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Today I’m going to talk to you about all of the thought that went into our last big vacation, this past June, when my family, including my niece and her boyfriend, joined with my wife’s brother’s family, including his mother-in-law, and we all went to Walt Disney World!
In June 2010, Cindy and I purchased our DVC membership, and at that moment, we decided that this was all the incentive for my BIL to take the plunge and travel to Disney with us the following year! In all, there were nine of us, ranging from our two daughters, Sophie and Anna Jane (aged 9&6 at check-in) all the way up to Anna Jane’s Grandma. We had an incredible time, and I have some memories from that trip that I will never forget!
There are several things that you really need to remember when you are planning a big multi-generational vacation, regardless of where you are going on vacation. For us, some of the things that I focused on (I am the Disney Travel Planner in the family, although I’m not a TA) included:
When were we going to check-in and check-out? Since both of our girls are in school, we had to figure out when they were getting out of school, and what other things might be on the calendars of all those going with us.
Were we going to stay in one room, or get multiple rooms? For us, it was really a no-brainer to stay in one big DVC room. Since we were using points, there was no cash cost at the time of travel, and since the DVC rooms are bigger than standard rooms, we were able to get all nine of us in a 2 Bedroom Lake View suite at Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort!
How many days were we going to go to the parks? When we initially thought about this, we were going to get six days of park tickets, even though we were going to be checked in for seven days. This was because we were going to be driving down, and we weren’t going to get there until later in the evening. However, we amended this when we learned that the Magic Kingdom had evening Extra Magic Hours on the day we arrived!
How many table-service meals were we going to have? We decided early on that we weren’t going to do the Disney Dining Plan. We thought that the cost would be just too much for us, so instead we planned on three table service meals. We ate at Akershus, 50s Prime Time Cafe, Boma, and added Biergarten to our list when we were there.
Are there any restrictions that we need to keep in mind about? For us, one of the biggest things we needed to keep in the back of our mind was that Sherry would need some help in order to enjoy all day at the parks. So her daughter Nancy decided to rent her a scooter, and Sherry was all set! Additionally, some of our party had dietary requirements, so for our table-service meals, I made sure to let them know that we needed accommodations for that, and it was really great to have the Disney Chefs tell us what we could or couldn’t eat based on our restrictions.
Everyone has their own ideas on what constitutes a vacation. Communicate with everyone on what they want to do. Communications is probably the single most important tip I can give you when it comes to planning a vacation everyone will enjoy. For our families, it was extremely important to me that we all communicated what we wanted to do on vacation. The mantra in our family became “It’s everyone’s vacation” and everyone, including the kids, knew that and accepted that.
We decided that based on our location, it was cheaper and easier to drive down to Disney World. We each drove our own car, and we planned our stops along the way to make sure that we could all stay comfortable in the car for such long times. We made it into an old-fashioned driving vacation in that we even brought food to eat at the rest stops for lunch!
The tips listed here are the ones that I think are the most important when planning your multi-generational Disney vacation. As you can see, some of them are relevant for any type of vacation, so if you keep that in mind, you will realize that a lot of the same planning goes into both types of vacations. The key, as I mentioned before, and I can’t stress enough, is communication! The more you talk things over with your party, the better off you’ll be, and the more you will all enjoy your vacation. Are there any tips that you have that I didn’t mention here? Please feel free to comment and let me know what I left off the list!