Tips For Traveling Solo With The Grandkids To Disney
Traveling solo with the grandkids to Disney with grandkids can be remembered for all the right reasons with a little bit of preplanning. When my grandkids first came into the world I counted the days, minutes, and seconds until the time would arrive that Grammy could pass down the legacy and take them to Disneyland but never did it occur to me that this magical first trip would become more like a test of survival of the fittest. Before you decide that traveling solo with the grandkids to Disney, here are a few tips I picked up along the way that may help you on your magical journey.
I had quite successfully taken all of my own kids to Disneyland as babies so how hard could this be? Maybe I just blocked out what it was really like but over the years I’ve picked up a few tricks along the way, so by the time I took grandkids number two, three, and four for their first trip to Disneyland, I’d learned a thing or two through trial and error-mostly error, but now memories are created for all the right reasons. If you’re about to embark on your visit solo trip to Disneyland or actually any outing to an amusement park with your grandchild, here’s a few of the tips and tricks I’ve learned to make grandma and me time fun time:
Listen To Their Parents aka Your Kids:
Even though you know in your mind that you’ve done this trip hundreds of times when your children, as I quickly discovered that traveling solo with the grandkids was a whole new world so your first order of business is to ask the parents of your grandchild, were little, take the time to listen to what the parents have to say; in fact, actively solicit their advice! Find out about the child’s temperament, eating habits, do they drink water or juice, what are their bathroom habits (huge if the child has just recently become potty trained), what time of day is nap time, and the little things such as are they afraid of dark places, water rides, do they wander off, and a host of other things that you may have instinctively known about your own kids, but now you’ve become a beginner all over again. So just what are some of the key factors when it comes to traveling solo with the grandkids?
Location, Location, Location:
Before you ever embark on your journey, reacquaint yourself with the locations of ALL the bathrooms throughout the Park. Once you’ve arrived at the Happiest Place on Earth, remember that you’re not with your grown-up kids anymore so frequent bathroom visitations, starting as soon as you get in and then throughout the day, whether they say they have to go or not are a must. A little research into where the Baby Care Center or the First Aid Centers are before you need them can be a lifesaver if and when the need should arise.
Pack Extras- Of Everything:
More often than not, your wonderful daughter or daughter-in-law will send along everything you need to get them through the day, and more, However, it never hurts for you to have extra snacks, water, sunscreen and a treat or two not only for your grandchild but for you as well. While you may be used to strolling up to the Little Red Wagon for a corn dog as your appetite dictates to you when you’re suddenly faced with a crying grandkid who will only calm down if the stroller is moving, well let’s just say it might be a while, if ever before you actually have a chance to grab something for you to eat. Also, if mixing formula is involved, make sure you ask exactly how to prepare it while help is still close at hand. In other words, just because you’ve raised 5 of your own kids, does not necessarily equip you for what lies ahead when traveling solo with the grandkids.
Know Thy Stroller:
When my kids were little, it was all about the umbrella stroller – simple and easy-right? Those days are long gone and now it apparently can take a degree in advanced engineering to figure how their particular stroller collapses and folds down. Let’s just say, that I may or may not have held up the departure of the Monorail for 15 minutes because I could not figure which one was THE button that needed to be pushed that folded the entire contraption down. If you’ve never had a whole group of Cast Members and a wide variety of helpful parents all trying to come to your rescue as you try to collapse the stroller so the Monorail could depart, just trust me when I say, it may make a funny story to tell now, but at the time, no one was laughing. Know before you go!
If your grandchild is a toddler, at some point, you’re going to be faced with the dilemma of finding them something that they deem worthy of eating and sadly no, you can’t feed them cotton candy all day long. Asking what they will, and won’t eat before it’s just you and your grandchild will save you potential misery later when you come to discover that your grandchild, who insists that they want a hamburger, and you get said hamburger and it gets pushed to the side, find out later on that in their world a hamburger means a bun with catsup- no burger. By the way, that cute Mickey Ice Cream Bar will melt all over long before they ever make it through a bite or two.
But You Love Mickey:
You have waited for the day to come to finally be able to take your grandchild for that coveted first face-to-face meeting with Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck or Goofy. They love the cartoons, they’ve seen all of the movies, and they are inseparable from their stuffed Mickey Mouse so why wouldn’t they want to meet Mickey in person?
Be prepared because it can happen that those squeals of delight and the happy claps as you approach Mickey or Donald may quickly turn into shrieks of horror. Think about it from their view of the world—suddenly you are face to face with a 6-foot tall duck hovering towards you and reaching for you. If you think about it, it really could be a little on the scary side.
So while my first solo visit to the Happiest Place on Earth with a grandchild who may have been less than thrilled with meeting Mickey, by the time I had gotten to subsequent grandkids, I learned to let them be in charge of the situation and if that meant waving from afar, then we waved from afar. Eventually, the time will come when they are ready to get up close and personal with their favorites.
Not All Rides Are Created Equal:
In your heart of hearts, you may be positive that if you can just get your grandchild on Pirates, they will miraculously get over their fear of dark places and unexpected drops and they will thank you in the years to come. Take my word for it, they’re afraid of water rides. Not even the singing dolls on Small World will ease their fears, not to mention their death grip around your neck as they shake in terror, sure that they are going down for the third time. Pirates will be there in the future but your traumatized grandchild may never go with you again. Listen to what they tell you. The smile that radiates through their very soul, their squeals of delight as you ride Heimlich’s Chew Chew Train for the 20th time that day will stay with you for the rest of your life.
Common Sense For The Win:
Think back to what you did with your own children. Riding the Disney Railroad round and round the Park still works when a quick nap is needed. Seeking solace in Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln or the Enchanted Tiki Room when you discover that a child may have endless energy, but you, unfortunately, do not, is a lifesaver. Common sense sometimes is easily lost when you are trying to give them the universe all in an 8-hour window. I am happy to report what worked when their parents were their age still works now but with the extra benefit of thinking back to a time gone by and once forgotten.
You Don’t Need To Do It All:
It’s easy to be swept away with the feeling of wanting to do it all and see it all, but let your grandchild be your guide. Follow their pace. You may be certain that the only way they will truly remember this trip is if they ride every ride in Fantasyland, but if you follow their lead, you may quickly realize for them the real magic is in chasing after a mommy duck and her newborn babies or shooting baskets with a cast member that they take away from the day for years to come.
And You Don’t Have To Buy It All:
As a grandparent, it’s hard to overcome the urge to buy them everything they see and you see. Surprising them with a bubble blower might be great for fun in the Park, but when they take it home and use on the pet bunnies, it may not seem like such a good idea anymore, especially to their parents. Instead, invest in memories that are unique to you and your grandchild. Consider a pressed penny book that they can add to the next time you take them. Start them with their first lanyard and teach them how to pin trade. Purchase postcards and write down your favorite memory of that day and keep them in a book to add to over the years. And in the end, if you cave in and end up buying a stuffed keepsake, seeing them cuddled up with it over the years to come will serve as a reminder of that moment in time that Grammy took me to Disneyland.
It’s The Memories You Create Along The Way:
All and all, if you thought that it just couldn’t get any better than experiencing Disney through the eyes of your child, just wait until you get to do it with your grandchildren. Your joy multiplies in ways you never could have imagined. Suddenly it’s not just about creating a magical day and lasting memories, it’s the legacy. You’ve ensured that an intricate part of who you are has been passed down conversation-by-conversation, memory-by-memory for many generations to come and with a little advanced planning, it will be remembered for all the right reasons.
What are your favorite tips and tricks for surviving traveling solo with the grandkids to Disney so your magical journey is remembered for all of the right reasons?