Family trips to often evolve around the holiday dinner table. When generations get together (and wine and food may be involved), traveling together sounds like a fantastic idea! But there are a lot of factors to consider when planning the perfect multi-generational family trip to Walt Disney World.
Budgeting the Multi-Generational Trip
Money is never a comfortable topic for families to discuss. But it is important to clarify who will be responsible for what on your trip. If Grandma and Grandpa are taking the family to Walt Disney World, does that include tickets and dining as well? Or will each family be responsible for their own costs? In which case, each family may have different budget restrictions.
This is where a Travel Planner can be helpful. Each family can discuss what they want with the Travel Planner, keeping their business (and budget) private!
Choosing A Resort
There are many different resorts to choose from at Walt Disney World. (Sharla has written a series on choosing Value, Moderate, Deluxe, and Deluxe Villa Resorts.) When traveling with extended family, it can be tempting to want to stay “together.” To some families this means just all staying at the same resort, to others it means getting Suites or Villas that can accommodate multiple families!
While the thought of late nights hanging out playing games or enjoying each others company sounds idyllic, I would suggest that this vision is better suited to a beach house or lake cabin rental vacation. A Disney vacation is chock full of activities and stimulation. Many guests fall asleep much earlier than they do at home from sheer exhaustion!
Having individual rooms or suites for each family gives you the privacy to unwind and relax at the end of the day. And if some of the more energetic family members want to keep the party going, there are plenty of common areas at each resort to meet up and hang out! (This is especially true if you choose a Club Level room! The Concierge Lounge is the perfect place to hang out.)
Divide and Conquer – Itinerary Planning for a Multi-Generational Trip
When traveling with extended family, chances are good that you will have many different levels of energy and interest in different activities. This is OK! In fact, it is fantastic. There is such a thing as too much togetherness!
When planning your days at Walt Disney World, I suggest dividing into groups based on level of interest in attractions. Have some thrill ride junkies in your group? That is one group! Have others who would be happy riding “it’s a small world” all day? That is your second group. Then there is typically a group who is in the middle.
A good plan of attack is to spend the morning in your “ride” groups. That gives you a way to prioritize your FastPass+ planning. Meet up mid-day, and regroup!
The Disney Dining Plan
I recommend that families traveling together take advantage of the Disney Dining Plan. Having your meals paid for in advance means no fighting over who picks up the check! (My mother-in-law and I are locked in a decades long struggle over who can grab the check faster. Anyone else?! The woman has reflexes like a ninja…)
Do Less, Enjoy More
I have extolled the virtues of the “Do Less, Enjoy More” philosophy in a previous post. But it is more important than ever with a family vacation! What is the point of a multi-generational trip if no one ever has a chance to catch up with each other?
Keep varying levels of energy and interest in mind. Flexibility is key with any Disney trip, but it is especially important for a multi-generational trip. Be willing to adjust your plans if a member of your group needs a break! My Disney Experience is super helpful with this since you can adjust FastPass+ and dining reservations in the app while in the parks.
Take The Trip
Whether it is to Walt Disney World or another destination, take the trip. Family memories will be created that will be talked about for years to come. Shared experiences are priceless!
Did your family take a multi-generational trip to Walt Disney World? Tell us your favorite memory in the comments!
Loved your blog. Brought back many memories of our family vacation when celebrating our 50th. I offered putting us all up in 2 suites at Art of Animation. Before going to off-property condo.- (6 adults and 5 children) one family in one and the other with Grammy and Grampy. Gave the bedroom to daughter and husband with the baby. G & G shared outer space with two grandchildren. Worked fast passes around everyone’s interest. One family only wanted quick service except for Chef Mickey’s so split up for many meals. Being on property allowed for freedom of movement. Absolutely suggest memory maker. Allows photos to be collected even if not together. Also suggest making a photo book when you get home. .
It sounds like a wonderful trip Janet! Memory Maker is a great suggestion.
I wanted to take my granddaughter to Disney before she turned 3, so that she would be free. That is when I took my kiddos too. Her Mom had never been. My son told me that they wanted to take her for her first trip so I asked if we could join them at the end of their trip? My hubby doesn’t enjoy long Disney trips, so this would be perfect. We joined them on their 4th day, staying another 2 nights and it was prefect! I got them their own room at Boulder Ridge & we stayed at Beach Club. The 2 resorts weren’t too far away from each other (I rented a van). We did some things together and some things apart. I let them decide on what they wanted to do & she was in charge of their Fastpasses for that day. I tried to be very laid back. We are planning a trip again & we are trying to decide if we should do a 2 bedroom villa or if we should just do 2 studios. They like their space & I try to respect that. I still got to enjoy my granddaughter at Disney!
I love this! It sounds like the perfect mix of togetherness and family time. Thank you for sharing!
Hi Princesses. We are currently planning a multi-generational trip for later this year. Our travelers range in age from 10 to 74. This is the first trip for the youngest and the first trip for his grandparents in over 25 years. The grandparents remember completely spontaneous days at the park. Things like the My Disney Experience app, mobile ordering, Magic bands and advance dining reservations are completely new concepts to them. What is your best advice to prepare everyone for what I hope is a successful mix of planning, spontaneity and Disney magic?
PS- Thank you for making this past year during the pandemic brighter!
It sounds like you have a great trip planned! One of the benefits of traveling this year, is that there is actually more room for spontaneity since there is currently no FastPass+. Disney has just announced that they will be rolling out Mobile Magic later this year which will enable guests to use their phones or Apple watches instead of MagicBands. (MagicBands will still be available but now you have more choices!) By the same token, dining reservations are now made 60 days prior to your trip, instead of the 180 it used to be.
The one non-negotiable is Park Pass. So what I would suggest is polling your group to see how many days you want to spend in each park – I recommend at least one per park, with additional days to go back to your favorites! Then make a few dining reservations (not too many unless your group REALLY likes sit-down dining!).
From there is gets more flexible! Agree in advance how much time you want to spend together. Get a sense of how your group may divide up – sometimes it is by family, sometimes by age group, and sometimes by ride junkies versus “I’m happy riding small world all day!” Then have each group meet to decide what are their “must dos.” Pick a couple “must do” items for each park, and leave the rest up to fate! This will give you a good mix of making sure everyone has their opinion heard, but also leaves plenty of time for flexibility.
Have a great time!
We started coming to Disney on our honeymoon 48 yes ago. We remember it cost 7.95 to get In!!!. We took our 2 kids every year. Now we take our 2 grandkids. So much fun and even enjoy the roller-coasters so much more now!!. Can’t wait to take the great-grandkids someday. Gee I wonder what that will cost lol. We each pay for the tickets, but we pay for all the kids meals, we love ❤ seeing the whole family laughing and telling stories about what they did on a ride. We usually share a giant room that fits us all. So very much much fun. Not to many families 👪 do that, but we all love it. God bless disney!! And yes we are respectful with the mask thing around other people . Got to do what u got to do!!! Nothing ruins our trips!!
Your grandkids will remember those trips for the rest of their lives! What a great family memory. ♥