Monday, October 5, 2009

Grand Gatherings

So you have decided to take a vacation to Disney; you, your whole family and some close friends are all getting in on the action. Now what? How will you all get rooms together, do you need to stay at the same resorts, how will you manage to keep everything in order. Disney has an antidote to that. Created for groups traveling with 8 or more guests over the age of 3 staying at one of the many WDW resorts, Grand Gatherings makes planning for larger groups, pain wait, Disney makes it enjoyable.
It begins with your own Grand Gatherings group name. I have been fortunate enough to have a name that works quite well with a play on Tink and her pixie dust. Most recently my group was named "A Sprenkle of Pixie Dust". A major concern when traveling in such a Grand Group is keeping everyone happy. Remember you are in Disney World..the happiest place on earth, however that certainly does not mean that 'Grandpa Joe' has to ride Rockin' Roller Coaster ten times to keep up with everyone! A Grand Gathering should be exactly what you want to make it, some groups enjoy spending all of there time together, parks, meals, resorts, and some families like spending time together and having time to themselves. You provide the Gathering, Disney provides the Grand!

Beyond the ease of planning, Disney provides many one of a kind experiences that can only be booked with Grand Gathering groups. My personal favorite experience for a gathering is Animal Kingdom's Safari Celebration Dinner. If your group enjoys being entertained, eating great food and taking in the Wildlife at Disney's Animal Kingdom Park, then this is the excursion for you! It begins with an exclusive tour of Kilimanjaro Safaris(don't forget your camera for this!!!), your group will then dine at Tusker House, an all you can eat African inspired family style dinner...YUM! Of course you will also be greeted by various Disney character's in their safari gear, and your group won't want to miss the exotic wildlife that is brought to the courtyard for your personal viewing!

Not to be outdone Epcot has their own Grand Gathering experience waiting for you. Epcot's International Dinner and Illuminations Dessert Reception is a one of a kind experience that get's the entire family involved in a night of dancing and fun, hosted by Disney's own Autie Roz at Epcot's Odessey location between Test Track and World Showcase. She will entertain guests while you dine buffet style on cuisine from various countries throughout Epcot's World Showcase. During our last gathering Auntie Roz had all of the kids involved in a great song and show, followed by music and dancing for the whole family. After dinner don't forget to get your photos with the characters before heading out to my favorite part of the evening. The dessert reception! Truly, I don't think it get's any better than this. Tables full of various Disney Desserts that you can eat while viewing Illuminations Reflections of Earth. I am a huge fan of both, wow, my heart just skipped a beat thinking of it....that is the magic of Disney...Oh did I mention DESSERT BUFFET!!!
If your group wants a one of a kind breakfast, hop on over to Magic Kingdom where you can book the Grand Gathering's exclusive character breakfast at Tony's Town Square Restaurant. This is a fantastic restaurant right on Main Street and I can't think of a better way to start of a day, Main Street Magic, Disney characters and a great buffet!
Disney also offers some really great options outside of their exclusive gatherings that would be excellent choices for guests traveling in larger groups.
Mr Smee will take guests on a wonderful voyage around Bay Lake, departing from Disney's Contemporary Resort where you will receive various snacks to energize yourself for this pirate inspired voyage. You will be treated to the Electrical Water Pageant and exclusive viewing of Magic Kingdoms Wishes Fireworks. Ahhh relaxing on Bay Lake, listening to Jimminy Cricket narrate the Wishes...don't blink or you will miss Tink flying over the castle. Peter Pan won't miss it, he'll be waiting to greet you at the end of your is a swashbuckling good time for all ages!
Want something more private for your party. Disney offers private cruise options departing from many of their marinas. I was lucky enough to celebrate my daughters birthday on a private pontoon boat.
The look on my daughters face when she saw the boat sitting by the dock at Wilderness Lodge full of balloons and decorations was priceless, the look on our cruise directors face when our three year old tried to drive the boat right off the dock..well, let's just say that was not part of the package and I was lucky enough to not have to pay for any dock repairs!! 'Till this day my daughter still believes that the fireworks that night were specifically for her birthday...I will never tell her any different. You can also book spa packages, fishing excursions, and much much more..really just ask us!!

Have a group of 20 or more, you can even book custom events that might include private dining locations where you can celebrate any type of personal event. Your options are endless.
I have personally traveled to "The World" with several Grand Gatherings including groups with family, friends, grandparents, aunts, uncles, infants, teenagers and everyone in between. I love it, happiness is contagious and the smiles and memories that my own wonderful trips have provided my family and friends is truly immeasurable. Before my first trip with a large group I must confess I was a bit nervous. Honestly, these gatherings provide something for everyone, and I actually love traveling with large groups now...hey the more the merrier right, and since it does not get any merrier than the "Happiest Place on Earth" how can you go wrong? So being armed with all this new info, don't forget to order your custom gathering shirts available through Disney..yes you know you want to, and enjoy the anticipation of embarking on a magical vacation with family and friends. Your friends at WDWtravels will be there to help you every step of the way!

* Excursions require advanced reservations and are not included in your Disney package. Disney Dining Plan can be used to pay for Epcot's International Dinner and Dessert Reception(2 table credits pp), Animal Kingdoms Safari Celebration Dinner(2 table credits pp), and Character breakfast at Tony's Town Square(1 table credit pp)


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