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Beacon Senior News

Surviving Disney with the grandkids: Disney expert offers advice for planning the ultimate vacation

May 29, 2018 09:21PM ● By Jan Weeks

The grandkids beg, wheedle and whine: “Grandpa, I wanna go to Disney World!”

Where they imagine princesses, thrill rides and suitcases full of mouse ears and T-shirts, visions of crowded flights, dollars flying out of your wallet and placating exhausted little ones dance through your head. What to do? Sign up for Megan Englund’s class, “Your Ultimate Guide to Planning a Magical Disney Vacation.”

Englund is no stranger to theme parks, either as a Certified Disney Planner or as a guest.

“I’ve been going to Walt Disney World and Disneyland since I was a child,” she said. “We took my daughter on her first Disney adventure when she was 16 months old.”

Disney WorldIt’s obvious that Englund loves experiencing and teaching others how to make the most out of a theme vacation.

In her classes, Englund shows adults, especially seniors, how to plan and take trips that everyone will enjoy. She personalizes the class by meeting with learners afterward to find out what they want out of the trip and offers advice based on their wishes. She’ll even give them a free quote.

“As an authorized Disney vacation planner, I can help with booking their trips, giving them notice of sales and special promotions, as well as customized packing lists and other suggestions,” she said.

And there is no fee to use her services.

“When I help plan a trip for someone, it feels like I’m taking the trip, too,” she said.

Disney World Resort is made up of several different theme parks, including Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and Epcot Center.

Disneyland and Disney California Adventure are two neighboring parks, and include themed lands that are included in the price of admission, such as Disneyland’s Main Street, U.S.A., Tomorrowland, Mickey’s Toontown and Adventureland, and California Adventure’s Hollywood Land, Grizzly Peak and Pacific Wharf. So many choices, so little time! It’s easy to move from fun to overwhelming.

Englund takes you back to fun by showing you how to navigate the immense parks and keep your sanity.

“It’s important to know your kids’ limits,” she said. While it’s possible to take toddlers and younger children, it’s a lot of stress on adults to keep track of them. It’s more fun if they’re somewhat self-sufficient, she said, which they usually are when they’re at least 10 years old.

Disney WorldSome of Englund’s helpful suggestions include buying a fast pass at Disney World, which lets you skip lines on three rides per day per park; go during cooler weather, usually between November and February; and prepay for dining at any restaurant in the park. She also recommends making plans ahead of time instead of just showing up and hoping for the best. The most important tip she offers is for adults and children alike to take time off in the afternoon to go back to the hotel, nap, have some food, recoup energy and perhaps take a dip in the pool.

She also has a lot of money-saving tips, such as asking for free ice water at any of the fast food places instead of buying bottles of water, and having food delivered to your hotel by Amazon or Garden Grocers, and stocking fruit, fixin’s for PBJs, and snacks in your hotel room.

“I show people how to create the perfect vacation plan that allows them to truly relax and have fun. I can help them take the headache out of planning the perfect Disney vacation,” she said.

Englund said the best thing about her job is making it possible for grandparents to take their grandchildren on a vacation that celebrates life. She said even though such a trip can be expensive, it’s worth it. She recalled working with a client who planned to leave a small inheritance and decided instead to make memories with his grandchildren.

Money goes quickly, but memories last forever.

Your Ultimate Guide to Planning a Magical Disney Vacation

The cost to take Englund’s class is $29. To sign up for any of the following classes or for more information, call Western Colorado Community College at 255-2600 or visit www.coloradomesa.edu/wccc/community-education

Saturday, June 2, 9-10:30 a.m. Saturday, June 23, 9-10:30 a.m. Tuesday, July 10, 5:30-7 p.m. Saturday, July 28, 9-10:30 a.m.