Would you surprise the kids?

Discussion in 'Disney for Families' started by Scarlet_J, May 16, 2018.

  1. Scarlet_J

    Scarlet_J Mouseketeer

    Mar 5, 2015
    I have not been one to surprise the kids with trips. They enjoy the planning and packing. I enjoy talking to them about what we are going to do. Kids are 7 and 10.

    But this trip is a little different. For various reasons, I will have gone to Disney twice this year without them. We are taking them out of school for one day, so they will think they are going to school that day. I thought it would be fun and a cool parent moment to say "Let's ditch school and go to Disney!"

    There are a couple reasons I'm hesitant. First, we had to change our original flight to one that is out of a farther airport. So, we will have to leave really early and get a car to take us. So, its not the same as getting in our car at their normal time and telling them. They will probably NOT want to get up and will not understand why they have to get up so early. I'm also worried that might just make them cranky and not a good start to the trip.

    Also, I'm not sure we can pull it off successfully. We will have to tell the school they will be out for that day ahead of time and have to trust the teachers to keep the secret. We will have to pack and get everything ready without them knowing.

    I would love some opinions either way and hear personal experiences with trip surprises.
  2. ENJDisneyFan

    ENJDisneyFan DIS Veteran

    Mar 4, 2016
    Personally I never do surprises because I like to involve the kids in the planning. And I'm bad at keeping secrets :) But I'm always envious of people who are able to pull it off.

    If they are only missing one day, can't you just call the school that morning and let them know?
    Minnesota! likes this.
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  4. lookame

    lookame DIS Veteran

    Aug 21, 2011
    So I'm "surprising" my kids for our Jan trip. I say "surprise" because tey know at some point we're going to Disney, they've seen their stuff I've been collecting in prep for this trip and we are going to tell them sometime in Oct that we're going. I can't spring a trip on them last minute as my son is very routine oriented and his dad can be a spoil sport and "lets the secret slip" well before it's actually revealed. It sucks. I'd love to spring it on them last minute but I'd have tears of anger and upset due to routine mixups instead of tears of joy for the adventure we're going to have.

    So considering your worries, perhaps you could surprise them but instead of springing it on them the day of you could surprise them a day or two before like "so you know about school tomorrow, maybe we'll just skip it and go to Disney." Keep in mind sometimes kids are upset for various reasons not because they dont want to go but it could be something as simple as they were supposed to get a treat on the bus or at school and now they'll miss it or they haven't seen their friends in a long time and now they have to wait longer to see them. It's the "I've been prepared and excited for this thing and now my plans are changed"
    PollyannaMom likes this.
  5. doorider80

    doorider80 Earning My Ears

    Aug 30, 2012
    We decided to surprise our kids 3, 7, and 9 this this June to Disney. The last time we went was the year Art of Animation opened in 2012. So far no slip ups but a few close calls. We are planning with 2 other families that the kids are best friends with and they are keeping it a secret also. They hopefully won't know until we arrive at the airport. Its been hard to keep the secret since us parents are all excited but can't wait until they see their friends and wonder what the heck we are all doing at the airport. Should be a fun family vacation this year
    KenHutch likes this.
  6. 2019TripIdeas

    2019TripIdeas Mouseketeer

    Feb 6, 2018
    I was surprised at a similar age with my sibling (we were 8 and 10). We also had to fly out of a an airport far from home. I guess only difference is that it was Christmas morning, so we "opened" the only gift under the tree early in the morning and it was tickets to Disney. I know my parents woke us up really early to "open presents", and I remember they had the suitcases already packed and ready to go in the car. We woke up at 4, were in the car by 4:30 and did a 2ish hr drive to the airport and left by maybe 9 a.m.? We were in the parks that night.

    It's one of my favorite memories from my childhood. My parents really are not "disney" (or theme park, ha!) people and I am still surprised they had that all arranged for us, but it was SO much fun to have that big of a surprise.

    I'd say go for it. I am very much a planner and remember having the Birnbaum's book out for the Disney trip we took a few years before that (ha! Are those still around?) but I don't think it would've crossed my mind to be sad that I wasn't involved in planning. I was just SO HAPPY about a surprise vacation!
    PollyannaMom likes this.
  7. Arielfan98

    Arielfan98 All Star Resorts Fan

    Jun 26, 2017
    My parents did this to me when I was very young as well and it was too early for school. My parents told me I had an early morning doctor appointment the next day. I doubt kids truly understand that doctor appointments can't be that early....how early would you have to leave? If it's like 4am that would be unbelievable, but 5am for a "6am appointment" might work. Also, I know everything is digital now, but if you have any non-digital clocks maybe you could change the time yourself to make them think it's later in the morning. Vouching from a child's perspective, being surprised at least once for a Disney trip is a must do. I also know parents in the past have used the excuse that 1 parent is going on a business trip and the family goes to "say goodbye." Best of luck!
    KenHutch likes this.
  8. Anesthesia Fine

    Anesthesia Fine DIS Veteran

    Apr 11, 2014
    We surprised our younger two (8 and 11) in August and sprung the surprise the night before we they could get the best of both worlds: the surprise and the anticipation. Also because packing was tough with them underfoot, plus that way they weren't weirded out by us making them get up at 6am to head to the airport. We had to spill the beans to the oldest a couple of days early because she had to schedule a job interview, but we didn't tell her everything. She had known something was up but thought we were planning a different destination.

    In the end it's really down to what you think your kids would like best, though. Our middle is really anxious so it was good to surprise him but then walk him through the plans, for example. So if we decide one day to pull a surprise trip again, we'll have to find a new way to tell them, but we'll probably still tell them the night before.
  9. Sandiz08

    Sandiz08 Mouseketeer

    Oct 15, 2017
    If it’s just one day of school they are missing, I’d do it the morning of. I wouldn’t tell the school until after the surprise. Now, if it’s multiple days, I’d tell them a couple days before so I could plan with teachers on missing work. I don’t see us telling our kids way ahead of time anytime soon because they would never stop asking about it.


    Sep 25, 2012
    I surprised my daughters with a Disney trip when they were about the same ages as the OP kids.
    It was a trip before Christmas with me, my mom & my 2 girls.
    I told them we needed to take my mom to the airport for a trip to go see her sister in Florida.
    They were to young & inexperienced with airports to know or understand that when you are going through security, etc it is because you are getting on a plane.
    We got through security & were getting something to eat in the terminal when I told them.
    Coincidentally, it turns out my cousin & his family were in Disney at the same time, so we got to hook up with them too, which was a surprise to us!
    The OP mentions she has been to Disney twice this year without her kids, so maybe she could pretend this is a third trip there & surprise them.
  11. gulliesmom

    gulliesmom Mouseketeer

    Dec 6, 2017
    I am surprising my 11 and 13 year-olds for our Thanksgiving trip this year. We leave very early the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and don not come home until the Monday after, so they will miss three days of school. I too am a bit torn b/c my son will be in 7th grade, but at the end of the day, those dates are what we are dealing with. I have to figure out how to sound like we have normal plans for Thanksgiving and am thinking I will tell them the night before we leave instead of just waking them up the day of. Good luck with whatever you decide.
  12. Pamlico

    Pamlico Earning My Ears

    Apr 18, 2018
    I'm going to be surprising my 7 year old and soon to be 4 year old with a trip in October. It's so hard to not tell them! Im not sure when we're going to tell them. I'm back and forth with giving them 10 days notice to the night before. Either way I say make it a surprise. It will be such a fantastic memory.
  13. Minnesota!

    Minnesota! Shoeless in Minnesota

    Sep 15, 1999
    We have surprised our kids with the last 5 or so vacations.. they LOVE it.

    When asked what the prefer...knowing ahead of time or morning of...they ALWAYS pick morning of.

    We go again in 4 weeks and we are telling them the night before, only because my older son now is picky about clothes and I want him to pack his own crap.

    If the kid is only going to miss one day, I would just call him in that day.
    Kellykins1218 likes this.
  14. MomOTwins

    MomOTwins The Mommy Fairy

    Mar 5, 2018
    We surprised our 6 year old with a trip to Magic Kingdom before our Disney Cruise. He knew we were going on the Disney Cruise, but didn't know we also were going to the park the day before. He was not at all into it - just "oh okay." He had been to MK before, so that was probably part of it. *sigh* such a teenager already at age 6....
  15. Buttercup teacup

    Buttercup teacup Earning My Ears

    Apr 26, 2018
    We surprised my daughter for her 6th birthday. We were driving down, so we told the kids we were visiting family in Florida. She didn’t know until we were driving through the gates. I filmed her “reaction,” and it was very underwhelming. This was her first Disney trip ever, so I think she was mostly confused. Basically I didn’t get the reaction I thought I would.

    Fast forward two years later, and we are going again in two weeks. This time the kids know, and it has been a lot more fun planning. I can say, “We’ll be at Disney in 12 days!” And I get “YAAAAYY!!” with lots of jumping up and down.

    As for school, she missed three days the first trip, and we let her teacher know it was a surprise, and she kept the secret.
  16. 22Tink

    22Tink BC, Canada

    Apr 25, 2015
    With a few Disney trips already under our belts, I surprised my daughter for her birthday. She was excited but she really likes the planning and anticipation so that’s the only time I surprised her. Now we always plan together as soon as we decide we’re going.
    halfpintpeggy likes this.
  17. mjkacmom

    mjkacmom DIS Veteran

    Feb 20, 2006
    I managed to completely surprise my 5 kids (ages 4 - 11) with a 10 day WDW/DCL trip, so I imagine a 1 day surprise trip would be pretty easy. Call the school that morning.
  18. scrapquitler

    scrapquitler DIS Veteran

    Aug 15, 2007
    well, you know your kids best. Would they like a surprise like that? I know that my kids would NOT be happy about being suprised with a trip to Disneyworld. THe planning and anticipation is half the fun, and my youngest, in particular is not good at all with surprises. He needs to know what's coming in the days and weeks ahead so he can organize it in his mind and prepare himself. Surprising him would be a disasater, he'd fall apart. And if your kids are older, they probably need to know ahead of time so that they don't make plans with their friends, etc.
    PollyannaMom and halfpintpeggy like this.
  19. NYCgrrl

    NYCgrrl DIS Veteran

    Jul 13, 2017
    I rarely tell children (I do not travel only with my own) when we are going on vacation until a day or two beforehand for a variety of RL reasons.
    There was the time our cruise was cancelled due to inclement weather. Then there was the camping trip that was put off for a day or two due to auto rental problems. And the camping trip cut short due to a hurricane. Life happens and I don't need little long faces to add to my let's get plan B fully operational agita, LOL. One year my niece dinna make it to the campground until the last week of a 3 week trip because she needed to attend summer school. Oh well RL happens for children too. It was a bit of a downer for the other 2 children (and required massive changes in little and big ways for me) but a powerful lesson for all as well. She never pulled that silly stunt again.

    Parents know the complete plans and dates are changed due to regional differences and other summer plans with little problems. I travel with children who live in urban environments so that whole pee wee league scheduling is not a major part of their lives and those that do have sport activities rarely attend them or are required to during the summer. The kids I am currently traveling with range in age from 9 to 17 sooooooo surprising that crew is now more of a "Why don't you go ahead and fool yourself?" moment. They are quite aware that something is going to happen over the summer. As for friends? Most of them have similar summers spent with out of state relatives. DGD's "bestie" has one set of grandparents further up on the east coast and another set in Wisconsin. Summers belong to the Wisconsin set and winter holidays with the NE ones. DGD thinks this is perfectly normal and it works for me.

    This doesn't mean I don't plan little surprise treats for them when the trip actually starts...just means it doesn't require any unusual behavior or change in routine for them, me, or their parents.
    Last edited: May 22, 2018
  20. motherof5

    motherof5 Registered

    Apr 4, 2014
    I have never done surprises but am doing it this Aug for the first time. I think the kids will enjoy it. I understand it will be their first time not being involved in the packing and preparation but it would be worth seeing their surprised, excited faces and them thinking it was cool. If your kids will be upset that they didn't plan, there is always Amazon and shops out their they can get missing things they need, that they can do last minute planning things on the plane. Good luck
  21. isabellea

    isabellea Combining beach and Disney!

    Jan 22, 2014
    My kids have been involved in the planning of all our trips before but for our 2018 trip, it will be a total surprise. In the fall we will tell them we are going to FL for Christmas so we can spend the Holidays with my parents in FLL (they are snowbirds). What we won't tell them is that on Christmas morning their main gift will be a stay at WDW for NY! Since they helped me with previous trips, I know what they like and don't like and I will involve DH a little more in the planning. It will also be our first trip to Disney during the Holidays. We once gave them tickets to WDW as a Christmas present but the trip was for March so we had time to change a few ADRs and they helped with the FP+ selection.
    PollyannaMom likes this.

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