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
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
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
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
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.
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.
Unless a Golden Ear wants to watch his/her grandchildren enjoy this production,
it might be one to skip.
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
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
A Bug's Land
Bountiful Valley Farm
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Spinning swing ride. Those who suffer from motion sickness probably shouldn't
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.
Hollywood Pictures Backlot
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