4. Advanced Dining Reservations (ADRs)
Securing WDW restaurant reservations for large groups is, in my experience, the most challenging part of vacation planning. You will have to be online and ready to make ADRs when the clock strikes 7:00 a.m. (ET) 180 days before the start of your vacation. If someone in your group has an earlier resort reservation, then that person should be your group’s official dining reserver. If everyone’s resort reservations begin on the same day, then choose one responsible person to be your official dining reserver for the entire group. Most likely, you will not get the most sought-after reservations at restaurants like Cinderella’s Royal Table. Instead, look for dining experiences outside of the parks, like Cinderella’s Happily Ever After Dinner at 1900 Park Fare in the Grand Floridian Resort. Also try to get ADRs during non-peak times, like dinner at 3:30 instead of 6:30. If you can’t get the ADR that your group wants, you can always keep your fingers crossed and try again closer to your vacation.
You can get quick transportation from the Magic Kingdom to many resort restaurants by using a boat or the monorail.
First, link all of your My Disney Experience accounts using the Friends and Family option on the WDW website. Agree on a list of preferred attractions, and then, 60 days before the start of your vacation, select one responsible person to make your entire group’s FP+ selections. Sometimes it’s impossible to get eight or more FP+s for popular rides like Frozen Ever After, so try booking overlapping times instead. For example, make four FP+ selections for 1:00 to 2:00 and another four for 1:30 to 2:30; then ride the attraction together at 1:45. It’s also sometimes possible to add individuals to existing FP+ selections, depending on availability. Trial and error can work well in this situation, so be patient, and clearly communicate your desired schedule with others in your group. Remember that you can always change your FP+ times and selections later if necessary.
6. Navigating the Parks
After months and months of planning, you’re finally at Walt Disney World! But the planning isn’t over yet. What will you do between your dining reservations and FastPass+ attractions? Will you always stay together in the parks, or will you sometimes split into smaller parties? Will some adults watch the kids while others enjoy quiet time? Will you go back to the resort for naps or swimming, or will you stay in the parks from open to close? Hopefully you discussed some of these questions before you left for vacation, but the best intentions could change after you arrive. The key is to communicate, always, and to be flexible. Not everyone will want to do the same thing at the same time, so it’s okay to split up. Let everyone have a voice, and keep your cell phones charged and ready in case plans change.