By: Fantasmic Diva
It’s not easy to deal with kids who have the pre-Disney trip excitement jitters; these jitters can be avoided by making the trip a surprise…if you can contain your own excitement! There is nothing quite like the look of complete and utter shock and glee on a child’s face when they realize they are going to the most magical place on earth! I’ve been surprised with a trip over the week of Halloween and I have been privileged enough to be on the other side, a co-conspirator in surprising others with the trip of a lifetime. Two things are key to making it work (well maybe more…)
The number one most important thing is maintaining the secrecy and the surprise. My parents were experts…they told NO ONE until they had to. The extended family got calls from us saying we were leaving when we were at the airport and my teachers (I was in high school) were notified the week before and did not say a word…they were amazing! It helps to do all of the planning after the kids go to bed. For the last person I assisted in working on the trip and the surprise, I met with them at their house around 8:30, when they knew their little guy was asleep and we were extremely quiet. We called the 407 number for Disney Reservations and got a Cars room in the new Art of Animation Resort since Cars is his favorite movie. If you hide all of the evidence from their site and don’t say anything then no one is the wiser about the magic going on under their little noses! The fewer people you tell the slimmer the chance that the secret gets spilled. My parents manager to keep it a secret until literally the day we flew out; the bags were already packed and they even let me get most of the way into my school uniform!
The next aspect that’s most important is the presentation of the news. I have helped countless guests put together surprise packages for Christmas morning or birthdays. My parents surprised us with little packages with Incredibles t-shirts and Christmas ornaments and let us figure out what the occasion was. The family I helped to surprise their son was receiving the trip as a birthday gift. However, since he was young, they wrapped the trip up in a present. Since I had worked at the Disney Store, I knew the best way to present it! He was the lucky one to assist the cast members with the opening ceremony on the day of his birthday party. The ceremony ran as usual and then the cast member said “Thank you so much for helping us open our store, we heard it was your birthday and Mickey sent us a very special surprise for you…you are going to Disney World!” and presented him with the package his mother and I had put together. He was a Cars fan so the package consisted of a Cars reusable bag filled with Cars merchandise that he would be able to use on the train and on the trip as well ( the trip is in October).
Other suggestions I have offered guests are making a puzzle or word search for the kids to complete leading them to the conclusion that the were off to Disney or having a letter from the Mouse himself (the font is a free download!) There possibilities are endless!! Telling the child in their local Disney Store is priceless because it’s magical for them and all the guests and Cast Members at the Store. When arranging for my little buddy to open the Disney Store and find out about his surprise, I contacted a friend of mine who is a Cast Member at the local Disney Store and they were more than accommodating!! I talked to the manager who would be working the day of the surprise and worked everything out with her ahead of time to make sure everything would go off without a hitch! He had a very magical birthday and it was a magical experience for his whole family!
It’s important to make sure that the revelation of the trip is tailored to your child to ensure a magical experience for all. If your child is shy, then the Disney Store model might not be right for your child, something at home would be better suited for them, which is also awesome! You can still use Cast Members to your advantage, as soon as they hear that there is a surprise trip in the works…they jump up to help and make it amazing! There are usually coloring sheets and other goodies that the Cast Members can use to make a perfect “carry on” for the lucky traveler and they can also help you put one together out of products in the store. They also usually have certificates with Mickey’s John Hancock on them that can be addressed for the occasion! It helps to incorporate their favorite characters and movies into the reveal, you can fill their presentation bags with toys (not too many) of their favorite characters! If you are debating when to tell those going, it depends on their personality, if they need time to adjust to the idea of travel give them a few weeks or days to get excited, but not enough to drive you goofy! My last surprise guest was told three months prior because his birthday is in August and the trip is in October.
If you are stuck trying to come up with things to fill up a presentation bag with here’s some suggestions: start with a backpack or reusable bag that the little pirate/princess can take on the plane, train or automobile. Then add a t-shirt of their favorite character that they can wear while they are there, a plush/pillow or something huggable for them to have with them on the trip, an autograph book (order online), a lanyard with a pin of their favorite character and their personal info on a card inside the ID pocket (it’s cute and safe). You can also add a doll/action figure of a favorite character and add coloring books/pages and crayons from the Disney Store. I also suggest putting some shopping money on a gift card (if you don’t like the ones at the Disney Store, there is a wide variety of cards on Disneystore.com).
So what are you waiting for?! If you are thinking about planning a trip to an especially magical destination, keep all the details under wrap and make it a magical surprise!! If you want an idea of just how cute this can be…check out this video!! (WARNING- the cuteness may bring tears!)