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Top 10 Ways to Surprise Your Kids with a Trip to Walt Disney World

Most children remember with perfect clarity the first time their parents announce a trip to Walt Disney World. Mom and Dad might deliver the news off the cuff, without flair, or even in deadpan tone, and yet kids everywhere would still treasure the words, “We’re going to Disney World.” To make the message even more memorable, consider surprising your kids with an outstanding, over-the-top, creative proclamation of your intentions to take them to “The Most Magical Place on Earth.” Thousands of methods for breaking the news exist today, but below you’ll find the top ten ways to surprise your kids with a trip to Walt Disney World.

10. At the Airport

This method of surprising your kids requires a bit of planning, depending upon your circumstances. If you already travel regularly to a different destination (think visiting relatives), then you won’t arouse suspicion when it’s time to pack. Otherwise, you can avoid unwanted questions by packing while your children are occupied elsewhere, such as when they’re at school, away at summer camp, or visiting with grandparents. Next, you’ll need to hide your luggage during the drive to the airport, but if this isn’t possible, then ask a friend or relative to deliver your bags to you there. No matter how you execute this surprise, your children will be howling with excitement when they realize they’re flying to Orlando, Florida.

9. Unexpected Places

The heart of every good surprise lies in providing the big reveal at unexpected moments in unexpected places. Try hanging an invitation to Walt Disney World inside your medicine cabinet door before sending your children to the bathroom to brush their teeth. Stuff bookmarks bearing the message inside their favorite books, hide Disney toys with announcements inside cereal boxes, place clues in their lunch boxes, or bury notes under their pillows right before they march off to bed. Of course, if you want to share in their excitement, then you’ll need to hide the news in places they’ll search while you’re around. Study the habits of your children, and then decide where best to conceal your shocking news.

8. Birthday/Christmas Presents

Wrap your tickets or MagicBands inside a gift box and give them to your kids at Christmas, at a birthday party, or during any other occasion where gift-giving seems appropriate. Many parents resort to this method, as suggested by countless websites and video postings, and it appears to be effective. Imagine the confusion when your child opens the present and doesn’t find the latest toy, doll, video game, or electronic device, but a box of “bracelets” or an envelope bearing “gift cards.” Kids with experience will immediately understand, but first-timers may need some assistance to realize what they’ve received.

7. Food Fun

This may be as simple as baking Mickey-shaped pizzas for dinner or as complex as using Disney cookie cutters to shape pancakes, eggs, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and, of course, cookies. Some like to order customized fortune cookies bearing the revelation inside and serve them after eating Asian cuisine. Others hide the announcement underneath the food, such as on a cake dish liner, inside cupcake liners, on customized placemats, or on a serving plate. Your children will roar with delight once the food is removed, and it won’t be because they didn’t like the meal.

6. Social Media

Kids today are plugged into social media much more than previous generations. This creates a wonderful opportunity for bowling them over with news of your upcoming Walt Disney World trip. You can reveal the truth with a simple caption below a Disney photo posted on Instagram or a much more complex YouTube video that slowly reveals your impending vacation plans. Naturally, you should use the social media platform that you’re comfortable with and use regularly with your kids. Social media novices may have to recruit friends or relatives for assistance.

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5. Matching T-Shirts

Hang around Walt Disney World long enough, and you’ll start noticing groups here and there with matching Disney-themed t-shirts. Plenty of families wear custom vacation t-shirts to commemorate their trips, show their family pride, and help them identify each other in crowds. Some families also use the t-shirts to surprise their kids with news of an upcoming Walt Disney World vacation. Simply place the shirts inside their dresser drawers at night and hover nearby when your children get dressed in the morning to see the excitement. Of course, if their brains aren’t quite alert in the morning, the reaction may resemble bewilderment instead of delight.

4. Game Night

Family game night provides another occasion for spilling the news about your Walt Disney World trip. The game you choose needs to accommodate your clues or statements while playing it. For example, some use Pictionary to lead their children into guessing about the vacation until the revelation emerges. Others create cards for tabletop games like Clue, Monopoly, and Life. Families who play Scrabble can arrange to spell out the message during the game, but this requires cheating to obtain the letters. To avoid arousing suspicion, choose a game that your family regularly enjoys and brainstorm creative ways to uncover the vacation announcement during playtime. The possibilities can be as varied as the games you play.

3. Puzzles

Children who love assembling jigsaw puzzles with their parents will be stunned when they complete a Walt Disney World puzzle and you announce, “This is where we’re going!” You can order official Disney Parks puzzles online, but any Disney puzzle will do the trick if you don’t mind explaining yourself. Double down on the excitement by creating a customized jigsaw puzzle that declares your vacation plans, though this can be ordered from online retailers if you aren’t up to the task of making it yourself.

2. Personalized Message

Unfortunately, Walt Disney World doesn’t provide official recordings or write personalize letters to your children announcing trips. However, consider asking a friend who can mimic a character’s voice or hire a voice actor (think Fiverr) to surprise your kids with a phone call. You may also ask friends or family members going to Walt Disney World ahead of you to videotape Disney characters making the announcement. If none of these options seem appropriate for you, then try ordering personalized invitations from Disney’s online store and mailing them to your children.

1. Scavenger Hunt

The scavenger hunt has long been a family favorite when it comes to announcing big news, and it’s no different with Disney vacations. You can hide clues around the house that build into a gradual or sudden announcement of your plans to visit Mickey Mouse and the gang. Or perhaps you want to develop a grander hunt that takes your family on a journey around town, giving your kids tasks to complete, riddles to solve, and clues to find. The scavenger or treasure hunt works really well, because the young hunters don’t know what they’re looking for, and with each new clue, their excitement builds and builds, until it finally explodes when they discover that they’re embarking upon an even greater adventure to Walt Disney World.

About D.W. Noonan

D.W. Noonan was blindsided by the magical universe of Walt Disney when he married a dedicated Disneyphile in 1994. His wonderful wife dragged him into countless days of binge-watching great Disney films. As children began showing up in the Noonan home, D.W.'s growing passion for all things Disney led him to vacationing with his family in Walt Disney World each year and taking a journey to visit Disneyland. He is especially proud of his two teenage daughters, who danced for Disney Performing Arts at Walt Disney World in 2015. Though D.W. lives in Maryland, he longs to hear these familiar words when he returns to the resort: "Welcome home."