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!

    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?

    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?

    9 Things I Wish I’d Known Before Going to Disneyland the First Time

    9 Things I Wish I'd Known Before Going to Disneyland the First Time--great tips that will help you plan your vacation more thoroughly!

    In a previous post, I talked about what I learned as I planned our family’s first vacation to Disneyland.  We went and had so much fun and now that we are back, I have more tips to share that will make your experience at the park even more magical and stress-free.

    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!

    Prepare Snacks/Packs the Night Before  Going in, we knew we could take outside food into the park so we brought a ton of snacks with us from home.  This worked out great for us and we didn’t buy any snacks in the park besides a Dole Whip (yum!).  That being said, I wish we’d done a better job of prepping our snacks the night before or possibly even at home.  The next time we go, I’m going to bring a box of sandwich bags with us and portion out the snacks beforehand and put them in the bags we are taking to the park.  I feel like half of our morning was spent getting ourselves ready and the other half was spent getting snacks into bags and sandwiches made and into coolers before we walked out the door.  It would have made our mornings run so much more smoothly if we’d done just a little more prep.

    Lots of Snacks
    As a kid vacationing with my parents, I remember them telling us to eat a big breakfast before we left for whatever it was we were doing that day so that we’d be full.  I was a growing girl and I liked food, so eating a lot wasn’t a problem for me, but my metabolism was.  About two hours after my huge breakfast, I would be hungry and asking for something else to eat.  When we were looking for a hotel this time around, we wanted to stay somewhere that had a continental breakfast so we could try and fill up before heading into the park.  My kids are pretty good eaters, but even so, they didn’t eat a ton at breakfast and I knew they’d be hungry sooner than later.  We literally lived off of snacks during our time at the park.  (You can find a huge list of snack ideas in this post!)  We didn’t want to spend $5 on a small bag of popcorn or $2 on a banana.  So we packed up our little cooler with sliced apples, sandwiches, granola bars, peanuts, fruit snacks, raisins, applesauce, goldfish…and it would be gone by the time we went back to the hotel for a rest and nap time.  Then we’d load it all up again for when we went back later that day.  With the exception of a few things, all the snacks we had were brought from home, which saved us a lot of money.  This is a benefit of driving versus flying (which I discussed in my planning for Disneyland post).

    9 Things I Wish I'd Known Before Going to Disneyland the First Time--great tips that will help you plan your vacation more thoroughly!

    Bring A Variety of Flavored Water
    A great tip I learned while planning our trip is that you can ask any restaurant or drinking station with fountain drinks for a cup of ice water or to fill up your bottle.  We went into the park with full water bottles/sippy cups and we filled them up throughout the day.  But here’s the thing: I got kind of tired of drinking just water.  Not all the water we got was cold (like from drinking fountains) and after sitting in our bags in the hot sun, it got pretty warm and not very refreshing.  My husband ended up going to a local Walmart and picking up some Vitamin Waters for us to drink and let me tell you: it was a lot easier to down an entire bottle of that than it was a bottle of lukewarm water.  The next time we go to Disneyland, or any other theme park, I’m going to bring some of the individual packets of flavor crystals, like Crystal Light, or the liquid flavors, like Mio, to put in our waters.  I know my kids will drink an entire juice box in a matter of minutes, but getting them to drink that much water in the same amount of time can be hard.  We went during the second week of October and with humidity it was at least 90 degrees.  Staying hydrated is essential.

    Getting to the Park
    Parking at Disneyland is expensive.  It costs $17 per day!  So when we were planning our trip, we chose a hotel that was close enough to the park that we had the option to walk or take the shuttle.  We tried out both options to see which we liked better.  On our first day, we hopped on the shuttle in the morning and it took us 7-10 minutes to get to the park.  However, it took us 20 minutes to get back to our hotel in the afternoon because we found out that it was one of the last stops on its route.  After the kids had rested up, we decided to walk to the park and see if we preferred that over the shuttle.  It was later in the day and cooler and we made it to the gates in 12-15 minutes.  The second day, we walked each time and didn’t ride the shuttle at all.  My recommendation would be to find out what your options are for any of the hotels you are interested in staying at.  I simply called the hotel’s front desk and asked them.  Some hotels offer complimentary shuttles, while others don’t.  For us, the fee to ride the shuttle one-way was $3 for adults and $1 for kids while a day pass was $5 for adults and $2 for kids, with multi-day discounts.

    9 Things I Wish I'd Known Before Going to Disneyland the First Time--great tips that will help you plan your vacation more thoroughly!

    Strollers and Stroller Parking
    Bringing our double-stroller with us was one of the best decisions we could have made.  We have a Sit n’ Stand by Baby Trend and love it.  It held both kids, our cooler, my diaper bag, drinks, sweatshirts and anything else we needed to throw in.  The kids were in and out of it throughout the day, eating snacks or resting or riding as we moved between rides/parks.  At night, they both fell asleep in it as we walked back to the hotel.  If you’re debating about bringing a stroller, just do it.  You will be glad you did.  (If bringing your own stroller isn’t an option, you can also rent strollers at the park.)  You can also check out this link for some other great car seat and stroller combos.

    One other tip about strollers:  There are various places around the park for you to park your stroller, generally around the fences by the rides.  I was a little worried about leaving my bag and other items but I didn’t have any problems with my stuff being taken.  We did have a couple of times where we couldn’t find our stroller but it was because it had been moved by a cast member.  If you come up to a place where you see cast members moving strollers around, you can ask them if there is a spot they’d prefer you put your stroller so it doesn’t get moved around and it’s easier for you to find when you come back to get it.

    Download the Official Disneyland App
    A friend of mine who has annual passes for her family highly suggested downloading the official Disneyland app on our phones.  This app gives information on wait times for rides, the location of characters and restrooms, dining locations and menus, parade and event information and photo passes.  My husband and I both downloaded it on our phones before we went into the park and referred to it multiple times throughout the day.  It was especially helpful when my daughter all of a sudden said she needed to use the bathroom and we needed to find one quickly.  It was a lot faster than trying to look information up on our phones and much more efficient.  (If you want to keep it on your phone after you leave Disneyland, it’s a fun way to show your kids where Mickey Mouse or their favorite princess is.)

    9 Things I Wish I'd Known Before Going to Disneyland the First Time--great tips that will help you plan your vacation more thoroughly!

    Special Visit Buttons
    I read about special visit buttons you can get for free at Disneyland when I was planning our trip.  They have First Visit, Happy Birthday, Happy Anniversary and others.  According to what I read, you could pick them up at the Guest Services building.  When I went to go pick some up, there was a 10 minute wait at Guest Services, but the cast member told me that I could go to any store and ask for one.  I’m sure I read this somewhere, but I didn’t remember.  I had to stop by a couple of stores because they had already run out and it was only 9am.  So if you want one, try and get it first thing when you get to the park.

    Also, if you’re child is wearing their button in the park, the cast members and characters generally try to make a point of saying something about it which makes it even more special for them.

    9 Things I Wish I'd Known Before Going to Disneyland the First Time--great tips that will help you plan your vacation more thoroughly!

    Visiting with Characters
    Princesses: My daughter specifically wanted to see as many princesses as possible on our trip so I tried to find out as much as I could about seeing them before we got there.  There are two places where you will be most likely to find princesses: at the Royal Hall (to the left of the castle) and by the Snow White fountain (to the right of the castle).  If your child wants to see Anna or Elsa, you will only be able to visit them at California Adventure, but there are a couple of shows you can watch them in within the Disneyland side of the park.

    Other Characters: By using the Disneyland app, we were able to find different characters whereabouts in each park.  There is always a cast member close by the line if you have any questions about the character you are going to see.  For example, a couple of times we got in line to see the character that was there, but the cast member told us that if we got in line that we’d be seeing a different character, or if we wanted to see that same character they told us when they would be back at that location.  Another time we got in line to see a character and the cast member told us that that particular character would be leaving but that another character would be coming at a different location so we could get in line there.  It was so nice to know ahead of time if we’d actually be seeing the characters we were getting in line for because then we could choose if it was someone we wanted to see.

    *Note: If a character is out in one park, he won’t be out in another park.  For example, we saw Goofy in Disneyland so we knew that he wouldn’t be out in California Adventure.  Disney is very good about being consistent this way and not having the same character out in more than one park or at more than one location of the same park.

    Take Time to Rest
    Since we have small children (ages 3.5 and 18 months at the time of our trip), we planned out a portion of each day as a time to rest/take a nap at our hotel.  I know some kids who can sleep anywhere and others who need to have a quiet room.  My kids fall into the latter group.  So around 1pm we went back to the hotel.  Even though we missed out on about 3 hours of time at the park each day, by allowing our kids (and ourselves) time to rest, we were able to stay a little later at the park and our kids were much happier.  Plus, it was pretty hot during the day so we avoided some heat exhaustion by staying cool during those times.

    *Note: We had a two day pass which we used consecutively, but you don’t have to do it that way.  Disney allows you to use your tickets for 13 days after the first visit.  This means we could have visited two times within a two week period since we had a two day pass.  Same thing goes for a 3, 4 or 5 day pass–you can use up your days any time within 13 days of the first use.  So if you have the time, you can definitely break it up a little so you don’t get burnt out.

    What advice would you give to someone going to Disneyland for the first time that you wish you’d known beforehand?

    Keeping Toddlers Busy While Waiting In Line at Disneyland {and other theme parks}

    Keeping Kids Busy While Waiting in Line at Disneyland {and other theme parks}

    When I was planning our family vacation to Disneyland, I knew I was going to have to come up with some ideas for keeping my kids (ages 3.5 and 18 months at the time) busy while standing in line for the rides.  Knowing how hard it can be to keep them out of trouble while standing in line at the grocery store, I knew I’d have to have a few tricks up my sleeve so we didn’t all go crazy. *wink*
    Below is a list of items that I had with me while we were at the park.  Many of them I picked up at my local dollar store before leaving on our trip because if they got lost or damaged, I didn’t want to feel frustrated at having to replace it.  Also, I didn’t bring all of them with me each time we went to the park.  I brought a few items to the park in the morning and then packed a few different ones when we came back in the afternoon.  That way, the kids weren’t bored with everything I had brought within a short time of being there.

    • Bubbles: I bought a small 3 pack and just took one with me each day we were at the park.  I haven’t met a kid who doesn’t love bubbles and it definitely kept my kids entertained, as well as a few others who were in line.
    • Cars/Trucks: There were four small trucks that came in a pack.  I brought one for each of my kids and kept the others at the hotel in case the kids lost or ruined them.  They loved to drive the cars on the ground, the fences and themselves.
    • Small Notebooks and Crayons/Colored Pencils: I found some little notebooks at the dollar store and a couple packs of crayons so the kids could each have their own.  This came in handy especially when one parent had to wait with one child while the other parent went on a ride with the other child.  You could also ask them to draw the things around them or their favorite Disney character.  Some other options would be to play hangman, tic-tac-toe, practice spelling words, writing their name, etc.
    • Glow Sticks: We used these when we were at the parks later at night in the dark.  The kids loved swinging them around and wearing them.
    • Small Books: I found a couple of Disney board books at the dollar store and brought them with me to the park in the evening when we went to watch one of the shows.
    Keeping Kids Busy While Waiting in Line at Disneyland {and other theme parks}

    Keeping Kids Busy While Waiting in Line at Disneyland {and other theme parks}

    I also tried to keep them engaged by playing games, including the ones listed below:

    • I Spy: There is so much to see at Disneyland and other theme parks with all of the colors and characters and carts full of food and toys.  Playing I Spy is a fun way to help kids pay attention to their surroundings and be observant to details.
    • Counting Items: If your child knows how to count, or is learning to count, then having them count any given item you see around you might be a good way to keep them busy.  My daughter loves counting things and it also gives her good practice with her numbers.
    • Play with Other Kids: If there were other kids in line by us (which was most of the time), we’d let our kids play with them in line.  It kept them all busy without us having to do much besides keep an eye on them.  I guarantee other parents will be glad their kids are being entertained too.
    Keeping Kids Busy While Waiting in Line at Disneyland {and other theme parks}

    Lastly, we kept them busy by giving them small snacks or pieces of candy.  When we’d park our stroller, we just grabbed a couple bags of snacks to keep handy while waiting in line (since they would inevitably get hungry the moment we were away from the bulk of our snacks).  We also had a bag of individually wrapped Lifesavers Mints that they liked to suck on and would curb their hunger a little bit if we didn’t have access to more snacks.

    I hope some of these ideas are helpful to you and your family on your next trip to a theme park!

    What are some ways you keep your toddlers busy while standing in line?  Please share!

    5 Quick Tips for Visiting Disney California Adventure

    5 Tips for Visiting Disney California Adventure

    My family and I recently got back from our first family vacation to Disneyland and California Adventure.  We had two day park hopper tickets so we jumped around a little bit between parks.  This worked well for my family because it allowed the kids to experience both parks.  I also found that most rides at California Adventure had shorter lines and rides that allowed more riders so even if the line was a little long, it moved fairly quickly.  We didn’t spend as much time at California Adventure as we did at Disneyland, but there were a few tips I wanted to pass along for first timers.

    5 Tips for Visiting Disney California Adventure

    World of Color Fast Passes
    You may have heard about the World of Color performance at California Adventure.  It is full of lights, color, fun special effects and is perfect for all ages.  When my friends heard I was going to Disneyland and California Adventure, they all told me to go to the World of Color because it was just that good.  They also told me to be sure and get a fast pass first thing in the morning because they go, well, fast.  I did as they said and picked up our family’s fast passes first thing on our first day to the parks.  The passes assign you a viewing location and a time to return–up to an hour before the show starts.  We had gone over to California Adventure around 6:30pm after leaving Disneyland since the park closed early for a special event.  I wasn’t too worried about finding a spot since we had our fast pass and we ended up going into the viewing area a little before 8pm and found a decent spot on the right side.  Basically the way they have the fast passes set up is that if you have one, you are assigned a viewing location and are able to get closer to the performance.  If you don’t have one, you have to find somewhere else to view the show that isn’t as good.

    *Note: The World of Color fast passes do not count against your other park fast passes.  The fast pass distribution for World of Color is next to the Grizzly Peak fast pass machines.

    **For more information on how fast passes work, visit DLR Prep School’s post here.

    5 Tips for Visiting Disney California Adventure

    Radiator Springs Fast Passes
    Another attraction you want to get a fast pass for is Radiator Springs in Cars Land.  We got ours right after getting the World of Color fast passes (around 9am).  When we left the park around 12:30p, the fast passes were gone for the day and if you wanted to ride the ride, you’d have to wait an hour or more.  I was definitely glad we got fast passes!

    *Note: The fast pass distribution for Radiator Springs is not next to the ride like many of the other fast pass machines throughout the park.  It is next to the “It’s Tough to be a Bug” ride in Bug’s Land.

    **Be sure to check where the fast pass distribution is for any given ride before going there, otherwise you could miss out.  The information is in the park pamphlet, which you can pick up at the entrance to the park or at other information booths throughout the park.

    Anna and Elsa’s Royal Welcome Fast Passes
    Yet another attraction you will want to get fast passes for is to meet Anna and Elsa.  This is the only way you can meet them.  They are not at Disneyland–only California Adventure and only with a fast pass.  They are located in Hollywood Land in the Disney Animation building.  The fast pass distribution machines are just outside the entrance and to the left (if you’re facing the entrance).  We had a 30 minute window in which to show up and once we did, we only had to wait 10 minutes.  That was shorter than our wait for any of the princesses in Disneyland!

    *Note: This fast pass does not count against your other fast passes within the park.  You can hold fast passes for other attractions at the same time.

    5 Tips for Visiting Disney California Adventure

    Rider Swap
    Disneyland has this great process in place for families who have some children who are big enough to ride a ride and others who are not.  We fell into this category.  My daughter is currently 42″ tall which is tall enough for most of the rides.  My son is only 33″ tall.  We wanted to go on a couple of rides he wasn’t tall enough to go on–Soarin’ Over California and Radiator Springs.  Obviously, either my husband or I was going to have to stay with our son while the other one rode with our daughter.

    How to Use a Rider Swap: Let the cast member at the entrance to the line know that you’d like to do a “rider swap”.  They will give you a card on a lanyard that you will need to give to the person going on the ride.  They will then give the card to the cast member at the entrance to the ride itself in exchange for a little card.  Essentially, this card acts as a fast pass that allows the other person who was not able to go on the ride to get in without having to wait in the regular line.  In addition, they can take up to three people with them.  For example, if you have two children who are tall enough for the ride and one that is not, and those children go on the ride the first time around, they can go again when you redeem your rider swap card.  It’s almost like a super fast pass because it gets more people in to go on the same ride with only one pass.

    *Note: While you do have to use the rider swap pass on the same day, you can use it at any time during the day.  You don’t have to go right after the other adult gets back with the kids.  You can go hours later, as long as it’s on the same day.  Pretty awesome, right?  (They also have rider swap at Disneyland.)

    5 Tips for Visiting Disney California Adventure

    Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta–Best Bang for Your Buck
    Let’s face it: food at Disneyland and California Adventure (or any theme park for that matter) is expensive.  While you might choose to bring your own snacks in, snacks only go so far to curb your appetite.  If you are looking for good food and the best bang for your buck, go to Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta on Paradise Pier.  They offer a large plate of pasta for $10!  My husband and I each got a plate and shared it with our kids, who got their fill and we ate the rest.  We ordered the Spaghetti and Meatballs and the Chicken Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto.  Sooo good!  (And while you’re there, fill up your water bottles with ice water for free!)  The pizza isn’t as good of a deal at $7-$8 for one slice, but it is fresh and it’s a decent sized piece.

    What are your favorite tips to share with people visiting California Adventure?  I’d love to hear them!

    Disney Countdown Chain

    Disney Countdown Chain--a simple and cute way to countdown to your Disney vacation.  (Free print files included!)

    Last October, we took our first family vacation to Disneyland!  It was so much fun and the kids loved it.  I hadn’t been to Disneyland in about 15 years so I was excited to go too!

    Since this was a somewhat last minute trip, I didn’t have as much time to build my kids (mostly my daughter) up to it as much as I would have liked.  Like most kids her age–she was 3 at the time–she doesn’t fully understand the passage of time.  To help her with this (and to save my sanity!), I made a simple Disney countdown chain.  We’ve used countdown chains before to help her learn how time passes (see this post here), so I knew that making one again would be a successful way to count down to our trip.

    Here is what you’ll need:

    • red, yellow, white and black paper (I used cardstock, but you could use lighter weight paper.)
    • scissors or paper trimmer
    • stapler
    • double-sided tape or scrapbook adhesive squares
    • printer or Silhouette machine
    • Disney stickers, die cuts, etc (optional)

    To begin with, decide how large you want the top of your countdown to be.  Mine is about 8.5″x8.5″.  If you’re using a Silhouette machine, open up your Silhouette Design Studio and create the shape you want.  I just used a scalloped border I had in my library and then created a circle inside of it.  For the text, I used a font called “Waltograph” which you can get for free here.  I kept it simple with “Countdown to Disney”, but you could put whatever you like.

    *If you do not have a Silhouette machine, just open up your document program, choose a shape (optional) and type the text in.  Then print it out and cut out the shape.

    Disney Countdown Chain--a simple and cute way to countdown to your Disney vacation.  (Free print files included!)

    Then I pulled out my cardstock.  I decided to stick with classic Disney/Mickey Mouse colors of red, yellow, white and black.  (You could easily make a Minnie Mouse countdown by using pink, purple, white and black and attaching bows to the mouse chains.)  I let my machine do the cutting and writing for me, but decided to color the words in to make them stand out better.  (If you wanted to add Disney stickers or die-cuts to this part, you definitely could.)

    Disney Countdown Chain--a simple and cute way to countdown to your Disney vacation.  (Free print files included!)

    For the chain, simply cut strips of paper out in each of the four colors.  The number of strips you’ll need will be determined by how long your family’s countdown is.  I only needed three strips of each color for a total of 12 strips.  Each of my strips is 2″x10″.

    The only difference will be when you cut out the black strips.  If you want to have the “ears”, you will need to do one of two things:

    1. If you’re using a Silhouette: Grab the Silhouette file here, then save and open it in your Silhouette Studio.  You can then resize anything you need to before sending it to be cut.
    2. If you are cutting by hand: 
      1. Option 1: Grab the PDF file here, then save and open it.  You could put the paper into your printer (once it’s cut down to size) and then cut out the pieces using scissors or a paper trimmer. 
      2. Option 2: You could print out the document, cut the shape out and trace it onto your paper and cut out the strips using scissors or a paper trimmer.

    *I also have the Silhouette file here and the PDF file here for the strips, “buttons” and bows (if you do a Minnie theme) if you don’t want to cut or trim those by hand.

    Once you’ve got everything cut out, lay your strips out in this order: yellow, red, black, white.  If you look at mine, you can see that once it’s all put together, the order is important because it kind of looks like Mickey Mouse (yellow: shoes, red: pants, black: head, white: spacer).  Fun, right?

    Disney Countdown Chain--a simple and cute way to countdown to your Disney vacation.  (Free print files included!)

    When you are putting the chain together, overlap the strips by at least 1/2″ so that you can staple them together easily.  For the black strips, be careful that you face the “ears” all the same direction.  After the chain is completed, gently fold the “ears” forward.  Place the “button” pieces (2 each) on the red chain.  Staple the top-most chain to the bottom of your big countdown shape and hang it on the wall!

    Disney Countdown Chain--a simple and cute way to countdown to your Disney vacation.  (Free print files included!)

    Disney Countdown Chain--a simple and cute way to countdown to your Disney vacation.  (Free print files included!)

    Disney Countdown Chain--a simple and cute way to countdown to your Disney vacation.  (Free print files included!)

    This is a super simple project to make, but the finished product is absolutely darling!  I almost didn’t want to rip any of the chains off because it looked so cute hanging there on my wall.

    Disney Countdown Chain--a simple and cute way to countdown to your Disney vacation.  (Free print files included!)

    What does your family do to countdown to Disney or other family vacations?