You know those Disney commercials they always show around Christmastime, the ones with the home videos of kids discovering that their parents are taking them to Disney tomorrow for a vacation, completely unbeknownst to them until the moment they open their Mickey ears and put it all together? Before I even had kids, I've wanted to throw a surprise like that. So months ago, when Beau learned he had qualified for his company's annual reward trip for families, to Disneyland, we tucked it away and knew the kids would be the perfect ages to surprise. Still pretty oblivious to a lot that goes on around here (I started stacking clothes for vacation week prior in our bedroom and random Mickey stuff started surfacing a lot more than usual), yet very aware of vacation and hotel stays and all things princesses, we knew we could keep the trip a secret and have a lot of fun surprising them. Farm Bureau covered a lot of the arrangements for us, including a four-night stay at the Grand Californian Hotel, and left the fun details to us, including just how we would unveil the big surprise to Cruz and Mila.
Since we had booked early (and direct) flights out of Minneapolis for Sunday, we decided to get a hotel up there Saturday night. After spending most of the day Friday in our bedroom with the door closed packing suitcases, bags were packed and ready to go Saturday morning. So while Beau entertained the kids outside for awhile, I secretly turned our house into a Disney scavenger hunt for our two little detectives.
I was shaking with excitement by the time I had carefully arranged the eight clues around the house. These kinds of moments are what make parenting the coolest gig in the world. Beau had worked so hard for this trip, I had spent hours planning all the little magical details for a weeklong adventure together, and I was excited and a bit nervous to finally get on with the fun.
Beau videoed the goose chase it was and I am forever glad he did! It was so cute to watch them work through the clues for what I'm convinced they thought was just a random activity I had planned for their Saturday morning. They really were that oblivious! Mila threw a few tantrums when Cruz would beat her to the clue (and really whenever it wasn't her turn), and I loved re-watching and noticing how patient Cruz was with her! Favorite moments were when Cruz figured out the Snow White card, watching his wheels turn and lightbulbs go off as he read and thought through each clue, stealing quick glances and smiles with Beau from across the room, Mila's "follow me" when they solved the riddle about Belle and her books, and Cruz making sure I would have gum for him on the airplane (he still talks about his ears popping when we brought him to Disney the last time!).
Here is the video compilation I put together of our hunt! It's not my best producing skills, but I love it nonetheless! It's such a true depiction of our family right now - Mila's hot tempered, hilarious personality and sweet little voice, and Cruz's patience, sweetness, and reading skills, and I'm convinced we will enjoy this for years to come. My favorite part? When Cruz and Mila spent five minutes searching for the correct mirror and walked into our bedroom WHERE ALL THE LUGGAGE IS! Nooooo!
A few pictures, too!
The last clue brought them to our mudroom in search of Cinderella's lost shoe. There, they discovered two Disney tote bags with a few fun surprises - a set of Mickey and Minnie ears, two autograph books, Mickey and Minnie pjs, and a few fun activities for the plane ride. Then, collecting their eight envelopes, they had to open them up and unscramble the word sentence that would reveal the surprise:
ARE YOU READY? WE'RE GOING TO DISNEYLAND TOMORROW!
After Mila's "Oh my gosh," and a lot of processing from Cruz, we celebrated with Mickey and Minnie cupcakes, courtesy of Scratch Cupcakes. The best part was that our bags were packed and we were ready to hit the road shortly after.
Our Disneyland Eve was a special night, too. We stayed at the Crowne Plaza in Bloomington, a nice park-and-fly hotel directly across the street from the Mall of America with a big pool and jacuzzi. We dropped our bags off and headed over to the Mall for a little while, where Mila and I explored the American Girl Doll store and Beau and Cruz built some legos at the Lego Store. They practiced their character greetings when Mila spied Dora at Nickelodeon Universe, and we had delicious burgers and shakes at Burger Burger. And lastly, as a little prelude to our week of magic, I took the kids to the Disney Store and instructed them to each pick out one new stuffie to take on our trip. Mila fell in love with an Elsa doll and Cruz fittingly chose a Mickey Mouse.
We headed back to our room, got in an hour or two of swimming, and bathed and jammied the kids in their fresh Mickey pjs. And after a round or two of monkeys on the bead, we settled them with a Disney bedtime story, sprinkled some make-believe pixie dust over their eyelids, and whispered that tomorrow was the big day. It would be a miracle if any of us slept!
Sunny California, here we come!