10 Disney Things I’m Thankful For

10 Disney Things I'm Thankful For

1.The Disney DVDs that I’ve been collecting over the years. Without cable television, a nightly Disney movie viewing is a must for our family before bedtime.

2. Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree. It put a smile on my toddler’s face and a memory in his heart. Each day he talks about much he enjoyed this Cars Land attraction.

10 Disney Things I'm Thankful For

3. CheEARleading Disney Parks Moms Panelists. Their undying love for Disney and unfailing support of each other take the sting out of rejection and bring hope back that next year is really going to be your year. #DISNEYMP

4. Disney balloons. Simple in design and guaranteed to make ’em smile! I mean really….it’s a balloon within a balloon! And did you know that if your balloon pops in the Park you can request a replacement?

10 Disney Things I'm Thankful For

5. Mickey. Yeah, just Mickey.

6. Adorable Disney t-shirts. My toddler chooses one over anything else in his closet.

10 Disney Things I'm Thankful For

7. Sleeping Beauty Castle dressed for the winter. Laced with twinkling lights and dusted with snow, it’s a holiday sight to behold!

8. Mad Tea Party. Nothing makes a dad get the giggles more than spinning his kids silly! It worked for my dad and it works today with my husband (but I won’t step foot in one!)

10 Disney Things I'm Thankful For

9. Disney hats. I cherish the photos of my boys wearing their Goofy and Pluto hats or my toddler in his Mouse ears.

10. The Disneyland Hotel. From the lights in the twinkling headboard to the Monorail pool, it’s my favorite place to spend a sunny afternoon. I’m ready to move in, seriously.

10 Disney Things I'm Thankful For


Hope that you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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What I Learned by Reaching Round 3 in the Disney Parks Moms Panel Search #DisneyMP

 

What I Learned by Reaching Round 3 in the Disney Parks Moms Panel Search

When I applied to the Disney Parks Moms Panel way back in early September of 2017, I told two people. When I made it through into Round 2, I cautiously told a few more. After a video submission and more essay questions, I was notified I’d made it to Round 3. In my phone interview with Gary Buchanan (Social Media Managing Editor at the time), I was informed that I was a finalist in the last round. At that point, I think I might have told everyone I knew…I was a FINALIST for the Disney Parks Moms Panel!

What I Learned by Reaching Round 3 in the Disney Parks Moms Panel SearchThere were so few of us left in the running for the Disneyland specialty that nerves were definitely running high. It was requested that we make arrangements and set aside time for the training trip that takes place in early December. I had to tell my boss that I might have to leave for a few days. The possibility of making the Panel was very real for so many us, myself included.

Lucky enough to have made it to Round 3, some of us huddled together in Facebook groups, sharing our personal experiences through the process and cheering each other on. This was my first time submitting an application for the Panel and I didn’t know what to expect but my hopes were high….heck, I’d made it to the final round on my first try!
What I Learned by Reaching Round 3 in the Disney Parks Moms Panel Search

It’s a “Not This Year”…Never a No

Notification day was crushing, for me and for so many that weren’t chosen for the Panel.  I felt very confident all-around in the application process. Perhaps if I’d had a stumble somewhere along the way (a noticeable error in my essay, a misspelling, etc), I would have had a glimmer of rejection ahead of time. I was staying upbeat and confident about the end result (me being chosen for the Panel), of which at that point I had no control over. To receive the “not this year” was nothing less than a shock.

I definitely have faith in the process and trust that the review committee chose whom they felt is the best fit for the current position. I can be completely honest and say that it was a challenging weekend, coming to grips of the loss of this dream and vision I’d built up in my head.

 

Am I down for the count? Not a chance. As a consolation those of us that receive a “not this year” have a FastPass+ straight to Round 2 in the application process for 2015. I will continue “Saving Up for Disney” to make another trip to my Happiest Place (this allows me to qualify as an applicant). It’s not a dream lost. Hopefully it’s just a dream delayed.

What I Learned by Reaching Round 3 in the Disney Parks Moms Panel Search


So what have I learned on this path towards Panelist?

YOU HAVE YOUR WORK CUT OUT FOR YOU

Obviously being highly-knowledgeable about your chosen specialty is a must. It also means having a quick recall during live interviews and turnaround on essays. When I was asked what my favorite Land was, I had an answer. When I was asked how Disney excelled in handling special needs in the Parks, I had an answer. If you know your stuff the answers should come to you second nature. That is, if nerves don’t take over!

THE REVIEW COMMITTEE HAS THEIR WORK CUT OUT FOR THEM

They are faced with thousands of applications from Disney-lovers around the globe. They cull each application and have the unfortunate job at the end to tell some people that their Panel dream has ended for the year. It’s done with love but the bottom line still stings. I certainly don’t envy them that position. Even when you want to Tweet, “Why not me?!” know that for each one of you there are another 10,000+ Guests that are asking themselves the same question.

LITTLE MISTAKES ADD UP

In a class of high-caliber writers, even a minor misspelling could be enough to knock you out of contention. Write, read, re-read and possibly have someone else proof your essays and application before hitting submit. Looking back I wished that I’d had more help with my video submission and polished it up a bit more. Next year!

What I Learned by Reaching Round 3 in the Disney Parks Moms Panel Search

PATIENCE & PERSISTENCE

Perhaps you don’t make the Panel this year. Or the next. This was my first attempt but for some that made the Panel this year, it had been their eighth attempt. But without persistence and tossing their Mouse Ears into the ring each year, they might have never had a chance at all.

DON’T TAKE IT PERSONALLY

One of the things we discussed as a group was how the Panel is like a big Disney puzzle. There are the existing Panelists and the newly chosen are like the missing puzzle pieces that have to fit the entire picture. If you didn’t fit this time and received a “not this year”, that doesn’t mean that you might not “fit in” another year. It doesn’t mean you did anything wrong. It doesn’t mean they don’t like you. It just means you weren’t the right fit…this time.

What I Learned by Reaching Round 3 in the Disney Parks Moms Panel Search

And as Walt Disney says, we have to keep moving forward. There is no point in dwelling on what “could have been” at this point. I’ll keep my head in the clouds and my feet on the ground…carving out new paths that will hopefully lead me to my goals. I know that representing on the Disney Parks Moms Panel is a job I was made for and I’ll be tossing my Mouse Ears back in the ring come next year, you can count on that!

 

 

 

 

 

Disney on Broadway – Disney Aladdin

Welcome to those of you joining me from Disney with Babies, Toddlers, & Preschoolers and those of you just hopping aboard. I am the Final stop on our Magical Blogorail.


As a frequent Guest of the Disneyland Resort Parks, I’ve seen Disney’s Aladdin – A Musical Spectacular countless times. The live show performs several times daily at the Hyperion Theatre inside Disney’s California Adventure Park. The 40-minute show is showstopping from start to finish and each time it ends I feel like I’ve been treated to a Broadway-worthy production!

And now Broadway-goers can experience this magical story on the Great White Way, in Disney Aladdin!

Based on the 1992 Disney animated film, the Broadway production also features music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Howard Ashman, Tim Rice & Chad Beguelin. The show is directed and choreographed by Casey Nicholaw, with set design by Bob Crowley and costume design by Gregg Barnes. Disney Aladdin premiered in Seattle and opened on Broadway at the historic New Amsterdam Theatre in New York City, March 2014.

An 18-piece orchestra performs the score in a production that is packed with music! The show features all the favorites from the movie like Arabian Nights, Friend Like Me, Prince Ali and A Whole New World.

   

Songs like Proud of Your Boy and High Adventure were originally written for the movie and are being performed on the stage for the first time. There are also new songs written just for the Broadway production, including The Palace Walls and Diamond in the Rough.

This hit Broadway production will soon be traveling the globe and hitting the stage in both Japan and Germany in 2015.


Thank you for joining Magical Blogorail Orange this month. We will be back on December 11th with an all new theme. Keep checking in with our blogs in between loops to keep up to date with our Disney info, photos and stories. If you are looking for more Disney magic, you can make your way over to The Magical Blogorail website to see all our members and their blogs, as well as all our previous loops.

Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail, should you happen to have to make a stop along the way and want to reboard:

1st Stop ~ Disney Mamas – The Magic of Disney’s Beauty & the Beast on Broadway

2nd Stop ~ Capturing Magical Memories – Into the Woods

3rd Stop ~ I Am a Mommy Nerd – Mary Poppins

4th Stop ~ Disney with Babies, Toddlers, and Preschoolers – Little Mermaid on Broadway

Final Stop ~ Saving Up for Disney – Disney Aladdin

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DIY Gifts (and Save!) – Make Your Own Cloth Napkins

DIY Christmas gifts - Make your own Cloth Napkins

I love a pretty table setting, don’t you? Since we eat at home 99% of the time, it’s important to me that my table look inviting and lovely (even if we’re just eating yesterday’s leftovers!)

One of the ways I set a homey table on a budget is by making my own cloth napkins. Not only do I save money by not purchasing paper products, I also have a pretty presentation for every home-cooked meal! I have about a half-dozen napkin sets that coordinate with my basic colored place mats and I just simply toss the napkins into the wash with my dishtowels after dinner.

These cloth napkins are super-simple to make and are a lovely hostess gift. Coordinate them with your seasonal decor. Tie up a set with a raffia-ribbon to gift during the holidays!

DIY Christmas gifts - Make your own Cloth Napkins

I recommend using high-quality cotton quilting fabric for your napkins. Stains will come out more easily in the wash and you won’t have to press them after a tumble in the dryer.

I have been using the same pattern for years, from seamstress and fabric designer Heather Bailey. Her template for easy-to-do mitered corners is so helpful! And if you need beautiful fabrics, she sells them on her website too.

CLOTH NAPKIN INSTRUCTIONS

DIY Christmas gifts - Make your own Cloth Napkins

Looking for fun and creative napkin folding techniques? I have culled some on my Pinterest board This Life.


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Christmas at Disney California Adventure Park – The Happiest Place on Earth Just Got Merrier!

Christmas at Disney California Adventure Park

With the addition of Buena Vista Street and Cars Land, Disney California Adventure Park has experienced a rejuvenation of sorts during the holidays. Gone is the beachy-keen themed Christmas of old (and Santa in a surf-inspired shirt…really, I have pictures!) and the decor has instead taken on a sophisticated and elaborate theming that we’ve come to expect from the Happiest Place on Earth!


Here are the holiday highlights for Christmas at Disney California Adventure Park –

Towering over Carthay Circle is a fantastic 60-foot Christmas tree. The buildings around Buena Vista Street are decorated with 1920s-approprate garland and vintage-style ornaments. There is a tree-lighting ceremony each night at 5 pm.

Christmas at Disney California Adventure Park

Our last Christmas-time visit included a chat with Santa at Elias & Co. (the main department store along Buena Vista Street). As you can see, my daughter was having none of it!

Christmas at Disney California Adventure Park

“a bug’s land” is decorated with giant Christmas lights and over-sized ornaments. This is a fun area any time of year but even more whimsical with the wildly-large decor!

What is Christmas at Disney California Adventure Park like?

Just outside the entrance to Cars Land, take your photo with a whimsical “snowcar”. Draped over Route 66 are garlands made of auto filters and snowflakes made from wrenches. Each of the shops and restaurants along the route feature holiday décor that reflects the personality of the “Cars” character who lives there. Don’t you love the Christmas tree, glowing with the shine of new hub-caps?! Look, even Stanley has the holiday spirit and is wearing a Santa hat!

Disney California Adventure Park - Christmas

Get Frozen for the holidays! Warm up your singing voices at For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration then play in Olaf’s Snow Fest , a winter-appropriate wonderland (Snow Fest is only open through Jan 6th, 2016). You can go sledding on real snow, enjoy special treats & meet Olaf.

(Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland Resort)

(Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland Resort)

I’ve yet to experience the new  “Disney ¡Viva Navidad!” at Paradise Gardens. The Disney website describes this as a daily celebration inspired by the warmth and joyous spirit of Latino culture and holiday traditions, with festive music and dancing, vibrant colors, delicious food, Disney character appearances and the lively “Disney Viva Navidad! Street Party.” Sounds like a fantastic time to me!

“Disney ¡Viva Navidad!” will conclude with a five-day celebration of the traditional Three Kings Day, Jan. 2 through 6, 2015.

(Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland Resort)

(Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland Resort)

Special holiday food items include sourdough bread in holiday shapes at Boudin’s and homemade turkey pot pie soup in a sourdough bread bowl at Pacific Wharf Café. Elf Mickey premium popcorn buckets and drink steins are available in both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure.

Paradise Pier has a lovely seaside Christmas theme and Donald was greeting guests last time in his snowflake-sprinkled winter attire. I adore this tree, studded with sea-inspired ornaments and a spiralling shell tree-topper!

Christmas at Disney California Adventure Park

After its successful 2013 debut, “World of Color − Winter Dreams” returns with several “Frozen” songs in the show. The holiday version of the popular “World of Color” show features classic winter scenes from such beloved Disney and Disney●Pixar films as “Bambi,” “Toy Story” and, of course, “Frozen.” For Christmas 2015, World of Color – Winter Dreams will be shown before World of Color – Celebrate!, so you can actually watch both shows in the same evening!

(Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland Resort)

(Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland Resort)


Have you ever visited Disney California Adventure Park during the Christmas season? Which area would you like to most visit? Share in the comments below!

I recommend purchasing tickets from Park Savers ahead of your trip. Save a few dollars off the price as well as time at the gates.

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Practical Gifts on a Budget (that are still FUN!)

Practical Gifts on a budget (that are still fun!)

No surprise to me, when I brought up Christmas this year, my husband said, “Let’s get the kids practical gifts”. We’re both practical people and for him especially, the clutter of tiny trinkets in our teeny-tiny house is well, terrible! We plan on minimizing the toy buying and keep with purchases that will go to good use.

“Oh, underwear for a gift! How wonderful!!”, said no kid, ever!

But practical gifts can still be fun to receive on Christmas morning, I’m here to prove it!


Practically Perfect Christmas Gifts! For added fun, I’ve included images and links from the Disney Store (affiliate). Click the picture to learn more about each item.

PILLOW – My kids all have the most sad looking bedroom pillows and each of them need a replacement. I’m going to buy them a new pillow and make a colorful pillowcase in a favorite fabric theme to put on it. No wrapping needed, just lay it under the tree! I will post a tutorial on how to make your own pillowcase soon.

SHOES OR SLIPPERS- I think it would be funny to hide the shoes somewhere in the house, as if the shoes “walked” away from the Christmas tree! Have the open shoe boxes under the tree and a treasure map with clues inside to find your missing new shoes…doesn’t that sound like something kids would get a kick out of?

WINTER ACCESSORIES – Replace last years missing scarf, hat and gloves. Place one of your child’s stuffed animals under the tree and “dress” it with the new accessories.

BLANKET – What kid doesn’t love a cozy warm blanket? Have you ever made one of the snuggly knotted fleece blankets? They are super-easy and there are so many sweet designs to choose from! I will post a tutorial on how to make your own knotted fleece blanket soon.

BOOKS – All year-long I keep a list of books that my kids would enjoy receiving and gift them with about five fun titles. This year I’m going to give my daughter a book about Finding Hidden Mickeys along with some short chapter books. My son mentioned wanting a field guide about minerals so I’ll give him that and a few other interesting field guides that I know he’ll enjoy. Stack the books into a tower and tie it up with a bow!

LUNCH BOX – Give their lunch a refresh with a bright and shiny new lunch box and thermos.

PAJAMAS – I don’t know about your kids but mine like to put their pajamas on right after school! If you know how to sew, making your own pj pants is quick and easy. Find a fun fabric theme and sew up a bunch! Make one pair in a holiday fabric and give it to your child on Christmas Eve. Roll them up tightly and slide several pairs into an empty wrapping paper roll for a whimsical decoration!

PIGGY BANK – Start them with a jingle-jangle of coins and a few bills inside and this practical gift becomes fantastic!

ART SUPPLIES – Maybe some households don’t consider this a necessity, but as a creative person I know that new drawing paper, pencils and crayons are a MUST! Put everything in an art box (plastic storage bin) along with some stickers for them to decorate the box with.

BATHING SUIT & BEACH TOWEL – Bring the summer fun to the winter chill! Present these summer essentials in a beach bucket with a tube of sunscreen and new sunglasses and you’ll be ready for the pool when the warmth returns.

SOCKS & UNDERWEAR – Yes, I know…no kid want that for a gift, but every kid needs them! Give kids a giggle and stuff one pair inside each present you give them this year.


Practically FUN Stocking Stuffers –

TOOTHBRUSH – My kids get a snazzy new electric version with a favorite character on it.

T-SHIRT -Roll it up and stuff it into the toe of the stocking.

BAND-AIDS – Get a box with fun designs for each child. Great to have in the first aid box when you need them.

BUBBLE BATH – Most of the time my kids take a shower but when they are feeling under the weather there is nothing like a warm soak in the tub. That’s when bubbles are a special treat!

WATER BOTTLE – Encourage hydration with a fun new bottle (choose different designs/colors for each kid so they don’t get mixed up).

COMPACT UMBRELLA – Slide one into their stockings and this spring they’ll be covered (literally!) when rain comes!


Do you have ideas for practical and budget-friendly (but fun!) things for a child’s gift? Share them in the comments!

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Christmas at Disneyland Park – The Merriest Place on Earth!

Christmas at Disneyland - The Merriest Place on Earth!

Christmas at Disneyland is nothing else but…MAGICAL! Even before you step inside the gates, you will see that the Park is decorated to the hilt. You will be amazed at the detailed Christmas displays down Main Street, U.S.A. From the 60-foot tall fully-decorated Christmas tree in Town Square to the colorful floral decor, nothing has been left untouched by the holiday spirit in Disneyland Park!


Here are the holiday highlights for Christmas at Disneyland Park –

Greet the characters dressed up in their holiday finest. We always make a point to take pictures with our favorites on Main Street, U.S.A. first thing in the morning. Check out the enormous ornaments and packages at the Christmas tree. This is a popular location and for good reason…it’s the perfect spot to take the photo you use on your Christmas card!

Christmas at Disneyland - The Merriest Place on Earth!

Guests may book the seasonal favorite “Holiday Time at the Disneyland Resort” guided tour which provides entry (subject to availability) into “it’s a small world” Holiday, Haunted Mansion Holiday and Jingle Cruise along with reserved seating and a holiday treat while enjoying “A Christmas Fantasy” parade. The tour also includes viewing of the holiday décor in Disney California Adventure, a keepsake remembrance and entertaining information about Disneyland holiday traditions. For information and reservations guests may visit any Disneyland Resort Guest Relations location or call (714) 781-TOUR (781-8687).

We have yet to experience the “Jingle Cruise”, a holiday version of the popular Jungle Cruise attraction but it sounds like it’s going to be as adventurous (and silly) as ever!

Christmas at Disneyland - The Merriest Place on Earth!

Mosey on over to the Jingle Jangle Jamboree in Big Thunder Ranch for fun and games including music, games and character meet-and-greets. There are also crafts, cookie decoratings and seasonal entertainment. Pluto joined us at craft time one year! You’ll also be able to catch Mr & Mrs Claus for photos there as well!

Christmas at Disneyland - The Merriest Place on Earth!

Haunted Mansion Holiday continues its wild mash-up, covering Halloween & Christmas, with Jack Skellington from Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas” at the helm!

Special holiday food items include Walt’s favorite gingerbread cookies at Jolly Holiday Bakery and Café and holiday tamale plates at Rancho del Zocalo Restaurante. Elf Mickey premium popcorn buckets and drink steins are available in both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure.

Christmas at Disneyland - The Merriest Place on Earth!

 “it’s a small world” Holiday has taken on a completely new overlay for the winter season with the children of the world dressed up in the holiday attire of their nations. This is a can’t miss attraction after dark! More than 300,000 lights glitter and every 15-minutes, the façade of the attraction is transformed with advanced 3D-projection technology.

Find a great seat for “A Christmas Fantasy” parade, celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. There are 100+ performers in the parade and you’ll be sure to see Mickey,  Minnie and a special guest from the North Pole…Santa Claus!  Anna and Elsa from “Frozen” are joining the parade this year and it’s a great way to see them without waiting in any lines!

Each area of the Park is decorated for the holidays with amazing themed decor for that Land. I particularly love the colorful garlands in Mickey’s Toontown.

Christmas at Disneyland - The Merriest Place on Earth!

At nightfall, choose a prime spot on Main Street U.S.A for the spectacular special-effects show and holiday lighting. Magic will happen from Sleeping Beauty’s Winter Castle all the way down to the Disneyland Christmas Tree in Town Square.

Your Disneyland Christmas is not complete without a viewing of  “Believe … in Holiday Magic” fireworks show. Snow will fall upon Main Street, U.S.A., “it’s a small world” Mall and New Orleans Square! It’s a magical holiday feeling, for sure!!


Have you ever visited Disneyland Park during the Christmas season? What is your favorite part of the holidays at Disneyland? Share in the comments below!

I recommend purchasing your tickets early through Park Savers. Save a few dollars as well as time at the gate (affiliate link).

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Avoid the Disneyland Meltdown! – List of Quiet Spots in the Parks

Top tips on avoiding the Disneyland Meltdown including quiet spots in the park and helpful advice.

Think that the Disneyland “meltdown” is unavoidable? You can potentially avoid the Disneyland meltdown, with just a little pre-planning, these tried-and-tested tips and some visits to the quiet areas throughout the Disneyland Parks.

With a 12-year old child on the Autism spectrum (as well as another 12-year old, a four-year old and a newborn), our family goal when going to amusement parks is to completely eliminate the dreaded “meltdown”. We’ve done pretty well with this plan!

Avoiding the Disneyland Meltdown

A quiet spot of seats at the entrance to bug’s land

Take it easy

Take the day at an easy pace and by adding in plenty of breaks. This might mean that you leave the Parks mid-day to recoup at the hotel for a swim or a nap. If you have kids that are prone to meltdown you need to go at their pace and not the schedule you have set for the day. You just can’t cram too much activity into the day because that is a recipe for meltdown.

Tired Legs

If your child gets cranky with excessive walking consider bringing your stroller or renting one at the Park. Even big kids (who don’t usually nap) might find they appreciate reserving their energy or will take a cat nap if they are able to ride in a stroller.

Feed me

Snacks and drinks should be kept at close hand. Pack a bag with healthy snacks (like nuts and fruit) and hand them out frequently to keep blood-sugars level.

Don’t Skip Naps

If your child always takes a nap mid-day, be sure to make a point of sticking to that schedule. If you don’t want to leave the Park, head for one of the quiet resting spots so they can sleep. Naps in an amusement park are never quite as refreshing as one in a bed though, so you might want to get them back to the hotel for a more restful sleep.

Be aware

There tends to be a build up of bad moods before the big meltdown occurs. Stopping and redirecting immediately if we see a change in attitude or if we sense that a meltdown is developing is crucial. There is no attempt to try and squeeze in “one more” event; We immediately head for one of these quiet spots at the Disneyland Resort for a little decompressing. These would also be great places to sit with a child who is sleeping in their stroller!

Spots to Rest and Recollect

How to Avoid the dreaded Disneyland Meltdown! - A List of Quiet Spots in the Parks {Saving Up for Disney}

DISNEYLAND

-Pirate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer Island has many shaded areas to sit, relax and people-watch from across the Rivers of America.

-On the right hand side of Sleeping Beauty Castle is Snow White’s Grotto. The water-feature with the twirling fish is rather hypnotic! Toss some change into the Wishing Well.

-Our daughter wanted to meet Tinker Bell in Pixie Hollow. We requested an alternative waiting area (instead of the noisy line in the sun). We waited as long as everyone else (about 30 minutes that day) but were given a shaded area where she could spread out and not have the noise or crowd.

How to Avoid the dreaded Disneyland Meltdown! - A List of Quiet Spots in the Parks {Saving Up for Disney}

Photo Credit: Jeff Holz

-The waiting areas at each Train Station have covered seating. Except for when the train pulls in, these are fairly quiet places to rest. The train is also a great distraction!

-At the exit to the Jungle Cruise, just outside of Aladdin’s Oasis is a quiet spot to sit and have a snack. I like to pick up a beef skewer from Bengal Barbeque and sit here to enjoy it.

-On the lower deck of the Hungry Bear Restaurant, tucked all the way in the back is a sweetly shaded resting spot overlooking the Rivers of America. It’s also where the ducks gather so toss them a few bread crumbs!

How to Avoid the dreaded Disneyland Meltdown! - A List of Quiet Spots in the Parks {Saving Up for Disney}

-Next to the entrance of Rancho Del Zocalo Restaurante is a covered walkway with tiled seating and a restroom nearby. It’s particularly pretty here in the evenings.

-Take a slow walk inside the coolness of Sleeping Beauty. If your child doesn’t like tight quarters or can’t handle the stairs, there is an accessible space to view the Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough on a high-definition screen. It’s a quiet location with little trinkets on display.

-Take a trip around the Rivers of America on the Mark Twain Riverboat. Lots of benches in the shade and you’ll get a cool breeze across the water.

quiet10

Photo Credit: Jeff Holz

-Around the side of Harbour Galley is a quiet and shady dining area.

-Between “it’s a small world” and the Matterhorn (next to Edelweiss Snacks) is a quiet boat pier overlooking a lovely water feature. It has a covered awning and bench seating and is a perfect place to rest between rides.


DISNEY CALIFORNIA ADVENTURE PARK

-In Hollywood Land, just outside of Monsters Inc. are benches under shade. Arrive before dark, when the very loud and rambunctious Mad T Party starts!

-Stop over at Sonoma Terrace for a snack in the covered patio that overlooks the Pier.

How to Avoid the dreaded Disneyland Meltdown! - A List of Quiet Spots in the Parks {Saving Up for Disney}

-The Redwood Creek Challenge Trail offers not only busy-body activities like rope swings and rock climbing walls but a few restful benches under the trees.

-Rest yourself on one of the benches around the covered promenade underneath the Silly Symphony Swings. You’ll get a nice overview of Paradise Pier (though this area isn’t exactly the most quiet it does not have much foot-traffic).

How to Avoid the dreaded Disneyland Meltdown! - A List of Quiet Spots in the Parks {Saving Up for Disney}

-In front of the Tower of Terror there are places to sit in the shade. Even better, in front of the shop by the exit of  the ride there is an out of the way bench. After a while, you won’t even notice the screams!

-Walk Grizzly Trail behind Grizzly River Run for a quiet and cool pace and perhaps a refreshing mist from the water ride!

quiet11

Photo Credit: Jeff Holz

-The umbrella-covered tables in Paradise Garden Grill are an out-of-the-way locale for lunch.

-There is a relatively quiet path between Cars Land and “a bug’s land”. It’s a peaceful walk and transition between Lands.

How to Avoid the dreaded Disneyland Meltdown! - A List of Quiet Spots in the Parks {Saving Up for Disney}

-Likewise, just as you pass under the rock formation in Cars Land into the Pacific Wharf area there is a quiet shady space. You can rest here against the guard rails but technically, there is no seating.


BEST LAID PLANS

Sometimes despite our best efforts our kids sometimes do have a mini-meltdown. Fortunately we’ve been able to avoid anything catastrophic at the Happiest Place on Earth but we live and learn through each situation.

Tips for avoiding the dreaded Disneyland Meltdown

The last time we had anyone in our group upset was because we didn’t plan our fireworks viewing area properly. When the lights went out and Guests rushed into our area to see the show, our daughter was pushed out of her spot and under a tree where she completely missed seeing Tinker Bell fly across the sky. She didn’t appreciate the tight quarters, the jostling or the blocked view. As you can see in the photo above she was very upset and had been crying. After the show, we were able to stay tight in our spot until the crowd cleared and we regrouped. After a rest she was ready for a few more rides before we ended our evening.

Having learned our lesson on that trip, we were able to choose a better fireworks location on our last visit where she had more space around her and an open view. Making your Disney day enjoyable is as much about doing your Park research as it is about knowing, listening and watching your child for potential break-down.

How to Avoid the dreaded Disneyland Meltdown! - A List of Quiet Spots in the Parks {Saving Up for Disney}

Keep in mind that if you have a special needs child, the DAS (Disability Access Service) is available. More about that program in my post, Disneyland’s Disability Access Service (DAS).

DAS- pin

I also recommend minimizing line waits by purchasing your park tickets ahead of time on Park Savers (affiliate link). You’ll also save yourself a few dollars.

Park Savers affiliate link

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Budgeting for a Disneyland Vacation – How to Pinch Pennies on Your Trip

Budgeting for a Disneyland Vacation? 

Should you budget or break the bank for your Disneyland vacation? A few things to consider: Do you want to go all out and live it up on this trip or are you content to stick to your frugal ways for your stay? Or maybe a nice balance of both – Pick and choose what items are most important for your vacation and be thrifty in some places and more free with your money in others.

I’m sharing my tips on how to pinch your pennies on a Disneyland vacation as well as offering fun splurges and over-the-top ways to break the bank at Disneyland.

Please note that I use affiliate links in my posts. Clicking through and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

Budgeting for Disney? Here are the ultimate tips on pinching pennies in the Park (and a few ways to splurge!)

Tossing change in the wishing well at Snow White’s Grotto

1. Choosing a Budget Hotel

In Anaheim, there are hundreds of area hotels and motels in every price range to choose from for your Disneyland stay. Some are literally a stoplight away, directly across the street from the entrance esplanade. Take a look at Disney’s recommended “Good Neighbor” hotels for reasonable suggestions. Consider Priceline if you’d like a fancier hotel at a cheaper rate. You won’t be able to choose your location but you can choose your price and the star-rating. Don’t forget to ask for a discount or if the hotel accepts AAA (or another discount card).

Budgeting for Disney? Here are the ultimate tips on pinching pennies in the Park (and a few ways to splurge!)

Castle-themed room at Anaheim Majestic Gardens

Pinch Your Pennies – Cheap motels can be found all over Anaheim, some within walking distance of Disneyland. These are no-frills, un-themed basic motels with doors that face outside. Some of these motels offer a do-it-yourself breakfast. Most have very basic swimming pools. Some motels are better than others; some are quite nice for the price and others are frankly, dumpy. Read Yelp or my reviews for advice).

Budgeting for Disney? Here are the ultimate tips on pinching pennies in the Park (and a few ways to splurge!)

Room at the very lovely Wyndham Anaheim Garden Grove

For a Little More Money – Some of the more pricier hotels have Disney themed rooms or special features, like bunk-beds for the kids or a kitchenette. Pools are usually larger and offer more amenities. Some nicer hotels offer breakfast included in the price, but most do not. Some of these hotels also offer complimentary shuttle service to the Parks, but again many do not (or they charge an additional fee).

As an alternative to a hotel, there are local vacation homes available. Some have elaborate theming and play spaces for children. This is particularly nice if you are traveling with a large group and want to stay all together.

Budgeting for Disney? Here are the ultimate tips on pinching pennies in the Park (and a few ways to splurge!)

Splurge– The hotels of the Disneyland Resort are completely themed and immerse you in that “Disney Magic”. Pools may have bar and food service and offer life vests and swim diapers for little ones. The Resort hotels are all within close walking distance to the Park entrances. Grand Californian Resort and Spa has an exclusive entrance for Resort guests (with valid Park ticket) to enter Disney California Adventure Park. Disneyland Resort guests can also take advantage of Extra Magic Hour that allows them entrance to the Park one hour earlier (according to schedule).

Go for Broke – For an additional fee, you can add Club-level service to your Resort stay. The room will be exactly the same however you’ll receive access to the Club lounge which includes continental breakfast, sodas and snacks throughout the day and a wine and cheese reception at night. You’ll even receive special treats before bed! We’ve stayed on the Club-level floor at the Paradise Pier and it was lovely to pick up snacks and sodas before going to the pool or into the Park and be greeted with chocolate-dipped Mickey-shaped rice cereal treats on our bed at night!

Rent a poolside cabana for the day at one of the Disneyland Resort hotels. Last summer while swimming in the Disneyland Hotel pool, we *ahem* saw Adam Sandler coming in and out of his poolside cabana!

Budgeting for Disney? Here are the ultimate tips on pinching pennies in the Park (and a few ways to splurge!)

Make it Rain– Book a beautiful suite or signature suite at either the Grand Californian Resort and Spa or the Disneyland Hotel. At the Grand Californian, suites are themed in a rustic but elegant art-deco decor. The Disneyland Hotel has amazing signature suites that are beautifully themed to the Park.

Budgeting for Disney? Here are the ultimate tips on pinching pennies in the Park (and a few ways to splurge!)


Save Money on Your Disney Vacation!

Purchase discount Disneyland and Walt Disney World tickets and vacation packages from my affiliate Get Away Today.

Use the Promo Code REWRITTEN and receive an extra $10 off any 2-night or longer Southern California package. (Hotel and 2 ticket minimum purchase to qualify for the discount).


2. Transportation Costs

Pinch Your Pennies – If you plan to be only visiting the Disneyland Resort during your California stay, there is no need to rent a vehicle. The Disneyland Resort Express bus will take you from the airport to the Anaheim area for a fee. Choose a motel within walking distance of the Parks and simply let your feet be your guide. If your motel is a bit too far to walk, The Anaheim Resort Transportation (ART) runs to many of the local motels and other area amusement parks for a small fee. There aren’t any grocery stores within close walking distance of the Resort (only convenience stores) so you may need to take a bus or Uber to get to the nearest Target.

Budgeting for Disney? Here are the ultimate tips on pinching pennies in the Park (and a few ways to splurge!)

Bus transportation back to the parking areas.

Splurge – If your trip includes stops in Long Beach, Orange County or San Diego then renting a car is the best way. You can also take the train for a unique experience. It can be convenient to have a rental car with you to drive yourself from the airport to hotel, for shopping and for travel within the area. Parking at the Disneyland Resort is $15.00 per day. Your hotel may have per night fees for parking as well.

Budgeting for Disney? Here are the ultimate tips on pinching pennies in the Park (and a few ways to splurge!)

3. Least Expensive Time of the Year

Pinch Your Pennies – When you’re budgeting, Disneyland’s “Value Season” is your bread and butter. You will choose an off-peak time period (not over a holiday, 3-day weekend or school break). You will go to the Parks mid-week, never on a weekend for the best motel prices.

Unfortunately Disney often schedules ride refurbishments or closures during Value Season so there may be a chance that you’ll miss riding your favorite or being able to see fireworks. Park hours are often shorter during Value Season.

Budgeting for Disney? Here are the ultimate tips on pinching pennies in the Park (and a few ways to splurge!)

Splurge – A visit during Peak Season takes patience and a bit more money. Prices skyrocket at Disneyland over the holidays, in particular the weeks of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve. However the Parks are dressed to the nines in holiday fashion and there are special events planned, like ice skating in Downtown Disney District at Olaf’s Frozen Ice Rink (additional fee). Ride refurbishments are at a minimum during Peak Season and hours are usually longer. Want the Christmas spirit but not the crazy crowds? Aim to visit in the last week of November (after Thanksgiving) and the first week of December for the lighter crowds.

Go for Broke – The holiday season is joyous! Enjoy an elegant Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner at one of the Resort hotel restaurants and an over-the-top New Year’s Eve Gala at Napa Rose with dinner and dancing.


4. Best Price on Tickets 

Pinch Your Pennies– Plan to spend one day in each Park, minimum. Purchase a two-day base pass, one Park each day. Just know in advance that you won’t be able to see and do everything in two Parks in two days! Check with your AAA office, Human Resources department, Costco or local grocery stores for possible discounted passes. I recommend booking through a travel agency that specializes in Disney vacations, like Get Away Today. They often run specials including free days with a vacation booking or children’s pricing for adult tickets.

Budgeting for Disney? Here are the ultimate tips on pinching pennies in the Park (and a few ways to splurge!)

Splurge – Purchase a 5-day Park Hopper Pass. The entrances to the Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park face each other across a short esplanade, which makes Park Hopping possible within minutes! If you plan on staying longer than five days, consider investing in an Annual Pass, which will also give you discounts on select dining and merchandising.

Go for Broke – Book a Guided Tour and receive special access and behind-the-scenes peeks. Some tours offer special ride access or reserved viewing for certain shows.

Make it Rain – Request VIP Tour Services for your days in the Parks. You’ll have the assistance of a dedicated guide, reserved viewing/seating and more (all for an hourly rate).

5. Discount Dining

Pinch Your Pennies – Pack your own meals and snacks in a soft-sided cooler with a chill pack inside. Bring bottled water (or request ice water for free from any walk-up dining location). If you choose to dine inside the Park, choose meals that are large enough to share. We often purchase two different platters, request extra plates and share between us all. We pad out the meal with snacks (like cheese sticks or carrots) that we bring from home.

Check out more of my tips on saving money on food at Disneyland, how to pack your own food into the Parks and what are the best meals for sharing.

Budgeting for Disney? Here are the ultimate tips on pinching pennies in the Park (and a few ways to splurge!)

Splurge– Make Advanced Dining Reservations (ADR) for some of the elegant dining experiences in the Park and Resort Hotels. At Blue Bayou Restaurant (Disneyland) guests dine waterside inside the Pirates of the Caribbean ride! Carthay Circle Restaurant (Disney California Adventure Park) offers alcoholic beverages and fine dining inside their bar/restaurant. Napa Rose (Grand Californian Resort and Spa) offers award-winning cuisine in an upscale setting. Enjoy breakfast or dinner at Steakhouse 55 (Disneyland Hotel) with a specialty in steaks and chops.

Snacks are sold throughout the Parks, many with adorable themes like these cute Olaf marshmallow treats or an enormous candied apple. Some of these premium snacks may set you back $5-10 each

.Should you pinch your pennies or break the bank for a Disney vacation?

Book a World of Color dining package at one of three participating Disney California Adventure Park restaurants and received a three-course prix-fixe meal and a voucher for reserved space at that night’s viewing of World of Color.

Planning Your Disneyland Vacation - Should You Pinch Your Pennies or Break the Bank?

Character meals are one of the most fun family dining experiences you’ll have! Enjoy a bounty of food and get one-on-one photo ops with the characters as they visit your table. For breakfast only choose Surf’s Up! Breakfast with Mickey and Friends at the PCH Grill (Paradise Pier Hotel), Chip n’ Dale Critter Breakfast at Storyteller’s Cafe (Grand Californian Resort and Spa) or Minnie & Friends – Breakfast in the Park at the Plaza Inn (Disneyland Park).

At Ariel’s Grotto Restaurant (Disney California Adventure Park) you can pick from breakfast or lunch and meet the Princesses throughout your meal. Goofy’s Kitchen (Disneyland Hotel) offers a rollicking breakfast or dinner, buffet-style.Planning Your Disneyland Vacation - Should You Pinch Your Pennies or Break the Bank?

6. Downtown Disney District

Like a long outdoor mall, Downtown Disney District has the Disneyland Hotel at one end and the esplanade to the two Parks at the other. In between are various restaurants, shops, concert venues, Monorail station (with direct access to Disneyland Park) and a side entrance to Disney’s Grand Californian Resort and Spa.

Pinch Your Pennies – Take in the ambiance and one of the free concerts that are hosted on weekend evenings. Play a bit at the Lego Store. Buy a sweet treat to share from Marceline’s Confectionary or a bag of kettle corn from a kiosk. After a bit of window shopping, hop on the Monorail and take a ride back into Disneyland Park (valid Park ticket required).

Should you pinch your pennies or break the bank for a Disney vacation?

Splurge – Young guests (ages 3-15) can visit Anna & Elsa’s Boutique for a frosty make-over. Moms can get their own make-up fix at Sephora. Make your own custom souvenir at Build-a-Bear Workshop or RideMakerz. Take in a concert at the House of Blues. Dine at Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen or Catal Restaurant. I love a stop inside WonderGround Gallery for a peek at unique Disney-inspired artwork.

Disneyland Vacation - Should You Pinch Your Pennies or Break the Bank?

7. PhotoPass or MaxPass

All throughout the Parks, Disney PhotoPass photographers offer their services to take photos of your family. They will use their camera and give you a scannable card that you’ll present to other Disney PhotoPass photographers. Once home, you can view and purchase images online from your trip!

Pinch Your Pennies – Hand your own camera to the Disney PhotoPass photographers and they will happily snap away…No charge!

Planning Your Disneyland Vacation - Should You Pinch Your Pennies or Break the Bank?

Picture taken with my camera by a Disney PhotoPass Photographer

Splurge – Preorder Disney PhotoPass+ before your trip. Disney-themed enhancements can be added to your photos for whimsy. Once you return home you can check out your PhotoPass shots online and purchase photo gifts and books with the pictures from your magical vacation!

If you’d like to purchase all of your ride and in-park PhotoPass shots as well as book your FastPass via your mobile device, consider splurging on MaxPass for one or more of your Park days. The cost is $10 per guest, per day of your visit. This can truly add up, especially if you have a larger group and/or are staying for multiple days. Unfortunately in order to link everyone’s Park tickets to MaxPass you do have to purchase for each person who will be using the FastPass program. If you’re cutting costs, consider only purchasing MaxPass for one or two days of your vacation instead of every day.


8. Souvenirs

Souvenirs can be found throughout the Parks and in Downtown Disney in a wide range of costs for any budget (or lack of budget!).

Pinch Your Pennies – For a classic souvenir that respects your wallet try a pair of embroidered Mouse Ears! Pressed pennies are well-loved and you can display them in a shadow box as a trip memento. I like something practical that my kids can use trip after trip or can wear at home, like my son’s Pluto hat with the really long sun-shading brim. He wore this hat every visit to the Parks for years!

Planning Your Disneyland Vacation - Should You Pinch Your Pennies or Break the Bank?

Or skip the souvenir stand altogether and buy things ahead of time. Disney themed shirts can be had from the Disney Store for a great price. Purchase a cheap blank notebook and a pack of inexpensive stickers for character autographs (don’t forget the pen!) Buy glow sticks at the 99 cent store and present them to the kids in the evening. Bring your pre-bought goodies like lollipops, little stuffed animals or inexpensive trinkets to hand out to kids at the end of the day so they don’t have to shuffle past the souvenir stands empty handed.

I have more reasons why you should pre-purchase souvenirs before your Disney trip on this post.

 

Splurge – Take home a memento like an animation cell, giclee or Dooney & Bourke handbag and you’ll have a timeless treasure. If staying at a Disneyland Resort hotel, you can request that your purchases be sent directly to your hotel room. Handy if you’re in the Parks and don’t want to lug your souvenirs around.

9. Princess (or Prince) for a Day

Pinch Your Pennies– Does your child have a Disney-themed costume they love to wear? If your child is under the age of 10, they are permitted to wear costumes in the Park. So feel free to let your little Tinker Bell wear her pixie dress or your tiny Captain Hook wear his pirate hat! Create a cute hairstyle, toss a bit of glitter around and wear something fun and sparkly! Just make sure they are wearing comfy shoes; dress up shoes are simply not appropriate for walking in all day.

Splurge – Book your prince or princess (age 3-12 years) a date in the Bibbidi Bobbiti Boutique for a royal treatment. Gentleman become knights, complete with suave hairstyle and a shield and sword. Little ladies have more of a variety to choose from including a few treatments that will doll her up from the top of her glittery head to her glass-slippered toe!

Budgeting for Disney? Here are the ultimate tips on pinching pennies in the Park (and a few ways to splurge!)

Go for Broke – With the Castle Package (starting at just under $200), newly crowned princesses will be escorted in a mini-processional to skip the line at the Fantasy Faire and go directly in to meet with the Disney princesses inside.

 

10. Celebrations, Disney-Style

Pinch Your Pennies – Are you celebrating something, anything at the Parks during your visit? Visit Guest Relations inside either Park to request your complimentary birthday, anniversary, first visit or “I’m Celebrating!” button.

Budgeting for Disney? Here are the ultimate tips on pinching pennies in the Park (and a few ways to splurge!)

Splurge – Celebrate big days in style with the help of Disney specialists. Whether it be a Quinceanera, FairyTale Wedding or Vow renewal or anniversary you can have the celebration of your dreams!

Disney Floral & Gifts can help with delivery of flowers, gift baskets and presents to your Resort room. You can also order special cakes to be delivered for celebrations at your Resort dinner.

Looking for More Ways to Splurge on Your Disneyland Vacation?

Check out this post for ways to splurge on the kids (and a few more budgeting tips)


Let me know how you like to vacation – Do you pinch your pennies or break the bank? Let me know in the comments below!

Budgeting for Disney? Here are the ultimate tips on pinching pennies in the Park (and a few ways to splurge!)

 

 

 

This week only! – 25% off at the Disney Store!

Christmas is coming folks and the Disney Store is stocked with some fantastic goodies for everyone on your list. I know my cart keeps getting bigger…and bigger!

From PJ Pals, Christmas ornaments, tees and coffee mugs, I’ve found something that everyone will love. And they have lots of great merchandise in stock from the new Big Hero 6 movie as well as tons of Frozen items! Get your orders in quick, nobody knows how long the stock will last!

Have you seen those adorable “Tsum Tsum” stackable plush toys? They are adorable!!

With the Disney Friends & Family Sale (running 11/7 – 11/11) you will receive 25% off your purchase plus Free Shipping on $75+ with code DISNEYPAL.

This post includes affiliate links.