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When planning your trip to the Walt Disney World Resort it is easy to get swept up in to the dream of the “whole family” going. You know, you, your spouse and kids, aunts, uncles, cousins and of course, the grandparents. While this is a lovely image and Disney has created their “Magical Gatherings” to aid in the planning of such a trip, the reality can be less than magical.
On different occasions, we have traveled to “the world” with different family members. We’ve done trips with families with kids our own age, we’ve done trips with the whole family (including the grandparents) and trips with just the grandparents. Oh, the agony and the ecstasy
It can be very hard for grandparents to keep up the pace with the group and so one of two things starts to happen. One, they fall behind and miss out on some great stuff or everyone else falls behind so as to not exclude them and then ends up feeling annoyed because they’re missing out on stuff! This is not a good feeling for anyone. It is somewhat unrealistic to expect the older generation to keep up with the younger one for an entire trip and if you go in to your trip planning thinking that everyone is going to be together, you may be in for a world of disappointment.
Allow grandparents to set their pace and maybe just pick a couple of key places/attractions that you really want to be all together for. On our family reunion trip, my in-laws chose to do one park with each of the kids. One sister got them for Magic Kingdom, the other for Hollywood Studios, we got them for Animal Kingdom and they took a solo-day at Epcot. This worked wonderfully.
The unfortunate part for them, and we didn’t realize it until the end of the trip, was that when we all got together for dinner, they usually ended up with all of the grandkids while we adults kicked back and relaxed. Try to remember that this is their vacation, too, and that even if they seem willing to act as babysitters, don’t take too much advantage. Allow them the time to go out and explore and enjoy themselves; after all, a vacation to WDW is for kids of all ages!
On our last trip, we went to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party and only my mother-in-law joined me and the kids. She wanted to go and experience it all but knew that she wasn’t up to running around all day. She packed up a tote bag with a book, a magazine, a sweater and an extra pair of shoes and whenever she got tired, she found herself a quiet spot and read while the kids and I ran from ride to ride. This made it more enjoyable for her and took the pressure off while allowing us to keep our own pace.
The same can be said for parents traveling with babies. They cannot do everything that they may want to and it’s important to be considerate to their needs and not get upset when they cannot keep pace.
It’s a vacation; it’s supposed to be fun and sometimes that fun means that you don’t do everything all together all the time. Let grandparents take it at their own pace, let sleeping babies nap (and their parents, too!). In the end, it will make for a much more enjoyable trip!