Extended family WDW trip planning

Hiya! First-time poster here :grin: I am heading to WDW in November, the week after Thanksgiving, with a group of 10. I know I will have some questions as we continue planning, so I thought I’d say hi and introduce myself first…HI!
I will be traveling with DH’s family, three groups of us together…
-Me, DH, DD5, DS1 (hoping I get all these acronyms right!)
-BIL, his wife, their daughter (3)
-MIL, FIL, BIL (who has special needs and we are hopeful they will allow all 10 of us to use DAS)

While I am super excited to be going of course (I haven’t been since 1995, when I was only 15), some things are stressing me out! MIL/FIL are footing the bill for most of this trip, so they are having a big input on a lot of aspects of the trip, but they are allowing me and SIL to plan FPPs and TPs. We have very different interests, though, and it’ll be interesting to see how we manage to fit everything in. BIL/SIL are huge Star Wars fans, so that’ll be important to them. DD is into everything princess, so that’s going to be our focus (lots of M&Gs!). Meanwhile, FIL wants us to stay all together as much as possible.
The three families are staying at three different resorts (we are at POR, royal room, BIL/SIL are at AoA in a suite, MIL/FIL are at BC). We are on the Deluxe DP and have at least two TS meals a day, lots of character meals (MIL did ADRs).

So, my approach for planning is going to be to focus on the morning, getting all the must-do’s in as early as possible, scheduling stuff in the afternoon and playing it by ear at that point (see if DS1 will take a little nap in the stroller, or go back to the resort if we need to…which I have already told everyone might be a possibility). We have dinner reservations between 4:30-6:30 each night, and I am fine with heading back to our room after that, not overly concerned with fireworks or anything. Our plan is this:
Saturday: arrive, Rainforest Cafe DS lunch, Cape May dinner (not sure we’re going to make lunch, but we shall see)
Sunday: AK, breakfast at hotel, TH lunch w/ROL show, Y&Y dinner
Monday: MK (probably…still kind of up in the air), 'Ohana breakfast, 1900 PF dinner
Tuesday: EP, Akershus breakfast, Coral Reef lunch, GG dinner
Wednesday: HS/EP, H&V Disney Jr. breakfast, 50s PTC lunch, Teppan Edo dinner
Thursday: MK, CP breakfast, Chef Mickey’s dinner
Friday: MK, CRT breakfast, BOG dinner (then we are heading to an off-site hotel, visiting family on Saturday, leaving Sunday)

Whew! I feel like I jumped all over the place! :slightly_smiling_face: I have already picked up so much great info by searching and browsing through the forum, so thanks already for your help! And like I said, I know I’ll have some questions going forward as well!

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Nice to “meet” you! Welcome! I hope you guys have a wonderful time on your trip. We will be there just a few days before you 11/14-11/21. Sounds like your plans are good. I haven’t experienced it myself, but most people say that the deluxe dining plan is an enormous amount of food. So get ready on those days that you have 3 TS meals. Bring your stretchy pants! :smile:

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Hello and welcome - that sounds like a fun trip.:sunny: I would agree with @rckstrscat - three TS meals in one day may be the end of you. It’s a ton of food and time away from touring. That being said, it’s also good time with everyone together.

We did an extended family trip a few years back with my DD2, DH, SIL, BIL, Neice and my mom. We found it easier to spend a little time together touring rather than all the time touring together. My niece and my daughter are about 9 years apart in age so they had different ride interests.

We did meet up for meals every day which was lovely, and we walked through Epcot countries together as well. We stayed at the same hotel which was another nice way to spend time together. After the kids fell asleep, my DH, SIL and BIL would gather for drinks or late night snacks. Pool time was also fun for everyone.


@lizzney22 I am hoping (fingers crossed!) that once we really get into putting our itineraries together, everyone will come to the conclusion that some time apart will be welcome, and probably necessary. Being in separate hotels I think will be hard logistically, like meeting up, but that’ll at least give us some more private family time :slight_smile:

Will late November still be a good time to go in the pools? I know the little ones will want to get in the water, but I am wondering if they’ll be too cold.

Fortunately, WDW heats their pools year-round, so the water temperature is always reasonable for swimming/splashing/playing. It’s the air temperature when you get out that’s sometimes shocking!

As it was frightfully cold last January when I was there last, I learned that the hard limit for a resort pool opening is 50 degrees. And the quiet pools, which are unmonitored, are nearly always available even when the feature pool is not.

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Your plans has lots of great restaurants, but I agree with the other responses, 2-3 TS meals is a lot of food! And, more importantly, A LOT of time that young kids are expected to sit still.

I would strongly recommend pairing down the ADRs. We were there last August (with DS6 and DD1) and did the regular dining plan. There were a few days where we had two ADRs and we always felt like it was too much food. And, we often felt like we were running from meal to meal. Honestly, I can’t imagine doing 3 TS meals in one day. Also, with young children, it can be nice not to be tied to an ADR time (or eat a lighter meal but not feel like you aren’t getting your money’s worth).

I’ve read about people who have effectively shared the Deluxe DP plan across 2 rooms. With your group, since you are already at different hotels and likely on different reservations, maybe just get the deluxe DP for 2 rooms, and share across the 3. Since you are planning to have most of your meals together, it seems like it should work. Maybe something to explore and see if it works for your situation?

We are going back at the end of this month, along with my parents and sister this time, for an extended family trip too. We’ll be there for 8 nights, and with the exception of one day, we’ll have 1 ADR per day for most days and even 2 days with no ADRs. The TS meal is usually a breakfast or maybe a lunch, and I’ve left most evenings free for a lighter/QS meal. I’ve really tried to apply my learning from last summer and allow for my downtime at the hotel and unscheduled time in the parks to explore.

Hope my long response is a bit helpful for you!

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I would say that since MIL and FIL are footing most of the cost of the trip, let them have a huge say in what goes on because going anywhere on WDW property is a huge privilege and even if you went there everyday for a year, you wouldn’t experience all it has to offer. Take it from a local.


I hadn’t even thought about sharing a meal plan, not sure if the in-laws have either! I will bring it up and see how receptive they are. Thanks! :grinning:
Our daughter is usually great at restaurants, but my niece…not so much. I have googled if you get charged the $10 per person fee if only part of your group doesn’t arrive for an ADR, and it looks like we should be okay if, say, we need to miss a meal for a nap or if the kids have just had enough and we need to call it a day. I also am worried that all these ADRs will get in the way of seeing/doing all that we want to in the park. But I think the character meals will help, since maybe we can do fewer M&Gs.

That actually brings me to a question…are there some M&Gs that folks would recommend, even if you have already seen that character at a meal? I am trying to figure out who we want to see, and I think I’d like some additional visits/pictures with the princesses for my daughter, even though we already have CRT and Akershus.
Also, related question…is there a non-meal location to meet Aurora? She is my daughter’s favorite so I definitely want to make extra time for that if it’s available.

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Oh yes, we are definitely VERY appreciative of the trip! It would be a while before we’d be able to go on our own, so this is exciting! Unfortunately, though, I already have mild anxiety day-to-day, and planning something this big without being fully in control is tough. But, I am trying to view it as a learning experience as well :slightly_smiling_face:

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You are correct - as long as someone shows up for the ADR you won’t be charged. So even on a reservation for 10, if 1 shows, there’s no charge.

If you can’t send anyone you can also try to modify to a time > 24 hours away and then cancel as a way to avoid the fee as well. Doesn’t always work particularly for high demand meals, but in a pinch it could be a useful trick…

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On M&Gs, I’d say do as many as you think your daughter will like. I thought my son would question meeting a character at breakfast and then in a park the same day (Stitch, in this case), but he was so excited to see him that he didn’t care. So, if your daughter is really into princesses, go all in and meet them in the parks too.

Also, for the one year old, we left a few days before my daughter’s first birthday. I went into the planning thinking she was a bit of an accessory and the focus was definitely on DS6. Although the little one slept quite a bit throughout the day, she LOVED seeing characters, especially as the week went on. When she saw Mickey at the end of the Festival of Fantasy parade, she was so excited and her face lit up! So here, don’t underestimate what the baby will enjoy too.

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Aww that’s awesome! My 1-year-old I think will also love to meet Mickey. We had a Mickey-themed birthday party for him and now he’s all into it :smile:

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This is one of my favorite photos ever, so I’m sharing it. Pure joy! Thanks to Mickey.


AAA!! SOOO cute! :smile:

Welcome to forum, so glad to see you here and ask away! No question too wierd!
Sounds like a beautiful trip you have planned, I hope you make great memories!

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I think there are differing opinions on this, but I prefer M&G in the park, even though we still do character dining. I like the character dining because it keeps the young ones entertained and I don’t worry as much about my kid being loud, but I prefer getting the photo pass pictures. They just come out better, imo, as opposed to pics that are taken in a crowded restaurant in the middle of kids trying to eat. It was also a pain to keep taking my son out of the highchair (plus I don’t like being in pics), so I have a number of pics with him with the characters while he is in the high chair. But I have a number of adorable ones when he’s interacting with the characters during the M&G because he was able to walk.

My personal favorite is Mickey at town square. Since he can talk, I thought the interaction was better. Ohana has Stitch before dinner, so that is good (the other characters walk around during dinner). Are you doing the Christmas party? The princesses have the princes with them during that, so that was pretty cool. Aside from that, I don’t think you can really go wrong or see a character/princess too many times.

While it says cancel within 24 hours without penalty, we’ve had luck repeatedly, on multiple trips, with canceling up to midnight the day before (even 11:30p for a 9:00a breakfast ressie) without penalty. Keep that in mind too.


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Your plan sounds good in terms of parks. Having done many multi-generation trips with 9+ is our group I learned a few things from the first ones.

I do agree that three TS meals are tough on the diet but also eat up a lot of time. We typically do one TS for a late lunch or early dinner if we stay at the parks all day. If we do 2 TS in one day it is early to beat rope drop and then do Snacks or CS for lunch and then a TS for dinner.

I think it’s important to prioritize with a big group and communicate expectations before you travel. Time together as a majority of time but then time apart in smaller family units always worked for us. This allows reconnects being meals or FPP rides we all wanted to go on together (great photo op on Splash Mtn for example)

The grandparents had visions of doing everything together all the time but the liner in me needs some moments with just the 5 of us just go go going. Once we got past the first trip and a few hurt feelings, it was easy to separate and come back together. Nice part of staying on property is transportation makes that easy.

Finally, I would also recommend a longer trip and adding downtime days for pool and shopping with a big group. If you have a mixed group with liners and first / non first timers it puts less pressure on hitting everything on schedule. Everything seems to take twice as long so breathe and enjoy the family memories! Will be a blast!


Just as a heads up, Mickey stopped talking at Town Square sometime earlier this year. Seems like they justified it as having only a single Mickey talk was causing “guest confusion”. Shame as I always read very favorable reviews of that meet & greet previously…

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