Taking a multi-generational trip to Disney World has been one of our best theme park memories! We visited the most magical place on Earth with Tad and Lily's grandparents just last year, and it was an absolute blast. It was Tad and Lily's favorite trip so far ... but that couldn't just be because they got spoiled with souvenirs by their grandparents, right?
When planning a trip to Disney World with grandparents or other extended relatives, there are some additional factors to consider. Visiting with grandma and grandpa means extra fun and extra special memories, but it also means going at a different pace than you usually might. For many parents, considering what other adults want to do on the trip may be new, and this can be tough when accommodating tadpoles as well. In many cases, a multi-generational trip to Disney World is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so we're here to offer you our top tips for planning and enjoying the experience to make sure everyone involved has a leapin' good time!
Our Hoppin' Tips for a Successful Multi-Generational Trip to Disney World
Weather and crowd levels are huge factors in deciding when to visit Disney World. We recommend trying to avoid the summer months in order to dodge both peak crowds and high temperatures and humidity. However, if this is the only time that'll work for your crew, no worries! Simply plan ahead for more breaks and be sure to take advantage of the free water at Disney World's quick service restaurants. Our personal favorite time for a multi-generational trip to Disney World is during the less busy time between Thanksgiving and Christmas to enjoy all of the holiday festivities. Early spring is another family favorite, with Epcot's Flower and Garden Festival taking place. But let's be honest ... there's always something going on at Disney World for the whole family! Find the event, festival or weather that best suits your family (and schedule!) and plan around that.
2. Experience family-friendly fun on your multi-generational trip to Disney World
We love that Disney World has so many rides that everyone can enjoy. Whether toddler or senior, there is plenty to enjoy together! Be sure to cater your ride plans to what every generation can have fun on. Pirates of the Caribbean, for instance, may be a better experience for the whole family than say, Tower of Terror. Try to use at least one FastPass+ per day on something the whole gang can experience together during your multi-generational trip to Disney World. Our personal recommendations would be Spaceship Earth at Epcot, it's a small world at Magic Kingdom, Festival of the Lion King at Disney's Animal Kingdom, and Beauty and the Beast Live at Disney's Hollywood Studios.
3. Pace yourselves
Nap time is key! We've considered a mid-day break a necessity, even before having tadpoles tagging along on our Disney World trips. Once you add grandparents or other extended family members into the mix during a multi-generational trip to Disney World, taking an afternoon breather is absolutely essential. Take a break from the parks in the afternoons each day, as needed. This will help you dodge the hottest and most crowded time of the day, and get some rest to fuel you for the rest of the night! We love stretching our frog legs at the pool and taking a snooze in the sun.
4. Tailor your ticket choices for your multi-generational trip to Disney World
We'll be the first to admit that Disney World ticket prices can be a burden on the wallet. That's why we think it's so important to tailor ticket needs for your family so no one has to compromise (or waste money). If you're heading to Orlando for a five-day trip, maybe the grandparents will only want a four-day ticket so they can have a day to themselves to relax by the pool or shop at Disney Springs. In our case, Leap, Tad, Lily and I got the "Water Park Fun & More" ticket add-on, while the grandparents skipped out. (We couldn't persuade Grandma Frog to go down Summit Plummet at Disney's Blizzard Beach.)
5. Don't be afraid to split up
We know it's a family vacation ... but it's toadally OK to part ways on your multi-generational trip to Disney World! It's good to have some space from one another and let different members of the group do their own thing here and there. Don't be afraid to book separate rooms if family suites aren't your thing. (Although we do highly recommend Disney's Art of Animation for a group!) Request adjoining rooms, or don't ... whatever you're up for! (Quick tip: Moderate and Deluxe resort hotels are often favored by seniors due to a calmer atmosphere and more space. Disney's Boardwalk area hotels are our favorite!) While in the parks, it's cool to go in different directions too. This is a great way to accomplish must-do's of everyone in the group. If the kiddos are dying to go on Expedition Everest at Animal Kingdom, that's a great opportunity for grandma and grandpa to chill out at Nomad Lounge for a yummy cocktail and appetizers. There are nice quiet hideaways like this at each park. (Disney's Hollywood Studios has BaseLine Tap House, Magic Kingdom has Gaston's Tavern and Epcot has endless options in World Showcase.)
6. Be flexible on your multi-generational trip to Disney World
With grandparents joining us, we like to spend a little extra time at the parks that are geared more for them. Epcot is their favorite park, and World Showcase is the perfect pace for them, provided we take plenty of walking breaks! With a larger group, it's important to be aware of the needs of each family member. Be patient and know that your pace may be slowed down in the parks. With family members of all different ages, you never know when someone might need a break! Keep this in mind for transportation as well — try taking the monorail versus the ferry boat to Magic Kingdom, as there are more places to sit. Hop from Hollywood Studios to Epcot via boat rather than going through the hustle and bustle of the buses. Simple changes can make your trip much more leisurely for the older crowd!
6. Find out each person's priorities
Finding out what is on each family member's "must-do" list is key for any large group vacation. This is especially true for grandparents during your multi-generational trip to Disney World. You never know what might be on their bucket list! Imagine my surprise when I found out Leap's dad was hoping to eat at Cinderella's Royal Table, and I hadn't booked an Advance Dining Reservation.The point is, it's super important to make sure each person on a multi-generational trip to Disney World has fun — whatever that means to them! We recommend getting each family member's top three priorities (characters, rides, meals etc.) and trying your best to work them into the agenda.
7. Reserve group meals
We found meal times to be our favorite part of our multi-generational trip to Disney World. It was so much fun to sit down, relax and reflect on the fun we were having all week. With a larger group, it is super important to hop on dining reservations as soon as the 180-day booking window opens up. Have a game plan for which meals you'd most like to experience as they coincide with your desired park schedule. Character meals are a fan favorite, but we also recommend booking one nice, non-character meal for all of the adults to enjoy during your multi-generational trip to Disney World. (Hop tip: Feel free to split the group for dinner one night! Grandparents will love spending time with the tadpoles, and parents will enjoy some alone time, and heck, maybe even a romantic meal!)
8. Purchase Memory Maker to commemorate your multi-generational trip to Disney World
For many of us, a multi-generational trip to Disney World is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. That makes photos an absolute must! We are huge fans of Memory Maker, as it includes downloads of every single in-park and ride photo taken during your trip. PhotoPass photographers are waiting around every iconic corner to commemorate your vacation together. Purchasing Memory Maker was worth every penny for our trip. Each adult could access all of the photos from the MyDisneyExperience app, and you can share them as you wish. It's a great way to look back on the awesome memories you've made, without worrying about who will take the photo or running out of memory on your phone.
9. Plan an efficient route
Back when it was just Leap and I, we would run a mile a minute across Disney World with no regard for efficiency. However, your pace slows down with strollers in tow, and certainly when grandparents tag along. Try to tackle one area at a time instead of hustling back and forth across parks. For example, if you have lunch plans at Epcot's Garden Grill, plan on doing nearby Soarin' and Living with the Land while you're in the area. No need to backtrack! This will save everyone some energy and make the experience more enjoyable for everyone.
Are you ready to hop on down to Disney World with grandma, grandpa and the tadpoles? Enjoying a multi-generational trip to Disney World will create some of your favorite memories. Check out our discounted tickets now and get started on planning your vacation full of fun and magic with the whole family!
Related: Using a Stroller at Disney World