7 Tips for Traveling to Disneyland with a Big Family
This post was most recently updated on May 13th, 2019
Big Family Disney Trip Advice
Just in, Star Wars: Galaxy Edge is opening at Disneyland at the end of May, 2019. Read what you need to do if you want to go and how to go for less.
Planning a trip to The Happiest Place on Earth is always magical. However, when you’re traveling with a big family, it can seem overwhelming. With so many people to keep track of, it’s hard to know where to start. However, there’s no need to worry! I’ve teamed up with my friends at Get Away Today to give you the best tips on how to travel to Disneyland with large groups.
After reading our guide, you’ll be ready to take on the Disneyland Resort with your big family or group! We usually go with our family, grandparents and sometimes cousins.
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Traveling to Disneyland with Big Families
1. Determine Where You’re Staying
When traveling with a group, you’ll want to decide where to stay. This can be tricky, especially with different budgets, opinions, etc. My advice is to stay as close as possible in a hotel that offers suites.
Not only will everyone be able to have the flexibility to come back to the hotel whenever they want (especially those with babies), but you can save BIG when you stay in a property that offers suites. Plus, as a Get Away Today guest, you can save even more with exclusive amenities like free parking, breakfast and even free-nights. Everyone can agree on saving money, right?
Below, are some of my favorite hotels for big families. Hopefully this will help in the planning process! We like hotels that includes breakfast or is close to a McDonald’s which has quick, inexpensive breakfast options like scrambled eggs (by request), pancakes, oatmeal and yogurt parfaits.
Portofino Inn & Suites
The Portofino Inn & Suites is one of my favorite properties to stay at whenever we travel to the Disneyland Resort. Not only do they offer Kid Suites, but it’s only 0.5 miles away from the Disneyland Resort. The Kid Suites offer bunk beds and a sofa sleeper in one room and a king bed in another. The rooms are separated by French doors, which means that you can be with your family, while also having privacy at the same time! Plus, this hotel frequently has 4th night free hotel specials to save you even more.
Staybridge Suites by Holiday Inn
While this hotel is about a mile away from the Disneyland Resort, the Staybridge Suites by Holiday Inn is the perfect place to stay with big groups. They offer a variety of suites, including my favorite, the Two Bedroom Suite. In this suite, you can fit up to eight people. Yes, you read that right! This room type includes one king bed, two double beds, a sofa bed in the living room and two bathrooms. By having multiple families stay in one room, you’ll be able to save hundreds on your hotel stay. Plus, it includes a fully equipped kitchen – perfect for homemade meals while you’re away.
In addition to the spacious rooms, the Staybridge Suites by Holiday Inn also provides a daily breakfast buffet and a sundowner reception on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. These receptions include snacks, drinks and sometimes BBQ’s. Just when you thought it couldn’t get better, this property regularly offers 4th night free deals when you book with Get Away Today. They also book flights for you or give you tips on finding the best prices booking the flight on your own.
Residence Inn at Anaheim Resort Convention Center
The Residence Inn at Anaheim Resort Convention Center is a newer hotel in the Anaheim area and boy, do I love it! This hotel includes a hot breakfast buffet, spacious kids’ suites and is only 0.5 miles away. What more can you ask for? Much like the Staybridge, the Residence Inn at Anaheim Resort Convention Center’s Two Bedroom Kids Suite includes two queen beds, a sofa bed in the living area, bunk beds and two bathrooms. This way, you don’t need to fight over who’s going to get ready in the morning!
2. Buy Tickets in Advance
I’m a true believer in planning ahead, which is why I recommend buying your Disneyland tickets beforehand. Plus, if you book your tickets through Get Away Today, you’re guaranteed to get the BEST price. Once you book, you’ll receive your E-tickets directly to your email. This way, you don’t have to worry about anyone in your group forgetting their tickets at home. Once you arrive at the park, you’ll just take your tickets directly to the ticket turnstiles. It’s as easy as that!
If you’re traveling to Disneyland this spring, make sure to take advantage of Get Away Today’s spring savings ticket special. For travel now – May 23, 2019*, you can save up to $111 per ticket! Traveling to the Disneyland Resort with big families is more affordable than ever before.
3. Do Your Own Thing
Disneyland is filled with magic for people of all ages, so don’t be afraid to split up every once in a while! When traveling with a big family, almost everyone is going to want to do something different. So, while you should take advantage of spending time with your loved ones, be aware that it’s okay to do your own thing.
Discuss your expectations and must do activities or rides and be sure each person gets a say. We let our teenage son go back to the room after the first day and ended up feeling like we shouldn’t have brought him (and we didn’t in subsequent trips). He’s just not that into Disneyland (although we think he’d love the new Star Wars exhibit). Everyone has a different pace – my husband, for example, likes a nap every afternoon. I like to go, go, go!
Need a break from the fun? Take a group to go see Frozen – Live at the Hyperion. Have thrill-seekers? Have them go and ride Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! or the Incredicoaster. This way, everyone can have the vacation they dreamed of.
4. Meet up for Meals
Of course, to counteract splitting up during the day, make sure to meet up for meals. Whether that’s for every meal, or just dinner, it’s important to get the group together. When planning meals, make sure to keep everyone’s budgets in mind. Luckily, there are plenty of quick-service restaurants in both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure that are more affordable and serve larger portions.
However, if you did want to splurge, consider doing a character dining experience with everyone. Not only will you be able to have a buffet-style meal, but you can meet and interact with some of your favorite Disney characters. It’s a win-win for everyone!
If you decide to eat at a sit down restaurant, they get booked up so be sure to make a reservation before you go.
5. Use the Disneyland App
Over the years, Disneyland has improved its app to include a variety of helpful features. So, when traveling with a big group, make sure everyone downloads the app before you travel.
With the app, you can look up maps of both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, character meet and greet spots and features like MaxPass and Mobile Ordering. So, whether your group consists of Disneyland experts or newbies, the Disneyland app will help you navigate wherever you need to go.
Just be sure to bring a portable phone charger because the app can drain your phone battery and you want to have plenty of juice left to capture pictures of your trip!
6. Bring Food & Drinks
Some families like to eat everything at the park but if you’d rather bring your own, go to a Costco or grocery store when you arrive in California. Get lunch items and snacks. There are lockers in the park where you can put your backpacks in while you are riding rides.
Pack lunches and snacks to eat in line or just take a break and sit at a table and eat. You can pack snacks in your pockets or fanny packs to eat while you wait in line for rides.
Guests can bring food or drink into the park as long as they are snack items or pre-made. It’s also good idea to bring water bottles for everyone. I wore a rain jacket with pockets tied around my waist. It had snacks such as and a water bottle in the pockets. If it rains or I want to stay dry on some rides I can put it on really quick.
Even though we eat most meals in the park, sometimes the lines were long and it took longer to agree to a place to eat than I anticipated. Getting our food and finding a place to sit can take a long time too. Everyone starts to get grouchy when they’re hungry and it’s going slow.
So have snacks like nuts, Skinny Pop popcorn we get at Costco in a big bag then divide it up into smaller bags, dried fruit, granola bars and other lightweight and (at least somewhat) healthy on hand to grab fast! I even love to go to the closest convenience store which often carry an orange or bananas. California oranges are the best! Sometimes hotel lobbies have fruit too. In a pinch we’ll do Amazon Prime now and get things like string cheese, portable yogurt and applesauce.
7. Wear Something That Quickly Identifies Your Group
Get into the spirit of Disney by wearing Disney-themed matching shirts or another item like a hat that makes it easy to identify you as part of a group. When a child or someone gets separated from the group, you can more easily describe and identify them in a crowd or from a distance if everyone is wearing matching clothing.
I really like Etsy for finding Disney shirts and some can be customized with your kids or family name.
One last tip – we have a Gizmo watch for our youngest and it’s so helpful. We have it set to auto-answer so that if we get separated we can call our daughter (or she can call us). No matter what you do having a plan and telling everyone where to go if you get lost is a good idea.
As you can see, traveling with a large family doesn’t have to be stressful! After all, going to Disneyland with the ones you love most truly makes it The Happiest Place on Earth.
To book your next Disneyland vacation, visit getawaytoday.com or call 855-GET-AWAY to speak to a travel expert directly. Don’t forget to mention promo code FHF10 for an additional $10 off your hotel and tickets vacation package. Let them know that Newspaper Mom sent you!
*Actual savings vary per ticket and are calculated based on annual park pricing. Largest savings are available during travel value dates January 7 – May 23, 2019, excluding blackout dates of April 14-22, 2019.