Top 10 Disneyland Vacation Planning Tips for a Walt Disney World Fanatic

Disney at Night

This is a photo of the train station at the Magic Kingdom.

Disneyland at Dark

This is a photo of the train station at Disneyland.

Notice the differences in the stations? Well, that’s just minor compared to these major planning differences I’ve stumbled upon while preparing for my family’s upcoming Disneyland vacation.

This Top 10 post is designed to help Walt Disney World fanatics as they start to plan their Disneyland vacations.  Planning a trip to WDW is a piece of cake for these “special” people.  The matriarch of a Fanatic Family will walk into any one of Disney’s four Florida theme parks and reach for a map for the sheer purpose of seeing the latest fun graphic on the front and then stashes a few in her bag just because they’re pretty.  The members of these families do not need maps.  The attractions, parade routes, restaurants, shops and even the rest rooms locations are already etched into their brains.  It is for these families, like my own, that I write this post.

Does this sound like your family?

As I mentioned, my family is included in this group.  We LOVE Walt Disney World and vacation there at a very minimum, once a year.  HOWEVER, our curiosity got the best of us and we booked a DISNEYLAND Resort vacation for the fall…for all 13 of us.

I’m the planner of my family.  For a typical WDW vacation, I make lists, upon lists and I’ve even made lists that included bringing lists.  I love planning!  I worked for a few years at The Walt Disney World Resort and know the place backwards and forwards.  Honestly I don’t need to do that much planning or list making for a WDW trip, but I believe that it’s part of the fun!  Needless to say, I’m having a blast planning for a trip to a kingdom I know very little about.

One thing I learned quickly was that there are many differences between the East Coast and West Coast Resorts.

Here are my Top 10 Disneyland Vacation planning differences that a Walt Disney World Fanatic must know to be prepared!

  1. Transportation to the resort:  If you are flying to Disneyland plan on taking care of your own ground transportation.  The Disneyland Resort does NOT offer Magical Express.
  2. On Disney Property Hotel Options: If you prefer to stay on Disney property when you visit a Disney theme park, be prepared that there are only 3 Disney owned hotels to choice from at the Disneyland Resort.  All of these hotels, I believe, would be listed as deluxe resorts at Walt Disney World, so expect a high price tag for these rooms.
  3. Tickets: Ranging from 1 day to 5 days maximum, these tickets will all have an expiration date printed on them.  Once you use the first day on the ticket, the remaining days will expire in 13 days.  Multi-day tickets also include “Magic Morning” options.  Magic Morning allows early admission into the Disneyland Resort Parks, meaning this is not a perk that is exclusive to on-property hotel guests.  In addition, at this point, Disneyland Resort does NOT use MagicBands.  Paper tickets are in use.
  4. Property Size & Layout: The Walt Disney World Resort is located on 42,000 acres. The Disneyland Resort is located on 510 acres.  To compare park size- Disneyland Park is 85 acres and Magic Kingdom is 107 acres. The other attraction areas are as follows:  Disney’s California Adventure Park is 67 acres and Downtown Disney is 20 acres. As you can imagine, this changes planning quite a bit!
  5. Transportation within the Resort:  Due to the property size, when staying within The Disneyland Resort, there are no buses or boats to take you to the parks.  You simply walk out your resort door and walk to the park entrance!  Talk about a time saver!  Disneyland does have a monorail and it has two stops: Downtown Disney and Tomorrowland within the Disneyland Park.  Be Prepared! You must have a valid theme park ticket to ride the monorail!
  6. Bringing Food into the Parks:  The Disneyland Resort offers a picnic area outside of its theme parks for guests to use if they chose to bring food from home.  Disneyland has clearly defined it’s stance on bringing food into the parks with this printed paragraph found within each Disneyland theme park guide-map:  “A picnic area is located west of the Disneyland Park Main Entrance for your convenience.  We request that no food or beverage be brought inside either Theme Park.”   I have read on-line that guests carrying small snacks into the park have not been turned away.  So use your best judgement when bringing food.
  7.  Advanced Dining Reservations: An ADR can not be booked until 60 days before your arrival date, quite a difference from Walt Disney World’s 180 days.
  8. Parking Costs: Parking is NOT FREE at The Disneyland Resort.  Regardless if you are staying in a Disneyland Resort Hotel, you have to pay parking fees and they’re hefty.  Currently self parking costs $17 per vehicle per night ($25 Valet) for a hotel guest.
  9. Theme Park Entry Time:  On select days (unannounced) Disneyland does something called Rope Drop.  What this means is that they allow guests into the park a half hour earlier than the stated park opening time.  During this half hour time period, guests are allowed to explore Main Street before cast members drop the rope that is being held at the end of Main Street, which allows guests to flow into the attractions part of the park.  The suggestion that I have read is to always arrive at least a half hour before park opening, in case Disney decides to make that day a “Rope Drop” day.
  10. Walt Disney History: Walt Disney had his hands and heart deep within the planning of every detail of his Disneyland.  To this day, there are still original details that were hand-picked by Walt and even his wife that are part of each guest’s vacation experience.  For example, The Plaza Inn, an eatery that opened 1955 during the park’s grand opening, still offering guests tasty options to this day.  It was one of Walt’s favorite places to dine and his wife, Lillian Disney, handpicked the Victorian furnishings herself.

Planning a Disneyland Resort vacation is definitely a new and challenging experience that has my family and I super excited for our journey to the west coast.   I can’t wait to share it with all of you through the blog. I hope if you’ve vacationed at Disneyland, that you’ll share your planning advice with me.  I’d love to read it and I’m sure you’d help other too!

Thanks for reading the blog today.  I hope the rest of your day is magical!

Disneyland photo credit: Justin in SD via photopin cc

Disney Junior Presents “Pirate and Princess Power of Doing Good” Tour

Pirate and Princess Power of Doing Good Tour


On Thursday, my family had the opportunity to attend Disney Junior’s touring event, Pirate and Princess Power of Doing Good.

Disclosure:  I have no affiliation with Disney Junior or any division of The Walt Disney Company.  All opinions and views are mine.

Last month, Disney Junior announced an exciting, free-to-the-public, event that’s currently visiting seven cities across the United States.  Let me begin by saying, unfortunately, the free-to-the-public tickets “sold out” the day it was announced!  Don’t be too disappointed yet! During the first stop on this tour (Philadelphia), Disney Junior cast members lessened that requirement on that specific day’s “ticket required event” and decided to offer the event to all families by the afternoon.  Let me clarify, this event is still SOLD OUT in the remaining six cities.  However, if you live in close proximity to any of the upcoming tour stops, it’s worth a visit to the event.  You never know, Disney Junior may open those events to non-ticket holders by the afternoon too.  Remember, there’s no guarantee that this will happen!

Interested in learning more about Disney Juniors Pirate and Princess Power of Doing Good event?

Disney Junior’s event is focused on introducing kids age 2-7 to the value of doing good, including caring for nature and animals and helping others.  The tour began on THURSDAY, JULY 17 in Philadelphia, with upcoming stops at Washington D.C., New York, Chicago, Houston, San Francisco and Los Angeles.  Designed for kids and families, the tour is sponsored by Disney Junior, ASPCA, Youth Service America (YSA), National Wildlife Federation and First Book.

 Here are the event locations and times:

·         Monday, July 21 (8:30 a.m.-6:00 p.m.) in Washington D.C. at The Yards Park

·         Friday, July 25 (8:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.) in New York City at Riverbank State Park

·         Wednesday, July 30 (8:30 a.m.-6:00 p.m.) in Chicago (Joliet, IL) at Joliet Memorial Stadium

·         Monday, August 4 (8:30 a.m.-6:00 p.m.) in Houston (Sugar Land, TX) at Oyster Creek Park

·         Monday, August 11 (8:30 a.m.-6:00 p.m.) in the San Francisco Bay Area (Hayward, CA) at Kennedy Park

·         Friday, August 15 (8:30 a.m.-6:00 p.m.) and Saturday, August 16 (11:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.) in Los Angeles (Pasadena, CA) at Kidspace Children’s Museum

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The event will engage kids in positive actions that benefit others through the benevolent characters and stories in Disney Junior’s popular series “Sofia the First” and “Jake and the Never Land Pirates.” Each tour stop will include fantastic interactive experiences where children will learn the importance of “Doing Good” in the world around them.

Here’s a peek at the events different learning experiences.

“National Wildlife Federation’s Jake’s Beach Treasures”

Lesson learned:  Treasure Nature

Children care for Jake’s beach by recycling garbage and placing nature’s treasures in the treasure chest.

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Jake & Sofia’s Storytelling Maze

Lesson Learned:  Discover the Power of Storytelling

Children explore through the maze and complete their own Jake or Sofia storybook adventure.

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The Enchancia Castle

Lesson Learned:  Lend a Helping Hand

Little Pirates and Princesses share what they do at home to help out.  They choose a magnetic stone and place it on the castle wall to help build the community of Enchancia.

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“ASPCA’s Sofia’s Animal Friends”

Lesson Learned:  Care for Animals

Children care for Sophia’s animal friends by giving them food, a nice brushing and lots of love.

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The Forever Tree

Each child makes a power promise to do good by signing their name on a bracelet and adds it to the The Forever Tree promise chain.

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Each “Pirate and Princess: Power of Doing Good” event concludes with a musical celebration, hosted by Radio Disney, featuring special live appearances by Jake and Sofia.

Please Note:  This experience does not include a meet and great with the characters.

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If there isn’t a show location close to you, you can still participate in similar activities through Disney

Parents nationwide can visit to download activities inspired by the event and educational materials, including “Get Out & Get Moving” nature guide and YSA’s “Families in Action” kit. Families are then encouraged to make a pledge of service within their community and post about it on Twitter and Facebook throughout the summer using the hashtag #PowerOfDoingGood.

Disney Junior’s “Pirate and Princess: Power of Doing Good” tour is part of Disney’s Summer of Service. The 2014 Service of Summer Awards, in collaboration with Disney Friends for Change, is an initiative that inspires kids and their families to make a lasting, positive change by helping people, communities, and the planet. Winners receive a $1,000 award to assist them in continuing their good work. To learn how you can apply for a Summer of Service award visit

Don’t miss out on Disney Junior’s Princess and Pirate Summer!

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Flying High with a Pizza Pie Planes Party! {Free Printable Menu Cards & More}

Planes Pizza Party

Are you going to see Disney Planes Fire & Rescue this weekend?  We’ll be there!

To say my son, Gavin loves airplanes, would be an understatement.  There isn’t a day that goes by when discussing planes or something that flies isn’t part of our conversation and aviation is a staple in almost every play activity.  This seven-year-old boy goes through flying toys as if he’s changing clothing.  It’s not because he doesn’t take care of his toys, he wears them out or the plane gets stuck in a tree.  With the movie release of Disney Planes last year (see my review here), Gavin’s love of airplanes unbelievably grew and he immediately started asking when Planes Fire & Rescue would be in the theater.  Well, the movie release week has finally arrived!

To celebrate this exciting event I put together a couple “Free Printable” Planes-inspired items that I created and party planning tips to help you host a Pre-Show “Flying High with a Pizza Pie” Planes Party for your little aviators and their friends!

 Planes Themed Pizza!

planes pizza menu

There are so many different types of pizza that you can have at a pizza party!  Try offering the kids specialty pizza and place these silly menu cards close by.  It’ll give young readers a chuckle or two before choosing their pizza.

  • Chicken Wing-man Pizza
  • Chicken & Broccoli Alfredo Flying Pizza
  • Ham & Cheesy Flight Attendants Pizza
  • Pepperoni Pie In The Sky Pizza
  • Flying High Cheese Pizza Pie

I’ve created this set of FREE printable pizza party menu cards for you to use. (For Personal Use Only)  Simply print the Planes Pizza Party file (found below) on white card stock, cut the orange and blue colored cards out and fold along the white line.

Click on the Planes “Pizza Party Menu Cards” link for the five piece printable menu cards.

Planes Pizza Party Menu Cards


Planes cupcakesI made these Planes-inspired cupcakes for my son’s birthday party last year.  Check out the super simple cloud icing tutorial for these soaring cupcakes here!

Dusty cookie popsAnother Planes-inspired dessert option are these Dusty Cookie Pops.  You can see my simple tutorial here!

Decor! {Free Printable Template}

Now that you’ve got the food covered, time to decorate the food table! Add a simple planes garland to the front of your food table, to complete your pizza party table.

Airplane Garland template

You can download the airplane template here!

 Trace the template on orange and blue card stock for the airplanes to match the menu cards.  Then add blue and orange table wear and your party will be soaring!

Still looking for more Planes party ideas?

Check out my son’s planes-themed birthday party here!

Check In Desk (Presents!)

Now you’re ready to have the perfect Pre-show Planes-inspired Pizza Party!  Enjoy your party and then off to show!

Mod Podge Collage Clay DIY: Frozen-Inspired Princess Wand

Mod Podge Collage Clay Wand

Disclosure:  This post was sponsored by Plaid Crafts (Mod Podge) and The Blueprint Social. The project idea and opinions of Plaid Crafts products are 100% mine.  Collage Clay is NOT recommended for children ages 12 and under, and the product is NOT edible. Small parts are a choking hazard for children.

The Magic of Mod Podge Collage Clay

Despite Olaf’s “Warm Hug” heat outside, our television continues to play to the chilly tune of Disney’s hit animated film, “FROZEN”.  I think we all can agree that this film, and every single product related to the film, isn’t frozen but instead it’s HOT!  So popular are these items that they disappear from shelves almost as soon as store employees take the products out of their shipment boxes.  The hunt for “Frozen” related items is often forefront in my mind when I’m out shopping. So as you might expect, when I gazed upon fluffy white Mod Podge Collage Clay, sparkly silver and bright blue Mod Melts, and over-sized jewel Mod Molds, I instantly thought of “Frozen”.  Instead of searching for a “Frozen” product to purchase, I decided to make my own “Frozen”-INSPIRED item!  I simply couldn’t wait to work on a Decoden project that would celebrate the famous Ice Queen.

Wondering what Decoden is?

Decoden is the art of decorating ANYTHING with trinkets, and “the more the merrier” is the name of the game in designing an over the top look in this 3-D collage technique.  You can use Collage Clay with Mod Melts, buttons, rhinestones, and anything else you can think of!  On top of your design add extra drama and dimension by using Drizzle Paint  or make the project really sparkle with Podgable Glitters.  Go for total indulgence – it’s welcome in Decoden!

Here’s how I made this “Frozen“-Inspired Princess Wand

Last week my daughter and I were out shopping and came across a wooden snowflake ornament (yes, in July!)  Victoria immediately associated it with the movie “Frozen” and she wanted it.  I instantly wanted to use it for this Decoden project!  We went straight home with our snowflake ornament and a wooden dowel.  My daughter took her nap and I was done making a “Frozen”-Inspired wand by the time she was up!  It was that simple AND so much fun!  Here are eight simple steps to help you create a Decoden Princess Wand too!

Step 1:  Start by gathering up all of your supplies.

I was so pleased to have received from Plaid Crafts two packages of Mod Melts  and three different Mod Molds  to use for this project.  Mod Melts are used with a high temp mini glue gun to create embellishments by applying the melts into the easy-to-use and durable silicone Mod Molds.  I used Mod Melts from both packs but only used the Gem and Sea Life Mod Molds for this project.

Mod Podge Supplies

Here’s the complete list of supplies needed for this project:

  • Snowflake ornament
  • Wooden Dowel
  • White Paint
  • White Mod Podge Collage Clay (Also available in the trend right color, Strawberry Pink, but I chose White, for obvious reasons.)
  • Blue and Glittery Silver Mod Podge Melts
  • Mod Podge Gem and Sea Life Molds
  • One Disney Frozen character button pin
  • High Temp Mini Glue Gun

Step 2: Make Embellishments using Mod Melts and Mod Molds

I opened both bags of Mod Melts and picked out the most beautiful glittery silver from one and bright icy blue Mod Melts from the other. With the help of my trusty glue gun, I got right to work making gems with the mod mold.

Mod Melts with Mod Mold

After allowing the mod mold to cool down for ten minutes, the gems easily popped right out! There wasn’t an ounce of mess left behind, so I filled them again to make more.

To create the snowflake embellishment, fill the starfish Mod Mold completely and then add the additional snowflake spokes to the starfish while it is still hot.  Then at the end of each point, add an additional dab of the Mod Melt.  My snowflakes each have ten points.

Step 3:  Paint the wooden dowel white.

Mod Podge Molds Embellishments

Step 4: While the paint is drying, lay out your Decoden design idea to make sure you like the look before you start applying the Collage Clay.

Preparing for Mod Podge Collage Clay

 Now the fun really begins!  Time to get out the College Clay!

Collage Clay is a lightweight whipped clay that can be used in all kinds of assemblage arts, like Decoden, 3D Collage, and 3D Stenciling.  Included in each box is a Star Tip, Round Tip and a Wavy Tip, similar to the tips you’d use for decorating with icing.    Honestly, the white Collage Clay really did look like icing, so much so, that my seven year old son said, “Can I have a bite?”.  And that is why Mod Podge Collage Clay is not recommended for children 12 and under.  As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, Collage Clay is NOT edible. Mod Podge Collage Clay

Step 5:  Place aside the embellishments, attach the Star Tip to the Collage Clay bag, and apply it to the wooden snowflake.

Working with the Collage Clay was just like piping icing onto a cake.  Once I piped my design onto the snowflake, all I had to do was place the embellishments onto the clay. It was that easy and a lot of fun.  It was so simple and quick that I found myself searching around the house for other items I could decorate!

Step 6: Add Embellishments to the Collage Clay

Mod Podge Collage Clay

Step 7: Secure the wooden dowel to the back of the snowflake with the help of a glue gun and some left over Mod Melts.

Step 8: For the final touches, add embellishment beads and ribbon to the painted wooden dowel.

One final tip:   The Collage Clay does not set quickly.  Within the first hour the clay started to harden and I was able to pick it up and let my daughter hold her new wand for a few minutes.  (There was a lot of “Abracadabra” going on!) However, after the couple minutes passed, I put it back on the counter to cure for a few days.  By the fourth day I felt it was completely set.

Here’s a close up of the completed Frozen-Inspired Princess Wand.  Doesn’t the Collage Clay give it a perfect fluffy snow-like touch?  My little princess is ready for some serious Elsa role playing!

Collage Clay & Mod Melt Embellishments on a wooden snowflake

So are you ready to Decoden?  You can purchase all of these wondrous products at Michaels .

But wouldn’t it be great to win them all?
Enter to win this awesome prize pack from Plaid Crafts!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Can you imagine the awesomeness you can create with all that stuff?  If not, here’s some inspiration brought to you by Plaid Crafts.

Mod Podge Collage Clay Decoden

 Do you love Mod Podge as much as I do?  You can keep up with the latest and greatest Mod Podge craft ideas from Plaid by following them on Pinterest and Instagram!  Don’t forget to “Like” them on Facebook!

For more crafting fun, you can check out The Plaid Palette or have Plaid send their news directly to your inbox by signing up for their newsletter!  You can also find Plaid on Twitter and YouTube.

Kids Summer Activity: Favorite Disney Movies Photo Scavenger Hunt {Free Printable}

Favorite Disney Movies Photo Scavenger Hunt

Have you ever had a day where your kids only want to watch TV?

Summer days have the utmost potential for a super awesome fun time, but for whatever reason some summer days my son, Gavin, and daughter, Victoria, want to sit in front of the TV and just stare…for hours.  A few days ago when Gavin asked me to watch a DVD I shut off the TV and asked the kids to name 20 of their favorite Disney movies.  It seems like a lot of movies, but the kids had no problem shouting out their favorites within two minutes.  They immediately wanted to know why I was writing their answers down, but I ushered them to go have fun with a promise that I’d tell them a few days later with a surprise. (more…)

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