We had so much fun on our first trip to Disney as a family of three that when we arrived back, we immediately started planning another trip. We looked at our finances and schedules and begin to pick a date. I did what any sane person would do and emailed the rest of the family and asked them to join us.
And that was how our October 2013 trip to Disney was born with extended family – fourteen people. At first the task of planning for that many people seemed overwhelming, especially since we were two years out. First thing I did, using the current pricing at that time, was to create a spreadsheet outlining costs at different levels. Since it was two years out, we knew that the costs would change. It just gave us a base to go by for saving.
I sent that to everyone so that we could begin making decisions. We all noticed something very quickly and very early on in the process. We all had different priorities, different budgets, different...well…everything. Instead of letting that divide us or create arguments among us here is what we did:
- We decided that we would all go to Disney the same week; however travel would be decided by the individual family, not the group. While we wanted to fly, others wanted to drive.
- We decided that we would each stay where we wanted, whether that was on property or off property or value or moderate. We would only be in our rooms to sleep so accommodations were not something that we had to “do together.”
- We decided that we would all go to the same parks each day but we did not have to stick together all of the time. We all have different aged kids with different personalities. We all know what would be best for us. We would meet for certain rides or to do certain things together, but ultimately each family decided what type of touring was best for our family.
Each family was in charge of booking their own FastPass+ appointments. There were a few rides that we rode together, but we didn’t use FP+ for those rides. Not everyone in our group had the option of FP+ and we all weren’t all on the same page on what rides were most important to us. Since we had picked a time of year that wasn’t extremely busy, wait times were never an issue for us.
- We decided that we would try to eat a few meals together during the week, but we did not have to eat every meal together. A group that large can be hard to seat. And, again, we all had different budgets. We ate a few lunches together and planned breakfast at Chef Mickey’s and one meal at Cinderella’s Royal Table. It worked out perfectly.
Using these four things, each family was able to experience Disney in their own way, on their own schedule, budget, and timeline. We were able to do things together, but not get sick of each other. There was no fighting or disagreements. We all had a really great time.
Sit down with your group and talk about the expectations for your trip. If you want to spend a little more time together, figure out a schedule that works for everyone. If you want to eat meals together, look at the restaurants as a group and decide what would work for your family or group. Talk about expectations and experiences before you leave and pretty early on in the planning process. The worst thing you can do is not voice your opinion and then be disappointed the whole trip when you aren’t getting to do what you want to do.
A Disney trip with a large group can be a very fun trip. We had a great time and hope that we can do it again. If you’ve traveled with a large group, what worked and what didn’t work for you?