Shh! Don’t tell Tad and Lily, but as we speak I am in the midst of putting the final touches on a surprise trip to Walt Disney World. They won’t be expecting it at all. In fact, when I asked Tad what he wanted to ask Santa for Christmas, and I sneakily suggested a trip to Disney, he told me that he hadn’t been that good!
Since the Frog Family loves the holidays, we can’t think of a better place to celebrate than Walt Disney World! And this holiday season will be even better since we’ll get to experience New Fantasyland™ as well as the re-imagined Test Track® Presented by Chevrolet! We can’t wait to share our lists with Santa Santa at the Festival of the Seasons and experience Christmas all over the world at Epcot®. And we’re staying at our very favorite deluxe resort — the Disney’s Wilderness Lodge — which always feels so cozy yet still impressive with its traditional Christmas decor. (By the way, we’d love to answer any questions you might have about any of these places while we’re there.)
Since we’ve surprised Tad and Lily with trips to Disney World before, I am keeping it simple this time. My plan is to pick up Tad and Lily from school this afternoon and head straight for the airport! I’ve stealthily packed their bags already, so they have no idea it’s coming! I am going to put Lily’s miniature Rapunzel Minnie and Tad’s Goofy hat in the back seat with them to see if they ask questions when they get in the car. I can’t wait to see if they figure it out before we get to the airport. I’ll be sure and let you all know how it goes!
Planning your own surprise
With Christmas right around the corner, this is one of the biggest times of year that parents surprise their children with trips to Disney, so I thought it would be a good time to share our own insights as well as the many, many ideas that you readers have sent us.
When it comes to the surprise, there are two approaches to this:
1. Create an elaborate plan for surprising your kids with a trip in the near future
… OR …
2. Surprise your kids with a trip to Disney right now!
A few tips for each of the approaches and things to keep in mind:
- Be careful about misleading your children about where they are going. Children often get attached to the destination, and then are disappointed when they learn they are actually going to Disney instead. While this is hard to believe, you need only do a search on YouTube to see documented examples. The benefit of picking up Tad and Lily from school is that they will just assume they are going home.
- If you’re thinking about planning a surprise trip to Disney right now, keep your child’s temperament in mind. Some children will literally be jumping for joy at the idea of a surprise Disney trip. Other children simply cannot process the magnificence of this and have an immediate meltdown. Because Tad and Lily have visited the parks before, they are better able to handle an immediate surprise, although I have to confess I am a little worried about how rowdy they’re going to be on the plane. For the benefit of our fellow air travelers, there will be no sugar consumption at the airport!!
- If you’re planning the trip in the future, surprise the kids when the trip is within a relatively short period of time. For younger children especially, the future is a nebulous concept. Depending on the child’s age, a few days might be in order. For older children, a month or even longer would be possible and will allow them to get involved in the planning — which can be a great bonding experience and create excitement about the trip. Also with advance planning, parents can create calendars or other crafting projects to help children countdown to the big day.
- Parents can use this approach to space out “clues” if they would like, which also helps children anticipate a big surprise. This approach works especially well for Christmas surprises. Parents can theme gifts around Disney and the trip (Mickey PJs and back packs, for example) with the last “present” the big reveal.
Here’s a few of the ways our readers surprised their children:
From Stacy F.: “We surprised our kids and my nieces and nephew this year by doing a scavenger hunt with clues. All the clues had little hints about Disney with either the names of rides or parades in them. Once they found the last clue it led them to a bag with T-shirts in them. Since we had 6 kids, each of the backs had a separate word on it that said “We Are Going To Disney World” on the back. They each opened them in age order and once they got to the last two everyone stood up together until the oldest two opened their bags and they put it all together to tell them they were going to Disney World.”
From Angela H.: ”We aren’t going until the end of December. We are going to surprise our kids Christmas morning with tons of Disney stuff and tell them that we are going, but not tell them what day. Three days later on the 28th, we are going to wake them up at 3am and give them one more present, an I’m going to Walt Disney World shirt, tell them to put it on and get in the car. That’s how I have it all planned out anyways, haha. Who knows what I’ll decide on between now and then.”
From Ellen E.: ”One Christmas we wrapped boxes inside each other. The first one was huge! They thought it was a TV or something else. The next boxes were wrapped and nested and said “Guess”, “Where”, “You’re”, and “Going?”. In the final box were autograph books, a stuffed Mickey and park maps. Once it clicked, they jumped around like crazy!”
From Linda D.: ”I surprised my kids the first time. But now that they are 14 and twins that are 13, I get way more enjoyment in letting them plan the trip with me. That way they feel invested in the trip and are sure to get to do the things that they want to do.”
Parents, are you planning to video your Disney surprise? Send us the link to your YouTube channel and we’ll share them with our readers!
– Mommy Frog