Best Ways to Surprise Your Child with a Walt Disney World Vacation?


I need your advice! In less than a month my wife and I plan to surprise our 5 year old daughter with a Walt Disney World vacation! Our little girl doesn’t know anything about the trip, and we’d love your help coming up with the best time and way to tell her… maybe even  come up with a way to get her to Orlando and onto Disney’s Magical Express before she figures it out.

Our daughter on her way to the Cinderellas Royal Table Breakfast - Our daughter’s been asking to go to Walt Disney World again, since our first trip there in 2012. This photo is of her as she was headed to meet all of the princesses at the Cinderella’s Royal Table breakfast, one of Walt Disney Worlds many super fun character dining experiences. We’ve been telling her maybe we’d go back “someday”, but implied it would not be soon.

Here’s where we need your advice. We want to come up with a good way to surprise her. Perhaps we could tell her that daddy (me) has a business trip someplace that would sound especially boring to a child? I’d say she and mommy can come and find something to do while I’m working?  Any ideas on someplace that will sound like the opposite of Walt Disney World to a 5 year old?

Help us surprise her! 🙂

How can we best throw her off The Magic Kingdom vacation surprise scent? Maybe we could say my business trip is to some remote town in New England, and tell her how much fun she and mommy will have visiting antique stores and quilting museums?  Can you suggest some locations or activities that would sound totally boring to a 5 year old girl? We’d love your help!

My wife ( and I will be sharing our trip via our blogs and all of the usual social media sites: Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook etc. And of course we’ll be sure to share our 5 year old daughter’s reaction as it dawns on her that she’s not really going to quilting museums, or whatever you help us come up with. Thanks so much for your advice!

Thanks for your advice!


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  1. Hi Michael,

    What a great idea! Perhaps you can tell her that you’re taking up carpentry (or auto mechanics) as a hobby and that you’re taking the trip to a place that has lots of tools shops and great ways to get started in this exciting, fascinating life hobby. You’ll spend time visiting tool shops and talking for long periods of time with men who are already well-versed in this area. Advise her to pack some books and coloring books so she can keep quiet and still during the talks.


    1. Hi Samantha!

      I love it! I can see her face now. 🙂

  2. Friends of ours just did this and successfully surprised their 3 kids aged 5-8! First they told them that only Mom and Dad were going on a trip, but didn’t say where. Then they told the kids they could go, but didn’t say where. The managed to keep it a secret until everything Disney started to become apparent. The kids were thrilled of course!

    1. Hello Kelli,

      Thanks so much for stopping by. Your friend’s plan, the part about “keeping it a secret until everything Disney started to become apparent,” is what I had in mind, too. I figure the farthest we’ll be able to go without her figuring it out is Disney’s Magical Express bus at the airport. 🙂

      Happy New Year!

  3. I am doing the same thing in a little over a month. It is for my daughters birthday and there will be a week and a half difference between her birthday and Disney so I decides to tell her on her birthday with a new suitcase full of Disney outfits and our magic bands and the maps I ordered.
    But my first thought was not tell her anything until the morning we left then just tell her where we were going. It made me nervous because she has never been on a plane before and I think she needs some warning knowing how she can over think things at 5 soon to be 6 years old.
    I think the trip for work idea is great and just let her figure it out on her own!

    1. In your case I can see why not waiting until just before makes sense. Our daughter has flown a number of times for holidays with family who don’t live near us, so we don’t have that concern. One person suggested we have the pilot announce it as we’re approaching Orlando? We went once before, and I’m pretty sure she’ll figure it out when we get off the plane. Plus we’ll be taking Disney’s Magical Express bus to our hotel. 🙂

    • Melissa Schmid on at
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    Michael, you should try a scavenger hunt. You and Shannon together could come up with some pretty exciting clues! Can’t wait to hear how she finally finds out!

    1. Thanks so much for that idea, Melissa. We’ve done something like that before (she reminded me recently) and she liked it. Someone else suggested we have the pilot announce it as we’re approaching Orlando?

  4. So, I am obviously a mom of boys…but telling her that this is a top secret business trip and your destination is completely undercover (the boys are big on spies) so she will have to be blindfolded once off the plane so she can’t give away the location. You could really play it up and tell her you have to bring bored games and books bc unfortunately she won’t be able to leave the hotel room – top secret security reasons

    1. LOL. I love it, Terra. Wonder if she could keep the blind-fold on? 🙂

  5. Wish I had seen this earlier… We did this last year but told her we were going to visit family (old people are best because there is no hope for fun with other kids usually). She didn’t catch on till we drove up onto world center drive where all the character billboards are on the sides of the road… We recorded the reaction too

    1. That’s super, Joel! Good idea about using “old” family to throw her off. Love to see the video. Thanks for dropping by!

  6. So we are about to surprise our 5 yr old with this trip in now just two weeks for fall break. She knows we are going on a trip just doesn’t know the destination. So I have a bag of Disney things to give her on either the final leg of our flight or when we get to the airport. I want to see if the flight crew on southwest will help us. If not then at the airport the Disney desk we check in at might help us tell her. Can’t wait

    1. That’s super! We got all the way to the Orlando Airport before we told her. I posted my wife’s video of that on another post here: Have a great trip. Stop back and let us know how the surprise went. Getting the Southwest crew to help is a great idea. Bet they will.

  7. I’m planning a similar trip, but we won’t be going until next October and my kids will be 14, almost 9, and almost 3 when we go. And we’ll be driving there, as it’s only a 10hr drive….

    I’m hoping the beans won’t spill until very close to time for us to go, but I suck at keeping such secrets and keep finding myself bubbling over with my own excitement to take them. LOL

    1. Hi Stephi! Even if the beans get spilled earlier than hoped, you guys will have a wonderful trip. I’ve been to both Walt Disney World and Disneyland in October, and LOVE all the Halloween decorations. Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party is really fun on select nights. It’s the one time you can dress in costumes, by the why. Have fun!

  8. Too fun! Sounds like you guys are already masters at creating brilliant life experiences 🙂 I can’t imagine keeping a straight face until the Magical Express arrives! It being magical….maybe they would put her name on their scrolling sign…as you wait for the boring taxi! Good Luck and can’t wait to see what happens!

    1. Thanks so much, Denise! We ended up telling her at the airport in Orlando. My wife shared the video on youtube, I think. 🙂

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