Trip for 17 people! How'd this happen!

My wife and I are in charge of planning a trip for 17 people. Of course, the Liners of the family step up to take on this monster! Have you had this pleasure? What are some pit falls? What are some tips when planning a trip of this size. The stats...17 people, all staying at AKL Jambo, 7 nights!
Liners unite! GO!!!!!!!!!!!!

**RUUUUUUNNNNNNN. Fast! ** smile

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Wow. I'd provide lots of information but leave lots of room for people to make their own decisions. If you say from the beginning that "this is YOUR vacation" maybe each person or family group will take ownership of their own trip. I'm learning from the small trip with girlfriends that I'm planning that some people just don't want to do that. It's fine to do things as a group, but I don't want to hold somebody's hand 24/7 because they can't be bothered to make any decisions. (Sorry. I may be projecting just a bit!)

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I've been with ten people before, some were family and some were friends. The trip was several years ago, so we didn't have to deal with FPP. We decided which parks to go to ahead of time and made a few ADRs with everyone. It was hard to tour with the whole group. We split up quite a bit due to some being rope drop people and some being sleep in/late night people. We made it work because we were all open and honest about what we wanted to do. We all agreed ahead of time that anyone could take a break from the group whenever (except for ADRs). We had fun, but I still prefer going with just my DH and DD19. Good luck!!

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I'm planning a trip for 14 in Nov. We decided to meet every night for dinner. I gave them my plan of attack and encouraged them to have one too. Haven't done FPP yet so not sure how I'm going to handle that one. Probably will make a few for us all but also plan to tour with just my family a fair amount.

@bajorek3 It has been a long time since I did a large family trip. Good luck to you, but here are some thoughts...

First let the family know I am planning on leaving at such and such time. I am sorry I will not wait, Don't let them destroy what you want of your trip.

I would not plan to be a Brazil tour group, I would do some things like that especially some of the meals, but not all the time every day.

I would take a date night as you have built in relatives.

Make a list of simple liners facts about the parks and touring and give it to everyone. You can hold their hands, but you will not carry them, and your individual family also wants some time in the parks to themselves.

Just my two cents, if this is not okay then I quote:

@MDU **RUUUUUUNNNNNNN. Fast! ** smile

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I planned a trip for total 14 people last fall. It was really important to plan some group ADRs and just a few group activities (shows were a good thing to meet at). RD and trying to do many rides together did not work well. I warned the other people in advance before the trip (and numerous times) not to be surprised if we all needed to split up more often than they expected so when it did happen everything went well without hurt feelings. We were paying a lot for our vacation and my family did not want to feel held back waiting for others. Most days we did go to the same parks and had more hang out time not at the parks (pool, resort ADRs, DTD).

I did "train them" well and I was actually really surprised how much information I had given that they remembered and used. We only had one day where one of the people messaged me at midnight and asked why we were doing a certain park the next day and if why we couldn't change. I think that was out of tiredness and I replied why I had chosen that and that they could do what they wanted. It ended up with them missing out on something on our last day (Usbourne lights) because they used their park pass on a scheduled off day. I felt bad for them but I warned them and they had to live with their decision.

It is all about setting realistic expectations in advance and I think things will go great! Have fun!

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When we did a group trip for 10 years ago, I actually wrote a monthly newsletter to e-mail to everyone that mentioned some of the "must dos" at each park, and did a brief review of a restaurant we were eating at. The plan is that we all would get together for one meal a day, but aside from that, everyone was on their own. What ended up happening is that the group would split up, but in different combinations on every day. Because I had recommended 2-3 counter service restaurants in each park and set a "park of the day" (based on where our dinner ADR was), people also tended to run into each other at lunch.

Aside from that, because we were all family (husband's and mine), we also did a PhotoPass resort photo shoot. To this day, everyone in the family says it is the best photos they've got of each other.

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I second having group ADRs! It's the best way to make sure everyone can spend some time with each other without being together every single second (and driving people nuts). AKL is an awesome resort for large trips, IMHO- people can relax at the pool, hop a bus to the park, or enjoy great restaurants in-house. I'd definitely see if you can make a group ressie at Boma/Sanaa for the first night or so. A good start to a great trip!

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Oh, and group planning was way less stressful if it's wrapped in fun. We had Debriefer-BBQ's with our group of 12 where we discussed ADRs, group must-dos, and daily suggestions. Everyone got a pretty packet with their name, reservation info, and ADR dates/times pre-trip.

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I should mention we reserved 3 DVC rooms at AKL for my brother and sister's families and then In-laws on those sides started jumping in which pushed us up to 17! We've had alot of fun with the planning already. We've had a planning party, set up a FB message board, and set up MDE for everyone. I have set expectations of pricing, when they need to purchase their tickets, and link it to the MDE (I've told them they need to purchase at 70 days out, it'll give me time to link them and fix any issues prior to the 60 mark). I plan on reserving ADR right at the 180 mark and realize we will not all sit together. I also plan to stay up to midnight on the 60th day to try to get all our FFP together, at least for the headliners. With the new system, I see us being together for ADRs and FFPs which would seem to be an advantage of the new system.

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Love the packet idea!

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I did give our group a small duo tang with transportation & park maps, ADR info & confirmations, FP+ reservations, daily schedules of which parks and park hours, other notes. I thought it was kinda fun that they walked around with their duo tangs just like me!

I have traveled in large groups many times and have experienced the highest highs and the lowest lows. The key to a successful group trip, in my opinion, is setting realistic expectations.

You need to be open and honest, even brutally so, right from the beginning. Every family travels differently and every family is pretty set in their ways of how to "do WDW". You need to set the expectation right from the beginning, and remember that it's EVERYONE'S vacation, especially if you are all paying for yourselves, you have a voice, using it now will save a lot of trouble later.

Our group was three different families with kids ranging from age 3-11 full of people who had their own distinct opinions (even the 3 year old) and definitely had their own touring style.

Through trial and error (lots of error) we realized a few things:

-you have to count the kids opinions, at least we did. Because that's how 2/3 families voted smile
- Take a poll. We made a night of it and each picked our top 10 attractions and top 10 restaurant choices for each park. Then we tallied them up and planned accordingly
- Absence makes the heart grow fonder-plan some time apart. Either take a break apart in the middle of the day or separate after dinner, etc. Everyone needs time apart to decompress and unwind. Expecting that number of people to stick together every second will ruin your trip if that's not what everyone wants.

Just be clear about what you want and that everyone's opinions are heard.

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I have a friend who has a very large family Trip every other year. She has a meeting/dinner every month all year where they talk over the trip and plan. Some members attend via speaker phone. She plans the parties to go along with the theme of the trips. It is a great way to bring the group together .

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Has anyone set up FPP for this large of a group? I plan on staying up till midnight, do you foresee any issues?

Did you get your FPP to work for your group? Curious on this. We will have a large group in 2016 again. I know I may not be in the majority but Iove traveling with my extended family on vacation. We have done Disney several times with groups in size from 8-17. I think it is great for my kids to bond with their cousins. We do break out/regroup depending on people's wants for the day usually only have 1-2 ADR.

Our trip isn't till June 2015, ADR day isn't till December, just excited and planning ahead. Doesn't seem to be a lot of feedback due to the system being new.

FPP Question: My DW and DSs are heading down a week earlier than the rest of the family, checking in on the 15th apposed to the 22nd. When setting up FPP from our the 60 day mark for my immediate family I know I'll be able to book the entire trip (we have APs). Now, will we be able to book FPP for the balance of the group at our 60 mark or do I have to wait for their check-in 60 day mark? They will have 7 day tickets and I realize you can only book 7 days worth, but, it would be an advantage to book at our 60 mark for the headliners.

@bajorek3 I am pretty sure you will have to wait until their 60 day mark unless things have changed. I had to wait when I booked for our others that were checking in different days than us. But that was during testing roll outs still last fall.