Ideas for surprising kids with a Disney World trip – PREP020

Lots of parents have dreams of surprising their kids with a trip to Disney World.

Today, I have some ideas for how you might want to pull off the surprise (just be sure to not have super high expectations for their reaction - you never know how it's going to go).

I also have a quick tip on preventing motion sickness on a ride at Epcot.

These are notes from this episode. There's much more info included in the audio so be sure to listen to the episode for a better explanation.

4 ways to surprise kids

1. Custom lottery ticket
Either make or order a custom lottery ticket that will announce the trip.

DIY scratch-off lottery ticket tutorial -

diylottery 600x395 - Ideas for surprising kids with a Disney World trip - PREP020
Photo credit to

Etsy shop to order custom tickets and decoder messages -

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Photo credit to the crankbunny Etsy shop

2. Phone call from a character
Have a friend who sounds like a character call you or pay $5 to hire somebody on to record a message for you.

Mickey or Goofy voice actor -

Princess voice actress -

To have your call appear to come from Florida, sign up for a free Florida Google Voice number at and then have that call forward to your home phone number.

You may also want to setup a contact in your phone beforehand with a custom picture and name to show that the call is coming from Disney World or from the character.

Here's a video of a family who did this for their trip surprise...

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3. Puzzle scavenger hunt
The basic idea is that you set up a scavenger hunt to find puzzle pieces and then when the puzzle is put together in the end, it announces your Disney World trip.

To create the puzzle, you can design a graphic and upload it to a site that will create the puzzle piece layout such as

You can also order a puzzle for just $5 and this site allows you to make some simple customizations like background color and text -

Here's a video of a family who did this with their 3 children (the people who uploaded the video won't allow it to be embedded so you'll need to click over to watch it on YouTube) -

4. Road trip scavenger hunt
Driving to Disney World and need to entertain kids along the way? Reveal your trip with clues during your trip like this family did...

hqdefault - Ideas for surprising kids with a Disney World trip - PREP020

Quick tip of the day

People are often scared to ride Mission: Space at Epcot due to the potential for motion sickness. One way to make it easier is to make sure you face forward during the ride. Parents often want to look at their children next to them but the best idea is to just face forward and watch the screen in front of you.

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Please share them in the comments.

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We just surprised our 7 and 4 1/2 year old with the news that we will be going to WDW in September. I had custom t-shirts made for each person in our family (and Grandma, because she is going also). Grandma came over for dinner and I came into the room and said, not sure what this is but a package came. On the package was a letter. The letter was from Mickey Mouse and told the kids he heard they were going to Disney world. He mentioned a few things about the last visit we had and said that he designed the shirts and wanted us to pack them in our bags when we go. The kids have not stopped talking about the fact they are going and keep showing the letter to people.

You can surprise your kids with a customized Mickey voiceover audio file or a phone call. You can go to or and choose which package works for you. You typically receive the file same day, but can choose when you need it. Just leave a short script with the kids’ names, destination, any special things etc. It’s a cool way to surprise your kids!

Susan Goodwin

I want to surprise my 12 year old with a trip to WDW in 2019. We went for his first time this past October and he loved it! He knows I am working on a trip for around that time, but I want the day we leave to be an actual surprise. We will be either driving, in which case I will need to figure out how to hide the luggage in my minivan, or taking the train (I can use the excuse of going to visit a relative for the first leg of the trip). How can I continue to keep it a surprise as we travel?

Johnny McCarron

I really like that you put a tip here about what to do when you are on certain rides in Disney World. I really want to make sure that I am doing what I can to make my kid’s experience at Disney World as nice as possible. Do you have any other tips in regards to how to prevent motion sickness on rides?


I’m having a hard time containing my excitement of going. We (myself and DD – 11 at time of visit) will be going in 404 days. I managed to keep our last big vacation (a non Disney cruise) a secret until we arrived at the docks but that was only for 6 months. This is a 13 month secret. I don’t want her to know until we exit plane and I give her, her personalized Magic Band (which I’m hoping to paint and customize for her). I know I’m going to have to pack her luggage so the luggage tags don’t give it away, any other tips to help myself?


How is it going so far keeping the secret? We have 11 months left for our trip. I surprised my sons the first time and they said I would never be able to surprise them again, so challenge accepted! I find it easier if I don’t talk about disney around them at all. I have been watching so many Disney videos on youtube to get my fix. Are you going to record the surprise?

Lavonne Yates

Where can you buy the lottery tickets to reveal you are going to Disney?


It’s all over pinterest. Just look up home made lotto tickets or something.

Stacee Baran

We went to Disney in 2011. My kids were 5 and 3 at the time. We surprised them by waking them up at 6:00 am. With t-shirts and Goofy and Mickey stuffed animals. They were sleeping in the same bed that night. My husband and I woke them up at the same time the three year old whined grabbed his Goofy and rolled bake over. The five year old just put the pillow over his head. They were both sooooo mad that I woke them up. I told them that we were going to Disney they didn’t really care. Then I told them that there Grandma and Grandpa where there to take us to he airport. And we were going to Disney to see the real Mickey Mouse, Goofy, and Stitch. Then they got all excited and happy to go. We got it all on the video tape. And now we look back and it’s funny. We are going to Disney June 2015, and this time they know. We are doing a 100 day countdown!!!!!

Kimberly Mcclain

Wonderful tips! I made matching Tshirts and had them delivered by “Pocahontas”! She read a scroll letter from Mickey, that explained the gift and told them that everyone at Walt Disney World was looking forward to seeing them in “1week”! She also sat with them and opened each gift. They were beyond surprised and excited!!!

Jon Aoki

Great tips! I ordered the Golden Ticket from Etsy and a Snow White voice-over from Bella at the link listed above. Bella has a great princess voice and she carried herself just like Snow. Looking forward to surprising the family with these suggestions. Thanks Shannon.


We surprised our 5 year old son with a Disney World trip last year. It wasn’t his first time going, but we thought we would make it surprise this time. It was awful. He saw the Disney buses and got mad because we didn’t tell him where we were going. He got over it as soon as we ate at Narcoossee’s and he had a Nemo cupcake. He’s now involved in all the planning and there are no more surprises.

Laura Garcell

I laughed the entire podcast. All I can think of was the time I tried to surprise my girls and my oldest cried. She didn’t want to go she wanted to go to Pajama day at school. It took her 45 minutes to calm down.

John T

We surprised our kids “scavenger hunt” style by having them search for scrambled Letter Blocks that, when arranged properly, spelled DISNEY. Awesome response!

We surprised our daughter yesterday for her 10th birthday with a trip to Disney. I set up a geocache for her to find! It was priceless!!!


We’re surprising our 3 and 5 year old boys this Christmas with their first trip. I am so nervous about how they’re going to react – the 5 year old told me last night to take the money from his Disney jar and take him to the beach instead. So now I’m afraid he’s going to be disappointed!


Love the lottery ticket idea! We just surprised our kids 2 weeks ago. The Elf sent them on a scavenger hunt to find a ticket to WDW under their beds. Then we hopped in the car and drove down!

Amber Felder

We’ve surprised our kids twice and it is, seriously, one of the best parenting memories my husband and I share. Highly recommend!

Surprise cruise trip: Puzzle pieces in hidden Easter eggs.

Surprise WDW trip: Mickey delivered a big box filled with goodies.

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