Grammy and Me…………Tips and Tricks from a Disney Grammy
If you thought that the first time you saw Disney through your child’s eyes was the most magical moment you could ever hope to experience, then just wait! As hard as it is to believe, it gets even better when you see it through your grandchild’s eyes! There is no greater thrill than the anticipation of spending time with your grandchild, especially if it’s at Disney, but before you go rushing through the gates, a little bit of planning and research can ensure that your that your trip to build memories to last a lifetime, is not remembered for years to come for all the wrong reasons!
Even though you know in your mind that you’ve done this trip hundreds of times when your children, aka 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, bathroom habits (huge if the child has just recently become potty trained), what time of day is naptime, and the little things such as are they afraid of dark places. More often than not, your wonderful daughter in law will send along everything you will 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. Don't forget, just as it was all those years ago, the Baby Care Center on Main Street is still there for those last minute emergencies. If you are borrowing their stroller for the day, learn how to collapse it ahead of time! We once held up the Monorail for 10 minutes because we could not figure out how to collapse the stroller.
Before you ever embark on your journey, reacquaint yourself with the locations of ALL the bathrooms throughout the Park. Make sure to take the time for frequent visits, starting as soon as you get in and then throughout the day, whether they say they have to go or not. Make sure to stop by City Hall and get them a "My 1st Visit" or an "I'm Celebrating" button as well as a map of their own. Together you can find where to go, what to do, and then allow them to be the navigator for the day. It lets them know that this visit is something you are doing together every step of the way. 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 for your grandchild, it may be chasing along after Uncle Zack, following 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.
In your heart of hearts, you may be positive that if you can just get your grandson on Pirates, he will miraculously get over his fear of drops and darkness and will be thanking you in the years to come. 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.
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 Innoventions 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.
As a grandparent, it’s hard to overcome the urge to buy them everything they see and you see. Surprising them with a laser gun 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.
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 great vacation and lasting memories, you are now leaving a 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.