3 Tips to Make Your Disneyland Vacation More Magical


As you probably saw on my Instagram, Freddy and I spent two days at Disneyland earlier this month and had such an amazing time! We make it a point to go at least once a year, and love making new memories each time. When I was in college I had an annual pass, and after going with my hubby each year since then, we've learned some tips & tricks that make navigating the parks that much easier! The holiday season is one of the best times to make a visit to the Happiest Place on Earth, so today I'm sharing 3 ways you can make your vacation even more magical!

1. MaxPass=MaxMagic!

Disneyland recently introduced MaxPass, which is a way that you can digitally book FastPasses through the Disneyland app on your phone, as well as download your PhotoPass photos right to your phone! This was our first time using it and honestly it was so convenient and easy! It's an extra $10 per ticket per day, but so worth the added cost. While we were waiting in line for a ride or sitting down for lunch, I could hop on the Disneyland app and quickly book a FastPass for a ride, choose who would be in my FastPass Party, and boom you're done! It also tells you exactly when you can book another FastPass that day, so there's no confusion. When it's time to use your FastPass, you just pull up the bar code on your phone and scan it before you enter the line at the ride--that's it! *MaxPass is available for use at BOTH parks!* 

PhotoPass is also included with the MaxPass purchase, so when you're having your photo taken by a Disneyland photographer at one of the many locations throughout the park, they will scan the bar code on your phone and your photos will be uploaded within minutes! Then you can save all those images directly to your phone and send to friends and family to make them all jealous :) 


2. 1 Park Per Day

Freddy and I are firm believers in the "1 park per day" tickets. Why you ask? For one thing, they can save you up to $50 per ticket (prices vary by date), which let's be real, every penny counts when you're at Disneyland! They also allow you to focus on one park and not feel stressed or rushed with going back and forth throughout the day. Our days are definitely more relaxed when we can enjoy being in one park and fully take in all of the food, shops and sights without having to worry about running over to the other park for a show or a FastPass arrangement. Plus, on the day we do California Adventure park, which typically closes a couple hours earlier than Disneyland, it's a great excuse to head over to the World of Disney store in Downtown Disney for some late-night shopping! 


3. Choose Which Shows to See

There are so many wonderful shows and nighttime experiences to see at both parks, so it's important to decide which ones you want to see and plan accordingly. For example, the World of Color show at California Adventure (the only nighttime show at this park) is my absolute favorite, so it's a priority that we see it every time we go. This show requires a FastPass for viewing, and it's one that you can't book through the Disneyland app. The FP distribution center is located near The Little Mermaid ride, and it's wise to head over when the park opens to get your passes to ensure a good viewing area. The FP will tell you when it's time to head over before the show begins. And don't worry, this FP doesn't count against your other FP's you'll be booking for rides. 

California Adventure also has the popular Frozen show at the Hyperion Theatre in Hollywoodland. This show is a Broadway-style version of the movie and has really beautiful sets and costumes! There are multiple showtimes throughout the day, and no FP is required! Simply decide which time you want to see it (we typically go to a late afternoon showing--the perfect time to rest our feet and sit down for an hour) and show up at least 30 minutes before showtime. Everyone has to line up outside the theatre in the appropriate section you'd like to sit in: orchestra (floor level) or mezzanine (upper balcony). There are no restrooms in the theatre to my knowledge, so be sure to use them beforehand!

At Disneyland there is the nighttime fireworks spectacular, as well as the Fantasmic show in front of Tom Sawyer Island. Depending on the time of year, each show may have 1 or 2 times available for viewing, so just check the Showtimes Guide or the Disneyland app on your phone for available showtimes. You can get a FP for the Fantasmic show to receive a spot in their reserved viewing area, but it's not required. You can view the show from other areas in the park (this year Freddy and I watched it on the bridge above Pirates of the Caribbean and it was great!) so either way you have some options. One thing to keep in mind is that these shows can overlap, so depending on the time of year you may not be able to see both. Again, just check the showtimes guide or the Disneyland app and you'll be able to plan out your nighttime spectacular activities.


Last but not least, when you're visiting the parks it's important to enjoy the magic in style...Disney style that is! I've linked some of my favorite fashion pieces below so that you can show your #Disneyside and rep your favorite characters. I hope these tips help ease your trip planning and help make the most of your next visit to the Happiest Place on Earth! xo




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Packing for Disneyland

Today's the day we leave for California! It's funny when you book a vacation months and months prior and you feel like it's so far away, but once it finally arrives it's such an exciting feeling! In today's post I'm sharing what I am packing specifically for the Disneyland portion of our trip, which of course includes a lot of themed items, so read on to see what's in my bag...

This Mickey & Minnie sweatshirt is one of my tried-and-true favorites, and it's so incredibly comfy and lightweight. It's perfect for a cooler evening at the parks, and packs very well in a backpack, not taking up too much room. If you have a lightweight sweatshirt, this is ideal for a night at the parks. 

Wearing the right shoes is a very important factor in your overall experience, and everyone has different needs/preferences. I have worn a variety of shoes in the past, from flip flops, to flats, to Nike's and Toms. This year I plan to wear my Nike's on one day and Toms on the other. I love that Toms don't require socks, so my feet don't get hot, and if they get wet on a ride they dry much more quickly than if I were wearing a traditional sneaker. I've always found Toms very comfortable, even after a long day of walking!

Any outfit just wouldn't be complete without a lanyard full of pins! No shame in that whatsoever. I've been collecting pins for about 15 years now, and I love picking out new ones every time we go to Disneyland! Each one is unique and it's fun to think back to when you bought them and to see how your collections grows. Maybe one day I'll be like those intense collectors who have multiple binders filled with pins upon pins....maybe. 

Of course a variety of Disney shirts to choose from are a must. I recently bought a couple new ones from Uniqlo for the first time, and I am so impressed with how soft they are! Plus they are such a steal compared to theme park prices. My advice? Stock up on these before your trip and save some $$$! 

I also can't forget my trusty sunglasses, Minnie Mouse ear buds, and iPad stocked with plenty of Disney music and movies to get me through the plane ride. 

And I'm sure a new TsumTsum, or two or three, will find it's way into my suitcase before we head back home...

I can't wait to share our pictures with you! Follow along our California adventures (pun intended) on my Instagram and Twitter to get a taste of some Disney magic! 

Have a great Wednesday!



Disney Dreaming

In less than two weeks (eek!) we will be leaving for what is becoming our annual trip to Disneyland, and I couldn't be more excited! Really, Freddy will tell you that I bring it up everyday, and he's probably getting slightly annoyed with me (#sorrynotsorry). We went around the same time last year to celebrate our one-year wedding anniversary, as well as Disneyland's Diamond Celebration. We had such an amazing time and were pleasantly surprised at the lack of crowds, so we decided to book another trip this year to celebrate our anniversary and spend some time in Southern California! We have been going to the parks for several years, and I had an annual pass while in college, so we've learned a few tips over the years from trial and error, which is what I am sharing with you today to help you plan your next trip to the happiest place on earth!

1. Plan Ahead

As with any vacation you are taking, it's super important to plan out all the details ahead of time. For example, check the weather about 10 days in advance so you can prep your outfits and shop for any last minute essentials you might need, like a rain jacket or new walking shoes. The last thing you'll want to worry about is realizing that you forgot to pack something while you're standing in line at security and have to make a pit stop as soon as you arrive at LAX. You'll also want to bring any items that you intend to put in your backpack for the parks, like hand sanitizer (a must!), reusable water bottles (there are water fountains throughout the park, which is a great money saver), and a pair of dry socks, because Splash Mountain. 

2. Dining at the Parks

Eating your way through Disneyland can be one of the most magical experiences of your vacation. It can also be one of the most expensive. It's so easy to get carried away when walking past the countless churro carts, hot dog stands, and smelling the alluring scent of freshly-made waffle cones on Main Street. In our past experiences, we have learned to save some money by sharing a meal, or skipping one entirely, while still enjoying all the tasty treats the parks have to offer. Let me explain...

Last year we booked a character breakfast at the Storyteller's Cafe at the Grand Californian Hotel & Spa and it was one of the best decisions we had made! Not only was the "character" part of this experience just plain adorable, but we were able to fuel up on a big breakfast to get us energized for the big day ahead. This kept us full for most of the day, allowing us to skip a true lunch, but instead eat some snacks such as pineapple spears, chips, or yes, a churro. Some of the portions at certain dining locations can be rather large as well, so sharing a plate could be an option, too! 

Some of our favorite dining locations that we keep coming back to are Rancho del Zocalo (Disneyland), Hungry Bear Restaurant (Disneyland), Pacific Wharf Cafe (California Adventure), and Storyteller's Cafe.

3. Shows & FastPass

In addition to all of the amazing attractions, dining and shopping experiences at the parks, there are some wonderful shows and parades that you can enjoy as well. You can find a full list of entertainment options here, and determine the time(s) of which shows/parades you want to see so that you can plan your day accordingly. One of our favorites is World of Color at DCA, which you can reserve a "spot" for ahead of time at the FastPass distribution center located at Grizzly River Run. The earlier you get your FastPass, the more likely you are to get a better zone, which determines the view you will have during this standing room only show. Side note: They are bringing back the ORIGINAL World of Color show starting Sept. 6th, which I can hardly contain my excitement about!! There is also a new live Frozen show at the Hyperion Theatre at DCA, which we are so excited to see! They have added a FastPass feature to this as well, so that you can reserve a seat inside the theatre, rather than waiting in line prior to the show. 

FastPass is a great feature that allows you to skip the long lines on your favorite attractions, so that you can enjoy them that much sooner! Keep in mind that you can only obtain one FastPass at a time (this excludes priority seating FastPasses, such as the World of Color show), so make sure you time all of your passes accordingly. Freddy and I love Radiator Springs Racers at DCA, so we always book it over to the FastPass distribution center first thing because we know the lines can creep up to 90 min long on some days. I will also probably be booking as many FastPasses as I can for the Tower of Terror, since this will most likely be my last time riding it until it's final drop day in January (it's been really hard to come to terms with this...I'm heartbroken). 

Planning a trip to the Disneyland Resort is such an exciting process, but it can also become stressful, so don't sweat the small stuff, and have fun! At the end of the day, you're there to make magical memories and enjoy time with loved ones. Everything will work itself out. And remember, "when there's a smile in your heart, there's no better time to start!"

Have a question that I didn't answer in this post? Ask away in the comment box and I will gladly answer it! Happy planning!



thingamabobs from Disneyland

In general, one of my favorite things to do is shop, and what better place to do that than at Disneyland?! I brought home some fun treasures from our trip. Go ahead, scroll down and see for yourself! 

My first Tsum Tsum, Minnie Mouse! I can't wait to grow my collection. 

My first Tsum Tsum, Minnie Mouse! I can't wait to grow my collection. 

Once I had heard from the Disney Parks Blog that they were going to be selling these adorable hand sanitizers, I knew I had to get one! They had all sorts of designs, from Anna and Elsa, to Minnie and Mickey.

Once I had heard from the Disney Parks Blog that they were going to be selling these adorable hand sanitizers, I knew I had to get one! They had all sorts of designs, from Anna and Elsa, to Minnie and Mickey.

I was also super stoked to find the Starbucks 'You Are Here' Disneyland mug! A great one to add to my Disney mug collection.

I was also super stoked to find the Starbucks 'You Are Here' Disneyland mug! A great one to add to my Disney mug collection.

Of course I knew I couldn't leave without getting some new pins! And I really love the 60th Anniversary lanyard they designed. It has all of my favorite characters and attractions on it!

Of course I knew I couldn't leave without getting some new pins! And I really love the 60th Anniversary lanyard they designed. It has all of my favorite characters and attractions on it!

When we told a Cast Member at the World of Disney store that we were celebrating our 1 year anniversary, she brought out 2 of these pins for us to wear! It was so nice of her, and we loved sporting them around the parks. 

When we told a Cast Member at the World of Disney store that we were celebrating our 1 year anniversary, she brought out 2 of these pins for us to wear! It was so nice of her, and we loved sporting them around the parks. 

Thanks for stopping by today! Have a great weekend!




Vacation Rewind: Disneyland

Happy Monday morning! Although, maybe not so happy for me, as this means it’s back to work and no more vacation. My husband and I had such an amazing time at Disneyland celebrating our first anniversary, and I’m so excited to relive our trip as I share it with you!

We started our Disneyland day with a character breakfast at the Storytellers Cafe at the Grand Californian Hotel & Spa. This is by far my favorite hotel in the Disneyland Resort, and it's been my dream to stay there ever since it first opened (maybe one day we will!). I love the Northern California, lodge design aesthetics it provides, making it all feel, well, grand. Okay, back to breakfast...the buffet was probably the yummiest I’ve ever had (who can resist those perfectly sized Mickey waffles?). It was the right amount of food to fuel up on and last us until dinner--if you include some churros, popcorn and baked goods in-between. And it was fun to say “hi!” to Chip and Dale, and Koda and Kenai from Brother Bear. 


Once inside the park, we hit the Matterhorn first, since Peter Pan’s Flight was a 40 minute wait right off the bat (some guests had an Extra Magic Hour before the park opened, thus the longer wait time). I must say, the new and improved Abominable Snowman is legit! His life-like movements and features truly enhance the ride, making you feel like you’ve invaded his home and you better get the heck out of there! 

Three words: Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. I still can’t get over how dazzling it is! Disney really outdid themselves when it came to adding glitz and glitter to this iconic landmark. They gave it just the right touch with the ribbons, banners, and gemstones. If you think it’s beautiful during the day, wait until you see it at night!

I love exploring all the shops throughout the park; I could spend hours looking around and not even notice (seriously, ask my husband!). However, one of my favorite areas to hang out in is Frontierland. Maybe it's because it reminds me of home in the Southwest, or maybe it's the familiar roar of the train tracks on Big Thunder Mountain. I just love the Western-inspired architecture and merchandise inside the stores.

Here's a shot to show just how empty the park was! Glorious weather, minimal crowds, and wait times that didn't exceed 30 minutes--that's my kind of Disney day!

One of our favorite places to get treats is at 'Pooh Corner', just outside Splash Mountain in Critter Country. They have an in-house candy kitchen filled with so much deliciousness, it's hard to choose what you want. I always vote for the Hunny Pot Rice Krispy with a chocolate and peanut butter drizzle on top (*drooling*). Freddy likes to try out new things each year, and this year he got their Cookies and Cream fudge and a chocolate chip cookie.

Next stop: Mickey's Toontown! Freddy and I have never been to this area together, so I was excited to show him a special part of the park that holds many childhood memories for me. We went on Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin, and had fun walking around exploring this animated town.

This year, Freddy and I were very diligent about our eating habits, which was such a hard thing to do in the Magic Kingdom. But, as we have discovered, food prices add up very quickly, and the portions are so large that we usually end up feeling stuffed and lethargic after eating our own meals. Sharing meals this year was probably one of the best decisions we made. We saved money, didn't feel super full, and we had a couple snacks instead of having a full on "meal" for lunch. For dinner, we tried something new and ate at the Hungry Bear Restaurant, which sits just outside Splash Mountain and runs along the river. We shared the fried green tomato sandwich, with some sweet potato fries and onion rings (my fave!).

It was the perfect amount of food for an early dinner. We got to sit back, relax, wave to Princess Tiana as she came by on the Mark Twain River Boat singing some jazzy tunes.

At the end of the day, we were surprised at how much we didn't eat, which gave us a good laugh!

The next item on our agenda was the 'Paint the Night Parade'. We lined up a good hour and a half before it started, but I'm so glad we did because we were able to get a front row viewing spot on Main Street. Typically, parades aren't on our to-do list when we go to Disneyland, but I knew this year it was a MUST because I've heard so many wonderful things about Paint the Night, and they are all true! The music alone is fantastic (which lends a slight nod to the original Main Street Electrical Light Parade); it makes you want to dance and sing along and it's just so fun. The floats and displays are beautiful with all of their glimmering lights. It was so great to see all of the characters and performers having a great time too!  I still have the song stuck in my head, and I'm not upset about it one bit.

After the parade ended, everyone gathered on Main Street for the 'Disneyland Forever' Fireworks Show. This one definitely made me tear up a little...or maybe a lot. Hearing Walt talk about his beloved creation, seeing the shining castle, and listening to the theme song 'Live the Magic', it was all so inspiring and heartwarming, making me even more thankful for this magical place that I love so much. It was the perfect end to a perfect day, and I couldn't have asked for a better anniversary celebration! 

Do you have a favorite Disneyland memory? I'd love to hear in the comments below!

Stay tuned as I'll be sharing our day at California Adventure very soon.




All photos taken by me, Chantelle Ballesteros.