Seniors at Walt Disney World: The Big 5-0 Part III

Ruth Morehart
AllEars® Guest Writer


Feature Article
This article appeared in the February 19, 2019 Issue #1013 of ALL EARS® (ISSN: 1533-0753)


Editor’s Note: This story/information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all current rates, information and other details before planning your trip.


Ruth Morehart

I’ve written two previous articles about my 50th wedding anniversary, and honestly thought that would be it! But my husband Roger surprised ME this time!

I had surprised him with a trip to Walt Disney World last year, and wrote about planning and the trip itself. I didn’t think I’d be returning to the World again for another year. But only three months after we’d returned from our March 2018 trip, Roger surprised me by asking if I had made plans for our next vacation yet. I was puzzled because it was way too early for us to think about booking for 2019. However, he said he missed the Christmas decorations and wanted to go again in December! I was floored! He has never wanted to go to Disney World twice in one year. Of course, I was immediately on board with this plan.

After making arrangements with our travel agent, we were all set for December 10-19 at Port Orleans French Quarter, our new favorite resort. We like to have our travel agent make the arrangements, as she has become a trusted friend and always finds us great deals. With our flights all set, I anxiously awaited the time for making our ADR (dining reservations) and FastPasses.

I’ve been using a "minimalist" approach to Walt Disney World plans for a while now, and it works for us for a number of reasons. Here’s what I usually do:

— We don’t use the dining plan anymore. We used to use it every trip, but, as folks with smaller appetites now, we found that we never ate all the food. We were left with lots of quick-service credits and sometimes didn’t use all our table-service credits either. It seemed to be a waste. We felt pressured to get to our dining reservations all the time, and felt we had to eat the most expensive items on the menu to get our money’s worth from the plan. Even when we weren’t hungry for the desserts, we ate them anyway. We quit using the dining plan a few years ago and we are MUCH happier. We share entrees at times, eat when and where we want, and sometimes not at all. I like to get a children’s menu entree because my appetite has shrunk. It’s fun and freeing for us to do it this way. If we had children or were foodies we would probably get the dining plan, but it’s not for us. We also save money this way and don’t feel so stuffed all the time. The best part is I get to eat ice cream every day now, because I don’t feel so full from eating all the dining plan food!

— We don’t buy PhotoPass photo packages. I take the pictures we want. If we want one together, we always find someone who is willing to take a picture for us, even PhotoPass photographers if they are not busy.

— We don’t do upcharge events/parties. There is always so much to see and do, we really don’t feel the need for them.

— We are morning people, so we get to the parks at rope drop which allows us to ride pretty much what we want and utilize our FastPasses later. After a big dinner at noon, we go back to our resort for a much-needed rest. Then we go to another park or Disney Springs, or maybe another resort in the evening. Sometimes we just stay at our resort and enjoy the amenities there.

— This time, we didn’t buy family souvenirs. We have been to Disney World so many times, the grandkids don’t need another t-shirt or whatever — besides, we have older grandchildren now. The younger ones are "picky" about what they will wear, so we don’t even try. I only bought one souvenir this time — a Christmas ornament. That’s all. So we are saving money this way, too.

We do splurge on the park-hopper option on our tickets because we like to do one park in the morning and then go to another destination in the evening. Sometimes we find the park we picked to be too crowded, it’s bad weather, or we just want to go somewhere else, so the park-hopper works for our style of touring.

For this most recent trip, when we arrived at French Quarter, we told the cast member that it was our 50th anniversary and he gave us special anniversary pins to wear. We only wore them once, though, as we felt kind of guilty since our anniversary was past. But we truly were celebrating! 

Our French Quarter room was nice and clean, as always. When we got back that evening, we found a beautiful bouquet of cut flowers with a card wishing us a happy anniversary. We also had a gift box that had two champagne glasses etched with Mickey ears. During our stay we got a card from other departments, too. It was totally unexpected, but such a treat, especially since none of this had happened on our earlier anniversary visit. The cast members were fantastic this trip, and I have written to Disney’s guest services thanking them for the gifts and naming the wonderful cast members.

Weatherwise, it was COLD — and this is coming from a Minnesotan! I wore my going-home outfit of a long-sleeved t-shirt and jeans with a heavy Disney hoodie to tour the parks. I also wore my husband’s sweaters. It finally warmed up to 70 on our last day, but Brrrrr!

We always like to try a few new things every trip, and this time we tried two new restaurants.

For our anniversary dinner, we went to the Boathouse at Disney Springs. Wow, I can only say it was the best meal I’ve ever had. The steak was perfection, as was the service. We were too full for dessert, but I got one anyway. It was cheesecake and fantastic. I would highly recommend this restaurant to anyone.

The next is a restaurant that usually gets bad reviews. Our daughter and son-in-law love this restaurant so we tried it — Tony’s Town Square in the Magic Kingdom. We were pleasantly surprised by the quality of the food. I had chicken parmesan and it was delicious, cooked to perfection with a great red sauce. My husband (who does not try anything new) had the spaghetti and meatballs and found it to be really good. Every dish, from salad to dessert, was great. I mentioned this to the server and he told me they got a new chef about six months prior and had been getting a lot of compliments on his dishes. I’m so glad we didn’t pay attention to the reviews and tried Tony’s. We will go here again next trip!

Another new experience for us was Caring for Giants. I know — I said we didn’t do extra paid events, but I love elephants and it only cost $30 each, a real bargain for Disney. It lasted about an hour and was fun and informative — well worth the price!

I have to say that this was the best time we have had at Disney, ever! The cast members were great, the food fantastic, the resort lovely as always. This was an unexpected visit to our favorite place that we will never forget.

Thank you for coming along on our 50th anniversary trips — ALL of them!


Also by Ruth Morehart for AllEars®:

Seniors at Walt Disney World: The Big 5-0! Part I

Seniors at Walt Disney World: The Big 5-0! Part II

WDW from a Senior’s Viewpoint

Seniors at WDW: Senior Slow-Down

Seniors at WDW: What Walt Disney World Means to Us

Seniors at WDW: Special Non-Ride Moments

Seniors at WDW: A Trip with Minimal Planning

Seniors at WDW: Thrills Not Just for Kids

Seniors at WDW: Who’s Afraid of Technology?

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Ruth Morehart is a retired nurse who has been visiting Walt Disney World since her son and daughter (who are now in their 40s with children of their own) were young. Despite her fibromyalgia, Ruth enjoys staying active, crocheting, reading, walking, and especially quilting — she creates quilts for the Quilts of Valor program for wounded soldiers. Her unofficial hobby is her obsession with Walt Disney World, which inspired her to write about seniors visiting the theme parks in the hopes of helping others enjoy Disney, too.