Kids' first trip: how much should they know?

Since we are doing a short trip- three days in the parks (no Epcot), we are going to have to prioritize rides and shows. I have already told my kids (ages 7 and 9) there will be things we won’t have time to do. They have a general idea about what will be there and what they want to do based on their friends’ stories, and a couple of ride videos, but I’ve limited the videos to only those I don’t know if they’d want to do or not- 7DMT, SD and HM. We are doing several character dining experiences, but they don’t know this, or that it is even an option, because I want them to have that sense of magic we all are looking for at WDW, where some characters might just drop in while we’re having lunch to say hi.

I see the latest edition of Birnbaum’s Disney book for kids is coming out in the next couple of weeks, and I’m tempted to get it for my son, as he LOVES planning, pouring over maps, etc. But I’m afraid if I get it two things will happen 1) he’ll want to do everything 2) some of the magic will be lost because they’ll talk about character meals and other experiences I had wanted to surprise them with.

Am I worrying needlessly? Or, is it better that they know what to expect because too much newness at once is overwhelming? How much did you let your older kids know about the trip the first time they went? I want them to have input on the trip- we are going for them, after all, but I also want it to be a magical experience. How do I find the balance?

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Not sure, on one hand, I’d keep everything to yourself as it’s a short trip and you can’t do everything, on the other hand, it depends, when is your trip? can things be changed? are all your meals character ones?

We’re going the end of October. I’ve outlined for them the general plan for each day, in terms of rides/ shows - in HS my son wants to do Jedi Training and my daughter wants to do the sing-along with Elsa and Ana, for example, so they have a general idea of what’s going on. In terms of rides they basically know what is available at each park and what we’re doing, but dining we haven’t really talked about, except for Leaky Cauldron at US and they know we’re eating in the Beast’s castle (but he won’t be there because he gets up late). For character meals, we’re just doing Crystal Palace (first day) and Tusker House (last day).

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We went on our first trip at the end of June with our kids - 11,11,6 and 5. We really didn’t tell them anything. :wink: they knew about lunch at CRT and we took our twins to Harry Potter World all day one day, while our littles stayed with the grandparents…and the twins helped plan that day. I loved having everything be new and a surprise and they did, too. My older kids love planning and maps, too, but we had them do a “kid’s trip report” type scrapbook when we got home with maps, pictures, etc. It was fun to relive our trip.

I also didn’t want them to know too much, in case a ride was down or I needed to change plans on the fly. My good friend showed her kids every ride video there is and when a few went down and their plans changed, her kids were disappointed. We wanted just joy, no disappointment on our trip! :wink:

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If you are planning on going again at some point, don’t worry too much. There’s only so much you can do in three days, and you’ll also need time to relax and travel. Don’t plan things a zillion miles an hour, or you’ll be miserable. Prioritize, and realize that you can’t do everything.

As far as letting them in on the planning…
That’s a tough one - my opinion? If they already know a few things they want to do, then that’s good enough - especially if you are planning on going again. You gotta take the reigns on a short trip.


I say keep them out of the planning, you know them best and leave a little room in each day for them to choose if they want to ride a ride they see or if they want to ride a particular one again (obv not something that needs a hard to get FPP) If something doesn’t go according to plan you can always just move on to the next thing, but if they know they may be bummed.
I am planning our second trip within a year right now and my family is being a pita with their input :stuck_out_tongue: Granted, I asked. My mistake is always including my hubby and kids in planning anything and then realize I shouldn’t have. Puts more pressure on me to get specific dining etc. Told them I always make it awesome and will include some family loved rides/dining but want to incorporate new as well.

I think it’s perfect that they know a few things but not everything. For me the anticipation is a big part of the fun, so I wouldn’t want them to miss out on that part.

I think you’ve handled it perfectly! Just a taste to get them excited! Short stay or long stay - you can never do it all! Just go with a plan but be ready to go with the flow according to what works for your family. Most of all enjoy your time together and savor the magic!

Agree, I think your approach to involve them in some planning but not everything is best. My DS7 is still harping about some of the things we didn’t have time for on our trip at the end of August (Sorcerers of the MK and meeting Elvis Stitch at the Halloween party). I do wish I had never told him about Stitch!

At the age of your kids, I do think they’d be disappointed to miss things and no matter how well you know your kids, they can always surprise you by being really into something unexpected. So, if they never know about it, it may be better for everyone.

Thanks for all the assurances that we are good as we are. I think I’ll try to print out some color maps for my son, as that is what he keeps asking about. Might be a good thing to have someone else have a sense of where we’re going :slight_smile: