Planning a multi-generational Disney World trip
● By Steven Hoffman
By Tricia Hoadley
This year, when we return to our favorite place on Earth, we will have with us a couple of additional family members who are visiting Disney World for the first time. In addition to my husband and our two boys, we will be bringing both of my sisters and their significant others, one of my cousins, and both of my parents. Being the Type A super Disney planner that I am, I took it upon myself to make this the perfect trip. At the time that I decided to take on this responsibility, I didn't give it a second thought. Now that the trip is coming closer, I've become slightly stressed at the idea of planning the consummate once-in-a-lifetime-trip for various people who all have very different ideas of what the perfect trip entails.
After reading countless blogs, asking opinions in Disney Facebook chatrooms, and working and reworking the numbers, I've decided to cut back and not over-plan this trip because it will only set us up for failure. I will choose the basics, such as travel dates, resort hotel, and park passes. Then I will try to plan FastPasses that we can all enjoy together and one shared meal each day. The rest of the day will be up to the mood and level of participation of each person.
The initial decisions that needed to be made were when and where we would be staying. Once we compiled our schedules, we narrowed the dates down to early November. The weather at this time of the year is pleasant, with cooler temperatures, and we will be able to catch the end of Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival. Disney World will also be starting to decorate for Christmas, giving us the most bang for our buck. With 11 people, we decided to book separate rooms instead of choosing a large family suite in the hopes that we will still love each other by the end of our vacation. Contrary to my go, go, go attitude, I know that the rest of my family is going to want to spend time at the resort relaxing, so we decided to stay at the laid-back and serene Animal Kingdom Lodge. We will spend at least one day mid-trip just unwinding at the pool and enjoying the animals and the atmosphere, which will be especially festive since it is even more impressively themed during Christmastime.
Since we do plan to spend some time apart each day doing our own thing, pre-booked dining reservations will give us a nice planned block of time together without having to worry about when and where to meet up. Also on the schedule for us is a specialty fireworks cruise on our last night. My father, in particular, loves being out on the water, and it is a great place where we can be together and not be cramped and fighting for space. We will be able to enjoy the light shows at a nice, relaxing pace. It will be a great finale to the trip. While we are there, we will be able to cost-effectively split the memory maker among the entire family by linking our reservations on the My Disney Experience app. It is a great way for all of us to be in the pictures and to bring home some of our magical memories. I, for one, always look forward to the time we spend relaxing around the table. Dinner will be the perfect time for everyone to unwind and discuss what an amazing job I've done planning our trip.