Author: Leah Harris

A two time Disney College Program participant Leah loves Disney and helping others find the magic inside of them. She loves to cook, dance, and explore new places. She may always be on the go but her family is her top priority.

Surprise Disney Vacation Ideas


There’s something unique about surprise Disney vacations. Giving your family a surprise is always delightful. From bringing home someone a bottle of their favorite soda to surprising your whole family with a special vacation. You can feel the joy of their excited reactions. My parents have surprised us a few times with trips to Walt Disney World in Florida. Something I love to talk about with anyone who will listen is how I want to surprise my own family when I have a husband and children

Now that you’ve cleaned the house, what are you going to do next?!

The classic question. The Iconic, “What are you going to do next?” That I always want to answer with “I’m going to Disney World!”. I love to imagine this turned around onto my husband or children. Maybe turning on a Disney movie, or a cd and making it a game. Saying if we can get the whole house clean I’ll give them a surprise. Getting the house as clean and ready as we could in the set time period and then at the end showing them a commercial where they ask the question. Then turning and asking them, “What do you want to do next?” And then packing them and loading them in the car to go to Disney!

We’re supposed to go when??

If you have a hard time keeping secrets and want to include the kids in the planning, then tell them a date further out than you really plan to go. Make plans with them as the days come up to book your fast passes, make dining reservations, or pick out the hotel you want to stay in. Then while you are waiting one day say, “I don’t want to wait till (date you had said you’re going to Disney), Why don’t we just go today?” And then when they say ‘yeah let’s go’ you just pack up and go for a wonderful surprise that they still got to be a part of.

Doin’ what comes naturally!

Going Out the Door Disney, Princess Wands

For some kids, they are so little that everything is very exciting. Their first plane ride, their first long car trip, their first roller coaster? It can be a bit overwhelming. But if you take everything one at a time and make them into little fun surprises all along the way you get to see that excited face over and over again. Telling a child you’re going to Disney World can be confusing, or frustrating because they don’t understand what it is or how travel works. Enjoy the little things let things happen naturally. Any Disney trip can be a surprise Disney vacation at this age.

Surprise, Surprise!

Walt Disney World, Hollywood Studios, Going Out The Door, Fireworks

The most surprising thing of all is always going to be how you find new experiences and friends at the park. Magic comes from meeting new people, exploring new places, and trying new things. Make your plans, prepare for excitement, and enjoy the process. That it is a surprise Disney trip is just an extra cherry to your vacation. You are sure to love the time you have with your family.

Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen Review

Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen is a new restaurant to Branson, Missouri and it couldn’t be a better addition to the community. Located at the Branson Landing right on Lake Taneycomo, Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen has homey southern charm oozing out of it. From the family photos of Paula and her two sons to the light, charming, and classic colors and patterns of the interior this restaurant is very relaxful. 

Everything is Better with Butter

Paula is famous for putting butter in everything and her restaurant doesn’t disappoint. Served family style there are two options for your meal, you can get The Albany dinner which is two meats and four sides or The Savannah which has three meats and four sides. You get to eat as much as you like but take home no left-overs.

The menu is made of traditional comforting dishes like meatloaf, fried catfish, mac and cheese, creamed potatoes, cheesy broccoli casserole, green beans, and even a poppyseed salad. Top it off with an included choice of dessert that you can either take home or eat at the restaurant.

“You don’t want to make a steady diet of just lettuce. You don’t want to make a steady diet of fried chicken.” – Paula Deen

The food comes out within minutes of ordering it making it easy to have a nice meal before a show, take a hungry family in for a celebratory meal, or go and spoil yourself with some love and attention.

Something in the Air

The atmosphere can make or break any business, but in Paula’s restaurant, it doesn’t feel like a business at all. Walking in the first thing you see is smiling faces and a replica of her kitchen. It is a beautiful waiting area and also a retail shop. You can pick up kitchen accessories, kitchen linens, sauces and mixes, recipe books, and home decor, all the touches that can make a house feel a little homier.

The retail area is full but not overcrowded, the wide spaces between not only the displays in the retail space but between the tables on the dining floor make this restaurant so accessible for wheelchairs as well as giving you plenty of space between other families so you don’t feel as if you are eavesdropping on other people or being talked over.

 Everyone we had the pleasure of speaking with was friendly, happy to be there, and easy going. The waitress who spent her time with us, Miss Kalynn, was an absolute treat and so helpful in explaining the menu and helping us make our decision. She felt like a member of the family from the moment we sat down. Letting us take our time and helping us with our video.

Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen, the New Branson Cousin

It’s always a joy to expand our Branson Family and Paula Deen is a great fit. As we ate we talked about all the wonderful times when you would want home cooking. Thanksgiving, a family celebration, date night, college students who miss family mealtimes, business lunch, or as a comfort for when you’re sad. It is so easy to recommend this restaurant to anyone who enjoys southern comfort because not only is the food delectable and addictive, but the interior really feels as if you’re in Paula’s house that she’s set up special just for her big day of guests. 

Retail space at Paula Deen's Family Kitchen

Branson is a town that prides itself on being gracious, kind, and friendly. Welcome to Paula Deen and all the wonderful staff that make the magic happen, we are so glad you are joining our family.