Can you keep a secret? A really big secret?
If so, you might be a parent or grandparent who wants to surprise the special child in your life with the news that your family is going on a Disney cruise, to Walt Disney World or another Disney theme park. There are so many fun and easy ways to deliver this one-of-a-kind message. It's really just a matter of choosing what works best for your family.
Since my family and I live in Orlando and are fortunate to have Disney World annual passes, there's little surprise in showing up there. But boarding a DCL cruise ship remains a very special occasion. Before my children, then ages 7 and 5, stepped onto the Disney Wonder for our first family cruise a few years ago, I knew I wanted to completely surprise them with the news. I began gathering items in preparation for the big reveal, which would be a themed family lunch and movie.
First, I ordered the Disney Cruise Line planning video, which is free. (This takes several weeks to arrive, so order early, if possible.) Next, I looked on eBay for kids' pirate costumes for Pirates IN the Caribbean night on the Wonder. I knew my daughter would want to dress up. My son was going through a phase where he thought dressing up was for kids younger than him, so we got him a cool Mickey pirate T-shirt.
Then, I made a trip to one of the Walt Disney World outlet stores in the Orlando area to scope out the DCL merchandise. These stores carry theme-park quality merchandise that has been discontinued or overstocked, and prices are routinely 40 to 50 percent off. I found some cruise T-shirts, photo albums and trinkets. (Back then, the outlets were the only places on land that guests could purchase DCL merchandise. Now, a nice selection is available on DisneyStore.com.)
So, while their dad took them to soccer practice, I transformed the kitchen table into a party scene with all my goodies. When they came home for lunch, they were stunned to see everything and knew what it all meant. We had a fun lunch, discussing what we were all looking forward to, and afterward we watched the planning DVD. Parents with an interest in cooking could also make a recipe or two that is served on the ship. (Be sure to check out the AllEars.Net index of hundreds of official recipes from Disney Cruise Line and Walt Disney World.)
When we broke the news that we would set sail on the Disney Dream last year, we drove the kids out to Port Canaveral. They didn't find this unusual because we have been going to nearby Jetty Park beach for years. But instead of entering the state park, we pulled into a channel-side parking lot where we could see the ship and share our news. Afterward, we went to lunch and again discussed the upcoming trip. Every other sentence in that conversation contained the word "AquaDuck!"
For our family, the anticipation of the trip is a big part of the fun, so we like to have time to plan and dream about what's to come. Some parents, however, revel in the awe they see when their kids realize they are not going to Grandma's house and instead are about to land in Orlando. For those folks, the trick is not in planning a reveal but in being able to keep the secret a lot longer.
Recently, my parents, who live in another state, used a video call to tell all the grandkids that their Christmas present will be a cruise on the Disney Fantasy in December. I tried to persuade them to wear their snorkel gear for the big announcement, but my parents didn't need any special props to excite the kids for what awaits.
Have a creative way to share the news of an upcoming Disney vacation? We'd love to hear about it in the comments.
The previous post in this blog was Tips for helping your kids start pin trading at Disney World.
The next post in this blog is SeaWorld Orlando features fun summer-only entertainment.