Mickey hiding flowers behind his back for Minnie

Considering the abundance of celebration buttons at Walt Disney World on any given day, it’s no surprise that The Most Magical Place on Earth is a favorite pick for celebrating birthdays. We’ve talked before on Theme Park Tourist about how to score sweet freebies on your birthday as well as celebrating coming of age milestones at Walt Disney World.

But you, intrepid reader, aren’t just looking for any standard Disney birthday. If you want to take the magic to the next level for your loved one’s special day, it might just be time you plan the ultimate Disney quest…

An epic Walt Disney World birthday surprise trip.

It's a gift your special someone will never forget. Want to know how to pull it off? First, you’ll need to make some important preparations…

1. Stealth planning your trip

Mickey hiding flowers for Minnie

Image: Disney

Whether you are planning a surprise trip for your child or an adult loved one, the most difficult part of the job is making your plans without spoiling the secret. Walt Disney World vacations take months to plan, and it can seem a daunting task to put one together without the whole house knowing.

You will need a sound battle plan and to keep the circle of trust as small as possible. Obviously, any adult family participating in the trip will need to know what’s going on, but be wary of letting siblings and others with a less-than-stellar track record for secrets in on the game too early. Also, be careful who you send to pick up the mail in the weeks leading up to the trip. MagicBands and other Disney pre-trip mailings might give you away.

Your first hurdle is picking your dates. With an adult, you might be able to convince them you are headed somewhere besides Orlando. We actually pulled this particular trick off on my husband who thought we were going to visit my mother (which was partially true). This will ensure they take the necessary days off work and know how many days to pack for. If you have the resources, you could even plan a stop in the fake destination then surprise them by continuing to Walt Disney World.

With kids, you have two options. The first is similar to the trick already mentioned: they know you are going on a trip (which will help with packing), but when you get to the airport—SURPRISE! Headed to Disney World instead of Aunt Schnelda’s! This works well if you are taking the kids during summertime or while they are off school for a holiday. The trade-off, however, is that these times frequently mean heavier crowds at the parks.

Kids zoned out reading tablets

This could prove extra-entertaining if you child is so glued to their smartphone that they don’t realize you’re heading to Orlando until you arrive…Image: Intel Free Press, Flickr (license)

This could prove extra-entertaining if you child is so glued to their smartphone that they don’t realize you’re heading to Orlando until you arrive…

If it is possible to take your child out of school (some schools give some leniency for situations like this if the students has good attendance and can make up homework), you can execute a particularly awesome trick that my parents pulled on me when I was around ten years old. Basically, talk to your student’s teachers ahead of time to let them in on the scheme so they know your child will be missing school but also not to mention it. Secretly pack a suitcase for your child before your departure day arrives.

The day of the surprise trip, start the day like any other. Leave your child bored and convinced that they are heading to school… then see how long it takes for them to realize something is up. For me, I didn’t realize what my parents were up to until we arrived at the airport. They wished me a huge happy birthday and sprang the surprise that we were headed to Disneyland.

Oh, and taking the kids out of school means you can plan your trip during the off-season, which means shorter lines, better prices, and more birthday fun. It isn’t possible for every family, but if you can manage, go for it!


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