Experiencing a Disney vacation with our five adult children and their families is a hoot! The pictures, dinners, rides, jokes, and puke stories create lasting and bonding memories. How do you plan to take fifteen people to the ‘happiest place on earth’? The key to planning a Disney family vacation is communication.
Ten Steps for Planning a Disney Family Vacation
1. Family Meeting
Share the idea of a Disney vacation to check if everyone is on board. Even if you are funding the vacation, your family will need to budget spending money and plan vacation time. Be flexible and remember that your married children have families of their own and may want to reserve some vacation days for other plans.
The best decision we ever made was to stay on the park. The benefits of staying at a Disney resort for me and my family are:*Conveniently returning to the room for nap times.
*Access to early morning park hours
*Avoiding rental cars
*Free ‘dining plan’ datesThe cost of the fun themed resorts is very affordable. For example, I stayed at a value resort in August of 2016 for only $89.00 per night. One of the biggest perks for me is the convenience of checking my luggage at the departing airport and never touching it again until delivered to my room at the Disney resort. We do not lose a whole travel day. We can leave Missouri in the morning and enjoy lunch in the Magic Kingdom the same day!
3. Choosing Dates
The best deal is the free ‘Standard Disney Dining Plan’ which is offered several weeks during the year with specific dates and rooms with Disney packages. My crew especially loves the daily character dining which is included. The plan includes one table service meal, one quick service meal, one snack, and one refillable resort mug. By taking advantage of the free dining plan, our family saves approximately $80.00-$100.00 a day per person. Watch for the advertised dates, check with your family, and plan accordingly. Once you have these dates then you send out the email to your crew and see what works best for them.
4. Pricing the Package
Place a sample reservation online to get an idea of the cost. Reserve the room housing the most people in your party and review each resort. Make sure to verify dates with everyone before actually booking a resort or flights. This will help you get an overall view of the financial commitment.
5. Gather Information
The name, email, address, birthday, and phone number of each person is required when booking packages and flights. Be sure to have this information on hand before making any reservations.
Before booking the resort, double check the days and times of flights into Orlando (MCO), as the Disney Magical Express shuttles from this airport at no cost. Due to the price difference, we sometimes fly Allegiant into Sanford Airport. Despite the shuttle cost, the savings are well worth the effort. The drawback is that Allegiant only flies on certain days. Book flights before making resort reservations.
7. Make the call
Following flight reservations, it is time to call Disney! The hold time is usually about 45 minutes when booking a Disney package. Be patient, know exactly who will be in each room, and have the required information. Once connected, the reservation process takes approximately one hour per room. For instance, I booked four rooms at a time which can take up to four hours. Changes take at least twenty minutes per room. The groups’ department can be employed if booking 10+ guest rooms, which simplifies the process. Making reservations is obviously not the most exciting part of a Disney vacation but worth every minute! Again, be sure to have all the necessary information to avoid the necessity of changes and repeated calls. The deposit is $200.00 per room.
8. My Disney Experience
An itinerary number will be received by email for every room booked. I record all numbers, calls, changes, and payments in a book for safekeeping. An itinerary number also allows each person in your group to create a ‘My Disney Experience’ account which is important for dining reservations and FastPass+ service.
9. Dining reservations
Meal reservations can be made 180 days prior to check-in time. Set a reminder to call as early as possible because many restaurants fill quickly, especially for large groups. If there is no availability for your entire group, try separating into smaller groups of eight or less. Oftentimes, the restaurants can accommodate two reservations with smaller numbers. Visit www.goingoutthedoor.comfor restaurant reviews and tips to help with your dining decisions.
10. FastPass +
Time to reserve your favorite rides! FastPass+ passes can be reserved 60 days prior to arrival when staying at a Disney World Resort and 30 days prior to arrival when staying off the park. You can create a beautiful Disney vacation with a little time, patience, and a sprinkling of pixie dust! Check out ‘How Can You Save Money on a Disney Vacation?’ for more money-saving clues. If you are a Disney loving friend and are kind and willing to share money saving tips, please join us in our closed facebook group Going Out The Door Disney.“Even miracles take a little time.” Fairy Godmother, Cinderella.