Showing off my Disney Side just isn’t something I generally struggle with. It usually comes fairly easy, and most often, unconsciously. Living in Central Florida can increase the frequency of Disney related happenings for everyone. An increase in these happenings can make hosting a unique Disney Side party difficult. I feel very fortunate to have that problem.
I was blessed to host a Disney Side @ Home Celebration last year, and used a d.i.y. theme. Sharing with our homeschool group, we shared different Disney crafts for all ages. This year, I was blessed again, and I knew our little group would be excited. I received the Mickey & Friends theme, and was now challenged to find a suitable party theme that would entertain 25 children, ranging in age from 1-11 years. Always up for a challenge, I went searching for ideas.
Sometimes, searching and over planning can lead to a dead end.
There were SO. MANY. IDEAS.
We concentrated on Mickey & the Gang last year, so that was not something I wanted to repeat. I did not feel right concentrating on anything gender specific, as the group is very mixed with ages and boys/girls. Villains just did not seem appropriate for the younger crowd, and preschool themes would not fit for those that are older.
I was beginning to panic. Our party was coming up and I was themeless. Not to mention, this was definitely not something I was used to. Sometimes, a bit of sage advice and having to start over from the beginning in order to solve the problem is necessary. I decided to erase every idea I had come up with. Grand ideas, be gone. I would focus on “Keep it simple.”
Since I knew who the party involved, I went back to the roots of our group.
What was our mission this year?
How can I successfully tie in a Disney party with that?
Once I reminded myself of these answers, the lightbulb went off as bright as the Dream Lights on Cinderella Castle. Our group has been focusing on different cultural events and historical people this year. We have studied topics such as the history of the popcorn on National Popcorn Day, the history of Milton Bradley on his birthday, and the humble beginnings of the Muppets on Jim Henson’s birthday. I knew what the theme to our party was and I knew exactly what to do!
First, I had to create a day (OCD NDM work at its finest, I assure you). Our group would celebrate “National Disney Side Day.” This would be our second Disney Side party, so why not continue the streak every year? Everyone likes a Disney party! Now that I was headed in a direction, I started to feel like a tourist. Which way would I take this? There are so many parks! So many attractions! Shows! Movies! I pulled out park maps, I used the My Disney Experience App. I used the official Walt Disney World website. I then reminded myself:
Keep it simple.
I decided to focus on a local park, as that would offer tangible memories for the group. With their ages being so varied, I chose Magic Kingdom. But with 6 lands, where would I start? Feeling up against the wall AGAIN, I took a deep breath and glanced out my window for a moment. In looking back down at my laptop, my eyes casually glanced over at my bookshelf, and it hit me all at once…
Main Street, USA, one of my most favorite places in all of Magic Kingdom! The quaintness, the history, the hidden facts! I think I was more excited than ever. I quickly went to work putting together a brief presentation on the history of Main Street and all it had to offer. I was sure to include fun facts that not only appealed to the children, but the parents as well.
Presentation done, I was now set to find activities. Since they would be seated for the presentation, I wanted something active. Active for 25 children of varied ages and skill levels. Heading to You Tube, I quickly put together a play list of various Just Dance Disney and Disney Dance Dance Revolution video game videos. I went to my go-to website for all things fun and Disney, Disney Family(www.family.disney.com) and decided on Mickey’s Wall Football game.
Now for food. Since the theme of our party was Main Street, USA, I felt that the food served at this party should reflect the theme. What foods do you think of when thinking about Main Street? I think of all the treats! I used the Mickey pan that came with my party kit to make a HUGE rice krispie treat. We also had an ice cream sundae bar, because no trip to Main Street is complete without ice cream!
I finally felt ready to party. I made sure that all the kids knew to come in costume or Disney clothes. For the older ones who looked at me funny when I told them this, I explained the term “Disney Bound” and told them they could do that instead. Goody bags were stuffed carefully, making sure that no one was left out. I used “Just Celebrating” buttons on each family’s goody bag with their name on it. I was sure to pick up a few extras from the parks, such as Duffy on a stick, park maps, and stickers.
Party day came, and the kids were mesmerized. They loved the fun facts about Main Street. They really enjoyed playing along with the Just Dance Disney tunes, too. But the real excitement came when we started playing Disney attraction Point of View(POV) videos. Showing these videos gave 25 children the chance to “ride” the rides with their friends. It didn’t matter if they couldn’t ride Big Thunder Mountain Railroad because they weren’t tall enough. It didn’t matter if they were too scared to ride Tower of Terror. They threw their hands in the air and giggled with glee as we all rode the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train together and I started singing “Heigh-Ho” as we entered the mine. And yes, I taught them how to rock the mine car, so you can only imagine how we all looked!
As we were helping serve ice cream sundaes, one of the parents asked me if I had heard that another one of our parents had a sudden change of plans, and this was the last time they would be with us. Completely caught off guard, our Disney Side party was quickly transformed into a “going away party.” This family had been a part of our little group for three years, and we are all very close. We all knew they were moving across the country, but not that suddenly. As the party was starting to wind down at this point, we took the opportunity to take many group pictures and say our goodbyes. The mom, who has a very beautiful outlook on everything, was sure to say that this wasn’t good-bye, but “see ya real soon!”
Quickly looking for a lasting moment with our group, I visited the You Tube channel of a friend of mine, Big Fat Panda, and chose his Festival of Fantasy parade video. We closed out our party watching the 3:00 parade together. I can’t think of a better way to spend a day sharing your Disney Side with your friends.
I would like to thank the team at Disney: Leanne Jakubowski O’Regan and Jamie Langdon, and the team at BSM Media: Maria Bailey and her staff, for this great opportunity. Since our party turned into a “going away” party, I am extremely thankful for the opportunity to have presented a great Disney send off for a wonderful family!
I received free products in order to host the Disney Side @Home Celebration. The opinions expressed here are my own.