Update -- Grandparent Limits?

HI everyone. My DH and I are discussing inviting the GParents on our Disney Vacation. He is against it - esp for his parents. He does not what them to take over our vacation and I understand. But I also know how much it would mean to them to be able to enjoy WDW with their Gkids. With that in mind my DH wanted me to come up with some limits for the GParents to ensure they understand what we can and cannot tolerate on our trip. I have the limits listed below. Are they crazy? Am I missing anything. Is this introducing too much trouble and should we just not invite anyone? I am trying to make this work for everyone.

Limits (notes in parenthesis):
• 2 park days, maximum (We decided we need some family time without GParents)
• 1 gift for the kids, maximum (They go really nuts and we are not ok with all of that)
• Our family will follow our plan/schedule and we do not wish to separate unless it is to support naps for the baby. (They are welcome to join us or divert but we will not be changing our plans and we do not want our family splitting off into two different directions.)
• We will NOT be waiting in line to meet characters with the one exception of meeting Elsa and Anna. (This is our touring preference)
• We are happy to have 1 person stay in the room with us overnight, free, but note that we will all be sharing beds and bath. (only on GParent may be coming) If both want to stay over you need to get another room.
• TS Meals are planned and you are welcomed to join us. Cost for all meals on you (Honestly we will likely pick up some these costs but I do not want any surprises).
• Park tickets are on them (I request that they get them before our 60 day mark and link them to our MDE account for FPP).
• Transportation to the resort is on them (unless they are getting a room, in which case they can board the Disney Magical Express for free from the airport.)
• They can join us on the Disney busses to the parks and the resort for free.

This is funny. Sounds like you have the same relationship with your parents as I do mine.

Fortunately, when they were with us they had money to not only pay for their tix but ours, so that makes it a little more enjoyable to have them there with us! :smiley:

The biggest thing, IMO, you need to worry about, is their ability and desire to keep up with your Touring Plan. Because depending on how old they are, they may not move as fast as you and your kids can/will. Just explain to them how important TPs are and that you must stay on schedule. That should take care of a few of the items on your list.

As for paying for stuff, … DW is EXPENSIVE! If they want to come with you, and you guys aren’t rich, they should pay their way. And grandparents like to spoil their grandkids. Setting a limit of one gift isn’t unreasonable. But also, you could look at it as a trip to DW is not common, so a little extra spoiling by the grandparents isn’t that crazy an idea. Maybe two gifts each.

Good luck and have fun!

The cornerstone of answering something like this is determining the relationship - which it sounds like you all are looking at this with your eyes wide open - which is good.

Based on what you have suggested (and only knowing what you have posted)

1 - You want to come - it is on your DIME - end of story. Of course you will end up paying for some things - but you can’t go into debt for others
2 - We have plans and you are welcome to join us on our plans or not join us
3 - We are the parents and our rules are LAW - no negotiation / no exceptions
4 - SEPARATE ROOMS - even if only one joining
5 - This trip is for US to bond with our kids - you will not take that away
6 - We are doing it our way and you are a GUEST

If they “really” want to go to WDW with the grand kiddies - I suggest that they plan a separate trip and it is just grandparents / grandkids

We travel with our parents - but the dynamics are very different based on who we travel with.

Based on what you posted - I would honestly suggest going sans grandparents. If you have concerns this early - a small hotel room, long lines and different ideology is going to make for a painful vacation. Ask yourself this - are you EXCITED that they are coming or are you HESITANT about them coming. Based on that plan accordingly

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It all makes sense… i’d lay out their estimated costs in more detail though. My mom and her husband really wanted to go to disney with us. When they found out how much it cost (caribbean beach + dining plan + tickets) , they no longer wanted to go.
Disney IS super expensive, esp for seniors so it’s super important to set their expectations properly.

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Just my opinion… if I set rules like that with my mother, it would ruin her vacation and time with her grandchildren before it even started. Don’t invite them, if you have to have that many rules. Think of it from their perspective. How would you feel if someone invited you to come somewhere with them, but then instituted time limits and rules on them?

Here are the ones I would think are reasonable and respectful of their role as your parents and the kids’ grandparents. I know my mom would be fine with these:

DGP(s) should have their own room, but might want to have a grandchild sleep over one night. This will give them space from you and privacy.

They can join you for dinners (and probably should) and pay their own way, but should feel free to make their own plans, if they prefer.

You’d love to have them join you in the touring plans, which you will make available to them before the first day, but if they aren’t up to it, then arrange a meet time with them, even if they can only do afternoons or evenings with you.

You will let them pick something special to do with your children, whether it’s a special show or experience or meal. There’s no reason for them to come if they aren’t going to be allowed to see your kids.

You will ask if they want to babysit one night so you can have a date night and be fine with it if they say no.

You will limit their buying gifts to one item, but they may do xmas/birthday shopping for your kids while they are there, but they have to take it home on the plane with them. Use the airplane weight/space limit as your excuse, so there are no hurt feelings.

They can pay for their own tickets and transportation.

Limiting meet and greets is fine, as is not wanting to separate. That is quite reasonable, as it is your family vacation, too.


i really like the way you framed it- it is a more respectful and kinder way to say the same things. thank you

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I agree with some of the previous posters that if your husband is already against it (and they are his parents) and you are writing up a list of “rules” then maybe this isn’t the trip for them to come on. If you are hesitant and dreading them joining or worried that they are going to “ruin” your vacation, I definitely think that that is going to take away from your enjoyment.

If they were sort of inviting themselves, then I could see you coming back with some “expectations.” But if you are going to say that you’re inviting them and then hand them a list of dos and don’ts, then I would imagine that would sting and take away from their excitement.

As for your specific rules, 2 park days seems a little tough. I don’t know how long your trip is, but if it’s longer than 3-4 days, I imagine that would get awkward for you to leave for the day and tell them not to follow you. Not wanting to separate and not waiting for characters are definitely 100% reasonable if phrased nicely.

As you have already seen given the different answers, people’s opinions are going to differ on this matter. I think a lot of it depends on the relationship you have with your parent’s and what limits you have set with them in general. My DH and I have been very up front with our limits and expectations with both sets of grandparents (my parents and my in-laws) since before our daughter was born, so the concept of limits for vacation is nothing shocking to them (i.e. we already have the one toy rule for birthdays and Christmas, everything else has to be books/clothes/art supplies/etc). I sort of disagree with the way others are seeing it - even if you are inviting them along, you are inviting them along on your family vacation - so I think being upfront with expectations can be nothing but helpful. ( I should mention here that my family is BLUNT with one another about everything, in a way that took my DH some getting used to. Meanwhile I still want to pull my hair out with the passive-aggressive, no-one-every-says-what-they-are-feeling way that his extended family operates!)

My DM is joining us for a portion of our upcoming vacation and here are the limits we have set:

  1. She is paying her own way. (But, as someone said, she has the financial stability to do so and expecting her to pay for herself does not prevent her from coming.)
  2. She stays in her own room.
  3. She is welcome to join us for anything that we do or may opt out of any/all of it.
  4. For the most part we will not be changing our plans to suit her. We have told her we get up early - if she does not want to get up early she doesn’t have to, but we will not be waiting around for her.

And the rule that goes above all others but that is in place at all times - If mommy and/or daddy say no, that’s the end of it. Luckily I don’t have to worry about my DM or DMIL as this used to drive them crazy about their own mothers. We are still working on my DF and DFIL.

Someone is probably reading this thinking how awful it must be to be in my family, but it’s what works for us. So, I guess my overall though is to just go with your gut and the limits you think you need.

Last May, due to a change in scheduling, we (DH and I) wound up at WDW the same time as my DD, DSIL, and 4yo DGD had planned their trip. We made our plans ahead of time - ADRs, FPP, etc., and set expectations on both sides. We pre-planned a few activities and dinners together, and when our plans intersected otherwise, we hung out, but we weren’t locked in to each other. DH and I did our thing, they did theirs.

They stayed at PC from Monday to Friday, while we were off site at our timeshare villa from the Friday previous to Sunday next. They drove down overnight Saturday, crashed for a few hours Sunday in our villa, joined us for dinner at Medieval Times (which is loads of fun, btw) and stayed the night so they could hit the parks first thing Monday. Then they stayed with us again on Friday night so they could have a last day in the parks before heading home Saturday morning.

We had a BLAST! They weren’t concerned about gift buying, which this Nana did with great glee and gusto. We treated them to the MT dinner, and dinner at Liberty Tree when their dining plan was exhausted. They treated us to snacks from their DDP. We child-swapped with them on several rides, We joined up for some meals, shows, rides and fireworks, and at other times we went our separate ways. We took DGD for an afternoon while they went and had some time on their own as well.

I think sitting down and planning the itinerary together would go a long way towards setting expectations and limits that both parties can agree on. The ability to be flexible and accommodating of each others needs and desires will make the trip together fun, and not fraught with angst and anxiety.


This was my first thought. I think it’s great to outline expectations but some of this seems super rigid and fun-killing. That being said,I recognize that tone is difficult to infer through the screen and perhaps it is sounding more harsh than it is.


Oh COURSE you need to frame things in a nice / pleasant way.

However - if the little voice inside you is saying “this isn’t a good idea” listen to it!!!

Rules are like manners - they set the stage so everyone knows what to expect. If you feel you need to set a lot of rules (regardless of how they are stated, framed etc) - you may be in for more than you bargained.

We have traveled with others and with each group there is a different set of “expectations”. There is no right or wrong answer - just what is best for the group. However you really need to set the expectations properly. When we travel with my family - the single rule is MUST MUST MUST attend dinner. There have been times we have wanted to do something else - but the rule is dinner. The fact that we KNOW it makes it better. I think the order of the day is HONESTY so that people can make decisions based on what everyone’s expectations are.


If you do decide to invite the grandparents, I don’t think your rules are unreasonable. Getting them across in a nice way that doesn’t ruffle feathers will be the tricky part, but there have been some good suggestions from others on phrasing, etc.

My concern would be about whether you should invite them, especially given your husband’s reservations about the idea. I know extended family vacations can work well for some people, but only you and your husband know your extended family well enough to make the call on whether it can work for you or whether it will . It seems like the logistics of trying to invite them may be stressful, which might be a hint of what having them with you might turn out to be. I know I wouldn’t want our extended family on our vacation, I found it enough to plan for our immediate family and schedule changes based on our needs on a particular day.

There have been times where I have wanted to invite other families / extended families. My wife puts her (tiny, delicate, angle like) foot down. Our vacations are the singular time we can spend time as a family without any outside distractions etc. Although I sometimes wish others would join us - for the most part she is right - this is when my son and I can go off and it is just be the two of us. She does the same with our daughter and then we all switch and it is wonderful to be the “FUN” parent to both of them - if only for a few days. We do all the things that aren’t normally allowed and it so so much fun to do.

Unless you are truly and thoroughly excited about having others join you - I would pass.


Speaking from personal experience, I would pass on inviting the grandparents. In 2013 we went with my parents and my sister and it was horrible. They spoil my daughter rotten (only grandchild) and we don’t always approve. I laid down some rules (which I might not have done the best way) but even before we left home the trip was doomed. I tried telling them we might need to separate and do different things but that just offended them. If your parents are like mine, they aren’t going to listen to you about the 1 gift rule and then you’ll just get mad. They aren’t going to care about your touring plan if they don’t understand how beneficial it is (although they’ll brag to their friends how many things they did AFTER even though they weren’t as supportive during the trip). If you’re going to let them come, I suggest they get their own room - don’t share. We were in a condo and there was no way of escaping unless you wanted to sit in your room with the door closed. You need a place to unwind by yourself. The last day of our trip ended in a huge fight. It was horrible. A year later, I just went with DH and my daughter and it was the best trip ever. If you want to go with your family, maybe try doing a shorter trip near home and see how that goes first. But I would honestly take DH’s advice and steer clear. If you have to set up ground rules, it’s not going to end well. Trust me :frowning:



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We went with my inlaws on a cruise and then WDW.

They were great to travel with - we didn’t have to set any rules - because they travel like we do.

1 - They are VERY active
2 - They only came on the cruise after they found out the parents of mutual friends were coming (so they had friends too)
3 - We only planned to eat dinner together and anything else was “at everyone’s digression”
4 - When at the parks - they were not only in a separate room - but a separate hotel
5 - We met for one day - they did what the kids wanted to do - no questions asked
6 - They don’t believe in lavishing the kids with gifts - except for their time and to do “experiences”

We didn’t even think of having rules - as we didn’t need them for our dynamic

But we do have others that we would never travel with as the thought of what rules would need to be in place - just makes my head hurt



This is an interesting topic to me because we DID do a trip w/ the grandparents (my parents) in 2014. They paid their own way/had their own room. We were not interested in sharing a family suite/villa so that was never discussed.
I will say that it is something we will absolutely, positively, never do again. Not because it is a bad idea in a general sense - in fact I think it is a wonderful idea in many scenarios, but that is very dependent upon the family and dynamic. I must admit I am actually a bit envious of those who have/plan to do extended family trips and it ends up being the magical experience you hope for, lol.

From a planing standpoint, the logistics of planning dining for 6 vs. 4 was a little more challenging, but not impossible. I was designated to be in charge of all of that because as my mom put it, I have planned several trips already and know the ins and outs of ADRs, FPs, special promotions etc… I was happy to do it and quite frankly wouldn’t put my Disney trip planning in their hands anyway, lol! :wink:
We planned several meals together of course, but a few separately because my parents have very different taste than we do on many things…they have a far less adventurous palette, my stepdad just being downright picky lol. So when we ate at Akershus, they did Coral Reef, when we did BOG they did something else, etc… I think that was good, as my mom and I agreed ahead of time, we don’t need to be 100% joined at the hip or we will want to kill each other before it’s all over.

My parents aren’t the best (or even good) at respecting our guidelines sometimes and this trip was no different. I do want them to have fun and enjoy their grandchildren and even I am more relaxed with certain rules on vacation. But my parents kept trying to interject with things like “want a sundae?” when they just finished dessert at a meal half an hour before…or (we’ve always been fine with the kid getting desserts/treats at Disney but for their own good (and the sake of no tummy aches!) make sure it’s a reasonable amount/done in moderation. Similar to @all4ava we ended up getting in a pretty bad fight one day at MK. I’m not proud of it lol…but my mom attempted to literally steer my daughter away from me while I had pulled her aside to have a chat to explain why we weren’t doing something at that particular time but were to shortly etc…). The ironic thing was that my daughter was FINE and everything was a-ok, misunderstanding resolved…but my mom jumped in and literally said to me “You need to back off”. :rage:. That didn’t go over well, lol…not my best moment but I grabbed my daughter’s hand from her and told my mom SHE needed to back off because this wasn’t her place. I know. Not very magical. My poor husband and stepdad tried to smooth it over while explaining to her that she can’t do that…no matter what she thinks I’m the parent and there was no reason for her to have interfered in that particular scenario…we ended up going our separate ways for that day and then met up for a nice awkward dinner that night!! Everything calmed down and we enjoyed the next two days of the trip but it was a little tense sometimes.
There were just other things like when we went to MVMCP…one of my daughter’s must-do things was meeting Anna and Elsa…the lines were so long throughout the day (this was 2014) so we decided to meet them at MVMCP b/c it was only 10 minutes or so…we were going to line up and my parents decided to “go get a soda or something” while we did that…i.e. miss the meet and greet. Ok. Fine, if you want to forego seeing your grandchildren do this, something that was very high on their list (DD in Elsa dress & all…and my son had his little plush Olaf) be my guest. But don’t complain about missing stuff. We all saw the parade and Holiday Wishes together and did some rides, etc…then when my parents wanted to do Space Mountain we did Buzz w/ the kids…when we got out of Buzz we texted them and they were already on their way back to the hotel. I just don’t think it was as much their thing as it is ours but it seems like a waste to forego that much of MVMCP for what it costs. They also just seemed more ready to “get home” on departure day than we were. We are die hard Disney people and they just are not, they’ll never go back. Not to say we didn’t have lots of fun w/ other experiences seen after the blowup, we definitely did, but both DH and I absolutely feel that was the “worst” out of all our Disney trips and the trip after that (last year) was so much better.
Sorry for the long saga…lol. But IMO it sounds like you or your husband are a little hesitant to invite the grandparents…and if you are already that hesitant perhaps it’s better not to. You know what will work best for your family though! :slight_smile:


Now that we are sharing horror stories, I am recalling that when my DD was 2, we did spend one day at MK with her and the ILs. This predates my touring expertise as a Liner, but even then I liked to plan ahead and know what we would be doing and when. Imagine my horror when we still hadn’t even left their home - 30 mins from WDW - by 11a.m. Then imagine my frustration as we wandered aimlessly behind them at snailneck speed.

We visit our local amusement park once annually and that is plenty for me. I would never want to do WDW with them again.

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My husband’s family did one of those GIANT group trips with 20 people in 07. His step-sister planned everything and the only group requirement was to eat dinner together. That worked out great for us because there were so many people involved.

We don’t have our own kids yet but I can only imagine what DH’s mother would do on a trip with us if we did. She has mobility issues and refuses to admit them so she would NEVER rent an ECV even though she desperately needs one. DSil has 3 kids and she is always buying them dinky, throwaway toys for every minor holiday (think Easter, Thanksgiving, July 4th, etc) not to even mention the oodles of toys on birthdays and Christmas.

DH and I agreed (before we were even married) that our children would be raised to value experiences as a family, not junk that will end up in a consignment shop, Goodwill or the trash in 6 months. We are a travelling couple and hope to continue as a family once kids join the mix. Every year for Christmas and birthdays, we leave town by ourselves and wouldn’t think of inviting anyone else along.

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