Orlando for Seniors

Orlando , Expert View Column , Travel Advice
An older woman smiling with Mickey and Minnie
By AttractionTickets.com’s Florida Experts, Susan and Simon Veness
How to enjoy all the fun of the theme parks for different ages

There is a lot to enjoy about Orlando these days. The theme park capital of the world has become a wide-ranging entertainment centre that aims to appeal across the board to visitors from far and wide. But is it also a guaranteed holiday choice for those in their more senior years? Can the empty-nesters and grandparents still enjoy themselves among all the thrills and activities on offer in this theme park wonderland?

Having worked in and written about this area for nearly 30 years (!), we can definitely answer that question with authority, from both personal experience and all the tips and hints we have picked up from friends, family and visitors over the years.

It is definitely a valid question, as family holidays with the grandparents are increasingly popular, hence it’s important to know how to keep everyone happy for the two or three weeks of your trip. The other key issue is that older couples increasingly like to visit on their own and enjoy the more grown-up side of Orlando, including the nature parks, tropical gardens, spacious shopping malls, elegant restaurants and scenic walks.


An old man looking out at a swamp and pointing into the distance


It is certainly the case that it IS different for the older age group. The sheer size, scope and pace of Orlando are more taxing than your average European destination, especially in summer, and the flights are more wearing, especially with the five-hour time difference.

That means one of our general Essential Tips is absolutely essential for this age group, and that is to drink water – and lots of it – at regular intervals. The heat and humidity can wear out even the fittest individuals if they’re not paying attention to hydration, and it’s doubly important for both the younger and older generations to keep their water intake up.

Taking things at a slower pace is also good for all concerned. It is SO tempting to want to dash from ride to ride and do as much as possible, but the smart visitors pace themselves, both during the day and over the course of the holiday itself. Having a quiet day after a couple of days in the theme parks is also highly advisable.

The next key point is to look for the indoor attractions, especially the shows, that provide a chance to sit down in air-conditioned comfort. These are a great way to re-charge your batteries and, while it’s great to have plenty of sun on your holiday, too much is definitely a recipe for serious exhaustion. Air-conditioning is also your biggest friend in Florida. Even if it’s just going into a shop or two for casual browsing, you WILL feel the benefit of the A/C as soon as you step through the doors.

The bottom line is that mature travellers are likely to have just as much fun, just within slightly different parameters, while seniors can also take advantage of numerous discounts and special deals at many attractions and restaurants.

March and late October/early November are ideal times to visit weather-wise, but the summer months, June to October, are harder going for older folks. Good coats (and gloves) may still be necessary at times in winter.

Having provided some general guidelines, there are also some solid tips and tricks for being in the theme parks with the whole family group. Simon’s parents – now in their 80s – have been regular visitors for 20 years, and have been happy to pass on their experiences, especially with their favourite things to do, which include places like Winter Garden, Cranes Roost Park at Altamonte Springs, Mount Dora, and Winter Park.


An older couple on a boat tour. The woman's arm is around the man's back


They point out that even the smaller parks are 100 acres or more, and that makes for a LOT of time on your feet. For older legs, that is the toughest challenge, which is why Disney in particular provide benches at regular intervals for people to be able to take the weight off. Don’t be afraid to use them, along with the water fountains you’ll find around each park.

Queuing is another concern for young and old alike, and this is where you can take advantage of Disney’s Genie+ system to cut out some of the standing in line. It’s a paid-for service, but it’s a real boon for shortening the time on your feet.

Both EPCOT and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park have much to engage the older visitor, while the shows of Disney’s Hollywood Studios make that a popular choice, too, and Magic Kingdom Park, while a bit hectic, is still an essential experience, with a lot packed in that has all-round family appeal.


An woman kissing man on the cheek in front of The Seas with Nemo and Friends


Universal Orlando Resort’s two main theme parks are also a full-on experience, with a lot of high-energy attractions. There is a huge amount to enjoy in the two Wizarding Worlds of Harry Potter, but the crowds build up quickly here and they can be tough to navigate with seniors. The paid-for Universal Express system is a big help in avoiding the worst of the queues and can be used judiciously on days when legs are wearing out.


An older couple posing in front of a lake with a theme park in the background


SeaWorld Orlando is another big park at fully 200 acres, and that can be really tiring for everyone, especially during the summer. This is where it pays to check the show times and use attractions like the Orca Encounter and Sea Lion & Otter Spotlight to give everyone a chance to relax for a while.

Certainly not everyone is up for the big thrill rides, either, but these can be just as entertaining to watch as to ride. In fact, the spectator value of the parks is superb in its own right. Grandparents can enjoy watching the young ’uns having fun and then share in their excitement for things like the big daily parades, which are a Disney speciality.

And, if you have the two-week, multi-park tickets, you can afford to dip in and out of each park at your leisure. You don’t need to indulge in long days that can wipe out even the hardiest of theme park commandos!


An older couple smiling at the camera while they sit on a low wall


The good news is Orlando isn’t all about theme parks, either, and there are other places that will have good Senior appeal, while also keeping other family members happy. The area’s shopping malls are big, bright and highly user-friendly, with masses of parking space, and there is always somewhere to stop for tea or coffee.

You can also enjoy the more grown-up delights of places like Disney’s Boardwalk area, with its shops, fine dining and entertainment, while Disney Springs is another source of all-round enjoyment, with even more nice restaurants and bars to enjoy, albeit it can also get pretty busy.

Our regular blogs on ‘Orlando Like A Local’ also resonate very well for older visitors and get the thumbs up from Simon’s parents, especially things like the scenic boat rides in Mount Dora and Winter Park. Those staying in a typical holiday villa also have an advantage here. Having the extra elbow room, where everyone can have their own bedroom and bathroom, reduces the stress of being an extended family for an extended time, while being able to kick back on the pool deck gives the whole family the chance to decompress after the theme park frenzy.

And, if anyone isn’t up for the urgent push to get to the theme park in the morning, it’s absolutely fine for them to stay in the villa and enjoy all the creature comforts while they re-charge their batteries.

Ultimately, that is the trick to having the best Orlando holiday possible. It isn’t really about “Doing it all,” as much as we like to think we’ll cover ALL the bases. You just need to take your time and be “in the moment,” as they say. A good holiday doesn’t have to be non-stop, and your hotel or villa is always there when you need to say ‘stop’ for a while.


In the Senior age group and a regular Orlando visitor? Tell us about YOUR top tips on the friendly Attraction Tickets Community Facebook page, on Twitter or Instagram.

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Orlando , Expert View Column , Travel Advice