Planning a Disney vacation with a group can be daunting! Room occupancy, height requirements and personal preferences can put a wrench in even the most best-laid plans. Hiring a travel agent to help you through this is the best advice, but if you are still set on doing this alone, here are a few tips.
Choosing the Best Accommodations for Your Group
Disney onsite hotels are usually the best option for a group. When you stay at an onsite Disney hotel your transportation on buses, boats, monorail and Skyliner are included. This makes it easy to get your group from point A to point B. You can book multiple standard hotel rooms and request they be connected or close to each other or you can book a Villa or Suite. Villas and Suites are at select Disney resorts and can sleep up to 12 people depending on the type. These villas and suites come with a full kitchen or wet bar, 2-3 bedrooms and separate living area making it extra comfortable and economical for a group. Other options which are more expensive are Copper Creek Cabins and Bungalows at the Polynesian. A fun, non traditional way to accommodate a group is at Disney's Fort Wilderness campground and cabins. You can always find large houses to rent outside the Disney resorts, If you go this route you will have to coordinate transportation and you won't be immersed in the Disney Magic.
Choosing Fastpasses for a Group
Your teenager wants to ride a roller coaster, but your younger child is too scared and the grandparents would love to experience a nostalgic attraction. How do you choose Fastpasses that make everyone happy when you can only choose 3? You can split your Fastpasses up, not everyone has to have the same Fastpass. Just make sure you consult a park map and make Fastpasses near each other, this way your group can meet back up easily.
You can also take advantage of Rider Switch (Child Swap) where every one who wants to ride and can ride goes while 1 adult stays back with the non-riding child. The non riders can do something fun nearby (shop, ride something mellow nearby that has a short wait, get an ice cream, search for hidden mickey's, etc.) while the riders ride. The non riding adult who was waiting, and up to 3 others in your group, can then ride through the Fastpass lane. This is available for Fastpass and standby lines at participating attractions.
Making Dining Reservations for Groups
When making dining reservations, if you can't find a table for your group, try splitting your party up into 2 or even 3 groups and then ask at the restaurant to be seated near each other. Or call Disney dining and ask for help.
Disney World: (407) 939-5277
Disneyland: (714) 781-3463
Check the menus of restaurants (on the WDW website) to make sure there is something everyone will enjoy. Most restaurants will go out of their way to get macaroni and cheese or chicken fingers for picky eaters if there is nothing they like on the menu.
Other Tips for Groups
#1 Tip! Designate 1 person in your group as the lead. You will need someone who is organized to take on this task to coordinate and make all reservations. Don't forget to link all travelers together in Disney's My Disney Experience.
Be flexible! Your plan was to stay all day at the park, but it's so hot today! Modify your fastpasses for later in the evening (or just let them go) and head back to your hotel for some pool time before returning to the park in the evening.
Be OK with your group needing to go separate ways sometimes. Half want to take a break half want to keep going. It's OK! Make plans to meet back up later in the evening and "Let it Go!, Let it Go!".
Wear matching shirts or the same color shirts everyday. This will increase visibility of your group and make it easier to keep your group together. https://www.etsy.com/market/custom_disney_shirts
Try to get to the parks early, about 30 min prior to park opening, every day. The parks are less crowded in the mornings and your group can get a lot done in a short period of time, making everyone happy!
Choose your Fastpass times for earlier in the day. You can get more Fastpasses after you've used your initial 3 and there will be more availability of Fastpasses earlier in the day. Your group will be happier with less waiting in line!
Don't try to do too much, factor in some downtime so you don't exhaust your group.
Consider taking a private VIP tour, or a small group VIP tour.