Disney World brings out the kid in everyone, including grandparents! This is just one of the many reasons you should consider bringing them along on a multigenerational Disney World family vacation (aside from the built-in extra hands to help with childcare). With so many attractions, shows, dining, and resorts to choose from, there truly is something for everybody. Whether it’s their first trip to Disney World or their hundredth, grandparents will love experiencing the magic of Disney with their grandkids by their side. Here’s how to plan the best trip to Disney World with grandparents.
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Tips for a Successful Disney World Vacation with Grandparents
When planning a multigenerational trip to Disney World, there are a few things to keep in mind that will help you maximize your family’s fun, while accommodating a variety of ages and interests. These tips will help you get the most out of your Disney World vacation and ensure that your whole family – from little kids to older adults – will create countless magical memories.
Which Disney resorts are best for large families?
There are more than 25 Walt Disney World Resort hotels to choose from but don’t let that overwhelm you. When you visit Disney World on a multigenerational family vacation, there are a few options that are best suited for large groups.
If you prefer for your whole family to stay together, Disney’s Art of Animation Resort is a budget-friendly option with movie-themed suites that sleep up to six people. Or you can stay in a luxurious one-, two- or three-bedroom family suite in Disney’s Riviera Resort. If you prefer a more rustic feel, the Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort provide a quiet, wooded respite from the hustle and bustle of the parks.
If you are looking for deluxe resorts, consider a stay at Yacht Club or Grand Floridian. And if you’re a Disney Vacation Club member, you also have access to booking a luxe and spacious multi-bedroom villa. Disney’s Grand Floridian has a fabulous pool and easy access to Magic Kingdom.
For a little more personal space, you also have the option of booking separate rooms that are connected. Choosing a Disney Resort hotel with adjoining rooms, like Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort, Caribbean Beach Resort, or Port Orleans Resort- French Quarter, is a great way to vacation together but still ensure everyone has some privacy, too.
If you are staying off-property, there are hundreds of homes suitable for large families available through VRBO where multigenerational families can balance their family time with a bit of alone time to rest and recharge. There are plenty of other resorts near Disney World that work well for families.
What is the best way for all ages to explore Disney World?
If you’re like most families, you’ll probably have a few early risers in your party and a few night owls. You may have speed walkers and those who prefer a more leisurely pace. The beauty of a multigenerational Disney World vacation is there is so much to eat, see, and do that you don’t all have to do every single thing together.
If you do plan on splitting up, figure out a designated meeting time and place beforehand. This gives each family member the chance to discover the parts of Disney World that they’re most interested in while making sure you reconnect throughout the day.
Disney World crowds can be overwhelming for all ages, so it’s a good idea to plan for downtime during your family trip.
There may be days when the grandparents prefer to continue to enjoy the theme parks while you take the kids back for an afternoon nap, or they may be able to lend a helping hand and babysit while you have a Disney date night.
Disney World can be the most magical place, with tons to explore. There are four different Disney Parks: Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Those looking for water adventures can head to Typhoon Lagoon or Blizzard Beach.
While your family might be exuberant about taking in all things Disney, be sure to plan for a full day in Magic Kingdom Park. It might help to schedule a break from the parks completely and spend the day by the pool, exploring the other resorts, or shopping at Disney Springs.
Transportation Options around Disney World
We highly recommend renting a car or van at the Orlando Airport to easily get to the Disney properties. Once you’re on site, you won’t need a car as Disney provides complimentary transportation between the hotels and its theme parks.
If you prefer not to have a car, you can use the Lyft app to reserve a Minnie Van that will drive your family (they seat up to six, including two optional child seats) anywhere you need to go, on your schedule. Here’s everything you need to know about Minnie Vans. Renting a larger van also works well and allows you the convenience of your own schedule. Note, however, that you will have to pay for parking.
Which Disney World restaurants are best?
Disney World restaurants run the gamut from burgers and pizza to fine dining, but your large family may feel happiest somewhere in between. Fitting in a couple of character meals allows the grownups to see the kids’ little faces light up when they meet Mickey and the gang or their favorite Disney movie characters. Cinderella’s Royal Table is a classic if you have a princess-in-training in your group, or you can join Lilo and Stitch for a family-style breakfast at ‘Ohana.
Advance dining reservations, which can be made up to 180 days ahead of your trip, can be helpful for large families because you’ll avoid missing out on favorite restaurants or lengthy waits for a larger table, but it’s best not to plan all of your meals in advance.
Especially when traveling with a large family, you want to leave plenty of room for flexibility. Many of Disney’s quick-service restaurants allow for mobile ordering – a feature that lets you order your family’s meals and snacks directly from the My Disney Experience app and get everyone settled at a table instead of waiting in line.
Disney World has restaurant options for everyone in the family. And for those times when you want to lay low or just spend a couple of hours relaxing together at the resort, you can prepare meals in your room. If you’re thinking this is an option you’ll want, be sure to book a room at a resort that has a kitchenette or full kitchen.
Which Disney World attractions are must-dos for multigenerational families?
There’s a good chance the grandparents visited Disney World themselves as children. Help them relive those special childhood memories (or, if it’s their first time, make brand new ones) by visiting classic attractions like Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Tom Sawyer Island, or Peter Pan’s Flight. Once you’ve had your fill of nostalgia, visit some of Disney’s newer lands like Pandora – The World of Avatar, and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and the attractions that lie within. Be sure not to miss out on the Na’vi River Journey in Pandora!
With everything Disney has to offer, it’s easy for multigenerational families to build their schedule around a selection of easy-paced, kid-friendly rides, jaw-dropping thrill rides, and shows that not only entertain but give everybody a chance to rest. While planning your trip, consider your family’s touring style so you can work in a good mix of attractions that will please everyone.
How do you stay connected at Disney World?
Executing a successful multigenerational trip to Disney World does take some planning, and using the My Disney Experience web-based planning tool (along with the mobile app) is the easiest and most efficient way to get your entire family on the same page.
Once you’ve created your account, you can add everyone in your party to your Family & Friends List, giving you total control over your family’s hotel and dining reservations and Disney Genie selections.
Having your whole family linked through My Disney Experience also means that you’ll be able to view any and all photos taken by Disney PhotoPass photographers in one place, no matter whose MagicBand or PhotoPass card is scanned. We highly recommend purchasing Memory Maker, a one-time fee service Disney offers where photographers take your family’s photo all over the park.
This service gives you access to download all of your vacation photos, or pick and choose from your favorite photos and pay for each individually. Both you and the grandparents will appreciate having a few framed photos or a custom photo book (using a service like Chatbooks or Shutterfly to commemorate your trip).
Of course, the most important part of any Disney World trip is to have a good time, and multi-generational trips to Disney are no exception. The kids will get some much-needed quality time with the grandparents, you’ll all get a little rest and relaxation, and the whole family will create cherished, lifelong memories with Mickey Mouse and all his friends.
If you’re looking for additional Disney information, don’t miss these tips for your first Disney World vacation.
About the author: Tarah Chieffi is a theme park, travel, and family writer whose childhood dream job was being a Disney parade performer (not much has changed, honestly) . When she isn’t cooking or writing (which is rare), she can be found cycling wherever her bike will take her, tucked under the covers with a good book, or planning her next adventure with her husband and three young sons.