Friday, April 8, 2011

Traveling to Disney With a Pack

Today's article is one that was originally written for WDW Fan Zone. Enjoy!!

Although I am an only child I seem to always travel in a pack. My husband Dan and I LOVE to bring people with us when we travel to Walt Disney World. In fact, now that I think of it, we have never been to Disney alone.  Traveling in a pack to me means 8 or more people, so to Disney this is called a Grand Gathering.  When you are traveling to Disney as a Grand Gathering it can become very stressful to plan around what everyone wants to do.  There are actually ways to travel as a Grand Gathering and keep it stress free…I can honestly say the larger my group the more fun we have!!

Let the planning begin!!

Oh yeah…before we begin, you may want to have a designated Disney notebook so that you can take notes as you plan. :0) 

Gather Your Facts

There is always going to be at least one person that will lead the trip planning. In the case of my family it is yours truly. :0) There is also the case of there being too many people that all want to plan at the same time. In this case allow everyone to gather their facts…this way you can all divide out tasks once you are ready to truly plan your trip.  So what facts do you need to gather?  Research online about the various resort options and pricing, times of year to visit, along with weather patterns. Price out park tickets, transportation and anything else that will help you get a handle on just how much this trip is going to cost you and your family/friends.

Plan a Trip Planning Meeting

Part of the fun in vacationing to Walt Disney World is the planning. I have said it time and time again, that I love planning my trips almost as much as I love going on them.  Before traveling in a large group go online and order the Disney Vacation Planning DVD. Then invite everyone over for pizza and to watch the DVD. Not only is the DVD very informational but there is no better way to pump up your friends and family about your upcoming trip.  Now it can happen that possibly some of the people that will be traveling with you do not live close enough to come over for pizza and a movie. If this is the case it is very important that they also have a copy of the free vacation planning DVD and that you include them in on your meeting somehow.

The Meeting

Before you invite everyone over be sure that they come with a few things in mind; a budget, a time of year that they would like to travel and some possible vacation dates. At this meeting your goal should be to watch the DVD, pick your accommodations, and dates of travel. Now keep in mind that you do not all have to be at Disney World for the exact same amount of time and on the same days. As long as you all try to be there for at least a few days at the same time it will make for a wonderful vacation.   

Making the Reservation

One person should be appointed the lead of the group. This person will call and make their reservation first so that they can let the reservation agent know that this is a Grand Gathering.  Once the lead makes their reservation they will be given a group number. When everyone else makes their reservation they should mention the group number. The number will help tie together room assignments and dinner reservations.  As you can tell I think it is best if each party makes their own reservation, it is just much easier that way.

Dining Reservations

This is by far the most fun we have as a group…planning those dining reservations. We love it!!  When we travel we eat all together every day…nothing is done seprate. But I know that you can also decide to do a few meals together and some on your own. This is a topic that should be discussed at your meeting.  Assuming that you are all eating together, have everyone do a little research on the web about the different dining options that Walt Disney World has to offer. Usually we have each person provide 2-3 places that they really want to go to. From there I copy and paste the description and the name on a word document. This document becomes a voting sheet. If we have 7 ADR’s then we each  get to pick our  top 7, (in no particular order) that we would like to go to. The vote is the final answer. Everyone LOVES finding out where we are eating after the vote. 

Getting There

In a perfect world everyone will be on the same page with how they would like to travel to Walt Disney World. But we all know that is not always possible when you are dealing with a large crowd. Don’t feel bad if some people decide to fly, while others may decide to drive. The most important part is being together at Walt Disney World. :0)

The Trip

Once we are there aside from our dining reservations and extra magic hours, we do what we want. Again, we all stay together as a group, but this may not work for all large groups. At the end of each day we always discuss what time we are going to meet at the bus stop and what park we are hitting in the morning. The rest of the day we wing it!!

 When you have a large crowd the best advice I have for you is to be structured in your planning but lose once you are on your trip. Be ready for anything and everything and you will have a fantastic time!! 

I would love to hear your thoughts about how you brave “Traveling with a Pack.”

See ya real soon!!

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