Epic Surprise

I am completely obsessed with planning a surprise trip for my sister’s family! I came across this site and the planner in me is in absolute heaven! We’ve only ever visited for single day trips and the kids were too little to remember most if it. However, they are huge Disney fans! (My nephew said if he could just stand near the entrance to Magic Kingdom, the Disney magic would fall on him and it would be enough!). :two_hearts:Honestly… he has no idea what’s coming!!

There will be 9 of us (6-73) staying off property in January. (Big reveal at Christmas so the kids can anticipate and plan with me! - ideas welcome!) I’ve secured ADRs for CRT (10:10am) SF (4:30) OH (3:30) BOG (8:30 am) and CM (11:45am) park days and 2 rest days… my sister and I ate at CRT 20 years ago, but never anywhere else. Have I chosen wisely? I’d like to get an earlier CRT or a later OH, but with 9, I’m not sure it will work.

I’m nervous about FP at the 30 day mark - especially since I’ll need to do a day at a time. We don’t even know if they like roller coasters, yet!! RD is an option for us, but we are not all early birds - it will be harder as the week goes along. We are driving/parking… thinking of 7:30 departure days for 9am openings.

EMH are listed for our first two mornings in the parks I’ve chosen (MK and AK.). I think MK would be okay, but maybe I should swap the AK and EP days to avoid crowds? (3/4 predicted)

Ideally, I’d like to have everything planned to the -nth degree before we leave so I can relax and enjoy ALL of the moments without constantly adjusting the plans. It sounds like the most effective planning is a complete work in progress even after arrival. Is that really what I want to do? All of the adults have happily agreed to do what I tell them …I just don’t want to be a task master the whole time! We do want to be efficient and get as much as possible out of the trip.

On another note, we’ll be getting the Armed Forces Salute tickets for 2019… can those be ordered in 2018 to be used in January? Otherwise, our 30 day window will be shorter.

I am eager to hear from you experts!! This blog has been my daily entertainment for some time… I’m soaking it all up! 107 days…


Welcome. Nine people, that is a lot of organisation but what a fun time you will have. Will you have two cars, so the group can split occasionally or are you hoping to do everything as a group? I am a RD convertee and I think that if you can RD each park once, you will have a fabulous time. I think that when your group sees how much they can do at RD they may happily get up and out on other days. Looking forward to following along with your plans.

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I think this is a contradiction in terms. You’ve got to allow A LOT of wiggle room with that many people, especially with kids. You WILL be adjusting the plans. If you plan to the -nth degree that’s almost a guarantee things won’t go off as you wish, there are too many random things you can’t account for.

On the other hand, I once did this with my family on our 10th wedding anniversary- but NONE of them knew we were going until the morning of. Everyone from our bank to DH’s office was in on it- but the family had no clue until the morning we left. DH didn’t believe it until I put the airplane tickets in his hand.

They will LOVE this, no matter what you do or if your plans don’t work out exactly the way you’d like! So don’t stress too much about every detail. Do your best and realize that things will not go perfectly, but still- it’s going to be awesome!


I’ll only speak to this one.

Shades of Green has them available now - procedures over at shadesofgreen.org . Your base ticket office will probably not have them until mid to late December, at best.

They’re what I use, whenever I can’t justify the Annual Pass.

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About 5 years ago we had 14 going. We had two neo green t-shirts per person that I got when they were on sale at Michaels. I put a family logo on and gave them for Christmas presents. This helped us to spot each other in a crowd. We did not always travel as a group because there were many different interests like some wanting roller coasters and others wanted to meet characters but we met for meals. We would regroup at lunch and dinner to figure out what our plan was. We did rope drop and did early morning rides together. Then we split up with the adults taking different kids each time. It gave us some quality time with the kids. We had the kids watch YouTube videos to see what rides/entertainment they thought they might like and split up accordingly. I also let everyone know that they were not subject to my plan and could bail and go their separate ways at any time which worked out great as sometimes someone just needed a break from the group. We loved Flame Tree in AK as a quick serve. Cosmic Rays in MK had a toppings bar for your hamburgers so that also worked for us. Sunshine Seasons in Epcot was also a good choice. Have fun planning and stay flexible during your visit and you will all have a great time.


What an exciting surprise you have planned! Hope everything comes together for you smoothly. I’m sure the kids will be thrilled!

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You’ve mentioned some of my favorite restaurants… they are all on the list! I love the idea of sharing videos to prep the kids ahead of time. Thank you for the tips!!

This is GREAT news!! I was so hoping we could use all 30 days to plan our FPP.


@pod I’m hoping to find the perfect blend of planned and relaxed… maybe choose the slower walking timeframe and a select number of activities so we have free time built in. I definitely have a little bit of fear of missing something awesome! Thanks for the encouragement!

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If you aren’t eligible to use EMH, I would avoid those parks on those days unless your tickets have Park Hopper. I don’t know anything about military tickets so I don’t know if yours do or not. EMH days really do get more crowded as the day goes on than non-EMH days. In fact, even with hopping if you can’t do EMH I think I would try to avoid those parks. JMHO!

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Military Salute tickets come in only two varieties: Park Hopper and Park Hopper Plus.

And they can do EMH if they’re staying onsite just like with any other ticket type.

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Oh ok!

But she said they’re staying off property, so I would still lean toward avoiding EMH parks.

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Oops! I’d forgotten that by now.

Then yes, I would tend to steer clear of EMH parks, as they will already have crowds building by the time “regular” rope drop happens.

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On second thought, Animal Kingdom should be fine. Most of the EMH crowd will probably be bottled up in Pandora anyway.

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