Have you ever planned a trip to Walt Disney World with your children and also included your parents or in-laws? For some families, this might be a no-brainer while others may need some time to weigh the pros and cons.
WDW, in all of its wonder and majesty, can bring out the best or the worst in anyone. As it goes with anything, what’s best for one family is different for the next. Allow the grandparents’ age and ability and family relationships to shape your plans and expectations. Here are a few things to consider prior to a multi-generational trip.
- Physical limitations. Older guests might have a hard time keeping up. Be prepared to go at a slower pace or make sure that the grandparents know that you might want or need to split up at times. You don’t want to hurt their feelings by taking off without them, but you also don’t want to resent them for slowing you down.
- Control. Who is in charge of time management and the schedule? Or does your family prefer to wing it? Like I mentioned before, Disney can bring personality traits to the surface. It’s hot, you’re tight on time, and everyone wants to go in a different direction. Someone needs to be able to take control and lead the group one way or another. If there are too many leaders in the group, it can get uncomfortable. If it’s best to have a touring plan ahead of time, so be it. If the grandparents aren’t interested in being on a tight schedule, make sure they are okay with meeting up after everyone has hit all their must-see attractions.
- Don’t expect too much. If you’re inviting the grandparents along for fun, don’t expect them to be there to work for you. Unless they offer to watch the kids so that you can enjoy an adults-only night out at Disney Springs, don’t expect it and don’t ask. Disney is exhausting and the grandparents might need a break at night, not a babysitting job.
- Food preferences. Are your kids picky? What about your parents or in-laws? Are your winging it or planning all your meals in advance? The last thing you want to do is stand around, hot and hungry, debating over what sounds good. Try to have a general idea of what food locations would be crowd-pleasing for your party.
- Memories with the kids. In the hustle and bustle, make sure to make time for magical memories. If the grandparents are up for it, plan on them doing some special attractions with the kids. Take pictures and print them. Give them as gifts to the grandparents and display them for the children. Pictures with Grandma and Grandpa riding Dumbo or standing in front of Cinderella Castle are irreplaceable.
Our first family trip to Walt Disney World included my family of four, 3 grandparents, and my kids’ aunt, uncle, and first cousin. Coordinating for 10 people was challenging at times but we were able to maintain flexibility and understanding. We ended up spending a fair amount of time as a large group as well as splitting up to do our own thing. Not knowing if such an epic vacation will ever happen again, these are memories that my family will treasure forever.
Candice was raised in east Tennessee. While in college, her best friend dragged her to a Walt Disney World College Program recruiting session at the University of Tennessee and the rest is Disney history. In the Fall of 1999, Candice became a quick service food hostess for Sunset Ranch Market and Fantasmic at Disney-MGM Studios – or what is now known as Disney’s Hollywood Studios. While soaking up her time as a cast member, she met Ryan, a neighbor and a fellow college programmer who worked as a custodial host at Epcot. Four years later, Candice moved to the Midwest and married that boy from across the hall. They now live in Greenwood, Indiana with their two little boys. The Disney-loving foursome took their first family trip to The Happiest Place on Earth in 2013 and Candice is eagerly planning their return. Candice also works full-time at a community mental health center and enjoys taking photographs and blogging at Mommy in the Midwest.