It's a Jolly Holiday Surprise! December 2014 - Trip Report

Discussion in 'Disneyland Trip Reports' started by dedesmith32, Mar 27, 2014.

  1. MommyJKM

    MommyJKM DIS Veteran

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  2. dedesmith32

    dedesmith32 Mouseketeer

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    I am in full planning and preparing mode! This is getting so exciting! Today, I made my reservation for the Holiday Tour! My last decision is deciding what to do about Fantasmic, now that there is a FastPass. Of course the very first night of the Fantasmic with FastPass is my very last night at Disneyland - so I gotta decide what to do......
     
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  4. dedesmith32

    dedesmith32 Mouseketeer

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    21 days to go! I can't seem to contain my excitement! In 3 weeks we will be in the plane to California! I can't wait to surprise my kids with this! I picked up the books that my husband and I created today and I love how they turned out! I will have to share that with you in another post!

    I made my last decision this week and reserved the Aladdin Oasis Fantasmic to-go meals. I realize we will most likely get fastpasses for standing but that's all I can afford so we will make it work! It is for our last night at Disneyland so it will be a pretty great way to end our trip!

    So we everything is paid for and I'm even mostly packed! Here's hoping for the most amazing magical week for me and my family!
     
  5. dedesmith32

    dedesmith32 Mouseketeer

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    For those of you who don't know - I'm a bit of a Disney Geek. I love the movies and I love the history and I just love it. Once I had children, I think that love has just grown. Sharing these special movies with my kids has been incredible and it has cemented that love for Disney in my heart. Growing up, I was a bit of a tomboy, so I enjoyed Disney movies but the Princesses never meant much to me. Now that I have a daughter, that has really changed and I love it all - especially the Princesses. I love that Disney brings out the magic of fairytales and using your imagination and I love that my kids get to experience that - you know what its even more than that - I love that I get to experience it too. It brings out the kid in all of us - the wonder and the magic - and I think that is a wonderful thing!

    I love Disneyland too. I have been there a total of 4 times. The first time was in 1990, when I was 11 years old and we went with my mom's side of the family. It was a great trip and I will always remember the time we had with my uncle's family. We didn't get to see them much so this was amazing to spend so much time together and it just felt really special. I'm not sure how many days we actually spent in Disneyland, but my brother got sick and had to be in the hospital for awhile, so our trip was extended, so I think we spent several days inside the park.

    The next time I went was on my Senior Trip in 1997 and it was only one day. I remember really enjoying spending that day with my parents and it was so fun to have them all to myself.

    My 3rd Trip to Disneyland was also just one day. I actually went on my sister's senior trip with her and my parents in 2000. My sister spent the day with her friends, so once again I got to hang out with my parents and it was nice.

    My last trip was in 2009 and I got to bring my kiddos and my husband for their first trip to Disneyland! My mom's side of the family got together again and we went to California - together on a bus! We also did Universal Studios, Knott's Berry Farm, and Sea World, so we only had 2 days to experience Disneyland and California Adventure. It was an awesome trip and even though my kids were younger, they still talk about it. They loved it and even my husband said then that we should come back someday.

    Eight months ago, I decided that this had to be the year that my family went to Disneyland again. My kids are getting older and they might soon grow out of their Disney phase (I hope they don't). My daughter still loves dressing up and being a Princess and JJ loves Cars and Star Wars, etc. So it just seemed like the time.

    I discussed it with Joey and he agreed, so I started planning. I pretty much immediately decided that I wanted to give my kids something that I always wanted when I was young - A DISNEYLAND SURPRISE TRIP! I knew that it would be amazing and I just wanted to do it. And then the next decision - when to go.....it didn't take me long to realize another dream. I wanted to see Disneyland at Christmastime. Once we made that decision, I have just been so excited! It has been a long 8 MONTHS! I don't think a day has gone by that I haven't done some planning or something for this trip. Disboards.com has been an amazing resource! I want so much for this trip to be completely magical and wonderful for my family. Joey and I celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary this year and instead of doing anything, we decided to go all out on this trip. We have scrimped and saved and planned to make this happen. It has been our anniversaries, our birthdays, and will be our Christmas!

    There were a couple of things that Joey insisted on that I completely love that we get to do. He wanted to stay in the Disneyland Hotel and he wanted to fly there! Of course, I wholeheartedly agreed to both of those things! :) So we are spending 7 nights in the Disneyland Hotel, 5 days in Disneyland, and we are flying with JetBlue (first class, no less)! Now after all the time and planning - it is finally almost here! In 21 days, we will be at Disneyland and I can't wait!

    Anyways, I can't wait to share this amazing adventure with you! I hope you won't mind all the posts in the coming weeks as I share all the details with you!
     
  6. dedesmith32

    dedesmith32 Mouseketeer

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    THE STORYBOOK

    So one of the fun things that Joey and I planned for our kids, is a special storybook. We decided we wanted to put together a storybook that little by little revealed the surprise trip for our kids! I have LOVED doing this project with Joey. He wrote the story and I illustrated the book - it was so fun doing this together! We just picked up the books today and I'm so excited with how they turned out!

    So we will be waking the kids up early on Friday, December 6th and saying MERRY CHRISTMAS and have them open up the books. Each part of the book (3 parts), will be sealed so that they can only read the pages when we want them to read them. As they read each page of the story, they will be going on an adventure and doing what the pages say. The adventure will take us all the way to California and on the shuttle (on the way to the hotel), the last page will reveal that we are going to Disneyland!

    **We will be covering the front and back with kraft paper, so the kids won't see the cover until later, or it will totally spoil the surprise. :)

    I'm excited to share this storybook with you! I'd love to hear what you think about it!


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    After reading this page, the kids will use the image to go on a scavenger hunt. They will search all the places in the image and will discover "treasure." The treasure is things to take on the trip like activity books, crayons, snacks, etc.

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    In the Scavenger Hunt, one of the things that the kids will find is a cipher that will help them decode this message that tells them basically to get in the car, we are going on an adventure.

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    Note: We call our van, "Appa," from the show "Avatar: The Last Airbender"

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    The "Day" Pages are so the kids can write down a few of their favorite moments of each day we are there!

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    What do you think? I'm so proud of this little book and I can't wait for the kids to see it!

    We got them printed from PaperKiwi and we are really impressed with the quality - plus we got them for 50% off which is just awesome!


     
    Kathy Muniz likes this.
  7. belle'ssister

    belle'ssister Fiona's Nanna

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    Hi Dede, I've enjoyed reading your pre-trip and looking forward to you trip report too. I'm taking my DD34 and DGD7 with me just shortly after your vacation Dec 15-18th. You will just love the Christmas decorations and atmosphere. Hubby and I have been twice before, when our grandson was 2 and a half and 11. You picked a good time after Thanksgiving and before Christmas week.

    We are staying at the Disneyland Hotel too. It's a splurge for us. I have a dance studio in Portland, Or and I take my dancers to perform every other year. We stay at the Candy Cane Inn, it's close with it's own shuttle and breakfast is included. We really like it there and all of the families enjoy it. My granddaughter got to perform with the dance troupe for the first time this August, so exciting to see my "little baby doll" performing at Disneyland, so special.

    Which tower are you staying in? We chose the Adventure tower. I even splurged on the Club Level. pixiedust: You will likeJetBlue. It's my favorite airline, comfy seats, a tv for everyone and snacks.

    We debated on the Holiday tour but decided to skip that, I want to take DGD to Alladin before it's gone. Are you going to try to get the passes to Frozen. The wait was 2 and a half hours when we were there this summer, didn't do it then. DGD would really like to see them this trip.

    You will love your Photo Pass+. We love the special enhanced pictures, character breakfast photos and ride photos too. Get a pic infront of the castle both day and night, the night pic is gorgeous. There seem to be more photo ops with the Disney photographer in California Adventure. We got a great shot in front of the fountain by Carthay Circle. It was evening and the lighting was beautiful.

    The Christmas parade is magical! Soldiers, snowflakes, reindeer, snowmen....fabulous.

    Hope your family has a special, special time!
     
  8. dedesmith32

    dedesmith32 Mouseketeer

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    Thank you so much for reading my thread! And thank you so much for all your comments - I am so excited to see all the great holiday things! I hope you have an amazing time as well - let me know if you do a report! I would love to read it!

    I'm so excited about staying at the Disneyland Hotel - its totally a splurge for us too. I have requested the Adventure Tower but we'll see if I get it. We could only do the standard room - but I'm still way excited!

    How amazing to see your daughter and her friends dance at Disneyland - what an amazing adventure!

    Thank you so much for all your suggestions - I can't wait to see the great photos we get!

    We are definitely looking forward to hitting all the shows - including Aladdin. I'm not sure on the Frozen meet-n-greet. Not sure we want to spend the time to do that, but we will see when we get there!

    Thanks!
     
  9. Luisa

    Luisa Mouseketeer

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    Wow, just wow, that book is amazing!
     
  10. dedesmith32

    dedesmith32 Mouseketeer

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    Thank you so much - my hubby and I had so much fun doing it!
     
  11. Sherry E

    Sherry E Currently tag-less...

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    I agree with Luisa -- Wow! That storybook is amazing! Actually, the word "amazing" doesn't even do it justice. That is one of the most incredible ways to surprise kids with a DLR trip that I've ever seen. And it's also one of the most creative ways to enjoy the pre-trip planning process that I've ever seen, if not the most creative. pixiedust:

    What an awesome idea to do the book -- and I know that, because you took the time and care to work on that book and put it together, you also put a fantastic trip together for your kids. I have no doubt that your trip will be spectacular. It will be a trip that everyone cherishes forever, and the book will be a magical reminder.
     
  12. dedesmith32

    dedesmith32 Mouseketeer

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    Wow - Sherry. Thank you so much for your comments. They truly mean so much to me. Thank you. We are so excited and this book means so much to us and I know it will for my kids too.
     
  13. dedesmith32

    dedesmith32 Mouseketeer

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    10 more days!!! I so can't wait! I think everything is basically ready! Next week I will be deep cleaning the whole house so that it will be in good shape while we are gone and its always so great to come home to a clean house! I'm mostly packed and I need to confirm everything but I think we are ready! I can't wait to see what my kids do when they find out where we are going! This is a dream come true!

    So this is my first Thanksgiving that I've ever had at my house. I've always went to my parents, in-laws or relatives. So this is my first time making a turkey! I'm actually excited about it and I hope it turns out!

    So Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Thanks to all of you for giving me so many amazing tips and letting me delve into everything Disney! I love this forum!
     
  14. Luisa

    Luisa Mouseketeer

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    Have a wonderful Thanksgiving! Christmas Day is our turkey day and one of my brothers usually does the cooking of the bird, the only tip I can give is that he covers the breast with butter then bacon to keep it juicy. 10 days will fly by, I'm looking forward to seeing how the book is received!
     
  15. dedesmith32

    dedesmith32 Mouseketeer

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    Thanks so much Luisa!
     
  16. dedesmith32

    dedesmith32 Mouseketeer

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    THREE more sleeps until Disneyland! I'm so excited!
     
  17. crystal1313

    crystal1313 DIS Veteran

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    Love the book! So cool!!!
     
  18. TheDoleWhipper

    TheDoleWhipper Long live the tiki gods!

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    I hope you are having lots of fun!
     
  19. dedesmith32

    dedesmith32 Mouseketeer

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    THE SURPRISE - Part 1
    December 6, 2014


    ** I have been so excited about this trip that of course I had been packed for weeks. But the night before the trip, we attended my niece's birthday party and then came home and had the kids go to bed early! And then final preparations were made by Joey and I, including getting the bags in the car and the "treasures" hidden and such. We were so excited that I don't think we really got any sleep! Let the Adventure begin...


    We woke the kids up at 6:00 am with a "Merry Christmas!" They were so confused but we told them to go get in the shower and get dressed. They were not too enthused about getting up so early on a Saturday morning. They got ready and sleepily arrived in the living room to this:

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    That actually woke them up pretty good! Presents under the tree! But we had them eat some breakfast, before we got started.

    Every year it has been our December tradition to have a daily activity. For years we have used an advent calendar that I created out of a over-the-door shoe organizer. (It has 24 slots, perfect for our daily activities to go in the pockets). But this year, I got a great Black Friday deal at Deseret Book and purchased a new Shadowbox Advent Calendar that I have been eyeing for a couple of years:

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    So we had the kids sit down on the couch and we pulled out the note that was in the "6" Box. Our note said: "Grimoires of Grand Adventure" (Joey had been giving the kids some vocabulary words in the previous week, so they would understand some of our messages.)

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    We then instructed the kids to take the gifts out from under the tree and untie the bow. We made sure that they wouldn't uncover the brown paper over the cover of the storybooks. I decided that I wanted to film each time we read a part of the books, so I filmed while Joey read to the kids and they followed along. Joey and I were both pretty emotional as we were actually starting off on this grand adventure that we had been planning for so long. The second page of the book instructed the kids to go on a treasure hunt.

    Our video of the reading of this first part of our Storybook go here:



    JJ and Beth excitingly took their books (which had pictures of where the treasures were) and headed out.
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    The kids gathered wrapped gifts, gold coins, and slips of paper with messages on them. They were having a great time collecting everything and when they got to the end of the hunt, they piled all of their treasures into the living room. Joey and I happily watched them as they opened the gifts of games, coloring books, activity books, crayons, treats, and more.

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    We then had them take the slips of paper to the table and try and put them in the right order. After a little while (and some help), they were able to do it:

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    Then we read the final page of Part 1 in the Storybook! To see the video of us reading this go here:



    After reading the page, it took a bit of prompting to help the kids figure out what they needed to do. In the treasure hunt, one of the wrapped gifts included a special decoder that Joey had one of his friends make. (Joey had 4 made so we all have one so we can send each other coded messages and stuff. It's so awesome!) To figure out how to use the decoder the kids had to use the message on the slips of paper above. The answer was 13. So they had to set their decoder to the number 13 and then they could decipher the message on the left side of the page.

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    Once they found the cipher they went right to work decoding the message!

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    And the message turned out to be:
    Take the things you found and get in the car.

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    So we helped the kids get all their stuff into their backpacks and we put on our coats....

     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2015
  20. Luisa

    Luisa Mouseketeer

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    Oh man! The suspense is killing me! :)
     
  21. Sherry E

    Sherry E Currently tag-less...

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    Again, I am absolutely blown away by the level of time, care, creativity and thought put into executing this mission! The attention to detail is phenomenal. The books would have been amazing enough, but the cipher and coded messages too?! Wow! You are unbelievable. Do you do fun things like this all the time, like for Easter, Halloween, Valentine's Day, birthdays, etc.?
     
    Kathy Muniz likes this.

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