Disney Social Media Moms On-the-Road…at Disneyland! #DisneySMMCDLR

Disney Social Media Moms

This past week I had the pleasure of attending the Disney Social Media Moms On-the-Road Conference. The “on-the-road” events have been held three times this year, earlier in New York, Puerto Rico and this time at the Disneyland Resort. Last year, I attended an On-the-Road conference in Portland and was thrilled to receive the invite to this year’s event, held at the Paradise Pier Hotel, Disneyland Resort. 

Find out more about Disney Social Media Moms On-the-Road event that took place at Disneyland including up-coming Disney events & the new film Moana #DisneySMMCDLR

 

Find out more about Disney Social Media Moms On-the-Road event that took place at Disneyland including up-coming Disney events & the new film Moana #DisneySMMCDLR

A glowing breakfast!

I actually gasped when directed into the conference room as there were Made with Magic Mouse Ears and Paint Brushes on the tables for each conference attendee. The rainbow of glowing colors was just beautiful! These special Ears glow right along with the nighttime entertainment and the brush can be used to change the colors of your Ears (or the Ears of other guests!)

After breakfast and mingling with my fellow bloggers (around 50 of us), Leanne O’Regan, (director of public relations at the Walt Disney World Resort) introduced each of the speakers and kept the conference moving at an enthusiastic pace.

Find out more about Disney Social Media Moms On-the-Road event that took place at Disneyland including up-coming Disney events & the new film Moana #DisneySMMCDLR

Michele Himmelberg talks about what’s new at the park, including the new Frozen live stage show

Michele Himmelberg (Public Relations Director at the Disneyland Resort) shared with us the new developments coming to the Disneyland resort, including changing over the Twilight Zone: Tower of Terror into Guardians of the Galaxy-Mission: BREAKOUT! in Summer 2017. I’ve yet to ride on the Tower of Terror, so I definitely need to ride this on my next visit before it’s gone in early January. She also hinted that there will soon be exciting news coming from Aulani resort in Hawaii (another bucket list location for me!)

Find out more about Disney Social Media Moms On-the-Road event that took place at Disneyland including up-coming Disney events & the new film Moana #DisneySMMCDLR

Erin Glover explaining how the Disney Blog comes up with story ideas

Erin Glover (Editorial Content Director at Disneyland Resort) and Victoria Lim (Managing Editor, Content & Public Relations at Walt Disney World) spoke at the conference I’d attended in Portland 2015 so some of the content was familiar. It was all still relevant and a helpful reminder that I need to jump in with video more often to share with my readers (despite my nerves about being in front of the camera!)

I was able to quickly create this video from Magisto during Victoria’s presentation. I’m going to have to do these more often!

Learning about the Magisto app from Victoria Lim at #DisneySMMCDLR #DisneySMMC

A video posted by Julie Bigboy (@juliebutterfly2000) on

Amy Smeed, the head of animation for Disney Animation Studios shared some not-yet-seen clips of the highly anticipated movie, Moana.  The film is scheduled for release Nov. 23, 2016. Amy’s excitement about this project absolutely bubbled over. You can truly feel how invested she is in the characters she’s helped to develop.

MOANA - (Pictured) Amy Smeed. Photo by Alex Kang. ©2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

MOANA – (Pictured) Amy Smeed. Photo by Alex Kang. ©2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

Amy talked a bit about how the animators were able to travel to various Pacific Island locations, scouting ideas for characters and theme. She also shared how they chose the voice actress for Moana. We watched footage that showed how animators took the scenes from storyboard all the way through finished scene.

MOANA’S MISSION — Maui (voice of Dwayne Johnson) may be a demigod—half god, half mortal, all awesome—but he’s no match for Moana (voice of Auli‘i Cravalho), who’s determined to sail out on a daring mission to save her people. Moana's first challenge is convincing Maui to join her. Directed by Ron Clements and John Musker, produced by Osnat Shurer, and featuring music by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Mark Mancina and Opetaia Foa‘i, “Moana” sails into U.S. theaters on Nov. 23, 2016. ©2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

©2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

As you can see from these stills from the movie, the art is breathtaking and the characters are deeply unique.

From Disney: Maui (voice of Dwayne Johnson) may be a demigod—half god, half mortal, all awesome—but he’s no match for Moana (voice of Auli‘i Cravalho), an adventurous, tenacious and compassionate 16-year-old who’s determined to sail out on a daring mission to save her people. Moana’s first challenge is convincing Maui to join her. Along the way, she discovers the one thing she’s always sought: her own identity. Directed by the renowned filmmaking team of Ron Clements and John Musker (“The Little Mermaid,” “Aladdin,” “The Princess & the Frog”), produced by Osnat Shurer, and featuring music by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Mark Mancina and Opetaia Foa‘i.

©2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

©2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

I got goosebumps and tears in my eyes watching the opening scene as the art was beautiful and the music was incredibly touching. Though I’m not able to share the details of the film clips we watched, I will say there were laughs, gasps and yes, even a few tears from those of us in the viewing group! I can’t WAIT to see the entire film.

©2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

©2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

The conference offered two surprise guests who both discussed how they balance motherhood and work life. Tiffani Theissen (Saved by the Bell & Dinner at Tiffani’s) and Ginger Zee (Good Morning America meteorologist & Dancing with the Stars) could not be more different it seems, but both have the challenge of raising their children and also keeping their own work identities.

Though each of these ladies have completely different paths, they both shared a common theme of balancing work and home. Their talks gave me pause, as a new SAHM raising 4 kids but also keeping up with my personal need to write and share via social media and also wanting to contribute to my family finances. They were both quite inspirational to me and I’m so glad I was able to hear them speak.

Mom talk about balancing work, travel and being a mother with @Ginger_Zee from @GoodMorningAmerica #DisneySMMCDLR #DisneySMMC

A photo posted by Julie Bigboy (@juliebutterfly2000) on

After the conference ended and I’d had a chance to take a few pictures with my fellow Blogorail and TravelingMom friends, I was able to meet up with my family who was already inside the park.

Find out more about Disney Social Media Moms On-the-Road event that took place at Disneyland including up-coming Disney events & the new film Moana #DisneySMMCDLR

Some of my Traveling Mom #TMOM crew

It was the perfect chance to see the Disneyland Resort sparkling one last time for the Diamond Celebration. We were also able to watch Soarin’ Around the World, with a new film that takes you on adventure far and wide! So glad that I was able to catch Paint the Night one more time before it ends it’s run as well.

Find out more about Disney Social Media Moms On-the-Road event that took place at Disneyland including up-coming Disney events & the new film Moana #DisneySMMCDLR

Me and my pal Mickey

I was invited to attend the Disney Social Media Moms On-the-Road Conference. I received breakfast during the conference, complimentary park hopper tickets for me and my family, FastPass tickets to view Soarin’ Around the World and a bag of gifts from Disney. Travel expenses were paid by me. As always, opinions are my own.

This post may contain affiliate links

Mom’s Disney Packing List – FREE Printable!

 

Don't forget the essentials on your next Disney vacation! Mom's Disney Packing List with FREE Printable!

Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Blue Loop. Today we are sharing Disney packing printables to help you decide what to bring on your Disney trip.


Mom’s Disney Packing List

As the main packer for my entire family when we vacation, it’s easy to forget my own things! While I’ve carefully coordinated the kids outfits in zip bags I tend to forget that I need to pack for myself and end up tossing things in the suitcase willy-nilly at the last moment (yes, I’ve forgotten my pajamas and my toothbrush before!) I created this free printable packing list so Mom can quickly remember all she’ll need for a Disney trip. Here are a few tips before you stuff your suitcase (keep reading for the free Mom’s Disney packing list printable).

Please note that this post contains affiliate links

Don't forget the essentials on your next Disney vacation! Mom's Disney Packing List with FREE Printable!

Day Bag

I love using a crossbody bag like my Baggallini Everything Travel Crossbody Bag when I’m at Disney. You’ll have everything you need handy and you’ll be hands-free. You’d be surprised what you can fit inside one of these compact purses. In addition to your usual wallet, pack your bag with a few things you’ll need for the day like lip balm with an SPF, a small nail file and hand sanitizer. I dole out a squirt of hand sanitizer to each person in my family after each ride when we can’t get to the bathroom to properly wash our hands. If you don’t have a baby and therefore aren’t carrying a diaper bag with baby wipes, pack a small clutch with hand wipes when napkins aren’t enough to clean sticky fingers and faces.

Check the Forecast

Contrary to popular belief it does rain in California and it is occasionally very cold in Florida. Don’t assume that the weather will be in the 70s for your trip: Be sure to take a look at the forecast and pack accordingly.

If the weather is expected to be cool, I like the option of layers. A short sleeve shirt topped with a long sleeved tee. Add a sweatshirt and you can always tie it around your waist if you’re too warm mid-day. A scarf and fleece hat are good options on chilly days. And both are small enough that you can stuff them in a bag if you don’t need them.

Don't forget the essentials on your next Disney vacation! Mom's Disney Packing List with FREE Printable!

Me and the boys with my Baggallini Crossbody Bagg

Hot and humid? Leave the layers at home and choose lightweight and breathable fabrics. Pack several shirts for each day so you can bring an extra into the park and change mid-day when you’ve turned into a sweaty mess. Also, take a look at your outfit head-to-toe before you wear it under the hot sun all day. I bought a lightweight top a few days before my last trip and didn’t realize that it had a keyhole opening in the back. Yes, I applied sunscreen to my shoulders, arms and neck. But not knowing about the keyhole opening, I was left to cook and the result was a very strange sunburn!

Block it Out

Sunscreen at Disney is a no-brainer, but consider the type you’ll need for a day in the Parks. I don’t like the misty spray-on types because the coverage just isn’t great and most of your sunscreen gets blown away in the breeze. For my face, I like a matte sunscreen that’s non-comedogenic otherwise I just feel oily and that dust is just sticking to my face (it probably is).

While we’re on the subject of blocking rays from your skin, let’s discuss blocking the sun from your eyes as well. A pair of comfortable sunglasses is a must. Bring a case or a protective sleeve to put them in when you’re on a ride. And don’t wear them on top of your head because that almost guarantees that they’ll fall off!

Disney Lilo & Stitch Hawaiian Print Wire Rim Sunglasses (Amazon)

Cover Your Head

Nothing like having the sun bake on the top of your head all day to make you grouchy. How about a sunburn on your hairline part? That’s fun the next day, right? Try out several styles of hats pre-trip to find out what will work best for you. If you plan on riding anything remotely fast, you’ll be taking your hat off and on throughout the day so keep that in mind. If I have a multi-day trip planned, I’ll bring at least two hat options so I can change them out from one day to the next. Baseball hat one day and giant wide-brim sun hat the next!

2015-05-11 10.42.43-7  2015-05-11 10.42.38-4

Don’t Forget Your Hair

Bring hair ties. Several of them, because you never know when one will snap or slip off the end of your braid while you’re riding Space Mountain! And bobby pins or something to pin back your bangs. I decided one Disneyland trip to wear my hair down and it was just about the windiest day EVER! My hair was a tangled mess by noon. Pack a small brush in your bag to detangle if you wear your hair down. My recommendations? A ball cap with a ponytail looped through the back and bangs pinned back underneath the brim. Or a big sun hat with your hair in a braid.

Don't forget the essentials on your next Disney vacation! Mom's Disney Packing List with FREE Printable!

This was the last time I wore my hair down at Disneyland…it was a tangled mess from the rides and the wind!

Keep It Cool

Though it does rain quite a bit in Florida and it can get chilly on both coasts, the general weather at Disney parks is on the warm side. Consider also that many of the ride lines will have you waiting in the sun and you’ll be ready to head indoors for A/C by 9 am! Pack a few items in your day pack that will help keep you comfortable. A squirt bottle or misting fan that you can refill at the drinking fountains can be wonderful on a scorching day.

Don't forget the essentials on your next Disney vacation! Mom's Disney Packing List with FREE Printable!

We like to bring a travel size shaker of Gold Bond Ultimate Comfort Body Powder. It soaks up excess sweat and helps prevent chafing. A cooling towel that you wet and then shake to chill is just perfect for wrapping around your neck. Something like the Frogg Toggs Chilly Pad Cooling Towel really helps to bring down your body temperature (and this works better than wet paper towels from the bathroom!)

Don’t forget a water bottle to stay hydrated. You can request ice water at any counter service restaurant and then pour it into your bottle.

*ahem* Feminine Needs

Did you know that stress can cause your “monthly visit” to start unexpectedly? Even if you’ve checked the calendar and aren’t expecting to start, you might want to pack feminine hygiene products just in case. Disney does sell these items in the bathrooms (about 50 cents each) and you can also purchase them at the Baby Care Centers and in some hotel gift shops.

Alternate

It’s a good idea to bring in a second pair of socks to change into if you get them wet or they’re just sweaty. Or have a pair of waterproof sandals that you can wear on wet rides instead. I like to bring in a second t-shirt with me too so that when I’m sweaty or I spill something on it, I have a fresh shirt to change in to. Though you could always buy one in the gift shop and call it a souvenir (I’ve done that too!)

Don't forget the essentials on your next Disney vacation! Mom's Disney Packing List with FREE Printable!

Break ’em In

Don’t even think about heading to Disney wearing brand new shoes! For the love of all things, break your shoes in before you spend 15 hours wearing them through the parks. And I recommend taking in a second pair to switch into when your feet start to ache. I’d also say you should give your outfits a “trial run” at home. You’d hate to be wearing something that was uncomfortable all day.

Pregnant at Disney? Expectant Mom's Complete Disney Packing List of Important Needs

Crocs Womens Women’s A-Leigh Floral Flip Flop (Amazon)

Keep in Touch

A phone charger and cord is a must. Not only do you want to be able to reach others in your group, there are also Disney park apps that will allow you to check wait times and book dining reservations. Besides you also want to be able to take pictures and share them to social media throughout the day, right?

EasyAcc Monster Power Bank (Amazon)

Be Prepared

Blisters are a Disney nightmare. Though you can get basic items like bandages at the park First Aid, you should consider adding a few things to your personal first aid kit. I swear by New-Skin Liquid Bandage because it’s waterproof and stays on all day. My kit also includes ibuprofen, headache reliever and antacids. Just make sure you store all the meds in a place where little hands won’t get to them (or keep them in child-proof containers).

Back at the Hotel

I don’t know about you, but when I’m at the parks I sweat like crazy under the sun. And that means that my bra is usually saturated by the end of the day…yuck! Make sure to pack at least 2 bras to alternate every other day. Bring a sample packet or a travel size bottle filled up with laundry detergent. Give your bra a quick wash in the sink and then hang it to dry so you’ll have a fresh one to wear each day.

Make sure you give your bathroom a top to bottom when packing to make sure you don’t miss packing any essential toiletries. You’ll want to remember to bring your make-up remover, hair brush and products, contact lens solution and case, etc. If you prefer to use your own shampoo and soaps pack travel size varieties, though they do offer very nice complimentary products at the Disney resorts.

Don’t forget your swimsuit! You won’t need to bring a towel if you’re staying at a Disney resort hotel, they have them at the pool. A pair of flip-flops and a cover-up are a good idea too.

Here’s the FREE PRINTABLE –  Mom’s Disney Packing List

Don't forget the essentials on your next Disney vacation! Mom's Disney Packing List with FREE Printable!


All packed up, Mom? Here’s another Disney packing list for the kids!

Disney Trip Free Printable – Packing List for Kids

Disney Trip FREE Printable - Packing List for Kids

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


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

Julie-signature

12 Things to Do Waiting in Line at Disney Parks

Best Uses of Waiting in Line at Disney Parks

I’d venture to say that not too many people enjoy standing in line. That’s why they invented the FastPass, right? If you have to wait in queue though, there are some constructive ways you can spend the time. Here are my 12 ideas for the best use of waiting in line at Disney parks.

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

Check Out these 12 Best Uses of Waiting in Line at Disney Parks

A quick pic in line at Autopia

Apply Sunscreen

Outdoor queues can make you feel like you’re cooking under the sun! Waiting in line is a great time to reapply another coat of sunscreen. If you’re sweating, pat off the sweat with a napkin and then apply.

Skip using spray-on sunscreen while standing in line though. The quarters in queue are a bit tight for that (and not everyone wants your sunscreen mist in their eyes!)


Study the Map

Where are you headed next and how will you get there? Now’s the time to pull out the map and plot your course. The map key will let you know where the nearest bathroom is too, in case that’s your next stop. Or try a little game with younger kids and see if they can find certain icons, like “Where’s the carrousel?”

Check Out these 12 Best Uses of Waiting in Line at Disney Parks

Board with wait times at Disneyland. You can get these times on the free mobile app too.

Have a snack

Dry goods that you pre-package into snack-sized bags are perfect for waiting in lines. Things like nuts, dried fruit, trail mix, chopped veggies or sturdy crackers work well. If you finish the snack, you can dispose of the baggie (there are always trash cans in the queue for this). Or if you reach the end before your snack is done, just seal up the bag and put it in your pocket.

Check Out these 12 Best Uses of Waiting in Line at Disney Parks

Heimlich never misses a meal – Photo Credit: Jeff Holz

Play a Game

Pictionary – Keep a small spiral-bound notebook and pen handy for quick games of Pictionary. The artist can come up with the idea (Disney movies!) and everyone in the group can try to guess.

Who Am I? – This is our family favorite in the car too. One person chooses a Disney movie character and the others have to ask questions that can be answered with a yes or no answer (ie: “Does this character have fur?” or “Does this character sing in their movie?”)

Check Out these 12 Best Uses of Waiting in Line at Disney Parks

In line for Star Tours – Photo Credit: Jeff Holz

There are also Disney travel games that you can tote through the line and they’ll easily fit in your day pack. Games like World of Disney Eye Found It Card Game are quick to pull out and play while in queue.

Disney Mobile App

Thinking about hitting up Splash Mountain but want to know the wait time before traipsing across the Lands? Need to know where Mickey is meeting & greeting? Have to get a dining reservation on the fly? Check out the free Disney Mobile Apps for Disneyland and Walt Disney World.

Plan Your Next Meal

If you didn’t make any Advanced Dining Reservations (and you don’t really need ADR at Disneyland), you can figure out where you’ll be dining next. If you already have a restaurant decided on, I highly recommend figuring out what you’re going to order. It really saves you time that would be spent in the restaurant perusing the menu if you plan your meals ahead of time.

I like to print out the restaurant menus so we can look them over in line and have everyone decide ahead of time. This way one adult is in charge of ordering for the group and it expedites the process.

Check Out these 12 Best Uses of Waiting in Line at Disney Parks

Themed sculptures in line for Radiator Springs Racers – Photo Credit: Jeff Holz

Journal Your Memories

A small hard-backed spiral-bound notebook is perfect for jotting down special memories throughout your trip. This is also a great activity for when you’re waiting for a meal to arrive at the table service restaurant. Pass the journal to a new family member to write in for each queue. For little ones that can’t write yet, have them draw a little picture of their memories.

Look for Hidden Mickeys

They’re everywhere! You’ll probably be able to find a few on your own (Imagineers hid them in plain sight in many of the line queues!) but if you need help, check out this book Hidden Mickeys: A Field Guide to Walt Disney World’s Best Kept Secrets or the Disneyland version, Disneyland’s Hidden Mickeys: A Field Guide to Disneyland® Resort’s Best Kept Secrets.

     

Take Pictures

No better time when you’re smooshed together in a queue than to snap a full-family selfie! Some line queue have interesting props to pose with along the way, so get out your camera and capture the moments.

Check Out these 12 Best Uses of Waiting in Line at Disney Parks

Taking a photo of the kids in glasses from Toy Story: Midway Mania is a must!

Take a Nap?

Well, if you’re a baby, maybe! Pop your little one in the front carrier and let them nap while you wait. You can always grab a Rider Switch pass too so that the grown ups can take turns with the sleeping child. Here are more tips about traveling to Disney with a baby.

Play with a Toy

Young kids tend to get pretty squirrelly waiting in line so give them something to occupy little hands (so they’ll resist climbing on the rows of bars, squabbling or hanging all over each other!). A small action figure, doll or race car can keep an imaginative child busy. Handheld light-up spinners are always fun (especially at night).

Hold a small bottle of bubbles for them and let them dip in the wand and blow! Avoid any toys that need a lot of space, like a light saber or a toy that will annoy other guests, like a balloon that may hit people on head.


Plot the Next Adventure

My kids always want to know what we’re doing next. Decide where you’re headed next and brush everyone up on what’s to come so when you hit the exit everyone knows what to expect.

Check Out these 12 Best Uses of Waiting in Line at Disney Parks

The talking and moving Buzz in queue – Photo Credit: Jeff Holz

Looking for more?

Check out these books, Lots to Do In Line: Walt Disney World and Lots To Do In Line Disneyland. Tons of things for kids (and adults) to spot while waiting.

   

What are your favorite things to do while you’re waiting in line? Share in the comments!

Check Out these 12 Best Uses of Waiting in Line at Disney Parks


7 Rookie Mistakes to Avoid When Planning a Disney Vacation

Going to Disney can be overwhelming for even the most seasoned travelers. So much to remember and so much more to learn! But I find that I can have just as much fun in the planning stages as in the actual vacation itself. Last year my family and I (all seasoned Disneyland travelers) took our first last-minute trip to Walt Disney World and made *ahem*,  many mistakes! It happens to the best of us. If this is your first time planning a Disney vacation you have your hopes up that everything will go well…And it will!

Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Blue Loop. Today we are sharing some common Disney mistakes and how you can avoid them.

In order to make your vacation go as smoothly as possible, check out these 7 rookie mistakes to avoid when you plan your Disney vacation.

7 Rookie Mistakes to Avoid When Planning a Disney Vacation

Photo Credit: Jeff Holz

Mistake #1: “Surprise! We’re Going to Disney…Right NOW!!”

It sounds like a great idea, right? You’ll take them to the airport or pop them in the car for the road trip and surprise them with a trip to Disney! They’ll be so happy, right?? Depending upon your kids, this surprise of a lifetime could go either way. And you’ll really have to know your kids to know how a big surprise like that would go down.

For my two older children, a surprise vacation would not be welcome and might indeed spark a meltdown. They both like to know early-on what’s going to happen and be totally prepared so a surprise Disney trip would not be the best idea. However, my 4-year old would be thrilled! He tends to roll-with-the-punches a little better and doesn’t mind a few changes in his routine. Only you know how your kids might react.

7 Rookie Mistakes to Avoid When Planning a Disney Vacation

What kind of reaction are you expecting?

Instead of surprising the kids just as you’re leaving, consider a surprise early on in the planning stages of the vacation. This still gives you the excitement of “Wow, we’re going to Disney?!” but allows them time to let the idea of a big vacation sink in. They’ll also be able to properly prepare and help you plan the trip as well and give input on what rides and attractions they’d like to see.

I like the idea of a surprise that includes a Disney Vacation Planning DVD (you can order one free through this link) so they can watch and take notes on what to expect during their trip. Throw in a planning guide book so that you and the kids can start planning your trip before you leave including what shows, rides and attractions you want to experience.

For Walt Disney World: Birnbaum’s 2017 Walt Disney World: The Official Guide and The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World 2017

For Disneyland: Birnbaum’s 2017 Disneyland Resort: The Official Guide and The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland 2017

   

Mistake #2: “Why Is It So Crowded?”

If you plan on visiting Disney on a weekend, summertime, holiday season or pretty-much anytime that kids are out of school, you’ll need to be prepared that the Parks will be crowded. Be sure to take a look at the calendar before booking your trip to make sure an avoid three-day weekends and holidays if you want to visit when the Park crowds are lighter.

Check out these 7 rookie mistakes to avoid when you plan your Disney vacation.

Photo Credit: Jeff Holz

See my posts about the Best Times of the Year to Visit Disneyland and Dates to Avoid When Planning a Disneyland Vacation

Best times         Planning a Disneyland Vacation? These are the Dates to Avoid!

Mistake #3: “Where Am I? I Am Totally Lost”

Finding yourself directionally challenged once you pass Main St. U.S.A? Take some time in your pre-vacation planning to study the maps of each Park.  You can find the maps on the Disney Parks websites.

Each of the Disney Parks are large and have lots of nooks and crannies to explore. If you have a general idea of the layout of the “Lands” then at least you won’t be looking for the Haunted Mansion in Tomorrowland.

Check out these 7 rookie mistakes to avoid when you plan your Disney vacation.

Purchase your discounted Disney Park tickets from Park Savers before your trip and SAVE MONEY!

Park Savers affiliate link

Mistake #4: “I Thought I’d Be Able to See ALL the Characters”

At any given moment, you might find a dozen characters meeting and greeting guests throughout the Park. Will you find your favorite? Maybe!

Not all characters meet guests year-round. Some you’ll be sure to see, like Mickey and the “fab five” throughout the day at the Parks and others only come out for special occasions. You’ll get an idea of which characters will be out that day from the Entertainment Times Guide you receive at the front gate. There are also special appearances that aren’t in the schedule and of course you can see characters in the shows and parades as well.

Check out these 7 rookie mistakes to avoid when you plan your Disney vacation.

Be sure to see my post on Traveling Mom, Ways to Meet Mickey and Other Characters for more details on how to see your favorites along with tips for having the best character meet n’ greet experience!

Check out these 7 rookie mistakes to avoid when you plan your Disney vacation.

Photo Credit: Jeff Holz

Mistake #5: “What Are We Going to Eat? I’m STARVING!!”

Waiting until your vacation day to decide on your Disney meals is a mistake. Even if you only plan on grab & go counter service meals, you should still plan ahead of time what food you’ll be eating. This not only saves you time deciding on the spot, time spent zig-zagging across the Park to get to the restaurant and time perusing the menu deciding on your meal.

With such a large family, I always print off a few of the restaurant menus online so we can decide what we’ll be ordering before our trip. We can decide early about sharing platters of food, budgeting for meals and it saves us time in line trying to decide. One of us orders and the other gets the table and it’s a much more expedited process!

Check out these 7 rookie mistakes to avoid when you plan your Disney vacation.

Gaston’s Tavern is open, just stop in!

In the case of full-service dining, much of the dining at Disney is considered an “experience”. And at Walt Disney World especially, you’ll need Advance Dining Reservations (ADR) to get into these restaurants.

When we were checking in for our reservation at 50’s Prime Time Cafe, there were a half-dozen people trying to get in to the booked restaurant without any luck. You’ll definitely need ADR if you plan on full-service. You can play it by ear at Disneyland for the most past, save for Character meals and peak season.

Check out these 7 rookie mistakes to avoid when you plan your Disney vacation.

Dining at Be Our Guest requires Advance Dining Reservations

Check out these posts about Sharing Meals at Disneyland and Dining at Disneyland without ADR.

Sharing Meals-PIN         ADR-PIN

Mistake #6: “I Should Have Brought the…”

Regretting that you forgot to bring something with you into the Parks? Having a packing list ready before your trip will help you to remember everything you’ll need to pack up in your day bag. I find that jotting down essentials as I recall them in the weeks leading up to the trip will help me better than if I go off the top of my head when I’m loading up the suitcase.

Certainly there are a lot of things you can buy inside the Disney Parks gift shops from antacids to flip-flops but the prices will be higher as well. At least at Disneyland, there are convenience stores within walking distance of the front gates.

Check out these 7 rookie mistakes to avoid when you plan your Disney vacation.

Thought you wouldn’t need a stroller and now you regret not bringing it? Fortunately you can rent one in the Parks.

See these posts about What to Bring to Disney, Expectant Mom’s Packing List and the Disney Packing List for Kids

What to bring -PIN     Expectant Mom's Disney Packing List-PIN     Disney Trip Packing List-PIN

Mistake #7: “Why Are the Kids So Cranky?! This is Supposed to be the Happiest Place on Earth!”

Disney Parks are chock full of entertainment from rope drop to midnight, and beyond. For most kids, the constant activity combined with a disruption in their usual routine (and nap schedule) can cause tantrums like you’ve never seen before! For other kids, anxiety about all the new noises, sights and smells might put them into stress-mode.

Be sure to work in some downtime into your Disney vacation schedule. A mid-trip “off day” will give everyone a chance to sleep in, relax and unwind a bit before getting back into the theme-park frenzy again.

Check out these 7 rookie mistakes to avoid when you plan your Disney vacation.

Someone was ready for a break

Here are a few handy posts about Avoiding the Disneyland MeltdownCalming Anxious Children and Things to Do on an Off-Day.

Meltdown-PIN (2)     Scared kids-PIN     Off-Day thumbnail

Planning a Disney vacation and you need more help?

Be sure to check out this post about the 5 Things You Need to Do Before Your First Disney Trip for more travel planning tips!

5 Things You Need to Do

For more ways to avoid mistakes at Disney,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Blue | Disney Mistakes & How to Avoid Them Loop:

These are the top 7 tips for Disney vacation rookies & what first-timer mistakes to avoid when planning a Disney vacation.

All You Need to Know About Disneyland Tickets

Everything You Need to Know About Disneyland Tickets, from discounts, FASTPASS, Annual Passes and Where NOT to buy them!

One of the major expenses of your Disneyland vacation is your Park entrance ticket. Disneyland tickets are paper (no Walt Disney World MagicBands here!) and they are also your “ticket” so-to-speak for grabbing FASTPASS throughout your vacation. Naturally, with something so important there’s a lot to learn.

Here’s the scoop on what you need to know about Disneyland tickets!

All You Need to Know About Disneyland Tickets

My number one tip on buying Disneyland tickets is….

Don’t wait to buy your park tickets when you get to the park.

Seriously.

You are able to buy park tickets on the Disneyland website. You can buy them from travel agencies, AAA, credit union or at Costco. You can buy them at the Disney Store in the mall. Some of the Anaheim Good Neighbor hotels sell them. You can even buy them at Southern California grocery stores. I recommend purchasing online through Park Savers (affiliate link) because they are an authorized seller of discounted tickets.

Do not buy tickets at Disneyland…that is, unless you like to stand in line for 30+ minutes when you could be getting into the park. Or if you like paying full price instead of getting a possible discount by doing a little shopping around!

Everything You Need to Know About Disneyland Tickets, from discounts, FASTPASS, Annual Passes and Where NOT to buy them!

Lined up in the morning at the box office…when they could be in the Park!

If you buy your tickets elsewhere, you can go directly to the front gate and they will trade your ticket in whatever form it is (it might look like a plain print-out or like a plastic gift card) for an official park ticket right then and there.

Who doesn’t need a ticket?

If your child is under three years old, their admission is free!

Everything You Need to Know About Disneyland Tickets, from discounts, FASTPASS, Annual Passes and Where NOT to buy them!

Kids under three don’t need a Park ticket.

What’s a Park Hopper?

A Disneyland ticket with a Park Hopper option allows guests to visit both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Park on the same day. “Hopping” between Parks is generally quick (they are just across a short esplanade from each other) though entry to Disneyland can sometimes take longer on busy days.

Park Hoppers do add a bit more cost to your ticket price. If you are staying for only 1 or 2 days, I would highly recommend a Park Hopper option. This way you’ll be able to make the best use of your mornings by hitting popular rides, grabbing FASTPASS and going back and forth between the Parks. If you are staying for 3+ days, I would purchase non-Park Hoppers because you’ll be able to spend more time exploring each Park thoroughly by staying in one each day. You’ll also get a better rate on 3+ day tickets.

Everything You Need to Know About Disneyland Tickets, from discounts, FASTPASS, Annual Passes and Where NOT to buy them!

Standing in the esplanade between the two Parks (yep, very pregnant!)

How Do I Get the Best Rates on Tickets?

Generally the more in-park days you purchase upfront, the better discount you’ll be getting. Consider one of the Annual Passports if you plan on going back at any point during the year or if your vacation is going to be longer. If you purchase a Signature pass, you’ll have no blackout dates, receive free parking, food discounts and some retail shop discounts as well.

I highly recommend purchasing tickets from Park Savers (affiliate link) online as they are an authorized seller of discount tickets for Disneyland, Walt Disney World, Knott’s Berry Farm, Universal Studios and LEGOLAND . They also offer the SoCal City Pass which includes tickets to Disneyland as well as other Southern California attractions and you’ll save buying the set versus buying individual tickets for each park.

Park Savers logo

Stay at one of the Disneyland Resort Hotels and book one of their travel packages, which can include park tickets at a discounted rate. Of course, staying at a Disneyland resort hotel is going to cost more than an off-site hotel. Park Savers also offers discounted vacation packages, so I’d definitely request a quote from them first!

If you are a Southern California resident you often have the advantage of receiving discounted prices on short visit tickets during certain times of the year. You’ll need proof of residence upon entry to the Park. Military, teachers and some other professionals may receive discounts through your employer.

Keep in mind that a 1-day ticket price has seasonal pricing based on when the Park crowds are “peak” (more expensive ticket), “regular” or “value”(less expensive ticket). You’ll pay more to visit on the weekends and holiday seasons. Unless you are very tight on time and only have one day, you should definitely avoid the 1-day ticket.

How Do I Use My Ticket for a FASTPASS?

Everything You Need to Know About Disneyland Tickets, from discounts, FASTPASS, Annual Passes and Where NOT to buy them!

First I should answer, “What’s a FASTPASS?”

FASTPASS is a way for you to get a “reservation” in a shorter line for a particular ride. FASTPASS is free so there’s no reason not to try it! Each of the following attractions have a FASTPASS Distribution Area where you will scan in your park ticket and in return be given a special FASTPASS “return” ticket. This will have a window of time printed on it for you to come back to the attraction and be able to take a “short-cut” by using the designated FASTPASS line instead of standing in the regular line-up.

There are a few tips and rules about using FASTPASS

always use FASTPASS whenever possible. Of course there are days you won’t need to use it, like if the park isn’t terribly crowded. There are even days when Disneyland won’t offer the FASTPASS because the lines are short enough already.

However there are certain rides I absolutely will not wait in the regular line-up and will only use FASTPASS for. Radiator Springs Racers is one ride that you should grab a FASTPASS for first thing in the morning. Anything new, like the show Frozen – Live at the Hyperion will have a long wait in stand-by so nabbing a FASTPASS if you want to see it is imperative.

When you approach the FASTPASS Distribution Area for a particular ride, pay note to the time frame that you will be asked to return. If the Park is really crowded your return time might be a few hours out. There is even a chance that FASTPASS will not be available on extremely busy days because they will be “filled up” very early in the day. This happened to us for Soarin’ last time we visited on a busy weekend. It was about noon and the FASTPASS times weren’t available until after 6pm!

Everything You Need to Know About Disneyland Tickets, from discounts, FASTPASS, Annual Passes and Where NOT to buy them!

Get your FASTPASS early for Radiator Springs Racers!

Each person in your party will need their own FASTPASS. This means you’ll have to individually scan in each person’s ticket so they will each get a FASTPASS.

The best use of FASTPASS is to have a game plan of things to do until the FASTPASS time is ready. For instance, the Autopia line is always long and I always get a FASTPASS for this. You’ll have about 40 minutes to wait until your FASTPASS is valid so you could ride the Disneyland Railroad all the way around the Park, go on the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, watch the Star Wars show that’s close by or go inside the Star Wars Launch Bay for a while. The point is to do something else while you are waiting for your FASTPASS time to come up. Make the best use of your time and find something else in that area to occupy you until your FASTPASS time is ready!

Annual Passport

If you decide mid-vacation that you’d like to upgrade to an Annual Passport, you can apply the amount that you paid for the ticket (so long as it hasn’t expired) to the cost for the Annual Passport. If you buy the AP, consider which pass makes the best sense for you and your family. Different AP have certain blockout dates so check the calendar before deciding which one is best for you.

Keep in mind that you can mix and match AP within your family to get the best deal that works for you. When I had AP, my boys had the SoCal Passport and I had the Premium (now called Signature). This meant that I could get free parking and a discount on food and some merchandise. There was no reason for the kids to have the Premium because they would never be at the park without me and I would be making all the purchases, so I was the only one who needed to have the higher costing AP with the best discounts.

Annual Passports have a monthly payment option (after an initial down payment) so you can take the year to pay the price of the Passport off.

All You Need to Know About Disneyland Tickets

My husband having his photo taken upon entering the park for the first time with our multi-day Park Hopper ticket.

What NOT to Do When Buying or Using Tickets?

  • Don’t buy tickets on Craigslist or on Ebay. You have no way of looking at the tickets and knowing if they are valid or legal.
  • Don’t buy tickets from anyone selling them outside the Park. Buy only from an authorized dealer.
  • Don’t buy anyone else’s multi-day ticket from them. You have no way of knowing how many days are still valid on that ticket! Also your photo will be taken the first time you use your multi-day ticket and verified each time you enter.
  • Don’t lose your ticket!
All You Need to Know About Disneyland Tickets

Take a photo of the backside of your ticket in case it gets lost.

Your park ticket will allow you entrance in and out of the park for the day and also use for FASTPASS so don’t lose your ticket! I recommend that you take a photograph of the backside of your ticket as soon as you have it to capture the bar code/date stamp. You’ll be able to get a replacement at Guest Relations should your ticket go missing (make sure everyone in your group and all the tickets that were purchased are with you).

Julie-signature

 

Best Times of the Year to Visit Disneyland (and Why)

Planning to visit Disneyland? Find out when you'll best be able to avoid crowds, what dates to skip completely and what to expect of the weather!

One of the big questions when it comes to planning a Disneyland vacation is WHEN should we go? You not only have to figure out a perfect date between work and school schedules but you want to take weather, holidays and special events into consideration as well! So many things to consider before you visit Disneyland.

Here is my guide to the seasons, with tips on the best times of year to visit Disneyland!

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

Planning to visit Disneyland? Find out when you'll best be able to avoid crowds, what dates to skip completely and what to expect of the weather!

When Will We Be Able to Avoid Crowds?

The parks will be packed anytime that kids are out of school, which would be all holidays and breaks. This would include weekends, summer, Christmas vacation, Thanksgiving weekend, Spring Break, Labor Day, President’s Day, and Memorial Day.

There are also random days through the year when you will find it’s busier than normal like Bats Day in early May and Gay Days in late September. I’ve personally been during both of these times and the park is much more crowded than it would be usually during this time of year.

There is also an assumption that Superbowl Sunday is a good time to go but really, I’ve been twice on Superbowl Sunday and it’s just as crowded as any other weekend (probably more so, because everyone else had the same great idea that the park wouldn’t be busy!).

Planning to visit Disneyland? Find out when you'll best be able to avoid crowds, what dates to skip completely and what to expect of the weather!

Photo Credit: Jeff Holz

Dates to Avoid if You Don’t Like Crowds

  • Martin Luther King Jr. weekend
  • Superbowl Sunday
  • President’s Day weekend
  • Spring Break for the local schools
  • Easter weekend
  • Bats Day (aka Goth Day)
  • Memorial Day weekend
  • 4th of July weekend
  • Labor Day weekend
  • Gay Days Disneyland (traditionally late September/early October)
  • Columbus Day weekend
  • Veteran’s Day weekend
  • Thanksgiving break for schools
  • Holiday/Winter break for schools, including Christmas and New Years

For more details on what dates to avoid, check out this post for 2017.

Purchase your discounted Disney Park tickets ahead of your trip from Park Savers!

Park Savers affiliate link

What Does More Crowded Mean?

  • It means waiting…lots and lots of waiting.
  • It means standing in line for 60+ minutes for a ride that you might be able to walk on without ANY line during a non-peak time of year.
  • It means waiting in line for the bathroom.
  • It means waiting in long lines for food.
  • It means that you might be standing to eat once you finally do get your food because there aren’t any tables or chairs left.
  • It means not being able to see the sidewalk in front of you in congested areas of the park.
  • It means being shoulder to shoulder at certain times.
  • It means if you want to watch a parade or attraction you’re going to have to get there very early if you want a seat or even standing room to watch it.

I’ve been during those times and it’s a miserable feeling to stand in line and wait for everything, especially with children.

Planning to visit Disneyland? Find out when you'll best be able to avoid crowds, what dates to skip completely and what to expect of the weather!

Ideal Disneyland conditions…free and clear!

Plan an Off-Peak Vacation

If you hate to wait (and really, who doesn’t?), consider going to the park during off-peak times. The most optimal days of the week to visit the park are in the middle: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Obviously Saturday and Sunday will be the busiest days of the week but Monday and Friday (especially Friday evenings when locals get off work) may be heavy as well.

Planning your Disneyland vacation takes preparation, especially if you’re a newbie. A good research book helps and I highly recommend these for everyone!

The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland 2017 and Birnbaum’s 2017 Disneyland Resort: The Official Guide
   

I’ve found these are good times to visit:

The first weeks in January – though you might experience some rain & cold weather.

Twice we went during the early part of the year and did experience some heavy rain. Navigating through the park, pushing a stroller and carrying an umbrella (which conveniently turned itself inside-out mid-gust!) wasn’t the easiest thing to do and we stuck to inside amusements like the show in the Golden Horseshoe and the Enchanted Tiki Room.

I wouldn’t recommend that first-timers visit this time of year at the risk of having your entire vacation rained out. (See the next section for more information about weather).

Then again, you might not have any rain at all and have a very warm visit, as we did on one very hot January visit!

Planning to visit Disneyland? Find out when you'll best be able to avoid crowds, what dates to skip completely and what to expect of the weather!

Late April to Mid-May– just after Spring Break is over and before kids are out for summer. Springtime at Disneyland and the flowers are in bloom. You might have a few light spring showers.

September – just after Labor Day but before Gay Days (late September). You’ll have to take the kids out of school but weather is warm and lines are short. It’s a great time to go if you like to take breaks at the pool for swimming.

Planning to visit Disneyland? Find out when you'll best be able to avoid crowds, what dates to skip completely and what to expect of the weather!

Mid-October through November – ending before Thanksgiving. And the park is all dressed up for fall, it’s just beautiful!

The weather is still usually warm (and sometimes VERY hot). Consider avoiding days on which Mickey’s Halloween Party takes place because the parks will be more crowded. If you choose to attend Mickey’s Halloween Party, don’t use a Park ticket that day because you’ll be able to access the Parks early with your special event hard ticket.

If you’re going to have the kids dress in costume, keep the warm weather in mind!

Late-November through first two weeks of December – the few weeks just after Thanksgiving.

Fortunately my son’s birthday falls during this time and I’ve taken him there a few times. The park is decorated for the winter holidays, there are special activities, shows and parades and the crowds are still thin enough.

Keep in mind that Disneyland often schedules revamps and maintenance during slow seasons or off-peak times. You can find that information on the Disneyland Daily Calendar Park hours might also be shorter, so check the calendar for the days you’ll be in the park.

Planning to visit Disneyland? Find out when you'll best be able to avoid crowds, what dates to skip completely and what to expect of the weather!

When Will the Weather Be the Best?

Fortunately, Disneyland is in Southern California and weather is generally pretty nice year-round. There are times of the year however when you can expect it to be quite hot (July through September). And there are times when it might rain (December through March). There are times when it will be very overcast and cloudy for most of the day (usually May and June). But an overcast day never hurt anyone and you’ll be at Disneyland, so who cares about a little May-Gray or June-Gloom?!

And the rest of the year is usually in the mid-70s so you’ll be comfy in shorts!

Planning to visit Disneyland? Find out when you'll best be able to avoid crowds, what dates to skip completely and what to expect of the weather!

Cold Weather

If you are going during cold weather, dress in layers. Don’t be shy about bringing that hat and those gloves. Wear socks and not flip-flops!

I had the pleasure of sitting on the cold concrete one icy winter day to watch a parade at the Park…brrr!! It was at that time I thought about how nice a blanket would have been to sit on!

If the weather warms up and you find yourself overdressed, you can always stuff everything into a rented locker and fetch it later if you need it again (you get in/out privileges for the day). Pack a poncho if rain is in the forecast as it’s much easier than dealing with an umbrella.

Planning to visit Disneyland? Find out when you'll best be able to avoid crowds, what dates to skip completely and what to expect of the weather!

Warm Weather

I would recommend similar advice for warm weather as well, layers are best. Evenings can still be cool in the summer, so bringing a light jacket or sweatshirt will be necessary or risk having to buy one at a premium price at the park when you get chilly! Believe me, I have many souvenir jackets from the park because of this very reason.

And it’s always smart to bring an extra set of clothes and socks anyway because you never know when you might get wet (or soaked!)

So what is your favorite time of year to visit Disneyland? Share your reasons in the comments!

 

 

How Much Will a Disneyland Vacation Cost? – Free Printable Checklist!

How Much Will a Disneyland Vacation Cost? - Check out this Free Printable Checklist and check this link for tons of money saving ideas.

How Much Will a Disneyland Vacation Cost Me?

Planning a Disneyland vacation is more than just deciding between visiting Tomorrowland or Adventureland first. You need to find out how much a Disneyland vacation is going to cost! You need to figure out budget-wise if you’ll be able to afford the vacation of your dreams. If planned and budgeted right, I believe that most anyone can take a Disneyland vacation without going into crazy debt. There are a few factors, including planning ahead and estimating the cost before you make the reservations!

Do the Research

With the internet at your fingertips, it’s easy to do pre-vacation research to get a rough idea on costs. I’ve included the list of things that you’ll need to consider when travel planning and you can jot down the estimates as you do your research. Pin and print the free checklist of items for you to price out and research (keep reading for the link).

How Much Will a Disneyland Vacation Cost? - Check out this Free Printable Checklist and check this link for tons of money saving ideas.

What’s Your Travel Style?

We all have a travel style. Is yours more on the frugal side (cheapest hotel, packing in all meals & snacks) or do you prefer to splurge on vacation (4-star hotel, special dining packages and tours). Or perhaps it’s a little of both (splurge on Character dining but pack in all snacks or cheapest hotel and extra Park day tickets). Check out this article on various ways you can Pinch Pennies or Break the Bank on your Disneyland vacation.

Paying Upfront or Using Credit?

If you plan on paying for your vacation in cash, take a close look at your budget and estimate where you can cut back in small ways to save. Once you know roughly how much you’ll be spending on the trip you can plot out the date of your vacation and figure out how much you’ll need to save each month to meet your goal. Figure out about how long it would take you to save your amount. Or work backwards and start with an approximate trip date and then figure out how much you’ll need to save each month to meet your goal.

Did you know that Disney offers a Disney Vacation Account program? This earmarks vacation money that you deposit into this special account and gives you a bonus amount towards your trip.

If you plan on using your credit card, certainly consider using a card that offers rewards. The Disney Visa is a good option or Southwest, if you’re needing airline miles. Just pay close attention to interest rates and work that amount into your budget if you aren’t going to pay off the debt right away.

How Much Will a Disneyland Vacation Cost? - Check out this Free Printable Checklist and check this link for tons of money saving ideas.

Vehicle has a full tank of gas and we’re on our way!

Travel Expenses

How are you going to get there? For us, Disneyland is just a 90-minute drive away, so gasoline is really our only expense. If you’re coming from farther away, the travel expenses are often the most costly part of your vacation. If you’re flying in, check out this article about flying to Disneyland from fellow blogger Leslie from Trips with Tykes. If a long drive is part of your travel plans, check out this post with Kid-Friendly Road Trip Tips for Driving to Disney.

Travel Expenses to Consider:

  • Shuttle cost to get your family to the airport
  • Airfare
  • Airline Baggage fees
  • Transportation to the hotel
  • Rental car
  • Gasoline
  • Overnight hotel stay if you are driving long distance, plus the cost of meals and kid’s entertainment for the drive

How Much Will a Disneyland Vacation Cost? - Check out this Free Printable Checklist and check this link for tons of money saving ideas.

Hotel

The great debate, will you stay on-site or off-site? Lots of consider here, including amenities, luxury or budget, proximity to the Parks and overall cost. I have reviews on all three Disneyland on-site hotels as well as a post from Traveling Mom with my 18 Valuable Reasons to Stay at a Disneyland Resort Hotel. For us, we love the close proximity, Magic Morning Hours and the amazing Disney pools.

On the flip-side, because the Disneyland Resort is in the center of the city, it’s very easy to find a reasonably priced and well-appointed hotel within walking distance of the Parks. We recently enjoyed our stay off-site at the Anaheim Majestic Garden Hotel, which offers a free shuttle transport to the Parks.

If you choose a hotel that is not within walking distance, check out this article with brief coverage about transportation at the Disneyland Resort.

Hotel Options to Consider:

  • Cost per night
  • Location – Is it within walking distance or will you need to drive to the Parks each day?
  • Is complimentary breakfast available?
  • Parking or “resort” fees
  • Sales tax
  • Is there transportation available to the parks? Is it complimentary or is there a fee?

How Much Will a Disneyland Vacation Cost? - Check out this Free Printable Checklist and check this link for tons of money saving ideas.

Park Tickets

When pricing out tickets, know that the cost per day is lower the longer your stay. Park Savers offers discounted tickets that you can purchase ahead of your trip to save time (affiliate link). If you purchase 5-day Park Hopper passes from Park Savers, the cost is for a 4-day pass so you receive the fifth day for free!

Ticket Options to Consider:

  • Number of days
  • Number of tickets (kids 2 and under are free)
  • Would it be cheaper to purchase an Annual Pass?
  • Parking fees at the parks
  • Park Hopper or not?

How Much Will a Disneyland Vacation Cost? - Check out this Free Printable Checklist and check this link for tons of money saving ideas.

Meals & Dining

Placing Advance Dining Reservations at Disneyland is generally unnecessary so you can usually eat on a whim throughout the day. Though platters are pricey, they are also usually large so consider sharing meals (see this post about which meals are the best to share). Naturally the special dining packages and Character dining locations are going to be on the costly end but you also receive a fun plus with your meal. You can also bring in snacks with you if you prefer and that will help with costs. You can also request free ice water at any quick service restaurant to avoid having to buy drinks.

There are many establishments (from sit-down dining to fast food) in the walk able area just outside the Park gates if you want to leave for food. Think about how many meals you’ll be eating in the Park, if you’ll be leaving the Park to eat, if you’re going to do full-service or quick service and if you’ll be buying beverages throughout the day.

Dining Options to Consider:

  • Breakfast (eat at hotel or in the Park?)
  • Number of meals eaten in the Park
  • Number of meals purchased outside the Park
  • Snacks purchased in the Park
  • Snacks pre-bought and brought into the Park
  • Character dining meals
  • Beverages
  • Dining packages

Special Events

Throughout the year, Disneyland offers special events and tours as an “add-on” to your Park ticket. This might include Mickey’s Halloween Party (which includes an abbreviated day Park admission). There are also dozens of special tours, some that are offered year-round and others seasonally. Check the Disneyland website to verify cost and availability of these tours as they are required to be reserved ahead of your trip.

How Much Will a Disneyland Vacation Cost? - Check out this Free Printable Checklist and check this link for tons of money saving ideas.

Pandora charms are my favorite souvenir

Souvenirs

Naturally, you’ll want something special to take home as a memento of your magical vacation. Work the cost of souvenirs into your budget to help resist overspending. Consider purchasing Disney gift cards up front for family members so that only a specified amount is spent per person on souvenirs. You’ll also need to decide if you want to pre-purchase the Disney PhotoPass or snap photos on your own camera.

  • Souvenier budget
  • Disney PhotoPass

Free Printable Research Checklist

Pin and print this FREE PRINTABLE CHECKLIST to help you plan your magical vacation!

How Much Will a Disneyland Vacation Cost? - Check out this Free Printable Checklist and check this link for tons of money saving ideas.

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Kid-Friendly Road Trip Tips for Driving to Disney

Kncok out travel boredom with these helpful Kid-Friendly Road Trip Tips for Driving to Disneyland and Walt Disney World

Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Blue Loop. Today we are sharing summer travel tips.


“Are we there yet?” Does that sound familiar? Long road trips can be challenging for adults, let alone kids! I’m personally not a fan of being confined to my seat for long periods of time. Kids in particular can get cranky when sitting too long. Fortunately for my family, it’s only about a 90 minute drive to Disneyland, so we often drive up and back in the same day. But if you have a longer drive ahead of you, it’s helpful to have a bag of tricks ready to occupy and entertain the kids on your road trip adventure!

Here are my kid-friendly road trip tips for driving to Disney!

Knock out travel boredom with these helpful Kid-Friendly Road Trip Tips for Driving to Disneyland and Walt Disney World

Reward Good Behavior

In the days leading up to our vacation, I use a “Disney Dollar” system to reward good behavior and pay for jobs done that are above and beyond the usual chores. The kids can use the Dollars earned on souvenirs during the trip. Cash prizes speak to everyone, don’t they?! Whining and fighting in the car doesn’t have to be the norm, especially if you give incentive towards good behavior. You could incorporate this tactic on the road, handing the kids Disney Dollars that you print at home as reward for appropriate behavior. Whining or fighting may “cost” them their cash. Kids can then cash in their faux money for the real thing at the end of the road. Bribery? Maybe…but if it gets you a few hours of peace, so be it!

Knock out travel boredom with these helpful Kid-Friendly Road Trip Tips for Driving to Disneyland and Walt Disney World

Feed ME!

There are lots of fun Disney dining ideas to use in the car, from sippy cups, plates, snack bags and water bottles. Stock up on Disney-themed food snacks in the store or online to feed the kids on the road and it makes the anticipation to your destination all the more fun!

From left to right (Amazon affiliate links) – Brothers Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Fruit Crisps, Disney Frozen Food Storage Container By Zak!, Disney Pixar Cars Fruit Flavored Snacks, Disney Mickey Mouse Tritan Water Bottle, Bumkins Disney Baby Reusable Snack Bag

       

Draw Me a Picture

I converted this empty Chick-fil-A salad container into a self-contained art box. We dine at Chick-fil-A about once a week and I always order my favorite, the Cobb Salad with Avocado Lime Ranch dressing! So why not upcycle those sturdy salad boxes into something useful? I decided to turn my boxes into a road trip art box.

Knock out travel boredom with these helpful Kid-Friendly Road Trip Tips for Driving to Disneyland and Walt Disney World

My kids could entertain themselves for hours with drawing so having an art box for a road trip is ideal. But I don’t want crayons melting between the seats or markers making their way to the floor so it’s best to have everything contained in one box per child (no fighting over the art supplies this way either!)

Knock out travel boredom with these helpful Kid-Friendly Road Trip Tips for Driving to Disneyland and Walt Disney World

I gave my son a sheet of Disney themed stickers to decorate his box and filled it with drawing implements. A good supply of blank drawing paper, printable Disney coloring pages and activity sheets attached to a clipboard is sure to keep him occupied in the car!

Answer the “Are We There Yet?” Question

Mouse Ears Mom has this perfect printable countdown calendar to use in the days leading up to your vacation. What if you took this concept into the car? Tape the pieces across the inner door frame of the car or across the ceiling (someplace where your child can see it) and move the Monorail to count down the hours until you reach your Magical destination!

Photo Credit: Mouse Ears Mom

You could also print out a map and slip the paper into a plastic sleeve. Use a wipe-off marker to show kids how far you have gone on your route.

Give them Early Souvenirs

Everyone loves a present! Stock up with a few fun things that you can wrap and surprise the kids with on the road. Coloring books, the new Disney LEGO figures, a character t-shirt and glow-sticks (for them to use in the parks at night) are all fun & cheap.

From left to right (Amazon affiliate links) – Art of Coloring: Disney Villains, LEGO The Disney Series Minifigures, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Little Boys Toddler T Shirt, Disney Frozen Glow Wand

 

Play a Game

One of our favorite travel games is “Guess Who I Am”. One person gives three clues about a Disney character and the other people in the car have to ask questions until they are ready to guess. The game would go like this: “I am yellow, I like honey and I live in the woods”. Then the other people could ask yes or no questions about characteristics, like “Do you wear clothes?”, “Do you talk?” or “Do you have fur?” until someone is ready to guess, “Winnie the Pooh!” Obviously this game can be played to the child’s age with more recognizable or obscure characters.

Or try the Alphabet Game and take turns naming Disney characters through the alphabet, like “A is for Aladdin, B is for Bambi, etc”

Knock out travel boredom with these helpful Kid-Friendly Road Trip Tips for Driving to Disneyland and Walt Disney World

A rare road trip treat, Slurpees!

Stories and Songs

I’ve never been able to read in the car (I get motion sickness!) but toting books in the car can occupy the time nicely. If you can’t read, consider a story on disc that everyone can enjoy along the way. And of course Disney music from the parks and soundtracks will get everyone singing and in the mood for the wonderful times ahead!

From left to right (Amazon affiliate links)Disney Storybook Collection, Inside Out Read-Along Storybook and CD, Disney’s Greatest, Vol. 1

  

For more summer travel tips,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Blue | Summer Travel Tips Loop:

Disney with Your Preschooler-Insider Tips for a Magical Day

These are the top tips on how to have a memorable day at Disney with your preschooler!

Disney is perfect for preschoolers!  The colorful parades, yummy treats, everything in Fantasyland and the familiar Disney Junior characters around the park are ideal for preschoolers. On the flip side there is also the possibility of waiting in long lines, new experiences that could make preschoolers nervous, loud noises and strange food that might sour the perfect Disney day. I’ve traveled to both Walt Disney World and Disneyland with my preschooler and it’s always been a fun and exciting adventure! I’ll share my tips on how to make the most of your day.

Here are my top tips on how to have a memorable day at Disney with Your preschooler!

These are the top tips on how to have a memorable day at Disney with your preschooler!

Skip School

Pull your kid out of preschool for the day and plan your Disneyland vacation on a weekday. Ideally you should visit when most elementary-aged kids are in school with Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday being the best. Avoiding weekends, summer and school holidays will help minimize crowds as well. 

Pack a Preschool Bag

Be sure to take in everything your preschooler will need for the day. My 4-year old likes to wear his own little backpack, filled with necessities. I toss in an extra pair of clothes, a few snacks, sunscreen, hat and sunglasses. If you are staying into the night, grab a few glow in the dark treats (like bracelets or wands) from the dollar store pre-trip for your preschooler to wear. Easier to spot them in the dark and they love the glow, of course!

These are the top tips on how to have a memorable day at Disney with your preschooler!

Measure Up

Before your visit, measure your preschooler while they’re wearing the shoes they’ll wear on the trip. From here, check their height against the online height restrictions for each ride. Don’t promise a ride on Splash Mountain until you can be sure that your preschooler is tall enough to ride! Here is a list of the Disneyland height requirements.

Follow Their schedule

Is your preschooler accustomed to waking, eating and sleeping at a particular time? You might want to consider sticking to the same schedule, especially if your child is sensitive to change or if pushing back meals and bedtimes make them moody. If you really want them to stay up later for the vacation, plan ahead and start extending their bedtime by 15 minutes every night for the week leading up to the trip.

These are the top tips on how to have a memorable day at Disney with your preschooler!

Nervous about riding.

Know What they Like (and What They Don’t Like)

Preschoolers are notoriously opinionated (at least mine are!) Ask them ahead of the trip what rides and shows are “must see” and make sure at the very least, that those things happen. Only you know your child’s likes and dislikes. If you know that your kid is terrified of characters, don’t force them to hug one. Same goes for forcing your preschooler onto a ride that they are afraid of. Your preschooler is going to have a rough day if they feel pressured. Check out this post with tips on what to do with nervous kids.

These are the top tips on how to have a memorable day at Disney with your preschooler!

Preschool Dining is Easy

Jambalaya? Monte Cristo sandwich? Your preschooler may turn up their nose at such nontraditional fare. But even the pickiest preschooler can find great bites at Disney. Most restaurants offer a kids meal with childhood favorites like pizza, corn dogs, chicken nuggets and fries. Look for the Mickey Check Meals for healthier options that include veggies and fruit. Does your preschooler love characters? A character dining experience, like Breakfast with Minnie & Friends at the Plaza Inn can be a memorable way to capture photos and collect signatures.

These are the top tips on how to have a memorable day at Disney with your preschooler!

Strollers are Still a Good Idea

Even if your preschooler hasn’t ridden in a stroller in years, the miles of walking and the hours of standing in lines will take a toll. Achy feet and tired bodies add up to cranky kids so consider bringing a stroller. Even a small umbrella type is better than nothing. You especially don’t want to be carrying an exhausted preschooler out of the park at the end of the night! Your preschooler might even surprise you and take a mid-day nap.

These are the top tips on how to have a memorable day at Disney with your preschooler!

Let Them Burn Off Steam

Preschoolers need to MOVE! Find play areas that will allow them freedom to run around a bit. Allow about an hour in your schedule for them to play freely. This might mean taking your preschooler back to the hotel pool for a swim. After some free play, your preschooler will hopefully have more patience for standing in lines.

These are the top tips on how to have a memorable day at Disney with your preschooler!

Follow Their Lead

It can be hard to follow a touring plan with preschoolers so don’t be afraid to ditch the schedule and let your preschooler take the lead. They want to ride Toy Story Midway Mania three times in a row? Go for it! They are enamored with Minnie Mouse? Get back in line for the meet n’ greet and let your preschooler say hello again. When you follow your preschooler’s lead, sometimes some really magical things happen!

Traveling with a baby, toddler or tweens? Be sure to check out these posts as well.

 Babies-PIN  Disneyland with a Toddler - Top 14 Tips for a Happy Day at the Happiest Place on Earth!  PIN-Tweens and Toddlers at Disney

What tips do you have for taking preschoolers to Disney?

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Park Savers logo

I recommend Park Savers for discount Disney tickets that you can purchase in advance (affiliate link)

5 Things You Need to Do Before Your First Disney Vacation

You’ve never been to Disneyland before? Rather than just showing up and hoping that your vacation days fall into place, there are definitely a few things to consider pre-visit. Check out my top 5 tips on planning your first Disney vacation!

5 Things You Need to Do Before Your First Disney Vacation

Photo Credit: Jeff Holz

Planning Your First Disneyland Vacation

An old friend of mine went to Disneyland a few years back with her granddaughter, son and daughter-in-law. The overnight trip was planned on a whim and they had one day to spend inside the Park. They’d done no research ahead of time and sadly, it turned out to be an unfortunate visit.

The Park was busy and crowded and they didn’t arrive until afternoon. The trip was a surprise for the 4-yr old, who ended up terrified of every character and ride because she wasn’t familiar with anything. The family (who were on a special diet) didn’t know what to eat. They ended up staying only a few hours in the Park and returned home, sad that things hadn’t worked out as they’d envisioned.

Certainly this story broke my heart because it didn’t have to end that way at all! With a bit of preparation and planning they could have made the most of their visit. Here are my tips on what you need to do before your first Disney vacation.

5 Things You Need to Do Before Your First Disney Vacation

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

Do Your Research

Disneyland, having a smaller footprint than Walt Disney World, requires less upfront planning. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have to think ahead of your trip. Advanced Dining Reservations are generally unnecessary and you’ll schedule FastPass tickets throughout the day (instead of upfront like at Walt Disney World). Your Disneyland day can therefore be more spur-of-the-moment. But that doesn’t mean you should just show up at the gates without a plan.

These are just a few questions you should ask yourself:

Before your visit, you should have a general idea of the rides, attractions and shows you want to see. Ask each family member what they want to accomplish and write it down. Take a look at the Park maps online to get an idea of location so you’re familiar with the “lay of the Lands”.

maps

What time of year is optimal for your visit? Know that certain times of year (when kids are on school break, holidays and even weekends) are going to be much more crowded than a visit in the “off season”. Check out my post about the best times of year for Disneyland.

Best times

The Disneyland Resort offers two theme Parks – Disneyland and Disney California Adventure park. Are you going to stay in one Park for the entire day or purchase a ParkHopper that allows you access to both Parks on the same day? I recommend Park Savers for discounted tickets that can be purchased upfront.

Park Savers affiliate link

Want to maximize your time in the Parks? Plan on arriving at “rope drop” bright and early when the gates open and stay until the Park closes. Early morning and late night hours tend to be the least busy and allow you quicker line access to your favorite rides.

Do you have someone in your group with special needs? Disneyland offers a Disability Assistance Service (DAS) so make City Hall your first stop of the day.

DAS- pin

What will you eat? Do you want to pack in snacks, enjoy sit-down full-service dining for every meal or eat counter-service all day? Certain dining locations will require reservation and others you’ll be able to walk right up to and get a seat.

How to Eat at Disneyland Without Advance Dining Reservations

Tasty sandwiches, salads and pastries at Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe at the end of Main Street U.S.A.

Best Ways to Research

Your first research stop should be the official Disneyland website. You’ll be able to access an entertainment schedule, see which rides and attractions will be closed for refurbishment during your visit as well as view complete dining menus and prices for all restaurants.

Second, pick up a book that will help you and your family with your research. I recommend The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland 2017 as a book that I use when planning my own trips. Keep reading for more ways to research and plan your first Disney trip.

Planning a Disneyland Vacation? These are the Dates to Avoid!

Photo Credit: Jeff Holz

Make Decisions Before You Get There

If you are making the trip alone, then it’s no sweat to make decisions on the fly. But if you’re traveling with your family, it’s best to have a game plan in place and get decisions made before the trip. Know that everyone will have expectations about what they want to see and do on their first Disneyland visit and you want to make sure that those dreams are fulfilled!

Ask each person in your family what their top three things are and make sure those happen. Consider purchasing a PassPorter Disneyland Resort Organizer to keep track of all your travel plans as you make them.

As the resident “Disney fan”, I am guilty of having a plan in my head about how our Disney day is going to play out…without letting my husband know! Oops. This can lead to major disappointment if the adults aren’t on the same page. I like dining in the Parks and my husband prefers to pack food in. I like to stay in the Parks way after dark and he’s ready to leave after sunset. If you don’t discuss these things upfront before your trip you might run into some big frustrations.

5 Things You Need to Do Before Your First Disney Vacation

Decide where and what you’re going to eat to save time. We like to plan what restaurants and meals we eat upfront so the decision is already made when hunger strikes. Make sure to plan those Advance Dining Reservations if certain dining locations are a “must-do”.

5 Things You Need to Do Before Your First Disney Vacation

Get Everyone Familiar

I’m not big on surprising kids with a Disney vacation because I think half of the fun is in the anticipation. Letting kids know about your vacation and having them help you in the planning stages is especially important if your children are nervous or have special needs. There are lots of ideas on Pinterest for “countdown calendars”.

No need to watch every Disney movie ever made, but a general familiarity with some of the Characters can be helpful, especially for young children. Many of the Fantasyland rides are based on Disney movies so watching a few before your trip will give them a bit of a background. Here is a post about what movies I recommend before your trip.

First Trip to Disneyland? Delightful Movies You Must See First

Order the free Disney vacation planning DVD and watch it several times beforehand. If my child is on the fence about a particular ride, I’ll even pull up a video of it on YouTube for them to watch and that gets them excited about riding it on their visit.

5 Things You Need to Do Before Your First Disney Vacation

Ask Someone Who Knows

Naturally, as someone who has been visiting Disneyland regularly since she was just a baby, I consider myself quite knowledgeable on the subject. That’s why I was disheartened that my coworker hadn’t asked for my advice up before the trip. Knowing her family dynamic, I’d have been happy to offer her customized tips that would have maximize their Disney day.

Chances are you know someone who has been to Disney and who can verse you a bit with their “story” and sage advice for your visit.

5 Things You Need to Do Before Your First Disney Vacation

Find Help Online

If you aren’t able to chat Disney with anyone on your personal circle, you can search online for just about anything you need to plan the best vacation.

I must highly recommend TravelingMom first, as we have dozens of writers who are familiar with the ins and outs of Disney Parks around the world. There are thousands of blogs and websites dedicated to Disney travel so a quick Google search should help you find what you need.

And finally, if you can’t find an answer to your Disney question, ask on the Disney Parks Moms Panel and they’ll be able to offer you a personalized response.

Planning your first Disney vacation? Please check out my other Disney planning posts under the menu, “Tips and Tricks”.

These are the 5 Things You Need to Do Before Your First Disney Vacation! Don't be caught unprepared before your first Disneyland or Walt Disney World trip!