Think large groups to Disney will lead to big problems? No way! We recently returned home from a whirlwind vacation to Walt Disney World. Amongst my parents, five siblings and their families, our grand total was 24 people, including 13 adults, and 11 children (ages 1-9). A common phrase I heard when I told people about our upcoming adventure was, “Well, you’re not all going to be able to stick together, right?” Wrong! With a good plan in place and people who are ready to jump on board, your Disney large group planning can be successful. Everyone can stick together and have a truly magical Disney vacation.
5 Family Bonding Tips when Traveling with Large Groups at Disney
1. Get help to link your accounts.
As first-time MyDisneyExperience users, we were overwhelmed with e-mails trying to link all of our accounts. My brother ended up calling the helpline for My Disney Experience 1-407-939-4357 and a Disney Cast Member linked all of the accounts up for us. He made sure each family had its own avatar to make it easier to organize everything in our accounts. It was a huge relief knowing that our accounts were all successfully linked!
2. Have one person in the group purchase Memory Maker.
We had one person in our group (our mom) purchase Memory Maker. With linked accounts, everyone was able to view each other’s photos in PhotoPass. It was really fun to look at all of our pictures throughout the day. The pictures from all of the attractions are AMAZING!
As the one who purchased Memory Maker, my mom was the only one who could download the photos. A Cast Member gave us a huge tip on how everyone could save the photos. We simply logged into my mom’s account and were then able to download the photos onto our own phone or computer. Easy!
It saved my mom from having to download all the photos, transfer them onto flash drives, and distribute them. Everyone in our group LOVED Memory Maker! The pictures we received are priceless memories. Below are just a few of the hundreds of pictures we received.
3. Have a FastPass+ Party.
The week leading up to making our FastPass+ reservations, I was having nightmares…can anyone else relate? We really wanted to stick together. Making sure we all had the same FastPass+ was critical to our plan.
I knew that it would be hard to get 23 FastPass+ at once, especially for the most popular attractions. So I enlisted some help for our Disney planning. I found a good bribe always works, so I offered to make breakfast and coffee for everyone at my house. They just had to arrive ready with their laptops at 5:30 am CST on FastPass+ selection day.
Each person was in charge of making reservations for one family. They also had a list of attractions and what days and times to reserve them. The process went smoothly, except when my sister’s laptop decided to run automatic updates and shut down everything she was working on! Minor glitch.
The only FastPass+ we were not able to secure was for Frozen Ever After. We did get to ride with only a 20-minute wait, but that’s a story for another time that definitely includes some Disney Magic!
After locking down all of our reservations, we high-fived and said goodbye. Because all our accounts were linked, I was able to go back in and play around a little bit with everyone’s times to get them to match as closely as possible.
In the end, all 23 people had the same FastPass+ with a 45-60 minute overlap time. The kids loved that they could ride with all of their cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents. Experiencing the attractions together as a family made for some fantastic memories.
4. Purchase groceries ahead of time.
We ordered groceries ahead of time through Garden Grocer and had them delivered to our resort. They have everything! The groceries were a huge time saver for us. Most of us ate breakfast in our rooms before catching an early shuttle to the parks. We were able to bring snacks and drinks into the parks and share with each other. When we had downtime during the afternoons, we were able to have our own “Happy Hours” and share stories about the day! Our one year old would agree that your group can never have enough snacks.
5. Use a Taxi Van Service.
We had a reservation for Chef Mickey’s Dinner at the Contemporary Resort. Travel time can be a huge time suck in large groups at Disney. We often waited for the next bus because we wanted to ride together. With 24 people, a double stroller, and a single stroller, we took up a lot of space on the Disney buses. Here we are waiting for the bus and this isn’t even everyone!
Because the Disney buses do not travel from resort to resort, to get to the Contemporary, we would have to take the bus from our resort to the Magic Kingdom and then transfer to the Monorail (or walk) to the Contemporary.
To save some time and eliminate having to transfer, we asked the concierge at our resort if they had a number to a taxi van service. They provided us with a number and we were able to call and reserve three taxi vans to take us to The Contemporary. Not only was it convenient, but we gained at least an hour of time to relax at our resort.
Navigating Walt Disney World with a large group can be very overwhelming, discouraging, and stressful, but it doesn’t have to be! With some advanced planning, even the “non-Disney” people in your group will be sporting Mickey ears and humming along to “It’s a Small World” in no time at all!
If you went to Disney World as a large group, what was your FastPass+ reservation strategy?