Trip with grandparents - your experiences / advice?

SleeplessInTO

Mouseketeer
Joined
Jan 22, 2019
Hi all,

We are tentatively planning a trip February 2021 with myself, hubby, his parents, and our 4 year old daughter to WDW.

We are also thinking of inviting my parents and my brother (adult, single, no kids) on the trip.

Wondering what your experiences have been? I’m anticipating that they’ll all be focused on my 4 year old. Is this a good thing for them? Her? Too much? Is it better to do separate trips for each set of grandparents?

My in laws have not been to Disney before. We have proposed this trip to them and they have accepted with enthusiasm and joy. My parents took my brother when he was a child so they have been once before, a long time ago. They do not know about the tentative plans at this time. Feb 2021 will be the 6th trip for myself, hubby and our child. None of us have vacationed together as a group before.

We will all be flying into Florida MCO airport together and staying on site at the same resort. I plan to book 3 separate studios (or 2 studios and 1 one-bedroom) so we can have some space at night, and we can use Disney transport.

So wise Dis folks - is it a bad idea to add 3 more adults to this trip? Good idea? Am I courting chaos and tears and irreparable family rifts?
I welcome any personal experiences you don’t mind sharing, any suggestions, words of caution, etc.!! Thanks in advance!
 

Figment Mom

DIS Veteran
Joined
May 31, 2014
I guess it depends on everyone's expectations. I'd rather go with a smaller group than a larger one - unless it's the type of situation where everyone is happy doing their own thing then meeting up at certain points on the day. That's just so many people to coordinate.

For example: will you rope drop? Is everyone okay with getting up early on their vacation?
 

2019TripIdeas

Mouseketeer
Joined
Feb 6, 2018
I can only speak from my limited experience but really think thru how they “grandparent”, what their threshold is for noise, crowds etc.

We had a trip planned for Feb 2019 and my parents invited themselves along. It was a terrible idea since they invited themselves for the whole week and assumed we’d want them there for all of it (they hate crowds and noise, get annoyed with children, and are happiest sipping wine all day by a pool). We cancelled that trip and “replanned” a trip for the same time this year, knowing they’d only be able to attend for a few of the days. All in all, went off without a hitch. They didn’t even go into the parks, spent about 6 hrs a day with the kids on a few of the days and that was probably their max threshold. I’m so so glad we didn’t do the parks with them because it would’ve been hard on everyone’s tolerance.

If your in-laws and parents are agile, “kid people” or “crowd people” or “ride people”, I’d have less reservation and go for it with everyone. If not, I’d think through logistics around how to do it.

Also and I’m sure you know this but it can be hard to maneuver parks with that many people and a wide age span (bathroom breaks, who is hungry when etc).
 
  • TeacupsForever

    My, oh my, what a wonderful day
    Joined
    Mar 27, 2019
    I think it could work out either way; you'd know best depending on how the two sets of families get along. A few thoughts to make it go more smoothly, whatever you decide:

    1. Lay down ground rules about parenting before you go. This includes any basics you normally follow at home, any exceptions to usual rules, and how you want to handle any disputes. For example, if you tell your 4yo she can't have a certain treat/toy, is it ok for the grandparents to swoop in and give it to her, or is that going to be a problem?

    2. Be clear about the goal of the trip. If the goal is for a big 4yo first trip to Disney and the grandparents are all along for the ride to watch her enjoy WDW for the first time, then focus the trip on her wants and needs (without overstimulating her). If the goal is for a family trip where everyone gets to spend time together, then set the expectation that there will probably be splitting up to best accommodate what everyone wants to do.
     

    Calee

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 26, 2016
    This would be pure disaster with our family. We have fine relationship with in laws, great relationships with my family. But what you are describing would never work for the individuals or the dynamic of our families.

    So I think only you can know if it will for yours. I would think very logically and realistically about it, and the worst case scenario for the temperaments and relationships involved. It is easy with a trip like this to imagine all smiles and unicorns and rainbows. The crowds, stimulation, money spent, noise, etc. Etc. Can bring the negatives out of everyone, including kids, so be realistic as you think it through.
     

    LongLiveRafiki

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 8, 2017
    My first question would be: How well do your parents and in-laws know each other? Do they get along well? If they haven't spent a lot of time together, I'd be a little hesitant going on a trip with all of them at the same time. Also, how easy going, go with the flow is everybody? Do you think everyone will be happy to just be there "along for the ride" so to speak, or do you think there may be competition issues among each set of grandparents or hard feelings in any way? For instance, if you were planning on hitting rope drop, would both sets of grandparents be willing and able to do the same/would there be hard feelings if one set preferred to sleep in and felt like the other set got more time with the grandkid?

    Some familial relations are great with extended family trips and really are just there to enjoy the time together. Others can be more difficult. We travelled with just my mom (so only one grandparent) and ran into some issues mainly because she insisted throughout the planning that she was "just along for the ride" and don't care what we did, but then felt when we got there that we didn't consider her feelings about any aspect of the trip.

    Looking back, I really should have anticipated a lot of the issues we had as she can be difficult outside of vacations, but I really did take her at her word that she didn't care what we planned. I DID try to plan lots of things she would enjoy, but her idea of what the trip was going to be like just didn't match what I had planned and it left some hard feelings. She had gone on to Disney with me many years before (without DH and kids and before FP+) and thought that this trip was going to be a reunion of sorts and exactly like the first one. She didn't understand why we had to go to x ride now instead of later, why we refused to wait in an hour standby line with 2 young kids or why we couldn't change our ADR for CRT to 2 hours from now when she'd be more hungry. She got upset when the kids wanted to ride rides with us rather than in the row with her. It was their first trip too and they were nervous riding a couple of things, so I didn't want to tell the kids they couldn't ride next to us when they asked. There were a lot more issues, but it all basically fell into the category of us planning the trip for the kids and her expecting things to be different (despite refusing to give any input whatsoever on the planning).

    Overall, I don't think anyone can tell you how your trip will turn out or whether you should invite both sets of grandparents or not. Many families travel with extended family and have great trips. This was just my experience. A lot really depends on the individuals involved. Had that trip been with my MIL, I don't think we would have had any of the issues we did.
     

    Itsnotmykitchen

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jul 2, 2018
    I think it really depends how well or how much your parents and in-laws interact/get along. Just looking at my own extended family, I know couples where this would be absolutely fine and others a complete disaster and none of them have poor relationships just very different personalities and ways of doing things.
     
  • Joyful2018

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Feb 5, 2018
    we did this for my sons 3rd birthday. i planned it to travel there with my inlaws, on day 3 my parents came, day 5 my inlaws left and then we had 2 more days with just my parents. my inlaws had never been to disney and i tried (and failed) but be their tour guide. they had never been to a theme park and are not very active people and each day they were there they would bow out on more and more plans. so when they left it was much easier for me cause my parents are more active. this was my parents 2nd trip (they took us kids once when were were young) and i know they were assuming their last trip (they have many other places they want to travel) so they took advantage and really had fun (they stayed later at the parks than we did!) PLEASE take in to consideration how each of your parents travel. and which would be better suited to your preferred way to travel. i would take my parents again in a heartbeat, they are helpful with my kids and would truly enjoy themselves. but we have never traveled again with my inlaws :sad2:

    the other main issue we had was being on time. my family is always on time my inlaws are not!!
     
    Last edited:

    Boopuff

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 27, 2015
    We traveled several times with my parents. (we have 2 girls) I planned out all the ADR ahead of time. Everyone met up for the one meal a day. My parents were fine heading out on their own most days. A few days they stayed with us, but we weren't traveling at a break-neck pace anyway. The one awesome thing was my folks were done after dinner. And they volunteered to take the girls and get them ready for bed - so DH and I headed back to the parks for some latenight fun!
     

    tinkerjo

    Crazy Disney nut
    Joined
    Nov 25, 2005
    We have gone on many extended family trips. I would recommend the 3 families splitting up for most of the day. We get together for dinners and a few rides during the day. Maybe let your daughter have a day or period of time with each set of grandparents. This will make everyone happy. Think date night or a chance to ride some larger rides DD can’t go on. I think as long as you all sit and talk about the expectations beforehand that it will go smoothly. Have a plan and make sure everyone I see on board. When we went with DS, DIL and 2 babies (2 and 6 mo) it was a disaster. It was an extended family trip and DH and I were expected to watch the kids while they rode and they through a fit when we took the kids on Pooh while they rode 7DMT. (5 minute wait, why not?!) but they wanted to be the first to take them on it I guess.
     

    Krystal659

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Nov 25, 2018
    I would say managing expectations is key here. We have traveled with my parents and my grandmother twice to WDW. All three are physically active and knew what they were signing on for in terms of walking, etc. The one place we run into trouble each time is meals. My son is extremely picky, and all the adults attempt to take his needs into account. However, none of the adults eat the same types food or at the same time of day. However, all parties want to stay together since we do not live near one another.....here is where the trouble begins...…"I don't care where we eat"..."you pick".....{child's name}"what do you want". I make all the FPs and ADRs but there is no planning for five adults walking in a circle and my tolerance for such is extremely low. So, with low expectations, you can have a great trip. If you expect everyone to be extremely happy, helpful, etc. 100% of the time, you may run into trouble.

    Enjoy the trip, it really can turn out to be magical.
     
    Last edited:
  • Rory607

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Sep 10, 2016
    I’ll echo what others have said...it really depends on your family and you know them best. We’ve done three separate Disney trips with three sets of grandparents. Everyone together would never work for us! Just too many varying personalities and dynamics.

    Trip 1: When we took my mom it was fine for a few days, but got to be too much for her by the end of the week. Except she wouldn’t admit it was too much and she was just in a terrible mood. Not fun.
    Trip 2: My in-laws can be quite annoying, didn’t really understand fast passes and the planning. They were at least willing to do their own thing sometimes and we all got a break from each other.
    Trip 3: My dad was by far the easiest to travel with and we all had a great time. He was willing to do anything the kids wanted and tried to make the trip as enjoyable as possible for us. He’s also in the best physical shape of the grandparents and could go all day at the parks.

    I think managing everyone’s expectations is key. And don’t try to keep everyone together. It’s too much togetherness! Be honest and upfront about this beforehand so people don’t get their feelings hurt. When we traveled with my in-laws and other extended family we did one sit down meal a day. We let each family group or couple pick one restaurant. That worked well. We did some rides together, but tended to split off in the afternoon and meet back up for dinner. And discuss souvenirs before you go! If you don’t want them buying your daughter lots of stuff, tell them.
     

    jo-jo

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 28, 2011
    As a grandparent, if I was going to disney, I'd want to be able to go on rides with my grandchild. If both sets are going, will there be issues of who got to go on more rides? Will you need to keep count like grandma went on PP with Tommy, so mom-mom gets to go on Dumbo with him and then pop pop goes on Buzz and grandpa does the speed way.

    The one family who did a few days with one set, a day or two overlap, and a few days with other set, to me is ideal.
     

    sponica

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Oct 16, 2017
    I could never mix extended family like that. It would be a recipe for disaster. I'm not sure the dynamics/personalities would mesh well.

    I went with my in-laws, there were positives (we got to have a date night) but my MIL also had a huge temper tantrum at dinner the first night that made the night awkward and the next day awkward.

    We will never ever do Disney with them again, or if we do, we would do it very differently. In hindsight I would say don't go to Disney with someone you've never traveled with...
     

    unrequited23

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    May 26, 2015
    We invited both sets of grandparents for our kids first trip and it was not an experience I would repeat. There were too many personality and traveling differences for it go smoothly. Plus it was like herding cats to keep a group of 8 together...ironically the grownups were more likely to wander off than the kids. If you have your heart set on this, I would have one set of grandparents come for the first part of the trip and the other come for the second part.
     

    elaine amj

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 26, 2012
    Unless both sides get along extremely well together, I wouldn't bring both. That's just asking for trouble. Plan a separate trip for the other set of grandparents.

    6 years ago I took my Dad with us to Disney. I was excited but a little nervous as the last time I went on a vacation with him was 20 years before that when he took me to WDW at 14 :) I had not spent extended time with him other than day trips since then so was a bit worried how we would all do together.

    It went amazing. He did everything and loved it and kept going after DH and teen DS quit for the night lol.

    I did have to accommodate a little. My dad was in his sixties so we kept things at a strolling pace. He also liked shopping so I always slowed down when he wanted to look at stuff. He also liked buying stuff for us but preferred to surprise us so I always made sure to allow plenty of time for him to browse.

    I didn't want to stress him out too much with the details of FPs and rope drops but was delighted to find he was happy to wake up at 5am to make it for 6am rope drop (it was Christmas week). THEN - I did clamp down hard on my tongue when he decided to play video games with DS after Space Mountain at 7:30am (precious morning hours!!). After that, he wanted a morning snack so we had to look for that and then stop to eat. I gritted my teeth so hard and smiled extra wide haha. Then we all hung out in the (longer) BTMR line together and I cherished every second of having my father with us at Disney :) I will say he was awesome at walking with a purpose when we had to make it to a FP or whatever.

    He had so much fun he joined us again 3 years ago, this time with my brother and his family too. It was magical. But definitely took a LOT more planning for me to manage so many people.
     

    Bethany loveless

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Feb 11, 2020
    Hi all,

    We are tentatively planning a trip February 2021 with myself, hubby, his parents, and our 4 year old daughter to WDW.

    We are also thinking of inviting my parents and my brother (adult, single, no kids) on the trip.

    Wondering what your experiences have been? I’m anticipating that they’ll all be focused on my 4 year old. Is this a good thing for them? Her? Too much? Is it better to do separate trips for each set of grandparents?

    My in laws have not been to Disney before. We have proposed this trip to them and they have accepted with enthusiasm and joy. My parents took my brother when he was a child so they have been once before, a long time ago. They do not know about the tentative plans at this time. Feb 2021 will be the 6th trip for myself, hubby and our child. None of us have vacationed together as a group before.

    We will all be flying into Florida MCO airport together and staying on site at the same resort. I plan to book 3 separate studios (or 2 studios and 1 one-bedroom) so we can have some space at night, and we can use Disney transport.

    So wise Dis folks - is it a bad idea to add 3 more adults to this trip? Good idea? Am I courting chaos and tears and irreparable family rifts?
    I welcome any personal experiences you don’t mind sharing, any suggestions, words of caution, etc.!! Thanks in advance!
    We went years ago as a party of 10. Only two of which were kids. I'd say you have to be okay with the groups splitting up at points as long as there's planned rally times for the group to be together. as long as the expectations are clear that not everyone's going to be together all the time hopefully feelings won't get hurt. I hosted a Disney planning session at my house where I had all sorts of information available like the crowd calendars for each of the parks, the extra magic hours and information on character dining and specialty dining etc. we called it a Disney brunch planning party I gave everybody princess pencils and everything. Out of that we had a rough plan of which parks we wanted to hit on which days and what character meals and other experiences we were going to come together as a group for. I say the more the merrier.
     

    SleeplessInTO

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jan 22, 2019
    Thank you everyone for sharing your experiences and thoughts. I appreciate it and I think you’ve helped me avoid a minefield :) After reading through these, I will not be inviting my parents or brother on the trip with us.

    You guys raised some really great points that I hadn’t thought about. I was caught up in the pixie dust. But the normal “frictions” of both travel and family would still be there. And may even be amplified by the expectations and cost of a Disney trip. My in laws and my parents don’t have a lot in common, besides us and wanting to spoil their granddaughter. (She’s the only grandchild on both sides!) I can see them all wanting to spend as much time with us as possible, and keeping a mental scorecard of who got to spend more time with the DGD.

    We have never travelled with either set before. And it’s an odd dynamic because they are relative Disney newbies while my 4 year old knows exactly what she wants to do.

    Will turn my thoughts to how to plan a fun, relaxing, once in a lifetime trip for my in laws that works for their expectations and health. :) And learn from this and plan another for my parents at a later time.

    Thank you all again. This is such a great community ❤🙏
     

    dledger

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jan 16, 2011
    You will need to communicate. Like overboard communication - to make sure everyone is on the same page. Are you all early risers? Do you all eat breakfast? Does anyone expect to be together 24/7? How do you tour (rope droppers? Mid day break? Late nights?) these are all details when we went with my parents (so much smaller group) that we really had to hit home with them. It still was far from perfect for us. It’s doable, but just really think about what your day looks like and your vacation as a whole and have each family member do the same and share your ideas to see where there may need to be compromise.
     





    Connect

    Disney News and Updates





    SUBSCRIBE TO OUR DAILY EMAIL
    Subscribe and never miss out on Disney News, Deals and Updates.






    Top