Like most Walt Disney World enthusiasts I love the planning and anticipation of an upcoming trip. Heck, I currently have four in the works! And while many of our readers here at TouringPlans.com totally get my love of Disney World, my family does not. So imagine my delight when my brother strolled into my office and said, “Hey, would you like to go to Disney World?” I’m not sure if I squealed with delight before or after exclaiming, “yes!”
You see, the last time the Helmstetters took a family trip to WDW was approximately 1987. I was 4, my brother was 10, and we stayed in the Polynesian because it was one of the only options. So now that my brother has three very adorable kids, it is time for him and his family to make that American right of passage trip. Luckily for him his sister is, as he put it, a Disney PhD. Since planning a trip for my whole family will be a new experience for me, I thought I would take our blog readers along for the ride to take a glimpse into planning a family trip with folks who aren’t so sure what to expect from the Vacation Kingdom.
So let’s dive right in and start from the very beginning. There will be eight of us embarking on this journey: my parents, my brother and his lovely wife, my nieces ages 6 and 4 at the time of travel, my nephew who will be 2, and I, Auntie Kristen, acting as tour guide and creator of Disney magic. With ages ranging from 63 to 2 years old, we’ll have quite a few bases to cover when considering everyone’s wants and needs on this trip. I’m hoping that documenting some of our considerations during planning will help you with your multi-generational trip.
The first thing I did was order the latest edition of The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World for each household. This way everyone could read up on whatever topics are important and ask me any questions before we make our trip. Of course, I also sent my brother and sister-in-law to TouringPlans.com to check out some of our services there. When planning with people of a certain generation (i.e. my parents) you may want to consider their technological limitations. I realize that many people their age are completely capable of checking out websites for information. My parents are not those people. A copy of the Unofficial Guide is a much better option for them.
So now that they were provided with some background information, it was time to get to planning. We will have to travel during a school break since my sister-in-law is a teacher. We settled on trying to travel during the President’s Day break since here in the Northeast schools are often off for the entire week. Being the TouringPlans.com staffer I am, I immediately checked out our crowd calendar. One of the awesome features of our site is our crowd predictions. Our statisticians work hard to forecast how heavy crowds will be for every day of the year! Be sure to check them out before your next trip. When I saw level 9 crowds predicted during our dates, I cringed a bit, but with my knowledge and a good Touring Plan, we should be able to manage just fine.
Once we settled on approximate dates, it was time to look at airfare. Although there will be eight of us, we will only need seven tickets since the youngest can be passed along laps during the trip. We found decent fares since we could be flexible about our travel dates during the week off from school. My parents and I will definitely be flying from Newark to Orlando International, but my brother is now thinking about driving his brood, so we’ll see what happens there.
Next, it was time to decide where to stay. This weekend I went over to my brother’s house to show him and his wife pictures of resorts on various websites to give them an idea of their many options. They couldn’t believe how many resorts were on Disney property. Their faces lit up when they saw the Animal Kingdom Lodge. They loved the idea of sitting on their room’s balcony and letting the girls check out the animals roaming the savanna. My nieces love animals, so this seems like a perfect fit to make a bit of magic for them. I also think my parents will enjoy the scenery and the opportunity to relax by the pool and to watch the delight on their grandchildren’s faces when they see their first giraffe.
I was sure to explain all of the benefits associated with staying at a Disney resort to them, but I think they were already sold on the Animal Kingdom Lodge just from the photos and the promise of animals outside their window. I’m sure they will still appreciate the availability of complimentary transportation and other such details once they get there, even if they are not so concerned with those details now. I emailed my favorite Disney travel agent, and she was gracious enough to give us a few lodging options. Her help sealed the deal for a savanna view room at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. We’ll be booking two rooms and hoping for a wonderful stay.
That is about as far as we’ve gotten, but in the next few days I’m hoping to solidify some of our other plans. I’m so used to throwing together a trip with friends that the element of keeping kids, parents, a brother, and a first-time visitor sister-in-law happy seems like a daunting task. They are looking to me and my background as a Disney nerd to enhance their experience, and I want to be sure to deliver. I’ve never traveled with kids or older folks before, so any advice from our readers would be much appreciated!
I will be reporting on my family’s trip planning progress from time to time in the coming months before we take our trip in February. In upcoming posts I’ll discuss ticket options, dining options, and everything else to keep my family happy, so stay tuned!