Nov 14 2011

Why We Didn’t Keep Our Disney Trip a Secret from the Kids

Disneyland Cinderella Castle

This winter, we’re planning our first BIG family trip.  Sure, we’ve roadtripped all over the place, but we usually choose our destinations based on their affordability and driveability.  This time, we’ll be flying to the west coast, destination California.

I know that a lot of families keep Disney trips a secret up until the last possible minute, and I don’t blame them a bit for it.  We told our kids about our trip as soon as we started planning it, however.  These were my reasons for not keeping our Disney trip a secret.

  • I hate keeping secrets.  Sure, I can do it if I have to, but I hate the secrecy of it all.  Yes, I know that’s the idea, but I’m always afraid I’m going to slip and say something I shouldn’t.
  • Half the fun is in planning.  I’m certainly the primary vacation planner in the household, but it’s fun to bring my family into the conversation.  We’ve had some interesting discussions about why I’ve chosen one hotel over another, and looked at the map to see where we’ll be.  I’ve handed brochures and guidebooks to the kids so they can be experts in parts of the trip.  It’s fun to talk about our upcoming trip.
  • The kids have their own ideas.  As soon as I mentioned California, my eight-year-old instantly said, “Legoland!”  Disney wasn’t his top priority.  My five-year-old’s request was to go to a desert.  Without their input, I might not have chosen the right combination of “When in Rome” things to do.
  • It’s not just Disney.  Perhaps if we were going to Walt Disney World and that was our entire trip, a secret would work out better, but although Disneyland is an exciting part of our trip, we’ll be seeing plenty of other things as well.  I wanted the kids to know about some of the places we’re going ahead of time.
  • Packing.  I’m by no means a last-minute packer.  When I went to Legoland Florida by myself, I started four days ahead of time.  When packing for a plane ride for six of us, I anticipate lining up the suitcases two weeks in advance.  It’s kind of hard to keep a vacation a secret when there are obvious signs like that in plain sight.
  • School.  Because our children will miss some days of school, I fully anticipate some rough nights with a lot of make-up work to do before we leave.  If their teachers can prep the assignments, we’re going to try to get the work done before we go, so we can enjoy the vacation without schoolwork hanging over us.  If the trip were a surprise, the kids would wonder why they had so much extra homework.  We don’t take pulling them out of school lightly, so I want to make it as easy on teachers and kids as possible.
  • Money.  Letting our children know about the vacation ahead of time has been an opportunity for fiscal education.  We explained to them right away that vacations cost money, and that we were all going to work together to supplement what we’d budgeted for our vacation.  We’ve cut back on day trips and eating out, and each time we forego doing something we’d usually do this time of year, we put the money we would have spent on it in the “vacation jar.”  It’s been a good conversation starter as we talk about how much things cost.
  • Transitions.  While my kids are generally adaptable to new situations, they do much better if they know what’s coming next.  Especially because this is their first time flying, we’ll be able to talk ahead of time about what to expect when going through security, the lines and waiting that will be involved, what it will be like on the airport, and so on.
  • Anticipation.  I know we’ll have some crazy days as we approach departure when we all have butterflies in our stomachs from the anticipation of the trip.  I’m pretty sure we’ll have a couple who can’t sleep the night before we leave.  At that point, I’ll probably wish we would have kept it a big secret.

If you’ve gone to a Disney destination, did you tell your children beforehand or keep it as a surprise?



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Published by at 2:43 pm under Family Travel
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5 comments so far

5 Comments to “Why We Didn’t Keep Our Disney Trip a Secret from the Kids”

  1. Traci on 14 Nov 2011 at 7:49 pm

    We’ve done it both ways, actually. When my son was only four, we kept it from him until a few days before. A lot of the reasons you mentioned, like catching up on school work, weren’t applicable in this case, and he would have driven us CRAZY asking every day if this was the day!

    When he was six, we involved him in the process, and he loved poring over maps and helping us plan. As you mentioned, this is really a big part of the fun!

  2. mary on 14 Nov 2011 at 9:24 pm

    Never! I could never keep it a secret, I love the planning almost as much as the vacation itself ! !!

  3. Krysta Radder@diy upvc windows on 24 Nov 2011 at 3:08 am

    I agree with you Minniemom! I think the maximum fun is planning a vacation/trip.

    I have seen the enthusiasm, when i tell them about the place we are traveling. even if for two days, they have their wishlists, plans, things to see etc..

    I personally don’t like to keep such great things as a secret!

  4. Cindy on 30 Nov 2011 at 5:18 pm

    i surely would keep it as a surprise;)

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