Our trip to Disneyland in February was the first time for all of us so I wanted to find an extra special way to tell the kids we were going. To do this, I came up with a small treasure hunt throughout the house including a few fun new surprises along the way.
At 4 and 2 years old, I understand it is hard kids to grasp the concept of time so I waited until the week before our trip to let the kids know exactly when and where we were going. I figured only 7 days of “When are we going?” was best on both them and us. I had considered waiting until last minute, but the week gave me time to get things packed and ready without having to hide suitcases or answer questions from my 4 year old.
Our 10 day trip was basically divided into 3 parts – Disneyland, Legoland and then a few days with my husband’s parents in Palm Desert. My son loves treasure maps, so I decided to design a simple map for him with each of the destinations as small picture pieces to glue on. I wanted it to be fun and interactive while giving a visual image of the trip that he could look at and easily follow.
To prepare for the treasure hunt, I had my husband take the kids out of the house to a movie (Big Hero 6) Saturday morning. I set up 4 different treasure spots throughout the house – one with the initial instructions and one for each of the three locations we would be visiting on our trip.
When the kids got home, they were surprised with the new Little People airplane and their figures ready to go on a plane ride. Well,at least one of the kids was – the movie tired my 2 year old out so she ended up napping on the couch while her brother got to enjoy all the treasure hunt fun!
A small sign with the plane explained:
Their first clue read:
After first checking out Nova’s favorite sleeping spot on the main floor, Camden then headed upstairs to Keira’s bedroom where he knows she often naps. Here he quickly found their maps, along with our Grandma and Grandpa Little People figures and a small globe.
He was excited to get their maps and glue their pieces on before reading the next clue.
I had Legoland spelled out in Lego blocks overtop Camden’s bed. We had already spilled the beans to Camden about the Legoland trip so I knew finding this clue might not be all that exciting for him. I found the “Everything is Awesome” shirt at Target and decided to include it in a small box for him to build the hype.
After getting the LEGOLAND piece glued on, we read out the last clue:
We headed downstairs and in our (yet to be finished) basement playhouse Camden found this:
He seemed very excited about the new Fisher Price Little People Day at Disney set and the Mickey cupcakes, but it took some prompting before he clued in that we were going to Disneyland. In his mind Disneyland was all Mickey Mouse and Princesses so his reaction wasn’t exactly as I had hoped. Luckily we had the Disneyland planning DVD to watch so he could see some of the other fun “boy” stuff Disneyland has to offer.
I took video of him discovering the surprise, but I mistakenly deleted off our camera during our trip so I don’t have many pictures to share. I was upset about deleting the video at the time I did it, but since his reaction wasn’t that great I am not completely heartbroken over it.
After Camden checked out the new toys, we all sat down to enjoy the mickey cupcakes and watch the Disneyland planning DVD. Even though I have had it for several months, I resisted watching it until then so we could all get excited together. Keira eventually woke up and Camden was very excited to show her the new toys and explain the map to her.
I won’t lie that, after all my planning, I was a bit disappointed over my daughter sleeping through the fun and my son’s less then excited reaction to the Disneyland news. It was something I had kind of expected and knew to prepare for with kids so young, but I was a bit bummed nonetheless.
And to drive the point home that you REALLY can’t plan for everything with kids, we ended up with a trip to emergency room that same evening. Our excitement filled day was capped off by my poor little guy falling off a bar stool and breaking his arm. He ended up going in for surgery the next morning, just 6 days before the trip, and we were left questioning whether we could even go on the trip. Lucky for us, the surgeon cleared him to go and the broken arm really didn’t limit Camden from being able to enjoy almost all the rides and activities at the parks.
Even though everything did not work out as planned, I still had a lot of fun planning our treasure hunt surprise and I know if I do something similar next time there will be a lot more excitement as the kids have now been and know the magic of Disney. I just hope next trip announcement doesn’t involve any broken bones!