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Monday, April 30, 2018

How to Do Disney World With Larger Groups - A Few Tips for Planning a Group WDW Vacation

Guide4WDW.com

by: guide4wdw - Collin

How to Do Disney World With Larger Groups - A Few Tips


We've all been there, a friend wants to travel with us, a child's sports team makes it to an event at the Wide World of Sports complex, or even an extended family vacation starts to shape up and could be an excellent group to travel with. While, for many, this isn't necessarily the ideal travel situation, you may be surprised at how a few tips can make all the difference when planning Disney World Trips for larger groups. Of course, in my opinion, a group is a relative term. Personally, anything much more than our typical four person family vacation falls into the group category. As many of you may know, traveling with extended family and even our very best friends can be stressful (If you haven't tried it, trust me, I've been there. lol). 

Group travel is perhaps the most unique type of travel situation you can face when visiting the Walt Disney World Parks and resorts. Inevitably, especially in rather large groups of 10+ guests, you're not going to be able to accommodate every single need and want of the party. As unfortunate as that sounds, it's about like trying to sit down and watch all the Star Wars franchise in a row in one day. You probably could do it (and many of us will try) but at the same time very few will be completely and entirely successful. Sadly, for many it ends up being a vastly hectic experience but it does have to be. 



If you know what to expect, your trip can still go off without a hitch and the experience can be vastly influential on the guests in your group and can create lasting memories for everyone involved. Granted, this isn't likely going to be quite as productive of a trip as one with a smaller group. To an extent, you do have to manage your expectations. It will be vastly difficult to spend long hours in the parks, and to stay out as late as possible. Truth be told, the entire situation is a compromise but if you're like us, and likely if you're reading this, you'll take any and every opportunity you can to visit the magic of Walt Disney World. 
           

Consider All Your Resort Options

Resorts are perhaps the most difficult portion of the equation you'll have to consider with larger groups. You can book multiple resort rooms all at one resort or, depending on your group size, you could look at a villa at a vast majority of the deluxe resorts on property. Personally, I highly recommend option number two. It's what we do and while it is the best case scenario it will only work for parties up to around 9 guests. Some of the largest rooms on property will comfortably sleep that many guests while still providing luxury accommodations that could potentially save you quite a bit of money over purchasing multiple rooms if a large enough room exists for your party size. 

From my experience, if you're looking at any resort location on property (especially anything above a value tier), for a vast majority of the year it is more budget friendly or relatively equal in price to purchase a deluxe villa room when you're splitting the cost among multiple guests and staying all in one villa rather than purchasing separate resort rooms. 
For example, if you were looking to purchase a stay in Animal Kingdom Lodge's Kidani Village later on in June of this year, here's what you'd pay: 
  • For a resort room you'll pay $397 a night for a Savannah View Deluxe Studio room. Multiply that times two and you'll end up paying almost $800 to accommodate up to 8 guests. 
  • By comparison, a 2 bedroom villa is $819 for the same tier view (I only used Savannah view rooms in this example in order to provide real numbers. The other accommodations were unavailable for the dates researched *July 22nd-27th*). 
Additionally, there's one more thing you'll want to consider. If you book a villa style room, you also get access to a relatively "full" kitchen complete with an oven and a full size refrigerator. For many, that could be a huge cost savings over the course of a week if you are willing to cook breakfast or any number of meals during your trip for the whole group. 

While I've not used them personally, I've heard great reviews of companies like Garden Grocer who will deliver grocery style type food to resort rooms on Disney property and beyond. I'm not affiliated with them but have heard great things about their service and their prices don't seem too terribly high to become unreasonable for a majority of travelers. Some guests may even find their prices cheaper than their home state grocery stores/services. We're from central Kentucky, so Orlando area prices are fairly comparable to what we experience on a near daily basis. 



In the grand scheme of things, the benefits of staying in a villa and enjoying the perks of a deluxe resort, especially if the cost is being split among guests, is well worth the few extra dollars you may or may not have to spend to all stay in one resort room together. It wont solve the problem for extremely large groups that exceed the maximum occupancy of these resort room types, but could be a great option if you travel with friends .... or if you're the Brady Bunch...  (We all know you just sang the song). 


Plan Early

If you've made it this far into the article, chances are you're pretty serious about planning for a group, and/or you like to be over prepared for any situation you may ever face when booking. Both of those reasons I can really and truly appreciate. I'm a notorious over planner and as we booked our latest vacation for 4 guests just two days ago for an early June trip to the parks, I don't recommend trying that. However, it is doable and we were vastly successful booking last minute, it makes things far easier when you book as far in advance as possible. 


If you can, try to book for your group stay at least 6 to 8 months in advance. If you're traveling at peak times like Christmas, New Years, Thanksgiving, or even some of the summer months, try to book at least your resort room even earlier. The largest rooms on property are limited in number when we're considering the realm of villas and the larger your group, the harder it will be to come up with the perfect accommodations you desire.    


      

Get Some Help From a Friend 

Getting help from a friend going on the trip with you or just someone you trust that has been to Disney many times can make a huge difference. Not only can they help you weigh the options and take new things into consideration, but chances are they'll think of something along the way that you overlooked or could have potentially skipped altogether. I've been planning my vacations for years, but never once, no matter how large the party size, have I planned every detail on my own. Chances are I wont make any big mistakes that could change the course of a vacation, but having that second opinion or helping hand can really make all the difference in both little and big ways.  


If nothing else, it's someone who can help you relay information for very large groups or someone to pose those tough decisions to before making a final choice. If you don't have someone traveling with you I do highly recommend a travel agency because they have worked with groups and oftentimes know little details of the experience that many (even highly experienced guests) overlook because they can and do deal with these things on a daily basis. Personally, I recommend Destinations to Travel because they're who I have personal experience with and they help us out here on the site in return.   
   

Have Everyone Pick One "Must-Do"

This is one of those things I consider fundamental to every Disney vacation involving 2 or more guests. It sounds so simple but having the guests in your party pick one, two, or even three of their top "must-do" items they want to ride or experience during the trip can make all the difference. For parents, if you invoke this strategy a lot of times you can avoid the argument of what to do "next" and at the same time everyone gets to experience that one aspect of Disney they came to experience. It may not be everyones ideal attraction, dining location, etc. but at the same time everyone will have their one moment to pick and it works out quite well in a wide variety of situations, especially when booking fastpasses and dining reservations. 


For example, little Johnny may want to go swim at the pool and slide down the waterslide more than anything else, but Suzy's top pick for the stay is to ride Splash Mountain at least one time. As you plan your days out you grab Suzy a fastpass selection for Splash Mountain and set aside an hour or so for Johnny to swim and enjoy the resort pool. Of course, with my family, Collin (me) wants to ride the People Mover 17 times and the rest of the family tries to reason with him how unnecessary that is...    

Be Flexible With Meals

Similar to what was mentioned above about planning early, dining is something you really want to jump on and get set up as soon as possible. Typically, the bigger your group the more difficult it will be to find reservations that seat your entire party. Again, it's entirely doable to book later on, but it isn't the best case scenario. 

When I started going to Walt Disney World as a young kid traveling with family, we spent days planning the perfect meal layout and got on the phone 180 days out to reserve those perfect times. Was it necessary? Not entirely. But, it did do something for us that is worth noting. When we spent those afternoons on the phone (which can now be far more easily done online today) it built anticipation for our trip and started to create a simple memory long before our actual vacation even began. We were half a year away from visiting the magic as a group, but at the same time we shared a moment with family in those phone calls and afternoon booking strategies that meant the world to us and gave me a story to share with you even today. Booking can be a part of the fun and booking early can make a huge difference in the end result. Here's the final tip or perhaps the "Holy Grail" of an equivalent Indian Jones adventure and that is to not let this be stressful. Enjoy the planning experience and make the most of it and the end result will exceed your expectations. 

Consider a Fireworks Viewing Package 

Fireworks for many are the pinnacle highlight of a Disney trip. For me, there's nothing quite as enjoyable and iconic as standing there on Main Street USA staring up at the castle with a smile on your face and a certain level of unexplainable joy in your heart as the fireworks burst overhead. As you look around you catch a glimpse of the colorful bursts high in the air reflecting in the eyes of those around you and the light glimmering off the faces of those surrounding you. In that moment, even for a brief second, the difficulties of life slip away and you can simply enjoy the moment. 


Fireworks with groups is quite difficult. If you all want to stay together, and there's more than 5 or so in your party, finding space in front of the castle can be incredibly difficult unless you are willing to camp out over an hour in advance. On our most recent trip, we traveled with 7 guests in total. Even 45 minutes before the show began, we were forced to find a spot about half way down Mainstreet and it took us about 20 minutes to walk there from Liberty Square. Granted, it was a very busy day, but we ended up splitting up our group just to find a spot. For larger groups, it would be even more difficult and one of the main situations in which I would recommend a fireworks dessert party at Magic Kingdom. It will, in theory, guarantee you a spot for the fireworks where everyone can be in one area and while expensive, you do get a pretty good bonus out of the cost by means of unlimited desserts.   
      

Consider Splitting Up At Times  

Splitting up your group doesn't sound fun at first or even early on in your stay but as the week draws on, and tensions tend to rise among group members, sometimes it's the ideal fix to combat that mid week "blow up" moment where an argument breaks out in full force. Split up a fastpass selection or pick a different dining reservation than some other guests in your group and that little break from the rest may just recharge you and put everyone back into a great mood.
 
Your Thoughts
As always, if you have thoughts, concerns, questions, or even some tips of your own to share, don't hesitate to reach out to us on Facebook or your favorite social media platform. Give us a follow while you're there, and we'll keep the conversation going in the future. We're not the largest Disney community, but we're one that's there and one that listens. Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day wherever you are! 

Ready to Plan?

Need help planning your vacation? Let our friends over at Destinations to Travel (FREE - no obligation quote request form below) help you out at no additional cost to you! Their services are free and a great way for you to help out the site at no extra cost to you! Here's a closer look at why I recommend an Authorized Disney Travel Planner!

Last but certainly not least, if you're starting the planning process, a great place to start are with some of our top planning articles! Looking for dining? Check out Disney World Dining Tips For 2018. Want to start with some more tips? 44 Excellent Disney World Tips for 2018 or Disney World Planning Guide and Tips For 2018 are a great place to begin! Looking to save money on tickets? Check out our friends over at The Official Ticket Center for great deals that even made it into our 2018 Discount Disney World Ticket selections and another great way to help us create more content through your contributions at no additional cost to you! You'll probably even save money along the way.



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