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HDYDI: Plan a Multi-Generational Disney Vacation

All these opinions and suggestions are purely through our experience. I hope it helps you plan a magical vacation!

Planning a family vacation to Disney and Universal Orlando? This step-by-step post is full of ideas for touring plans, Disney themed clothes, snacks, character autograph books, packing suggestions, pin trading, Fast Pass information, photo suggestions and more! Take away the stress of planning and find the joy in planning a magical Disney vacation.

We spent a week at Walt Disney World and Universal, thanks to my parents. What an adventure! After scouring Pinterest, I learned that there was no post, anywhere, that could really walk me through planning an entire trip to Disney. Throughout the series, I shared our days at the parks, tips and tricks, taming the souvenir beast, money saving ideas, things we learned and photos we captured. They’re all linked below. Enjoy!

Day 1: HDYDI – Plan a Multi-Generational Disney Vacation (this post!)
Day 2: What We Wore to Disney
Day 3: EPCOT: A Mom’s Guide
Day 4: Magic Kingdom: Plan a Visit That’s Fun for All Ages
Day 5: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal: A Family Guide
Day 6: Animal Kingdom & Hollywood Studios: All in One Day!

Day 7: Character Meals & Meet/Greets: 13 Tips to Make Them Awesome
Day 8: 10 Things to Buy/Borrow/Make For Your Disney Vacation
Day 9: 6 Tips to Capture Your Disney Vacation on Film
Day 10: Meeting Anna & Elsa: An Honest Account 

Grab a Starbucks and get your ears on. Let’s ride.

A FEW THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND WHILE PLANNING

Get Social.
Solicit your friends via social media. Hit up Facebook and Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest. Your friends are treasure troves of good information. Use them. I was fortunate enough to have a very good friend with five children who has done Disney three times. Y’all. You don’t even want to know how many texts, emails and phone calls we shared. You can definitely go the Disney travel agent route (many of them are free!) but because our schedule and needs were in such flux, and because I love to plan, I dove in to the rabbit hole myself. Basically, I took Disney 101 for four months!

Set Your Priorities.
Decide what’s most important to you and know that there is no ONE perfect way to do Disney. If there was, there wouldn’t be all those awesome resources on the Internet. That’s the beauty of Disney. Plan it for your family, filled with your must-do’s and you’ll walk away with a lifetime of memories.

Know Your Budget.
There’s nothing worse than finding *the* perfect vacation house or family photographer, only to crunch the numbers and realize it’s not in the budget. Decide what’s most important and then make a list of the “must-have’s” and the “nice to do’s,” knowing that something is going to get cut.

Timing is Everything.
There are one billion websites that will tell you the perfect time of year to go to Disney, based on crowds. This is not that website. I’ll simply share that we desired an awesome vacation without loads of people and long wait times. We made the (sometimes) controversial decision to take our children out of school for a week in early May. We’ve never done it before, but looking back? It was the right choice for us. While we were in makeup homework hell when we got back, it actually wasn’t that bad. Because we went in early May, most of the big class projects were done. And, my niece and nephew were still young enough that they hadn’t started school yet. It worked beautifully for our family. And the short lines? Totally worth it.

Okay, now that you know what we kept in mind for planning, here’s how it all went down. I’m listing these in the order I did them, but your order may be better. Because, remember? No one perfect way!

PLANNING YOUR DISNEY VACATION {LET’S DO THIS}

1. Set up an interactive way to communicate with family members. In our case, we set up a secret Facebook page, only open to our family. We chatted about dates for the trip, clothes, snacks, itineraries, height requirements and, of course, shared Jim Gaffigan videos. You can do the same thing by email, but that would’ve been a nightmare. This worked well for us.
PRO TIP: Don’t leave your computer screen open to the secret page if you’re trying to surprise your kids.

Planning a family vacation to Disney and Universal Orlando? This step-by-step post is full of ideas for touring plans, Disney themed clothes, snacks, character autograph books, packing suggestions, pin trading, Fast Pass information, photo suggestions and more! Take away the stress of planning and find the joy in planning a magical Disney vacation.

2. Pin it. I started a collaborative Pinterest board between my mom, husband, sister-in-law and I. There is so much goodness on the interwebs about Disney and Universal and this allowed us to capture every single one of them, or at least make a dent! I referred to this board often. Planning a trip can be overwhelming and this was a tremendous help in synthesizing the things that mattered to our family.
PRO TIP: Periodically swing through your board and delete pins you don’t need. And, be sure to pin the original content, not just repin everything you see. There’s a fair amount of Disney Pinterest spam out there.

Planning a family vacation to Disney and Universal Orlando? This step-by-step post is full of ideas for touring plans, Disney themed clothes, snacks, character autograph books, packing suggestions, pin trading, Fast Pass information, photo suggestions and more! Take away the stress of planning and find the joy in planning a magical Disney vacation.

3. Consider signing up for the Visa Disney rewards credit card. After you spend $500, you get a $200 credit on your bill. Trust me, that isn’t hard to do. We used that $200 to pay for one of the character meals! There are lots more perks to having the card, but one of the coolest was the exclusive Character Meet & Greet at Epcot’s Innoventions West. Goofy and Mickey spent tons of time with our family, knocking off my mom’s hat, high-fiving the kids and just being generally awesome. In addition, we were able to put all the trip expenses on one card and that helped to keep them all straight. I’m not a huge fan of credit cards (we only have two), but this one had some great benefits.
PRO TIP: I wish we would’ve gotten this card even earlier, but a month into planning was better than nothing.

Planning a family vacation to Disney and Universal Orlando? This step-by-step post is full of ideas for touring plans, Disney themed clothes, snacks, character autograph books, packing suggestions, pin trading, Fast Pass information, photo suggestions and more! Take away the stress of planning and find the joy in planning a magical Disney vacation.

4. Secure lodging. You obviously can’t plan a trip without first having a place to rest your head at night. There is much debate on staying on Disney property vs. off. This is not that post. There are pros and cons to both, but for our extended family of 14? Off property was what worked for us. This is where I turned to my trusted friend, Nicole. She recommended the Windsor Hills subdivision (it has larger homes than some of the others like Encantada Resort) for our size group. I could’ve scoured the Disney boards for more ideas, but opted to filter our search through the HomeAway website looking only for homes in that area. We originally booked a different home, but after we got bad vibes from the owner, we cancelled our reservation and went with another home. We were very pleased with the condition, location and amenities in the house (photos below). It had a private pool, which we used the heck out of most days during our down time, and it was in a gated, secure community. The night when the adults left for a dinner at Epcot, we felt 100% secure leaving our 14yo with the littles. The biggest con to staying off property is in regards to rental vehicles and FastPass+ reservations, but I’ll chat about that in a moment. That con was far outweighed by the convenience of having a home, where we could spread out, cook many of our own meals and swim without lugging stuff four flights of stairs. It was just a quick ten-minute drive to Disney and 20 minutes from Universal.
PRO TIP: Work through reputable sites like HomeAway rather than directly with the owner. Some owners do this to avoid paying the HA fees, but we learned (almost too late) that doesn’t lead to a reputable property owner. And, read the reviews!

Planning a family vacation to Disney and Universal Orlando? This step-by-step post is full of ideas for touring plans, Disney themed clothes, snacks, character autograph books, packing suggestions, pin trading, Fast Pass information, photo suggestions and more! Take away the stress of planning and find the joy in planning a magical Disney vacation.

5. Make your travel plans. Because we went during the school year and had a limited amount of time we could be gone, we chose to fly instead of drive. It was a definite bonus to have a direct flight from Austin to Orlando and the flight times were right after lunch and very convenient. Plus, crazy low fares. We certainly aren’t opposed to driving, but flying worked well this time around. A side note here, our family and my parents flew JetBlue and couldn’t have been happier. My brother’s family flew Silver Airlines and swore never again. We checked in online prior to arrival and that made check-in much smoother. I printed out the kids’ immunization records (birth certificates weren’t required for domestic travel) but they never asked for them.
PRO TIP: Check the reputation of the airline you’re using so you aren’t surprised come departure day.

6. Decide on parks. This is probably like the chicken and egg debate. Some people will say you need to reserve your character meals, then decide what parks on what days, based on that. Others say choose your parks, then schedule your meals. We did both. Lunch with the princesses at Akershus in Epcot’s Norway was at the top of our list. And, because we were booking 90 days out (instead of the suggested 180 days), we had to go with what was available. In the end, we opted to purchase park hopper as it gave us more flexibility. More on that in a second. We used a third party touring site, Touring Plans, to determine which parks to visit on which days based on their crowd calendars and predictions. That was probably the best $12.95 we spent the entire trip. True story.
PRO TIP: Take into account the ages and interests of those traveling with you and choose parks/attractions based on that interest.

7. Reserve character meals and other events. Who knew that Disney started making meal reservations 180 days out? They do and people really make them that early. We were about 60-90 days out for all of ours and it was only a bit of a challenge to reserve the princess lunch. Everything else was well within our desired time frame. We chose character meals with a big bang. For example, five princesses visited our table at Akershus (Snow White, Cinderella, Ariel, Belle and Aurora) and four characters at Tusker House in Animal Kingdom (Mickey, Goofy, Daisy and Donald). We chose to do lunches instead of dinners (less expensive) or breakfast (that’s when all the rides have zero wait!). For the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, there are now two locations, one in Magic Kingdom and one at Downtown Disney; we chose Downtown.
PRO TIP: You can “walk up” and do reservations, but with 14 of us I knew that was too big of a gamble. And, if you have a large group like ours, reservations can’t be made through Disney Dining, they must be made directly with the restaurant. Several websites mentioned checking in a day or two before you arrive for a coveted character meal as there are always last-minute cancellations.

Planning a family vacation to Disney and Universal Orlando? This step-by-step post is full of ideas for touring plans, Disney themed clothes, snacks, character autograph books, packing suggestions, pin trading, Fast Pass information, photo suggestions and more! Take away the stress of planning and find the joy in planning a magical Disney vacation.

8. Set your touring plans. Like I mentioned earlier, there are tons of free travel agents who will organize the entire trip for you. We opted out of that and did it ourselves. Know what kind of traveler you are. If you prefer to have someone else do the dirty work, call a travel agent. If you adore planning, it’s definitely doable, just budget some late nights. Touring Plans is a fantastic resource for navigating the parks. Equally important to their “touring plans” is their “crowd calendar.” For $12.95 (worth every penny), I was able to see what parks were busiest on which days, how accurate their recent predictions were and plug in sample touring plans for riding rides and seeing characters and shows. In the spirit of full disclosure, I monkeyed with this right up until we left and even when we got to Disney. Basically, I made a list of rides at each park that were “must-do’s” and then another list of “these would be awesome,” keeping in mind the vast ages we had on the trip (1 to 65ish). There were some touring plans already pre-set, but I did custom ones and it worked out great. YouTube can be your friend here, as you can preview just about every ride.
PRO TIP: Follow the plan. I’m telling you, those plans are golden and the wait times were pretty spot on. The hours that we deviated from the plan were the ones where the wheels started to fall off. Just make sure you plug in time to eat and rest!

9. Purchase tickets. There’s no such thing as cheap Disney tickets. Walt holds a pretty tight key on those. While there are some reputable resellers, if you’re purchasing tickets well below door cost, then be prepared for fradulent tickets and being turned away at the gates. We purchased our Disney tickets through Disney and Universal tickets through Undercover Tourist. I ran the numbers and chose the least expensive options. We spent four days at Disney and one at Universal, and then added the Park Hopper and Memory Maker at Disney and Park-to-Park at Universal.
PRO TIP: If you stay off property, spring for the additional cost of Magic Bands. You’ll thank me later. I ordered ours directly through the Disney store.

10. Buy Magic Bands (if you’re staying off property). These hold all your FastPass+ and meal reservations, as well as Memory Maker, if you purchased it. Those that stay on property also use it as their credit card. It’s highly convenient and all managed on the MyDisneyExperience app. You can report it lost or stolen, link all the family members together and make new reservations with it. And, it’s waterproof. Because I placed the order for them all, I was able to link everyone together (very important to do before you leave!), thus connecting all those FP+, meals and Memory Maker. It also meant I could schedule FP+ for everyone in our group which came in super handy, both online and at the park FP+ kiosks.
PRO TIP: We chose a different color band for each family unit (yellow for my parents, blue for us and red for my brother’s crew) and then added Fantasy Band stickers to designate each family member. That kept us all straight!

Planning a family vacation to Disney and Universal Orlando? This step-by-step post is full of ideas for touring plans, Disney themed clothes, snacks, character autograph books, packing suggestions, pin trading, Fast Pass information, photo suggestions and more! Take away the stress of planning and find the joy in planning a magical Disney vacation.

11. Download the MyDisneyExperience and Universal Orlando apps. Go ahead and set up an account and then get lost in the awesomeness of them both. Disney’s is definitely superior to Universal, but both are extraordinary tools to have. If you purchased Magic Bands, make sure all the adults with a smart phone have a MDE account. You’ll want to “invite” those people to link their accounts so they can see all the reservations. We had a small glitch with two of ours, but a quick phone call to Disney solved it. I was grateful we did that prior to our trip and not during it!
PRO TIP: Bring an external charger or a boost for your phone. You’ll need it.

mde app

12. Consider booking a family photographer. This was one of those once-in-a-lifetime trips for our family. After researching and looking up professional Disney area photographers we finally landed on Kim, from Portrayable Photography. Her photos were the ones I kept loving on Pinterest so it was no coincidence. She offered lots of venue options and her packages were definitely catered to vacationers. About two weeks after we returned, our private gallery was live and our USB drive of all the photos was in the mail. Our session took place at the Disney Boardwalk area, just adjacent to Epcot. Kim was professional, quick and our photos turned out spectacular. Here’s a favorite from our morning.
PRO TIP: Have two times/dates in mind in case of rain and schedule for the time of day when people are at their happiest. In our case? 8am our first day!

Planning a family vacation to Disney and Universal Orlando? This step-by-step post is full of ideas for touring plans, Disney themed clothes, snacks, character autograph books, packing suggestions, pin trading, Fast Pass information, photo suggestions and more! Take away the stress of planning and find the joy in planning a magical Disney vacation.

13. Book rental vehicles. Because we stayed off property, we needed rental vehicles. With 14 of us, we opted to find a functional, but safe option. The winners? Two 8-passenger minivans. All the adults traveling were all USAA members and USAA offered a super competitive rate (think 1/2 the advertised one!). Many of the rental companies don’t advertise 8-passenger minivans and try to encourage you to rent an SUV. But, those come with added sticker shock. I reserved our vans directly through USAA and confirmed the 8-person capacity. They were fantastic!
PRO TIP: Don’t buy into the sales pitch when you pick up your rentals, rather stick with what you reserved.

14. Reserve strollers and scooters. I have an awesome sauce stroller at home, but it’s just a single. Because I knew we’d do some serious walking (we averaged 10 miles a day!), we opted to rent double strollers while in the parks to accommodate Gianna and Luke. Disney does have hard plastic strollers for rent (um, no thank you), but I was fully aware that baby Gianna would be sleeping her way through Disney. We got two double BOB strollers through Kingdom Strollers. They delivered and picked them up right from our rental home. I can’t recommend them enough. The only time we had to collapse the strollers was when we bussed from Animal Kingdom to Hollywood Studios. They popped right on the monorails with no problem. My mom has a bum knee and while she can walk some distances, we knew that 45-50 miles of walking in a week she could not do, so we rented a scooter from Buena Vista Scooter Rentals. They offered us a discount if we picked up and returned the scooter at their warehouse, which we did. Again, it was an excellent transportation mode for her and very easy to maneuver on both the monorail and bus system. It folded down for storage in our rental minivan, too.
PRO TIP: Ask for the rain covers (ours were free) and put something on your stroller to designate it from the sea of wheels! We used bandanas and they were perfect.

Planning a family vacation to Disney and Universal Orlando? This step-by-step post is full of ideas for touring plans, Disney themed clothes, snacks, character autograph books, packing suggestions, pin trading, Fast Pass information, photo suggestions and more! Take away the stress of planning and find the joy in planning a magical Disney vacation.

15. Order groceries. Because we stayed off property and we knew that eating out at every meal would be crazy expensive for 14 people, we ordered groceries through GardenGrocer.com. Yes, we looked into the Disney Dining plan and while it can be a real steal for some families, it was definitely not cost-effective for us. Another reason we chose an off-property site. It did take some meal planning prior to our arrival, but about 50 days out, we had the menu set and I made my list. The longest part was shopping the site for all that food! They had most everything we needed, but we did make one quick grocery run the night we arrived. I was super impressed with their punctuality (they called while we were loading the vans at the airport!) and pulled up to our house just minutes before we did. My only beef? I ordered two bunches of bananas, or so I thought. They saw “two” and gave me two bananas. Who does that?!
PRO TIP: Order slightly less food than what you think you’ll need. We had to throw out a handful of things and repack a few more to bring home. All in all, though, not bad.

16. To match or not to match? Choose your wardrobe. For us, it was a logistics issue. Having people dressed in similar clothing helped keep the masses together. That may not be your bag ‘o tricks. Whether you choose to match or not, you’re still going to want to bust out the Disney clothes. There are SO many cute ones to choose from on Etsy, and elsewhere. I think that was my most favorite part of planning! Besides keeping everyone together, it also meant no fights over clothes. Hip hip hooray, I say. You’ll be hearing much, much more about our Disney fashion, so stay tuned.
PRO TIP: If you choose not to match clothing, consider designating a color for each day.

Planning a family vacation to Disney and Universal Orlando? This step-by-step post is full of ideas for touring plans, Disney themed clothes, snacks, character autograph books, packing suggestions, pin trading, Fast Pass information, photo suggestions and more! Take away the stress of planning and find the joy in planning a magical Disney vacation.

17. Make Fast Pass (FP+) reservations. If you stay on property, your window begins 60 days out, off property is 30 days prior. What is Fast Pass? Go here for the full 411. It will save your vacation, y’all. I set my alarm for midnight when our 30-day window opened and you can bet your bottom dollar I was securing those as soon as possible. While I never could get FP+ for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (don’t worry, you probably won’t either), we snagged one to everything else we had on our wish list. I did get one for Elsa and Anna, but we ended up not using it because of a timing issue. Rest assured, my niece did get to see them. If you need a laugh, read my brother’s honest account of how that morning when down.
PRO TIP: If you park hop, you can only make advance FP+ reservations for ONE park. The day we  hopped, I reserved FP+ for our second park, knowing that we would be arriving early to our first park. It worked beautifully. Also, you can obtain one additional FP+, at the parks, but only after you’ve used your first three. But keep in mind, if you’re scheduling that fourth FP+ mid-afternoon, your choices may be limited since it’s later in the day.

18. Load up on souvenirs BEFORE you leave. My mom and I hit the Dollar Store a few weeks before we left and stocked up on all sorts of goodies (this post has some great tips). Each evening, we laid out a little clue and some fun bits and bobs for each day. It really helped to curb the souvenir wannas and it gave the kids something to look forward to each morning.

Planning a family vacation to Disney and Universal Orlando? This step-by-step post is full of ideas for touring plans, Disney themed clothes, snacks, character autograph books, packing suggestions, pin trading, Fast Pass information, photo suggestions and more! Take away the stress of planning and find the joy in planning a magical Disney vacation.

19. Give pin trading a try. On a whim, I decided to look into the much-hyped pin trading. Turns out, all the kids adored it. Rather than shell out some serious bucks for pins at the parks (they go for $25-30 for 5!), I ordered ours on Ebay and then bought colored fabric lanyards for the kids to wear. The kids all started with ten pins and ended up trading most of them away with cast members for some great ones in exchange! It was a great activity to do when we had downtime or were simply walking from one attraction to the next.
PRO TIP: Be sure to teach your kids proper pin etiquette. Their kind manners may just land them extra pins while trading!

Planning a family vacation to Disney and Universal Orlando? This step-by-step post is full of ideas for touring plans, Disney themed clothes, snacks, character autograph books, packing suggestions, pin trading, Fast Pass information, photo suggestions and more! Take away the stress of planning and find the joy in planning a magical Disney vacation.

20. Order snacks via Amazon Prime. Rather than lug snacks in our suitcase, I employed my Amazon Prime account and ordered snacks to be delivered straight to our vacation home (you can do the same at your hotel). They were sitting on our porch when we arrived! Each morning, we filled our bags with snacks and that kept our kids fed and happy while we toured the parks. On 2-3 occasions we bought ice cream in the parks, but for the most part, these really saved us.
PRO TIP: Choose individually wrapped snacks so you don’t have to do the sorting when you arrive.

*BONUS* Don’t forget the details. You’ve heard me say it before, but the love is in the details. The amount of fun I had choosing things like personalized water bottles, “I’m lost” tattoos, dollar store purchases, autograph books and the like, was immeasurable. It was my way of saying ‘thanks’ to mom and dad for their generous gift.

If you made it this far, consider this my virtual Texas hug!

All the Links
Vacation Rental Homes: Home Away
Credit Card: Visa Disney Rewards Card
Touring schedules: Touring Plans
Official Disney Site/Tickets: Disney
Insider Tips/Tickets: Undercover Tourist
The Disney Store: Disney Store
Magic Band Stickers: Fantasy Bands
Family Photographer: Portrayable Photography
Stroller Rental: Kingdom Strollers
Scooter/ECVs: Buena Vista Scooter Rentals
Grocery Delivery: Garden Grocer
Personalized Shirts: Celebration Shirts (use “TEAMWHITAKER” for 10% off)
Trading Pins: Ebay
Fabric Lanyards: Creations by Arlene
Pin Trading Etiquette: Couponing to Disney

This post may contain affiliate links!

48 Comments

  1. Carmen Fenton on May 26, 2015 at 9:01 am

    Whoa. I am so glad you’re doing a rundown. We are going on the disney cruise next year, but I’m saving up for our disney vaca in 2017. Which sounds ridiculous, but you can never be too prepared right?

    • Kathryn on May 26, 2015 at 2:38 pm

      With as expensive as Disney is, you’re smart!

  2. Angela F on May 26, 2015 at 9:11 am

    Great post! Hoping to go to Disney in the next year or two. Can’t wait to read the rest of the series!

  3. Nicole on May 26, 2015 at 9:13 am

    SO excited for your series! There are all too many Disney sites, which makes me glaze over after 20 minutes trying to figure out what is reputable, a scam, etc. I haven’t heard of fantasy band stickers, but they sound really fun. And Touring Plans may be my best friend coming up. I love the idea of matching attire, but not sure we can convince the male parts of the family to cooperate. We shall see. And I didn’t know about hiring a photographer. What an excellent idea! We are a once-in-a-lifetime kind of family for our Disney trip later this year, so that may be on my list… Like you suggest, I will need to add the must haves (Memory Maker) and balance those out with the nice-to-haves.

    Can’t wait to keep reading!

    • Kathryn on May 26, 2015 at 2:37 pm

      I know, Disney coma is easy to induce these days. Touring plans really is awesome. I wasn’t so sure about the clothes either (neither was my brother), but the males jumped on board easier than I thought. It really only took one day in the parks to realize it *really* helps to have everyone in the same color, at the very least. More to come on all that tomorrow!

  4. Jennifer on May 26, 2015 at 9:16 am

    We’ve done several large family trips to Disney, the last one with 15 people (3 families). Your advice is spot on, Kathryn. Especially the rental house, with it’s kitchen for cooking our own meals and the pool right outside the back door. Looking forward to the rest of your posts!

  5. Amy on May 26, 2015 at 9:59 am

    As someone who lives a 1/2 hour from WDW and is an Annual Passholder, I just had to tell you what a great post this is – I expect this, and the entire series, will be great help to those planning their vacations. I look forward to reading more about your adventures.

    I’m also super stoked because I’d never heard of a couple things you mentioned (aka the Fantasy Bands stickers) and am definitely going to check them out. I have way too many boring Magic Bands so it’ll be nice to dress them up a bit.

    • Kathryn on May 26, 2015 at 2:35 pm

      What a compliment! Yes, the Fantasy Bands were super fun. More on those to come!

  6. Verdina on May 26, 2015 at 10:02 am

    Kathryn, you just never cease to amaze me! Even though you tell us How You Do It, I can’t wrap my mind around your creativity and energy. You rock!

  7. Audrey on May 26, 2015 at 10:13 am

    Hi Kathryn, I’m in the midst of planning my 17th trip to Disney right now for our vacation in late August. I’m usually that friend that helps other plan their vacations and get organized beforehand. I’m SO impressed with all that you learned in such a short amount of time! It’s taken me years to learn many of the same tips. The wealth of the internet certainly helps now vs. when I was a kid and the options were few. I’m so looking forward to your blog series and I’m taking notes! There is always something new to be learned about Disney and every vacation is unique.

    • Kathryn on May 26, 2015 at 2:34 pm

      I definitely had my share of late nights. But I really loved it all. Disney is such an awesome place.

  8. Natalie on May 26, 2015 at 10:52 am

    Wow! I had no idea that there is so much to know about planning a Disney trip. The last time I went was probably about 17 years ago as a high school student. My kids are still little (6, 4 and 8 months) but the oldest is starting to hear rumors of this wonderful place called Disney. I’d better start thinking about this… Thanks for all the practical advice!

    • Kathryn on May 26, 2015 at 2:33 pm

      Natalie, I was shocked, too. The last time we went to Disney, we went for the day and that was back in 2003 when we only had one child, age 2! Sooo much has changed. With the advent of the internet and the wealth of instant information via social media, the face of WDW has really changed.

  9. SL Hansen on May 26, 2015 at 2:25 pm

    Good gravy! This is definitely the end-all, be-all of Disney advice. If we ever had the money to go (and I’m sure we never will), I’d come here for advice.

    Lemme know if you ever go to Rome. I hope & pray I
    could use tips for that someday!

    • Kathryn on May 26, 2015 at 2:32 pm

      Been to Rome three times! Maybe I should blog about that…:)

      • Claire in the UK on May 26, 2015 at 4:05 pm

        Amazing blog….all the detail. WOW! Thank you.
        Yes please please do some blogs about Rome as I’m far more likely to go there since my daughter has never shown any interest in going to Disneyland Paris and now she’s 11 I think I’ve missed my window of opportunity!

        • Kathryn on May 29, 2015 at 2:58 pm

          Rome has my heart. I really should blog about that place.

  10. Madeline on May 26, 2015 at 3:45 pm

    Love Disney!! Planning our first family trip (we’ve only gone as adults) for 2017.Great post!

  11. […] 1: HDYDI – Plan a Multi-Generational Disney Vacation Day 2: What We Wore to Disney (this post!) Day 3: EPCOT Day 4: Magic Kingdom Day 5: Universal […]

  12. Susan on May 27, 2015 at 9:27 am

    We have never, ever discussed Walt Disney World as a vacation option (maybe because we have zero Disney princesses in this house!), but after reading your post, I think it could be a really fun option for our family. Plus, there’s a great marathon there in January that I’ve always wanted to run. Looking forward to reading the rest of your posts! 🙂

    • Kathryn on May 29, 2015 at 2:57 pm

      I’ve heard tons about that marathon – it sounds like an awesome one. If you ever want to run it, holler, because I’ve got a good friend in Indy who has run it a few times. She loves it! And, my boys really got into Disney. They tolerated the princesses but honestly, Disney was much more than that. I think it *can* be about the girly side, but we had our fair share of adventure, too. One of the greatest weeks we’ve ever spent as a family, for sure.

  13. jodi on May 27, 2015 at 10:01 am

    GREAT post and series! Hoping to take the crew next year and now, it will be so much easier because you did all the work! looking forward to reading more.

    • Kathryn on May 29, 2015 at 2:55 pm

      Yay!!

  14. Elizabeth on May 27, 2015 at 12:51 pm

    I grew up an hour from Disney back when it was no-big-deal. I was getting overwhelmed thinking about a trip with all the “new” bells and whistles. We are planning a surprise trip in 2017 and had no idea where to start. Thank you thank you thank you! Can’t wait to read the rest!

    • Kathryn on May 29, 2015 at 2:55 pm

      I thought it hadn’t changed much since our last visit in 2003 – boy, was I wrong. I was feeling overwhelmed, too, and I’m so glad I took the time to write this all down so it can help someone else!

  15. Katie on May 27, 2015 at 2:57 pm

    From one Disney fan and large family momma to another, I have to just say “WOW!!!!”. I’ve been wanting to write up on all our Disney trips and tips and I just can’t seem to get it done. We got back a few weeks ago from yet another amazing vacation to see the mouse. It’s such a blessing to have been there multiple times! Can’t wait to read the rest of your posts. (Do you mind if I link these posts on my blog on my very-lame-attempt-to-blog-about-our-Disney-trips page? I’ll just refer everyone to your amazing blog!) Keep up the good work!! 🙂

    • Kathryn on May 29, 2015 at 2:53 pm

      Link away!

  16. EPCOT: A Mom's Guide - Team Whitaker on May 28, 2015 at 7:40 am

    […] 1: HDYDI – Plan a Multi-Generational Disney Vacation Day 2: What We Wore to Disney  Day 3: EPCOT (this post!) Day 4: Magic Kingdom Day 5: Universal […]

  17. LeAnna on May 29, 2015 at 1:33 am

    This is a great post! Once in a blue moon my parents like to do an epic family vacation and you’ve given me some great ideas (ordering groceries!!) that will help with the efficiency and practicality of some of our plans next time around. And now I really want to head back to Disney!!

    • Kathryn on May 29, 2015 at 2:49 pm

      The pre-order of groceries ended up being great – and if you do it early they often give you a discount, too!

  18. […] 1: HDYDI – Plan a Multi-Generational Disney Vacation Day 2: What We Wore to Disney  Day 3: EPCOT: A Mom’s Guide  Day 4: Magic Kingdom (this […]

  19. […] 1: HDYDI – Plan a Multi-Generational Disney Vacation Day 2: What We Wore to Disney  Day 3: EPCOT: A Mom’s Guide  Day 4: Magic Kingdom Day 5: […]

  20. […] 1: HDYDI – Plan a Multi-Generational Disney Vacation Day 2: What We Wore to Disney  Day 3: EPCOT: A Mom’s Guide  Day 4: Magic Kingdom Day 5: […]

  21. […] 1: HDYDI – Plan a Multi-Generational Disney Vacation Day 2: What We Wore to Disney  Day 3: EPCOT: A Mom’s Guide  Day 4: Magic Kingdom Day 5: […]

  22. Nicole on June 5, 2015 at 2:43 pm

    Love, love, love reading all about your trip. So glad I got to play a *small* part in helping you plan… I so love Disney, and knew I could live vicariously through you! And for all the tips and tricks I’ve learned, you’ve taught me a new thing or two or ten… LOVE the fantasy band stickers, the t-shirts, booking a professional photog. Hooray for a magical vacation!

    • Kathryn on June 5, 2015 at 5:08 pm

      Don’t you kid yourself. Your small part was HUGE!!

  23. […] 1: HDYDI – Plan a Multi-Generational Disney Vacation Day 2: What We Wore to Disney  Day 3: EPCOT: A Mom’s Guide  Day 4: Magic Kingdom: Plan a […]

  24. […] 1: HDYDI: Plan a Multi-Generational Disney Vacation Day 2: What We Wore to Disney  Day 3: EPCOT: A Mom’s Guide  Day 4: Magic Kingdom: Plan a […]

  25. […] 1: HDYDI – Plan a Multi-Generational Disney Vacation Day 2: What We Wore to Disney  Day 3: EPCOT: A Mom’s Guide  Day 4: Magic Kingdom: Plan a […]

  26. kathy white on June 18, 2015 at 1:00 pm

    thinking about things to do/bring while standing in line. “standing on one foot contest” will only last for so long before they get bored with that. I’m thinking bubbles, maybe sidewalk chalk…did you do anything to entertain while standing in line? or were there very long lines? I’m remembering six flags growing up…and standing in line for 45 minutes at a time for a 2 minute ride. Thank you!

    • Kathryn on August 7, 2015 at 1:14 am

      The longest line we waited in was about 20 minutes – so not too terrible. We had a great stash of Twizzlers that we busted out a few times and we had cards on hand, but never used them. I did get some great advice about bringing those two things, along with some pipe cleaners and bubbles. I wouldn’t bring sidewalk chalk with as beautiful as Disney is, though! I think the key to waiting is fully utilizing your FP+ and getting to the parks when they open. Happy traveling!

  27. Melanie on April 28, 2016 at 1:05 pm

    Hi – Did you use any good old books to help plan your trip? Like the Unofficial Guide or Foromers? My mom isn’t all that great with websites, and isn’t on Pintrest. Any recommendations for those who want a book?
    So excited to start planning our trip.
    Melanie

    • Kathryn on April 30, 2016 at 9:58 pm

      I didn’t, but I have heard great things about the Unofficial Guide. Happy planning; I hope you have a blast!

  28. Jennel on May 25, 2016 at 12:22 pm

    Hi Kathryn, thank you so much for your fabulous posts! Our family recently decided a yes to wdw for this December, which means lots of research going on in the past few weeks. This by far has been the best, most resourceful page of info! I love how you shared your family’s experience, alongside best tips. We’ve decided to stay off property as well, but traveling from Hawaii, waiting on better rates for airfare. Going to check out your suggestion on home rental. Thank you again! What a blessing you have been ?

    • Kathryn on May 25, 2016 at 10:46 pm

      Oh that makes me SO HAPPY!! Le sigh, someday life will bring us to Hawaii and when it does I’ll be calling YOU!

      • Jennel on May 26, 2016 at 1:41 pm

        Most definitely! Thank you again!

  29. […] our luggage and headed straight to Animal Kingdom. I loosely used all my planning tricks from this family vacation which meant this one was a breeze! We scored a great room rate via Undercover Tourist, too. Oh, […]

  30. Jillian on November 28, 2017 at 6:48 pm

    Thank for a wonderfully concise, yet info rich post! 🙂 I’m taking my family of 5 to Disney World as a surprise – First time for me and 2 of my 3 daughters! – and I’m very excited!

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