Planning a Grand Gathering at Walt Disney World

by Casey Morris on May 12, 2016

grand gathering

The time has come to plan your family’s Walt Disney World vacation!  You get a hold of your Pirate and Pixie Dust Destinations Travel Planner to start ironing out the details.  You also mention your plans to family and friends.  Soon, Grandma and Grandpa decide they’d love to come along and lend a hand.  Oh, and it turns out that your best friend and her family have been thinking about planning a trip, and you’ve inspired them to take the plunge — and book for the same dates!  Before you know it, your small family getaway has blossomed into a full-blown Grand Gathering.  What to do??

First of all, don’t be intimidated!  Walt Disney World caters to groups of all sizes, and your PPDD Travel Planner is well equipped to handle all of the logistics.  Being part of a large group at Disney is an exciting and unforgettable experience!  Here are some tips to help everything go smoothly:

Explore All Resort Options:

Just because you’re going to be touring with a large group doesn’t mean you have to all room together, but sometimes you can save money with room sharing.  There are Deluxe Villas on property that can sleep up to 9 adults, Family Suites that can sleep 6, and Standard rooms in Deluxe and Moderate Resorts that can sleep 5 (but most Standard rooms in Value and Moderate Resorts sleep 4).  Before deciding on your resort, come up with a plan of who is going to room with whom, or if you prefer to have individual rooms for each family.  Your PPDD Travel Planner will be able to make suggestions based on how many individuals you have per room, your budget, and your vacation style.  This is where it’s really important to rely on your travel planner’s expertise, because you can usually spend less by having multiple Standard rooms at a Value or Moderate Resort category, but you may decide the extra amenities at a Family Suite, Deluxe Resort, or Deluxe Villa are worth the splurge.  Sometimes having a big group to share with is what makes a more luxurious Resort affordable for everyone.

Stay Connected:

My Disney Experience is a tool that makes large group travel immensely easy.  Your PPDD Travel Planner will be able to link individual reservation numbers for all group members together.  This way, when you want to make or change Dining or Fastpass+ reservations, you have your whole gang’s schedule right at your fingertips.  We highly recommend that you also create a Facebook group for your trip and add everyone who will be traveling with you.  This will allow you to discuss plans, post links about restaurants or attractions that you want to try, and even share photos after the vacation is done!  Also, make sure to download the “Find My Friends” app on all your phones, as this will make meeting up in the parks much easier.

Pitch In for Memory Maker:

Did you know that if just one family in your group adds Disney’s Memory Maker photo package to their reservation, everyone linked to them in My Disney Experience will have their photos included?  Splitting the $149 advance purchase price of Memory Maker will make for a very reasonable price for everyone to have access to their park and attraction photos.  You will want to make sure that each person downloads the photos he or she wants within 45 days of the date each photo was taken.  Your Memory Maker photos will be very precious souvenirs, as PhotoPass photographers will be able to get your entire group in the picture.

grand gather 2

Plan Dining  Early

Your PPDD travel planner will always encourage you to make Advance Dining Reservations 180 days prior to your check-in date, but planning your meals this early is especially important when you have a Grand Gathering.  Most restaurants at Walt Disney World Resort have a few tables that can seat large groups, so you should act fast if you have some meals where you want your entire group at one table.  Your travel planner will handle the early-morning scheduling on Day 180, but you will want to make sure that you’ve made your restaurant decisions prior. There may be some restaurants where you simply can’t find availability for your whole group at one table (some restaurants have limited space and no large tables.)  In this circumstance you should have a backup plan to split your group into multiple tables.  Typically you will not be able to push tables together due to fire codes, but if you request that your group be near each other at the time you check in for your meal, the seating host will work hard to accommodate your request.

Divide and Conquer!

The key to a fantastic Grand Gathering is the right mix of large group togetherness and small group exploration.  Meals, down time at the Resort and shows are great times to schedule everyone in your group to meet up and spend time together.  During times when crowds are high and everyone is trying to move quickly (such as early morning rope drop, or if you have limited time between FastPass+ reservations) you might find it easier to split up and maneuver through the parks in smaller, more efficient groups.  You may also find that some in your group are thrill ride enthusiasts while others just want to hang out with the characters (this is when Rider Switch is really handy).  Don’t be afraid to split up if it makes the most sense based on the individual preferences and touring plans of those in your group.  Your PPDD travel planner can schedule times in your itinerary for your group to reconvene.


If you’d like help planning your family reunion, wedding, social club meetup, or any other large get-together at Disney, please contact me, Marissa Selner, or any of the Pirate and Pixie Dust Destinations agents.  We look forward to making your Grand Gathering stress-free and magical!

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