Not everyone in the group has to get the exact same ticket. Leap, Tad, Lily and I had 6 day Park Hopper + Water Park Fun & More tickets. The grandparents weren’t too keen on racing down near-vertical water slides at the water parks, so they were fine with just 6 day Park Hoppers. You may even consider getting a ticket with fewer days for the grandparents.
Let Everyone Help in the Planning
As tempting as it is to plan the whole thing by yourself and “surprise” the entire group with a beautifully coordinated schedule, don’t do it! You’ll inevitably leave something out that one person in the group really wanted to do. (Who knew Leap’s dad really wanted to eat at Cinderella’s Royal Table and was devastated when I hadn’t made Advanced Dining Reservations?). It’s also a good idea to have the family view rides on YouTube to help refine senior appropriate rides.
Take a Few Day Trips Beforehand, If Possible
If you live close enough to your extended family, get together for a few day trips prior to the big vacation. This helps everyone get used to touring together and also provides a great opportunity to get even more excited about the theme parks!
Even though it’s a big ol’ family vacation, it’s OK to take a few breaks from each other. Leap and I enjoyed a night out at Universal CityWalk while my in-laws watched Tad and Lily while they played in the hotel pool. We also made sure to take some time for just the four of us; the grandparents welcomed the peace and quiet!
The more people in the group, the more flexible you have to be. It’s nice when your schedule looks like a completed to-do list at the end of each day, but if it doesn’t, who cares!?! The main goal is for everyone to have a good time even if you have to veer from your plan.
Book Separate Rooms
This is a must! Tad and Lily loved bouncing back and forth from our room to their grandparents’ room, but after all that togetherness from sun up to sun down, Leap and I liked having a place to be alone. (FYI: Disney will guarantee connecting rooms if your party includes more children than adults.)
Have Ideas to Suit All Energy Levels
We were spending the day at Epcot® and I could tell the grandparents were “over” the crowds and lines. Instead of heading back to the hotel, I suggested some attractions and restaurants in World Showcase that were a little quieter so Leap and I could continue with the kids in Future World. There are always options to suit everyone.
Rent an Electronic Convenience Vehicle (ECV)/Motorized Scooter
A theme park vacation can be a little like training for a marathon. My in-laws are in great shape, but their view on the subject is “if we don’t have to walk the whole time, why would we?” ECVs are available for rent at each park, and there are several outside rental companies that will deliver the motorized scooter to your hotel.
Happy Planning! –Mommy Frog