Planning for Large Groups? HELP?



Here’s the cast for our FREE DINING and MNSSHP trip:

Me, DH, DS(6) - avid Disney vacationers and, yeah, I’m a little obsessive about planning (but I relax when we arrive)

My sister, BIL and infant niece - they went to WDW on their honeymoon and haven’t been back since. They’re in their mid-20s and pretty much open to whatever.

My parents - late 50s, active - pretty “go with the flow” kind of grandparents – but my dad needs to eat his big meal at lunchtime.

Our friends - late 30s and possibly their teenage son. Never been to WDW.

OK…so, my task…plan this trip! :eek: AND we’re already past the 180 day mark so I’ve got to get some ADRs and SOON. We’ll all be on the dining plan and plan to do most of our sit downs at dinner time. HOWEVER, with my dad’s eating preference (he gets sick if he eats his big meal in the evenings) it’s posing a bit of an issue for me. Here’s my potential solution: Make ADRs for him and my mother at sit-down restaurants for lunch-time and then make ADRs for all of us at dinner time. I’m assuming they can sit with us and not eat without any trouble from the wait staff?

Next issue - ADRs for 10 people plus baby? Do I have to get a Grand Gatherings number?

Places we definitely want to go:
Hoop Dee Doo
Whispering Canyon
LTT (the night of MNSSHP)

Any other fun ideas for big groups? Anyone who’s planned a trip like this that can offer any advice?? I know we’ll have to be flexible and on some occasions may not have all 10 show up for an ADR but I want to have something booked for every night so we’ve got somewhere we can eat without too much of a wait. When we went last year during the free dining there were MANY unhappy wanna-be diners who thought they could walk up to Spoodles or Le Cellier and get a table.

OK…so give me your thoughts/ideas…anything! I need advice & suggestions…and FAST!


Definately look into the grand gathering or at least a magical gathering. I would call for ADR’s ASAP for a gourp that size. Do it quickly before you are not able to get a table anywhere. Remember what happened last year when they did the free dining? No tables to be found! AHHH…ok I’m being drama queen. You have time, but definately call for the ones you want (as listed) now. With a group that size, you are definately going to need to be organized. I highly suggest having a WDW trip meeting and getting some wants, needs and ideas from the group. That way you can plan a little something for everyone.


Keep in mind while making your ADR’s, they may tell you that they cannot book a table for a big group like yours. But what we do is make 2 or 3 reservations for the party and when we check in at the podium, ask to be blended. We’ve NEVER had an issue with this except at Hollywood & Vine this last time. There were 14 of us, the kids (4 of them) had their own table, the adults (6 of us) had a table, but our cousins & 2 kids were given a table right behind us (we were separated by a 1/2 wall) we could see each other and talk, but the kids weren’t able to go back and forth as easily. We always have a party of 12 - 24 of us so you shouldn’t have any problems.


So you make multiple small ADRs instead of using the Magical Gatherings folks to make large ones? Interesting…I’ve emailed “Mickey” and I’m waiting for his suggestions. I may let him handle more this go around than I usually do! :tongue:


We just did 11 people in October and I made reservations for us all at one time. I didn’t use the magical gathering people, I did it myself. What about early dinners say 4:00 PM for your dad? Those are usually easier times to get and less crowded. The only one you will have a problem with them not eating is Hoop De Doo. They will automatically deduct that from your meals just for filling a seat.


I made reservations for between 9-14 depending on the day we were there and some had to be done through “group dining” but they would just transfer. We were able to sit a one big table every time, even though sometimes they had to make the reservation for “two tables.” Just make sure that when you check in to confirm that you would like one table.

And with your dad - he would eat something? I am not sure though about Hoop Dee Doo where it is a show/dinner at one price. And I think you have to pay for this when you reserve. ??

Some places require a credit card and there is a fee if not all of the party shows up. They will tell you this when you reserve - but usually only at places like California Grill, etc.


We’re going to be on the dining plan so we don’t have to pay in advance - but at HDD I think he’ll eat with us anyway so it won’t be a problem. And, yes, you’re right…he’ll eat something with us each evening, but he won’t want to use his sit down credit - but he can just pay out of pocket. It’ll all work out, I’m sure! :slight_smile:


Totally missed the dining plan part Allyson - sorry!

Then great! That actually makes it a little easier on you!

Good luck planning!!


Another thought…if you are ordering apps then your Dad could eat one of the group’s for his “meal” right? Or do you think they’d frown?? Don’t you get an app for each person, plus an entree and dessert? That is a ton of food!!


I agree – I’d think if he ordered a drink (probably an alcoholic one after spending all day in the parks with this crowd) they wouldn’t mind him eating some of the appetizers. I mean, if we all eat together…that’s 9 appetizers (without him ordering one)!!! HOLY MOLY! GREAT idea!

(can I say that, Kip? she didn’t like “keep on trucking”)


I’ll keep a close eye on this thread because I’ll be doing the same thing for our next trip! We’ll have a group of 13, possibly 15! :wacko: I guess since I’m the big Disney lover-I’ll have to do all the planning to get it all right! Good luck Allyson! :flowers: I would think it wouldn’t be too hard to get one ADR for a group that size (if you did it soon) for every day? I don’t know-that’s a hard one!I would at least try that option first and then try the smaller multi ADRs. I didn’t think of that as an alternative (that’s a good idea!).


Yep, that’s what we’ve done. In some cases, when we’ve tried to book as a big group they tell us that they can’t accommodate us OR we have to use a credit card to reserve…whatever the reason, I can’t remember right off…anyhoo, we call and make 2 ADR’s splitting the party in half or 3rd’s and they book it…then when we get there they happily seat us together. (Even if our ressies are a few minutes off from one another i.e. 5:00, 5:10 & 5:20, we’ve not had a problem.) I’m sure with Mickey involved, he’ll get you all set up just perfectly!!!