A visit to Walt Disney World is almost always a wonderful adventure and experience. You can visit as an individual, a couple, a group of peers, or a multi-generational family group. As an individual, communication is not really an issue in that you just do what you want when you want and no one else is affected. As a peer group, you are likely visiting because of a common interest such as the Flower and Garden Festival or the Food and Wine Festival. In these instances the itinerary is often pre determined and group leaders or managers handle any issues that may come up. This leaves the family type visits where communication can be a critical issue.
Traveling as a couple can have pitfalls if there is no communication. In our case, the planning and arrangements are all mine. I do it all – BUT – this planning is not done without several key sit downs to find out what my wife has in mind for special experiences, dining, shopping, etc. We have done this enough to know when these sit downs need to happen such as when I get the least crowded park charts from Tour Guide Mike and the 180 day Advanced Dining Reservations window approaches. Even very early in the planning we sit down to determine our vacation length and time frame as well as our pick of our Disney Resort Hotel for the visit. With both of us having equal input the vacation always goes smoothly. Let’s face it, I have learned that after 33 years of marriage – if she is happy, we are both happy!!!
Multi generational family groups are where issues can really rear their ugly heads. Different generations have different wants and needs and they all need to have input. Everyone needs to feel that they have a part in the planning even if they don’t initially express a desire to participate. Quick Hint – we (Oldies) may not initially show an interest but as the visit approaches the excitement will grow and the more we learn about Walt Disney World the more input we will likely have. There is generally one family member who becomes the planner and the doer. This person is different in each family for different reasons but is normally someone who knows about Disney in general or Walt Disney World in particular whether they have visited there recently or not. This should be the person who initiates the communication among family members. Even if family members are spread out, the age of cell phones and computers has made this not only easier but very inexpensive. Here are some suggestions to begin the input process:
- Make sure everyone has the same information to begin planning. I suggest ordering the Disney planning video for each separate portion of the family group as well as a solid travel guide. For this, I lean towards the Passporter’s Walt Disney World guide book because it is well organized, concise, and easily usable. I buy a new one every year whether we are visiting Walt Disney World or not. The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World is another excellent book and has TONS of information. It is probably best used by more experienced visitors.
- Solicit everyone’s input on a regular basis. Telephone calls and e-mails are especially handy for this. It is the responsibility of the planner/doer to give serious consideration to all suggestions.
- Don’t be afraid to revise your plan and then do it again based on everyone’s input. This may seem like it will be a huge task but as time approaches and people learn more about the upcoming visit things will solidify and you will find that most people really have the same basic interests.
- Once the plan is in place, send copies to all of the family groups for their review and input. You can then revise as necessary.
- THIS ONE IS THE MOST IMPORTANT Make sure that everyone understands that communication doesn’t end when the visit begins. Particularly with us, your family’s Senior members, we may have on site needs that others do not. Our bodies are different in our sixties, seventies, and eighties than they were in our fifties. We may have stamina and/or mobility issues. We may have some difficulties monitoring our medication needs. I think our biggest issue though will be a desire not to have an impact on the visit because of our personal issues or needs. PLEASE make sure your senior family members understand how important it is let someone know!!! Holding back on a potential crisis need is self defeating and can have a negative impact on both health and family relationships. Also, please make sure that the rest of the family members understand that they need to take any issues very seriously and deal with them immediately.
Communication is the key to a successful multi generational visit to Walt Disney World. The communication needs to start in the earliest planning stages and continue throughout the entire visit. Enjoy your visit to Walt Disney World!!
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