Last Updated on November 9, 2021
We ventured to Disneyland with all of the Fettbacks for a huge birthday celebration for Darcy’s Mom’s 60th birthday. We had never experienced Disneyland with a large group before, so we were unsure what to expect. How on earth would this many people successfully conquer Disneyland, the Happiest Place on Earth, without a ton of added chaos and stress? Disneyland classifies a large group as a party of more than eight people. Though we had eighteen for our trip, even a party of 9 would require just as much planning and compromising. The thought of traveling with so many people can really be daunting, especially if you have never done it before.
Here is the best advice we have for you about visiting Disneyland with a large group. Follow our advice below and everyone is sure to have a magical time at the Happiest Place On Earth.
- We did carry-on luggage only. This made it a lot faster and easier at the airport, with already having to transport so much stuff since there were eighteen of us!
- Make sure your kids have enough to entertain them on the flight. The bonus of having so many people with us is the kids could help entertain each other.
- A great way to keep kids busy and wanting to stay in their seats is having their special own tray that fits right on their lap to use with all their activities and snacks. We love The Snack and Play Travel Tray and were so glad we thought to use it on the airplane. It is also waterproof. The strong, wipe-clean nylon is ready for any mess your kid can make!
Tips For Visiting Disneyland With A Large Group:
Accommodation With Space For The Whole Family
We rented a big house to accommodate all of us. It worked out cheaper than individual hotel rooms. It was more comfortable, we were able to actually see each other outside of the chaos of Disneyland, and the kids were able to play freely. The kids also loved having the pool and used it each day. It was also great to have the laundry available right there since little kids get their clothes dirty — FAST.
Assign A Scheduler
To make a large group trip work well, you will need someone who has done the research of entertainment times, make meal reservations, and has passed on the details to the rest of the group. You will want to know what rides will be closed for refurbishment, any special events, when the fireworks start, parade times, or anything else that the group is interested in.
If everyone knows what is going on, it makes it easier to fit in all your must-have character photos and rides. For our family, we always have to fit in a handful of times on Indiana Jones and Pirates or it just does not feel like a proper trip to Disney. A little scheduling helps to make this happen.
Have Park Tickets Sorted The Day Before
Do not waste your time waiting in line when you could already be hopping on your first rides of the day. If you’re not going right into the park on the first day you arrive, make a quick trip to get your tickets sorted out. It will save a huge headache and a huge line when you arrive on the first day you want to be inside the park. We were so thankful that we had this all sorted the day before since we were visiting Disneyland with a large group.
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Split Into Smaller Groups
Even though you are visiting Disneyland with a large group, you will quickly find that you are going to want to split into smaller groups for a lot of the time. Herding so many people in one direction can be quite a challenge. Smaller groups make it easier to get around and fewer nerves will be pressed. Make sure you rotate who you are with so you’re able to spend quality time with everyone. While everyone will have their own idea of what would make that day at the park perfect, smaller groups will waste less time deciding where to go next. When you divide and conquer, it so much easier to divide and conquer some of your must-do items too.
If there is anything that you want to do as a big group, make sure this is planned ahead of time so everyone knows where to meet up and when.
Also, you will need to set your pace with the slowest person in the group. Traveling in a big group can take a lot of patience.
Meet Up For Meals
We took most of our food into the park to save money on food costs with so many people. Picking a time for everyone to meet up allowed us to still get together as a big group and enjoy everyone’s company. Think picnic items, such as sandwiches, raw veggies, and fresh fruits. Everyone knew before entering the park when we would be meeting, and where.
Mealtimes are also a great opportunity to switch around what groups are adventuring together.
Also, if you meet up for meals at off-peak times, you will find it easier to find space for everyone to sit together.
Make Dinner Reservations In Advance
Darcy and I took the girls to Goofy’s Kitchen for breakfast one morning. Goofy’s Kitchen was a great dining experience. The characters are a lot of fun and they really have thought of everything they could possibly offer for food. Even if you have a super picky eater, they will be able to over-fill their belly with no problem.
All of us met up for a special birthday dinner for Darcy’s Mom at Wine Country Trattoria. Making reservations means you know you won’t be disappointed. Make reservations for your favorite restaurants, starting 60 days in advance. The earlier you make the reservation, the more likely a large group can be accommodated.
With technology these days, staying connected is way too easy. Check-in with those who are indifferent groups throughout the day. It is also helpful to send a quick text message if you are running late or need to make any changes to the plans. Just because you are visiting Disneyland with a large group, it does not mean that staying in touch has to be complicated.
Make sure your phone has an international phone plan on it for the duration of your trip, if you are from out of the country. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself with a ridiculous phone bill. In Canada, we have a plan that allows you to “roam like home” for an X amount of dollars each day. It works out much cheaper than having to worry about turning off your data and accidentally not doing it properly. Even if you’re at the hotel on wi-fi, if your roaming is not turned off properly, you could actually be roaming.
FASTPASS And Switch Pass
Make use of the FASTPASS AND the Switch Pass. Half of the eighteen of us were kids, so switch passes were like gold. We were able to send someone to collect the FASTPASSES for the major rides we wanted. We were then able to enter the popular rides using a FASTPASS, and then get switch passes. It really helped us to make the most of our time.
Only send one or two people from your party to get Fastpasses. That way the kids can go on another ride or keep occupied another way. Another option is to use the Disneyland MaxPass service so you will be able to make FASTPASS reservations using your phone instead of having to race for paper FASTPASS tickets.
Arrive For Rope Drop
Arrive at the park before it opens. You will be able to get yourself better organized and can go on a couple of the longer rides that do not have switch passes before the lines get too insane (Peter Pan’s Flight, we are thinking of you).
Extra Magic Hours
If you are an early bird not staying on-site, start the day in the park not hosting Extra Magic Hours. You’ll enjoy the park with a little less craziness for a bit.
Find Out Everyone’s Must-Do’s
Visiting Disney with a large group, it is always a good idea to have a plan and prioritize attractions. Make sure you know what you need to see most, and what is most important for the kids to see. Find out what everyone’s must-do is for the trip, then make a plan so it happens. A must-do for our family was a character breakfast at Goofy’s Kitchen. The others were not interested in this experience, so we got up early one morning for our special breakfast and knew when to meet the rest of the group at the park entrance.
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Assign Kids A Dedicated Adult
Make sure each child has a dedicated person so that nobody gets lost. If somebody does get away, make sure they know an easily accessible spot to meet at. Also, keep your phones charged. Bring an external phone charger so you will never have a dead battery.
Make sure you are in a ride line when the park closes. Once you’re in a line, you will get to ride even if it is already past park closing time.
Check the height of each child before visiting. This will help you make a plan so you can keep the younger moving and happy while the older ones go on their thrill rides.
Before you reach the front of the line for a ride, know who each person is riding with. You would not want to be the one that holds up the line when the cast member asks “How many?” and is trying to direct you.
Do Not Miss The Parade
Once you see a Disney parade, other parades will never be able to measure up to the experience. The parades are, of course, extremely popular. You will want to arrive at least an hour before the parade to ensure you can find a spot to fit your large group. For a better spot, the earlier you will need to arrive. Usually, you can start to claim spots for the parade two hours before it begins. Bring a picnic or buy some treats to help pass the time. Also, part of your group can save the space, while the others take turns enjoying some nearby attractions.
To Each Their Own
You will have people in your group that do not feel comfortable going on some rides. That is okay! Research the rides that everyone will be able to enjoy together. Some of those rides will probably include: It’s a Small World, The Jungle Cruise, King Arthur Carrousel, Disney Railroad, Pirates of the Caribbean, and most of the rides in Fantasyland.
Don’t Be Afraid To Have Different Start Times
If you are visiting Disneyland in a large group, inevitably you will have some early risers and some that cannot function without being able to sleep in and enjoy a slow breakfast. Our family likes to get up early and get a move on when we travel, to make the most of the day. We have been trained from years of travel that getting places early before massive crowds, whenever possible, is more enjoyable. Those moments at Disney are few and far between, but arriving early gives us an extra little bit of space for a bit.
Do not be offended, you can always meet up at a time they will get to the park. Trust us, it is way more fun to be running around Disneyland, feeling like a kid again, than to be sitting and waiting for others to get ready.
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Maximize Time With The Disneyland App
The Disneyland app is a real help, and time saver when you’re in the parks. You can find out where your favorite characters are for photo ops, and the time they will be there. View wait times for rides, and the rides that are closed. Easily order your meal for pickup using the app. You can also manage your FASTPASS reservations using the app. Really, there is not much that you cannot accomplish by using the app at Disneyland!
Bring Or Rent A Stroller
If you are visiting Disneyland with a large group that includes young kids, bringing a stroller will save you a lot of time. The kids can nap in the stroller, and you can use it as storage for the non-valuables while you are on rides. Also, you will get places faster if the little ones can sit. You will do a LOT of walking around Disney. The long days and step counts will make your Fitbit work overtime. Make sure you mark your stroller with a bow or ribbon so that you can find it easily in the sea of strollers.
Matching Shirts Or Colors
This seemed like a lot of work for eighteen people, but we saw other groups that had matching t-shirts. It was a great way for the group to stand out and to be able to pick each other out of a crowd. If you are unable to make this happen, you could always color coordinate with what you already have in your closet. Next time, group shirts with a group photo have to be a must.
Get A Group Photo
The one photo missing from our big family trip was a group photo with all 18 of us together. It is a memory that would be awesome to have. There is always a photographer around the park waiting to take your photo. We used a Disney Photo pass throughout the day anyway, so it would have been all too easy to meet up for a photo.
Traveling to Disneyland in a large group requires more of everything, but it really requires extra planning. Travel maneuvers that are routine with your immediate family can become quite the production with a large group as we had. However, if you think ahead, you will be able to focus on having fun rather than sorting out a long list of headaches that could have been avoided.
Spontaneity can be hard with a large group in Disneyland, especially with varied opinions and interests. We can not stress enough to not be afraid to split up for a bit and agree on a time and meeting place to re-group. We really did not know what to expect, traveling with so many people, but it was a TON of fun. It is definitely something that should be taken advantage of if given the opportunity.
The memories you make are priceless and will last a lifetime.
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Have you ever experienced Disney with a large group? Please share your experiences and tips below!