Best Snacks to Pack for Disney Parks

Disney parks allow you to bring outside food and drink in, but what should you take?  Click here for the ultimate list of snacks to pack for your next Disney trip.

School’s getting out soon and that means vacations for a lot of families.  Time to get away from the stresses of life and spend time together creating memories.  Of course, some of the most popular places to vacation are theme parks, such as Disneyland and Disney World.  Everyone wants to know the cheapest place to buy tickets, the best place to stay, which rides to go on first, and the list goes on.  About a year and a half ago, my family went to Disneyland for the first time and it was so fun!  I learned a lot about planning and what I wish I’d known before going and the next time we go, I will be even more prepared!  However, one question that I see asked all the time in groups and on Facebook is “what food can I bring into the park?”

This post contains affiliate links which means if you click on it and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.  Thank you for your support!

Disney’s Outside Food and Drink Policy

Taken directly from Disney’s website concerning outside food and drink:

“Guests are allowed to bring food items—such as snacks or foods that do not require heating—into Disney theme parks. Inform a Security Cast Member of any food items when you enter the park.”

That’s pretty broad if you ask me!

What This Means For You

As a visitor of the park, you are welcome to bring any food or drink (except alcohol) into the parks that doesn’t have to be heated up.  This gives you a huge variety of options!  When my family went, we knew we wanted to save money by only eating one meal inside the park each day.  That meant we ate breakfast at the hotel and packed ourselves a lunch to take with us into the park, along with snacks and drinks, which we replenished when we went back to our hotel mid-day.  Now, this could be a little overwhelming depending on the number of days you’ll be at the park and how big your family is.  But my goal is to provide you with some options of what to take into the park and how to pack them and then you can pick and choose what will work best for your family.

Disney parks allow you to bring outside food and drink in, but what should you take?  Click here for the ultimate list of snacks to pack for your next Disney trip.

Pack It Up

Cooler: Before we left home to drive to California from Utah, we picked up a small cooler from the store.  (We bought this one.)  When choosing it, we looked for one that had a hard plastic insert, zipper/mesh pockets on the outside and big enough to hold an ice pack.  It also had to fit in our stroller since we didn’t want to carry it around on our shoulder all day, nor did we want to have to put it in a locker.  (Check HERE for size restrictions.)

Plastic Containers: This was a suggestion I saw on Facebook and I thought it was genius!  If you are going to be bringing any snacks that are easily smashed or need to be divided up into smaller portions, you can grab some small plastic containers with lids to put them in.  We have some from Rubbermaid (like this) that would work perfectly and you could easily refill them.

Bags: Sandwich or snack sized bags that zip at the top are a handy way to divide up portions for those things that don’t need to go in a plastic container.  I’d recommend just bringing a box with you that you can fill up with snacks at your hotel or the larger cooler in your car.  We try to save and reuse these as much as possible.

*Tip: Pack your snacks the night before you go to the park, if possible.  This will save you a lot of time in the morning when you’re trying to get out the door!

What Should I Bring?

I’ve divided this next section into categories to make it easier for you to choose what your family likes to eat.  Try to choose a variety of options so you’re not eating the same snacks all day long.

Fruits/Veggies

  • Grapes (frozen)
  • Carrot sticks
  • Celery sticks
  • Peppers (cut)
  • Broccoli (cut)
  • Cauliflower (cut)
  • Cucumbers (mini, sliced or spears)
  • Cuties
  • Plums
  • Blueberries
  • Apple slices 
  • Applesauce 
  • Ranch/PB/Hummus in individual portions or small plastic containers
Disney parks allow you to bring outside food and drink in, but what should you take?  Click here for the ultimate list of snacks to pack for your next Disney trip.

Crackers/Cookies

  • Crackers (w/hummus)
  • Pretzels (w/PB)
  • Graham crackers
  • Goldfish
  • Cheez Its 
  • Snack size cookies (individually packaged)

Dried

  • Granola bar (ones that don’t have chocolate because they will melt and make a mess)
  • Dried fruit
  • Nuts
  • Craisins/raisins
  • Jerky
  • Fruit rope/Fruit leather
  • Trail mix
  • Fruit snacks 
  • PB Bites 

    Disney parks allow you to bring outside food and drink in, but what should you take?  Click here for the ultimate list of snacks to pack for your next Disney trip.

    Dairy

    • Frozen Gogurt
    • String cheese or Babybel cheese
    • Hard boiled eggs

    Lunch

    • PB and J sandwich
    • Frozen Uncrustables (will be thawed by the time you’re ready to eat them)
    • Bagel w/cream cheese
    • Lunch meat 
    • Tortilla wrap with lunch meat and cream cheese

    Drinks

    • Powerade/Vitamin Water
    • Juice Box
    • Water bottles
    • Crystal Light flavor packets or liquid flavoring, such as Mio

    *Note: You can ask for cups of ice water at any location that has a drink station and just fill up your empty water bottles from that!  Also, having flavored water really helps you drink more and tastes better even if it’s warm.

    Disney parks allow you to bring outside food and drink in, but what should you take?  Click here for the ultimate list of snacks to pack for your next Disney trip.

    Other

    • Plastic spoons, forks, or knives
    • Napkins or wet wipes 
    • Gum
    • Mints

    I hope you got some ideas about what to pack for your next (or first!) trip to one of Disney’s theme parks!

    What do you think of this list?  What else should I add to it?  I’d love to get your suggestions and continue updating it to create an ultimate snack ideas resource!

    Parenting Lessons From Moana’s Mother

    Moana's mother teaches important lessons on how to love, teach and let our children grow

    If you have kids, you’ve probably watched the movie Moana, seen clips or heard the music.  I took my daughter to see it in the theaters not long after it came out and I loved it.  We’ve watched it a few times since then and it’s a movie that we can all enjoy together as a family.  Soon after the movie came out, I started seeing different people post about their favorite scenes or lessons from the movie.  And each one I read never mentioned the one thing that struck me most as a parent: Moana’s mom.

    When I was growing up and watching all the classic animated Disney movies, I never really paid much attention to the fact that so many of them, especially the princess movies, didn’t have mothers: Cinderella, Ariel, Jasmine, Snow White and Belle (just to name a few).  It wasn’t until I had kids of my own and started watching these movies with my kids that I became more bothered by it and question it: How different would these movies have been had the main characters had their mother in their life?  Would they have even come into existence?  Why is it the mother that so often dies?  Obviously, there are Disney movies where the mother is present and these always touch my heart, such as Mulan, Rapunzel and now, Moana.

    From the beginning of the movie, Moana’s mother, Sina, is a constant figure in her life.  She encourages her to fulfill her responsibilities, teaches her the necessary skills and is a listening ear and voice of comfort when Moana becomes frustrated.  She sees her daughter’s struggles and desire to be on the water and does her best to help ease the pain.  As her mother, she also wants to protect her daughter from the dangers beyond the reef.  Sina is playful, smart and strong-willed, much like her daughter.

    Moana's mother teaches important lessons on how to love, teach and let our children grow

    Moana's mother teaches important lessons on how to love, teach and let our children grow

    I see myself in Sina and I see my daughter in Moana.

    There are two scenes that always get me when it comes to Moana’s mother.  They are brief but make an impact on me and I love how Disney portrayed them.

    The first is when Moana’s grandmother is ill and she tells Moana she needs to leave and take the heart to Maui and return it to Te Fiti.  The rest of her family is preoccupied with the grandmother and no one seems to notice her rush out the door and to her family’s hut to pack supplies for her trip.  But then, right in the middle of her packing, her mom appears in the doorway, out of breath and with a look of confusion when she sees what Moana is doing, and then realization hits her and she knows exactly what Moana is doing.  Rather than stop her or scold her, she kneels down and helps her gather the rest of what she needs for her journey.  She recognizes that as much as she doesn’t want Moana to go, that this is something she has to do.

    Moana's mother teaches important lessons on how to love, teach and let our children grow

    Moana and Sina hug and the final look shared between mother and daughter always brings tears to my eyes because so much is conveyed by that one look: fear, hope, determination.  I imagine myself and my daughter and even my son.  My kids are only 5 and 3, but they are becoming their own individual people with their own personalities.  As they grow, they will be faced with hard things and I won’t be able to shield them from everything that comes their way.  I can only do my best to teach them and prepare them and build a strong relationship with them so that when they need someone to talk to, they know they can come to me for love, help and support.

    The second scene is at the very end when Moana returns home.  Sina is the first one to turn and see Moana’s boat and she’s up and running toward the beach with her husband behind her.  Moana rushes into her mother’s arms a split second before her father comes up and hugs both of them.  It’s such a short scene but you can see the relief and pride and happiness so clearly.  I’ve felt these same feelings with my own kids when they do something that makes me a little nervous that they might fail, but then seeing them succeed and being filled with joy.

    Moana's mother teaches important lessons on how to love, teach and let our children grow

    On this parenting journey, we are going to experience (and have experienced) happiness, joy, heartache, worry, sadness and so many other emotions.  I’m so grateful for these beautiful reminders that as parents, it’s our responsibility to teach our children to the best of our abilities and then trust them as they try out their wings.  They are going to fall.  They are going to fail.  But they are also going to succeed.  And I want to be there when they come running.

    Planning a Day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

    Tips for planning a great day at Disney Hollywood Studios (plus the top 5 best attractions)

    When my husband and I were planning our trip to Orlando, almost everyone we talked to asked us the same question, “Which park are you going to?”  I would have loved to hit up all of them, but time didn’t allow for that so we had to choose just one park.  If you didn’t know the title of this post, you might guess that we went to Magic Kingdom or Universal Studios. *wink*  But instead, we chose Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

    Why Hollywood Studios?

    The biggest reason was because it was literally right next to our hotel, the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort.  We didn’t have a car and the option to take a water taxi or walk the 10 minutes to the park was very appealing to us.  Plus, with only one day to take in an entire park, one of the larger parks would have been harder to get through and Hollywood Studios is the smallest of the Disney parks in Orlando.

    Pre-Planning for a Day at the Park

    We bought our tickets to the park before we left for our trip.  Ticket prices went up at the beginning of March and we didn’t want to pay the extra money.  Plus, it was really convenient to go to the Disney Planning Station at our hotel and have them give us our tickets there rather than waiting in line at the park.  A perk of buying your tickets ahead of time is that you can actually sign up for fast passes through your My Disney Experience website.  The catch is that you can only sign up for three fast passes and then you have to use all of them up before you can reserve more.  So we got fast passes for Tower of Terror, Star Tours and Toy Story Mania.  Fast passes go quickly, especially if you’re trying to get them the day you are in the park, or you might not get any at all.  Keep checking your My Disney Experience app to see if times happen to open up and you might get lucky.

    Tips for planning a great day at Disney Hollywood Studios (plus the top 5 best attractions)

    Planning for Weather

    We visited the park in late March.  I checked the forecast before our trip and it showed an average of 80 degrees and partly cloudy.  The day we went to the park, it opened at 9am and it was still a little cool for my liking.  I wore a short sleeve shirt, capris and tennis shoes.  We brought water bottles and filled them up throughout the day to stay hydrated.  We walked a total of 9.5 miles, including back to the hotel for dinner and then back to the park in the evening.  I changed into pants and brought a sweatshirt with me that I got from Rad Swim.  They have the cutest swimsuits and coverups!  You can check out their website HERE.  (Note: I received the sweatshirt at no cost from Rad Swim but all opinions are 100% mine.)

    Tips for planning a great day at Disney Hollywood Studios (plus the top 5 best attractions)

    My Favorite Rides and Shows

    Hollywood Studios is a pretty even balance between rides and shows.  This makes it fairly easy to switch between the two and fill up the time in between any of your fast passes with other rides or shows.  The longest we waited in line for anything we didn’t have a fast pass for was about 30 minutes which isn’t long at all.  I’ve listed my top 5 favorite rides and shows below (in no particular order):

    A list of the top 5 attractions at Disney Hollywood Studios (plus great tips on how to plan your day)

    Tower of Terror – This was the very first ride we went on using our fast passes.  We only waited for about 20 minutes before we were loaded into the ride.  I went to Hollywood Studios for the first time back in high school when it was still called MGM Hollywood Studios and we rode the Tower of Terror then.  Everything was exactly as I remembered it, except I could have sworn the ride lasted for longer than a minute.  Also, Hollywood Studios is the only Disney park in the United States that has this ride, since the one at Disney’s California Adventure is being turned in a Guardians of the Galaxy ride.

    A list of the top 5 attractions at Disney Hollywood Studios (plus great tips on how to plan your day)

    Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster (starring Aerosmith) – If there is one roller coaster ride that has been ingrained into my memory for how fun and fast it is, it’s the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster.  I wish we’d gotten a fast pass for this one instead of Star Tours because I would have like to ride it more than once.  It was the last ride we did before the fireworks show at the end of the night.  The roller coaster shoots you forward from 0 to 57 miles per hour in 2.8 seconds and you experience 4.5 G as you enter the first turn (which is more than an astronaut experiences being from a shuttle launch).  I absolutely cannot help but smile and scream the entire time.

    A list of the top 5 attractions at Disney Hollywood Studios (plus great tips on how to plan your day)

    Toy Story Mania – We didn’t have time to do the Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters at Disneyland when we went a couple years ago, so I was excited to do Toy Story Mania this time around.  To be completely honest, I didn’t exactly know what to expect but it didn’t take long to figure it out.  My husband and I rode in a car together so we played against each other.  The only bummer was that they had some technical difficulties a couple of times during our ride so we had to sit and wait for them to fix it before we could move onto the next game.  My kids would absolutely love this ride and I can’t wait to do it at Disneyland the next time we go.

    A list of the top 5 attractions at Disney Hollywood Studios (plus great tips on how to plan your day)

    Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular – While waiting to use our Toy Story Mania fast pass, we decided to get in the stand-by line for the Indiana Jones stunt show.  Having seen the show during my first visit to the park in high school, I knew what to expect because the show hasn’t been changed since they opened the park.  It is a huge set and it’s pretty amazing everything that goes on during the show.  They recreate scenes from Raiders of the Lost Ark, complete with stunts and pyrotechnics.  It’s a really entertaining show and a fun way to get a glimpse into what a real movie scene might be like.

    A list of the top 5 attractions at Disney Hollywood Studios (plus great tips on how to plan your day)

    Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular (a fireworks show) – Originally, I had been looking forward to watching Fantasmic, but instead we got to see a combination fireworks and projection show.  They project parts of all the Star Wars movie onto the side of The Great Movie Ride.  There are lasers, fireworks, fog, searchlights and of course, the iconic soundtrack.  I asked a cast member what the best spot was to view the show and he told me on the corner of Sunset and Hollywood Blvd.  It was a great way to end the night.

    A list of the top 5 attractions at Disney Hollywood Studios (plus great tips on how to plan your day)

    Have you been to Disney’s Hollywood Studios?  What are your favorite rides, shows and food?

    DIY Disney Shirt: Dinglehopper Hair, Don’t Care

    Make this DIY mermaid shirt for your next trip to Disney or for the Disney lover in your life!

    One of my favorite parts of going to any Disney park is wearing Disney themed clothing.  It makes me feel like I am part of Disney in some small way and it’s just a lot of fun.  When I was planning my trip to Orlando and I found out that a friend of mine and her family were going to be able to come down at the same time as us, the wheels in my brain started spinning.  I knew I wanted to make some kind of a t-shirt for the two of us so we could match.  (Yes, we’re those people.)  I started browsing ideas online of cute Disney quotes, made a list and sent it over to her to see what she thought.  We both picked the same two as our favorites and so I got started planning the designs.

    This post contains affiliate links which means if you click on a link and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.  Thank you for your support!

    As always, I used my Silhouette Cameo for cutting.  It is amazing and I never hesitate to recommend it to anyone.  The first design was going to be centered around the words: dinglehopper hair, don’t care with a fork in the middle.  (I’ll be sharing the tutorial for the other shirt next week.)  We both love The Little Mermaid so it just seemed natural that we’d do a shirt based on that.  I bought our t-shirts at Target because I love their basic v-necks.  (They are the same ones I used for my mama bear shirt and my pineapple shirt.)  When I got them home, I measured the smaller of the shirts and then used those dimension to decide how big the design should be.  (I used the same size design for both shirts.)

    I used my Silhouette Studio to create the design exactly how I wanted it.  I used the same font for all the words, but the sizing is different.  I squished some of the words and stretched others to make it all fit within the space I’d decided on.  I found a fork silhouette on Google, saved it to my computer and used the trace feature to outline the shape.  I manipulated the shape of the fork to extend just barely past the words.

    *Note: I used the font Bolton, which is a free font.  You can download it HERE.  If you need help downloading and installing a font onto your computer, click HERE for a tutorial.)

    Once I had everything where I wanted it, I colored the words and fork in with the colors of HTV (heat transfer vinyl) I wanted to use so I could see how it would look.  You can see my design below was pretty simple. 

    Make this DIY mermaid shirt for your next trip to Disney or for the Disney lover in your life!

    I had chosen a purple t-shirt and thought that black lettering and a silver glitter fork would look cute.  I ordered my HTV from Expressions Vinyl because they have great pricing, especially on their specialty vinyl like the glitter, glow-in-the-dark, etc.

    When I got the vinyl, I went back into my Silhouette Studio to my design.  Select your entire design and flip the image.  This is an important step because when you cut the vinyl, you are cutting on the BACK, hence the reason why you’d want to make sure your image is flipped.  Otherwise, you’ll end up with backwards text.  You can flip your image by selecting all the pieces that need to be flipped, then clicking ‘Object’ >> ‘Mirror’ >> ‘Flip Horizontal’.

    Make this DIY mermaid shirt for your next trip to Disney or for the Disney lover in your life!

    Make this DIY mermaid shirt for your next trip to Disney or for the Disney lover in your life!

    After everything had been flipped, I moved the fork out of the design and moved the text up so that it was all together and put the fork at the bottom.  Doing it this way allows you to cut all of the text at the same time out of the same color.  Then you can cut a piece of HTV for the fork and put it underneath the black HTV on your cutting mat.

    Make this DIY mermaid shirt for your next trip to Disney or for the Disney lover in your life!

    *Tip: Turn on your ruler so you can see how to line up your design and use the least amount of HTV possible.  It will also help you know where to put the glitter HTV so it cuts out the fork in the right place.

    Cut out your HTV to the appropriate size from your sheet or roll and place it, shiny side down, on the cutting mat and load it into your machine.  Make sure to double check the cut settings, as they are different for smooth versus glitter HTV.  When I did it, I opened the cut menu and selected the fork and marked it as ‘no cut’.  Then I changed the cut settings to smooth HTV and let it cut out the letters.  When it finished cutting the letters, I left it in the machine (meaning I did not unload it). Then went back to the cut menu, selected the fork and changed it to ‘cut’ and selected the text and changed it to ‘no cut’.  I updated the cut settings for glitter HTV and then sent it to cut.

    Make this DIY mermaid shirt for your next trip to Disney or for the Disney lover in your life!
    An example of how I place different colors on the same cutting mat

    *Tip: If you are making more than one shirt with the same design, you can create a new project page that has all the text on it and another that has all the forks on it.  Then cut all the words out of one piece of smooth HTV and all the forks out of glitter HTV.  This way you don’t have to worry about the ‘cut’ and ‘no cut’ settings, only the cut settings for each type of HTV.

    After everything had been cut out, I pulled the vinyl off the cutting mat and weeded it all out.  (Weeding is when you remove everything that isn’t a part of the design.)  I love having this weeding tool because it makes getting tiny pieces of vinyl out so much easier.

    Once my design had been weeded, I cut the words apart between ‘hair’ and ‘don’t’ so that I could place the fork in the middle.  (I’ve noticed that the HTV from Expressions Vinyl is actually a little bit sticky so you can put it on your shirt (or whatever you’re making) and it will stay in place.  This is nice because when it comes time to iron the HTV on, you know it’s not going to shift if it gets bumped.)

    I centered the words below the point on the v-neck shiny side up and adjusted them until they looked right.  Then I turned on my iron to the hottest setting.  While it was heating up, I grabbed my ironing board and piece of cotton fabric to lay over the design while I was ironing.  You do not want to place a hot iron directly onto the backing of the HTV.  It will melt and ruin your iron.  When the iron was hot, I centered the shirt long ways on the ironing board so the entire design fit on the board.  Then I laid the cotton fabric, doubled up, on top of the design.  (You can use any color fabric you have, but I chose white so I could see through it a little easier and know that I was on top of the design.)

    Make this DIY mermaid shirt for your next trip to Disney or for the Disney lover in your life!

    To iron the HTV to the shirt, I placed the iron on top of the shirt (again, with the cotton in between the shirt and the iron) and press firmly for about 45-60 seconds.  I used the stopwatch setting on my phone and just moved the iron each time it hit the 45 second increment. 

    *Tip: Glitter HTV will require a little more time under the iron because it is a little bit thicker.

    Once you feel like you’ve gotten everywhere, remove the cotton fabric barrier.  Gently pull on the plastic backing to see how easily the vinyl comes away from it.  There will be a little bit of resistance, but the edges of your design should stay on the surface you’ve ironed it to if you’ve done it correctly.  If not, just replace the cotton and press the iron in the spot(s) that need a little more heat.

    Let the shirt cool after you’ve removed the plastic backing from your vinyl and then try it on!

    I am SO happy with the way this shirt came out!  It is exactly like I pictured in my head and it was so fun to wear it to Hollywood Studios with my friend.  Twinning at its best. *wink*

    Make this DIY mermaid shirt for your next trip to Disney or for the Disney lover in your life!

    Make this DIY mermaid shirt for your next trip to Disney or for the Disney lover in your life!

    What would you put on your Disney shirt?

    Character Dining at the Garden Grove Restaurant

    Experience the magic of Disney by going to a character dining restaurant at the Garden Grove restaurant at the WDW Swan and Dolphin Resort in FL.

    I have been a Disney fan for as long as I can remember.  I have so many happy memories of watching Disney movies with my sisters, my first trip to Disneyland as a kid and our first trip as a family to Disneyland with our own kids.  One thing I remember clearly from my first trip to Disneyland was standing in line to get the autographs and pictures of the different characters all over the park.  My sisters and I loved this almost as much as the rides because it made the experience so much more real to us.  So when we were booking our trip to Orlando at the Swan and Dolphin Resort and I found out they had a character dining experience, I knew I wanted to go.

    This post is sponsored by the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort.  All opinions are 100% mine.

    After a long day of walking around Hollywood Studios, my husband and I were starving.  We took the short walk back to our hotel where we picked up our luggage from the bell hop and checked into our room for our final night.  (Read more about our stay at the hotel HERE.)  We deposited our stuff, freshened up and walked downstairs to the Garden Grove Restaurant.  Our plan was to show up soon after the restaurant opened at 5pm so we didn’t have to wait in any long lines.  This worked to our advantage and we were one of the first people seated.  (You can find more information on menus and reservations by clicking HERE.)

    In the middle of the dining area, there is a large 25′ oak tree that is stunning.  The entire atmosphere of the restaurant is set up so that you feel as though you’ve stepped into Central Park.  The tree itself is covered in lights and lanterns that add a special ambiance.  All the tables in the restaurant surround the tree and it’s visible from every table.  At night the lights are dimmed in the restaurant and the tree is lit up.

    Experience the magic of Disney by going to a character dining restaurant at the Garden Grove restaurant at the WDW Swan and Dolphin Resort in FL.

    The Garden Grove is set up as a buffet style restaurant and they are open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  They do the character dining experience in the evenings all week, and at breakfast on Saturday and Sunday only.  I had checked out the menu ahead of time and everything looked amazing.  When we were seated, our waiter, Gaven, informed us that because it was Friday night, the menu was their seafood buffet. 

    As soon as he said that, my mouth literally started to water.  I absolutely LOVE seafood, but living in Utah I don’t get to enjoy much of it that is really fresh.  When he left, I scooted on over to the buffet and piled it on.  I did try to balance things out by getting some mashed potatoes, salad and a slice of prime rib, but let’s be honest: I really just at the seafood, especially the crab.  Oh. my. goodness.  Steaming, freshly cooked crab dipped in melted butter is absolutely in my top 5 favorite foods in this entire world.  I was in heaven.  My husband was laughing at me until he tried some too and then he couldn’t get enough either!

    Experience the magic of Disney by going to a character dining restaurant at the Garden Grove restaurant at the WDW Swan and Dolphin Resort in FL.

    Experience the magic of Disney by going to a character dining restaurant at the Garden Grove restaurant at the WDW Swan and Dolphin Resort in FL.

    We hadn’t been there for long before the characters started showing up.  Goofy stopped by our table first and after we’d gotten a picture with him, he tried to walk off with me.  It made everyone around laugh and then he let me get back to my food. 

    Experience the magic of Disney by going to a character dining restaurant at the Garden Grove restaurant at the WDW Swan and Dolphin Resort in FL.

    Next up was Pluto who begged for scraps and was his usual doggy self.  He actually stopped by our table a couple of times since the restaurant wasn’t overly crowded so we got some fun pictures with him. 

    Experience the magic of Disney by going to a character dining restaurant at the Garden Grove restaurant at the WDW Swan and Dolphin Resort in FL.

    Experience the magic of Disney by going to a character dining restaurant at the Garden Grove restaurant at the WDW Swan and Dolphin Resort in FL.

    After that, Chip and Dale came out together.  They kept making kissing noises at me and they were just like how they are in the cartoons.  It was also fun to see the characters interact with the other guests there, especially the ones with kids.  It made me miss our kids and wish they could experience the dinner with us.  They would have loved it so much!

    Experience the magic of Disney by going to a character dining restaurant at the Garden Grove restaurant at the WDW Swan and Dolphin Resort in FL.

    After I’d stuffed myself silly with crab, I had to check out their dessert table.  Our waiter had told us that there was a chocolate bomb that was amazing and I wanted to try it out.  I grabbed one of those, as well as a chocolate tart, a mini carrot cake cupcake and a pots de creme (pronounced: po de krehm) with a raspberry sauce on top.  I started with the cupcake and it was delicious.  It had a cream cheese filling and a marshmallow texture type frosting with a fancy disk of white chocolate on top.  Next up was the chocolate tart.  The filling was rich and decadent, the crust was flaky and there was a dollop of cream on top.  After that, I tried the pots de creme.  Oh my word.  It had a vanilla bean custard on the bottom that was so creamy and smooth it literally made me groan.  Add the raspberry sauce on top and it was a match made in heaven.  Finally, I had reached the final dessert: the chocolate bomb.  It had a chocolate disk on the bottom with a piece of cake on top and then chocolate mousse, all covered in dark chocolate and topped with a small bit of edible gold leaf.  I seriously felt like I was on an episode of some dessert baking competition on Food Network after eating these desserts.  They were SO good.

    Experience the magic of Disney by going to a character dining restaurant at the Garden Grove restaurant at the WDW Swan and Dolphin Resort in FL.

    I absolutely think that the character dining experience was one of my favorite parts of our trip to Orlando.  It brought some of that unique Disney magic right to our table and created some fun memories.  I liked that the characters took the time to visit each table and it didn’t feel rushed at all, which I really appreciated.  Our experience at Garden Grove was amazing and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone.

    Have you ever done a character dining experience? 

    My Stay at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort

    An overview of the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in Buena Vista, FL

    A little less than two months ago, my husband sent me a message that he’d been invited to go to a training event in Orlando.  Jokingly I replied, “Can I come?”  His response: “I can ask.”  As it turned out, I could come and the minute I heard ‘yes’, I was searching online for the best flights, calling family members to ask if they could watch our kids and dreaming of sunny Florida.  (I’m a planner, remember?)  Midway through the day I asked my husband if he knew the name of the hotel they were putting everyone up at: “Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort“.  Um, what?!  That’s right my friends.  We were going to be staying at a WDW hotel and I was doing a happy dance in my living room.

    This post is sponsored by the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort.  All opinions are 100% my own.

    When I first pulled up to the hotel, it was nighttime and everything was lit up.  The hotel has 11 floors and has huge swan statues on the top of each wing of the hotel.  With the lights shining on the swans as well as the beautiful fountain out front, I knew I was in for a treat.  Walking into the lobby, it is bright and welcoming.  You can see straight through to the other end of the building where it opens out onto the grounds.  When I first was looking at the hotel’s website, I realized that the hotel is actually two hotels on the same property: the Swan and the Dolphin.  They share many of the amenities, such as the pools and other entertainment, but each one has different restaurants and dining options to offer.

    An overview of the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in Buena Vista, FL

    An overview of the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in Buena Vista, FL

    For the first two nights, I stayed in the west wing of the hotel in a grand deluxe king room.  It turns out that we were originally booked into a queen room, but we were able to switch to a king room that also happened to be wheelchair accessible so the bathroom was bigger and there wasn’t a sofa.  Our room had a balcony that looked out onto the grounds behind the hotel (facing the back of the Dolphin).  I had a great view of the little lake (Crescent Lake) and one of the pools and there were lots of palm trees close by as well.  The room was clean and bright, with a desk, TV and a mini fridge that included two complimentary waters (great for drinking and refilling at the parks!).

    An overview of the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in Buena Vista, FL

    An overview of the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in Buena Vista, FL

    Our third night, we changed rooms and stayed in the east wing of the hotel.  Our view wasn’t as nice in terms of being able to see the grounds, however, we were able to look down into the courtyard area and it was a little more shaded.  We stayed in another grand deluxe king room that was almost identical to our first room but the bathroom was smaller and it had a sofa.

    An overview of the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in Buena Vista, FL

    An overview of the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in Buena Vista, FL

    An overview of the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in Buena Vista, FL

    An overview of the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in Buena Vista, FL

    Each morning for breakfast, we headed down to the Java Bar.  We don’t drink coffee, but there were really good muffins and pain au chocolat (chocolate croissants) as well as fresh fruit, cereal, bottled smoothies and a few other basic breakfast items.  It was located towards the back of the hotel near the exit to the grounds and the water taxi, which made it really convenient to grab something and get on our way.  The only other place we ate at on the Swan hotel property was The Garden Grove Restaurant for a character dining experience, which I’ll be posting about later this week.  For now, suffice it to say that it was amazing!

    An overview of the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in Buena Vista, FL

    The grounds of the hotel are absolutely beautiful.  When you walk out the back doors of the Swan, directly in front of you is a large walkway that leads to the Dolphin.  It is open in the middle with flowers and palm trees and flanked on either side with a covered walkway.  The walkway spans a portion of Crescent Lake where a water taxi comes by every 20 minutes or so to take you to either Epcot or Hollywood Studios.  On one side of the property are three different pools: two lap pools and one larger grotto pool with a waterfall and water slide.  There are also a few hammocks near the pools and on the beach.  We relaxed on the hammocks a couple of different times and it was soooo nice.  On the beach, they had a playground for kids and two or three volleyball courts, along with some loungers.

    An overview of the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in Buena Vista, FL

    An overview of the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in Buena Vista, FL

    An overview of the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in Buena Vista, FL

    An overview of the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in Buena Vista, FL

    An overview of the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in Buena Vista, FL

    On the opposite side of the pools was a bridge over the waterway and a path that led to Hollywood Studios or the Boardwalk.  Unfortunately, we didn’t get to explore the boardwalk but we took the walking path to and from Hollywood Studios a couple of times and it was about a 12 minute walk.  I loved the option to walk or take the water taxi, especially at night when the park had closed and everyone was trying to get back to their hotel.

    An overview of the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in Buena Vista, FL

    An overview of the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in Buena Vista, FL

    One amenity that I found extremely helpful at the Swan was the option to have the hotel hold our luggage for us.  Because we had to change rooms for our third night, we didn’t have a place to put our luggage while we were at Hollywood Studios.  So in between when we had to check out at 11:00am and when we could check back into our new room later that afternoon, they held our stuff for us until our new check in.

    All in all, our stay at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort was amazing.  Their proximity to the parks, especially Hollywood Studios and Epcot, made its location ideal.  The rooms were large and welcoming.  We loved the grounds and their list of amenities and services made our stay comfortable and hassle-free.  I would absolutely recommend this hotel for both families and couples.
     
    If you are going to be traveling to Florida to visit any of their Disney theme parks or Universal Studios, definitely consider looking into the Swan and Dolphin to see if it’s the right fit for your family.

    Book Review: Disneyland On Any Budget by Jessica Sanders

    Disneyland On Any Budget is a must have for the latest and most up-to-date information on Disneyland!  It is packed with information!

    Before my family and I went to Disneyland last fall, I did a TON of research on a million different website and blogs trying to learn as much as possible about lodging and food and travel and strollers and souvenirs and anything else I could think of that I might need to know about when planning a trip to Disneyland.  I learned a lot and everything I found was really helpful.  Our trip to Disneyland was a huge success and I even learned a few things that I’ve been able to share with others.

    I received a complimentary copy of Disneyland On Any Budget for review.  All opinions are 100% mine.
    Disneyland On Any Budget is a must have for the latest and most up-to-date information on Disneyland!  It is packed with information!

    But what if you don’t have the time to to sift through all that information and find what’s really relevant?  That’s where Disneyland On Any Budget comes in handy.  Jessica Sanders from The Happiest Blog on Earth is all about all things Disney.  She and her family go to Disneyland several times a year and she is always up to date on the latest changes and updates to the park.

    This post contains affiliate links which if clicked on and a purchase is made, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.

    I received a copy of Disneyland On Any Budget and was able to read through it in less than an hour.  But all the information Jessica packs into this little book is well worth the read (and re-read)!  She covers ways to save for Disneyland, where to get discount tickets, how to save money on food, where to start your day, hotel accommodations, grocery stores, best places to find souvenirs and on and on.  Jessica really knows her stuff!

    Disneyland On Any Budget is a must have for the latest and most up-to-date information on Disneyland!  It is packed with information!
    Used by permission from The Happiest Blog on Earth

    One thing I loved and thought was a great little touch is that each chapter/section starts off with a fun quote from a Disney movie that goes along with what the chapter is about.  Jessica also shares examples and real life experiences (both her own and others) to help illustrate her points.  At the end of each section, she gives a little recap.  If you buy the book, you also have access to bonus content on her website!

    I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking to plan a trip to Disneyland in the coming year.  The information you’ll learn is invaluable to making your experience the best possible.  No matter what your budget is, Disneyland On Any Budget is a great tool to help you and your family visit the happiest place on earth!

    To buy the paperback version, click HERE.
    To buy the Kindle version, click HERE.

    To visit The Happiest Blog on Earth, click HERE.

    What has been most helpful to you when planning a trip to Disneyland?