LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Mature travelers are discovering that — like grandkids –a Walt Disney World vacation is worth boasting about. Golden memories and vacation experiences of a lifetime abound.
Mature travelers visiting Disney’s Vacation Kingdom have the curiosity and the time to fully experience the theme parks, nighttime entertainment complexes, resort hotels, lakes, waterways, pools, golf courses and tennis courts.
The many famed attractions and entertainment shows found in Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios are designed for those “from 3-to-93” as Walt Disney once stated. Disney executives find this is still true today.
“I’ve noticed that they are more willing to take the time visiting our parks to breathe in the total experience,” said Phil Holmes, vice president of Magic Kingdom. “They enjoy the storytelling we do through architecture, music, background sound and aromas.
“The hustle and bustle of Main Street, U.S.A. in Magic Kingdom makes that location one of the most popular, perhaps because it is reminiscent of experiences in their own lives. You’ll find them much more involved with the entertainment experiences on Hollywood Boulevard in Disney’s Hollywood Studios or in World Showcase at Epcot.”
The Behind the Seeds tour of the Epcot Future World greenhouses is a hit with mature travelers as is the behind-the-scenes Backstage Safari at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, offering an insider’s look at how Disney addresses challenges in conservation, animal care and nutrition. Nostalgia rides the rails during Disney’s The Magic Behind Our Steam Trains Tour, as guests watch the massive Magic Kingdom trains getting readied for another day. For those for whom the spirit is willing but the feet aren’t, motorized, self-drive vehicles may be rented at all four theme parks.
Mature travelers with fond memories of the circus can treat themselves to a modern-day version of the Big Top like they’ve never experienced before. Cirque du Soleil at Downtown Disney West Side combines theatrics, mind-boggling acrobatics and an original score in the 90-minute production La Nouba. Performances occur twice nightly, five nights a week.
Cirque du Soleil isn’t the only spot for live entertainment at Walt Disney World Resort. The Vacation Kingdom features Broadway-style shows at its theme parks and resorts, some of them dinner shows. A family favorite since 1974, “Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue” at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground is a wacky saloon-hall dinner show with a song-belting, joke-telling troupe of performers and bottomless buckets of barbecue.
Mature travelers also may enjoy a fireworks show during their visit to Walt Disney World Resort. “Wishes” at Magic Kingdom is a fireworks spectacular that paints a story of adventure and romance in the sky.
Speaking of grand events, the springtime Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival and — an annual rite of fall — the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival are big draws.
Back-in-time grandeur reigns supreme at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. Through the late afternoon and evening hours, the four-story atrium lobby is filled with the mellifluous sounds of the Grand Floridian Society Orchestra and a grand pianist.
Afternoon tea is a daily ritual in Garden View Lounge at the Grand Floridian. Scones, pastries and finger sandwiches accompany tea.
Steps from the Grand Floridian is where mature guests can go to recharge and revitalize. Luxurious pampering is the cornerstone of Disney’s Grand Floridian Spa & Health Club, featuring beautifying services and wellness techniques such as massage therapy, body treatments, and nutrition and fitness counseling (reopens 2013).
Recreation managers at the Walt Disney World Resort point to a special bond with mature travelers.
All recreational activities are oriented to the young at heart. Guests can find tennis, golf, sailing — even lazy hours spent bass fishing, right in the shadow of Cinderella Castle.
The horsepower is the four-legged variety during relaxing, old-fashioned carriage tours. Beautiful and serene woodlands pass by during these horse-drawn, 30-minute tours of either Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground or Disney’s Port Orleans Resort.
But it is at the famed Walt Disney World Resort hotels where mature guests feel the most at home.
Disney designers attribute this to the “residential feel” the resort hotel lobbies have, property-wide. Hotels may have large numbers of rooms, but the comfortable lobbies provide a much more personal feel than other resort hotels.
From daytime experiences in the theme parks, to afternoon recreation on the water, to nighttime rest at a down-home resort, mature travelers find Walt Disney World Resort the perfect fountain of youth.
After all, mature travelers were kids, too. At Walt Disney World Resort, they’re kids all over again.
Among Popular Activities for Mature Travelers at Walt Disney World Resort…
- Golf. There are four superb courses, private and group lessons, and equipment rental.
- Epcot World Showcase. This Epcot experience includes dining, shopping and a mile-long stroll around World Showcase Lagoon. Many mature travelers enjoy chatting with the World Showcase ambassadors, college students from around the globe on loan to Disney for one year.
- Guided tours. Behind the Seeds focuses on making new discoveries at Epcot, and includes hands-on activities. The UnDISCOVERED Future World tour takes guests back to the creation of Epcot and discusses the legacy of Walt Disney and his vision for a better world. This walking tour visits all of the Future World pavilions and gives guests a peek into how each pavilion celebrates man’s accomplishments and challenges. At Magic Kingdom, it’s all aboard with Disney’s The Magic Behind Our Steam Trains Tour. Venture into the park prior to opening to see where the beloved trains are stored and serviced. Take a ride with the railroad engineers as they reveal Walt Disney’s passion for steam trains and their role in Magic Kingdom. Call 407/939-8687.
- Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Relive heydays of Hollywood at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Favorite attractions include The Great Movie Ride, The Magic of Disney Animation, “Beauty and the Beast-Live on Stage” and “Fantasmic!”
- Magic Kingdom lets kids of all ages be youngsters. Favorite mature traveler attractions include Jungle Cruise, Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, it’s a small world and The Hall of Presidents.
- Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground is 700 acres with 784 campsites and 406 Wilderness Cabins. Recreation includes riding stables, canoeing, tennis courts, swimming pools, a marina and a nature trail. Electric golf carts may be rented. There are also private horse-drawn carriage rides.
- Seasonal Festivals. Springtime blooms with millions of flowers and more during the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival featuring hands-on workshops and gardening tips with landscape experts. Food and wine pairings and flavorful international samplings delight guests in the fall season during the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. Celebrated chefs and sommeliers host wine tastings, cooking demos and exquisite dinners during the food and wine lovers fest.
- Fishing. Disney’s Bay Lake was stocked with 70,000 bass in the 1960s and bass up to 12 pounds have been recorded. Anglers can take a guided, two-hour BASS fishing expedition (no license required). Catch and release. Gear available.
- Downtown Disney. Take a leisurely stroll through the West Side and Marketplace areas and enjoy shady lunch spots, people-watching and live entertainment in a lakeside setting.
- Shopping is an adventure throughout the Vacation Kingdom at more than 200 shops offering interesting and unusual merchandise from around the world.
- La Nouba is an amazing Cirque du Soleil production seen only at Downtown Disney West Side.
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom is adventure and exploration at each guest’s own pace, plus lavish live entertainment spectacles in a leafy, natural setting.
- Walking trails. Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort has a 1.4-mile promenade around its lake. Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground offers a 2.3-mile course with exercise stations, and the walkways of Disney’s Port Orleans Resort are perfect for long strolls.