Travelling With a Large Group

I got back from my most recent Disney vacation on Friday and this was my first vacation with a large group.  All my other recent vacations had only my wife and daughter as travelers.  This trip had my wife’s entire family meeting us there for the week.  This caused our travelling party to balloon to 10 people.  Getting around Walt Disney World is much more difficult with a group of 10 than with a group of three.

To make matters if more difficult, for everyone that was joining us, it was either their first visit ever or their first visit in a really long time.  Some of these problems come from not understanding the size of Walt Disney World while others come from just general problems of travelling around with 10 people.

November 2014 Trip #1

Dining Reservations for groups this size are near impossible to find

We knew this going in.  As a result, we only planned two meals (first night and last night) where all 10 of us would be eating at the same place at the same time.  Even with that in mind, we were only able to get one reservation of 10 people – the first night.  The last night, we had to split the group into two groups of five and, as a result, we weren’t seated at the same time or next to each other.

Well, did you make your dining reservations at the 180 day mark?  Yes, we did.  My wife was up at 6 am on day 180 to make all of the dining reservations and even with that she still couldn’t get a reservation for 10 people at Whispering Canyon on the last night of everyone’s vacation.

All of the other reservations were easy to get because we were dealing a small group.  I think the next largest reservation was for a group of six.  Everything else was parties of four or smaller and, as a result, easier to get.

Getting Everyone to Understand Disney Transportation

In the days and weeks leading up to the vacation, my wife and I made several references that you should plan on, at least, an hour to get anywhere on Disney Transportation.  “Always assume that you have just missed the bus, boat, monorail, etc. and the next one isn’t coming for 20 minutes.”  Add 30 minutes if you have to transfer anywhere.

photo courtesy of trip advisor
photo courtesy of trip advisor

The first days of the vacation were filled with people arriving late and causing people to sprint to Fastpass+ or dining reservations.  As the vacation moved on, the party started to understand how Disney transportation works and that my wife and I were right about the time necessary to get from Point A to Point B.  As a result, they started to show up on time or even early in some cases.

Getting Around the Park as a Group of Ten Is Difficult

Someone is always trying to sprint ahead to get to the next attraction or someone is always lagging behind and slowing the pace down.  And don’t leave out that someone always has to go to the bathroom especially if you travelling with a group that has children in it.  What is normally a five-minute walk from attraction A to attraction B could easily double or triple to a ten to fifteen minute walk.

Our group only did two attractions with Fastpass+ as an entire group: Toy Story Midway Mania and Finding Nemo: The Musical.  Toy Story Midway Mania was broken up into three groups where there were overlapping times.  This left us with about a 35 minute window where all 10 of us could use our FastPass+ at the same time.  Finding Nemo was much easier since it is a show in a large theater.  All 10 of us could get a FastPass+ for the same time.

November 2014 Trip #2

What Are Some Things I Would Do Differently When Travelling With a Large Group in the Future

  • For Adults, make FP+ reservation on an individual basis not a group basis

The only exception to this would be with smaller children.  Someone has to accompany them on attractions.  As a result, they also need to be paired with somebody.

Adults, on the other hand, should only be attached to a FP+ reservation in group only if necessary.  We found it difficult to “de-couple” just one person from a FP+ reservation.  Most of FP+ were in small groups of two or three.  However, if one of the people didn’t want to go on the attraction, they had a hard time changing to something else without cancelling everybody in the group reservation as well.

We feel that a FP+ reservation of one will be easier to change than a FP+ reservation of two or three or etc.  It’s something we’ll try on a future trip.

  • Travel in smaller packs with one or two meetings per day as large group

Smaller packs can attack the parks better than a larger group unless the large group has a tour guide to get them around the park.

  • Create a schedule which is distributed to the group every day

My wife and I had planned on doing this but work, CYO basketball administration, and other real world issues got in the way.  This daily schedule/newsletter would have included everyone’s FastPass+ and dining reservation times, what time the large group is meeting, and when you should be leaving your resort/park to get to the next thing on the schedule.

I should be starting my trip report starting tomorrow with some resort, restaurant, and attraction reviews mixed in as well.  We are getting close to 700 followers.  Please let your friends and co-workers know about this growing community.

Thanks for reading!

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