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Disney Social Media Moms On-the-Road at Disneyland 2017

I have been blessed to attend a Disney Social Media Moms On-the-Road event for the last three years. These conferences are definite highlights of my blogging year! Not only do I get to mingle with my blogger besties, I also get to hear about upcoming Disney news and receive invaluable social media advice. And the bonus for the last two years – admission to play in the Disneyland parks after the conference. You can’t beat that! Keep reading for what we learned at Disney Social Media Moms On-the-Road at Disneyland 2017.

What happens at the invite-only Disney Social Media Moms On-the-Road? This year's event was held at Disneyland and offered attendees sneak peeks and more!

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, complimentary MaxPass, FastPass tickets to ride Guardians of the Galaxy: MISSION BREAKOUT, FastPass tickets for Fantasmic! and a bag of gifts from Disney. Travel expenses were paid by me. As always, opinions are my own.

The first year I applied and was accepted to attend On-the-Road in Portland, Oregon. It was my first trip to the Northwest and I loved every minute of it! Last year was invite-only and the event was held inside the Paradise Pier Hotel at the Disneyland Resort! It was the year of their 60th Anniversary and what a magical time that was. Disney Social Media Moms On-the-Road at Disneyland was when I got my first look at Moana.

My first #DisneySMMC On-the-Road, in Portland Oregon

Pixie dust landed in my email once again this year as I was invited this month to attend the Disney Social Media Moms On-the-Road at Disneyland for 2017. The event was held inside Stage 17 at Disney California Adventure park. Attendees of the event were allowed access early into the park. The trolley driver even stopped for us so we could capture a few photos on the empty streets of Hollywood Land!

What happens at the invite-only Disney Social Media Moms On-the-Road? This year's event was held at Disneyland and offered attendees sneak peeks and more!

My first two On-the-Road events had very similar social media tips but this year offered some fresh new advice. In fact, my brain didn’t quite catch up to my fingers and I captured as much as I could. I was really trying to soak it all in because it was all very relevant and helpful information for those in the social media/blogging community! Follow @DisneyMoms on Twitter for more details on the event (and other Disney updates).

What happens at the invite-only Disney Social Media Moms On-the-Road? This year's event was held at Disneyland and offered attendees sneak peeks and more!

A Few of the Disney players hosting and speaking at the event:

Leanne O’Regan (director of public relations at the Walt Disney World Resort – @leannej on Twitter)

Courtnee Collier (social media manager for Disney Parks – ms_courtnee on Twitter)

Erin Glover (Editorial Content Director at Disneyland Resort – @gopluto on Twitter)

Megan Sayers (Social and video strategy lead at Babble – @megansayers on Twitter)

Takeaways-

  • Video is most effective when used to share something that can’t be seen anywhere else, is personal or unexpected.
  • When planning photo and video shoots, create a video production check list. This will allow you to save time and be more efficient during actual filming.
  • 80% of videos are watched without sound. Upload a caption file for Facebook.
  • If wanting to add a link with your video, insert link in the comment and not the copy. Adding in the copy can hurt the algorithm.
  • Think about a “content franchise” and serialize your content. What do you do everyday that your fans respond to? What can you make as a episode program?

What happens at the invite-only Disney Social Media Moms On-the-Road? This year's event was held at Disneyland and offered attendees sneak peeks and more!

Rose Gold Ears (and Other Exciting Stuff!)

One of the hottest news buzz in the room at DisneySMMC was rose gold Mouse ears! Or specifically, the lack of them. Seems everyone wanted a pair but they’d been quickly sold out in the Parks. However four coveted pairs of rose gold ears were raffled off to lucky winners during the conference. And there was a spare pair for photo ops!

What happens at the invite-only Disney Social Media Moms On-the-Road? This year's event was held at Disneyland and offered attendees sneak peeks and more!

Dawn Winston of I Am a Mommy Nerd became one of my very first blogging friends when I started writing. I had the chance to meet for the first time! We’ve been on the Blogorail team together for years and have a very special connection that has to do with our Dads. My baby daughter was even born on Dawn’s birthday, which I find just perfectly delightful!

Dawn and I have bonded over our repeated applications to the Disney Parks Moms Panel Search. Several years ago we both made it to the final round, trying for a lone Disneyland opening.

We were so excited to hear during the conference that applications for the 2018 year will open on September 6th. Hey, that’s MY birthday, so that has to mean something, right?!

If you’re considering applying to the Disney Parks Moms Panel, all the information is available RIGHT HERE.

Olaf’s Frozen Adventure

Kevin Deters (@storyman9 on Twitter) and Stevie Wermers (@supercaken on Twitter) from Walt Disney Animation Studios introduced clips and story line of the new installment in the Frozen series, Olaf’s Frozen Adventure. They have co-directed this “featurette” that will show before the feature film Coco. Set for an November 22nd release Olaf’s Frozen Adventure will be 22 minutes long with 4 new songs. After just watching the clips I can tell you it includes so much of the charm we’ve come to expect from the Frozen series! I adore Olaf 🙂

What happens at the invite-only Disney Social Media Moms On-the-Road? This year's event was held at Disneyland and offered attendees sneak peeks and more!

Stacia Martin, Disney Artist & Historian

I soak up Disney-lore and love hearing backstories. Stacia Martin is a wealth of information. And in her 39 year stint as a Disney artist and historian, she’s a gem herself. What fun it was to watch her easily draw Mickey, Tinker Bell and Winnie the Pooh right before our eyes, while handily offering historical details on the characters and her art background.

We were each gifted one of her original drawings at the end of the event. Mine was Mickey (my favorite character!). It has my name on the drawing and is signed by Stacia as well. I can’t wait to frame it and put it in a place of honor in my home.

Here is a video I took of Stacia as she sketched during our event:

Amy Robach, Good Morning America

Our surprise guest speaker was Amy Robach (@ajrobach on Twitter) from Good Morning America. Amy’s story began with her getting a live mammogram on the show. But her story has a turn, when she found out that she had breast cancer. 80% of breast cancer patients have no family history and Robach was clearly in shock to receive such a diagnosis.

What happens at the invite-only Disney Social Media Moms On-the-Road? This year's event was held at Disneyland and offered attendees sneak peeks and more!

Amy discussed how her life-changing health event caused her to start parenting differently and begin living in the moment.

Wrapping Up the Conference

My friend and fellow TravelingMom and Blogorail team member Leslie Harvey of Trips with Tykes got her photo op with Mickey dressed in Roadster Racers costume. There is an all-new Disney Junior! Live on Stage Dance Party featuring many characters from the channel.

What’s New & What’s Ending at Disneyland Parks?

After just having visited Disneyland for a summer family media event, I’ve shared a post about What’s New, What’s Returning and What’s Coming to Disneyland.
The #SummerofHeroes event is wrapping up at Disney California Adventure park on September 10th. However some of the super hero fun lives on with the hot new attraction, Guardians of the Galaxy: MISSION BREAKOUT!

MaxPass includes unlimited PhotoPass downloads. I was thrilled to have my kids with me for the event so I could capture this great photo of us in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle! Hmm, I need to stop time because two of my four kids are now taller than me!
What happens at the invite-only Disney Social Media Moms On-the-Road? This year's event was held at Disneyland and offered attendees sneak peeks and more!
I hadn’t seen Fantasmic! in nearly 10 years so I have been looking forward to watching the newly updated show! We were excited to watch the show with a wonderful vantage point. One of these days I’m going to spring for a dinner package so I can have a place to sit. Standing for an hour pre-show then during the show itself with a squirmy toddler was hard!
What happens at the invite-only Disney Social Media Moms On-the-Road? This year's event was held at Disneyland and offered attendees sneak peeks and more!

I was so excited to have the opportunity to see the Main Street Electrical Parade one last time before it “glows” away! This parade is near-and-dear to my heart as I remember watching it with my Dad. In fact, it’s the only parade I remember watching with him at Disneyland (he was more of a “ride all the rides kind of guy!”)

What happens at the invite-only Disney Social Media Moms On-the-Road? This year's event was held at Disneyland and offered attendees sneak peeks and more!

Thank you to the Disney social media team for the much-appreciated invitation this year! I truly enjoyed the new information and am already pushing myself to use some of the newer features on social media that I’ve been resisting (Instagram Stories, anyone?!) Thank you again for the magical Disneyland day, my family and I had a fantastic visit!

 

Disney World Dining – Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue

Have you heard of the Hoop-Dee-Doo? This two-hour long dinner show is long standing (over 40 years running!) and takes place nightly at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground. I recently had the opportunity to attend the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue. Keep reading for more details and my honest thoughts about the production and food. Namely is the Hoop-Dee-Doo worth the cost?

Read my honest review of the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue dinner show at Walt Disney World in Orlando. Is this longstanding show worth the cost?

Please note that I use affiliate links in this post. Clicking through will help me in a small financial way, thank you!

Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue

High quality song and dance routines you’ve come to expect from Disney? Check. Buckets of hearty and delicious food? You’ve got it. Silly jokes that are family appropriate. Yep!

That’s the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue in a nutshell. It’s a 2-hour dinner show so be prepared for a slower dining experience than you might be used to at Disney World. You’ll also need to allow plenty of travel time to and from Fort Wilderness. If planning to see Hoop-Dee-Doo schedule it for a non-park day when you don’t have tickets.


Advance Dining Reservations Required

Despite over 40 years running, the Hoop-Dee-Doo is still a hot ticket. You’ll need an ADR (Advance Dining Reservation) to dine here. I visited Walt Disney World during a slower season (in mid-April) and our show was still fully booked.

There are three shows nightly, seven days a week. Show times are 4 pm, 6:15 pm and 8:30 pm (we dined at 6:15).

Read my honest review of the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue dinner show at Walt Disney World in Orlando. Is this longstanding show worth the cost?

The Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue dinner show is a longstanding tradition (over 40 years!)

Since this meal and a show have a set price, you’ll be charged up front once you make the reservation. The price you pay includes tax and gratuity. I was attending with my preschooler and just-turned-one year old baby. Any child 2 and under do not require a ticket but I did put her on the reservation so they could make room at the table for the highchair.

There are three category levels. I wanted to be close to the stage, so I chose Category 1 on the main floor. I have read online that some of the chairs and tables upstairs face the wall. Guests need to turn around each time they want to see the stage.

Read my honest review of the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue dinner show at Walt Disney World in Orlando. Is this longstanding show worth the cost?

The set menu for the Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue at Disney World (leave room for dessert!)

Getting to the Hoop-Dee-Doo

Since there is no direct bus route from your Resort Hotel to Fort Wilderness, you’ll need to transfer at one of the Parks. Be sure to allow plenty of time because the bus rides can be lengthy.

Read my honest review of the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue dinner show at Walt Disney World in Orlando. Is this longstanding show worth the cost?

Ready to explore Fort Wilderness

I chose to take the ferry from Magic Kingdom to get to Fort Wilderness. We arrived plenty early (about 3 hours before the show started) and there was no wait for the ferry. The Disney World website recommends you allow up to 90 minutes for this process.

Arrive Early to Play and Explore Fort Wilderness

It’s recommended that you arrive at least 30 minutes before the Hoop-Dee-Doo show begins but I think you should arrive even earlier.

We choose to take the ferry from Magic Kingdom Park, leaving just after 3 pm for the 6:15 pm show. It was our first visit to Fort Wilderness and we were in awe of the tall, shady trees and country vibe. Taking the ferry was a delightful and relaxing way to get there.

Read my honest review of the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue dinner show at Walt Disney World in Orlando. Is this longstanding show worth the cost?

Horsedrawn carriages at Fort Wilderness

Once we arrived, we wandered the grounds for a bit, getting a feel of the woodsy location. The Hoop-Dee-Doo takes place inside Pioneer Hall. Inside this same large building is the Trails End Restaurant, Davy Crockett’s Wilderness Arcade and Crockett’s Tavern. The restrooms are just to the left of the Pioneer Hall front entrance.

Read my honest review of the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue dinner show at Walt Disney World in Orlando. Is this longstanding show worth the cost?

Settlement Trading Post at Walt Disney World Fort Wilderness

A short walk away is the Settlement Trading Post, perfect if you’re looking for a souvenir. My preschooler spent a good amount of time on the playground while the baby slept in her stroller.

Wander down the path past Pioneer Hall to see the Tri-Circle-D Ranch. By the time we walked back there, the Ranch was already closed. Guests can visit with the horses and even take a pony ride (for a fee). Horse-drawn carriage rides are available for groups. Mickey’s Backyard BBQ takes place at Fort Wilderness as well.

When leaving for the night, you can choose to take the ferry back to the Magic Kingdom or there are buses available to the Park. Keep walking past the Ranch to catch a bus. Note that you’ll have to go back to Magic Kingdom and from there, get the bus back to your resort (FYI: it’s a LONG trip!)

PhotoPass Photographers

There were several PhotoPass photographers on the Fort Wilderness grounds available for special photo ops. We had our picture taken in front of the Settlement Trading Port.

Read my honest review of the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue dinner show at Walt Disney World in Orlando. Is this longstanding show worth the cost?

Take advantage of PhotoPass photographers before entering Pioneer Hall

Before admittance to the Hoop-Dee-Doo show, photographers were stationed on the grass in front of the Ranch. Thank goodness for the shade because it was mighty hot in the sunshine! They had some cute props for us to use.

There are several other fun photo spots around the front of Pioneer Hall so be sure to take your camera!

All-You-Care-to-Eat

When we walked into the Hall, our tables were already set with salad and corn bread. We dug in right away but I held off on eating too much salad because I wanted to save room for the main course.

Read my honest review of the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue dinner show at Walt Disney World in Orlando. Is this longstanding show worth the cost?

Starting with salad & cornbread at Disney World’s Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue (don’t get too filled up!)

Soon enough our waiter arrived with heavy metal buckets stuffed with fried chicken, smoked BBQ pork ribs, mashed potatoes, corn and baked beans. It was a lot of food!

I’d love to say that we ate everything and ordered more but we hardly made a dent in the plentiful food! Everything was delicious and I wished I had a bottomless stomach to eat it all. If my teens had been with me, I know that they would have been able to eat everything and we’d order more. But as the only adult traveling with a preschooler and a baby, we just couldn’t eat a lot!

Read my honest review of the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue dinner show at Walt Disney World in Orlando. Is this longstanding show worth the cost?

Chicken, ribs and all the fixin’s for dinner at the Hoop-Dee-Doo (Photo Credit: Disney)

Also, I knew that I wanted to at least make an attempt at dessert! The strawberry shortcake dessert is presented in a grand way and it doesn’t disappoint. Sadly we couldn’t finish it either, though we tried!

All-You-Care-to-Drink?

Included in the meal are unlimited drinks. This includes soft drinks as well as draft beer, wine and sangria for those 21 and up.

I question the true “unlimited” nature of the alcoholic drinks however. My waiter made only 3 stops at the table so I’m not sure how often one could reorder drinks. I ordered a white sangria when he first came and asked for drink requests. I reordered when he returned with the food and asked if I wanted another drink. By the time he came back with dessert, alcoholic drink orders were closed.

Read my honest review of the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue dinner show at Walt Disney World in Orlando. Is this longstanding show worth the cost?

Chowing down (the foods a’plenty) at the Hoop-Dee-Doo

Truthfully the white sangria was absolutely delicious and very refreshing. It was also very strong for me (perhaps I’m a lightweight!) It didn’t bother me that I couldn’t reorder. I know that having “unlimited” draft beer would be a draw for my husband to attend this dinner and it’s a definite perk.

The Hoop-Dee-Doo Show

I went into the Hoop-Dee-Doo not knowing anything about the show so I’m not here to give any spoilers! Here’s a brief baseline: 6 countrified friends entertain guests with singing, dancing, crowd participation and silly fun.

Costumes are colorful and bright. We were able to see everything very well (seated in the center of the room on the floor). The singers moved around the room during some parts of the show and it was easy enough to follow the action by turning in my seat.

Read my honest review of the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue dinner show at Walt Disney World in Orlando. Is this longstanding show worth the cost?

Upstairs seating inside Fort Wilderness’ Pioneer Hall

I enjoy musical theater but admit that some shows really drag on with too much boring singing. But not the Hoop-Dee-Doo! The songs are lively and fun and the audience participation is a highlight.  Everyone in the crowd was really getting involved with clapping and singing along.

The entertainers were top-notch, just as you’d expect from a high-quality Disney show. Singing was excellent. Dancing and choreography was fun and energetic. There is live music, which adds a fun element.

Read my honest review of the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue dinner show at Walt Disney World in Orlando. Is this longstanding show worth the cost?

It’s truly a show for all ages. One look around at the audience and that was plain to see. My 13 month old baby daughter enjoyed it as well as anyone there (even though I didn’t let her eat any of the messy BBQ ribs!)

There are breaks in the show to allow you to enjoy your dinner or to make a stop at the bathroom.

Read my honest review of the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue dinner show at Walt Disney World in Orlando. Is this longstanding show worth the cost?

So full we could barely eat any of the strawberry shortcake!

Bottom Line: Hoop-Dee-Doo Review

The big question is, is Hoop-Dee-Doo worth the cost? True, it’s not cheap (the cost of an adult ticket hovers around $60). When given the cost of other Disney World meals, I do think that this cost is in line.

If I were to go to any other buffet at Disney World with unlimited food, the cost for dinner would be about $50 for Chef Mickey’s. Chef Mickey’s is a character meal and no alcohol is included. Keep in mind that these type of buffet dinners are usually rushed and you might be done within 45-60 minutes.

Read my honest review of the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue dinner show at Walt Disney World in Orlando. Is this longstanding show worth the cost?

Ready for fun at the Hoop-Dee-Doo in Walt Disney World.

Given that the Hoop-Dee-Doo has unlimited alcohol as well as a 2-hour dinner show, I’d say that the value is well worth the cost. I highly recommend booking a dinner at Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue on one of your non-park days.


For more on this really awesome topic,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!



7 Books for Kids to Read Before a Disney Vacation

Getting kids ready for a Disney vacation? Every child, from babies to teens can benefit from one of these tried and tested Disney books for kids before their magical vacation. Whether doing Disney parks research, educating on the history of Disney or just getting familiar with characters, these are books kids will love. These are the top books for kids to read before a Disney trip that will get them prepared and excited!

What are the recommended Disney books for kids before leaving on your magical vacation? Check out these 7 books for every kid in the family.

Disney Books for Kids

Yep, the internet is great for travel planning but I don’t necessarily want my kids surfing the web (even if they’re just looking for Disney vacation stuff). I love that these Disney books for kids exist to help get them prepared for vacation. Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Black Loop. Today we are sharing the Disney books you should have in your collection. I’m talking about the books for kids that they should read before your Disney vacation.

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

For Research and Planning

If you want to get the most out of your Disney vacation (money and time well-spent) you’ll have to invest some research and planning. Get kids on board with a guide book they can read with you at home.

The Birnbaum’s 2018 Walt Disney World For Kids guide book really helps to build excitement. Kids may have heard of the rides and attractions but not know any details other than that. The book informs kids on what to expect once they get to the Parks (psst…helping kids know what to expect can help minimize disappointment and meltdowns!)

For Babies

If you’re planning on taking your baby to Disney, I suggest helping them get familiar with the characters. Disney Baby I Love You This Much! features Mickey and his friends with a sweet story line. Point out the characters in the books and repeat their names. Expand baby’s character palate with the equally adorable Disney Baby My First Colors. I love the colorful fold-out pages and less often seen characters in this book.

My daughter loves these books (we received complimentary copies from Disney Baby). Most babies are very excited to see characters in the park though some might not want to get closer than a few feet. My daughter at 6 months old wanted to touch characters. However at 13 months old, she cried anytime we were within 10 feet! Read more about my “no-cry” ways to introduce your baby to characters in the parks.

For more tips about taking babies to Disney, read about the things to do at Disney World with a baby on TravelingMom or my posts at Disney Baby.

What are the recommended Disney books for kids before leaving on your magical vacation? Check out these 7 books for every kid in the family.

Even babies will appreciate these Disney books for kids before their vacation.

For Preschoolers

When planning your preschooler’s first Disney trip, you’ll want to give them more of a backstory on the attractions. Preschool #DisneyKids are easily drawn into the magic! My preschooler loves storybooks, like the Walt Disney’s Classic Storybook Collection.

Planning a California trip to Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure park? Check out my TravelingMom post with insider tips for taking preschoolers to Disneyland. And more preschooler at Disney tips here, as well.

What are the recommended Disney books for kids before leaving on your magical vacation? Check out these 7 books for every kid in the family.

For Princesses-in-Training

Is your little princess excited to wear her costume at the Park? Get her ready from head-to-toe with the help of this DIY book, Disney Princess Hairstyles. The step-by-step illustrations make it easy to recreate some truly stunning braids, buns and up-dos, inspired by Disney Princesses. For even more inspiration, try Disney Frozen Hairstyles: Inspired by Anna and Elsa.

  

Give yourself plenty of time at home before your trip to practice and perfect some of the more elaborate designs.

Doing your child’s hair and sprinkling your own glitter will save you big bucks! However if you can’t handle the complexity of these styles, consider booking a reservation at Bibbidi Bobbity Boutique instead.


For Tweens

Many kids at this age have an appreciation or interest in history and historical figures. A non-fiction account of Walt Disney can really spark the thoughts of impressionable tweens. Walt’s quotes about imagination, hard work and steadfast dreams hold true for kids today. Tweens can truly find inspiration in knowing Walt Disney’s background and childhood history.

Tweens also love to find out how things work. The basic principles of creative “Imagineering” can affect tweens in a positive way.

I recommend Walt Disney: Young Movie Maker (Childhood of Famous Americans) and Walt Disney Imagineering: A Behind the Dreams Look at Making More Magic Real.

    

For Teens

My fantasy-loving teen has really enjoyed the Kingdom Keepers (7 Book Series). Getting to stay at Disney after everyone leaves – amazing, right? Fighting Disney villains to save the world? Even better! This dramatic chapter book series is great.

For Aspiring Animators

Immersing kids with Disney pre-trip really gets them in the mood for a magical vacation. Watching the classic Disney animated features helps get kids excited for what they’ll see on the rides. And possibly for the character meetings they’ll have as well.

My kids enjoy the Learn to Draw series. The step-by-step illustrations guide kids how to draw characters, whether it’s classic Mickey from Learn to Draw Mickey Mouse & Friends Through the Decades, an animated favorite from Learn to Draw Disney’s Classic Animated Movies or Moana & Maui from Learn to Draw Disney’s Moana.
    

Stock up on sketch paper, pencils, erasers and colored pencils so kids can work on their art. This is a great on-the-road activity as well!


Looking for Recommended Disney Books for Grown-Ups?

Make sure to check out my post, Best Books to Buy When Planning a Disney Vacation. Those are the books that the grown-ups should read for research and fun before their trip!

Many of these books are available for Amazon Kindle as well.
Join Amazon Kindle Unlimited 30-Day Free Trial

What are the recommended Disney books for kids before leaving on your magical vacation? Check out these 7 books for every kid in the family.

For more Disney book recommendations,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


Here is the map of our Blogorail Black | Ultimate Guide to Disney Books

What to Do on a Non-Park Day at Disney World with a Preschooler

There are dozens of things to do at Disney World with a preschooler. Here's what to do on a non-park day that doesn't require a ticket (and many are free!)

No ticket? No problem! There are tons of things to do on a non-park day at Disney World with a preschooler from resort hopping, dining and free fun. Preschoolers can be notoriously fickle and many will have a better attitude when allowed free time and play without structure. These ideas for a non-park day at Disney World with a preschooler show you exactly what you can do with little ones without having to purchase a Park ticket.

Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Green Loop. Today we are sharing fun things to do at Disney on non-park days.


11 Things to Do at Disney World with a Preschooler

Being a longtime Disneyland guest if we go to Disney, we always go into the Parks. Outside of the resort hotels and a few shops at Downtown Disney, there isn’t much that’s “Disney” to do if you’re not inside the Parks. However at Walt Disney World there are so many amazing things to do outside of the Parks (and lots of these ideas are totally free!)

There are dozens of things to do at Disney World with a preschooler. Here's what to do on a non-park day that doesn't require a ticket (and many are free!)

I’ve always wanted to pad my visit with several non-park days and I was recently able to do that. My one-year old toddler and my 5-year old preschooler and I were recently at Walt Disney World and we had three non-park days on our visit. This allow us plenty of free time to explore some of the entertainment options outside of the Parks. Keep reading for my tips on how to enjoy a non-park day at Disney World with a preschooler.


1. Transportation is a Ride for Preschoolers

My preschooler couldn’t wait to get on his first Disney World ride and was disappointed when I told him we weren’t going to Magic Kingdom the first two days. He was appeased however when I told him we’d be taking the Monorail, the bus, and several boats that day instead. For preschoolers hopping aboard transportation is a Disney ride. And you won’t need a Park ticket or even need to be a resort guest to ride them.

There are dozens of things to do at Disney World with a preschooler. Here's what to do on a non-park day that doesn't require a ticket (and many are free!)

The boats from Epcot to the Boardwalk, Beach Club, Yacht Club and Hollywood Studios are totally free to ride!

2. Resort Hopping

During our visit we were able to visit a total of six different resorts. We chose to stay overnight at three different places (Port Orleans Riverside, Disney’s Caribbean Beach and Beach Club Resort). Then we jumped aboard the Monorail and made stops at the trio of resorts on the loop (Contemporary, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort and Grand Floridian). Walking through the lobby, wandering the grounds, grabbing a snack inside a quick service restaurant and perusing the gift shops were fun activities for my preschooler.

There are dozens of things to do at Disney World with a preschooler. Here's what to do on a non-park day that doesn't require a ticket (and many are free!)

Be sure to check online as to different activities that take place inside the resorts that anyone can enjoy. After reading an article on the Disney Blog site, I found out that the annual Easter eggs would still be on display in the lobby of the Grand Floridian during our visit.

3. Preschool Fun in Disney Springs

The first night of our stay we hopped on a boat that took us from the Port Orleans Riverside. In just under 15 minutes we were deposited into Disney Springs, a lively outdoor shopping spot with plenty for preschoolers to see and do.

My preschool was enthralled by the splash pad. It was quite late at night but being Florida, it was still pretty warm. I happily let him run through the water and it pretty much made his entire vacation!

Other preschool activities could be taking in a G-rated movie at AMC Theater, The night of our visit there was family-friendly singing and dancing at the Waterview Park amphitheater. Brave preschoolers could take a high ride in the basket of the Characters in Flight helium balloon. If preschoolers just can’t wait for their first ride, the Marketplace area has a train and carousel.

4. Dining at Disney Springs That’s Perfect for Preschoolers

We ate dinner at Blaze Pizza, the perfect VERY quick meal for hungry preschoolers who don’t want to wait. The pizzas cook in just 180 seconds! Blaze had some deliciously unique pizza combinations available but we settled for simple pepperoni for my guy. It was a decent size for the two of us to share along with a green salad.

There are dozens of things to do at Disney World with a preschooler. Here's what to do on a non-park day that doesn't require a ticket (and many are free!)

Other dining locations that preschoolers would love are T-Rex, Earl of Sandwich and Rainforest Cafe. The volcano outside the Rainforest Cafe ignited with shooting flames, something we had to stop and watch. Splitsville would be a great place for a few hours of dining and entertainment so you can eat and bowl a few games.

Ghiradelli ice cream and soda shop was our dessert location that night, with overflowing cones of mint chip. We’d intended to grab cupcakes from Sprinkles but the shop was closed and they were in the process of loading the ATM. There is also very preschool-friendly shaved ice from Florida Snow Company and treats from Erin McKenna’s Bakery.

5. Souvenir Collecting

If you plan on resort hopping, one fun activity that my son enjoyed was collecting pressed pennies. Resorts have themed pennies that you can only collect in that location.

Disney Springs has many great souvenir locations for preschoolers. Souvenir shops that are preschool-perfect here are Build-a-Dino inside T-Rex, The LEGO Store, Once Upon a Toy and the enormous World of Disney (only go in there if you have LOTS of time!)

6. Resort Playgrounds

What do preschoolers love more than playing! Many of the resorts we visited had playgrounds that let little ones burn off steam. My preschooler loved the waterside play area called Caribbean Cay at Caribbean Beach as well as the rustic playground in the woods at Fort Wilderness.

There are dozens of things to do at Disney World with a preschooler. Here's what to do on a non-park day that doesn't require a ticket (and many are free!)

7. Get in Character

Even if you’re not going to walk through the Castle that day your little princess can still get dolled up. A visit to Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique inside Disney Springs allows her to get a magical makeover with make-up and hair styling. With any luck (and no swimming!) her hair will still look stylish the following day.

Another fun option is face painting or hair braiding. Many resorts as well as Disney Springs have this option.

8. Making a Splash at the Resort Pool

Take advantage of the amenities right there at your resort hotel. A day at the pool is one of the best ways for preschoolers to enjoy a non-park day. While parents can grab a drink from the poolside bar, preschoolers can swim and splash to their heart’s delight. There are life jackets available for new swimmers. Some resorts have very cool interactive pools like the water slide at Port Orleans Riverside or the fenced in pirate play area specifically for preschoolers.

There are dozens of things to do at Disney World with a preschooler. Here's what to do on a non-park day that doesn't require a ticket (and many are free!)

This play area at Caribbean Beach is made for preschoolers.

And nothing beats Stormalong Bay at Beach Club Resort. It’s the ultimate pool experience! My preschooler loved the sand-bottomed zero entry pool and the beach buckets and shovels to build sandcastles. And for brave preschoolers the dramatic water slide that shoots you through a pirate ship will be the talk of the trip!

9. Grab a Bite at a Resort Hotel

One of our favorite things on our non-park days was enjoying some of the dining at the resort hotels. While resort hopping, we enjoyed lunch as Gasparilla Grill inside the Grand Floridian. This quick service location offers freshly prepared dishes along with grab & go items (like this adorable and delicious Minnie Mouse cupcake!)

There are dozens of things to do at Disney World with a preschooler. Here's what to do on a non-park day that doesn't require a ticket (and many are free!)

Minnie Mouse cupcake at Gasparilla Grill, Grand Floridian Walt Disney World

The following day we enjoyed lunch at Beaches & Cream Soda Shop at the Beach Club Resort. This charming location has such a fun vibe from the kid-friendly food and of course, the sweet treats. My son loved that his hot dog lunch came with the happy ending of a Mickey Mouse ice cream sundae.

There are dozens of things to do at Disney World with a preschooler. Here's what to do on a non-park day that doesn't require a ticket (and many are free!)

The Mickey Mouse ice cream sundae comes with a kid’s meal at Beaches & Cream Soda Shop.

Dinner at the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue was definitely one of our favorite things of the entire trip. We took the boat from Magic Kingdom to Fort Wilderness and wandered the grounds before dinner. I’m so glad we indulged in this dinner show. Everything from the plentiful and delicious food to the top-notch entertainment was perfectly tailored for everyone in the family. My preschooler loved the loud atmosphere, the strawberry shortcake & being handed a washboard to make loud music!

There are dozens of things to do at Disney World with a preschooler. Here's what to do on a non-park day that doesn't require a ticket (and many are free!)

Strawberry shortcake at Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue

10. Indoor Fun for Preschoolers

Inside many of the resort hotel lobbies are artists waiting to draw your child’s portrait. My son had never had a caricature drawn before and it looked like a great souvenir to bring home so I had him sit for one.

There are dozens of things to do at Disney World with a preschooler. Here's what to do on a non-park day that doesn't require a ticket (and many are free!)

We don’t usually watch television when we’re on vacation but I did let my preschooler watch a bit before bed each night. Disney World has an entire channel devoted to safety. This very fun and informative cartoon series features Timon & Pumba from The Lion King. It was the only thing that my preschooler wanted to watch!

While waiting for our dining reservation we wandered the lobby inside the Beach Club on a hunt for Hidden Mickeys. Preschoolers absolutely love spotting Hidden Mickeys everywhere from the flower arrangements to the carpet design.

There are dozens of things to do at Disney World with a preschooler. Here's what to do on a non-park day that doesn't require a ticket (and many are free!)

Hidden Mickey finding is perfect fun for preschoolers! Here’s one in the Beach Club lobby.

Be sure to check the resort guide for other activities they offer to guests. Many have organized things to do indoors including scavenger hunts.

11. Outdoor Adventures

If your preschooler loves the great outdoors, take ’em to the fishing hole and see if they can catch the big one! There are small places to fish (like this area at Port Orleans Riverside) or larger fishing excursions (like on the Seven Seas Lagoon).

https://youtu.be/TXvOjyZfnRI

Some of the resorts have horse drawn carriages that will take you for a tour of the property. Or rent a bike surrey and everyone can pedal while enjoying the resort.

We’d intended to visit the Campfire at Fort Wilderness however our dinner at Hoop-Dee-Doo let out later than expected and we missed it. Many of the resorts offer this evening activity with the option to purchase and prepare your own s’mores over the flames. At Fort Wilderness Chip & Dale greet guests and there is a cowboy singer (no charge at all to attend this event!)

There are dozens of things to do at Disney World with a preschooler. Here's what to do on a non-park day that doesn't require a ticket (and many are free!)

Ready to explore Fort Wilderness

While at Fort Wilderness we had the chance to see the horses. My preschooler didn’t want to ride but that option is available if you have a horse lover.

There are dozens of things to do at Disney World with a preschooler. Here's what to do on a non-park day that doesn't require a ticket (and many are free!)

Did you know that Disney World has two mini-golf courses (Fantasia Gardens and Winter Summerland – read Adventureland Pam’s review on that with the link below). My son really wanted to go miniature golfing during our trip but we just didn’t have enough time. Guess we’ll just have to plan more non-park days on our next Disney World vacation!

For more ways to spend non-park days at Disney,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


Here is the map of our Blogorail Green | Things to Do on Non-Park Days at Disney

Getting Disney World Advanced Dining Reservations for the Meals You Want

Want to eat at all the best Walt Disney World restaurants on your vacation? Here’s how to get the Disney World Advanced Dining Reservations (ADR) for the meals you want! Follow these 8 practical tips and you’ll soon be dining alongside Mickey, Cinderella and the Beast!

Getting the Best Disney World Advanced Dining Reservations

Disneyland regulars very rarely book ADR because most of the full-service restaurants are easy to dine in as a walk-up.  There are a few exceptions, like character meals, Blue Bayou restaurant and certainly during busier seasons and the Holidays.

Getting Disney World Advanced Dining Reservations doesn't have to be impossible; here are 8 tips for getting the ADR for the meals you really want to eat!

Walt Disney World is completely different however, and ADR are needed for most (if not all) full-service restaurants. Many of these restaurants are experiences in and of themselves. Guests can dine inside of a castle like at Be Our Guest or Cinderella’s Royal Table. Or step back in time at 50’s Prime Time Cafe or Beaches & Cream Soda Shoppe. Watch fireworks from a rooftop vantage at California Grill or giddy-up at Hoop-dee-doo Musical Revue. And of course if you want to dine with Mickey, you’re going to need a reservation!

Check out my Top 10 Tips for Surviving a Disneyland Rainy Day!

So how can you get that Advanced Dining Reservation for the meal you really want? These are basic tips for newbies looking to grab a few ADR for their trip. Keep in mind that these “dining experiences” often take up a good amount of time so build them in to your trip. I only book 1 ADR per day, usually for dinner. This allows us to eat a light breakfast in our hotel room, grab a quick service lunch whenever hunger strikes and then enjoy our fancy ADR meal at dinner time.

1. Plan Out Your Itinerary

Before you start picking out ADR willy-nilly, you’ll need to plot out your basic itinerary. You don’t want to be booking The Crystal Palace for breakfast at Magic Kingdom on a day you’d planned on being at Typhoon Lagoon.

Likewise be sure to check the times of the attractions you wish to watch before booking an ADR. I almost booked a coveted Be Our Guest dinner reservation but stopped short after checking my itinerary and realized it fell right during the fireworks show we’d planned on watching.

Dozens of ways how to save money on food at Disney!

2.Book at 180 Days

Your best bet for getting the reservation you want it is to book the very day that you can, at the very first moment they open the reservations (either by phone or online). This would be 180 days out. That is how you’ll get the most coveted slots like Cinderella’s Table, by being the early bird!

3. Check the Website Frequently

Missed the 180 day window? You may still be able to grab the reservation you want by frequently scoping out the ADR website for openings. I was able to grab a reservation for 50s Prime Time Cafe five days before my trip just by checking the site several times a day.

Walt Disney World Restaurant Review - 50's Prime Time Cafe

Dennis the Menace

4. Search by Meals, Not by Exact Times

When checking for availability, search by meals instead of exact times. You’ll have a greater chance at finding a reservation if you use the more broad “meal times” instead of exact times.

Inside the “Check Availability” box there is a drop-down menu that will say Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner (if the restaurant isn’t open for a particular meal, that meal won’t show up in the menu). If there is a time available there will be a button with the time available that you can click to reserve your spot.

5. Use a Travel Agent

Many agents will include booking dining as part of your vacation package. So instead of having to get up before sunrise to make those calls to Disney dining, your agent will do the work for you!

Getting Disney World Advanced Dining Reservations doesn't have to be impossible; here are 8 tips for getting the ADR for the meals you really want to eat!

6. Use Touring Plans

If you don’t have time to be constantly checking for open ADR, there’s a site that will help you with that! Touring Plans offers a Disney World Dining Reservation Finder. You just plug in the details of the restaurant meal you want booked and Touring Plans sends you an email when a reservation opens up.

Naturally you have to be the first person to grab it before it’s taken by someone else, but it definitely saves time not having to stalk the website yourself! I used it last month to get a reservation for Beaches & Cream Soda Shoppe. The email came through letting me know there was a reservation available and I was able to immediately go online and scoop up the reservation for the meal time I wanted!

7. Be Open to Different Times

How many of you would be willing to eat at Be Our Guest if the only reservation is for 9:30 pm on a Wednesday night? What if you had your baby and preschooler with you? I actually have this reservation set for my next visit and for us, it will work out great! Since we’re coming from the West Coast, I’m planning on keeping my little ones on Pacific Time so 9:30 pm (6:30 PST) won’t be that late of a dinner for them.

Getting Disney World Advanced Dining Reservations doesn't have to be impossible; here are 8 tips for getting the ADR for the meals you really want to eat!

Certainly, some reservation times just aren’t ideal for many families. But if you can be open to dining at a different time you’ll more likely be able to find a reservation. Consider pushing back lunch so you can have a later dinner. Then stay to play in the parks and sleep in the next day. Or if you find an early dinner reservation, eat a big breakfast, skip lunch, have your early dinner and then enjoy dessert later in the evening.

8. Last Minute Find

Even while on vacation, an ADR may open up for something you want on the trip. Many guests overbook and then cancel at the last minute (to avoid any no-show charges). This opens up an ADR for you! I was able to book a last minute Be Our Guest lunch the day we arrived. Keep checking the website on your mobile phone to see if an ADR opens up for the time you want.

What ADR tips do you have? Share in the comments!

 

Is it Worth it to Stay at a Disneyland Resort Hotel vs Off-Site?

When considering a Disneyland vacation, you really have some outstanding options when it comes to accommodations! With Disneyland located in the middle of city there are a bounty of “off-site” hotels to choose from. So why would anyone choose to stay at one of the three Disneyland Resort hotel when there are hundreds of other lodging options surrounding the Parks? I’ll break it down and determine whether it’s worth it to stay at a Disneyland Resort hotel…or not.

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


Should You Stay at a Disneyland Resort Hotel or Off-Site Location?

My family and I have stayed at all three of the Disneyland Resort Hotels over the course of many years. We’ve also stayed at dozens of the off-site locations and found some of them to be nicely accommodating!

So which one should you choose – A Disneyland Resort Hotel or an Off-Site Hotel? I’ll be giving you many discussion points to review before you book your Disneyland-area vacation hotel.

Disneyland Resort Vs. Good Neighbor Hotels? Tips on how to choose the right spot for your family vacation.

What are the Disneyland Resort Hotels?

The Disneyland Resort area is smaller than Walt Disney World and includes only three resort hotels – Disney’s Paradise Pier, The Disneyland Hotel and Disney Grand Californian Hotel & Spa.

Each of the Disneyland Resort hotels have themed rooms and pool areas that offer a full day of entertainment. Each hotel offers a unique Character meal. The hotels are located within walking distance of the Parks. Some of the hotel areas are more “Disney” than others. Each of them offers great customer service and that feeling of being inside the “Disney Bubble” while on vacation.

Disneyland Resort Vs. Good Neighbor Hotels? Tips on how to choose the right spot for your family vacation.

Disney’s Paradise Pier is always the lowest cost of the three resort hotels (but still not “inexpensive” by any means!) The hotel has a whimsical beach theme with a rooftop water slide and great views of Disney California Adventure park.

The Disneyland Hotel is a classic – The entire hotel is heavy on the Disney theming, from the Mad Tea Party teacups in the lobby to the imaginative light-up musical headboards in each room. A fantastic pool area with Monorail-themed water slides make this a magical place to stay.

Disneyland Resort Vs. Good Neighbor Hotels? Tips on how to choose the right spot for your family vacation.

Disney fans will appreciate the nods to Walt inside the Disneyland Hotel.

Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa is the closest hotel to the Park and hosts it’s own Resort guest-exclusive entrance to Disney California Adventure park. The dramatic lobby and more sophisticated style with subtle Disney details add to the upscale nature of this beautiful hotel.

What are Good Neighbor Hotels?

Good Neighbor Hotels are off-site Anaheim area hotels that Disney promotes on their website. Not sure if these are actually hand-picked and approved hotels by Disney or if the hotels pay to be listed under the “Good Neighbor” umbrella?

Disneyland Resort Vs. Good Neighbor Hotels? Tips on how to choose the right spot for your family vacation.

Castle-themed room at Anaheim Majestic Gardens

I’ve stayed at over a dozen and there is a vast range in quality, from low budget basic rooms to elegant family suites. Bottom line is that some of these hotels are better than others. Some of them are downright lousy, if I’m being honest!

Do your research – Read Yelp reviews. Take a look at the area map. Do a Google search. Ask a friend.

Two of my favorite off-site Disneyland area hotels:

Anaheim Majestic Garden Hotel

Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites

Disneyland Resort Vs. Good Neighbor Hotels? Tips on how to choose the right spot for your family vacation.

A suite with a view! Watch fireworks from this window at the Holiday Inn & Suites.

Why Should I Consider an Off-Site Accommodation?

Cost

Far and away the best reason for booking off-site are the more reasonable low costs for a room. Hotel accommodations can be the major expense of any vacation and with Disneyland resort hotel rooms at $300+ per night, you might want to consider off-site lodging that is considerably less cost.

Walkable

Many very good off-site hotels are within walking distance of the Disneyland Resort. In fact, some are even closer to the front gates than the Disneyland Resort hotels!

Be sure to look at a map of the area before booking though. Some off-site locations boast that they’re across the street from Disneyland only to find out that you’ll still have a long walk to get to the entrance!

More Dining Options

There are restaurants and fast food places located all around the Disneyland area, many of them inside off-site hotels. Many of the off-site accommodations also have a complimentary breakfast – sweet!

Disneyland Resort Vs. Good Neighbor Hotels? Tips on how to choose the right spot for your family vacation.

Free breakfast at the Holiday Inn is awesome!

Shuttles or Public Transportation

Even if the off-site hotel is a mile away, many of them offer free or low cost shuttles to the park entrance. Public transportation (like the ART) stops near other hotels for a nominal fee (definitely cheaper than parking your vehicle at the Disneyland parking lot!)

Variety of Room Options

The rooms at the Disneyland Resort are all pretty standard sized. If you need something with more space or a suite on a budget, looking off-site will give you what you need.


What are the Benefits of Staying at a Disneyland Resort Hotel?

Extra Magic Hour

Want to get inside the Park early and avoid extra long queues? Disneyland Resort hotel guests can take advantage of Extra Magic Hour for each day of their stay.

Staying in the Magic

If you prefer to avoid the “outside world” while enjoying a Disney vacation, you’ll love the Disneyland Resort hotels. You’ll never have to leave the area or step outside of the Disney bubble!

Disneyland Resort Vs. Good Neighbor Hotels? Tips on how to choose the right spot for your family vacation.

Wall of historical photos inside the Disneyland Hotel.

Special Guest-Only Offerings

When you check in, the Cast Member will give you a calendar of items that are happening at the Resort during your stay. This may include pool-side activities, Disney movies under the stars, early access to shops in the Downtown Disney District or free tours.

A History Like No Other

When you take a look at this wall of photos in the Disneyland Hotel you can see the rich history of the resort and what it has meant to so many. That’s a history that many Disney fans will love to soak in!

If you want to know more check out these valuable reasons to stay at a Disneyland Resort hotel.

Disneyland Resort Vs. Good Neighbor Hotels? Tips on how to choose the right spot for your family vacation.

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 more opinions on what is & isn’t worth the splurge at Disney,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Orange | Is It Worth It? Loop:

Disney Souvenirs To Buy BEFORE Your Disney Vacation

Disney souvenirs bought in the Disney parks can be expensive! Yes, there are sometimes exclusive Disney souvenirs that can only be found in the parks, but more often than not you can purchase them at home for a reasonable price. There are also some souvenirs that you can purchase ahead of your trip and take them with you on vacation to use in the Disney parks! Keep reading for my list of Disney souvenirs to buy BEFORE you go on vacation.

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

Buy Disney souvenirs before your vacation? Here are the practical reasons why you should buy these things ahead of your Disney trip.

Why Buy Disney Souvenirs Ahead of Time?

Why should you consider buying your Disney souvenirs before your vacation?

#1 is the cost benefit – You’ll save a great percentage buying items at home and bringing them with you versus purchasing them in the Parks.

#2 is that you’ll have more choices – Rather than be “stuck” with the limited choices available in the Parks, you’ll have the option of picking from the entire world wide web if you order them before you leave home!

#3 is that you’ll save precious vacation time – Why spend your vacation shopping for trinkets when you could be maximizing your Park time, swimming in the resort pool or sipping another Dole Whip float?!

No need to fill up your suitcases before your trip. You can certainly have souvenirs shipped to you at home or have them sent directly to meet you at your Disney Resort hotel.

Buy Disney souvenirs before your vacation? Here are the practical reasons why you should buy these things ahead of your Disney trip.

From the Walt Disney World website:

If you intend to receive mail during your vacation, be sure the letter or package:

  • Includes the mailing address of your Disney Resort Hotel
  • Clearly features the word “Guest” on the front and the date of your arrival

Please note that a $5 per package handling fee will apply to all packages that are received through the Front Desk or are delivered to your Disney Resort hotel room.

Souvenirs to Cover Your Head

Did you know you can get Mouse Ear hats before your Disney trip? And adorable Ear headbands too! Or choose a ball cap to shield the sun from your eyes or a warm Disney cap to keep you toasty. Wear your hat on the plane to save on luggage space.


Pins for Trading

Some of these souvenir pins are PRICEY! Purchase ahead of time and shop for individual Disney Parks authentic trading pins from Disney Store. You can also purchase bulk lots of authentic pins on Amazon (like this Disney Trading Pins Lot) if you don’t have a specific pin in mind and don’t mind a few obscure pins. This is a great gift to give a child before your trip to get them started on pin trading.

If you must buy them in the Parks, choose only those pins that can’t be purchased elsewhere or that are limited edition specials.


Misting Fan

It can get hot at Disney and as the sweat rolls down your back you’ll be eyeing these misting fans that many of the guests buy in the Parks. You can find a Disney Misting Fan on Amazon for a lot less than you’ll pay in the Parks.


Lanyards

Lanyards can serve multiple purposes from holding trading pins, paper tickets & FastPass cards at Disneyland or your medical identification. You can purchase these in the Parks or find them online. Some even have a coin purse or pouch to hold cash.

Disney Store has Park Authentic lanyards. I like the Disney Mickey Mouse Lanyard with Coin Purse from Amazon.


Souvenir T-Shirts

I saw a souvenir t-shirt at Walt Disney World that I was considering for my baby girl on my last visit…until I saw the price tag of $30! Yikes! You can get three for the price of one if you shop wisely beforehand.

Target, Disney Store and Amazon all have fantastic authentic Disney designs and you won’t be paying more than you should for one tee.


Souvenir Plush

Cute little stuffed animals in the Parks come at a premium price. Why not buy them upfront and take advantage of frequent sales and special offers, like the Disney Store online often has. You can still get Mickey and Minnie but you’ll likely get them for a steal when you buy them beforehand.


Snacks

Unless you’re using up your Disney Dining Plan snack credits, don’t use your souvenir money to buy pricey snacks. Tote in your usual snacks and if you must “Disney” them, pack them in a Disney-themed container.


Pretty Baubles

Okay, I’ll admit it, I can’t seem to stay out of the Pandora shop! I’ve purchased myself Pandora charms at both the tiny shop in New Orleans Square in Disneyland and the dreamy Main Street U.S.A. shop at Walt Disney World. Okay…and at the World of Disney too! These are the three charms that I have on my Pandora bracelet.

Pandora seems to have a set price on their charms so you won’t find that the price higher or lower by much. They do sometimes put them on sale at the Disney Store online (including the Disneyland 60th Anniversary charm).

Souvenirs to Light Up the Night

I’m a big fan of the Target Dollar Spot glow jewelry. Makes it easy to spot my kids after sunset. I use a few to wrap on the handle of the stroller so I can spot it in the crowd in the dark.

As soon as the sun is setting, the Disney Parks crew will pull out the carts stocked full with fun toys that glow and spin. Come prepared with your own light-up souvenirs for the kids, like the Mickey Mouse Glow Spinner.

For the Pool

Resist the urge to buy the new bathing suit, sandals, sunglasses or towel in the Disney Resort gift shop. I’ll admit that I bought my two older kids each a Disney-themed towel when I went to Walt Disney World and they cost me upwards of $20 a piece!

Get two for the price of one by purchasing Disney swimwear and towels before you leave home.


Souvenirs to Keep You Warm

Yes, I have several “souvenir” sweatshirts from day trips to Disneyland when the weather was chillier than expected! $50 later I wasn’t cold anymore but wow, I could certainly buy a nice sweatshirt or jacket for much less at home. Don’t forget to pack rain ponchos if showers are in the forecast!


Save money at DISNEYLAND!

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

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

Buy Disney souvenirs before your vacation? Here are the practical reasons why you should buy these things ahead of your Disney trip.

The Perfect Shirts for Disney Fans (Plus a Giveaway!)

Shirts for Disney Fans That They'll Love to Wear!

Shirts for Disney Fans That They’ll Love to Wear!

As a big time Disney fan I want to show the Disney love even when I’m not at the parks. I recently discovered MouseApparel on Etsy and sent a Christmas Disney-themed shirt as a gift.

I was looking for something that I could wear year-round so Adrienne then sent me this tee, I’m Done Adulting. Where’s Disney? Perfect, right! I love the raglan style and it’s a soft and roomy tee.

Check out these other shirts for Disney fans, with choices for adults and kids (including a way to win your own tee!)

https://www.etsy.com/listing/293796379/disney-glitter-home-shirtglitter-disney?ref=shop_home_active_33

Celebrating Your Best Days

Disney days are just the best! Wear these at the parks (or just anytime you want to add Disney fun to your day!)

Best Day Ever

https://www.etsy.com/listing/293796379/disney-glitter-home-shirtglitter-disney?ref=shop_home_active_33

Image Credit: MouseApparel

I’m Only Here for the Churros

https://www.etsy.com/listing/293796379/disney-glitter-home-shirtglitter-disney?ref=shop_home_active_33

Image Credit: MouseApparel

Home

https://www.etsy.com/listing/293796379/disney-glitter-home-shirtglitter-disney?ref=shop_home_active_33

Image Credit: MouseApparel

Holiday Flair

MouseApparel has several holiday designs in the shop. These are two of my favorites. Perfect to wear when posing for photos in front of the Christmas tree, either the one at your house or the big trees at Disney!

It’s the Most Wonderful Time to Wear Ears

https://www.etsy.com/listing/293796379/disney-glitter-home-shirtglitter-disney?ref=shop_home_active_33

Image Credit: MouseApparel

A Very Disney Christmas To You

https://www.etsy.com/listing/293796379/disney-glitter-home-shirtglitter-disney?ref=shop_home_active_33

Image Credit: MouseApparel

For the Kids

The kids are represented too, with many designs that are offered on children’s sized tee as well!

Watch Me Whip (kid sized)

https://www.etsy.com/listing/293796379/disney-glitter-home-shirtglitter-disney?ref=shop_home_active_33

Image Credit: MouseApparel

Free Shipping Offer!

Adrienne of MouseApparel has so generously extended this special offer to my readers:

FREE SHIPPING on any MouseApparel orders placed before 12/31/2016! Use promo code: SavingUp2016 for free First Class Mail shipping on all US orders until 12/31/2016.

Shirts for Disney Fans That They'll Love to Wear!

Win Your Own MouseApparel Tee

This giveaway is for my newsletter subscribers. Leave your email address and be added to my newsletter list (I promise not to spam you!) The winner will be able to choose one tee from the MouseApparel Etsy shop!

Open to US & Canada

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Taking Special Holiday Photos at Disneyland Resort

While visiting the Disneyland Resort over the holiday season, there’s just so much to see, do and eat to celebrate the season! Whether you want to share them on social media, use them for a Christmas card or save them in a memory album, there are lots of sweet places and things to photograph at Disneyland during the holidays. Capture those memories with these must-do tips for taking holiday photos at Disneyland.

Please note that I use affiliate links in this post.

Taking Holiday Photos at Disneyland

Dozens of ideas for taking special holiday photos at Disneyland Resort

Christmas Trees

The Disneyland Christmas tree towers over Main Street U.S.A. and is decorated with over-sized ornaments that look like classic toys. Take a full shot of it and then move closer to capture individual ornaments on the tree.

Dozens of ideas for taking special holiday photos at Disneyland Resort

A photo with the family is a must and there are many PhotoPass photographers standing here to snap a shot. This line moves quickly since they pose families around the entire circumference of the tree. We were able to use this photo for our Christmas card this year!

Dozens of ideas for taking special holiday photos at Disneyland Resort

Photo Credit: Disney PhotoPass

The Holiday Treats

Eat all the treats! But first…take a photo of them. Capture the moment just before you bite into that soft gingerbread cookie or take a sip from your holiday eggnog. Unwrap your treat and take a snap of it in front of a favorite attraction (much better than a photo of it laying on the plate). Or hand it over to your child and photograph them nibbling, even cuter! Don’t want to indulge? Snap a photo of the sweet treats in the case or shop windows.

Dozens of ideas for taking special holiday photos at Disneyland Resort   Dozens of ideas for taking special holiday photos at Disneyland Resort

Sleeping Beauty Castle

Draped in icicles and snow, the iconic castle is dressed up for winter. Take a few photos of the castle alone and also with your family posed in front. I like to take photos with the family from the pathway on the right-hand side. Foot traffic is lighter than directly in front and you won’t have anyone else in the background.

Dozens of ideas for taking special holiday photos at Disneyland Resort

Favorite Characters

Even the characters get into the seasonal spirit with costumes that reflect the holidays. I recommend arriving at rope drop to catch the “Fab 5” in the hub of Main Street U.S.A. and catch photos with them all. We took this one with Donald a few years ago next to the Cove Bar (don’t you love the snowflakes on his outfit?)

Dozens of ideas for taking special holiday photos at Disneyland Resort

Seasonal Landscapes

I adore the care and thoughtfulness of the landscaping and flowers that are updated with the seasons. Christmas at Disneyland brings amazing arrangements like these bright poinsettias on Main Street U.S.A.

Dozens of ideas for taking special holiday photos at Disneyland Resort

Themed Land Decor

Christmas in New Orleans? A wacky holiday in Toontown? A bright splash of Latin American festivities? Even Cars Land revs up the holiday decor! Take a wide angle shot of the decorations and then capture close ups to see the thoughtful detail that goes into keeping the theme of each area.

Dozens of ideas for taking special holiday photos at Disneyland Resort

Photo Credit: Disney PhotoPass

Seasonal Ride Overlays

Haunted Mansion Holiday, it’s a small world – Holiday and Jingle Cruise have seasonal overlays that disappear shortly after the new year. The details in each attraction are fantastic so don’t miss photographing everything both inside and out.

Dozens of ideas for taking special holiday photos at Disneyland Resort

Christmas Fantasy Parade

This classic parade is chockful of sweet holiday memories you’ll want to capture. Dancing reindeer, gingerbread cookies and of course, Santa and Mickey as well. We stood in the it’s a small world – holiday area and it was an ideal backdrop for taking pictures of this colorful parade.

Dozens of ideas for taking special holiday photos at Disneyland Resort

Hotel Lobby Decor

Take a walk over to the hotels of the Disneyland resort and be rewarded with decor galore! We stayed at the Disneyland Hotel several years ago and walked inside each of the towers to check out the themed trees inside the lobbies.

Dozens of ideas for taking special holiday photos at Disneyland Resort

A stop inside Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa is both a visual and aromatic treat; a larger-than-life replica of the hotel in gingerbread is set up here and it smells delicious! Take a shot of the towering Christmas tree in the lobby and the rustic garlands hung throughout. Ride up the elevator to the second floor and capture an overhead view of the lobby in full holiday dress.

Santa

Naturally our favorite elf is greeting guests at the Happiest Place and there are several spots to find him. At Disneyland he’s in Critter Country. In Disney California Adventure park, we had a visit in the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail. Santa will also be visiting at the hotels of the Disneyland resort at special times over the winter season.

Dozens of ideas for taking special holiday photos at Disneyland Resort

Photo Credit: Disney PhotoPass

During our recent visit, there was a “Nice List” book set up on a table where my son wrote in the names of our entire family. What a precious memory I was able to capture as he carefully noted each of us in Santa’s special book!

Dozens of ideas for taking special holiday photos at Disneyland Resort

Save Those Memories

Please note that I use affiliate links in the following section. If you click & purchase through the link you help me in a small financial way, thank you!

Don’t let those beautiful holiday pictures sit unseen in your camera or computer; get them printed out so everyone can see. I love Shutterfly for the versatility of their products as well as their great prices. I’ve been purchasing from Shutterfly for a very long time and am happy to have them as an affiliate partner. They are always having great sales and offer coupons as well.

Dozens of ideas for taking special holiday photos at Disneyland Resort

Consider adding your Disneyland holiday photos to a calendar, ornament or a seasonal canvas that you display along with your decorations each winter. I’ve already ordered my Shutterfly Christmas cards, featuring our family photo in front of the Disneyland Christmas tree!

If you want to capture crisp and clean images but the budget isn’t ready for the investment of a new camera, consider renting your gear pre-vacation from my affiliate BorrowLenses. You can rent just a lens, camera or the entire kit to take with you on vacation. I borrowed a lens before my trip to Europe several years ago and was thrilled with the images I captured on a lens I wouldn’t have been able to purchase outright.


Save money at DISNEYLAND!

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

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


Dozens of ideas for taking special holiday photos at Disneyland Resort

For Disney Parks Christmas must dos,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Red | Christmas Must Dos at Disney Loop:

Adding a Touch of Disney Magic to Your Christmas

How to Add a Touch of Disney Magic to Your Christmas

How to Add a Touch of Disney Magic to Your Christmas

Christmas is a magical time, of course. And what makes it even more sweet is adding a touch of Disney magic to your holidays. Whether it’s in the house decorations, the Christmas tree or even in the kitchen, Disney fan welcome a generous helping of pixie dust in everything they do! Here are my ideas for adding Disney magic to your Christmas.

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

Disney Details for the Home

Fill the house with Christmas cheer, Disney-style! This personalized Christmas tree skirt has a cute retro look. These clever Holiday Mugs hold milk and have a slot underneath for your cookie! And when it’s time to cuddle up with a favorite movie, this Mickey & Minnie Fleece Throw will keep you cozy.

 

 

Deck the Tree with Disney Ornaments

We’ve been collecting Disney ornaments for the Christmas tree since I was a little girl. It’s fun to pick them up while on vacation as a memento of your trip. Choose an ornament that reminds you of a special time (like the first spin on the Mad Tea Party teacups) or holds a cherished photo from that time you met your first Disney princess. I adore this Fantasyland Castle Ornament, a perfect blend of the parks along with good cheer for the holidays!

Hallmark Teacup for Two Mickey and Minnie Mouse Ornament and Hallmark 2016 Disney Princesses Photo Holder Holiday Ornament

Bake Disney-inspired Holiday Treats

Make anything Mickey shaped or that has Mouse Ears and my kids think it’s fantastic! Here are some simple recipes that can be tweaked just a bit to make them “Disney” including these Mouse Ears Snowman Cookies from Family.com and Mouseketeer Gingerbread Cookies from the Disney Food Blog. It wouldn’t be too difficult to make Rice Krispies treats like this Mickey shaped one I had at the Disneyland Resort. I have more Christmas recipe ideas on this post.

Adding a Touch of Disney Magic to Your Christmas      Adding a Touch of Disney Magic to Your Christmas

Adding a Touch of Disney Magic to Your Christmas

Cook up Disney Magic in the Kitchen

This cookbook is very merry and full of Disney fun for the holidays! A Merry Christmas Cookbook is geared for kids to cook under adult supervision with holiday recipes inspired by favorite characters. For more discerning tastes, try the The Ultimate Disney World Cookbook with over 300 recipes from Disney parks restaurants. Serve up those Disney delights (or cookies for Santa!) on these adorable Mickey & Friends Plates from the DisneyStore.

    

Decorate the Yard Top to Bottom

Bright and colorful, these Disney yard decorations let everyone in the neighborhood know your love for the Mouse! We love to walk through our neighborhood and look at the holiday decorations and my kids always love when someone has Disney inspired decor. I want one of these Disney Mickey Mouse Ears LightShow Swirling Multicolor LED Christmas Spotlight Projectors so much! Paired with the Inflatable LED Mickey and Minnie’s Sled Scene, you’ll have a house that all the kids will want to see each night. Hang this cheery winter Disney Parks Holiday flag all winter long!

How do you add Disney magic to your Christmas? Share with me in the comments!

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