As agents, we admittedly get a little nervous when we have clients try to book reservations for a large number of family members. It’s not that we do not trust you; it’s just the fact that sometimes the lack of availability can prevent you from creating a perfect vacation for all parties. And that’s just settling on a date range that works for everyone’s schedule. Then you have to find rooms in the same area, grab coveted dining reservations, make the best selections for Disney Genie+, etc. A Disney vacation for the whole family can quickly turn into the most stressful place on Earth if you don’t have an agent who is confident in helping and getting you what you and all your family members want. And that’s where we can make #believers out of you…
Welcome to Believe Vacations’ Weekly Post where today, we’re going to help you plan a Disney trip for large families. For this article, we turn to the amazing Amanda Wheeling. She is back with some more amazing advice and personal stories about how she manages to keep her family together (and sane) during their vacations. She brings a wealth of information and experience to us when it comes to selecting dates, booking rooms, finding dining reservations and mastering Genie+ and was kind enough to sit down with us and share her candid thoughts on how agents like her can ease your mind and help you plan for a large family.
How many are in your large family?
There are 13 people in my family; my parents, my family, my brother’s family and my sisters, and 6 cousin crew members ages 14-3.
Where all have you gone as a large family?
My parents gift us trips for Christmas. It’s our very last gift that we get and we always have to guess where we are going. As far as Disney, we have done Disney World, Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line, Disney’s Hilton Head and Aulani. When we are traveling for fun, we’ve gone to Boston, Bar Harbor, San Diego, St. John USVI to name a few.
What about flights and transportation to the parks?
For Disney World, we are lucky enough to be able to drive. We all hit the road around the same time and get to Disney around 2:00pm and get our Disney days started. Now for flights, such as Hawaii, it’s interesting and fun all at the same time. My dad books us as group, and we are normally close to each other. We help each other through everything – bag check and carseats, security checks, making sure the cousin crew is sitting near each other, etc. My brother was a trooper and had his girls and Emmitt sitting together with him on the way to Hawaii. My sister is known for the great snacks and my parents are the rock, making sure everyone has everything we need.
What are the steps to reserving multiple rooms and getting them in the same proximity of each other?
Rooms can be a fun challenge because we all have a little different taste. We normally agree on a moderate level resort for space and proximity to the parks. We will have 4 separate rooms that I link all together as a travel party. I typically request rooms/buildings. We do not have to be connecting but at least close to each other. Now, if I can snag an amazing villa, we are all for it.
What about 2 or 3 bedroom villas?
In October we stayed at the Grand Floridian in a 2-bedroom villa and it was heaven. The hallways built into the villas makes the space perfect for our large family. I can still get my little one to sleep and the older kids can be in the living room playing with no issues.
How do you do dining?
I am all about the Disney puzzle. We never had any issues, but like everything else, Covid gave us a new challenge. I now have to split our reservations into multiple reservations at the same time or close to the same time. The cast members can usually accommodate us all sitting together. If they cannot, they are great about have the adults and kids table near each other. But always ask the cast members to see your options.
Does everyone have their own My Disney Experience or is it just one for all?
We definitely love to stick together for the most part. We are all friends and family on the My Disney Experience App. I handle 95% of our bookings, plans and dining. When we are making park reservations we map it out together at home; this is simply in the fact that Disney is in all of our blood and our family tradition. It’s not our first time going, and we get excited to plan that part together.
When virtual queues were a thing; it was me. I remember in October, telling my family not to talk to me, and having the kids stand outside the door as I grabbed Remy. It was the funniest thing when I came out running and they were all jumping up and down!
How do you do Genie+?
Genie+ is the same way. We chat it over and I grab them. I have it down to a science so it is a little bit of pressure, but they rely on me, similar to my clients now.
Do you all go on the same attractions all the time or does the group break up?
We are a rope dropping family and we live for the fun of it. Some of my fondest memories are my Dad “mall walking,” to grab the paper fast passes. We love to ride most everything together, but do a great job splitting and rider swap for the littles. If everyone is on Mine Train, I will take Charleston to the Carrousel and Winne the Pooh. When we are all on Splash, those are the moments for my parents with Charleston for popcorn and fabulous accessories. We wait for each other for drinks, and snacks. We help each other if someone does not want to be left out.
What’s your best piece of advice to hold it all together?
It’s okay to take breaks. If someone wants to stop and grab ice cream and you’re not hungry, split it up. Tag team it and see who wants to pass on an attraction or ride with another family member. You’ll be surprised by those moments may actually be the hidden gems and the ones you’ll remember forever!