What You Need to Do Before Going On Vacation (And What NOT to Do Once You Go)

Practical tips on what to do before going on vacation (plus one thing you SHOULD NOT do!)

What do you need to do before going on vacation? So much to think about when you’re going out of town besides what you’re going to pack and what sites you’re going to visit when you get there. You need to consider several things before you hit the road. Here are my tips on what to do before going on vacation and something you shouldn’t do once you go!

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

Before Going on Vacation

We don’t leave town very often. More often than not we’re taking day trips or just simple overnights. However if you’re heading out for an extended trip there are a few things you should do. Before you head out of town, there are several things you’ll need to take care of.

Time for Your Check-Up

See the doctor if you have any health concerns before traveling. Refill any prescriptions and pack a first aid kit along with any medications you might need while you’re away.

Tune Up Time, Too

If you’re driving your own car, make sure that you get a tune up and any scheduled maintenance. Check air pressure and tire wear. Always best to get auto work taken care of beforehand so you aren’t slowed down by any unwelcome break-downs on the road. I had a friend lose an entire road trip travel day because her vehicle needed repair along the way.

Leave Your Contacts

Leave emergency contact information with friends and family. Make sure that someone has your entire itinerary, from your flight numbers to which cities and hotels you’ll be staying at. Leave your cell phone number with neighbors so they can call in case of an emergency at home.

What You Need to Do Before Going On Vacation (And What NOT to Do Once You Go)

Put a Hold on It

Make sure you don’t have any packages coming to your house that will either be left out in the elements until you return or stolen off your porch in your absence. I use UPS My Choice, a free service that allows you to track, reroute and reschedule packages. Arrange a hold of your mail with the USPS and they will deliver it upon your return.


Consider investing in a Panasonic Home Monitoring System. I was given one at the Traveling Mom’s conference. I know that the next time we go out of town, I can be reassured knowing that I can open the app on my smart phone and see what’s happening at home while I’m away. The Panasonic Home Monitoring System gives you peace of mind.


Pay Your Bills

You’re already spending enough on the trip, so you’d hate to return to a bunch of late fees because your forgot to schedule your payments! Either prepay them all or schedule online to pay in your absence.

Make a Copy

Photocopy your driver’s license and credit card numbers of the cards you are taking with you. Leave one copy at home and take another with you on the trip. Take note of the phone numbers of the companies in case your card is lost or stolen and you need to cancel it while on the road.

Create a Packing Check List

It’s so easy to forget the things that are staring you in the face (Toothbrush? Eye Glasses?) Check and double check that you have it before zipping up the suitcase. I like this easy to read one, Knock Knock Pack This! Pad.

Clear Out the Fridge

Get rid of the leftovers now and make sure to take the garbage out before you leave. Make sure that you run the dishwasher and clear the sink of dirty dishes or risk coming back to bugs or a stinky house, yuck!

What You Need to Do Before Going On Vacation (And What NOT to Do Once You Go)

Now that you’ve taken care of all this business, what is one thing you should NOT do once you’re on your vacation?

Don’t Broadcast your Vacation

Unless someone is staying in your home, you don’t want to tell the world via social media or your home answering machine that nobody’s at your house. You never know who’s stalking your Facebook page and would be happy to help themselves to your electronics and jewelry while you’re out of town! Wait to upload vacation pictures from your phone until you’ve returned home.

What are your family must-do items before leaving on vacation? Let me below in the comments!




Create Budget-Friendly “Summer Camps” for Your Kids…At Home!

Create Your Own Budget-Friendly "Summer Camps" for Your Kids...At Home!Preview

I’d love be able to send my kids to camp for the summer, but wow, some of those summer camps are over-the-top expensive! I’d still like to give my kids the experiences that those camps offer, whether it be dance camp or sports camp. With the internet at our fingertips, it’s quite easy to do the research yourself and host your own budget-friendly summer camps for your kids, at your own house! Here’s how:

  1. Talk to the kids about what kind of “camp” they’d be interested in.
  2. Do your research.
  3. Plan out your days. Make each day just a little bit different and write out a schedule to avoid getting distracted.
  4. Get out of the house! It’s too easy to get wrapped up in the chores if you’re at home. Make it a true camp and get outside.
  5. Don’t be afraid to be a little wild, get a little dirty and have lots and lots of fun in the process. This will be your child’s summer to remember! And you’ll have saved hundreds of dollars as well.


Whether it be the great outdoors or your own backyard, nature is there to be explored. If you’re living in the country, this one might be easy for you. In mid-city, you might have to get more creative. Search for local area parks that offer hiking trails, open space, fishing, overnight camping, or evening sing-a-longs or bonfires. You could even include a day at the zoo to explore the plants and botanical gardens.


  • Blindfold your child and have them listen to the birds in the trees or the rustling of the leaves. Place different natural items in their hands and ask them to describe them for you.
  • Go on a nature scavenger hunt 
  • Grab a pair of binoculars and go bird watching. You’d be surprised how many of them can hide out in one tree!
  • Take a picnic lunch and lay outside under the clouds.
  • Plan a camping overnight, even if it’s just in your own backyard.


Check with your local school to see if they are open during the summer for public use on the field. Otherwise you can hit the park (go early before the crowds). Make sure to pack plenty of ice water. Focus on a different event each day. Jog to warm up and then get out your favorite equipment. Work on a particular skill (dribbling a soccer ball, catching pop flies) or just get out and play.


Don’t have equipment? Practice your track skills, including the long jump or 10-yard dash. A stopwatch is something that kids love and they enjoy trying to “beat the clock”. End your camp day with stair climbing and see how many you do the first day compared to your last day.


You’ll need a big mirror and lots of music for this one! I was a dance teacher for many years and dance is great exercise for the body and mind. Memorizing routines can be a challenge but so much fun, especially if you are learning alongside your child.

  • Pick a different theme for each day of the week. Perhaps ballet on Monday, jazz on Tuesday, tap (with or without tap shoes) on Wednesday, hip-hop on Thursday and a recital on Friday.
  • Keep it moving! Choose a good mix of slow and fast music. Have your child follow along with you by watching in the mirror and mimicking your actions. Start with basic steps, like a step-together, step-kick or step-hop (skipping).
  • Focus on the body line, from head to toe. Encourage your child to keep their head up and back straight and to point their toe when the leg is lifted off the ground. When my students do a kick, they always want it to go as high as possible which often results in bent knees, curved back and flexed feet. I tell them I’d rather they had better posture than a high kick so I encourage them to keep the kick lower but to focus on a straighter back and pointed toes. This in turn helps them to straighten their legs as well.
  • Use visualization – For instance, if your arms are gracefully moving back & forth say you are a tree in the wind. If you point your toes, say that your legs are like sharpened pencils. Kids remember the visualization when recreating these moves.
  • For older kids, find an age-appropriate music video (Janet Jackson, circa 1980s is a good place to start, so fun!) and learn the routine. Practice it together until you’ve got it down pat.
  • Keep it upbeat and take a break if you child gets frustrated trying to learn a particular step. This camp should be about fun and you can always go back to try the skill again the next day.
  • On “recital day”, gift your child with something they can continue to use when practicing like ballet slippers or a helpful book for teaching dance like Dance Technique for Children. This CD, Kids in Motion was a must when I was teaching dance classes, it’s fantastic and perfect for teaching at home.


Also check out 12 tips for Teaching Tots on Dance Advantage.


I’m not sure there is a kid alive who doesn’t like building with LEGOS. And more than likely you already have the supplies you need for this camp. We keep our LEGOS in a big plastic bin that gets dumped out regularly for play! If you don’t have a big collection yet, the LEGO Classic Medium Creative Brick Box is a perfect place to start.

  • Focus on a different architectural or mechanical skill each day. This could include creating a building with columns, making a staircase or building a bridge.
  • Have a vehicle contest. Set up a ramp with a piece of cardboard on an incline and race your vehicles down to see whose is the fastest (and whose makes it to the bottom in one piece!)
  • Create an animal. See if everyone can guess what the other person’s animal is.


  • The LEGO Ideas Book is wonderful. We own this book and my kids have spent hours working on these fun and creative projects.
  • Replicate your own face using only LEGOS. This is bound to be a funny one!
  • Create a three-dimensional art sculpture. Using a thin layer of Mod Podge glue you can paint over the creation and keep it forever.


Crafting on a summer afternoon sounds like my kind of day! Know your audience and offer craft projects that you know are age-appropriate and that your kids would enjoy. Purchase a few supplies like sketch paper, drawing pencils and acrylic paint. Hit the 99 cent store or scrounge up scraps of what you already have from old projects.

  • Learn a new technique. Attempt tie-dying, make soap or wax candles, paper quilling, build a bird house, try jewelry making or clay. My daughter received Sculpy Clay for Christmas and has been delighting us with her whimsical creations for months.
  • Grab the drawing paper and pens. Set up a still-life scene and have everyone draw it in their own style.
  • Using only recycled products from your house, make an “upcycled” item or creation. Supply tape and glue and see what they make from “junk”.
  • Wooden boxes are great for crafting because they are so versatile. Paint or stain them, cover them in jewels with hot glue, cut out magazine photos and decoupage with Mod Podge…unlimited possibilities and you can use the box for whatever you like afterwards.


I’m usually working full time during the summer and my kids spend their days at Grandma’s house. At least once during the summer I plan on taking time off and implementing a “camp day” for my kids, I know they’ll love it. Even if you have to work and don’t have a full week for your own summer camp, try some of these activities over a weekend.

Create Budget-Friendly "Summer Camps" for Your Kids...At Home!

Me, and my three.

If you do decide to sign up the kids for a camp outside the house, don’t feel like you have to take the price at “face value”. Request with management if there are any discounts, whether for early pick-up, multiple children or scholarship (if you qualify). Groupon even offers camps in local areas. Many camps are willing to work with you on price if you ask.

Have fun playing with your kids! 

This post contains Amazon affiliate links



What Can a Non-Tech Savvy Homebody Do with the Panasonic A500 Point of View Camera?

Gonna teach this tech challenged girl how to use her new A500 @panasonicusa #tmomdisney #socaltmom #panasonicadventure

A post shared by Julie Bigboy (@juliebutterfly2000) on

I was given a Panasonic A500: Point of View Wearable 4K Action Camera at my conference with Traveling Mom to Walt Disney World. I’m not terribly tech-savvy to be sure. In fact, just reading the technical manual was enough to break me out in hives!

Fortunately Panasonic techs were there at the conference to help us learn the ins and outs of the camera and I gleaned enough to try it out on one of the rides at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The A500 is very lightweight so while wearing it in the Park, I didn’t even notice it was on. There is a head band that holds the lens just to the side of your eye for a true “point of view”. The main unit straps to your upper arm inside a comfortable case with a Velcro closure.

I rode DINOSAUR and it was a bit dark and a bit bumpy for me to capture much. Besides, that ride was scary so most of the footage was of my lap since I kept looking away! My Walt Disney World video was an epic fail.

When I returned from the trip I handed over the Panasonic A500 to my husband, an avid outdoorsman. He (like me) is also not much of a technical person but he was able to get the camera working quickly with a tutorial from me. He took the A500 out on his kayak while fishing. The A500 is waterproof and can be used up to 10 feet underwater which is very cool for beach and pool videos. Unfortunately the A500 only records about 30 minutes of footage before needing to be recharged so when my husband caught a 24 lb yellowtail later in the day, the A500 battery was dead.

The A500 comes with an LCD on the main unit so you can view back a snippet of your film. If you want to view the entire footage, you can connect a smartphone or tablet to the camcorder and use Wi-Fi. Then you are able to remotely control recording and manage easy share to social media.

You won’t likely find me zip-lining, surfing or rock-wall climbing, all of which would be totally cool to see from the A500 Point-of-View lens. However my fellow Traveling Moms are so much more adventurous than I, so check out their videos using this camera.

So what can a non-tech savvy homebody do with one of these amazing Panasonic A500? How about filming a birthday party? Imagine the view walking in, holding the lit birthday cake and seeing your precious child’s face when you set it in front of them? Or hand the camera over to your kids and let them film while bike riding, swimming or playing at the park.

I’m thinking I might film a few sewing tutorials. I love to applique and sew and have had several requests for filming online lessons, so this would be a natural. I’ll work on one soon and post it on the blog. See even a old non-tech dog can learn some new tricks!

I received a Panasonic A500 for review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.




Disney Social Media Moms Celebration – On-the-Road in Portland

Disney Social Media Moms Celebration - On-the-Road in Portland

Not to be confused with the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration that recently took place at Walt Disney World, the On-the-Road events are a multi-city tour that brings the magic to three locations around the nation. This event accepted applications for those who were interested in receiving an invitation. Options were Portland, Austin and New York City. I applied for Portland, then crossed my fingers and waited. Portland is the first stop on the On-the-Road tour this summer.

I am pleased to say that earlier this week I received a magical email inviting me to attend. After a day of discussion with my husband, we took the leap and I sent my RSVP saying “Yes!” We booked our flight tonight so it’s finally starting to feel real to me now.

My little heart is a-pitter patter with excitement on taking this trip to what will surely be a conference filled with content and connections. It will be my first Disney-sponsored conference (and only my second blogger conference ever). I am excited to fill my brain with knowledge and to lift my heart with hope for the future of this blog.

I started Saving Up for Disney less than one year ago after the death of my father. I knew I wanted to do something in his honor, as he was my introduction to the world of Disney and loved Disneyland and what it stood for. Since starting this blog I have been able to see, experience and write about so many new and wonderful experiences. I am truly blessed to be able to connect with like-minded souls through my blog and through my writing.

Snippet from the Invitation


The conference is on June 9th, 2015. Please follow my adventures along the way! My husband and I have decided to make a little vacation out of the opportunity and will be flying in to Seattle a few days early. We’ll drive down to Portland and see the sights along the way. Look for the hashtag #TMOM (@TravelingMoms) during the trip. On conference day I’ll be using the hashtag #DisneySMMC.

You can also follow the conference highlights straight from Disney @DisneyMoms on Twitter and WaltDisneyWorld on Instagram.



Kids Guide to Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival

If you’ve ever been to Epcot at Walt Disney World, you might write it off as a place that only grown ups would enjoy. While kids might like some of the rides scattered around the Park, will they really enjoy the global aspect of World Showcase? I’ve taken my young kids and they’ve loved their visits to Epcot, especially during the springtime special, Epcot Flower and Garden Festival. This event in particular has a number of activities geared towards children. Keep reading for the kids guide to Epcot Flower and Garden.

During our previous visits to the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival we were visually treated to incredibly detailed topiaries, had our taste buds tickled with international treats and were able to delight in the nighttime show, Illuminations. And all the usual Epcot attractions are still available during this time as well.

Wondering what kids can do at the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival? This kid-friendly guide to the Disney World special event explains what there is for kids to do, eat and see!

In 2018, the Epcot Flower & Garden Festival run from February 28 through May 28, 2018.

Portions of my visit including my Park tickets and a Disney gift card to purchase food were covered during my visit. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Please note that I include affiliate links in my posts. Clicking through and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

Tips for Taking Kids to the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival

What I Saw, Ate & Drank at the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival

  • Park guests receive a pocket guide to the Epcot Flower & Garden Festival, including where to find topiaries, gardens, demonstrations, dining and shows. Kids can check mark off each item as you visit, eat and watch. The guide makes a wonderful souvenir too, as they can recall & reminisce about your trip.
  • While the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival is a special event, you do not need a special ticket to attend. You can see all of the gardens and topiaries during this event for the cost of your regular Park ticket. A select few experiences require a separate purchase or a separate admission fee (like some of the cooking demonstrations).
  • I recommend purchasing Walt Disney World discount tickets from my partner at Get Away Today.
  • I also highly recommend this FREE Disney vacation planning video (click the Disney image). It’s fun to watch pre-trip with your kids to get them familiar with all that Disney World and Epcot has for them to enjoy!

Wondering what kids can do at the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival? This kid-friendly guide to the Disney World special event explains what there is for kids to do, eat and see!

Festival Highlight – Disney Character Topiaries

Every kid is going to love seeing these amazingly detailed topiaries in the shape of their favorite Disney characters! The topiary displays are definitely a highlight of this special event. Topiaries vary each year so the images you see in my post might vary on your visit. The detail and expression of them are simply jaw-dropping. In the World Showcase area, the characters are themed to the country (Belle & Beast in France, for instance).

There are Disney PhotoPass photographers set up near many of these topiaries so you can capture your entire family with these amazing creations.

Wondering what kids can do at the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival? This kid-friendly guide to the Disney World special event explains what there is for kids to do, eat and see!

What I Saw, Ate & Drank at the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festivalepcotcollage9


Wondering what kids can do at the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival? This kid-friendly guide to the Disney World special event explains what there is for kids to do, eat and see!

Try New Foods During the Festival

During the Festival, guests can purchase food at outdoor kitchen locations throughout the World Showcase area of Epcot. These are taster (appetizer) sized portions so you can try a variety of different dishes. These small portions are a great way to introduce new flavors to kids. Just a bite to see if they like it (my son discovered he liked baklava!)

Kid-Friendly Tastes to Try:

  • Germany: Toasted Pretzel Bread topped with Black Forest Ham and Melted Gruyère Cheese
  • France: Macaron au Chocolat en Sucette: Large Chocolate Macaron Lollipop
  • Honey Bee-stro: Honey-Peach Cobbler Freeze (Non-alcoholic version)
  • Berry Basket: Lamb chop with Quinoa Salad and Blackberry Gastrique
  • Japan: Frushi – Fresh Pineapple, Strawberry and Melon rolled with Coconut Rice, sprinkled with Toasted Coconut and Whipped Cream with Raspberry Sauce on the side
  • Canada: Maple Popcorn Shake (non-alcoholic version)
  • Mexico: Chilaquiles served with Chorizo, Mexican Cream and Cotija Cheese
  • Morocco: Walnut Honey Baklava
  • Smokehouse: Pulled Pig Slider with Coleslaw
  • Caribbean: Caribbean Conch Salad with Mango, Papaya and Pickled Red Onions
  • China: Oolong Peach Bubble Tea

Wondering what kids can do at the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival? This kid-friendly guide to the Disney World special event explains what there is for kids to do, eat and see!

Spike’s Pollen Nation Exploration

From February 28 through May 28, 2018, kids and adults alike can participate in a springtime scavenger hunt starring Spike the honey bee. Purchase a special scavenger hunt map for $5.99 plus tax then return it completed for a prize!

Outdoor Concerts to Get Up and Dance

If you have a kid who loves to move and groove, make plans to watch one of the Garden Rocks concerts. These concerts take place three times each evening from March 2 through May 28, 2018 at the outdoor America Gardens Theater. The cost of the concert is included in the price of admission. Older kids may roll their eyes at the more “classic rock” artists but you can be sure they’ll recognize some of the songs (like Y.M.C.A by the Village People and All Star by Smash Mouth).

Give Kids the Camera

Hand over your camera and you might be surprised with what amazingly detailed photos your kids snap. My son likes experimenting with the macro to get the detail on the tiniest flowers.What I Saw, Ate & Drank at the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival

Get in the Garden and Play!

Several interactive play gardens encourage kids in active play. The Imagination Play Garden engages all five senses in a musical maze. In the How-To Garden, kids can learn tips for starting their own garden at home as well as building their own butterfly house or making botanical crafts.

My youngster loved the Road to the Florida 500, where Cars favorites are on display!

Wondering what kids can do at the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival? This kid-friendly guide to the Disney World special event explains what there is for kids to do, eat and see!

What is There for Babies to Do?

Babies will enjoy the usual things at Epcot like a few rides and character meet n’ greets. During the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival, there are additional delights. Little ones will like the bright colored flower gardens. Make sure to point out the topiaries throughout the Park that are designed as familiar characters (like this adorable Winnie the Pooh).

Let Baby out of the stroller for a walk in the Florida Fresh Garden. They are invited to explore and play in a garden that was planted just for them! For more ideas, see my DisneyBaby post on what to do at Epcot with babies.

Wondering what kids can do at the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival? This kid-friendly guide to the Disney World special event explains what there is for kids to do, eat and see!

Exploratory Gardens for Curious Kids

Curious kids love to learn at these detailed gardens at the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival. There are many gardens but these three really strike a chord with youngsters.

  • Learn about butterflies at the The Goodness Garden Butterfly House. You may even see them emerging from their cocoons.
  • Find out what herbs and produce are grown in the Garden Italiano that come together to make many kid’s favorite food – pizza!
  • Kids can find out more about which plants can be turned into spices inside the fragrant Urban Spice Garden. 

Wondering what kids can do at the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival? This kid-friendly guide to the Disney World special event explains what there is for kids to do, eat and see!

Celebrating Easter at Epcot

From March 16 through April 1, 2018 kids can participate in Egg-stravaganza. This popular scavenger hunt in World Showcase will keep everyone in search of Disney Character-themed eggs. While you don’t have to purchase the map to search for the eggs, it is a fun (and reasonably inexpensive) activity for the kids. A map cost $5.99 plus tax. Return the completed map after spotting all the eggs for a special surprise!

After Dark at Epcot

Stay late during the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival and enjoy nighttime entertainment. Illuminations: Reflections of Earth is the evening show that takes place on the waters of the World Showcase Lagoon.

What I Saw, Ate & Drank at the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival

Photo credit: Eric Dill

What would you most like to explore with your kids at the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival?

Wondering what kids can do at the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival? This kid-friendly guide to the Disney World special event explains what there is for kids to do, eat and see!

Similarities Between Disneyland & Walt Disney World

It was bound to happen. I’ve been visiting Disneyland in California for 40+ years and recently made my first trip to Walt Disney World in Florida. Some comparisons were going to pop up. Blogs are rife with comparisons but I wasn’t going to buy into trying to decide which Park was “better” since they are both so different. Yes, there are similarities between Disneyland & Walt Disney World, but it wasn’t until I got home and downloaded the pictures from my camera that things started clicking for me.

Similarities Between Disneyland & Walt Disney World

There are some similarities between Disneyland and Walt Disney World. Not exactly the same, but definite “like” items. Of course I knew that there were alike attractions shared between the Parks but there were smaller details that caught me by surprise.

I took my pictures the same as I always do: No agenda, just snapping away randomly and occasionally grabbing a family member to pose. Some of the similarities made me laugh! I spent only a few hours in each Park so if they had been full days, I can only imagine the dozens more similarities I could have discovered.

In looking through the albums now, the sweet “alikeness” between my beloved Disneyland  and my new crush Walt Disney World makes me sigh with delight. No need to compare the two Parks, but they are more alike than you think.

Similarities Between Disneyland & Walt Disney World

Both Parks feature this plaque over their entrance tunnels (I just happened to photograph the right sides at both Parks). That statement sets the tone of the day for me, so I was happy to see that it’s featured at Walt Disney World just like it is at Disneyland.

As you scroll through the images below I’ve placed the Disneyland images on the left and the Walt Disney World images on the right (just like they are placed on a map!)

Main Street Station

Similarities Between Disneyland & Walt Disney World

Both Parks have a Main Street Station but each have slightly different looks. Each have curved windows, a clock and an American flag waving up on top, for sure. The main difference noted between the two is the walkway area on the side of the train at Walt Disney World whereas at Disneyland’s station there is a hedge. The Magic Kingdom Welcome Show takes place at Walt Disney World to open the Park, something I wish that Disneyland did before rope drop. It was a very special way to greet early guests to the Park and I’m glad we were there to experience it.

Similarities Between Disneyland & Walt Disney World


Similarities Between Disneyland & Walt Disney World

Both Parks had a Lightning McQueen and a Mater, though each were in totally different form! The versions at Disney’s California Adventure Park rev their engines at the Meet n’ Greet just outside the Cozy Cone Motel. Guests can touch the vehicles and even talk to them (sometimes they talk back!) The topiary vehicles at Epcot’s International Flower & Garden Festival were kept behind a gate just out of reach.

Similarities Between Disneyland & Walt Disney World

Guests to the Disneyland Resort can also slip behind a “Car” from the movie for their own tour of Radiator Springs on the Radiator Springs Racers and that just couldn’t be cooler!

Similarities Between Disneyland & Walt Disney World


Similarities Between Disneyland & Walt Disney World

Yep, each have a big store on the same corner of Main Street U.S.A. The building styles were just so different. I’m accustomed to Disneyland’s quaint store front while every building at Walt Disney World just seemed…huge!

One building I don’t remember seeing at Walt Disney World was a Penny Arcade. Do they have one there like they do at Disneyland? I do love to watch the old-time “movies” there.

Similarities Between Disneyland & Walt Disney World

A Show in front of the Castle

Similarities Between Disneyland & Walt Disney World

We happened to catch the Disneyland Band playing in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle and who should come marching in, but Mickey himself! Just a few feet away from us and a parade of characters came following to dance around the Band. It was light and un-choreographed. It wasn’t even in the schedule so coming across it was just happenstance. Lots of things at Disneyland are like that.

In comparison at Walt Disney World for the scheduled show, Dream Along with Mickey, there is a stage and costumed dancers and about 20 rows of other Guests standing in front of us. The stage was so high that my little one in the stroller wasn’t able to see until we held him up.

Can I just say how enormous everything at Walt Disney World is? The buildings just tower over you. Cinderella Castle…enough said!

Similarities Between Disneyland & Walt Disney World

The Sword in the Stone

Similarities Between Disneyland & Walt Disney World

Located in the same area, in front of the carousel sits the Sword in the Stone. Plaques look about the same. Anvils are different tones (and facing a different way). But the sword looks the same. What makes me giggle is that even the plants in the planter beds are the same color at each different Park (Disneyland 2009 on the left, Magic Kingdom 2015 on the right).

Even three people couldn’t pull it out together!

Similarities Between Disneyland & Walt Disney World


I love a parade! I try not to miss them because Disney parades are just the best! We just happened upon the Festival of Fantasy Parade at Walt Disney World and noted that the parade route was much less congested than at Disneyland. We rolled up a few minutes before the parade started and had a great view of the action. Ariel and Sebastian the Crab make an appearance in both the Festival of Fantasy and Mickey’s Soundsational Parade.

Similarities Between Disneyland & Walt Disney World

Dumbo the Flying Elephant 

Similarities Between Disneyland & Walt Disney World

These pictures just put a smile on my face. It’s a rite of passage for my kids to have their photo taken inside Dumbo the Flying Elephant and as you can see, I took almost identical pictures of my little boy about a year (and the country) apart! We loved that there are two Dumbo the Flying Elephant rides running simultaneously at Walt Disney World. There is also an air-conditioned waiting area in the queue where kids can play (instead of standing in the hot sun like at Disneyland).

Similarities Between Disneyland & Walt Disney World

Autopia / Tomorrowland Speedway

Similarities Between Disneyland & Walt Disney World

I’ve always loved the little winding roads of the Autopia at Disneyland. The bridges you drive over and under and especially the little “off-road” section are my favorite! The vehicles of these two attractions are similar but that’s about where it ends. The Tomorrowland Speedway is basically a boring stretch of road, like a race track. I much prefer the shade-lined route of the Autopia.

City Street

Similarities Between Disneyland & Walt Disney World

At the end of Hollywoodland in Disney’s California Adventure Park is a little slice of California painted onto the side of a building. Same thing going on at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. However the street in Florida is a little less “glitzy” and there is a “Police Line – Do Not Cross” barricade instead of a cutesy velvet rope!

I can’t wait to get back to Walt Disney World and discover more! I saw so little of the Parks on my visit and would love to find more of these quirky similarities. What are you favorite alike things at the Parks? Share them in the comments!signature7




Comfortable (But Still Cute) Clothes to Wear at Disney

Just because you’re going to be walking around in the hot sun and eating giant turkey legs, there isn’t any reason you still can’t look cute! But comfort is important so choose your outfits carefully, taking these key points in mind. There are Disney PhotoPass photographers at every bend to capture your Disney memories and you want to look good! You’ll be wanting to share your magical memories on social media and saving photos in an album so put a bit of thought into your ensemble. These are my suggestions for comfy but still cute clothes to wear at Disney!

1. Choose Breathable Fabrics

You’ll be happier and more comfortable when you choose breathable fabrics, like cotton. That’s why the souvenir Disney t-shirt is so popular! We’re all rockin’ the cotton Disney tee in this shot (except for my husband, who wears nothing but white t-shirts, ever!) Cotton tees dry quickly after a dunking on Splash Mountain too.

Disney Cuteness Tip: Choose women’s styled shirts, which are a little more fitted and shaped, instead of boxy or shapeless tees. LuLaRoe is offering some cute Disney patterns in longer lengths to wear over leggings.

Comfortable (But Still Cute) Clothes to Wear at Disney

2. Consider the Weather

Southern California weather is pretty typical. It’s generally hot in the summer and cool in the winter…sometimes. And sometimes you’ll have a beautiful warm and sunny day in May and the following day it’s raining! And just because it’s December doesn’t mean you’re going to need a winter coat, it could possibly be a surprising 80 degrees! Make sure to check the 10-day forecast before packing.

Dress in layers if the mornings are chilly and the days are warm. Rent a locker to store the jackets and extra layers when you don’t need them.

Disney Cuteness Tip: Choose fun accessories like the knitted Minnie-inspired hat (shown in image below) when the weather is cold and you’re wearing a coat over your Disney outfit.

Comfortable (But Still Cute) Clothes to Wear at Disney  Comfortable (But Still Cute) Clothes to Wear at Disney

3. Head to Toe

A hat is a must in my opinion and it’s fun to purchase them at the Disney Parks. I love to choose a hat (that doubles as a souvenir) on the first day of my trip so I can wear it every day.

Disney Cuteness Tip: Make sure to try the hat on in the shop. Be sure to check that it’s sized correctly and isn’t going to be uncomfortable.

Comfortable (But Still Cute) Clothes to Wear at Disney

For the love of all things, leave the heels at home! Comfortable shoes are a necessity but you don’t have to sacrifice style for comfort. There are lots of adorable and comfortable Disney-styled kicks. Read my post, Best Shoes for the Disney Parks and find out why I love open-toed sandals.

Disney Cuteness Tip: Crocs clogs are a popular choice in the Disney parks and for good reason. They are comfortable and easy to wear in the summer because they dry quickly on water rides. However I think the smaller Crocs clogs are the cuter they are (ie: leave the Crocs clogs to the kids!)

4. Disney Bound

Use items from your closet arranged in a way to resemble your favorite character (I wrote more about it in my post What is Disney Bound?) Images from DisneyBound.tumblr.com

Comfortable (But Still Cute) Clothes to Wear at Disney Comfortable (But Still Cute) Clothes to Wear at Disney


Disney Cuteness Tip: Channel your Inner Minnie with something polka dotted. In my opinion, at Disney you can never go wrong with polka dots!

Comfortable (But Still Cute) Clothes to Wear at Disney               Comfortable (But Still Cute) Clothes to Wear at Disney               2015-03-27 11.57.50

Save Money at DISNEY!

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). 

 5. Accessorize in Style

I totally bought a “fanny pack” on my recent trip to Walt Disney World…yes, I did and I’m not embarrassed about it one bit! I loved having my hands free and my neck was hurting from carrying a purse on my shoulder through the Parks.

2015-04-18 15.54.43

Choose either a waist pack or a crossbody style in a Disney pattern to use specifically for your trip. It’s so helpful to have the individual pockets on a crossbody bag and having your hands free is invaluable. You can fit a surprising amount inside these bags! If you need more room for snacks or kid stuff, choose a Disney-themed backpack to store it all.

Disney Cuteness Tip: Jewelry accessories should be dainty to avoid damage or injury during the rides (can you imagine how your chin would feel after riding a loopy roller coaster with a statement bib necklace hitting you in the face?!) (Mary Poppins necklace from KK and Whimsy on Etsy)

Image from Etsy

6. Kid’s Couture

I love making my kids coordinating outfits when we take Disney trips. Yeah, they’ll probably hate me for it later, but they do look adorable! If you’re not a seamstress yourself, Etsy is a go-to place for clever and unique Disney wear for your family. I love to find unique outfits for my kids to wear at the Parks.

For more ideas on how to dress the kids for Disney, check out the Best Outfits for Kids at Disney.

7. Your First Day Outfit 

Live and learn lesson from our recent trip to Walt Disney World. Our checked bag didn’t arrive until the following day. Fortunately I’d packed a second outfit in my checked bag for me and my son (though my contact lenses, make-up bag and hairbrush were in the checked bag). My mom and brother had absolutely no clothes and had to wear the same outfit on day two. Pack your first day outfit in your carry-on bag!

Fortunately something my mom said rang true, “After ten minutes walking around and riding the rides in the Park, we’ll look hot and sweaty like everyone else.” And that was the truth!

Comfortable (But Still Cute) Clothes to Wear at Disney

What are your top “cute but comfy” tips for outfits at Disney Parks? I’d love to hear your comments!


Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Green | What to Wear at Disney Loop:


What should you wear on your Disney trip? These comfortable but cute clothes are perfect for both Disneyland and Walt Disney World vacations!

Disneyland Hotel – Classic, Classy and Character-Kissed

Welcome to the next stop on the Magical Blogorail. Today we are discussing some of the best Disney resorts around the world.

Disneyland Hotel - Classic, Classy and Character-Kissed


The Disneyland Hotel at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim California is the first hotel to bear the Disney name. It opened in October of 1955, nearly 3 months after Disneyland opened. There were 100 rooms in five two-story guest room complexes. Guests could book a night for $15.00. Today none of the original hotel buildings from 1955 remain standing however the entire resort has recently undergone drastic remodel that makes it shine brighter than ever.

Disneyland Hotel - Classic, Classy and Character-Kissed

I’ve stayed at the Disneyland Resort with my family countless times over the years. Since we live in San Diego, a drive to Disneyland only takes about 90 minutes so our trips were generally just one day and we didn’t often stay overnight. Staying at the Disneyland Hotel was, and still is, a special treat for us. Even though there are technically closer hotels to the Park entrances at much cheaper prices (see my post Disneyland Resort VS. Good Neighbor Hotels), there is just a magic that envelopes you when you stay at the Disneyland Hotel.

Neverland Pool at the Disneyland Hotel

Yesteryears…the Neverland Pool at the Disneyland Resort (circa 2007)

I’ve discussed on this blog before how much we love the pool at the Disneyland Hotel (see my post outlining all the fantastic Disneyland Resort Pools). Shaded by the three resort towers sits the newly re-themed pool area with three retro-styled pools, water slides, cabanas for rent, the Tangaroa Terrace for lunch and Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar for drinks.

Disneyland Hotel - Classic, Classy and Character-Kissed


I cherish how the Disneyland Hotel pays tribute to its iconic past. In the remodeling process the three towers that make up the Disneyland Hotel were renamed Fantasy, Frontier and Adventure. We have stayed in two of the three (Fantasy and Frontier) and love the unique lobby theme in each. Even at Christmas, the decorated trees in the individual lobbies were in the theme of the tower.

Disneyland Hotel - Classic, Classy and Character-Kissed

The main lobby and check in for the hotel is inside the Fantasy Tower, which features this enormous light-up map of the Disneyland Park on the wall.

Disneyland Hotel - Classic, Classy and Character-Kissed

Inside the lobby of the Frontier Tower is a scale replica model of the ride, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

Disneyland Hotel - Classic, Classy and Character-Kissed

The Disneyland Hotel pool is our favorite place to spend an afternoon and I love that even the pool area pays tribute to Disneyland’s roots.

Disneyland Hotel - Classic, Classy and Character-Kissed


Okay, so we’ll probably never have the opportunity to stay in one, but just knowing the the Disneyland Hotel has the amazing themed signature suites available gives me goosebumps! Which one of the five would you choose?

Adventureland, Fairy Tale, Big Thunder, Pirates of the Caribbean or Mickey Mouse Penthouse?

Disneyland Hotel - Classic, Classy and Character-Kissed

Adventureland Suite (Image from Disneyland.com)

Disneyland Hotel - Classic, Classy and Character-Kissed

Fairy Tale Suite (Image from Disneyland.com)

Disneyland Hotel - Classic, Classy and Character-Kissed

Big Thunder Suite (Image from Disneyland.com)

Disneyland Hotel - Classic, Classy and Character-Kissed

Pirates of the Caribbean Suite (Image from Disneyland.com)

Disneyland Hotel - Classic, Classy and Character-Kissed

Mickey Mouse Penthouse (Image from Disneyland.com)

And if you’re done with corn dogs and popcorn, Disneyland also offers upscale dining at Steakhouse 55 for either breakfast or dinner. Mmmm, you had me at prime rib!


Yes, of course the Disneyland Hotel doesn’t take itself too seriously. This is the house of the mouse and you can find him in subtle (and not-so-subtle ways) throughout the resort. The front entrance of the hotel features statues of Mickey and Minnie.

Disneyland Hotel - Classic, Classy and Character-Kissed

The hotel is rife with Hidden Mickeys to find from floor to ceiling and the amazing double headboard houses a magical surprise!

Disneyland Hotel - Classic, Classy and Character-Kissed

Along the pathway from the hotel to the Downtown Disney District is Mickey’s huge sorcerer’s hat, that Tinker Bell illuminates with twinkling lights at night.

Disneyland Hotel - Classic, Classy and Character-Kissed

There are Disney touches everywhere you look, even in these sweet Minnie & Mickey topiaries just outside the pool grounds.

Disneyland Hotel - Classic, Classy and Character-Kissed

Do you delight in dining with a slapstick crew? Then Goofy’s Kitchen is for you! We met at least a half dozen characters including a chipmunk who joined us for dinner!

Dining with Chip (or Dale?) at Goofy's Kitchen (circa 2008)

Dining with Chip (or Dale?) at Goofy’s Kitchen (circa 2008)

Want to learn more about the Disneyland Hotel? Guests 14+ can take this complimentary one-hour walking tour, the Happiest Hotel on Earth Tour and discover how the Disneyland Hotel was a part of Walt Disney’s dream of the “Happiest Place on Earth” (reserve a spot at the Guest Services desk).

For more about the Benefits of Staying at a Disneyland Resort Hotel, click the link where I address Extra Magic Hours, Character Wake-Up Calls and use of an exclusive entrance to the Park.

Disneyland Hotel - Classic, Classy and Character-Kissed

Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail | Special Edition : Best Disney Resorts Around the World Loop:

Budget-Friendly Mother’s Day Gifts that She’ll Love

Skip the flowers and chocolates this year and pick up Mom a Mother’s Day gift that she’ll absolutely swoon over. You know when you’ve found just the right thing when she tells everyone she sees about it! No need to spend a ton, these are 11 fantastic treats that cost less than $60 each (so you can buy one for yourself too!)

Pampering, in the comfort of her own home

Amope Foot File

Amope Foot File (Amazon affiliate link)

Amopé Pedi Perfect Electronic Pedicure Foot File

Shhh…this is what I bought for my mom and my mother-in-law. In fact, I also bought one for my husband in anticipation of Father’s Day! A good friend has this and says it’s the best, that it completely eliminates any rough spots on her feet. I’m thinking I should have bought one for myself too!

Toss in some lovely Jamberry wraps and she can give herself a pampering from the tips of her nails to the bottoms of her feet!

A Weekend Retreat

Ricardo Beverly Hills

This is one bag that stands out from the rest and you can be sure Mom won’t lose sight of it in this catchy design. I received a Roxbury 2.0 Carry-on Hardside for my recent Walt Disney World trip and can attest to the high quality of Ricardo Beverly Hills.

As a special Mother’s Day offer, Traveling Mom has partnered with Ricardo to give readers a Traveling Mom exclusive deal: 65% off the retail price of any Ricardo suitcase. Visit the Ricardo website to start shopping. Add the coupon code TMOM65Off at checkout. If your order totals more than $99, you’ll also receive free shipping. (The offer is good only until May 31, 2015)

The Perfect Fit

Pandora Cinderella bracelet (it’s not gold, it’s really silver but the Instagram app seems to have changed the color!)

I just recently received my first Pandora bracelet and charm. It’s so stunningly beautiful, I think I’m addicted. I’ve been stalking the Disney Store link looking for my next addition.

Cinderella Tiara Charm

Cinderella Tiara Pandora Charm (Affiliate link)

Relaxation and Wellness

Lavender is lovely. Peppermint, refreshing. Serenity calms. Using doTerra essential oils is one of my favorite ways to wind-down at night. A drop or two on my feet and massaged in before bed and I am oh-so relaxed. Moms can use all the relaxing they can get!

A Book of Memories


Lunch in Morocco with Mom

I just returned from an epic trip to Walt Disney World with my mom. It was a whirlwind and I didn’t take nearly enough pictures, but we did capture some wonderful moments together. Consider combining your special mom moments together into a Shutterfly book. I have a dozen of these books and love going back through them to relive the memories.

If you’re a mom, what do you most want to receive for Mother’s Day? Breakfast in bed? Peace and Quiet? Share in the comments!

This post includes affiliate links