For my family a trip to Walt Disney World wouldn't be complete without extra Pixie Dust. Usually Pixie Dust comes in the form of goodie bags or other presents “delivered” to our resort room, so when I was planning an offsite, budget trip last November, I knew I needed to think outside the box (or goodie bag).
Our family loves to go to Walt Disney World in October for the Food & Wine Festival and Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party (MNSSHP). October is also my son's birthday month, so he got to go to Disney World for his birthday in 2010 and 2011. We only skipped 2012 because we had a big December trip planned that year. Unfortunately when 2013 rolled around, a family trip wasn't in the budget, so when I asked my son where he wanted to celebrate his 11th birthday, he was quite disappointed that Disney wasn't an option. I took a second look and decided that we could squeeze in a mother-son trip. To save money we would stay offsite with my parents, who live about 40 minutes away. It would be a no-frills trip – no Halloween Party or character meals – but for my son, it was perfect. We were headed to Disney World and I needed to start planning Pixie Dust.
I wrote about my usual Pixie Dust goodie bags in The Park Explorer's Kit and discussed it in Episode 68: Ideas for Pixie Dusting Vacations, but even my son knew that Mickey wouldn't be delivering Pixie Dust presents to my parent's house. I needed some new (and inexpensive) ideas for this trip. As I started to plan the itinerary, my son told me he wanted to spend plenty of time playing his favorite interactive games – Agent P's World Showcase Adventure and Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom. At that time there were also two new games that we hadn't tried yet – A Pirate's Adventure in Magic Kingdom and Wilderness Explorers in Animal Kingdom. We would only be able to spend three days in the parks, so I planned an itinerary that covered our most favorite attractions in each park and left the rest of the day for playing games. (I talk more about these games in Episode 78: Interactive Adventures.) As I was working Pirate's Adventure into our Magic Kingdom morning, I decided it would be fun to really get into the spirit of the game, and so our Pirate Day was born.
Our Pirate Crew
I knew that I wanted all of us to dress like pirates. My first thought was to book an appointment at The Pirates League. The Pirates League is similar to Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique in that guests can be made over as pirates with hair, makeup and costumes. However, while BBB is limited to kids ages 3-12, The Pirates League is for the whole family at least 3 years of age. Although this experience can be expensive for the deluxe costume options, there are also more reasonable options available. Prices range currently from $29.95 to $74.95. Unfortunately, we planned to be at Magic Kingdom on a Halloween Party day, so Pirates League appointments had been fully booked months in advance. I needed another option.
After some research I bought a pack of bandannas on Amazon and hit our local party store to buy temporary tattoos and a plastic pirate hook. Throw in a Disney pirate t-shirt for my son, and we were all set. I wrapped the costume items up in a box and gave it to him as a birthday present on the night we arrived at my parent's house. The next morning we – my son, my parents and I – all dressed up in our pirate garb. This is honestly one of the things that I love most about Disney; where else can grown adults dress up and play make-believe for a day. We had a great time talking like pirates, and interacting not only with Cast Members but other guests. Note – except for MNSSHP, adults are prohibited from dressing in full character costumes, but just a few inexpensive party supplies can be a lot of fun.
Magic Kingdom has one other pirate activity that I should mention – the Parade of Pirates. Guests of The Pirate's League are invited to return and participate in a daily parade around Adventureland.
If you're really interested in all things pirate, there are also a few activities outside of Magic Kingdom. Disney's Hollywood Studios has a fairly new pirate attraction – The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow. This is a walk-through interactive attraction located near Toy Story Mania. Note – this attraction includes skeletons, monsters and a loud battle and might be scary for small children. Disney also offers the Pirate Adventure Cruises for kids ages 4 to 12. This tour departs from one of four resorts each morning and includes pirate booty and a snack. Also, if you're staying onsite, don't forget that Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort has pirate-themed rooms.
Pirate's Adventure Game
There are 5 missions in Pirate's Adventure and each one takes around 20 minutes to complete. One nice thing about this game is that there are no time limits; you can stop and start the game as often as you want throughout the day. Although it was a lot of fun, the game seems to be geared towards younger kids and was a little repetitive for my 11-year old. He was happy enough only completing three missions. Still, the story and the effects were pretty cool and it's definitely worth doing at least a few rounds.
One of our favorite attractions at Magic Kingdom is Captain Jack's Pirate Tutorial. This show runs several times daily on a stage across from Pirates of the Caribbean; check the Times Guide for the exact schedule. The show features Captain Jack Sparrow and his shipmate, Mack. What makes this show so special is that Captain Jack recruits the kids in the audience to become pirates. All of the kids get to come on stage at the end of the show to take the Pirate Oath and receive a membership scroll.
Captain Jack also selects four kids for each show to learn sword fighting. Three of the kids train with Mack and one, generally the oldest of those selected, gets to fight Captain Jack himself. My son did this in 2010 and got to fight Mack.
This time he was determined to be picked to fight Captain Jack. These are our tips for getting selected:
- Arrive early for the show and stake out a front-row spot.
- If you're celebrating a birthday, wear your birthday button.
- Dress like a pirate.
- When Captain Jack gives instructions to the audience, follow his directions and show a lot of enthusiasm.
He got picked to go on stage and had a great time fighting Captain Jack Sparrow.
In addition to the membership scroll, all of the kids who participate get a Photopass card with pictures from the whole show. The show offers some really great photo opportunities. Though I should mention, the stage is in the bright sunlight so getting evenly-lit shots can be a challenge.
More Budget Pixie Dust Ideas
When we were done playing pirates, my son spent the afternoon playing Sorcerer's of the Magic Kingdom. The park closed at 7pm because of the Halloween Party, so we took the boat to the Polynesian resort for a quick-service dinner. Then we sat on the Polynesian beach to watch the Electric Water Pageant and Hallowishes (the MK fireworks show for MNSSHP). This was our first time watching the fireworks from that location. It was truly magical and, of course, free. Definitely something we'll be doing again.
I chose to do pirate-themed pixie dust in Magic Kingdom but you could easily extend this idea to different themes and to other parks. Dress as princes and princesses and spend the day in Fantasyland. Pick up some Agent P fedoras for the family and save the world in Epcot. Make Wilderness Explorer sashes and enjoy a day at Animal Kingdom. Or just put on a few themed accessories and have your picture taken with your favorite character.
I took this Pixie Dust approach on our last trip because of our logistic and budget constraints, but I'm excited about the endless possibilities, and I know we'll be doing more of this kind of Pixie Dust in the future. What about you? What ideas have you used to make your Disney trips extra special? Share your favorite Pixie Dust ideas here.