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Tips and Products for Keeping Kids Safe on Vacation

Over our spring break vacation to Monterey we lost my 5 year old son. One moment he was playing on the lonely beach in the sand with my husband. The next moment he was gone. It was the scariest ten minutes of our lives, not knowing where he was. Looking back there are a few things we should have done to ensure that he’d never been lost in the first place. And there are also steps and precautions we can take in the future to keep him safe. Here are my tips and products that help keep kids safe on vacation.

Travel safety with kids is priority #1. Check out these practical and inexpensive ways to keep kids safe on vacation.

Getting Lost (Scary for Kids & Parents!)

On our Monterey vacation I was on the hotel balcony watching my sons and husband on the beach below. My husband and teenager were poking in the sand with a stick, looking for crabs while my preschooler ran up and down the wet sand behind them. When the baby needed a diaper change I took her inside and returned to the balcony a few minutes later. What I saw next made my heart stop.

My eldest son was yelling up to me, “Mom, is Dillon up there with you?”

Then I saw my husband. He was running up and down the beach, calling Dillon’s name. He was stopping strangers to ask if they’d seen a little boy in a blue bathing suit.

He didn’t go into the water, I knew that (he was scared of the ocean’s big waves). My eyes squinted at a crowd of people sunbathing in the distance. Had he wandered that far?

My husband was now in full panic mode. He ran around to the front of the hotel, concerned that my son might have gone with someone to the parking lot. My teenager was racing down to the crowd further down the beach. I raced down to the hotel lobby.

I met my husband in the lobby as he’d looped around the front of the hotel. He was cradling our 5-year old in his arms. My son had wandered into the lobby, wanting to return to the hotel room and asked for his mommy. The reception desk had wrapped him in a towel and had him stay put. Thank goodness, found.

Travel safety with kids is priority #1. Check out these practical and inexpensive ways to keep kids safe on vacation.

One moment he was there, the next moment he was gone.

Tips to Keeping Kids Safe on Vacation

It was a scary 10 minutes and honestly, it’s taken its toll on us all. For the first month after our vacation, my son was extremely clingy and afraid of getting lost. He has cried during drop offs at school and Sunday school at church, something very unusual for my independent boy. I started trying to think of ways that we could have kept him safe.

Here are tips and products that help keep kids safe on vacation.

I received complimentary product for testing and review. All opinions are my own. Please note that I use affiliate links in this post. Clicking through helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

SafetyTat

If my son had been wearing a SafetyTat when he was lost, it would have saved us 10 minutes of worry. The hotel lobby would have been able to call me immediately! SafetyTat is a water-resistant temporary tattoo. The original SafetyTat can be pre-printed with your contact info and applies with a damp paper towel.

Travel safety with kids is priority #1. Check out these practical and inexpensive ways to keep kids safe on vacation.

The SafetyTat temporary tattoo is water resistant.

Write-on SafetyTat peels and sticks with a bit of pressure and can be personalized with the included water resistant pen. I love the idea of using the SafetyTat when traveling to busy locations like at the zoo, children’s museum or amusement park when kids can easily become lost.

Travel safety with kids is priority #1. Check out these practical and inexpensive ways to keep kids safe on vacation.

Write your number to personalize the SafetyTat and keep kids safe on vacation

In addition to returning lost kids, several of the SafetyTats have specific child-safety needs printed on the tattoo. Alerts like, “I have Autism”, “Allergies – Ask First!”, “Non-Verbal” and “Alert – Diabetic” help other adults know immediately about your child’s special needs. These special SafetyTats would be great for children to wear when in large groups where they might be separated from their parents, like at day camp, church or at a party.


Fairy Tales Bug Bandit

I received a complimentary bottle of Fairy Tales Bug Bandit Repellent just in time for my trip to Orlando Florida. On my last visit, I’d gotten a nasty bug bite on the final day and it took ten full days to clear! I was hoping to avoid such a fate this time, especially for my kids!

The contents of Fairy Tales Bug Bandit are Deet-free and include lemon Eucalyptus oil, soybean oil, cedar bark, citronella, peppermint and rosemary blend. These non-toxic and pesticide free ingredients help to repel mosquitoes, flies, fleas, gnats and other biting insects. It’s proven effective in children 3+, though I did use it sparingly on my 1-year old’s legs and arms with good success.

Travel safety with kids is priority #1. Check out these practical and inexpensive ways to keep kids safe on vacation., including the Fairy Tales Bug Bandit

Spray Fairy Tales Bug Bandit before going outside to protect skin from insect bites

Simply spray the Fairy Tales Bug Bandit onto your body after dressed and ready to head outside. It worked like a charm! The smell is pleasant and works for several hours.

And then there was the day I forgot to apply the spray. I was headed to a conference and stepped outside briefly to access another building and within 2 minutes a bug got me. Within moments my ankle was swollen and itchy, ugh! I immediately texted my sister-in-law to remind her to spray the kids before they went outside! Happy to report that my kids returned from our week-long vacation without one bug bite.

Travel Baby-Proofing Safety Kit

Before settling in at the hotel, make sure you check out the room for any potentially hazardous items. Looped window cords? Furniture that your toddler or child could climb and topple over? Loose cables? Exposed electrical outlets? Bring a safety kit along with you on your travels to “baby-proof” the room (even if your child is no longer a baby, they might become curious).

If your baby will be using the hotel crib, be sure to inspect it for any loose screws, chipping paint or pinchable parts. If you’re taking medications with you, be sure that they stay inside their child-proof bottles and keep out of the reach of your children (consider a box with a lock).

Preventing Stomach Bug

Ugh, nothing ruins a vacation like coming down with the stomach bug.

Help keep the bug from spreading through the family with frequent hand-washing and the use of hand sanitizer. Disinfect items in the hotel room that are frequently touched, like the door knobs and remote control.

Travel safety with kids is priority #1. Check out these practical and inexpensive ways to keep kids safe on vacation.

Of course if spending your vacation in another country make sure that the water is drinkable before allowing your child to sip.

Avoiding Sunburn

If your kids are extremely prone to sunburn, consider indoor activities during the day and then swim at night. I’ve found that one of the best ways to avoid sunburn is to cover up as much as possible. My kids have Lands’ End rash guards with UPF 50 rating. A hat for toddlers that can be worn while their splashing will protect scalps and faces.

Travel safety with kids is priority #1. Check out these practical and inexpensive ways to keep kids safe on vacation.

And of course, you can’t forget the sunscreen! Apply sunscreen 20 minutes before getting into the water otherwise it’s just going to rinse off in the pool!


Pack a Get-Well Bag

Despite all preparations sometime your child may get sick. Rather than have to make a run to the 24 hour market at 3 am, have a get-well bag ready to go with what you might need.

    • Stomach pain relief like antacids or kaopectate
    • Fever reducer
    • Benedryl (in case of allergy)
    • Aloe vera or sunburn relief cream
    • Anti-itch spray or lotion in case of rash or bug bite
    • Travel First Aid Kit with antiseptic and bandages

Car Seat and Stroller Safety

Don’t assume that you’ll have the car seat you need when you arrive. For instance Uber may provide car seats for some children. However they don’t have rear-facing car seats that children under two must use. For infants and toddlers, it’s best to bring your own.

For pre-K and up, bring along a mifold Grab-and-Go Car Booster Seat. Weighing only about one and a half pounds, the mifold is a booster seat designed for ages 4 to 12. So clever and convenient when using Uber, Lyft or a taxi.

If renting a stroller at your vacation location, be sure to inspect for any spots that might pinch little fingers. Always use the buckles to secure your child in tightly. Get in the habit of putting the stroller brake on each and every time you let go of the handle. You never know when the stroller might roll away from you. Never leave your child in a stroller unsupervised.

Travel safety with kids is priority #1. Check out these practical and inexpensive ways to keep kids safe on vacation.

Safety After Dark

If you’re worried about losing your kids, it can be even more challenging once night falls. Remind kids to stay close to you. Carry a flashlight. I keep a supply of glow necklaces and bracelets for my kids to wear when we’re walking about after dark. If walking in a dark area where there are vehicles, dress your children in light colored clothing. Consider adding a reflective strip of tape to their back and down each pant leg for better visability.


Other Things You Can Do to Keep Safety First

  • Before hitting the road for an extended vacation, be sure to schedule a pre-trip check up with your child’s pediatrician. The doctor will be able to check for any developing illnesses.
  • Bring your child’s immunization records.
  • Dress your child in very bright clothing. It’s so much easier to see them if you can spot a bright yellow, orange or hot pink shirt.
  • Remind kids not to touch wild animals (this includes squirrels and pigeons)
  • Take a photo of your child each morning so you have a record of what they are wearing.
  • Before going into an establishment (like a theme park or museum) discuss what to do if lost.
  • Wash hands frequently and especially before eating.
  • Remind children to stay put in case they are lost.

Travel safety with kids is priority #1. Check out these practical and inexpensive ways to keep kids safe on vacation.


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


Epic California Road Trip – 5 Tips for Traveling by Car

My family and I will soon be heading for the open road on our first family road trip since adding two more to our brood! We’ll be hitting the road from San Diego and heading to Pismo Beach, Monterey, Reno and Bishop. Eight years ago we took a similar road trip when our older kiddos were in kindergarten. Now that we have four kids, we’re excited (and a bit nervous!) about taking the whole family on the road. Check out where we’ll be visiting so you can follow us on our road trip adventures!

My family and I will be hosted at several of these locations on our trip #hosted

Check out these helpful tips for a California road trip.

California Road Trip

My husband and I are big time “planners” and like to have a solid route and itinerary. We already know a bit of what we’ll be doing at each location, with free time built in for relaxation, play and adventure! With our little one only just turning one year old, we know that extended time in the car won’t be feasible. We’ll be in the car no longer than 3 hours at a time. We’ll be working in plenty of time to get out, stretch and play at each stop.

Check out these helpful tips for a California road trip.

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Ventura

We’re starting our road trip from San Diego and the first stop will be in Ventura. Even as a SoCal native, there are so many coastal towns I’ve never been to, including Ventura! We’re planning a stop at Marina Park Beach for a picnic lunch and to allow the kids to play on the pirate-themed playground.

Road Trip Tip #1 – No reason you have to eat all fast food or expensive restaurant meals on your entire road trip. Make a quick stop at the local grocery for healthy fruits, prepped veggies or freshly made sandwiches. Our favorites in California are Whole Foods Market and Sprouts.

Check out these helpful tips for a California road trip.

Dinosaur Caves in Pismo Beach

Pismo Beach

Our first overnight of the road trip will be in Pismo Beach with a stay at the Hilton Garden Inn. We stopped in Pismo Beach in spring break of 2010. Our kids participated in an awesome Easter egg hunt and festival at Dinosaur Caves Park that overlooks the ocean. Hoping to make another stop at this beautiful park again this trip! There is an amazing Monarch Butterfly grove here but it’s only open from October to February each year, so we’re missing it this time.

Road Trip Tip #2 -Check the City Calendar

Each of the cities I mention here have a clickable link that leads to their website. You’ll be able to see what activities are happening in each community. Before your visit, check the city calendar to see if any special events are occurring. There might be a festival, art show or seasonal activity. For instance, the Pismo Beach annual Easter egg hunt was a highlight of our last road trip (totally free and fun for the kids before we got back on the road).

Check out these helpful tips for a California road trip.

Where the mountains meet the ocean in Big Sur

Monterey

Next up for us will be two days in Monterey. With a county that includes Big Sur (a waterfall that pours into the ocean!), Pebble Beach (golfing!), Carmel-by-the-Sea (shopping!) and Salinas (food, glorious food!), there are countless things to do in this beautiful coastal area. We’re staying at the Monterey Tides Hotel, right on the oceanfront.

We’ll be taking in the amazing Monterey Bay Aquarium, an agricultural tour at Earthbound Farms, and a surrey ride from Adventures by the Sea. We’ll be dining on local fresh seafood at Flaherty’s Seafood Grill & Oyster Bar and Peter B’s Brewpub. We have a pretty packed schedule so I’m not sure but we might try to squeeze in a Big Sur visit for some hiking. Also hoping that the Dennis the Menace park will be reopened by the time of our visit, it was a favorite of my kids last trip.

Check out these helpful tips for a California road trip.

Dennis the Menace park in Monterey

Road Trip Tip #3 – Study Road Conditions

Check for road construction, updates and closures online before your trip. 7 years ago we drove Hwy 1, a two-lane route alongside the Pacific. Gorgeous, but slow-moving at times. And there is a section of this highway that is currently closed so thank goodness we’re aware of this and not planning on taking the same route this time! Check with CalTrans before your visit for a quick look at road closures.

Fairfield

About 3 hours outside of Monterey we’ll be stopping in Fairfield, home to two cool factory tours. Grown-ups will enjoy the Anheuser-Busch factory tour (with beer sampling). Kids (and adults!) will love the Jelly Belly Factory Tour. We’ll be making time for the Jelly Belly tour for sure!

Road Trip Tip #3 – Research Between the Big Stops

When plotting your course, check out those little towns along your route and see what they have to offer. We never would have considered a stop in Fairfield if we hadn’t seen that the Jelly Belly Factory offers tours here. Fairfield will be the perfect place to have lunch, take a family-friendly tour and make memories!

Lake Tahoe & Reno

After two days along the Pacific, we’ll be heading inland for “snow-much” more adventure! We’re heading to the Lake Tahoe and Reno area, where we’ll be visiting family and exploring the area. We’ll be staying with my husband’s family, except for one overnight at the Atlantis Casino in the city.

I’ll be pampered in the Atlantis Casino spa for my very first massage! While I’m lounging in the spa my family will be taking advantage of the indoor pool. Other than hopefully playing in the snow, visiting family and checking out the local culture, we don’t have much planned yet. And that’s okay by us, we’ll play it by ear.

Check out these helpful tips for a California road trip.

Enjoying the snow in Reno, Nevada

Road Trip Tip #4 Allow Plenty of Travel Time –

The last time we drove this route (from Monterey to Reno) we got held up in a snow storm. Being SoCal natives, neither of us had ever driven in a snow storm before so it was a very tense few hours. After putting on chains, it was a late night white-knuckle drive through the pass that had us arriving to our destination several hours later than expected. This year we’re allowing ourselves plenty of drive time and leaving much earlier in the day.

Bishop

Our final day of travel will include an overnight in Bishop, CA, one place we’ve never been before. We’ll be letting the kids play at Law’s Historic Village, taking a warm dip at Keough’s Hot Springs and visiting the historic Manzanar site. Bishop is where many “cowboy” movies were filmed, so as we leave town, we’ll stop in for a tour of the Museum of Western Film History in Lone Pine and take a short hike in the Alabama Hills to view some of the movie sites.

Road Trip Tip #5 A Mix of Fun and Learning –

Along your travels see where you can combine history, teaching as well as fun. While we’ll be visiting the Manzanar site (place where Japanese Americans were interned during WWII) we’re also leaving space in our itinerary for free play and fun.

What are your road trip tips? Share with me in the comments!

 

Can’t Afford a Trip? 7 Ways to Take a Family Vacation on a Budget

Taking a Family Vacation on a Budget

For a majority of families, what stops them from the family vacation of their dreams is their wallets. They think they can’t afford a vacation.

I think they’re wrong.

Even as a family on a tight budget, we’ve found that there are many ways to make a vacation happen.

Travel brings so much joy, adventure and memories to families. I can safely say that most of our happiest family memories are from our vacations. I’m sure I’m not alone in that sentiment.

So why aren’t you taking a vacation? What is truly stopping you from planning and going on that dream vacation? And if your answer is “money”, here are a few ideas to consider.

Think you can't afford a trip? Here are 7 tips on how to take that family vacation on a budget, without crazy sacrifice or drastic penny-pinching!

Think You Can’t Afford a Trip?

According to a recent survey on Spring Break Family Travel, conducted by Vacatia, TravelingMom and TravelingDad, agreeing on a budget and coordinating payment is a concern for 36% of respondents. If you’re on a tight budget than you might fall in that 36% range.

I’ll be frank though – My family is on a tight budget and we still find a way to take several vacations a year. I think family travel is way more important than having the newest gadgets. That little sacrifice can go a long way! Here are 7 ways we make those all-important vacations happen:

1. Day to Day Savings

Naturally your day-to-day spending can make or break whether you have extra vacation money or not (those lattes add up!) By cutting back on little things (generic instead of name brand, packing a lunch instead of purchasing), you can always seem to “find money” that can be used for your vacation.

Think you can't afford a trip? Here are 7 tips on how to take that family vacation on a budget, without crazy sacrifice or drastic penny-pinching!

Every dollar counts! Put saved money towards your trip & get the kids involved.

Yeah, it can be a downer to eat pb&j from home when you’d rather get a sandwich at the deli but the $5+ savings means more money for you to take that trip. But there are little ways to cut back without it feeling like a major sacrifice. Consider a month of no extra expenses. Take a hard look at all the money going out and choose a few easy ways you can save on expenses.

2. What Can You Do Without?

I’d rather plan another vacation than have cable television. That’s just me, but traveling is just more fun than watching TV. I make the choice to do without. What do you have that you could cut back, freeing up more money for a trip?

It can be hard to tell the kids “no” when it comes to spending on things. When my older kids ask why they can’t have a cell phone or my preschooler wants a toy at the store, I use a distraction technique. I remind them about an impending trip and how we’re using extra money towards our vacation. Then I’ll bring up a certain part of the trip I know they’ll want to talk about and soon enough they’re excited, talking about the vacation instead.

Think you can't afford a trip? Here are 7 tips on how to take that family vacation on a budget, without crazy sacrifice or drastic penny-pinching!

3. Buy Less Stuff

A recent article suggested that parents should spend less on toys and take more vacations. I’m all for that. We save toy purchases only at Christmas and even then, we try to choose high-quality classic items that work for a wide age group.

We take this concept of limiting stuff even further by branching out into other parts of our home. All the money saved by not buying “stuff” (Dollar Spot, I’m looking at you!) goes into our vacation fund.

4. Use Points for Your Trips

I’m not a huge credit card hacker but I do have a few practical and very easy tips for earmarking points towards travel. Since we do a lot of Disney travel, I have a Disney Visa that I use to pay household bills. The Disney Dollars earned go towards our meals at each trip and we have very little out-of-pocket expenses there.

Think you can't afford a trip? Here are 7 tips on how to take that family vacation on a budget, without crazy sacrifice or drastic penny-pinching!

Our Costco Visa is used solely for groceries and gas and we earned about $250 in Costco cash last year. I took the check we received to Costco, they cashed it out for me and I’m using that money on our road trip. I’ve also plotted out on a map where all the Costco gas stations are on our route so we can get our gasoline at a great price! We purchased 2 new cell phones at Costco last year and received a $450 Costco gift card rebate so this is our gas money for the road trip.

I also use and love Ebates and book all my travel through the links. I get paid in a “Big Fat Check” and naturally, that’s money to go right towards the vacation.

5. Realize that Separate Vacations Are Okay

According to the responses in the survey, 38% say that coordinating everyone’s schedules is the worst part of planning a vacation. And once you do choose a date that works for everyone there’s also the challenge of making everyone happy. 32 percent say the ickiest part of planning is finding a destination that makes everyone happy and 24 percent say it’s choosing accommodations that will make everyone happy.

Here’s a solution to this issue – Plan separate vacations. Don’t wait until you can get things “just right” because that day might never come. When trying to work out a trip between my husband’s work and school schedule, the kid’s school year and allotted vacation time, finding that week when everyone is available is the equivalent to a needle in a haystack.

Think you can't afford a trip? Here are 7 tips on how to take that family vacation on a budget, without crazy sacrifice or drastic penny-pinching!

We compromise with separate vacations. My husband likes going to Disneyland as a family once a year for a few days but traveling cross-country to Walt Disney World for a week is not his idea of fun. He’d rather be riding the ocean waves in his kayak, fishing for tuna (definitely not my style!) while the kids play in the sand.

Our kids get the best of both experiences and nobody is gritting their teeth through a week of something they’re not happy with. And on the budget-side of this, a vacation with fewer family members is going to cost less.

Think you can't afford a trip? Here are 7 tips on how to take that family vacation on a budget, without crazy sacrifice or drastic penny-pinching!

6. Find Ways to Budget on the Trip

Once you nail down the itinerary, decide what features of the trip are the most important to you. If spending time at a fancy hotel suite is a must-do, place the majority of your budget there. If you don’t care where you lay your head, then scrimp on the hotel costs and drop your money where it matters most, like on activities or meals. Survey respondents note that they spend about half of their travel budget on accommodations, which tells me that maybe the call of the upscale hotel pool is high!

Think you can't afford a trip? Here are 7 tips on how to take that family vacation on a budget, without crazy sacrifice or drastic penny-pinching!

7. Take the Time Off (and Save More)

If you’re white-knuckling those sick leave hours, you might need a vacation! Here’s a hint: Your coworkers can survive without you. Take the vacation time!

If you wait until summer vacation when the kids are out of school, the costs of a trip during peak travel season will be higher. Consider pulling the kids out so you can plan your vacation when the travel prices are best. I’m taking my kids out this spring for 5 days so we can take a road trip. I was able to contact their schools about independent study. The kids will be able to get their school work done on the road and not get “dinged” with unexcused absences while they’re gone.

Research tells us that family vacations have long-lasting impact on your child’s happiness. I know that seeing my children soaking in new experiences is going to have a greater impact on their lives than any gadget ever will!

Think you can't afford a trip? Here are 7 tips on how to take that family vacation on a budget, without crazy sacrifice or drastic penny-pinching!

Save money on your family vacation!

Purchase discount vacation packages to destinations like Orlando, Hawaii and California from my affiliate Get Away Today. They even offer a layaway program for as little as $125 down.

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). 

 

Dates to Avoid When Planning a Disneyland Vacation

It’s a new year and there is a wide open calendar before us, just waiting to be filled with adventures! Perhaps planning a Disneyland vacation is part of your travel plans? Choosing a vacation date when the stars align and weather, crowds and park hours are optimal is ideal. But that might seem a bit like finding a needle in a haystack! However, there are some tips for choosing the best dates when planning a Disneyland vacation. Here are a few dates I’d recommend avoiding when scheduling your trip.

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

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

January

Avoid January 12-16th

runDisney Star Wars Half-Marathon will bring in runners and their families, making the parks busier than usual in January. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday is also that Monday and kids will be out of school. Any time there’s a school holiday, you can be sure that the parks will be more crowded. Other than these few days, January should be fairly quiet in the parks. The chillier weather and frequent rain will keep crowds low.

February

Avoid February 5th

Contrary to popular belief, Super Bowl Sunday is not a good day to go to Disneyland! In fact, the park crowds are usually very heavy with people who thought the same thing and skipped watching the game.

Avoid February 11-13th and February 18-20th.

Lincoln & Washington’s birthdays mean 3-day weekends and more crowds.

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

March

Other than possible rain showers, March is a pretty good month to visit. However, keep in mind that many schools celebrate their Spring Breaks starting in March so especially late in the month, the park crowds may increase. Even with the rain, you can still have a great Disneyland vacation. Check out my 10 Tips for Surviving a Disneyland Rainy Day.

surviving-a

April

Avoid Spring Break

Spring Break dates vary depending upon where you live. My Southern California kids have their break from April 10th – 23rd. Spring Break is traditionally a very busy time in the parks becasue the weather is generally agreeable.


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).


May

Avoid May 11-14

Not only is May 14th Mother’s Day (and lots of moms like to spend their day at Disneyland!) but it’s also the runDisney Tinker Bell Half Marathon weekend.

Avoid May 29th

Two weeks later is Memorial Day. Don’t forget the rule about avoiding the 3 day weekends!

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

June

Avoid June 17-30th

School’s out! Which means Disneyland is going to be more crowded than ever. Early June is usually a great time to visit if you can make it.

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

Photo Credit: Jeff Holz

July

Avoid the entire month! Or at the least, July 4th.

Okay, I know it’s not fair to say not to plan a Disneyland vacation in July but if you can avoid it, I’d recommend it! In fact, July is the only month I’ve never been to Disneyland because crowds are traditionally heavy in the summer months.

Plan every detail of your Disneyland vacation and stay organized with a PassPorter Disneyland Resort and Southern California Attractions: The Unique Travel Guide, Planner, Organizer, Journal, and Keepsake

August

Avoid August 1st-20th

Once local kids return back to school in late August, the park crowds will lessen considerably. Keep in mind that August is one of the hottest months!

Avoid August 31st

August 31st is the first day of the runDisney Disneyland Half Marathon weekend.

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

Photo Credit: Jeff Holz

September

Avoid September 1st-4th

Labor Day on September 4th is traditionally packed with local annual pass holders however the crowds will be even heavier than usual because of the runDisney Disneyland Half Marathon that weekend. The rest of the month is usually one of the best times to visit in terms of crowds and warm weather (though it can still be extremely hot with temperatures over 100 degrees in September).

Avoid any day that hosts a Mickey’s Halloween Party

Guests who don’t have tickets to the Halloween Party will have to leave the park earlier than usual. Don’t buy a regular park ticket that day, especially if you plan on attending the Party and have a hard ticket to that event.

Pull out your calendar and figure out which dates work best for your vacation! Thomas Kinkade: The Disney Dreams Collection 2017 Wall Calendar

October

Avoid October 6-9th

Gay Days is an “unofficial” Disneyland event that brings in large crowds. It also falls over the Columbus Day 3-day weekend. However Disneyland does offer special things during the event, like multi-layer rainbow cake!

Avoid any day that hosts a Mickey’s Halloween Party

The operating hours will be shorter than on days without a party. Also guests with the hard ticket for the Party will be allowed into the Parks 3 hours before the event, making the Parks busier than usual.

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

November

Avoid November 9-12th

Early November is usually a fantastic time for planning a Disneyland vacation. However try to avoid these particular dates as the runDisney Super Heroes Half Marathon will bring in extra crowds.

Avoid November 18-26th

Many people get their Thanksgiving turkey dinner at Disneyland!  The weekend leading into Thanksgiving, the entire week of Thanksgiving and the weekend after the holiday will be packed. I’ve been to Disneyland on Thanksgiving Day itself and for sure the mornings and afternoons had very heavy crowds. However the crowds seemed to lessen (a bit) into the evening as locals left.

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

December

Avoid December 16-31st

While the first few weeks of December have reasonable crowds, the second two weeks are the busiest of the year! Avoid those dates or at least go into them with a steady game plan and know that you may only experience a small handful of things on your visit because of heavy crowds.

Check out these additional posts on planning a Disneyland vacation, choosing a date for the trip and dealing with heavy crowds.

Best Times of the Year to Visit Disneyland (and Why) and Crowded Disneyland Day? Top Tips on What to Do!

Best times   crowded-day-at

What month do YOU are you planning a Disneyland vacation? Share in the comments!

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

How Kids Can Save Money for Disney (+ Disney DIY Tutorial!)

Saving money for a family vacation generally falls on parents who pitch in the big dollars, of course. But when it comes to nickels and dimes, there’s no reason that kids can’t jump on board too! Here are some ways that kids can save money for Disney so they’ll have spending cash for treats and souvenirs of their own. This quick Disney DIY bank tutorial will help them save their pennies!

Please note that there are affiliate links in this post. Purchasing through this link helps support me in a small financial way (thank you!)

Kids Can Save Money for Disney

Kids can save money for Disney with this DIY tutorial to make their own Disney Vacation fund bank!

By Doing Extra Chores

I believe that kids should pitch in on housework on a regular basis but for those chore that go “above and beyond”, I’m not above a bit of extra monetary compensation. A few bucks here and there for extra chores can add up in a kid’s Disney bank.

With Good Behavior/Good Grades

This one works especially well with little guys! I keep a good behavior chart for my preschooler in the two weeks leading up to the trip. This allows him 14 days to earn a little spending money based on good attitude and helpfulness around the house. For big kids, you could also reward good grades on a special pay scale, with bonuses for all As!

By Selling Something

Coordinate a yard sale as a family where the kids can sell their outgrown toys and/or clothing and earn a few dollars. Or set up an old fashioned lemonade stand or bake sale, though this is often more work for grown-ups involved!

Receiving Gifts

One of my kids favorite ways to save money for Disney trips is by saving monetary gifts given for birthdays and Christmas. If someone is planning on purchasing a gift for your child and asks what she’d like to receive, recommend a Disney gift card!

By Collecting Change

And here’s the perfect place to store all that loose change! Follow this easy DIY for create your own Disney vacation bank.

Kids can save money for Disney with this DIY tutorial to make their own Disney Vacation fund bank!

You can customize the bank with whatever Disney-themed charms you like. This DIY only cost me about $7 to make. I used a half price coupon from the craft store for the most expensive item. Or you can purchase them inexpensively on Amazon.

I purchased my supplies at Hobby Lobby. Here are similar items available at Amazon:

Wide Mouth Glass Mason Jar with Metal Lid,

Glitter Alphabet Sticker Letters

Disney Button Embellishments, Mickey And Minnie Glitter

Wish Lucky Charms

img_2925 img_2921

 

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These peel and stick letters have a cute sparkle stud detail. You can customize your jar with whatever lettering you want (the hardest part of this entire project is getting the letters straight!)

img_2931 img_2933

I found these inexpensive items including Mickey and Minnie buttons, metal “Wish” charms and sparkly dangles. Kids can loop the charms onto a length of narrow ribbon and tie it around the neck of the jar. There are enough charms in each package to make several banks, so they would really be a great gift for another Disney-loving family!

Kids can save money for Disney with this DIY tutorial to make their own Disney Vacation fund bank!


Save Money on a DISNEY WORLD Vacation!

Purchase discount tickets and Walt Disney World vacation packages from my affiliate Get Away Today.


 

Kids Can Save Money for Disney! Read the money saving tips & check out the DIY Disney Bank Tutorial

For more ways to save money for your Disney vacation,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Red | Saving Money for Disney Loop:

 

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

 

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

Here are answers to the top 4 asked questions on the best times of year to visit Disneyland!

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

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

1. When Will We Be Able to Avoid Crowds?

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

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

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

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

Photo Credit: Jeff Holz

Dates to Avoid if You Don’t Like Crowds

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

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

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). 

2. What Does More Crowded Mean?

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

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

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

Ideal Disneyland conditions…free and clear!

3. Considering an Off-Peak Vacation?

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

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

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

4. What are the “Best” Times to Visit?

These are my favorite times to visit. Naturally trends change every year depending upon the scheduling of special events, ride openings/closures and annual runDisney events.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. When Will the Weather Be the Best?

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

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

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

Cold Weather

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

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

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

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

Warm Weather

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

How Much Will a Disneyland Vacation Cost Me?

There are many factors to consider before planning your trip. You’ll need to decide on the time of year to visit, how you’re going to get to Disneyland and how long your vacation will last. Then you’ll need to determine how many days you’ll visit the Parks, where you’ll stay and what meals you’ll be eating. Keep reading for all the Disneyland vacation cost tips (and a free printable for figuring expenses).

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

1. Do the Research

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

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

2. What’s Your Travel Style?

We all have a travel style. Is your style on the frugal side, choosing the cheapest hotel and packing in all meals & snacks? Or do you prefer to splurge on vacation by staying at a 4-star hotel and booking special dining packages and tours?

I think most of us probably fall a little in between. Maybe you splurge on some things, like Character dining meals but then pack in all snacks. Or you book the cheapest hotel which allows you to purchase extra Park day tickets.

Check out this article on various ways you can Pinch Pennies or Break the Bank on your Disneyland vacation.

3. Choose a Reputable Travel Agent

Did you know that using the services of a travel agent costs no extra? In fact, your travel agent often offers additional incentives and specials when you book a full package vacation through them. Choose an agency that specializes in Disney travel, like Get Away Today. They are educated on all things Disney and can work out a package that fits within your budget. They even have special offers like free days when you book a vacation package! Get Away Today also offers a layaway plan.

Save Money on Your Disney Vacation!

Purchase discount Disneyland and Walt Disney World 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).

4. Paying Upfront or Using Credit?

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

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

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

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

5. Travel Expenses

How are you going to get there? For us, Disneyland is just a 90-minute drive away, so gasoline is really our only expense. If you’re coming from farther away, the travel expenses are often the most costly part of your vacation.

If you’re flying in, check out this article about flying to Disneyland from fellow blogger Leslie from Trips with Tykes.

If a long drive is part of your travel plans, check out this post with Kid-Friendly Road Trip Tips for Driving to Disney.

Travel Expenses to Consider:

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

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

6. Hotel

The great debate, will you stay on-site or off-site? Lots of consider here, including amenities, luxury or budget, proximity to the Parks and overall cost.

I have reviews on all three Disneyland on-site hotels as well as a post from Traveling Mom with my 18 Valuable Reasons to Stay at a Disneyland Resort Hotel. For us, we love the close proximity, Magic Morning Hours and the amazing Disney pools.

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

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

Hotel Options to Consider:

  • Cost per night
  • Location – Is it within walking distance or will you need to drive to the Parks each day?
  • Is complimentary breakfast available?
  • Parking or “resort” fees
  • Sales tax
  • Is there transportation available to the parks? Is it complimentary or is there a fee?
How Much Will a Disneyland Vacation Cost? - Check out this Free Printable Checklist and tons of money saving ideas.

Anaheim Majestic Garden Hotel

7. Park Tickets

When pricing out tickets, know that the cost per day is lower the longer your stay.

Ticket Options to Consider:

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

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

8. Meals & Dining

Placing Advance Dining Reservations at Disneyland is generally unnecessary so you can usually eat on a whim throughout the day. Though platters are pricey, they are also usually large so consider sharing meals (see this post about which meals are the best to share).

Naturally the special dining packages and Character dining locations are going to be on the costly end but you also receive a fun plus with your meal. You can bring snacks with you into the parks if you prefer and that will help with costs. You can also request free ice water at any quick service restaurant to avoid having to buy drinks.

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

Famous Lobster Nachos at Cove Bar

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

Dining Options to Consider:

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


9. Special Events

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

Check the Disneyland website to verify cost and availability of these tours as they are required to be reserved ahead of your trip.

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

10. Souvenirs

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

      • Souvenier budget
      • Disney PhotoPass
      • Disney MaxPass

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


Free Printable Research Checklist

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

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

 

 

 

5 Things You Need to Do Before Your First Disney Vacation

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

5 Things You Need to Do Before Your First Disney Vacation

Photo Credit: Jeff Holz

Planning Your First Disneyland Vacation

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

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

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

5 Things You Need to Do Before Your First Disney Vacation

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

Do Your Research

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

These are just a few questions you should ask yourself:

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

maps

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

Best times

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

Park Savers affiliate link

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

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

DAS- pin

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

How to Eat at Disneyland Without Advance Dining Reservations

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

Best Ways to Research

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

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

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

Photo Credit: Jeff Holz

Make Decisions Before You Get There

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

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

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

5 Things You Need to Do Before Your First Disney Vacation

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

5 Things You Need to Do Before Your First Disney Vacation

Get Everyone Familiar

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

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

First Trip to Disneyland? Delightful Movies You Must See First

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

5 Things You Need to Do Before Your First Disney Vacation

Ask Someone Who Knows

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

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

5 Things You Need to Do Before Your First Disney Vacation

Find Help Online

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

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

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

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

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


What to Wear in the Parks – Best Disney Outfits for Kids

 

What to Wear in the Parks? These are the Best Disney Outfits for Kids

You’ve already planned your DisneyBound outfits for your upcoming magical vacation and now it’s time to pack up for the kids! How can you find the best Disney outfits for kids? You’ll need outfits that are practical, comfortable as well as cute. After all you’ll be taking lots of pictures of them on vacation so clothes should be a well-thought out part of the planning process.

Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Peach Loop. Today we are sharing ideas to help you decide what to wear to the Disney Parks. Welcome aboard!

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


Best Disney Outfits for Kids – The Basics to Consider

These are the things to consider when choosing Disney outfits for the kids:

  • What’s the weather going to be like? Will the kids be comfortable mostly in shorts? Will you need a jacket for layering?
  • How many days of clothing will you need?
  • Do you want the kids to dress in costume?
  • Are you aiming for head to toe looks or just a dash of Disney?

T-Shirts

If you’re looking for just a dash of Disney in your vacation look, the best place to start is with a themed tee. I like to pair a themed tee with denim or patterned shorts. Your local stores like Target probably have a good variety of tees at decent prices. The Disney Store online often has specials on their graphic tee designs.

Mickey Mouse Toddler Tee, Tsum Tsum Tee, Pixar Tee

For a special souvenir, consider purchasing a tee at the Parks on the first day of your trip to have the kids wear during the vacation.

Cant go wrong with a tee!

Cant go wrong with a tee!

Minnie Mouse Tee, Captain America Tee, Star Wars Stormtrooper Tee

Make it Yourself

If you’re feeling creative or you like to get crafty, designing your own tee is a unique way to show your Disney side.  A simple rubber stamp and fabric paint gives a colorful look that is quick to achieve. Kids can definitely do this themselves!

Rubber stamp and fabric paint

Rubber stamp and fabric paint

Try this technique for hand painting a Disney design onto a tee for a unique look you won’t see on anyone else! Dory Handpainted Tee Tutorial

Paint Your Own Finding Dory T-Shirt

Try one of these simple sewn tees that are fun for beginners. Mickey pumpkin tee tutorial or I Love Mickey applique tutorial

diypumpkintee1  HeartTee-14

More advanced seamstresses can try applique for a durable and unique style nobody else’s kid will be wearing. Can’t sew? A search on Etsy for appliqued or silkscreened Disney-themed tees will find you something fun for the kids.

IMG_2098 jack

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Head to Toe Look

Do you like to see your kids styled Disney from head to toe? One of my favorite places to find a head to toe look is on Etsy. You’ll be able to find something very unique and you help support small business as well.

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If you can follow a basic pattern, try finding a fun Disney-themed fabric print and make matching outfits for your group. A dress or skirt for the girls and shorts for the boys and they’ll be the envy of everyone in the parks! Disney Lilo and Stitch Many Faces of Stitch Blue Fabric, Disney Emojiland Toy Story Character Toss Blue Fabric, Disney Snow White 7 Dwarfs Fabric

This pattern below is for the same dress and I just tweaked it by changing the length, adding some sweet details (like ribbon on the bodice) and fun applique.

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Pink Disney Mickey Mouse Character Toss Fabric , Disney Alice in Wonderland Always Curious In Pink Blush Fabric, Disney Finding Dory All Smiles Multi Fabric By The Yard

Or take a t-shirt that’s a bit too small and re-purpose it with knit fabrics into a totally unique dress!

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Disney Princess Ariel Sketches Little Mermaid KNIT Fabric, Marvel Comic Wall KNIT Fabric, Disney Minnie Jersey Knit Heather Grey

Shoes 

For the love of all things, please have your kids wear real, practical shoes and not those plastic dress-up shoes with heels! Oh, I’ve seen little girls shuffling through the parks in those plastic shoes and I can imagine the melt-down that would ensue when said shoes cause sore feet and blisters (because they totally will).

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

Rock wall climbing in Disney California Adventure park in his pediped shoes

I adore pediped for my kids in their everyday wear and there are some adorable designs that are appropriate for wearing at the Parks. pediped Flex Sahara Sandal (Toddler/Little Kid). pediped Grip-N-Go Betty Mary Jane (Toddler), pediped Flex Minnie Sandal (Toddler/Little Kid), pediped Flex Jacqueline Sandal (Toddler/Little Kid),

  

Costumes

Kids 12 and under can wear costumes in the Parks. What you’ll need to consider is the practicality of wearing a glitter-encrusted gown while boarding roller coasters and if it’s a good idea for your family or child.

Disney Princess Toddler Cinderella costume, Buzz Lightyear Classic Little Kid’s Costume, Disney Elena Of Avalor Adventure Dress

A few things to think about before dressing the kids in costume:

  • Is the costume weather-appropriate?
  • Is the fabric breathable?
  • Is the costume itchy?
  • Will your child wear the costume all day or will they want to change out of it?
  • Take a good look at the length and sizing (I’ve seen so many little princesses with their gowns dragging on the ground or falling off their shoulders because the dress is too big).

Disney Prince Charming Child Costume, Rapunzel Classic Disney Princess Tangled Costume, Disney’s Deluxe Jake and the Neverland Pirates


I recommend buying the costume early and letting your child try it on to make sure it’s a good fit for them as well as comfortable. You’d hate for your child to be complaining because the elastic in the sleeves is too tight or they’re overly hot.

Accessories

Accessories are a nice way to add just a little touch of Disney to your child’s ensemble. Accessories are fun to buy inside the Disney parks but so much cheaper to purchase them ahead of your trip!

Accessories I’d skip: Wigs, wings, masks, swords and wands. Pretty much anything that your child will want to remove in the park, that makes it hard to get on and off the rides or items that you don’t want to be stuck holding when your child doesn’t want to hold it anymore!

Hats are always a great idea at the Disney parks, especially when the sun is blazing.

Finding Nemo HatDarth Vader HatBaymax Hat

Darth Vader Baseball Cap for Kids - Walt Disney World

Sunglasses are great for blocking out the sun (and wearing them during the day helps keep my kids less cranky too, when they aren’t squinting in the bright sun).

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Socks and shoes are a fun (and practical!) way to show your Disney love! Finding Dory knee socks, Star Wars socksPrincess socks

Vans Kids Classic Slip-On-Mickey Mouse, Vans Kids Classic Slip-On-Wonderland, Vans Kid’s/Youth Era Shoes Disney Pixar Aliens Toy Story

Be sure to check out this free printable packing list for kids traveling to Disney!

Disney Trip Packing List-PIN

For more Dressing for Disney posts,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


Here is the map of our Blogorail Peach | Dressing for the Parks

BIG Disney Vacation GIVEAWAY from ParkSavers!!

BIG Disney Vacation GIVEAWAY from ParkSavers!! Win a 3-night vacation to your choice of Disneyland or Walt Disney World

How to Save Money on Disney Park Tickets & Vacations

Discounted Park tickets to Disneyland can be elusive. In the past, discounts have been reserved to Southern California locals or those working in specific professions. I’ve had ParkSavers as one of my affiliates for a while now and there are several great reasons why. Any guest can save money by purchasing their Park tickets up front through ParkSavers, even on non-Park Hopper tickets! You can even book a hotel or a full vacation package through ParkSavers and save on your trip. Vacation packages even include some special features like a savings card that can be used in the Downtown Disney District.

If you’re looking outside of Disney, ParkSavers also offers discounts to other destinations including Universal Studios Orlando, Disney’s Aulani Resort and Las Vegas.

BIG Disney Vacation GIVEAWAY from ParkSavers!! Win a 3-night vacation to your choice of Disneyland or Walt Disney World

ParkSavers is offering my readers a VERY BIG Disney Vacation giveaway!

ParkSavers will be awarding one winner four 2-day tickets to either park (Walt Disney World or Disneyland, whichever the winner chooses) and a 3-night stay at a Disney Resort Hotel (location to be determined). This giveaway to open to anyone (18+) and the winner will be chosen and rewarded by ParkSavers. The giveaway will run March 28th – April 4th and there are several ways to earn your entries!

WINNER CHOSEN!! – Rebekah B

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