This was not a trip this grandmother would have dreamed of: three days on my own in a world designed for kids and families. But as it turned out, it was really fun, even for an 80-year-old making her first trip to Disney World.
A visit to the happiest place on earth is on most peoples’ to do lists. However the trips agenda may look drastically different when you are a grandma attending for your first time. Lucky for me, a travel writer friend shard a room at the BoardWalk Inn, one of Disney’s magical luxury hotels as she attend the TravelingMom.com writers’ retreat. Its turn-of-the-century theme came to life at once in the spacious lobby with a chandelier of eight golden painted horses prancing above a miniature carousel, big overstuffed chairs, elegantly framed oil paintings, a cozy fireplace.
Initial Disney World Experiences
Off to a great grownup start with this theme, I thought, as I checked in and received my MagicBand bracelet that promised to open up the world of Disney with a swipe of Mickey’s ears. Pretty healthy grandma, that’s me; but I am “directionally challenged:” serious issues figuring out how to get from one place to another… even with a map. Especially with a map. So for me, Disney World was perfect. Just follow the big colorful signage everywhere, grab a boat or a bus and land at any destination you choose. Or walk.
“Cast Members” are everywhere so strolling alone is safe and simple EPCOT, a quick walk from the BoardWalk Inn, was a surprising beginning. Never expected to see an exotic belly dancer at Disney, but there she was, albeit modest in sleek red velvet, backed by an authentic Moroccan band.
Further down the street, I pledged allegiance to the flag with the Pipe and Drum Corp, thrilled to heavenly harmonies from a mixed vocal octet and felt patriotic during an animated history of America inside the replica of Independence Hall. Top that off with a crepe suzette served by a French-speaking damsel dishing out sweets from her sky blue booth!
Plenty of grownup enticements at Epcot, and that was just the tip of the fun at this international park. Next morning’s rain and chilly weather led to a delightful discovery inside the hotel.
BoardWalk Inn Art Gallery
A veritable art gallery filled the halls – sculptures, original prints, paintings, curios -all reflecting the theme of early American East Coast boardwalks. Title cards gave detailed information. Rain didn’t stop the covered boat from ferrying me over to the Hollywood Studios celebrating the movie’s glamour years from the 30’s and 40’s with pastel shops and buildings, vintage cafe’s, cars, neon signs– and bottled cokes. Took the “Great Movie Ride,” 45-minutes through 3-dimensional scenes from famous movies. Surprisingly life-like those animatronic figures of stars like Charlie Chaplin, Clark Gable, Harrison Ford. Happy ending in the Land of Oz.
Grownup times at Disney World
Late lunch at the famed Brown Derby was neat, especially with a glass of chilled white wine. A very grownup time-out. Following my hunch that more art could be discovered, I sailed over to the nearby Swan and Dolphin hotels, both elegant and much larger than the intimate Boardwalk.
Particularly appealing at the Swan was the painted ceiling over the lighted swan sculpture fountain and at the Dolphin Resort, the commercial Sottil Art Gallery. No Mickey Mouse depictions here.
Numerous very grown up, upscale restaurants are in these two hotels, but I enjoyed a surprising lunch of falafel and salad at The Fountain, a ’50s style diner in the lobby of the Swan during my first trip to Disney. Delightful evening with a personal picnic on the spacious veranda of the Boardwalk and musical fireworks from my balcony! So three delightful days at Disney for a grandmother alone is just fine! But, I must admit, I did often long for my granddaughter at home in Savannah.
Syd Blackmarr used the skills she developed with 30+ years as an arts administrator influencing arts development throughout the nation into viewing Walt Disney World for her first visit, all by herself. Bottom line discovery? Way more to admire beyond all those first glances.