|09-15-2009, 10:44 AM||#1|
Join Date: Apr 2000
Surprise Sweet 16 Cruise 8/29 - 9/5, 2009 on the Magic
WARNING Label: This may be very long but hopefully to be enjoyed by all.
How it started:
About January 2009, my husband and I were discussing what to do for our daughter’s upcoming birthday in August (the Sweet 16). For years I have been known for my outrageous Disney themed parties that I slaved over and planned out every detail (including making all the decorations). Until about 3 years ago, she decided that she didn’t want any type of parties mostly because it is right before starting back to school and her friends are all on vacation.
My husband and I pondered over going to Hawaii, and after looking at the costs of just the flights and about a week at Hawaii...that was enough for me to stop and look at the alternate route. Well, what’s a mom to do when it is the big Sweet 16? You guessed it ... We’re going to Disney World! I asked my daughter if she would like to go back to Disney as she will have been there in April for cheerleading and she said sure that it would be great to get a tan before school started. Then I asked her if she would like to take a friend with her as well. “WOW” was all she could say and then of course “YES”. Knowing who she was going to take wasn’t hard to figure out...her best friend for the last 3 years of middle and high school.
I then started doing some scheming of my own and looked into another Disney cruise. We have cruised several with Disney and the last was 2 years ago to the Mediterranean. I also had told my daughter that we would take our next cruise when the new ships came out in 2011 and 2012. So we would have to wait it out a few years. I then presented the idea to my husband and all he could say was “Are you sure she would want to do that?” It’s Disney and she will have her best friend with her. Of course she will want to do that. Their school wasn’t going to start until September 8 so we would be able to take one of the last cruises of the summer on the Magic.
Now, she has asked several times if I will let them roam the parks by themselves. Unfortunately, I had let it be known that my parents let us kids run the parks back when we were 15, 16, and 17, as long as we were back at a certain time. So, I have told her that yes she and her friend can go to the parks alone (if she only knew that she will spend possibly ½ a day if that at a park.)
Now, because we are military, I called Disney and was able to book the Grand Floridian for a night at a great discount. I then talked to my daughter’s best friend’s parents and told them of the plan to take a cruise. They have sworn that they will not say a word to their daughter. I decided that since their daughter turns Sweet 16 at Christmas, that this trip would be an early gift from us. All they would have to pay for is the airfare and the excursions. We have DVC and are going to use our points.
So, after booking everything, I started thinking of ways to surprise our daughter for her Sweet 16 cruise. What better idea than to have a scavenger hunt before we leave for the ship. I then pulled up the resort map of the Grand Floridian. After mapping out different locations, I wrote out the clues for the hunt. While we were at Disney in April, we stopped by the Grand Floridian and I verified that I could do the scavenger hunt on the property. They said no problem. All I will have to do the morning of the hunt, before the girls go to breakfast, is to run to all the locations and hand the clues to the Cast Members for their safekeeping until the hunt begins.
Now everything up until now has happened by April. I then had to look for a goody bag for each of the girls. I found a cute rather large sea bag/backpack on sale and went for it. After getting them I found that they were more than I had imagined and of course ordered one more for myself. I had each embroidered with the girls name on them. The rest of the stuff for the bag included the following: water bottle with carrying case, id water proof container, Mickey Mouse gloves (to wave good-bye and possibly have them autographed), Goofy pirate ears, Coach small wallet and wristlet, homemade flip flops, Sweet 16 tee shirts that were made for the trip, Pirate outfits (tee shirts and shorts), bracelets, and candy. Now part of the things included in this list were purchased well before and stashed away. I usually get things when they are ridiculously on sale. I have been making lots of magnet door signs for the girls and made duplicate magnets for the best friend so she will have her own set. I also made bag tags for each of the girls and made extra again but for scrapbooks. I figured if I am making one may as well make a bunch.
I have been getting things such as candy and treats to give to the cast members and others on board. So far I have two shopping bags full of stuff for the cast members. I have bagged them all and have packaged them ready to go. I haven’t figured out how to get them in the luggage without being found. Hmmm...Guess I will figure that out closer to the trip.
In May, I was able to order 2 formal dresses for the trip without my daughter finding out. I had her try on dresses from the same designer that she already had and since they fit it made my job easier. And before you ask “why wouldn’t I want my daughter to pick out her own dress”... well I pretty much pick them all out anyway so it was only fitting that I did it again. Besides she will be able to wear them for Homecoming when she goes back to school. Actually, she trusts my taste in clothes as I am always picking up outfits or such when I am out. The cruise portion is a surprise and I couldn’t have her knowing we were taking formal clothes. The formal clothes will be packed in a suitcase that we decided I would say is my husbands and cram most of his clothes in it as well as my suitcase.
Now I have booked the hotel room, cruise, and have been debating on transportation to the hotel, ship, and back to the airport. I priced it out many ways with Disney and other transportation services. I really wanted to go all out for this and thought what about a stretch limo. If I couldn’t do it for the whole time then we could have a town car for part and the stretch limo for the other. At least start the trip off right. Well, the Thursday before Memorial Day weekend, I received an email from WDWNewsletter having you register for free round trip stretch limo service from Orlando airport to our hotel. The drawing would be on Sunday of Memorial Day weekend. I quickly registered and then started thinking...if I win this; I could pay the difference for the other stops making the transportation even better. The thought of having a stretch limo for the entire time was starting to sound even better the more I thought about it. Well, low and behold Sunday came and after finding out that cheer tumbling was moved to an earlier time, I ran to the computer and was checking my email. There in my inbox was the email announcing the winner...”Me.” I couldn’t believe it. I wanted to run through the house screaming but I decided that I would keep it to myself and not say a word. I want everything to be a surprise.
That Tuesday, I received a call from Dixie Limo, the service that would be picking us up in Orlando. I explained what I wanted to do and they were very accommodating and agreed to do the three stops and I could pay the difference. What great customer service. I have since told my daughter that we will either rent a car or grab a bus. Can’t you just see the excitement on their faces (especially my husband’s) when they walk out to a stretch limo? I can’t wait, if I could just arrange for a photographer at that time, or maybe I could just take pictures myself.
The evening before the 90-day mark, I stayed up to go online and book reservations for our dinner and spa treatments onboard the ship. But after spending about 45 minutes and getting nowhere with the computer, I gave up. I started again in the morning and by noon had the reservations that we wanted. Not sure of what the girls would like to do, I only booked a parasailing excursion at Castaway Cay for them. We figured that we would probably only be shopping and perhaps some sightseeing while at the ports.
About two weeks from ordering the dresses, UPS delivered them within a few days from each other. They both came from different stores in California. Having ordered the last of her size in each, I started to get a little scared. One of the boxes the dress came in was smashed beyond belief and so I opened it and decided to go ahead and have her try on the dresses. I made her close her eyes and I put the dress on her and zipped it up. She opened her eyes and was so surprised. “It’s beautiful; I can’t believe you got this for me” was her words. I did the same for the second dress and again so surprised. Now the dresses both fit however, one was just a bit tighter than the other and so I told her that I could see about getting one size bigger. She didn’t want to do that. I contacted the store and they have an alterations lady that should be able to take the straps out a bit in the back and they felt it would be better to do that than to order a whole size bigger. She asked what the dresses were for and so I told her that she could wear one for Homecoming and the other for perhaps Prom should she get asked. Again she was extremely excited and surprised. Operation dress complete.
About March, I started looking into a birthday cake for Jessica and found several designs. I pretty much narrowed everything down and decided we would do her cake at the hotel the night we arrive and take the leftovers onboard with us the next day. Well that plan got shot out of the water when I found out that no prepared foods such as homemade items could be brought onboard. I was back to the beginning again, just when I had figured everything out for the cake. I then had a small brainstorm about calling Disney Fairy Tale Weddings and explaining the situation to them and see if they could help in anyway. About a week later I got an email from a wonderful Cast member stating that they would see if the pastry chef would be able to make the cake. I sent about 3 pictures of different cakes and told them about how I wanted the cake to be. Then about a week and a half later I got an email back stating “yes” the pastry chef could make the 3rd cake that was pictured. Yay!
It is now the end of July and we are one month out from our vacation. I have just about finished all the tee shirts for the girls. The worst part is deciding on which design to put on them. I have started packing the crew members gifts (mainly snacks and candy) into the carry-on bags. I will have to make the girls carry these so the candy stays in a controlled temperature so that they don’t melt. This will be a little tricky because I don’t want them to open the bags while we are traveling. I could pack the snacks into a large duffle bag and pay for the extra bag but I don’t think that it is all that necessary and it will give us 2 if not 3 bags for the return trip that will be empty.
Okay here it is 2 weeks before we leave and I finally got Jessica to pack her clothes. Not as bad as I thought it would be. I had her keep it simple and only pack what she will wear and not take extras.
For her birthday, she had to do a car wash for her high school cheer team. I let her open her gifts and she seemed quite surprised with her vinylmation figurines from Disney. She was quite impressed with how I kept this a secret from her. If she only knew that she is going on a cruise in a week.
I was able to finish packing the clothes for both John and myself. I even got the dresses packed with the shoes.
I am writing this down that if I pull this off it will be one of the best kept secrets I have ever pulled off.
Finally after months of hard planning, I managed to get all the suitcases packed and ready to go. Jessica had cheerleading practice at both high school and all star so we didn’t get home until about 10:30 that night. I prepared the carryon suitcases so all we had to do in the morning was pack the car and pick up Courtney.
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