I will be taking my father for the first time in October. He is 78 years old. Is there anything that’s a must for seniors?
The Castle will make knees buckle
Photo by Don Sullivan
Dad’s Start Off Slow Answer
How exciting to be traveling to Walt Disney World with your dad at that age – it’ll really bring out the kid in him! And just like taking a kid to the most magical place on earth for the first time, you’ll want to start things off slow with your dad – test the waters, see what he’s up for, and make sure you schedule plenty of breaks!
When you travel with children to Walt Disney World, you never know how they’re going to react. They might be afraid of the dark or loud noises, or they may hate rides that are speedy or spin. It’s always a good idea to start with the mildest attractions and build them up to a level that’s comfortable. It’s no different with your dad – he won’t know what to expect or how the attractions might affect him, so take it easy.
At the Magic Kingdom, you can start with the gentle rides in Fantasyland, and classics like the Haunted Mansion or the Jungle Cruise. Attractions like the Liberty Square River Boat, The Hall of Presidents, The Tomorrowland Transit Authority, and The Enchanted Tiki Room are often a hit with seniors. If he wants to try out Space Mountain, work up to it with a ride on Big Thunder Mountain first!
Epcot is an ideal park for seniors – there is lots of space, plenty of scenery to enjoy while resting on a bench, and the attractions are typically slower. Exploring the World Showcase pavilions is popular with seniors, and there is plenty of entertainment to enjoy. Living with the Land is a good choice, and if he likes gardening, you can consider taking the Behind the Seeds Tour. Soarin’ and Spaceship Earth are pretty gentle too.
Disney Hollywood Studios is probably the loudest, most fast-paced park, but thankfully there are plenty of shows! Lights, Motors, Action! may be a little hot and loud, so work up to this with the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular and Beauty and the Beast – Live On Stage. The Studio Backlot Tour and The Great Movie Ride are great choices, and he’ll love the nostalgia at Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream.
Animal Kingdom has a slower pace, but be warned that it tends to feel hotter and more humid than the other parks. Your dad will love the Kilimanjaro Safaris Expedition and all the shows. If he’s up for it, take a stroll through the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail and the Maharajah Jungle Trek to see the animals up close and personal.
Like most trips, yours will benefit from a little bit of planning and preparation. Make sure that you are aware of any physical conditions your dad may suffer from. Pay careful attention to the signage at each attraction that warns against riding if you suffer from certain medical concerns (notably heart, back, sensitivity to loud noises or strobe lights, etc.).
If you know your father is sensitive to heat, consider renting him a wheelchair. Disney can be exhausting for anyone, and it’s important to watch the warning signs of heat exhaustion in anyone, but particularly kids and seniors. Take plenty of breaks, and make sure he stays hydrated!
Pacing yourself will be critical, but don’t worry, Dad’s friends at Touringplans.com can help! They have suggested touring plans for each parks designed specifically for seniors which minimizing walking, maximize breaks, and make suggestions for attractions that are rated most highly by seniors.
Dad’s Bottom Line
Lea, you’re going to have a magical vacation with your dad. Take it slow, and make sure you get the most important souvenir for a Walt Disney World first-timer: a picture with Mickey Mouse!