As a self-proclaimed "Trip Planner Extraordinaire!", there is nothing I enjoy more than planning and taking trips with large groups of people. While some may feel traveling with a large group may pose an impossible burden in such a huge place as an amusement park, I consider it a truly unique opportunity to share my love and joy for all things Disney with those that I truly care about. I've traveled with every combination of people over the years: locals, out-of-towners, older and younger guests, first-timers, seasoned pros, thrill seekers, bench seekers, and everything in between! I see each and every trip as an opportunity to share my knowledge and feel a great sense of accomplishment when a trip goes off without a hitch. While traveling with a large group can bring about unique challenges, I've come up with some helpful tips that can prove to be useful whether you're traveling with a medium sized group or even a group that extends to as large as 20 or more.
Tip #1: Make Reservations:While Disney is fantastic in accommodating large groups, it is important to make your dining reservations early to ensure you will get the time and restaurant of your choice. In particular, I love character dining and see it is a great way to add even more magic to my guests' itinerary. There are several restaurants to chose from at Disneyland, Disney's California Adventure, as well as the hotels of the Disneyland Resort; click here to learn more about the available character dining options. For dining reservations call 714-781-3463. If you're planning on staying at one of the hotels of the Disneyland Resort, I cannot stress enough to make your reservations early. Traveling with a large group often means that you will need a suite or several rooms and booking early helps to ensure that a room will be available on your travel date and often the best possible rate. Reservations can be made via Disneyland Resort website or by calling 714-956-6425. You can also get personalized vacation planning service with Babes In Disneyland's resident Disney Authorized Travel agent, Randy is an travel consultant with MouseEarVacations.com.
Tip #2: Create an Itinerary:
I try to keep all of the event times, dates, and locations organized by creating an itinerary. I prefer not to keep to a tight schedule, but rather to provide my group with arrival and departure times, restaurant reservation times, as well as a rough outline of the day's events.
Tip #3: Consider the Needs of the Group:
I take great pride in considering those that I am traveling with when trip planning. For instance I try to consider if infants or small children will be among my guests or whether anyone in the group has any health issues or physical limitations that might limit their activity. I also factor in whether or not it is a guest's first visit. Traveling with children, especially younger ones, takes a bit of extra attention and often means a lighter itinerary to leave time for meals, naps, and early bed times. Click here for some great tips for traveling with an infant. My Mom and Aunts travel with me quite frequently and prefer less walking and fewer rides in favor of helping with the kiddos -- some of whom might be left behind by older siblings due to height requirements. In addition, traveling with out-of-town guests or those who have never been to the park before often means a very packed itinerary as these guests typically prefer to cover a large amount of ground in a relatively short amount of time. I find that it's helpful to talk with the members of the group to gauge everyone's priorities. (i.e. Are certain Disney character meet-and-greets must-dos on the itinerary? Are there any parades/rides that are absolute must-sees?) If so, focusing on prioritizing these experiences and checking those items off their lists first leads to a much happier guest experience!
Tip #4: Dress the Part
If you're like me and you would like to mark your trip in an extra special way, consider symbolic gestures such as wearing matching t-shirts, pajamas, or Ear Hats. While most of these items can be purchased at the Disneyland Resort, I prefer to plan ahead and order what I will need ahead of time to make sure that I have the type and sizes needed. An added benefit is that everything is already pre-washed and ready to wear, and the personalized items of clothing add an extra special unique touch to the guest experience. These extra touches are also great keepsakes and are particularly good for photo ops.
Tip #5: Do Your Homework
Tip #5: Do Your Homework
I've found several great tools and resources to aid in the planning process. The Babes in Disneyland Blog and Facebook page are a wealth of information regarding upcoming events, helpful tips, as well as a forum to ask any questions you may have. The Disney Parks Blog and Disneyland Resort Website are also a wealth of information. I've often found myself directing my guests to these sites prior to our trip so that they are able to get an idea of what rides, parades, shows, etc. they might like to do once we arrive.
I hope that you find these tips to be useful when planning your next trip, if you've got other tips or have any questions please leave a comment below or on the Babes In Disneyland Facebook Page. Please also check back in the coming weeks for Part 2 of this post- Tips for Large Groups once you've arrived at the Disneyland Resort.
You can find Kendra on Twitter or on Instagram @kendrakuske