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Old 01-10-2013, 06:56 AM   #1
reidandlauren
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Special for the kids

First post on DISboards. I really want to make our first cruise special for our DS, making this an amazing experience. He is only 2.5 but I am also trying to start memories because he seems to recall so much already.

As a kid I remember being jealous of the STUFF the other kids got at the stores while on vacation. I want to do special stuff for DS without going broke or making him a brat-on-board. What special things have you seen families do that add a little extra magic to the trip.

Is there anything that you wished you had thought of. I am in no way about spoiling my kid, but i don't want him to feel left out either. I also don't want to be broke because i bought it all in the stores on board rather than Target beforehand.

17 days left until we sail.
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Old 01-10-2013, 07:30 AM   #2
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My kids learned early that they weren't going to get everything they saw in the stores. When we went places around here I didn't even take them into the giftshops to avoid the nagging when they were younger. I wouldn't even take him to the shop. Are you participating in the FE group for your cruise? The kids have always enjoyed going back to the room to see what is in their pocket. That has helped to get them away from another activity in the past, actually. Before the FEs, Tink gifts were popular. I bought Disney things before the cruise on deep discount both online and at Target. I talked to the stateroom host and we worked out that I would hang the Tink gifts for that day on the hook outside the bathroom in a bag. He incorporated them in the towel animal that night. At his age, crayons with disney characters on the box or a Disney theme coloring book, a small stuffed Disney character, a board book, maybe some of the toys that are sold on Disneystore.com when they go on sale. Oh almost forgot! The first night I had PJs from disneystore for both of them.
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Old 01-10-2013, 07:42 AM   #3
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There is no reason for him to even go into the stores at that age--YOU are in control. That won't last long.

As noted, a few small items from Target, Wal-mart, or Dollar store can save you a bundle on board. Target and Wal-mart typically have Disney themed PJs and t-shirts. Perhaps get something with a favorite character. Then if he does see something, he already has something similar.

Crayons, coloring books, pencils, etc. are Disney themed at the dollar stores as are pirate gift packs. For $1 he has a whole pirate collection. Typically the DVC desk will hand out free tattoos on pirate night (characters, of course).
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Old 01-10-2013, 07:49 AM   #4
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Focusing on non-material items, even at his age. We avoid going near the shops unless we are ready to make a purchase. If I or DH wants to browse, we go without DD. And if you must go near the shops (I can't think of any reason to go down that way unless you plan to shop) explaining ahead of time "we will be walking past the stores but not shopping this time. We'll shop later." Or "we are going to the store, you may pick out 1 item to buy; we will not be shopping again so pick your favorite." It's hard at his age, but he can begin to understand shopping limits if it's part of everyday life as well - if he doesn't always get to buy something at the grocery store, Walmart or any other store you go to regularly, he'll learn it is special when he can shop.

And like PP mentioned, you can certainly save money on souvenirs by getting little stuff ahead of time - most stores today have some Disney-themed trinkets, even the dollar stores, and that's are great for providing a little extra-special pixie-dust!
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Old 01-10-2013, 07:53 AM   #5
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I'm not sure about the classic ships, but on the Dream and Fantasy you can totally avoid the shops by not going in that area
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Old 01-10-2013, 07:54 AM   #6
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Make him earn his money. I know, he's two.

Our kids get dimes or buckles for helping extra around the house (beyond putting up their own laundry, picking up their own toys and bussing their own dishes). Think helping windex, dust, sort laundry, etc.
At three, my daughter saved her coins from years for months before her first cruise.
She shopped the stores several days in a row before she settled on a pirate sword.
Just because you're on vacation doesn't mean educating my kids goes out the window, and we strongly believe in fiscal responsibility and passing that onto our kids.
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Old 01-10-2013, 07:55 AM   #7
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Um, isn't being on the ship "special" enough? At 2.5 the entire experience is going to be pretty magical.
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Old 01-10-2013, 08:06 AM   #8
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Others have mentioned some great things. Here are a few others:

1] Carry a pillowcase with the child's name on it or some other graphic and some fabric markers. You can turn it in at guest services when you get onboard and they will have the characters sign it. It will be returned to your stateroom on the last night. We have done pillowcases, photomatts, and wooden letters... each one is a special item for my kids.

Here is the front of the pillowcase from our 2011 Dream cruise.


and here is the back.


The pillowcase cost me about $2 or $3 to make.

2] Let him order Mickey Ice Cream bars from room service. any kid, at any age feels special if they are getting food delivered to them in their room... especially, if it is ice cream.

3] If you think he will like pin trading, you can get pins really cheap off ebay (like $0.30 each) and show him how to trade with cast members. (A 2 1/2 year old would need a lot of help, but I think they would enjoy being able to pick pins off a cast members lanyard.

4] If you are in the Orlando area before your cruise, there is a big Walmart near Disney that has a huge Disney section. You could pick up items from their favorite character for a fraction of shipboard prices.

5] Let them explore the kids club for their age. The theming is amazing and the staff is really great.

6] If they like ice cream, let them get it from the machine by the pool at unusual times of day... breakfast, late night, etc. My kids are 14 and 11 and they still think that is cool.

You are going to have a fantastic time.
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Old 01-10-2013, 08:07 AM   #9
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Also,

I highly recommend the Fish Extender gift exchange, but at 17 days out, it may be too late to get in on the one for this trip. Some folks spend months getting their gifts together.

If you can't do it this time, try it next time.
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Old 01-10-2013, 08:24 AM   #10
reidandlauren
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Thanks

Thank you guys for your answers. My DS doesn't ever ask for anything. He is adopted and just doesn't expect anything. He is such an amazing kid. This cruise was his Christmas present (didn't allow piles of toys from the grands) so that he is benefiting from experiences rather than getting "stuff". I just want him to have a few special items to remember the trip and all the fun that was had on it.

I got him a jacket that looks like Mickey Mouse in case he gets cold, small mickey doll, mickey cup for his drinks, and coloring book of mickey and jake. We all have pirate outfits. Glowsticks from the dollar store.

I am such a planner that I hate feeling like I missed something huge.
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Old 01-10-2013, 08:30 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 1153rsmith View Post
Others have mentioned some great things. Here are a few others:

1] Carry a pillowcase with the child's name on it or some other graphic and some fabric markers. You can turn it in at guest services when you get onboard and they will have the characters sign it. It will be returned to your stateroom on the last night. We have done pillowcases, photomatts, and wooden letters... each one is a special item for my kids.

Here is the front of the pillowcase from our 2011 Dream cruise.


and here is the back.


The pillowcase cost me about $2 or $3 to make.

2] Let him order Mickey Ice Cream bars from room service. any kid, at any age feels special if they are getting food delivered to them in their room... especially, if it is ice cream.

3] If you think he will like pin trading, you can get pins really cheap off ebay (like $0.30 each) and show him how to trade with cast members. (A 2 1/2 year old would need a lot of help, but I think they would enjoy being able to pick pins off a cast members lanyard.

4] If you are in the Orlando area before your cruise, there is a big Walmart near Disney that has a huge Disney section. You could pick up items from their favorite character for a fraction of shipboard prices.

5] Let them explore the kids club for their age. The theming is amazing and the staff is really great.

6] If they like ice cream, let them get it from the machine by the pool at unusual times of day... breakfast, late night, etc. My kids are 14 and 11 and they still think that is cool.

You are going to have a fantastic time.
I agree with this.

I think my kids felt special just being able to go on a cruise, let alone a Disney cruise. Enjoy yourself!!
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Old 01-10-2013, 08:41 AM   #12
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Sand toys for Castaway Cay day
Ice Cream for breakfast (My DD's favorite)
A light-up toy or little flashlight for the stateroom at night
Cookies and milk from room service before bed
A new plush "friend" to come along - maybe his favorite character?
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Old 01-10-2013, 08:54 AM   #13
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When we were kids, we went to Disneyland every year and we always got to pick one special thing to bring home (why can't I spell souvenier this morning...). It was part of the adventure - hunting down just the right toy the whole trip, and then making our decision. We'll probably do that when DS gets older. We took him on his first cruise at 2 and three months, and as much as *I* wanted to buy him things (and did), he was so wrapped up in the ship and all the stuff to do, he didn't care at all about the stuff I bought him. I love his Finding Nemo toy though...

What he loved and still talks about a year later were the shows, and Andy's Room (in Oceaneers Club - we went to every open house, I think, because he was obviously too young to go alone) and just, generally, the "mickey ship". If you tell him you're going on vacation, or he sees any body of water, he still asks if we're going to the Mickey Ship. So yes, your 2 1/2 year old can definitely remember this trip. I'd follow his lead in terms of "stuff" v. experience. For our DS, it was totally the experience.
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Old 01-10-2013, 09:21 AM   #14
reidandlauren
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This is exactly what I needed to hear. Thank you and everyone for your help, and so quickly. I am now a DISboards addict.
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Old 01-10-2013, 09:23 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Prose
Sand toys for Castaway Cay day
Actually I would recommend buying the DCL sand toy bag. Wasn't a lot (less than $20 if I remember correctly) but they make a great souvenier of the trip. We have actually brought ours on later cruises. We also live a couple of minute walk away from the beach here in Toronto and bring them down with us to play in the sand during the summer. Gives all of us a smile to make little Mickey boats.
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