Walt Disney World with Extended Families

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Going to the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida is a wonderful place to hold a family reunion type of vacation.  It is someplace that really has something for everyone.  Whether you are travelling with babies, toddlers, teens, adults or seniors, you can rest assure that no one will be bored.

The first thing that you need to do is to start planning early.  A vacation of any kind takes planning but when travelling with different families and then adding that in to one large group will take time to properly organize.  Here are some organizational tips to make your extended family trip a success:

1.  Set a date(s) for your trip and get everyone in agreement on it.  Many people will have to coordinate their work schedules around a vacation or school schedules around a vacation.  Be in discussion with your group from the get-go as to when this trip is going to take place.

2.  Have all of your financial information ready so that you can answer questions.  If you are the one coordinating this adventure, make sure that you know all of the facts and figures before talking to anyone.  For example, you may have a package price of say $1,500 per a family of four.  But what does that include?  Are meals included?  What about park tickets?  Are there any other incidentals that people should know about?  Make sure that you mention that each family should set a budget for souvenirs – you’d be amazed at how many people don’t.  No matter how minute the detail, make sure you give it to everyone.

3.  Book through a travel agent.  There is no price difference when booking a trip yourself or through a travel agent when booking a Disney vacation.  The perk to booking with an agent is that they will continue to search for the best deal for you.  For example:  If you book your trip at the $1,500 per family of four and pay extra for the dining plan but then a special comes up for free dining, your travel agent will adjust your package for you so that you get that deal!  Granted, several specials can come up over the course of your trip planning and you will only be able to utilize one of them, but your travel agent will make sure that you get the absolute best deal.  I highly recommend The Magic for Less!

4.  Make a plan for your actual time in Disney.  Plan on what days you are going to be in which parks and book your dining reservations as soon as they allow you to.  You have to go to Disney with a plan to begin with because there is so much to do and see and in order to do all that you want and get the most for your money, you have to plan.  But along those lines, do not try and do everything together as a group.  Make times to meet up and maybe eat together, but do not try to go everywhere, everyday together.  That will get old quick and you will end up being miserable.  If you are all staying at the same hotel/resort, you will have more than enough family time.  But once in the parks, spread out for a bit and meet up at meal time to discuss your day.  But make sure to take advantage of the Disney photographers and get some great pictures of your group before breaking up!

5.  Keep everyone up to date and excited during the planning period.  Try sending out monthly newsletters to everyone.  Be sure to include information on restaurants, shows and favorite rides to get everyone in the planning state of mind for their own individual families.  Recommend guide books that they should read and encourage everyone to order the free vacation planning DVD that Disney sends out.

6.  Arrange your arrival times close together.  Whether you are driving or flying to Orlando, try and arrange it so that you are arriving close together.  Families flying in can meet up at the airport and ride the Magical Express together, whereas families driving in can arrive and possibly do all of the check in stuff for the group.

No matter when you go, or how you get there, a family get-together at the Walt Disney Resort can be a lot of fun for all ages in your group.  The key to remember is to plan, plan, plan!  The more you do in advance of your trip, the more relaxed you can be while ON your trip.

Stacey Cotrufo
The Poor Mom’s Guide to Disney

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