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Briana’s large family trip to Disney World – PREP 385

Briana’s large family trip to Disney World – PREP 385

Briana traveled to Walt Disney World with 11 people in her family ranging in age from 5 years old to 70-something. This multi-generational trip was based at Saratoga Springs. They visited each theme park, spent time at Disney Springs, and some in their party played a round of golf. Listen for tidbits about shipping souvenirs, how to use the DAS pass at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, and a lesson Briana learned early in the trip.

Post trip begins: 45 minutes

The Basics

With such a large traveling party, there were a lot of things to consider with this group! Briana was the planner for this group that included her sister, brother in law, and their boys ages 5 and 3, Briana’s husband and their three kids ages 13, 11, and 5, and Briana’s parents.

They traveled from their home in New York (where they all live) November 4-12th. This trip was a dream for their family, especially her father and they chose to go during this time of year due to school schedules.

Briana has a special diet and is allergic to peanuts and tree nuts. She has to avoid gluten and dairy. In addition, they will be utilizing the Disability Access Service.

Everyone has been before with the exception of Briana’s nephews. Briana’s parents paid for everyone’s airfare, rental cars, and park passes. The hotel is covered because they are DVC members. They have one contract between the three families and saved points to be able to get 3 one-bedroom rooms at Saratoga Springs.

Saratoga Springs wasn’t their first choice but they had to postpone their trip from May. The Grand Floridian was their first choice and where they were booked when the trip was in May. 

They waited on the waitlist for a while before changing and missed out on other options. They aren’t excited about the transportation of Saratoga Springs, which is why they rented minivans. 

Briana and her husband worked together to get dining reservations. She had a dry erase board with what they wanted and the order of what they wanted. They broke the reservations into two groups – a party of 5 and a party of 6 for nearly all of their reservations.

Arrival (November 4)

Briana’s family had planned to travel together to the airport, but at the last minute her sister and brother in law had a pet-sitting change, so they changed some things.

They had a sprinter van for all of them to get to the airport. Briana’s family of 5 was picked up first and then they went one town over to get her sister and family. 

On the way to her sister’s house, Briana realized she forgot her coat. She started going over her lists to see what else she was missing. Because she was responsible for the whole group, she forgot her own things – like her coat.

Briana’s parents were at her sister’s house to help with her kids and they loaded up to get to the airport. Her brother in law was driving to meet them at the airport. 

They have a later flight – at 5 p.m. and they arrived with plenty of time at 2 p.m. The adults all have TSA pre-check which was wonderful. They went right to security and went to a play area in the airport. This was helpful for the little ones to get some wiggles out.

The adults took turns purchasing dinner for when they got on the airplane. Briana brought her own food and got a salad at the airport due to her dietary restrictions. 

The flight was uneventful and they arrived in Orlando. However, when they arrived at MCO they had some trouble getting to Disney. 

All of the rental car lines in Terminal C were very long and the kiosks weren’t working. They didn’t have a choice but to wait in line. 

They finally got their rental cars. Briana helped install the carseats in the cars. It took about 3 hours from the time they landed until they arrived to their rooms at Saratoga Springs.

They had done online check-in but still did not receive their room assignments when they left New York, which was after 4 p.m. It was bedtime and they were ready to get to the rooms. 

Even after they landed, only two of the rooms had been assigned. Briana’s family finally got her room assignment as they were on the way to Saratoga Springs.

She used Touring Plans to make room assignments. They requested building 11 but they were on the opposite side of the pool. Each family had a 1 bedroom suite and they were all next to each other on the ground floor. 

Magic Kingdom (November 5)

Their goal was to leave at 10 a.m. and they got in the cars around 10:20 a.m. They had a mobile ordered breakfast at Captain Cook’s. They were told that they would either need to cancel their order or park at the TTC. Briana asked about going on a DVC tour and they were told that because they are DVC owners, they had access.

They had an Amazon Fresh order held at Bell Services early that morning. Briana and her sister drove over to get the order and brought it back. 

They got their mobile order for breakfast at Captain Cook’s before taking the monorail to the Magic Kingdom. Their first ride was Magic Carpets of Aladdin. At the same time, they made a DAS return time for Haunted Mansion

They used their Haunted Mansion return time and then went to Country Bears Jamboree. Their next stop was to use a DAS return time for Pirates of the Caribbean

They went to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad next and they stopped around 3 p.m. for their Be Our Guest reservation. They checked in early in order to see if they could be seated together. They were seated at a table for 4 and a table for 7. 

After their meal, they went to their Seven Dwarfs Mine Train DAS return time. Everyone went on this – even the little ones! 

There wasn’t a wait for Tomorrowland Speedway so they did that next and then walked right in for Monsters, Inc Laugh Floor. After that, it was almost time for their Tron return time. 

While they waited for Tron, they used Rider Switch for Space Mountain. While the first group was on Space Mountain, everyone else was supposed to go on the PeopleMover but it was down, so they just wandered. 

When they all got to ride Space Mountain, they went to Tron. They used the DAS and were able to go through the lightning lane line. When they got off, they watched the fireworks from Storybook Circus and the bridge near Tron

They had an advanced selections for DAS for Peter Pan’s Flight. After that, they rode it’s a small world. That was the end of their night. 

Hollywood Studios (November 6)

Briana and her family plus her dad left around 8:30 a.m. for their  9:45 a.m. for all three kids to make light sabers at Savi’s Worshop. When they entered the park they got DAS return times for Rise of the Resistance

Briana's kids with lightsabers

They checked in at Savi’s Worshop early. This was the birthday present for Briana’s children. They did some photos with the light sabers after that. 

Briana’s son wanted to bring the light sabers on Rise of the Resistance. When they got off the ride, the rest of their group met up with them at Galaxy’s Edge. They did split up a bit and Briana’s husband and son took their light sabers back to the resort.

They stopped for some snacks and waited for the rest of the group to finish up at Muppets*Vision 3D. Then they used their DAS return time for Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway

They brought a cooler into the park with uncrustables and waters, which was very convenient. While they took a snack break, Briana went to a blue umbrella to combine some DAS return times. 

Cast members worked with them on Toy Story Mania and they were all able to ride together with two different DAS return times. Then they went to Star Tours. Some got motion sick after it, which was a little rough. 

Briana's family at Hollywood Studios

Their next stop was Slinky Dog Dash. They went on that right before their 3 p.m. reservation at Round Up Rodeo. They arrived a bit early to see if they could be seated together. However, they were told that it would be a very long wait, so they declined. 

They were seated in two separate groups. They were in the same room, but not very close together. They like the sides and desserts, but the meat wasn’t great. 

After their meal, they went to Droid Depot for Briana’s nephews’ appointments. While they did that, everyone went shopping around the park. 

When they were done with their appointments, everyone met up for their Rise of the Resistance DAS return time. However, the ride went down and they were stuck in the Storm Trooper room. They were evacuated around the back. 

It was disappointing but they got their lightning lanes to return. By the time they got out, it was almost time for their Oga’s Cantina reservation. They were split into two tables of 5 and 6. They got standing room only and it didn’t work well for the nephews. 

Because of this, Briana’s parents, sister, brother in law, and nephews left. They ended up going to Tower of Terror where her dad got a DAS return time. They all rode together. Briana’s dad was able to book his own DAS return times. 

After that, Briana’s sister and brother in law walked on Rock N Roller Coaster while her parents had her nephews. It was getting chilly, so Briana and her kids put pants on. Rise of the Resistance was still down so they opted to use their anytime pass for Slinky Dog Dash.

They all met back up again and the rest of Briana’s family went to Rise of the Resistance because it had come back up. At this time, Briana took her family to Tower of Terror using a DAS return time. She was also able to make a DAS return time for Rock N Roller Coaster, but they didn’t get there until 9:02 p.m. so they missed it.

They made a bathroom stop and got some snacks before finding seats for Fantasmic. They weren’t sitting together because they didn’t enter together, but they did exit the park together. 

Briana considered going to Epcot for Extended Evening Hours and got a time for Cosmic Rewind. However, no one wanted to go with her, so she opted to go back to the resort with everyone. 

Rest Day (November 7)

The men and oldest boys went to Oak Tree Golf Course. Bell services brought them to the carriage house and they got a voucher for a taxi to take them to the golf course. In retrospect, they could have just walked or been dropped off at the carriage house. 

Briana, her sister, mom, and the other kids had a 11 a.m. breakfast reservation at Ale and Compass. They took both minivans to the breakfast reservation due to the carseats. They had a great meal and were all seated together. 

After their meal, they took the skyliner to Pop Century and Art of Animation. They really liked riding over the water. They went back to the resort and got into their swimsuits to spend the afternoon at the pool.

After some relaxation, they got cleaned up to go to Disney Springs. Tonight Briana’s parents had a night off to themselves at their 4:50 p.m. dinner at Jaleo. Everyone else has a reservation at T-Rex.

Before dinner, Briana and her husband needed to take their daughter to a pediatric urgent care to have staples removed. They had an appointment right at 4 p.m. when they opened. The removal was very quick and they were out in less than an hour. 

Briana’s sister and family had already checked them in. When they arrived to Disney Springs their table was ready and they were able to get right in. Briana’s nephew’s birthday was in a few weeks so she had a dessert brought to him to celebrate. 

After dinner, they went shopping. The kids had gift cards from grandparents. They spent a lot of time at World of Disney. After that they all got desserts. Briana went to Erin McKenna’s bakery to stock up for the whole week! 

That was the end of their day. 

Epcot (November 8)

The original plan was to go to Hollywood Studios and then go to Epcot, but they changed their plan because they’d done everything they wanted to do previously. 

They changed their park reservations to Epcot and spent the day there. They wanted to get in earlier and then have a mid-day break. The goal was to leave by 8 a.m. and they left at 8:30 a.m. 

As soon as they arrived, they got a DAS return time for Test Track and went to Spaceship Earth. Their next stop was Journey of Water. They had some trouble finding the entrance, so they took the long way. 

Briana's family with Moana

They really liked this and it was better than they expected. The kids enjoyed it. They also got some photos taken in there.

It was time to head back to Test Track and everyone was able to ride together. After that, they went to the Land to get some food at the food court area. 

While it was nice to have a lot of options, it took a long time to get everyone everything they needed. Briana also spilled an entire cup of tea on herself. They had a DAS return time for Soarin’ after that and everyone liked it. Then they went to Living with the Land. They noticed that the line was long, so they also used a DAS return time for that as well.

They decided to split up at this point. It would have been a good time to take a midday break but they opted not to do that because it took up so much time. The little kids stayed with them and Briana’s parents. They did the Seas while Briana and her husband and older kids took the skyliner to Hollywood Studios to ride Rock N Roller Coaster

After that, they went right back to Epcot. This was the only time that anyone from the group used their park hopper tickets. In retrospect, they would have waited to upgrade the hoppers if they needed it rather than getting it beforehand. 

They joined up with the rest of the group in France. They’d planned on going on the skyliner but somehow ended up in France. They decided to skip the skyliner and instead to go to the Mexico Pavilion. While in line for Gran Fiesta Tour the ride went down. 

They got out of line and Briana was voting to go to their return time for Cosmic Rewind. They vetoed her and opted to check in early for their reservation at  San Angel. This is a favorite for everyone.

They had a DAS return time for Frozen Ever After and then it was time to go to their Cosmic Rewind return time. They were going to do rider switch to see if Briana, her sister, and the little children would be able to ride second. 

Briana's extended family at Epcot

While in line, the ride went down and then one side went down. Because of this, her brother in law and kids were the only ones who were able to ride it. They skipped it and decided to go to Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure. They split up: her sister and family left the park, Briana and her son went to the boardwalk to meet up with the Patrons, and the rest of the family went to see the fireworks. 

After the patron meet-up, Briana got some ice cream for her kids and then her husband picked them up to go back to the resort. 

Christmas Party (November 9)

Everyone slept in but Briana’s sister ended up taking their son to urgent care in Celebration because their son was having a problem with a chronic medical condition.

They left at 11:20 a.m. to the Polynesian because they had a noon reservation at Ohana. They were seated closer to 12:30 p.m., which was fine. It was a great character meal with good interactions. 

They were on their way to the Grand Floridian to see the Gingerbread Houses and there was miscommunication between the adults. Half of the group got through security and were on the monorail while the others stayed back at the Polynesian

They took some photopass photographs and had a great experience. It was on the balcony with the gingerbread house in the back.  

Briana’s family likes to bring a little gift for cast members and they liked the photopass photographer and felt they went above and beyond and he got the first giftcard of the trip! 

They got in line around 3:30 p.m. and the line was already very long. They hadn’t done the Christmas party before so they didn’t know this wasn’t normal. It wasn’t a huge deal, but then they had check-in issues. 

Briana thought that they needed to use the cards that were mailed as tickets for the party. She couldn’t find their tickets in the app at all. Briana gave adult cards to adults and kid cards to the kids, thinking that was all that mattered. 

However, they were person specific and it was very confusing. The cast members knew it was confusing and helped them get things sorted. This ended up taking quite a bit of time and they didn’t get into the park until 4:30 p.m.

The cast member helping them was so delightful and got the second gift card gift! She was so grateful that she gave them each 2 free lightning lanes. That wasn’t the reason they did it, but she was so appreciative. 

When they were finally in Magic Kingdom they wanted to do a few rides. They did Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid and then used a DAS return time for Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin. 

After that, they’d planned to use one of their bonus lightning lanes for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. However, on their way they decided to stop for dinner. They also got in on the virtual queue for Tron

Their first stop after dinner was Pirates of the Caribbean and it said the wait was 25 minutes but it was a walk on. They got cookies and eggnog after that. They saw some characters including Peter Pan and Captain Jack.

Around 6 p.m. Briana was waiting to see what would happen with DAS return times. She’d heard mixed reviews on whether you could make return times. Shortly after 6 p.m. she was able to get a return time for Jingle Cruise. 

After dinner it was time for their Jingle Cruise return time. There was a line at this point so they were really grateful for the return time. They went toward Big Thunder Mountain Railroad but it was down. 

They waited for the Parade to go through and while they waited, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad was back up. It ended up being a walk-on, which was awesome. They were able to ride twice in a row without a wait.

They got cookies and hot chocolate on their way to Haunted Mansion. After Haunted Mansion they got photopass photos taken and then headed toward Tron

They’d originally planned to do Rider Switch so that her parents didn’t need to watch the kids while everyone else got on the ride. However, at the last moment, they decided they would be okay watching the kids. 

Briana's family in front of the castle.

While the adults and older kids rode Tron, Briana’s parents took the little kids to Gaston’s Tavern because there was a special DVC meet and greet. They also had a special treat there as well. They watched the fireworks from there as well.

After Tron, they met up at Gaston’s Tavern. The allergy friendly treat there was very good and wasn’t the chocolate chip cookie available at the rest of the party. 

Everyone split up after their snacks. Briana’s parents went to Main Street to get a spot for the parade. Briana’s sister and her family went on Barnstormer and then got a spot in Frontierland for the parade. Briana’s family found a spot for the parade because they didn’t want to miss it. They chose to watch it from Frontierland to avoid the big crowds on Main Street. 

They enjoyed watching the Parade from Liberty Tree Tavern. It is a great spot to stand, right at the ropes. After Barnstormer, her sister and family joined them. Briana’s nephews fell asleep after Barnstormer and missed the rest of the party. 

Everyone really loved the parade. Briana loved it so much that she’d like to do the Christmas party again next year – maybe even twice! They also all really loved the party! 

After the parade, Briana’s family went over to Barnstormer to ride that and it went down. Briana decided to get a DAS for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train but when they went over there, Barnstormer was back up. They ran over to Barnstormer and then used the DAS for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.

They slowly walked out of the park, shopping along the way. They took some photos and then left. They took the resort monorail to the Polynesian and took their car back to the resort.

Rest Day (November 10)

After the very late night, everyone slept in. As everyone woke up, they went to the pool. They had quick service lunch at the pool. A family member who lives in Celebration joined them today to catch up. 

After a relaxing day, they all got cleaned up for dinner. Briana and her husband, her sister and her husband had a date night. They had a reservation at 4 p.m. at Wine Bar George

While they had a date night, their parents took all of the kids to Turf Club for dinner. They went to the arcade and had a great night. 

The dinner at Wine Bar George was wonderful. They were very accommodating to food allergies. They got a lot of things to share, which was lovely.

After their meal, they had planned to get dessert but instead they just walked over to Hangar Bar and got some drinks. They sat on the water and were able to see a whole fireworks show. It was wonderful.

On the way back to their resort, they had just missed a boat. They opted to walk. Briana knew which walkway to take them but they didn’t turn at the place and ended up back at the boat dock. 

Animal Kingdom (November 11)

The goal was to leave at 8 a.m. (the park opened at 7:30 a.m. which was too early for them!) Unfortnately Briana’s youngest woke up in the middle of the night with some asthma issues, so they took a little bit of time getting out in the morning.

They ended up leaving at 8:30 a.m. and were pretty far back in the parking lot. They did make it into the park by 9:30 a.m. and immediately got a DAS return time for DINOSAUR

They went immediately to their return time for DINOSAUR to make that their first ride in the park. Everyone enjoyed this. They stayed in Dinoland and went on Triceratop Spin because it was a walk-on. They met some characters and then headed out of that area because it was getting very hot.

They made a DAS return time for Expedition Everest and used Rider Switch for this. While the others were riding, everyone else went shopping. It was getting very hot. They took a break and went to It’s Tough to be a Bug next.

No one had any trouble with It’s Tough to be a Bug except Briana’s oldest because he remembered the ending! He ended up sitting in Briana’s lap for the end.

After that, it was time for their Donald’s Dining Safari at Tusker House at 12:30 p.m. Briana was worried about navigating food allergies with the buffet. However, it ended up being fine. 

She was brought a chart where it would show what was okay for her to eat on the buffet. This was very helpful because she could serve herself. There was even a dessert option for Briana, which was a nice surprise! 

They had a DAS return time immediately following their meal for Kilimanjaro Safaris. Briana was worried they wouldn’t see many animals, but because of the overcast, it was a great experience. The animals were out! 

After that, they went to Pandora for their DAS return time for Flight of Passage. They also used Rider Switch for this ride. When they got out it was starting to get dark, which was really neat. 

Their next stop was to use a DAS return time for Na’vi River Journey. After the ride, it was about 5:30 p.m. and some of the group chose to leave the park to get packed up at the resort.

Briana’s family wanted to end the day with something with big drops – so they went to Expedition Everest . Her daughter especially loved this in the dark! On their way out, they watched the holiday version show on the Tree of Life and refilled their popcorn bucket before heading out. 

They went back to the resort in order to go to the gift shop to ship their souvenirs back home. They did a little more shopping at the gift shop and then had everything shipped home. 

They gave the cast member shipping their items a gift card to thank her for all of her help. After shipping their items, they got some food from Artist’s Palette. 

Departure (November 12)

Their flight is at 11:15 a.m. so they needed to leave for the airport around 8 a.m. Because they picked up the strollers from the airport, they were supposed to be dropped off at the same location. 

Because they were in a different terminal, they made an exception that they could drop off their stroller at bell services at their resort at 7 a.m. that morning. 

They left the resort after 8 a.m. but still were able to get to the airport with plenty of time. They lost some time using kiosks that couldn’t print their luggage tags, but they finally were able to get them and get on their way. 

Once they checked their bags, they got in the TSA pre-check line. It was a little delayed due to a longer line. They got some food before boarding the plane. 

Their flight home was bumpy, but many slept through the turbulence. When they arrived home, Briana was surprised to find out she needed to install the carseats for her nephews in the van picking them up. It was very stressful.

Everyone was tired, but they made it back and it was a lovely time. 

Key Takeaways

  • Even when kids do not use strollers at home, it is likely they will need one at Disney! Briana’s youngest uses a stroller and they have a nice bag for it that they can gate check. Briana’s sister opted to rent one from Kingdom Strollers and picked it up from the airport. 
  • If you meet the minimum of $500, you can ship as many souvenirs home you’d like for a flat fee of $40. They easily hit the minimum with the light sabers, so they opted to ship all of their souvenirs. This can be done at any gift shop. They won’t ship any food or seasonal items (including popcorn buckets or mugs)


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