Monday, February 8, 2016

Disney World: Scavenger Hunts and Special Surprises

After talking with friends about some of the special Disney moments my husband and I have created for our girls over the years, I was inspired to share the inexpensive ideas with readers here.  While this is a blog that was created for Girl Scouts Leaders, I know troop leaders plan family vacations and road trips too.  In this post, I will detail two scavenger hunts and a special surprise that will help create magical moments for the precious little ones in your life.  Not going to Disney?  That's okay.  Modify these ideas to fit your vacation or road trip destination.  I hope your kids enjoy these activities and surprises as much as our girls do!

Scavenger Hunts
1.  We visit Disney World in January, when the rates and crowds (and unfortunately the temperatures) are at their lowest.  One Christmas, we decided to create a scavenger hunt to tell the girls about our upcoming trip.
Hint #1:
The day is closer than you think
It's time to make a chain of links...
"Why?" you wonder.  "I need a clue."
Go look inside your sparkly shoe.  

Hint #2:
We'll travel by plane but not by car.
No way we'd drive, it's way too far.*   
Still need help?  Another hint?
Look on the tree--think peppermint.
(The next clue was taped to a candy cane). 
Hint #3:
Pack your bags and don't forget
Act like a princess, you'll be all set.
Your nails we'll paint, your hair we'll curl...
We're on our way to Disney World!
*My husband and I accrue Delta SkyMiles with our American Express credit card which makes flying to Florida much more affordable.  I know many, many people drive to Disney, so I wrote an additional hint that can be substituted for Hint #2 above:
Alternative Hint #2:
Get your crayons, and grab your books. 
The drive is further than it looks. 
Still need help?  Another hint?
Look on the tree--think peppermint.
2.  The year our girls were in 3rd and 1st grade, my husband and I secretly planned a trip to Disney World.  Instead of shrieking and squealing when the surprise was revealed as we had expected, the girls worried about missing school and upsetting their teachers.  My husband and I agreed surprising them was more work for us, and we wouldn't try it again.  That being said, I've heard many success stories.  I'd love for you to share yours!  My advice is to be prepared for anything.
Hint #1: 
We have something for you.
This is going to be fun.
Go look on the washer...
Please walk.  Do not run.
*My husband and I put the box of Magic Bands on the washing machine with the second clue. 

Hint #2:
You will find a sweet treat
that was made just for you.
Go look where we eat...        
SURPRISE!!! We have so much to do! 
*They saw this sign on the kitchen table next to a plate of Mickey Mouse-shaped chocolate chip pancakes (We just added two smaller circles to the larger circle of batter).
 Special Surprises
Tinker Bell visits our house before we leave for Disney World, and she happens to stop in our hotel room while we're in the parks.  Prior to the trip, I hit Walgreens and Dollar Tree to pick up a couple cute items to give the girls from Tinker Bell.   When they were younger and didn't recognize my writing, I would handwrite a little note for each gift and leave it on the table when we were on our way out the door.  As they've grown, I've started typing the notes.  When we return to the room, they discover a small surprise.  I don't do this every day. This makes it more magical because they don't know when she might stop by.  From personal experience, I will say visits from Tinker Bell are still fun even if your kids no longer believe in magic.

Examples of Special Surprises:
  • gum in a fun flavor they don't get on a regular basis
  • character sunglasses
  • sparkly headbands
  • ring pops*
  • animal crackers* 
  • Disney PEZ dispenser 
  • Princess toothbrushes
  • Princess or Mickey activity book for the airplane or car ride (Dollar Tree) 
  • glow sticks (Dollar Tree)
*I have seen Disney Princess ring pops at several stores in the past.

*This year I found the cutest boxes of animal crackers at Walgreens that would be a perfect snack for a visit to Animal Kingdom.  

Examples of Notes from Tinker Bell:
  • GUM (the morning we leave):  "I was so excited to learn you were coming to Disney World!  I thought you might enjoy this little treat, especially when you are on the airplane.  I know my ears pop when I fly to Neverland.  Travel safely.  We'll see ya real soon!  --Tink"
  • DARTH VADER PEZ DISPENSER:  "Welcome to Disney World!  I understand you went to Hollywood Studios today.  I heard you rode Star Tours for the very first time.  WOW!  I hope you enjoyed it.  Here's a little momento to help you remember the thrill of that experience.  And may the force be with you!  --Tink"
  • ANIMAL CRACKERS (pictured above):  "Enjoy these cute animal crackers if you get hungry while you're waiting in line for the Lion King show at Animal Kingdom today.  I love the safaris!  Make sure to take some pictures of the animals, and hold on tight!  --Tink"
  • GLOW STICKS:  "You’re heading to Magic Kingdom today!  Make sure to watch for me in the Electrical Parade.  I’ll see you if you’re wearing one of these glow sticks.  Have a magical day!  --Tink" 
These ideas can be modified to fit any trip whether you're traveling to Disney, going to the beach, staying in a cabin in the woods, or spending one night away from home.  Have boys?  Instead of Tinker Bell, maybe Spiderman leaves him something special.  I don't spend a lot of money on these gifts.  In fact, I often try to find something the girls can share.  Sure, it might take a few minutes to come up with the scavenger hunt hints or the gift notes, but that is fun for me.  I hope you have fun with it too.  Enjoy your time together!  Have a magical day!

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