Picture this…You and your family are on vacation at Walt Disney World! After months of careful planning, everyone is having the most magical time riding rides, meeting favorite characters, seeing shows, parades & fireworks, eating great food and best of all, making memories that you can hold on to for the rest of your life! Nothing can take your family off of cloud nine …until it is time to leave.
Nothing can kill your Disney buzz like packing those suitcases and rolling them out to the Magical Express bus stop or out to your car. Your vacation is over but does the magic really have to end when you reach the bus stop? NO, of course not! The magic of Disney does not rest only with the parks, but in our hearts as well and making your trip home can be just as magical!
Here are some things that you can do to help easy those Disney leaving blues:
1) Pick-Up A Special Surprise Souvenir: While at WDW, try and get a chance to slip into a gift shop without your family and pick up something fun and special for each member to receive during the trip home. For those young children, a plush of their favorite character, a reading book or sticker book are some great ideas. For the slightly older child, some new figurines or a new Disney Racer car could do the trick. Don’t forget your pre-teen/teen too, maybe something to add to their Disney collection like a vinylmation or pin they don’t have yet. It is even a better surprise if it has been something they were eyeing during the trip but didn’t think they were able to get!
2) Disney Inspired Treat/Snack: The day before or the day of your trip home, snag some treats/snacks exclusive to Disney to store away for the trip home. Try to score something with Mickey ears or a character printed on it. One of the most popular treats to take home is the Mickey shaped rice crispy treats, but whatever you choose, look for something that will travel well.
3) Mark Up Your Maps With Favorites: While at the parks, grab some extra maps and put them away for departure day. During the trip home, give each family member their own color of marker/crayon and pass the map around asking each person to circle their top favorite places in each park (some of the topics could be: favorite ride, restaurant, character meet and greet, snack, show, etc). Then, once everyone has had the opportunity to do so, review all the selections and have a discussion as to why your family selected what they did, helping relive the vacation you just left. Save these maps so you can remember everyones favorite things about the trip.
4) Disney Surprises From Home: You see posts all the time about heading to the dollar store and dollar sections of other popular stores to stock up on less expensive Disney items to present to the family on the trip to WDW and/or during days in the park to reduce costs of purchasing souvenirs on site, but why not save some of those items for the trip home as well? Make a little going away bag or box of fun Disney things to keep those smiles going!
5) Announce The Next Disney Adventure: If you are one of the lucky few to have already booked your next Disney vacation prior to leaving WDW, why not announce it to the family while leaving your current trip? Don’t have a trip planned yet? Announce another Disney surprise! Maybe you could snag tickets for an upcoming Disney on Ice or Disney Live event prior to your trip or maybe you could announce a special themed family night with an upcoming Disney movie release, complete with themed food, crafts and activities (see my personal blog, Speaking of Disney, for ideas on how to make a movie night special here). There are plenty of Disney activities happening away from the parks that you can pre-plan and announce on the way home!
6) Review Autograph Books: Ask everyone to whip out their autograph books they had with them during the trip and have them read out loud who they were able to meet and share one memory about meeting them. Let the family know prior to the trip that you will be doing this so they can be sure to pay special attention to the meet and greets during your vacation. Then, when you get home, print out pictures of those meet and greets and ask your family to glue in the pictures that match the signatures.
There are countless things you can do to turn those Disney-leaving-frowns upside down and these are just a few ideas to help keep the magic going during departure day and even once you get home!