045 Live! 10-13-2019 Tips for Planning for Large Family Trips to Walt Disney World
My DVC Points Podcast

00:00 / 00:50:24

Before the show, we each outlined some of our best tips. Over the course of the show, we tried our best to present our tips and engage in a conversation with the audience and our fellow cast members on these ideas. Sometimes we agreed and sometimes we handled situations differently. At the end of the day, we all do Disney differently and we hope you may pick up some pointers to help your family create a lifetime of magical memories.


  • Chad Pennycuff
  • Alicia Kolenda
  • Shannan Leonard
  • Caitlin Klotzer

Chad’s Tips:

  1. Agree to have planned time together and expected free time.
    • One Meal Together a Day
    • Park Weenie Shots – Castle Photo, Spaceship Earth Photo, Chinese Theatre, and Tree of Life photos.
    • Hoop Dee Doo or Aloha Dinner Show would be excellent as your one large family gathering on a non-park day.
    • We all have that one odd duck in the family that we just need time away from.
    • Assume that sub-groups will want to form. Time Alone from the Pack is Good!
    • It could be a date night with grandparents doing something with the kids.
    • One family may want to do something with their nuclear unit.
  2. Set clear expectations for budgets ahead of time.
    • Are you gifting the room?
    • Are people renting points?
    • Are they just covering the dues?
    • How are you paying for meals? Tables in Wonderland is awesome for discounts but a headache to sort out the bills.
    • It's nice when Grandma and Grandpa are paying for things. You need clear expectations of what they are paying for and what they are not.
  3. Bear in mind, if you're reading this, chances are you too a fellow Disney nerd. Some family members may go along but not agree with our Disney lifestyle! Gasp! If you have been a DVC member for over a couple years, realize that you probably an abundance mentality. We know we're coming back next year and we'll get it next time. However, other family members may consider this a once in a lifetime trip. You may want to book your immediate families FastPass+ at times that don't conflict with the once in a lifetime members your band.
  4. Splitwise is an excellent app for taking pictures of receipts, marking up who had what, and figuring out an ongoing total of balances. At the end of the trip, you can even press a button that kick's off Venmo transactions to finalize payments. Be sure to get everybody on board with the app early on in the process. It may take time for people to develop trust in an app.

Caitlin Tips

  1. Plan ahead. Get everyone set up for MDE who wants to have app access well before you actually need them to be.
  2. Create a spreadsheet to keep track of days and tentative plans (I have a template I found and tweaked) as well as flight information.
  3. Find out everyone's must Dos and Do Nots to see where the overlap lies for FastPass+ and food.
  4. One Master Planner – Make sure the same person makes all reservations. If you didn't make an ADR, you cannot cancel it or modify it for somebody else.
  5. Make Sure My Disney Experience has everybody set up as friends.
  6. And my last lesson is Do NOT try to plan every minute of the day for everyone. It's impossible!

Shannan’s Tips

  1. Have fun! Do the work before, but once you get there, just ride with it.
  2. If you are stressed about making sure everyone makes it to every FastPass+ and reservation, the trip will be miserable for you. By having some strict planning deadlines, using spreadsheets, and having everyone connected on MDE, all the hard work will be done by the time you get there.
  3. Every family unit plans and books their own resort accommodations. That way, everyone gets some alone time and can choose their resort/ cost. They also choose if they want the dining plan, use a discount plan like Tables in Wonderland, or simply pay cash and charge to their own room. (This is how we addressed Chads #1)
  4. Plan special events! Date nights, nuclear family outings, entire group events like Teppan Edo, make your own monorail crawl or rent a boat for fireworks.
  5. Ensure at least one person in your large party has an Annual Pass with PhotoPass or at least one person buys PhotoPass so everybody can link to it, and you can see everybody else's photos. Also, Google Photos to share albums easily when you come back.
  6. Sometimes the financial costs of Minnie Vans or Uber XL are worth the time savings compared to using the Disney buses. Minnie Vans are quicker because they can use the bus lanes and have a closer drop off location. Time is money at Disney.
  7. Know everyone's food restrictions, allergies, diet so that way no surprises. Make everyone review menus before going so no complaints that “there is nothing I can eat here.” I go so far as to print out these allergies and physically hand out printed copies for the technically challenged, so I know they have seen them. In the event of an emergency, it's helpful to understand what may have caused an incident.
  8. I know that that's more than 4, but some seem very similar to other ideas and might just piggyback on those. Also, we are a little different with 3 adult families, only 1 of which has a 13-year-old child, so more adult activities planned

Alicia's Tips

  1. We communicate with everyone about our plans. We design our trip for just us. Then let everyone know what our FP, meals, & reservations are for the adventure. They can plan their families around what they want to do too. If we meet up, great! If they have plans where they want to go, no problem, we will see ya later.
  2. Pool parties are the best. We find out who is staying at the best pools, and plan an afternoon to meet up. Drinks, lunch poolside, and the kids have lots of planned entertainment. Question? What’s their fav gathering pool? Somewhere not too busy, but has something for everybody. 
  3. Question? Do you let kids go on their own? We let teenagers go off on adventures. The same park, though. We make set times to meet back up. (Parade? Next family FP)
  4. Stay connected with a group text to send pics and updates. Make Instagram hashtags for everyone to share and post their group adventures together.