(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.
In this article
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
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
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
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:
- Book a fireworks cruise - you can make a reservation for a fireworks cruise for Wishes or Illuminations for up to 10 people
- Purchase Memory Maker - pre-purchase the Memory Maker photo package and your whole group can get photos added to the same account and then you can download them after you get home
Do you have other ideas or questions on visiting with multi-generational groups? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments.