How to surprise your kids with a Disney Vacation – a Christmas Scavenger Hunt

by Nov 28, 2017


Surprise! We’re going to Walt Disney World® for Christmas!

In 2016, my husband and I decided to surprise our three children with our first Disney Christmas vacation. Yes, my kids have been to Walt Disney World® many times before, but this was a different sort of vacation for our family. The previous year, our two-week Christmas vacation was spent with my father, who later passed away right after the New Year. Since my children’s Christmas was filled with painful memories that year, we wanted to make new “magical” memories the following Christmas. Seven long months went by, and this was the biggest surprise their dad and I had ever kept from them; but with a little self-control, we did it!

As the time got closer to head on vacation, I started looking online about how to surprise your kids with the news of a Disney trip. I saw Mickey Mouse cakes, pizzas, and cards, but in the end, I decided to plan a scavenger hunt for them. I had no idea how to start, but I knew how to shop! So I started looking online and buying Disney-related items to use for prizes. I bought practical items they could use during our trip. I purchased things like Disney backpacks, bags of snacks, activity books for the plane ride, and autograph books. I chose less expensive items since I knew Disney would be our main shopping event.

After we booked our flights (another first for my kids) I had to pack for five people and wanted our suitcases ready to go. There was no way I could pack for all of us in secret, so we told our kids we were heading to Galveston for the weekend to see the Christmas lights. Yes, I know, bad momma, I tricked them, but since Galveston, Texas is somewhere we go all the time, they weren’t too suspicious by that. This way they helped pack the weekend before, and we were able to have the van loaded and ready to go. I left work early on the day of departure to come home and put out all of the clue cards and prizes I had prepared. When my husband brought the kids home from school, everything was in place. They had no idea what was happening!   



I made six clue cards, not including the first initial card to get them started on the hunt. I labeled each envelope with one child’s name so that they all had a fair chance at reading the cards and working together to figure out the clues. I tried my best to make up little rhymes to match with the items that I had hidden. Each card led them to certain spots around the house where prizes were hidden. Tip — I put backpacks with the first clue card, and these were great for them to carry their prizes in while they finished their scavenger hunt.

I chose locations like the dryer, the kitchen table, the bathroom cabinet, and a toy chest.  The last and final clue took them to the living room, where on the sofa I had placed three Disney Christmas ornaments. 

To give you an example of the clue cards, the last one read:

You’ve found Clue #6!

Go and pick us out a spot on the Christmas tree.

For your last clue grab a bag underneath the tree;

Open your bags on the count of 3.

Let’s see if you can guess your biggest Christmas present yet.


I had filled the bags with our personalized t-shirts, pin trading lanyards, and their MagicBands.They opened their bags, and couldn’t believe it; then the jumping and screaming came.

As a parent, it was an absolutely priceless moment for my husband and I to see our children’s faces filled with excitement and happiness. If you’re looking for a way to surprise your kids with an awesome Disney vacation, just have fun with it and be creative. Once you get started the ideas will keep coming. You won’t regret it!



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DeAnn Samuel

DeAnn Samuel

Travel Planner

Contact DeAnn today, using the links below!

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