Universal Studios Tickets Explained

Universal Studios Tickets

Be sure to check out this post containing all the information you’ll need to better understand Universal Studios Tickets and features. From Base tickets to Unlimited Express passes, we’re covering it all!

The Ultimate Guide to Pixar Fest at Disney California Adventure

 

Pixar Fest has officially started at the Disneyland Resort! The theme of this event is “Celebrating Friendship and Beyond!”

Ultimate Guide to Pixar Fest at Disney California Adventure

Both parks each have their own wonderful offerings to keep you entertained all day! This post will specifically talk about all the great things for Pixar Fest at Disney California Adventure. There is A LOT that’s being offered at this great event, so let’s get started!

Pixar Fest Food

No celebration is complete without themed food! There is a ton of food offered throughout the park! Each location that has a specialty item will have a sign and price of what’s specifically sold there!

Whatever you’re craving I guarantee there’s something to satisfy your appetite! Sweet, savory, spicy, salty, sugary, you name it, it’s there! The spicy corn dog and churro I had were among the highlights of the day! If you’re looking for something a bit more substantial, Carthay Circle and Wine Country Trattoria both offer Paint the Night Dining Packages!

Paint the Night Parade

As I just mentioned, both Carthay Circle and Wine Country Trattoria both offer a variety of dining packages. Both packages provide your meal along with a ticket to get you into your reserved seating area.Here’s the breakdown of the packages:

  • Carthay Circle- 4-course meal and one voucher for guaranteed seating in the viewing area next to the restaurant. $99 per adult/$45 per child
  • Wine Country Trattoria- 3-course lunch or dinner meal and one voucher for reserved parade viewing area.
    • Lunch package: $38 per adult/$21 per child
    • Dinner package: $49 per adult/$25 per child

Luckily, you don’t need to do a dining package to see the parade! There’s plenty of seating along the parade route! When Paint the Night first came to the Disneyland Resort it premiered in Disneyland. 

There were some changes made to the parade for it to work in DCA. Unfortunately, the Frozen float, which was my favorite, was removed. There will be a new float featuring The Incredibles which will premiere in June! Overall, the parade is great and is a must-see during Pixar Fest! Check the show guide when you arrive to see what time the parade will begin!

Character Meet & Greets

If you want to meet some of your favorite Pixar characters, make sure you head to Paradise Gardens! Pixar Pals is where you’ll have the chance to meet Mike and Sulley, Dug and Russell, Flik and Atta and more! Head on over to Cars Land as well for some very cute Toy Story themed cars you can take pictures with!

Annual Passholder Corner & Merchandise

Annual Passholders unite! There is a special corner for AP’s on the far side of Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta near the Silly Symphony Swings. The AP corner has an exclusive photo opportunity, two decals so you can keep one and give one to your friend, a charging station for your phone, and more!Additionally, there is merchandise exclusive to AP’s such as a t-shirt, tumbler, and button-up camp shirt. Don’t forget you can also get AP embroidery on your hats! You can find AP merchandise at Kingswell Camera Shop and the newly opened Knick Knacks located across from the Cove Bar! Lastly, Little Green Men refillable souvenir popcorn buckets will be coming at the end of April!

Merchandise

That’s right a NEW shop has opened up on the soon to be Pixar Pier! Knick Knacks is located across from the Cove Bar (soon to be Lamplight Lounge). All your Pixar merchandise needs can be found here! Since it is a new store, be aware that it does get pretty crowded in there!

Other shops and carts throughout the park carry the basic event merchandise such as shirts, ears, mugs, friendship bracelet/charms, etc. There’s also a limited release Pixar Fest pin, so make sure you get yours right away! There’s also plenty of really cute souvenir items such as mugs, sippers, popcorn buckets, and straws! The Sulley popcorn buckets are probably my favorite! It’s fun walking around the parks and seeing people with Sulley hanging around their neck and having a Mike sipper to go along with it!

Pixar Shorts Film Festival

I saved the best for last! Aside from food of course! The Sunset Showcase Theater is showing 3D versions of some of Pixar’s short films! I thought this was such a cool idea and a great place to go when you want to get out of the heat! The Pixar shorts that are showing until May 7 are For the Birds, Lava, and Piper. I speculate they will change them after May 7, but that’s not confirmed. I highly recommend heading over there and checking this experience out!As you can see, there is PLENTY to do during Pixar Fest! Grab a map and a show guide on your way in or download the Disneyland app to schedule your day!Pixar Fest has begun! Both Disneyland and California Adventure have incredible offerings during this special event. From characters to parades to merchandise and more, we've got you covered! Check out our Ultimate Guide to Pixar Fest at Disney California Adventure! #pixarfest #pixar #californiaadventure #disneyland #disneylandpixarfest #disneycaliforniaadventure #disneypixar

If you get the chance to go to Pixar Fest let us know what you think! For an overview of what is being offered at Disneyland for Pixar Fest click here!

Many thanks to Amanda W. for this fun and super informative post! We’d like to invite you to follow along with our contributors, Amanda and Ashlee, in their new blogging venture, The Adventureland Girls! You can also find them on Facebook and Instagram!

Holidays at Disneyland Resort

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas at the Disneyland Resort! If Christmas is your favorite holiday or if you’ve never been to the Disneyland Resort for the holidays, I suggest you make your way to The Merriest Place on Earth!

Holidays at Disneyland

Disneyland, Disney’s California Adventure, Downtown Disney and the hotels are all decked out for the holiday season! There is so much to do and see and eat! You won’t want to miss it!Holidays at Disneyland

Parade and Shows

There are so many great shows in both Disneyland and DCA! Festival of Holidays has all types of festive bands performing at various times throughout the park! Over in the Paradise Gardens make sure to check out Disney ¡Viva Navidad! where the Three Caballeros host a fun street party! Be on the lookout for Mickey and Minnie to make an appearance too! World of Color has also changed for the holidays. World of Color-Season of Light can be seen daily with multiple shows on the weekends! You’ll need to get your show ticket though to ensure you’ll see the show! Make sure to pick up a show guide when you enter the park to know the exact times and locations of everything!

Over in Disneyland, you won’t want to miss the nighttime fireworks show! When the sun goes down Aurora’s castle is beautifully lit! Grab a blanket and a holiday-inspired drink and save your spot for the fireworks! “Believe…in Holiday Magic” starts at 8:45 p.m. Monday-Thursday and Friday-Sunday at 9:30 p.m. weather permitting! Remember this bonus tip from The Mouse and the Monorail: Take pictures WHILE you record a video on your iPhone by using that magic little button on the left-hand side of your iPhone screen! One of my favorite parts of the holiday season is the “A Christmas Fantasy” Parade! This is such a fun and festive parade! This show features Mickey and Friends on various holiday inspired floats. Snowmen, reindeer, princes and princesses, and so much more can also be seen! Keep your eyes peeled and your cameras ready because Santa makes an appearance as well!

Food

Being the foodie that I am I always look forward to themed foods! I’ve only tried a couple items so far, but if you’re a peppermint lover, this is the season for you! For a list of the locations selling holiday goodies  click here! and for a complete list of all the goodies click here!
Also make sure you check out the Festival of Holidays happening in DCA! Grab a Festival Guide and visit each of the marketplace booths! For more information on Festival of Holidays click here!Holidays at Disneyland Treats

Characters, Decorations, and SANTA!

From the moment you arrive at the Disneyland Resort, there are so many beautiful decorations! You won’t want to miss capturing these moments. Whether you go to Disneyland or DCA, you’ll be surrounded by wreaths, Christmas trees, and your favorite characters in their holiday best! If you’re lucky, you’ll catch all the Mickey and Friends gang together and be able to get pictures with them all individually! My friend and I happened to be in the right place at the right time and were able to escort Pluto, our favorite character, to his photo spot! Even more importantly, both parks have the opportunity for you to meet Santa! Again, check the show guide with times and locations to meet your favorite characters and Santa!

Merchandise

‘Tis the season of giving and what better gift to give than holiday Disney merchandise! This year’s holiday merchandise is absolutely spectacular! I spoiled myself this year and both merchandise in both Walt Disney World and Disneyland! Holiday Decor at DLCheck out the Shop Parks app because some WDW merchandise is available to ship! Also, if you’re an AP, you can utilize your discount too! Next time you’re at the parks take a minute to walk through the shops and check out the holiday apparel, snacks, pins, kitchenware and more! Also, check out the Festival of Holidays merchandise booths with specialized merchandise for this event!

Thank you Disneyland contributor,  Amanda,  for all this fantastic holiday information!

Best Tips for Epcot Food and Wine Festival

If you are a Disney fan and a lover of all things FOOD, then the Food and Wine Festival in Epcot is a can’t miss experience. One of my favorite things in Disney World is the World Showcase in Epcot. With the Food and Wine Festival taking place in the World Showcase, I knew it was something that I absolutely couldn’t miss.

Best Tips for Epcot Food and Wine Festival

Traveling and eating are some of my most favorite past times, so being able to “eat my way around the world” in one day filled me with such excitement. I knew that I had two trips to Disney World already planned for this year, so I purchased an Annual Pass. In trying to make the most of my Annual Pass, I planned a quick trip to take my brother for his very first time. I figured that a trip to the Food and Wine Festival would be perfect for his first time in Disney World. Keep reading to for my best tips for Epcot Food and Wine Festival.Epcot's Food & Wine Festival is an incredible experience! It can also be very overwhelming. Follow these best tips to plan your trip and enjoy all the festival has to offer.

Research, Research, Research

There is a plethora of information on the internet about the Food and Wine Festival. From the menus and reviews of the food and beverages, to maps of the kiosk locations around the World Showcase, planning your Food and Wine experience is easy.Best tips for Food and Wine Festival

Make Lists

The menus posted online made making my “must haves” list very easy. Reading the reviews online also helped me remove items from the list that I wanted to try, but that overall had poor reviews. In one instance, I ignored the reviews and ended up disappointed. (Thanks Belgium!) I plan to return in just a few weeks and will not make that mistake again.

Use the Festival Map

If you’ve never been to the World Showcase, it’s a big circle. When you come up to it, you can begin your tour of the world by going left or right. In planning your Food and Wine experience, it will be very helpful to plan your attack in order of the kiosks. This way, you’ll eliminate wasted time skipping around to different kiosks.

Hang on to Your List

If you plan to have a drink or two at the festival, having a detailed list will really come in handy. I speak from experience. If I didn’t have my list of “must haves” with me after having two drinks, I would have become lost in what I wanted to do. This is important in making the most of your festival trip.

Have a Budget

Most food items are between $3.50 – $8.00. It can be upwards of $10.00 for drinks. My brother and I had the Disney Dining Plan, and we used 1 quick service credit and 4 snack credits. 1 Quick Service credit can be turned into 3 snack credits, but you can do this only at one kiosk. This is a good option when you want multiple items at one kiosk. Snack credits are best used for the most expensive items, but cannot be used on alcohol. My brother and I budgeted $200 for the festival. This does not count the dining credits we used. We visited only 9 kiosks out of the 35 featured. We shared everything we purchased ,and we were full almost to the point of busting when we left. With that said, we spent all of the $200 we had budgeted.

Best Food Kiosks

Favorite: Hawaii

Everything we tried at Hawai’i was amazing. My favorite was the Kalua Pork Slider. The most talked about Teriyaki-glazed SPAM Hash lived up to the hype. I can also speak very highly of the Grilled Tuna Tataki. The drink we tried from here was the Mai Tai featuring Sammy’s Beach Bar Rum, which was very delicious. Even though there is still so much more I want to try, I plan to visit Hawaii again when I return in a few weeks.

Least Favorite: Belgium

Gouda is my favorite cheese, so when I saw that Belgium was featuring a Beer-braised Beef served with Smoked Gouda Mashed Potatoes it instantly went on my “must haves” list. Even though I read several poor reviews of this dish online before going, I was hoping that they just weren’t true. To my dismay, they were. The dish was bland and the potatoes weren’t the right consistency for mashed potatoes. I cannot speak for the other dishes at the Belgium kiosk, but this one is a dish you can totally miss.

Designated driver

Finally, my last tip for making the most of your Food and Wine Festival experience is, if you are planning to drink, please have a method of transportation planned ahead. From the monorail and resort buses to the Minnie Van Service and Uber, there is no excuse for drinking and driving while on Disney property. Plan for alternate method(s) of transportation in your budget, and your conscience will thank you later.

I hope that I have helped you prepare to make the most of your Food and Wine Festival experience. I can’t wait to return myself, so I can share my new favorites with you!

Halloween Time at Disney’s California Adventure

Halloween Time at the Disneyland Resort this year was truly memorable! For the first time, BOTH parks were included in the festivities! Although Disneyland had some great Halloween decorations and fun, this post will focus on all the new things featured at Disney’s California Adventure!

Halloween Time at Disney’s California Adventure

Halloween isn’t particularly my favorite holiday, but Disney has a way of making this spooky time of year extremely fun! Let’s talk about all the magical things that came to DCA this Halloween season!Halloween Time in Disney's California Adventure

Decorations

From the moment you approach the turnstiles you’re faced with a giant Oogie Boogie atop the DCA entrance overlooking incoming guests! Walking down Buena Vista Street light posts are decorated with purple banners. Carthay Circle’s bell tower is coiled with spooky black bats, and there’s a statue of the Headless Horseman that’s particularly creepy at night!Halloween Time in Disney's California AdventureKeep your eyes peeled because you might spot some of your favorite characters dressed in their Halloween best!Halloween Time in Disney's California Adventure

Guardians of the Galaxy: Monsters after Dark

So you rescued the Guardians of the Galaxy from the grip of The Collector, but there’s one small problem. You left Groot behind! The Collector’s Fortress is also in a state of emergency as all the monsters have been let loose! Help Rocket go back to rescue Groot! This experience is completely different from what the ride is like during the day. I personally liked this theme over the regular attraction! If you have the chance, check it out before it’s gone for the year!Halloween Time in Disney's California Adventure

Cars Land

The most significant changes of the season are at Cars Land! Radiator Springs has completely transformed! Take a picture with your favorite costumed Car! Visit the Cozy Cone Motel for a variety of Halloween inspired treats including my favorite, the Spoke-y Cone Macaron! Make sure to ride Luigi’s Honkin’ Haul-O-Ween and Mater’s Graveyard JamBOOree!  As unbelievable as all the decorations are in the daytime you have to go back at night to see everything lit up and looking especially spooky!Halloween Time in Disney's California Adventure

More Information

Disney California Adventure is experiencing Halloween for the first time ever! Want to know what to expect? Read our best tips to know before you go! Halloween at Disney's California Adventure is going to be a spook-tacular time! #halloween #travel #dca #disneyFinally, If you’d like to read about my favorite Halloween time treats check out my last blog! If you’d like to hear about all the Halloween time fun at both Disneyland and DCA listen to Podcast Episode 95! I’ve really enjoyed Halloween time at the Disneyland Resort this year! I can’t wait to see what Christmas will bring! Stay tuned to find out!

Must Have Halloween Treats at Disneyland

Now that Halloween time is in full swing, I can share with you the best Halloween treats at Disneyland! In just the few weeks these special foods have been available, I’ve created a list of my top favorites.

Must Have Halloween Treats at Disneyland

Nearly every dining location has some special Halloween treat, so there’s a lot to choose from.Halloween Time at Disneyland is so much fun! One of the best parts is the food! Check out our list of the best Halloween treats at Disneyland so you'll know before you go!

Pumpkin Spice Brittle

If you’re a fan of peanut brittle and pumpkin seeds, then this is the treat to you! Each 6 oz. bag is available in Disneyland and DCA, and annual pass discounts are available! This is a great treat on the go or to take home as a souvenir to enjoy later!

Pumpkin Spice Caramel Milkshake

I found out about this treat through a post on Instagram and instantly knew I had to try it! Because my friend likes caramel, I had extra added to the shake. Regardless, this is a sweet treat for all pumpkin spice and caramel lovers alike! You can find this shake at Ghirardelli and annual pass discounts are accepted!

Pumpkin Spice Churro

Pumpkin spice churros are a great Halloween treat at DisneylandIn case you haven’t caught on, I love pumpkin spice and apparently so does Disney! There are definitely a large number of pumpkin or pumpkin spice flavored treats! Disney churros are already the best, so you can imagine how delicious these pumpkin spice ones taste! These can be found at the Cozy Cone Motel along with many other amazing goodies! Unfortunately, annual pass discounts are not accepted at the Cozy Cone Motel.

Campfire S’mores Funnel Cake

Smore's Funnel Cake is a delicious Halloween treat at Disneyland.You didn’t think everything would be centered about pumpkin did you? This delicious funnel cake combines the best aspects of S’mores and a traditional funnel cake! It’s great for sharing with your family and friends! You can find this funnel cake at the Stage Door Café! Annual pass discounts are accepted at this location!

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Halloween treats at Disneyland include pumpkin cheesecake.This is my last pumpkin item, I promise! I thought this would be my number 1 item as this has been my favorite treat in prior years! My favorite dessert is cheesecake so naturally pumpkin cheesecake is my go-to! I found this cheesecake at the Jolly Holiday Bakery, but it is available around both parks! Also, annual pass discounts are accepted!

Spider Silk Ice Cream Sandwich

Spider Ice Cream is a cool Halloween treat at Disneyland.This was very tough decision between the top 2 treats! This ice cream sandwich is composed of a black macaron with charcoal-tart cherry spun ice cream topped with popping candy and raspberry sauce! It was almost too pretty to eat! This delicious treat can be found at Clarabelle’s Hand Scooped Ice Cream; which is where you can also find the Kitchen Sink sundaes referenced in my Ice Cream blog! Annual pass discounts are not accepted here!

Spoke-y Cone Macaron

Drumroll please, my favorite treat of the season can be found at the Cozy Cone Motel! The Spoke-y Cone Macaron is filled with marshmallow buttercream and candy corn. I was afraid it was going to be too sweet, but after my second one, I was sold! This was definitely number one! I highly recommend you try this macaron! As mentioned, Cozy Cone Motel does not have annual pass discounts.

Although, this is a very small taste of the food offerings at the Disneyland Resort. I hope this helps guide you if you are unsure of what to try! I have not been able to try any of the savory treats, but some of the items on my radar were the “Ghost”-ly Pepper Nachos, Bison Blue Cheeseburger, and Dragon’s Breath Tacos! Click here for a full list of the Halloween foods offered at the Disneyland Resort! I hope you’ve enjoyed this list and have the chance to try some of these items on your next visit!

Disneyland Pin Trading Tips and Ideas

Did you know Disney parks are not all rides and shows and meeting Mickey? As you’ve gone throughout the parks, ever notice cast members wearing lanyards and sporting a variety of pins on them? Pins have always been a part of the Disney parks, but pin trading didn’t become popular until 1999. Pin trading is one of my favorite things to do when I visit Disneyland, but I love that I can also trade when I visit Walt Disney World! Here’s some things you need to know if you’ve considered pin trading on your Disney trip!Pin trading can be so much fun! We've got tips on what it is, how to do it, and what you need to get started. Make this part of your next Disney vacation fun!

Disneyland Pin Trading Tips and Ideas

First, for those of you who may have never heard of pin trading, or have been curious about it, there are some etiquette guidelines you should know! Guests can trade up to two Disney pins per cast member; this includes pin boards as well! Pins should be in good condition and able to be traded. You can’t trade a pin that is already on the cast member’s lanyard or board! For a full list of pin trading etiquette click here.Disneyland Pin Trading Tips

How to Get Started

Next, you may be wondering where do you begin? Many of Disney’s stores offer pin starter packs, some with lanyards and some without! If you’d like to choose your lanyard, I would suggest a pin starter pack that doesn’t include a lanyard. There are stores solely dedicated to pin trading where you can purchase just about any pin you want! Disney, Pixar, Star Wars, Marvel, Attractions, Villains, Tsum Tsum, you name it, Disney has it!

The Pins

Also, not all pins have to be traded! In addition to trading, I like collecting pins such as Limited Edition (LE) or mystery pins that I can purchase in the stores. Each month new pins are released that are a part of specific sets. Pins are also released for different events or seasons, such as Mickey’s Halloween Party or the return of Fantasmic! However, if you’re not looking for super fancy pins, the walls are lined with other less expensive options!Disneyland Pin Trading Tips

Ready to Trade

Finally, you have your pins, you have your lanyard, and you’re ready to go! Now the fun can begin! As you go throughout your day in the parks, keep an eye out for cast members with lanyards! Or if you’re doing your souvenir shopping some registers might have a pin board behind the counter, simply ask the cast members to show you the pins so you can trade. In addition to the parks, the hotels and Downtown Disney offer locations to trade as well.Disneyland Pin Trading Tips

Quick Tips

  • Cast Members may have some pins put on backward; these are “mystery trades.”
  • Some cast members may ask you Disney trivia before you trade just for added fun!
  • Certain stores may have pins displayed in boxes which you may not readily see, so when in doubt just ask a cast member if they have any pins for trading!

Disneyland Pin Trading TipsYou can trade with other guests in the parks, though they don’t have to trade with you! But it’s great to see what pins everyone else has in their collections! As your collection grows, you can purchase pin books to store and display all your pins! Most importantly, HAVE FUN!

Thanks to Disneyland contributor, Amanda, for this post and accompanying photos!

How to Combine Disney Gift Cards

gift card

Disney gift cards are incredible gifts for Disney fans. They can be used to pay for just about anything Disney you can think of! What happens when you get a ton of cards? If you’ve heard about the “Target Red Card” hack that allows you to save 5% off of the price of Disney gift cards, you’ve probably wondered how it works. Is it really advantageous? Does it really save money? We think it does! This hack is a great way to save, but how do you handle all those gift cards lying around? Read on for our best tips for how to combine Disney gift cards!Disney gift cards are great gifts! But what do you do when you have a ton of them? Read our best tips for combining Disney gift cards and help yourself stay organized!

How to Combine Disney Gift Cards

Remove cards from the packaging carefully and be sure to leave the sticky part still attached to the plastic gift card. This will allow you to attach all the cards together and keep them from getting mixed up.gift card

Number the Cards

Number each card with a sharpie. This is crucial because it will help you keep track of which card is which once you enter them into your account online. If you don’t, you could get very confused later about which cards you have and haven’t entered yet. This is especially helpful when entering enough cards for thousands of dollars since many people choose to use gift cards for vacation payments.gift card

Don’t Scratch Them!

Don’t scratch to reveal the security code on the back!! The little area that’s meant to be scratched is actually a little sticker and can be pulled up altogether. Removing the sticker will save you loads of time and will keep you nice and clean. Nobody likes the mess left from lots of scratch-off cards!

Arrange Together

Use the sticky part to arrange the cards on top of each other with the bottom of the top card aligned directly above the bottom card’s number info. This will help you when glancing down to enter the numbers because the bottom of the card above will always be there to guide your eye. You can just barely see the sticky glue left on the card in the “don’t scratch” photo above. It naturally lines up perfectly to stick the cards to each other.

Login

Direct your browser to www.disneygiftcard.com and login with your existing account. No need to make a separate Disney account for this! Simply login using the same credentials you use for you My Disney Experience account.gift card

Enter the Information

Enter each card in separately and in number order. The website requires you to give each card a nickname. Use the number of the card as the card nickname so that you can always keep them organized.

Designate Primary Card

Designate one of your cards as the primary card. KEEP THIS CARD SAFE! This is the card that you’ll use to transfer funds to and make payments with. It’s good to keep in mind that each card will only hold up to $1000 and your account is only allowed 5 cards at any given time. This means that if you’re planning on using them to pay for your Disney vacation, you will likely have to designate more than one card as a primary card, so be sure to label them the same both on the physical card as well as the website nickname for that card.

Transfer Funds to Primary Card

Transfer funds from each card you enter over to your primary card. Don’t delete the empty card until you have entered in the next numbered card so that if you need to stop unexpectedly and finish later, you’ll know exactly where you left off. Example: I enter card #1 and designate it as primary. Then I’ll enter #2 and #3 and transfer their funds to the primary card. Now I can delete card #2 and leave the empty card #3 in the account until I’ve entered in card #4’s info. That way I’ll always know what number to start with if I have to come back to it.

gift card

Don’t Throw Cards Away

Retain all your primary cards you use to pay for things until after your trip! I can’t stress this one enough. Any time Disney has to issue a refund, the funds will always go back to the original payment method. That means if you pay with Disney gift cards, you’ll be refunded on those same Disney gift cards. Recently, guests who had to reschedule or had cruise sailings canceled because of hurricane Irma learned first-hand how refunds work. Though a hurricane is an extreme case for a possible refund example, you just don’t know what can happen and it’s better to keep your primary cards safe.gift card

Make Life Easier

Use a travel agent and have them do all this work for you, for free!!! Along with free vacation planning when you book with a travel agent, you’ll also get extra perks like this! Most travel agents will be happy to combine your cards for you. Save yourself the trouble and support one of your favorite Disney travel planners!

Thats all for today’s gift card tips. Have you got a great gift card tip? Please share with us!  ~Meredith °o°

Mickey’s Halloween Party in Disneyland

With fall just around the corner, there are some things you can always count on. Leaves are changing color, pumpkin spice flavored EVERYTHING is hitting the stores, Halloween costumes are starting to appear, and, of course, Mickey’s Halloween Party at Disneyland! Believe it or not, kids are not the only ones who can enjoy this event! I’ve attended the Halloween Party for the past few years with just my friends, no kids, and had a great time! Let me tell you about the party and why adult-only trips are definitely an option!

Mickey’s Halloween Party in Disneyland

Each year I’ve attended Mickey’s Halloween Party something new is added to make the experience even better! Dressing up, trick-or-treating, themed food, fireworks, parades, character meet and greets, what more do I need to say?? Mickey’s Halloween Party at Disneyland is available for select nights starting September 20 to October 31. Click here for a full list of dates and prices! While there are many great perks about the Halloween Party, these are my best tips to help you maximize you experience.Mickey's Halloween Party in Disneyland

Costumes & Candy

What better way to feel like a kid again than trick-or-treating!? Not only are you already in a costume but you can have bountiful amounts of candy too! Even if you aren’t a big candy person, each treat trail includes a healthy alternative such as apple slices, carrots, goldfish, yogurt covered fruit, etc. It’s fun to coordinate costumes with friends or do something solo. Whether you buy a costume or Disney bound and make your own, just remember to have fun with it! Make sure you follow the costume guidelines so you don’t waste precious park time having to change!Mickey's Halloween Party in DisneylandPro Tip: Bring your own bag for candy! Disneyland provides you a small bag for free, but you WILL fill it up! I suggest buying a larger bag to hold all your candy!

Character Greetings

Remember as a kid when you’d wait in line to get Mickey’s autograph?? Who am I kidding I still do that! Mickey’s Halloween Party gives you the opportunity to meet so many characters in their Halloween inspired costumes! What’s even better is the chance to meet a variety of villains! Admission to this event gives you access to meet and greet some of the best villains including ones you may not see in the park throughout the day! If you’re dressed as your favorite character, what a great memory to have a picture with them!Mickey's Halloween Party in DisneylandPro Tip: If you arrive at the party when it begins, I would suggest meeting the villains that are in front of the Railroad station first before lines get too long later in the evening!

Fireworks/Parade

What I love most about the fireworks and parade is that they are exclusive to Mickey’s Halloween Party! I think it’s an added bonus to everything else that comes with your admission. This will be the second year that the Frightfully Fun Parade will premiere at the Halloween Party. I was able to see it last year and thought it was one of the best parades I’ve seen at Disneyland! It was so unique to see a parade dedicated to villains!Mickey's Halloween Party in DisneylandPro Tip: If you want to have a good seat for the fireworks and/or parade, you may want to plan that ahead of time so you can save a seat for a good view!

What’s new?

For the first time ever your ticket to Mickey’s Halloween Party grants you admission into Disney’s California Adventure 3 hours before the start of the party! This will also be the first year DCA is decorating for Halloween so if you arrive a little early to the parks, go check out the new decorations!Halloween at Disneyland is a frightfully good time! Read our best tips for attending Mickey's Halloween Party in Disneyland before you go! We'll tell you what to expect and whether or not it's worth it to attend.

I hope reading this has made you just as excited for Mickey’s Halloween Party as I am!

Thanks to Disneyland contributor, Amanda, for this post and photos!

Why You Should Visit Disney World Solo

Why You Should Visit Disney World Solo

Have you ever been on a vacation with a lot of people? Does it seem like you never get to do what you want? Have you wanted to just slow down and really soak in your surroundings? I recently discovered just how awesome planning to visit Disney World solo can be.How to Visit Disney World Solo

Why You Should Visit Disney World Solo

It’s not as crazy as it sounds. In fact, it can be a great experience. Read on for what I consider the top 3 reasons to visit Disney World solo.If you're planning a trip to Disney, consider a day alone. Why? A visit to Disney by yourself might be a refreshing new way to see an old favorite. Read our best reasons why you should visit Disney World solo, and start planning your trip today!

Your Pace, Your Way

When going on vacation with a large group, the individual can become lost. The hustle and bustle of trying to get everything possible done can become hectic. One can miss the small details that add to the magic of Disney. I recently went on a trip with nine others. I rarely had a chance to stop and smell the roses until I had my solo day. As I wandered around Epcot, I was able to really take in every country in the World Showcase. I was able to take my time through the gardens of each country and have the most delicious lunch in the France pavilion. I was able to do all of this with no one pushing me to move along or hurry up. There was no schedule to keep up with, and no one else’s desires to appease.How to Visit Disney World Solo

Timing is Everything

Doing a solo day can give one the freedom to be spontaneous. Not worrying about a schedule can create incredible freedom. We’re always on the run. Work, school, children, families. We don’t often have the luxury of seeing something we want to do and then to be able to do it. Having a solo day at Disney can give one this luxury. Take your time. Watch that drum show in Japan. Meander through each country’s gift shops. Being brave enough to do anything alone can be rewarding to one’s soul. Also, one doesn’t have to worry about the dreaded, “What do you want to eat?” question. If you see something you’d like to try, go for it! Have lunch in France. Try some sweets in Norway or alcoholic chocolates in Germany. You’ll have no one questioning your decisions.How to Visit Disney World Solo

Finding Happiness in Solitude

Most people allow their happiness to depend on others. Either they have children and put their happiness and wants before their own, or they simply don’t know how to be happy alone. Getting out of one’s comfort zone can be scary, but so very rewarding. Getting out to explore on our own can teach us so much about ourselves. It can be lonely at times, so remember to take pictures so that you can share your experience with your friends and family.How to Visit Disney World Solo

Disney Magic

Being single and childless doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the magic of Disney. Do you want to experience the awesomeness of Disney, but don’t have anyone to go with you? No worries! The cast members and most people at Disney are wonderful and they will help make your trip memorable. Never be afraid to do something alone. Don’t wait on somebody else to make your dreams come true. Go for it! You’ll be surprised what you may learn about yourself!

Thanks to our contributor, Noelle, for this post!

Road Trip Survival Kit: A DIY Tutorial and Free Download

Road Trip Survival Kit

If you’ve read our blog in the past, you’ll know that I love to design, craft, and generally make stuff. It’s so much fun to create items for family vacations. However, traveling with kids can be difficult. Therefore, I knew I needed something entertaining for our long road trip to Walt Disney World. I came up with this fun and edutaining Road Trip Survival Kit that was a big hit!

Road Trip Survival Kit: A DIY Tutorial and Free DownloadRoad Trip Survival Kit

I’m so excited to finally share my DIY Silhouette studio design and file with you all! Before we get started however, I’d like to say that this post is not a sponsored post. We’re not being paid to promote the Silhouette Cameo and Crayola products I used. I just happened to stumble upon these awesome travel art cases and couldn’t resist personalizing them for our big road trip.Also, I LOVE my silhouette cameo. If you have a silhouette cameo, then you know what I mean. If you know what I mean, then let’s get started by listing what you’ll need!Road Trip Survival Kit

Supply List

  • Silhouette Studio software and compatible vinyl-cutting machine
  • Permanent Vinyl in your favorite colors (I used oracal 651 white and silver)
  • Crayola Stow and Go (I used the Dry Erase and Color Wonder Mess Free versions)
  • Free Road Trip Survival Kit download file (for personal use only)
  • Rubbing Alcohol and Cotton Balls -OR- Clorox/Lysol wipes
  • *Optional: printable worksheets and laminating machine

Road Trip Survival Kit

Do It Yourself

First of all, download the free file here. The fonts featured in this design are indicated within the file so that you can download and customize the name with your own. Furthermore, fonts featured can be found at dafont.com and are free for personal use only. Please DO NOT use this file to create your own items for sale. This file is intended for personal use only.Road Trip Survival Kit

Extras

Whether you’ve got a laminating machine or not, you’ll want to include some fun roadtrip extras. After a short pinterest search, I found several fun and free printables to include in my own kids’ roadtrip survival kits. Here’s a few we used and enjoyed. Additionally, if you’re using the dry erase version of Crayola’s Stow and Go, you can laminate the worksheets to use again and again!Road Trip Survival KitThanks for reading! If you’ve enjoyed this freebie, please let us know! Be sure to check out Beth’s Driving Tips here on our blog too! Road Trip Survival KitFor more Disney tips, tricks, tutorials, packing lists, dos and don’ts… Okay, you get the picture. We’ve got a podcast too! The Mouse and Monorail Podcast. You can also find us on the following socials: FacebookTwitterPinterestInstagram, & YouTube. ~Meredith ºoº

Blue Bayou Disneyland Restaurant Review

One of my all-time favorite restaurants at the Disneyland Resort is the Blue Bayou in New Orleans Square! There’s so much to love about this restaurant! Blue Bayou is a Table Service restaurant with Cajun/Creole-inspired food. Both lunch and dinner are offered and reservations, which can be made 60 days in advance, are highly recommended. On occasion, walk ins are accepted, but I would not rely on that.

Blue Bayou Disneyland Restaurant Review

I have tried both the lunch and dinner menus and personally enjoy the dinner menu more! The lunch menu is a little cheaper and does include their well-known Monte Cristo sandwich! For my Blue Bayou Disneyland restaurant review, I’m going to speak specifically to the dinner menu.Wondering where to eat in Disneyland? Give Blue Bayou a try. Read our restaurant review to know what to expect and what to eat. We make great recommendations, but the fun you have is all up to you!

Location

First of all, where is the Blue Bayou? For those of you who may not know, it is located within the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction! The location of the restaurant is a big appeal to those who dine there. When you check in for your reservation, you can request a table by the water. You’ll be provided with an additional wait time to be seated at those tables, usually 15-30 minutes depending on how busy the restaurant is that day. The water side tables allow you to watch riders go by on their boats and have a closer look at the attraction. The restaurant gives its guests the feel of an evening in New Orleans with colorful lanterns strewn overhead and candle lights at each table! After you’ve taken in the beautiful decorations around you, it’s time to decide what to eat!Disneyland Restaurant Review Blue Bayou

Appetizers

Whether you’re in the mood for steak, chicken, seafood or a vegetarian option, Blue Bayou has it all for you! Before you begin eating, you’re provided with a complimentary basket of bread and butter. Each entree comes with a choice of Blue Bayou House Salad with your choice of Ranch or Sherry vinaigrette, or a cup of their signature New Orleans Gumbo. For an additional charge, you can upgrade to their Louisiana-spiced Shrimp. I would highly recommend the Gumbo! You don’t have to eat at the Blue Bayou to try it. Visit the Royal Street Veranda, a Quick Service location, to try the Gumbo in a delicious sourdough bread bowl!

Entrees and Desserts

My usual choice is the Surf & Turf, which my friend ordered, so I decided to go with the Pan-seared Salmon. The Surf & Turf includes a petite Lobster Tail and Broiled Filet Mignon served with Blue Bayou Au Gratin Potatoes, Seasonal Vegetables and Béarnaise sauce. The Pan-seared Salmon is served with Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes, Arugula, crispy Onions, Sautéed Spinach, and Blood Orange Beurre Blanc.Blue Bayou Disneyland Restaurant ReviewAdditionally, other entrees include Bone-In Rib-Eye, Citrus-marinated Chicken Breast, Royal Street Seafood Jambalaya, and Portobello Mushroom and Louisiana Popcorn Rice. There are also options for kids, so don’t think this restaurant is limited to just adults! Hopefully after your meal you’ve saved room for dessert! We decided to try the Crème Brulee which was to die for! Overall, the Blue Bayou has yet to disappoint. The wait staff is amazing and friendly, the experience is as unforgettable as the food!

Dining Packages

Finally, with the reopening of “Fantasmic!” this summer, the Disneyland Resort brought back its dining packages to both the Blue Bayou and River Belle Terrace. As mentioned in a previous post, The Main Street Electrical Parade offered a dining package through the Blue Bayou. The same package is being offered for Fantasmic! The package includes a 3-course meal for a flat price of $65.00 per adult and $25.00 per child (ages 3-9) and admission to a reserved viewing area for one of the two Fantasmic! shows that evening. I plan on trying to dining package at the River Belle Terrace later in the summer. Come back to hear how my Fantasmic! dining package experience was!

Buying Shoes for Disney

Guide to Buying Shoes for a Disney trip

Guide to Buying Shoes for Disney

Buying shoes for a Disney vacation

One of the biggest, and oftentimes overlooked, aspects to planning your Disney vacation is what shoes should you wear? From my own experience, there’s too many options and it can be overwhelming. And what’s more, is that the chances are high that the shoe that best works for you won’t work for someone else. We all have our reasons for why we choose the shoes we do and I’m here to help you nail down the shoe that will best work for you.

Guide to Buying Shoes for a Disney trip

Decide what shoe style you already like best

This one is the biggest tip and most important. For me personally, I prefer sandals because I can’t stand having hot feet, especially Florida heat hot! But you may not like sandals and prefer tennis shoes instead. Others may swear by flip flops, and so on… My point being here that you should start your search by knowing, and keeping in mind, your favorite shoe style. Don’t abandon what you know works well for just you just because you read somewhere that “this shoe is the only shoe you should wear at Disney”! It’s also good to point out that you should keep any health concerns you may have on your mind when considering shoe options.

Guide to Buying Shoes for a Disney trip

Explore new options

Keeping in mind what style you tend to prefer, check out blog posts etc about that shoe type. If you’re a sandal gal, then explore new shoe styles like a recent fan favorite, the Sanuk Sandals. If you’re only into tennis shoes, then maybe explore some sandal/tennis shoe hybrids like Keens. In any case, and this is important, be sure to go to an actual store and try them on to ensure both fit and comfort level. I had a pair of Chacos I was convinced I wanted but once I got them on, I was not about to drop over $100. They just didn’t feel “right.”

Guide to Buying Shoes for a Disney trip

Budget for new shoes in your vacation fund

If your family is anything like ours, by the time school let out for the summer and we were ready to embark on our vacation, our school shoes had definitely seen better days. Not to mention they barely fit the kids! Knowing that I’d spend $$$ for ours shoes helped us better realize and prepare how much all aspects of our trip would realistically cost. It also ensured that we wouldn’t be spending top dollar on cheaper shoes while at Disney because “the strap broke” or whatever conundrum that may happen. Murphy’s law and all…

 Guide to Buying Shoes for a Disney trip

Consider which parks (or cruise) you’ll be attending

If you’ll only be visiting the four main theme parks and don’t plan on riding the wet rides, you’ll probably be just fine wearing tennis shoes. On my family’s most recent trip, we knew we’d be visiting both water parks as well as the major theme parks and took this into consideration when purchasing our shoes. This special consideration led us to a shoe that functions mostly as a tennis shoe but feels like a sandal, is completely waterproof, and slides on and off easily. With the water parks a consideration for us, I wanted to ensure I could purchase something that would work no matter which park we were at.

Guide to Buying Shoes for a Disney trip

If you’ll be cruising, your needs will be different than that of a park-goer. You may opt for sandals and slip-ons the majority of the time and save your sneakers for any adventurous excursions you may take. Always keep your destination, and it’s terrain, in mind when shopping for your shoes.

Guide to Buying Shoes for a Disney trip

Consider how long you plan to wear them

If you’re going for multiple days as a parks vacation, then you’ll want to go for long-lasting comfort. It’s also good to take two styles of shoe and rotate your shoes each day. This way you won’t have excessive rubbing in the same areas from extended waking times and those spots will get a break every other day.

Guide to Buying Shoes for a Disney trip

Additionally, consider the amount of time you’ll be spending in that particular park. If you’re an annual pass holder and won’t be in the parks all day, you may opt for a more stylish shoe since long-lasting comfort wouldn’t be a consideration. Amanda loves her 101 Dalmations Vans for her leisurely trips to Disneyland (ah, the passholder life). They’re comfy and she’s stylish! The best of both worlds if you ask me!

Guide to Buying Shoes for a Disney trip

And if you’re attending a special event, you may even want to bring along a super cute pair to wear only for photo ops! Doesn’t Sarah look fabulous as Daisy for Dapper Day at Epcot? Those shoes make it! But we all know that walking around the park, especially Epcot, in those shoes aren’t a real option. She opted for cute sandals the rest of the day and saved the pumps for the photopass stops.

Guide to Buying Shoes for a Disney trip

Don’t forget to break them in!

Don’t forget to purchase them early enough so that you and your family time to break them in well. Nothing’s worse than getting to Disney with a super comfy pair of shoes only to find wearing for them hours on end has rubbed a righteous blister. I purchased our shoes at least two weeks before our trip and had us all wear them several hours a day before we left so that they were broken in well. Good thing too, because mine did rub my heel a bit the first few days. But once I got to Disney?! No blisters whatsoever for the entirety of our trip (and we were there 8 days y’all!)

Now that you’ve got those tips in your shoe-buying arsenal you’re probably wondering what our favorites are here at the Mouse and the Monorail.

Guide to Buying Shoes for a Disney trip

Keen

My new favorites are Keen. Not only are they completely waterproof, come in sizes that fit my 2yo as well as myself, but they act like a sneaker yet feel like a sandal. I can’t ask for anything better! They’re super comfy and it’s no exaggeration when I say that I wore these multiple days from rope drop to kiss goodnight. And not only did I have NO blisters, but I didn’t even have the classic Disney foot ache those nights! That’s amazing considering I know all too well the Disney foot ache that comes after multiple days in the parks! Don’t we all?

Guide to Buying Shoes for a Disney trip

And when I say they’re waterproof I don’t just mean you can wear them on Splash Mountain. Oh no! I wore them everywhere throughout all of the parks, including the water parks. And I didn’t just leave them in the lockers at the water parks either! They swam wonderfully in the wave pools (the sandal-like holes help water move through them easier than traditional swim shoes) and lazy rivers as well as all of the tube slides! The only times I had to take them off was for Humunga Cowabunga at Typhoon Lagoon and Summit Plummet at Blizzard Beach! Everything else was fair game with these kicks!!

Guide to Buying Shoes for a Disney tripSanuk Yoga Slings

I also really enjoyed my Sanuk Yoga Slings for our Magic Kingdom day and 4 night cruise aboard the Disney Dream. I wore them for our girls trip to Universal too! And Amy really enjoyed these shoes too! She recently wore them for Magic Kingdom day and Disney Dream cruise as well! They’re super squishy and unlike regular thong flip flops, these slings stay on no problem. You can even stop by the Sanuk store at Disney Springs to check them out! Jennifer is all about comfort and opts for her classic Nike and Saucony Tennis shoes. Go with with you know works well and if it ain’t broke, right?

 

We hope these tips have helped you and would love to know what your favorite park shoes are! Comment below or tag us in a social post on your favorite social site! We’d love to hear from you! ~Meredith ºoº