Support CHOC with a “Walk in the Park” through Disneyland…even from home!

Support CHOC with a "Walk in the Park" through Disneyland...even from home!

This year the CHOC Walk commemorates its 25th silver anniversary while the Disneyland Resort celebrates its Diamond 50th!

CHOC “Walk in the Park” is the largest single pediatric walk event in the nation. It’s also the most unique, with a 5K that takes you through the Disney Resort in Anaheim. Money that is raised through supporting the CHOC Walk helps to support research and care provided by CHOC Children’s. CHOC Children’s is a regional pediatric health care system that includes two hospitals, many primary and specialty care clinics, and four clinical centers of excellence, the CHOC ChildrenHeartNeuroscienceOrthopaedic and Hyundai Cancer Institutes. Walt Disney championed for CHOC and was even on the hospital’s first board of directors 50+ years ago.

There are two ways to participate in the CHOC Walk. Those who want to walk in the event can register at chocwalk.org to join a team or walk as an individual. Those who cannot make it to the walk, can register as a Sleeping Bear. This special designation is for participants who want to raise money and earn CHOC Walk prizes but won’t be at the walk. See, you can still help CHOC and raise money, even from home! “Sleeping Bears” receive a CHOC Walk T-shirt and are eligible to earn prizes from their fundraising efforts.

Support CHOC with a "Walk in the Park" through Disneyland...even from home!

Participants who raise between $375 and $599 earn one Disneyland Resort 1-Day Disneyland Resort Park Hopper Ticket. Participants who raise $600 or more earn two Disneyland Resort 1-Day Disneyland Resort Park Hopper Tickets.

You can learn more about the event at www.chocwalk.org and follow on Facebook, Instagram and TwitterThis year’s hashtag is #chocwalk.


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Kids FREE in San Diego for October!

Kids FREE in San Diego for October!

Kids free?! Take advantage of 100+ free activities and deals for kids in the month of October throughout San Diego county!

October is a great time to visit San Diego. The summer crowds have gone, the weather is still quite warm and of course, all the fun, free things for kids that are being offered in the San Diego area for the entire month.

From free restaurant dining, free museum visits, free amusement park tickets to free transportation; We are talking big deal savings here, including free admission to the World Famous San Diego Zoo and Safari Park , SeaWorld San Diego and LEGOland California! See the Model Railroad Museum, Reuben H. Fleet Science Center and the New Children’s Museum. Take free rides on the Amtrack Pacific Surfliner and free cruises on the Hornblower. Kids dine free at the Corvette Diner, Hard Rock Cafe and many hotel restaurants. Visit the Birch Aquarium, U.S.S. Midway and Belmont Park…for free!

Read more on SanDiego.org


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Minnie & Friends – Breakfast In the Park: Dine with Characters at Disneyland’s Plaza Inn

Minnie & Friends - Breakfast In the Park: Dine with Characters at Disneyland's Plaza Inn

Minnie & Friends – Breakfast in the Park is a delightful Character dining experience for all ages! Located right at the end of Main Street U.S.A with a view of Sleeping Beauty Castle, this breakfast at Disneyland’s Plaza Inn restaurant exudes charm, with excellent customer service you’d expect from Disney. Character meals are great because you can meet your favorite pals and not use your Park time standing in line for an autograph! Each Character will personally come to your table for a meet n’ greet, to pose for photos and to sign your autograph book.

Minnie & Friends – Breakfast in the Park is a delightful place to start your Disneyland morning and to meet a wide variety of Characters. You are guaranteed to meet Minnie (since her name is in the title!) but other Characters change and may vary from day to day.

Minnie & Friends - Breakfast In the Park: Dine with Characters at Disneyland's Plaza Inn

Donald helped himself to some fresh fruit!

One of the lovely things about dining at Minnie & Friends – Breakfast in the Park is an early admittance to the Park before the official opening. If you book a reservation for a breakfast before the Park opens, look for the gate that admits Park guests in early (it should say “Breakfast in the Park”).

Make sure to have your reservation number and valid Park ticket to show at the entrance and you’ll be escorted to the restaurant entrance. Since you’ll be there before the big crowds, this is also a great opportunity to take a quick pic of your family on Main Street U.S.A and Sleeping Beauty Castle without anyone around you!

Minnie & Friends - Breakfast In the Park: Dine with Characters at Disneyland's Plaza Inn

The “all-you-care-to-eat” breakfast buffet has standard offerings like French toast, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage and ham. Omelets are made-to order while you wait. Mickey waffles with butter and syrup are a special treat! There are also hearty offerings like biscuits and gravy and breakfast potatoes as well as croissants and danish that will fill your tummy and have you ready for the day. It’s a pricey affair but the “all-you-care-to-eat” option is nice, especially if you have a bunch of bacon-eaters like I do in your group! Dining with characters is also a lot more reasonably priced for breakfast than lunch or especially dinner. If you aren’t big breakfast eaters consider booking one of the last breakfast reservations for the day, fill up and then skip lunch.

Decorated elaborately in pink and gold Victorian decor, the Plaza Inn is a 1955 original restaurant (when it was called the Red Wagon Inn). The Victorian stained-glass ceiling, marble foyer and gingerbread woodwork were all salvaged from a historic Los Angeles home and personally chosen by Walt Disney’s wife Lillian herself to be used in this space. This is a very special space; consider returning in the evening for a big platter of fried chicken and mashed potatoes (no Characters after breakfast, however).

Minnie & Friends - Breakfast In the Park: Dine with Characters at Disneyland's Plaza Inn

To make a reservation for Minnie & Friends – Breakfast in the Park call (714) 781-3463 up to 60 days prior to your visit.


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Disney Hatch’N Heroes Toy Review

Disney Hatch'N Heroes Toy Review

Disney-themed Hatch’N Heroes convert popular characters from an egg-shape into a functional toy that can be manipulated easily by little hands. These toys are geared for ages 4-7, though my 11-year old was interested in them as well (just to see how they worked mostly, not for imaginative play though). We received Lightning McQueen from Cars and Woody from Toy Story, two of my son’s favorite movies! Naturally his eyes lit up when he saw these great new toys inside the box.

Disney Hatch'N Heroes Toy Review

The back of each box shows step-by-step how to convert each of the Hatch’N Heroes.

Disney Hatch'N Heroes Toy Review

Woody converted the easiest for my nearly-four year old. I have to admit, it’s a little odd to see Woody missing his head!

Disney Hatch'N Heroes Toy Review

Lightning McQueen was a little trickier to convert. There are some small parts to manipulate, including turning out the tires, flipping over the fin in back and flipping up the windshield.

Disney Hatch'N Heroes Toy Review

My son needed help at first getting the parts into position (without pulling the toy apart!)

Disney Hatch'N Heroes Toy Review

My favorite feature, Lightning McQueen’s mouth opens to give a smile, ka-chow!

Disney Hatch'N Heroes Toy Review

Here is our video review –

We Liked –  Because of the compact size and reasonable price point (around $6.99) these toys make for a great stocking stuffer or small gift. I’ve mentioned before how I like having a small toy to use as a souvenir when leaving Disney Parks so my little one is distracted on the way out. Hatch’N Heroes are perfect for this! Also the characters available are current and collectible.

We Didn’t Like – How easily some of the smaller pieces, like the tires and boot parts popped off while changing the shapes. After a while my son got the hang of it and realized that he needed to manipulate them much more gently. But for the first 30 minutes I was constantly popping pieces back into place.

Disney Hatch'N Heroes Toy Review

Hatch’N Heroes come in several versions –

Cars Hatch‘n Heroes– Lightning McQueen, Mater, Francesco, The King, Sheriff and Red Woody

Toy Story Hatch‘n Heroes – Buzz Lightyear, Rex, Bullseye and the Little Green Men/Aliens

Disney’s Big Hero 6 Hatch‘n Heroes – Nurse Bot Baymax and Armored Up Baymax

Find Hatch’N Heroes on Facebook and Twitter

We received these toys complimentary for review. All thoughts and opinions here are my own.


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How to Eat Healthfully at Disneyland (and Still Treat Yourself!)

How to Eat Healthfully at Disneyland (and Still Treat Yourself!)

Eat Healthfully at Disneyland…and still enjoy your meals

Going to Disneyland is a celebration for all senses, taste included!  In addition to the top-notch attractions and entertainment, there are also countless unique and delicious meals and treats only to be found within the Disney Parks. But what if you’re aiming to eat more healthfully and a giant turkey leg or stacked marshmallows dipped in chocolate on a stick aren’t a part of your diet? No worries, there are lots of great dining and snack choices throughout the Disneyland Park that will keep you on track! You can eat healthfully at Disneyland and still treat yourself.

How to Eat Healthfully at Disneyland (and Still Treat Yourself!)

Up bright and early to hit the Parks & having breakfast in the stroller

Breakfast

Most important meal of the day, right? Consider eating breakfast before you come to the Park. The smell of frappachinos, buttery pastries and vanilla-scented Mickey waffles will be wafting through the air from the Starbucks and Jolly Holiday Bakery as you walk down Main Street, U.S.A!

I usually bring food to store in the hotel fridge and fill up at daybreak with Greek yogurt, a banana and fibrous flake cereal. My kids usually enjoy granola bars and fresh fruit.

  • I also suggest dining in the Downtown Disney District before the Parks open. We’ve picked up filling and delicious egg sandwiches and omelettes at Earl of Sandwich and the prices are extremely reasonable. Jamba Juice can make a delicious smoothie (choose the low-sugar option).

How to Eat Healthfully at Disneyland (and Still Treat Yourself!)

  • If you want to dine inside the Park, River Belle Terrace has a plate of fresh, seasonal fruit (skip the Biscuits n’ Gravy!)
  • Order the fruit platter at Flo’s V8 Cafe and you’ll also receive an oat bran muffin and low fat yogurt.
  • If you choose something healthy like the Spinach and Tomato Egg White Fritatta from Carnation Cafe, request that heavy toppings (like sour cream or fried potatoes) be served on the side so you can control the portion size or share them with someone else in your group.
How to Eat Healthfully at Disneyland (and Still Treat Yourself!)

Fill up on fresh fruit

Snacks

There are snack carts placed all over the Parks so be prepared when that heavenly popcorn or cinnamon-scent of churros hits you! You can always bring in your own snacks to the Park and packing cut veggies or melon is a great way to eat healthy on your trip.

  • Some carts (like Tropical Imports, Fillmore’s Taste-In and Fairfax Market) also offer fresh fruits, like bananas, apples, grapes, mangoes and pineapple spears. They even have veggies and hummus.
  • Need a little something heartier? Swing wide of the corn dog cart and pick up an Outback Vegetable or Banyan Beef Skewer from Bengal Barbecue. Dipping sauces can contain lots of sugar so it’s best to skip.
  • Craving something sweeter? The Dole Whip from the Tiki Juice Bar is light and refreshing with pineapple soft serve and pineapple juice.
  • You can get vanilla ice cream with no sugar added at the Ghirardelli Soda Fountain. No sugar added butter pecan is available at Clarabelle’s & Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor. Have it served in a cup instead of a sugar cone.
  • A frozen banana is also a decent choice as it’s lightly coated in chocolate and nuts. It will also take a little longer to eat since it’s frozen so you won’t devour it as quickly.
How to Eat Healthfully at Disneyland (and Still Treat Yourself!)

A frozen banana is a healthy indulgence on a hot day

Lunch

Consider having a filling breakfast and a hearty snack and you might be able to stave off a big lunch and just have dinner instead. Or  make one of these healthy lunch choices.

Salads can be a great idea for lunch and there are lots of salads available at the Disneyland Resort. If you’re watching calories, ask them not to add cheese. Avoid salads served in a tostada shell and always request dressing on the side. Italian or oil and vinegar are going to be lighter than creamy dressings like Ranch or blue-cheese.

  • The Picnic Salad at the Hungry Bear is a nice mix, including turkey breast, strawberries and Feta cheese.
  • The Crescent City Salad at Cafe Orleans comes with either blackened chicken or Atlantic salmon (just ask for it without the caramelized pecans).
  • The River Belle Terrace offers Becky Thatcher’s Vegetarian Chopped Salad that includes hearty and filling proteins like hard-boiled egg, garbanzo & black beans.
  • For other options, The Troubadour Tavern offers a baked potato with broccoli and cheese sauce. Just ask for the cheese on the side so you can control the portion or eliminate all together.
  • Village Haus and Smokejumpers Grill have a Garden Veggie Burger (hold the cheese).
  • Tomorrowland Terrace offers a chicken breast sandwich with fresh veggie toppings and avocado salsa. Choose the fruit side over fries.
How to Eat Healthfully at Disneyland (and Still Treat Yourself!)

Hacienda chicken Caesar salad at Cocina Cucamong

Drinks

If you’re eating healthy, you already know to avoid sugar-laden sodas. Alcoholic drinks are served at Disney California Adventure Park and Guests can indulge in frozen margaritas and beer on tap in the Paradise Pier area, specialty drinks at the Cove Bar and wine at Wine Country Trattoria. Keep in mind that alcohol contains additional calories so if you’re trying to be healthy, don’t drink your calories…save them for food!

You can bring in bottles of water with you into the Parks to re-hydrate throughout the day. You can also request free ice water from any counter service restaurant. Snack carts offer a variety of waters, including coconut water.

How to Eat Healthfully at Disneyland (and Still Treat Yourself!)

Dinner at the Plaza Inn

Dinner

Dinner is a great time to consider sharing a platter of food. Even if the dish is more indulgent, it’s not quite as bad if you share between 2 or 3.

  • The Citrus-fired grilled chicken platter at Rancho del Zocalo is large and delicious (ask if they can sub black beans for the refried).
  • The oven-roasted chicken platter at French Market Restaurant is another favorite to share.
  • Platters at Plaza Inn are enormous. We buy two plates of fried chicken and share between the five of us. With the sides of mashed potatoes & green beans, we all have enough to eat (and if you’re really watching the calories, you can always remove the skin from the chicken and request no gravy on the potatoes).
How to Eat Healthfully at Disneyland (and Still Treat Yourself!)

This is ONE THIRD of a platter from Plaza Inn! That’s plenty of food, enough for sharing.

  • You can’t go wrong with the Mediterranean skewers at the Paradise Garden Grill. The grilled meat and veggie/tofu skewers are served with rice pilaf and cucumber salad, making them a light and refreshing meal (skip the baklava though!)
  • At Tomorrowland Terrace, choose a portobello sandwich with loads of veggies. Ask for cheese and aioli on the side and fruit instead of fries.
  • The soups at Pacific Wharf Cafe are so delicious, but opt for broth-based rather than cream. And try to minimize the nibble to the sourdough bread bowl!

How to Eat Healthfully at Disneyland (and Still Treat Yourself!)

  • At Redd Rockett’s Pizza Port and Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta you can order a single slice of pizza. Both locations offer a version that skips the fatty meats and tops your slice with seasonal veggies. Round out your meal with a small side salad.
  • Carnation Cafe offers the Chef’s Vegan Burger made of beans & veggies and served with lots of fresh vegetable toppings on a multigrain roll.
  • The Hacienda chicken Caesar salad at Cocina Cucamonga is large and filling.
How to Eat Healthfully at Disneyland (and Still Treat Yourself!)

Platters of fresh Mexican food, enough for four people to share.


Tips to keep in mind when ordering

As a rule when ordering, avoid anything that is fried, battered, smothered, candied or has a creamy sauce. Look for grilled meats and veggies served without sauces.

Don’t be afraid to request a substitution. You can swap fruit instead of fries at counter service restaurants. When ordering at full-service restaurants, ask the Cast Member to put toppings on the side so you can control how much you want to add or leave off. If there is any question about the dish, ask them how it is prepared so you’ll know before it’s in front of you. If you have special dietary requests or food allergies, read this section from the Disneyland website and know that you can speak directly to the restaurant staff or chef with your concerns.

How to Eat Healthfully at Disneyland (and Still Treat Yourself!)

Skip the buffet if counting calories. Before you know it, you’ve eaten 12 ribs!

If calorie-counting, it’s best to skip the buffets. Unfortunately this eliminates most Character dining experiences, except for Ariel’s Grotto. You can dine with the Princesses and still order a healthy choice off the menu for either breakfast or lunch!

Kids can eat healthy at Disneyland too! When choosing kid’s meals, simply look for the Mickey Check. Mickey Check meals meet Disney Nutrition Guidelines as a complete meals. Some Mickey Check kid’s meals are also vegetarian.

How to Eat Healthfully at Disneyland (and Still Treat Yourself!)

Enjoy a corn dog, but share it between the family.

Just one bite. If you and your family would love to indulge in something fun or decadent, buy a corn dog. Treat yourself to a caramel-covered apple. Get that frozen treat or stacked marshmallows dipped in chocolate on a stick. And then share it between all of you. Everyone gets a few bites and you all can enjoy the treat!

How to Eat Healthfully at Disneyland (and Still Treat Yourself!)

What are your favorite healthy dining dishes at Disneyland? Share with me in the comments!


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Looking for ways to save on your Disney vacation?  I recommend Park Savers for discount Disney tickets! (affiliate link)

Park Savers affiliate link

8 Things to Consider When Making MORE Cuts to Your Budget

8 Things to Consider When Making MORE Cuts to Your Budget

Your budget is already tight and now you have to tighten the belt even MORE? That might be enough to make anyone cry, but it’s not impossible.

A month ago I was laid off from my job after 18 years at the same company. I have 3 kids that I care for full time (my two boys and my stepdaughter) and this is the first time I’ve ever been a stay-at-home-mom. We are currently going to try and make ends meet with my husband’s income as an electrician’s apprentice and some side work by me (writing jobs, sponsored posts here on my blog and teaching tumbling class at a local rec center).

Though my family and I are already quite frugal, losing one income is definitely going to affect us and our budget. The last month has given me time to step back and take a much-needed closer look at our spending habits and budget. Here is what I’ve been working on this month:

Take Close Account of Money In & Money Out

You’ll need to know exactly how much you have to work with each month so keep tabs on the income. Gone are the days of willy-nilly shopping trips, where items went in the cart and we worried about paying the bill for them “later”. Now I keep excellent track of all expenses. I want to see exactly how much I’m spending on gas, groceries, utilities and additional expenses that seem to come up. At the end of each week, I’m writing them down and totaling them up. At the end of the month, I’ll add them to my monthly budget chart and see what the grand totals are for each area.

Determine Cut-backs

Take a brutal look at where your money is going and determine what has to get cut. I never thought I’d be able to live without cable television but we cut it out two years ago and I’m still alive! No more gym membership for my husband, he exercises now by going for a run. This is a hard one with kids because it might mean cutting out certain extracurricular activities. I have a feeling when I look at expenses at the end of the month, our grocery budget is what will need reworking. We may need to opt for generic in some cases or start using coupons.

Weigh Wants VS Needs

I really want my kids to get pictures from picture day at school but $20+ per kid for photographs isn’t in my new budget. And do we really need to spend $50 eating dinner in a restaurant when we have food to prepare at home…probably not.

Sure, we want to do lots of things, but we also need to make choices between having food in the fridge or blowing the week’s grocery budget on one meal out.

Making Extra Money With What You Have

We’ve always been very generous with donating toys, clothes and household items we don’t use to the thrift store throughout the year. However with every dollar is being accounted for, we’re planning a garage sale that will hopefully bring in some additional cash. Go through closets, boxes, toys, books and through the garage to find things that you haven’t used or don’t need anymore. List them online, post a “sale” to your friends on Facebook or consider a garage sale.

Shop Sales, Use coupons & Buy Used Whenever Possible

Coupon and sale shopping can be a slippery slope. Too often we buy because it’s such a good price and not because we really need it, so be careful there. I love the 30% coupons from Kohl’s as much as the next gal, but if I don’t need anything, they go right into the trash (sorry Kohl’s!)

And some items can be bought used that are just as good as new. My kids rarely get brand new clothes, because I can find high quality items shopping online with thredUP (affiliate link). Look at local thrift stores before hitting the full priced stores.

Negotiate a Discount

Call your utility companies and see if your income qualifies you for reduced rates. Does your lower income qualify your kids for low-cost lunch at school? Call your cell phone or television provider and let them know you are considering switching services unless they can work out a lower monthly cost. You’d be surprised what companies will do to keep your business!

Take Advantage of Free 

Now that I’m home during the day, I have more time to take my little one out but we can’t go out to eat lunch, stroll the zoo or hit museums every day. The park is free. So is the library. They even have a fun little story time group once a week that we’ve been going to. We’re borrowing books and movies instead of buying.

Check your community’s online calendar to see what upcoming free events are being held. If you’re looking to buy something, ask friends if they have it that you could use, borrow or buy from them.

Pay Your Bills on Time

Ugh, not much worse than having to pay late charges or interest on your credit card because you were a day late paying the bill. That’s just a complete waste of money. I plug the bill due dates into my phone’s calendar so I get a ping a few days early to remind me to pay the bill on time.

What are some ways that you have been able to cut back even more on your budget? Share with me in the comments!

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Disney Trip FREE Printable – Packing List for Kids

Disney Trip FREE Printable - Packing List for Kids that they can use to pack for themselves!

When traveling with kids, packing for any extended vacation takes advanced planning and organization. And for a Disney trip, packing all you need is essential since most (if not all of your time) will be spend on Resort property. You certainly don’t want to have to make a side trip if someone forgot to pack something essential. Keep reading for my Disney trip packing list for kids.

Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Blue Loop. Today we are sharing some Disney trip printables to help you plan your vacation.


Disney Trip Packing List for Kids

I’m a HUGE list maker! I honestly make lists for everything. It helps me stay organized leading up to a trip, when planning, packing and yes, even when putting everything back into the suitcase to come home. Don’t want to leave anything behind!

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

Disney Trip FREE Printable - Packing List for Kids

Even with the best laid plans, sometimes things go awry! On one Disneyland road trip, my husband put our toddler in the car without his shoes on and it wasn’t until we were a block from the Resort did we realize that he didn’t have any shoes!

Quick stop at Target and all was good. But hopefully you can avoid extra stops and with these Disney trip printables from the Blogorail team, you’ll be organized and prepared!

Be sure to also check out my other printable packing lists –

Traveling With a Baby in Diapers – FREE Baby Packing List Printable!

Mom’s Disney Packing List – FREE Printable!

Expectant Mom’s Complete Disney Packing List of Important Needs

Disney Trip FREE Printable - Packing List for Kids that they can use to pack for themselves!

Let The Kids Pack

My goal is to have my kids pack their own travel bags. I’ve created a list that is straightforward and that kids can check-mark off as they go. Nobody will forget their shoes if they follow this list!

Open and print a copy for each child and they’ll be prepared to pack up their own Disney vacation bag! Keep reading for the free printable.

Helpful Packing Tips for Kids –

Keep it Small

Consider smaller sized travel items that will fit inside one zippered pouch. Don’t worry about shampoo & conditioner since the hotel will have those available. You can pick up small body wash bottles at Bath & Body Works. Choose toothbrushes that are on the shorter size that will fit inside the pouch. Use a compact hairbrush that folds up or pack a travel sized version to preserve space.


Bundle Up

Bundle outfits into a stack with everything they’ll need to wear for the day (socks, undies, shorts, tee, hair accessories, etc) and then slide the bundle into a large zip-close bag. Press the air out of the bag before sealing shut. At the end of the day, fold the dirty clothes back into the bag and zip it shut. This keeps the dirty clothes from getting mixed in with the clean clothes and it keeps your hotel room from stinking like a dirty gym sock.

Disney Trip FREE Printable - Packing List for Kids that they can use to pack for themselves!

Use and reuse zip-close bags for travel

It’s also so much easier to pack when there are individual bags with the air squeezed out. I even go so far as to label the day of the week on each bag so they can pick it out and get dressed each morning without fuss. Reuse the bags for your next trip.

Disney Trip FREE Printable - Packing List for Kids

Neat and Tidy

Pack a small pop up mesh hamper for kids to toss their dirty clothes or shoes into when they return from the park. This will eliminate the “Where’s my right sandal?!” in the morning. Have kids store their personal toiletries in individual travel toiletry bag. This keeps the bathroom counter neat and tidy and nobody is looking for their toothbrush when you stagger back to the room late at night.

The Park Bag

Have a “Park bag”, aka: backpack for each child. I found one that my son uses for Disney trips on Etsy and it’s embroidered with his last name. Kids older than about 6 yrs old can use a backpack that holds their supplies for the day. Find something that your kids can easily take off by themselves when getting on rides.


Kids can keep track of their own snacks, souvenir money and maps. I know my son is always proud to carry his own Disney bag through the day (so long as it’s not overloaded and too heavy!)

Disney Trip FREE Printable - Packing List for Kids

Ready to let the kids pack their own Disney luggage and park bag?

Click here for your FREE Disney Trip Kids Packing List!

For more Disney trip printables,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Blue | Disney Trip Printables Loop:

What packing tips do you have when taking kids on a Disney vacation? Please share in the comments!

A Sorcerer’s Apprentice Disney Party

A Sorcerer's Apprentice Disney-themed Party

Parties make people feel special and I love parties! I love going to them, I love hosting them and I absolutely love to plan them! All the sweet little details, from the invitations that set the tone, foods, cake, games and decorations. It doesn’t have to be expensive. It doesn’t have to be “over the top”. but it should be thoughtful and creative and ultimately make everyone feel happy.

As I’ve mentioned in my post Birthday Party on a Budget, invitations are always the first thing I decide upon because it gives guidance and direction for my theme. Paperless Post has always had fantastic invitations but I was thrilled to find out that they have Disney invitations too! These invitations are simply beautiful. They are classically illustrated but still have a fresh and modern feel. There are even invitations that can be personalized with the birthday child’s photograph.

Paperless Post disney invites

Oh, to have a little princess! These invites are stunning and feature Disney princesses such as Ariel, Rapunzel and Cinderella. My little boy was in love with the Cars, Toy Story and Big Hero 6 invitations. But ultimately it’s Mickey Mouse who holds his heart. We watched the Sorcerer’s Apprentice from Fantasia this weekend and that is the invitation that really drew me in. I love that it has my son’s favorite character but in a more unique theme that can really capture creativity.

Halloween Costume on a Budget - Sorcerer Mickey Mouse

He decided that for his 4th birthday, he wanted to have a Sorcerer’s Apprentice theme and I was happy to oblige. He’d already worn the costume at Halloween (see my tutorial for the hat) so it was a perfect party theme!

This is my take on a Sorcerer’s Apprentice birthday party!

INVITATIONS & OUTFIT

Starting with this beautiful invitation from Paperless Post to set the theme, my son needed an outfit for the party. Not his costume but something fun to move and play in. A Sorcerer’s Apprentice theme is appropriate for girls and boys so I added a cute hair bow to this collection (look at the little broom detail!)

Sorcerer's apprentice invite & outfit

 

This is what I made for him to wear at his party, an appliqued Sorcerer Mickey tee. You can learn more about how to applique via this DIY.

A Sorcerer's Apprentice Disney-themed Party

DECORATIONS

Decorations in blue, gold and silver with lots of stars, of course! Every kid loves balloons and these celestial ones are lovely. I’ve made paper strands before (simply sew the cut out shapes on the sewing machine to make long hanging streamers). A glitter wand is great for each guest. You can also supply simple blue party hats with pre-cut stars for guests to decorate with a glue stick upon their arrival.

Sorcerer's Apprentice Party decor

We had our party midweek since his birthday fell on the day before Thanksgiving and the weekends were busy. We kept decor simple with a blue table covering and blue balloons on the floor for the kids to play with. His sorcerer hat served at table decor too!

Halloween Costume on a Budget - Sorcerer Mickey Mouse

PARTY FOOD

Next up, the food. A few playful snacks included in the theme, too. Who could resist Mickey-shaped cheese or mozzarella cheese and pretzel broomsticks?

Sorcerer's Apprentice Party -Food

Cakes and sweets! These cakes are pretty amazing but you could definitely replicate something on a smaller scale by just taking one of the design elements for your own cake. Love to have cake pops and cookies to give to party guests as favors.Sorcerer's Apprentice Cakes & Sweets

To keep costs down, we didn’t serve a meal, just cake, cake pops and ice cream (nobody complained!) Everyone loved this Mickey cupcakes created with a large OREO and two mini OREO in between.

A Sorcerer's Apprentice Disney-themed Party

TREAT BAGS & GIFTS

Sorcerer’s Apprentice themed gifts and party favors for all! A favor bag decorated like the bewitched broom holds tiny trinkets. Game prizes could include Mouse ears, puzzle or a light-up wand.

Sorcerer's Apprentice gifts and favors

All in all our party was a success and he adored the theme. That’s all the really matters, right!

A Sorcerer's Apprentice Disney-themed Party


What is your favorite invitation in the Paperless Post Disney collection? Share in the comments!

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Disney for free?! Don’t Spend a Penny Inside the Parks…Here’s How!

Everyone’s heard how Disney vacations are expensive! But once you have your Park tickets and are inside the gates, you have a choice how much you’d like to pinch pennies or break the bank. What if I told you that you could have an entirely cost-free day inside the Parks?  Essentially a day at Walt Disney World or Disneyland for free? These are tried and true insider tips from someone who’s gone to the Parks many times on a dime!

Please note that this post contains affiliate links. Clicking through and making a purchase through these links helps me in a small financial way, so thank you!

Read on for my helpful tips about taking on Walt Disney World and Disneyland for free!

Disneyland for free?! Don't Spend a Penny Inside the Parks...Here's How!

Getting into the Park – Money Saving Tips & Discounted Tickets

Sorry you can’t jump the fence, you’ll still need to buy your tickets! I recommend doing so upfront to save time at the gate. Follow these rules to buying tickets and still save a few dollars.

  • Do not be tempted to purchase from Ebay, on Craigslist or from a seller on the side of the street! Sellers might offer you the extra days left on their multi-day passes but this is a risky move that might cause a loss of your money so don’t do that!
  • Park tickets should only be purchased from the Disney Parks website, Costco, trusted travel agent or through CityPass. I like Get Away Today because you can save several dollars on the cost of each ticket as well as knowing you are buying from a reliable seller. You can also use their layaway program, letting you save for a vacation.

Purchase discount Disneyland 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). 

  • Note that the multi-day passes save overall as the price per day is lower. If you plan on a longer visit or will be visiting more often than once a year, consider an Annual Pass. Annual Passes also have the option of pay-per-month installments.
  • Keep in mind that if your child is 2 or under, they don’t require a Park ticket so their entry is free!
  • When my family asks me, “What do you want for your birthday?” or “What do the kids want for Christmas?”, request Disney gift cards! They can be used at Walt Disney World or Disneyland towards Park tickets, dining and souvenirs. You can even buy personalized cards online with the recipient’s photo on it.
  • Did you know that you can use your Target Red Card to save an additional 5% off the price of your Disney gift cards?!

  • Get a Disney Visa credit card. We have one that we use for all expenses from household bills to groceries and pay it off in full each month (important if you’re trying to save money to NOT be paying interest fees!) We are rewarded with points that are placed onto a Disney Rewards Redemption card that can be used towards tickets, hotel, food and souvenirs in the Parks. On a recent trip we used our rewards points and that paid for all of our meals and a few souvenirs for the kids. There are also additional perks with using the card in the Parks, including meal and shopping discounts and a free photo.

Now that you’re in the Park, the rest of the Day can be FREE!

Mickey's Toontown for Preschoolers - A Guide on What to Do, See & Eat!

Pack in a Picnic

Obviously unless you plan on fasting all day, you’ll need a bit of advanced planning when it comes to eating in the park all day. Here are the things that should be planned ahead of time!

You can bring in your own food to the Parks but there are a few rules.

  • Meals and snacks should be packed in a soft-sided cooler or backpack with a chill pack inside (no hard-sided coolers or wagons allowed).
  • No glass allowed in the Park.
  • Bring bottled water or juice boxes. You can also request ice water for free from any walk-up dining location.
  • Keep in mind that you’ll need a chill pack to keep items cold.
  • Avoid bringing in a bunch of plastic tubs that will add weight. Pack in zip-close disposable bags and bring disposable flatware. Or you can grab flatware from any quick service location.

Good Foods to Pack –

  • Sandwiches (with ingredients that won’t spoil without refrigeration)
  • Green salads in zip-close disposable bags (put the dressing in a snack bag) You’ll need to bring your own fork or grab one from a quick service location.
  • Cold pizza
  • Whole fruit (like apples, oranges or bananas) or cut-up pieces of fruit (like melons & berries) in plastic bags
  • Crunchy granola bars (none with chocolate)
  • Cheese sticks
  • Trail mix (without the chocolate bits)
  • Pre-cut veggies (like carrots, celery or cherry tomatoes)
  • Sturdy chips or crackers (we like Wheat Thins, Triscuits or Goldfish crackers).
  • Juice boxes, sports drinks in plastic bottles, water bottles or refillable water bottles with drop-in flavored powders.

Bad Foods to Pack –

  • Anything with mayonnaise because of the chance it will spoil.
  • Anything that will melt, like chocolate.
  • No glass; you’ll be asked to trash it when passing through security.

For a little money –

You can store your food inside a pay-for-the-day locker if you don’t want to tote it around but we just keep ours in the lower basket of the stroller or in my husband’s backpack.

Disneyland for free?! Don't Spend a Penny Inside the Parks...Here's How!

I have my stroller, hat, glasses and snack…I’m ready to hit the Parks!

Bring It With You

Resist the temptation to buy in the Park…bring these things with you

  • Stroller for your young one. I even recommend strollers for kids up to about 5 years old (all that walking around makes even bigger kids grumpy and tired). Park strollers are notoriously uncomfortable. Consider renting one: I recommend Amusement Park Rentals & have used their services several times at Walt Disney World.
  • Plenty of baby supplies (food, diapers, wipes, disposable bibs). You can purchase these things inside the Baby Care Center but prices are at a premium. You can however use the services at the Baby Care Center for free, including microwaves to warm baby food, highchairs, changing tables and tiny potties. Read about what I pack in my Disney diaper bag.
  • Accessories like hats and sunglasses
  • Sunscreen and Chapstick
  • Jacket and/or rain poncho, depending upon the weather
Disneyland for free?! Don't Spend a Penny Inside the Parks...Here's How!

My family, in their pre-bought themed shirts from the Disney Store

Pre-Buy Souvenirs 

You’ll have some mighty cranky kiddos at the end of the day when you pass by the souvenir cart as you exit the Park and they’re empty-handed! We very rarely purchase souvenirs in the Park because we plan ahead and buy something for the kids beforehand. It’s nice to have a little something to hand them as you pass through the exit to soften the end of the day.

  • A  t-shirt or hat from the Disney Store to wear for the day.
  • A battery-powered personal misting fan if you’re coming during hot weather
  • Plush characters are much cheaper brought from home than at the Parks
  • I love 99 cent store glow-sticks to wear during evening parades and fireworks (makes it a lot easier to keep track of your kids after dark too!)
  • For those trinkets that you present to the kids just before leaving, think tiny, since you’ll be toting these treats around all day: Tsum-tsum, costume jewelry, die-cast car or Vinylmation.
  • Pajamas in a Disney theme! This might seem strange but we have our little kids change into their PJs before leaving the Park at the end of the night, especially if we have a long drive ahead of us.

  • A toddler will be happy with a cheap bottle of bubbles to blow from their stroller as you swiftly exit the Park (I am the Queen of Distraction!) Just bring them a pair of clothes or pajamas to change into afterwards because you know bubbles always spill (but it’s better than a temper tantrum, in my book).

Here are a few other DISNEY SOUVENIRS TO BUY BEFORE YOUR TRIP.

Other FREE Things in the Parks

  • Celebration buttons – Pretty much whatever you’re celebrating (birthday, anniversary, first trip), Disney has a free button for that! Request one at Guest Services when you enter the Park and be showered through out the day with well-wishes.
Get a free Happy Birthday button at Disneyland, read more to find out how! {Saving up for Disney}

Happy Birthday buttons don’t go unnoticed by Cast Members.

  • Hand your camera over to a Disney PhotoPass photographer – Yes, they not only take pictures with their camera (which you can purchase online) but they’ll also take complimentary photos with your own camera as well! (more details about getting the best family photos).
  • Sweet and savory bites – At Disney California Adventure, swing back into the Pacific Wharf area. The Boudin Bakery will give you a free sourdough bread sample and the Ghiradelli shop hands out a square of chocolate to each Guest. At Club Cool in Epcot at Walt Disney World, you can have your tastes of soda flavors from around the world.
Disneyland for free?! Don't Spend a Penny Inside the Parks...Here's How!

Club Cool at Epcot

  • Bring something from home to collect autographs from the Characters. I’ve heard of people using a fabric marker and a pillowcase or t-shirt. I love the idea of a photo frame mat for Characters to sign around and then include a photo of yourself with one of them inside the picture frame, clever! I met this woman at Walt Disney World who was collecting her autographs in a book that featured all the characters! (I found it online, it’s called Disney Junior Encyclopedia of Animated Characters). So clever and you’ll have all your autographs in one place.

Free things to do inside the Disney Parks - Collect Character Autographs in a book you bring from home!

  • Do you have a Disney Visa credit card? – You can get a private meet n’ greet with a surprise character. Just check the website beforehand to find out the location and more details.
Disneyland for free?! Don't Spend a Penny Inside the Parks...Here's How!

Image Credit: Jeff Holz

The great thing about Disney is that once you have your ticket in hand you are completely free to explore the entire Park without any additional costs if you wish. If you are planning a trip to Disney like this budget guide that includes packing in your own meals and not shopping for souvenirs inside the Park, be sure to let your family know ahead of time what to expect. This will eliminate any unhappy surprises once you’re on your trip. I’ve found that as long as everyone knows what’s happening ahead of time this really helps make the day at the Happiest Place on Earth, well…happy!

Tons of tips on discounted tickets, what to bring & free things in Disneyland and Walt Disney World parks.

 

RUBBA DUCKS Flock into the Boathouse Restaurant Disney Springs – Giveaway!

I received two complimentary Rubba Ducks® in exchange for this post. All opinions and comments are my own.

RUBBA DUCKS Flock into the Boathouse Restaurant Disney Springs - Giveaway!

Rubba Ducks® are making a splash at Walt Disney World! These adorable rubber duck toys have an exclusive deal with the The Boathouse in Disney Springs that makes Rubba Ducks® the only non-Disney toy in the Boathouse gift shop.

RUBBA DUCKS Flock into the Boathouse Restaurant Disney Springs - Giveaway!

Rubba Ducks® have character! They are brightly colored and feature  decorative costumes and whimsical designs. You’ll probably see a Rubba Duck® and know exactly who would love it! (I’m partial to the Duckerfly!) In addition to a vast variety of characters available, each of the Rubba Ducks® is adorned with a tattoo on its tail feathers reflecting its unique personality, their own hatch date and cute biography found on their trading cards. You can see the designs available on their website.

RUBBA DUCKS Flock into the Boathouse Restaurant Disney Springs - Giveaway!

We received two Rubba Ducks® for review. Digger is a gardening duck. He wears overalls, a gardening hat and has sculptured tools in his pockets. Crystal has a pretty pink-toned and is faceted like a gemstone. My little one had a good time playing with them before, during and after bath time.

RUBBA DUCKS Flock into the Boathouse Restaurant Disney Springs - Giveaway!

Later in the week we took them to grandma’s swimming pool, where they became pool toys. My son would hold them as he dove down to the bottom of the pool and then let the Rubba Ducks® bob back up to the surface. Most rubber ducks roll over upside down the minute you set them in the water. But Rubba Ducks® are designed with weights at the bottom so they will always float upright which makes them so much more fun to play with!

RUBBA DUCKS Flock into the Boathouse Restaurant Disney Springs - Giveaway!

Every own a rubber ducky? Most rubber ducks have a hole in the bottom which can retain mold (yucky ducky!) I banned most bath toys after that nasty discovery. But not Rubba Ducks®! There is no hole in the bottom so NO MOLD! You can safely let the kids play with them in the bath or pool.

Would you like a Rubba Duck® of your own? Enter the giveaway below and Rubba Ducks® will mail you your own sweet ducky!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Open to US residents

I will request winner’s address at contest end. Rubba Ducks® will mail you the prize.

Follow the Rubba Ducks® here:

Web: http://www.rubbaducks.net/
Facebook: RubbaDucks
Instagram: @rubbaducksworld
Twitter: @rubbaducks
Pintrest: @rubbaducks
YouTube: @rubbaducks


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