The Grandparent's Planning Guide to Walt Disney World

Planning a trip to Disney World with your grandkids? A recent Walt Disney World Parks and Resorts survey revealed that one in five grandparents have been on a Disney vacation with grandchildren. The same survey showed that 54 percent of grandparents in the US wish that they could spend more time with their grandkids.

At twice the size of Manhattan, Disney World can be an overwhelming place unless you take advantage of advice from others who've been there. Follow these tips to make the most of your time, energy, and money, and for more information, visit Disney World's Grand Adventure web site.

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    Grandparents and Grandkids at Disney World
    ••• Walt Disney Parks

    Planning for a future trip that's still a year or more away? Consider the Disney vacation account, which lets you budget and schedule automatic contributions into a designated savings fund.

     

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    Multigenerational Vacations at Disney World
    ••• Walt Disney Parks

    Hate standing in long lines? If you want to spend more time enjoying Disney World's rides and attractions, it can be worthwhile to time your trip for when the parks are at their least crowded. Not surprisingly, that will mean avoiding holiday periods, school breaks and summer vacation.

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    ••• Walt Disney Parks

    On a budget? Timing is perhaps the single most important factor to consider. The best time to visit Disney World is when crowds, prices, and temperatures are all bearable. If your grandkids are still in preschool, you should definitely visit when big kids are in school.

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    ••• Walt Disney Parks

    Looking to score a great deal on a Disney vacation? Your getaway will be even more magical if you land an affordable price. Here’s a selection of special offers that are currently available at Disney World and other Disney vacations.

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    Disney Character Meals with Grandkids
    ••• Walt Disney Parks

    For many kids, meeting a beloved character is a highlight of any Disney World trip. If your grandchild has a favorite character, don't leave it up to chance. Disney's MyMagic+ planning system makes it easy to get organized and schedule character experiences (as well as dining, rides, and other attractions) even before you leave home. 

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    Make Time for Free Fun

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    ••• Fort Wilderness Lodge. Walt Disney Parks

    Don't buy theme park tickets for your arrival and departure days. Instead, take advantage of the many ways to have free fun around the Disney World resorts. Likewise, consider skimming back on theme park days in favor of a day filled with more low-key fun. Here are many favorite ways to have fun at Disney World that don't require a theme park ticket.

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    Grandparents and Grandchildren at Disney World
    ••• Walt Disney Parks

    Nobody sets out with the goal to visit Disney World when it's super crowded, but sometimes crowds are simply impossible to avoid. Here's how to minimize the wait time for rides and attractions any time of year, and especially when crowds are massive.

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    DisneyWorld_PiratesLeague.jpg
    ••• Walt Disney Parks

    So you already knew you could ride the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and meet Anna and Elsa from "Frozen."  But did you know that there's much more to Disney World than rides and characters? These fun and unique experiences are guaranteed to make your visit even more memorable.

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    ••• Family suite at Disney's Art of Animation Resort. Kent Phillips/Walt Disney Parks

    For larger families of five or more people, the typical standard room just isn't big enough yet ponying up for two rooms is pricey and inconvenient. Luckily, you have plenty of options at Disney World. Here's a range of solutions for families of five or more, and for every budget.

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    ••• Expedition Everest. Walt Disney Parks

    Folks often stress about when to introduce kids to Disney World, but the perfect age is whenever you can make it happen. Whether your grandchild is 2 or 12, the first Disney World vacation can be magical.

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    ••• Kidding around with Pluto and Goofy. Garth Vaughan/Walt Disney World

    Since theme park admission is free for kids under age 3, many families try to come at least once before a child's third birthday. Visiting Disney World with a toddler? Here are tips for squeezing the most out of your trip.

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    ••• Walt Disney Parks

    If your grandchild is obsessed with Disney princesses, the chance to meet one in person will likely be a high priority of any trip to Disney World. Here's where to dine like—and with—a princess.

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    Disney's All-Star Movies Resort
    ••• Walt Disney Parks

    Want to cut costs? Consider choosing one of the hotels in Disney's value category or staying at Disney's campground. No matter which property you choose, you'll get the same resort benefits as you would at the pricier hotels at Disney World, but at a fraction of the cost.

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    ••• Lost City of Cibola Pool. Walt Disney Parks

    Did you hear the one about the kid whose favorite thing about Disney World was the hotel swimming pool? The old cliché holds a lot of truth; children just love to play in the water and the highly themed pools at Disney World Resorts are nothing short of tremendous.

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    DisneyWorld_DessertParty_Wishes.jpg
    ••• Walt Disney Parks

    Disney World's fireworks spectaculars are jaw-droppingly fantastic, but after a long day in the parks, the last thing you may want to deal with is crowds. Looking for a really special, low-stress experience to cap off your day? Consider attending one of the ticketed dessert parties held during the fireworks spectaculars. 

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    ••• Walt Disney Parks

    One of the best things about Disney World vacations is that your experience will evolve as a kid grows up, so no two trips are quite the same. Here's the side of Disney World any teen is guaranteed to love.

     

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    ••• MagicBands give FastPass+ access. Mark Ashman/Walt Disney Parks

    Want to lock in ride times and dining experiences? There's an app for that. Disney has rolled out an innovative new planning tool called My Disney Experience, which has essentially replaced the old paper ticketing system by combining a powerful smartphone app with MagicBand bracelets. The app lets you program your attractions and dining experiences with FastPass+. Here's a quick primer to get you started.

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    ••• Matt Stroshane/Walt Disney Parks

    On a sweltering day in Disney World, nothing can kill the fun like overheated kids. Letting them get doused with cold water can be just the ticket. Luckily, you'll find plenty of splashy attractions that offer a refreshing spritz or spray of H20. Alternatively, head to one of our favorite Disney World ice cream shops.

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    Power Shop for Souvenirs With Your Smartphone

    Shop Disney Parks App
    ••• Walt Disney Parks

    Disney has launched a new shopping app that solves this and other problems for souvenir hunters. The Shop Disney Parks app provides access to merchandise available all over Disney World. you can search for a specific item or scan the barcode of an item with your phone. The app lets you deliver your purchases to the front of theme parks, to your Disney resort hotel, or directly to your home.

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    Rainy Day Plans at Disney World
    ••• Walt Disney Parks

    Heading to Disney World in the summertime? Better pack your rain poncho. While it can and does rain throughout the year in Orlando, summer is the wettest season, with the average rainfall at its highest June through August. Check out some favorite rainy-day activities to keep you busy until the clouds part.

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    Star Wars Launch Bay at Hollywood Studios
    ••• Walt Disney Parks

    At twice the size of Manhattan, Walt Disney World encompasses four theme parks, 24 resorts, two waterparks, five golf courses, as well as dining and entertainment galore. Best of all, there's always something new to look forward to. Find out about upcoming hotels, events, and attractions.

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    ••• Walt Disney Parks

    Like the idea of an all-inclusive Disney World vacation? During certain times of the year, you can save big with a package that includes the Disney Dining Plan.