Whether you’re planning Disney a trip with multiple families or a big circle of friends, large group travel to Disney can be a challenge. From different personalities to making dining reservations and keeping track of all the kids, there’s a lot to focus on! So how do you navigate through all of that and still ensure that everyone has a good time? I can help! In my experience, these are the 8 tips for doing Disney with large groups (10+ people).
Your group traveling to Disney might not be so small after all!
Some families, like my own, are made up of of 5 to 6 different family units. On my side of the family, I have 4 siblings who all have children, so when we do a family vacation to Disney, it’s a lot of people and a lot of different personalities.
I’ve been traveling to Disney parks for 36 years now, and much of that time has been spent traveling in a large group. Growing up, I remember my mom used to coordinate trips for 10+ families at Disneyland Resort or Walt Disney World Resort. For any given Disney trip, there were at least 30 kids.
Now that I’m an adult, I find myself walking in my mom’s footsteps and planning large group trips to Disney on my own. While it can be tricky, there is next-level fun in going to Disney with a big group!
1. Designate one group leader, no matter how big your group.
This person should be in charge of the itinerary. What are you rope-dropping? Where do you meet in the morning? What will be your first lightning lane selection on your Genie+ service? What is your backup plan if the intended attraction is closed? Where will you meet for meals?
The group leader is going to be in charge of all of those decisions so that there aren’t multiple opinions and you aren’t wasting valuable park time. These decisions and plans should be made well before you arrive to the parks. Designate a group leader who knows the app, knows the park layout and who is at good making quick decisions if plans fail.
2. Make a priority list before you get to Disney for your trip.
Each family should make a list of their favorite rides, characters they’d like to visit, shows they’d like to watch and food / treats they’d like to eat. This list should be given to the group leader and the group leader should take all of these things into consideration when creating the itinerary.
3. Download Disney's Genie+ app.
Each individual family leader should have Disney’s Genie+ app downloaded and their tickets attached to the app. You should know your first lightning lane selection and your backup plan. Each family will be in charge of selecting their own lightning lanes. The group leader should clearly communicate which LL selection will be next. See tip 4 for PhotoPass informational.
4. Never miss a group photo with PhotoPass through Genie+
When you have your photo taken around the Disney parks, you can instantly save them with PhotoPass, included in Genie+. There are several locations around the parks that will have a cast member with a camera ready to snap your photo. If you have large groups, take advantage of this service.
Make a list ahead of time of group photos you’d like to take (ie. Castle, Hollywood Blvd., Cars Land, etc.) The group leader will use their PhotoPass scan QR to receive the photo from the cast member. They will then download it (for free with Genie+) and share it with the group.
5. Plan group dining reservations like a Disney pro.
When traveling to Disney with a big group, don’t expect to call two weeks ahead of your trip and make a dining reservation for 30 people.
Dining reservations should be split into individual families or groups of 6 to 10 people. Disney dining reservations open up 60 days in advance, so before that time, decide as a group where and when you’d like to eat. Each family should have one person set their alarm for 3am 60 days before your desired reservation date. Select the closest time to the time slot you wanted as you can. Don’t be too picky – if you wanted a 6pm reservation and only see 6:15 available, grab it while you can!
When the day of your reservation comes, get to the restaurant 20 minutes early. Explain to the cast member that you are all in a group and would like to sit together if possible. They will do their best to accommodate you either by seating your tables near each other or combining tables. Please be patient with the cast members as they try to figure it out, and understand that large groups are never guaranteed to sit at one table.
6. Know the plan, and do your best to stick to it.
The key to a successful group trip to Disney is planning. Create a well-thought-out plan, and make sure everyone knows where to be and when to be there.
Know what your first Lightening Lane selection will be, what you’re riding on first, where to meet for meals, and where to meet for shows, parades, and nighttime spectaculars. Also, know who is sitting off with little ones while big kids go on the bigger rides and then switch.
Before you go, create a group text with a group leader from every family or group. If plans do change last minute, this group text will be the fastest and most efficient way to let everyone know.
7. Even if plans change a bit, enjoy the ride. You're in Disney World, after all!
Be flexible – You’re in Disney! Just because you didn’t get to ride Indiana Jones first doesn’t mean your vacation is ruined. Be patient and trust the plan. If you have the right itinerary, you should be able to experience almost everything!
8. Remember, the ultimate goal is to have fun, stay safe, and enjoy time with your family.
Plan group silly photos on rides, play hidden Mickey’s, play group games in lines, create a scavenger hunt and have prizes. But most importantly, do what is best for YOUR family. Remember, YOU paid for your tickets and just because someone is a designated leader doesn’t mean they make decisions for your family. Be okay saying, “that’s not going to work for us” or “we need to head back to the hotel”. At the end of the day, you need to make decisions that are best for your family.
If you’ve done all that, you should have a pretty seamless group vacation!
Bonus tip... use a travel agent for your next group trip to Disney World!
I’m Megan, and I specialize in Disney vacations! As a seasoned Disney expert, I can help your group…
- Select a hotel + ticket package that will work for everyone
- Make sure rooms are close together or adjoined
- Make group changes as necessary (dates / number of days / add park hoppers, etc) ● Coordinate park reservations
- Coordinate dining reservations
- Email communication with group leader(s)
- Customized park itineraries
Here is what I did for one client:
She had 5 different families going to Disneyland. We carefully selected ticket + hotel packages for everyone. I made sure to give her all the necessary information but her group had LOTS of questions.
So the group would send her all the questions and then she would email them all to me. I would answer all the questions in an organized email so her entire group felt heard and prepared for their Disney vacation.
Groups can either be an absolute nightmare or the best vacation ever.
Let me help you coordinate with my FREE travel planning services.
Contact me to get started today!