Hooray! You and your family are taking a trip to the most magical place on Earth—Walt Disney World! Soon you’ll be on safari with elephants and soaring on the back of a banshee at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, enjoying a Dole Whip at Magic Kingdom, meeting Chewbacca, BB-8 and Kylo Ren at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and visiting France, Great Britain, Canada and Morocco at EPCOT. No doubt you’ve been saving and planning, reserving and booking. Any vacation to the parks at Disney is cause for celebration, and many families choose to have a countdown to the day they will leave to begin their fantastic vacation with Mickey and all his pals.
Some families have an official countdown calendar that the kids have decorated with princess stickers. Moms have countdown apps on their smartphones, alerting them every day to how many days remain before their departure for the parks. Other families, however, celebrate their countdowns in more elaborate and detailed ways—they celebrate with more celebrations!
If you’ve ever been to Walt Disney World, you know that every day in the parks is a celebration. There are daily parades, the Move It, Shake It, Dance and Play It! Celebration, nighttime spectaculars and more! What better way to realize your family’s countdown to your trip to the parks than with celebrations marking the passing of time until you’ll actually be at your happy place once again? Here are 8 celebrations to have before you pack your bags and board the plane for Florida.
8. 101 Dalmatians Till We Leave!
Um, I think that’s supposed to be 101 days until we leave, but 101 Dalmatians is the perfect theme for a dinner and movie night. This celebration takes place, of course, when you have only 101 days to go until your trip to Disney! Serve hot dogs with all the fixings. Buy a few brand-new dog food bowls at the dollar store, fill one with pretzel rods and make a sign to affix to the bowl that reads, “Fetch Sticks.” Fill another dog food bowl with Lay’s or Ruffles potato chips, and a sign that reads, “Paw-tato Chips.” For dessert, you can serve “pup-cakes” or make “puppy chow” snack mix. For a “puppy chow” recipe, see http://allrecipes.com/recipe/15820/puppy-chow/. Don’t forget to watch Disney’s 101 Dalmatians too!
7. Visit Pizza Planet!
Toy Story fans will love this one, and this celebration can take place at any time during your countdown since it doesn’t involve a number. Celebrate your countdown to Disney World with Woody, Buzz and the gang with Pizza Planet Pizza (any pizza of your choice—frozen or delivery). To honor some of our favorite friends from Toy Story, serve dino-shaped nuggets (for Rex the dinosaur), curly fries (for Slinky Dog) and green grapes on skewers (for the little green alien men). It’s fun to drink “Alien Juice” too—any green-colored fruit drink will work. Then draw from Woody’s Hat (any cowboy hat you may have) to see whether you and your family will be watching Toy Story, Toy Story 2, Toy Story 3, and Toy Story 4!
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6. Have a Rainbow Connection kind of day!
When I think about Disney, the Muppets are not always the first thing on my mind, but they are part of the Disney family, and there are even attractions at Disney World inspired by the Muppets. So why not celebrate with them? As part of your celebration, you and your family can watch The Muppets Movie or Muppets Most Wanted. For lunch or dinner, serve “Miss Piggy’s Pigs in a Blanket,” “Gonzo the Great’s Grape Soda,” and smiley face oven potatoes and call them “Fozzy’s Funny Fries.” You can also serve tri-color pasta or a colorful salad and call it “Rainbow Pasta” or “Rainbow Salad” (for the “Rainbow Connection” song). Still another idea is to serve fish sticks or fish filets as a nod to the song, “Life’s a Happy Song” from The Muppets Movie, in which the lyrics say, “Life’s a filet of fish!” Wocka, Wocka!
5. Have a luau!
There is definitely a Hawaiian and Polynesian theme at Walt Disney World—especially at the Polynesian Resort, where you can meet Lilo and Stitch at ‘Ohana during breakfast. Celebrate your countdown to Disney World with a luau and watch Lilo and Stitch with your family. Serve fruit salad, corn on the cob, “Luau Pizza” (pizza with ham or Canadian bacon and pineapple), pineapple dump cake and Hawaiian trail mix. Play Hawaiian luau music during dinner, and if anyone in your family plays the ukulele, by all means, have them play along with the music! Remember, “Ohana” means family, and family means no one gets left behind, so be sure everyone has a great time! Visit https://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-detail.asp?recipe=2635632 for the dump cake recipe.
4. Celebrate with Tiana and Naveen!
This celebration is especially fun to have in February during Mardi Gras, if your family’s countdown coincides with Mardi Gras. Serve easy jumbalaya, corn on the cob and crescent rolls. For dessert, you can bake sugar cookies and decorate them in Mardi Gras colors (purple, green and yellow) or you can create your own version of beignets—make funnel cakes or purchase glazed donuts at your local donut shop, and serve them warm with powdered sugar on top. Be sure to watch Princess and the Frog with your family as part of your celebration. For easy jumbalaya, serve andouille or smoked sausage, sliced, over rice in chicken broth.
3. Go down the rabbit hole!
When you are at Disney World, you and your family will have opportunities to meet Alice and the White Rabbit from Disney’s Alice in Wonderland. You can even meet the Mad Hatter if you have booked the “Supercalifragilistic Breakfast” at 1900 Park Fare inside the Grand Floridian. Why not practice your tea party etiquette before you get there? For lunch one day, serve your family’s favorite sandwiches, cut up into little squares, along with Annie’s Organic White Cheddar Rabbit crackers (if you can find them). Cover juice boxes with labels that read, “drink me,” and serve raw vegetables and dip with a label that reads, “eat me.” This is a fun themed meal to decorate for, so if you choose to decorate your table, try using red, white and black as your colors. You can also use playing cards as part of your decorations. For dessert, make a donut caterpillar (think, “A-E-I-O-U”). Buy a bag of chocolate mini donuts and powdered sugar mini donuts. Cut them in half and arrange them on a serving tray to look like a caterpillar. Then use M&Ms along the outside of the “caterpillar” as its feet. Pop in Alice in Wonderland on Blu-ray or DVD, and you’re ready for another countdown to Disney World celebration!
2. Take the family to the circus!
There’s nothing like a family vacation to the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, but there are other fun outings that can be part of your countdown to Disney World—and they can even have a “Disney” spin to them! Check your local newspaper or online guides to see if there is a circus anywhere near you. Buy tickets for a Saturday afternoon at the circus for your whole family, and then have a Dumbo day! After enjoying the circus, head home to celebrate your countdown with a Dumbo-themed dinner. Serve corn dogs and corn on the cob on a stick. Nothing goes better with a circus-themed dinner than cream soda or root beer, so have those to drink (it’s really fun to drink them from a glass bottle!). After dinner, sit down to watch Dumbo with your family, and while enjoying the movie, have a sweet treats table set up Serve any combination of the following: circus animal cookies, roasted peanuts, Nutter Butter cookies and Dumbo’s PB&J Popcorn Balls. You’ll think you’ve seen about everything, when you see an elephant fly! To make Dumbo’s PB&J Popcorn Balls, visit https://family.disney.com/recipe/dumbos-peanut-butter-and-jelly-popcorn-balls/.
1. Poison apples or apple pie?
This is the last countdown celebration, and it takes place exactly one week—or seven days –before you depart for Disney! Why not eat dinner while you watch Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs? Serve your favorite homemade soup or stew, just like Snow White made for the Seven Dwarfs the first night she met them. Accompany it with crackers or bread of your choice. For dessert, you can make or buy an apple pie. Or if you’re feeling a little more creative in the kitchen, try these Poison Apple cookies: https://family.disney.com/recipe/poison-apple-cookies/. Just don’t forget to whistle while you work. After all, you’re headed to Disney in just one week!!