By Kristi Letsinger
I often find myself longing for the sights and sounds of Disney. It doesn’t seem to matter if we have just returned from a trip or are getting ready to leave for one, there are days that I just need some instant “magic,” if only for a little while. My children seem to feel the same way. Our conversations often start with, “Do you remember when we rode…” or “Do you remember when we saw…” and they all end with a trip down Disney memory lane.
In order to keep some of the magic alive while we are at home in Tennessee, we have come up with a few ways to put a little pixie dust into our nights or days. Most of these are simple and require little if any planning.
Disney Theme Nights
These nights are wonderful if you need more than a moment or two of magic. Pick a Disney movie that you and your family enjoy or one that you want to introduce to your kids. What food reminds of you of this movie? Prepare that food for dinner! What is a game or craft that you could do that ties in with the movie? Plan for that during or after the movie! You can make a theme night out of any movie!
We recently planned a Monsters Inc. night. We ate Chinese food (the restaurant in the movie is Japanese but we like Chinese), ate off of green plates (like Mike), made Mike faces out of the green paper plates, painted our own monsters, and played hide and seek around the house (BOO!). My children loved this and still talk about this when we watch the movie!
Pictures and Memories
One of the things that we enjoy as a family is to look through pictures from past Disney trips. My children bring out their old autograph books that I have put character pictures in. We look through scrapbooks and look at home videos and even occasionally videos on the internet. This sounds so simple but it does so much to keep that magic alive and growing!
Theme Park Picks
Whether we are getting ready for a trip or not we often will look at the park maps and plan out our next trip. We talk about what we want to see, where we want to eat, who we want to see, and what we really want to do. This helps me to plan for the next trip and get their input into what they really enjoyed and what they are looking forward to the next time that they go.
Look for Mickeys
My daughter has a habit of finding Mickey heads where ever she goes. Anytime we see three circles close together, we call it a Mickey head. This is fun in a store or on a trip — really anywhere you need to keep the children occupied!
We often color and paint at our house. So one of the ways that I try to keep Disney alive at our house is to purchase craft supplies that are Disney-themed and keep them on hand. Whenever we need a Disney pick me up, we paint or color our way to a smile! We have Mickey and Princess sun catchers hanging in our kitchen window right now!
When we begin to plan for a real trip, we have lots of Disney activities that we do around our house!
Count Down Chain
We make a count down chain to our Disney trip. I have the kids paint paper, then cut it into strips. Once it is cut, we put Disney stickers on each piece and staple them together. It is fun for the kids to tear one off each night as we count down to our trip. This past trip the kids saved their strips and we put them back together after our trip!
Before our last trip, each person in our travel party made a small poster of their past trips to Disney and added comments, pictures, stickers, and other embellishments. We took these with us to Disney and hung them on the inside of our doors with magnets. These were fun to look at during our time in the room. Just be sure to take magnets and not use any type of adhesive in the hotel room.
During the year, I purchase little Disney-themed items when I find them on sale or at the dollar store. I use these items for the bags that we give the kids each morning while we are at Disney. Each kid gets a Disney-print baggie bag each morning that includes trading pins, candy or gum, stickers, and a small toy. Occasionally, it will also contain jewelry, a gift card or other item depending on what day it is. These bags also include a paper copy of our schedule for the day with the dinner reservation and anything else special that we have for the day. I do think that I, as the adult, enjoy these bags as much as the kids. I enjoy making them and thinking about how much the kids will enjoy them.
I have made these not only for my kids but also for other adults that have traveled with us. For the adults I have put in lip gloss, hand sanitizer, tissue, and other items that adults (or older kids) might use.
Surprise Travel Bags
We had special bags made for each child that says their name and “Disney Bag” embroidered on it. The children only get these bags once we are settled into the car or plane and are on our way to Disney. During the time before the trip (just like the daily bags), I purchase items that are Disney-themed that I think the kids will enjoy and that will keep them occupied during our travel time. I look all year for these items so that I can get them on clearance, on sale, at yard sales, etc. In the past this has included: crayons, markers, paper, coloring books, books, stuffed animals, computer games, movies, etc. I often add special snacks especially for each child as well. Although the actual contents of the bags are a surprise each trip, the kids know that they are coming and look forward to looking through them!
These are some of the ways our Disney family keeps the magic alive between trips, and how we add magic to each trip we take to Disney—having these activities makes the time between Disney vacations a little more magical.
How does your family keep the magic alive between trips? Do you have special activities or traditions you maintain before each Disney vacation? Let us know on TheMouseForLess, or email us at email@example.com. We’ll publish readers’ submissions in a future issue of Magically Speaking.
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- The Long Haul to Disney: Creating a Successful Disney Road Trip