Visiting Magic Kingdom with three (or more!) generations

Walt Disney World is known worldwide as the ultimate family holiday destination, attracting millions of visitors each year who come to spend valuable time and create magical memories with their family. Often these days, these family groups are not limited to Mum, Dad and 2.4 children, but are made up of all generations and configurations of extended family and friends. Our typical travelling family group has in the past included babies, toddlers, teenagers, mums, dads, aunties, uncles and grandparents. That’s the beauty of Disney Parks – there really is something for everyone to enjoy – it certainly isn’t just limited to the kids. However when you are vacationing with all of these different demographics, it can be useful to have a bit of a plan in place to ensure everyone is happy at the end of the day. So as it’s the original and flagship park , I thought I’d start by sharing my tips on tackling Magic Kingdom with three generations:

  1. Have a plan – Magic Kingdom is a huge park – featuring  30+ attractions – some of which come with height restrictions or which may not be suitable for people suffering from a bad back or other injuries. To get the most out of your time there, it’s highly recommended to do your research first to avoid disappointed little (or big!) faces when they’re told they can’t ride for a certain reason.
  2. Mobility issues – If any of your party have mobility issues , or are concerned about the large amount of walking in the heat ( and believe me there will be a LOT of walking!) , then both wheelchairs and ECVs are available for rental at the stroller and wheelchair shop located just inside the main entrance to the park.
  3. Go early, and make use of Fastpasses – If your family can arrive at Magic Kingdom in time for the opening ‘rope drop’ ceremony (times vary – check the wdw website for up to date information) – then you will be able to accomplish a lot in the first hour or two of the day, with minimal queuing time and before it gets too hot. Lines really start to fill up mid to late morning onwards – so we’d highly recommend booking your Fastpasses from around 11am onwards, to get the most out of them.
  4. Split Up and Make ‘Wish Lists’ – Sometimes when vacationing as a large family, people can feel a pressure that they should do absolutely everything together – we’ve found this can lead to some pretty bored looking faces when teenage cousins have to queue an hour for Peter Pan’s Flight or Dad has to go on It’s a Small World for the sixth time in a row! We’d always recommend putting together two ‘wish lists’ – one featuring the attractions you all want to experience together as a family, and another which allows your party to split into two (or more) groups. Our first wish list generally includes fun family favourite rides ( Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, Pirates of the Carribbean, The Haunted Mansion to name a few) and parades/ shows are always on here too. When we split up it’s generally for thrill seekers to go and get their thrills on the mountains (although we have been known to persuade Grandma to get on Splash Mountain!) , and for the smaller and less adventurous of our party to head to the smaller rides ( Dumbo, it’s a Small World etc). Splitting up for an hour or two can be really beneficial to make sure everyone gets to do what they want , and makes your time together more enjoyable as everyone is happy!
  5. Consider matching T shirts / hats – Ok this tip might not be up everybody’s street but when travelling as a large group in a very busy theme park, it can be very practical if all of your party are wearing something distinctive which easily identifies them. It can be an easy way to spot and herd up the troops in a crowd ( and personally I love those matching ‘family vacation ‘ T shirts! Too cute!)
  6. Book Dining Reservations (ADRs) well in advance. Our family loves to plan a table service meal as part of our day at Magic Kingdom. Generally we aim for mid afternoon or after the parade, when it’s really hot outside and everyone is starting to feel a little weary and in need of a rest. This is the part of the day where we can all share quality family time, recharge our batteries and cool down in the very welcome air conditioning! However it can be very difficult these days to walk into a restaurant in Magic Kingdom and be able to eat without a reservation – almost impossible if you are travelling as a large group. So booking in advance is crucial to ensure you get to eat where you want and enjoy that all important relaxing family time together. ADRs can be made from 180 days in advance of your trip by visiting and looking in the ‘Things to Do’ menu , or by calling (407) WDW-DINE.
  7. Plan in regular rest breaks – When travelling with people of different ages and fitness levels, it’s really important to make sure people don’t overdo it (especially if it’s scorching hot) and are looking after themselves. Rest breaks don’t have to always be popping in somewhere for a cool drink (although that’s a good one!) – a rest break could be going to watch a show for twenty minutes – even better if the queue is air conditioned ( Monster’s Inc Laugh Floor is fantastic for this), or spending half an hour at Casey Jr. Splash ‘n’ Soak Station letting the kids cool down and play (and Grandma can cool down her aching feet!).
  8. Accept you may not do it all – As mentioned earlier, Magic Kingdom is a huge park, and at times can be very very busy. The heat in Florida can be intense, and if you are travelling with young and old alike, then be prepared that it might be easier and more enjoyable to try and come back another day , rather than cram every possible attraction in between rope drop and closing. In our experience, it’s much more enjoyable to visit Magic Kingdom over a few days each trip – once or twice to be there very early for rope drop and stay till around 4pm or so, then return another day at around 4pm to ride the attractions at night , watch the Electrical Parade and stay and watch the ‘Wishes’ Fireworks show.
  9. Make use of the Disney Photographers – There are professional photographers everywhere in Magic Kingdom who will happily take your family photos – fantastic to get really special group shots of you all without someone always having to be missing because they had to take the picture!
  10. Relax, and enjoy! I really believe it is a privilege to be able to spend your vacation period with all of your family , having the time of your lives at Magic Kingdom. The memories you create there will stay with you and all of your family for a lifetime. Take time to sit back, take it all in and enjoy it!


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