Mickey Mouse and Charlie at Halloween Time

I built up my prom to be the biggest night ever. A lifetime of John Hughes’ movies had pumped me up for the party of my life.

It didn’t happen. Nothing particularly bad or disappointing happened, it just never lived up to the hype I had in my head.

I’m guessing the same thing can happen with wedding planning. So much time and energy is invested in trying to make the ultimate thing that it’s a high bar to jump over. My wife and I didn’t have huge expectations, we put together a casual get together and had the best day ever.

You see the pattern? The more you build it up, the greater the distance there is for expectations to fall.

Enter the surprise trip to Disneyland with your kids.

In this social media world we all work hard for “the big reveal.”  Except when you build up hype, you build expectation, and that can lead to disappointment if you can’t clear the very high bar that’s been set.

We have been invited to head off to Disneyland this week to cover Halloween Time and have a peek at what the Magic Kingdom has planned for the holidays. I have to stay in town to be on the air with my day job, and Zacharie had a camping trip planned with his school, so my wife and I thought it would be fun to wait until Z was gone to surprise Charlie with the assignment.

We made the mistake of building it up in our heads. We shouldn’t have.

I’ve seen the Disney fail videos other parents have posted, like this sad one from my pal Justin.

I picked Charlie up from school like normal, but when he got home and saw my wife he started crying. He missed his brother, and was over the top sobbing about it.

Hey, the Disney thing will cheer him up – right?!


We sprung the story on him and then he started crying some more. He missed his brother, and thought we were just playing a trick on him to change his mood. I showed him the plane tickets and some videos of what Disney has planned for Halloween to perk him up, and he came around .. very slowly.

This morning, as he and Momma head off to the airport, his spirits are higher. He’s excited to see all the things, but he still misses his brother terribly and even has a little guilt that he will get 2 more days at Disney than his brother.

What a kid 🙂

We have another chance to spring a surprise on Thursday when Zacharie get back from his camping trip.  He and I will be flying out Friday night to have a very quick 36 hour family blast through the park. Do you think we’ve learned our lesson to downplay the hype and just .. tell him?


We’re planning on doing a FaceTime with Charlie and Momma as they spring the news on Z that he gets to join them in Disneyland for the weekend! I’m betting on him pouting that his brother got to spend 2 days there without him while he was camping in the snowy mountains.

Lol. Lowered expectations are a good thing.

Disclosure: Some of our expenses for this trip have been covered by Disney

MICKEY’S HALLOWEEN PARTY (ANAHEIM, Calif.) – (Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland)

Spell-ebrate this happily haunted season with supernaturally special events that go eek in the night! Break out your broomsticks! From September 15 through October 31, Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park will host Halloween Time at the Disneyland Resort, a park-to-park spooktacular brimming with some of Disney’s best moonlit magic. Boys and ghouls of all ages will find fiendishly themed attractions, ear-ily awesome entertainment and villain encounters that’ll wake the dread!

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