One big part of planning our family DADventure to Walt Disney World is something I find that many parents forget to focus on – getting excited for the trip.
I don’t mean the month before. That’s easy.
I don’t mean the week before. That’s easy.
I don’t mean the night before, when we’re all too excited to sleep. That’s easy.
I mean prepping the crew, especially the LITTLE kids who have never been before, months and months before hand.
I have a lot of fun things we’ve done to get pumped, and I’ll share more as we go – but today I’m excited to share our Character Countdown Banner.
Months ago, we decided we needed some kind of long-range countdown to our trip. Sure, there are apps for that, and traditional calendars, but we wanted something more like the Christmas countdown things you see in December.
So, we made our own! We decided to hand draw a different character flag for 180 days and string them around the border of our living room.
FUN TIMES! Let’s get started.
First things first – WHO are our 180 favorite characters?
I made a list of all the Disney movies, then we picked our favorite characters from those movies. Some movies had a lot more character ideas (Hello there Frozen, Star Wars and Toy Story) than others, and some didn’t make the cut at all (sorry Rescuers, Treasure Planet and Brother Bear).
We haven’t seen every Disney movie with our Littles, so we were focusing on the movies we have seen – or read the books – or heard of, even.
Then we cut some colored card stock into pennants. We have three kids and chose three colors. More on that in a bit.
As I sat down to draw and color these characters somethings became abundantly clear…
1. My kids interest in drawing the characters lasted a few short fleeting hours. But they sure are cute!
2. I am NOT a Disney animator, I’m not an artist of any kind. But I did my best to “resemble” these iconic characters to the best of my ability.
3. No WAY am I drawing 180 of these things.
So, I worked on these at night. I worked on them as we ate breakfast. A few here and there over a course of several weeks. Each few days, showing off the newest pieces to the kids and making sure they could recognize them.
At the end of our project, we made 101 characters. (Ending with Pongo on 101, of course.)
Admittedly, some are better than others – mostly because you can tell the characters Dad did while I was falling asleep….
We were like 160 days away from our trip, so into a Tupperware container and then into a drawer they went.
Around 125 days out, the kids reallllly wanted the banner to go up. They were excited (yay – that’s the point) to start counting down. Another month was driving them a bit nutty.
So, I sat at my desk over the next few nights and added more characters. I was happy to because we just checked Big Hero 6 off our Disney movie bucket list and I was able to add Baymax to the banner.
I drew our number up to 115 characters. The following weekend it was going to go up on the wall and the countdown would begin.
The final piece of the puzzle was how we would count down the days. Would we put a sticker over the ones we did? Would we rip them off the string? Would we cross them off with an X?
I didn’t want to ruin these – I’m hopeful that we’ll be counting down to go again soon in the next few years.
Heading into the laundry room I grabbed a clothespin and then asked the kids for a Mickey Mouse sticker from the sticker box.
Mickey now clips on every day.
Remember those three colors? Here’s the reasoning – one for each kid! Every day they know who gets to do which character. Our son gets the green ones, middle daughter gets the pink and the baby gets the purples. Everyone gets a turn. And we’ll ALL do the number one together.
Every day they sit and look at the banner and name off the characters. It’s been a really fun way to add getting excited into our planning of the trip.
What do you all do to get excited as a family? Share your thoughts in the comments below. I’d love to see them!
Thanks for taking the DADventure today – I hope you had fun!