When you have a trip to Walt Disney World® booked, and on the calendar, there are many cheap and fun ways to get that countdown going and keep everyone’s excitement level engaged. We don’t do surprise trips in our house, that’s too much stress and pressure for me! Instead, I like to plan a trip at least 9 months in advance and countdown to the fun. For me, the anticipation and planning is half of the excitement!
So, let’s count down together with five easy ways you can get ready for your trip to Walt Disney World®!
5. Earning pins, lanyards, and busy bags with good behavior
If you are going to be buying these items anyway, put them to work for you and create a system where your children earn pins to eventually put on a lanyard. Listen in as a client tells me how this worked like a charm for her children:
“My program was to encourage the kids with a positive behavior system in which they earned prizes for Disney AND improved their behavior as would be expected on the trip. Here are the four behavior qualities we aimed to improve:
- Obeying – If we asked them to do something,we expected no whining.
- Love and Kindness – We expect the kids to get along with each other, help each other and exhibit love and kindness.
- Going to sleep – In our house bedtime is a battle, so it is expected to stay in bed and actually sleep.
- Waiting in line, waiting patiently, or riding in the car quietly – These didn’t happen everyday so it was good to have other ways to recognize when they were stuck somewhere, yet still behaved well.
I set up a spreadsheet into 10 levels. The kids were required to get three check marks in each level for each of the four behavior qualities. Each night I reminded them that their good behavior is what would make our trip fun for everyone.
In the end, each child got 10-12 trading pins and a drawstring bag to keep their goodies in for travel, and I got four kids that were behaving better and ready for travel. These are things I would have bought for them anyway, but done in this way it was fun and encouraging. Plus it kept them thinking about Disney.”
4. Create a countdown board or paper chain
Kids love ripping off daily chains or squares to see the progress towards a trip. As the chain gets smaller, or the board loses its squares, the excitement builds and children can visually see the trip getting closer. (This works for adults too!) I like to start countdowns with less than 100 days to go, usually at about 3 months, so they don’t lose their magic.
3. Have a Disney planning party
If you are traveling with a large group, friends, or even just immediate family it can be fun to host a Disney planning party! This would be a terrific time to create your countdown chains together. We have made Mickey shaped pizzas, played Disney Hedbanz”, and even used this time with friends to coordinate our FastPass+ plans or dining choices. You could host this event more than once and accomplish different tasks at each party so it stays fun and not overwhelming.
2. Disney Classic Movie Night
When we plan a trip in advance, I like to spend one night a week through the winter watching a Disney movie. Ask around to family and friends, they may even have 1 or 2 you can borrow so you will have enough for the weeks leading up to your trip. When the kids were younger, this helped acquaint the children with just exactly who all of those characters were. As the kids have gotten older, we have included Swiss Family Robinson or Pirates of the Caribbean so they can appreciate more of the theming in the parks. This plan really paid off for us, since the kids were so familiar with the small details from the movies they were able to appreciate the little things. For example, because of pre-watching Lady and the Tramp, they were able to better understand the theming in Tony’s Town Square Restaurant.
1. Last 10 days gifts
Let’s face it, when I am buying everyone those cute T-shirts and airplane entertainment, reading books and coloring books and Disney tattoos, I really want them to appreciate them! I came up with the 10-day gift plan for this. Each morning at breakfast (or bedtime, you choose!) kids unwrap a different package. These can start small like bubbles to use in line or stickers, and slowly build up to something larger (or even practical) like the shirt to wear on the plane. We like to wrap up our MagicBands and use them as one of the gifts as well, because it makes for a fun reveal and builds up that excitement!
Of course planning for a Walt Disney World® trip is exciting in itself, but sometimes I get lost in the details. I want the anticipation of the trip to be almost as much fun for my family as the trip itself, so by using the ideas outlined above we have been able to create wonderful family time and genuine memories that only added to our trip. These have become traditions in our family that my children still talk about, which tells me that it has all been worthwhile!
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