Any trip to Disney World requires quite a bit of planning. That said, a trip to Disney World with a large group takes that planning to another level entirely. If you’re in the process of planning such a trip, you may feel overwhelmed just thinking about where to begin. Don’t worry! You’ve got this, and the end result will be worthwhile. Here are our top nine tips for visiting the most magical place on earth with a large group of people.
1. Appoint a Planner
First things first, you absolutely must appoint an official trip planner. After all, too many cooks is never a good thing, and that definitely goes for a Disney trip as much as anything else. By appointing a single person to plan and organize everything, you will minimize confusion and improve communication. That said, this planner should be willing to take suggestions and find out what the group thinks before making any big decisions. Additionally, the plan made by this individual should be relatively loose, leaving time for people to do their own thing between planned meals and FastPasses.
2. Reserve Everything Early
Getting FastPasses, dining reservations, and hotel rooms for enormous groups of people can be very difficult. This is especially true if you insist on being as close together as possible. Therefore, you will want to start making those reservations as soon as you’re allowed—180 days out for dining reservations and 60 days out for FastPasses if you’ll be staying onsite, and 30 days out for FastPasses if not.
3. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
Communication is key when it comes to the success of a Disney World trip with a large group of people. Failing to communicate the plan can cause some serious problems and upset. For this reason, we recommend using multiple forms of communication and providing every group member with a written plan to ensure everyone is always on the same page.
4. Share Costs
One of the number one benefits of traveling as a group is the ability to share costs. If you’ll be driving, rent a van or two and carpool. Book a few family suites instead of several smaller rooms, and split the cost between families. Have everyone pitch in for one Memory Maker account and allow everyone in your party to make use of it. You may even be able to get group rates on certain parts of your vacation if your party is large enough.
5. Find the Right Restaurants
Finding the right kinds of restaurants for your large group can be a challenge. However, this decision can actually have a big impact on your trip. Obviously, smaller, more intimate dining experiences don’t work well for large groups, and “family-style” dining isn’t ideal either. Therefore, we recommend looking for larger restaurants with a casual, loud, fun atmosphere. Buffet-style dining could even be a bonus. Our picks for dining with a large group include the following:
- 1900 Park Fare
- Chef Mickey’s
- The Crystal Palace
- Whispering Canyon Cafe
- Trails End Cafe
- Boma Flavors of Africa
6. Make Matching Shirts
Love them or hate them, matching shirts are just practical when visiting Disney parks with a large group of people. Choosing a bright color 1) makes it easier to find your party should you be separated from them, and 2) makes it easier to spot a wandering child. Additionally, wearing matching clothes makes it obvious to others that you are together, making it less likely that you’ll be split up walking from one place to the next or even in queues (it does happen sometimes).
7. Split Up
As fun as it is to experience all that Disney World has to offer as a group, it just doesn’t make sense to keep the whole group together for the entire trip. Doing so would be stressful and nearly impossible even with the help of shirts. Therefore, we highly recommend splitting up into smaller groups from time to time. Make sure these groups are appointed ahead of time so nobody gets left behind or lost. On top of that, you’ll want to decide on an easy-to-find meeting place before splitting up, making sure everyone knows when and where they are expected next. Ideally, this information will be included in the written plan provided to each group member. Many groups find that it works well to meet up for one parade or show, one meal, and a few FastPasses each day, spending the rest of the time wandering in smaller pods. However, you can plan things however you see fit.
8. Give Yourselves Time
The larger your group, the longer everything will take. For this reason, you will want to allow yourselves plenty of time to see and do everything.
- Meeting up for a show? Plan to arrive 30–45 minutes early—or earlier if it’s a fireworks show or other nighttime spectacular.
- Want to dine together? Show up at least 15 minutes before your reservation and don’t expect to be seated right away.
- If you’re queueing up for a ride, know that everyone won’t be able to ride on the same car, meaning those who ride first will have to wait for the last people to finish up before moving on.
Relaxing when you’re in a huge group of people can be difficult. However, you will be on vacation here and should attempt to relax as much as possible. Following these tips and going in with a good, solid plan will help you stay calm and truly enjoy your trip.