Whether you are sitting on canceled travel plans or just home-bound with the current precautionary climate, finding ways to pass the time without being glued to a screen is hard work. How exactly do you involve the whole family in new activities within the home that don’t cost money and aren’t going to cause a fight? I’m looking at your brother-in-law, re Monopoly Battle 2002!
Let’s look at a few Disney-inspired ways that you can engage the family with something new and exciting that won’t break the bank, or your patience.
Build Your New Attraction Challenge
This one starts with a piece of paper and a plan. Ask your family members to each design the new Disney attraction they would love to see in the parks. Depending on how old your children are, add as much detail as necessary. Young ones might be encouraged to think about characters and colors or if the ride will be an indoor or outdoor ride. Older ones need to think more about how their ride would work, and could maybe map out a bird’s eye footprint.
If you have high schoolers or kids that know the parks like their own neighborhoods, stretch that imagination even further with questions like, how will the queueing system work in that classic Disney style of hiding it behind twists and turns? Or, where within the parks would your ride be situated and what theming ties it into that area to make it feel like it belongs?
Ready to push them one step further? It’s time to build it! Break out that overflowing recycling box or hit up that mishmash of old Lego sets that have been left to collect dust and put them to good use. Younger ones might prefer to focus on a ride vehicle; more mature family members might go all-out and complete a working ride structure.
When you have drawn out the challenge for a sufficient amount of time, be it hours, or even days, it’s presentation time! Show off your design to the family, explaining all the intricate details you have so cleverly come up with.
There’s a New Restaurant Opening, and You’re Invited!
This one can be arranged into teams with younger children or every mouse for themselves if playing with older ones. The premise is this: you are opening a new dining location in one of the Disney parks, resorts or shopping areas. Design a theme, location, decor, and menu to suit your ideas.
Again, depending on your players and your time available, you can make this as complex as you like. If you are filling in an hour or two, come up with a brief and a few sample ideas for the kitchen. Waiting out self-isolation and desperate for a distraction? Detail every aspect of the menu and even try out a few recipes in the kitchen to present to your family.
Will you opt for booths or traditional tables? Quick-service or table service?
Need to take things a distracting step further? Create themed attire for servers from wardrobe staples that are in line with your theme and decor choices.
You’re In Charge!
Bob Iger has left you a message explaining that the decision to make Bob Chapek the new CEO was an April Fool’s joke gone horribly wrong and they let out of the bag too early. You’re up for the top job and need to decide what your first landmark project is going to be.
Make a proposal for the Imagineering team of what and where your new venture will be. Your outline can be located anywhere in the world and can take the form or a resort, park, cruise destination, Adventure, or something new entirely.
Don’t forget to consult maps, research local customs and traditions and find ways to authenticate the experience you are trying to provide. If you want to get really into the idea, make use of the new Imagineering in a Box course that the beautiful Jackie Gailey wrote about recently here.
Don’t let Bob down!
Play to Their Strengths
If you have family members that are focused on particular interests or activities, set challenges that engage those aspects of their lives. If you have an aspiring dancer, have them choreograph the next feature parade dance routine.
Is your child a writer at heart? – Go do your thing! – Ask them to write the sequel to their favorite childhood Disney classic with a twist to suit their age range. Younger writers might look at where Mickey Mouse Clubhouse will venture to next and what Mystery Mouseketool will be required. Teen writers might like to try their hand at the next Descendants‘ storyline or the backstory of how Aladdin met Abu.
If there is an artist among you, consider setting a poster art challenge to promote a mysterious upcoming movie. Decide between abstract minimalism to keep the mystery alive or show off your creativity with all of the character reveals.
Need to tie it all together? Have your writer create the storyline for your artist’s poster art before your dancer plans out the opening musical dance number performed by your resident singer, while the house martial artist works out a stunt routine that will impress the audience.
It’s Board Game Time!
Everyone loves a family game night but not using the same old games from the cupboard that you were sick of a week into lock-down. Design a new board game as a family or as individuals tailoring the game’s challenges and advantages to your liking.
Create game pieces and orchestrate pitfalls to trap your opponents. Will your game be played on a traditional board or molded into a card game that can be played anywhere? Will the Resistance rise, or will one of the pirates of the Caribbean get to the treasure before the others? Stuck for ideas? Think about using a downloadable park map as a base to design your board with your game pieces rushing through the different lands before reaching the castle.
Once you have your plan in place, it’s time to build it. Raid that recycling again or cardboard and materials to make game pieces, computer paper for instructions or advantage cards, and you can even fish out those old miniature plastic characters you’ve been keeping for years and use them!
When you’ve finished your new Disney-themed game, it’s time to play!
That’s going to do it for this one, my friends. It’s time to put your creativity to use and make the most out of these home days and quiet weekends. Remember, screens can only be used for research and design purposes!
Have any other ideas that will keep hands and minds busy at home? Add them below!
Zoë Wood is a travel writer from Sydney, Australia. Since her first visit to Disneyland at the age of 6, she has spent her years frequently visiting Disney Parks and traveling around the world.
Join Zoë as she lets you in on all the tips, tricks, anecdotes, and embarrassments that arise from her family adventures.