My sister and I just returned from a surprise girls weekend at Disneyland to celebrate her 30th birthday. I’ll get to the specifics of what we did during our visit in the next couple posts, but first, I thought I’d share a couple of planning tips since I had to plan the trip while keeping Colorado Sister in the dark (it was a birthday surprise after all!)
Enlist some help
Since this trip was a birthday present, I wanted to make sure Colorado Sister had no idea it was coming. But, that made planning a little tough since I couldn’t really ask her when she would have an opening in her schedule. Luckily, I had help from my mom as well as Colorado Sister’s boyfriend. They were able to give me info on her schedule and also made sure that no other plans were made for that weekend. There were a couple times when I was positive the secret was out, but we all were able to keep things quiet.
Admittedly, I was very lucky to have some extra DVC points to use for our hotel stay for the weekend, but even if I hadn’t, I would have chosen an on-site Disney hotel. Why? I just don’t think the atmosphere can be beat, especially when you’re planning a special trip. It was also important for us to have access to early morning hours, a perk for Disney hotel guests, so we could maximize our time in the parks.
Plan something special
I usually try to plan one “extra” thing for our celebration trips, just to make it extra memorable. Since this was Colorado Sister’s 30th birthday celebration, I figured it called for some “extra” extras, so I planned several things:
- Dinner at Carthay Circle + Preferred Viewing for World of Color — Carthay Circle is one of my favorite places to eat, so I knew this would be on our itinerary for sure. But, what I didn’t know was that you can get Preferred Viewing tickets for World of Color if you have either an appetizer & entree OR entree & dessert per person for either lunch or dinner. The viewing area is right in the middle and is only for Carthay Circle diners, so it’s a pretty good perk.
- A waterside table for lunch at the Blue Bayou — Another one of my personal favorites, the Blue Bayou is always a fun experience and if you can get a waterside table, it’s even better. I made sure to book an 11:30am lunch reservation – this is the first seating and as long as you’re not late for your reservation, you’re guaranteed a waterside table.
- The Fantasmic Dessert Package — I love Fantasmic at Disneyland, but I DON’T love getting there really early to get a front row seat on the ground. Booking the Fantasmic Dessert Package eliminates that crazy wait by allowing you to purchase reserved seats (an actual chair!) along with an assortment of desserts and beverages. It’s a bit spendy, at $60/person, but is well worth it for a special occasion.
The two dining reservations can be made up to 60 days in advance using the regular Disney Dining line at (714) 781-3463 or by emailing email@example.com. The Fantasmic Dessert Package can be booked 30 days in advance using the Entertainment line at (714) 781-7469.
Make the reveal memorable
Colorado Sister’s birthday was actually a couple weeks before our trip, just because of how our schedules worked out, so I had to decide if I was going to reveal the trip on her birthday or wait until the day we left. I figured it would be really hard to keep the secret as we got closer, so I decided to reveal everything on her birthday. I found a Disney itinerary template over at WDW Prep School that I used as a guideline for creating an itinerary and I also got a photo album from Michaels that I made into a “Disney Memories” album. But, I wanted to drag the surprise out for as long as I could, so I added a couple of pictures from our January trip in the album and then added these pictures:
Colorado Sister was pretty overwhelmed when she opened the album, so I think it was definitely a memorable reveal!
Up next: Day 1 – From Colorado to World of Color