Moms and dads, grandparents, aunts and uncles, we all love the the pint-sized people in our life. We spoil them, nurture them, comfort them, and provide for them. And, every once in awhile, we like to blow their minds.
Planning a Disney Parks vacation is thrilling in and of itself. Combine that with giving your children the surprise of a lifetime and it’s pure magic.
We recently surprised our 5 year old with a mommy and son trip to Walt Disney World Resort and it got me thinking–what do others do to surprise their kiddos? So, I turned to one of my favorite groups of Disney-loving fans, the Disney Parks Moms Panel hopefuls, panelists and alum, to see what surprises they’ve had up their sleeves. The response was overwhelming!
Denise F. shared: “We told our daughter we were “driving” somewhere to celebrate her birthday. On the way to the airport we gave her a present and told her it was a clue. We had bought a big stuffed Minnie Mouse. When she opened the present, and she realized we were going to Disney World, she got a huge smile on her face and she squealed! And we even got a great unplanned surprise – on her birthday, we were chosen to help Mickey open Magic Kingdom.”
Magical DIStraction member Karen S. had quite an elaborate plot. “We surprised our daughter with a Sweet 16 Cruise on the Disney Dream! We were traveling with a lifelong long-distance friend who was also celebrating her 16th birthday. We plotted an elaborate reveal which began with a phone call. Neither one knew why they were on the phone together until they each received a text which contained a link to an e-card. The e-card gave them the first hint that they would be celebrating something together and directed them to a wrapped box that was waiting. They opened the box together to find a stuffed Disney Cruise Line Minnie Mouse and information about the cruise we would be taking in several more months! The shrieks and squeals of joy were heard across the miles!”
Disney Parks Moms Panelist Tracy V. also surprised her kids with a cruise: “My favorite story of surprising my kids is from October 2011. It was the inaugural year of the Disney Dream. I booked a last minute 3-Night cruise over Columbus Day weekend. I woke my girls up at 4 am on Thursday and had their bags completely packed. I said, “if you get up and dressed, we will go on the Dream later today”. They were completely blown away and got up faster than I’ve ever seen! We had a 7am flight and were on the Dream by 1pm. We sailed concierge that time, it was unforgettable, especially the start if our trip!”
James R. shared: “We were in Florida for my grandmother’s anyway a couple of years ago and decided to spend a few days at Disney afterwards. We just got in the car, told our daughter to take a nap, and didn’t tell her where we were going, and wanted to just let her figure it out when she got there. Well, she refused to nap, and the GPS in the car had other ideas anyway. As we were getting closer, it gave us up when it directed us to “Take the next exit to Disney World.” Her reaction was more disbelief than surprise, but a few minutes later, we were passing through the main gate, and she got really excited!”
A favorite time to surprise children is the holidays. I love these big reveal stories you are about to read!
Jodi K. planned quite the surprise, but her sons had to work for it: “Three years ago at Christmas I surprised my 3 sons with a “Mom and Son” Disney Cruise. I had a custom puzzle made with 9 different pictures of Disney Cruise Lines and Castaway Cay. I had “Pack Your Pajamas, You’re Going to the Bahamas with your Mama” printed over the pictures and Christmas morning they had to assemble the puzzle to figure out what the surprise was.”
Diane S. was banking on her clever children being blown away: “We did a big Christmas surprise. We had a big lead-up because we have this GIANT bank and kept telling the kids that once it was filled, we would go to Disney. For a Christmas present, we filled it to the top with coins so they opened it and slowly realized what it meant.”
Magical DIStraction editor Christen G. used her sneaky Elf on a Shelf to aide in the surprise: “A couple years ago we went before Christmas. We had our elf (appropriately named Walt) leave a HUGE box filled with goodies: new drawstring Disney backpacks, wallets with money, new Disney t-shirts, coloring books, etc. There was also a note from Walt saying he hoped they enjoyed all of their goodies. They didn’t get it, they just thought they were getting some early Christmas gifts….I ended up having to show them the itinerary!”
When Casey P. was a child, she was the recipient of a surprise: “I WAS surprised when I was a kid, in 1989. I was 10. There was a plane ticket in our Easter basket and we left that afternoon! I certainly remember getting the surprise!”
It’s not a holiday–what are other ideas for a big reveal?
There are a lot of great ideas out there! Do a scavenger hunt. Give your kids a mad-lib. Have them play a wheel of fortune type game.
Magical DIStractions creative genius Caroline K. surprised her kids at Cracker Barrel: “We gave the waitress Mickey ears and they delivered them to the table. The kids were shocked!”
Joyce S. of The Mickey Bar, has a lot of great ideas: “I’ve done the letter at school pick up, a note in the Advent calendar, and a note by the toothbrushes the evening before. “
Joyce’s daughter is pretty clever, so Joyce decided to go in a different direction for her Disneyland surprise.
“We were planning to visit my mother in New Mexico, which Meredith knew. What she didn’t know was that I planned to take her to Anaheim first for two days before continuing to New Mexico. So, we were packed and ready to go on the day of the trip. I knew that a note would result in the same tip off, but my mom likes to have videos of things since she lives so far away. I told Meredith that Grandma wanted to have a video so we should make one and send it before our trip. You can see in the video that she had no idea!”
And, indeed you can. Joyce’s daughter’s reaction (along with 7 other cuties ), is in the video below.
Surprises gone terribly wrong
Karen S. and I were chatting about this article and she cautioned that parents need to know their child’s temperament. Just envision it: you’ve planned out the perfect surprise, you have the video camera rolling, you announce “surprise you are going to Disney (insert park or cruise line here)” and your child starts crying. So not magical. Yet it happens, more often than you can imagine.
Diane S. shared her surprise bust: “We surprised the kids twice. The first time (they were probably about 4 and 6) we had told them we were going to Monkey Joe’s (like Chuck E. Cheese or Bonkers) and, while they were excited (they were going to Disney instead), my oldest was unhappy that he wasn’t going to Monkey Joe’s (“Can we go to Disney after Monkey Joe’s?!”).”
Karen’s son had a hard time processing the surprise: “When my son was a 1st grader we surprised him and his sister (then 5th grade) with a pre-Christmas trip to Walt Disney World. We told them we were driving to Grandmama’s and Papa’s but instead drove to Orlando. Neither one really noticed that we were going in the wrong direction. Finally my daughter realized where we were and got super excited. My son burst into tears and was inconsolable the last 30 minutes of the ride even as we pulled into Wilderness Lodge. I learned my lesson not to surprise him like that. He needs time to prepare and does not want to be tricked. So we now “surprise” them but with plenty of lead time!”
There are a lot of fun and clever ways to surprise your children. Here are two more super cute videos that will make you want to go online, or contact your travel agent, to book your next Disney Parks vacation.
Shannon of milkandcuddles.com shared this video.
Melissa B.’s son won the outstanding award of excellence for the state of Texas and an honorable mention at the national level for filming this video of his little sister’s surprise trip.
Here are some cute ideas, courtesy of the Disney Parks:
Have you surprised your children with a trip to the Disney Parks? We’d love to hear your stories. Please share your surprises in the comments below.