Considering taking your family to Disney World, but worried about the size of your party? Don’t stress! I’ve got a few tricks to help you. Check out these 11 awesome tips for tackling Disney World with a large family.
Big family vacations are SO much fun, and they always turn out as the most memorable trips. This past September, my family and I went on a huge multi-generational trip to Disney World to celebrate several birthdays and an anniversary. We had SO much fun and it was a trip I will remember forever and ever.
We had 11 people in our party (including a baby who was almost a year old), so needless to say it was definitely a completely different experience from when my husband, daughter, and I go as a family. Doing Disney World as a big group can seem very daunting at first, but it’s definitely not as hard as you think. The more people you have with you, the more memories you’ll make!
For the purpose of this post, we are going to consider groups of 5 or more adults a large group/family. If you’re looking to do Disney World with a large family but don’t know where to begin, this post will definitely help you!
Here are 11 important tips you need to know before taking a trip to Disney World with a large family:
1. Go when crowds are low
Disney World is ALWAYS busy, so it can be hard to determine on your own when crowds are lowest if you aren’t a frequent visitor. When you’re going with a large group, it will be so much easier on you if you go when crowds are expected to be low. It will be easier to stay together, and you’ll also have a better chance of getting FastPasses and dining reservations for everyone in your party. When you book your vacation with us, we can utilize our detailed crowd calendars to help predict the crowds of your desired vacation dates based on past patterns.
2. Book as early as possible
I highly recommend booking as early as possible (preferably when packages come out for the year) when you are traveling with a large family or group for many reasons. First, you’ll have more options when it comes to resorts, rooms, dining, and FastPasses because everything won’t be already booked up. If you stay on Disney property (which I highly recommend), you’ll be able to book your dining at 180 days before your arrival date and your FastPasses at 60 days before your arrival date. When you book your vacation with me, I will keep up with all of these important dates so you don’t have to! Did you know that you are able to book dining reservations at 6am EST 180 days before your arrival and FastPasses at 7 am 60 days before your arrival? It’s important that you do this so you can be sure you get the restaurants/reservation times and FastPass times that you want. But when you book with me, I get up at 6 and 7 am so you don’t have to! And I do it at no-extra cost to you.
3. Stay on property
We highly recommend that you stay on property when you are taking on Disney World with a large group because there are so many perks. First, with Disney’s free transportation that’s only offered to resort guests, it’s easy to get from your resort to the parks and from park to park in no time. Taking advantage of these modes of transportation is way better than having to load your whole group into the car and fight the traffic and parking at the theme parks. Trust me on this, we’ve been there done that! When you stay at a Disney resort, you also get extra time in the parks at no additional cost with Extra Magic Hours. These only happen on select nights and vary by park so be sure to check the Disney World calendar for your dates to see specific times of the EMH. Also, if you’re a Disney resort guest, you can take advantage of the dining plan which can save you a lot of time and money on dining in and around the parks (especially when traveling with a big group). Disney World also launches several promotions throughout the year for on-property guests that you can take advantage of, even after you’ve already booked your vacation package! When you book with us as your travel agents, we keep up with all of the promotions for you and if there are any that are available and applicable to your package, we automatically adjust your reservation to give you the best price (and again, at no extra charge to you). There are many more benefits to staying on Disney property, but these are just a few and they are so worth it.
4. Do you want to stay in one room together or do you need your space?
Depending on the size of your party, you all may be able to fit in one resort room. Disney offers a variety of room sizes, amenities, and price ranges to fit everyone’s needs.
A standard Disney hotel room can fit up to 4 adults. There are some standard rooms at moderate resorts that can fit up to 5 adults. Disney also has family suites in every resort category (value, moderate, deluxe, and deluxe villas). These usually fit up to 6 adults, but there are suites and villas that can accommodate up to 8 or 9 adults. There are 1, 2, and 3 bedroom villas that are available in the deluxe and deluxe villa category and would be perfect for the families who would like to all be together in one room and/or need more amenities such as a kitchen, laundry facilities, or multiple bathrooms.
If you are willing to be separated and/or don’t need as many amenities, you could reserve several standard or preferred rooms and request to be close together. Disney can never guarantee that you’ll have connecting rooms or even rooms that are close together, but it never hurts to ask! If it is important to you, they will do their best to accommodate you.
5. Take advantage of My Disney Experience
Believe me when I say that it is impossible to manage and organize a Disney World vacation without a My Disney Experience account! This is an account that you can use with a phone app and is literally the heart to every single plan you make during your Disney vacation. This is where you will manage your account balance, your resort reservation and tickets, your dining reservations, your FastPasses, Memory Maker, and much more. It’s even more useful when doing Disney World with a large family! You can link your My Disney Experience accounts together and see plans for the entire family/group. So for example, if you have an MDE account and your sister in law has an MDE account, you can link them in the “Family and Friends” section. After the accounts are connected, you will be able to make and see plans for the whole group as well as make plans for your own family. This makes it a ton easier on large groups to keep up with all of the important events and reservations without calling each other every 5 minutes to confirm.
6. Use FastPasses as efficiently as possible
If you are new to all things Disney World and aren’t sure what a FastPass is, let me explain. A FastPass is completely free and helps significantly cut down your time waiting in lines. Guests with a FastPass have special entrances to attractions which lets them get on faster with minimal wait times. You can reserve up to three FastPasses for one park in one day in advance. It is important you reserve your FastPasses in advance to ensure you are able to get the rides you want (otherwise they will get taken quickly). Once you have used all three of your reserved FastPasses, you may reserve one at a time at a FastPass kiosk located in the parks.
When you are traveling with a large group, FastPasses are absolutely vital. If you want to avoid wasting your day by standing in crazy long lines, you need to know how to use your FastPasses efficiently and wisely. When you book your vacation with us, we will give you our best tips on how to utilize FastPasses to your advantage and maximize your time in the parks. We will even reserve your passes for you if you’d like!
7. Plan out your days with a plan that will suit everyone (but be flexible!)
When you have a large family or group, it can seem almost impossible to make sure that everyone feels included and gets to do at least some of what they want on their vacation. But I promise it isn’t impossible! Disney World is a big place with endless things to do and something for every single guest. You definitely don’t have to (and don’t need to) try and do every single attraction, ride, or show, but you can make room in your vacation plans to cater to everyone in your party. With the proper plan, it is easier than you think!
When you’re in the planning stages, have a meeting with everyone in your party. Discuss what you all want to do, what you don’t want to do, and what you absolutely MUST do. If you haven’t booked your vacation yet, figure out vacation dates that will give you plenty of wiggle room to fit it all in. Be sure to be mindful of each individuals needs and plan accordingly. But also make sure that you are flexible. Things come up, and you need to be prepared and realize that probably not every thing will go as planned on your vacation. And that’s okay!
8. Don’t be afraid to split up and do your own thing
Sometimes, it’s just not in the cards (or budget) for your whole party to get to do everything you want. In that case, don’t be afraid to split up into groups occasionally and have everyone do their own thing. You can always meet back up for dinner later and tell each other all about your adventures!
9. Plan for everything to take longer
One of the things that my family and I weren’t prepared for when we went on our vacation as a big group is how long it would take us to get to one attraction to another, or one dining reservation to another. When you are tackling Disney World with a large family, it can be difficult to get everyone moving at the same time. It never fails – someone either has to go to the bathroom (even though another person just went 10 minutes ago), the crowds get heavier, or you run into someones favorite character. It just happens! So when you’re in the planning stages, make sure you allot extra time for every activity because it will take longer than it would normally take with a smaller group or a single family.
10. Get Memory Maker
With so many people to fit in the camera frame, it can be hard to get all of you together in one picture. That’s why you should absolutely get Memory Maker! This is a service that Disney offers to help get everyone in the picture. There are cast members in several different areas of each park (and also dining locations) waiting to take your family’s picture. All you have to do is scan your MagicBand and the photos will download right to your My Disney Experience app on your phone! It’s $169 to add this onto one reservation, but I’ll let you in on a secret. Only one person in your party really needs the Memory Maker because once the photos download to their app, they can share them with anyone they would like. This is what we did on our last trip and it worked just fine.
The cast members are so much fun and will take as many shots as you’d like (reasonably of course). They also can add amazing magical “add ons” to your photos – which I love! Here are a few from our past trips. We get it every single time we go and we highly recommend that you do too!
11. Don’t stress and HAVE FUN!
A lot of families stress themselves out trying to have the “perfect” Disney vacation. Which is very easy to do! But you can’t stress yourself out trying to do everything, especially when you’re traveling with a large family. You just have to take every moment as it comes and cherish the time you have with one another. Just have FUN!