Walt Disney World with Large Families

Walt Disney World in Orlando is one of the most popular family vacation destinations on earth. With so many magical things to see and do, it’s the kind of trip that truly requires detailed planning in order to be a successful visit.

If you’re taking a vacation with a large family or group, you’ll want to consider some additional factors in order to get the most out of your stay.

Planning Your Itinerary

This is the first and most important task to tackle when preparing for your trip to the most magical place on earth. Walt Disney World has 8 major areas to visit:

  • Magic Kingdom 
  • Hollywood Studios
  • Animal Kingdom
  • Blizzard Beach
  • Typhoon Lagoon
  • Disney Springs
  • ESPN Wide World of Sports

In addition, several hotels offer unique dining and character experiences, golf courses, spas, and activities that are open to all guests of Walt Disney World, regardless of where they’re staying during their vacation.

Before you plan your trip, you’ll need to decide which areas are the most important to your family.

With so many rides, attractions, shows, and parades, it’s wise to set aside two full days to experience all that Magic Kingdom has to offer. You should also give yourselves two days to visit EPCOT in order to take in the World Showcase and its numerous delicious dining options. Hollywood Studios can be seen in just one day, but that will probably change in the near future.

You’ll only need one day each to enjoy Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon but could do the best of both in the same day. Disney Springs depends on your preferences, but for most people, it should not take up more than one full day of your itinerary. Wide World of Sports depends on the event(s) you plan to attend.

Because you’re traveling with more people, it will take you longer to move throughout the park, eat your meals, and get everyone in your party on and off a ride.

You’ll also need to plan for extra time if you’re traveling during peak season or special events. Keep in mind that Walt Disney World has made several major additions and enhancements in just the past two years, including Pandora-The World of Avatar in Animal Kingdom, Disney Springs, Frozen Ever After in Epcot, and Toy Story Land and Galaxy’s Edge (opening August 2019) in Hollywood Studios.

These much-anticipated updates are drawing larger crowds than normal, and will continue to do so as the parks add more new attractions to prepare for Disney World’s 50th Anniversary in 2021.

Walt Disney World is growing so much that it’s now unrealistic for families to see and do everything during the average 5 to 7 day visit.

Once you’ve decided when to book your packages for family of 4, sit down with your group and determine which parks and attractions matter the most to your family, and consider everything else a bonus. If you have a lot of variation in age, interest, or height, it may be wise to split into groups so that no one is wasting valuable time waiting on others.

You’ll also want to make sure you factor in some downtime for rest. Most experienced visitors recommend that you plan for one day in the middle of your vacation to sleep in, relax, and enjoy the pool.

Rides and Attractions

While sitting a large group together is rarely a problem at a show, most rides in Walt Disney World are designed to seat guests in groups of 2 or 3 people at a time. If you need to seat more than two groups close together, it’s probably best to plan to split up.

Fortunately, there are many rides that work well for larger groups. Some can seat many together at one time, like The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. Others are slow rides with a continuously connected train that loops through the building, like Spaceship Earth.

The following rides and attractions are great options if you want everyone to stay together and ride at the same time.

Magic Kingdom

  • Jungle Cruise
  • Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
  • Haunted Mansion
  • Prince Charming’s Regal Carrousel
  • Under the Sea- Journey of the Little Mermaid
  • Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress
  • Main Street Railroad


  • The Sea With Nemo and Friends
  • Spaceship Earth

Hollywood Studios

  • Muppet Vision 3D
  • The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

Animal Kingdom

  • Kilimanjaro Safaris
  • Wildlife Express Train

Don’t forget that absolutely everyone in your group should be using the FastPass+ system to cut down on wait times at the most popular rides, shows, and attractions.

You can book fast passes 30 days in advance if you’re staying off property, and 60 days in advance if you’re staying at a Disney Resort hotel.


One of the great debates of planning a trip to Walt Disney World is whether or not to stay on property. While there are many pros and cons to both, your larger family or group will likely be more comfortable staying off property.

Disney hotels are designed to accommodate as many guests as possible and are therefore small and relatively cramped. While there are roomier options, they typically come with a very hefty price tag.

Booking packages for family of 5 at a local resort can offer multiple bedrooms, a kitchen, and a living space. Most places offer free or discounted transportation to the parks as well. Staying off site will give your larger family more privacy, an option to save some money by preparing healthier meals, and more space to relax.


If you’re planning to sit down at a restaurant in Walt Disney World, you’re going to need advance reservations, whether you’re seating two people or twenty. The good news is, this makes virtually every restaurant a possibility for your family!

However, you’re going to need to book as early as possible, as it will be more difficult to find room to fit everyone in your group. Whether it’s their large tables, spacious layout, or buffet menu, here are some of the best restaurant choices for large families at Walt Disney World.

  • Ohana at Polynesian Resort
  • Chef Mickey’s at Contemporary Resort
  • The Crystal Palace at Magic Kingdom
  • Askershus Royal Banquet Hall at EPCOT
  • Hollywood & Vine at Hollywood Studios
  • Tusker House at Animal Kingdom

If you’re unsure whether or not a certain restaurant is a good choice for your large group, call instead of booking your reservation online and be sure to ask what the seating arrangements are like. They may be able to seat you at the same time, but not near one another, which could impact your decision.

Once you’ve decided to book a trip to Walt Disney World with your large family, start planning immediately. With some thorough preparation, you can keep things running smoothly while enjoying the trip of a lifetime and creating lasting memories with the people you love most.


Luxury Dude Ranches for Your Next Vacation

The family wants adventure and activity. You want luxury. You want a spot where the kids can get tired out from all their fun while you get a massage. Where do you go? A luxury dude ranch of course!

You can relax and rejuvenate in the comfort of these dude ranch vacations – Are you looking for a fun and entertaining vacation for your family, but also want a relaxing and rejuvenating getaway at the same time?

Luxury dude ranches are the vacation you have been searching for! Luxury dude ranches offer a great atmosphere of entertainment and relaxation all at the same time. You can go out for a horseback ride through beautiful landscapes and scenery in the morning, enjoy a wonderful afternoon at the spa or retreat peacefully to your room to read a book. It really is all up to you!

But what will the kids do you may ask? Most luxury dude ranches have a great kid’s program where the kids can interact with other children their age and make memories to last a lifetime. There is no doubt that the kids will talk about this vacation for years to come and that large amounts of fun will be had!

Most families that have vacationed at dude ranches agree that kids sleep well while on a ranch vacation, they wear themselves out with all of the excitement, activities and fun!

Whatever activities you are looking to mark off the list, these luxury dude ranches, members of the Dude Ranchers’ Association, will fit the bill of a fantastic vacation for the whole family.

Photo Credit: Smith Fork Ranch

Smith Fork Ranch – Colorado

Nestled in the valley of the West Elk Wilderness lies the Smith Fork Ranch, truly a hidden gem of Colorado.

Smith Fork is a beautiful private luxury dude ranch that offers traditional western adventures, gracious hospitality, unique farm to table cuisine along with an award-winning wine list!

If you are looking for a great family vacation and a highly rated luxurious, relaxing getaway you should definitely consider Smith Fork Ranch. Their farm to table cuisine program is like none other in the area and their spa is really fantastic. This ranch is rated at the top of many luxury dude ranch articles, so do not miss out on a wonderful ranch vacation at Smith Fork!

Photo Credit: Lost Valley Ranch

Lost Valley Ranch – Colorado

An authentic Colorado dude ranch vacation with a little luxury mixed in waits for you at the Lost Valley Ranch.

With an abundance of activities for the kids to enjoy, beautiful Rocky Mountain scenery on horseback rides and the option of an in-cabin massage after a fun-filled day, what else could you ask for in a dude ranch experience!

Lost Valley is a very historic ranch with a special kind of charm, it holds qualities of a high-class resort, but also a family and kid friendly atmosphere. If you are searching for the perfect luxury dude ranch for a large family, take a look at Lost Valley Ranch.

Photo Credit: Mountain Sky Guest Ranch

Mountain Sky Guest Ranch – Montana

Located just 30 miles from Yellowstone National Park makes the Mountain Sky Guest Ranch in Montana a prime luxury dude ranch destination for families and couples.

There is literally something for everyone to do at Mountain Sky. Whether you are an avid horseback rider, enjoy fly-fishing or hiking, want to play a round of golf at the on-site golf course or spend an incredible day in the ranch’s world renowned spa, you will not be bored on this vacation!

The kids will not be bored either, Mountain Sky has a truly unique and impressive kids’ program that is suitable for all ages. There will not be a thing you have to worry about while on this luxury dude ranch vacation; book the trip, pack your bags and prepare yourself for a vacation filled with excitement, relaxation and memories no one will soon forget!

Photo Credit: Broadmoors Ranch at Emerald Valley

The Broadmoor’s Ranch at Emerald Valley – Colorado

You may not get much more luxurious than the Broadmoor’s Ranch at Emerald Valley.

Just a short ride up the mountain from the Broadmoor sits the beautiful Ranch at Emerald Valley, a distinct western experience. This ranch is definitely in the high-end rustic retreat category. So, if you are in search of an extremely highly-rated luxury dude ranch for a romantic getaway or family vacation, don’t overlook this ranch.

Here you can experience a variety of high-class activities along with a full-service spa. Your vacation to the Ranch at Emerald Valley will be the perfect mix of western charm and a fine resort.

Tons of activities and great memories await you and your chosen travel partners at the Broadmoor’s Ranch at Emerald Valley.

Photo Credit: Lone Mountain Ranch

Lone Mountain Ranch – Montana

Lone Mountain Ranch is big enough for any family reunion and will appeal to all families, traditional or luxury! It is also the perfect romantic getaway for couples too.

With high quality luxurious food options, beautiful western furnished cabins and activities for every guest, big or small, Lone Mountain has it all. Relax in your cabin or on the porch listening to the sounds of nature and the stream that flows right
through the ranch.

Maybe you would like to go for a long refreshing hike into the incredible surrounding Gallatin Mountains, take a horseback ride to the mountain tops and gaze over the stunning Gallatin canyon, or maybe you would like to sit and watch the kids laugh and play on the big front lawn.

Whatever your definition of relaxation and rejuvenation may be, the luxury of Lone Mountain Ranch will help you escape reality and help you to truly enjoy your vacation and time away.

Photo Credit: High Lonesome Ranch

The High Lonesome Ranch – Colorado

A high-class dude ranch that offers many activities including working cattle; luxury mixed with a true western cowboy experience can be found at the High Lonesome Ranch in Colorado.

With an upscale rustic charm, the High Lonesome provides a unique atmosphere perfect for both families and couples with their accommodations, exquisite food provided by a local farm-to-table program and many different activities, including cattle drives.

Spa services are available on the ranch for those who are looking to reach full relaxation. Yoga and a swimming pool are also available so you can get a workout
too! High in the mountains of Colorado lies this little slice of serenity. No matter the type of vacation you are looking for, you will not want to miss out on the High Lonesome Ranch.

Photo Credit: A Bar A Ranch

A Bar A Ranch – Wyoming

Experience a piece of history and luxury at the A Bar A Ranch in Wyoming! This ranch has been in operation since 1926 and is nearly 100,000 acres in size, all of these acres are available for you to explore and enjoy!

With incredible cuisine, beautiful cabins and guest houses and so many activities for you to experience, you may have a hard time picking which ones to participate in. A Bar A is the perfect family vacation, the kids will have several ways to burn off that stored up energy, and mom and dad can kick back and relax.

Play a round of golf, check out what the spa has to offer or lounge by the pool and hot tub. The amount of ways to relish in your vacation are endless at A Bar A.

This Wyoming luxury dude ranch may just check all of the boxes on your wish list for the perfect vacation!

Photo Credit: 4UR Ranch

4UR Ranch – Colorado

Can you imagine a place more luxurious than a vacation with a natural hot spring right on location?

The 4UR Ranch in Colorado is home to two historical natural hot springs that supply the warm water for their hot tub and other pools. These natural wonders were first discovered by Ute tribe and the ranch was constructed around them to make sure no damage was made and to preserve history. The healing waters provide serene relaxation and many people believe they are a natural healer.

The 4UR has much more to offer than just their top-notch spa, they have horseback rides, incredible cuisine for all ages, great fly-fishing, hiking, mountain biking and much more! So, while mom and dad relax by the water, the kids will be entertained all day!

Make it a wonderful family vacation and have luxury meet you at the door at the 4UR Ranch.

Photo Credit: The Home Ranch

The Home Ranch – Colorado

Colorado’s only Relais & Chateaux affiliated luxury dude ranch awaits you! The Home Ranch is nestled at the end of the valley where the Elk River flows from the Sawtooth Mountain Range.

This is the perfect destination for your family to enjoy time together and to unwind from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Relax by the ranch’s outdoor heated pool, read a book, work on your tan or take in the clean mountain air. The kids will have plenty to keep them busy while being involved in the children’s program and making new friends around the ranch.

Of course, there will be time for you to connect as a family, but when you want to truly relax there is an activity for everyone. Do not worry about the food either, the chefs at the Home Ranch are phenomenal and will provide great meals for everyone.

Experience a high-class luxury dude ranch vacation and a trip the kids will always remember at the Home Ranch!

Greenville SC – Yeah, THAT Greenville!

Southern hospitality, outstanding and delicious food and drink, perfectly quaint Main Street, parks, festivals and art – a place that is ideal to live in and a place that is ideal for a family vacation, a girlfriend getaway or even a solo trip – Yeah, THAT Greenville!

I recently spent a few days in Greenville, SC courtesy of Discover South Carolina and Greenville, South Carolina in partnership with Travel South USA. I received an all expense paid visit, however, all opinions are my own.

I can’t wait to go back! Why? Because Greenville, SC was named in the Top Ten Hottest Foodie Cities in the U.S. by People Magazine – one of the Best Cities in the United States by National Geographic Traveler – #3 Top Small City in the U.S. by Conde Nast Traveler – and, One of the 50 Best Places in the World to Visit in 2018 by Travel & Leisure. Even with being named all these things, Greenville feels like small southern town American when you stroll down Main Street.

If your time is limited, the best way to see Greenville is definitely through Greenville History Tours. Don’t be fooled by the name. It’s not all about history. You can combine a tour with a culinary tasting. 

The creator of the laser pointer was a Greenville guy!

The tours offered highlight the best sites, historic buildings, public artwork, historic homes and neighborhoods, shops, and restaurants. Their tours create unique and memorable experiences for everyone. Greenville History Tours is a perfect way to get a feel for the area before exploring on your own.

The Food

Main Street in Greenville has over 120 restaurants. Almost all are locally owned. Greenville has over 1,000 restaurants in total which has made the area a foodie paradise.

With so many choices you are sure to find just what your taste buds are craving. You are sure to have a hard time deciding where to dine.

My favorite dining spot when I was there – Pomegranate on Main; not just because of the absolutely delicious Persian food I enjoyed but also because of the owner and his story.

The restaurant serves traditional Persian recipes prepared using fresh ingredients and healthy cooking methods. Visitors can enjoy beef, chicken, lamb, seafood, rice and vegetables – prepared in a unique way with saffron, mint and pomegranate.

Pomegranate on Main opened in 2007 as a way for the owner, Ali Saifi to share the culture and heritage of his homeland with visitors to Greenville. 

Ali was born and raised in Iran and through his restaurant he is able to share the easygoing, hospitable and friendly nature of the people of the southern area of Iran – “southern hospitality.”

He says customers often ask him about Iran and about the culture, and are surprised to learn it’s different than what they perceive from watching the news. Saifi learned his restaurant was a way of introducing people to a culture that was important to him and one that many people didn’t understand. “We’re all human beings. We’re all friends. Just our governments don’t seem to get along, which I can’t help that out,” he says.

Ali came to the United States in 1973 and became a US citizen in 1980. He moved to South Carolina in 1982, bringing the very first Subway to the area. He has a strong love of family and a value system that dictates philanthropic giving.

Those values motivated the former Shiraz, Iran resident to create a project in his hometown of Shiraz that has the potential to change hundreds of lives. He has set about to restore orphaned teenagers with their biological families. Orphaned children in Iran are released from care at around 15 years old. Those children are frequently given to an orphanage as babies because the family can’t afford to care for them, but the family is still living. When Saifi saw this firsthand while visiting his family, he immediately began looking for a way to help give these teens. He wanted an alternative to the street lifestyle to which they will often succumb.

He now runs a service that will assess orphans, locate their biological families, determine whether or not it is a viable living option, and then a trust fund is set up that will support the entire family and the child’s education through college so that the child can stay with their family.

Tea is an end to Persian meals. Silver tea service sets made by Ali’s sister are used in the restaurant.

His story, along with his food, touched me deeply. Not only does he help his home country in such an unbelievable way, he also gives back to the Greenville community that has been so generous to him.

 I loved the cranberry rice so much, Ali kindly emailed me the recipe – I have yet to be able to get it to taste as good as his!


No matter how you like to stay, you’ll be able to find the perfect spot in Greenville. From luxury accommodations to campgrounds and cabins, there is a place to stay for every visitor.

Travel with a furry friend, no problem! Pet-friendly accommodations can be found in the area that will welcome your pet with open arms.

I had the pleasure of staying at the Springhill Suites by Marriott Downtown Greenville. The location is ideal – in easy walking distance to all there is to do along Main Street and downtown Greenville – restaurants, boutique shopping, and entertainment.

The lobby is a great spot to “hang around” with friends!

When I stayed the hotel had only been open for approximately 3 weeks so needless to say was beautiful, brand new, immaculate and comfortable.

It’s a beautiful hotel that has you feeling like you are staying at a resort in the middle of the city. The amenities include free high speed internet service, a 24/7 state of the art techno gym facility, an outdoor seasonal pool and sundeck, and a complimentary breakfast every morning. Top of the line toiletries are in each room as well as coffee, coffee maker and mini-refrigerator.

The hotel offers one restaurant, Oak & Honey, as well as a free hot breakfast buffet and a convenience store. The menu at Oak & Honey offers something for everyone and their bar menu has a large selection to choose from.

Things to do

There is so much to see and do in Greenville that you won’t be able to visit just once!

The Greenville Zoo, the BMW Performance Center, Carolina Music Museum and the Children’s Museum of the Upstate are just a few of the many things for the family to do together.

Wineries, breweries, distilleries and spas can be added on for the adults. The list of things to do, places to see and attractions to enjoy is huge. You can make your list as long as you like depending on how long you’ll be visiting.

You can create a visit that focuses on outdoor activities, museums, food or just about anything else you can think of. I know I can’t wait to go back!

Fun Facts About Disney’s Haunted Mansion

The first Haunted Mansion attraction opened at Disneyland in 1969. Today, Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, Tokyo Disney, Disneyland Paris and Hong Kong Disneyland feature variations of the ride as well.

wdw haunted mansion

The original façade was inspired by Baltimore’s Shipley-Lydecker House. Not a house in New Orleans, as many people automatically assume. Keep reading, to learn more!

Dancing Ghosts

What would a haunted mansion be without dancing ghosts? These poltergeists are created by an illusion discovered in the 1800s.

Referred to as Pepper’s Ghost effect or illusion, the trick is a simple one. A pane of glass is used to make illuminated objects appear as though you can see through them.

15 Rooms to Explore

There are 15 rooms to explore on the Haunted Mansion ride. This includes the Portrait Chamber, where the room magically stretches and the Grand Ballroom where eerie pipe organ music fills your ears.

Hatbox Ghost Returns

The Hatbox Ghost was an original part of the first Haunted Mansion attraction. One day, he mysteriously disappeared with no explanation except that he wasn’t working properly.

In 2015, Disney reintroduced the Hatbox Ghost, who does a wonderful job of leering at passengers as they go by. Will he have his head or won’t he… the question remains!

Interactive Queue

More and more Disney park rides and attractions are being updated with interactive queues. What does this mean for Haunted Mansion fans? It means you can solve a murder mystery and use various instruments to play the tune “Grim Grinning Ghosts,” while waiting in line.

Waiting in line isn’t anyone’s favorite part of a trip to the Disney parks, but the Haunted Mansion is one of the more enjoyable lines to wait in thanks to the entertaining gravestones beside the queue area. The names on these tombstones are those of Disney Imagineers who helped to create the Haunted Mansion.

The Stretching Room

In both Disneyland and Walt Disney World, the actual Haunted Mansion ride is preceded by the famous Stretching Room, where portraits of the Mansion’s inhabitants stretch to reveal their unfortunate fates. Is the ceiling going up or does the floor go down? As it turns out, it depends on which park you’re in.

In Disneyland, the bulk of the ride is below ground level, so the Stretching Room acts as an elevator lowering guests down to the ride. In Disney World, the ride is housed in a hidden building behind the facade you see from the queue area. Since there’s no need for an elevator, the ceiling just goes up.

Do you want to get to the Doom Buggies faster? At the Walt Disney World attraction, stand under the portrait of the girl with the parasol in the stretching room. The door that leads to the ride is always located under this portrait.

Pet Cemetery

If you look closely, when enjoying the ride at either Disneyland or Walt Disney World, you may notice a small pet cemetery. There’s even a grave marker for J. Thaddeus Toad. You may remember him from the long-ago Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.

A Haunted Mansion Water Ride

Imagineer and Disney Legend Claude Coats briefly developed a water ride version of The Haunted Mansion in which guests would float through the ruins of an old plantation house partially submerged in a Louisiana bayou. Sadly, this ride never made it into any of the parks.

There is no height or age restriction to tour the spooky Haunted Mansion. A bit of bravery is all that’s required. Depending on the location you visit, the ride lasts between almost 6 minutes to a little over 8 minutes. 

Costs to develop and build the ride were in the $7 million ballpark, which translates into almost $50 million today.


Celebrate Spring at Barefoot Landing in North Myrtle Beach

If you’ll be heading to the Myrtle Beach area this spring, you can celebrate the season with five outdoor activities for the whole family at Barefoot Landing.
Barefoot Landing in North Myrtle Beach, the area’s only waterway shopping, dining and entertainment complex, is celebrating the start of spring with a variety of fun activities the entire family will enjoy.
Inaugural Pup Crawl and Mutt Madness
Barefoot Landing will be hosting its first Pup Crawl and Mutt Madness Games to benefit The Humane Society of North Myrtle Beach on Saturday, March 23 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Animal lovers can pre-register online at www.hsnmb.org for a $20 wristband which entitles them to discounts on food and drinks at participating restaurants as well as a Barefoot Landing doggie bag with a souvenir cup (while supplies last).
Mutt Madness will showcase puppies playing their own cute version of basketball to get in the spirit of the famous college basketball tournament taking place at that time.
Shelter dogs, whose adoption fees have been sponsored by Barefoot Landing shops and restaurants, will be available for adoption following Mutt Madness. Bring your pooch, dine, stroll, raise money for the Humane Society of North Myrtle Beach and help some homeless pups find their forever family. Registration on the day of the event takes place at Faux Paws Dog Shoppe.
Spring BFF Shop & Stroll
The spring also brings a new round of BFF Shop & Strolls.
On Tuesday, April 2 and again on May 7 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., you can shop, stroll, enjoy sales, discounts and even treats at participating stores. April’s event donations will benefit Relay For Life of the Grand Strand and during May’s event we will be accepting donations for The Humane Society of North Myrtle Beach.
North Myrtle Beach Summer Camp and Activities Fair
On April 6, bring the kids out to start planning for the summer with the North Myrtle Beach Summer Camp and Activities Fair from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Visit with various vendors offering camps and activities to keep the kids active and happy on their summer break. Games, activities, characters, face painting and much more will be available for everyone to enjoy during this family event in Dockside Village.
Live Music Every Weekend at Barefoot Landing
Enjoy the great outdoors as the temperatures warm up with live music every Friday and Saturday starting on April 12 through May 25 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Dockside Village Amphitheater.
Bring a blanket or your lawn chairs and settle in for some free entertainment before or after dinner out at one of Barefoot Landing’s many restaurants.
Barefoot Bunny Hop
Another fun, family event is the Barefoot Bunny Hop on Saturday, April 13 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. 
The event will feature a visit with the Easter Bunny for the children. Parents are encouraged to take pictures. An Easter Egg Hunt with various age groups starts at 11 a.m. and everyone will enjoy the antics of DJ Hip Hop and his Easter Dance Party, along with face painting and balloon tying stilt walkers all in Dockside Village by the playground and amphitheater.
More information about Barefoot Landing is available at www.bflanding.com, 1-843-272-8349, and Twitter,Instagram or Facebook.