A Multi-Generational Disney Trip | Here’s How to Prepare & What to Take

Empty Nest Blessed by Suzy Mighell
couple in front of cinderella's castle at disney's magic kingdom

We’re just back from a magical multi-generational Disney trip! We had a great time. I took copious notes and lots of photos to share with you the whole time I was there! Did you follow my adventures on my Instagram Story? If not, you can catch up by tapping the Disney highlight button right on my Instagram profile page!

Today I’m sharing details about our trip, telling you how we prepared, our favorite things in each park, and the must-have items you need to pack for a Walt Disney World vacation.

Why We Went

When our kids graduated from high school, we gave them each a trip. Connor chose the Robert Trent Jones golf trail, Weston chose a Montana fishing trip, and Becca chose a cruise to Alaska. Bob took the boys on their trips, and I took Becca to Alaska! These trips were such great bonding experiences, we boldly told the kids that each time they graduated from then on, we would take them on a trip! 😲

Let me just say we didn’t really understand what we were promising! 😂 We’ve been on lots of amazing trips because they keep going to school! For law school graduation, Connor chose a golf trip to Hilton Head, for college graduation, Weston chose a Canadian fishing trip, and Becca chose a trip to New York City.

When Weston told us he was going back to school to get his MBA, we knew another trip was in the works! He just graduated, and when he told us he and his wife, Sarah, wanted to go to Walt Disney World, we were thrilled. They love Disney and know so many tricks to doing it well. All I needed to do was hook him up with my Authorized Disney Vacation Planner friend Shannon Leyerle, and Bob and I could relax!

How We Prepared for Our Multi-Generational Disney Trip

First of all, let me say that a Disney vacation isn’t just one where you pack your bags, hop on a plane and show up. Nope! It takes preparation. We’re talking planning, physical preparation, and precise packing!

Before We Left

Months before we left, the four of us talked a lot about expectations, what Disney Resort we wanted to stay at (we stayed at Disney’s Port Orleans-Riverside Resort), our favorite rides, restaurant reservations we wanted to be sure to make, and more. This was hugely helpful! Weston was able to communicate all of our preferences to Shannon, and she made the reservations, took care of purchasing our tickets, and so much more. Her help was invaluable and her services were FREE! (Plus, she’s an empty nester, so she totally got what we were trying to do!)

two women over 50 wearing gold tops at a baylor men's basketball game
Shannon and I have been friends since college. We took this photo at a Baylor Men’s Basketball game the weekend before our Disney trip! (We peppered her with questions the entire time and she was SO patient!)

Things change at Disney all the time, and with the new Genie+ and Lightning Lane systems, we really needed someone to help us navigate it all! Honestly, I cannot imagine doing a Disney trip without Shannon’s help!

Physical Preparation

Bob and I knew that to have the stamina we would need for our trip, we needed to really be in good shape. So we started working out with our trip in mind. Bob used the elliptical and the bike, and I walked and ran on the treadmill, with a little elliptical thrown in for good measure. We upped our lower body workouts, with lots of squats, lunges, and stretches thrown in for good measure.

We also upped the time we spent standing. This year I wrapped all of the Christmas presents standing at our kitchen island! I started working standing up at THIS table, and Bob started using his convertible standing desk more at the office. There is a lot of standing and waiting in line at Disney, and the standing practice (plus THESE good shoes) paid off for me. Our son, Weston swears by shoe inserts!

With several 14 hour days of around 20K steps in the Parks, I can tell you I was never sore, my feet never hurt, and I had plenty of energy. We did our best to get 7 hours of sleep a night—and let me tell you, sleep came quickly, and we slept soundly! Still, we were tired when we got back to Dallas after our trip! We slept in the next morning and I definitely needed a nap the next day!

Know Your Limits

If you’re prone to motion sickness, have a bad back, or have other physical constraints, I would encourage you to respect those constraints while you’re at Disney World. I have trouble with motion sickness and can’t do the rides with screens where it feels like you’re moving but you’re not. I skipped those rides and had a great time people-watching, posting on Instagram, or grabbing a bathroom break while the rest of the party was riding. On many of the rides at Walt Disney World, the theming in the queues are part of the fun. Most of the time I went through the queue with the family and exited right before the ride.

Also, know that Disney is wonderful when it comes to dietary restrictions. I have a lot of those! With multiple concerns, I talked with a coordinator or a chef at every restaurant, and they could always figure out something that would work for me. If there wasn’t something on the menu, they would make something just for me. It meant so much!

Also, the popcorn in all of the Parks is gluten-free, dairy-free, and free from other common allergens. If you love popcorn (like me!), I recommend that you buy a refillable popcorn bucket on your first day, and refill it for around $2 a pop the entire time you’re there.

Our Multi-Generational Disney Trip

woman wearing pink sparkly minnie mouse outline black tee standing with suitcase about to go on a multi-generational disney trip


Glitter Rose Gold Minnie Shirt (Under $13 + your choice of color.) | Pink Long Sleeve Tee | Seamless Leggings (No seams to ride up in embarrassing places!) | Pink Sneakers (Amazon version HERE) | Black Fleece Jacket | Custom Tote Bag | Custom Computer Case

Day 1 – Epcot

Since we wanted to spend the afternoon in Epcot, we left VERY early on a Friday morning! This outfit was perfect because it was cold in Dallas the morning we left, so I layered a thin silk long underwear shirt and pants underneath for the plane. I took them off and stowed them in my carry-on as soon as we arrived.

We dropped our luggage with a bellman at our Disney Resort and headed to Epcot! My favorite rides in Epcot are Frozen and Spaceship Earth. We rode lots of rides that afternoon! We had energy because we were excited to be there, but after a fabulous dinner at the cool rotating Garden Grill restaurant, we were definitely ready to head back to our resort for bed!

4 adutls standing in front of the ball at Epcot

Day 2 – Hollywood Studios

We were up early and at Hollywood Studios when the park opened the next morning. (That’s called “Rope Drop” in Disney-speak.) We spent the entire day at that park, which might just be the best of the four, with the addition of Toy Story Land and Star Wars Land.

family on multi-generational disney trip standing in front of toy story land in disney's hollywood studios

We started our day at the Tower of Terror. The bellmen were kind enough to pose with me!

woman standing in front of the tower of terror hotel in disney's hollywood studios with hotel bellmen on either side

Happiest Place on Earth Sweatshirt (Your choice of color.) | Colorful Thread Distressed Straight-Leg Ankle Jeans | Sneakers

The weather at Walt Disney World can be unpredictable, so always take a rain poncho, and if you go in a cooler month as we did, plan to dress in layers! Underneath my cute pink sweatshirt, I had on THIS tee, which I wore all afternoon.

woman wearing star wars helmet in start wars land at disney's hollywood studios
Luke Skywalker was busy, so they called Empty Nest Blessed!

Happiest Place on Earth Sweatshirt (Your choice of color.) | Colorful Thread Distressed Straight-Leg Ankle Jeans | Sneakers | A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes Tee (Your choice of color.) | Long Sleeve White Tee

My favorite rides are Slinky Dog Dash and the Toy Story Mania ride with 3D glasses. We had an awesome burger dinner at the fun Sci-Fi Diner. You eat your meal in car-shaped booths while watching cheesy sci-fi movies on the big screen! It was one of the best meals we ate and the atmosphere was super kitschy and unique.

Day 3 – Disney Springs

If you can afford the time, I highly recommend a 1/2 day or a day of “rest” during your Disney vacation. On day 3, we rested. Sort of. At least the girls did! Sort of. Whether you play a round of golf, hang out at the resort pool, or check out the incredible shopping at Disney Springs, you will be the better for it!

two women taking a Selfie at the Lilly Pulitzer store in Disney Springs
In the Lilly Pulitzer store at Disney Springs.

The men went off to Universal Studios (see below), and Sarah and I slept in and then took a charming boat ride right from our resort right to Disney Springs! With 104 shops, 64 dining venues, and 25 play attractions, shows, and events, Disney Springs is its own special place. We had brunch on the outdoor patio at The Boathouse Restaurant and then checked out Anthropologie, Kate Spade (Where I almost pulled the trigger on THIS handbag!), Lilly Pulitzer, the Coca-Cola store, and the World of Disney store, among others!

woman wearing happy 7 seven dwarfs shirt standing on a bridge at disney springs
Note to self: Midday, full sun lighting is a friend to no one!

Seven Dwarfs “Happy” Tee | Long Sleeve White Tee | So-Slimming Stain-Resistant White Girlfriend Jeans | Similar Tan Sneakers | Sunglasses

The boys had a great day at Universal Studios. (Bob and I watched all of the Harry Potter movies before our trip, so he loved Harry Potter World!)

man standing in front of hogwarts at Universal Orlando

Bob’s Baylor Pullover (Similar) | Bob’s Baylor Cap | Bob’s Sunglasses

Yes, Bob is very big on repping his Baylor Bears! 😂

Day 4 – Magic Kingdom

four adults in front of cinderellas castle on a multi-generational disney trip

Cinderella’s iconic castle is definitely the center of things at Magic Kingdom! As you can see, it’s beautiful day or night!

This was our longest day! We stayed from rope drop until the park closed. Walt Disney World is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year (hence the big “50” in the middle of the castle).

people on the splash mountain ride at walt disney world

We rode Splash Mountain twice because it’s my favorite Magic Kingdom ride! As you can see, Weston and Sarah were in the front and they covered up with ponchos. I’m the one in the second row that looks like a ghost! I didn’t want to get my face and hair wet, so I put my windbreaker on backward and pulled the hood over my face! 😂 We all did a Baylor Sic ‘Em on the way down the big drop!

woman wearing black disney tee with polka dot minnie mouse with red bow sitting on a fence in frontierland at disney's magic Kingdom

Polka Dot Minnie Mouse Shirt | Red Long Sleeve Tee | So Slimming Girlfriend Ankle Jeans | Sneakers | Kate Spade Minnie Mouse Earrings (37% off right now!) | Sunglasses

My other favorite ride in Magic Kingdom is Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin. We also rode that twice. You rotate your car and shoot at targets on the screens on the walls. We were a very competitive group! Somehow I came in last place both times!

couple on the buzz lightyear ride during a multi-generational disney trip

Day 5 – Animal Kingdom

I love Animal Kingdom! The landscaping is absolutely gorgeous and I find it so relaxing and beautiful.

Louis Vuitton-Inspired Tee (Your choice of color.) | Khaki Long Sleeve Tee | Similar High Waist Khaki Ankle Jeans | Similar Tan Sneakers | Acetate Earrings

Until Disney adds a few more attractions to this park, know that Animal Kingdom is one that you can probably do in a half-day. We did! When we were there, the big Expedition Everest roller coaster was closed for refurbishment, so that made it even easier for us. We had to catch a plane home that afternoon, so we purposefully put this park on our last day.

animals from the Kilimanjaro Safari in disney's animal kingdom

The Broadway-style Celebration of the Festival of the Lion King show is my favorite show at Disney, and the Kilimanjaro Safari is easily my favorite ride in Animal Kingdom. You get so close to the animals! (I snapped all of the photos above from our jeep.) Everyone else really loved the Avatar Flight of Passage ride, but that ride is too much for motion-sick-prone me!

Disney Trip Must-Haves

There are a few things you might consider stocking up on before your Disney trip! (For your convenience, I’ve put together a Disney Must-Have List on the Empty Nest Blessed Amazon page! Click HERE to see it!

Makeup

If you’re heading to a Disney Park, you’ll want to keep your makeup simple and fresh (But you’ll want to look decent because you will be taking lots of photos)! Here are the products I used:

In-Park Must-Haves

There are a few things I recommend that you bring with you when you go into the Parks. I assembled all of them in my TSA-friendly clear carry-on bag for the plane and shifted them over to my convertible backpack when we arrived.

  • Convertible Backpack – An ultra-light packable backpack that can be stuffed into its own zippered pocket for portability. We both have black ones, and I got mine monogrammed so we can tell them apart. We wash them in the washing machine in a delicates bag after every trip!
  • Everyday Superstars SPF Kit – All of our favorite SPF products are right in this one kit! I use Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40 for my face and neck, Play Sunscreen SPF 50 for my body, and Bob likes Mineral Sheerscreen SPF30.
  • Imodium – Because things can happen when you’re eating foods you’re not used to eating and you might need it. (We did!)
  • Tums – Ditto the above!
  • Gas-X – Again, things can happen when you’re eating foods you’re not used to eating and you might need it. (We did!)
  • Tylenol – From muscle soreness and foot fatigue to headaches, you might need it. (We did!)
  • Mini Hand Sanitizer – You’ll use this A LOT! (We did!)
  • Tinted SPF 15 Lip Balm – This is my favorite brand. It will add a little bit of color and it’s under $4!
  • Sunglasses Strap – Your sunglasses will be going on and off all day as you go in and out of doors, so these will come in handy! I got this multi-colored pack so I could coordinate with my outfits and also share with Bob!
  • Rain Poncho – You never know when you might need it in the unpredictable Florida weather.
  • Mini Cellphone Fan – It can get hot in the park in the afternoon, and these convenient little fans can come in handy!
  • Portable Phone Battery Charger – I used mine every day!

family of 4 adults standing in front of lush landscaping on a multi-generational disney world trip

We had an amazing time on our trip and made memories that will last a lifetime. Thanks for letting me share it with you!

Have you done a multi-generational Disney trip with your adult kids? Let me know your best tips in the comments! Also, let me know if you have any questions about anything I shared, okay?

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Suzy Mighell

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2 Comments

  1. Thank you! We are going in June as part of our 45th wedding anniversary. I’d love to hear more about the resort. That’s where we are staying too. We are only there for two days as we leave in a cruise on Monday but your post will help me get the most out of those two days.

  2. Terri,

    You are going to have such fun! We loved the beautiful Port Orleans Riverside resort! It’s a mid-tier, which is perfect if you want a nice room but plan to spend most of your time out of it! The food court is good, with Southern Louisiana-inspired cuisine. We ate dinner one night at Boatwrights, which is the sit-down restaurant at Riverside. It was highly rated and we were not disappointed. It was delish!

    You should know that the resort is HUGE and very spread out. We were at the back end, and it took 10-15 minutes to get to the front of the resort! But the fact that it is so spread out means that you don’t hear noise from other guests, so that’s a plus. Also, there are multiple bus stops at the resort, so if you’re planning to take buses to the Parks (we did), be sure to figure out which bus stop is closest to your room. I hope that helps!

    Take the boat right from the resort if you’re headed to Disney Springs. The ride is gorgeous!

    I’m so glad you asked. There was so much more I wanted to include in this post, but it was already so long, I had to edit! Please let me know if you have any other questions!

    xoxo
    Suzy

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