Disneyland Resort Hotel Review – Paradise Pier Hotel

Disneyland Resort Hotel Review - Paradise Pier Hotel

Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Blue Loop. Today we are reviewing the official Disneyland hotels and some of Disneyland’s Good Neighbor hotels. While Walt Disney World boasts dozens of “on-site” resort hotels, the Disneyland Resort only has three – Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, the original Disneyland Hotel and the Paradise Pier Hotel. I’ve had the pleasure of staying at the Paradise Pier Hotel many times over the years and as with all other Disney resorts, I’ve enjoyed my visits.

Disneyland Resort Hotel Review - Paradise Pier Hotel

Image Credit: Disney Parks

When you first step into the lobby, you might feel that this particular hotel is lacking a bit in the theming that is so prevalent at the other two hotels. While the other two Resort hotels were built specifically as Disney resorts, the Paradise Pier Hotel was actually a different establishment that was taken over and remodeled by Disney. The Paradise Pier started its life as the Emerald of Anaheim in 1984 and later renamed the Pan Pacific Hotel. It was purchased by Disney in 1995 and renamed it the Disney Pacific Hotel. In 2000, it was re-branded as the Paradise Pier Hotel (to match the Paradise Pier theme at Disney California Adventure Park).

Disneyland Resort Hotel Review - Paradise Pier Hotel

Inside the Paradise Pier Hotel gift shop, Mickey in Paradise

The lobby is a bit lackluster, I will admit. There is a Goofy statue that’s fun to take your picture with. There is a large gift shop (called Mickey in Paradise). There’s a restaurant (home to a Character breakfast) and a lounge. And a kid’s space called the “Paradise Theater” that shows Disney cartoons in a beach-theme. It’s a small lobby that lacks the “grandness” (obviously) of the Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa and the vintage-chic feel of the Disneyland Hotel. There’s nothing wrong with it, it’s just not very “Disney” feeling. But then again, you can always go and visit the lobbies at the other two Resort hotels and come back to the Paradise Pier Hotel to stay the night, right?

So what makes the Paradise Pier special and worth a stay? Here are some upsides:

A Beachy-keen Theme – The rooms are light and breezy in a fun beach theme that reflects the Paradise Pier, complete with beach balls pillows on the bed. There are subtle Disney details throughout too, including a lifeguard Mickey lamp. I think it’s a really fun and roomy space. There’s even a sleeper sofa for extra space.

Gotta Love that View – Watch the action taking place below with a stunning view of Disney California Adventure Park.

Disneyland Resort Hotel Review - Paradise Pier Hotel

A vintage view of Disney California Adventure Park, circa 2009

Extra Magic Hour  – While staying at a Disneyland Resort hotel, guests may enjoy the theme parks an hour before park opening with Extra Magic Hour. All Disneyland Resort hotel guests also have access to the exclusive entrance to Disney California Adventure park from Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa. It’s a great way to get that Radiator Springs Racers FastPass.

Slightly Lower Cost – Paradise Pier is always the lesser priced of the three Disney Resort hotels but it’s still priced quite a bit more than other area Good Neighbor hotels.

Disneyland Resort Hotel Review - Paradise Pier Hotel

Catch a Wave for Breakfast – Disney’s PCH Grill hosts the Surf’s Up! Breakfast with Mickey & Friends, a highly enjoyable character dining experience. We’ve dined here several times and appreciate the variety at the buffet (can’t go wrong with Mickey waffles!) as well as the entertainment and characters that come to each table.

Concierge – We splurged on concierge during one of our stays here and it was a treat. We were able to enjoy the special lounge for a light morning breakfast, return for an “evening happy hour” with appetizers and pick up bottled water and a few snacks before heading to the pool. There was also turn-down service and a special treat for the kids when we returned in the evening.

Disneyland Resort Hotel Review - Paradise Pier Hotel

Proximity to the Parks – Yep, there are definitely motels on the other side of the Disney Parks that are technically closer to the front gates. Still, it’s really less than a 10-minute walk from the Paradise Pier to the special “Guest-only” entrance at Disney’s Grand Californian (bring your valid hotel room key & park tickets for access) and it’s only a few minutes more to reach the Monorail Station entrance in the Downtown Disney District. And the landscaped walk along the curving footpath is pleasant.

Disneyland Resort Hotel Review - Paradise Pier Hotel

California Streamin’ waterslide

A Pool with a View – Situated on the third floor, the Paradise Pool is an enjoyable respite mid-day. My kids have always loved the California Streamin’ waterslide and little ones will enjoy the Children’s splash pool. It’s a smaller area than the other Disney Resort hotel pool areas, which can be a good thing when you have small kids to keep your eye on.

Fireworks – Come night fall, from the third floor pool deck, you can pull up a beach chair and watch the Disneyland fireworks over the Park. There is a live synchronized broadcast over the loudspeakers so you’re fully involved in the show. I have fond memories of my dad’s last visit to Disneyland, as he held two of his pajama-clad grandsons on his lap while we watched the fireworks from this location.

The Paradise Pier sounds like the perfect place to start the day (with a Character breakfast) and a lovely place to end the night (with fireworks)! What is your favorite feature of the Paradise Pier Hotel? Share below in the comments!

Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Blue | Disneyland & Good Neighbor Hotel Reviews Loop:


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

Park Savers affiliate link

Sweet, Quick and Easy Applique Valentine’s Day Heart Tee

Need something sweet for the kids to wear on Valentine’s Day? This easy applique Valentine’s Day heart tee goes together quickly with fabric scraps and is easy enough for the beginning seamstress. I’ll even show you how to make this tee with a “Disney-twist”! Oh so special to wear on your next Disney vacation to show your Mickey-Love! I’ve included a free printable applique for the hearts and silhouette.

Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Yellow Loop. Today we are sharing some fun Valentine’s Day crafts.

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!

Applique Valentine’s Day Heart Tee

I love having a quick and easy method of design that takes minimal time and can be put together in the matter of an hour or so. You’ll love this layered method of applique because it goes together fast, requires no special stitches and no hemming…and it’s totally unique. You decide the look based on the colors and the fabric mix you choose.

This is also a fairly easy project for kids to help with. Younger children can choose the fabric combinations and cut out the shapes. Older kids can assist with ironing and sewing as well.

Looking for an easy Valentine's craft? This quick applique technique is easy for kids & adults, resulting in an adorable Valentine's Day heart tee to wear year 'round! There's even a Hidden Mickey Disney detail in the center for added love!

What You’ll Need for This Project:

  • T-shirt. This is a chance for you to use a tee that might have a stain on it as you’ll be able to “save” the shirt by placing an applique over the stain.
  • Applique pattern. I used hearts in various sizes as well as a small Mickey silhouette. You can use the PDF applique here: Heart Tee Applique
  • Scrap fabrics in various sizes and colors (choose cotton or cotton knit)
  • Sharpie Fine Point Marker
  • Fusible bond, like Heat’n Bond Lite Iron-on Adhesive
  • Thread in matching colors. Gutermann thread is my favorite brand as it’s strong (doesn’t break mid-project!), wide range of colors and holds up to wash and wear.
  • Bobbin thread in color to match the shirt
  • Sewing machine needle (jersey or Ballpoint Machine Needles give the best results for applique)
  • Disappearing ink pen, like this one from Dritz
  • Iron

Instructions for Sewing Your Valentine’s Day Heart Tee:

HeartTeeCollage-11. Trace The Design – Place a piece of fusible bond (bumpy side down) onto your design and trace out each individual shape using a Sharpie marker (ball point pens or pencils will smudge or smear off onto your iron, so a Sharpie is best).

2. Cut out and set aside the Mickey silhouette.



3. Pick Fabrics – Choose your fabrics and iron out the wrinkles on each piece.

4. Ironing – Pull out the fabric that you want to use for the largest heart. Keep in mind that only the outer edge of this heart will show.

Iron the fusible bond heart (bumpy side down) onto the WRONG side of the fabric.


5. Cut out the large heart – Cut out only the largest heart on the Sharpie line.

Peel off the fusible bond backing. Save the backside of the fusible bond to use for the next heart.



6. Iron Shirt – Lay your shirt down and iron out any wrinkles in the design area. Lay the large heart down on the tee, make sure the design is centered and straight. Iron on securely.

7.  Sewing Heart to Shirt – Using a straight stitch, sew with a small hem (1/4″) around the edge of the fabric, securing the first heart to the tee.


8. Cut Next Heart from Template – Using the heart template (leftover from the backside of the fusible bond), carefully cut away to the next size heart.


9. Trace Using Template – Lay template down onto the wrong side of the next piece of fabric and use your disappearing ink pen to trace this outline onto the wrong side of the fabric.


10. Cutting & Sewing Next Heart – Cut out heart shape from fabric and lay down, centering on top of the first heart that was ironed onto the shirt. Carefully pin to the shirt, smoothing out fabric so there aren’t any bumps.

Carefully sew with a small hem (1/4″) around the edge of the fabric, securing the second heart to the tee.


11. Repeat for Next Heart – Repeat steps 7 and 8 with the third heart.



12. Disney Detail – Iron the Mickey fusible bond silhouette onto the WRONG side of the fabric.

Cut out the shape on the line, peel off backside of fusible bond and center the design in the middle of the third heart. Iron on securely.

13. Sew on Mickey – Using a straight stitch, sew with a small hem (1/4″) around the edge of the fabric, securing the silhouette to the tee.


Straight Stitch Applique Advice

Because the edges of the applique pieces are not covered, the edges of your cotton fabric may fray or curl slightly after a wash and dry. As long as you’ve properly stitched the pieces securely, slight fraying or curling should be fine and create a fun look to your design.

Taking Applique To the Next Level

Once your practiced straight stitch applique, try using a satin stitch (aka: a very close together zig-zag) around the edges of your applique pieces to secure them. This will create a more smooth and polished look. You’ll be able to add more detail and the look will last a long time. Cover the stitches inside (because they will be thicker and potentially more itchy to the wearer) with a soft fusible Poly-mesh backing.

Looking for an easy Valentine's craft? This quick applique technique is easy for kids & adults, resulting in an adorable Valentine's Day heart tee to wear year 'round! There's even a Hidden Mickey Disney detail in the center for added love!

More Quick Applique Projects to Try!

Peppermint Mickey Holiday T-Shirt Disney DIY

DIY Handpainted Finding Dory T-Shirt

Halloween DIY Disney Mickey Pumpkin Appliqued Tee

DIY Craft for Kids - Peppermint Mickey Holiday T-shirt  Paint Your Own Finding Dory T-Shirt  

For more great Valentine’s Day crafts,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!

Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Yellow | Valentine’s Day Crafts Loop:

Looking for an easy Valentine's craft? This quick applique technique is easy for kids & adults, resulting in an adorable Valentine's Day heart tee to wear year 'round! There's even a Hidden Mickey Disney detail in the center for added love!

Stuck in a Marriage Dating Rut? Date Night Challenge-The Trip Around the World


Image courtesy of nentus at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A Mother’s Random Thoughts (Patty) and Saving Up for Disney (Julie) welcome you back for round two of our Date Night Challenges. The Second Date Night Challenge is fun and creative. You can make it as simple or extravagant as time and your budget allows. Remember, it is not necessary to actually leave the house. You can stay home and “date” your spouse. 

Here are the rules:

  • Ask your spouse, without telling him/her why, to name three to five places that he/she would like to visit. These could be locations, states, countries, or even outer space. 
  • Begin planning your date around these locations. Examples: Italy, China, and Australia
Ideas include: 

An appetizer at an Australian restaurant (Outback)
Dinner at a Chinese restaurant
Dessert at an Italian restaurant 


Visit an art gallery that has an exhibit from one of the locations
Many cities have festivals in honor of different cultures
Watch a movie located in your destination

Maybe you need to stay home for your date:

Select music from China to play during a Chinese dinner
Choose a movie with characters from Australia such as Crocodile Dundee 
Watch a travel show on the location (the library is an excellent resource for travel documentaries)
Dessert of Tiramisu or Biscotti and Espresso.

Image courtesy of potowizard at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Here are some ideas for countries or places:
  • Disney World/Theme Park: Visit an indoor amusement park, Play a game at Chuck E Cheese, find somewhere that sells Mickey Ice Cream Bars or Pineapple Dole Whip, Make Mickey Mouse shaped chocolate chip cookies and make cookie ice cream sandwiches.
  • France: Visit an art Exhibit, make crepes, plan an picnic (indoor picnics can be fun) with cheese, bread and fruit.
  • Italy: Watch Three Coins in a Fountain, and find a fountain to throw some coins in, play bocce, listen to Dean Martin sing An Evening in Roma, Volare, That’s Amore. Plan an Italian meal of Caesar salad, spaghetti or lasagna, gelato, espresso. Eat your spaghetti like Lady and the Tramp!

  • Switzerland: Climb the tallest peak in your town, or eat Lindt chocolates (from Switzerland). Practice yodeling together.
  • Germany: Watch Snow White or Tangled, make a fondue (or visit the Melting Pot), learn to Polka or listen to Bavarian folk music, eat Black Forest Cheesecake.
  • Ireland/England: Eat fish and chips at a pub, watch or play a soccer game, have afternoon tea and scones, dance an Irish jig, finish the night with Irish coffee.
  • Carribean: Watch Pirates of the Carribean, play Escape by Rupert Holmes.
Follow along with us on our social media sites to join in on the fun, and to share with us! We will be using #DateNightChallenge across our social media channels and hope you will too.

TWITTER       (Julie and Patty)

INSTAGRAM (Julie and Patty)

FACEBOOK   (Julie and Patty)

PINTEREST    (Julie and Patty)

  • You have 2 weeks to complete this Challenge. Make sure to link below by 12:05 AM EST, February 8, 2016. 
  • By linking, you give The Date Night Challenge Hosts permission to use your name and photo, and links to your social media accounts.
  • We will pin, tweet, share, and promote our Date Night Challenge. We encourage you to visit other participants in this challenge, comment and share the love with them!


Love & Hugs – Patty & Julie


Maternity Fashion – How to Look Fabulous on a Tight Budget

Maternity Fashion - How to Look Fabulous on a Tight Budget

You have a new little bundle of joy on the way…with all of the expenses that go along with it!  No need to break the bank on maternity fashion, here’s how:

Maternity Fashion

Yes, maternity and fashion CAN go together in the same sentence! With a little finagling of your own closet, practical purchases and good use of accessories, you’ll have a pregnancy wardrobe that will get you through all nine months.

Wear What You Have

In the first few months, you may be able to wear your normal clothes without any modifications. Or you might be feeling so bloated and tight around the middle that you resort to stretchy pants. In any case, wear your own clothes as long as you comfortably can. This might mean doing the rubber band trick on your pants (fold a rubber band or hair elastic in half and insert through your button hole, then loop the ends onto your button). Cover up with a longer tee and nobody will be the wiser.

I’m currently 30 weeks pregnant and have been wearing my button-up blouses and cardigans, unbuttoned over a maternity tank or tee and a pair of leggings. Add some jewelry or a scarf from your closet and you can switch up the looks with minimal purchases. I also love to wear my stretch knit maxi dresses that are loose and flowy in the mid-section. Since it’s been chilly, I simply layer with a cardigan sweater to keep me warm.

Maternity Fashion - How to Look Fabulous on a Tight Budget

Stretchy tops with tie straps in the back can get you through several months.

Wait Until You Need It

Since every body is different, you really have no idea when you’re first pregnant how your third trimester belly will look. I recommend waiting as long as you can to purchase late pregnancy clothing so you can get an appropriate fit.

Buy Sparingly & Accessorize

Maternity clothes can be pricey and considering you’ll only wear them for a few months, try to purchase only what you’ll need and what is most versatile. Purchase a few tank tops and tees that can be layered under sweaters and unbuttoned blouses. One white, one black and a few versatile colors that coordinate with items in your closet are the best bet. Choose a few neutral-toned pairs of pants (perhaps a pair of leggings, dressy slacks and a pair of jeans) that you can wear until month 9. Non-maternity leggings are probably going to be less expensive so try these first. Your preference will be “over” or “under” belly so keep that in mind when shopping. Stretchy knit skirts are great too and can be layered over leggings in cooler months.

Maternity Fashion - How to Look Fabulous on a Tight Budget

My husband’s work party was a dress up occasion and I really didn’t want to spend a bunch of money on a fancy maternity outfit that I’d only wear once. I was able to find a pretty maternity knit top at Old Navy for about $10! It was a simple black top but had dressier lace sleeves that I layered over black leggings so it was perfect for the occasion. Fancy earrings and high heels and I looked and felt dressed up.

Beware the “Sale”

I bought a pair of cropped jeans early in this pregnancy that cost me $8. Yep, they were cheap and according to my husband, they were unflattering and he told me to “Please, never wear those pants again!” This goes with all fashion, not just maternity. Just because they are “only $8” doesn’t mean you should buy them. Avoid the lure of the “sale” and only buy what’s still appropriate for your body.

Avoid the Stretch

Keep in mind that your tummy expands pretty slowly up until the last trimester. You can probably get away with wearing most of your usual clothes until this point (bottoms being the exception). Some clothes have better stretch than others and will easily accommodate your belly into later months. However if you continue to wear some of these pieces as your tummy expands, you may stretch them too much and the fabric won’t go back into pre-pregnancy shape. I did that with a beautiful electric blue blouse during my second pregnancy. Though it fit me nicely until my 8th month, after the baby was born I realized that I’d stretched it beyond its limits and the fabric was too stretched out and loose to wear post-pregnancy.

What’s Under There?

I think I’m down to about 5 pairs of underpants that fit me at this point! They are either too tight along the thigh or are rolling off my tummy and bunching up at the bottom…so uncomfortable! And my bras? Well, let’s just say things aren’t being properly contained at this point.

No need to purchase pricey “maternity” underwear as a size or two up or a different style might do the trick at a lower cost. For bras though, if you are planning on nursing, it’s a good idea to buy a few nursing bras to accommodate your larger cup size. I’ve always preferred stretch knit for the comfort factor. And a wireless “sleep” nursing bra is a wonderful idea so you’ll have support 24/7.  You want your breasts to go back into their original position, right? Wearing a bra all the time is good way to help give them proper support and reduce stretching and discomfort.

Maternity Fashion - How to Look Fabulous on a Tight Budget

I bought this sweatshirt early in my pregnancy & wear it over a longer tank.

Buy What Can Be Worn Later

Pregnancy open cardigans?! Why would you need a flyaway cardigan to be maternity-sized? If you have to buy something to wear while pregnant, keep in mind what can be used post-pregnancy. It will take you a bit of time to get your pre-pregnancy body size back so you’ll continue to wear your maternity clothes (size 6-7 months, or so) after delivery. If you’re going to be nursing, consider purchasing shirts and blouses that make nursing easier, like button-down shirts or nursing tanks with clip straps. Some clothes can be impractical when nursing, like long tops or dresses (unless you like bunching up the fabric under your chin and exposing your bare stomach!)

Buy Resale

Local resale shops are a great place to find maternity clothing but did you know you can also find great deals online? I’m already a huge fan of threadUP for their kid’s clothing but now that I’m in my third trimester, I’m scouring the site for pieces that will see me through these last few months and beyond. You can also sell back your maternity outfits later for cash or credit. Request a “Clean Out Kit” for those outgrown baby clothes and sell them back to threadUP as well! (affiliate link)


Borrow or Rent

Put the word out via social media that you’re in need of maternity clothes to see you through your pregnancy. Your post-pregnancy friends will likely be happy to help you with donations from their maternity stash or share with you the name of a friend who may have what you need.

There are many online maternity clothing rental companies that can help you find just what you need. This is particularly handy if you work in a corporate setting and require dressier clothing on a daily basis or if you need formal attire for a specific occasion. A quick search online for “rent maternity clothes” will give you several options.

To the Tips of Your Toes

You may find that your usual shoes start to pinch a bit with swelling feet and ankles. I remember with my first pregnancy, I could only wear flip-flops for the final month! You might need to purchase an inexpensive pair in a half size up to get you through or choose shoes that are less constricting. Your feet may or may not return to their original size after baby. I actually have one foot that went up half a size and one foot that went up one full size and they have stayed that way!

 Do you have any inexpensive maternity wear tips? Please share them in the comments!






Free Things for Families in San Diego’s Balboa Park

Free Things for Families in San Diego's Balboa Park

Free things for families to do together is always great, right? And in a location with a 100+ year history that’s full of outdoor hiking trails, culture, playgrounds, museums, art, music and dancing? It’s the perfect place for learning and exploring…or even just a simple picnic and a nap on the grass!

Check out my top 21 things to do in San Diego’s Balboa Park that are completely free. Please stop over at TravelingMom to find out more!

I’m an Official LEGOLAND Blogger!

My family and I have been visiting the LEGOLAND California Resort since shortly after it opened in 1999. I’ve written about it here on my own blog as well as on the Traveling Mom website. We were annual pass holders for several years. My kids love to visit, whether it’s for the rides, attractions, water park, shows or simply to wander through Miniland and recreate the scenes at one of the many building stations.

Legoland Blogger

I’m proud to say that I’ve just been given the title of Official LEGOLAND Blogger! So, what does that mean? As a LEGOLAND Insider, that means I’ll be able to share with you some of the cool new rides and attractions that will be coming to the LEGOLAND California Resort, including the highly anticipated Ninjago The Ride. The ride vehicles were just delivered to the Park last week and are getting ready for the grand opening this spring.


According to the LEGOLAND Calfornia Resort, “NINJAGO World features LEGO® building stations, a game to test reflexes, spinners to test balance, Asian cuisine and a new shopping venue.” Sounds like another winning addition to this already action-packed resort!

I’m looking forward to this new opportunity and to bring you more news of this fun resort in the San Diego area.

Have you ever visited the LEGOLAND California Resort? What’s your favorite part?




First Trip to Disneyland? Delightful Movies You Must See First

Planning your first trip to Disneyland? Depending on your child and how much “Disney-saturation” they’ve have, they might be unfamiliar with some of the movies and characters. I think it’s important to familiarize kids ahead of the trip by watching some of the Disney features so they’ll recognize characters and themes before their visit. No sense in waiting in line to meet the princesses if your child has no idea who Anna and Elsa are, right? This is my break down of the Disney movies to see before your trip. Some are must-see or highly recommended and I’ve included others that you should watch if you have the time.

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


First Trip to Disneyland? Delightful Movies You Must See First

Last year a friend of mine was taking her 4-year old niece to Disneyland for the first time. Knowing I’m a Disneyland regular, she asked me what movies she should show her niece before the trip so she’d be familiar with more of the characters that are featured on the rides and in the shows/parades.

I have a decent collection of the classics that I was able to lend her and they watched one movie a week leading up to their vacation. She’d been able to watch Princess Aurora in Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Dumbo, Snow White and Alice In Wonderland.

A few days after the trip, my friend asked me if I had Mary Poppins because her niece had met her outside Jolly Holiday Bakery and had no idea who she was…but she was smitten because Mary Poppins took her by the hand and told her, “Spit Spot” as they walked together down Main Street U.S.A!

Rides at Disneyland Based on Movies

Because so many of the rides (especially those in Fantasyland that are geared for younger children) were based on the movies that preceded them, it’s important that kids know a bit of the story background so they’ll know what the ride is about.

Naturally if a ride is just plain fun, they don’t necessarily need to watch the movie first but it sure is fun to point out the details on the ride and have them know the character names.

First Trip to Disneyland? Delightful Movies You Must See First

Photo Credit: Jeff Holz


Sleeping Beauty – This animated feature has two very special features in Fantasyland, one being an icon of Disneyland…Sleeping Beauty Castle. There is a walk-through attraction that takes you through the Castle with elaborate dioramas. Another can’t miss is King Arthur Carrousel, which features hand painted scenes from the movie on the inner part of the ride.

Sleeping Beauty is a *MUST SEE*

DumboDumbo the Flying Elephant is just simply joyful and always a kid favorite. Check out Timothy the Mouse standing on top of the ride as well! Casey Jr. Circus Train is the accompanying ride to the Dumbo movie.

Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs– This classic “dark ride”, Snow White’s Scary Adventures is named as such because of the heavy presence of the evil Queen throughout. You can even spy her looking down on you from a window above the ride entrance. Touch the golden apple out front and see what happens! You’ll see Snow White in several other areas and even the evil Queen makes an appearance for photos at times, so I’d recommend this is a movie to watch.

Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs is a *MUST SEE*

Pinocchio – Pinocchio not only has a ride (Pinocchio’s Daring Journey) in Fantasyland, there is also a restaurant with Pinocchio-theming and artwork as well (Village Haus Restaurant). You can also find Figaro the cat on a perch in the Fantasy Faire area as well.

First Trip to Disneyland? Delightful Movies You Must See First

Photo Credit: Jeff Holz

Alice In Wonderland – If kids aren’t familiar with Alice’s story and the Caterpillar, White Rabbit, Cheshire Cat and Queen of Hearts, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland might not make much sense (not that it makes much sense anyway, right?!) The Mad Tea Party spinning teacups are also Alice-themed!

First Trip to Disneyland? Delightful Movies You Must See First

Photo Credit: Jeff Holz

Alice In Wonderland is *HIGHLY RECOMMENDED*

The Adventures Of Ichabod And Mr. Toad – I’ll admit that I’ve been on Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride dozens of times but had never once read the book Wind in the Willows or had seen the animated feature. After watching it last year, I have a better understanding of what this ride is all about and now I know why Mr. Toad is going crazy!

First Trip to Disneyland? Delightful Movies You Must See First

Peter Pan – Soar above it on all Peter Pan’s Flight, based on the book and movie. Kids will see all the familiar characters, including Peter, Wendy, Captain Hook and Tinker Bell while “flying” above the action. Want more Tink? You can also meet with her and other fairy friends in Pixie Hollow.

Peter Pan is a *MUST SEE*

Featuring several Disney movies, the Storybook Land Canal Boats is a peaceful boat tour. You’ll see the city of Agrabah from Aladdin, the castle (and pumpkin carriage) from Cinderella and even the village of Arendelle from Frozen.

First Trip to Disneyland? Delightful Movies You Must See First

Photo Credit: Jeff Holz


Toy Story and sequels – Though you don’t have to have seen the movies to enjoy Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, I still put these on the must-see list. Toy Story characters are also heavily featured in the Paint the Night parade.

First Trip to Disneyland? Delightful Movies You Must See First

The Toy Story series are *MUST SEE*

Finding Nemo and Finding Dory [Blu-ray] – Even if you haven’t seen the movies, you’ll still highly enjoy the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage. An abbreviated version of the story is told from your view through the porthole in a very cool way.

Star Wars – It’s the Season of the Force, you know and Star Wars is all the rage throughout Tomorrowland. If your kids aren’t old enough to watch the action-packed space adventure movies, at least acquaint them with the general characters so they aren’t shaking in their shoes when they meet the very intimidating Darth Vader in the Star Wars Launch Bay!

First Trip to Disneyland? Delightful Movies You Must See First

Photo Credit: Jeff Holz

No need to have seen the movies to enjoy Star Wars: The Adventure Continues or Hyperspace Mountain. Kids 4-12 can participate in the Jedi Training, though little ones might be nervous or scared to be on the stage alone with the characters if they aren’t familiar with the movies.

The Star Wars series is *HIGHLY RECOMMENDED* (depending upon age and maturity of kids)


Who Framed Roger Rabbit All of Toontown is based on this movie! Eye-popping sights and colors accompanied by a dizzying ride, Roger Rabbit’s Car-toon Spin is fun regardless of if you’ve seen the movie or not. But elements and characters will make more sense if you have. Watch out for the “dip”! This one is PG-rated and more for older kids.

First Trip to Disneyland? Delightful Movies You Must See First

Photo Credit: Jeff Holz

Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers – Not based on a movie but a TV show, Gadget’s Go-Coaster is a great first coaster for little ones (it’s only a minute long). No need to have seen the show but fun to point out the “gadgets” and unique found items that compose this ride.


Indiana Jones – Given the 46″ height requirement, Indiana Jones Adventure is for an older set of kids, just like the movie series (which is definitely too graphic for little ones). This is a fantastic ride, but no need to have seen the movie series to appreciate the ride.

Tarzan – Take a tour of Tarzan’s Tree House and you’ll be able to view vignettes from the movie. You don’t have to have seen the movie to understand this attraction.

Critter Country

Winnie the Pooh – Perfect for the very young, The Many Adventures Of Winnie The Pooh stands alone as a sweet and colorful romp. You can also meet Pooh and friends just outside the ride afterwards.

First Trip to Disneyland? Delightful Movies You Must See First

Photo Credit: Jeff Holz

Song of the South Splash Mountain was based on this movie, which very few have ever seen. Naturally, you don’t have to have seen the movie to enjoy this ride (because only a handful of people have even seen it!)

Other Entertainment

The Disneyland Forever fireworks soundtrack and visual effects features many films, including The Lion King but there’s no need to watch them to enjoy the show.

If your little one is in love with princesses, you may need to brush up on a few Disney films before a visit to Fantasy Faire. In particular, you may want to watch Tangled before greeting Rapunzel and her mile-long locks and view Beauty and the Beast before twirling next to Belle and her lovely golden gown.

First Trip to Disneyland? Delightful Movies You Must See First

Photo Credit: Jeff Holz

I love a parade! And it’s a great way to see lots of different characters. In Mickey’s Soundsational Parade, Tiana from the Princess & The Frog waves from atop her float. You can also meet her sometimes in New Orlean’s Square. Mary Poppins and Bert also have a jolly time on the parade route and as I mentioned before, they also do a meet n’ greet.

Mary Poppins is also featured in the Disneyland Forever fireworks show, so I’d recommend at least getting kids familiar with the music and characters. The Paint the Night parade is also chock full of characters, including a finale with Mickey as the Sorcerer’s Apprentice from Fantasia.

First Trip to Disneyland? Delightful Movies You Must See First

I appreciate that the show Mickey and the Magical Map features movies that aren’t as prominent in the Park, like The Jungle BookPocahontas and Mulan. You don’t have to have seen the movies to understand and enjoy the show.

Disney California Adventure Park

“bug’s land”

This entire Land and all of it’s attractions are inspired by the movie “a bug’s life”.

First Trip to Disneyland? Delightful Movies You Must See First

From the show to the rides, everything is themed to this movie but you don’t necessarily need to watch the movie to “get” this area for everything stands on its own.


Cars Land

First Trip to Disneyland? Delightful Movies You Must See First

Photo Credit: Jeff Holz

Another Land that was entirely inspired by a Disney/Pixar movie, this time it’s Cars. While you don’t have to know the movie plot to enjoy the scenery, it’s impressive to see how the tiniest details were captured in this area. And it’s a good idea to watch the movies to familiarize yourself with the characters since they are heavily featured in the ride and attractions.

Cars is a *MUST SEE*

Paradise Pier

The Little Mermaid – Ariel has two rides and a restaurant inspired by her life “under the sea”. King Triton’s Carousel doesn’t feature Ariel, per se but her father is on a large mural and her underwater friends are the “horses” on this merry-go-round.

First Trip to Disneyland? Delightful Movies You Must See First

Swim around the Pier to Little Mermaid – Ariel’s Undersea Adventure, an enjoyable dark ride. Dine with the princesses and meet Ariel herself at Ariel’s Grotto, a character dining restaurant.

The Little Mermaid is a *MUST SEE*

Toy Story – Another reason to watch this Disney/Pixar trio, Toy Story Midway Mania features the characters from all three flicks. The characters also have a float in the Paint the Night parade.

The Toy Story series are *MUST SEE*

Hollywood Land

Monsters, Inc. – Sully, Mike and Boo take you on a tour of Monstropolis in the dark ride, Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sully to the Rescue! 

First Trip to Disneyland? Delightful Movies You Must See First

Photo Credit: Jeff Holz

If you haven’t seen the movie, the ride and characters will be confusing (especially Roz, the slug who greets you at the close of the ride!). Also there is a Monsters, Inc. float in both the Pixar Play and Paint the Night parades.

Monsters, Inc. is *HIGHLY RECOMMENDED*

Finding Nemo – Kids who haven’t seen the movie will still enjoy Turtle Talk with Crush, an interactive question and answer show where kids can talk directly to the turtles from the movie. Finding Nemo is featured in two attractions and the Pixar Play Parade.


Grizzly Peak

UP – The Redwood Creek Challenge Trail is a stand-alone attraction, with rope bridges, rock climbing, slides and other “burn off some excess energy” outdoor activities. Russell from Up is there to help you earn your Wilderness Explorer Badge and there is a meet n’ greet once you’ve completed the tasks but there is no need to watch the movie to do the activities.

Other Entertainment

It’s all Frozen so this movie is a must see, especially if you have a princess in your group. Meet and greet with the sisters at Anna & Elsa’s Royal Welcome, then warm up your singing voice at For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration.

First Trip to Disneyland? Delightful Movies You Must See First

For this alone, it’s worth it to watch the film and at least familiarize yourself with the award-winning soundtrack. You don’t want to be hitting the wrong notes when every else says, “Let it Go”.

Frozen is a *MUST SEE*

The Pixar Play Parade is a perfect place to see all the favorites, including The Incredibles characters (whom you can often meet in Hollywood Land). You’ll also see Monsters, Inc. and Finding Nemo characters on their own floats.

First Trip to Disneyland? Delightful Movies You Must See First

Photo Credit: Jeff Holz

In World of Color: Celebrate!, dozens of Disney films are featured including 101 Dalmatians, Wreck-It Ralph, and Big Hero 6. Snippets are short and there is no reason to watch all the films to enjoy this water and light show.

Some Rides Came Before the Movies!

Yes, some of Walt Disney’s unique creations have been so popular over the years that movies have been made based on the Disneyland attractions. There is the popular series of Pirates of the Caribbean movies, of course. The Haunted Mansion, Tower of Terror and Tomorrowland are also movies that spin off of Disneyland attractions.

Movie Watching is Part of Trip Planning

  • Figure out how many movies you’d like to watch before your vacation and schedule them out, perhaps once a week for an at-home family movie night. Write them on the calender to create excitement!
  • Pinterest is a great place to go if you’d like to make the event even more special, perhaps with themed snacks, decorations or crafts.
  • If you don’t have the movies in your own collection, consider purchasing a few of the classics that you know you’ll want to watch again and again. Ask friends if you can borrow the movies that they have in their collections. Or request the films from the library, which is something we do quite frequently.

I’d love to hear your ideas on how you use Disney movies to build excitement for an upcoming vacation! What on your list as the must-see Disney movies to see before your trip? Share with me in the comments or on my Facebook page.

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

Park Savers affiliate link

Stuck in a Marriage Dating Rut? Join Our Date Night Challenge-#1

Stuck in a Marriage Dating Rut? Join Our Date Night Challenges!

When my husband and I were first dating we went out places, dined in restaurants and went to the movies. Now that we’re married, have three kids (with another on the way) and are on a limited budget, we very rarely go out. The last time we attempted a date night we got dressed up, excited for going out but without a plan. We drove around town for an hour, passing each of the local restaurants without any idea what we wanted to do or eat. We ended up back at home to cook our own dinner and watch Netflix, same as every other night! How many times has this happened to you? You tried to have a fun evening with your honey, but resorted to the same ol’ thing because you didn’t have a solid plan?

Well I always believe that two (or more) heads are better than one for planning anything, and so my Co-Host and I are inviting our friends, readers, and closest internet pals to come participate in an exciting Date Night Challenge Series.

Date Night Challenge Hosts

Before we give you the nitty gritty details about The Date Night Challenges you will face, let us introduce ourselves:

Patty from A Mother’s Random Thoughts – I have been married for 31 years to Jeff. We married when I was 5 which would make me 36 years old!!! (HaHa) We met in high school; I was a freshman, and he was a junior. We were friends for the next two years, and we started dating when he graduated from high school. We “went steady” for four years before we married. We have five children ranging in age from 28 to 11, and we have three granddaughters. We love Disney, traveling, and spending time together.

Julie from Saving Up For Disney Daniel & I have been married for 5 years. I was living with my parents & son after my divorce, and he lived next door with his mom. He would bring his daughter over to play with my son on the weekends and that’s how we met. Yes, I really did marry the boy next door! Our eldest kids are only 3 months apart and we’ve added to the family with a 4-year old boy and soon to have a baby daughter. With so many kids and a tight budget, our “date nights” are usually spent at home with Netflix and a bowl of ice cream!

Join Us!

Our New Dating Series begins today, Monday, January 11, 2016. Every two weeks, A Mother’s Random Thoughts and Saving Up for Disney will co-host a dating challenge for couples. We will give you a scenario that you will have 2 weeks to complete. The scenarios will be simple and easy for you to incorporate into your life considering your town, lifestyle and budget. We want to make this as uncomplicated as possible for you, but also fun and challenging. We want you to have an experience on your night out that is memorable and unique to you as a couple.

After your date, you will be given the options of sharing with us through a blog post, on Instagram, or on Facebook. At the end of the 2 weeks, Patty and I (Julie) will select a winner, who will help us select a future Date Night Challenge!  Every two weeks we will be posting another installment of Date Night Challenge. The purpose of these posts is to spark your imagination. I know how difficult it can be to come up with an exciting ideas, and far too often we do the same exact thing on outings. Not only did it get monotonous, but we didn’t even look forward to it. We failed to do the things necessary to make it a special time together. It was like two friends going out for dinner.

Time to Break Out of the Rut

Here is what our (Julie & Daniel) typical date looked like: Our only real “date nights” are for special occasions, like a company party or a church meeting. We haven’t been on an actual planned date night just for FUN in years. We haven’t seen a movie in a theater together since our youngest was born, four years ago. The last sit-down restaurant we went to without kids was 8 months ago. I’d love to be able to go out and connect with my husband outside of our house without having to monitor children conversations or cut someone’s food!

Our last  date...8 months ago!

Our last date…8 months ago!

The Challenge

Because we know that boring dates are not good for a relationship, and we know that coming up with creative things to do takes time. We have decided to offer you inspiration for your date nights. Dating your spouse is important. So every two weeks we will give you an opportunity to do something different than you usually do. Help inspire your friends for a more exciting DATE NIGHT!

After careful consideration, reading and planning, we have come up with the following challenge:

  • You and your spouse pick five songs that have some meaning to you and your relationship. 
  • Pick a location that is conducive to playing music (use earbuds if necessary) and talking (park, outside cafe, bookstore, music store, coffee shop, the backyard after the kids have gone to bed, the closet before the kids wake up, etc.)
  • Make sure to talk about the songs – what you remember about them, when you first heard the song, how it made you feel, and the meaning it has in your relationship.
  • Take turns with the songs. Don’t be surprised if there are some of the same songs on both your play lists.
  • You have two weeks to plan, execute, and post – either as a blog post, Instagram or Facebook.
  • We look forward to seeing/hearing your stories!
Follow along with us on our social media sites to join in on the fun, and to share with us! We will be using #DateNightChallenge across our social media channels and hope you will too.
TWITTER       (Julie and Patty)
INSTAGRAM (Julie and Patty)
FACEBOOK   (Julie and Patty)
PINTEREST   (Julie and Patty)

  • You have 2 weeks to complete this Challenge. Make sure to link below by 12:01 AM EST, January 25, 2016. 
  • By linking, you give The Date Night Challenge Hosts to use your name and photo, and links to your social media accounts.
  • We will pin, tweet, share, and promote our Date Night Challenge. We encourage you to visit other participants in this challenge, comment and share the love with them!

Love & Hugs – Patty & Julie

How to Look Terrific in Vacation Photos-13 Tips to Try Now

How to Look Terrific in Vacation Photos-13 Tips to Try Now

You’ve spent a fortune on the trip and you want to capture the memories. You want to have mementos of the vacation; To print them out and frame them and to share on social media with your family and friends. And you want to make sure you look your best, naturally. But we all have those pictures that make us think…”Ugh, if only I’d done this” before I said, “Cheese!” Here are my 13 tips for looking your best in vacation photos.

Turn at an angle.


Rather than squaring your body straight at the camera, turn your feet slightly sideways. Twisting a bit at the hips or even turning to look over one shoulder is very flattering to the figure. A bend in one knee is also flattering (rather than locking your legs straight). You don’t want to look awkward, so practice this in front of a full length mirror to find the most natural and comfortable pose.

Lift your arms slightly away from your body.

Ugh, upper arm squished against the body is very unflattering!

Ugh, upper arm squished against the body is very unflattering!

Nothing like seeing your upper arms flattened against the side of your body in a photo to make you think you need to take up more weight lifting. Arms never look great when their flat against your body so keep them loose and slightly away but still look natural.


I like the one-hand-on-hip look myself. I place the other hand against the side of my thigh to put a bend in my elbow so my upper arm is away from my body.

Wear lipstick.

 2015-06-04 07.07.50

At the very least, a bit of color on your lips will help brighten your face. Curling your lashes, a swipe of mascara and adding a bit of blush to your cheek bones is icing on the cake. I also like to use an eyebrow pencil to define my brow as this helps to frame my eyes.

Tip your chin up and to the side.

Nobody wants a double-chin in photos, enough said!


And with that in mind, when taking selfie shots, always shoot from above, never from below the chin. Have the tallest person hold the camera and take the photo.

Take off your hat.


If only I’d taken my hat off!


Hats create unflattering shadows on your face. If you can, take the hat off. Of course then you might have hat-hair to deal with. Consider a quick brush out before snapping the shot so your hair isn’t matted or flat. The photo here was taken of me at Walt Disney World last spring when my luggage was lost on the airline. I had no hairbrush and no make-up. I bought the hat to cover up! But the brim cast a heavy shadow on my face, which is unfortunate because it’s the only picture I got of me in front of the castle!

Face the light but shoot in open shade.


“Dappled sunlight” creates unflattering shadows

Avoid “sun dappled” areas where the sunlight is spotty or you’ll have a dark and light issue in your photo.

Bright sunshine casts unnatural shadows on the face & makes everyone squint.

Bright sunshine casts unnatural shadows on the face & makes everyone squint.

And bright glaring sunlight is not only unflattering but it also makes you squint!


A sunny location under covered shade gives skin a smooth appearance & sparkle to the eyes.

Seek a sunny location but one that’s under shade like a tree or the edge of a building. Then make sure you’re turned towards the light so the face and eyes are best flattered. You’ll be able to see “catch light” spots on the eyes (they’ll be bright and sparkling).

Pretty catch lights in the eyes

Pretty catch lights in the eyes

Take some shots posed and some natural.

Yes, the posed shots are wonderful, if you can get everyone looking at the camera and smiling at the same time!


But some of my favorite shots are of my family walking ahead of me. I’m able to capture the scene, the background, and still get my family in the photo.


Or just catch a shot of them laughing or chatting, you might capture your favorite moments.


“Hide” in back.


I’ll admit, I’m not a fan of my bottom half so if I can conceal that in a family photo, I will. However at only 5’2″ tall, I’m usually placed in front of photos (and my big kids are nearly as tall as I am!) I like that this arrangement allowed my tall husband to squat in front with our little one and for me to “hide” a bit behind.

I’m not hiding though. You know you’ve seen those photos, where only someone’s face is showing because they are holding tight to the person in front of them to block themselves. This is just strategic placement so it looks natural.

Take more than one.

In the age of digital, feel free to take several shots of the same scene to optimize your chances of getting your favorite shot.

Selective cropping.


Don’t like what you see below the waist? Crop the photo. I wasn’t terribly happy that my post-baby weight was still lingering in this shot so I edited the full body shot and cropped mid-thigh for an image I like better. I have a full-bosom-ed friend who always recommends a crop “mid-boob” for the most flattering frame.

Delete at home, not in camera.

Once you get the photo uploaded and see that there is nothing truly salvageable, feel free to delete. But if you can save part of the image by cropping or correcting, keep it, fix and save.

A bit of lightening & sharpening can do wonders!

Dark and shadowy with a strange backlight.

Dark and shadowy with a strange backlight.

I have some presets in Photoshop that do all the work for me. I quite often “cool” an image by adding a bit of blue, lightening, sharpening or even brightening the shadows on the eyes. I just click and run the preset and then scale back the percentage until the image looks like I want it to.


Practice at home.

If you consistently dislike how you look in photos, practice at home pre-vacation in front of the mirror. Practice different poses and smiles until you are comfortable. Then have someone takes some photos of you at home so you can see which look you prefer.



2015 – A Look Back at the Year that Was


When I started this blog in mid 2014, I had no idea what wonderful and exciting opportunities I’d be experiencing the following year. I’ll admit that my travel adventures and blog writing were the highlights of a year that proved to be challenging. In August 2015 I found out that I was going to be laid off from my job of 18 years. If that wasn’t shocker enough, I also found out that I was expecting a baby. The thought of 4 kids and no full-time employment was enough to send me in to a tailspin. I was forced to take an even harder look at our budget and cut even more corners, if that was even possible. Turns out, it was possible, with a little extra penny-pinching and sacrifice. It’s never easy but it’s been…interesting, to say the least!

Here is a look back at 2015 (and here’s 2014 – A Look Back at the Year that Was, if you’d like to read back and see what the blog was up to earlier).

My family and I were able to make a spur-of-the-moment one-day Disneyland visit in January 2015. My little one was tall enough to ride some new favorites, including Radiator Springs Racers and Space Mountain, making it a memorable visit. We captured this great family photo with Minnie, too.


In mid-February I hosted a #DisneySide @HomeCelebration multi-generational party. It was a wonderful “just because” event and I was able to gather up some fantastic giveaways from fellow Etsy vendors. These vendors were generous enough to offer prizes to my party guests as well as giveaways to my readers on the blog as well.


I decided in early spring to become a Jamberry Independent Consultant and have thoroughly enjoyed the connections and friendships I’ve created through offering these wonderful products. And my nails have never looked so good! I also love being able to offer Jamberry giveaways here on my blog.

2015-04-18 15.54.43

I also started posting occasionally with Magical DIStractions, yet another great way for me to connect with Disney fans from around the world! See my Magical DIStractions posts, like Radiator Springs Racers – Why a Trip to Cars Land is a Must! and 6 Holiday Things to Do at the Disneyland Resort without a Park Ticket.

April came in with some incredible new opportunities. I applied to be a writer on the website TravelingMom. Originally I started off as SoCal TravelingMom but have now taken on the title of Day Trips TravelingMom, which is more appropriately fit to my usual travel itinerary. I’ve been able to share my Disney love on TravelingMom as well as other “day trip” worthy locations. Check out 11 Tips for Navigating Holiday Crowds at Disneyland, How to See Everything at the San Diego Zoo in a Single Day and Wonderment Abounds at Medieval Times in Buena Park, CA.

How to Navigate Holiday Crowds at the Disneyland Resort #TMOM

I also received a big surprise that month when the TravelingMoms asked if I’d like to join in their annual retreat at…Walt Disney World! Within three weeks, I was off to Orlando (with my brother, mom and 3-yr old son) for the very first time. BIG bucket list item checked off for us!! It was a truly magical experience that I’m looking forward to doing again soon! I wrote about my first visit on the post 11 Wonderful, Magical and Patience-Testing Experiences at Walt Disney World and Walt Disney World Magical Express Bus – What I Loved (and my $80 Mistake).

Comfortable (But Still Cute) Clothes to Wear at Disney

In between I wrote lots of posts! Some had helpful Disney tips like Disneyland Hotel Swimming Pools, 9 Things Disneyland Fans Need to Know Before Visiting Walt Disney World, How to Eat at Disneyland without Advanced Dining ReservationsDisneyland for Free?! and How to Eat Healthfully At Disneyland (and Still Treat Yourself). I also started a popular new “Guide” feature that’s appropriate for each Disney fan, from Princesses to Adventurers.

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

I also had plenty of budgeting posts like Create Budget-Friendly “Summer Camps” for Your Kids….At Home! and 8 things to Consider When Making MORE Cuts to Your Budget (a topic we were very familiar with this year!)

And some handy “our life” posts like Why Our Kids Do Housework-Tips for Getting Kids to Pitch In and Make Extra Money (in Little Ways that Really Add Up!)

FREE PRINTABLE - Preteen Routine Daily Checklist Printable (So You Don't Have to Nag)

In June, I was invited to attend the Disney Social Media Moms On-the-Road Conference in Portland, Oregon! It was my first time to the Pacific-Northwest and my husband and I made it an early 5th wedding anniversary gift and took the trip together. We visited Seattle, friends in Gig Harbor and toured Portland by foot. It was a great conference and I made so many wonderful connections. Here’s to hoping Disney On-the-Road is even closer to me in 2016!


In mid-June I celebrated my first blog anniversary. What a year it was, I’ve covered quite a bit in one year!

In September, I connected with Collective Bias and started writing posts for them that include free printables, recipes and occasional giveaways. It’s been a great opportinuty for this new stay-at-home-mom and I hope you’re enjoying these posts that introduce you to new products.

Chipotle Black Bean Soup Recipe on a Budget

I’ve continued to write for the Blogorail in 2015, including these popular posts about 10 Tips for Surviving a Disneyland Rainy Day, 6 DisneyBounding “Rules” and Crowded Disneyland Day – Top Tips on What to Do. I really appreciate the comraderie of these fellow Disney-lovers.

6 DisneyBounding "Rules" - How to Capture Your DisneySide!

In early September I applied for the Disney Parks Moms Panel again. I was a finalist in 2014 and received a “FastPass” to Round 2 this year, but it was not meant to be. The panel seemed to be moving in a different direction and none of the Disneyland FastPassers were pushed past round 2. There’s always next year!

I had the amazing treat of being invited to the HP Print & Pamper Retreat in early October. One of the best parts is that it took place just 30 minutes from my home so it was truly a weekend getaway for me! I was able to relax, learn and connect with other like-minded bloggers, which made it a totally unique experience for me. We toured the HP facilities, had a fun crafting evening and topped off the weekend with a trip to my favorite place, Disneyland! I was able to see the Paint the Night parade for the first time, which was perfect. It also allowed me to see the Disneyland 60th celebration decor in person, something I didn’t think I’d get a chance to see!

Paint the Night - Disneyland's Nighttime Spectacular Parade

Mac the Truck from Cars

As I move into 2016, I’m excited for the direction that this blog is moving and am thankful to all of my readers, especially when you take the time to comment and share with me about each post. That’s helps me to know that there are people out there who appreciate and enjoy my writing and hopefully in some small way I’ve been able to help you out this year. Whether it be sharing my Disney tips, offering budgeting help when finances are tight or introducing you to a new product, I hope you are enjoying what I share. Please continue to comment and share my posts via social media if you can, it helps me (as a small business owner) to grow and succeed.

Blessings to you all in the new year! Cheers for what’s to come in 2016.