So, during this trip to Disneyworld in Orlando, Florida, we were travelling with our extended family which consisted of the following:
- The Aged Ps aka Grandparents, one of whom is a thrill seeker and the other gets motion sickness
- J and Little E (aged 6 and 3 years old)
- Expectant Mommy aka myself (Unfortunately, the Barn Owl wasn’t able to join us on this trip)
- Newly-engaged Couple aka A Becky Lee (speed demon woohoo) and the Boobook (likes his feet on terra firma thankyouverymuch).
This meant that one of our challenges when planning visits to the various Disneyworld parks was organising our time well so that we not only spend time together as a family, but also get a chance to indulge our own personal interests. For example, Little E would probably be very happy to visit with the Disney Princesses, but the Newly-Engaged Couple would prefer to spend that time touring a gallery tracing the history of Disney.
Additionally, many of the rides have height and/or health restrictions on them, so not everybody in our merry band can ride together. It would be an utter waste of time for people to spend ages waiting on each other and feeling excluded, so it would take some careful planning to make sure that everyone in our travel party would be meaningfully engaged, making the most of our time in the parks.
To make our planning easier, here is what we did:
1. Divide and conquer
We looked at all the rides, attractions and activities and divided them up into the following categories:
- Thrill rides: Anything with a height or health restriction that excludes part of the family
- Slow rides: Anything that the shortest member of the party can ride (in our case, that’s 3 year old Little E)
- Whole Family Fun: These usually have specific timings to them, such as seated theatre shows, outdoor entertainment like fireworks or even meeting together for lunch or tea.
- Kids interest: Parades, character meet-and-greets, playgrounds
- Grownup interest: Pin-trading, touring galleries
- General atmosphere: Street performances, special events, holiday events, shopping
2. Assign file and rank
Then, we decided how to prioritise the items in each category into ‘Must-do’ activities and ‘Bonus’ activities. Of course, most of the ‘Whole Family Fun’ category ended up in the ‘Must-do’ list.
This helped us decide which activities were worth booking Fastpasses for and which we would be happy to queue up to see.
Any activity that we were not willing to use Fastpass+ or wait 30-40 minutes in a queue for was instantly shunted into the ‘Bonus’ activity group. These were then activities that we would partake in if we had extra time on our hands or if we happened to pass by when the queue times were brief.
3. Find the Perfect Timing
The last thing we wanted to do was rush back and forth all over the parks trying to keep all our various appointments. We tried to spread out all the timed activities and the Fastpasses, making sure that there was a space of at least an hour or so between each appointment. This ensured that there was plenty time to go for toilet breaks, stop for a drink of water, explore our surroundings and walk at a leisurely pace to the next location (very important when you have Aged Ps/small kiddies/a massive pregnant belly).
4. Be willing to split up
If we weren’t engaged in a Whole Family activity, we usually split up into the groups in order to explore different areas of the park at the same time:
- Thrill seekers (J, Aged P, A Becky Lee) and Quiet riders (Little E, Debs G, Aged P, Boobook)
- Slow-moving (Aged Ps, Debs G and kids) and Fast-moving (A Becky Lee and Boobook)
This meant that we did not spend time waiting on each other outside rides and could enjoy things at our own pace. It also meant that whenever we met up for a Whole Family activity, we would have plenty of stories to share and fresh ideas on what to see/what to avoid.
We assigned a contact person to each group and kept in touch using Whatsapp (the Disneyworld wifi network is pretty good and its free), so that we could keep tabs on each group’s whereabouts in case we needed to meet up to swop group members.
5. Be flexible
Sometimes, despite careful planning, things don’t always work out – rides may be shut and shows get cancelled, or maybe the weather isn’t as great as you hoped. It isn’t a big deal when this happens because there is SO much to see and do at the Disneyworld parks, that if something doesn’t go as planned, all it really means is that its a grand opportunity to be spontaneous!
So whenever we had a change of plans at the last minute, we just pulled up something else from our ‘Bonus’ activity list, took a snack break, chatted up a Disney cast member or did some people watching!