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Surprise the kids or tell them?

Discussion in 'Theme Parks Attractions and Strategies' started by Jessicamcg, Feb 17, 2013.

  1. runningforit

    runningforit Earning My Ears

    Feb 11, 2013
    We told the kids last year - mostly because we booked the trips well in advance and wanted the kids to be excited along with us....it worked out well because they ended up planning along with us...watching the vacation planning video, etc

    With that said, we are going to run the 2014 marathon and take them. We are going to TRY to make it past xmas without telling them
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  3. scjo68

    scjo68 DIS Veteran

    Oct 17, 2002
    We have done a semi- surprise once.
    It was the year we started traveling in August, instead of January, and the kids thought we just weren't going at all that year, since we couldn't go in January.

    So I surprised them two weeks before the trip. They were so excited and surprised, but still had time to join in the planning and anticipation. If I tried to announce the trip as we were leaving, it would really "throw" my DD. She likes to plan and look forward to things, and likes to mentally prepare. Also, she would feel unsettled about missing her activities without some warning and planning. I think DS would be fine with a last-minute surprise where we anounce that we are going to WDW as we are leaving the house. But he is 8 and pretty go-with-the-flow.

    I did surprise them by not telling them which resort we were staying in that trip. They did know it would be on-property and it was not a value resort. They figured it was one of the moderates, so they were very excited when we drove up to the POLY!
  4. Cheshire Figment

    Cheshire Figment <font color=red><marquee behavior=alternate>Friend

    Jan 12, 2001
    A few years ago I helped one of my nephews surprise his seven year old daughter. I sent her a greeting card with no return address, but on the envelope clearly marked "Do No Open Until November 29". Because of the contents he let me know when it arrived. This was driving his daughter crazy; especially when on the 29th her mother said she would have to wait until she was home from school to open it.

    Anyway, evening comes along and she finally is allowed to open the envelope. Inside she finds a generic card with Mickey on the front. When she opens it three tickets drop out. The inside of the card says: "Dear Emma, I hope you and your parents will come down to visit me" and was signed by Mickey. (It helps to know some people who have been trained to sign Mickey's name.)

    And her parents told her to start reading what was on the card (3rd grade). She starts off where it says "Mickey's Very Merry Christmas" and then sees (and reads) where it also says "Valid Only November 30". She looks at her parents, and says in a very anguished tone: "But that's tomorrow!"

    And the next day they flew down.

    (Side note - I had recorded the numbers of the tickets in case the envelope got lost as there was no return address.)
  5. kldownunder

    kldownunder Mouseketeer

    Jan 6, 2011
    Three years ago at Christmas my college-age DD's surprised ME with a Disney trip. They made a sign that said "we are going to Disney". They took the sign to the mall and sat on Santa's lap holding the sign. On Christmas Day the last gift I opened was the picture. I loved the surprise. The three of us went for spring break. (DH will not go back to Disney until we have grand kids.)

    The next year they really wanted to go back for spring break. I convinced them we didn't have the money. What they didn't know is that I made my own sign that said "We are going BACK to Disney". They were beyond surprised and excited when they opened their photos.
  6. lhermiston

    lhermiston Scare Floor Supervisor

    Feb 6, 2013
    We did not surprise our daughters, my wife just sort of blurted it out Christmas morning after giving me two WDW planning guides.

    When we got to WDW, I tried to surprise my daughters by telling them we were having breakfast in Cinderella's Castle. They just cried. We had just arrived the afternoon before after flying all day and it was pretty early in the morning for them. It wasn't until we actually got to the breakfast that they perked up.

    I would like to surprise them somehow when we take our next trip, but I'm such a planning nerd that I'm constantly discussing details with my wife and keeping it a secret would be pretty tough.
  7. Clubhouse5

    Clubhouse5 Earning My Ears

    Feb 6, 2010
    We have always told our kids. I love planning with them so much, I cannot imagine waiting until the last minute and surprising them. I need their input (and love seeing their excitement) figuring out what rides to try to plan, what to wear, what characters we will see, etc. I love being able to say "Next month we will be doing xwy at Disney World!"

    I am a total believer that the planning is half the fun. And I want to do that planning with my children involved. :) I do wait until about 2-3 months before we go to tell them though, as and longer would seem like a lifetime to them!
  8. Order66

    Order66 DIS Veteran

    Apr 21, 2006
    We tried the surprise trip once and it was (as my son would put it) an EPIC FAIL!

    My husband had to go to LA one year. In January Disney announced the free ticket for military with the discounted extra tickets. That was the year they also had the free birthday promo. Well this trip was also going to be over his birthday. We talked about making his trip a family trip but weren't sure we could afford it. Once we figured out we could, we had kept it so long we figured we'd make it a surprise. How fun. :thumbsup2 We thought we were so clever we weren't going to just surprise them once, but twice! Not only were they going to be surprised with a trip to CA, but we were going to go to Disneyland for 3 days and were just going to roll up to the hotel and let them see it!

    He teased the kids a bit saying he wished he could take them, but we didn't have the money. On the day he was supposed to leave for LA we told the boys we'd be picking them up from school early for a doctors appointment. We'd drive dad to the airport and then head to the dr. and out for lunch with Grandma (who was joining us on the trip). I drove them to school, took the dogs to the kennel and packed up the truck with the stuff I had packed on the quiet. Everything went according to the "story", then we got to the airport. My husband told one son to help him with the bags. He asked why there was one with his name on it. We sprung it on them. We're all going to California. He stood there in disbelief thinking his dad was just teasing him. His twin brother freaked out! Hysterical sobbing, didn't want to go, called us the worst parents ever. I finally calmed him down. Yes school knew he was going to be gone. Yes Grandpa knew Grandma would be gone. The dogs were fine and at a kennel being taken care of. Finally I had to show him the tickets and tell him about Disneyland. I knew that surprises were just not for him. He has ADHD and needs time to process stuff and being overwhelmed (even in a good way) is just bad news for him.

    The trip went well and the boys had a great time. He can laugh about his reaction now, but we know not to do that again. He can also laugh about the fact his brother still didn't get it. We got to the hotel and he looked across at the park and said he wished we were going there instead of LA. :rotfl:

    The second time I sort of surprised my kids I did it months in advance. They thought we weren't going to WDW last year because we were trying to buy a new home and money wasn't there for a vacation. Thanks to a generous boss I was able to take them for a short trip. I made them Easter baskets with various stuff they'd need for a trip and a card saying we were going to Disney on the last day of school. That gave them over 2 months to process it. Now that we own that new house I have told them no WDW this year do to the money we're spending remodeling it. I'm kind of afraid they're expecting the "surprise" moment now. :faint:

  9. letthewookiewin

    letthewookiewin <font color=blue>"That's 'cause droids don't pull

    Feb 23, 2006
    We surprised our DSs (ages 13 and 14) with the WDW part of our trip this past June, but they knew we were going on a vacation. They thought we were going to visit a cousin of my DH on the way to Cocoa Beach and Kennedy Space Center. We told them we were going to stop in Orlando, because it was too far to drive all the way to Cocoa Beach. We told them we could go to Downtown Disney for a Disney fix. When we got up the next morning to "drive" to Cocoa beach, we told them the real plan as we drove to the Pop Century to check in. They were like, "oh, ok, cool". Part of the problem may have been the fil kept making comments like, "well instead of spending that money on a Disney trip, you should send me and your mother on a cruise."

    You know your kids better than we do. If you think they would handle the surprise well, I would do it. Just don't tell them they are going some where else they might enjoy as well or better. Also, don't tell any family or friends you may think might tell your children. Of course if you don't want others to know about it, and you're afraid your children will tell them about it, keeping it a secret from the kids may be the best option.
  10. AshleeH

    AshleeH DIS Veteran

    Sep 10, 2011
    My kids knew in advance about the first trip - since they had no idea what to expect (and it's hard to prep them on what to expect), a surprise on that trip wouldn't have been much fun.

    The second trip was a spur of the minute trip - we had two other vacations fall apart on us (flooding in the north, when we were going to Hershey, PA and then a hurricane near Destin) so we decided to swing a Disney trip. Since we wouldn't have to keep it a secret for long, we decided it would be fun. Both DS's were immersed in their video games while we passed all the billboards for Food and Wine and MNSSHP, so that was good. I have a great video of us getting to the big sign over the road and DS#1 going nuts when he saw it - DS#2 complained that he wanted to go to a hotel! Lol! Not the reaction we were looking for, but hilarious nonetheless. Once he realized the hotel was in WDW he was okay.

    We had a double surprise for them that year - the grandparents showed up for the second half of the trip, so they absolutely loved that.

    Last year's trip was planned far in advance and we kept them in on the planning and choosing ADR's, etc. My parents were also going to join us for this trip, so they knew about that far in advance - partly because we didn't think all of us could keep a secret, but partly because my mom would be in a wheelchair in the parks and we wanted them to prepare for seeing grandma like that (she walks with a cane for short distances, so it wasn't even an issue for them).

    This year we're driving across the country to California and they know about that trip, but they have no idea Disneyland even exists, so the four-day stop there should be an amazing surprise for them!
  11. Ness2289

    Ness2289 I'm Almost There...

    Feb 2, 2003
    Our June trip is a surprise for my DD (14 on Friday). Her biggest wish is to have a surprise trip to Disney. Just yesterday she told me she was listening to Disney songs and watching Disney surprises on YouTube. With that, I've decided that surprising her is well worth the stress of keeping it a secret. She will find out the morning of. In order to pack, she'll have a sleepover with a friend a couple of nights before so I can get it all done. Knowing that this is her ultimate Disney Fantasy, I am super excited to see how she responds. :hyper:
  12. Clubhouse5

    Clubhouse5 Earning My Ears

    Feb 6, 2010
    We have always told our kids. I love planning with them so much, I cannot imagine waiting until the last minute and surprising them. I need their input (and love seeing their excitement) figuring out what rides to try to plan, what to wear, what characters we will see, etc. I love being able to say "Next month we will be doing xwy at Disney World!"

    I am a total believer that the planning is half the fun. And I want to do that planning with my children involved. :) I do wait until about 2-3 months before we go to tell them though, as and longer would seem like a lifetime to them!
  13. smidgy

    smidgy dimples

    Aug 27, 2006
    sorry. to me, a HUGE part of a trip is looking forward to it planning.
  14. 3SpoiledPrincesses

    3SpoiledPrincesses Mouseketeer

    Apr 22, 2012
    We are surprising them but doing it about 6 weeks before the Disney part of our trip.

    We are spending 5 weeks in Florida with my family before we go to Disney, so we are telling our girls the week before we leave to go to Florida. They will have 5 weeks or so to "plan" what they want to do while we are there. My kids are used to us surprising them, so it will go over well.

    I was going to wait until the day that we leave to drive to Orlando, but I was afraid that someone in my family would spill the beans before we surprised them.

    Right now the plan is to get 3 huge Minnie Mouse gift bags from Target (one for each kid) and put stuff for the trip in the bottom and a balloon in the top. Then, I'm going to tape the top together. When they open the bag the balloon will fly out with a note attached telling them that we are going to Florida and to WDW. I can't wait to tell them! I am making our ADR's this week. It's SOOOOOOOO HARD keeping it to myself!!!
  15. mikegood2

    mikegood2 DIS Veteran

    Jan 5, 2011
    I never really heard about this surprise (day of trip) phenomenon until recently. I guess each individual is different, but it would never work for me. That said, I can understand the surprising kids with a trip in advance like a few weeks before, a month or two before or a birthday/Holiday! To me that is the better approach because you get the reaction from the surprise, but everyone can still participate in the planning!

    Actually, come to think of it, I was the one surprised by my brothers family a few years ago. My brother invited me to their house for New Years and they had my nieces hand me a card. When I opened it, it said they were going to Disney World this summer, could I go too? It was definitely the best Christmas/Birthday present I ever received!
  16. magicbob

    magicbob DIS Veteran

    Mar 16, 2008
  17. john64

    john64 Mouseketeer

    Feb 7, 2011
    We surprised the kids on our November 2011 trip the day we where leaving. It turned out awesome. This trip April 2013 we told them we could not afford a trip and just made a video of our previous trips. At the end of the video we surprised them with another trip except we game them 5 months notice so they could get into the Disney mood!

  18. TXPyroMom

    TXPyroMom Mouseketeer

    Jul 18, 2011
    Our first trip was the last week of January 2012. We told DD5 on Christmas day that we were going to Disney. She was super excited and surprised and she didn't have to wait too long.

    She really enjoyed helping with the planning and watching everything Netflix had to offer about Disney World.

    I think it depends on the kids. DH would love to do a surprise trip for DD, but she is just like me and likes some control and expectation about what's going to happen. Plus, planning is almost as fun as the trip itself.
  19. Ladcassidy

    Ladcassidy Mouseketeer

    Oct 16, 2012
    We told DD on Saturday morning, and left on Sunday morning. We were not trying to surprise her so much as we were trying to manage the crazed anticipation of an almost 5-year-old. As others have said, you know your own children best. Ours responds well to last-minute information about trips. We had told her several times that we would try to go to Disney when she was 5. The surprise was that we went for her birthday.
  20. RivaLJ

    RivaLJ Crazy for the Mouse

    Jun 6, 2005
    I was able to surprise my son for a December 2009 trip celebrating my birthday. I told him the day before we were to leave. He didn't believe me! I had to show him the airline and hotel confirmations.
    I was also able to surprise him this past August on his birthday. We usually go to WDW every August. This year I had been telling him we weren't going this summer. Time to see other places. I really meant it too. We went to Washington DC for a week. However, I couldn't get WDW off my mind. So, at the end of July I booked a trip. Made up a scavenger hunt for DS's birthday. He found the last clue which led him to copies of all the confirmations. He was staring at them for a few minutes until it sunk in. Great surprise. We left 2 weeks later so he had some input.
  21. JennyDrake

    JennyDrake Darkwing Duck's Biggest Fan

    Aug 8, 2000
    My story is not a very happy one--at the insistance of their step monther, we surprised nieces and nephew with a trip at ages 14,16 & 18. They had never been before. It was a TRAIN WRECK. The kids got there and were COMPLETELY overwhelmed. As a result, they did not want to do *anything* except stay at the hotel's pool and swim. (They had never stayed at a hotel before) Had they been involved in the planning and excitement I think we would have seen a very different outcome.

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