It takes careful planning to make the most out of your group’s trip to the ultimate family travel destination
There’s so much to do at Walt Disney World that any vacation to the Central Florida resort requires solid preparation if you want your visit to be low-stress and full of happy memories. If you are organizing a multigenerational visit to Disney World with extended family, there are certain aspects of the planning process that you’ll want to pay particular attention to.
You’ll need to choose a hotel that will be comfortable for your party and find out which rides are on your family’s must-do list, among other things. Here are six tips for multigenerational Disney World vacations that will help you have a magical time at The Most Magical Place on Earth.
Choose the right tickets
Disney World offers multiple ticket options. If your family isn’t particularly fast-moving, you may not need to pay extra for the Park Hopper option that lets you access multiple parks per day. If you think your family will want to spend time together outside of the theme parks, you can add the Water Park and Sports Option that gets you into Disney’s water parks, golf courses and miniature golf courses.
Set up Disney’s app before your trip
The My Disney Experience app is a must-have for any Disney World vacation, but it can be even more helpful when you are traveling with friends or extended family.
Before your visit, have everyone with a smart device download the app and set up an account and link their tickets (this should happen automatically if you book directly through Disney). Then follow these instructions to link your accounts so you can make plans together and share them with everyone at your party.
You can use Disney’s app to make dining reservations and mobile food orders, see wait times and showtimes, look up maps to help navigate the park, and see your PhotoPass photos taken around the parks and on select attractions when you purchase Memory Maker (which you really should do so you don’t miss out on all those family photos).
You can also set up individual MagicMobile Passes for everyone in your party that they can use for contactless entry into Disney World’s theme parks and if you are staying at one of Disney’s onsite hotels, you can use the app to unlock your hotel room door.
The Disney Genie service, which includes a complimentary trip-planning feature and paid skip-the-line options, requires the My Disney Experience app, too. With your entire party linked in one place, you’ll all be able to see your custom itinerary and make Lightning Lane reservations.
Make a daily game plan
When parents, kids, and grandparents visit Disney World together, everybody is going to have different priorities. Before your trip, find out everybody’s “Disney wish list.” What are the attractions, restaurants, characters, activities and parades or fireworks that are most important to them?
Make a list of these must-dos and use them to build a loose itinerary based on which parks you plan to visit each day. The key word here is “loose.” You don’t want to pack the day so full that you feel like you’re rushing from place to place with not a minute to spare.
It’s also helpful to build in breaks throughout the day or to designate specific times to meet up throughout the day. This gives everybody time to do their own thing or take a nap without any confusion about when or where you’ll get back together.
Make advance dining reservations
The most highly-coveted Disney World dining reservations get snatched up almost the minute they become available. If your kids have their heart set on dining inside Cinderella Castle at Cinderella’s Royal Table or if you want to take your parents who grew up on the original Star Wars films to Oga’s Cantina, you’ll need to make your reservations ahead of time.
Currently, advance dining reservations can be made up to 60 days before your visit. If you are staying onsite, you can make reservations for the entirety of your visit at the 60-day mark. If you are staying offsite, you’ll have to make reservations day by day.
Making reservations in advance is smart when you are traveling as a large group. The larger your party, the tougher it can be to secure dining reservations. There are plenty of quick-service dining options that don’t require reservations, but if you have specific sit-down restaurants in mind, it’s best to make reservations in advance. Dining reservations also serve as built-in meet-up points should your group choose to split up for part of the day.
Choose the right hotel
Disney World resort hotels have various options that are better suited for multigenerational vacations. The Family Suites at Disney’s All-Star Music Resort and Disney’s Art of Animation Resort are both budget-friendly options that sleep up to six guests. If you are looking to splurge, many of Disney’s deluxe resorts have one-, two-, and three-bedroom villas to accommodate all family sizes.
For all the comforts of home at surprisingly reasonable prices, you may also want to look outside of Disney’s onsite resort hotels. The Grove Resort & Water Park is less than 15 minutes away from Disney World and has two- and three-bedroom condos with full kitchens and laundry facilities. WorldMark Reunion offers large three-bedroom suites that sleep up to eight guests, a spa, water park and three golf courses, all less than 10 miles from Disney.
Give everyone some kid-free time
If you are traveling with young children, you can use your multi-gen Disney vacation as an opportunity to take a date night or spend a few hours going on the “big kid” rides that your kids aren’t quite tall enough for. To say thank you, parents can give grandparents a bit of kid-free time to explore at their own pace or have a romantic evening of their own.
From where to stay, where to dine, and how to plan out your days, you’ll be your family’s Fairy Godmother when you use these tips for planning your multigenerational Walt Disney World vacation.