3 Ways To Raise Happy Kids

Sometimes I wish my kids came with a manual on how to raise them!  But thankfully these tried and true principles for ways to raise a happy kid are there as a guideline.

Before starting college, I had some ideas about what I’d like to study, but it wasn’t until a couple years in that I found what I wanted to commit to: marriage and family studies.  I knew that what I was learning could be applied to both my current and my future relationships, especially my future family.  Growing up, I would say that I was generally a happy kid.  I got along with my parents, I had good friends, did well in school, was involved in extracurricular activities and active in church.  But if you had asked me then how I became that way–happy–I don’t know that I would have been able to nail it down.  However, through my coursework, and now through practical application (aka parenting), I’ve seen three ways parents can raise happy kids: building connections, setting limits and encouraging independence.

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!

So often, I hear parents joke around that they wish their kids came with a manual.  I’ve even said the same thing myself, especially when going through a challenging period of time.  And while each child is different, I know that a combination of connecting, limits and autonomy will help my kids develop into happy, healthy kids.

Sometimes I wish my kids came with a manual on how to raise them!  But thankfully these tried and true principles for ways to raise a happy kid are there as a guideline.

Building Connections
Shortly after becoming pregnant with each of my kids, I felt a connection to them.  My husband on the other hand, didn’t feel connected to them until they were born.  But regardless of when you first feel connected to your kids, it’s important to recognize that each child has an innate need to feel connected, which causes them to feel loved.  For example, my daughter has never been much of a snuggler.  Even now, she’ll sit next to me or my husband when we are watching a show or reading a book, but she’s never wanted to really connect that way for longer than a few minutes.  But, one on one time and words of encouragement and affirmation go a long way for her.  She literally lights up. 

Sometimes I wish my kids came with a manual on how to raise them!  But thankfully these tried and true principles for ways to raise a happy kid are there as a guideline.

On the other hand, my son is a big cuddle bug.  He was more that way even as a baby and now loves to snuggle and hug and sit on our laps.  Additionally, if you can get him talking or telling a story, he loves to feel listened to.  When each child feels connected in the way that means the most to them, they feel loved.  If you’re not sure how your child feels love, I highly recommend the book The Five Love Languages for Children by Gary Chapman.

Sometimes I wish my kids came with a manual on how to raise them!  But thankfully these tried and true principles for ways to raise a happy kid are there as a guideline.

Setting Limits
A strong parent-child connection is important because it builds the foundation for lovingly correcting our kids (aka discipline).  When we set limits, or rules, for our children we are teaching them self-control and establishing socially acceptable behavior.  Right now, my daughter is struggling to remember that her first instinct when things don’t go her way should not be to hit.  We are working with her to help her understand that there are other ways she can express her frustration, but that being physical is not acceptable.  We are teaching her that she needs to think before she acts and to think about how others will feel if she hits them (the golden rule).  As parents, it’s our role to be an example, follow through and maintain a strong connection with each of our kids.  They will (hopefully) recognize that the rules are there because we love them and want them to be happy.

Sometimes I wish my kids came with a manual on how to raise them!  But thankfully these tried and true principles for ways to raise a happy kid are there as a guideline.

Encouraging Independence
Kids seem to have a built-in program for using some variation of the phrase “I want to do it by myself!”.  As they grow and learn more about their abilities, they want to test the limits we’ve put in place.  While this can be extremely frustrating as a parent, it’s helpful to recognize that their desire for autonomy (independence) is actually very useful as it will prepare them for future real-world responsibilities, as well as teaching about choice and accountability.  Obviously, we have to allow some degree of independence otherwise our children wouldn’t learn how to do anything for themselves.  My kids are still fairly young, but I try my best to allow them the ability to choose wherever possible and within reason.  For example, I will tell them what the weather will be like for the day and then allow them to choose their clothes.  I ask them what kind of fruit or vegetable they’d like with their lunch (giving them options).  Doing this helps my kids feel like I trust them to make their own decisions and gives them confidence in themselves.  In addition, I have to make sure that when there is an unwanted consequence to a choice they made, that they take responsibility for it and learn from it.

Sometimes I wish my kids came with a manual on how to raise them!  But thankfully these tried and true principles for ways to raise a happy kid are there as a guideline.

Parenting is hard work.  I was just telling my husband the other night, “It’s so hard to feel like I always have to be on top of everything all the time!  There is so much to remember and so many things I need to teach them and it can be so exhausting.”  But the moments of joy–when your child puts into practice a concept you’ve been working on or they do they right thing even when they think no one is watching or they start on their chores without being asked or a hug for no reason–really do make this whole parenting thing so rewarding. 

Sometimes I wish my kids came with a manual on how to raise them!  But thankfully these tried and true principles for ways to raise a happy kid are there as a guideline.

As anyone who has been around kids can tell you, every kid comes with their own unique personality.  I love finding fun shirts for my kids to wear and graphic tees are some of their favorites.  When I saw these shirts from Cents of Style, I knew I had to grab a couple of them.  For my daughter, I chose the “Boys are EW”, although the “I believe in Pink” would have been perfect for her too.  My son is one of those funny, sweet, charming little boys and I got him a “Word to your Mother” shirt.  (I’m sure my husband will teach him all the words to Vanilla Ice’s song one day.)  My kids love their new shirts and I’m sure they’ll be wearing them for the rest of the summer.

Sometimes I wish my kids came with a manual on how to raise them!  But thankfully these tried and true principles for ways to raise a happy kid are there as a guideline.

Do your kids love wearing graphic tees?  If so, this weekend is the perfect time to snag some for Cents of Style’s Fashion Friday deal.  All their kids graphic tees are 50% off their lowest marked price, with clearance styles starting at less than $5!  Sizes range from 6 months all the way up to Youth XL (14/16) so there is something fun for all ages.  So go to Cents of Style, check out their kids shirts and then use the code KIDSTORY at checkout to take advantage of this deal, plus you’ll get free shipping!  This deal runs from 6/16-6/18

Have you seen these principles help you raise happy kids?

Hiking In Pioneer Park In St. George, UT

Pioneer Park in St. George, UT is the perfect family friendly hiking spot for all ages.

Last summer, my family and I did a big family vacation with my husband’s parents and all his siblings and their kids to St. George, Utah.  With kids ranging in age from 17 to 2, finding an activity that everyone would enjoy was a bit of a challenge, but ultimately we decided on hiking.  St. George and the surrounding area is famous for its beautiful and unique red rock formations.  I’ve visited St. George more times than I can count, but hadn’t spent much time hiking the trails found all around the city.  However, we did find an awesome little place called Pioneer Park.  We had so much fun that we visited two days in a row and it was a real hit with everyone in the family.

Pioneer Park is located next to the Red Hills Desert Garden (also a great place for kids to get out and stretch their legs).  There are a bunch of smaller trails you can take and most are easy enough for smaller children to navigate by themselves or with some help.  (Mine were 2 and 4 at the time of our visit.)  The park isn’t too far off the freeway so its easy access makes it a great place to visit whether you are going to St. George to vacation or simply passing through and need to let the kids run around outside and get their wiggles out.

Pioneer Park in St. George, UT is the perfect family friendly hiking spot for all ages.

The portion of the park that we explored most with our kids is also referred to as a “mini narrows”, or small slot canyon, similar to those found in areas of Southern Utah.  A slot canyon is basically a crack in the canyon wall that is extremely narrow.  The entrance to this slot canyon in Pioneer Park is located near a parking lot and looks like a wide canyon with tall, sloping walls on either side.  There are nooks and crannies for the kids to climb into and take pictures.  If you walk farther in, you’ll be able to climb up some rocks to the beginning of the most narrow part of the hike. 

Pioneer Park in St. George, UT is the perfect family friendly hiking spot for all ages.

Pioneer Park in St. George, UT is the perfect family friendly hiking spot for all ages.

We had to help our kids as we climbed up this portion of the trail because they weren’t tall enough.  Either my husband or I went up first and then the other helped one kid up and then the other joined us.  I wouldn’t say it was dangerous, but red rock can be slippery so be sure to wear proper shoes (aka tennis shoes or hiking shoes).

Pioneer Park in St. George, UT is the perfect family friendly hiking spot for all ages.

Depending on your size, this may be as far as you go.  Some parts of the slot canyon are only 6 inches wide, so if you are claustrophobic, this probably isn’t for you either.  My daughter and I were able to make it through all the way to the top.  Once you make it to the top, you can climb back down on either side of the canyon to the base.  We hiked down both ways and found that the left trail took a bit longer, but was easier to hike for everyone, while the right trail was steeper and required a little more climbing and may not be suitable for younger kids.

Pioneer Park in St. George, UT is the perfect family friendly hiking spot for all ages.

All in all, I highly recommend Pioneer Park for people of all ages!  There is actually more to explore in the park than the “mini narrows”, such as some old buildings and other trails, but our kids had so much fun here that we didn’t venture around much.  I really like that this park is near the Red Hills Desert Garden because they have drinking fountains and nice, clean bathrooms to use.

Pioneer Park in St. George, UT is the perfect family friendly hiking spot for all ages.

And if hiking with your kids seems a little intimidating, or you’re just not sure where to start, you can check out this post I shared about 7 tips for hiking with kids!  (Plus, check out the giveaway from Nuby on this post running from today (6/8) to next Wednesday (6/15) at 11:59pm.)

Hiking with kids doesn't have to be a hard thing if you follow these 7 simple tips!

Where are your favorite places to hike with your family?

May In Numbers

May in Numbers | A fun monthly review using only numbers!

Whoosh!  Did you hear that?  It was the sound of May rushing past! *wink*  But seriously, I feel like I just wrote last months summary.  A lot of fun things happened in May, but most of them happened in single digits.

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!

1 – Dance recital.  We celebrated the end of my daughter’s second year of dance with her studio’s spring recital.  She performed in two dances: jazz (Dynamite – Kid Bop version) and ballet (See the Light from Rapunzel).  I am absolutely amazed at the growth she’s experienced this year and her teacher said that she can move up a level to be with the bigger girls next year!  I was also able to pick up her dance pictures I posted about last month and they turned out absolutely darling!  Although I’m dying a little at how much she’s grown and changed in a year.

May in Numbers | A fun monthly review using only numbers!

May in Numbers | A fun monthly review using only numbers!

4 – Books read.  Last month I shared my summer 2017 reading list and one of the books I wanted to read is called Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier.  It’s the first of a trilogy and I picked the first and second one up at the library.  My neighbor casually mentioned that she had the third book and that I was welcome to borrow it because she knew how quickly the series moves.  Let’s just say I texted her the next day and told her I was going to need that third book, haha.  So I finished the trilogy in about a week.  Just prior to picking up this series, I read the assigned reading for my neighborhood book club called The Knight of Redmond by Jennifer K. Clark.  I’ll be picking up more books from the library soon!

9 – Years since we got married (aka Our 9 Year Anniversary).  My husband and I had so much fun for our anniversary this year.  We didn’t do anything really big because we are hoping to go somewhere really cool for our 10 year anniversary next year.  My mom came out and watched our kids for us.  First, we went to dinner at P.F. Chang’s and ordered their lettuce wraps to share, then the crispy honey shrimp and Mongolian beef.  Afterwards, we went to a little place called Provo Beach Resort.  It’s one of those places that has a bunch of activities all in the same place.  We got a pass and did the obstacle course, bowling (my husband won both games), mini croquet and some arcade games.  Our favorite arcade game was a Pac Man air hockey where it would drop about 20 pucks onto the table at the same time and you had to try and block them and make points (I won!).

May in Numbers | A fun monthly review using only numbers!

May in Numbers | A fun monthly review using only numbers!

1 – Amazing Mother’s Day.  While I’ve enjoyed all of the Mother’s Days I’ve celebrated being a mother myself, this year was probably my favorite.  My husband got up with the kids so I could sleep in as long as I wanted.  Then he made breakfast for all of us.  Afterwards, the kids gave me the cards they’d made and my present: a new DSLR camera!  I’d had my old one for about four years, but it didn’t quite have all the capabilities I wanted so my husband had been on the lookout for a new one at a great price and he found one!  I was really surprised and so happy.  (Be on the lookout for some videos!)  After church, we had family over for a big dinner.  It was a wonderful day.

May in Numbers | A fun monthly review using only numbers!

168 – Amount spent on new tires.  Seriously, who likes buying new tires?  They are so dang expensive!  But I had to buy them in order to get our car registered so it was a necessary purchase.

11 – Types of plants growing in my garden.  We decided to upgrade our garden boxes this year from the two smaller beds to one big U-shaped raised bed.  My husband did a great job building it and I’m so glad we did it.  Our garden seems to be growing the best it has since we started it four years ago.  We planted peas, pole beans, tomatoes (two types), carrots, radishes, raspberries, strawberries, green onions, pumpkin, rosemary and cilantro.

May in Numbers | A fun monthly review using only numbers!

2 – Blogger events attended.  When I started blogging back in October 2015, I honestly never expected to find so many new friends.  Some I’ve met in person, others through email or social media.  It’s kind of like having a pen pal who you feel like you know because you’ve interacted with them so much, but sometimes you never meet them.  Well, I am lucky enough to live in an area where there are quite a number of bloggers so blogger events come up pretty regularly.  The first one I went to was a blogger conference the second week of the month.  The second one was just last week where we got to visit a newly opened events area at a unique little place called Gardner Village.  I rode up with Julia from The Quiet Grove and found out she knows my sister in law!  Honestly, meeting other bloggers has become one of my favorite parts of blogging.

May in Numbers | A fun monthly review using only numbers!

1 – Preschool graduation.  My daughter completed her second year of preschool last week and she starts kindergarten this fall!  I am kind of in denial about it.  But I know she will love it.  She is a very sweet and social girl who makes friends with everyone, but also loves learning.

May in Numbers | A fun monthly review using only numbers!

May in Numbers | A fun monthly review using only numbers!

40 – Pounds of chicken ordered.  Yes, you read that right.  I ordered 40lbs of chicken and it’s set to be picked up in a couple of weeks.  We have a deep freezer so we have the space for it, but holy moly!  I’m pretty sure we’ll be set with chicken for the next few months.  I ordered it through a company called Zaycon Fresh and they are a meat co-op.  I’ll be sharing a post about them later this month but if you’re interested in checking them out before then, you can use my link here.

5 – (more) Pairs of underwear destroyed.  We are still dealing with potty training issues over here.  Please send prayers.  And chocolate.

2 – Items crossed off our summer bucket list.  The kids and I made a summer bucket list a couple of weeks ago and I put it all on a big poster board that is now hanging in our front room/kitchen area.  We were able to cross off a hike to Battle Creek Falls on Memorial Day.  Afterwards, we made a visit to a local pet store called The Puppy Barn where they sell just puppies.  You can go in there and hold them and play with them and it is my favorite way to get my puppy fix since I don’t see us getting a dog any time soon.

My kids love this fun summer bucket list!  Just some stickers, scrap paper and a marker are all you need!

You can check out my other month in numbers posts below:

February Month In Numbers
March Month In Number: Orlando Edition 
April Month In Numbers

Also, I’m linking up with Deena from Shoes to Shiraz who hosts the month in numbers link party.  You can go see who else is linking up and see what their May in numbers looks like.

My kids are just getting over a cold, but I’m looking forward to a fun June coming up!

7 Tips for Hiking with Kids

Hiking with kids doesn't have to be a hard thing if you follow these 7 simple tips!

This last week we went hiking as part of our Memorial Day activities.  We live close to the mountains and there are a lot of canyons and hiking trails to choose from, so we are always finding fun new places to explore.  My kids especially love hiking and it is one of mine and my husband’s favorite activities as well so we do a lot of it.  With this being the case, I’ve learned a few tips along the way that have helped make hiking a more enjoyable experience for everyone.

This post is sponsored by Nuby.  All opinions are 100% my own.  This post contains affiliate links which means if you click on one and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.  Thank you for your support!

It’s Not A Race
As we were walking along the trail with our kids this last week, they inevitably got side-tracked by different things: climbing on rocks, a flower, a stick.  My initial reaction was along the lines of: “C’mon, let’s go!” but then I realized that the point of the hike wasn’t about making it to our destination as much as it was about spending time together doing something we enjoy.  So if you go into your hike expecting that it will take longer, you can cut down on frustration at the so-called interruptions that are going to happen.

Hiking with kids doesn't have to be a hard thing if you follow these 7 simple tips!

Bring Backpacks
This one has been a lifesaver for us when we go hiking.  I bought each of my kids a small backpack that we pack whenever we go on a hike.  Included in their packs is water and a couple of snacks to eat along the way.  They love having their own backpacks and I think it also helps them feel big and gives them a little bit more autonomy.  Even if your child says they will just carry their water or snacks in their hands or pockets, have them bring the pack because almost without fail they will want you to carry it for them or it will be put down and forgotten.  Here are a few good backpack options I found: HERE, HERE and HERE.

Hiking with kids doesn't have to be a hard thing if you follow these 7 simple tips!

Create Teaching Moments
At one point in our hike, we stopped for a little snack break and the thought occurred to me to talk to my kids about littering.  I asked my daughter what we should do if we are out somewhere and there isn’t a garbage can for us to put the wrappers or plastic bottles in.  She replied that we should put it back in our backpacks and then throw it away later.  Then we talked about why that was important (keep trails clean, showing respect, etc).  It was a really simple lesson and one of those things that makes a bigger impact when we are actually out in nature rather than trying to explain it at some other time.  A few other teaching moments you could incorporate into your hike could be talking about plants and animals in the area, how rivers/streams are made, bring a nature journal and collecting leaves/flowers.

Hiking with kids doesn't have to be a hard thing if you follow these 7 simple tips!

Research the Hike
Anytime we go on a hike, I make sure to find some basic information about it: Does it have bathrooms at the trailhead or along the way?  How long is the hike?  Difficulty level?  Directions or landmarks for finding the trail?  Best time of year for hiking?  Stroller or wagon friendly?  The list goes on and what you want to know will obviously depend on your own family.  I recently found a really helpful website called AllTrails.com, where you can search by state and it will come up with a list of hikes and a helpful description of what you’ll find.

Hiking with kids doesn't have to be a hard thing if you follow these 7 simple tips!

Sunscreen, Wipes, Hand Sanitizer
Even if you put sunscreen on before you start the hike, odds are that you’ll need it again at some point before you get back to your car.  There are plenty of travel size containers of sunscreen that there really isn’t an excuse not to bring some.  Also, nature is dirty and kids seem to gravitate towards dirt so having something to wipe their hands off with is a good idea.  Just grab a travel size package of baby wipes and throw them in your bag.  And lastly, grab a small bottle of hand sanitizer to disinfect everyone’s hands with before eating or after playing in the water (if your hiking to a waterfall or by a stream).

Hiking with kids doesn't have to be a hard thing if you follow these 7 simple tips!

Flip-Flops/Water Shoes/Extra Socks
I don’t know about you, but after a long hike, all I want to do is take my shoes and socks off and let my feet breathe.  A lot of times, we will go out and get some food or stop by a store after our hike and it’s nice to have the extra pair of shoes to change into.  Depending on the hike, we will bring water shoes so we can wade around in the water and cool off, plus they protect our feet from sharp rocks and give us traction.  Along with this, consider bringing an extra pair of socks.  The shoes I use when we go hiking double as water shoes, but I hate wearing them without socks, so I like to bring an extra pair that I can change into before we start back.  Same goes for your kids.  Throw the flip flops or water shoes or socks into their backpack and let them carry it.

Hiking with kids doesn't have to be a hard thing if you follow these 7 simple tips!

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
And last, but not least, bring lots and lots of WATER.  This is one of those things that you absolutely do not want to skimp on.  Who cares if you have to stop along the trail 10 times so your child can relieve themselves?  It’s much better than the alternative.  Whether you’re hiking when it’s cloudy and cooler or hot and sunny, you need to keep yourself and your family hydrated and cool.  Little kids can overheat pretty easily so stopping and reminding everyone to get a good drink is essential.  Throw some ice cubes into everyone’s bottle or cup or even freeze the whole water bottle for a refreshing and cool drink for your entire (or at least most) of your hike.

Hiking with kids doesn't have to be a hard thing if you follow these 7 simple tips!

Hiking with kids doesn't have to be a hard thing if you follow these 7 simple tips!

We brought our kids’ Nuby Thirsty Kids Reflex water canteens with us on our hike and they were perfect.  The plastic is made of durable tritan from Eastman and the push top could be pushed down and covered by a plastic latch so it stayed clean.  The 12-oz size was perfect for our kids and how much they normally drink.  You can find these cups in store at Target and Babies R’ Us.  (Shop the water canteens online HERE.

(For my local Utah friends, the hike in these pictures is Battle Creek Falls in Pleasant Grove.)

What tips and tricks have you found helpful when you go hiking with your family?

And now, I’ve got a fun giveaway that you can enter to win four (4) of these Nuby Thirsty Kids Reflex water canteens for your kids!  See below to find out how to enter!

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Recognizing Joy in the Small Moments

Would you believe that a journal and a phone app have helped bring so much joy to my life?  It's the small things that make the biggest difference.

My day to day life is pretty ordinary and often consists of fixing food, cleaning up the house, running errands, playing with my kids and other household tasks.  At a glance, it doesn’t feel very glamorous and there are days when I can’t wait for my husband to get home from work so I can turn the kids over to him while I escape to the bathroom by myself or go for a short walk around the block.  A break from everything I have to manage and be responsible for.  Does anyone else hear themselves in my words?

Even though they lack a lot of excitement, most days are good.  The laundry, the dishes, the chauffeuring kids back and forth to school and other activities, homework, chores, fixing meals, buying the second pair of shoes in as many months because kids grow so fast.

But if I stop and take a look at the moments in between, what do I see?  My kids pretending to be a baby animal, laughter at made up knock-knock jokes, my daughter getting me a yogurt out of the fridge for breakfast before getting her own bowl out for cereal, a hug from my son for no reason other than he just wanted to.

I think there is a difference between the real life that is essential to every day living and the real life that is in the small moments in between.  The ones that we just might miss if we’re not looking for them.

I will be the first to admit that I lean more towards being a realist.  But I don’t think being a realist excludes me from being optimistic about what’s around me and seeing the good in people and situations.  Over the last few months, I’ve implemented two small practices into my daily life that help me recognize the small moments: a joy journal and a phone app.

Would you believe that a journal and a phone app have helped bring so much joy to my life?  It's the small things that make the biggest difference.

A little over a month ago, I started a joy journal with the sole purpose being to write down at least three things every day that brought me joy.  It might be something to do with my kids, my husband, something I saw that made me laugh, a personal success and so on.  One of the benefits of this journal in my life is being able to take a step back and see what’s happening in the in between moments of life.  I have started looking for things to write down in my joy journal each night that my kids or husband do or say.  I look for the positive aspect of a negative situation and focus on that.  I work to create joy in my life, my family’s lives and those I associate with, rather than just expecting it to be there.  Overall, I am becoming a happier person.

Would you believe that a journal and a phone app have helped bring so much joy to my life?  It's the small things that make the biggest difference.

In February of this year, I saw a post on a friend’s Facebook where she had compiled a short video of one second clips of each day of her life for the previous month.  Many of them were similar, some were out of the ordinary, but all of them together brought a smile to my face.  Right then, I downloaded the app she used to create her video called 1 Second Everyday. (It’s free!  Download from the Google Play Store or iTunes.)  Since I have my phone with me most of the time, all I have to do is pull it out and take a video.  Then I open the app, select the day and choose which part of the clip I want to represent that day.  And at the end of the month, I had a short video of clips from my family’s lives.  (If you’re interested, you can watch a TED Talk from the creator of this app on why he created it.) 

Having these two things–a joy journal and the 1 Second Everyday app–have become wonderful tools for me because they capture the little moments of joy in every day life and reminds me that my life, ordinary as it may seem, is pretty darn good.

How do you find joy in the small moments of your life?  Do you write them down?  Take a picture or video?  I’d love to hear what benefits you’ve experienced from focusing on joy.

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!

    9 Lessons Learned In 9 Years of Marriage

    9 lessons about love, parenting, marriage and life after 9 years of marriage

    9.5 years ago: It was a Monday morning and I was heading into work at my on campus job when I made a quick detour into the bathroom to put on some mascara.  Another girl from a different department was in there doing the same thing and we chatted briefly before she asked me a question that would literally change my life, “Do you ever go on blind dates?”  I was a little taken aback since we’d only been talking for about two minutes, but answered with a “yes” before she explained that she wanted to set me up with her younger brother.  Three days later he called (after much pestering from his sister) and we set up a date for that weekend.  To make a long story short: our first date was a huge success, we started dating exclusively a week later, got engaged two months later and married four months after that.  Today, we are celebrating our nine year wedding anniversary (yay!) and I wanted to share some of the lessons I’ve learned during our time together.  (Plus you get to see cute pictures of me and my hubby. *wink*)
     
    You and your spouse are going to change  Maybe this should go without saying because it seems obvious, but the truth is, people are going to change over time.  I am not the same person I was on the day I got married and neither is my husband.  We’ve grown as individuals, as parents and as a couple.  If you go into marriage expecting that everything will stay the same, no matter what, I think you will be disappointed.  These changes are natural and to be expected because life happens and life doesn’t stand still. 

    9 lessons about love, parenting, marriage and life after 9 years of marriage

    Sometimes you go to bed angry  A few months back, I shared the worst marriage advice I ever received (and what we do instead).  It was from a well-meaning, older relative who said, “Never go to bed angry.”  I didn’t take her advice.  I’ve found that there are some conversations that happen late at night when neither of us are fully able to discuss things rationally and one or both of us go to bed with the problem unresolved.  My husband and I can both be very passionate about expressing our point of view and sometimes it’s just better to stop talking and go to sleep.

    Seeing your spouse become a parent is beautiful  We tried for a year and a half to get pregnant with our first child and then waited another nine months until she arrived.  I felt like a mother from the moment that I found out I was pregnant, but my husband didn’t feel like a dad until she was born.  Because I had a c-section, he was actually the first one to hold her and he went with the nurses while she was cleaned and weighed.  Seeing the anxious concern on his face during the surgery and then the joy and excitement once she was born was priceless and beautiful.  When we had our second baby, a boy, he was so excited for his little buddy to finally be here.  I loved watching him with our kids moments after they were born and seeing him become a parent each time.

    9 lessons about love, parenting, marriage and life after 9 years of marriage

    9 lessons about love, parenting, marriage and life after 9 years of marriage

    Date nights aren’t just going to happen  When my husband and I were dating, we went out on dates all the time.  Over the years, going on dates has slowly become something that takes a little more effort and planning.  Unless we actually make the time for them, they don’t happen, especially not with two little kids at home.  If I notice that my husband and I seem to be getting on each others nerves or more grumpy, it is usually tied to not getting enough time together away from the kids to connect.  We are still working on going out consistently.

    Working together to solve a problem  The more time you spend with a person, the better you get to know them.  You know how they think and what makes them tick.  You learn how each others strengths and weaknesses compliment the other person.  My husband and I are much more efficient at identifying and solving problems than we were when we first got married.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a parenting problem, family problem, work problem, relationship problem or putting together IKEA furniture. (amiright?)  I’ve learned that my husband is good at looking at a situation from a larger scale and identifying problem areas and coming up with solutions.  I am good at planning things out, keeping us on track and identifying potential issues along the way.

    9 lessons about love, parenting, marriage and life after 9 years of marriage

    You keep learning new things about each other  I remember sitting with my husband one day eating some cookies and he said, “I like these, but oatmeal raisin are my favorite.”  Um, what?  I didn’t actually believe him.  We texted his sister (the same one who set us up) and asked her to tell us what my husband’s favorite cookie way.  Her reply: “Oatmeal raisin.”  How did I not know this?! (Clearly I never made cookies for my husband while we were dating…)  I think sometimes I feel like because my husband and I know each other so well that we forget there are a lot of things we don’t know about each other or have never done together.  Just last summer, we went water skiing for the first time together.  I’m actually a decent water skiier, but he didn’t believe me until I popped out of the water no problem.  Doing new or different things with your spouse, like on date nights, is so important because it gives you the opportunity to know them better and love them all over again.

    Build dreams, make goals, achieve together  One of the best things my husband and I have done for our relationship is to make goals.  It’s given us something to work on together.  We believe that if we are moving forward in the same direction that we’ll have less conflict and more success in life.  Whether it’s reevaluating a budget, planning to go to Italy (one day!) or redoing our yard, we are better together.

    9 lessons about love, parenting, marriage and life after 9 years of marriage

    Don’t stop doing the little things  Along with dating, doing the small things in a marriage really make such a big difference.  Because so much of our day and week is repetitive, it can be easy to fall into a routine with each other.  When my husband and I take time to connect each day, it rejuvenates us and we feel more whole.  When I hear my husband praise me in front of someone, it makes me feel happy and appreciated.  When I sincerely thank him for taking out the garbage so I don’t have to, he feels loved.  I think a big key to this is discovering your spouse’s love language.  It’s those little things that they do in your love language that lift you up.

    Love them more than the day you married  On the day of our wedding, I truly think my husband and I felt like we couldn’t love each other more than we did that day.  But we were wrong.  Our love grew as we put each other through school, struggled to make ends meet, got new jobs, built a house, had kids and so many other moments.  Each year on our anniversary, we look at each other and know we are still in love and that love is deeper than we could have imagined on that sunny spring day in May nine years ago.  It seems impossible and yet, here we are.

    9 lessons about love, parenting, marriage and life after 9 years of marriage

    How long have you been married?  What lessons have you learned?

    April In Numbers

    April in Review (by the numbers)

    Happy May!  May has always been one of my favorite months because the weather finally (hopefully) starts becoming a little more consistent and a little warmer, which makes me a much happier person.  It’s also the month my husband and I got married, so I’m a little biased. *wink*  But before we can get into May, I want to share my April month in numbers with you.

    If you read my March in numbers post last month, I did a special Orlando Edition talking about all the things that happened on our trip to Orlando and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  It’s a pretty fun post, so go check it out if you want a quick recap of my trip using only numbers.  That being said, April was not nearly as much fun.  Why?  Two words: potty training.  But rest assured, not all my numbers have to do with the potty. *wink*

    3 – Packs of underwear bought.  A couple of weeks before we left for Orlando, my son started showing signs of being ready to be potty trained.  We’d gone through this already with my daughter a couple of years ago and I was both terrified and ready to begin the process.  I took him to the store and let him pick out a couple of packs of underwear (Paw Patrol and Disney Pixar).  We ended up buying him another pair about three weeks later due to accidents.

    April in Review (by the numbers)

    6 – Underwear not salvageable.  I’m not going to go into this one in too much detail.  If you’ve potty trained your kids, you know it’s a messy job and you’re going to end up throwing away some of the underwear because it’s just not worth it.

    8 – Loads of just underwear washed.  No, I didn’t actually count the number of underwear only loads, but there were enough that it’s worth mentioning.  Or maybe not.  But I am anyway.  The first few days, we went through the entire two packs of underwear, which I expected, and the number of loads slowly dwindled from there.  We’ve had more and more days with no accidents and I am singing Hallelujah!

    April in Review (by the numbers)

    63 – Bribes made.  Okay, I didn’t really count this one either.  And if I think long enough about it, there were probably more bribes made than I’m counting.  We started out with a sticker chart and some prizes he could earn along the way, but he quickly filled out the first chart and so I made another one.  After so many stickers, he wasn’t as excited about them so we moved on to candy bribes: “If you go pee, you get one M&M.  If you go poop, you get two.”  We did run into an issue where he was having more accidents that successes so the bribe changed to screen time on Daddy’s phone playing one of the games he has on there.  That one worked pretty well and he still brings it up if he happens to have an accident: “I had an accident, so no playing on Daddy’s phone.”  Haha.

    2 – Picnics in the backyard.  The weather has been all over the place lately.  Just last week, we had SNOW.  Mother Nature needs to get herself together!  But before the weather went all crazy, the kids and I were able to have a couple of backyard picnics.  They love eating their meals outside, even if they don’t stay seated to eat their food most of the time and more ends up on the grass than  in their mouth. *wink*

    April in Review (by the numbers)

    April in Review (by the numbers)

    12 – Rainy days.  Like I mentioned above, we had snow last week, plus it rained and was windy almost every other day.  My kids and I were getting used to spending the late morning and afternoon outside so the bad weather put a damper on all of our spirits.  One good thing about the rain though (besides helping with the drought) is that our grass is a beautiful emerald green color and my garden is growing like crazy!

    2 – Books read.  Earlier this month, I shared 3 books I read in 3 weeks, but all of those were actually in March.  I was only able to make it through two books in April: Talking As Fast As I Can by Lauren Graham and Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas.  (Watch for the review of Throne of Glass next week.)  They are both totally different books but I really enjoyed each of them.  I’ve decided that Lauren Graham would be a pretty cool person to meet.  She seems so down to earth and likeable.

    845 – Easter eggs stuffed.  Okay, this isn’t a real number either, but when you are stuffing Easter eggs, it sure seems like a lot more than it is!  When I was pulling out my Easter decor, the kids noticed the plastic eggs.  They took them and started doing their own Easter egg hunts and hiding them around the house for each other to find multiple times a week leading up to Easter and even for a while afterwards.  They were still just as excited to do the real thing when Easter came though and it was so funny watching them.

    April in Review (by the numbers)

    1- Girls Night Out.  The parents of a girl in my neighborhood live in a beautiful house up the canyon about 30 minutes from where I live.  They were out of town for the weekend, so she asked them if a group of us could come up and have a girls night.  There were about 30 of us girls up there, eating soup, salad and rolls, stuffing our faces with popcorn, candy and brownies and laughing hysterically during the games.  About ten of us spent the night and let me tell you, it was amazing to get a full night’s rest, knowing nothing was around to wake me up.  (Except maybe the giggling girls in the room next to mine.)  Another perk: no cell phone reception!  There was absolutely nothing that was going to interrupt us and it was so great to take time away and visit with friends and recharge.

    2 – New recipes tried.  Last month, I pulled out all of the cookbooks I’ve received over the years and sorted through them.  Most of them were neighborhood cookbooks given as gifts.  I’d tried to go through them all and mark recipes I was interested in, but there were so many cookbooks and recipes to choose from that I never even opened them up.  So I decided to spend part of an afternoon looking through each one, marking ones that looked good, taking pictures of them on my phone and then throwing the cookbooks away.  It was so liberating, haha!  I found a chicken and mushroom quiche that was amazing and some brown sugar muffins that were yummy as well!  My family gobbled both of them up so you better believe I’ll be sharing them on the blog.

    1 – Dance pictures taken.  My daughter is in her second year of dance (she takes jazz/ballet).  She loves dancing and getting up on stage so it’s perfect for her.  One of my favorite things about little girls and dance is seeing them all dressed up in their costumes.  Too cute!  We’ll be getting the pictures back at her recital later this month, but I manged to snap a few behind the photographer and I can’t wait to get the professional ones.

    April in Review (by the numbers)

    4 – Happy mail received.  I’ve been participating in the Momma Love Fellowship hosted by Little Dove.  My partner is Patricia from Life of a Minister Mom.  She and I have been sending snail mail aka happy mail to each other for a couple of months and getting to know each other better.  It’s been so fun to actually receive something other than bills in the mail!  I’ve also gotten a couple of packages which is always fun. (p.s. Be sure to follow me on Instagram and watch for a post this Wednesday for a giveaway that has to do with the packages I received!)

    You can check out my other month in numbers posts below:

    February Month In Numbers
    March Month In Number: Orlando Edition 

    Also, I’m linking up with Deena from Shoes to Shiraz who hosts the month in numbers link party.  You can go see who else is linking up and see what their April in numbers looks like.

    And that’s a wrap!  I’m looking forward to what May has to offer!

    5 Reasons I Didn’t Say Anything About My Miscarriage

    Why I didn't tell anyone about my miscarriages for so long and how you can help those who have had one feel love and support.

    A few months ago, I wrote about my experience with miscarriage.  It was a hard post to write, as I felt like I was reliving each one of my three miscarriages all over again.  I cried.  I was mad.  I doubted.  I felt hope.  And then, healing begin to happen.  I received text messages, phone calls, messages on Facebook, comments on my post and notes from both friends and people I’ve never actually met in real life.  It was truly amazing how sharing something so personal and vulnerable made me feel so much love.  Since my most recent miscarriage in January of this year, I’ve talked to a lot of women about it.  Some expressed their sympathy but couldn’t relate having never gone through it.  Others opened up to me about their own experience.  We’ve hugged, cried and bonded over our losses.  And almost everyone I talked to about it asked me the same question: Why didn’t you say something?

    Ever since writing that post, this one question has been echoing in my mind.  Knowing there were other women who had experienced the same thing as me, why didn’t I reach out to them?  I was hurting, confused, frustrated and full of pain and sadness, as I’m sure they were.  So why didn’t I say something?

    As I’ve thought about it (and I’ve thought a lot about it) and talked to others about it, I’ve had some insights come to my mind.  I feel fairly safe saying that I think many women who have experienced a miscarriage have felt these feelings and had these thoughts and each one or a combination of them is why they don’t say something: shame, disappointment, rationalization, pressure and confusion.

    Shame
    I can say that I definitely felt shame and embarrassment when I went through my miscarriages.  These are some of the thoughts that went through my mind:

    • I have two healthy kids and had no major problems getting pregnant or during pregnancy, so what in the world was the problem?  
    • A woman’s body is supposed to know how to do this, right?  
    • I don’t want people to think that there is something wrong with me.

    If you’ve had a miscarriage, you know that this thinking is irrational, but in the moment, it is your reality.  You are trying to come up with some reason why things didn’t work out the way you hoped or wanted and as a result, you feel shame.  If you haven’t had a miscarriage, please don’t discount how women could be feeling this way.  We know it doesn’t make sense and we don’t want to feel this way, but we do and all we really need is a hug.

    Disappointment
    In my case, and in so many cases, a baby is what we had been hoping and praying for.  Getting that positive pregnancy test is a moment of wonder and awe and excitement.  When you get that positive test, you start to hope and plan for your unborn child’s future.  You wonder if it’s a boy or a girl and what they’ll look like.  Going to the doctor and not hearing a heartbeat or starting to bleed unexpectedly is one of the absolute worst feelings in the world.  Having those hopes and dreams crushed can cause a disappointment so deep that it’s hard to share with others, even if they know how it feels.  For me, I felt a little like if I could keep it inside and not say anything, that maybe it wouldn’t feel so real and heartbreaking.

    Rationalization
    My husband and I have two beautiful kids.  They bring us happiness and joy and make life worth living.  When I went through each of my miscarriages, I tried to rationalize my feelings by telling myself things like:

    • Well, at least I have two kids.
    • Other people have suffered worse than me.
    • I should be happy that I wasn’t farther along than I was.

    I thought that by trying to convince myself that I shouldn’t be feeling the things I was feeling, that somehow that would make me feel better.  But I have to tell you something: when you are going through a miscarriage, you’re not thinking rationally.  You are trying to think of something, anything, to help you cope.  To try and work through the pain.  You might decide that saying something to someone will cause them to think poorly of you, so it’s better not to say anything at all and just try to work through it yourself.

    Pressure
    Choosing when to start a family or add to it is a hugely personal decision.  But for some reason, many people think it’s a question that is free game.  Parents, grandparents, siblings, extended family, friends, co-workers and random acquaintances think they should be able to ask this question and you shouldn’t feel intruded upon.  As though it’s a question that maybe you’ve never considered before (insert sarcasm here).  For me, I am the oldest child and grandchild.  I was the first to get married, the first to have a baby and the first to get pregnant with our second child.  I knew people were wondering when we were going to be adding to our family.  Even if they weren’t saying something, I knew they were thinking it.  Whether the pressure you feel is real or perceived, it definitely has an effect on if you feel safe saying something to people when you experience a miscarriage.

    Confusion
    I had my first miscarriage in November 2015, another in February 2016 and another in January 2017.  While I don’t claim to have all my feelings sorted out, I do know that it’s taken some time to try and work through everything.  I am someone who likes to have all, or as many of, the answers as possible when explaining or sharing something.  Because I had so much going on inside my mind, I didn’t feel like anything I said to anyone was going to make any sense.  I didn’t know how to process everything because I had no frame of reference.  So I kept it to myself and didn’t say anything.

    What changed my mind?
    Ultimately, I found that sharing my experience was like a breath of fresh air.  Keeping everything inside was hurting me and those around me.  I truly felt like I’d been holding my breath, trying to convince myself that I was fine, all the while I was drowning.  Until I said something to one person.  And then another.  And another.  And then I started typing the words into my computer.  Letting go of everything inside me and sharing the burden with others started the healing process.  Telling people about my miscarriages has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life. One friend said to me, “We are part of a club of women we never wanted to be a part of.”  But thank goodness we can be there for each other.  To hope and pray for each other.  To hold and cry with each other.  To be a source of strength and hope to each other.

    Why I didn't tell anyone about my miscarriages for so long and how you can help those who have had one feel love and support.

    To you who have gone through a miscarriage, I’m so sorry.  I know how it feels.  I am here for you.  The pain will probably never go away completely but the ability to bear it will increase.  You are strong.  You are brave.  And if you don’t feel like there’s anyone you can talk to about it, please contact me, whether we know each other in person or not.  Everyone needs someone to talk to.  Hard things become so much easier to go through when you know there’s someone in your court, cheering you on or holding your hand when things don’t go as planned.

    To you who haven’t experienced this, please know that I’m not bitter or upset at you.  That doesn’t mean it doesn’t still hurt sometimes when I see you with your newborn baby or pregnant belly, or when you unknowingly make a comment about “being lucky”.  All I ask is that when you come across someone who’s had a miscarriage, that you don’t try to brush over it with trite phrases or meaningless words.  We know you’re trying to help, but most often, all we really need is for you to say “This sucks and I’m here for you.”  Often, hearing “I’m sorry” is enough.

    To everyone reading this, I hope–really, really, hope–that we can start today in our efforts to stop the stigma surrounding miscarriage.  I don’t understand why, but it’s become a taboo.  No one should be made to feel ashamed or embarrassed because of a miscarriage.  It’s not an easy or comfortable subject to talk about.  I get it.  But I think recognizing that is a good first step.  Awareness and resources for how to talk about it is the next. 

    I know this was a long post, so thank you for sticking with me to the end.  Obviously, I feel very strongly about this topic and I hope that something I said helped you see things in a different light, no matter which side you find yourself on.  Because as cheesy as it sounds, we’re all in this together.  We women have a voice and we can use it to uplift and strengthen each other throughout all facets of life.

    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?