How to Eat Healthfully at Disneyland (and Still Treat Yourself!)

Going to Disneyland is a celebration for all senses, taste included!  In addition to the top-notch attractions and entertainment, there are also countless unique and delicious meals and treats only to be found within the Disney Parks. But what if you’re aiming to eat more healthfully? Then probably a giant turkey leg or stacked marshmallows dipped in chocolate on a stick aren’t a part of your diet. No worries, there are lots of great dining and snack choices throughout the Disneyland Park that will keep you on track! You can eat healthfully at Disneyland and still treat yourself.

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

This post was originally published Sept 23rd, 2015

You can eat healthfully at Disneyland and still treat yourself! Find out the tricks for eating healthy at Disney including what snacks to pack & where to dine.

Sandwich purchased at La Brea Bakery Cafe in Downtown Disney District & brought in to the Parks.

Eat Healthfully at Disneyland

I hate to say it, but Disneyland calories totally count if you’re watching what you eat! Sure, there’s cotton candy around every corner and calorie-rich fried delights at Disneyland. But read the menus closely and you’ll see that there are healthy foods to eat at Disneyland at just about every dining location.  Keep reading for the tips on how to eat healthfully at Disneyland, including where to eat, what to choose and healthy snacks to pack.

You can eat healthfully at Disneyland and still treat yourself! Find out the tricks for eating healthy at Disney including what snacks to pack & where to dine.

La Brea Bakery in Downtown Disney has healthy sandwiches to go

1. Finding a Healthy Breakfast at Disneyland

Breakfast is said to be the most important meal of the day, right? Consider eating breakfast before you come to the Park. The smell of frappachinos, buttery pastries and vanilla-scented Mickey waffles will be wafting through the air from the Starbucks and Jolly Holiday Bakery as you walk down Main Street, U.S.A! If you’re trying to eat healthfully at Disneyland you’ll want to fill up your tummy with healthier options before setting foot inside the Parks.

  • Bring food to store in the hotel fridge and fill up at daybreak with Greek yogurt, a banana and fibrous flake cereal. My kids usually enjoy granola bars and fresh fruit.
  • I also suggest dining in the Downtown Disney District before the Parks open. La Brea Bakery Express is a great breakfast location and you can grab things to go or eat on the patio. Skip the breakfast potatoes and see if you can opt for fruit instead.
  • If you have a leisurely morning planned you can also sit inside the La Brea Bakery Cafe restaurant. They serve filling and delicious egg plates, vegetable frittatas and oatmeal.
  • Jamba Juice can make you a delicious smoothie (choose the low-sugar option).

How to Eat Healthfully at Disneyland (and Still Treat Yourself!)

  • If you want to dine inside the Park, River Belle Terrace has a plate of fresh, seasonal fruit (skip the Biscuits n’ Gravy!)
  • Order the fruit platter at Flo’s V8 Cafe and you’ll also receive an oat bran muffin and low fat yogurt.
  • If you choose something healthy like the Spinach and Tomato Egg White Fritatta from Carnation Cafe, request that heavy toppings (like sour cream or fried potatoes) be served on the side so you can control the portion size or share them with someone else in your group.
How to Eat Healthfully at Disneyland (and Still Treat Yourself!)

Fill up on fresh fruit

2. Healthy Snacks at Disneyland

There are snack carts placed all over the Parks so be prepared when that heavenly popcorn or cinnamon-scent of churros hits you! Knowing where to go for the healthiest options is smart.

  • Some carts (like Tropical Imports, Fillmore’s Taste-In and Fairfax Market) also offer fresh fruits, like bananas, apples, grapes, mangoes and pineapple spears. They even have veggies and hummus.
  • Need a little something heartier? Swing wide of the corn dog cart and pick up an Outback Vegetable or Banyan Beef Skewer from Bengal Barbecue. Dipping sauces can contain lots of sugar so it’s best to skip.
  • Craving something sweeter? The Dole Whip from the Tiki Juice Bar is light and refreshing with pineapple soft serve and pineapple juice.
  • You can get vanilla ice cream with no sugar added at the Ghirardelli Soda Fountain. No sugar-added butter pecan is available at Clarabelle’s & Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor. Have it served in a cup instead of a sugar cone.
  • A frozen banana is also a decent choice as it’s lightly coated in chocolate and nuts. It will also take a little longer to eat since it’s frozen so you won’t devour it as quickly.
How to Eat Healthfully at Disneyland (and Still Treat Yourself!)

A frozen banana is a healthy indulgence on a hot day


Heading to Disney World? Read this post from Britni at Play Party Plan about snacks & sweets at Walt Disney World!

3. Your Own Snacks to Pack for Disneyland

Did you know you can always bring in your own snacks to the Park! Soft sided coolers are allowed (no hard-sided coolers, nothing on wheels and no glass allowed). We like to pack an insulated backpack with a few frozen bottles of water to keep our snacks chilled throughout the day. These are some ideas of the healthy snacks to bring to Disneyland:

  • Packing cut veggies or melon is a great way to eat healthy on your trip.
  • Dole individual portions of nuts into small zip bags.
  • Pack pouches of tuna with crackers (pack the crackers into a plastic tub to prevent breakage). You’ll be able to find mayo and relish at quick service dining stands for mixing into the fish.
  • Dried fruit like plums, mangoes or cranberries are a sweet treat.

READ MORE: Packing your own snacks is a great way to save money on food at Disneyland! Click the link for more food budgeting tips.

You can eat healthfully at Disneyland and still treat yourself! Find out the tricks for eating healthy at Disney including what snacks to pack & where to dine.

Skip the sugar and calorie heavy snacks and pack your own healthy foods!

4. Healthier Food Options for Disneyland Lunches

Consider having a filling breakfast and a hearty snack and you might be able to stave off a big lunch and just have dinner instead. Or make one of these healthy lunch choices!

Salads can be a great idea for lunch and there are lots of salads available at the Disneyland Resort.

  • If you’re watching calories, ask them not to add cheese.
  • Avoid salads served in a tostada shell.
  • For salads, always request dressing on the side so you can control the portion.
  • Italian or oil and vinegar are going to be lighter in fat & calories than creamy dressings like Ranch or blue-cheese.
  • The Picnic Salad at the Hungry Bear is a nice mix, including turkey breast, strawberries and Feta cheese.
  • The Crescent City Salad at Cafe Orleans comes with either blackened chicken or Atlantic salmon (just ask for it without the sugary caramelized pecans).
  • The River Belle Terrace offers Becky Thatcher’s Vegetarian Chopped Salad that includes hearty and filling proteins like hard-boiled egg, garbanzo & black beans.
You can eat healthfully at Disneyland and still treat yourself! Find out the tricks for eating healthy at Disney including what snacks to pack & where to dine.

Sandwich on fresh baked Boudin sourdough in the Pacific Wharf area.

Additional Light Lunch Options at Disneyland

  • The Troubadour Tavern offers a baked potato with broccoli and cheese sauce. Just ask for the cheese on the side so you can control the portion or eliminate all together.
  • Village Haus and Smokejumpers Grill have a Garden Veggie Burger (hold the cheese).
  • Tomorrowland Terrace offers a chicken breast sandwich with fresh veggie toppings and avocado salsa. Choose the fruit side over fries.
  • Storyteller’s Cafe (at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel) has a Grilled Albacore Tuna Sandwich that comes with a side of fruit.
How to Eat Healthfully at Disneyland (and Still Treat Yourself!)

Hacienda chicken Caesar salad at Cocina Cucamong

5. Disneyland Drinks

If you’re eating healthy, you already know to avoid sugar-laden sodas. Alcoholic drinks are served at Disney California Adventure Park and guests can indulge in frozen margaritas and beer on tap in the Paradise Pier area and wine at Wine Country Trattoria. Keep in mind that alcohol contains additional calories so if you’re trying to be healthy, don’t drink your calories…save them for food!

  • You can bring in bottles of water with you into the Parks to re-hydrate throughout the day.
  • You can request free ice water from any counter service restaurant.
  • Pack your own water bottle and refill at the fountains.
  • Snack carts offer a variety of waters for sale, including coconut water.
You can eat healthfully at Disneyland and still treat yourself! Find out the tricks for eating healthy at Disney including what snacks to pack & where to dine.

Stay hydrated with bottled water that you bring in with you


6. Delightfully Healthy Disneyland Dinners

Dinner is a great time to consider sharing a platter of food. Even if the dish is more indulgent, it’s not quite as bad if you share between 2 or 3. For more Disneyland dining ideas, see this post on The Best Meals for Sharing at Disneyland.

  • The Citrus-fired grilled chicken platter at Rancho del Zocalo is large and delicious (ask if they can sub black beans for the refried).
  • The oven-roasted chicken platter at French Market Restaurant is another favorite to share.
  • Platters at Plaza Inn are enormous. We buy two plates of fried chicken and share between the five of us. With the sides of mashed potatoes & green beans, we all have enough to eat (and if you’re really watching the calories, you can always remove the skin from the chicken and request no gravy on the potatoes).
How to Eat Healthfully at Disneyland (and Still Treat Yourself!)

This is ONE THIRD of a platter from Plaza Inn! That’s plenty of food, enough for sharing.

More Disneyland Dinner Choices

  • You can’t go wrong with the Mediterranean skewers at the Paradise Garden Grill. The grilled meat and veggie/tofu skewers are served with rice pilaf and cucumber salad, making them a light and refreshing meal (skip the baklava though!)
  • At Tomorrowland Terrace, choose a portobello sandwich with loads of veggies. Ask for cheese and aioli on the side and fruit instead of fries.
  • The soups at Pacific Wharf Cafe are so delicious, but opt for broth-based rather than cream. And try to minimize the nibble to the sourdough bread bowl!
You can eat healthfully at Disneyland and still treat yourself! Find out the tricks for eating healthy at Disney including what snacks to pack & where to dine.

Flo’s V-8 Cafe has a roast beef sandwich on the Kids’ Mickey Check Meal

  • At Redd Rockett’s Pizza Port and Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta you can order a single slice of pizza. Both locations offer a version that skips the fatty meats and tops your slice with seasonal veggies. Round out your meal with a small side salad.
  • Carnation Cafe offers the Chef’s Vegan Burger made of beans & veggies and served with lots of fresh vegetable toppings on a multigrain roll.
  • The Hacienda chicken Caesar salad at Cocina Cucamonga is large and filling.
  • Lamplight Lounge serves up healthier seafood options like tuna poke and a crab and tuna roll.
How to Eat Healthfully at Disneyland (and Still Treat Yourself!)

Platters of fresh Mexican food, enough for four people to share.

More Healthy Dining at Disney Tips

  • As a rule when ordering, avoid anything that is fried, battered, smothered, candied or has a creamy sauce. Look for grilled meats and veggies served without sauces.
  • Don’t be afraid to request a substitution. You can swap fruit instead of fries at counter service restaurants.
  • When ordering at full-service restaurants, ask the Cast Member to put toppings on the side so you can control how much you want to add or leave off. If there is any question about the dish, ask them how it is prepared so you’ll know before it’s in front of you.
  • If you’re ordering at a quick-service restaurant, consider ordering for yourself off the kid’s menu.
  • If you have special dietary requests or food allergies, read this section from the Disneyland website and know that you can speak directly to the restaurant staff or chef with your concerns.
You can eat healthfully at Disneyland and still treat yourself! Find out the tricks for eating healthy at Disney including what snacks to pack & where to dine. #Disneyland #DisneyFood

The kid’s menu options often allow you to sub fries for fruit! And adults can order off the kid’s menu at quick service dining.

  • If calorie-counting, it’s best to skip the buffets. Unfortunately this eliminates all Character dining experiences!
  • Kids can eat healthy at Disneyland too! When choosing kid’s meals, simply look for the Mickey Check. Mickey Check meals meet Disney Nutrition Guidelines as a complete meals. Some Mickey Check kid’s meals are also vegetarian.
  • Enjoy just one bite. If you and your family would love to indulge in something fun or decadent, buy a corn dog. Treat yourself to a caramel-covered apple. Get that frozen treat or stacked marshmallows dipped in chocolate on a stick. And then share it between all of you. Everyone gets a few bites and you all can enjoy the treat!

If you’re looking to indulge, check out this post of must-try Disneyland snacks from Britni at Play Party Plan!

You can eat healthfully at Disneyland and still treat yourself! Find out the tricks for eating healthy at Disney including what snacks to pack & where to dine.

Buy a piece of fudge and then divide it up between the family so everyone gets a taste!

What are your favorite tips for healthy eating at Disneyland? Share with me in the comments!

You can eat healthfully at Disneyland and still treat yourself! Find out the tricks for eating healthy at Disney including what snacks to pack & where to dine. #Disneyland #DisneyFood #TravelwithKids #FamilyVacation #Disney #DisneyDining #DisneyFood #HealthyEating


Top Tips for Budgeting for Back to School

Budgeting for back to school? Yeah, aren’t we all! I have a first grader this year, which means he’ll now need a backpack. And I also have two new high schoolers this year! Both have had the same backpacks since third grade (wow!) and need upgrades. And of course the added expenses of new shoes, school supplies and replacing outgrown clothing. But do we really need to buy ALL of those new things? Check out my tips for assessing what you have and how I’m budgeting for back to school time!

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!

This post was originally published August 6th, 2014

Budgeting for Back to School

The stores have us in the mid-set that “back to school” means freshly sharpened pencils, crisp new clothes and brand new shoes. There must be a snazzy new backpack, bright new spiral bound notebooks and never-used crayons. All the kids in the ads look like there is no better place to be than at school, decked out head-in-toe in shiny new stuff!

Sure, new stuff might soften the landing a bit for kids who are reluctant and cranky about starting the new school year. But what if you don’t need anything new this year? What if the school stuff they were just using back in June is still fine and acceptable for September?

I think all kids love getting brand new stuff but it’s certainly not always necessary, especially if what they have is still in usable condition. Why waste money buying or replacing items that are truly good and usable just because it’s what you’ve “always done” or because the stores are having a sale!

Here are my top tips on how not to get sucked into the Back to School buying trap!

Budgeting for back to school? Check out these practical tips for assessing what you really need to buy for school with advice on using what you already have.

Assess What You Already Have

Put your credit card back in your wallet. Before you run out and buy a bunch of new stuff, you need to figure out what things are essentials and what things can be skipped this year. You’ll do this by assessing what you already have and determining what you truly need to replace.

BACKPACKS & LUNCH BAGS

  • Inspect the current backpack. Are straps, zippers and hooks all in good working order? Sometimes all the backpack needs is a good washing! During the year, I have my kids completely clean out their backpacks every two weeks and we toss them into the laundry. Upkeep is important during the entire year to keep items in good working condition. If the backpack is truly broken or has an un-repairable rip or tear, then it’s time to toss and buy new.
  • Consider purchasing a quality backpack that will get your student through multiple years and has a guarantee. I bought my son’s backpack from L.L. Bean before he started 3rd grade. That backpack got him all the way through to the 8th grade! (And you have to know how rough boys are with their stuff!) We’re only replacing it because he needs a larger version.
  • My daughter also has a backpack from L.L. Bean and the hanging strap frayed towards the end of the year. I was able to exchange for a brand new one! L.L. Bean has a great return policy and stands by their products, replacing even if it’s been used. Buy the best you can afford and don’t waste money buying something cheap that you’ll have to replace mid-year.
  • Lunch bags should be washed every week during the school year to keep them sanitary and in good condition. Treat stains right away to avoid them setting in. If the hook & loop closure, zipper or snaps are broken off and can’t be repaired or there is a funky smell that doesn’t dissipate with washing, it’s time to buy a new one.
Budgeting for back to school? Check out these practical tips for assessing what you really need to buy for school with advice on using what you already have.

My son started third grade with this backpack and used it all the way to 8th grade!

SCHOOL SUPPLIES

  • Every page used up in the spiral notebook? Okay, time to buy a new one. Only half the pages used? Rip out the used pages and finish up with it before buying another.
  • Broken crayons or paper peeled off? Relegate them to the arts and crafts bin at home or toss them out. Gently used crayons that still work just fine? Keep ’em and there is no need to buy a new box. Same goes for pencils, pens, glue, glue sticks and erasers! If they are still in usable condition then just keep using them.
  • Folders with rips can be repaired and reinforced along the spine with a strip of colorful duct tape. Decorate the fronts with markers or Washi Tape.
  • Plastic pencil boxes often just need a cleaning (run it through the dishwasher after wiping it out). A good scrubbing with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser will bring it back to like-new condition. Colorful stickers decorating the top will make it “new to you”.

Read More: Motivation for School to Keep Kids (and Moms!) On Track

Budgeting for back to school? Check out these practical tips for assessing what you really need to buy for school with advice on using what you already have.

CLOTHES

  • Pants with blown-out knees beyond repair or that are now high-water length should either be tossed into the rag bin or delegated to donation. Tees and sweaters with unfixable holes, unsightly stains or that are too short at the waist or sleeves face the same fate. Socks that are too small, have holes or that are heavily stained make good cleaning rags. Underpants that are too tight or have stretched out elastic should be thrown out.
  • Based on what is still in the closet and drawers, assess the need for additional items at that point. Kids probably don’t need more than 7 of each daily wear item (one for each day of the week), so 7 long sleeved tees, 7 short sleeved, 7 pairs of pants, etc. My kids do have more than this, just for the sake of variety. However kids don’t really need in excess (it also helps to streamline the morning dressing routine when they have less to choose from!) I rarely buy my kids brand new clothes at the store any more unless it’s something like a Christmas or birthday gift. When I buy new items, I shop either Gymboree because they have high quality clothes that resist stains (and great sales throughout the year). I buy gently used clothing at the local thrift store or online at ThredUp.

Budgeting for back to school? Check out these practical tips for assessing what you really need to buy for school with advice on using what you already have.

SHOES

  • Shoes with holes or completely worn out soles should be thrown out. Put decent but dirty shoes into the washing machine or the sink for a scrubbing. Finish by cleaning up the rubber with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser to bring them back to life. Replace frayed or stained shoe laces with bright new ones.
  • It’s tempting to buy cheap shoes when your kid’s feet are growing! I recommend buying high quality shoes that will last until your child outgrows them. I have personally had great luck with Pediped shoes. My daughter wore her pair almost every school day for a year. I was able to toss them into the wash every other week and only when they were getting tight did they develop a small hole in the sole. I definitely recommend paying a little more for one or two fantastic pairs of shoes (rather than 5 or 10 pairs of cheap and poorly made shoes that will need constant replacing).

Read More: Kid’s Back to School Clothing Hacks and Budget Tips

Top Tips for Budgeting for Back to School

Discuss Budgeting for Back to School With Your Kids

If your kids are accustomed to getting brand new stuff every year but this year they don’t truly need anything, you’ll need to address this with them upfront. Kids are going to expect the regular back-to-school shopping extravaganza and if it’s not going to happen this could set them up for disappointment. You’re going to have some very disgruntled kids going back to school with “the same old stuff”.

  • Involve your kids in the assessing process. Discuss how the closet full of clothes still fit,  are in good shape & will be acceptable for them right now.
  • Allow kids to decorate last year’s pencil boxes or folders with fun washi tape, Duct Tape or stickers.
  • Attach a fun key chain or fob to the zipper pull to freshen up last year’s backpack or hoodie.
  • Compromise by purchasing one new (or “new to them”) outfit for the first day of school and to wear for school pictures.

Read More: 12 Secrets to Successful and Stress-free School Mornings

Budgeting for back to school? Check out these practical tips for assessing what you really need to buy for school with advice on using what you already have.

Divert The Focus Off of “Getting New Stuff”

Get back to the heart of what going back to school is all about and take the focus off the need for new stuff by starting new family traditions that don’t include buying new stuff.

  • Take pictures of your new student.
  • Cook a special first day breakfast or dinner.
  • Greet them with balloons on the front door when they get home.
  • Create a first day interview that you can save in your memory box.
  • Serve a special dessert.

Read More: 5 Ways to Make the First Day of School Extra Special

Just make the day special for them! Here’s to new adventures…even while wearing last school year’s shoes!


In what ways are you budgeting for back to school? 

Budgeting for back to school? Check out these practical tips for assessing what you really need to buy for school with advice on using what you already have. #BacktoSchool #budget #Kids #School #Fall #Budget #SavingMoney

 

 

 

1 Change That Now Lets Me Do 4 Things

I made a decision three months ago that completely changed my life. Seriously. I’d wanted to have LASIK eye surgery so I could ditch my glasses and I finally did it. And you know what? It truly has changed my life. That one thing has changed so many things in my life, I can’t even believe it.

I received a discounted rate from Clearview Eye and Laser Medical Center in San Diego to facilitate this post series about laser eye surgery. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Medical procedures vary between patients so please seek a personal consultation with Clearview to see if you are a candidate for LASIK.

When I went for my three month post op appointment, Dr. Sandy T. Feldman commented on my beaming smile. She knew! She knew how happy this one thing is. Being able to see clearly without glasses or contacts? It’s truly a life changing event. I’m seeing clearly. I’m feeling more adventurous. And I definitely have more time and less hassle.

My successful LASIK surgery results are allowing me to do things I’ve never been able to do before! Here are a few things that I’m able to do now that I’ve had my LASIK surgery.

I Can Swim and Play in the Water

This was one of the things I’d mentioned in my post-surgery article. I wanted to be able to enjoy the Disney World water parks with my family on our trip. And I totally did!

Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon are the Disney World water parks. Find out all the tips on visiting these water parks in Orlando with information on what to do, what to skip and how to have the best time with everyone in the family (including tips for toddlers)

In the past, you wouldn’t have found me anywhere at a water park except for in a lounge chair or maybe the lazy river. Wearing my contacts, I would have been too worried about getting spray in my eyes to ever brave a water slide. And if I’d been wearing my glasses, I would have hated having them splashed with water every three seconds!

Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon are the Disney World water parks. Find out all the tips on visiting these water parks in Orlando with information on what to do, what to skip and how to have the best time with everyone in the family (including tips for toddlers)

But as you can see from the photos, I did everything at the water parks and had a fantastic time. Since returning from my vacation I’ve been spending nearly every day in the pool, swimming alongside my kids. I’m finally enjoying my life and not wasting it, sitting on the sidelines.

I Can Pack Lighter

Another post-op wish was that I’d never again have to worry about packing all my eye care essentials when traveling. It was a blessing to pack my vacation luggage and not have to bring the giant jug of contact lens solution, the contact case, the cleaner, my glasses, my glasses case and my glass cleaning spray and cloth.

I Can Go Straight to Bed

It’s still the strangest feeling to put on my pajamas, brush my teeth, wash my face and get into bed without having to remove and clean contacts. My vision had been so bad, I always had to keep my glasses on the night stand “just in case” I needed to get up in the night.

I Can Skip the “Morning Contacts” Routine

And what do I see when I wake up  in the morning? An alarm clock that I can actually read! I jump out of bed and go about my day. No need to ever think about putting on my glasses or inserting my contacts again. It’s a very special feeling to know that these are MY EYES and my clear vision is ALL ME!

Want to follow my LASIK story? Here are the two posts prior:

Happy 4th Blogoversary to Mom Rewritten! – GIVEAWAY

Four years ago I started my blog (called Saving Up for Disney, at the time). My father had just passed away after a long illness and I was looking for something that would fill my time positively. I was already writing a blog (more like a family journal) but this was a new site. I knew nothing at the time about Google search engines, proper keywords, or affiliate links.

I just WROTE. I wrote what I knew, which was Disneyland travel and saving money. Since that time I’ve learned so much about what makes for a successful blog. And while I still have a long way to go, I hope that you’ve enjoyed reading my informative and entertaining stories over the past four years!

I wanted to share my blog-anniversary with my readers this year with a few giveaways! I’m having two separate giveaways so be sure to scroll through to the end of the post and enter BOTH! Here’s the fine print and find out what you can win:

In the first giveaway I’m giving away three prizes. The first winner pulled will have their choice of one of the three prizes. The second winner will have their choice of one of the two remaining prizes. The third winner will receive the last available prize.

Giveaway Prizes – 

  • Alien Glowing Necklace, straight from Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios (to be shipped to the winner)
  • $25 Disney gift card (winners choice of e-card or physical gift card to be mailed)
  • $10 Amazon e-gift card (email code to the winner)

Must be a newsletter subscriber to win (this information will be verified)

I will pull three winners. The first winner will have their choice of one of the three prizes. The second winner will have their choice of one of the two remaining prizes. The third winner will receive the last available prize.

US residents only, must be 18+.  

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway from Polka Dot Pixie Shop!

I want to thank Polka Dot Pixie Shop for sponsoring another giveaway for my blogoversary! My family and I wore four shirts from their Etsy shop on our recent Disney World trip.

In addition to the giveaway Polka Dot Pixie Shop is generously offering 15% off any order (placed on their website or Etsy shop). Use code PIXIE to receive the discount!

Prize is for a Polka Dot Pixie Shop gift code, good for your choice of one $24 shirt and standard shipping (a $27.25 value)

Great travel products and accessories can make your vacation so much better! Check out these family vacation must-haves for your next trip.

This tee from Polka Dot Pixie Shop is perfect for Disney’s Animal Kingdom (see the Hidden Mickey?)

US residents only, must be 18+.  

a Rafflecopter giveaway

What You Need to Know About Visiting Disney Water Parks with Kids

Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon are the two water parks located at the Walt Disney World Resort. Detail is Disney’s middle name and they don’t disappoint at either of these amazing water parks! The theming at both water parks is creative and unique while the water slides and attractions are thrilling. I was delighted with the water temperature; it was always “just right”. Keep reading to find out more about visiting Disney water parks with kids!

I received complimentary tickets to visit the Disney water parks as a part of the TravelingMom.com annual retreat. 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!

Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon are the Disney World water parks. Find out all the tips on visiting these water parks in Orlando with information on what to do, what to skip and how to have the best time with everyone in the family (including tips for toddlers)

(Photo Credit: Disney PhotoPass)

Disney Water Parks Admission

If you have a Disney World Park Hopper with Water Park Fun and More option on your ticket, this allows entrance to Disney water parks. Think of the “More” option as a punch card. For as many days you have of park tickets, you have an equal number of punches allowed for either water parks or miniature golf. This means you could golf at Winter Summerland and visit Blizzard Beach on the same day and two “punches” would be allotted. Have a four-day Park Hopper and More ticket? This allows you four days of “park hopping” and four additional of the “more” options (visiting Blizzard Beach, Typhoon Lagoon, Winter Summerland Mini Golf or Fantasia Gardens Golf for a total of four times).

What if you only want to spend a day at the water parks? Disney water park tickets are also available separately. Purchase your Disney vacation packages through my affiliate at Get Away Today.

Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon are the Disney World water parks. Find out all the tips on visiting these water parks in Orlando with information on what to do, what to skip and how to have the best time with everyone in the family (including tips for toddlers)

Are Disney World Water Parks Always Open?

Orlando weather is almost always warm enough for swimming! So you might assume that both water parks in Florida are always open. However each of the water parks are not open year-round. Each park closes several months at a time for refurbishment. The good news is that they don’t both close at the same time! So there’s always going to be at least one of the water parks open during your visit.

If there is a thunder and/or a lightning storm or if the weather is very cold, expect the water parks to close for the day. Disney water park hours vary so check the times online. Summertime events, like Disney H20 Glow Nights at Typhoon Lagoon may affect times, as well.

Transportation to the Disney Waterparks

Getting to the Disney waterparks can be a bit of a lengthy process. Guests staying at Disney property can use the bus system however it does require a transfer. If you’re visiting Blizzard Beach you’ll take the bus to Animal Kingdom park then transfer to that water park’s bus. Going to Typhoon Lagoon? Take the bus to Disney Springs, then transfer.

If your time is limited or you just don’t want to mess with the longer bus system, consider an Uber, Lyft or “Minnie” van if you’re traveling with kids who require a car seat (the Minnie vans have two car seats on board).

My family required vehicle transportation after our morning visit to Typhoon Lagoon. We had reservations for an early dinner for the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue located at Fort Wilderness. While we could have taken the bus back to Disney Springs and then boarded at bus to Fort Wilderness we didn’t want to chance it with the time restriction. It was quicker and less hassle to call for a van.

Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon are the Disney World water parks. Find out all the tips on visiting these water parks in Orlando with information on what to do, what to skip and how to have the best time with everyone in the family (including tips for toddlers)

(Photo Credit: Disney PhotoPass)

What to Bring with You to Disney Water Parks

  • Guests may bring their own towels from home. If you are staying at a Disney resort, bring towels from the hotel. You can also “rent” a towel for $2 at the water parks. We actually did just fine without any towels at all.
  • A Waterproof Tote Bag is handy. I had two; one to hold water shoes and the other to hold clothing (holding our dry change of clothing on the way in and to hold our wet suits on the way out!)
  • Sunscreen is a MUST. We lathered up on the bus ride. I’d recommend reapplying several times throughout the day. A sunscreen that can be applied to damp skin is ideal, like Neutrogena Wet Skin Kids Sunscreen Spray.
  • I highly recommend having Water Shoes for every family member. While the Disney water parks do a good job of keeping the concrete wet in most areas, there are some sections that are directly in the sun. The ground gets extremely hot. Water shoes are a safe way to keep your feet protected. You can also wear the water shoes on most of the slides and in the pools. My younger two wore their favorite pedipeds!
  • Drinking water is another must-have, to stay hydrated under the hot sun. You can bring in your own full bottles (or request ice water at the restaurants).
  • Protective gear for cells phones like the Submariner Waterproof Phone Pouch.
Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon are the Disney World water parks. Find out all the tips on visiting these water parks in Orlando with information on what to do, what to skip and how to have the best time with everyone in the family (including tips for toddlers)

Crush ‘n’ Gusher (Photo Credit: Disney PhotoPass)

What NOT to Bring with You

  • Swim clothing that has metal zippers or rivets. No alcohol or glass.
  • If you’re going to be purchasing souvenirs or snacks/meals at the water parks, rely on using a credit card that’s linked to your Magic Band. This will eliminate the need for you to bring your credit cards or cash into the water parks.
  • I brought sun hats with us but didn’t end up using them. If you plan on staying with toddlers in the splash pad area, a hat does come in handy because shade is minimal. But if you’re only doing the slides and wave pool, skip the hats.
  • Take off your valuable jewelry and leave them in the hotel safe.
  • Remove your kid’s Magic Bands once you enter the Parks and put them in a locker. My eldest son lost his Magic Band in the wave pool. Fortunately it was on the final day of our trip and he didn’t need it again, but it would have been a process to have to get him a new one.
Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon are the Disney World water parks. Find out all the tips on visiting these water parks in Orlando with information on what to do, what to skip and how to have the best time with everyone in the family (including tips for toddlers)

(Photo Credit: Disney PhotoPass)

Babies and Toddlers at Disney Water Parks

You might wonder what there is to do at the Disney water parks with babies or toddlers. Both Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach have splash pad areas with short slides, bubbling water and small sprays for young children. These areas have a height limit of 48″. Of the two parks, my 2-year old daughter preferred Tikes Peak at Blizzard Beach. There was a shallow wading pool, small waterfall, “Ice Gator” statues and short slides. Typhoon Lagoon has a water play area as well (Ketchakiddee Creek) but my toddler was too nervous around the very loud waterfall feature to go down the slides.

Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon are the Disney World water parks. Find out all the tips on visiting these water parks in Orlando with information on what to do, what to skip and how to have the best time with everyone in the family (including tips for toddlers)

There are life jackets located all around the waterparks, for complimentary use while visiting. You can also bring in your own “floaties” if you prefer (though it’s nice not to have one more thing to carry). Swim diapers are a must-have. Bring plenty and change your child only inside the restrooms (and not on a beach chair!). If you forget the diapers, they are available for purchase at the parks.

Some of the rides are “family style” but not for lap-held infants. Depending upon your toddler or youngster, you might want to skip. Even the family rides can be intense with overhead waterfalls and strong splashes of water. My toddler was not pleased with the downpours but she toughed it out!

Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon are the Disney World water parks. Find out all the tips on visiting these water parks in Orlando with information on what to do, what to skip and how to have the best time with everyone in the family (including tips for toddlers)

(Photo Credit: Disney PhotoPass)

The lazy rivers at both parks are perfect for little ones too. Float along next to your baby on Cross Country Creek at Blizzard Beach and Castway Creek at Typhoon Lagoon. The tubes vary, including some that offer a seat rather than a hole in the middle (perfect for the youngest kids). Be aware that there are overhead waterfalls that can be avoided (my toddler hated when her older brother pushed her float under the falls!) Bring a hat for baby as shade is limited.

Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon are the Disney World water parks. Find out all the tips on visiting these water parks in Orlando with information on what to do, what to skip and how to have the best time with everyone in the family (including tips for toddlers)

Can’t Miss at Typhoon Lagoon Water Park

Typhoon Lagoon resembles a tropical paradise, albeit one that has just been through a typhoon! There’s lots of tropical landscaping, sandy beaches and several ship wrecks. We only spent a few afternoon hours here so we didn’t get to experience everything but these are our highlights.

Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon are the Disney World water parks. Find out all the tips on visiting these water parks in Orlando with information on what to do, what to skip and how to have the best time with everyone in the family (including tips for toddlers)

My older kids were absolutely blown away by the wave pool at Typhoon Lagoon. Even my teenagers, who are strong swimmers, had a challenge with the rough waves. If you have kids with you who may have issues with the waves, consider wearing a life jacket.

Miss Adventure Falls was a great family-style ride. Some rides (like Crush ‘n’ Gusher) require you to carry your tube to the top, while others have conveyor belts that bring the tubes back up. There are some attractions with VERY long flights of stairs. If you have a youngster that has trouble with handling both the stairs and their tube, be aware you may be carrying both your tube and theirs!

Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon are the Disney World water parks. Find out all the tips on visiting these water parks in Orlando with information on what to do, what to skip and how to have the best time with everyone in the family (including tips for toddlers)

Making a splash on Miss Adventure Falls (Photo Credit: Disney PhotoPass)

Can’t Miss at Blizzard Beach Waterpark

My family spent over 6 hours exploring Blizzard Beach and were able to see and do almost attraction. Blizzard Beach is styled to look like a snow storm with the water features reflective of the melted snow on a hot day in Florida! It seemed that there were more available lounge chairs in this water park and we had no issues finding seating together.

Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon are the Disney World water parks. Find out all the tips on visiting these water parks in Orlando with information on what to do, what to skip and how to have the best time with everyone in the family (including tips for toddlers)

(Photo Credit: Disney PhotoPass)

Summit Plummet is the dramatic highlight of Blizzard Beach. It’s designed to look like a ski jump but instead the riders glide down a 120-foot water plume! My big kids tried this one several times while their 6-year old brother stuck to the shorter Slush Gusher with a 90-foot drop. You’ll ride a ski-like chair lift to access these rides, as well as a few others.

Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon are the Disney World water parks. Find out all the tips on visiting these water parks in Orlando with information on what to do, what to skip and how to have the best time with everyone in the family (including tips for toddlers)

Teamboat Springs is touted as one of the longest waterpark coasters. It also had one of the longest waits for us as well, at just over an hour. We found out later that one of the conveyer belts that brings the tubes back to the top of the ride had broken down so they were running at 50%. It’s a great family raft ride though, that holds up to 6.

We also had a blast on the Tobaggan Racers and Snow Stormers. Melt-Away Bay, the wave pool at Blizzard Beach is less rough than at Typhoon Lagoon. However life jackets are still recommended for less than strong swimmers.

Skip It: My son and waited a loooong time to ride the Downhill Double Dipper. While fun, the ride lasted less than 7 seconds (I know, because there’s a timer keeping track of who “wins” the dual race!) Not worth the nearly hour long queue.

What to Eat at Disney Water Parks

Disney water parks only offer quick service dining and snack carts (no full service restaurants). Fare includes the usual burgers and hot dogs along with other items like bbq brisket sandwiches, a loaded baked potato and wrap sandwiches. We chose not to eat any meals at the water parks, but did enjoy dessert!

We ordered the Sand Pail, a combination of soft serve ice cream, whipped cream, sauces and sprinkles. It was cheaper than purchasing individual cones for each person and we had a souvenir bucket afterwards for the toddler to play with in the splash area.

Other dining highlights include mini donuts at Blizzard Beach that are served with raspberry, chocolate or white chocolate sauce for dipping. Like the Disney World parks, alcoholic drinks are also available.

Taking Pictures at the Disney Water Parks

Since most guests will keep their phones and cameras safely out of the water, you may lament not capturing the memories. Fortunately there are many locations that offer PhotoPass services inside the Disney water parks.

Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon are the Disney World water parks. Find out all the tips on visiting these water parks in Orlando with information on what to do, what to skip and how to have the best time with everyone in the family (including tips for toddlers)

(Photo Credit: Disney PhotoPass)

Goofy was greeting guests at Blizzard Beach and we saw Lilo at Typhoon Lagoon. There were also PhotoPass photographers stationed around the parks to snap photos. I found a photographer at the Ski Patrol Training Camp and requested that she take a shot of my son on the Fahrenheit Drop. She obliged and then scanned my Magic Band, just like inside the parks.

Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon are the Disney World water parks. Find out all the tips on visiting these water parks in Orlando with information on what to do, what to skip and how to have the best time with everyone in the family (including tips for toddlers)

Fahrenheit Drop at Blizzard Beach (Photo Credit: Disney PhotoPass)

Some of the Disney park water slides even have on-ride cameras. You’ll be given a small card with a rubber band attached. Wear the band around your wrist until you can scan the card into the My Disney Experience app to access the images. If you have purchased Memory Maker all photo downloads are included with the cost, even water park photos. I’ve noted in the caption of each photo in this post on whether it was taken by a PhotoPass photographer.

Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon are the Disney World water parks. Find out all the tips on visiting these water parks in Orlando with information on what to do, what to skip and how to have the best time with everyone in the family (including tips for toddlers)

At the bottom of Summit Plummet (Photo Credit: Disney PhotoPass)

Changing Rooms vs. Restrooms

To save time, I recommend that families wear their bathing suits and a swim cover-up directly to the water parks. There are lockers where you can store bags with dry clothing until you need them.

Once you’re ready to change at the end of the day, note that there are some restrooms that only have bathroom facilities and others that have changing room spaces. Having the bench inside the changing room with additional hooks on the walls is easier than changing inside of the toilet stall. There are also blow dryers inside the changing rooms if you want to dry hair.

Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon are the Disney World water parks. Find out all the tips on visiting these water parks in Orlando with information on what to do, what to skip and how to have the best time with everyone in the family (including tips for toddlers)

It felt like there were more available beach chairs at Blizzard Beach than at Typhoon Lagoon.

Other Things to Know About Disney Water Parks

  • Arrive early in the day or alternately, later in the evening if you want to secure a lounge chair. These water parks definitely get crowded, especially in the warmer months.
  • Didn’t bring a swimsuit, towel or sunscreen? You can purchase everything you need for the day at the water parks. Shops are located at the front entrance of each water park.
  • If you’re planning on spending all day at the Disney water parks, consider renting a cabana. This is an additional cost that may be worth it to your family if you want guaranteed seating for the day. It’s also particularly helpful if you have a baby or toddler who needs to nap in the shade. You can rent the cabana for a full or half day and includes a service attendant to help bring purchased food.
  • If the cabana price tag is too steep you can also purchase a designated lounge area under the shade. This rental spot includes an umbrella, chairs, loungers, table and towels.
  • Want more water fun? Consider splurging at Disney on surf lessons or a private surf session at Typhoon Lagoon.

Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon are the Disney World water parks. Find out all the tips on visiting these water parks in Orlando with information on what to do, what to skip and how to have the best time with everyone in the family (including tips for toddlers) #Disney #DisneyWorld #WDW #WaterParks #BlizzardBeach #TyphoonLagoon #FamilyTravel #Florida #TravelwithKids

Must-Have Vacation Travel Products for Toddlers, Kids and Parents

Have the right travel products can truly make your vacation that much smoother! Some of these travel products are always going to be inside your luggage, like t-shirts and shoes. Other items you might not have ever considered – but once you use these unique travel accessories, you’ll wonder how you vacationed without them! I’ve also included airplane travel packing ideas for toddlers. So grab your travel bag and let’s see what travel products for toddlers, kids and grown-ups you could use on your next trip.

I have received complimentary product of some of these items to facilitate this post. No other compensation has been made and all thoughts and opinions are my own. 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!

Comfortable Vacation Tees

A cozy cotton t-shirt is a vacation must-have for everyone in the family. And if you’re headed on a “magical” vacation, like my family just did, these tees from the Polka Dot Pixie Shop are perfect for packing! Soft and comfortable, they were perfect for summertime in Orlando. I absolutely loved the creative designs and so did everyone else who saw them. I was stopped so many times in the Disney parks, asking where I got my shirts!

Many of the styles and designs are unisex (so that means I can snag my teenage son’s Jungle Cruise shirt whenever I want!) And each design is sold in a wide variety of sizes so it’s ideal if you like to do matching shirts on vacation.

DISCOUNT CODE: Use coupon code PIXIE at Polka Dot Pixie Shop for 15% off any order.

Great travel products and accessories can make your vacation so much better! Check out these family vacation must-haves for your next trip.

Hello Vacation! T-shirt by Polka Dot Pixie Shop

Great travel products and accessories can make your vacation so much better! Check out these family vacation must-haves for your next trip.

This tee from Polka Dot Pixie Shop is perfect for Disney’s Animal Kingdom (see the Hidden Mickey?)

See this post for more ideas on what to wear to Disney parks!

Great travel products and accessories can make your vacation so much better! Check out these family vacation must-haves (including Disney-inspired tees!) for your next trip. #Disney #Travel #TravelwithKids #FamilyTravel #Vacation #Tshirts

Sleep Mask for Sweet Nights

We decided to keep our family on West coast time when we traveled to Florida. This meant staying up till midnight and sleeping in until 9 am most days in an effort to maintain their usual sleeping and waking times. My body instinctively wakes up as soon the sun shines into the room, so a well-fitting sleep mask is a vacation must-have.

This Brave Era Sleep Mask is 100% silk and hypoallergenic. It’s very comfortable and blocks out all ambient light in the room. I always sleep so much better when I slip on my sleep mask before falling asleep. Brave Era also offers silk travel sheets for the ultimate in vacation luxury!

Comfortable Camera Strap (With a Surprise!)

I’ve had the same Canon DSLR for years and it’s had the most uncomfortable strap ever. It would dig into the back of my neck so much I never wanted to take my camera anywhere. Wow, am I glad to have found Wrapped Creations comfy camera strap! She carries a variety of designs, including more Disney-themed straps like my Toy Story Land-inspired version!

Great travel products and accessories can make your vacation so much better! Check out these family vacation must-haves for your next trip.

The Wrapped Creations camera strap was so comfortable to wear all day

Simply attach the strap to your camera and it’s sooo much easier to carry a heavy DSLR. No more painful neck as the strap is made of soft fabric. And my favorite part? The hidden zippered compartment where you could store your cell phone, cash, cards or passport! I received so many comments on this unique travel accessory. In fact, while I was waiting with my daughter in line to see Goofy, someone asked me about the strap and they ordered themselves one immediately from their phone!

Great travel products and accessories can make your vacation so much better! Check out these family vacation must-haves for your next trip.

The hidden pouch on the camera strap from Wrapped Creations

Cross-Body Bag That Holds it All

When I’m traveling I want to be hands-free. With 4 kids I usually have my hands full enough, I don’t need to be holding onto my purse too! That’s why I prefer a cross-body purse and Baggallini are my favorite. I’ve had several versions over the years because they are so great even for everyday use. Right now I’m loving the Baggallini Everything Bag because it has a designated flap pocket for my cell phone. Roomy enough to hold your boarding pass and travel itinerary but with many individual zippered compartments to hold things like sunscreen and lipstick.

Great travel products and accessories can make your vacation so much better! Check out these family vacation must-haves for your next trip. #Travel #TravelTips #TravelPacking #Packing #TravelAccessories

Comfortable Shoes for All Types of Weather

Pediped shoes are the go-to for my little ones on a daily basis. Since we were planning on lots of water play during our trip I was delighted to see that pediped has water shoes as well. Turns out visiting Orlando during Hurricane Season meant that we got a LOT more rain than we’d ever expected! Fortunately all of the pediped shoes that my kids wore during our trip were comfortable and dried quickly.

Great travel products and accessories can make your vacation so much better! Check out these family vacation must-haves for your next trip.

Pediped shoes have no “breaking-in period” so my kids were able to wear their brand-new shoes into the parks without any complaints about sore feet. Plus they are SO cute! Check out the pediped Outlet for discounts, then use code THANKYOU18 for an additional $10 off!

Here are more tips on choosing the best shoes for Disney!

Great travel products and accessories can make your vacation so much better! Check out these family vacation must-haves for your next trip.

Pediped shoes went easily from water to sidewalk

Travel Products for Toddlers Offers Safe Freedom

We have a “runner” in the family. When we took our family trip to Palm Springs, each time opened up the hotel room door, our toddler would shoot down the hall and run out of sight. I knew that when we traveled to Disney World I needed something that would keep her close but still allow some necessary freedom. Skip Hop backpack with harness for the win!!

Great travel products and accessories can make your vacation so much better! Check out these family vacation must-haves for your next trip.

When traveling at the airport, I filled it with travel entertainment (more details on that in the next section). When we were in the parks, I put in a diaper, pack of wipes and disposable bibs for dining. My toddler liked having the choice of sitting in her stroller or wearing the Skip Hop backpack (she’d hand us the harness strap and say, “Hold my tail”!)

It was the perfect compromise for letting our toddler walk but still keeping her within arms reach. Skip Hop has an entire line of Zoo collection with whimsical travel accessories, including luggage and meal sets.

Entertaining Travel Products for Toddlers

The last time I’d traveled with my daughter on a plane she’d just turned one year old. Her “in-air” entertainment consisted of a teething toy before nursing to sleep. Now that she’s two I knew I’d need a bag of tricks to keep her occupied on the 5 hour flight. It appears that I packed all the right things because there was no boredom and zero tantrums on the flight! I was aiming for inexpensive and lightweight. Here’s what travel products for toddlers I packed inside her backpack.

Great travel products and accessories can make your vacation so much better! Check out these family vacation must-haves for your next trip.

Plastic Zoo Animal Figures – I brought a bag of these and divvied them up between my two littlest kids. Since there were so many of them and they were so inexpensive, I wasn’t worried if a camel fell on the plane floor. The kids loved lining them up on the tray table and “feeding” their animals Southwest Airlines pretzels!

Lacing Cards – My just-turned two year old might have been a little young for these but I was surprised by how long she played with them.

Disney Moana’s Necklace – This was a last-minute addition to my daughter’s travel accessories and I’m so glad I brought it. The necklace glowed when opened. She played with it frequently on the plane, showed it off to fellow travelers and used it on the trip as well.

Great travel products and accessories can make your vacation so much better! Check out these family vacation must-haves for your next trip.

Imagine Ink Magic Ink Coloring Book – These travel-sized “coloring books” include just one marker that does it all! No-mess, my toddler was able to scribble to her heart’s content onto the pages of the Magic Ink book with miraculously colorful results.

Stickers – My toddler happily peeled and stuck stickers for a long time. Don’t forget to bring paper or a coloring book to put the stickers in.

Great travel products and accessories can make your vacation so much better! Check out these family vacation must-haves for your next trip.

Great travel products and accessories can make your vacation so much better! Check out these family vacation must-haves (including these items that are toddler must-haves!) for your next trip. #Travel #TravelwithKids #FamilyTravel #Vacation #Toddler #ToddlerTravel

Weaning a Toddler – 3 Tricks I Used to Stop Breastfeeding

I never expected to breastfeed my daughter past a year. My eldest son weaned at 13 months. My second son weaned himself at 10 months old. But my daughter appeared to be in for the long haul. I was a stay-at-home-mom with 24/7 nursing access. And with 3 other kids in the house, it was often easier to just “give in” and nurse her rather than deal with the fussing. Let me say that in my experience weaning a toddler takes a bit more pre-planning to stop than when your baby is younger. But I finally weaned my toddler and these are three “tricks” I used to finally stop.

Weaning a Toddler – It’s Different for Every Family

I’m going to share what worked for my daughter and I. This is what happened during the weaning process for us and obviously may or may not work for you. I know that when I was attempting to start weaning, I had a hard time finding information online. I’m hoping that these ideas might help you a little along the way.

Weaning a toddler? Follow these 3 gentle parenting "tricks" for eliminating breastfeeding sessions and how to wean a toddler completely.

Nursing a Toddler? Expect Flack from Both Sides

Last year when I was trying to wean my toddler, I wrote this post about why I was still nursing my toddler for Disney Baby. My daughter was 20 months old at the time and I was long ready to stop breastfeeding her. I wrote the post from my own personal perspective and was shocked by the feedback and comments I read on the Disney Baby Facebook page about my article.

While many moms understood the feeling I expressed (I was ready to quit but my toddler wasn’t), some gave me a very hard time. There were some that criticized why I’d want to stop nursing when breastmilk was so beneficial. And then others that thought I was being selfish for wanting to quit when my daughter still needed to nurse. And then of course there was the group that couldn’t understand why anyone would be breastfeeding a child after the infant stage.

I totally get that when I’m writing a public post it opens things up to so many different opinions. Hopefully you won’t experience the same negativity and in such a large quantity as I did. But if you’re breastfeeding a toddler, you can probably expect to hear something about it from someone.

1. Using Distraction to Shorten & Eliminate Nursing Sessions

You can’t really wean a toddler cold turkey. You’re going to keep producing milk so shortening sessions is ideal. Shortly after my daughter’s first birthday, I started working on eliminating breastfeeding sessions. I was able to use distraction when she’d asked to nurse mid-day. My daughter never took a bottle or a pacifier (she refused them both early on) so I wasn’t able to substitute either of these in place of breastfeeding.

Offering substitutions like a snack, a sipper cup or cuddle time with a book were good distractions for my toddler when she wanted to nurse. Try a new toy that you play with together only when breastfeeding is requested. The most challenging thing was getting her down to nap without the afternoon breastfeeding session. I started putting her into the stroller at the same time every day for a walk. This did the trick most days; she’d drink out of a sipper while I pushed her in the stroller and soon enough, she’d be asleep. Here are more tips on taking your baby out for a walk.

Work to find a distraction to shorten or eliminate breastfeeding sessions for your toddler. At first they may protest but it’s important that you not cave in (too often!) if your goal is weaning.

Weaning a toddler? Follow these 3 gentle parenting "tricks" for eliminating breastfeeding sessions and how to wean a toddler completely. #Toddler #Weaning #Nursing #Breastfeeding #PositiveParenting #GentleParenting #ParentingTips

Knocking Out the Night Feedings

After a few months of shortening and eliminating sessions, I was down to two nursing sessions a day (once each night before bed and then again in the night). My daughter continued on this way for another 8 months or so. I grew tired of the midnight wakings and was ready to knock that off too! When I’d tried simply refusing to allow her to nurse in the night she’d become very angry and scream. With three other kids asleep and my husband waking at 3:30 am for work every day, I just couldn’t let her scream and wake up the entire house, so this was tricky to navigate.

I stopped bringing my toddler into the bed to nurse. This was always my go-to because she could breastfeed and I’d go back to sleep! Instead I started having a sipper cup of milk ready to go in the fridge so I could offer that in place. Some nights she’d go for it, but usually not. If I did breastfeed I stayed awake, sitting in a chair, to let her nurse only just a few minutes and then aim to detach as soon as possible.

Weaning a toddler? Follow these 3 gentle parenting "tricks" for eliminating breastfeeding sessions and how to wean a toddler completely.

It was a challenge to wean a toddler who nurses to sleep. Detaching while she was still awake was key. She’d attempt to latch back on and I could often distract her by gently closing her mouth with my finger under her chin. After we’d done the abbreviated night nursings for a while, I stopped taking her to the designated “nursing chair” in the night. If she didn’t stop crying with my patting her back, I’d hold her in my arms but stay inside her room. If she cried longer than a few minutes, I’d go into the living room but NOT sit in the usual chair. It really only took a few nights of this before she got the point that I wasn’t going to night nurse anymore and she stopped asking.

2. Prepping Your Toddler

I started talking to my toddler about stopping breastfeeding long before we actually did it. During those night feedings, I’d tell her, “Only for a few minutes and then you need to go back to sleep”. When we were down to just the one feeding before bedtime, we’d talk about how “Mommy milk” was going to go bye-bye soon. I’d talk to her about how she was growing up and could drink milk from a cup now. I did these pep-talks with my toddler several months before actually stopping the nursing.

Pep-talks throughout the day can help prepare your baby for weaning. As you reduce and shorten breastfeeding sessions, you’ll produce less and less, which your toddler will notice. There are books that you can read to your toddler that help to prep them for this transition as well.


Someone Else Put Her to Bed

Shortly after my daughter’s second birthday, I had the opportunity to attend a conference out of town. This meant I’d be gone for three days and two overnights. I’d never gone even one night without nursing her before bedtime! I knew that she was ready and this would be the beginning of the end to the breastfeeding.

Grandma was in charge of bedtime while I was gone (since my husband gets up for work very early and is often in bed before the kids!) There were some tears with my daughter crying for me but not much and my daughter slept through the night. Naturally upon returning home I did have to nurse her again because I was still producing. But at that point I knew my toddler would do just fine with weaning. On to the next phase!

3. Eliminating Nursing Triggers

About a month later we had a family weekend vacation planned to Palm Springs. I thought this would be a great opportunity to eliminate the final bedtime nursing session and stop breastfeeding altogether. I talked about it with my toddler several times before the trip and told her that her Boppy Nursing Pillow (“aka: “Milk Pillow”) was going to leave our house and go to a new baby.

Without her noticing, I packed up the pillow so it wouldn’t be in the house when we returned from our trip. In the hotel, my toddler asked for milk and I told her we couldn’t nurse because we didn’t have our pillow. She was content for those two days just to snuggle and fall asleep in my arms. No crying or fussing (boy, was I surprised!)

When we returned home after the trip she went to the closet to look for Milk Pillow. Of course, I’d packed it up so it wasn’t there. She came to me and let me know she couldn’t find it. I told her a fib (“the Milk Fairy took it to a new baby!”) That seemed to be explanation enough for her. For the next several days she’d tell me that Milk Pillow was with a new baby and she never asked to nurse again!

How Will You Stop Breastfeeding Your Toddler?

Weaning a toddler? Follow these 3 gentle parenting "tricks" for eliminating breastfeeding sessions and how to wean a toddler completely.

Naturally, each mom and child have a different relationship and what worked for me here might not work for you. As far as milk production, with gradually reducing and eliminating sessions, I was able to quit without pain. It’s been over 4 weeks since our last nursing and I do still have a small amount of milk. I’ve heard that placing cabbage leaves inside of your bra helps with stopping milk production, but I haven’t done that. Instead I’m taking a “hands off” approach and not touching.

Toddlers who have been relying on the extra calories from breast milk will need to take in more food. Offer additional snacks throughout the day.

Hopefully these tips and story about what worked for my daughter and I will help guide you towards gentle weaning for your toddler!

Weaning a toddler? Follow these 3 gentle parenting "tricks" for eliminating breastfeeding sessions and how to wean a toddler completely. #Toddler #Weaning #Nursing #Breastfeeding #PositiveParenting #GentleParenting #ParentingTips

 

12 Secrets to Successful and Stress-free School Mornings

What are your feelings about school mornings? Maybe you and the kids are “morning people” and everyone jumps out of bed on time. But if you’re reading this, probably not! Your mornings are likely stressful and rushed. Start your day on school mornings without the stress with these 12 tips with ideas for a happier daily morning routine.

Making School Mornings Easier

I have the morning routine down pat! It wasn’t always that way…in fact, I have a decades-old history of oversleeping, scrambling out the door wearing two different shoes, hitting the snooze alarm 13 times and all those other not-so-fun ways to meet the sunrise! Just ask my mom, the poor lady who had the privilege of waking me throughout elementary school…boy, was I a groggy mess!

This is an update of a post originally published on August 28th, 2014.

Stressed out and rushed with the kids on school mornings? These 12 tips for streamlining the morning routine are easy and practical for getting kids in back to school mode for stress-free school mornings!

12 Tips for Stress-free School Mornings

I decided I didn’t want to spend my mornings stressed out, yelling or running late. Once my kids were school age and ready for school, I implemented these secrets to successful school mornings. I’m here to tell you that having a morning routine is key to household happiness. Nobody feels very excited about their day when it starts in a frantic rush. Read on for my tips to streamline your morning routine and keep yourself sane in the process. Ask me how many times my kids have been late to school and I will proudly tell you NEVER!

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!

No more stressful or rushed mornings! These 12 tips for streamlining the morning routine are easy and practical.

1. Prep for School Mornings the Night Before

Mornings don’t start in the morning, they start the night before! Prepare as much as you can the day and night before. This way school mornings are started off in a calm manner. There isn’t any wild rushing around in search of things or trying to get too much done in a limited amount of time. Here are 7 ways that you can streamline the morning routine by prepping the night before.

2. Plan Outfits Head to Toe

Ever since I was in Kindergarten, I’ve planned my next-day wardrobe the evening before. My son has no issues with getting up, pulling out a shirt and shorts and easy-peasy, he’s dressed. But when pressed for time, some kids will have trouble choosing their outfits for the day. They may also choose weather-inappropriate things (like a sweater when it’s going to be 90 degrees!)

I work with my kids to plan outfits for the week and stack them inside a closet organizer along with socks, underpants and hair accessories. All the kids have to do in the morning is grab the next outfit and get dressed.

No more stressful or rushed mornings! These 12 tips for streamlining the morning routine are easy and practical.

A hanging organizer for outfits.

I don’t stop wardrobe planning with the kids. Every night I decide what I’m going to wear and set it aside in my closet. I pull out my jewelry and set it on my dresser so in the morning I don’t even second guess myself, I just grab and go. Have your kids help choose their outfits on Sunday night and gather all parts (socks, underpants, accessories) so they have them together.

Stressed out and rushed with the kids on school mornings? These 12 tips for streamlining the morning routine are easy and practical for getting kids in back to school mode for stress-free school mornings!


3. Everything Has a Place

No mad dash looking for anything in the morning because it will have already been put there the night before. Teach your kids to prep the night before and get them in a lifelong good habit of organization and timeliness! Bedrooms are tidied up and toys and books are put away before bedtime. We have no morning scrambles for anything because it was already set in the right place the night before.

I recommend having designated hooks and/or storage bins for school morning items. I love using a label maker so there’s no confusion on where things go.

Stressed out and rushed with the kids on school mornings? These 12 tips for streamlining the morning routine are easy and practical for getting kids in back to school mode for stress-free school mornings!

Backpacks – Every afternoon after school, backpacks should be cleared out. Then return all paperwork, permission slips, library books and homework to the backpack in the evening so it’s ready to grab in the morning.

Shoes – Shoes should be sitting together where you can step into them going out the door.

Hair – Hair styling products like hairbrush, de-tangling spray and elastics/bows should be together so it’s easy to style in the morning. We keep all hair styling items in a bin under the bathroom sink so we can pull it all out and put it away fast.

Jackets – Jackets are on their own hook next to the backpacks.

Stressed out and rushed with the kids on school mornings? These 12 tips for streamlining the morning routine are easy and practical for getting kids in back to school mode for stress-free school mornings!

4. Lunches Made in Bunches

Buy in bulk and portion items out into plastic snack bags. Again individual bins are great for storage! Have separate bins for the fridge and another for the cupboards to hold school lunch items. I store cold snacks in a bin in the fridge (like cheese cubes, melon slices or carrot sticks). Dry snacks are in a bin in the cupboard (like chips and crackers, granola bars or a cookie).

The only thing I make the morning-of is the sandwich. Everything else has already been prepped so in the morning all I do is grab a few pre-portioned bags to make a well-rounded meal.


Stressed out and rushed with the kids on school mornings? These 12 tips for streamlining the morning routine are easy and practical for getting kids in back to school mode for stress-free school mornings!

5. Set the Stage for Sleep

Sometimes I have to remind my husband that a tickle-fest right before bedtime is not going to get our kindergartner in the mood for sleep! Shortly after dinner, we start the routine of quiet playtime, reading in bed, a light snack and teeth brushing before turning off the lights. A warm bath or shower and lavender essential oil in the diffuser right before bed can also help kids relax. Read more about using essential oils in the bedtime routine.

We turn off the television long before bedtime to keep stimulus at bay. The pace is slow and calm and our kids know what to expect, even the toddler (don’t try to skip story time!). Keeping the nightly routine the same every evening can help sleep come quickly and have kids sleeping all night in their own beds.

6. A Reasonable Bedtime

According to the National Sleep Foundation website, elementary school aged kids need about 10-11 hours of sleep each night. My kids wake up at 6 am Monday through Friday so that means they should be going to bed no later than 8:00 pm.

With a toddler, first grader and high school aged kids in our house, we have everyone in bed around the same time each night. Bedtime is between 7:45 to 8:15 pm and no later than 9 pm on the weekends. We aim for consistency on the bedtime and the kids show the consistency in their behavior and attitudes. They hop right out of bed in the morning, aren’t groggy in the afternoons and are sleepy enough in the evenings that they put themselves to bed on time each night.

No more stressful or rushed mornings! These 12 tips for streamlining the morning routine are easy and practical.

7. Put Yourself to Bed at a Decent Time, Too!

I’m the worst offender of this in my family. After everyone else is in bed and I finally find time to myself I find myself puttering around doing nothing, reading too many Facebook posts and starting projects that really shouldn’t be started at 10:36 pm. And then I’m kicking myself in the morning when I don’t want to get up!

I’ve pledged to start getting to bed at a decent time, one that gives me more than 5 measly hours of sleep each night. Even after just a week of this I’m feeling better, waking easily and am not “hitting the wall” at 2 o’clock each day any more.

8. A Restful Room is Conducive to Sleep 

A slightly cool room, comfy bedding, white noise (like a fan), darkness, and a soothing scent (like lavender) can all invite refreshing sleep. On occasion (especially during periods of stress), my kids have enjoyed listening to a relaxing story tape or soft music with the lights out.

I’ve trained my kids not to require a nightlight because if the lights are on, they are more likely to have their eyes open. If it’s very dark in the room then what’s the point of having your eyes open, there is nothing to look at…close your eyes and go to sleep!

I have more sleeping tips here from TravelingMom.


Good Morning Sunshine!

After a peaceful evening the night before and a good night’s rest, your kids will be in a better position to have a happy school morning routine. Here are my tips for nailing the morning routine and getting the kids out the door on time.

Streamlining Your Morning Routine

9. Awakening to an Alarm Clock 

If you have kids who struggle to get out of bed in the morning, get them used to waking with an alarm clock. Looking back, if I’d used an alarm clock as a kid instead of waking to my mom coming in to my room (over and over!) I would have gotten up the first time instead of the tenth. The alarm clock only goes off once unless you use the snooze button. But I’ve never taught my kids what the snooze button is (they assume that the clock goes off once and that’s it…tricky me!)

If you don’t get up you’re going to be late, easy as that. When MOM is waking you, as a kid you know that she’ll keep coming back in as many times as it takes and eventually the kids and mom are trained in the wrong direction!

Are a habitual snoozer? Try to break yourself out of the habit. It’s not good quality sleep anyway. Get up right away and either open the window to let in the morning sunlight or turn on the light in the room to get your body adjusted. Make your bed right away and you won’t be tempted to crawl back in!


10. The Most Important Meal of the Day: Breakfast

We never leave the house without breakfast. I’m surprised when my kids say that so many of their friends don’t eat breakfast in the morning. I can’t imagine trying to function for so many hours until lunch on an empty stomach. Leave plenty of time in the morning routine to fit in a good breakfast.

I get up early enough to prepare a quick and balanced breakfast for me and the kids. This could be scrambled eggs, toast and a slice of melon. Fruit smoothies with juice, milk or soy milk are a hit. Homemade oatmeal with diced apples and cinnamon is often requested. Or if we are more rushed, a simple bowl of cereal and a banana.

Stressed out and rushed with the kids on school mornings? These 12 tips for streamlining the morning routine are easy and practical for getting kids in back to school mode for stress-free school mornings!

I like a bowl of Greek yogurt with fruit, agave and a sprinkling of granola. I often take mine “to-go” and eat it when I get to work. Sometimes the night before I will make banana or apple nut muffins to include with breakfast.

On weekends when I have time to make pancakes or waffles, I make extras and freeze them to heat up for breakfasts during the week. Add some whipped cream and a few blueberries and voila, a fancy breakfast on a Thursday!

Streamlining Your Morning Routine

11. Final Brushing Call: Teeth, Hair and Out the Door!

I have the kids take turns in the bathroom brushing teeth and hair because mayhem and delays tend to ensue when they attempt to share the sink! I usually give my daughter’s hair a quick style and maybe pop in a bow. We keep a box under the sink that holds hair elastics, a brush and detangling spray so everything is in one place. If a fancier hair style is requested (like for picture day), we allow extra time by getting up earlier.

Give kids the 10 minute and 5 minute countdown. Ten minutes before you need them out of the house, call it out. Then repeat at 5 minutes till. We keep shoes and backpacks on a shelf in the garage so the kids grab their lunches off the counter on their way out and within a few minutes we’re in the car and on our way.

Streamlining Your Morning Routine

12. It’s Early…Know Your Limits

Don’t try and cram too many chores in the morning routine. I keep it simple by requesting that beds be made before we leave the house. My older kids also take turns emptying the dishwasher and reloading with the breakfast dishes. If complicated hair styles or made-to-order breakfasts are making your kids miss the bus, save them for the weekends when you have more time.

Do you have a slow-poke? Consider a timer. I’ve also been known to set the timer for my daughter when she dilly-dallies over her cereal bowl; when it dings she knows she has one minute to wrap things up and move on to the next task.

If you keep finding yourself running late, set the morning alarm clock for fifteen minutes earlier to allow a little extra time…there’s no harm in arriving early. Only you know where to draw the line so set the limits for your kids and it will set them up for morning success!

Stressed out and rushed with the kids on school mornings? These 12 tips for streamlining the morning routine are easy and practical for getting kids in back to school mode for stress-free school mornings! #School #BacktoSchool #Kids #Morning

 

 

Ultimate Guide to Toy Story Land with Kids

Enter the world of Toy Story Land in Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World, a whimsical new area based on the popular Pixar movie series. Guests become another one of Andy’s playthings in this new Land, which was built next to the existing Toy Story Mania attraction. Find out here how to take on Toy Story Land with kids!

Several years in the making, Toy Story Land recently opened to guests and I had the chance to attend a media preview with TravelingMom and Disney. After having the chance to ride the new attractions, dine in the area and take in all the playful details, I’m sharing what you need to know about Disney World’s newest Land.

The Ultimate Guide to Toy Story Land with kids includes tips on getting on the best rides, what to eat and where the most popular photo ops are at this new Disney World land inside Hollywood Studios.

Please note that I received an invite to the Toy Story Land media preview along with other perks to facilitate this post with the TravelingMoms and Disney. My post also includes affiliate links. If you click through and/or make a purchase I may receive a commission at no additional cost to you.

What Are the Attractions in Toy Story Land?

There are two new rides in Toy Story Land. The highlight (and can’t miss attraction) is the Slinky Dog Dash coaster. The height restriction on this ride is 38″. The Slinky Dog Dash covers about half of the entire Toy Story Land area, offering guests an overview of the Toy Story Land landscaping.

The Ultimate Guide to Toy Story Land with kids includes tips on getting on the best rides, what to eat and where the most popular photo ops. #ToyStoryLand #TMOM #TMOMDisney #ToyStory #HollywoodStudios #Florida #Orlando #TravelwithKids #FamilyTravel

Slinky Dog Dash inside Toy Story Land

I had the chance to ride the Slinky Dog Dash in both the day and evening and it’s a completely different experience with the addition of flashing lights once night falls. This coaster is a bit faster than it looks with some fun twists, bumps and mild thrills. It’s faster and longer than Barnstormer and smoother than Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. I’d recommend this coaster for thrill-seeking kids who meet the height requirement and are around 6 years old.

The Ultimate Guide to Toy Story Land with kids includes tips on getting on the best rides, what to eat and where the most popular photo ops are at this new Disney World land inside Hollywood Studios.

The Ultimate Guide to Toy Story Land with kids includes tips on getting on the best rides, what to eat and where the most popular photo ops are at this new Disney World land inside Hollywood Studios.

Covered queue and loading area for Slinky Dog Dash

The Ultimate Guide to Toy Story Land with kids includes tips on getting on the best rides, what to eat and where the most popular photo ops are at this new Disney World land inside Hollywood Studios.

Alien Swirling Saucers

The second new attraction in Toy Story Land is the Alien Swirling Saucers. If you’ve ever been on Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree at Disney California Adventure park, this is the same concept. Your ride vehicle sways back and forth behind the alien spaceship. Buzz Lightyear stands guard at the entrance. Check out the ride’s building design including Buzz’s empty toy box atop the building.

The Ultimate Guide to Toy Story Land with kids includes tips on getting on the best rides, what to eat and where the most popular photo ops are at this new Disney World land inside Hollywood Studios. #ToyStoryLand #TMOM #TMOMDisney #ToyStory #HollywoodStudios #Florida #Orlando #TravelwithKids #FamilyTravel

The Ultimate Guide to Toy Story Land with kids includes tips on getting on the best rides, what to eat and where the most popular photo ops. #ToyStoryLand #TMOM #TMOMDisney #ToyStory #HollywoodStudios #Florida #Orlando #TravelwithKids #FamilyTravel

Alien Swirling Saucers by day.

Don’t let the 32″ height restriction let you think this is a tame “baby ride”. This attraction is speedier and more jolting than it looks! The vehicle swings quite sharply at times. My toddler (who just meets the height requirement) enjoyed it just fine, but she was a little nervous. Fortunately I could sit close to her and wrap my arm around her so she didn’t slide back and forth on the seat too much. There is a simple seat belt strap for restraint.

The Ultimate Guide to Toy Story Land with kids includes tips on getting on the best rides, what to eat and where the most popular photo ops. #ToyStoryLand #TMOM #TMOMDisney #ToyStory #HollywoodStudios #Florida #Orlando #TravelwithKids #FamilyTravel

Alien Swirling Saucers by night!

Keep in mind that the Slinky Dog Dash doesn’t run in heavy rain or when it’s thundering/lightning. However the Alien Swirling Saucers attraction is under cover and we were able to ride during inclement weather. My friend Kim at Stuffed Suitcase has lots of Toy Story Land Ride Secrets on her site.

The Ultimate Guide to Toy Story Land with kids includes tips on getting on the best rides, what to eat and where the most popular photo ops are at this new Disney World land inside Hollywood Studios.

What’s There to Eat in Toy Story Land?

Woody’s Lunch Box is quick service dining, open for all three meals and serving up a creative variety of snacks and light meals. Try the S’more French Toast Sandwich or Banana Split Yogurt Parfait for a sweet-tooth satisfying breakfast. Grab “Totchos” for lunch and dinner. The BBQ Brisket Melt with a side of tomato-basil soup is delicious (dip the sandwich in the soup – so yummy!!) There are a lot more options on the Toy Story Land menu including “grown up drinks”, like a vodka spiked lemonade. Kids will enjoy the Powerade-infused Mystic Portal Punch.

The Ultimate Guide to Toy Story Land with kids includes tips on getting on the best rides, what to eat and where the most popular photo ops are at this new Disney World land inside Hollywood Studios.

The Lunch Box Tart is available at all three meals in either Raspberry or Chocolate-Hazelnut. This is a must-order, a rich and delicious twist on the classic breakfast treat (and a great value at $3.29).

The Ultimate Guide to Toy Story Land with kids includes tips on getting on the best rides, what to eat and where the most popular photo ops. #ToyStoryLand #TMOM #TMOMDisney #ToyStory #HollywoodStudios #Florida #Orlando #TravelwithKids #FamilyTravel

Note that there is no indoor dining inside Toy Story Land. I recommend grabbing a seat in the shade or returning to eat at night. My friend Sherry has the tips on how to use the time saving method of mobile ordering at Woody’s Lunch Box in her post Woody’s 7 Tips to Make the Most of Disney’s Toy Story Land.

The Ultimate Guide to Toy Story Land with kids includes tips on getting on the best rides, what to eat and where the most popular photo ops. #ToyStoryLand #TMOM #TMOMDisney #ToyStory #HollywoodStudios #Florida #Orlando #TravelwithKids #FamilyTravel

Photo Locations in Toy Story Land

Instagram-worthy photo walls at Disney World are all the rage. So where are the photo ops in Toy Story Land? Set your camera on selfie mode at the Popsicle Wall. Gather the group for a photo near Andy’s Wall. Pose near the Block Wall for colorful fun. You can also get a shot of the gang around a gigantic Pixar Ball!

The Ultimate Guide to Toy Story Land with kids includes tips on getting on the best rides, what to eat and where the most popular photo ops are at this new Disney World land inside Hollywood Studios. #ToyStoryLand #TMOM #TMOMDisney #ToyStory #HollywoodStudios #Florida #Orlando #TravelwithKids #FamilyTravel

For just straight-up great shots, take a picture of Woody at the entrance, Buzz in front of the Alien ride and Rex and Jessie standing atop the blocks at the Slinky Dog Dash.

There are several character meet n’ greet photo locations happening in the Toy Story Land area as well. Buzz Lightyear and Woody continue to meet guests at their original spot across from Toy Story Mania for the time being. Cast Members did confirm that Buzz and Woody will eventually move inside Toy Story Land though exact locations haven’t been determined yet. Joining them in Toy Story Land will be Jessie and the Green Army Men.

The Ultimate Guide to Toy Story Land with kids includes tips on getting on the best rides, what to eat and where the most popular photo ops are at this new Disney World land inside Hollywood Studios. #ToyStoryLand #TMOM #TMOMDisney #ToyStory #HollywoodStudios #Florida #Orlando #TravelwithKids #FamilyTravel

My friend Patty at No Guilt Life always take adorable photos in the parks and Toy Story Land is no exception! Check out her post with Super Cute Details in Toy Story Land, including where to find the fantastic photo walls.

Are There Bathrooms in Toy Story Land?

Any mom of young kids will want to know the answer to the most burning questions – like is there a bathroom at Toy Story Land? Thank goodness, yes, there is a spacious restroom area and the colorful details extend inside this space as well. This area to the left of the drinking fountain is the “Block Wall” photo spot.

The Ultimate Guide to Toy Story Land with kids includes tips on getting on the best rides, what to eat and where the most popular photo ops are at this new Disney World land inside Hollywood Studios.

The Ultimate Guide to Toy Story Land with kids includes tips on getting on the best rides, what to eat and where the most popular photo ops are at this new Disney World land inside Hollywood Studios.

The Ultimate Guide to Toy Story Land with kids includes tips on getting on the best rides, what to eat and where the most popular photo ops are at this new Disney World land inside Hollywood Studios.

What Are the Must-Have Toy Story Land Souvenirs?

Judging by the number of people who stopped me when I was wearing my Slinky Dog headband, that’s going to be one of the hottest Toy Story Land souvenirs! Other fun goodies include the light-up alien necklace or headband, the Slinky Dog dash pull-back toy, and the Buzz Lightyear bubble machine.

The Ultimate Guide to Toy Story Land with kids includes tips on getting on the best rides, what to eat and where the most popular photo ops. #ToyStoryLand #TMOM #TMOMDisney #ToyStory #HollywoodStudios #Florida #Orlando #TravelwithKids #FamilyTravel

The Ultimate Guide to Toy Story Land with kids includes tips on getting on the best rides, what to eat and where the most popular photo ops. #ToyStoryLand #TMOM #TMOMDisney #ToyStory #HollywoodStudios #Florida #Orlando #TravelwithKids #FamilyTravel

Of course there are always lots of different tees and hats to choose from as well, even Buzz and Woody-inspired Ears hats! All merchandise is being sold from outdoor carts. Be sure to look at the adorable kiosks that are inspired by some favorite childhood toys.

The Ultimate Guide to Toy Story Land with kids includes tips on getting on the best rides, what to eat and where the most popular photo ops. #ToyStoryLand #TMOM #TMOMDisney #ToyStory #HollywoodStudios #Florida #Orlando #TravelwithKids #FamilyTravel

The Ultimate Guide to Toy Story Land with kids includes tips on getting on the best rides, what to eat and where the most popular photo ops are at this new Disney World land inside Hollywood Studios.

The Ultimate Guide to Toy Story Land with kids includes tips on getting on the best rides, what to eat and where the most popular photo ops are at this new Disney World land inside Hollywood Studios. #ToyStoryLand #TMOM #TMOMDisney #ToyStory #HollywoodStudios #Florida #Orlando #TravelwithKids #FamilyTravel

Don’t Miss Details in Toy Story Land!

The Imagineering team was in creative overdrive when they designed Toy Story Land. Every detail has been thoughtfully planned and creatively “played out”. Here are a few things to look for in Toy Story Land:

  • Andy’s footprints can be found on the ground in Toy Story Land. Might be a while until this popular Land is empty enough of people for you to be able to see them completely though!

The Ultimate Guide to Toy Story Land with kids includes tips on getting on the best rides, what to eat and where the most popular photo ops are at this new Disney World land inside Hollywood Studios.

  • Hidden Mickeys have made their way into Toy Story Land. That’s always a fun game to do while waiting in queue.
  • I loved the “backyard-inspired” landscaping that makes you feel as tiny as a toy yourself. Everything from the fencing around Slinky Dog Dash to the weed-like shrubbery contributes to the effect.
  • Game boxes and pieces do double-duty as buildings, decor and even height restriction markers. How many can you find through Toy Story Land?

The Ultimate Guide to Toy Story Land with kids includes tips on getting on the best rides, what to eat and where the most popular photo ops are at this new Disney World land inside Hollywood Studios.

The Ultimate Guide to Toy Story Land with kids includes tips on getting on the best rides, what to eat and where the most popular photo ops are at this new Disney World land inside Hollywood Studios.

  • Popsicle sticks, dominos and curved wooden train tracks serve as suitable seating.

The Ultimate Guide to Toy Story Land with kids includes tips on getting on the best rides, what to eat and where the most popular photo ops are at this new Disney World land inside Hollywood Studios.

The Ultimate Guide to Toy Story Land with kids includes tips on getting on the best rides, what to eat and where the most popular photo ops are at this new Disney World land inside Hollywood Studios.

  • The quick service dining area, Woody’s Lunch Box, truly looks like a metal lunch box tipped on its side and filled with lunch treats.
  • Between Woody’s Lunch Box and the restrooms is a “garden” filled with Cooties!
  • Another don’t miss seating area is the Babybel cheese-inspired chair and table set in front of Woody’s Lunch Box.

The Ultimate Guide to Toy Story Land with kids includes tips on getting on the best rides, what to eat and where the most popular photo ops are at this new Disney World land inside Hollywood Studios.

The Ultimate Guide to Toy Story Land with kids includes tips on getting on the best rides, what to eat and where the most popular photo ops are at this new Disney World land inside Hollywood Studios.

  • Strings of Christmas bulb lights overhead that offer a colorful glow after night fall.

The Ultimate Guide to Toy Story Land with kids includes tips on getting on the best rides, what to eat and where the most popular photo ops are at this new Disney World land inside Hollywood Studios. #ToyStoryLand #TMOM #TMOMDisney #ToyStory #HollywoodStudios #Florida #Orlando #TravelwithKids #FamilyTravel

Need To Know About Toy Story Land

Naturally crowds are going to be at the max and line waits for this newest area are going to be long. Aim to schedule your FastPass+ for Slinky Dog Dash as soon as you can. The line for Alien Swirling Saucers should move a bit faster, so plan on stand-by for this one. But expect wait times to be lengthy for these newest attractions.

The Ultimate Guide to Toy Story Land with kids includes tips on getting on the best rides, what to eat and where the most popular photo ops. #ToyStoryLand #TMOM #TMOMDisney #ToyStory #HollywoodStudios #Florida #Orlando #TravelwithKids #FamilyTravel

And while Toy Story Mania isn’t a new attraction, it’s also very popular. It has no height restriction so everyone can ride! And fortunately the attraction has been expanded to accommodate more guests. One thing to note is that the original entrance to Toy Story Mania will soon be closing and the new entrance will be from inside Toy Story Land. My friend Britni at Play Party Plan has more insider tips for visiting Toy Story Land.

Tips for Toy Story Land with Kids

I suggest visiting Toy Story Land first thing in the day or during Extra Magic Hours for lighter (ha!) crowds. Well, lighter than they will be in the afternoon, I guess. Just know that this new Land is going to be popular and you’ll be dealing with plenty of crowds.

The Ultimate Guide to Toy Story Land with kids includes tips on getting on the best rides, what to eat and where the most popular photo ops are at this new Disney World land inside Hollywood Studios.

Toy Story Land is also very warm and shade is at a minimum under the hot Florida sunshine. Slather on plenty of sunscreen and hydrate. You can request complimentary ice water at Woody’s Lunch Box. Another great option is to wait until dark when the sun is down. Unfortunately there’s also not much in the way of cover from the rain. We experienced a heavy storm on our visit. Rain ponchos helped but you’ll likely need to search for cover outside of Toy Story Land if rain is strong.

The Ultimate Guide to Toy Story Land with kids includes tips on getting on the best rides, what to eat and where the most popular photo ops are at this new Disney World land inside Hollywood Studios.

Drinking fountain in the Alien Swirling Saucers queue.

Take time with young ones to point out all the fun and playful details. Do those photo ops, find the Hidden Mickeys and point out all the colorful board game pieces and toys. Tania at Lola Lambchops has more family-friendly tips on her Guide to Toy Story Land.

The Ultimate Guide to Toy Story Land with kids includes tips on getting on the best rides, what to eat and where the most popular photo ops are at this new Disney World land inside Hollywood Studios.

I also have more posts on Walt Disney World with kids

What are YOU most looking forward to doing at Toy Story Land with kids?.

The Ultimate Guide to Toy Story Land with kids includes tips on getting on the best rides, what to eat and where the most popular photo ops are at this new Disney World land inside Hollywood Studios. #ToyStoryLand #TMOM #TMOMDisney #ToyStory #HollywoodStudios #Florida #Orlando #TravelwithKids #FamilyTravel

 


8 Things to Do in Palm Springs with Kids of All Ages

Whether exploring the golf courses in Indian Wells, the water park in Cathedral City, the zoo in Palm Desert or the aeriel tramway in Coachella Valley you’re sure to find adventure in Palm Springs with kids of all ages. With a toddler, 6-year old and two teens in our family, finding activities that interest all of them can be a challenge. Occasionally when we’re on a family vacation, my husband and I have to divide up so that the big kids can do activities just for them. It’s worth it for some activities, as you’ll read. I’ve also included a list of activities that are family friendly and that young kids and adults alike will enjoy together!

Visit Greater Palm Springs arranged complimentary admission to several of these activities (Living Desert, Children’s Discovery Museum, Wet n’ Wild Water Park & Red Jeep Tour). Renaissance Indian Wells provided lodging and dining credit. All opinions are my own.

There are lots of things to families to do in Palm Spring. Find out the top 8 desert adventures including golfing, museums, and water parks. Lots of tips on where to stay and what to do in the California desert with kids of all ages.

Palm Springs With Kids

While my family of six has taken California road trips in the past, we’d never explored Palm Springs together. Palm Springs takes approximately 2.5 hours to drive from San Diego, though we did run into some traffic that extended the drive on a Friday afternoon. We stopped for healthy snacks at a convenience store along the way. I’m sharing tips on where to stay and advice for lots of family activities when taking on Palm Springs with kids.

Renaissance Indian Wells

If you’re looking for a Palm Springs kid friendly resort that’s also classy and high in family-friendly amenties, the Renaissance Indian Wells is perfect all-around. From the moment we arrived, the staff made us feel welcome, telling us about the resort amenities (including complimentary bikes for touring the resort).

My family of six were placed into a 1 bedroom Executive suite, with a connecting two Queen bed room. Each room had a private balcony with an incredible pool and mountain view. Seriously, it was gorgeous waking up to this view! The spaciousness of the rooms and the ability to close doors between the spaces was ideal. While my big kids slept and my husband watched television, I was able to sit with the toddler in the quiet living space until she fell asleep.

There are lots of things to families to do in Palm Spring. Find out the top 8 desert adventures including golfing, museums, and water parks. Lots of tips on where to stay and what to do in the California desert with kids of all ages.

Roomy queen bed room at the Renaissance Indian Wells.

There are lots of things to families to do in Palm Spring. Find out the top 8 desert adventures including golfing, museums, and water parks. Lots of tips on where to stay and what to do in the California desert with kids of all ages.

The spacious living room in the executive suite.

What’s for Families at the Renaissance Indian Wells?

The large and beautiful pool at the Renaissance Indian Wells is a big draw for families. After my 6-year old got over the disappointment that the resort pool didn’t have a water slide, he consoled himself on the sandy beach and in one of the two hot tubs! The pool area does get extremely crowded during the day and it’s easy to lose track of the kids. Also there aren’t any lifeguards on duty, so keep a close eye. There are towels available poolside, but bring your own flotation device for non-swimmers. I had to do a Target run for our toddler to purchase one.

There are lots of things to families to do in Palm Spring. Find out the top 8 desert adventures including golfing, museums, and water parks. Lots of tips on where to stay and what to do in the California desert with kids of all ages.

The pool area is open very late which means if you have a pool view, you’re going to hear the noise. On one of the nights of our visit, there was an extremely loud “dive in movie” at the pool going on until nearly 10 pm. I recommend bringing ear plugs if you’re an early sleeper. A sleep mask is another good thing to pack as there were no blackout curtains in our room and the shutters didn’t fully block all the light.

There’s plenty to do at the Renaissance Indian Wells without the kids too. Check the young ones (ages 4-13) into Camp Oasis for the morning or evening session (reservations are recommended). Then adults can enjoy the resort spa, Spa Esmeralda with a variety of pampering services and treatments. My husband let me sleep in with the kids one morning while he took advantage of the fitness center and free classes. For dining, we enjoyed the unique and delicious burgers at CAVA for lunch. We found this location to be upscale but still comfortable enough for kids. There’s also Japanese specialties at Glo Sushi or Italian dining at Sirocco Pizza Company. Read my travel dining hacks with kids.

There are lots of things to families to do in Palm Spring. Find out the top 8 desert adventures including golfing, museums, and water parks. Lots of tips on where to stay and what to do in the California desert with kids of all ages.

A variety of burgers and fries to share at CAVA, Renaissance Indian Wells.

Tips About Palm Springs with Kids

The Palm Springs area is quite easy to navigate. The Renaissance Indian Wells is located towards the southern end of the Palm Desert area. Driving on the 111, we were able to access many of the family activities around Palm Springs within 30 minutes or so. As California natives we’ve done a lot of exploring outdoors in San Diego. If you’re not used to the warmth of the desert you’ll definitely have a few extra considerations. Use sunscreen and reapply a lot. Drink plenty of water to maintain hydration. Aim to avoid the direct sun mid-day, seeking indoor activities when the weather is hottest.

1. Children’s Discovery Museum of the Desert

While my husband and older kids took a guided tour on a jeep, my toddler and I explored at the Children’s Discovery Museum of the Desert. We’ve done children’s museums in San Diego before but I was thrilled by the unique variety of things for my toddler to do here! We definitely could have spent the entire day playing here, my daughter was having a wonderful time.

There are lots of things to families to do in Palm Spring. Find out the top 8 desert adventures including golfing, museums, and water parks. Lots of tips on where to stay and what to do in the California desert with kids of all ages.

There are lots of things to families to do in Palm Spring. Find out the top 8 desert adventures including golfing, museums, and water parks. Lots of tips on where to stay and what to do in the California desert with kids of all ages.

The Children’s Discovery Museum offers over 80 hands-on exhibits, some of which are traveling for a limited time. My daughter is recently 2 years old and I was pleased that there was so much she was able to do here. She happily played “veterinarian” to stuffed puppy dogs, shopped for groceries, tested how balls and silks could “balance” on air jets and had a tea party in Toddlertown. I know that my six year old son would have enjoyed the museum and some of the more scientific experiments as well.

There are both indoor playgrounds and grassy areas outside (with balls and toys). There are also shaded picnic benches. When you enter into the main building be sure to head outside to visit the other galleries. Each of the buildings is air conditioned but you’ll be in the sun when walking between the galleries. Seating is limited for adults inside the galleries but that’s only to encourage grown ups to play alongside their kids!

There are lots of things to families to do in Palm Spring. Find out the top 8 desert adventures including golfing, museums, and water parks. Lots of tips on where to stay and what to do in the California desert with kids of all ages.

There are lots of things to families to do in Palm Spring. Find out the top 8 desert adventures including golfing, museums, and water parks. Lots of tips on where to stay and what to do in the California desert with kids of all ages.

You might not think to pack the sunscreen for a museum but you’ll be walking outside between galleries.

2. Palm Springs Golfing for All Ages

Palm Springs is known for their golf courses. But you might not think to take the kids! The Indian Wells Golf Resort is conveniently located right next door to the Renaissance Indian Wells resort. Guests of the Renaissance Indian Wells resort can practice putting or driving balls for free after noon! You don’t even need your own clubs or reservations, just show up. A complimentary shuttle transports guests back and forth.

There are lots of things to families to do in Palm Springs. Find out the top 8 desert adventures including golfing, museums, and water parks. Lots of tips on where to stay and what to do in the California desert of Palm Springs with kids of all ages.

Free putting in Palm Springs

My older kids (and my husband!) were so excited to try “real” golfing for the first time. While my husband and older kids played, the toddler and I walked around the pretty resort, taking pictures of the landscaping. There is a grill and bar with food for purchase, or complimentary water to stay hydrated.

There are lots of things to families to do in Palm Spring. Find out the top 8 desert adventures including golfing, museums, and water parks. Lots of tips on where to stay and what to do in the California desert with kids of all ages.

I took a few swings with the club too (it’s harder than it looks!)

3. Palm Springs Ariel Tramway

I have to admit that I declined the offer to take the Palm Springs Ariel Tramway. My fear of heights got the best of me and I just knew I wouldn’t be able to take that ride! However if heights don’t bother you, I highly recommend taking the tramway and you can read more about it on this TravelingMom post.

4. Palm Springs Red Jeep Tours

If you’re looking for a desert adventure, here are many tour companies that will take you on a Jeep tour of  Joshua Tree National Park, Indian Canyons or Mecca Hills. The San Andreas Fault Jeep tour is what my family took with Desert Adventure’s Red Jeep Tours. Complimentary hotel pickup is available for guests staying in Palm Desert or Indian Wells. I opted out of taking the toddler so my three older kids and husband took the Red Jeep Tour. Phil was their tour guide. He picked them up directly in front of our hotel, which was extremely convenient. If your child rides in a booster seat, you’ll need to install it into the Jeep.

There are lots of things to families to do in Palm Spring. Find out the top 8 desert adventures including golfing, museums, and water parks. Lots of tips on where to stay and what to do in the California desert with kids of all ages.

The tour takes place at the private Metate Ranch preserve on the San Andreas Fault. Phil tailored the private tour for my husband and kids. The tour takes place along an active earthquake fault system, which my teenagers thought was cool. My family learned about the Cahuilla Indians, about the plants and animals in the desert and saw a natural palm oasis with bubbling water from an underground aquifer. They also had time to explore in the deep canyons and take a brief hike. After panning for gold, my kids received a vial with some of the gold chips they’d discovered.

This is quote from my 6-year old about the Red Jeep Tour experience:

I liked panning for gold. I learned about a fire in the palm trees and heard stories about the Indian spirit words. Mine was called “Bright Spirit”. I like when I got the Indian arrowhead at the end.

This guided tour was my teenage son’s favorite part of our entire Palm Springs weekend:

It was a day to remember. I enjoyed the humor of our tour guide Phil and learning the history of Palm Springs. My favorite part was going to visit the reservoirs and see how they get water in the desert.

There are lots of things to families to do in Palm Springs. Find out the top 8 desert adventures including golfing, museums, and water parks. Lots of tips on where to stay and what to do in the California desert of Palm Springs with kids of all ages.

5. Palm Springs Air Museum

With one of the world’s largest collections of flyable WWII aircraft the Palm Springs Air Museum will appeal to aviation fans and history buffs alike. My friend (and self-professed “aviation geek”) Leslie of Trips with Tykes talks more about the Palm Springs Air Museum.

6. Cabazon Dinosaurs

The Cabazon Dinosaurs are one of the quirkiest roadside attractions! Located along the 10 fwy, you can’t miss this collection of dino statues while driving into the Palm Springs area. If you’re a fan of the movie Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure you’ll recognize this area as one of the scenes. If you want to climb inside Mr. Rex’s mouth like Pee-Wee did, there’s a additional fee. Otherwise you can view and take photos of the other dinosaurs without any charge.

There are lots of things to families to do in Palm Spring. Find out the top 8 desert adventures including golfing, museums, and water parks. Lots of tips on where to stay and what to do in the California desert with kids of all ages.

7. Living Desert Zoo

As a San Diego native, I’m very familiar with our San Diego Zoo and didn’t know what to expect in Palm Springs. I was so pleased with our visit to the Living Desert Zoo! We visited early on Father’s Day and the crowds were very light, something I’m definitely not used to at the overly crowded San Diego Zoo. We were easily able to get close with the animals and linger as long as we wanted. I personally love the giraffes and it was incredible to be so close to them! You can even feed them for an additional fee.

There are lots of things to families to do in Palm Spring. Find out the top 8 desert adventures including golfing, museums, and water parks. Lots of tips on where to stay and what to do in the California desert with kids of all ages.

There are lots of things to families to do in Palm Spring. Find out the top 8 desert adventures including golfing, museums, and water parks. Lots of tips on where to stay and what to do in the California desert with kids of all ages.

My husband and teens were excited to point out some of the plants in the botanical gardens, recognizing them from the jeep tour the day prior. There are 1,400 different species of plants here, all beautifully maintained.

In addition to the gardens and animals, the Living Desert also has nature hiking trails in its preserve. Each of the three trails is varied in difficulty. The Living Desert Zoo itself is very walk-able. We didn’t even bring a stroller for the toddler, allowing her to walk freely on the paved paths and the dirt trails. I do recommend close toed shoes. I wore sandals and my feet were quite dusty after walking through the exhibits! If you want to minimize walking or enjoy more of a tour, there is an in-park shuttle service for a small additional fee.

There are lots of things to families to do in Palm Springs. Find out the top 8 desert adventures including golfing, museums, and water parks. Lots of tips on where to stay and what to do in the California desert of Palm Springs with kids of all ages.

Take time for the kids to admire the trains garden. This G-scale model train display is large and intricate with lots of fun interactive areas. Another can’t miss for young kids is Gecko Gulch. This play area offers plenty of shade and gives kids the chance to run around. The Saguaro cactus slide was a favorite!

There are lots of things to families to do in Palm Spring. Find out the top 8 desert adventures including golfing, museums, and water parks. Lots of tips on where to stay and what to do in the California desert with kids of all ages.

The train exhibit at the Living Desert is a must-see for kids.

Note that summer hours are abbreviated. On the day of our visit (mid-June) the park was only open from 8 am to 1:30 pm. Also some activities, like the carousel, camel rides, nature trails and lorikeet feedings aren’t available year-round so be sure to check the online calendar.

8. Wet n’ Wild Water Park

If you’re visiting Palm Springs in the summer you might wonder how you can beat the heat. A day at the Wet n’ Wild Palm Springs water park was a great way for us to cool off as a family. Wet n’ Wild has attractions for everyone, including an intermittent wave pool, lazy river and several family-type slides. Of course there are also thrilling water slides for the adventure seekers too!

There are lots of things to families to do in Palm Spring. Find out the top 8 desert adventures including golfing, museums, and water parks. Lots of tips on where to stay and what to do in the California desert with kids of all ages.

There are plenty of dining options, offering the usual burgers, fries, pizza and nachos. Ice cream, funnel cake and Dippin’ Dots are choices for your sweet tooth. Unfortunately outside food is not allowed inside the park. However you can leave and return without additional parking charges (just keep and show your receipt) if you want to leave and eat elsewhere.

There are lots of things to families to do in Palm Springs. Find out the top 8 desert adventures including golfing, museums, and water parks. Lots of tips on where to stay and what to do in the California desert of Palm Springs with kids of all ages.

There are lots of things to families to do in Palm Springs. Find out the top 8 desert adventures including golfing, museums, and water parks. Lots of tips on where to stay and what to do in the California desert of Palm Springs with kids of all ages.

You can bring bottled water, sports drinks and juice inside the park. You’ll also need your own towels. Lockers are available to rent and if you arrive early, grab a chaise under the shade. There are cabanas available to rent at an additional charge. Wet n’ Wild is not open year-round so be sure to check their online calendar before your visit.

What’s your favorite family-friendly activity in Palm Springs with kids?

There are lots of things to families to do in Palm Springs. Find out the top 8 desert adventures including golfing, museums, and water parks. Lots of tips on where to stay and what to do in the California desert of Palm Springs with kids of all ages. #PalmSprings #VisitGreaterPS #RenIW #Desert #FamilyTravel #TravelwithKids #California