You’ve just spent an entire day with your family celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday, now do you think you could do it for a week-long Disney vacation? As someone who has taken not just one side of my family, but BOTH sides of my family to Walt Disney World, it can be done! It does take some planning and compromise, and it doesn’t matter if it’s with an adult only trip or includes kids, because the memories are priceless. Now we’ve not yet taken any trips with kids, but are expecting to take my brother’s wife and kids in the upcoming year, so I have more time to plan this one.
The biggest difference in our trips when it’s just us and friends vs extended family is that you have to change your touring style. When you have family members for whom this a once in a lifetime trip, you feel slightly more rushed to make sure they see EVERYTHING!! Unfortunately, I’m going to bust your bubble and tell you that it can’t be done in a standard stay. There are going to some attractions that you simply can’t get to unless you have at least a 10-14 day stay. It is important to figure out what will be the most memorable attractions for your group, though. For example, if someone doesn’t like fireworks, then seeing Fantasmic or Wishes may not be on your list for this trip. I know we told ourselves that since we would be back, we wanted to make sure our families got their dream trip so we could skip one of “our” attractions.
That being said, don’t be afraid to challenge your family to try 1 or 2 new things in their trip whether it be a new cuisine or a new ride. I never would have thought my mother-in-law would have been doing roller coasters, but there she was doing everything we were doing. In fact, we bought our picture on Rockin’ Rollercoaster to be framed for her Christmas gift last year.
Depending on the ages and health conditions in your group, you may need rest breaks during the day or to change your time schedule. When we travel with our friends, we tend to get an early start (but not quite rope drop early) and stay out late at the parks to take advantage of Extra Magic Hours since we stay on property. But when we were travelled with our respective parents and siblings, we started a bit later in the morning and called it a night a bit earlier than we normally did. When my family was with us, they all got sick during our week there so they needed more seated rest breaks and even a non-park day to recover. My brother-in-law is in a wheelchair so for his afternoon breaks, we would just find shady quiet spot and let him snooze in his chair for him to recharge.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to let the group go their separate ways for brief periods. For example, during the aforementioned wheelchair rest breaks, one of us would stay with my brother-in-law while the other 2 went off to do something. It was great for some mother-son bonding time when my husband and his mom rode Expedition Everest multiple times in a row during one of those naps.
Our 2 family trips were a few years apart, which I would recommend to allow ample time for you to reset your mindset for the trip. It helps, too, if you get to take one of your regular style trips to get the lay of the land before you bring the next “family” group with you. Happy Planning! Have a Magical Day!!
Adrienne is originally from the Chicago area but lives outside of Indianapolis with her husband, 2 dogs, and 2 cats. She went to Disneyland when she was 7, which started her love of Disney. She even named one of her dogs after her favorite princess, Aurora. She and Kenny, her husband, celebrated their honeymoon at Walt Disney World in 2007 and have returned for every anniversary. They have stayed at variety of resorts on property and traveled with friends and family. Adrienne and Kenny bought into DVC in May 2011 and rewarded themselves with their first fall trip for some of the special events. Adrienne and Kenny consider WDW their “second home” and have become the go-to people for any Disney related questions and advice from friends, families, and acquaintances.