Have you been to Walt Disney World more times than you can count? Can you navigate the Magic Kingdom without the assistance of a map? If you find yourself responding to these questions with a very large number and a resounding “yes!”, then you are a Walt Disney World veteran. Since the parks are very close to my home, we have a lot of houseguests who want us (resident Disney veterans) to show them around the parks. This is always so much fun because it is a different experience with each family member who comes in to visit. Being a tour guide is something I enjoy, so I am always happy to accompany a newbie into the park. However, you need to do your research in order to make your guests’/newbies’ vacations magical.
First, I always like to find out what kind of budget my visitors have because that will help me to recommend dining locations for them. Even if you don’t live near the World, you can still follow any of these practices when helping friends or family plan a Disney trip. Also, it is good to know your group’s tolerance to the heat. If you know that some of your visitors cannot handle the harsh Florida sun, you have to plan for that. It is also important to do your best to see what the guests really like and dislike. For example, do not waste time on character interactions if you know that your friends really do not enjoy these experiences.
On recent family visits, we have had a number of different age groups represented, so we had to tailor our park visits to meet each of their specific needs. We toured the park with my husband’s grandmother, and we know that she really enjoys shows, artwork, and costuming. She used to work as a window decorator in a department store, so she can really appreciate art and excellent theme park design. Therefore, we made sure to visit as many shows and see as many heavily themed environments as we could. She is not a fan of fast rides or roller coasters, so we skipped those rides. We spent a good deal of time in the Animal Kingdom because it is just so immersive and so heavily themed. We also spent time exploring resorts so that she could admire their beauty. My husband’s grandmother had a wonderful trip because we really tried to do what she wanted to do.
In contrast, my sister-in-law and some of her friends came in to visit, and I acted as their tour guide too. She and her friends are young, and they really like to hit all of the roller coasters and thrilling attractions. She likes to run through the parks without really stopping to investigate the details of the parks. This type of park touring is very different than my husband’s grandmother, but that is okay. Each park guest will have his or her own wants and favorites, and we really try to accommodate those differences in opinion when we take people around the parks.
So, if you are a Disney veteran who is helping to plan someone’s Disney trip, or you are a local who enjoys assisting house guests explore the parks, try to think about what your friends/visitors want to get out their vacations. Every family is different, and each one can have a truly magical experience despite differences in touring styles. Until next time, have a magical day, and keep moving forward!