Looking for advice on a silly topic! We typically do Disney every other year-ish and did a long (12 night) trip last August. However, we decided to book a quick trip (5 nights) for this summer to get a little Disney fix and see HEA again. We are currently 24 days out! We haven’t told our kids - 9 and 13 yrs old…yet. Should we tell them a week before on the last day of school as a little end of school year surprise OR wake them up super early in the morning for our flight and tell them that way? Trying to decide what will be more fun…I’m paranoid that my 13 year old is going to make plans with his friends and not be that excited when he has to miss them. I think the 9 year old will be excited either way.
I think the sooner the better.
Anticipation is part of the trip.
It really depends on the kids, TBH. My kids never like surprises liked that. All three needed time to prepare their brains for something like that. However, other kids would be over the moon excited to have something sprung on them like that.
I wouldn’t wait til last minute. It may not go as you are expecting and that would be a crummy way to start off a trip
I always preferred knowing to being surprised, even about things like Christmas gifts, because the anticipation is a huge part of it.
I think the surpriser tends to enjoy surprises more than the surprisee. But that’s just me, perhaps.
I think Christmas gifts are different because the anticipation is still there, that there will be something.
Then there’s the actual surprise on opening.
Quite different to a suprise holiday which is a completely unanticipated change in what you think you’re going to be doing that day and subsequent days.
I agree with the others. And if you are already questioning how your 13yo could react to the surprise announcement I think you know that might not be the best.
Agreed. I do hate surprises though.
I’m anti-surprise as well.
As others have said, anticipation is a huge part of the enjoyment of travel (research has proven than as much satisfaction comes from planning/anticipation as a trip itself) and I just hate surprises.
Even positive surprises come with expectations from the surpriser for a particular reaction. I hate the videos that parents post on social media of their kids reacting to a Disney trip that isn’t exactly what everyone expects (happy, joyous excitement). Not that you were planning to publicly share a video, but I’ve seen a lot of those with a bunch of comments about “ungrateful” kids if they are confused or have questions, etc.
I need time to adapt to a change of plans. Even for positive/wanted changes and even if I didn’t have particular plans that were being disrupted! I just need some time, and I know many people (including my kids) are similar.
Tell them ASAP, have a 14yo and she’s already got her entire summer planned because some of her friends are gone an entire month.
Really depends on your kids. Mine hate surprises and I agree anticipation is half the fun. Plus don’t they need to pack?
OK, thanks. I keep having this fear that we’d surprise them day of and they would not be excited. I’ll probably tell them sooner rather than later.
Like others have said, it depends on your kids.
We have done both. We woke them up on the last day of school before Thanksgiving Break and gave them each a present to open. The box contained maps of DLR and their annual passes for DLR. We were leaving the next day. DD, then 8 was ecstatic! DS, then 6, wasn’t sure what that all meant! We still had time to pack that day. One time in elementary, we packed the car, picked them up from school, and started driving towards Anaheim. DD, then 10, cried because she wanted to be home to do her normal routine of skating and ballet. DH and I looked at each other and that was the last time we did a surprise trip like that.
We have planned trips as a family from then on, accounting for their activities and things they wanted to do at home.
Do what fits your family. Have a great trip!
You can always do an activity as a surprise- like a special meal or something.
Definitely a concern at that age.
I like the idea of telling them on the last day of school.
I tried the early morning surprise wake up once with my DS and he cried. It was not a pleasant way to start vacation.
Beforehand! All good reasons above, but here’s one more practical one- then you don’t have to pack for everyone!
Let the teen in on the secret to help with planning. Especially how to spring it on the 9 yr day of.
Best of both worlds.
This made me lol - I took a video of my kids being surprised at Christmas with a late January trip - and they were excited, but not visibly so. They showed confusion more than anything. My video is soooo boring and lackluster to watch I don’t have social media - so I didn’t post - but it’s true, not all kids will show excitement right away.
I’ve only ever done a surprise with a last minute (like, booked the flights 5 days in advance) 3-day trip. For anything with actual planning involved though I usually want their input on at least some things, plus it’s more fun for me to share the excitement.
My niece didn’t know where we were going at all and it went well, but there was no giant “OMG!” surprise moment because I had it was planned like an adventure.
We started out with her mom and little sister at Cedar Point amusement park in OH just as a day trip for her birthday, and I asked if she wanted to come home with me instead of her mom. When we got in the car I said “Wouldn’t it be fun if I kidnapped you for the weekend? I’ll tell your mom we don’t know when we’re coming home.”
She agreed to the plan, even when I wouldn’t tell her exactly where we were going. We drove to Columbus instead of back to MI. We flew out in the morning and even when we got on the connecting flight to Orlando she didn’t realize we were going to WDW. I said we had to pick up the car, so she though we must be going to the beach!
I pretended to be super annoyed with the lines at the rental car counters, and said “I guess we’ll just have to take the bus.” She got really confused for a minute, and then the light bulb went on and she said “Wait! Are we going to Disney? For my actual birthday?” and just turned and headed toward the Magical Express line.
We surprised our kids on the last two trips, both for reasons of fun and for practicality. In January 2022, I was so paranoid that someone would get sick that we didn’t tell them until the night before we were leaving when I was sure we were getting on the plane. (We had to miss both Halloween and most of Christmas because of Covid so I really didn’t want to get their hopes up in advance and then have to punt.) It was such a fun surprise to tel them they were getting out of school and we were going to Disney! In November 2022, we told them a few days before. We went the week after Thanksgiving and because we host, I wanted the kids to be able to talk about it with family at Thanksgiving (who all already knew and had been keeping the secret for us).
It has started this thing, though, that the kids now anticipate us surprising them with trips We are going the week after Thanksgiving again this year and I’ll probably surprise them again, but I know they will see it coming this time!