Planning logistics for a large, young family

Discussion in 'Disney for Families' started by debdreamsofdis, Jan 14, 2010.

  1. debdreamsofdis

    debdreamsofdis DIS Veteran

    Feb 21, 2009
    I have been very seriously considering and saving my pennies for my family's first Disneyworld trip (my husband and I honeymooned there, but the kids have never been). We are a large family by Disney standards and besides the costs being astronomical, I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around logistically how to travel to Disneyworld with 4 young children (ages 8, 6, 3 and 1).

    We have been to Disneyland several times as a family (both with and without other family members), but that is a whole different ball game since we were able to drive our own cars and everything is much more condensed. With Disneyworld, we are looking at flying (I would probably go nuts if I have to spend 30+ hours traveling in a car with them) and I am feeling a little overwhelmed. The only time we flew with kids was when our oldest was 1. I just remember THAT being very stressful and that was only a 1 hour flight with 1 child. How are we going to manage a cross country flight with 4 kids, 2 who still need carseats, plus all the luggage? We most likely will not have family members to help.

    I would like to say at the Beach Club. I know there are cheaper options, but I'm justifying my choice because right now we can all fit in one room and this may be the only chance we get to stay there. PLUS, I got the 20/30/40 PIN:thumbsup2 We have 2 options . We could stay in late July, with hot weather and crowds, but have a longer stay so we don't feel as rushed. Or we could go mid October when we have a weeklong break from school, with nice weather and fewer crowds, but not have as much time. We most likely would not be going back again for several years, so I know I'll feel the urge to pack it all in, but realistically knowing that will never happen. Our honeymoon was 7 days, and it did not feel long enough-and we were 2 adults going commando---at the parks---get your mind out of the gutter;). Which option would you choose for our family?

    I guess I'm just looking for someone to tell me from personal experience it can be done and appreciate any tips you have.
  2. Zeebs

    Zeebs DIS Veteran

    Oct 8, 2007
    Where ever you stay make sure it has a washing machine and dryer, then you will be able to take less clothes.

    We stayed offsite as we went with the inlaws. We loved it but I realise it isn't everyones cup of tea so to speak. But the benefits we found were the space, having a car (I know we had to pay for parking but we thought it was worth it as there is nothing better than at the end of the day to put kids in car, put air conditioning on and taking our own time to get back to your accommodation) We also were at the parks for opening and I think only once took the tram back to our car as we were close enough to walk which meant we didn't need to get kids out of strollers etc to get on transport. Taking those buses with kids and strollers is my worst nightmare.

    Because I knew we had a washing machine I only packed 4 outfits each, 2 pairs of PJ's, so we had one set on, one in the wash and one ready for next day and 1 spare. In hindsight we didn't need four we could have easily got by with only 3 sets. We put the washing machine on in the morning before we left and then put things in the dryer when we returned in the evening.

    This will help with the luggage.

    Don't over pack on stuff for the kids too do on the plane, I packed all sorts of stuff 90 % didn't come out of the carry on for our entire holiday. Our flight was 9 hours, we got on, settled in, had the meal, which kept kids busy for a while eating, then they watched the little seat back TV's, (we never fly for any length of time unless the carrier offers this but we fly international it is unusal to find a carrier now days that do the route without them) played with some cars for a bit, slept a bit and we were eating again and arriving.

    We also try to do night time flights so the kids are ready for a sleep.

    We have carted 2 car seats around the world and don't find it too much of a bother. Rightly or wrongly, the carseat for the littlest child gets jammed into a trolley with some luggage and he gets put in it I hold carseat also for added protection and thats how we get around the airport. On our last trip (2 month trip to NZ and then on to America for a road trip from LA to Vancouver which took a month) we needed two trolleys for our luggage and hubby can't do it on his own. Cullen then walks beside holding onto the trolley.

    I know I only have two kids but we are about to be three and we travel every 18months or so from the UK to New Zealand which is a 24 hour flight. Which we break up and stay over night half way there which we never use to do without the kids.

    I hope this is of same help to you. :goodvibes

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  4. HeatherC

    HeatherC <font color=blue>Alas...these people I live with t

    May 23, 2003
    I think you have to go into it thinking it will be an "adventure" and not stressful. Otherwise the trip across the country will be miserable for you. Book a morning flight and you will be there by lunchtime! Plan on renting a car so you have your freedom with the little ones and don't have to wait for buses when the kids are melting down or exhausted.

    If it were me, I'd go in October and try to stretch it over 2 weekends. If you can leave on a Friday and go home the following Sunday, you would get more time there and not feel as harried. This way you could schedule "non park" days to hang out at the pool and go home more relaxed.

    October won't be as crowded and the weather (barring any major hurricanes...which I wouldn't worry about if you go later in the month) will be very nice and comfortable. I think you will be able to see twice as much in half the time at the parks. July is just so humid and rainy and sticky. And the lines are LONG which is miserable with kids. Not fun to me. I know many people who have gone in July/Aug for their first trip and never want to go back again as a result. The other downside to July is that even if you stay longer, the crowds are so heavy that you won't see as much and will need to "hurry" to do things. I don't think you would go home very relaxed.

    If you are open to other resorts, I'd suggest looking into Bonnet Creek. You are pretty much onsite (not Disney owned though), the units are beautiful and larger than the Beach Club and have full kitchens, washer/dryers and multiple bedrooms. You would be able to spread out, have a kitchen to make coffee and give the kids snacks and feel like you are in your "own" home so to speak. The resort itself is beautiful and has tons of amenities that everyone will love. Free mini-golf, 2 lazy rivers, playground, kids activities.

    By doing that, you could bring half the amount of luggage. Not that you want to do laundry on vacation. But you throw a load in the washer when you leave in the am and pop it in the dryer when you come home in the pm.

    It would also give you much more room in case the little ones needed to nap or crash one day. The others can go in another room and watch tv (a 2 bedroom has 3 tv's) instead of being crammed into a studio room. You also get the full second bathroom.

    For a smaller family, I think onsite would be great. But this would be the best of both worlds really. You would be in a great location too. (It's right near the Boardwalk area)
    You could even order some groceries ahead of time to be delivered when you arrive. Just things like coffee and snacks for the kids. They will bring it right to your unit. Also...small kids don't always want to sit in a restaurant for every meal. Which means mealtime can be miserable if they don't want to do it. This way you have the option of "eating in" if there is a day where they are just "done". And they will be "done" at times because Disney is just stimulus overload and exhausting for anyone at any age.

    Each family is different and what works for one won't work for another. For ours, my kids don't sleep well in one hotel room. Which means they are tired and cranky the whole trip. If we stay in a place where we have more space and have a kitchen for snacks, we are all more relaxed and comfortable and wind up having a less stressful trip.

    Hope this helps give you some ideas. Have a wonderful time planning!!!:)
  5. mjkacmom

    mjkacmom DIS Veteran

    Feb 20, 2006
    I'm not fond of crowds, or heat, so I'd take 1 week in October over 3 weeks in July. We're a large family, and all of our kids are in charge of a wheeled carry-on (obviously mine are older, but your 2 oldest could do this). We rented DVC points on our last trip for a 2 bedroom villa at the BC, and I did laundry daily (which I do at home - no big deal). The cost was the same as 2 rooms at a moderate (and having extra bathrooms was the best!). We all stay in 1 room, 1 bathroom, at the Great Wolf Lodge, and when we get a cabin camping, but I can't imagine doing it for more than a long weekend. The 2 bedroom villa is HUGE!

    4 out of our 5 were under 10 the last time, so we did the DDP, because kids are SO cheap! When I started planning, I ended up making 1 ts ADR a day, so it made sense to do the DDP.
  6. U2_rocks!

    U2_rocks! <font color=coral>The DISer formerly known as U2_r

    Sep 7, 2006
    Your oldest is only 8 - you could do like us and miss a day or 2 of school. We're leaving on Oct 14 and coming back on Oct 24 - that's 10 days, with only the 14 and 15 being school days that would be missed. That's plenty of time! A Sat to the following Sun is still 8 days - still better than July IMO. October days are variable - varying from warm to hot during the day and slightly cold to slightly cool at night. The crowds are much less than July, so you'll get more done each day.

    Beach Club is a good plan - you can walk to Epcot or the Studios. Another option might be to see if you can get a villa/condo at Bay Lake Tower (Contemporary) so you can be on the monorail - for the ages of your kids that might be better.
  7. 4forMe

    4forMe DIS Veteran

    Jul 21, 2007
    I agree with the poster above who suggested October and possibly taking the kids out of school an extra day or two. My oldest missed an entire week of school in November when he was 8 years old and it was not a problem. We were there the last week of July 2 years ago, and I wouldn't recommend it due to the heat, crowds and tour groups.

    Regarding accomodations, you may want to consider looking into a 1 BR villa at Bay Lake Towers. These villas also have 2 bathrooms and laundry facilities in unit. I agree with everyone else who suggested packing half the laundry. It's easy to throw a load in at the end of the evening. If you don't have a discount code for Bay Lake Towers, consider renting points from a DVC member. This way you have monorail access to Magic Kingdom and Epcot. Also, you do not need to fold up your stroller on the monorail like you would have to do on the buses from the Beach Club.

    Good luck with your trip planning. :goodvibes
  8. debdreamsofdis

    debdreamsofdis DIS Veteran

    Feb 21, 2009
    Thank you everyone for your input. So, it seems October is the general consensus for a better vacation. I'm not too worried about my kids missing a day or two of school, but I shouldv'e mentioned my husband is a teacher, so that makes it a little more difficult to skip out:laughing: I'll have to talk it over with DH and figure out who we need to bribe to get him a day off (it's always much more difficult to get personal days/substitutes right before breaks).

    I appreciate the resort recommendations. I think we are leaning towards onsite rather than off because we'd like to do the dining plan, mostly for convenience. Do the 1 bedroom villas accommodate our family of 6 (5 + 1 infant)? I think the 2 bedroom villas are a little too pricey for us, and I'm sort of a control freak, so I don't think I'd be comfortable renting points.

    I'm also starting to think that we should consider renting a car while we're there. I had just been thinking we would use DME and the busses to the parks. I don't know what it would cost to rent, but does the benefit of having a car (no need to wait for a bus, no worry about finding a seat, etc..) outweigh the cost??
  9. 4forMe

    4forMe DIS Veteran

    Jul 21, 2007
    We stayed in a 2 BR at Bay Lake Towers last summer and loved it. Yes, the 1 BR would accomodate your family of 6 since your youngest is under the age of 3. A 1 BR at Animal Kingdom Lodge would also accomodate your family; however, I still recommend the Bay Lake Towers as you can walk to Magic Kingdom in 10 minutes (we did this rather than take the monorail - it was quicker). Also, this unit has 2 bathrooms which is wonderful for a large family!

    We also rented a minivan which I highly recommend! It was faster for us to drive to Epcot than take the monorail. You will definitely get to Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom faster in the car than a bus (less than 10 minutes). You are not charged the $14 per day for parking if you are an onsite guest. No folding strollers on the bus, and no waiting in lines for the buses at the end of the day!!! Very important with young children. It's much easier to take the car when you have a lot of young children, IMHO.

    Check out the transportation section of this board to find deals on rental cars. I got a great deal on a van by using a code I discovered on the transportation board. It was well, well worth it to pay extra for the minivan.
  10. BuzznBelle'smom

    BuzznBelle'smom <font color=red>There are tomato-ey paw prints all

    Mar 18, 2002
    We stayed as 6 in a 1BR at AKL, and I do NOT recommend it. We were tripping over each other! It was definitely cramped, and with young children, you're likely to be in the room a fair amount.

    I would recommend staying off-site. Much, much cheaper to rent a townhouse (you could get one for a week for under $400). We stayed at Windsor Hills and loved it--so much so, that we're going down next month to stay in the same place, but not doing WDW! A 2BR condo would allow a sleeping room, and also a play area for awake children. You wouldn't need the dining plan because you could make simple meals and snacks and save yourself a TON of money. I don't do fancy meals, but it's nice to just make sandwiches and have fruit and chips, and take it easy. It gets so pricey feeding a family of 6!
  11. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc DIS Veteran

    Jul 2, 2007
    I have 3 kids, not 4.

    We have gone twice in August. (We're both teachers.) I LOVE It there then!!! The parks are open from early morning until late at night-- you can be so incredibly flexible! We got to the park each day for rope drop, used our fastpasses wisely. We left each day just before or after lunch to get back to the Poly for a swim, then returned for dinner. (You could certainly do naps/laundry whatever during those afternoons.)

    We've stayed at the Poly both times, right on the monorail-- you might want to consider it instead of the BC because of the Magic Kingdom access. We loved it-- I can't imagine a more perfect resort for my family. The volcano pool, the beach, the relaxed atmosphere that's a wonderful counterpoint to the frenetic energy of the parks-- it's the right resort for us!! And when the kids(or some of them) had had enough, we were a quick monorail or boat ride from the resort. We didn't wait more than 20 minutes for any ride or attraction, and my kids got onto everything they wanted multiple times. Again, doing your homework is key.

    I also loved the dining plan. It enabled us to enjoy a huge variety of dining experiences, from the Princess breakfast at Aukerhaus to The Coral Reef to Yak and Yetti for lunch to Le Cellier. We ordered from Garden Grocer so we would have some munchies in the room. Most days we used our snack credits and the room stuff to cover breakfast, and found that we spent very little out of pocket on food.

    We've never felt the need for a car. Between DME and Disney transportation, we were fine. But, again, we spent most of our time at the Magic Kingdom and at Epcot, so the monorail made things easy. The TTC was a 5 minute walk from our room, so the convenience really can't be beat!

    If flying Jetblue is a possibility, they offer free snacks and each seat has its own TV-- that helped a LOT in terms of keeping the kids occupied.
  12. Sweetpeamd

    Sweetpeamd Mouseketeer

    Jan 21, 2009
    We have 4 children (9,7,5 and 3) and have travelled every year in January to the world. I would never consider going in July b/c of the waits. You would probably be able to see/ride as much in October as you would in July but with cooler temps, too. You'll have Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween party and Food and Wine at Epcot then, too! Take advantage of your school break and go then.
    We have stayed at the BC the past 2 yrs and are staying at the BCV's this yr. It is such an incredible location, so convenient!! We couldn't imagine staying anywhere else!
    Please feel free to PM me if you want to discuss further since our situations seem to be so similar.
  13. SmallWorld71

    SmallWorld71 DIS Veteran

    Feb 10, 2007
    Haven't read the opinions yet, but here's mine.
    I would choose October. The summer is so hot and July is very crowded. Having been late August when the heat is still brutal, but the crowds are light, I can not imagine having to deal with that heat and the crowds. It can be hot in October too, but it won't be as bad and you will probably get as much done in 6 days in Oct. as you would in 10 days in July.

    Also, while the Beach Club is great, if cost is an issue you could all stay in a suite at All Star Music which is very economical. I'm one of those go for the lesser priced accomodations so ou can go more often people, but everyone is different.

    As far as the plane, I found that age 1 was the hardest age to fly with. I would definitely use a stroller until you get to the gate (would probably take one for the three year old too.) The two older ones will be able to manage their own stuff. I really don't find traveling with more than one much more difficult than traveling with one. You'd be going through the hassles of security matter how many you fly with. Do make sure that all of you kids understand how security works to help you avoid any scares or confusions.

    As far as luggage goes, you may want to save a little extra $ and tip a porter to take it for you. I always did that when I traveled solo with the kids when they were younger.

    I'm sure there's more I'll think of later, but that's it for now. :)
  14. Roddy lawrie

    Roddy lawrie Earning My Ears

    Nov 23, 2009
    We are just back from Disney , thats me -wife and 4 kids

    Flights from the uk 9/10 hours do drag but the kids handles it fine , thats ages 14/10 /6/5

    Picked up a 7 seat car from the airport , plenty room -all nice and easy

    .Having stayed on site before with the 2 eldest , i wouldn't personally do it again , even though their is the convenience of the parks on your doorstep

    We rented a villa at Windsor Hills which was perfect , lots of room for everyone and own pool etc for the kids to come back to in the afternoon or towards the end of the day ,the laundry room also allows you to limit the luggage

    For eating it was easy , their are restaurants everywhere near by -take aways and all the usual shops just around the corner , target , publix etc if you want to cook

    Might be a little more stressful with crowds and heat at the height of the season though , Xmas was fine
  15. SmallWorld71

    SmallWorld71 DIS Veteran

    Feb 10, 2007
    Just read some of the responses. I am a teacher too, which makes things difficult. If you have to go in the summer, the first 2 weeks of June or last 2 weeks of August are your best bets as far as crowds if that is at all possible. End of August is generally much cheaper than the rest of the summer.
    Also, I agree that food is expensive and it may be worth it to stay off site. We always stay on, but lots of people report positive experiences off-site. Or, if Disney offers the free dining promo again this year, that would be a big savings for you as well.
  16. rookie78

    rookie78 Mouseketeer

    Jul 3, 2008
    I would definitely agree with October b/c of the heat. We went in early October with a 18 month old and 4 yr. old and they got really grumpy from the heat then, so I could not even imagine July!!

    I have never flown with 4 kids but a good friend of mine has 5 and she has flown twice with them and they are the same age as your kids. She takes lots of snacks, and the DS systems for them to play while on the flight. Her youngest who was 1 first time he flew did great. Mine on the other hand cried for one of they 2 flights we were on. Just remember it is going to be work to get there, but the reward is so worth it! good luck

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