We love to surprise our kids with fun and adventure, but sometimes you can’t surprise your kids completely. We had set plans that the kids knew about, but we still wanted to surprise them. We knew we’d be taking a trip to Disney World as part of the Disney Social Media Moms conference, but we didn’t want them to know exactly what or when we were going. The benefit of them knowing was that they helped us prepare, pack, and we were able to encourage them to save for their trip.
In order to keep the date and some other surprises under wraps they were given a false date for our departure. They had a countdown calendar and everything!
We wanted a way to surprise them on the way to the airport, so my husband landed on the idea of a riddle and word puzzle. The kids love them so it was a natural fit.
With kids that are elementary to high school age we knew we needed something more complicated, but wanted it to be easy enough for our youngest to get involved without making our older kids feel like it wasn’t hard, too. This fit the bill perfectly.
We sent them off to school on the morning of our departure, finished packing, and picked them up early for ‘a doctor’s appointment’. Somehow we managed to fool them long enough that when we handed them the clues they still had no idea what was going to happen.
Learn more: How to save for a Disney vacation
Creating a Disney World Surprise:
It’s a simple concept-you create a riddle and then make a code they have to solve using a book as the key. The riddle is scrambled up so they have to sort out the sentences to be in the correct order. Lastly, there was a word puzzle with the answer. It’s a little time intensive, but only took us about a few hours to put together. My husband and I worked together while watching TV one night.
It goes like this:
Solve Code->Read Sentences->Unscramble Sentences->Read Riddle->Try to Solve Riddle->Get Final Answer Word Puzzle->Solve Word Puzzle->Read Word Puzzle->SURPRISE!
How it works:
It may seem complicated, but you can include all these steps or make it simpler based on your children’s ages.
Here’s how it breaks down: The riddle becomes the basis for the code. Each number in the code correlates to the first letter of on each page.
Each phrase is completed on a different clue, so the order of the sentences is mixed up. By doing it this way the kids don’t know what the order is until they have solved all the word puzzles.
Once all the word puzzles are solved they have to unscramble them to make the riddle.
After they solved the riddle they were allowed to guess, but then when they couldn’t figure it out we gave them the final clue-a word puzzle they had to solve and then figure out.
It was so fun! It took them about 30-40 minutes to figure it all out, and by that time we were nearing the airport! We had more surprises for them in store once we arrived in Florida and went to Disney World as well, so it really set the tone for our trip.
You can see a video of their reaction when they figured it out on YouTube. It’s embedded on the website, too.
How to make your own word puzzle surprise:
Whether you’re taking a trip to see our favorite Mouse or you’re headed on another adventure you can use this idea to create a fun game and surprise for your kids or adults alike!
Start with your riddle. Here is what our riddle and the answer sentence looked like when completed.
Since our key was very specific I’ve also created a blank one you can download below. Just make sure you keep it away from little eyes!
Next you need a book. Any one will do. We used a book we were reading as a family at the time, House of Secrets.
The instructions we gave verbally, but you can also write them out. They would say, “This book is your first clue. Use the below numeric code to find the letters. (if you want to add this you can) Use the first letter on the pages listed to read the riddle.”
The first sentence was in order from 1-4. The second sentence was completed by starting with clue 4 and then going in 1-2-3 order. It looked like this order: 1-2-3-4. 4-1-2-3.
Our clues looked like the below sequences.
149 | 39-222 | 39-17-195-39-149-3 | 31-105 | 88-39-V-105 | 222-246-97-235 |39-302-95-82-95-27-149-Z-105
235-88-105 | 39-210-97-31-105-195 | 235-88-149-97 | 195-149-3-105 | 3-95-105-97 149-210-V-95-82-V-105
You must work together.
222-95-222 | 39-210-3 | 3-39-3 | 88-39-V-105 | 97-95-222-105 | 82-149-105-97
31-149-82-82 | 235-105-82-82 | 235-88-105 | 235-195-246-235-88 | 95-17 | 31-88-105-210 | 149-235-97 | 3-246-105
The right order will rhyme.
235-95 | 3-149-97-210-105-191 | 31-95-195-82-3 | 149-210 | 17-149-V-105 | 3-39-191-97,
235-88-105 | 195-149-3-3-82-105 | 235-88-39-235 | 31-105 | 88-39-V-105 | 27-149-V-105-210 | 235-95 | 191-95-246,
The first one on each will solve.
149-97 | 210-95-235 | 235-88-105 | 31-39-191 | 95-246-195 | 97-235-95-195-191 | 302-82-39-191-97
235-88-149-97 | 149-97-235-88-105 | 302-46-Z-Z-82-105 | 191-95-246 | 222-246-97-235 | 97-95-82-V-105
Lastly, we used a visual clue for the last sentence.
Have you ever created a surprise like this? If so how did you share the news?