1. Start planning early
When you think about how much planning typically goes into a Walt Disney World vacation, you’ll want to create even more concrete plans when being responsible for a large group. Even if you do not planning on having the entire group stay together throughout the entire trip, little things like creating a group text message, or letting everyone know where dinner will be on certain nights can go a long way in having a successful trip. This can be especially helpful if you are traveling with friends or family members who might not be as experienced with Walt Disney World as you are, and might not know how to plan certain aspects of the trip without some guidance in advance.
2. Prepare your cell phones
One problem that happens more often than you’d think with large group is that most of the group is together, except two people who have no way of contacting the rest of the group because phone numbers were never exchanged. Before visiting the parks with a large group, make sure everyone has the entire group’s cell phone numbers listed in the contacts of their own phones. If you want to be extra safe, you can write them down on a piece of paper and keep that in your backpack or purse as well, so that if your phone battery dies you will still be able to contact the rest of the group. This situation is also just one of many reasons why I always suggest bringing a portable charger to the parks with you.
3. Have a plan for lost members of the group, especially children
Many guests will choose their own meeting place for when guests in their parties are separated, however I always suggest meeting at either guest relations or baby care. If a child is lost, cast members will return them to the baby care center, while lost adults will be at guest relations. To be extra safe in case of the previously mentioned cell phone malfunction, I would suggest making one of those places your meeting place for if someone is separated. In the case of children, it is always a good idea to get a picture of what they are wearing before you leave the hotel room in the morning, and to make sure they have an adult’s contact information on their person.
4. Stay in the same hotel
Planning a trip for a group that is scattered among different hotels is much more confusing and stressful than planning for everyone to be staying at the same place. At the very least, staying at the same resort allows you to meet as a group in the morning and decide what you’ll be doing for the day and when you’ll meet back up, whereas this process can be much more difficult if members of the group are staying at different resorts.
5. Do not force everyone to stay together
Unless you are organizing a school trip or something of that nature where you are responsible for certain members of the group, do not plan or try to force all of the members to stay together. There is so much to do at Walt Disney World, and it is extremely doubtful that every member of the group will be interested in doing the same things. Instead of forcing everyone along to every attraction, plan on having some members break off from the group. A great way to get the group together without forcing family and friends to do things they do not want is to make dinner reservations and have everyone meet back for those.
6. Consider purchasing the dining plan
While I usually suggest doing extensive research on the dining plan to determine if it is worth it for you as an individual, I think the simple fact that your meals are paid for ahead of time can be beneficial if you’re traveling with a large group. You might not mind paying for a friend here and there, but over the course of your vacation it can add up. If you’re bringing a school group or team, and you’ll be responsible for kids whose parents are not with them, you don’t want to get stuck paying for their meals if they run out of money. For this reason, I think it can be helpful to have everyone pay their part for the dining plan in advance, so you’ll only need to worry about gratuities while you’re on vacation.
7. Plan on keeping the group together while experiencing attractions
It is definitely understandable that your group may be looking to split up to experience different attractions throughout the trip, however it is important to note that when you do experience the same attractions, you should do so together, without saving seats or holding spots in line. For instance, if you and a friend are in line for an attraction, and your friends are right around the corner planning to meet you, either go on the attraction and meet them at the exit, or let the guests behind you pass while you catch up with your friends. Jumping the line is rude, and having a couple of family members up ahead is not an excuse to pass guests who have been waiting.
8. Plan a pool day
Because it is so easy for large groups to split up during the parks portion of the trip, planning a pool day with the entire group can be a nice way for everyone to catch up outside of scheduled meals. Any trip taken within a large group can also be exhausting, so a pool day or even a half day, can be a great way to relax with some of the other group members you might not be touring the parks with often.
Planning for a large group is stressful, especially if you’ve been elected the official group leader. Don’t let the stress get to you though, and just continue to enjoy yourself. If some members of the group decide to skip dinner or go to a different park it isn’t the end of the world. Just maintain some level of organization and be around for questions or concerns that anyone in the group might have, and have fun.