We had gotten used to going to Disney World every summer for a few years straight. One year, we decided to make the switch to going in the fall. That is a decision I have never regretted. I enjoy the smaller crowds, the cooler temperatures, and Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween party. This move to the fall, however, did present us with a problem. I had the entire summer off with my daughter. I cherish our summers and try to make the most of each day. But it would be a whole summer without Disney, what would we do? I realize that sounds ridiculous and it was not as dire as all that. I decided, however, that summer to try and capture a little Disney magic and bring it to our Midwest home. If we could not go do Disney World we would bring Disney World to us and thus, Disney Day was born. Disney Day is our annual celebration of all things Disney. It’s excess and jammed pack activities are its hallmarks, but now summer would not feel like summer without our invented holiday.
As we began to discuss what we should do we pondered, what makes Disney World so special? We came up with a lengthy list as my daughter thought out loud about the things she loved ,and I took dictation on my laptop. We had ideas with the meals, the rides, the characters, the snacks, the toys, and the memories. Then we began to hypothesize how we could capture even a fraction of that in our home. We obviously could not build a rollercoaster in our basement…or could we? My wife might have something to say about that. Over the coming months I will share with you some of the great activities, crafts, events, snacks and meals that have become the staples of our Disney Day.
The basic itinerary consists of a themed breakfast, lunch and dinner with crafts, activities, games, songs, karaoke, movies, and more rotated throughout the day. These meals and events change each year and my daughter has a significant role in deciding what we will do. Over the years it has transition from a more Princess themed affair to more a general Disney theme. WARNING! This may mean you might have to watch the occasional Camp Rock or Liv and Maddie, but I’ll tell you, I have grown to enjoy them as well. I also sprinkle little prizes or treats throughout the day. The gifts aren’t grandiose things, and luckily Disney has a wide variety of tiny little Knick knacks like pins, key chains, figurines, etc. I often set a price limit, 20-40 dollars. I get most of them at the Disney Store or Hot Topic in the local mall, online at Disney.com or eBay, or if I am planning ahead I can get them at the parks by having a friend who is going pick up a few things.
Just as a trip to the real Disney World does not happen without a little advanced leg work and prep, so too does Disney Day require a little work ahead of time. I don’t get too elaborate, just pick up some extra things at the grocery store and buy the bobbles mentioned above. I will often try to set the stage with some fun aspects. I will often make fake tickets. Recently, I switched to a ticket system like Disney World used back in the day for attractions. The tickets were labeled A, B, C, D, or E. The E-ticket was for the big attractions. I give each ticket a privilege or power. These can be things like pick a prize or kids choice (she loves taking a turn at being the boss). Here is a disney day tickets of my template you can print off to make your own tickets.
My daughter loves structure. So, we will often make up a list of our ideas. I want to encourage her to be a little care free and spontaneous, but still let her be herself. Lately, we have begun to randomize the items we do next by drawing them out of a hat or rolling dice, it’s a little spontaneous, and she loves to mark off the progress.
Throughout the day, no matter the activities or meals, one constant is the playing of Disney music in the background. We have assembled a hefty iTunes playlist that doesn’t have any repeats. It features songs from the films, television, and park attractions. For us, nothing captures that Disney feeling or mood than a classic song. When she was younger it was just what we listened to around the house. It was safer and more appropriate than what she might hear on the radio.
Disney Day has changed and evolved over the years since we declared the inaugural holiday all those years ago, just as my daughter has changed and evolved over the years. No matter what we food we eat, songs we listen to, movies we watch, activities we do, or crafts we make, we always create the single most important thing on our list. Memories.
Until next time…
The Imagine Ears features the DIY projects, adventures, and thoughts of a father and daughter who use a shared love of all things Disney to create memories together through encouraging her interests in architecture, design, Imagineering, while exploring history and science.