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Taking Your Parents to Walt Disney World: The Interview

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Copyright Claire Nat 2016After a whole year of planning and preparation, my parents and I took our week-long trip to Orlando at the beginning of June! It was hot, it was muggy, and we endured a heavy dose of Tropical Storm Colin, but we had a great time!

But don’t take my word for it; I’ll let my parents speak for themselves!

Read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 before you read on! A big thanks to Jan from MEI and MouseFan Travel for setting up our resort and dining reservations and tickets!


Overall, how did this trip to Orlando go compared to previous trips you took in 1988, 1995, and 2000?
Dad: We certainly did more and had a better idea about what we were doing in advance, which made the whole trip successful.
Mom: I think I enjoyed this trip a bit more than all the others because it was based solely on what we wanted to do and we didn’t have to accommodate any small children. I always loved seeing the attractions through the eyes of my children, but this time I got to be the kid!

Copyright Claire Nat 2016What was your favorite part of the whole week?
Dad: I enjoyed the unexpected diamonds in the rough – Captain Jack’s Pirate Tutorial, The Frozen Sing-Along Celebration, the Dapper Dans – things I wasn’t expecting to enjoy so much.
Mom: This was tough! My sentimental favorite attraction is it’s a small world because I was at the 1964 World’s Fair when the ride debuted.

What was your least favorite part of the whole week? 
Dad: Waiting so long for Fantasmic, only to have it canceled 30 minutes before showtime. (That was the night that Tropical Storm Colin came through.)
Mom: My exhaustion in the heat. I wish I could someday visit Florida in any other season than summer. I also thought Stitch’s Great Escape was a waste of time. (Author’s note: I did warn them!)

Do you think Disney’s Art of Animation Resort (where we stayed for five nights) was a good choice for three adults? Why or why not?
Dad: I thought it worked well for us, both in regard to cost and to what it offered us, especially since we weren’t planning on doing much there.
Mom: I really enjoyed it. I was apprehensive at first because it is so clearly targeted towards families with small children. I was pleasantly surprised how quiet our room was and that we were near one of the pools.

Copyright Claire Nat 2016What did you think of Disney’s Yacht Club Resort (where we stayed for one night) and its closeness to the parks?
Dad: It was great and would have been even better if the weather had cooperated.
Mom: I loved, loved, loved the Yacht Club. It was very elegant. I enjoyed the massive pool even though we couldn’t enjoy it too much due to the weather. The quick walk to Epcot was great and we were at World Showcase when most of the crowds were coming in the front gate. The walk to from the resort to Hollywood Studios was a bit far, though. I was happy for the boat!

I chose Universals Cabana Bay Resort (where we stayed for one night) for its price and early park entry, mainly, but also because of its 1960s style, which I knew both of you would enjoy since you grew up in that era. Was it a bit overwhelming or was it a nice resort?
Dad: It was nice, but we didn’t really spend enough time there to enjoy it like we could have.
Mom: I got a real kick out of the 60s decor. They even had soap and shampoo that I remember from my childhood (Zest and VO5). I appreciate that attention to detail. The bus travel to Universal was also very helpful. Now if Universal would have a tram that would take you directly to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, that would be awesome!

Copyright Claire Nat 2016
Sorry it’s not the best picture – they got grey stuff to celebrate their anniversary!

Where was your favorite restaurant? Why?
Dad: Had to be Be Our Guest – great food, great atmosphere, great company.
Mom: Be Our Guest at the Beast’s castle was the favorite. The atmosphere was enchanting and the food was superb. I also enjoyed the Columbia Harbor House and people-watching from our second floor table.

What was your favorite attraction or show? Why?
Dad: The Frozen Sing-Along. The historians were phenomenal and the “snow” was a big surprise. The crowd was really into it, especially the little girl next to me.
Mom: I loved two attractions that made it feel as if you were flying: Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey and Soarin’. The sensation of flying was amazing and the thought and imagination behind both rides was outstanding. I also loved Toy Story Mania.

What did you think of the MagicBands and FastPass+
Dad: Both A+s – they really helped keep the days moving at a good pace without us feeling rushed to get to the next event.
Mom: The MagicBands were outstanding! They were so easy to use and you never had to carry cash. The FastPass+ saved us so much time. I loved the way Claire could get one on her phone and in we’d go. Totally worth it.

Copyright Claire Nat 2016What did you think of the interactive wands at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter?
Dad: Pricey, but if that’s what you like, worth every penny.
Mom: I was totally geeked about the wand. I didn’t like that it was expensive or that Ollivander’s was a crowded messy experience, but I enjoyed the “magic” I was able to perform throughout the land.

Did I have you guys do anything during your time at the parks that you didn’t really want to do? (be honest!)
Dad: No.
Mom: I wasn’t crazy about walking all the way to Italy in Epcot on our first day just for pizza. I thought we could have done that the second day and saved ourselves a whole lot of steps in the heat.

If you could change one thing (or two) about the trip, what would you have changed? Why? 
Dad: With 20/20 hindsight I would have done Hollywood Studios earlier, just to make sure we didn’t lose the chance to see Fantasmic! (which we didn’t schedule until our last Disney day, so there was no chance to make it up)
Mom: The time of year we traveled. The heat really saps my strength and it would be so much more enjoyable if we could go in late fall or December with lower temperatures and less humidity. I also think it would be great to see the Christmas decorations.

Copyright Claire Nat 2016
Thanks to my Chase Disney card, we saw Kylo Ren with no wait! (Kinda creepy though.)

How were the lines for the attractions, overall? What was your longest wait time, and for what attraction or show?
Dad: Not bad at all. Longest was probably Pirates of the Caribbean (35 minutes?), but it was enclosed and cool, so it wasn’t an issue.
Mom: I did not think the lines were bad becuase we were able to use FastPass+ for so many of them. I think Pirates was our longest wait.

What was the MVP of the trip: the rental car, the waterbottle, the non-Disney breakfast foods, the ponchos, or other? Why?
Dad: The free water and ice (at the resort and at counter and table service restaurants). Imagine how much I would have spent just by myself for pop!
MomYOU!!! You were the MVP of the trip. You planned it. You made sure about the rental car, the sunscreen application*, the non-Disney breakfasts, and the waterbottle.
*This was the first time I have ever visited Florida and did not get a horrible sunburn!

What did you think of TouringPlans.com and our personalized touring plans?
Dad: I very much appreciated them!
Mom: TouringPlans.com rocks and I don’t ever want to visit Walt Disney World without a plan of theirs.

Copyright Claire Nat 2016
Mickey personally wished my parents a happy anniversary!

Will you ever go back to Orlando for a vacation at Walt Disney World or Universal Orlando? Why or why not?
Dad: I would only go if I had a grandchild to enjoy experiencing it for the first time.
Mom: I hope to do it again. It was great fun. I would love to go with the whole family to see everyone enjoying it the way we got to this time.

In a few weeks I will detail a little more about our trip, and the lessons I learned from taking my parents to Orlando!

What is your MVP of your Disney/Universal vacation? Has a tropical storm or hurricane ever derailed your plans at the parks? Have you splurged for a night at a Moderate or Deluxe resort? 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!

8 thoughts on “Taking Your Parents to Walt Disney World: The Interview

  • Great article. We have been in WDW when hurricanes have struck – the worst one we have experienced was Katrina and that wasn’t directly on Orlando if I remember correctly. Every time we go I book us in for one night in a Disney Resort. The time we spent a night in Saratoga Springs there was a hurricane and my dreams of walking to Downtown Disney (as it was named then) to have a meal and a drink without anyone having to drive back to the villa we were staying in for the rest of the holiday were scuppered. We tried the Animal Kingdom Lodge last time we went but it was December and very cold (never expected that coming from the UK that we would ever be cold in Florida) – its the Beach Club this year for us – keep your fingers crossed. I love staying in the bubble even if its only for one day but prefer going more often and staying somewhere cheaper than saving up and going less often. By the way – sorry if I am being a bit thick – but what does MVP mean?

    • Thanks a lot!

      Generally MVP means “Most Valuable Player” and is usually used with sports. In my case, I was saying the “Most Important Thing” of the trip!

  • I really enjoyed this series and especially this one, with your parents’ perspective. Looking forward to your wrap-up and lessons learned!

  • Great article! This series does a great job of capturing the perspective of planning the trip with/for others. We’ve experienced something similar when traveling with friends and it is definitely more work (and more pressure!) than just planning for our own family. It sounds like you did a great job and they really enjoyed themselves.

    My only criticism is that your warning about Stitch was obviously not nearly convincing enough 😉

  • We had a hurricane come through one year. We were in a pop-up camper in Ft. Wilderness and were required to leave about 6pm (falling trees/branches). Disney offered to put us up on cots in a Grand Floridian ballroom but we found a motel room that suited us better. And they refunded that night’s camping fee. We were back in our campsite and the parks re-opened by 3:00 the next afternoon. Not much affect overall. We missed less than a day and skipped some of EPCOT. I was the only one who wanted to spend time there anyway.

    • I was pleased that it blew through quickly. By our next day it was back to being hot and humid!

  • That was awesome and adorable. Thanks for sharing it!


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