Over the years, I’ve had the chance to visit Walt Disney World with a number of cherished friends, family, and co-workers! I’ve traveled to Disney solo, I’ve gone with a few people at a time, and not too long ago, I traveled in a more sizeable group for the first time – there were 12 of us!
We rented Disney Vacation Club points (which was hassle-free and offered a ton of savings) and enjoyed a glorious stay at the Animal Kingdom Villas – Kidani Village.
We had an amazing time, and I learned a lot about what it is like traveling with a larger group! Today, I’d love to share my top tips for traveling with a big party.
Have a game plan in mind!
Having an organizational strategy can be very helpful in keeping things stress-free and smooth. Disney vacations can be magical; however, there can also be a lot of planning involved, especially when there are more than a few people in the equation! Having a game plan ahead of time when it comes to resort choices, restaurant locations for Advance Dining Reservations, and attraction selections for Fastpasses is something I highly suggest!
Group discussions about the different aspects of a trip are one of my favorite parts of planning vacations with my family, and help build anticipation and excitement! Lively conversations about our favorite menu items, the rides we want to experience, and new attractions we want to visit are a great bonding activity, and also help us discover exactly what kind of magic each person is hoping for during our vacation. Having even more people to join in on these fun planning sessions was a blast!
When traveling with a large group, something to keep in mind is that everyone has a different idea of what a dream vacation means. Something that has worked well for many families (including my own) is to appoint one person as a point of contact for everyone. One person takes note of everyone’s wants and needs and is then able to do their best to adapt an itinerary to cover as much ground as possible and check-off everyone’s wish lists. When it comes time to book Advanced Dining Reservations and Fastpasses, we are then prepared and ready to go with one person ready to complete the bookings for our entire group (rather than us individually scrambling like chickens with our heads cut off on the mornings when those windows open!)
Consider splitting up your party
While spending time with all of your family and friends is very important, sometimes splitting up into smaller groups (or maybe even heading off on your own for a bit) can keep happiness levels high! Giving everyone a chance to have their say and cross-off the must-dos on their list can be very challenging, and splitting up can sometimes be the perfect solution!
On my most recent trip with my extended family and friends, we had a mix of those who are thrill-seekers, and some who would much rather keep their feet on the ground.
Rather than scaring the wits out of those who don’t enjoy the more high-speed rides, or making the adrenaline junkies resentfully drag their feet through lines for slower-paced attractions, we split up into smaller groups, and each went where our hearts desired! Some spent a leisurely afternoon cruising on It’s A Small World and the Peoplemover, while the rest of us had a fantastic time rocketing through Space Mountain and plunging down into the watery depths of Splash Mountain’s briar patch!
Splitting up into smaller groups is also a great idea to consider when you are traveling with children of different ages (and heights), who may not all be able to ride or experience a specific attraction. While Disney has the child-swap program for those with little ones (which is a wonderful offering and I would suggest absolutely taking advantage if you qualify for it), splitting up into smaller groups may allow your group to get more accomplished in the time you have. This strategy can also be effective when it comes to members of your party who have opposing opinions on what may or may not be too scary or intense. Having your group break up for a bit and go experience the attractions and rides that interest them the most can keep everyone happy and entertained!
Explore different resort and room type options
Splitting up a large party can also be an idea to consider when booking your resort accommodations. Some groups prefer to stay together in a bigger villa size, while some others prefer to book multiple rooms, so they have their own dedicated space. For me, having a bit of room to myself and some quiet time is important; however, spending precious quality time with my family is also a priority.
On this particular trip with my family, we had one smaller party of 5 stay in a studio (with the youngest being 2 years old), and the rest of us bunked up together in a Two Bedroom villa. For those of us staying in the Two Bedroom Villa, we chose to take advantage of the “lock-off” villa layout, which combines a One Bedroom villa and Studio villa together to make the larger Two Bedroom space. Having a room type that could still be somewhat divided was ideal for our party, as we had a combination of not only children and adults but also early-risers and night owls. Those of us adults who spent more time out in the evenings were able to stay in the Studio section of the lock-off villa, which has its own entrance/exit door, as well as the additional kitchenette area (the Two Bedroom villas will also have a full kitchen in the central living space) which was handy for nibbling on those midnight snacks without disturbing the rest of our group who were sleeping soundly in the other areas of the villa.
Every family’s preferences are different, and there are some who prefer to split their travel group into smaller parties in separate villas, perhaps even at different resorts! The Disney Vacation Club offers a multitude of room sizes, and having such a variety to choose from makes Disney destinations a wonderful vacation option for larger groups!
Remember that patience is a virtue!
We all want our Disney vacations to be full of smiles and magic and happiness; however, in my experience, this is much easier to achieve when I pack a little extra patience in my park bag! This is even more true when your travel party is on the larger side.
Some people may want to attend more shows, while others want to focus on the rides. Some folks might be getting hangry while others are still full from breakfast. Everyone’s ideal vacation looks a little different. A sizeable travel group may also be more challenging for Cast Members when it comes time for ride seat assignments. A patient smile and compromise can often go a long way in these situations!
In the future when you’re looking back fondly at a photo of the whole family beaming in front of Cinderella Castle, or laughing until your cheeks hurt reminiscing at the faces everyone made on the Tower or Terror, it will all be worth it!
Overall, I’ve learned that a Disney trip with a large group is definitely big on fun! Personally, my mindset is ‘the more, the merrier,’ and being able to share so many amazing experiences with family and friends is well worth the extra planning time! Strengthening bonds, enjoying quality time together, and creating magical memories are definitely experiences I hope everyone has the chance to enjoy!