Last week, I talked about whether you should surprise your kids with a Walt Disney World vacation. Let’s assume you’ve done the family analysis and decided that you do want to make a your Disney vacation a surprise. Here are some ideas on how to make that surprise happen. I’ve broken this up by general categories of “reveal,” but there is some crossover among them.
REVEAL VIA TRANSPORTATION, Driving Version
If you’re driving to Walt Disney World, you can reveal the trip en route. You may want to do this by:
Place a Going to Walt Disney World window cling on your car.
- Asking the child to input a WDW address into your GPS unit.
- Asking the child to look up something on a map. Have a “We’re going to Disney World” message written on the map, or place a big “You are going here” sticker over WDW.
- Telling the child that you’re heading to a different destination. See how long it takes for him to realize you’re going in the wrong direction.
- Change the lock screen of your portable entertainment unit (iPad, portable DVD player, etc.) to read “We’re going to Disney World.” Hand it to him during the trip for on the road entertainment.
- Create a car bingo game featuring only items that can be found on the way to Walt Disney World.
- Decorate the exterior of the car with Disney related magnets/stickers/streamers. When the child heads to the car for a routine errand (trip to school, etc.), he’ll ask why the car has gotten a makeover.
- Place water bottles (sippy cups, etc.) in your child’s cup holder. When he gets a drink he’ll see a “We’re going to Disney World” message that you’ve stuck on the bottle.
- Stock the car with Disney themed snacks. Target always offers a range of Disney branded juice boxes, fruit rollups, and fresh fruit. Ask the child to save a Mickey juice box to share with Mickey later in the day.
- Make a surprise chalk drawing of Mickey on your driveway.
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You’ll notice that the question here is not, “Should you take your kids on a trip to Walt Disney World?” The answer to that is of course a resounding, “Yes indeedy do!” What I’m talking about here is whether your trip should be a surprise. Should you spring your Disney vacation on the young ‘uns?
Many family vacations are decided by tradition, vote, parental fiat, or simply a collective desire to explore the world. Someone, or everyone, decides. You discuss. You plan. You save. You wait. And then off you go.
The cultural zeitgeist makes Disney vacations different. Disney vacations seem to demand an extra measure of razzmatazz every step of the way. Not “We’re going to Disney World,” but “WE’RE GOING TO DISNEY WORLD!” Surpriiiiiise!
If the surprise trip is a gift, how will your kids react to not having "things" for their birthday or Christmas?
You rarely hear of people surprising their children with a trip to the Great Smokey Mountains, or Hawaii, or even other theme park destinations, wonderful vacation spots though they may be. But surprise visits to Walt Disney World are somewhat common. Disney even built a substantial portion of their recent “Let the Memories Begin” advertising campaign around guest videos of children being surprised with Disney visits. There’s almost a competitive pressure to create the most magically happy, over-the-top, wowapalooza Disney trip surprise reveal video, featuring cherubic children dancing with glee. A YouTube search of “surprise Disney” yields more than 21,000 hits. Maybe you should be one of those folks, but maybe not.
First let’s clarify that there are two types of Disney trip surprises: one where the trip is presented as a gift to be enjoyed at some later date and one where the family is leaving on the Disney trip RIGHT NOW.
There are pros and cons to each of these.
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