5 Things You Need to Do Before Your First Disney Vacation

You’ve never been to Disney before? Rather than just showing up and hoping that your vacation days fall into place, there are definitely a few things to consider pre-visit. And while Disneyland in California and Walt Disney World in Florida are completely different, these tips work equally well for both coasts. These are the things to know before planning your first Disney vacation!

Planning your first Disney vacation and not sure where to start? These are the top 5 things to do before your Disneyland or Disney World trip. #Disneyland #DisneyWorld

Photo Credit: Jeff Holz

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

Planning Your First Disney Vacation

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

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

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

Planning your first Disney vacation and not sure where to start? These are the top 5 things to do before your Disneyland or Disney World trip. #Disneyland #DisneyWorld

1. Do Your Pre-Disney Vacation Research

Planning for a trip to Disney World should begin months in advance. These are the things to know before a trip to Disney World. You’ll need to decide which Parks you’re visiting on which days. From there you should book Advance Dining Reservations (ADR) for the full-service and character meals you want to eat. FastPass+ reservations can be booked in advance as well.

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

These are just a few questions you should ask yourself:

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

Planning your first Disney vacation and not sure where to start? These are the top 5 things to do before your Disneyland or Disney World trip. #Disneyland #DisneyWorld

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

The Disneyland Resort offers two theme Parks – Disneyland and Disney California Adventure park. At Walt Disney World you have your choice of four parks – Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Epcot, and Magic Kingdom. Are you going to stay in one Park for the entire day or purchase a ParkHopper that allows you access to both Parks on the same day?

At Disneyland, are you going to purchase MaxPass. MaxPass can be purchased on top of your Park ticket. It permits you to schedule FastPass on your smart phone and download unlimited PhotoPass images. Yes, it’s an additional cost to budget but I’ve used it many times and find it to be well worth the extra charge.

I recommend my partner Get Away Today for discounted tickets that can be purchased upfront. 

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

Do you have someone in your group with special needs? Disneyland offers a Disability Assistance Service (DAS) so either City Hall or one of the Guest Relations kiosks should be your first stop of the day.

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

Planning your first Disney vacation and not sure where to start? These are the top 5 things to do before your Disneyland or Disney World trip. #Disneyland #DisneyWorld

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

Best Ways to Research

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

I highly recommend these FREE Disney Parks vacation planning videos. You can watch them together as a family to find out more about the resorts. It’s also an awesome way to build excitement for the trip! CLICK THIS IMAGE TO RECEIVE YOUR FREE DISNEYLAND & DISNEY WORLD VACATION PLANNING VIDEO:

Next, pick up a book that will help you and your family with your research. I recommend The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland 2018 and the The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World 2018 as books that I use when planning my own trips. Keep reading for more ways to research and plan your first Disney trip.

Planning your first Disney vacation and not sure where to start? These are the top 5 things to do before your Disneyland or Disney World trip. #Disneyland #DisneyWorld

World of Color nighttime show at Disney’s California Adventure Park – Photo Credit: Jeff Holz

2. Make Decisions as a Family Before You Get There

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

Ask each person in your family what their top three things are and make sure those happen. Consider purchasing a PassPorter Disneyland Resort Organizer to keep track of all your travel plans as you make them. For Disney World, see The Hidden Magic of Walt Disney World Planner: A Complete Organizer, Journal, and Keepsake for Your Unforgettable Vacation.

5 Things You Need to Do Before Your First Disney Vacation

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

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

5 Things You Need to Do Before Your First Disney Vacation

3. Get Everyone Familiar with the Disney Parks

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

No need to watch every Disney movie ever made before your first Disney vacation, but a general familiarity with some of the Characters can be helpful, especially for young children. Many of the Fantasyland rides are based on Disney movies so watching a few before your trip will give them a bit of a background. Here is a post about what movies I recommend before your trip. If my child is on the fence about a particular ride, I’ll even pull up a video of it on YouTube for them to watch and that gets them excited about riding it on their visit.

Planning your first Disney vacation and not sure where to start? These are the top 5 things to do before your Disneyland or Disney World trip. #Disneyland #DisneyWorld

My son at Disney World’s Animal Kingdom.

Order the free Disney vacation planning DVD and watch it several times beforehand. CLICK THIS IMAGE TO RECEIVE YOUR FREE DISNEYLAND & DISNEY WORLD VACATION PLANNING VIDEO:

Planning your first Disney vacation and not sure where to start? These are the top 5 things to do before your Disneyland or Disney World trip. #Disneyland #DisneyWorld

4. Ask Someone Who Knows About Disney Vacations

Naturally, as someone who has been visiting Disneyland regularly since she was just a baby, I consider myself quite knowledgeable on the subject. That’s why I was disheartened that my coworker hadn’t asked for my advice up before the trip. Knowing her family dynamic, I’d have been happy to offer her customized tips that would have maximize their Disney day. Chances are you know someone who has been to Disney and who can verse you a bit with their “story” and sage advice for your visit.

Planning your first Disney vacation and not sure where to start? These are the top 5 things to do before your Disneyland or Disney World trip. #Disneyland #DisneyWorld

5. Find Help Online

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

I must highly recommend TravelingMom first, as we have dozens of writers who are familiar with the ins and outs of Disney Parks around the world. There are thousands of blogs and websites dedicated to Disney travel so a quick Google search should help you find what you need. And finally, if you can’t find an answer to your Disney question, ask on the Disney Parks Moms Panel and they’ll be able to offer you a personalized response.

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

Planning your first Disney vacation and not sure where to start? These are the top 5 things to do before your Disneyland or Disney World trip. #Disneyland #DisneyWorld


Organizing a Shared Bedroom-Beautiful Space for a Big Girl & Baby

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #SnugDryUltra #CollectiveBias

Organizing a Shared Bedroom - A Beautiful Space for a Big Girl & Baby #SnugDryUltra #ad

With six people in a 1000-square foot home, we’ve had to get very creative with our space. With four kids (a newborn, 4-yr old and two 12-yr olds), organization is key to keeping a tidy and well-run house! I’m here to share my budget-friendly nursery decorating and organization tips for combining a nursery and a big-kid’s room.

Big Kid and Nursery Shared Bedroom

I would like to share the ways that I created a nursery on a budget, including my tried-and-tested organization tips for combining a big kid and a baby in the same room. My 12-yr old son shares a bedroom with his 4-yr old brother and now my other 12-yr old is sharing her bedroom with her newborn baby sister. I’ve had to come up with some creative ways of organizing and storing clothing, diapers and other baby supplies in what is already a tight space. I also want to make sure my tween has a safe place to store her items, up and away from baby hands and mouth!

Here are my top tips:

Multiple Use Furniture

We don’t have the space in this room for a dresser so we make do with fabric boxes and bins. This compact shelving unit holds four soft-sided fabric bins with baby essentials. I have organized them with like-items.

Organizing a Shared Bedroom - A Beautiful Space for a Big Girl & Baby

Clothing and socks are in one bin and bedtime items like nightgowns and swaddles in another bin. Receiving blankets are stacked in the third and overstock items like extra baby wipes, lotion and shampoo are in the last bin.

Organizing a Shared Bedroom - A Beautiful Space for a Big Girl & Baby

The top of the shelving unit doubles as a changing table. I simply purchased a changing table pad and my husband secured it to the back of the shelving unit so it won’t slide off. I sewed up simple fabric pad covers for a unique look.

Make Space on the Wall

A single shelf within arms reach of the changing table is a must for me. It keeps things close at hand, like diaper ointment, lotion and the thermometer. But it also keeps these things up and away from little hands. I also have a wire basket that holds toys and later when the baby is a bit older, I’ll be able to give her one to entertain herself while I change her. Baskets and bins are easy to find at the dollar store.

Organizing a Shared Bedroom - A Beautiful Space for a Big Girl & Baby

Hang it Up

If you can’t hide it or put it away in the closet, get it off the floor and hang it up. Rather than pile them in a box, we clip hair bows neatly onto a ribbon hanger that is hung on the wall.

Organizing a Shared Bedroom - A Beautiful Space for a Big Girl & Baby

Tween side of the closet

Safe Storage

Having a 12-yr old and baby share a space is not without its challenges. We need to make sure that certain items are kept away from little hands. My tween keeps electronics and cords stored in a plastic bin up in the closet. Art supplies and toys with tiny parts are also kept up high so baby can’t get to them.

Organizing a Shared Bedroom - A Beautiful Space for a Big Girl & Baby

Hide It

One of my favorite storage locations is under the bed. An inexpensive bed skirt can hide a multitude of things! Both of my girls were recently gifted hand-me-downs so we have the clothes folded into plastic storage bins underneath the twin bed where we can quickly access them. Diapers in a next size up are stored under the baby crib along with low baskets that hold toys and books so we can easily get to them.

Organizing a Shared Bedroom - A Beautiful Space for a Big Girl & Baby

Storage for Overstock

I save by stocking up when I can and storing the extras in creative ways so they aren’t taking up precious bedroom space! Extra diapers are stacked into a fabric holder that hangs from the end of the crib. We always keep a good supply of extra diapers on hand, because you definitely don’t want to be without!

A Beautiful DIY Bedroom for Baby - Nursery Decor on a Budget

We stock up on Huggies Snug & Dry Ultra. Huggies Snug and Dry Ultra is exclusive to Walmart and the low price of $7.97 makes it easy to stock up. The baby section at Walmart features quality products like Huggies Snug & Dry Ultra at a great price.

Organizing a Shared Bedroom - A Beautiful Space for a Big Girl & Baby

  • Snug & Dry Ultra has a unique quilted liner that locks away wetness from tender skin.
  • One peek at the Wetness Indicator lets you know if baby needs a change. When the indicator turns blue, you’ll know baby’s ready for a new diaper! Available in sizes 1 and 2.
  • The Leak Lock System provides up to 12 hours of protection to help prevent leaks.
  • Quality and value in one diaper: Huggies Snug & Dry Ultra

Organizing a Shared Bedroom - A Beautiful Space for a Big Girl & Baby

Check out the coupon, for $2.00 off any one pack of Huggies at Walmart…just click and print!

What are your favorite kid’s room organizing ideas? Share in the comments –


Beautiful Bedroom for Baby – DIY Nursery Decor on a Budget

A Beautiful DIY Bedroom for Baby - Nursery Decor on a Budget

Having a dedicated space for baby is special. Whether it be a nook in your own bedroom, a shared space with an older sibling or a full nursery, designing the space can be fun…but expensive! If you can sew (or know someone who can), you can really save money and create a space that’s beautiful and unique. I’ve collected a few of my favorite tried and tested tutorials for designing your own nursery decor on a budget.

Basics for a DIY Nursery

Design: Decide on the direction you want to go before starting any projects. Figure out a color palate and style before you buy any fabrics or decide on any patterns.

Fabrics: Find your “inspiration fabric” before you buy anything. This is going to be your main fabric that will highlight your projects and all other colors will pull from this fabric. Art Gallery Winged Wingspan Melon was my inspiration fabric and it had lots of great colors for me to use in the other projects for my nursery.

Patterns: I love the patterns on Sew4Home. They are free and range from beginning to advanced. Make sure to read through the entire pattern before starting in case it’s too complicated for you. A quick search on Pinterest can also give you a wide range of DIY projects!


I find that starting with a quilt is a great place to gather your favorite fabric designs and colors. From here, you can run with things and decide which fabrics you want to use for the other projects in the room.

"Rainbow Blankie", made 4 years ago for my son (along with a Boppy pillow cover)

“Rainbow Blankie”, made 4 years ago for my son (along with a Boppy pillow cover)

Charm pack baby quilt from Sew4Home – 4 years ago, I sewed this small quilt for my son. It’s come to be known fondly as “rainbow blankie” and he sleeps with it every night. I knew that I had to recreate this quilt for the new baby. It’s a great project for beginners (I’d never made a quilt before this one) and goes together easily, especially if you use a pre-cut charm pack. I prefer to pick and choose and piece together my own fabrics but it definitely takes me infinitely longer to make the quilt when I’m cutting out and designing this way.

A Beautiful DIY Bedroom for Baby - Nursery Decor on a Budget

“Butterfly Blankie”, sewn for my new daughter

Changing Table Pad Cover

Changing table pad covers are very simple to sew yourself and you can probably sew up three in a day (I did!) I loved using leftover fabrics to piece them together and create a unique look that coordinates in the room. Adding a bit of Minkie Dot fabric adds softness and sophistication. I used this free pattern from View from the Fridge.

Changing table cover in my son's room, along with a coordinating banner above the table.

Changing table cover in my son’s room, along with a coordinating banner above the table.

Diaper Stacker

Space is tight in our shared nursery so I wanted to have a space to store overstock diapers. I sewed up this hanging diaper stacker that coordinates with the other fabrics in the space. I skipped the applique to save time. Follow the Hanging diaper stacker pattern from Sew4Home.

A Beautiful DIY Bedroom for Baby - Nursery Decor on a Budget

Snuggly Blankie

I had enough Minkie Dot fabric to make a snuggly blankie. One side is the soft Minkie and the other side is one of my favorite prints, that I’ve been hoarding for years! It’s framed with silky satin trim and this blankie goes together very fast. Find the free pattern for the Papa Bear Bound Edge Blanket on Sew4Home.

Art Work and Wall Decor

A Beautiful DIY Bedroom for Baby - Nursery Decor on a Budget

Artwork for the nursery side of the room

Since this is a shared room with a tween and a new baby, I wanted it to look feminine but not babyish. I chose fabrics and colors that were all-age appropriate, in a wide color palette. My older girl already had this turquoise and purple comforter so when I picked out fabrics for the baby’s quilt, I made sure to include these colors as well.

I chose artwork for the spaces above their beds that would coordinate and “grow” with them. I bought the frames and art using 50% off coupons for the craft store and printed the artwork at home from TwoBrushesDesigns on Etsy. The Cinderella Castle print was a gift, purchased at Vivid Editions and has a great splash of brightness and color. I chose frames and mirrors in a variety of shapes and sizes, then laid them out on the floor, moving them around until I had a collage that looked good to me before hanging them on the wall.

A Beautiful DIY Bedroom for Baby - Nursery Decor on a Budget

The Tween side of the bedroom

What to buy and what to make?

I find that things that take a lot of fabric (like fitted sheets) or things that take a lot of time to sew (anything with tons of ruffling) are better off being bought than made myself. There are also some items that are barely noticed in a nursery so you might as well save time by purchasing them instead. I ended up buying a simple crib skirt online for less than $15 and it would have taken me much more to purchase the fabric and sew it myself.

A Beautiful DIY Bedroom for Baby - Nursery Decor on a Budget

Do you have any favorite nursery DIY tips? Share them with me in the comments!


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

Wondering what to wear to Disneyland? Or how to dress for Disney World? Maybe you’ve already planned your own DisneyBound outfits for your upcoming magical vacation. Now it’s time to pack up adorable outfits for Disney for the kids! How can you find the best Disney outfits for kids? You’ll need outfits that are practical, comfortable as well as cute. After all you’ll be taking lots of pictures on vacation so clothes should be a well-thought out part of the planning process.

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

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


Best Disney Outfits for Kids – The Basics to Consider

These Disney outfit ideas are all clothes that I’ve dressed my little ones in during our Disney vacations. I’ll share Disney World outfits for toddlers and Disneyland clothes for preschools. I even have Disney clothing ideas for big kids as well. And because it’s Disney, these ideas easily translate into cute Disney outfit ideas for adults too!

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

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

When you’re ready to pack up, be sure to check out this free printable packing list for kids traveling to Disney!

1. Disney T-Shirts

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

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

Cant go wrong with a tee!

Cant go wrong with a tee!

2. DIY Disney Tees You Can Make Yourself

If you’re feeling creative or you like to get crafty, designing your own tee is a unique way to show your Disney side. Here are a few ideas you can do to make your own Disney t-shirt designs. Depending upon your skill level, I’ve included things for very basic to more advanced.

Rubber Stamp and Fabric Paint

A simple rubber stamp and fabric paint gives a colorful look that is quick to achieve. Kids can definitely do this themselves!

Rubber stamp and fabric paint

Rubber stamp and fabric paint

Hand Painted

Try this technique for hand painting a Disney design onto a tee for a unique look you won’t see on anyone else! For more details on how to do this yourself, check out my Dory Handpainted Tee Tutorial.

Paint Your Own Finding Dory T-Shirt

Quick Sew

Try one of these simple sewn tees that are fun for beginners. They give you the look of applique but is basic so anyone with sewing machine skills can do these! Try the Mickey pumpkin tee tutorial or I Love Mickey applique tutorial.

diypumpkintee1  HeartTee-14

Or simply take a single square of a favorite fabric and sew it on (using the techniques in one of the above tutorials).

Appliqued T-Shirt

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

IMG_2098 jack


3. A Disney Look, Head to Toe

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


Sew It Up Yourself

I love to go to Disney parks with my kids wearing unique and creative outfits! That’s why I often design and sew them up myself. If you can follow a basic pattern, try finding a fun Disney-themed fabric print and make matching outfits for your group. A dress or skirt for the girls and shorts for the boys and they’ll be the envy of everyone in the parks!

One of my favorite places to buy licensed Disney fabrics is on Etsy. They often have awesome import fabrics you won’t be able to find in the stores. Click the images to order fabrics.

Not Your Typical Princess Dresses

This pattern below is for the same dress and I just tweaked it by changing the length, adding some sweet details (like ribbon on the bodice) and fun applique. One dress is Snow White inspired and the other features Rapunzel! Ask your little lady which is her favorite princess and create something so her to wear that’s inspired and totally unique.

149 073a

Click images to order fabric

T-Shirt Dress

You can also take a t-shirt that’s a bit too small and re-purpose it with knit fabrics into a totally unique dress like this one! See how we coordinated the dress with some Minnie-inspired knit accessories?


Click on images to order fabric

Simple Cotton Tie-Shoulder Dresses

I found this simple vintage pattern for a dress that ties at the shoulders and it was perfectly lightweight for a spring trip to Disney World. This Mickey Mouse print dress reverses to white and red polka dots! I paired it with knit shorts and an over-sized bow. My daughter is tasting her first Dole Whip at the Polynesian Resort. I was so glad I had her dressed so adorably for the occasion!

Here’s another tie-shoulder dress style that I made for my daughter. I pieced this together myself based on a dress that my daughter already owned but it went together in a snap (I even used inexpensive bias tape for the ties). This Marvel fabric is so unexpected on a baby, and totally unique!

Click images to order fabrics

Quick Sew Shorts

Not to leave the boys out, I have made my gentlemen dozens of shorts to wear at Disney during our vacations over the years! I always use the same simple 2-piece pattern for elastic waist shorts. Sometimes I vary the length or add pockets on the legs. So comfy and easy to pair with a plain tee.


Click images to order fabrics

4. Perfect Shoes for Disney

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

I adore pediped for my kids in their everyday wear and there are some adorable designs that are appropriate for wearing at the Parks. Some styles are waterproof for splash pad play or even have sparkles (to match princess dresses!) So much better than plastic dress-up shoes!

For more shoe ideas, see my post about the Best Shoes to Wear at Disney.

Save Money at DISNEY!

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

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


5. Disney Perfect Costumes

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

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

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

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

6. Disney-Inspired Accessories

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

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

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

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


Socks and shoes are a fun (and practical!) way to show your Disney love!


What should kids wear at Disney parks? These Disney vacation outfits for kids will have them cute, cool and comfortable in the parks! Tons of ideas on dressing up for Disney, with tips from head to toe for Disneyland and Disney World vacations. #Disneyland #Disney #DisneyWorld #DisneyOutfits #DisneyBound #DisneyKids #DressingKids

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

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

Top 10 New Baby Essentials That Fit Your Budget

Top 10 New Baby Essentials That Fit Your Budget

The baby books and online pregnancy websites will have you believing that you need to fill your house with all the newest gadgets to make baby comfortable and happy. But truly there are very few necessities you’ll need for baby’s first year. There are some items that are cute and fun, but not necessarily essential. If you’re a first time parent, how do you know exactly what you need and what you can skip?

Our newest family member!

Our newest family member!

We welcomed our tiniest Mouseketeer on March 24th! She joins our blended family with a 12-year brother, 12-year old sister and 4-year old brother. We were fortunate enough that many of our friends and family just had babies and were able to offer their “hand-me-down” items. However we live in a very small house so we had to be choosy with what we accepted and what we said, “No thank you” to. Here are my 10 new baby essentials that fit within a tight budget.


Newborn babies do best in one-piece sleeper pajamas in the daytime and gowns with elastic along the bottom (for quick diaper changes) at night. Those tiny jeans, itty bitty socks and hoodies are super cute but newborn babies have little tolerance for getting dressed and tiny t-shirts tend to bunch up in back and socks slip off. I find that that one-piece outfits work best until the third month. Aim to have at least one sleeper for each day of the week and two gowns.

Before you go out and purchase all new outfits, hit the baby resale shops first. Most of the clothing you’ll find in these shops is very gently worn or perhaps never worn at all. I shop thredUP online frequently and you can sell them your gently used clothing when baby outgrows it.

Juicy Couture Girls Long Sleeve Outfit Size 0-3 moCirco Girls Short Sleeve Outfit Size 3 moPolarn O. Pyret Boys One Piece Snowsuit Size 1-2 moLittle Me Boys Long Sleeve Outfit Size 3 moColumbia Girls One Piece Snowsuit Size 0-3 moLe Top Girls Long Sleeve Outfit Size 3 mo


Blankets in a variety of thickness and texture are extremely versatile. Use muslin blankets to tightly swaddle baby. Use a thin receiving blanket to drape over the car seat and block sun from her face. Smaller sized lightweight blankies make a nice burp cloth over your shoulder. A soft blanket can be tucked around her legs to keep her warm. Lay a thick blanket on the floor for tummy time. A few blankets in each style will suffice.

From left to right (Amazon affiliate links): aden + anais Muslin Swaddle Plus, Baby StarGerber Baby Flannel Receiving Blanket, Flowers and Hudson Baby Double Layer Blanket, Blue

Swaddle Wrap

Want to encourage your newborn to sleep longer than a few minutes at a time? Every time baby brushes his hand against his face it will kickstart their rooting reflex and cause them to awaken. A swaddle wrap makes it easy to keep their hands down and helps them feel snug and secure. I have two of these swaddle wraps that have built in Velcro tabs that make swaddling quick and tight and even my little “Houdini” baby has a hard time wriggling out of this one! She’s been sleeping in multi-hour chunks since I started using the swaddle wrap.

From left to right (Amazon affiliate links): Summer Infant SwaddleMe Adjustable Infant Wrap and SwaddleMe Original Swaddle, Woodland Friends


Newborn babies should sleep bedside for the first three months. If you don’t have room to fit their crib in your room, it’s great to have a small bedside bassinet that baby can sleep in. I had the Fisher-Price Rock n’ Play Sleeper with my son four years ago and loved it so I knew this was a purchase I’d have to make this time around too. This particular bassinet has an incline and babies are able to nestle right in. I keep the vibrate feature on all night and my little girl sleeps very restfully next to me. I appreciate how portable and lightweight this unit is and that I can easily fold it up for storage or to move it from room to room.

(Amazon affiliate link) Fisher-Price Newborn Rock ‘n Play Sleeper

Nursing Pillow

Nursing pillows, like the Boppy is a great multi-use item. It can be used to hold baby when feeding, to rest baby against and to use for “tummy time”. Later when baby is sitting, set the pillow behind them and assist with propping them up. Even if you are bottle feeding, give your arms and shoulders a rest by having baby lay on the nursing pillow when you feed him. I’ve had a Boppy Nursing Pillow with all three of my kids, I love them. Be sure to have at least two pillow covers to change out if one gets soiled.

From left to right (Amazon affiliate link) – Boppy Bare Naked Nursing PillowBoppy Turquoise/Blue Pillow Slipcover and Boppy Plush Pink Pillow Slipcover

Diaper Bag

Your diaper bag doesn’t have to be traditional. Really whatever works best for you, whether it be a backpack, messenger bag or tote. In my opinion, having a diaper bag with a good number of compartments is best otherwise all the little things like diaper ointment and pacifiers will settle on the bottom of the bag. Make sure you find a bag that fits a changing table pad because a travel pad is a necessity. Think about how you’ll carry this bag and make sure it’s not overly bulky or weighted (because you’ll be lugging this along with baby, car seat, stroller, etc). I’ve had the traditional style diaper bag in the past and after it fell off my shoulder for the 50th time on our first pediatric appointment I’m determined to find a backpack style that will work better for my needs. Consider getting something in a dark color that won’t show wear and tear as much. Black or gray is great because it’s appropriate for both mom & dad to carry.

From left to right (Amazon affiliate links): Diaper Bag by AeroBaby for Mom / Dad On-The-Go – Classic Black & Grey Stripes and Skip Hop Forma Backpack, Black



Bath Time

Is a baby bath tub necessary? Perhaps not. You might feel at ease washing baby in the kitchen sink. Just know that they are tiny and slippery and you might feel more comfortable having them lay inside one of these sling-type tubs when they are newborn. You’ll also need a hooded towel, no-tears shampoo/soap and a few soft washcloths.

From left to right: The First Years Sure Comfort Deluxe Newborn To Toddler Tub and Aveeno Baby Wash & Shampoo with Natural Oat Extract 18-Ounce
(Amazon affiliate links), Winnie the Pooh hooded towel (Disney Store affiliate link)

Winnie the Pooh Hooded Towel for Baby - Personalizable


When your newborn outgrows the swaddle wrap, move on to the Sleep Sack to keep them warm and cozy at night. Blankets in the crib are a no-no so these wearable blankets are perfect. Just dress baby in regular pjs, then zip them into a Sleep Sack before putting them in their crib.

From left to right (Amazon affiliate links): Halo SleepSack 100% Cotton Wearable Blanket, Navy Blue Whales, Small and Halo SleepSack Micro-Fleece Wearable Blanket, Pink Zig Zag, Large

Car Seat and Stroller

I received the Britax 2016 B-Agile 3/B-Safe 35 Travel System before baby was born and posted a video review about this travel system. Now that she’s here using it, I love it even more. Click the link and see my video review. I recommend doing a “test drive” in the store to make sure that the features work well for you. In the case of a travel system you’ll be using this for many years, so buy the best that you can afford.

Additional Things to Keep in Mind

  • Don’t be swayed by color. Who cares if it’s pink or blue? If the price is right (or it’s free!), accept it happily. Baby won’t care.
  • Think neutral when making a purchase. If a baby product is gender neutral in pattern and color, you’ll have an easier time with resale.
  • Consider the lifetime value of a product. If it’s a product that will only be used for a month of two, either skip it, buy it used or borrow from a friend.
  • Wait to buy. No need to jump out and buy an exersaucer or high chair for your newborn yet. Wait until they are old enough to use it and you can scout out resale shops for the best prices.

What newborn baby must have is tops on your list? Share in the comments!








Storyteller’s Cafe at Disney Grand Californian Hotel & Spa

Review of lunch at the Storyteller's Cafe at Disney Grand Californian Hotel & Spa - Disneyland Resort

Storyteller’s Cafe Lunch Review

Do you enjoy a quiet respite mid-day while at the Disneyland Resort? It can be a great break, to seek lunch options outside of the Parks. When crowd levels are at their highest, we like to escape the Parks and take the family out for lunch and swimming. The Storyteller’s Cafe located at the Disney Grand Californian Hotel & Spa offered the perfect lunch break for us on our recent visit to Disneyland.

Storyteller's Cafe at Disney Grand Californian Hotel & Spa

I’ll be totally honest with you. It’s next to impossible to please my husband when it comes to eating out. He’s extremely particular about how his food is prepared, the ingredients and how the meal makes him feel afterwards. And because we are so frugal, eating out isn’t something we do very often, so he hates feeling like he “wasted” good money on a meal that didn’t satisfy.

We’ve eaten at Storyteller’s Cafe twice. The first time was several years ago and we dined at the dinner buffet. It was during the Christmas holidays and there was an amazing gingerbread creation in the lobby, delicious foods and fun Christmas treats for dessert. My husband raved about that meal several times after our trip so I know that the restaurant had made a positive impression on him.

Storyteller's Cafe at Disney Grand Californian Hotel & Spa

On our last visit he suggested that we dine at Storyteller’s Cafe for lunch. It was a very busy Saturday in the Parks and we’d not made any dining reservations so we weren’t sure what to expect when we showed up at the Cafe for lunch. Fortunately the restaurant was quite empty and they were able to accommodate us right away.

Storyteller's Cafe at Disney Grand Californian Hotel & Spa

Within minutes we had glasses of ice water and a basket of freshly baked bread. There was a small loaf of tear-apart buttermilk bread and little corn bread muffins, served with butter. Naturally between the five of us, we polished off that bread basket quickly but the waiter was happy to bring more.

Storyteller’s Cafe has a beautiful rustic decor that is both cozy and elegant.  The high ceilings, stained glass details, mix of woods and black wrought iron silhouettes and hand-painted murals really make this a warm atmosphere.

Storyteller's Cafe at Disney Grand Californian Hotel & Spa

What We Ate

My 12-yr old son is all about the soup so he ordered the Charred Nebraska Corn Chowder which had bits of rotisserie chicken, bacon bits and a sprinkle of cilantro. I’ve had this soup before and it’s thick, hearty and filling. It’s absolutely delicious so naturally, the boy didn’t share! The soup bowl is $8 which is a little steep but it’s a good serving size and it did fill him up.

Storyteller's Cafe at Disney Grand Californian Hotel & Spa

My 12-yr daughter and I decided to order a burger to split between us and we were very happy with the Half-Pound Char-broiled Avocado-Bacon Burger. She doesn’t care for avocado so I requested it on the side. The avocado was more like guacamole, mashed with chunks of onion and tomato.

I ordered the beef patty but we could have also had ground turkey or a veggie-burger. The burger was large and juicy with cheddar cheese and toppings served on a Harvest bun. We opted for the fries which were perfectly crisp (we could have requested fresh fruit as a side option). The burger was big and there were plenty of fries so sharing this dish was a great choice. This burger platter is $15, which was reasonable for the portion size (and that we were able to split the dish between two).

Storyteller's Cafe at Disney Grand Californian Hotel & Spa

My husband (aka: Mr. Picky) chose the Grilled Albacore Tuna Sandwich and he was very pleased with his choice. He wanted something that wasn’t overly heavy and the lightly cooked tuna served on toasted ciabatta bread was just what he was craving. The sandwich came with a zesty lemon-caper mayo and was topped with fresh arugula, tomato, and pickled ginger. He requested extra lemons to squeeze on top. Being the health-conscious guy he is, he chose fruit instead of fries. At $17, this was a unique option that my husband really enjoyed.

Storyteller's Cafe at Disney Grand Californian Hotel & Spa

My 4-yr old, excited for the rare dining-out moment, chose the chicken breast nuggets and fries (something he doesn’t really get to eat at home). It came served with veggies (carrots & celery) and a large serving of fresh fruit. He ate all but one nugget (that his sister happily finished for him!)

Our lunch at Storyteller’s Cafe was absolutely delicious and filling enough that we actually didn’t even eat dinner that night (we had ice cream sundaes instead!) The service was quick and top-notch on the day of our visit. Though we were able to pop in without reservations on the day of our visit, it’s generally recommended that you try to book ADR for this restaurant. I would not attempt to show up for breakfast or dinner at Storyteller’s Cafe without Advance Dining Reservations.

Storyteller's Cafe at Disney Grand Californian Hotel & Spa

What You Need to Know about Dining at Storyteller’s Cafe

You do not need to be a guest of the Disney Grand Californian Hotel and Spa to dine at Storyteller’s Cafe and it’s very easy to access the restaurant. You can enter the hotel through the Downtown Disney District and the restaurant is located just next to the pool. Likewise you can exit Disney’s California Adventure Park’s special entrance/exit that is connected to the hotel. Though anyone can exit through this method you have to be a Disneyland Resort hotel guest (with a valid room key) to enter back through this way.

Breakfast at Storyteller’s Cafe is buffet-style only and features character dining with Chip & Dale. Dinner offers both a buffet and the ability to order off the menu. Lunch is menu-only, no buffet is offered.

Next time (and there will be a next time) I’m going to have to try dessert…strawberry cheesecake? Yes, please!

What would you order from Storyteller’s Cafe?