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Tony Phoenix and Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix, editors

Golden Ears

Tips for Seniors at Disney's California Adventure

Wednesday, June 25, 2003
by Shoshana Lewin, MousePlanet staff writer

When Disney's California Adventure (DCA) opened two years ago, one of the biggest complaints was that there were not enough attractions for children.

Since then, an entire land devoted to kids has opened — and children ages 3 to 9 pay $10 less. However, guests on the other side of the spectrum — who I refer to as Golden Ears — those 60 and older — pay only $2 off the regular adult ticket price, even though most cannot ride almost the entire area of Paradise Pier.

While there isn't much that can be done about ticket prices, there are several things Golden Ears can enjoy when they visit the park. This guide will focus more on DCA as there are more attractions Golden Ears can enjoy at Disneyland.

Recently, I had the opportunity to visit DCA with my grandmother, who is in her early 70s. Here are some tips that I learned that will make your trip to DCA (or Disneyland) more enjoyable.

Be Our Guest: Hotels

Because the thought of getting up early and driving down was not very appealing, I made a reservation for the night before at a nearby hotel. I picked my grandmother up from LAX and we spent the night at the Sheraton Anaheim, the hotel off of Ball Road that looks like a castle. For a very reasonable price we had two queen-sized beds in a very large room on the first floor near the pool. If you are traveling with a Golden Ear, keep in mind the amount of walking. Try and request a room on the first floor or near the elevators on a higher floor, and if the hotel has several entrances, ask to have a room nearest one of them.

The night before, we ordered in-room breakfast so we wouldn't have to rush in the morning — or move the car back and forth. Also, if you are with a hotel chain that has a free program for members (such as Starwood or Hilton Honors), be sure to sign up prior to your stay so you can get points for future trips. It will also allow you to often check-in faster in a members' line and — in our case — receive two newspapers in the morning. Another advantage of being nearby is that if anyone wants to return to the hotel for a midday rest, you can use the shuttle then and not have to repark the car.

A Spoon of Sugar Helps the Medicine Go Down: Medications

If the Golden Ear you are with is taking any medication that need refrigeration, make sure you tell the hotel when you reserve your room. My grandmother is diabetic and needed a fridge to keep her insulin cold. I requested one that was supposed to cost around $20. When my grandmother heard the price, she told the front desk clerk that the price seemed a bit high for just one night. He agreed and — very nicely — took off the fee. That's not to say that this will happen at every hotel, but it never hurts to ask. When you get to the park, drop off any medication requiring refrigeration at the First Aid Center, located in DCA next to Mission Tortilla Factory.

The Love Bug and the Gnome Mobile: Parking

Unless you are with a Golden Ear who has a handicap sticker in the car, you will probably need to walk some distance from your car to the tram (based on where you get to park). Since I have an Annual Pass with parking privileges, I moved the car from the hotel lot to the Mickey and Friends lot. If you can to do this, it helps at the end of the day when you would rather not wait 20 to 30 minutes — based on whatever time your hotel shuttle is supposed to arrive — for a tram.

There is also the option of dropping someone off at Mickey and Friends) just tell a Cast Member and once you've dropped them off (hopefully with another family member, otherwise it probably isn't a good idea) you can park the car and meet them at the tram station.

A Whole New World: Buying Tickets

Unlike other tickets, you can only purchase senior tickets at the park. Disney doesn't advertise that it sells a senior ticket, so you need to remember to ask for it. There are also senior Deluxe and Premium Annual Passports that cost about $20 less than their adult equivalents. There is no date stamped on the ticket, so you can buy it in advance. If you do have all your tickets — and you arrive prior to DCA opening — the Grand Californian Hotel will allow you to use their entrance (which occasionally gets you into the park up to 30 minutes early) located between Napa Rose and the Eureka Springs Spa. However, if you need a wheelchair or a locker, you might be better off at the front entrance as it is closer to those facilities.

Time for Something Sweet: Food

Before entering the park, we stopped at Whitewater Snacks and picked up a bottle of water. My grandmother also brought a small bag with raisins, some crackers and some candy in case her blood sugar dropped. When it's meal time, there are no senior menus, so it's either adult portions (and prices) or child. Some sit-down restaurants might offer half-portions if you ask.

Part of Your World: Walking, Stopping, Reading and Listening

While some Golden Ears can walk without assistance, others might require a wheelchair or Electric Convenience Vehicle (ECV). These can be rented at the main entrance on a first-come, first-serve basis. For more information on what to do if you have a wheelchair or if there is a disability that doesn't require the assistance of a walking device but does impair movement, visit Getting Around.

Even Golden Ears who don't require assistance might not be able to walk as fast as the other people in your party. If the entire party can't walk the speed of Golden Ear, have one or two people walk slower — no one wants to feel “left behind.” Understand that the Golden Ear might need to stop — and even sit down — fairly often. My grandmother was quite impressed with the number of benches, and the accessibility (and cleanliness) of the bathrooms.

If you are with a Golden Ear who has trouble seeing or hearing, inform a cast member. Many of the “show” attractions have reflective closed captioning that can be turned on if requested. For information on listening devices and Braille guidebooks, contact Guest Relations inside DCA (left side of the main entrance).

The following is a rundown of DCA attractions. Please note that opinions of attractions vary based on the limitations of the Golden Ear.

Hollywood Pictures Backlot

Disney Animation

All rooms should be no problem. My grandma really enjoyed finding her Disney personality in the Beast's Library and singing in Ursula's Grotto. Reflective captioning available in Animation Screening Room.

Hyperion Theater

Only problem might be the wait time outside prior to the show. Listening system is available.

Muppet Vision 3D

No problems. Reflective/closed captioning and listening systems are available.

Superstar Limo (when it opens again)

No problems. Captioning available

Who Wants to Be A Millionaire-Play it

No problems. Listening system is available.

Playhouse Disney

Unless a Golden Ear wants to watch his/her grandchildren enjoy this production, it might be one to skip.

Golden State

Golden Dreams

No problems. Reflective captioning and listening systems are available.

Golden Vine Winery/Seasons of the Vine

Bring a jacket if you see the movie as they keep the barrel room at 50 F. Reflective captioning is available.

Mission Tortilla Factory/ Boudin Bakery

No problems, but guests who have trouble hearing might have trouble with the video presentation at the bakery.

Grizzly River Run

Anyone with back or neck injuries, or anyone who doesn't enjoy sharp turns and sudden drops should not ride this.

Redwood Creek Challenge Trail

Much climbing involved, guests who don't wish to climb may enjoy the wilderness trails.

Soarin' Over California

Guests who have motion sickness or fear of heights could be aggravated on this attraction. This is a favorite of both grandmothers. Preshow captioning available.

A Bug's Land

Bountiful Valley Farm

No problems.

It's Tough to Be a Bug

Creepy bugs might freak some people out. I warned my grandma about some of the special effects and even with that, this was her least-favorite attraction. If the Golden Ear in your party has heart problems, and you've been on the attraction before, you might want to let them know what to expect. Reflective captioning and listening systems are available.

Flik's Fun Fair

All rides are tame enough for any guest, however, anyone with back or neck problems might want to avoid the bumper cars.

Paradise Pier

California Screamin'

Of all the rides in the park, this is probably the least geared toward most Golden Ears. It goes upside down and includes sharp turns and sudden drops. Guests should be in very good health and free from neck and back problems. Both grandmothers saw this attraction from afar and said there was no way they would go on it — even if their life depended on it.

Golden Zephyr

Only a problem for those who experience motion sickness or fear of heights.


Guests should be in very good health and free from neck and back problems and have no problems with height as you are launched 180 feet in the air.

Jumpin' Jellyfish

Since it only goes up 40 feet, it is perfect for those who refuse to ride the Mailboomer.

King Triton's Carousel

No problems. Riders have choice of aquatic animals or a bench.

Mulholland Madness

This Mad Mouse ride has sharp turns and stops. Guests should be in very good health and free from neck and back problems. One grandmother liked it, the other would not ride.

Orange Stinger

Spinning swing ride. Those who suffer from motion sickness probably shouldn't ride.

Sun Wheel

Ferris wheel where you have a choice of swinging cars or regular cars. Those who have motion sickness problems should ask for a regular car.


…Overall, Golden Ears can enjoy their time at DCA, although based on the amount of attractions he or she goes on, it might not take the entire day to see everything. But, by knowing before you go, you can make the most of your $45, and have a great family trip.




Getting Around

Hollywood Pictures Backlot

Golden State

Paradise Pier


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