If you are like us and you have a kid that does not like being surprised with a trip to Disney… (I KNOW!!! Who’s child is she?!?!) You are often looking for fun ways to countdown your trip to Disney.
Over the past few years I have found myself scouring the internet (thanks to Pinterest) for really neat ways or ideas.
Some have worked. Like the Disney Parks Blog Countdown to Disney numbers (see photo above), Sticker Countdowns, and my personal favorite “We’re on Vacation” party that happens the night before you leave. (I’ll tell you more about all of these later).
Some didn’t work. Like those adorable countdown chain links that look like a character and have a daily activity on the inside. Seems simple and fun? Well, for our family it became too much of a toy to play with and ended up in multiple pieces before the end of the first week. Not to mention doing an activity each night just added stress to our week leading up to our departure. We only did that one once.
The first time we attempted a vacation countdown was a few weeks prior to a work trip back in 2014. My goal was to prepare our oldest (she was 3 at the time) for a weekend away from Mommy and Daddy. My husband had a conference at the Swan and Dolphin and unfortunately we had to leave her back home. One of the articles I read in hopes to prepare her, had the idea of creating a nightly countdown chart. Each night she goes to bed and places a sticker on the day… counting down the days till we come back. It was a genius idea. I just had to get her familiar with the concept before that weekend. Thankfully, my Mommy guilt got the best of me and we planned a 2 day escape to Universal (I know, I know) the week before the conference. I decided the week before we would count down the days till that trip. 5 nights. Mirroring the same concept. We kept it simple and just looked at it as an art project. We drew ourselves, our suitcases (her idea), and boxes with numbers and the day of the week. We then hung it on her bedroom door. Each night, right before bed, she put a sticker on that day counting down the days till we left.
She loved this so much and that next week she knew exactly when we were coming back. Our friend, who was watching her, said it worked like a charm. Four months later, when we were a month out from our trip to Disneyland, she insisted we make a 30 day Countdown. Once again, we kept it simple. A piece of paper, some crayons, the resort information that Disney Travel Co. sent us about Disneyland, a glue stick, and lots of Disney stickers.
Ever since that trip, we countdown our trips to Disney. And after the 2 failed attempts of trying to surprise her, I make sure she is involved. I find ideas on Pinterest and show them to her… (She’s now 7) and we try them. But as stated above, only a few have become Vacation Traditions in our home. We always seem to go back to our simple sticker routine. Why? Maybe it’s because it is just that… simple. And the little one can participate too.
I’ve gotten fancy over the years. Or maybe it’s just out of convenience but a while back I created one and now I just print it off from the computer. But we still have the stickers.
A few years back I found a Pin that lead me to the DIY: Create-your-own Walt Disney World Vacation Countdown on the Disney Parks Blog. I had to make it just for me. Who doesn’t love Countdown numbers that looks like a Mickey Bar, a Tiki Bird, or riding in a Tea Cup. I printed out the pages and made a hanging countdown. Each night I take one of the numbers off.
During these 8 nights leading up to our departure, we try to watch a Disney Animation/ Pixar Short Movie (on Netflix or in the special features on our DVDs) while eating a Disney-themed snack. And by “Disney-Themed Snack” I mean popcorn in one of our many souvenir popcorn buckets, Mickey Mouse Goldfish, Disney themed fruit snacks, or Mickey shapped Veggie Chips. Then when it is time for bed, we stop by the chart and the girls take turns with our nightly sticker duty. The next 15 minutes is usually filled with giggles of excitement and speculation of what we are going to do. Most recently it has become a list of things we ‘have’ to do. Like Dole Whips, Mickey Balloons, and Splash Mountain… don’t you just love 7 year olds?
And then my personal favorite part of the countdown… Our “We’re on Vacation!” party. This happens the night before we leave. Again, I try to make it simple. I’m ususally still running around packing things for our trip. We live above a pizza restaurant so I let them take care of dinner. I cut up any veggies and fruits that will go bad while we are gone and make a platter. I pull out all the left over “Birthday party” plates, napkins, and cups. Pop some popcorn. The girls bring down their sleeping bags and tent. We find a Disney movie and next thing you know our “We’re on Vacation” party has started. We sit in front of the tv having a “pizza picnic” and enjoy the movie. The girls love the idea of camping out while watching a movie. For an hour and a half we just eat, snuggle, and laugh (or cry… depending on what we are watching. Thanks Pixar.) while watching a movie. It’s the perfect way to start a vacation. Funny enough they always end up in their beds by the time the movie ends. For me… it’s also perfect because I don’t have to cook or do dishes. Clean up is so easy. Which gives me more time to finalize any last minute packing.
There are days I wished our oldest liked surprises. But this weekly countdown has become such a memorable part of our trips. I can’t imagine starting a vacation or mini trip any other way.
Do you countdown your trips to Disney? We would love to hear how you celebrate your vacation starting! Tell us!!
- If you would like your own Countdown to Disney chart, feel free to use ours. Below we have posted a jpeg version and a pdf link that you are more than welcome to use for your own personal use. We do ask that you please do not reproduce these pages in any way and if you share them, please let others know you got them from us.