Planning a Practically Perfect in Every Way Family Reunion at Disney World

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Disney World specializes in providing entertainment suitable for all age groups, from toddlers right up to grandparents. That’s why it is an excellent destination for family reunions – every single family member whether young or old will find more than one ride, show or exhibit of interest. And for the “foodie,” there’s a wide variety of eateries available in each theme park – cuisine from almost all corners of the world can be tasted.

The Water and Theme Parks

Disney World offers two water parks which, between the two of them, are open year round. Each one closes during certain winter months for refurbishment, while the other one stays open. Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach have different personalities and offer different types of water-based fun, for the swimmer and non-swimmer alike.

The rides in each of these water parks are many and varied. There are family rafting and body flume rides, water slides and wave pools. These are classified into those with “small drops” suitable for small children, and “large drops” for the more adventurous who are also over 48 inches in height.

Typhoon Lagoon is a tropical-themed park, while as the name implies, Blizzard Beach features some colder-themed rides, such as “Melt-Away Bay” which is a wave pool fed by “melting snow.” (The “back story” behind Blizzard Beach is that it is a former ski resort that is “melting away.”)

The four theme parks at Disney World are Magic Kingdom®, Epcot®, Disney’s Hollywood Studios® and Disney’s Animal Kingdom®. Magic Kingdom is the park for all ages. Movie lovers will enjoy the Hollywood Studios Park, while animal lovers will be entranced by Animal Kingdom. Epcot is for those interested in all aspects of technology.

Which Park(s) to See?

Disney World offers a variety of entrance packages to its parks. These are one- to five-day tickets that enable the holder to visit a different theme park each day. Purchasing a multi-day ticket is your most economical way to visit the parks, because the cost of an individual daily ticket goes down considerably, depending on how many days are purchased. For an extra fee, visitors can add the “Park Hopper” option which enables them to visit all four parks on a single day if they wish.

For a family vacation, purchasing the five day ticket is usually the best option. It’s not necessary to get the “Park Hopper” since there’s enough in each park to keep families busy for an entire day.

Tickets for Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach are sold only on a one-day basis, and there is no option to visit any of the theme parks. If there are any golf lovers in the group, consider the “Water Park Fun and More” ticket. Not only can you spend the day zooming down water rides, but you can also play a round of golf at Disney’s Oak Trail Golf Course, or miniature golf at Fantasia Gardens or Winter Summerland.

Planning Your Visit

The logistics for planning a family reunion at Disney World can be quite daunting; depending on how many family members you are trying to get together at the same time. With a little organization, however, it can be accomplished.

Choose a Coordinator

In order to plan the trip efficiently, the family should choose one or two coordinators who will work together to gather information from everyone else in order to find out when the group can travel, where they want to stay -within the parks or within the city of Orlando proper – and which parks they want to visit on each day.

Research Specific Dates

The two coordinators should visit the official Walt Disney World website, as well as a host of other websites devoted to WDW, to find out what special events are being held during certain seasons. The official Disney World site is Disneyworld.disney.go.com.

For example, from September through November there’s a Halloween-themed event at Magic Kingdom, held on selected nights. Everyone comes in costume and goes trick-or-treating. Christmas enthusiasts can visit the park on selected nights from November through December for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.

Note that entrance to these events is an extra cost, over and above the cost to get into the park itself!

Poll Family Members

Once the coordinators have decided if they want the family to visit Disney World during a certain season, or at any time of the year, it’s time to poll every other family member to find out the dates they are free to attend the reunion.

Most families that organize annual or bi-annual reunions always try to have the reunion take place at the same time every year, and that certainly simplifies things. People know in advance when to request time off work to ensure that they can use their vacation days.

Give family members a deadline of when to get their information in to the coordinators, so that plans can come together a timely manner.

Assess the Poll

Once the two coordinators have all the information from the rest of the family, they can compile the dates and decide the best time to visit Disney World that will enable the most people to attend.

Communicate the Results

Coordinators should let the rest of the family know, by email, and request acknowledgement that the email has been received. The dates can then be marked off on calendars!

Decide Where to Stay

When visiting Walt Disney World, it’s possible to stay entirely within the park complex itself. All of the theme parks and the “Downtown Disney Area” have several resorts and camping facilities. Transportation to and from the parks is provided by monorail or other service from each result.

Staying within Disney World itself can be a timesaver, but staying at a hotel, motel or camping grounds within an hour’s drive of the park can be a bit more economical.

Make Reservations

Disney World is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, so while there are plenty of resorts and places to stay, it’s important to make reservations as early in advance as possible.

Pay With a Single Credit Card

As with any type of travel, budgeting and keeping track of expenditures is important. With each family member using a single credit card to pay for their share, it will be easy to go through all daily costs and ensure that payments have been properly recorded.

Memory Maker

Most people going to Disney World will bring their own camera, but this might not be necessary. Disney World offers a package called “Memory Maker” in which professional photographers will take photos of you at selected attractions and restaurants. You can decide if you’d like to have this service while you’re purchasing tickets to the park.

Have Fun

The point of any family reunion is for the family members to bond and have an enjoyable experience. By making plans in advance, people can relax once their vacation begins and just have fun.


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