry Potter films, and the other had music from some of the best attractions at Walt Disney World. I always find that listening to theme park music before the trip is a great way to get psyched. I also sent them a link to a YouTube playlist with everything you would ever want to hear at a Disney park. I know that my mother is watching all the Harry Potter films to immerse herself even more into that universe, too!

We discuss little vacation details every time we talk, and lately it is less “This costs this much; do we want to do it?” and more “I can’t believe our trip is a month away!” It is great hearing their excitement about the trip. And I personally am excited to be, as my dad called me, “our own personal Disney touring guide!”

Any last minute instructions before we finally take our trip? How do you get your family excited for an upcoming vacation? Can you let me know when Soarin’ Over the World starts to soft-open?? Comment below!

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Claire Nat

I've been enjoying Walt Disney World since my Nana pushed my sister's and my strollers back in the late 1980s. I enjoy my day job here in the Denver area as a teacher and music coordinator at our church. I love music, reading, Doctor Who, Star Wars, and Michigan sports!

12 thoughts on “Taking Your Parents to Walt Disney World: Final Preparations

  • May 12, 2016 at 9:13 am

    is it just me, or does the “Final preparations” title make it seem like it’s a “First 48” plot waiting to happen?

  • May 12, 2016 at 12:52 pm

    Your parents are very lucky you are doing all the preparations. It’s the opposite in our family. I’m the 64 year old grandma who’s been the planner in the family. Since purchasing DVC in 2010 we have had 4 trips with groups of 11-13. Grandpa and I are the oldest, and I love doing all the footwork before the trip. Kids have a hard time keeping up with us!

    • May 12, 2016 at 10:52 pm

      It sounds like you know what to do! Keep being amazing Pattie. 🙂

  • May 12, 2016 at 7:35 pm

    I took my dad (über type A w zero patience). He will not go back to WDW without me. . You are dong great! We are doing Hoop Dee Doo with the in-laws in 19 days! All TPs are ready. My relationship has improved exponentially with my DILs. I call them more to get their feedback/suggestions. Best line ever from FIL….”I trust you implicitly”. We are ready and so are you!!

    • May 12, 2016 at 10:53 pm

      That’s so great to hear! (Crazy thought: we might be doing Hoop-Dee-Doo on the same day!)

      • May 13, 2016 at 11:08 am

        June 4th for us!

  • May 12, 2016 at 8:00 pm

    I did this two years ago with my parents. One big tip: remind them, gently, that they are not as young as they used to be, and if a ride will be challenging, help them to decide to opt themselves out. On our magic kingdom day, we had our touring plan all laid out. Astro Orbiters (a favorite of my eight year old) followed by Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. BTMRR was too much for my mom, and we spent 30 minutes sitting in the air conditioning of a store where I had quickly purchased a cluster of Mickey lollipops for them to calm their nausea with. We never really recovered that day. In retrospect, I should have insisted that they go for the more tame attractions while the rest of us hit the thrillers.

    • May 12, 2016 at 9:49 pm

      When we took a trip in 2011 with our 7-year-old son and my parents, I was surprised when my mother, at age 79, said she was game to go on Big Thunder Mtn RR – and then I was completely amazed when she said she wanted to go on it the 2nd time we rode, a few days later! (To be on the safe side I rode in the seat with her, with my arms holding on to stabilize her somewhat against the sharpest twists and turns.)

      She did decline to go on Splash Mountain, and we didn’t really consider having her go on Tower of Terror or Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster at Hollywood Studios. But she went on Dinosaur! at Animal Kingdom and Test Track at Epcot with no problems.

      • May 12, 2016 at 10:57 pm

        How awesome! Everyone has different preferences at any age.

    • May 12, 2016 at 10:54 pm

      Great thought! I already convinced my dad that Expedition Everest is probably not the right attraction for him. My mom’s always been a coaster junkie, though!

  • May 13, 2016 at 10:53 am

    I’m Claire’s Dad and we are looking forward to this trip a great deal. Hopefully none of our adventures will end up on America’s Funniest Home Videos.


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