Expectant Mom’s Complete Disney Packing List of Important Needs

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

Disney vacations are often planned a year in advance or more! Sometimes life throws you a curve ball and you find out that you’ll be pregnant during your vacation. No need to cancel your travel plans in most cases, but it’s a good idea to know exactly what to expect when you’re expecting at the Happiest Place on Earth! I recently traveled to Disneyland in my 35th week of pregnancy and am here to tell you what essentials you need to pack in your day bag. Here is a Disney packing list for the most enjoyable (and comfortable) day an expectant mom can have at the Parks.

Pregnant Mom’s Disney Packing List

Stretchy Pants & Panties

You do not want to be wearing pants or panties that are too tight on your burgeoning belly. Panties that are pinching your thighs or bunching up underneath your stomach aren’t going to work. And if the waistband on your pants is too-snug you’re going to be miserable. Do a test-run on your clothes before your trip and choose only the most comfortable.

Comfy Shoes and Foot Care First Aid

Now is not the time to break in a pair of new shoes. Make sure you are wearing your most comfortable pair, one that allows good flexibility. Pregnant feet are known to swell, in particular with all the time standing in queue and walking. Bring good socks, moleskin, bandages and anything else that will help make all the walking and standing more comfortable for you. Pack an extra pair of socks to switch into mid-day, especially if your feet are sweaty or get wet. I also highly recommend packing a second pair of shoes in your day bag (something open-toed, like supportive sandals) so that if your feet swell in your shoes, you can switch to the second pair.

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


To help keep you hydrated and to prevent swelling, you’ll need to be drinking a lot of water. If you have a place to store pre-filled water bottles (like in a stroller or locker) bring them with you. Or you can bring a refillable water bottle and fill at the fountains. You can also always ask for complimentary ice water at any quick service restaurant.

Battery Operated Fan

Your pregnant body is a mini-incubator and you might find that even in pleasant weather, you are easily overheated. Having a small fan that you can keep in your bag is handy, especially if you start to feel light-headed when you’re too warm.


Growing bellies can be itchy, especially in the second trimester. Instead of standing in line scratching your tummy all day, be sure to pack a travel sized bottle of lotion or a balm to soothe your skin.

Maxi Pads/Bladder Protection

Wear one all day and pack extras. Yes, really. Even if you don’t currently experience “bladder incontinence”. Getting in and out of rides can *ahem* cause a little leak (take it from one who knows!) One errant sneeze on a full bladder and you’ll be in big trouble so it’s better to be well protected in the first place.

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

Getting into the Astro Orbitor while 35 weeks pregnant was no easy feat!

Change of Clothes

Accidents happen and if you’re in your third trimester, you might find it challenging to find clothes that fit you in the Park gift shops. I find that my clumsiness increases with each week and I’m constantly dropping food on my belly en route to my mouth. It’s best to just pack yourself an extra outfit in your day bag.


If you’re like me in the third trimester, even water gives you heartburn. Pack a good number of antacid tablets that you can chew on during the day when indigestion flares up.

Fiber and Fruit

On the flip-side of taking antacids, the added calcium in the antacids can cause constipation. You might also be eating differently than you do at home with heavier full-service dining meals. Consider fiber capsules (ask your doctor what they recommend) and up your fruit intake to help keep you regular. We packed dried plums and apples in our snack bag which helped with regularity.

Vitamins and Medicines

Keep up your good prenatal habits and pack all your important vitamins. “Safe” medications are limited while pregnant so ask your doctor what you might need during illness and pack those in with you. I always try to carry at least acetaminophen with me to help ease round ligament pain, headache and achy joints.


Sunscreen and a Hat

Not everyone gets that “pregnant glow”. Some of us get pimples, dry patches or dark spots instead! Even if the weather is less than sunny, slather on sunscreen and slap on a hat to protect your skin.

Healthy Snacks

Pregnant women need a few extra calories than usual and with the additional miles you walk in the Parks, you’ll need to keep your body well nourished. Pack yourself some healthy snacks that you can nibble on throughout the day. Foods like almonds, apples, sturdy crackers and dried plums are easy to keep in a backpack and won’t melt or spoil in warm weather.

Maternity Support Belt

A belly belt will gently support your bump and may help ease back ache. Consider purchasing one ahead of time and “test driving” at home it to see if it helps.

What to Do in the Parks (and what to Skip)

Naturally, as a pregnant woman you will be unable to ride or experience certain attractions at the risk of your unborn baby. These warnings are posted at all Disney rides that discourage pregnant women from participating.

For more pregnancy Disney vacation tips, please take a look at my post on TravelingMom, Pregnant at Disneyland? Top Tips on What to Do (and What to Skip)

Have you ever been to Disneyland while pregnant? What was your must-have item on your Disney packing list that made your vacation better?





Insider Tips -Make the Most of Your First Two Hours at Disneyland

Insider Tips -Make the Most of Your First Two Hours at Disneyland

Disneyland insiders know that making the most of your first two hours at Disneyland Parks is crucial. This is not a time to catch up on your beauty sleep because the early bird catches the worm…or the coveted FastPass, in this case! Getting to the Park at “rope drop” and having a plan for your first two hours at Disneyland can mean the difference between walking on rides without a wait first thing in the morning or standing in queue for 90 minutes in mid-afternoon…which do you prefer?

Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Blue Loop. Today we are sharing some lesser known Disney tips. Here are my top tips on making the most of the first two hours at Disneyland!

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

Insider Tips -Make the Most of Your First Two Hours at Disneyland

Parking at Mickey & Friends Parking Garage bright and early ensures a good spot & minimal wait for the tram

Get Familiar with the Lay of the Lands

If this is your first Disneyland visit, make sure you know your way around a bit before your trip. Study the Park map ahead of time so you aren’t wasting time on Park day wandering around. You can check out the Disneyland website before your trip to view the Park maps.

Insider Tips -Make the Most of Your First Two Hours at Disneyland

A very light crowd in the early morning through Downtown Disney District

Choose Wisely

Making the most of your first two hours also depends upon the time of year you are visiting. During holidays and weekends, crowds are naturally heavier. Weekdays, particularly Tuesday and Wednesday in the “off-season” are your best bet for lighter crowds.

Insider Tips -Make the Most of Your First Two Hours at Disneyland

Nobody here yet! We arrived 45 minutes before Park opening to wait outside the gates and ensure we’d make it for “rope drop”

Check out my post about the Best Times of the Year to Visit Disneyland when trying to choose a vacation date as well as the Dates to Avoid When Planning a Disneyland Trip.

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

Plan of Attack

If you only have one day at Disneyland, then make sure you are making the most of the first two hours. If you have more than one day, I’d recommend taking one day to follow this plan.

This doesn’t mean you should sleep until noon on the other days though. I still always recommend that you arrive at rope drop because crowds are considerably lighter in the mornings and you’ll be able to see and do so much more.

Before you step inside the gates, I recommend coming up with your morning schedule. First off, which direction are you going to go?

Insider Tips -Make the Most of Your First Two Hours at Disneyland

With younger kids, I’d start in Fantasyland. Hit Peter Pan first (because there is no FastPass for this ride and waits are easily 45+ minutes the rest of the day) and then Dumbo and Alice in Wonderland. The rest of the rides in this area should have minimal wait and you can usually complete everything in about an hour.

With older kids or adults only, decide which direction to go inside each Park…turn right for Tomorrowland or left for Adventureland, New Orleans Square and Critter Country. At Disney’s California Adventure Park, first stop should be Cars Land and then either to Hollywood Land or the Paradise Pier area.

Insider Tips -Make the Most of Your First Two Hours at Disneyland

Grab that FastPass for Radiator Springs Racers first!

FastPass is Your Friend

First thing in the morning, lines are already at a minimum. But with each minute that the Park is open, crowds are filling in and what could be a walk-on attraction at first can quickly have a wait. I recommend grabbing a FastPass for highly coveted attractions first and then riding other things in that area before returning to redeem your FastPass. Here are several ideas:

  • Grab FastPasses for Space Mountain and then go on Star Tours: The Adventure Continues and the rest of the rides in the Tomorrowland area.
  • Or hit Adventureland by getting your FastPasses for Indiana Jones Adventure, riding The Jungle Cruise, Pirates of the Caribbean and maybe even Splash Mountain and the Haunted Mansion before returning to redeem your FastPass.
  • Over at Disney’s California Adventure Park, your first stop of the day should be to grab a FastPass for Radiator Springs Racers (the FastPass machine is located near the entrance to bug’s land). You can probably just follow the crowd! If crowds are light, you might be able to just hop on that ride immediately instead!

Keep your FastPasses close at hand inside a coin purse on a lanyard, like these:  Mickey and Minnie Mouse Lanyards with Detachable Coin Purse

  • Head over to California Screamin’ and get your FastPass there. Then get in queue for Toy Story Mania, take a spin on Mickey’s Fun Wheel and return back to the coaster to redeem your FastPass.
  • My older kids like the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror so we’ll often pick up that FastPass first and then head over to bug’s land for a few rides with their little brother.
Insider Tips -Make the Most of Your First Two Hours at Disneyland

Early morning and the wait time for Radiator Springs Racers is low.

Stay Onsite and Enjoy an Extra Magic Hour

Registered Disneyland Resort guests are treated to early entry for each day of their stay. It is recommended to arrive one hour and 15 minutes before Park opening. The schedule is as follows:

Insider Tips -Make the Most of Your First Two Hours at Disneyland

Magic Mornings

Guests with a valid 3+ day Park ticket (purchased ahead of their visit) can enter Disneyland one hour before official gate opening on Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday. This is a great way to beat the crowds and enjoy select attractions even earlier. It is recommended to arrive one hour and 15 minutes before Park opening.

I recommend ParkSavers 3-Day Park Hoppers, which saves you bundle off the full price!

Park Savers affiliate link

Eat Earlier

Though breakfast at the Carnation Cafe is just lovely and Breakfast with Minnie & Friends at the Plaza Inn is Character dining perfection, if you are trying to maximize those first two hours in the Park, stopping for a lengthy breakfast isn’t the best idea.

I recommend that you grab your breakfast to-go outside the Park and eat it while you wait for the gates to open. The Earl of Sandwich and Jamba Juice are two great breakfast locations in the Downtown Disney District that are open before the Park gates. Grab a breakfast sandwich or a smoothie and nibble while you wait at the Park entrance.

We have also brought granola bars and fruit for our first meal and eat those at the gates and then fill up later with an early lunch.

Insider Tips -Make the Most of Your First Two Hours at Disneyland

Entering through Sleeping Beauty Castle just after rope drop

Arrive for “Rope Drop”

Stroll up to the gates at Park opening time and you’ll see lots of people lined up already waiting to get inside. But arrive at least 30 minutes prior to Park opening and be one of the first allowed entry to Main Street U.S.A. Shops and some dining spots are open and you can visit City Hall, if need be (we always have to visit and pick up a DAS card on our first day).

At the end of Main Street U.S.A. you can line up with other guests to await the official “rope drop” or opening of the Park. What a great way to beat the crowds!

Insider Tips -Make the Most of Your First Two Hours at Disneyland

If you want Characters they are out in full force early in the morning and the waits are minimal.

Meet n’ Greets

If you want to guarantee photos and autographs with lots of Characters (without the extra expense of Character dining), then the first few hours of Park opening are the perfect opportunity.

As soon as the gates are opened, you’ll see several Characters hanging out in front of the brick wall. Pass through the tunnels and the Fab 5 are usually posted around the main hub, along with other favorites. On one visit we were able to Meet n’ Greet with Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Pluto, Pinocchio and the Mad Hatter within about 30 minutes.

In order to move things swiftly, have your camera ready and autograph book open with the pen prepped. You can also hand your camera over to the PhotoPass photographer if you’d like them to take a shot with your own camera.

Insider Tips -Make the Most of Your First Two Hours at Disneyland

Now Is Not the Time To…

Any other day I’d recommend you take your time and enjoy Main Street U.S.A. However if you are trying to maximize those first two hours, these are the things you should not do.

  • Don’t buy your tickets that morning. ALWAYS pre-purchase your Park tickets, have them in hand and avoid waiting in line at the ticket booth.
  • Don’t stop to shop. In fact, I recommend doing all or most of your souvenir shopping on an “off-day” and visit Downtown Disney District instead.
  • Don’t stop at City Hall. Grab your “celebratory button” like those for birthdays or first visits after a few hours or get them on a day when you aren’t trying to maximize time. We always have to visit City Hall to pick up a DAS card on our first day but this can easily take 30 minutes waiting in line and processing.
  • Don’t stop for pictures. The exception being is if you have a clear shot of Sleeping Beauty Castle and can pose your family quickly in front of it. In that case, you should always get the photo!
  • Don’t get in line at Starbucks. Seriously, this line will be a mile long in the morning. Grab your coffee at the hotel or at Downtown Disney District and bring it with you to save yourself the time in line at the Main St. Starbucks.
  • Don’t look at the Main Street windows. But most definitely come back this way later in the day to check them out, they are wonderful!
  • Don’t take the train. Though this is one of my favorite ways to start a Disneyland day (by taking the Grand Circle Tour) this isn’t how you should spend your first 30 minutes if you are maximizing your time. You’ll be better off on foot.

For more lesser known Disney tips,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!

Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Blue | Lesser Known Disney Tips Loop:

What is your favorite way to spend the first two hours at Disneyland? Share with me in the comments!


First Trip to Disneyland? Delightful Movies You Must See First

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

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


First Trip to Disneyland? Delightful Movies You Must See First

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

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

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

Rides at Disneyland Based on Movies

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

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

First Trip to Disneyland? Delightful Movies You Must See First

Photo Credit: Jeff Holz


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

Sleeping Beauty is a *MUST SEE*

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

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

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

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

First Trip to Disneyland? Delightful Movies You Must See First

Photo Credit: Jeff Holz

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

First Trip to Disneyland? Delightful Movies You Must See First

Photo Credit: Jeff Holz

Alice In Wonderland is *HIGHLY RECOMMENDED*

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

First Trip to Disneyland? Delightful Movies You Must See First

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

Peter Pan is a *MUST SEE*

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

First Trip to Disneyland? Delightful Movies You Must See First

Photo Credit: Jeff Holz


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

First Trip to Disneyland? Delightful Movies You Must See First

The Toy Story series are *MUST SEE*

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

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

First Trip to Disneyland? Delightful Movies You Must See First

Photo Credit: Jeff Holz

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

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


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

First Trip to Disneyland? Delightful Movies You Must See First

Photo Credit: Jeff Holz

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


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

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

Critter Country

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

First Trip to Disneyland? Delightful Movies You Must See First

Photo Credit: Jeff Holz

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

Other Entertainment

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

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

First Trip to Disneyland? Delightful Movies You Must See First

Photo Credit: Jeff Holz

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

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

First Trip to Disneyland? Delightful Movies You Must See First

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

Disney California Adventure Park

“bug’s land”

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

First Trip to Disneyland? Delightful Movies You Must See First

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


Cars Land

First Trip to Disneyland? Delightful Movies You Must See First

Photo Credit: Jeff Holz

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

Cars is a *MUST SEE*

Paradise Pier

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

First Trip to Disneyland? Delightful Movies You Must See First

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

The Little Mermaid is a *MUST SEE*

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

The Toy Story series are *MUST SEE*

Hollywood Land

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

First Trip to Disneyland? Delightful Movies You Must See First

Photo Credit: Jeff Holz

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

Monsters, Inc. is *HIGHLY RECOMMENDED*

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


Grizzly Peak

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

Other Entertainment

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

First Trip to Disneyland? Delightful Movies You Must See First

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

Frozen is a *MUST SEE*

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

First Trip to Disneyland? Delightful Movies You Must See First

Photo Credit: Jeff Holz

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

Some Rides Came Before the Movies!

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

Movie Watching is Part of Trip Planning

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

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

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

Park Savers affiliate link

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

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

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

Turn at an angle.


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

Lift your arms slightly away from your body.

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

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

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


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

Wear lipstick.

 2015-06-04 07.07.50

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

Tip your chin up and to the side.

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


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

Take off your hat.


If only I’d taken my hat off!


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

Face the light but shoot in open shade.


“Dappled sunlight” creates unflattering shadows

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

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

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

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


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

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

Pretty catch lights in the eyes

Pretty catch lights in the eyes

Take some shots posed and some natural.

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


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


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


“Hide” in back.


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

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

Take more than one.

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

Selective cropping.


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

Delete at home, not in camera.

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

A bit of lightening & sharpening can do wonders!

Dark and shadowy with a strange backlight.

Dark and shadowy with a strange backlight.

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


Practice at home.

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



Disneyland in December and GIVEAWAY! Win a Trip from Get Away Today

Disneyland in December is always a magical time of year. With the entire resort decorated top to bottom in the holiday spirit, Disneyland is a great place to spend the season. This year there are several additions that make this December at Disneyland even better! Keep reading and see how YOU can win a trip to Disneyland!

Holidays at the Disneyland Resort

Christmas is always a huge draw at the Disneyland. From the amazing decor, specialty treats, and seasonal layovers to popular rides like Haunted Mansion Holiday and “it’s a small world holiday”, this is a beautiful place to celebrate the season. In addition to the usual Christmas favorites, like Candlelight Processional in Disneyland, be sure to spend a day at Disney California Adventure Park to play at Olaf’s Snow Fest, World of Color – Winter Dreams and celebrate at Disney !Viva Navidad! The Christmas feeling extends to the rest of the Resort as well, with holiday decor at the Resort hotels and Downtown Disney Winter Village, where guests can ice skate or shop.

Photo Credit: Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland Resort

Photo Credit: Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland Resort

Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration

The 60th anniversary celebration lives on this holiday season. Sleeping Beauty Castle still shines with diamonds and has the addition of a few Christmas touches. Disneyland will continue to show the new nightly spectaculars, Disneyland Forever fireworks and Paint the Night parade as well as feature the traditional Christmas Fantasy Parade.

Paint the Night - Disneyland's Nighttime Spectacular Parade

Anna & Elsa from Frozen (with Olaf in the back)

Seasons of the Force

Tomorrowland is feeling the force as Star Wars takes over during what is sure to be a successful takeover. I’ve heard nothing but good things about the overlay on Space Mountain into Hyperspace Mountain. The Innoventions building has been transformed into the Star Wars Launch Bay, complete with Meet n’ Greets (Chewbacca or Darth Vader). Star Tours – The Adventure Continues now features a new scene from the movie Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Photo Credit: Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland Resort

Photo Credit: Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland Resort

The Disneyland website notes that Star Wars-themed costumes are allowed for both adults & children (within the guidelines). Tomorrowland restaurants are featuring Star Wars themed dishes on their menus, including a black bun Angus beef and chorizo burger served in a Han Solo Carbonite bucket. Debuting December 8th, young Guests can participate in the updated Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple. There is no official end date to this special event, but rumor is mid-March.

Learn how you can navigate the holiday crowds from my post at Traveling Mom.

Can’t wait to visit? Me neither!!! And you have the opportunity to WIN a Disneyland vacation, read on!

I am excited to announce that our friends over at Get Away Today are giving one of you a chance to win a 2 night hotel stay and 2 adult Disneyland 1 Day/1 Park tickets so you can enjoy Disneyland and make some magical memories of your own.

Win a trip to Disneyland from Get Away Today
This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 and older and will run through December 4, 2015.

You can enter to win using the giveaway widget below. If you aren’t wanting to miss out on a good deal though, be sure to check out Get Away Today’s Cyber Monday deal.

Their Cyber Monday sale will kick off on Monday, November 30, and will be good for $50 off the same package requirements: 4-night Southern California vacations w/a minimum of 2 tickets for travel January 1 – March 1, 2016. This will need to be booked by Saturday, December 5, 2015. The promo code is: CyberMonday15
You can book your vacation by CLICKING HERE.

Good luck!
ENTER HERE: Disneyland Vacation Giveaway


Disney for free?! Don’t Spend a Penny Inside the Parks…Here’s How!


Walt Disney World and Disneyland for free?! Don't Spend a Penny Inside the Parks...Here's How!

Everyone knows that a Disney vacation is expensive! But once you have your Park tickets and are inside the gates, you have a choice how much you’d like to pinch pennies or break the bank. What if I told you that you could have an entirely cost-free day inside the Parks, essentially a day at Walt Disney World or Disneyland for free? These are tried and true insider tips from someone who’s gone to the Parks many times on a dime (namely, me!)

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

Read on for my helpful tips about taking on Walt Disney World and Disneyland for free!

Disneyland for free?! Don't Spend a Penny Inside the Parks...Here's How!

Getting into the Park – Money Saving Tips!

Sorry you can’t jump the fence, you’ll still need to buy your tickets! I recommend doing so upfront to save time at the gate. Follow these rules to buying tickets and still save a few dollars.

  • Do not be tempted to purchase from Ebay, on Craigslist or from a seller on the side of the street! Sellers might offer you the extra days left on their multi-day passes but this is a risky move that might cause a loss of your money so don’t do that!
  • Park tickets should only be purchased from the Disney Parks website, Costco, trusted travel agent or through CityPass. I like Park Savers because you can save several dollars on the cost of each ticket as well as knowing you are buying from a reliable seller.

Park Savers affiliate link

  • Note that the multi-day passes save overall as the price per day is lower. If you plan on a longer visit or will be visiting more often than once a year, consider an Annual Pass. Annual Passes also have the option of pay-per-month installments.
  • Keep in mind that if your child is 2 or under, they don’t require a Park ticket so their entry is free!
  • When my family asks me, “What do you want for your birthday?” or “What do the kids want for Christmas?”, request Disney gift cards! They can be used at Walt Disney World or Disneyland towards Park tickets, dining and souvenirs. You can even buy personalized cards online with the recipient’s photo on it.


  • Get a Disney Visa credit card. We have one that we use for all expenses from household bills to groceries and pay it off in full each month (important if you’re trying to save money to NOT be paying interest fees!) We are rewarded with points that are placed onto a Disney Rewards Redemption card that can be used towards tickets, hotel, food and souvenirs in the Parks. On a recent trip we used our rewards points and that paid for all of our meals and a few souvenirs for the kids. There are also additional perks with using the card in the Parks, including meal and shopping discounts and a free photo.

Now that you’re in the Park, the rest of the Day can be FREE!


Minnie’s ready for lunch…bring on the picnic!

Pack in a Picnic

Obviously unless you plan on fasting all day, you’ll need a bit of advanced planning when it comes to eating in the park all day. Here are the things that should be planned ahead of time!

You can bring in your own food to the Parks but there are a few rules.

  • Meals and snacks should be packed in a soft-sided cooler or backpack with a chill pack inside (no hard-sided coolers or wagons allowed).
  • No glass allowed in the Park.
  • Bring bottled water or juice boxes. You can also request ice water for free from any walk-up dining location.
  • Keep in mind that you’ll need a chill pack to keep items cold.
  • Avoid bringing in a bunch of plastic tubs that will add weight. Pack in zip-close disposable bags and bring disposable flatware. Or you can grab flatware from any quick service location.

Good Foods to Pack –

  • Sandwiches (with ingredients that won’t spoil without refrigeration)
  • Green salads in zip-close disposable bags (put the dressing in a snack bag) You’ll need to bring your own fork or grab one from a quick service location.
  • Cold pizza
  • Whole fruit (like apples, oranges or bananas) or cut-up pieces of fruit (like melons & berries) in plastic bags
  • Crunchy granola bars (none with chocolate)
  • Cheese sticks
  • Trail mix (without the chocolate bits)
  • Pre-cut veggies (like carrots, celery or cherry tomatoes)
  • Sturdy chips or crackers (we like Wheat Thins, Triscuits or Goldfish crackers).
  • Juice boxes, sports drinks in plastic bottles, water bottles or refillable water bottles with drop-in flavored powders.

Bad Foods to Pack –

  • Anything with mayonnaise because of the chance it will spoil.
  • Anything that will melt, like chocolate.
  • No glass; you’ll be asked to trash it when passing through security.

For a little money –

You can store your food inside a pay-for-the-day locker if you don’t want to tote it around but we just keep ours in the lower basket of the stroller or in my husband’s backpack.

Disneyland for free?! Don't Spend a Penny Inside the Parks...Here's How!

I have my stroller, hat, glasses and snack…I’m ready to hit the Parks!

Bring It With You

Resist the temptation to buy in the Park…bring these things with you

  • Stroller for your young one. I even recommend strollers for kids up to about 5 years old (all that walking around makes even bigger kids grumpy and tired). Park strollers are notoriously uncomfortable. Consider renting one: I recommend Amusement Park Rentals & have used their services several times at Walt Disney World.
  • Plenty of baby supplies (food, diapers, wipes, disposable bibs). You can purchase these things inside the Baby Care Center but prices are at a premium. You can however use the services at the Baby Care Center for free, including microwaves to warm baby food, highchairs, changing tables and tiny potties. Read about what I pack in my Disney diaper bag.

Park Savers

  • Accessories like hats and sunglasses
  • Sunscreen and Chapstick
  • Jacket and/or rain poncho, depending upon the weather
Disneyland for free?! Don't Spend a Penny Inside the Parks...Here's How!

My family, in their pre-bought themed shirts from the Disney Store

Pre-Buy Souvenirs 

You’ll have some mighty cranky kiddos at the end of the day when you pass by the souvenir cart as you exit the Park and they’re empty-handed! We very rarely purchase souvenirs in the Park because we plan ahead and buy something for the kids beforehand. It’s nice to have a little something to hand them as you pass through the exit to soften the end of the day.

  • Plush characters are much cheaper brought from home than at the Parks
  • I love 99 cent store glow-sticks to wear during evening parades and fireworks (makes it a lot easier to keep track of your kids after dark too!)
  • For those trinkets that you present to the kids just before leaving, think tiny, since you’ll be toting these treats around all day: Tsum-tsum, costume jewelry, die-cast car or Vinylmation.
  • Pajamas in a Disney theme! This might seem strange but we have our little kids change into their PJs before leaving the Park at the end of the night, especially if we have a long drive ahead of us.

  • A toddler will be happy with a cheap bottle of bubbles to blow from their stroller as you swiftly exit the Park (I am the Queen of Distraction!) Just bring them a pair of clothes or pajamas to change into afterwards because you know bubbles always spill (but it’s better than a temper tantrum, in my book).

Other FREE Things in the Parks

  • Celebration buttons – Pretty much whatever you’re celebrating (birthday, anniversary, first trip), Disney has a free button for that! Request one at Guest Services when you enter the Park and be showered through out the day with well-wishes.
Get a free Happy Birthday button at Disneyland, read more to find out how! {Saving up for Disney}

Happy Birthday buttons don’t go unnoticed by Cast Members.

  • Hand your camera over to a Disney PhotoPass photographer – Yes, they not only take pictures with their camera (which you can purchase online) but they’ll also take complimentary photos with your own camera as well! (more details about getting the best family photos).
  • Sweet and savory bites – At Disney California Adventure, swing back into the Pacific Wharf area. The Boudin Bakery will give you a free sourdough bread sample and the Ghiradelli shop hands out a square of chocolate to each Guest. At Club Cool in Epcot at Walt Disney World, you can have your tastes of soda flavors from around the world.
Disneyland for free?! Don't Spend a Penny Inside the Parks...Here's How!

Club Cool at Epcot

  • Bring something from home to collect autographs from the Characters. I’ve heard of people using a fabric marker and a pillowcase or t-shirt. I love the idea of a photo frame mat for Characters to sign around and then include a photo of yourself with one of them inside the picture frame, clever!

Free things to do inside the Disney Parks - Collect Character Autographs in a book you bring from home!

  • I met this woman at Walt Disney World who was collecting her autographs in a book that featured all the characters! (I found it online, it’s called Disney Junior Encyclopedia of Animated Characters). So clever and you’ll have all your autographs in one place.
  • Do you have a Disney Visa credit card? – You can get a private meet n’ greet with a surprise character. Just check the website beforehand to find out the location and more details.
Disneyland for free?! Don't Spend a Penny Inside the Parks...Here's How!

Image Credit: Jeff Holz

The great thing about Disney is that once you have your ticket in hand you are completely free to explore the entire Park without any additional costs if you wish. If you are planning a trip to Disney like this budget guide that includes packing in your own meals and not shopping for souvenirs inside the Park, be sure to let your family know ahead of time what to expect. This will eliminate any unhappy surprises once you’re on your trip. I’ve found that as long as everyone knows what’s happening ahead of time this really helps make the day at the Happiest Place on Earth, well…happy!


9 Things Disneyland Fans Need to Know Before Visiting Walt Disney World

9 Things Disneyland Fans Need to Know Before Visiting Walt Disney World

So, you’re a big time Disneyland fan and now you’re visiting Walt Disney World? How exciting!! You already know about getting to the Park early for rope drop, gathering FastPasses and height requirements for attractions from your dozens of trips to Disneyland, the Happiest Place on Earth, right? What more could there be to know about visiting Walt Disney World? Turns out, there are hundreds of differences, many of which are extremely important towards having a magical day in Orlando! Assume that the Parks are the same and you’ll be in for a big surprise.

1. My Disney Experience – Your Walt Disney World vacation starts at home, months ahead of time with My Disney Experience. Sign in and create an account, and then add your vacation details here. You can schedule FastPass+. make dining reservations. link your Park tickets and add your Disney resort hotel room information here (even if you didn’t book the room through the Disney site).

9 Things Disneyland Fans Need to Know Before Visiting Walt Disney World

2. Magical Express Bus – If you’ve ever flown in to California, you know that there isn’t any special transportation available for Disneyland Resort guests. Fortunately The Magical Express Bus in Orlando will bus you (for free!) from Orlando International Airport to your Walt Disney World Resort hotel if you are a resort guest. They will also deliver your luggage, handling it from baggage claim straight to your room! There are a few WDW-area hotels that do not participate in this program (namely the Swan & Dolphin and Shades of Green) so make sure to check first. And make sure to read all the details about returning to the airport via the Magical Express Bus at the end of your vacation. I got a bit wrapped up in the Disney magic and totally messed this up on my vacation there (read about it on Traveling Mom, Walt Disney World Magical Express Bus – What I Loved (and my $80 Mistake).

3. Disney Resort Hotels – Unlike Disneyland’s three resort hotels, Walt Disney World has 27 Resort Hotels to choose from. In Anaheim, it’s very convenient to book a non-Disney room and walk to the front gates within minutes. Not so at WDW. You’ll either need to use a shuttle service, taxi or rental car if you book off-site because it will take much longer to get to the Park gates and walking is out of the question.

9 Things Disneyland Fans Need to Know Before Visiting Walt Disney World

The lake in front of the Magic Kingdom with a view of the Grand Floridian…don’t have anything like this in Anaheim!

4. Size to Consider – Everything at Walt Disney World is…BIG! The sheer size of the resort compared to Disneyland can be overwhelming. While the Disneyland Resort is compact and the hotels, Parks and Downtown Disney District are all right there, not so at Walt Disney World. Everything is spread out over vast miles with water parks, golf courses, resorts (and lots of greenscapes and trees) in between the Parks. It’s going to take you longer than you’d expect traveling, both inside and outside the Parks.

9 Things Disneyland Fans Need to Know Before Visiting Walt Disney World

Everything is BIGGER at Walt Disney World, even the Castle.

5. Park Hopping – While Park Hopping at Disneyland requires a quick walk across the esplanade between the Parks, Park Hopping at the Walt Disney World resort requires longer transportation. You’ll be taking a bus, boat or monorail to get from park to park. Keep in mind that the transportation between Parks will eat into your day and plan accordingly. If you are able to stay long enough to visit each of the Parks on a single day, I’d do so and skip buying a Park Hopper at Walt Disney World.

Decorating MagicBands - Customizing the Magic with Paint

You can bling out your MagicBand however you’d like before your trip!

6. MagicBands – While Disneyland still uses paper tickets, Walt Disney World has moved into the high-tech world of MagicBands. A MagicBand is a rubberized bracelet that you wear. Inside is RF (radio frequency) technology, which holds your park ticket, room key, FastPass+ and dining reservations. After scheduling all these in on My Disney Experience, you’ll be able to choose the color and name that is printed on the inside of the band. The box with your bands will arrive at your house before the trip (don’t forget to take them with you!) You can even decorate them beforehand (see this thread from the Magical Blogorail about decorating your MagicBand). You should probably put them on before boarding the plane because you’ll need your band before you get on the Magical Express Bus. If you book your trip last minute, your bands will be waiting for you at the front desk when you check in and everyone in your party will receive a gray band.

7. FastPass+ – Paper FastPass? Nope! FastPass+ at Walt Disney World is now linked to your Magic Band so you’ll just flash the band and receive access to the special line. If you’re accustomed to booking your Disneyland FastPasses on a whim while once inside the Park, the FastPass+ system at Walt Disney World is a big change. 30 days out you’ll “reserve” your FastPass+ for certain rides (or 60 days out if you book a WDW Vacation Package). Show up without booking your FastPass+ and you’ll be standing in long queues the entire day. You can only reserve three FastPass+ in advance but you can book more as you go through the day at kiosks throughout the Parks.

9 Things Disneyland Fans Need to Know Before Visiting Walt Disney World

Even Anna & Elsa were there to greet us!

8. Morning Fanfare – If going to The Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, make sure to arrive a bit early to catch the Magic Kingdom Welcome Show. No such thing exists at Disneyland, where they simply open the gates and let you in about 30 minutes before the actual Park opens so you can mill around and shop on Main St. U.S.A. Such a wonderful fanfare at the Magic Kingdom and we highly enjoyed the singing, dancing and plethora of characters that arrive via Disneyland Railroad to welcome you through the gates! The show starts about 20 minutes before gate opening but you should allow a little extra time because a crowd does gather.

9 Things Disneyland Fans Need to Know Before Visiting Walt Disney World

A coveted meal inside Be Our Guest Restaurant

9. Advanced Dining Reservations – Most Disneyland-ers don’t worry about such things, either winging it when it comes to meals or only making a ADR for certain coveted meals (like Goofy’s Kitchen or the Blue Bayou) or for popular times (dinner at 5:00 pm). However dining at Walt Disney World can be much of the adventure and anything above quick service dining will require an Advanced Dining Reservation. Those can be made in My Disney Experience months in advance. If there is a special restaurant you must eat at, keep trying throughout the time leading up to your trip. Many guests cancel (so as not to be charged if they don’t show up), so don’t be deterred if you are still trying in the few days before your vacation. I was able to score lunch at Be Our Guest and dinner at the Prime Time 50’s Cafe the day before we left for our trip!

As you can see, there are LOTS of differences between Disneyland and Walt Disney World. However there are a considerable amount of similarity too (which I discovered via my trip photographs and documented in my article, Similarities Between Disneyland & Walt Disney World). If you’re a Walt Disney World-er going to experience Disneyland for the first time, be sure to read this article on Traveling Mom, 14 Disneyland Tips Every Walt Disney Regular Needs to Know.

Are you a Disneyland fan who also visits Walt Disney World? What other things should Disneyland-ers know before making the trip to Orlando? Share below in the comments!






This Traveling Mom has Gone Around the World!

I have been writing for Traveling Mom for the last few months and love being able to write about my experiences. I don’t nearly travel as much as I’d like but because I live in a tourist city, I can satisfy my travel itch with day trips. That’s why my niche is as the Day Trips Traveling Mom! Here are a few of my articles. I’d love if you stopped by and shared or pinned.

Walt Disney World Magical Express Bus – What I Loved (and my $80 mistake)


Avoid August and 21 Other Surprises Discovered on an Adventure Abroad


How to Encourage Shy Kids to be Brave at Disney


Wonderment Abounds at Medieval Times in Buena Park, CA


What to Eat at Pike Place Market in Seattle if You Don’t Like Seafood




Spending an Off-Day at the Disneyland Resort


How do you spend an "off-day" at the Disneyland Resort? Here are a few fun ideas that won't take you off the property!

Welcome to this month’s Magical Blogorail Red loop. Today we are discussing fun things to do on your summer vacation outside of the Disney Parks.

Multi-day trips to the Disneyland Resort often include one or more “off-days” built in so you can rest up, relax and enjoy the Resort without venturing into the Parks. I’ve included my favorite day-off ideas which you can actually do in one day or stretch them out over several days.

Things to Do on an Off-Day at Disneyland Without Leaving the Resort

Surf’s Up! Mickey & Friends Breakfast

Dine with a Character

You do not need to go into the Parks to enjoy a Character meal! Each of the three hotels in the Disneyland Resort feature their own unique Character meals. Start off the day with breakfast at Disney’s PCH Grill (Paradise Pier Hotel) for Surf’s Up! Breakfast with Mickey and Friends. Or choose Storyteller’s Cafe (Disney Grand Californian) Chip ’n Dale Critter Breakfast or Goofy’s Kitchen (Disneyland Hotel). Goofy’s Kitchen also offers a Character Meal for dinner as well. This is a great way to get in a Character Meet n’ Greet without using up precious Park time.

Things to Do on an Off-Day at Disneyland Without Leaving the Resort  Things to Do on an Off-Day at Disneyland Without Leaving the Resort

Go for a Swim

Nearly all of the time in Anaheim, the weather will be appropriate for swimming. It’s so easy to take one of your “off-days” poolside, especially if you are staying at a Disneyland Resort hotel. The pools are fantastic and there is definitely enough here for a day’s worth of entertainment.

Things to Do on an Off-Day at Disneyland Without Leaving the Resort

Disneyland Hotel pool

I have an entire post on the subject, Disneyland Resort Hotel Swimming Pools – What to Expect of Your Fun in the Sun!  In short, you can rent a cabana, receive poolside drinks and meal service, slip down a water slide, play organized games with resort cast members, relax in a whirlpool hot tub or lounge on a chaise and catch some rays. The pools are ideal for down time and we make sure to reserve a day of our trip for plenty of water play!

Things to Do on an Off-Day at Disneyland Without Leaving the Resort  Things to Do on an Off-Day at Disneyland Without Leaving the Resort

Work Out

Feeling a little sluggish after the Park food? Get up and get moving. I’ve outlined all of the fitness options in my post Exercise on Vacation?! Getting a Workout, Disney-style at the Disneyland Resort Hotels. There is even a guided morning walk through the Park!

Things to Do on an Off-Day at Disneyland Without Leaving the Resort

Explore the Resorts

Make sure to take the time to explore the three different hotels of the Disneyland Resort. There are restaurants and gift shops and you don’t have to be a Resort guest to visit. I adore the Disneyland Hotel and have stayed here many times. Be sure to walk inside each of the towers and check out the unique theming inside the lobbies. Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa is breathtaking inside. I’ve yet to stay here but I’ve still walked through it several times just to admire the beautiful lobby. The Paradise Pier is fun…and Goofy (there is a Goofy statue inside, perfect for selfies).

Things to Do on an Off-Day at Disneyland Without Leaving the Resort

If you are a Resort guest you can sign up to take a tour of the hotels. At the Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa there is an Art of Craft Tour. Or try the Grand Quest, a scavenger hunt through the Resort hotel. Over at the Disneyland Hotel, try the Happiest Hotel on Earth Tour. There are several other offerings, just check with Guest Services on the days and times (some require advanced registration to participate).

From the Disney website:

  • Tales from the Hearth Nestle in for an intimate storytelling experience starring California wildlife at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa.
  • Disney’s Princess Story Time This enchanting experience invites little princes and princesses to view classic Disney animation and enjoy story time with one of the Disney Princesses.
  • Learn to Draw Mickey Class It’s your chance to be an animator! Learn to draw one of Disney’s most famous characters—Mickey!
  • Washcloth Creations Our in-house experts will show you how to make your very own magical creations out of a simple washcloth.

Things to Do on an Off-Day at Disneyland Without Leaving the Resort

A Day at the Spa

The Mandara Spa at the Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa is a heavenly way to recharge on your off-day. Enjoy a massage, facial, mani-pedi or a cleansing sweat in the sauna. There are dozens of special treatments to choose from that will have you rested, relaxed and ready for your next Park day.

Things to Do on an Off-Day at Disneyland Without Leaving the Resort

Downtown Disney District

Shopping, dining and entertainment;  you could spend a lot of time (and money) at Downtown Disney. We always stop in at the LEGO Store where there are plenty of blocks to play and build with. The movie theater is a great place for soaking up the a/c for a few hours. And of course, World of Disney. You can’t miss this enormous store that includes hundreds of fantastic Disney souvenirs. I highly suggest doing your shopping on an “off-day” if you can.

Things to Do on an Off-Day at Disneyland Without Leaving the Resort  Things to Do on an Off-Day at Disneyland Without Leaving the Resort

Movies Under the Stars

On select nights the Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa and Disneyland Hotel host a Disney movie outside for their Resort Guests. Bring your own food and drinks to enjoy during the show.

A Night on Town

Check the kids in at Pinocchio’s Workshop for the night and hit the town…Downtown Disney, that is. While the kids play games and make crafts, you can take in the nightlight in the Downtown Disney District. Book reservations for the House of Blues in advance and take in a show. Or enjoy dinner at Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen and enjoy the live entertainment during your meal.

Things to Do on an Off-Day at Disneyland Without Leaving the Resort

Wide open esplanade between the Parks is perfect for viewing fireworks at night.


If you just want to soak in a bit of the Disney atmosphere at the end of the night but don’t have a Park ticket for the day, stroll into the esplanade. This is the wide open space between the two Parks. Just before the fireworks show starts at Disneyland, other Guests will gather in this area and sit down to enjoy the show. Even though you can’t catch all of the action like you would from inside the Park, it’s still quite magical and a great way to close out your off-day before heading back in to the Parks.

Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Red  | Summer Fun Outside of the Parks Loop:

 What is your favorite way to spend an “off-day” at the Disneyland Resort? Share in the comments!





What I Ate, Wore and Saw on My Trip to the Pacific Northwest – Disney Social Media Moms #DISNEYSMMC

Vacations are the best!! Restaurants, dressing up, going out late and best of all…no housework!

My husband and I headed up to Portland for the #DisneySMMC, Disney Social Media Moms On-the-Road Conference but first we took a few stops. We flew into Seattle, drove to Gig Harbor to stay with friends, then finished up in Portland. For my first trip to the Pacific Northwest, I didn’t have to bring an umbrella or a rain jacket because the weather was in the high 80s! Beautiful bright blue, clear skies so I could dress pretty much as I do at home in San Diego. I decided on a color palette of black, white and red (with a dash of hot pink) to keep things simple and still “Disney-fied!”

My husband and I opted to share many of our meals most of the trip so we could try as many different flavors as possible. Fortunately we were able to agree on dishes and we only experienced amazing meals for the entire 4 days. Here is our adventure:


First time visiting the north #seattle skyline #tmom

A photo posted by Julie Bigboy (@juliebutterfly2000) on

Day One – Seattle – We flew out of San Diego at 6:30 am. I wore a black tank under this fun and quirky reversible Mickey top from I liked that it was a nice lightweight layer and that I was able to turn it inside out (two shirts in one). I wore this top throughout the entire trip, it was very versatile. Plus it features classic Mickey!

What I Ate, Wore and Saw on My Trip to the Pacific Northwest - Disney Social Media Moms #DISNEYSMMC

My reversible Mickey shirt, complements from

We explored Pike Place Market in the afternoon. I was a bit concerned that it would smell like seafood everywhere (as I wrote about in my post on Traveling Mom) but there was plenty to eat besides fish. We shared a sandwich at Le Panier and each splurged on a pastry. 

What I Ate, Wore and Saw on My Trip to the Pacific Northwest - Disney Social Media Moms #DISNEYSMMC

As we headed out of Pike Place Market, we stopped at an information booth and my husband asked where we could find the best fish and chips. The guy pulled out a map and quickly told us where to drive. 

What I Ate, Wore and Saw on My Trip to the Pacific Northwest - Disney Social Media Moms #DISNEYSMMC

We drove for what seemed like forever, ending up in Edmonds, which I don’t think was where the guide had directed us to go (since it was completely off the map!) We shared a late lunch, a plate of light and flaky fish and chips at Arnie’s Restaurant which overlooked Puget Sound. 

What I Ate, Wore and Saw on My Trip to the Pacific Northwest - Disney Social Media Moms #DISNEYSMMC

Our hotel was in Bellevue. By the time we headed out for dinner, it was nearly 8pm. We drove into the downtown area and dined at the Tap House Grill. We sat at the bar and ordered a burger platter to share. Fresh ground beef with cheddar and fries…this was heaven.  Tap House Grill features 160 beers on tap, the largest number in the Northwest. I discovered that I love the ciders, especially the very refreshing Wyders Pear Cider. We had the best bartender ever and he even comped my husband’s beer because he liked it so much!

  Who are these people, going out to dinner at nearly eight?! People on vacation without kids, that’s who!! #tmom   A photo posted by Julie Bigboy (@juliebutterfly2000) on

What I Ate, Wore and Saw on My Trip to the Pacific Northwest - Disney Social Media Moms #DISNEYSMMC

We returned to the hotel and nibbled dessert, Rainier cherries purchased that morning at the Pike Place Market.

What I Ate, Wore and Saw on My Trip to the Pacific Northwest - Disney Social Media Moms #DISNEYSMMC

Rainier cherries in Washington

Day Two – Gig Harbor – I have a friend that just moved to this area so we were going to be staying at her house overnight. We decided to explore the little town first and discovered that it was “Gig Fest” that day. The town was hosting a classic car show, the Knights of Columbus were serving salmon burgers and oysters on the half-shell, there was a band playing and they were going to be blessing the fleet of fishing boats later that day. What an opportune time to visit, we loved it! My husband dug right into the seafood spirit with a plate of oysters.

Our #vacation motto, eat like the locals #oysters #washington (except me, I’m picky!)#tmom

A photo posted by Julie Bigboy (@juliebutterfly2000) on

It was a gloriously sunny day and we were informed on more than one occasion that this weather was particularly rare…lucky us!

What I Ate, Wore and Saw on My Trip to the Pacific Northwest - Disney Social Media Moms #DISNEYSMMC

I held out for lunch from the 7 Seas food truck (The Galley) parked outside their brewery. What a cool vibe the 7 Seas Brewery had! Guests are encouraged to bring in a picnic lunch and dine on the benches inside and out with their family.

What I Ate, Wore and Saw on My Trip to the Pacific Northwest - Disney Social Media Moms #DISNEYSMMC

Food truck goodies included a gourmet salad with goat cheese and a Philly cheese steak sandwich. No ciders served here so I settled for a beer/orange juice combo. It was…interesting. At least the food was delicious!

What I Ate, Wore and Saw on My Trip to the Pacific Northwest - Disney Social Media Moms #DISNEYSMMC

This is the view from my friend’s backyard. It was lovely and warm and we ate dinner on the porch as the sun was setting. I adore all the trees here, it’s all very relaxing. I can see myself living here (if only it weren’t so far away from Disneyland!)

  View of the backyard, wow #gigharbor #washington   A photo posted by Julie Bigboy (@juliebutterfly2000) on

What a meal they treated us to! Ribs, corn on the cob, beans, salad and biscuits. Good food, good wine and good friends, what more could we ask for?

What I Ate, Wore and Saw on My Trip to the Pacific Northwest - Disney Social Media Moms #DISNEYSMMC

Day Three – Portland –  After a few hours drive south, we hit Portland. We were staying at the very hip Residence Inn in the Pearl District. Maps in the lobby guided us around the area and we walked only a few blocks before coming upon the BridgePort Brewing Company. My husband stopped dead in his tracks when he saw another diner eating a huge bowl of chili verde and he just had to have one for himself.

What I Ate, Wore and Saw on My Trip to the Pacific Northwest - Disney Social Media Moms #DISNEYSMMC

I had the delicious Brewpub salad with apples, goat cheese and hazelnuts. The Saint Johns pizza with simple garlic, tomato and mozzarella hit the spot (and yes, I did almost finish this by myself!)

What I Ate, Wore and Saw on My Trip to the Pacific Northwest - Disney Social Media Moms #DISNEYSMMC

That evening we attended the MyPrintly Event in Portland. It was a fantastic night with crafts, cupcake decorating and photographs. We were able to print out as many of our personal photos as we wished, using the HP printers provided. It was my first time using washi tape, so fun! I wore one of my favorite black and white dresses but alas, forgot to take a picture (that’s a bummer, since this event was ALL about pictures!)

What I Ate, Wore and Saw on My Trip to the Pacific Northwest - Disney Social Media Moms #DISNEYSMMC

I had no idea the sun set so late in the Pacific Northwest. It was nearly ten by the time we were driving back to the hotel and the sun was just going down. Isn’t it pretty?

Pretty #portland #sunset #tmom   A photo posted by Julie Bigboy (@juliebutterfly2000) on

Day Four – Disney On-the-Road event in Portland – This is what I wore to the Disney Social Media On-the-Road Conference. I chose a stretchy pencil skirt from Target and a structured jacket from Kohls. I paired it with a lightweight crinkle top from Lauren Conrad’s Minnie Mouse collection at Kohls. I love my wedges from Crocs. They are cute and comfy. The piece de resistence is my mom’s vintage Mickey scarf. I received so many compliments on that scarf, including from Erin Glover and from Mickey himself!

What I Ate, Wore and Saw on My Trip to the Pacific Northwest - Disney Social Media Moms #DISNEYSMMC

Touring the Pearl District in Portland – After the event we had time to burn so we wandered the streets in the Pearl District near our hotel. I slipped on my jeans and another Lauren Conrad Minnie Mouse collection top, one that features a white bow design.

What I Ate, Wore and Saw on My Trip to the Pacific Northwest - Disney Social Media Moms #DISNEYSMMC

We ate a light lunch inside the bustling Whole Foods Market. Here you can make your own box of food, picking and choosing from the hot and cold dishes. Curry chicken with rice and a salad with mandarin orange soda was very tasty on a warm day. Also very reasonably priced. 

#portland #lunch in a box   A photo posted by Julie Bigboy (@juliebutterfly2000) on

What I Ate, Wore and Saw on My Trip to the Pacific Northwest - Disney Social Media Moms #DISNEYSMMC

At this point in our adventure, we’d done a lot of walking and a lot of eating! We dropped off the rental car at the airport and flew back home, full of delicious food and wonderful Pacific Northwest memories.

Disclosure: I was given the reversible Mickey sweatshirt from We also received complimentary lodging at the Residence Inn in Portland. All thoughts and opinions are my own.