View Full Version : Tips for bringing the whole family?
02-08-2003, 06:58 PM
Do you veterans have any advice that will make our first-ever DVC vacation enjoyable for my whole family(19 people)! We feel so fortunate to be able to bring them, and I want it to be special, but I don't want to be stressed the whole time. I have planned one character breakfast, and the Hoop Dee Doo revue. The guys also have a tee time scheduled. We had T-shirts made that everyone will get at check-in as well. I am trying not to be the bossy oldest sister, but I'm also trying to avoid being the "cruise director" for the week. We had a planning party last week, in which everyone discussed what they wanted to do, so we will not be traveling to all the parks as a huge crowd, which I think is good. Any great tips on fun things for groups? Has anyone gotten a group pic in front of the castle? Can you make an appointment, or do you just hope to get lucky? Thanks everyone! We can't wait!
02-08-2003, 07:33 PM
I planned a trip for 14 of us in 2000, (pre-DVC) and there will be 16-18 of us in 2005.
I think so far your plan looks great. We did Hoop Dee Doo and really enjoyed it although they had to split us into 2 tables. We quickly found you absolutely CAN NOT go through the parks as a large crowd, but luckily we had 2 way radios with us. They were great because we could all be in the same park and break off into groups to do the things that interested us, but then meet for lunch or to head back to the resort for a swim.
Also probably THE BEST time we had was one day when we all went to Typhoon Lagoon.
Since we will be at DVC next time around I'm thinking of flying down a day early and checking in first and planning to make dinner or have a cookout (since I understand there are grills at OKW) for everyone the night they all arrive.
I'm also considering a cruise for Illuminations one night as well.
Good Luck...you'll have a great time.
02-08-2003, 09:28 PM
hi: we did a small (15 people) family trip in 2000. splitting up is definitely the way to go. it was nice doing a few things together-chef mickey's and a couple of meals. i gave all couples/families copies of birnbaum's guide and website links for the christmas prior as well as some disney dollars to serve as bookmarks. i also made up some sheets for everyone asking what their "must do" items were for each park. on the ones with the most requests, we planned accordingly. the key is to be flexible and not get stuck in the "tour guide" mode. my role in this ended after night #1. we all got together and went to and from the airport en masse. group sales at continental was fairly helpful at the time. wish me luck on the "ladies only" trip for this november!
02-08-2003, 09:43 PM
This is an interesting thread. I just booked 3 rooms at Swan starting from 12/25 for 3 nights and then 2 2-br at BWV for 7 nights afterwards for my family of 13.
No one in the family will be planning on anything but me. I currently am responsible for the accomodations, and they are on their own for food and park passes, or any incidentals.
I think everyone will be on a different schedule and I figured if we stay by the Boardwalk area, everyone should be able to find something to do/eat. I probably will arrange for some sit-down meals together, but accomodations along is a lot already, not sure how DH will be able to entertain the idea of paying for some of the meals. I am even thinking about moving to GF or AKL for the last 2 nights so that they get to see some other wonderful resorts within WDW, also save some of my points.
I just hope that everyone will have a good time. The worst thing can happen to me is that if people don't like it, for something that I made such an effort for.
It feels like because I love WDW, that I would love to show them how great the place is, but afraid that they would not appreciate it, especially it will be a really really busy time at WDW during their stay.
02-08-2003, 10:21 PM
We'll only be 9 (August 2004). Not really planning anything except for Hoop De Doo and Typhoon Lagoon. My brother and I will have cell phones on national plans so we'll be able to split up and call each other. It's a long way off, though, and we could wind up investing in some two way radios. I will have to decide whether or not to take extra leave from work and drive down with my parents, or fly down on my own. I have a lot of time to decide.
We did a big family reunion for my folks 50th aniv.
It was cool. It can be a big stress.
Let people go their own ways.
We were at CBR (14 rooms) and found that there was always someone hanging out on the courtyard - it was a big informal living room very nice.
My only advice is to check the bill mid trip. We booked via Disney group sales. Some how the check got lost and they didn't credit paymnets. (Resort dropped the ball and didn't credit rooms)
The stress level was astronomical. It was sorted out in time but all in all it would have been nice to have had checked before someone was chceking out.
02-09-2003, 12:15 AM
Roadtripper-the idea for a pic in front of the castle is great. I'm sure those photographers will have no problem taking your picture. Just walk up to one of them if they don't approach you and I'm sure they will help you. They discount after the first one so you can gets extras for your guests.
02-09-2003, 06:48 AM
Thanks for all the great suggestions!
2 way radios are on the way via a friend, thankfully.
The thing that has been making me nervous is that I have been giving everyone websites (this one, of course) and other info, bought a Passporter for Mom, gave my old Passporter to my sis, told everyone to order Trip-Tiks and tickets, but I feel like I've had to push everyone to do those things. Disney is not a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants vacation, (as you all know)and though my family has been before, they have not been in years. (Epcot was the new park!) So I am hopeful that they do some homework to avoid last-minute stresses. Keep those tips coming, and thanks to everyone!
02-09-2003, 11:13 AM
roadtripper, avoid like the dickens getting caught up in the "tourguide" role. You have planned a couple of nice group things. Maybe add a day at the waterparks, as that is a fun group thing too. You ahve given your group members information, Passporters etc. If they choose not to plan any more of their vacation than you have already done for them, IT IS THEIR PROBLEM!!!!!!! Perhaps you want to make up a list of special things that you've found in each park, or different things to do at WDW(ie-boat rentals, mini golf)and give that to them, but above and beyond that, step out of the role as the trip coordinator.
We have done many group trips, sometimes with goups as large as 22. Basically, we plan a couple of group events, such as a nice dinner or the Hoop De Doo, and leave it at that. Day by day, we kind of say "we're going to the MK and anyone who wants to come is welcome". But nobody gets offended if someone doesn't want to do that, and we usually try to meet up at some point during the day for either lunch, dinner, IllumiNations, PI or something. But don't get crazed with having to do thing "en masse" or you'll all hate each other by the end of the trip. People have different touring styles.Some like to get up and out early, some like to relax, some like to do parks all day long so they get the most value out of their tickets, some like to do parks for an hour and then do resort tours, or DD or shopping, or relaxing by the pool. I'd give people a list of neat things at each park, some different things to do at WDW other than parks, the times of the planned group events, and call it a day.
02-09-2003, 12:53 PM
We have used the two way radios before and there was a lot of other people using them, too, so we had a lot of other chatter and such and sometimes it was difficult to differenciate the voices. We did use a different call tone to alert that the other one was calling which helped. Also, it was very hard to hear anything on the rides. This year, we changed our cell phone contract to include no roaming charges and we have the family plan, so we will be using the cell phones just in case the radios are too hard to hear.
Another thing which is probably a DUH, but when there is a lot of people, we always seemed to be running to the bathrooms a lot (one kids goes, then 10 minutes later, another kid had to go...we were constantly in the bathrooms!) until we made the rule that when someone had to go, everyone goes, so that we made less trips to the bathrooms.
We are doing three families together this year; one family has never been. We have plans for meals together, but if we want to split up (especially the teenagers), we will and communicate via phone and have a time back to meet.
02-09-2003, 05:11 PM
19 people? Wow! As part of our member discounts they have a professional photographic session available. (10% off, I think.) I'd request the castle in the background. Just as a thought, with 19 people maybe you could get Mickey Mouse as your 20th for the photo. I don't know if that's possible, but I am sure everyone in your group would love to have the boss Mouse on hand. Also, for the younger members of your family...why not dedicate one day for them, to do what they want at Magic Kingdom? Then, have a night where only the adults go to Pleasure Island! Just a thought, have fun. :smooth:
02-09-2003, 05:29 PM
We planned a trip for 20 of us at WDW in 1999 for Christmas. I planned all of the PS and the which park which day kinda thing. I printed everyone an itinerary with that info and then they were mostly on their own to follow the itinerary if they wanted to be with the majority or go on their own. If they showed up for the PS, great, if not, we ate without them. We were not all together all of the time, but we were all related and the younger cousins all wanted to hang out together, so we moved as a fairly large pack for the most part. There were 5 families including a grandmother in a wheelchair and 6 children under 18. We had a 2 bedroom & a studio at OKW, 1 family was in an RV at Ft. Wilderness and 2 families offsite in another Timeshare. We communicated by cell phone resort to resort & 2-way radios in the parks when we wanted to split up for different rides. We use the Motorola radios that have all of the sub-channels so we are always able to find a channel without crosstalk. Collectively, we had 2 minivans, 1 truck that came behind the RV and 2 5/psgr cars. We also cooked our Christmas dinner for 20 and exchanged our family gifts in the 2br at OKW. The RV travelers brought the Christmas tree. We have 2 large group photos from that trip, one in front of the Castle and one at AK in front of the tree. You will have no problem having the photo made by the CM's if you get there early in the day and you all walk in together. They are more than willing to take large group photos. It was an awesome trip.
02-09-2003, 05:56 PM
I'll reiterate what AZKathy said - the two way radios are very popular and thus very busy! Last year my DH and I had two with fourteen channels - I believe. There was so much "traffic" on all channels, we started leaving them at the villas and not worrying with them. Someone told me they make them with many more channels (perhaps maybe even 40), I would definately try to obtain the ones with more channels before I ever use them again. The cell phone idea is a good one too if you have free roaming.;)
02-10-2003, 03:53 PM
Hi Roadtripper - My family usually goes to WDW every January. Since I am the DVC owner, I usually end up doing most of the planning. We just returned from a one week stay at the BWV and there were 24 of us. Our group ranged from 18 months to 81 years so there were many different ideas and things to do each day. Here are my tips.
1 - I think the most important thing to do is to come up with a written itinerary before you leave for home and to circulate it to everyone who is going. There will be days in which everyone will want to try and stay togeather and other days when everyone is heading off to do their own thing. Our itineray was very detailed. For example, we would say in writing that on Monday, the group was leaving for the MK at 8:30 AM and that we would be having dinner in the room that day before heading out to EPCOT at 6 PM. This allows anyone who wants to do something different in the morning to hook back up with the group in the evening. When we first started this annual trip, we would usually try and decide each night what to do the following day and that was always a very bad mistake. Some days, the itinerary works out better for certain people but that can not be avoided. In the end, I think that people will appreciate the planning you put into the event. So IMHO, the more planning the better.
2- I am not sure where you are staying or the ages of your children but we stayed at the BW and for me the most memorable dinners were the ones we had in the room. I have 4 children and they range fromm18 months to 8 years and it is hard for a child to sit down in a restaurnat for every meal. WE took turns being responsible for in the room meals and we ate out for 3 dinners. We used NETgrocer to order food in advance. We stopped on the way in at Publix and used Tiffany for rt transportation. I brought with me a griddle for pancakes and disposable muffin tins for corn muffins. Having a "breakfast extravaganza" in our room one morning worked out great.
3 - We played golf one morning while the ladies watched the kids and the next morning the ladies took a tour while the men watched the kids. It worked out great for both groups.
4 - Several of the ride operators (eg Tower of Terror and Dinosaur) let us have our own elevator and car so the group shots were great.
5 - We had dinner at Mama Melroses and, as usual, they were the most accomodating for putting our two large tables near each other. We elected not to do the Fantasmic package but we still ended up with great seats for the show.
I could go on and on but I do not want to bore you. Please feel free to contact me if you want any more ideas...Rich
02-10-2003, 05:02 PM
Great Thread. We too are the DVC owner and have a family of 10 coming with us in less than 3 weeks. At OKW, have a 2br and a studio. The only plans are a PS for lunch and dinner, Fantasmic, Illuminations and Enight. Other than that we'll see each back at OKW for a rundown of their day.
Doing this again for 11/2004 with other side of the family (14). (We'll see how this goes as to if we want to continue HA, HA.)
Disney for Mardi Gras here we come. :jester:
02-10-2003, 05:25 PM
that is awesome that you were able to cooridinate a large family trip. DH and I have tried twice now (one beach vacation and now one DVC trip in january) both times were a disaster. with the beach--we couldnt agree on when where or how so we went by ourselves!! With our upcoming DVC trip--DH and I offered ALL of our DVC points (including borrowing) to cover the rooms and as it stands it will be DH and I, new baby and the grandparents. You would not believe the excuses we got (everything from not wanting to fly, to not wanting to go in January, to costs etc....) We have decided that we will always have an open invitation (except for the rare occassions when we want to escape alone!) and when they decide to come around, we will be happy to have them. Have FUN and take the advice of NOT trying to all go together--plan some isolated events and meet up periodically. (we do this even with traveling with small groups of friends--then you have less of a tendency to get sick of each other!!!).
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