Sunday, October 4, 2015

Disney: Surprising Your Kids

Making a Surprise Work

There are lots of different ways to surprise your kids with a Disney Trip (and I will get into that), but first lets talk about making the surprise "work".

The only way a surprise will be exciting and "work" is if your kids actually want to go to Disney World. Essentially they have to know what Disney World is and that it would be amazing to get to go there. This is what I like to call "Keeping the Disney Dream Alive" in your home. Your kids should know what Disney World is and it should always seem like a dream come true if your family would be able to go.

How to "Keep the Disney Dream Alive" (I am solely responsible for this in our house):
  • If you have been on past trips this is relatively easy, just reminisce about your past trip, look at pictures/videos from the trip, talk about your trip, etc. And always make it seem like it was a dream that you even went once and it might not be a possibility to ever go again.
  • If you have never been on a trip, your child needs to know what Disney World is in order to be excited about going.
  • This probably seems like a no-brainer, but: Tell them what Disney World is.
  • Watch Disney movies, especially ones that have rides, restaurants and characters themed at the parks (Dumbo, Aladdin, Toy Story, Star Wars, Swiss Family Robinson, Pirates of the Caribbean, Lilo & Stitch, Snow White, The Haunted Mansion, The Lion King, Finding Nemo, Cinderella, Beauty & The Beast, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, The Little Mermaid, Frozen, etc).
  • If your child is young, make sure you watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. When Lily was 17 months for our first trip, her and Mason would talk about how they were going to see where Mickey lived (that trip wasn't a surprise).
  • Order the free Disney planning DVD and watch it with your kids, talk about how amazing and fun it would be to go on a Disney vacation.
  • Listen to Disney music CD's.
  • Watch the Christmas Disney Parade.
  • Record some of the Disney specials on Destination America.
  • You might do a Disney themed special celebration for no reason, like this Frozen themed breakfast I did on a day of a snowstorm.

Now that you know that your kids will definitely be excited about your trip (because you have been Keeping the Disney Dream Alive), it's time to surprise them!

How we Surprised Our Kids

This was the second time we surprised our kids with a Disney Trip. Last time (2009) Lily was 4 and Liam was 1.5, so they were excited, but not as excited as they were this trip.

There are lots of ways to surprise your kids with a Disney Trip. Just tell them (and record it of course), I've seen people do scavenger hunts, have them put together a puzzle, open a box with Disney stuff, etc. If you search the Internet you can find tons of ideas.

Lily had been telling us since the last trip that if we ever went again she wanted it to be a surprise. So, we knew we would be surprising them again. We also liked the idea of surprising them and leaving for the trip right away (similar to what we did in 2009).

Because they were older this time around, keeping it a surprise was a lot harder. I came up with a code word that Chris and I used if we need to talk about something and they were around. We called it WD3 (Walt Disney 3rd time we were going with 3 kids).

My plan for the surprise was to have a box with balloons and some things they would need for the trip and then a letter underneath everything. The letter would explain how there was no Doctor appointment and we were really going to Disney World.

The gifts I included were a spray fan for each of them (this is essential when it's so hot at Disney), a water bottle for each of them (also an essential) and a Bit Belt to hold their Magic Bands on.

Originally I had wanted them to open the box and balloons would fly out, but the only box I had was not big enough for all the balloons. So, I just tied a balloon to each gift pack and they were sticking out of the top, which actually made it more exciting when the doorbell rang and a box with balloons was on the front porch.

That morning Lily went to school as usual and we told her we would be picking her up at 11:30am for a Doctor's appointment.

I dropped Lily off at the bus stop with Liam and Lydia in tow (Chris was sleeping as late as possible because he was going to be doing most of the driving...did I mention we were driving down? We always do....another post on the Disney drive is coming). Then I took Liam and Lydia to Target to get a couple last minute items that we needed.

While we were gone, Chris woke up and moved the box from the basement to the garage.

We came home and Chris kept Liam and Lydia entertained while I packed the car. (We used Rubbermaid bins as luggage, and they were already stacked up in the garage). Then I took our other car to go pick up Lily from school for her "Doctor's appointment", we stopped at McDonald's to pick up lunch for everyone and came home to eat.

While the kids ate, I finished packing the car. We cleaned up and then told the kids it was time to go to the appointment. Chris went out to the garage and as I wrangled them all into the mudroom to start to get their coats on Chris went to the front door and put the package on the porch and rang the doorbell, then he ran back into the house through the garage and the mudroom and met us back inside as the kids ran to the front door.

I don't know why, but I was super nervous and I had butterflies in my stomach.

Here is the video of the surprise.

The surprise was a hit!

We got the kids changed into some comfy clothes, took some pictures, packed everyone up and headed out on the road about 2:00pm.


And we were off!!!

We love surprising them and they seem to love it too, but Chris and I both agreed it was a lot harder to keep the secret this time around with them being older. So maybe next time there will still be a surprise element, but it would be fun to have them help with some of the planning.

Other Disney posts to check out:
Disney: Planning
Disney: Dining | Fastpasses | Touring Plans
Disney: Planning Binder
2015 Disney Vacation Video

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