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As you may know, we just took our family of seven kids ages eight months to eleven years old on a trip to California. 

After the first (somewhat disappointing) day at Legoland we decided to be proactive on the two Disney days to make sure that the kids all felt like they were able to do the things or ride the rides that they really wanted.  We found that Legoland wasn’t great for the large family as the older boys felt like it was for younger children.  The two babies couldn’t ride anything and so were in the stroller most of the day which meant that I didn’t really get to ride anything either.  Seth who was four and a half was too short for several rides as well.  These issues are probably unique to the large family but we didn’t expect them and were a bit disappointed.  Here are a few pictures of the fun we had in spite of the challenges at Legoland.

Wanting to get the most out of the remaining days of our vacation, we decided to be intentional about how we spent out time.  We also wanted to know up front what the kids’ expectations were so that we could fulfill them or give them a more realistic picture of what the day would be like.  Unlike Legoland, we had been to Disneyland several times and could better be prepared for how our days would go.  So here is what we did at Disney to get the most out of the time.

First, we had conversations with the older four kids to see what things were important to them (the littles had no idea what to expect and were happy with everything).  We asked about rides, shows, pictures they wanted to take, and where they wanted to have dinner.  As soon as we were in the gates, we would put in for the fast pass or two that the kids really wanted to ride.  The fast passes were incredibly helpful for saving time and making the most of our day.  Getting the the older kids’ rides done first really made for a peaceful day.  They were then able to relax and enjoy the family rides like Peter Pan without worrying about getting to that ride that they just had to ride.  Peter and I took turns taking the older kids (whoever was tall enough and wanted to ride) on the big rides while the other one would focus on doing something fun that the littles wanted to do.  Here are some pictures of what the littles wanted to do.  You can tell that I spent most of my time with them as the baby would need to eat often. 

 

 

 

We would meet back up after an hour or so and plan the next thing.  In some of the between time, we were able to get plenty of fun pictures and attend a Star Wars show…one of my top priorities.  I had tried on our last visit to get some of the kids to participate in the show and they wouldn’t.  This time, I just knew that our little Sethy would jump right in.  And, he and Abby were both chosen to participate.  So, that really made my day.  Here are some pictures of that show.

Coupling this with the envelope system for souvenir money diffused so much of the whining and complaining that could have been part of the day. And, in putting their wants first, we spoke love to them in a way that they could understand.  Which really is what the trip was all about.

How do you make the most of your trips?

Check out my other tips for travel here.