We Took Four Generations To Disney World, Had Fun And Didn’t Lose Anyone

Disney World Cinderella's Castle

Peter and I just returned from a family trip to Disney World. There were over a dozen in our group, ranging in ages from 1 to 82.

Four generations.

The prize for Highest Achievement In Making The Trip Against All Odds goes to my sister-in-law and nephew who, upon seeing the blizzard heading straight for their DC area home, hopped on Amtrak for an 18 hour train ride to Orlando. That, my friends, is supreme dedication to Disney.

Because of the size of our gang, it sometimes felt like we were a giant cruise ship trying to navigate the Disney parks. Sometimes it felt like we were herding cats.

But it was always a blast.

Our most recent visit to Disney World, a little over a year ago, was the twin grandsons’ (Chip and Dale) first trip to the happiest place on earth. Our grandson, Andy, and his parents had to miss that trip since he was only a few weeks old.

This year’s pilgrimage marked Andy’s first Disney visit and his great-grandfather’s 80th birthday.

How did we manage to travel with such a large group, have fun and not lose anyone?

Mocadeaux - The 12 Keys To Our Successful Trip To Disney World

We indoctrinated our children from a very young age. – They loved Disney World as kids and now love sharing Disney World with their own kids. Our adult children have become Disney fanatics who do all the trip planning. Peter and I just go along for the ride. Talk about magical!

We joined Disney Vacation Club. – Last year we decided to make the investment in a lifetime of Disney vacations. We purchased enough Disney Vacation Club points to be able to take the family to Disney every other year. The accommodations are like condos which means we have a kitchen. Having a kitchen when traveling with little ones is the way to go.

We stayed at Bay Lake Tower, the Disney Vacation Club location at the Contemporary Hotel. – Location, location, location. From Bay Lake Tower we could walk to the Magic Kingdom. Everything else was an easy monorail or bus ride away.

Chip hugging Mickey

Chip greeting Mickey Mouse.

We planned in advance. – The trip was booked almost a year ago. We kept track of important dates like “when can we book dining reservations?” (resort guests can book dining reservations 180 days in advance) and “when can we make FastPass+ reservations?” (resort guests with park tickets can make FastPass+ reservations 60 days in advance).

Speaking of dining, we decided against signing up for the Disney Dining Plan this time. – The Disney Dining Plan (includes one sit down meal, one quick service meal and one snack per day) can be an excellent value. Sometimes Disney even offers “free” Disney Dining as part of a resort package. We’ve used it and loved it.

However, with a kitchen in our hotel and 3 very young children who do not love sitting in restaurants every night, we decided to forgo the Dining Plan. Instead we ordered groceries from Garden Grocer and Amazon to be delivered to our unit and made use of the plethora of quick service dining spots in the parks and at the hotel.

We made strategic use of FastPass+. – Toddlers and hungry parents do not like to wait in long lines. FastPass+ gets you to the front of the line on popular rides like Dumbo and the Snow White Mine Car Ride.

Dale and Minnie Mouse

Dale getting a hug from Minnie Mouse.

We made use of the My Disney Experience App and all of its fabulous features. – Don’t do Disney without it.

We took into consideration everyones’ schedules and preferences. – Giving everyone an equal say in plans, allowing each to voice their wishes and concerns and making sure that everybody got plenty of sleep helped keep crabbiness to a bare minimum.

We got a wheelchair for Great-Grandma. – A Disney-recommended vendor had a wheelchair waiting for us at the hotel upon our arrival and picked it up from the bellman after we departed at the end of our trip. With the rest of us averaging close to 20,000 steps per day, Great-Grandma was delighted to have her wheels.

Plus, sometimes she was our ticket to the head of the line.

We made matching shirts. – Yes, we were those people. Our daughter and daughter-in-law, along with their husbands, found really cute shirts on Etsy. We loved wearing them and enjoyed the attention they drew from other guests. The shirts made it easy to pick each other out in a crowd. No one got lost.

Andy meeting Woody

Andy was star struck meeting Woody.

We invested in Memory Maker. – Disney has photographers stationed all over the parks offering to take pictures with their fancy cameras. The pictures (and ride photos like those taken as you experience your first plummet on Tower of Terror) are available for purchase.

OR you can, for one price, purchase Memory Maker which gives you ownership of all the pictures taken of any member of your group plus a bunch of stock photos of the parks, fireworks, parades, etc. Once downloaded, these pictures can be shared to your heart’s content. Most of the photos in this post were pulled off of our Memory Maker.

And finally, we didn’t try to do it all. – The Disney parks are huge. And there are four of them not including the water parks. There is fun stuff to do at the hotels. Souvenirs to purchase. And sleep to be had.

Our mantra was: if we don’t get to it this time we will on our next visit.

Because there will ALWAYS be a next visit to Disney World.

What about you? What are your recommendations for Disney travel? Have you ever gone with a big family group?

Disney World It's A Small World

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Comments

  1. Bravo Mo! Great post. Disney can be so overwhelming that you need some advice and guidance before going for the first time or with an extended group. Love the pics. Sounds like it was a good time had by all! See you soon!!!

  2. Absolutely love WDW…haven’t been in years because we spent our Disney vacation money for the last and next few years on college educations. We know we will go again, your tips are excellent. We have thought about the vacation club…perhaps sharing with extended family. Bravo, to the DC relatives, real troopers through the snow.
    Beemie recently posted…The Clock:My Profile

  3. I love Disney World and have been over 20 times and I’ve visited Disney Land once. I think all of your tips are awesome and I so wish I could have made a multi-generational trip with my family. Every time I’m in the Contemporary Hotel, I aways think about how my Grandparents stayed there years ago.

    My favorite of your tips that I heartily endorse . . . get a condo with a kitchen!
    Leslie Anne recently posted…Comment on Finally!!! by Leslie AnneMy Profile

  4. WOW…that is quite a feat!! Immediately all kinds of warm and fuzzy memories came rushing back…such a great times we had there…I am a total kid at heart and we had many happy memories made there. Your tips are great….its bittersweet for me to think that the next time I go might be when I am a dare I say grandma! Can’t wait……get to relive all the fun all over again (with Fast pass of course)!!
    The Enchanted Home recently posted…Random musings as seen through my iPhone….My Profile

  5. Wow – Mo, you could write a travel book for Disney lovers. Having someone else plan the daily itinerary is clutch (that was always was my job). You can’t beat the vicarious joy of taking kids to Disney. I haven’t been there in nine years, and I do miss all the roller coasters and key lime pie at Sea World.

  6. Loaded with tips and loaded with fun…well of course, it’s Disney! We’re in Oregon and my daughter has worked for Disney’s music department for years so we’re fortunate to get free admission when we visit Los Angeles. Love that place – it is INDEED, magical – no matter one’s age.

  7. Wow, Disney has changed so much since I was last there (in 2002)! I have a lot to consider the next time I go. I do really want to bring Eve one day! I’m glad you all had such a fun time. Four generations, that’s amazing!
    Bev recently posted…4 unique kids’ subscription servicesMy Profile

  8. We go on Thursday! Woo hoo! It’s just the 4 of us, though. Love the app, Fast Pass, and dining reservations. This year we are trying out the Be Our Guest restaurant. I made the reservation 180 days ago of course! In fact, because I didn’t know specifically which weekend in February we’d be going, I made reservations for all Saturdays and then canceled the rest in December once we booked our flights. That’s kinda crazy, but otherwise I knew we couldn’t get in.
    Katy recently posted…10 Ways Living Through the 80s Made Me StrongerMy Profile

    • Oh my goodness, oh my goodness!!! You are there NOW!!! We dined at Be Our Guest, celebrating my daughter’s birthday. It was an amazing meal and an amazing evening. You will not be disappointed! Have so much fun and let me know how everything went when you get back, ok?
      Mo Lux recently posted…What Is Your House Wine?My Profile

  9. Oh how fun! Wonderful tips here and the one that stands out the most is to get enough sleep. I can’t tell you how many grumpy people we met when we went to Disneyland when my two were 4 and 5. My particular fave comment had to be from one over-the-top-tired mom to her littly “Get back in line or I’ll whip ya.” If that’s not an inducement to get enough sleep AND the fast pass, I’m not sure what is …
    Kelly L McKenzie recently posted…My Podcast on Inside VoiceMy Profile

    • Sadly, we have heard cranky parents making cruel comments to their children all too often. The worst this trip was a mother telling her daughter that she “has a special talent for ruining every good day”. Yikes!
      Mo Lux recently posted…What Is Your House Wine?My Profile

  10. Great tips, Mo! We are heading down for our 7th family trip next month, and my kids are BEYOND excited. We just go the four of us, but my sister and my parents will be down there before us, and we are planning on meeting up for a day.

    I can’t get on board with the matching shirts, though. I’m sure you all looked adorable, but I just can’t.
    Dana recently posted…Tough to swallowMy Profile

  11. Wow…this is SUCH a great resource…I am book marking it for clients going to Disney and plan to share it on my blog when I next do a round up post. You have “decoded” Disney! And I love that your entire family – all four generations – enjoy traveling together!!
    Sandy recently posted…Just Back From…Saint Lucia ~ Part TwoMy Profile

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