One of the toughest things to do is planning a multi-generational trip to Walt Disney World. Believe me, I have experience in this area.

A few years back my spouse and I decided to take her family to Walt Disney World. Her family had never been to Disney World, so we thought it would be fun to take them for their first time. It was a challenge that I learned a lot from.

The trip had her parents, her brother, our children, and my father who had just lost his spouse of almost 50 years (my mom, but that is not the point). After a hot day at the Animal Kingdom on day one, I thought that I was going to kill someone! It wasn’t their fault. I just didn’t have the right expectations for the trip. I didn’t think about the fact that not everyone wants to do Disney at commando pace.

It wasn’t until the next day that we figured out the problem, and the rest of the trip was amazing! We all had so much fun. That experience taught me so much about traveling that none of my family trips have been the same. In a good way! Let me share what I learned.

Planning a Multi-generational trip to Walt Disney World
No matter what the age, no matter what the vacation interest, multi-generational families find there’s something for everyone to enjoy on a Walt Disney World Resort vacation. (Chloe Rice, photographer)

Set expectations BEFORE you go

When planning a multi-generational trip to Walt Disney World, the first thing you have to do is set everyone’s expectations. Including your own!

Sit down with everyone (separately if you can’t all be together) and ask them about what their desires for the trip are. You have to know what people want before you go so that you can set EVERYONE’s expectations for the trip.

You also need to take into account people’s ages and abilities. The grandparents aren’t going to have the or stamina or your teenagers. By the same token, the teenagers are not going to want to go at the grandparents’ speed.

So how do you handle that? First, you let everyone know that they don’t have to do everything with everybody. A big mistake is trying to keep the group together all the time. It doesn’t work. People get tired. People get resentful. People get stressed out.

Let everyone know that there are some things that you are going to do together like dinner, or “it’s a small world”, or some other event. If everyone knows that before you go, then everyone will be prepared for it, and not lose it when you say that is what you are doing.

Setting expectation for a multi-generational trip is so important to everyone having a good time, and making amazing memories!

Find Out Everyone’s Must Do

The next thing you need to do when planning a multi-generational trip to Walt Disney World is find out everyone’s must do for Walt Disney World.

Most people have something they want to do at Disney World. Even if they aren’t a big fan of Disney World, they’ve heard of something from someone that they would like to try. And if they don’t have a must do, then help them find out what it is. You can watch YouTube videos (there are A TON), look at a guide book (the Birnbaum is the official guidebook and has great pictures!), or read a blog about attractions.

The point is that you want to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to do their must do thing. You might find that it is an attraction, or maybe a place to eat, a show (or dinner show, Hoop-Dee-Doo Review is a lot of fun), or could be they just want time to shop (like my daughters). By doing this, and planning things so that you can do as many of those as possible, everyone will feel like they had a great trip.

Planning a Multi-generational trip to Walt Disney World
From attractions to character dining to unique experiences throughout the theme parks and resorts, Walt Disney World Resort has endless ways for families to share the magic together. (Gene Duncan, photographer)

Share The Schedule So Everyone Knows The Big Events

The other thing to do when planning a multi-generational trip to Walt Disney World is make sure everyone has the schedule of the things you are all doing together.

For a lot of people, this is dinner or lunch or breakfast (or all three) each day. If they know ahead of time, they can plan for it. No one will be surprised when you text them and say “Where are you?” No one wants to send that text or get it. Not fun.

If everyone knows the plan, then no one should have to have that moment.

The Last Thing You Need To Do

The last thing to do when planning a multi-generational trip to Walt Disney World is be flexible!

Let me say that again:

BE FLEXIBLE!

If you stay flexible, then you will not be so stressed when things don’t go exactly as planned. This is really important when you are stuck in line for an attraction, or lunch lasts longer than expected. (Believe me, both of those things will happen.)

And with that flexibility, when someone says they don’t want to get up early to go to the park, it’s alright. You can meet up with them later.

You have to remember this is EVERYONE’S trip, not just yours (even if you are doing most the planning). The grandparents probably don’t want to run out the door every day at 6 am to get to rope drop. Heck, you may not want to do that by the third or fourth day.

It’s great to have a structure in place, but that structure is not made of steel. Be alright with change, and embrace what that might mean for your experience. Who knows, you might experience something you never have before!

You will be happier, and your group will be happier.

What do you think? Have you ever planned a multi-generational trip to Walt Disney World? Leave a comment, and tell us what worked or didn’t work for you. I would love to hear about it!

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2 Comments

  1. Great tips 🙂 And not just for multi generational trips. These are good to keep in mind for any Disney trip. Being inflexible and stressed out have caused a few not fun moments for us. I think it’s because it can be so costly and “once in a lifetime” feeling that you want to maximize the experience and forget to relax. Love your site! Makes me want to go back soon.

    • The Goofy Guy Reply

      Thanks, and yes, it is great advice for any trip to Disney World (or Disneyland, Tokyo Disney, etc.)

      I’m glad you like the site!

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