Important Advice to Know About Transportation at Disneyland Resort

Transportation at Disneyland can be a bit more complicated than at Walt Disney World, where guests staying onsite simply hop aboard a bus, boat or monorail that deposits them directly at the Park gate. But at Disneyland, because of the more petite footprint, there are several other options that can really help you maximize your time.

Important Advice to Know About Transportation at Disneyland Resort

Arriving at the Parks, bright and early!

Unlike the vast and spread out Walt Disney World, the Disneyland Resort is smack-dab in the middle of a bustling city! On one side of the front gates are motels, freeways, sidewalks, parking lots and traffic. On the other side of the gate exists the “Disney bubble” with a transportation system of its own! So how do you quickly get from one to the other? By using a combination of transportation systems, you’ll soon be on your way.

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

Here’s an important overview of transportation at Disneyland

Important Advice to Know About Transportation at Disneyland Resort

Take a picture before boarding the escalator to help you remember which level you parked on.

1. Parking Structure or Parking Area

There are hundreds of hotels in the Anaheim area, so if one of the three Disneyland Resort hotels is booked or if you’re looking for a more budget option, seek an offsite hotel. This means you’ll need to consider how to get to the Parks each day. If you are planning on driving your car in each day, depending upon the direction you come from or which lots are available, you’ll have several parking options. The cost will be $20 per day for cars & motorcycles, no matter if you choose the structure (garage) or area (parking lot).

Mickey and Friends Parking Structure is located on Disneyland Dr. and has a large capacity (which can be a good or bad thing). After descending the escalators, you’ll be funneled into a waiting space for a Disney resort tram. Early in the morning the wait is minimal but come just around Park opening and you may find yourself waiting as long as 30 minutes for a tram to take you to the Park entrance. These open-air trams will deposit you at the end of the Downtown Disney District, near the front entrance to the Parks.

At the end of the day, you might find that the wait for the tram to take you back to the parking structure can be upwards of a half hour. You’ll be required to fold up your stroller and hold packages on your lap. Waiting in line for the tram you can be guaranteed to see several sleeping kids, many grouchy parents and lots of people who are pushy to get the next seat on the tram. Time your exit knowing that getting a seat on the tram back to the parking structure can be a long and challenging process.

Important Advice to Know About Transportation at Disneyland Resort

Taking the escalators at Mickey & Friends Parking Structure. The tram is arriving at the bottom.

Toy Story Parking Area is located off South Harbor Blvd. Once parked here, you’ll be shuttled on a Disneyland Resort bus directly to the front entrance. There is also the Pumbaa Parking Area, located on Disney Way. It’s a bit smaller of a lot and just off the freeway so it generally fills up quickly. At the end of the day, you’ll be able to catch a ride back on one of the buses in the same location and be taken back to your vehicle.

We’ve always had better luck with wait times for transportation back to the Toy Story parking area (less than 10 minutes) versus the Mickey and Friends parking structure (upwards of 30 minutes). For me, parking in the lots is ideal to the parking structure, though traffic getting in and out can be more difficult because you are located on busier streets.

Important Advice to Know About Transportation at Disneyland Resort

Bus transportation back to the parking areas.

For more information and a map of the different parking locations, click this link from the Disneyland Resort.

Save Money at DISNEYLAND!

Purchase discount tickets and vacation packages from my affiliate Get Away Today. Use the Promo Code REWRITTENand receive an extra $10 off any 2-night or longer Southern California package. (Hotel and 2 ticket minimum purchase to qualify for the discount).

2. Take the Bus

Local bus transportation, including Greyhound, Los Angeles Metro or Orange County Transit Authority is available if you are further away and need a ride to the Parks. Anaheim Resort Transit (ART) is a convenient and cost-effect method of transportation from area hotels to the Disneyland Resort or convention center.

If you are staying at a Good Neighbor Hotel, many of them offer shuttle service from their hotel to the Disneyland Resort, so check when booking. Guests at the Anaheim Majestic Garden Hotel can take a complimentary shuttle ride to and from the parks on the “Dream Machine”.

Important Advice to Know About Transportation at Disneyland Resort

Dream Machine, free shuttle service from the Anaheim Majestic Garden Hotel.

Check out more via this link from the Disneyland Resort about bus service.

3. Catch the Monorail

Already have your valid resort ticket and want to jump right in to the heart of the Disneyland Park? You can get quick access via the monorail from the Downtown Disney District station. This is a great option for those staying at the Disneyland Hotel and Paradise Pier Hotel or for those who are staying off-site but walking to the parks through Downtown Disney District. There is a security check at this entrance and you do need your valid resort ticket on hand.

Please note that the monorail’s 2.5 mile route only has two stops, one in the Downtown Disney District and one in Tomorrowland inside Disneyland. The monorail does not stop at Disney’s California Adventure park.

Important Advice to Know About Transportation at Disneyland Resort

4. Drop off/Pick up

If you have the ability to have someone drop you off and pick you up at the front entrance there is an area on Harbor Blvd. If you want to take a taxi or Uber/Lyft back to your hotel, this is where you’d be able to pick up a ride.

Important Advice to Know About Transportation at Disneyland Resort

Walking back to our hotel, a quick 10 minutes.

5. Walking

Sometimes there’s nothing more reliable than your own two feet! Choose a hotel that’s close-by (easy to do in Anaheim) and you can be out the door and at the front gate in a matter of minutes! This makes it easy to take a mid-day break for swimming or napping if you can quickly walk back to your hotel.

Fortunately the two Parks of the Disneyland Resort (Disneyland Park and Disney’s California Adventure park are located just a short esplanade away from each other. Once through security check, you’ll be able to pass back and forth between them (“Park Hop”) by just walking across the esplanade. No bus or transportation needed for Park Hopping at the Disneyland Resort!

Important Advice to Know About Transportation at Disneyland Resort

All three kids, sacked out on the drive home!

For more ways Disneyland trip planning is different,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!

Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Blue | How Planning a Trip to Disneyland is Different Loop:

What is your favorite method of transportation at Disneyland Resort? Share with us in the comments!


How do you get to the Disneyland resort & what kind of transportation will you need at the Parks?

Adventurer’s Guide to the Disneyland Resort

Are you an adventurer waiting to explore all that the Disneyland Resort can offer in the way of danger and mystery? “Disneyland Adventure is out there!” While not particularly scary, Disneyland is still a wonderful place for those who love wild animals, rustic atmospheres and worldly explorations. I’m here to show you what you need to bring with you, what to explore at the Parks and how to make the most of your Disney adventures.

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!

Adventurer's Guide to the Disneyland Resort

Disneyland Adventurer Agenda

Adventurers are great planners and make sure their rucksacks are well-stocked. Keep reading on the best practices for what to pack with you into the park, starting with park tickets. Start your day on the best foot by purchasing tickets ahead of time so you aren’t left waiting in line at the front gate. I recommend my partner at Get Away Today. You’ll not only save time but a few dollars off the purchase price as well.

Packing Your Bag for Adventures

Fill your day pack with essentials, including sunscreen, camera and cash. Disneyland allows you to pack in your own snacks, so go ahead and fill your bag with healthy snacks that will help keep up your stamina between adventures. Don’t forget to pack your canteen (or water bottle!) to refill at the drinking fountains. You can also request water for free at any counter service restaurant. Here are more ideas on what to pack for a day at Disneyland and what to leave home.


Disneyland Adventurer’s Itinerary

Naturally an Adventurer’s day should begin in Adventureland inside the Disneyland Park. Pick up your FastPass first for Indiana Jones Adventure then hop into line next door at Jungle Cruise. You’ll board a small craft bound for the Amazon, complete with “wild animals” and funny jokes from your Skipper along the way.

Adventurer's Guide to the Disneyland Resort

View from the top of Tarzan’s Treehouse

Take a tour of Tarzan’s Treehouse, an 80-tree that offers a lovely view of Tom Sawyer Island and the Rivers of America. There are plenty of stairs so be sure you’re up for the climb. At the base of the Treehouse, there is a small play area for small adventurers to explore.

Adventurer's Guide to the Disneyland Resort

If your FastPass time for Indiana Jones hasn’t come yet, swing by the Enchanted Tiki Room to sing like the birdies sing. Be sure to watch the totem pole show outside during the pre-show as the island gods are each awakened. Pick up a Dole pineapple treat from the Tiki Juice Bar just outside before you go in. And don’t be shy! Singing and whistling along with the 15-minute animatronics show is highly encouraged.

Now it’s time for your Indiana Jones Adventure. Guests 46″+ can enjoy this thrilling ride that transports you right into Indy’s world, complete with bumpy Jeep ride, snakes, giant boulders and lots of other close calls. The ultimate in Disneyland adventure!

Adventurer's Guide to the Disneyland Resort

Grizzy River Run – Image Credit: Jeff Holz

Disney California Adventure Park Itinerary

Those looking for more adventure will find it over at Disney California Adventure Park and Grizzly Peak is the place to start! Grab a FastPass for Soarin’ Around the World, then head around the curve towards Grizzy River Run. Reminiscent of inner-tubing down a rushing river, you’ll need to put your valuables in a locker (located just at the entrance) to prevent water damage.

Spend some time at the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail and you’ll be able to dry off. There are caves to explore, rope bridges to navigate, rock walls to climb and kids can hop aboard a tire swing. It’s easy to get separated from your kids in here so make sure you have an agreed-upon meeting spot in case someone gets lost.

Tour back to Soarin’ for your next adventure, that will take you “flying” over landmarks around the globe, complete with the wind in your hair and the smell of adventure in the air.

Adventurer's Guide to the Disneyland Resort

Queue of Soarin’ Over California – Image Credit: Jeff Holz

Adventurer’s Attire

Adventurers dress appropriate to the weather. There are no rides in Disneyland’s Adventureland where you’re at risk of getting wet. But if you venture to Disney California Adventure Park there is Grizzy River Run and you will get soaked! Shoes that dry quickly and are comfortable for long hikes and climbs are best. Don’t forget a hat and sunscreen to protect you from the elements.

If you forgot your pith helmet at home, you can pick up sundries at the Adventureland Bazaar, South Seas Traders and Indiana Jones Adventure Outpost. These are the perfect shops to pick up a tropical top, jungle-themed stuffed animal, rubber snake or faux whip.

Save Money on Your Disneyland Vacation!

Purchase discount Disneyland tickets and vacation packages from my affiliate Get Away Today. Use the Promo Code REWRITTEN and receive an extra $10 off any 2-night or longer Southern California package. (Hotel and 2 ticket minimum purchase to qualify for the discount).

Adventurer’s Appetite

Adventurers eat on the go, so there aren’t any full-service restaurants in Disneyland’s Adventureland. Grab a fast snack at Tropical Imports, including ice cold pickles and dried fruit. There is always a line at the Bengal Barbeque and for good reason. The kabobs of meat and veggies are delicious and come with dipping sauce.

Looking for the ultimate Disneyland adventures? Check out my guide on what to wear, itinerary and where to eat on an Disneyland adventure for both California parks. #Disneyland #California #CaliforniaAdventure #DisneyAdventure

A Dole Whip from the Tiki Juice Bar is a must. Don’t be thrown off by the mile-line line outside. Go inside the gate for the Enchanted Tiki Room and a second line is there that is generally much shorter. Over at Disney California Adventure Park, you can enjoy a quick-service sit down meal at Smokejumpers Grill that offers filling classic burgers and salads.

Looking for a foodie Disneyland adventure on a budget? Read more on 7 Tips to Save Money on Food at Disney Parks and More Ways to Save Money on Food at Disney Parks.

Adventurer's Guide to the Disneyland Resort

Adventurer’s Anthology

You’ll want a memento to remind you of your adventures and all good explorers have their collections. Store photo memories in an album, encircle your wrist with a reminder of your journey or get wrapped up in a dramatic adventure tale!

End the Night at Trader Sam’s

Finish out your day of Disneyland adventure with a night cap outside the Parks. Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar at the Disneyland Hotel is the perfect end to a day of exploration. Inside the small lounge, specialty drinks unleash enchanting fun when ordered. Order the Krakatoa Punch and watch out for the lava flow! Food is served as well to satisfy grumbling tummies (we like the variety of the Pu Pu Platter).

Kids are welcome inside until 8 pm. After that, Trader Sam’s is strictly 21+. If you can’t get a seat inside (it’s a small bar and there are no reservations accepted), hang out on the outdoor patio. At night, the terrace is lit with tiki torches and live acoustic music is played to set the scene.

Looking for the ultimate Disneyland adventures? Check out my guide on what to wear, itinerary and where to eat on an Disneyland adventure for both California parks. #Disneyland #California #CaliforniaAdventure #DisneyAdventure

Planning Your Disneyland Vacation? Read my other Disneyland Resort Guides



For more Disneyland trip planning tips,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!

Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Blue | Disneyland 101 Loop:

Looking for the ultimate Disneyland adventures? Check out my guide on what to wear, itinerary and where to eat on an Disneyland adventure for both California parks. #Disneyland #California #CaliforniaAdventure #DisneyAdventure

Disney Trip FREE Printable – Packing List for Kids

When traveling with kids, packing for any extended vacation takes advanced planning and organization. And for a Disney trip, packing all you need is essential since most (if not all of your time) will be spend on Resort property. You certainly don’t want to have to make a side trip if someone forgot to pack something essential. Keep reading for my Disney trip packing list for kids.

Disney Trip Packing List for Kids

I’m a HUGE list maker! I honestly make lists for everything. It helps me stay organized leading up to a trip, when planning, packing and yes, even when putting everything back into the suitcase to come home. Don’t want to leave anything behind! With a toddler, young kid and two teens, the packing list varies for each but I’ve included the basics everyone needs here.

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

Disney Trip FREE Printable - Packing List for Kids

Even with the best laid plans, sometimes things go awry! On one Disneyland road trip, my husband put our toddler in the car without his shoes on and it wasn’t until we were a block from the Disneyland Resort did we realize that he didn’t have any shoes! Quick stop at Target and all was good. But hopefully you can avoid extra stops and with these Disney trip printables, you’ll be organized and prepared!

Be sure to also check out my other printable packing lists –

Traveling With a Baby in Diapers – FREE Baby Packing List Printable!

Mom’s Disney Packing List – FREE Printable!

Expectant Mom’s Complete Disney Packing List of Important Needs

Disney Trip FREE Printable - Packing List for Kids that they can use to pack for themselves!

Save Money on Your DISNEY VACATION!

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

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

Helpful Packing Tips for Kids

My goal is to have my older kids pack their own travel bags. I’ve created a list that is straightforward and that kids can check-mark off as they go. Nobody will forget their shoes if they follow this list! Open and print a copy for each child and they’ll be prepared to pack up their own Disney vacation bag! Keep reading for the free printable.

Keep it Small

  • Consider smaller sized travel items that will fit inside one zippered pouch.
  • Don’t worry about shampoo & conditioner since the hotel will usually have those available.
  • Use your own body wash from home and refill these Leak Proof Silicone Travel Bottles.
  • Choose Travel Toothbrush that are on the shorter size that will fit inside the pouch.
  • Use a compact hairbrush that folds up or pack a travel sized version to preserve space. I like the Wet Brush Squirt Detangler Hair Brush, which is a perfect pool-side brush for combing wet hair.

Bundle Up

Bundle outfits into a stack with everything they’ll need to wear for the day (socks, undies, shorts, tee, hair accessories, etc) and then slide the bundle into a large zip-close bag. Press the air out of the bag before sealing shut. At the end of the day, fold the dirty clothes back into the bag and zip it shut. This keeps the dirty clothes from getting mixed in with the clean clothes and it keeps your hotel room from stinking like a dirty gym sock. Am I right about that? Ewwww….

Disney Trip FREE Printable - Packing List for Kids that they can use to pack for themselves!

Use and reuse zip-close bags for travel

It’s also so much easier to pack when there are individual bags with the air squeezed out. I even go so far as to label the day of the week on each bag so they can pick it out and get dressed each morning without fuss. Reuse the bags for your next trip.

Disney Trip FREE Printable - Packing List for Kids

Neat and Tidy

Pack a small pop up mesh hamper for kids to toss their dirty clothes or shoes into when they return from the park. This will eliminate the “Where’s my left sandal?!” in the morning.

Have kids store their personal toiletries in individual travel toiletry bags. This keeps the bathroom counter neat and tidy and nobody is looking for their toothbrush when you all stagger back to the room late at night.

The Park Bag

Have a “Park bag”, aka: backpack for each child. I found one that my son uses for Disney trips on Etsy and it’s embroidered with his last name. Kids older than about 6 yrs old can use a backpack that holds their supplies for the day. Find something that your kids can easily take off by themselves when getting on rides.

Kids can keep track of their own snacks, souvenir money and maps. I know my son is always proud to carry his own Disney bag through the day (so long as it’s not overloaded and too heavy!)

Disney Trip FREE Printable - Packing List for Kids

Ready to let the kids pack their own Disney luggage and park bag? Click here for your FREE Disney Trip Kids Packing List!

For more Disney trip printables,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!

Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Blue | Disney Trip Printables Loop:


What packing tips do you have when taking kids on a Disney vacation? Please share in the comments!

Disney Trip FREE Printable - Packing List for Kids that they can use to pack for themselves!

Disney on a Budget – Don’t Spend a Penny Inside the Parks

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

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

Read on for my helpful tips about doing Disney on a budget!

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

1. Getting into the Park – Money Saving Tips & Discounted Tickets

You’ll still need to buy your tickets but there are some easy ways to get them at a discount! And sorry, you can’t get into Disneyland for free on your birthday anymore (that promotion ended many many years ago). There is one person who can get into Disney for free – children who have not yet turned three have free admission to Disney parks!

I recommend purchasing tickets upfront to save time at the gate. Follow these rules to buying tickets and still save a few dollars.

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


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

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

More Money Saving Ideas

  • Note that the multi-day passes save overall as the price per day is lower. If you plan on a longer visit or will be visiting more often than once a year, consider an Annual Pass. Annual Passes also have the option of pay-per-month installments.
  • Keep in mind that if your child is 2 or under, they don’t require a Park ticket so their entry is free!
  • When my family asks me, “What do you want for your birthday?” or “What do the kids want for Christmas?”, request Disney gift cards! They can be used at Walt Disney World or Disneyland towards Park tickets, dining and souvenirs. You can even buy personalized cards online with the recipient’s photo on it.
  • Did you know that you can use your Target Red Card to save an additional 5% off the price of your Disney gift cards?!

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

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

Mickey's Toontown for Preschoolers - A Guide on What to Do, See & Eat!

2. Pack in a Picnic

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

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

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

Good Foods to Pack –

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

Bad Foods to Pack –

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

For a little money –

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

Don’t miss these two posts about saving money on food at Disney and MORE ways to save money on food!

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

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

3. Bring It With You

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

  • Stroller for your young one. I even recommend strollers for kids up to about 5 years old (all that walking around makes even bigger kids grumpy and tired). Park strollers are notoriously uncomfortable. Consider renting one: I recommend Amusement Park Rentals & have used their services several times at Walt Disney World.
  • Plenty of baby supplies (food, diapers, wipes, disposable bibs). You can purchase these things inside the Baby Care Center but prices are at a premium. You can however use the services at the Baby Care Center for free, including microwaves to warm baby food, highchairs, changing tables and tiny potties. Read about what I pack in my Disney diaper bag.
  • Accessories like hats and sunglasses
  • Sunscreen and Chapstick
  • Jacket and/or rain poncho, depending upon the weather
Disneyland for free?! Don't Spend a Penny Inside the Parks...Here's How!

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


4. Pre-Buy Souvenirs 

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

  • A  t-shirt or hat from the Disney Store to wear for the day.
  • A battery-powered personal misting fan if you’re coming during hot weather
  • Plush characters are much cheaper brought from home than at the Parks
  • I love 99 cent store glow-sticks to wear during evening parades and fireworks (makes it a lot easier to keep track of your kids after dark too!)
  • For those trinkets that you present to the kids just before leaving, think tiny, since you’ll be toting these treats around all day: Tsum-tsum, costume jewelry, die-cast car or Vinylmation.
  • Pajamas in a Disney theme! This might seem strange but we have our little kids change into their PJs before leaving the Park at the end of the night, especially if we have a long drive ahead of us.

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


5. Other FREE Things in the Parks

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

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

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

Club Cool at Epcot

  • Bring something from home to collect autographs from the Characters. I’ve heard of people using a fabric marker and a pillowcase or t-shirt. How about this idea of a photo frame mat for Characters to sign around. Then include a photo of yourself with one of them inside the picture frame, clever! I met this woman at Walt Disney World who was collecting her autographs in a book that featured all the characters! (It’s called Disney Junior Encyclopedia of Animated Characters). So clever and you’ll have all your autographs in one place.

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

  • Do you have a Disney Visa credit card? – You can get a private meet n’ greet with a surprise character. Just check the website beforehand to find out the location and more details.
Disneyland for free?! Don't Spend a Penny Inside the Parks...Here's How!

Image Credit: Jeff Holz

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

Tons of tips on discounted tickets, what to bring & free things in Disneyland and Walt Disney World parks.

Spending an Off-Day at the Disneyland Resort

There are tons of ways to get the Disney “magic” without stepping foot inside of the Parks! I recommend building one or more “off-days” into your multi-day trip to the Disneyland Resort so you can rest up, relax and enjoy the Resort without venturing into the Parks. I’ve included my favorite day-off ideas which you can actually do in one day or stretch them out over several days.

What’s Outside of Disneyland Park?

Disneyland has a footprint inside the city of Anaheim. The Disneyland Resort is comprised of three Resort Hotels (Paradise Pier, Grand California Resort & Spa and the Disneyland Hotel). There are two Parks, Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure park. And there is a Downtown Disney District with shopping and dining. Just outside of the Disneyland Resort, within walking distance, are “Good Neighbor” hotels, restaurants and suburban homes. I’m giving you some ideas on what to do on an off-day of your vacation that will still keep you in the “Disney bubble”.

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 Disneyland ticket? Not a problem! There are tons of things (many of them FREE) to do at the Disneyland Resort without paying for a ticket.

1. Dine with a Character at a Disneyland Resort Hotel

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

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

Meeting Pluto at Surf’s Up!

2. Plan a Day for the Pool

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

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

Disneyland Hotel pool

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

Tips about Spending Time at the Disneyland Resort Pools

 3. Work Out

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

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

4. Explore the Disneyland Hotel Resorts

Make sure to take the time to explore the three different hotels of the Disneyland Resort. There are restaurants and gift shops and you don’t have to be a Resort guest to visit.

  • I adore the Disneyland Hotel and have stayed here many times. Be sure to walk inside each of the towers and check out the unique theming inside the lobbies.
  • Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa is breathtaking inside, with its towering lobby and elegant rooms.
  • The Paradise Pier is fun…and Goofy (there is a Goofy statue inside, perfect for selfies).

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

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

From the Disney website:

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


5. A Day at the Spa

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

6. Downtown Disney District

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

No Disneyland ticket? Not a problem! There are tons of things (many of them FREE) to do at the Disneyland Resort without paying for a ticket.

Pick up Disney themed snacks inside Downtown Disney District.

7. Movies Under the Stars

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

8. A Night on Town

Hit the town…Downtown Disney, that is. You can take in the nightlight in the Downtown Disney District by enjoying a free outdoor concert. Or enjoy dinner at Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen and enjoy the live entertainment during your meal.

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

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

9. Fireworks Spectacular

If you just want to soak in a bit of the Disney atmosphere at the end of the night but don’t have a Park ticket for the day, stroll into the esplanade. This is the wide open space between the two Parks. Just before the fireworks show starts at Disneyland, other Guests will gather in this area and sit down to enjoy the show.

Even though you can’t catch all of the action like you would from inside the Park, it’s still quite magical and a great way to close out your off-day before heading back in to the Parks.

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

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

No Disneyland ticket? Not a problem! There are tons of things (many of them FREE) to do at the Disneyland Resort without paying for a ticket.

Save Money on Your Disney Vacation!

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

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


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

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

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

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

Before Going on Vacation

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

Time for Your Check-Up

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

Tune Up Time, Too

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

Leave Your Contacts

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

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

Put a Hold on It

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


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


Pay Your Bills

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

Make a Copy

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

Create a Packing Check List

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

Clear Out the Fridge

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

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

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

Don’t Broadcast your Vacation

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

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




4 Quick Tips on Planning Your Disney Trip

4 Quick Tips on Planning Your Disney Trip

Only 4 more days until my son and I leave for Walt Disney World for the first time. I will admit, this week has been a bit of a frenzy. I’m a planner, in a big way. I make lists. And then I revise my lists. And then I print my lists and check mark things off as I go.

Seriously, planning a dream vacation to Walt Disney World in ten days was enough to send me into a tizzy! (Read about how this vacation is a big check off my Disney bucket list). Going on this trip with Traveling Mom is a life-changer for me, so I’m doing what needs to be done to make this a smooth vacation.

Here’s how I’ve been staying organized and (somewhat) calm while planning my Disney trip:

Use My Disney Experience

I’ve never flown to a Disney resort before. We live just 90 minutes from Disneyland so most of my “trips” are done in one day. My longest Disney trip is two consecutive days. I am thrilled that I’ll be spending 5 days and 4 nights at Walt Disney World! Our first 3 nights, we’ll be staying at the Coronado Springs Resort. The last night we’ll be moving over to the Port Orleans Riverside. I would have changed hotels every night if I’d had the chance because I want to experience everything!

4 Quick Tips on Planning Your Disney Trip

Coronado Springs Resort – Image from Disney

Keeping track of the reservations is easy with My Disney Experience. One of the nights I booked directly through the Disney website but another night I booked through Orbitz. I was able to plug in my Orbitz reservation number and it immediately linked all my room reservations into My Disney Experience.

Because of the quick vacation plans, Disney is going to have our Magic Bands waiting for us at the hotel on the first night but generally they are delivered to your home in advance.  My Disney Experience sent me an email notification letting me know!

Book Dining Reservations

You’ll be able to link park tickets as well as make dining reservations in My Disney Experience. Dining reservations isn’t really something we “do” very often at Disneyland (except for maybe very popular Character Dining meals during a busy season). But apparently it’s a must at WDW.

I’m finding out that trying to book meals 10 days out for any decent dining times can be tricky. Not impossible though. I have Liberty Tree Tavern booked for the rest of my family while I’m in conferences and 50’s Prime Time Cafe with my family when I’m done with the Traveling Moms for the day. I’m still stalking the dining reservations for a few more meals as some guests will cancel and leave open spots for me to hopefully nab!

4 Quick Tips on Planning Your Disney Trip

50’s Prime Time Cafe – Image from Disney

I also appreciate that the Disney website lists the menus for each restaurant. It truly makes it that much easier for the planner in me to decide what I’d like to eat ahead of time and also to budget my meals. I definitely suggest figuring out ahead of time what you want to order to make things more streamlined when you’re at the restaurant. I printed the menus out and will share them with my brother & mom on the plane so they can make their meal decisions ahead of time.


I had been reading the book The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World purely for fun before this trip was planned. Now of course with a trip in the near future, I’m reading it more for research. I’m also scouring the internet for helpful tips about traveling with my preschooler and keeping him occupied on the nearly 7 hour plane trip.

I have found great help on Pinterest and the website Trips with Tykes. Of course Traveling Mom also has a large section of reviews and advice about Disney on their site. And don’t forget about the Disney Parks Moms Panel! There have been so many questions answered on the site, you’re sure to find just what you need to know before your trip…and if you can’t find what you’re looking for, ask the Panel and you’ll receive a personalized answer!

(images from left to right: Amazon affiliate link, Tourist Blog, Trips with Tykes)

4 Quick Tips on Planning Your Disney Trip                          4 Quick Tips on Planning Your Disney Trip


Oh yes, daydreaming for sure! Since my only knowledge of the place is via the internet, books and photos there is still so much unknown that it leaves it open to my imagination. How do the topiaries look in person at Epcot’s Flower & Garden Festival? Is Finding Nemo – The Musical as beautiful as it looks in photos? And will my son still hold a fascination for the Seven Dwarves Mine Train even after he rides it for the first time?

4 Quick Tips on Planning Your Disney Trip

Mickey & Minnie topiary – Image from Disney

I can’t wait to make my daydreams a reality…4 more days!



10 Lessons Learned While Traveling to Europe for the First Time

Nervous First Timers in Europe - 10 Lessons Learned {Saving up for Disney}

Last year I won a trip through Intrepid Travel in a Pinterest contest from Skype. It was a 9-day adventure in Central Europe starting in Munich, Germany. It was our first time traveling to Europe and we were nervous about the entire process!

After one day in Germany, we traveled to the Czech Republic for two days in Prague and two days in a small village called Cesky Krumlov. Moving on, another two days in Vienna, Austria and ending with one overnight in Budapest, Hungary. We extended the trip with one extra overnight in Munich to get ourselves adjusted to the 13 hours of air travel it took to get there.

Neither my husband or I had ever traveled to Europe. We were nervous and excited and apparently, still had a lot to learn. Here is what we discovered in our travels:

Schonbrunn Gardens in Austria

Lesson Learned #1 -Leave the heels at home.

Before the trip, I was envisioning in my head that we’d walk the city during the day, return to the hotel in the evening for a shower and to change into dressy evening clothes before hitting the town. Well, things didn’t exactly go down that way. I packed pretty dresses and several pairs of heels to wear for dinner but only one night did I even wear a dress and never did I wear heels. Even though it was mid-August, the weather generally wasn’t conducive to dress-wearing (it was too chilly) and I ended up just wearing my same ol’ day clothes for dinner along with my hot pink rain jacket and walking shoes.

“Going to dinner” either meant taking public transportation or walking long distances, so the heels never made it out of the suitcase. There was one reason for that: Cobblestones. The cobbled streets in Central Europe make it challenging enough for you to walk in regular shoes, let alone heels.

Cobblestoned streets of Europe

Lesson Learned #2 – The tap water is great…but restaurants won’t serve it to you.

I’d heard in advance that tap water was frowned upon in restaurants but I still was surprised to get the eye-roll when I requested “tap water” in a restaurant in Prague. “Still or sparkling”, said the waiter, firmly. My only two options for water for most of the trip. Water was always pricier than beer and you only get a tiny glass, 8 ounces at the most! Restaurants averaged $2.50 a bottle for water. Only at our last meal in Budapest did the restaurant bring us pitchers of tap water to the table…I drank 6 glasses!

Lesson Learned #3 – Pack several pair of good walking shoes.

I’d taken my slip-on shoes off on the plane trip and when we landed in Munich, I had to cram my swollen feet back into them! I didn’t realize my feet would swell so much on the plane. By the time we reached the hotel, I had terrible blisters along the tops of my feet and heels and my newly-polished toes were broken from walking in too-small shoes. Next time, I would choose something with adjustable straps when we get off the plane to accommodate my puffy feet!

The constant pounding of feet on cobblestones kicked my butt. Seriously, by day two my feet were aching. I relieved that by changing my shoes every day and taking two Ibuprofen before bed to help with swelling. On Day 5, we were just walking into a museum when the plastic ring on my sandal snapped and my shoe was flopping off my foot. Fortunately my husband was able to rig up a decent fix with a piece of string. Might be a good idea to carry even a lightweight pair of flip-flops in your backpack as a shoe backup!

Schonbrunn Palace in Austria

Lesson Learned #4 – No ice cubes. Not a one for ten days.

I am not even sure they exist in central Europe. I ordered a “Coke Light” and it came to the table in the tiniest of glasses, like a child-sized cup. It was chilled but there wasn’t any ice. Water is also served cold but never iced.

Lesson Learned #5 – Know your currency.

We traveled to 4 countries. Two used Euro, one used Hungarian Forint and one used Czech Koruna. Each one, of course a different currency rate. We ate lunch in a cute cafe and not until we left the restaurant did we realize that the (very small) chicken Caesar salads we ate for lunch were $15 USD each. After that costly meal we started taking a closer look at the prices on the menu and figuring out the exchange rate before stepping foot in the restaurant. Good thing we didn’t order the bread pudding with the sky-high meringue…it would have set us back $10 USD for one slice!

Prices in Central Europe

Lesson Learned #6 – Prepare to pay to pee.

Okay, so maybe it’s okay to have a fee to use the bathroom at the metro station. And even at the McDonalds. But in the high-class restaurants? They still had either a dish near the door to place your payment or an actual bathroom attendant collecting the charge (while simultaneously playing a game of cards with a friend, really!). Generally the bathroom fees were around 50 cents. On a positive note, I never once experienced a dirty bathroom, in fact bathrooms in central Europe were always cleaner than the ones here. There was never urine on the seat or floor, there was always a scrub brush in every stall and only once was there no toilet paper (I was supposed to grab a wad of it after I paid my Koruna, oops!).

Fresh beer in Prague

Watch your liquids…unless you have change to pay to use the bathroom!

Lesson Learned #7 – A Queen is two Twins.

In every hotel room we stayed at two Twin beds were pushed together to create a Queen-sized bed. I suppose that makes it easier for single travelers to separate the beds into two, but in the case of the hotel we stayed at below in Vienna, the headboard and end tables were built in and there was no room to physically separate the beds, so it didn’t make much sense. Pillows were often enormous floppy feather bags that didn’t serve much of a purpose. What we did like…the individual feather-stuffed duvets. My husband stated that he never wanted to leave the hotel in Prague, our bed there was heavenly!

Hotel in Vienna

Lesson Learned #8 – A sleep mask is worth it’s weight in gold.

I used a sleep mask every night while we traveled and slept a perfectly solid eight hours every night. In several hotels the curtains were completely sheer and there was no drapery to close (what was up with that?!) so the room was not dark enough to my liking. The sleep mask blocked out all light, had a nice silky pad against my closed eyelids and was scented with lavender (ahhh!!) so I always drifted off quickly. I used the sleep mask on the plane and slept five hours straight and also on the bus when we were traveling to the next city. Get a sleep mask for your trip, you won’t regret it. I’ve been continuing to use it at home, I love mine so much.

Lesson Learned #9 – The meaning of “Salad” changes around the globe.

In some locations, it was perhaps three small lettuce leaves, sliced tomatoes and cucumber. In another place, it was dry spinach leaves sprinkled next to your schnitzel. In all cases salads were very tiny and were nearly always drowning in vinaigrette. In fact there was almost always a quarter cup of liquid at the bottom of my bowl.

Dinner in Prague

A lovely meal but technically, I wouldn’t consider that a “salad”.

Lesson Learned #10 – Avoid jet-lag….if you can!

I’d heard about jet-lag but had never experienced it. Going there wasn’t terribly bad. We flew overnight and were able to nap on the plane so that when we arrived at 8:30 am in Munich we were okay to start the day. We did take a brief nap in the afternoon, got plenty of water and sunshine, and went to bed at a decent hour and I think that helped.

Coming back, it was a completely different story. We awoke at 6am in Budapest. We spent 15 hours in the air and 6 hours layover (which was mostly rushing to catch our connecting flight and waiting in queue through customs). By the time we touched down at home, we’d been awake for 24 hours. I had 4 soul-crushing days of jet-lag to follow where I was foggy-headed and exhausted, akin to recovering from the flu. We’d wanted to stay awake so that when we got home we could go to bed at our usual time but maybe we did that flight home “wrong”? I’m not sure. In any case, we’re still waking up at 4am, ready to start our day so our bodies are still not on U.S. time yet.

We did a lot of research before our trip but there are always things that you can only learn along the way through experience! That, of course, is part of the fun and adventure!

Helpful Links:

Rick Steves Europe

Conde Nast Traveler

Travel + Leisure

Traveling Mom

Follow my adventures on Pinterest – European Vacation Planning