The term “Grand Gathering” can cause a lot of confusion when it comes to your Walt Disney World vacation. There always seems to be confusion about what a Grand Gathering is, how it’s different than a normal reservation and what it entails, so let’s take a look at the basics and some tips to make your next Grand Gathering truly magical.
A “Grand Gathering” is Disney’s term to describe a group of 8 people (or more) traveling together. Any mixture of family and friends (with a total of 8 people) is considered a Grand Gathering.
No, you will not receive discounts for being a “group”. A group, by Disney’s definition is something entirely different and requires a much larger travel party. To be considered a group (and be eligible for exclusive discounts) the reservation requires a minimum of 10 rooms. A group and a Grand Gathering are not the same thing.
There are some differences in the booking process for a Grand Gathering as opposed to a normal reservation. If you are booking directly with Disney, they will direct you to the Grand Gatherings department, which specializes in….you guessed it, Grand Gatherings. The booking process is very much the same, however you’ll be able to give your Gathering a name, and when you call for payments, changes and dining reservations, you will deal with a specialist in the Grand Gathering department. The Grand Gathering department will also be able to assist you in booking adjoining or connecting rooms at your resort (if you wish!). Your travel documents and all the magical extras will remain the same, nothing changes because you are a Grand Gathering.
Keep in mind that many travel agencies that specialize in Disney travel offer booking incentives for Grand Gatherings and may offer you additional perks for booking your Disney Grand Gathering through them. The package price when 8 or more people are traveling is usually higher than your average family, so agencies are able to provide additional promotional items for larger travel parties. This of course, depends on the agency (and the agent) and is by no means a standard in the industry.
Disney does offer something special experiences exclusive for Grand Gatherings. You can choose from several exclusive experiences (each with their own pricing which changes during peak and non-peak travel dates) including: International dinner & Illuminations dessert reception at EPCOT, a safari celebration dinner at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, or a good morning gathering at Tony’s Town Square in the Magic Kingdom. Each event has something different to offer, to see details click here.
So now you know the basics, to make your Grand Gathering worry free, I recommend booking your gathering through a travel agency that specializes in Disney vacations, check out our friends at Pixie Vacations!
Traveling with friends and extended families isn’t always as “grand” as you might expect. There are challenges to every travel party, here are some tips to make sure your gathering is “grand”!
- It’s everyone’s vacation! You must consider the wants and desires of every member in your travel party, it’s their vacation too!
- Everyone has their own ideas of what will make your gathering “grand”. Some people prefer for everyone to stay together all the time, some groups like to break up during the day and meet for dinner, the possibilities are endless so make sure you discuss the plan for your group BEFORE you reach the parks!
- Decide which meals you will be eating together BEFORE you book your dining reservations. Your options can become slightly limited when dining in a larger party, so make sure you know what your top picks for dining are and be flexible with your dining demands so you can accommodate everyone in your party.
- Decide on a meeting place, if your group is going to split up during the day, determine a meeting place and time to gather BEFORE you split up. It’s much easier to say “be at __________ at _______” than to try to meet at the last minute. This eliminates a lot of phone calls, confusion and aggravation when you need to get back to your group.
- Set realistic expectations-remember that traveling in a larger party will inevitably slow down your pace, especially if you’re traveling with small children. When you are making your park plans, set realistic goals for what you want to accomplish and experience.
- Last but not least, remember to pack your patience and leave your temper at home. Being frustrated with your family and arguing won’t make anyone’s trip magical. Be understanding to everyone’s needs and wants and accept that not every family travels the same, have fun learning everyone’s travel style and maybe you can improve your own!
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