WDW planning for a party of 9


#1

Edit*
Trip was postponed due to medical issue.
******* end edit********

No specific questions, just needed a place to vent for a spell and maybe pick up some worthy tips on planning for a large group.
9 of us going in Oct . 4 generations. Here’s the breakdown by age starting with 3yo Dgd ( her first trip), DD14, DD29, her DH30, Dsister-in-law, DBiL, my DW, Me, and DMiL.
We are all going down to celebrate a few things. Its my 50th, but also Dgd first Disney experience, DMiL’s birthday as well, and most importantly to fulfill a wish for my DM who passed last year. Her last wish was for this trip to happen but her illness progressed rapidly before we could get everything planned. So DW & I decided to plan this trip in her honor as well.
After my mom passed I found an envelope with a note and a few thousand dollars in with her things. It said for me to plan the trip anyway and use the money to help fund it. So that’s what we are doing. DW and I are funding the trip for the group but putting moms contributions towards some special experiences while we are down there.
I’m the planner and the only real Disney enthusiast so its all on me. Don’t get me wrong, planning is probably my favorite part, but its really perplexing planning for this diverse group.
I know I’m 240 days away but I look at it as 60 days away from ADR’s.
I’ve already got off site home booked. I must have looked at 1,000 homes before I found what I thought was the best fit for the group.
I already purchased our park tickets. Got a good deal this past black friday.

And since I’m the only one who will be driving I decided to rent a passenger van for us all.
I guess my biggest dilemma is how to create the TP’s to best accommodate everyone. What I’ve come up with so far seems to be working. I’m planning RD’s and planning all morning activities/attractions around Dgd3. Then putting in a 4 hour midday break, those who want to return to home can do so and those who want to stay and tour can do that. I’ll bus em back to the house and bus em back for the evening portion of the plan. I figure half the group which will include Dgd3, DMiL, DW, and myself will head back to rest up each day.
I’m doing mostly family oriented attractions that can include everyone during mornings and evenings and planning thrill type rides for those who want that during the midday. Not planning any late nights. Plans stop after evening fireworks and in some cases we are skipping the evening attractions altogether. I’ve got down days planned strategically after each 2 full days in the parks.
Well be doing character breakfasts on each park day so we don’t have to get up extra early as we will already be doing RD. Plus this will cut down on the long waits for character meet and greets in the park. I’ve planned the ADR’s for brunch time so we can get in most of the headliners we want prior. Most dinners will be back at the house between am and pm touring. Obvious snacks in between.
OK my batteries dying so I’ll update more as I go along. I’ve got a ways to go yet but if you have experience planning please feel free to leave me some advice.


#2

I think that you are on the right track. A solid morning plan, a meet up for dinner, and several hours of unplanned time I think works best for large diverse groups.

Then continue your plan for whatever small group will be with you for the day… guessing DW and, maybe DGD and her parents. Offer to provide expertise for others, but don’t get bogged down in trying to give everyone a perfect plan. I think that is next to impossible.

What a great sounding trip. :grinning:. Good luck and have fun!


#3

First, I hope you family appreciates what you are doing for them!

Second, it sounds like you are thinking in the right direction. And I think it’s great that you are planning the morning around your DGD3. She will have a magic time because of your efforts!

Third, I agree with @gamusicman - don’t get bogged down on planning for everyone else. I tried this for my extended family planning trip - my efforts, while appreciated by some were not appreciated by all. 8 of us total and most of the time we never saw each other. It was disappointing for sure! I made sure my family of 3 had a blast. :slight_smile:

Where are you considering for character meals?


#4

I know how you feel. We had a recent trip with 10 persons. I was the planner. (Which I enjoy very much)
I agree with gamusicman, plan the morning for everyone, so that you get to experience all the headliners, afternoon breaks, then meet up again for dinner, Then plan your evenings.
What I did, that worked well, was to make tour plans for the morning and evenings as explain above. Then I presented the plans to everyone involved. I explained why the plans should be followed closely in the morning and the benefits of following your plan in the evening. Then let them decide if they want to tag along or go on their own. If they want to go on their own then just agree on a meeting place for later on. That way the non-Disney enthusiast won’t have anyone to blame but themselves if the stray too far from your plans.
Have fun.


#5

Heres what im planning on for ADR’s.
10:30 GG on Epcot day, 10:45 TH on AK day, 10:45 CP on one of MK days, 8:00 H&V with the F! package for HS day, and hoping for EMM on final MK day which will include breakfast at PVH. Possibly thinking of adding one dinner show if the EMM isn’t available. Either SoA or HDDR.


#6

I love TH! They have this dish that is kinda like grits (it’s not) - soooo good.

I was told SoA was not suitable for young children, so skipped it and did HDDR instead – which I regret… none of the 5 of us enjoyed HDDR! In fact, my DD (5 at the time) fell asleep and slept thru the whole thing. I haven’t done this since I was a child & I don’t remember it, but what about Mickey’s Backyard BBQ?


#7

I to was the planner for a group of 12. I got all the ADR’s and FPP for everyone that was going. I agree with @donald263 , I heavily planned out the mornings. I printed copies of the TP’s for everyone so that they knew exactly what and where we were going everyday. This way they were able to decide when they each wanted their own down time. We were all family so no matter who left for an afternoon siesta we still all met up again for dinner. If people wanted to sleep in they could do that as well but they knew what they were going to miss.

Overall it worked out great. I told everyone the importance of the TP if you wanted to see everything the world had to offer. Every person was so thankful for the planning and told me they had no idea of how involved it could be and that they never would have seen everything with out it.


#8

Looks like I am on the right track with planning the morning and evenings and leaving the afternoons open. I guess my biggest dilemma is being offsite and only 1 vehicle. I too like the thrill rides so there will be some days where I want to stay in the parks. But my family (God love em) gets lost if I blindfold them and spin them around in a circle. So I decided on days I want to tour in the afternoons, I will simply transport those who want to go back to the home after morning touring, then head back to the park myself to meet up with those who decided to tour all day. Then for evening touring I will bus back to the house and pick up those who rested up in the afternoon. Sounds like a lot on my plate, and it is. But honestly don’t mind. Uber/Lyft not an option for this group either. Besides me and DD29’s hubby this group is not tech savvy.
Another good thing with half the group opting to take afternoon breaks back at the house is that I can schedule fpps on their bands for the thrill rides for those who will be staying in the parks. Everyone will have 2 sets of bands as I already purchased them all bands as well.


#9

I’d want two vehicles with that big of a group if no one is willing/able to take a cab or uber. The parents of the 3 year old probably could drive right? Might cost a little more but presumably you’re saving a good bit by staying offsite.


#10

Just wanted to put this out there: your mom sounds awesome. :slight_smile:


#11

Thanks @Randall1028 she really was. Dad was too. We were lower lower middle class growing up but Mom and Dad always found a way to make the most of our vacations. They took my brother and I to WDW a few times growing up back in the late 70’s early 80’s. We always drove from our home in Massachusetts, always stayed in the Days inn on I-drive , and always ate most meals at a place called Morrison’s cafeteria behind the motel. All for a day or two in the park.


#12

Thanks @duffybear. I considered renting a 2nd compact vehicle but don’t think it will be worth it. We will all be together every morning and evening. The only time a 2nd vehicle would be necessary would be to leave at the house with the family members during the afternoons when I went back to the parks. That group who mostly will be home every afternoon consists of Dgd, Mil, DW, and DW’s sister. Vehicle would do them no good because as I said they are too afraid to drive in strange locations. Also, if we decided to take 2 vehicles to the parks for the group who remains touring in the afternoond we’d have double the parking fees.


#13

Having just done a 3 generation trip last fall I think you are on the right track! A few things from our trip to consider:
-My parents were NOT great at being ready in the morning. This caused some tension at the beginning of the trip. Once you are all in one vehicle this could be a challenge if someone is running late!
-4 hours is really a pretty short break especially considering travel time in there. We needed the break but 4 hours was just pushing it for us. By the time we traveled back and got the kids to sleep it was almost time to leave again.

It sounds like a really lovely trip! I hope you enjoy it!


#14

The afternoons are good for continuous shows that don’t need FPP and handle a lot of people. Like Carousal of Progress, Monsters inc Laugh Floor, Hall of Presidents, Bear Country Jamboree, Mickeys Philharmagic, Lion King show, Nemo, Indiana Jones, Beauty and the Beast ect. (Also a good place to rest)


#15

Thanks @BoilerMomPharmD. I totally agree about the 4 hour breaks. Last year we stayed on property and it was just 3 of us ( dd13, DW, and myself) and we found that 4 hours turned into about 2.5 after exiting, waiting for transportation, and the actual commute, then the walk back to the room. On this upcoming trip 4 is the minimum. On our first park day (epcot) I have first break beginning at 12:30 And not scheduled to be back in park til 7pm. Mostly we will be returning only for evening fireworks and some minor touring. Our rental home is in Champions Gate. From the map the commute looks to be about 20 minutes so factoring in exiting the park, traffic and commute I’m estimating about same time as when we stayed on property.
As for the early mornings and having everyone ready. I have a plan for that. Everyone will be instructed as to the importance of early morning touring. Bus will leave promptly at ×-o’clock. If you’re not ready, don’t sweat it, I’ll be back to pick you up at afternoon break when I return with those of the group who did get up on time. I will gladly bus you to the park then and you can join up with those of the group who decided to stay in the parks for the afternoon touring. In the meantime, enjoy the beautiful home I rented for us. It has a lanai, a pool, game room, movie theater room, iys in a beautiful neighborhood if you want to take a nice walk and it’s a block away from the beautiful clubhouse with lots of amenities.
I won’t have a lot of rules. But being ready to go at x-o’clock will definitely be one of them.


#16

But…If it’s dgd3 who’s not ready to go then obviously this papa is waiting and adjusting plans for the day. Haha


#17

Great! I will say that once my parents saw how much we were able to get done in the AM they were much more on board. I don’t envy you getting a group that big around so early though! I hope you do a trip report- I would love to read it!


#18

You can be sure I will do a trip report. I plan on updating this thread along the way too. As sort of a “planning thread for large groups” . I have a long way to go yet but I’m pleased with the progress so far. It’s going to be quite interesting to say the least. I’m gonna add in the process around booking offsite homes. That should be helpful for someone. I spent a months seaeching through 100’s upon 100’s of homes. Pricing is all over the place and there are several websites/apps and i learned so much. I hope the info is useful to someone down the line.


#19

From the map the commute looks to be about 20 minutes so factoring in exiting the park, traffic and commute I’m estimating about same time as when we stayed on property.

If you have to travel on I-4 what looks like 20 min might be 40-60. I-4 can be a parking lot at times. My family lived all around Disney for years so we always stayed with them, (DW Grandparents, My grandparents and my aunt and uncle). Some moved some passed and some remain, but this time we are in the bubble.


#20

Thanks for the tip. I will avoid I-4 at all costs. Google maps gives us about 3 or 4 different routes all within a few minutes of each other. One in particular brings us in a back road by AK that looks promising.