Walt Disney World is a magical thing in & of itself, but I am often asked by friends and travel clients for suggestions of what to do to add even more magic to their vacation. Whether they are celebrating a special occasion or just visiting for a family vacation, there are some ways to sprinkle a little extra pixie dust before and during your Walt Disney World vacation. Here are my suggestions to consider:
10. Bring Glow Sticks
When everyone is getting settled in to watch one of Disney’s fireworks shows the vendor carts with the light up and glow toys is hard to resist. Unless you bring your own glow sticks/bracelets/necklaces/etc. from home. You will save a ton of money purchasing these at a craft store, dollar store or Target’s $1 Spot before you leave and pack them in your park bag. I always like to bring extra and let my kids share them with the other kids around us—makes for very happy neighbors and gives the kids an opening to speak to the others around them.
9. Mousekeeping Envelopes
My kids always like making custom envelopes for Mousekeeping tips before we leave home. You can find lots of templates online to print out designs on the envelopes, but we always went through our Disney sticker collection and created our own with a message of thanks from the Chapman family. This way you have something that lets the mousekeeper know they should take the tip and you get the family involved in the trip planning and preparations.
8. Countdown Calendars
This is another fun pre-trip project. You can make your own (there are about 76,824 suggestions and templates on line) with something as simple as a paper chain or a dry erase board. A search for Disney countdown calendar on etsy also turns up several options you could purchase. Whether you make one or purchase it is fun to countdown each day, and it helps kids (and adults) see how long they have to wait to visit the Mouse.
7. Autograph “Media”
Sure, you can buy the standard autograph book that Disney sells in all of its shops, or you can get a little more creative when seeking the autographs of the famous Disney celebrities. You can start a project at home working together to make a custom autograph book with pages for favorite characters to sign (or if you are less crafty pick one up on etsy). Another good idea is to get the Junior Encyclopedia of Animated Characters (http://www.amazon.com/Junior-Encyclopedia-Animated-Characters-Disney/dp/1423189140/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1405197412&sr=1-1&keywords=disney+character+encyclopedia). You will find most of the characters you will meet on vacation in the book and they love to read about themselves (especially the “face” characters), so you get a great character interaction when you have one. You can also read up on each character before and after your trip. The only disadvantage is its size. One more idea is to take something you can use and have it signed—a mat for a frame, or a pillowcase or bag (take something sturdy to put under it for signing.
6. Cast Member Thank You Cards
I love to have a few Cast Member thank you cards with me on our trips. Again, you can find templates online, but I had fun designing mine using digital scrapbook software to fit on a business card. They were easy to carry around and when a cast member went out of their way, offered us great service or did something nice for someone else we had fun handing them a card. I’m pretty sure it made their day better too.
5. An In-Room Surprise
Once you get to Disney you might want to do something a little “extra” in your resort room, and you have a few options. Disney Florist offers several options from elaborate whole room decorations and gifts to a simple flower arrangement. You could also contact in-room dining to see about ordering a food item (availability will vary by resort) like chocolate dipped strawberries, milk & cookies at night, or the chocolate Cinderella slipper. There are non-Disney options to create a gift basket to deliver to your resort—Memories by Betsy is one I’ve heard positive things about though I’ve never used it myself. Or, you can just do it yourself. Several times I’ve had my husband take the kids to the arcade or food court while I put up a birthday banner or Christmas decorations (all using things that would not damage the walls or furniture in any way).
One of my favorites—keep the trip a complete surprise . . .until you drive under the Disney arch, arrive at the airport, leave your house, board Magical Express, whatever. We’ve done this a few times and a few different ways with our kids—announcing it with a box of Mickey Balloons, sending them on a scavenger hunt and just not saying anything. Lots of fun—but beware! you may not always get the reaction you are hoping for. There are plenty of YouTube videos to prove that.
3. Tinker Bell Gifts or a Prize Bag
The idea with both of these is to give kids small gifts that you brought from home. The Tinker Bell idea can be as fun & elaborate as you like. You could leave the gift out on a table after your child has gone to bed for the night, or even hide the gift somewhere in the room with a trail of green glitter leading to it (just clean up the glitter for mousekeeping). I’ve also instituted the prize bag concept on some trips. Behave all day with minimal whining and you get to draw from the prize bag. Prizes have included arcade points, gift cards, an ice cream snack the next day, or a pin.
2. Matching or Personalized Shirts
This is one of my favorites! It makes your pictures look so nice, they are fun to do & you can find your group on a crowd. If you visit etsy you will find a plethora of options to purchase, but you can also make your own. Our staple matching shirt is the rainbow tie dye with a Mickey Head in the center. There are tons of DIY suggestions online and it can be part of the fun of preparing for your trip to make shirts whether it is with tie dye, a bleach pen or spray, or iron-ons you print out from the computer. You can get creative and do something individual for each person—I loved some family reunion shirts I saw one year that had each person’s favorite Disney character and a quote from that character, or a different made up dwarf name for each person. Have fun with it!
1. A Phone Call from Mickey
If you are staying at an on-site Walt Disney World resort you can request a wake-up call on your in-room phone and a character (usually Mickey or Stitch, but I’ve recently read that Olaf may be making some calls—your mileage may vary) will call each morning to wake you up. Beats the beeping of an alarm! I also have a cute App on my phone called Wake Up! that features Donald Duck, is a fun interactive thing and can be used as an alarm (Donald will wake you up).
What are some of the ways you’ve incorporated a little extra pixie dust into your Walt Disney World vacations?