10 things you can do to add to the magic for your kids.
Every Disney trip is going to be a special, memory making event. Many first time park goers, and even park veterans want to think about extra things they can do to add to the magic that occurs during a Disney vacation. There are many things you can do with a little planning, some very budget friendly, that can add a special touch of magic to your trip.
- Have a special gift sent to your hotel room. You can do this by either using the official Disney Floral and Gifts that offer a wide variety of packages, including seasonal and special occasions, or by doing it yourself. If you are doing your own in–room celebration, it’s easy for mom to “forget” something on the way to the park and have to run back to the room and quickly set up a special gift basket. A special touch that you can do yourself would be to include a card, or letter from your child’s favorite character welcoming them to the resort. You can never go wrong with new pool toys, tattoos or snacks.
- Take a special backstage tour. Many types of tours are offered at both Disneyland and Disneyworld. Tours like The Backstage Tour, Backstage Safari, and Walt Disney: Marceline to Magic Kingdom Tour. Disney also offers seasonal tours around Halloween and Christmas time. Check out the Official Disney page for a complete listing of tours offered, as well as the requirements for the tours. Keep in mind that there may be age requirements. Primarily so the magic is not spoiled for the younger park goers. You can find information about some of the tours Disney World offers here.
- Let your child wear costumes! Especially for new Disney park goers, you may not be aware that a large number of children will be dressed up as their favorite characters. You should go ahead and plan to let your child dress up if they want to. They may not want to at first, but when they see the hordes of children dressed up they may begin to sing a different tune. In addition, the extra attention your child will receive from cast members makes it worth it. If your child does end up wearing a costume to the parks, have them wear sneakers! As adorable as the costume would be with the matching shoes, your sanity will be saved with sensible walking shoes.
- Take your princesses to the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, in both Disneyland and Disneyworld. I have written a more extensive article on the subject, also on this site. In addition, at the Magic Kingdom your children can get dressed up like a pirate, at the Pirates League. If you prefer, you can also create a similar magical experience in your room with a little extra planning. Bring along a costume, some kid friendly make-up, nail polish, tattoos, and hair accessories you can do your own mini makeover as a surprise before you hit the parks. Just don’t forget the pixie dust!
- Let the kids play in the water! Plan to pack a change of clothes, or a swimsuit for the parks. Especially in Florida where it’s hot for 10 months out of the year. There are lots of opportunities (intentional, or not) for kids to play and cool off in the water. Newly opened in the heart of new Fantasyland, the Casey Jr. Splash and Soak Station. The kids can cool off while the parents take a breather. Let’s not forget the dancing fountains in Epcot, and cooling/misting stations in all of the parks.
- Take a fireworks cruise, or have dessert while watching fireworks. Disney World offers a Pirates & Pals Fireworks Voyage around the Seven Seas Lagoon. The voyage includes sing-alongs, stories, and games. You get a close-up view of the Electrical Water Pageant, weather and schedule permitting. To top off the voyage you anchor to watch Wishes Nighttime Spectacular over Cinderella’s Castle. One of my favorite things to do while at Disneyland is to eat dessert at the Café Orleans while watching Fantasmic. Hint: get there early for prime seating. They rope off the area about 45 min. to one hour beforehand.
- Plan a scavenger hunt for your children. There is a lot of information online about how to plan a hunt. Also, in a similar manner, there is a book called “Things To Do In Line”, that provides questions and things to look for while in line for different attractions.
- Spend time at the Disney Resorts and take advantage of the special daily programs they offer. For example, campfire activities like story-telling, sing-alongs, and roasted marshmallows, take place at 14 different Walt Disney World Resorts. Come for the campfires, stay for the movies. Many resorts host Movies Under the Stars; complimentary movie screenings of Disney Movies. For a complete listing of activities at your resort contact Guest Services for the recreation calendar.
- Let the children plan the day. Have them decide what park to go to, what to ride, and where they want to eat, etc. I would definitely recommend this on a day when you have built in flexibility. Or if the children are old enough, let them participate in the ADR (advanced dining reservation) process. Just think of the pride they will feel in planning a fun-filled day for the family.
- Make sure you are going out of your way to act like a kid. This may come naturally to some of us when we are in the parks already, but if you make sure that you are letting go, and having fun, and being “Vacation Mom or Dad” your kids are going to remember it. There is no reason why you can’t wear Mickey Ears, or ride on Dumbo with your kids, and no one will look at you twice for getting your picture taken with Mickey. These are the things your children will remember. Disney vacations, like all vacations, should be about making memories with your family.
There are lots of other places you can go on vacation, but a Disney vacation is going to be magical with a little bit of planning, and forethought. I have said it before, and I will say it again, that the only people that complain about Disney vacations, or think Disney is only for children, are people that have either never gone, or never put the time into planning before they travelled. Both Disneyland and Disneyworld have something for everyone. You just have to know the opportunities that are available to you, and how to best make use of those opportunities.