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Disneyland Splurges for Kids (and Where to Cut Costs)

Disneyland splurges can really add a certain magic to your vacation. From tiny sweets to full-blown boutique make-overs, there’s a Disneyland splurge to fit every kid (and every budget)! With four kids in our family we don’t tend to go “all out” but it certainly adds joy to our trip to surprise the kids with a few little splurges. I have some suggestions of Disneyland splurges for the kids, plus some money saving ideas that still allow for special treats!

Disneyland Splurges for the Kids

Yes, Disneyland is already a magical place. Throwing in a few splurges here and there on your trip will really put a twinkle in your child’s eye! These are some of the Disneyland splurges that kids will enjoy, with a range to fit any budget.

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

Sweet Treats

When I think of Disneyland splurges, I think dessert! All those sweet treats to indulge in, with many of them perfectly designed for the delight of children. There are character-themed marshmallows on a stick sold all over the Park, sundaes from Gibson Girl, milk shakes from Flo’s V-8 Cafe and adorable cookies we found at Jolly Holiday Bakery & Cafe (check out the Cheshire Cat cookie! It matched my daughter’s leggings!)

Disneyland Splurges for Kids (and Money-Saving Splurges You MUST make!)

And of course there are some amazing caramel apples sold throughout the Parks. We love watching them create the apples at Marceline’s in Downtown Disney District. Each apple is painstakingly dipped and decorated by hand.

Disneyland Splurges for Kids (and Money-Saving Splurges You MUST make!)

1. *Money Saving Splurge* – Buy a caramel apple and request to have it cut into slices. Then everyone can indulge and share the treat!

Watch the video of how caramel apples are made at Disneyland on my YouTube channel.

Portrait Drawing

Older kids may appreciate this more than youngers but having your portrait done (in the streets of New Orleans Square, just down from the exit of Pirates of the Caribbean) is a souvenir worth framing. Choose from silly caricatures or more serious pastel drawings.

A Splurge in Hand

Handheld goodies will put a smile on a child’s face! Items like balloons, light-up toys, spinners, Princess wands, swords and bubble blowers add to the Disney joy and are a nice souvenir too.

Disneyland Splurges for Kids (and Money-Saving Splurges You MUST make!)

2. *Money Saving Splurge* – If you buy a balloon and it pops, return the remnants to any balloon vendor in the Park for a replacement.

A Special Meal

Looking for a dining splurge you’ll never forget? Consider a meal at The Blue Bayou Restaurant. Not only do they have a location to die for inside the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction (it’s the only restaurant at Disneyland inside of an attraction!) but they have a menu that’s kid-friendly.

There are simple dishes like mac and cheese with veggies or more sophisticated options like salmon and beef strip loin. Kids will get a kick out of watching the ride boats float by and in the decor, which looks like you’re dining outside (complete with chirping crickets!) Just be sure to a get an Advance Dining Reservation because this is a very popular dining location.

3. *Money Saving Splurge* – Dine for lunch instead of dinner to save on the cost of adult meals.

Splurge-Worthy Special Event

There are several special events and packages available at Disneyland if you’re wanting to splurge! Check out the World of Color Dessert Party that gives guests reserved seating as well as dessert and drinks.

Disneyland Splurges for Kids (and Money-Saving Splurges You MUST make!)

Photo Credit: Jeff Holz

Visiting Disneyland during the fall? A ticket to Mickey’s Halloween Party is a must so that kids can dress in costume and trick or treat through the Park at night!

Stay On-Site

From the themed rooms, Extra Magic Hour, and the amazing pools, staying at a Disneyland Resort hotel is a splurge worth making. I’ve stayed in all three of the Disneyland Resort hotels and each offers their own magic.

Disneyland Splurges for Kids (and Money-Saving Splurges You MUST make!)

4. *Money Saving Splurge* – Naturally weekends, holidays and peak season dates will have higher prices. Stay mid-week and in the off-season to save on a Resort room. Sign up for offers and you may be sent a discount code in the mail or via email.

In-Room Decor

Want to give your kids a magical impression from the moment they enter the hotel room? Contact Disney Floral & Gifts for an in-room celebration that includes decorations, goodies, treats and personalized souvenirs laid out for them when they arrive.

5. *Money Saving Splurge* – Bring your own store-bought treats like bubbles and glow necklaces. Put them on your kid’s pillows and say that Tinker Bell delivered them!

Character Dining

Do your littles have a hearty appetite? Consider a character dining experience with an unlimited buffet. You’ll not only meet n’ greet with characters who come to your table for one-on-one time (photos and autographs too), you’ll also have some great options for dining that will please everyone in your group. Goofy’s Kitchen is a favorite, with an expansive buffet that includes pb & j pizza as well as freshly carved meats.

Disneyland Splurges for Kids (and Money-Saving Splurges You MUST make!)

Donald nabbing a strawberry at Minnie’s Breakfast at the Plaza Inn

Disney’s PCH Grill is our breakfast go-to with made-to-order omelettes. The Plaza Inn hosts Minnie in the mornings with a vast breakfast spread that kids will love (in between photo ops with a wide range of characters).

6. *Money Saving Splurge* – Choose breakfast instead of lunch or dinner to save on the cost.

Take a Tour

Older kids may enjoy the in-depth tour like “Walk in Walt’s Footsteps”. For a major splurge, reserve a “Plaid” for a VIP tour that will allow you priority access, reserved seating and a personal guide for the day.

Splurge-Worthy Souvenirs

Build-your-own light saber inside The Star Trader. There’s a large station with bits and parts to make it your own design. This area is usually crowded and you’ll be carrying around a big light saber so consider this a late stop in the day. If your kiddo is more the soft and cuddly type, they might prefer a Disney-themed teddy created at the Build-a-Bear Workshop in Downtown Disney District. Start your daughter’s first Pandora charm bracelet and purchase a Disney themed charm.

Disneyland Splurges for Kids (and Money-Saving Splurges You MUST make!)

7. *Money Saving Splurge* – Have a teddy at home? Shop the a la carte teddy bear outfits instead of making a bear.

Afternoon Tea

Do you have a sophisticated little lady who would enjoy an elegant snack of scones, tiny sandwiches and sips of tea? The afternoon tea held at the Disneyland Hotel has three options (classic, premium or kid’s tea party) and takes place in the elegant Steakhouse 55 restaurant. Dress to impress!

8. *Money Saving Splurge* – If this upscale experience is too much, consider a stop at the more casual Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe inside Disneyland. You can still indulge in treats, sandwiches and Very Berry Diamond Tea. You might even see Mary Poppins and Bert!

Sip and Splurge

Yes, even your beverages can be a splurge when you indulge in some of the fun that Disney offers. There are souvenir sippers, glow ice cubes and silly straws that can “upgrade” your drink. Check out the restaurant menu for other child-friendly beverage treats like mint julep at French Market, Louisiana Lemonade at Blue Bayou or Red’s Apple Freeze at the Cozy Cone Motel.

Disneyland Splurges for Kids (and Money-Saving Splurges You MUST make!)

A cool Olaf sipper

9. *Money Saving Splurge* – Ask for a “Shirley Temple” at some full-service restaurants. We were able to get this sweet drink (Sprite mixed with cherry juice) at the same cost as a fountain drink at the River Belle Terrace Restaurant.

Birthday Celebrations

No better time to splurge than for a birthday! Parents can pre-order a custom birthday cake to be served at select Disneyland Resort restaurants. Contact Disney Floral & Gifts for a birthday themed in-room celebration that includes room decoration and special gifts. The Build-a-Bear Workshop hosts birthday parties as well.

10. *Money Saving Splurge* – Pick up a complimentary personalized birthday button from guest services when you enter either of the Parks.

A Snack & a Splurge

Many of the snacks sold throughout the Disneyland Resort have an upgrade option. Choose to have your popcorn sold in a regular carton or splurge on a whimsical souvenir bucket. When ordering a kid’s meal at Flo’s V-8 Cafe you can opt for a Lightning McQueen keepsake. Order the “Kitchen Sink” like we did at Clarabelle’s and receive a souvenir Mickey-themed sink (mine holds desk supplies at home!)

Disneyland Splurges for Kids (and Money-Saving Splurges You MUST make!)

11. *Money Saving Splurge* – The Kitchen Sink is definitely big enough to share. Order ice cream cones separately if you want to fill them with the sundae from the “sink”.

A Magical Make-Over

What little princess wouldn’t love a head-to-toe fairy tale make-over from Bibbidi Bobbidy Boutique? Sparkling new gown, glittered up-do, make-up, nail polish and more! Even your little prince can get in on the action with a Knight’s Package. For the over-the-top splurge, Disney PhotoPass photographers will capture the moment for you with a customized portrait package.

Disneyland Splurges for Kids (and Money-Saving Splurges You MUST make!)

BONUS TIP- *Money Saving Splurge* – Purchase your own princess costume from DisneyStore online before your trip and wear it into the Park. Instead of going for the full-out make-over, you can still choose the hairstyle and make-up but save on the (very expensive) dress.

What are YOUR favorite Disneyland splurges? Share them in the comments (and be sure to check out the other Blogorail posts!)

Disneyland Splurges for kids (and Money-Saving tips that still feel like a splurge!)

Save money at DISNEYLAND!

Purchase discount tickets and vacation packages from my affiliate Get Away Today. Use the Promo Code REWRITTEN and receive an extra $10 off any 2-night or longer Southern California package. (Hotel and 2 ticket minimum purchase to qualify for the discount). 


For ways to splurge at Disney,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


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

 

Catch a Chill! – Join in the Frozen Fun at the Disneyland Resort

Image from Disney.com

Can’t get enough of the Frozen stuff? There’s a chill in the air all over the Disneyland Resort! There’s ice skating in Downtown Disney, a Frozen-themed show at Disneyland’s Fantasy Faire along with Anna & Elsa’s pre-parade float. The frosting on top is a fantastic new Frozen Fun event taking place at Disney California Adventure Park. Grab your coat and mittens, it’s going to be an icy-good time!


DOWNTOWN DISNEY

Image from Disney.com

Olaf’s Frozen Ice Rink in the Downtown Disney Winter Village- now through February 22, 2015. The 50-by-90-foot ice rink offers sixty-minute skate sessions (scheduled between 3 p.m. and 10 p.m. Sundays through Thursday, and 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays). Chalets around the rink offer a variety of food, clothing and gift items.

   


DISNEYLAND

On Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2015 a new “Frozen”-themed show opens in Disneyland at Fantasy FaireThe team of Mr. Smythe and Mr. Jones will put their unique spin on the “Frozen” story as they adapt it for the Royal Theatre. It’s expected to be a fast-paced and wacky show as they play alongside Anna, Elsa and the other Faire Princesses.

Mickey’s Soundsational Parade will resume daily performances starting this day as well. Anna, Elsa and Olaf will once again make a “pre-parade” appearance on their own special float.

Frozen Pre-parade float at Disneyland


DISNEY CALIFORNIA ADVENTURE PARK

Officially starting Wednesday, Jan. 7th, 2015, Frozen Fun kicks off at Disney California Adventure Park. Guests can sing along with the “Frozen” soundtrack, play in snow, meet Olaf, Anna and Elsa, and warm up at a nighttime, family dance party. And of course, that’s just the tip of the iceburg…read on!

“For the First Time in Forever – A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration”housed in the Muppet*Vision 3D Theatre, this is now the newly transformed Crown Jewel Theatre of Arendelle. Anna, Elsa and Kristoff take part in a comedic retelling of their story that features popular songs from the film. Two hosts lead the festivities, with the “Frozen” characters making memorable appearances throughout. Some of the favorite musical sequences and lyrics are shown on large screens so the audience can sing along. Who could resist?!

   


“Olaf’s Snow Fest” -next door to the Crown Jewel Theatre in Stage 17. It will become a charming castle courtyard reminiscent of Arendelle. Do you like warm hugs? Meet and greet with Olaf for a photo. Kids of all ages can play with real snow and zip down a snow slide. There is a viewing area nearby if you just want to watch. The Tubadors and The Frolicking Fjords offer musical entertainment. Guests may enjoy a cup of hot chocolate and decorate their own Olaf cookie.

Image from Disney.com

Stock up on Arendelle essentials at Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post and shop for apparel, keepsakes, treasures & toys.

Image from Disney.com


Anna & Elsa’s Royal Welcome – Anna and Elsa will now receive visitors in the Disney Animation building in Hollywood Land. (This means they are no longer available at the previous meet & greet location at Disneyland Park). As they did in the previous location in Fantasyland, guests will utilize the Return Time Ticket to meet the characters, avoiding long wait times by securing a reservation time to return to the Royal Welcome. Also inside the Disney Animation building, guests visiting the Animation Academy will be asked “Do You Want to Draw a Snowman?” – an Olaf drawing experience with an added Marshmallow-drawing class.

Image from Disney.com


“Freeze the Night! A Family Dance Party”  in front of Monster’s Inc. Mike & Sully to the Rescue in Hollywood Land (where the Mad T Party previously took place). “Chill out” in a family friendly setting inspired by the icy environment of “Frozen.” Created for all ages, this interactive party offers exciting music from DJ Chill, games, photo opportunities, drinks and snacks, an ice sculptor, and plenty of fun at the Ice House.

   


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

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

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

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

Avoiding the Disneyland Meltdown

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

Take it easy

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

Tired Legs

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

Feed me

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

Don’t Skip Naps

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

Be aware

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

Spots to Rest and Recollect

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

DISNEYLAND

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

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

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

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

Photo Credit: Jeff Holz

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

quiet10

Photo Credit: Jeff Holz

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

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


DISNEY CALIFORNIA ADVENTURE PARK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

quiet11

Photo Credit: Jeff Holz

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

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

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

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


BEST LAID PLANS

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

Tips for avoiding the dreaded Disneyland Meltdown

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

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

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

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

DAS- pin

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

Park Savers affiliate link

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