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.
- 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
- Muppet Vision 3D
- The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
- 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.