By Jody Everson, Small World Big Fun Disney Authorized Travel Agent, SproutVine.com travel contributor
If you are a parent like me, you feel overrun at home with toys, game pieces, stuffed animals, and so many little tiny objects that hurt so badly when stepped on! When I thought about our Disney World vacation, I had one concern: all the souvenirs that the kids would HAVE to have. Now I’m not saying I’m a “no fun” mom; I’m just saying I don’t want to come back from Disney World with lots of [possibly expensive] items that will just end up in a big toy bin to never be played with again.
But I’m SUPER into giving the children experiences. Now, before I get too far, let me just say, we still come back from Walt Disney World with the necessities: mouse ears, shirts, and the newest Pirates of the Caribbean sword (because to my young son, that is actually a necessary collectable and not a toy). But if I can AT ALL help it, I’d love to provide them with fun, unique, memorable experiences instead of buying the random stuffed animal “because I neeeeeeeed it.” This “experience over stuff” plan seems to work for us.
Stuff Gets Lost, Memories Last Forever
Two ways that we did this for our daughter was to treat her to both the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique and The Pirates League. Throughout the vacation, it really helped that we could keep reminding her about her special experiences/makeovers/transformations every time she asked for a “thing.” I scheduled these special treats at the beginning of our last two vacations, and she knew about them ahead of time. We really talked about how special these experiences were and how lucky she was to get a reservation (That’s the truth, too. I’ll talk about how your SWBF agent can help with that!) Our daughter was almost five on these vacations, and these talks really resonated with her.
We started her first Disney World trip at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique at Disney Springs the first day that we arrived. (There is also another Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique location in Cinderella’s Castle in Magic Kingdom, but Disney Springs worked perfectly for us for this itinerary.) There are several packages at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, and we chose the basic one and brought our own princess dress. I can barely put into words how magical and special this experience was. She was treated like pure royalty and sat there in awe (and pure relaxation!) and they pulled her head of ringlets into a tight, perfectly coiffed, princess bun.
My daughter was thrilled with the experience and declared immediately that she would not brush her hair all week. I actually had thought ahead about this – how in the world would her princess updo keep all week? – so I ordered $8.00 satin pillowcases from Amazon to be delivered to our Disney resort earlier that day. I even included this note:
Welcome to Disney World! I heard that you were having a royal princess appointment! I thought you might like this satin pillowcase to keep your hair all fixed up. Sweet dreams! See you at my castle soon!
Genius, right? I was so proud of this idea. And you might be thinking: that’s one more thing I had to bring home. Well, yes, technically it was another thing, but it’s useful and she sleeps on those pillowcases every single night still! And she still thinks those came directly from Cinderella herself. SUCCESS! (And it actually did keep her hair intact all week!)
At The Pirates League, we entered a dark, cavernous, amazingly themed lair to meet Pirate Bob. I know what you are thinking, “No way can Pirate Bob do a mermaid makeover,” but he was fantastic! He was so funny, completely in character and painted mermaid scales and blue fingernails like the best Fairy Godmother-in-Training you could find! He even told us that they plunder the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique at night to get their makeup. And by the way, both the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique and The Pirates League cater to the young gentlemen too.
Now the hilarious thing about both of these experiences is, you guessed it, she still came home with stuff! But this was really meaningful and useful stuff. After both makeovers, they give you your nail polish, makeup palette, and hair clip or tiara. At The Pirates League, the young mermaid or pirate is invited into a pirate treasure room and can choose another gift (it was a necklace for her)! So, I guess the joke was on me after all. But she still uses/wears those items and reminisces back to her days of princess and mermaid pampering at Walt Disney World! It was all completely worth it.
Book with WDWNT’s Exclusive Travel Partner Small World Big Fun, and we’ll be happy to try to nag reservations for you at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique or The Pirates League! Reservations do fill up, so it would be great to help you plan this before the 180-day reservation mark. I know your little ones will have a magical time, and maybe just maybe, you won’t have to take home as much stuff either!