Visiting a park as a group, splitting, and getting back together

RobUK

Active Member
Bit of a random one this, and I struggled to think of a better title than I did, but does anyone have any advice on visiting as a group containing people that may not all want to go to the same places within a park?

For example, I’m trying to get a family trip organised for a year or two and there is going to be 3-4 different generations of people... all of which are going to be wanting to do different things, experience different attractions, and operate at different paces. Has anyone experienced this and, genuinely, what is the best way to deal with it?

I haven’t even considered that we may not all want to go the same parks on the same days - I shudder at the thought!
 

Figgy1

Premium Member
With a large group I suggest splitting up and doing one meal a day together. IMHO the first 4 days you should all do the be in the same park that way you hit all 4 parks. With the amount of time you have to plan I also suggest every household gets a copy of the Unofficial Guide to Disney so they have no excuse for not being able to help plans everything out
 
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JIMINYCR

Well-Known Member
We did it with friends who went on a trip with us and on later trips when DS got old enough to venture off on his own. When people have different likes or wants or expectations of how a trip is done, its best not to force them to do it your way or change your ways to please them. Enjoy the trip you want. They enjoy the trip they want.
What we did was start out having breakfast together. Then planned out the park days to do some things we agreed on together, then split up for a time to do separate wants. We communicated times to meet for dinners or mid day meals together. Its much easier to do now that you all have phones to make contact to check in on each other or make plan changes on the fly. Just agree on the similar wants and leave them to be free on their own for whatever time they need.
If its different parks on different days, then meet up at the days end over drinks or pool time at the resort to discuss the day. Youll find that at the end of the trip youre all happy with how it went, everyone got what they were expecting, and you are still family who like each other.
Good luck and enjoy.
 
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Weather_Lady

Well-Known Member
I just wanted to second @Figgy1's advice.

On multi-generational, larger trips we had one meal per day (typically our evening meal) that we all committed to doing together. Other than that, everybody could go where they wanted, when they wanted. Staying onsite -- so that everyone had access to on-demand transportation at all times -- was a must, although our big family trips were before rideshares were common, so that's always an option now, too, regardless of whether you're onsite or not.

Because I'm an overplanning geek and because not everyone in our group had a smartphone or knew how to use the MDE app, I gave everybody access to binders containing park maps, everybody's phone numbers, a suggested itinerary for each day (that is, where my family was going and what we planned to cover), alternative options (e.g., information about special events and festivals in other parks, as well as schedules of in-park shows, parades and fireworks), a transportation guide card (how to get from the resort to each park, etc. and how long to allow for the journey) and information about the time and location of the "group" dinner ADR.

It worked beautifully. Generally the younger couples/families were off and running early, the older folks would sleep in and text us mid-morning to meet up, we'd spend a few hours together, they'd go back to the hotel (or to the stores, or the pool) for a couple hours before dinner, and we'd enjoy dinner and some extra time in the parks in the evening, with everyone able to depart for bed when they wished.

Now that "park reservations" are a thing, that does add an extra layer of complication (or simplicity, depending on how you look at it) to the planning, since you'll have to figure out ahead of time -- presumably with the input of the whole group -- which parks are desired, and in what order. In order to maintain maximum flexibility, parkhopper tickets would be a good idea.
 
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nickys

Premium Member
I echo what @Figgy1 said, for the first 4 days do the same park.

- Also agree which part of each day you will be together, could be a character dinner one day, touring in the morning on another, an evening show on another etc.
- For the rest of the time, make a rough plan - say Fantasyland round to Adventureland. If fastpasses come back, book those either all in the morning or all in the afternoon. Don’t create a plan that assumes everyone will be there from park opening to close.
- Never expect everyone to rope drop. Agree to meet at say 10am at Splash Mountain. Those who want to rope drop can start early, others can arrive for 10am, and if they don’t make it they can text and find out where the rest of you are when they do arrive.
- Make sure everyone realises that they are free to digress form the plan according to needs, such someone needing a nap or break. No umbrage because the teens want to go explore on their own.
- Give all couples a night on their own whilst others look after the kids.
- Agree how you’ll pay for meals.
- Consider how to give kids and teens some spending money. Do you give them gift cards? If staying onsite you could put a limit on their magic band spending (front desk can set that up) and give them the PIN. Especially if say cousins might like some time together, make sure they all have some way to buy a snack or even lunch.
- Encourage at least one person in each family unit to have an MDE account, so they can book meals for their family if they want to. It doesn’t preclude you from being the master planner. But check everyone is linked well ahead of ADR / FastPass booking.
 
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MickeyLuv'r

Well-Known Member
In my experience with such trips, a key thing is figuring out is how well you sync- especially regarding what time everyone wants to get up, or more accurately, what time they want to arrive at the parks?

Along the same lines: What time to they eat? and What time to they want to be done for the day?

If everyone wants to rope drop, agrees to see a little of everything, and is willing to be a little flexible, then you can tour more together more of the time. If your group is split between early risers and late night folks, and/or they all want to eat at different times, and/or they are rigid about what time they eat, then touring together all falls apart.

I will also warn you, I stopped being tour coordinator when WDW imposed no-show dining fees. WDW is a little flexible, as long as part of your group arrives, but in no way did I want to be on the line for a no show fee, because someone changed their mind about breakfast.

Outside of WDW , I don't mind waiting for people to arrive. At WDW, waiting around for part of your group to arrive (at a designated location) gets very tiresome very quickly, because WDW has become so rigid - or at least it was when WDW had fastpass. If you can't get everyone to agree on one hotel, and a specific park for each day, I wouldn't try to coordinate the group very much.

One option that actually worked pretty well was staying club level, but club level isn't running at WDW right now. With club level, we had some flexibility to just meet up in the late afternoon for appetizers, maybe see each other at breakfast, and now worry about the rest.
 
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aliceismad

Well-Known Member
With large extended family vacations, I find it much more enjoyable if the group talks and manages expectations from the start. I've been on the vacation where no one talked except to say "let's go to Disney" and even before we got to the gate it was a disaster. (And this was Disneyland, which requires much much less preparation.) No fun to spend a lot of money and end up with a lot of hurt feelings and arguments just because people failed to communicate clearly.

I would make a general plan for your immediate family/group and let others join you or not as they want (if you want, of course). Suggest the group get together for one meal or event per day. Share cell numbers so you can meet up as needed.

If the others are new to WDW, and you're kind of the go-to for Disney learning, it might be good to give out some info on the basics. But being "the planner" for a big trip can be daunting, especially if there are reservations and money involved. You might even find it easier to use a Disney travel agent who can help answer people's questions, etc.
 
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Figgy1

Premium Member
With large extended family vacations, I find it much more enjoyable if the group talks and manages expectations from the start. I've been on the vacation where no one talked except to say "let's go to Disney" and even before we got to the gate it was a disaster. (And this was Disneyland, which requires much much less preparation.) No fun to spend a lot of money and end up with a lot of hurt feelings and arguments just because people failed to communicate clearly.

I would make a general plan for your immediate family/group and let others join you or not as they want (if you want, of course). Suggest the group get together for one meal or event per day. Share cell numbers so you can meet up as needed.

If the others are new to WDW, and you're kind of the go-to for Disney learning, it might be good to give out some info on the basics. But being "the planner" for a big trip can be daunting, especially if there are reservations and money involved. You might even find it easier to use a Disney travel agent who can help answer people's questions, etc.
Paging @Kingdom Konsultant or @wannabeBelle
 
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Kingdom Konsultant

WDWMAGIC Board Sponsor
Premium Member
WDWMAGIC Sponsor
I have booked NUMEROUS multi generational groups over the years. I have it pretty much down to a science now. Separate reservations, separate dining reservations, stroller reservations, etc. Start with each family and how many adults and the ages of the children and we go from there. I have been doing zoom meeting with them to go over things to try to take as much stress off as possible lol. What you need is 1 contact person to work with the TA. If you don't do that it will lead to a ton of issues, believe me. Decide on your dates and where to stay, everything else will fall into place. Feel free to reach out to me if you have questions.

Pam
 
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macefamily

Well-Known Member
We just finished a multigenerational small group. 73 yrs old/50's/20's. If you have a spry 73 yr old, like my mum, be aware of the ride types you're going on. For instance, she wanted to go on Dinosaur, and I politely explained the ride to her; very bumpy and jerky. However, she handled Expedition Everest. Also verify who in your group may have motion sickness. Some of those projection rides get them very sick. The 50's could still pretty much hang with whatever the 20's did. Well, maybe one of the two 50's........:cool:
 
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MaryJaneP

Well-Known Member
Did 2 family reunion trips many years ago so things like MDE, cell phones, and ADRs were new and not universally available (The first trip was a walkie-talkie affair). What seemed to work best, especially since we were not all lodging the the same spot, was to have a morning meal together, usually the first ride together, and then scramble apart. We had one dinner per trip together but it was usually an event to try to get so many families and people together. We were lucky that everyone agreed to visit the same parks at the same time together. Now that park reservations are needed, this may be an even greater challenge. Some things you can plan, some you can't. It would have been insufferably boring to constantly be subject to the group's choices so minimal together early in the day (or late) seemed to work for us. YMMV and good luck.
 
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Jasperkitty

Member
I'm in the middle of planning a trip for between 20-30 of us to be in the parks in 2023 for an anniversary celebration. We as a group, are going with the idea of 1 meal and one attraction/event/ride together, the rest of the day would be us slitting off into various small groups. We're also making sure to make every 3rd or 4th day a "down" day where every household is on their own for the day so that we all get regular social breaks from each other. I'll have ideas for stuff folks can go do in the area if they want but they'll need to make their own arrangements.


Because 3/4 of the folks going have never been to DisneyWorld before, I'm also including a welcome goodie bag for everyone with easy to forget essentials, a list of things they can do on the down days, and some "pixie dust" to make the trip a little extra special.

I tend to over plan so this, in part, makes me relax a little and not feel stressed once we get there.
 
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yensid67

Well-Known Member
I would suggest with the age differences...

Plan as a group for discounts where you can get them.
Let everyone know that for the most part they are on their own to do whatever they want during the trip...EXCEPT..
For a day or two of group activities...sit down meal in the parks, a Dinner Show outside the parks, International Drive Area

This way they do not feel tied to a schedule, If they know this before hand and they plan their days, this can work out!
 
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HouCuseChickie

Well-Known Member
When we travel with my parents and brother's family, we try to plan at least one TS meal per day where we're all together. Beyond that, we may pick a few attractions we all like and ride as one big family, but after that, it's divide and conquer. For example, if we're in MK, we might meet up a few hours before dinner and ride things like Haunted Mansion, PotC and IASW together, but before meeting up, we'll knock out some of the thrill rides that they won't do and hit other things that just happen to be on the way.
 
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KCheatle

Well-Known Member
We have recently gone on a few WDW trips with my entire family (my parents, my brother and his family, my sister and her family) as pre-trips for the cruises we all took together. On the first trip, we tried to organize everything together. Not only was it exhausting, but it was frustrating because my kids don't want to ride the same rides as their kids or necessarily eat at the same places.

The next time, we pow-wowed via face time to first discuss if there were restaurants we all wanted to eat at or that some of us wanted to eat at. For example, we all wanted Le Cellier, but my family didn't want to do Chef Mickey's. Once we figured that out, then one of would book the restaurant for the number of people going. The availability of the reservation on certain days ended up dictating what days we would spend at what parks. For FPs, we each just booked what we wanted, but since we were linked we could see each others' FPs. If I saw someone had booked one that we were interested in, then I would just try to find an overlapping FP return time so we could get in line together. But, I did not change my FP decisions based on theirs. We did want we wanted to do, and if there was overlap, then we tried to do those things together!

My family had park hoppers, but my sister's family did not. She knew that once they got into a park they would stay there. We like to have the freedom to hop between MK and Epcot or whatever. So, we would hop over, and come back if we had another FP or meal or something. We basically just texted with each other all day on a group chat to let the others know what we were doing.

We all stayed at the same hotel, so typically we would meet up at the end of the night and hang out if we didn't end the day together. We had the added benefit of knowing we'd be on the cruise together the whole time, too, so feelings were not hurt if you wanted to go off and do your own thing.
 
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aliceismad

Well-Known Member
On the first trip, we tried to organize everything together. Not only was it exhausting, but it was frustrating because my kids don't want to ride the same rides as their kids or necessarily eat at the same places.
This! There are definitely ways to set an agenda/touring plan in advance if an entire group is truly dedicated to staying together and has a similar touring style. It's meshing touring styles that is tricky. (ETA: Admittedly I am an introvert, but dedicating hour upon hour to being in a large group of extended family members is quite tiring for me.)
 
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MickeyLuv'r

Well-Known Member
With large extended family vacations, I find it much more enjoyable if the group talks and manages expectations from the start. I've been on the vacation where no one talked except to say "let's go to Disney" and even before we got to the gate it was a disaster. (And this was Disneyland, which requires much much less preparation.) No fun to spend a lot of money and end up with a lot of hurt feelings and arguments just because people failed to communicate clearly.
You know, I TRIED to communicate clearly! Arghh! Let me start by saying my group has been to WDW many times, so everyone was already familiar with all the options. I made a concerted effort to ask everyone before the trip about dining requests, timing, and I sent everyone a very simple spread sheet at like the 175 day mark showing what dining I had booked. i offered to change anything they didn't like. Then I resent the information when the trip got closer, with everyone's confirmation numbers and everything. And I sent them an easy way to look at EVERY menu.

Didn't matter.

In short, nobody bothered to look at any of it, or print it. Some trips were better than others, but mostly they just expected me to have everything memorized for them. I could even tolerate that to a certain point.

What got under my skin though was the whining. They whined to ME about hotel costs, food costs, park hours, or they didn't feel like being ready at 8:30am, etc. That, and even though WDW will book large tables, WDW doesn't do a great job of seating large parties on time, or didn't. So the waiting also got tiresome. We make a huge effort to get everyone to every podium on time, and then we'd wait.

While everyone was hungry.

It just got to be exhausting sometimes. Alas, they now remember those trips very differently than I do. At times they were fun, but touring in a small group is just easier.
 
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CaptainAmerica

Premium Member
Bit of a random one this, and I struggled to think of a better title than I did, but does anyone have any advice on visiting as a group containing people that may not all want to go to the same places within a park?

For example, I’m trying to get a family trip organised for a year or two and there is going to be 3-4 different generations of people... all of which are going to be wanting to do different things, experience different attractions, and operate at different paces. Has anyone experienced this and, genuinely, what is the best way to deal with it?

I haven’t even considered that we may not all want to go the same parks on the same days - I shudder at the thought!
DO NOT make yourself the planner for the entire party. You'll make yourself insane trying to please everyone and coordinate all of the different schedules. If you want to plan the overall shape of the trip as well as major things you'll all be doing together, then plan the specific itinerary for your group, that's fine. But don't put the burden of planning for all of the other groups on yourself.
 
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RobUK

Active Member
Original Poster
Just to reiterate, thank you so much to all that replies. Every single bit is useful. I’m about to go for a run with my sister (11 years older than me and one of the three main people to organise it, I expect, along with my niece (13 years younger than me)) and I’ll tell her what you guys advised.

Again, thank you guys and I expect I’ll have more questions nearer the time if that’s ok?
 
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