A Disney World trip plan for 3 generations

(Article last updated: April 14, 2016)

Lots and lots of families travel with grandparents, kids and grandkids but it can be tricky with every age group having different needs. Today, I have a plan for you to help you make plans that will appeal to everybody in the family.

Let's take a look at when to go, which hotels work best, where to eat and how to tour together.

Step 1: Pick your dates

Although you may be bound to school schedules, be sure to consider temperatures, especially when older family members are on the trip. If your school's spring break happens to be scheduled separate from when Easter falls, think about visiting then when the temperatures are cooler.

Use my crowd calendar to help you pick a date.

Step 2: Choose where to stay

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There are so many different possibilities for places to stay. Here are some good options that work well for groups:

  • Ft. Wilderness campground - you can rent a cabin, bring an RV, or camp in a tent at Ft. Wilderness campground. I love this option for large families due to the activities that are available (horseback riding, campfires, etc.), having 2 dinner shows located here (Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue and Mickey's Backyard BBQ) and the ability to kind of get away from the hustle and bustle of Disney to spend time together.
  • Art of Animation suite - if your group has 6 people or less, a suite at Art of Animation might be ideal since it has 3 beds, 2 full bathrooms and a kitchenette. The theming is very colorful and immersive which kids love and grandparents may enjoy getting to see the little ones having so much fun in that environment.
  • Beach Club (or any Boardwalk-area resort) - one of the reasons I love the Boardwalk area resorts so much is that it feels like there are things going on even when you aren't in the parks. This is especially nice when you have so many different ages in a group. Little ones will love the pools, adults will love Jellyrolls piano bar, and everybody will love the entertainment available on the Boardwalk and riding surrey bikes
  • Preferred rooms at Pop Century are a fantastic option for budget-minded groups (especially if one person is paying the bill) but I suggest booking Preferred Rooms to save on walking
  • For people wanting to stay off-site, I like using VRBO.com for condo and house rentals. You can get a lot of space, cook some of your own meals and maybe even have your own pool this way.

Tip: if you're staying at a hotel in multiple rooms, I suggest calling Disney and having them link give you a "travel with" number which will link your reservations, and allow your rooms to be assigned before other people, increasing your chances of having rooms close together.

Step 3: Make a daily plan

As you plan where you'll be each day, consider including these in your plans:

  • Think about hiring a sitter and enjoying an adults-only evening (get tips on doing that)
  • If grandparents are up for it, have them stay with the kids while doing more intense rides or staying out later

Step 4: Decide where to eat

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I always recommend that people decide where they'll eat after figuring out where they'll be each day. Here are some places that often please people of all ages.

  • Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue - this is a dinner show located at Ft. Wilderness with corny humor and home-cooked food served family style. I'd recommend doing this at the end of an Animal Kingdom or Magic Kingdom day.
  • Prime Time Cafe - at Hollywood Studios, this restaurant which looks right from the 1950s is fun for seniors as it looks like the kitchens they grew up in, plus it's fun for everybody because the wait staff is ornery and the food is good (we like the sampler that allowed you to try a little bit of each main entree)
  • Chef Mickey's - a fun restaurant located at The Contemporary, this is a great place for everybody to enjoy the classic characters
  • 'Ohana - a popular option with nearly everyone, this restaurant at The Polynesian is a solid option for just about any group
  • Whispering Canyon Cafe - this raucous restaurant at Wilderness Lodge that serves food like build-your-own platters is fun for nearly everyone

Notes about group dining:

  • Many restaurants can't be booked online for larger groups so you will likely end up having to call the restaurant directly
  • An 18% gratuity is automatically added for groups of 6 or more

Step 5: Touring

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I always highly recommend that groups consider not touring together because it's really difficult to move a big group through the parks. However, if you want to tour together, I'd suggest only staying together for a part of the day (like through lunch) and then separate for the rest of the day.

Make sure your whole party is linked within your My Disney Experience accounts so that when it's time to make FastPass+ reservations, one person can make reservations for everybody.

You can use my touring plans for all 4 parks to help decide how you want to tour with your group.

Step 6: Add extra magic

There are a couple of great ways to add extra magic for groups:

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Do you have other ideas or questions on visiting with multi-generational groups? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

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16 Comments on "A Disney World trip plan for 3 generations"

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These are great tips if you are looking to go to Disney World. I’m thinking about making my way out there some time, but I haven’t quite figured out when I should go. I’ve read before that it is wiser to go during the winter months. I mean, after all, it is warm basically year-round in southern Florida.

We have done 3 trips with 3 generations (6 adults, 6 kids). To save money we get 3 rooms at Pop Century and book two of the kids with grandma and grandpa (although the kids alternate as to who really gets to sleep in the room with us). We got the Memory Maker and after 10 days, we had over 900 pictures!! It was amazing. We split up most of the time, but got together for some of the meals and for the parades and bigger shows. When the little ones were tired, someone was always glad to take them… Read more »

Hi, Shannon,

My family of 3 is planning a trip with our best friends (family of 4). Because we both have children, we are seemingly unable to link al of our accounts for fastpass+ reservations. Any suggestions on how to get around this?

All of our trips to Disney have included my parents. All generations stay at the same hotel and ask for adjoining rooms. The grandparents take one of the children with them so the other child who is older and bigger can have a bed to himself.
We have also stayed at the Windsor Hills community and shared the house.
We each pay for our own rooms and tickets and food.
They help by taking the youngest to ride his rides and we can ride the other rides with the older child.
They love experiencing the Disney adventure with the family.

Great tips. Some of these I did do (memory maker – loved it) and others I wish I had done (have the grandparents rest with the younger kids). We got too wrapped up in trying to do everything and the oldest and youngest in our group became too exhausted to enjoy much of anything those last couple of days. Bummer.

I just got back from a 4 generation trip. Great-grandmom (74) Aunt & Uncle (40s and one in a scooter), baby cousin (8), Grandmom & PopPop (50s and one in a scooter), Me and my husband and two girls (11 and 8). We ate our ADR’s together which was a mix of character meals and nice table restaurants which gave a little something for everyone but it was very rare that we toured the whole day together. The uncle and great-grandmom always needed a mid-day nap so we learned to do as much in the early morning and late evenings.… Read more »

We are planning a 4 generation trip the week after Labor day 2015. I have no idea where to begin. We will have Great grandparents (73 and 75, and Dad is in motor wheelchair), grandparents (53 and 55), daughter(23), grandson (5) and granddaughter(4). We may have more but they have no commited as of yet. I want to stay in park, free dining, character meals, the whole Disney experience for this first trip. HELP!!!!!

I am a first timer going to the world in September with 2 kids (4&2), my wife, parents, brother and friends. Total of 11 in all. I have spent a lot of time in the past 6 months trying to learn as much as possible to put together a descent plan. The big group will be at disney for a week and my immediate family plan to spend some quiet time for another week. I am working on fastpass+ plans. I am on charge of fastpasses for all. I have entered the names of everyone in my disney account. I… Read more »

We stayed at Pop Century with a party of seven (3 rooms) and ask for ajoining rooms for my mother and my brother with his family. It worked out great because the little girls got to either go to grandmas and stay overnight or have the door open to increase the space between the two rooms. My husband and I were right next door. It worked wonderfully. We did get the preferred rooms.

I am also a 73-year 0ld grandmother who just returned from Disney World with my son, daughter-in-law and twin grandchildren, age 7. We had a wonderful time, but in spite of meticulous planning with much reliance on Shannon’s website, we learned some things we would do differently next time. This trip was “my treat” so I went for the whole enchilada — 5 days at the Contemporary Resort, 5 days of park passes, Park Hopper, Water Parks Fun and more, and the Disney Dining Plan that included table service restaurants. For one, we found this was too much food, especially… Read more »

Dot – I am a 58 year old grandma and LOVE your enthusiasm. I hope I’m just as much a Disney nut when I’m your age, and just as giving to my kids and grandkids as you. We’re taking the kids/grandkids in February 2016, and your tips will help as we will have our 5 and 8 year old granddaughters with us.

If you handled all the advance electronic fast passes on your own Dot a high five to you. I am not sure I could handle all that technology by myself. When we went the end of Jan./beginning of Feb. off site visitors couldn’t get fast passes until we entered the parks. It wasn’t really bad though. The only thing that we really wanted to do that we couldn’t get a fast pass for was Soarin’. We got to see/do everything else we wanted. From the various posts and everything I have been reading on this site it seems to me… Read more »
I am the grandmother in our three generations trips to DW. We are a small party of four – me 73, my son & daughter-in-law mid 40s and my six year old granddaughter Claudia. My first DW trip was in 1976 when my late husband and I took our three children ages 11, 10 & 8 to DW which was just the MK then and we fell in love with DW. I have been back five times since then, three times an all adult trip and the last two were three generations trips. We do plan and I have gotten… Read more »
I am excited to see more info regarding grandparents trips. I am presently planning a trip for Memorial Day week 2015 (arriving on Memorial Day not visiting parks that day). Currently, the plan is Myself and husband, Son and friend, Ex-DIL and her new husband, and 2 grandsons who will be 5 & 7 then. Both son and XDIL want to be at Disney for boys first trip. Possibly Daughter, SIL and their 1 1/2 yr old daughter may go along with other Daughter and SIL. We are looking at the Windsor Hills community to rent a house for everyone… Read more »
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