Trip with grandparents - your experiences / advice?


Jan 22, 2019
Thanks again to everyone that posted and shared their experiences & advice. I've read every post and you've all given me things to think about. I'm making a list of things we need to discuss even though I fully expect the answer to be "We will like whatever you book. We're just happy to be going to Disney and spending time with our granddaughter!"

I'm also looking at the crowds being reported this past week and feeling a little faint. (The tentative dates are Feb 10 - Feb 17 2021 right now.) This might actually force me (a bit of an overplanner for sure!) to have a slower trip where we enjoy the resort (likely Boardwalk Villas or Animal Kingdom Lodge) more, including the pool if the weather co-operates, have leisurely meals, maybe resort-hop a bit to experience Disney transportation, and skip our pre-booked FPs if the crowds look a bit too cozy for us.


Earning My Ears
Apr 30, 2017
Just to share my in-laws as I’m a single mom, but first trip with my parents was when my DD22 was 3. that trip was in September and my mom had heat and intestine issues so she always sought out a bench which made touring challenging. We slowed it down and she was happy.

Mom passed years later unexpectedly and dad and I went together that year to see the last showing of Osbourne lights as that’s what my mom had wished to see. We roped dropped and hit everything hard. great memories!

Fast forward to a few years ago and it’s me and dad again. He’s a little slower at 70 so I booked a bunch of shows, the 3 FPS, no rope drop, downtime, etc. to accommodate what “I” thoughts were his needs. i got schooled on the first day of touring.

My plan was to meet at bus stop at 9 after rope drop. I got the call at 8am “I’m at the bus stop and the bus just left, where are you?!! The park is opening) Yep, every day even with text confirmation of bus time and we agreed to go slower, he was there at rope drop. I adjusted quickly and we did his pace not what I “thought it was” lol. And he kept pestering me to find additional FPs haha

I’m taking dd22 for her 22+ trip (we’ve gone multiple times per year over the year) and with her she speed walks and I’ve finally realized...let her Go instead of nagging wait for me. I've got all the money (we have qsds but I don’t tie my CC to the band), airline tickets etc, She‘ll eventually find me and it’s ok if she wants to do her own thing.

Wow, so sorry for the book!! Good luck with your trip 😁

elaine amj

DIS Veteran
Jan 26, 2012
Ppl always say they will like whatever I book haha. I generally try to coax them to come over so I can observe while they watch Disney planning videos. This helps me figure out what they are scared of and what excites them. Often I am surprised.
  • NotUrsula

    DIS Veteran
    Apr 19, 2002
    Ppl always say they will like whatever I book haha. I generally try to coax them to come over so I can observe while they watch Disney planning videos. This helps me figure out what they are scared of and what excites them. Often I am surprised.
    Yeah ... never fall for that line. IMO, hearing that is a guarantee that the person is very anti-planning, which means forget about ADRs or early FPs; they will likely either bail on you, or complain about their vacation being too regimented.

    I think that the very most important thing to watch for is the thing that I missed: Anti-travel people agreeing to go to WDW in order to please a child, then ending up miserable for most of the trip because WDW is too hot, too wet, too expensive, too crowded, too regimented, too .... not home. Now that I've learned not to listen to platitudes and really pay attention to how people live instead of what they say, I have come to be able to spot the folks for whom travel is never going to be anything but a trial, if not a misery, even if they are willing to give it a try for a child's sake. Learn from my mistake: don't ever take that person to WDW. It's going to be too much for them and frustrating for you, and a massive waste of money and effort all-round. Maybe a lake house somewhere over a holiday weekend, but not WDW.
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    DIS Veteran
    Sep 23, 2009
    We took my late MIL (then aged 78, but pretty physically fit) when DD was 9 mos and DS was 10yo; she finally caved to DS' pleading. She later told DH that "I am never traveling anywhere with that slave driver ever again!". (The slavedriver being me.) So, what did I do, you ask? Well, I planned which park we would go to each morning and each evening, with a midday rest break in the middle. We also planned a no-parks day mid-week. We stayed in adjoining rooms at the Swan, which has the least amount of walking I could finagle. At no time did we try to make rope drop, but we did close a park most nights, in order to do most of our park time at night when it was cooler. We were fine with her not coming with us to parks if she didn't feel up to it, but she didn't want to spend any time on her own without the kids. Because we went in late September, we knew it would rain. We warned her to bring appropriate footwear for rain because we don't leave parks for rain showers, but she apparently didn't believe that, because she was astonished when I just passed out ponchos and kept walking.

    So, what was the problem, other than the rain? Mostly Fastpasses. She just could not wrap her mind around the idea of making an appointment for a ride, especially since she didn't much like the rides, and it drove her crazy to have to cross the parks without stopping in order to make FP times. She loved the shows, but otherwise mostly just wanted to sit on a bench & snuggle the baby (who was on her 3rd trip, and of course was a character junkie even at that age, she kept crying to follow every character she saw.) MIL also felt very strongly that the baby shouldn't go on any rides, so she tried to sit them all out with the baby, which frustrated the baby, who didn't want us to leave her behind, AND disappointed the 10 yo, who wanted Grandma to see at least some of his favorite rides.

    MIL had offered to watch the kids one night so that we could go downstairs for a nice dinner, but that didn't happen; she bailed on it because she was tired and realized that they would get antsy in a hotel room. We did suggest she take them to the pool, but she was afraid to, even though there were plenty of lifeguards and DS swam like a fish at the time. (We were not really disappointed by that episode at all, we just canceled the dinner and took the kids back to a park. I only tell that part of the story to illustrate that a plan to have grandparents babysit might not work out.)

    I should also point out that I got along fine with my MIL, though our relationship was a rather politely formal one; we were never best buddies because our interests were very different. My mistake on that trip was in not truly understanding that despite her saying that she "wished" she'd had more money and opportunity to travel, she actually hated travel. She didn't like being away from home, and really wanted us to stay with her and keep her company at all times, which, since she didn't like rides, was kind of problematic at WDW with 2 active little kids who were experienced with Disney World and eager to do their favorite activities. In hindsight a few years later, we realized that she had probably begun to develop minor dementia at the time of the trip; so she wasn't just uncomfortable in a strange place, but probably frightened as well, but at the time she just presented as a tad grumpy.
    That sounds like a very frustrating experience for everyone. What a shame. Sounds like you have learned a lot from the experience and I hope you will get a chance to really enjoy many future trips, which may or may not include extended family or friends.


    DIS Veteran
    Oct 16, 2017
    @NotUrsula my in-laws never really vacation, their idea of a vacation is staying at my MIL's sister's lake house for a weekend. While the Disney trip wasn't an utter disaster, it was NOT a good fit with what they normally do in their "time off from work".
    If we ever go again to Disney with them, it will be a completely different strategy.....and we won't be doing the asking if they want to go. They'd have to ask if they can come.


    Earning My Ears
    Aug 7, 2019
    We went this past December with my mom, along with DH and our 2.5yr old. While I am SO happy that she came with, that we have the memories of her seeing our sons first trip to Disney, our next trip will be just us. My mom had a hard time keeping up with us, and most of the days were cut shorter than we would have liked. Don't get me wrong, so thankful she was with. But it might have been easier on all parties if 1- we had one additional person with, we would have felt okay about leaving her to do our thing and 2- If we had been staying on property. She would have been able to go back to the room to rest while we continued on. You won't have issue #2 :) Heck, you probably won't have the first issue either.

    Just talk about everyone's expectations before hand, and don't be afraid to have plans be altered last minute to accommodate everyone. ENJOY!
  • Vijoge

    Seeing the World through their eyes. . .
    Apr 18, 2005
    I read this with interest as my husband (AKA Papa) and I (aka Grammie) are taking 4 of our granddaughters (ages 15, 14, 12, and 9)to WDW in July 2021 without their parents. We didn't even consider inviting their parents as they'd never be able to keep up the pace for 10 days and they'd be terribly grumpy the entire time.


    Jun 24, 2018
    I will never ever do Disney with a large group. The smaller the better . heck I think it is best with 1 other person .
    with large groups you end up having delays and too many options and people on different schedules.

    Trust me - I’ll never invite more than 1 person on a Disney trip ever again. Let alone multiple family members .
    the tensions get high between family and too much togetherness. I would rather just go alone with my daughter .


    Earning My Ears
    May 7, 2020
    i would lean towards going on separate trips. but that is just being based on the size of the group. it was not pleasant in the parks for us with every one wanting to do different experiences rides and dinning. but with all that put aside, i suggest writing down your expectations and logically see if it can/will happen realistically.


    Earning My Ears
    Jan 27, 2020
    We took my in-laws with us when my boys were 3 and 5. It was fabulous. I made an itinerary for our park days and showed it them in advance....and asked if they wanted to participate in all or part. Both came with us for the full MK day. My FIL was especially impressed/fascinated with the detail of the Fantasyland rides. They were early risers as were the kids so rope drop was not a problem. They had a blast watching the kids at the Crystal Palace character lunch (which was also a great sit-down break for all of us). My FIL wasn't interested in Animal Kingdom so we did that one just 5 of us and he stayed at the hotel and relaxed. We had a non-park day with a Chef Mickey breakfast and everyone loved that. The rest of that day was pool time at the hotel. It was perfect because it was a more leisurely trip...but enough to keep my boys thoroughly entertained....yet relaxing enough that my in-laws could participate.
    I think the biggest part of the success was the communication in advance. I realized trying to surprise them with activities on-site would not have been a good idea so we went through the detailed itinerary ahead of time and had clear expectations as to who was going to participate in what and when. And I didn't ask them to babysit at all.....I knew they would have been offended by that as they saw this as their vacation know your audience!!

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