Ten Touring Tips for Seniors (from a Sexagenarian)
In a few months I’ll turn 70, which started me thinking about my upcoming trip to Walt Disney World. I jotted down a few things that I need to remember, as a sexagenarian. (Note to self: I’m not 40 anymore.) I hope sharing my list might be helpful to others who have been around the sun as many times…or for people traveling with them.
1) First off: slow down! After all, this is a vacation. The best advice a friend gave me before a trip to France was simply this: Stroll and Linger. That advice applies to Disney as well–take your time. Notice the little details Imagineers have worked into every square inch of the parks. Look for things you’ve never noticed before. Take paths that are out of the way and quieter than the thoroughfares. (But while you’re looking around, watch out for strollers…)
2) Stay on site if you can. If your hotel is on the monorail loop, take a water launch to the Magic Kingdom instead of the monorail. That mode of transportation has got “slowing down” built right in! Or if you prefer to walk, follow the path to the Magic Kingdom from the Grand Floridian or Contemporary Resort. If you’re staying at one of the EPCOT resorts, take advantage of the watercraft service and walking paths to EPCOT and Hollywood Studios. If you’re staying at Caribbean Beach, Riviera Resort, Art of Animation, or Pop Century, make use of the Skyliner system.
3) Try to make the weather (and crowds) work in your favor. The Unofficial Guide suggests that seniors plan to visit at a time of year when the weather isn’t extreme, like spring or fall. Warm days with cool nights that require no more than a light jacket are ideal. And fellow retirees should take advantage of times when crowds are low. Check the TouringPlans site for up-to-date projections on crowd levels.
4) Stay hydrated. We once ended up at the Magic Kingdom’s medical station on the verge of dehydration. The nurse told us to drink A BOTTLE OF WATER EVERY HOUR! I’m not suggesting you need to, but we did, and it made all the difference. We’ve since purchased Britta water bottles and carry them with us all day, filling them as we go along.
5) Take a midday rest. There are a couple ways to do this. You can recharge in air-conditioned comfort by visiting the Hall of Presidents or Carousel of Progress in Magic Kingdom, or the American Adventure in EPCOT to name a few of the great places to sit. Also, think about taking an afternoon nap back in your room: housekeeping is done by then and most people with kids are still at the parks, so your room is quieter. (You’ll also avoid the heat of the day.)
6) Eat dinner early. Make a reservation for 4:00 or 5:00 p.m., and you’ll avoid crowds. Consider eating at one of the restaurants in a hotel; they’re terrific and away from the hustle-bustle of the parks. Then, after dining, take a slow after-dinner stroll.
7) Start with the end of your day in mind and plan backwards from there. Do you want to end up close to where you’ll be eating? Or close to fireworks or another evening extravaganza (once they start up again after COVID)? By ending your touring day nearby, you’ll save steps and won’t arrive back at your hotel drop-dead tired.
8) Think beyond the theme parks. Consider spending a day or more away from the parks: visit Disney Springs, take advantage of a spa, or go golfing. Touring other hotels is also great fun. The lobbies are beautiful, and you may get a couple ideas about where you want to stay on your next visit!
9) Prepare yourself for walking. No matter your plans, you’ll do a bit a walking. Good shoes – broken in ahead of time – are a necessity. I also recommend wearing compression socks: nurses, waitpersons, and others on their feet for long stretches wear them for a reason. Personally speaking (I’m not a doctor), I’ve worn them due to some varicose veins and can attest to the difference they make! Another tip from the Unofficial Guide: “Many seniors like to walk, but a 7-hour visit to a theme park includes 4–10 miles on foot. Consider renting a wheelchair or mobility vehicle.”
10) Lastly, by going at your own pace you’ll be more open to the magic. It’s in every smile you pass, on the face of the four-year-old who’s meeting Elsa for the very first time, in the extra pixie dust a cast member sprinkles your way and yes, even in the crowds filled with crying babies in strollers. (Did I mention that you should keep an eye out for strollers?) Take time to pause and breathe it in. There’s no other place like it – that’s why you’re here! So slow down – and enjoy more!
What are your best suggestions for touring as a senior or with seniors in your party? Let us know what you think in the comments.
11 thoughts on “Ten Touring Tips for Seniors (from a Sexagenarian)”
“Eat dinner early.”
Do you REALLY want to play into that stereotype?
One of the joys of being a senior is that you have zero effs to give about what other people think. Eating that early helps you get even hard-to-land ADRs. It can let you get by with two meals a day if you want (late breakfast/early dinner), and if you’ve got a fireworks dessert party you can actually enjoy all the desserts because you aren’t still stuffed from dinner. Keeps everyone from getting the late-afternoon hangrys. If you’ve done the afternoon nap thing, you can show up to your dinner reservation clean and cool instead of hot, sweaty, and footsore. So…yeah. Don’t care.
I’m a senior now, but even when I wasn’t, we always ate dinner early at Disney to avoid the crowds at dinner time. Character meals go a lot easier if the restaurant isn’t packed. ADRs are a lot easier to score if you don’t want them at prime dining times. And rides are better when you’re riding them when everyone else is busy eating. It’s not a stereotype; it’s a very helpful tip to maximize your time at the most crowded place on earth
As a 72 year old, I have one more tip: Take a grandchild (or borrow one) to relive the wonder through their eyes. Although truth be told, I never grew to adulthood when it comes to Disney.
Also, there is a picture of water fountains in this photo. Are the water fountains turned on at WDW?
They were when we went last October. Water fountains are not a high risk for transmission of any illness as long as you run the fountain a bit to flush the spigot and you use sanitizer after touching the dispenser button.
I’m not a senior but love these tips!
We are both over 60 and are (or were before Covid) frequent visitors to WDW. We sometimes go with our family and sometimes on our own. Going with the family is amazing and it’s lovely to see them enjoying it all. But going on our own means we can go at our pace and do what we want instead of thinking about other people. We’ve been at all times of the year but never been there on 4th July – hoping we will be allowed to go for 4th July this year. A bit worried about wearing a mask in such oppressive heat but if we find that difficult we will go early in the morning, back to the villa when it gets too hot, and then back to the parks in the early evening. So glad we can take masks off for outside photos now.
Went on our first couple only trip. We are in our 60s. We were so surprised and delighted for how much fun we had. Hope to travel again with the kids but the things that you had in here are good tips. And they highlight what is special about slowing down not so much with age but with wisdom
Two things I have to comment on:
1. The Skyliner isn’t exactly a great mode of transportation for seniors. When we went in May, I had a horrible experience using it and will now never ride it again. Ever. It doesn’t stop when picking up or dropping off, so you have to be quick. I walk with a cane. After struggling to get in one without falling, I was told they’d notify the destination to stop when we arrived so I could disembark safely. They didn’t.
2. I usually always take naps in the afternoon at Disney. This last trip, however, I couldn’t. Housekeeping isn’t done by the afternoon. That’s when they seem to hit the rooms & every single day we were there, there’d be a knock on our door between 2:30-3:30 with them wanting to empty our trash (we were in a Boardwalk Inn studio villa). And they wouldn’t take “Our trash doesn’t need emptying” for an answer. After about the 4th day of this, the housekeeper admitted that they’re required to come into the rooms to “inspect” them. And they always wanted to inspect in the afternoon when I was trying to get a nap. It got so bad, we actually checked out and came home a few days early.
The issue about the timing of the checks of the room is a really big one. Also people with young kids that need afternoon naps, a lost nap is a nightmare. It would be great to be able to go to the front desk to explain a need to have some time with privacy for sleeping and request a 2 or 3 hour time. That means the checking could occur any other time. But I don’t know how successful this would be. Has anyone tried this. It is a significant issue for many, so hard to believe there isn’t data out there.