Written by Kelly Collins
My family has wonderful memories of taking trips with our extended family and it’s made for some fun-filled multi-generational experiences. We live a good distance from our families so we’ve combined our vacations with family get-togethers. We’ve met at the Walt Disney World Resort several times and have also taken a Disney cruise with my parents. My parents and in-laws have been thrilled to watch their grandchildren’s eyes light up at the sight of Mickey Mouse. They’ve competed against my kids on Toy Story Mania. They’ve been able to hear screams and laughter on Space Mountain. They’ve held my children through the parades and fireworks. I’ve been able to see our parents’ joy in watching their grandchildren have the time of their lives.
While going on a multigenerational trip can be enjoyable, it is also different from planning a trip with just your own family. There are several things to consider when you start to think about taking a vacation with your extended family. Before planning our trips, we always think about timing. Walt Disney World Resort has so many different events throughout the year and you can satisfy everyone in your group. As much as I hate to say it, my father isn’t a huge Disney fan. He doesn’t really enjoy amusement parks at all but he likes a Disney vacation because of the events. He is a big wine connoisseur, so the Epcot Food & Wine Festival is always a great time for us to go. He also really appreciates the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival because he is a Master Gardener. On one of our trips, we celebrated my mom’s birthday on our first day in the parks and my daughter’s birthday on our last day. It was really special. So consider what might appeal to your particular family members when deciding on the best time to visit the Walt Disney World Resort.
Another thing to think about is where you’ll stay. We’ve gone with a large group of relatives including my parents, my siblings and their families. We’ve stayed on Disney’s property and we’ve stayed off-site as well. There are benefits to both. Obviously, it’s less expensive to stay off Disney property but the convenience of being on-site is a big pull for us. On one trip we reserved six rooms at the Port Orleans-Riverside and they were able to get us rooms next to each other but that may not always be the case. On a more recent trip, we got connecting rooms with my in-laws at the Boardwalk Inn. It was really nice to let the kids go back and forth between the rooms. My brother-in-law and his family stayed at the Port Orleans-French Quarter on the same trip. So you don’t always have to stay at the same resort. Find the best fit for your family when it comes to accommodations.
Planning your schedule is another big part of organizing a multi-generational trip. Keep in mind that you have people of different ages with varying schedules and it influences how you’ll want to tour the parks. Something we usually do is schedule a few things together like table service meals and then allow for some flexibility so if some want to go back to the resort for a nap or a swim, they have that freedom. We’ve met up for breakfast at Cinderella’s Royal Table and gone to the Polynesian Luau as a group. One benefit that we’ve experienced with going with my parents and in-laws is that they’ve watched our children so that we could get away for dinner. On one trip we went California Grill with my husband’s brother and his wife. They had never been so we introduced them to a great dining experience, which included watching the fireworks over Cinderella Castle and we even saw a proposal take place. My husband and I really like to fit a lot into our Disney vacations so we realize that we need to slow down and not plan as much when our parents are with us. Take some time to enjoy the pool or go shopping. Discussing what’s important for each family member before you go is a good idea. Maybe have everyone decide on one thing that they’d really like to do. Walt Disney World Resort is so vast that it’s impossible to do everything that you want on one trip. Talking about a plan before you go can help alleviate stress and keep expectations realistic.
Something else to consider when preparing for a trip with different generations is their mobility and physical limitations. My father and father-in-law both have issues with walking long distances so we’ve rented Electric Conveyance Vehicles (ECVs), which are motorized seated scooters. They can be rented at the Theme Parks and Downtown Disney. They are daily rentals and they must be returned to same place where they were picked up. The problem that we encountered with my dad when renting from Disney is that he still had a hard time walking to the buses after we’d dropped off the ECVs. On our last trip together, we rented ECVs from an outside company and they delivered them to our hotel. It was really convenient. The bus wait can sometimes be longer, especially when there are multiple people with ECVs waiting to board. One reason we stayed at the Boardwalk Inn on our last trip with my in-laws was so that we could walk to Epcot and Hollywood Studios if we wanted to. Thinking about the varying ages in your group and planning ahead can help your vacation be less stressful.
The memories that we’ve made with my parents and in-laws while vacationing are priceless. Hopefully, my children will treasure the time that they’ve been able to spend with their grandparents. I know that I will always cherish those special moments.
Kelly is a former Floridian who now resides in New Hampshire with her amazing husband, creative daughter and three busy sons. They have many happy memories of Walt Disney World Resort.