After months of debate its finally settled – your going to Walt Disney World. You and all 30+ of your closest family and friends. You have a moment of euphoria which is quickly replaced by the horrid reminder that YOU are the organizer of this trip.. and they are expecting YOU to handle every single detail. Don’t panic.. relax and use these 8 tips to ensure a smooth planning process and a great vacation.
1. Use the My Disney Experience App
The very first thing you want to do is to make sure that everyone in your party creates a profile and downloads the My Disney Experience Mobile App. Believe me, this is a life saver for large groups. Not only are you able to share plans with your family and friends, but you can manage your Disney Resort reservations, tickets, MagicBands and select and modify your entire party’s FastPass+ experiences. In addition you can see Character greeting locations, get wait times for attractions and showtimes for parades and fireworks! It’s like having a personal concierge in your pocket.
2. Keep Resort Options Open
This tip is one that large groups tend to overlook, but it actually plays a critical part in planing. You wouldn’t want invitees to miss out simply because the hotel selected is a bit out of their price range; you can avoid this issue simply by allowing each household in your party to stay at the resort of their choice. While it is fairly common for large parties to stay in the same resort, a better option is to give guests the choice of selecting the resort which best fits into their budget. The Walt Disney World Resort offers three tiers of hotels; Value, Moderate and Deluxe so that each member of you party can select the one that best suits them. If you still want to have some form of unity in the hotel accommodations then encourage everyone to stay at the same resort in their selected category.
3. Purchase Tickets in Advance
I honestly think this one falls under the “duh” category but it never fails; each and every time I visit a Walt Disney World park there are groups of people standing to the side waiting for members of their party to purchase admission tickets. If your party opts to not stay at a Walt Disney World Resort, you can still purchase your tickets online and print them out prior to your arrival. This saves valuable time, especially during the high season when lines tend to be exceptionally long. In addition, having your park tickets ahead of time gives you the ability to sync them to your MagicBand and select FastPass+ times to reduce your waits. So don’t waste precious time at the purchase window, buy online, save time and go!
4. When at the Parks, Split Up!
With a large party, there are sure to be varied opinions of what to do at each park. Don’t try to force an itinerary where your entire group stays together. Instead, break up and explore the parks according to shared interest. For example, those with small children might not be interested in experiencing the same attractions as teenagers. Older members of your party may prefer a slower relaxed stroll of the sights where younger ones want to pick up the pace. Disney is for everyone and everyone can enjoy it the way they deem fit. So go on, separate and have fun, you’ll see each other again, soon.
5. Book Advanced Dining Reservations
Larger parties can avoid a lengthy wait time for dining by making sure the restaurant is expecting your arrival. This allows management to alert the staff of a future large group order and will reduce the chances of overwhelming the kitchen staff – causing an extended waiting time in service. Advance notification will often afford your entire party to be seated together in a pre-planned sectioned off area at no extra charge!
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6. Avoid Causing People Congestion
Its a safe bet that your group is not the only group visiting the park that day. It’s also a fair guess that the other groups have picked a meeting place at a popular spot like Cinderella’s Castle, Spaceship Earth, etc. Don’t do this. If you have less than 10 people in your party then staking out a spot in a populated area isn’t a problem, however; larger groups will no doubt cause congestion by clogging the walkways. If you need to have a meeting time for the bus or tour event be courteous to other guests and pick a designated spot outside of the major areas away from attractions and popular routes.
7. Plan A Group Activity or Two (or a few)
Even though it is a good idea to break into smaller groups to enjoy the parks, you can still come back together to enjoy certain experiences. For example, after a day in Hollywood Studios, set a meeting time for your entire party to wait in line for Fantasmic! so you can all be seated in one section. On an off park day, you might want to take in a showing of La Nouba by Cirque Du Soleil. This is a great opportunity to slow down and bring everyone together for a magical night outside the hustle and bustle of the parks.
8. Allow Time To Venture Independently
In consideration of your party, you want to make sure you allow each household a chance to venture off and enjoy the magic independent of the larger group. The Walt Disney World Resort has so much to be explored it’s literally impossible to see it all especially if you are confined to a strict schedule. It’s a good idea to build in “freebie” days that will allow members of your party to go off and do whatever they would like for the day. They might elect to add in an extra day at Magic Kingdom or spend the day lounging poolside while others sit back and enjoy the comfort of their room. No matter the personal preference, they’ll be happy to have a day or two in their own Disney zone.
BONUS TIP: Consider planning and booking your next Disney trip with an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner you can trust like Mickey Travels. They’ll help you get the best Walt Disney World deal, share expert advice and their services are totally FREE! It’s genius!