August 17, 2016

Mom’s Disney Packing List – FREE Printable!


Don't forget the essentials on your next Disney vacation! Mom's Disney Packing List with FREE Printable!

Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Blue Loop. Today we are sharing Disney packing printables to help you decide what to bring on your Disney trip.

Mom’s Disney Packing List

As the main packer for my entire family when we vacation, it’s easy to forget my own things! While I’ve carefully coordinated the kids outfits in zip bags I tend to forget that I need to pack for myself and end up tossing things in the suitcase willy-nilly at the last moment (yes, I’ve forgotten my pajamas and my toothbrush before!) I created this free printable packing list so Mom can quickly remember all she’ll need for a Disney trip. Here are a few tips before you stuff your suitcase (keep reading for the free Mom’s Disney packing list printable).

Please note that this post contains affiliate links

Don't forget the essentials on your next Disney vacation! Mom's Disney Packing List with FREE Printable!

Day Bag

I love using a crossbody bag like my Baggallini Everything Travel Crossbody Bag when I’m at Disney. You’ll have everything you need handy and you’ll be hands-free. You’d be surprised what you can fit inside one of these compact purses. In addition to your usual wallet, pack your bag with a few things you’ll need for the day like lip balm with an SPF, a small nail file and hand sanitizer. I dole out a squirt of hand sanitizer to each person in my family after each ride when we can’t get to the bathroom to properly wash our hands. If you don’t have a baby and therefore aren’t carrying a diaper bag with baby wipes, pack a small clutch with hand wipes when napkins aren’t enough to clean sticky fingers and faces.

Check the Forecast

Contrary to popular belief it does rain in California and it is occasionally very cold in Florida. Don’t assume that the weather will be in the 70s for your trip: Be sure to take a look at the forecast and pack accordingly.

If the weather is expected to be cool, I like the option of layers. A short sleeve shirt topped with a long sleeved tee. Add a sweatshirt and you can always tie it around your waist if you’re too warm mid-day. A scarf and fleece hat are good options on chilly days. And both are small enough that you can stuff them in a bag if you don’t need them.

Don't forget the essentials on your next Disney vacation! Mom's Disney Packing List with FREE Printable!

Me and the boys with my Baggallini Crossbody Bagg

Hot and humid? Leave the layers at home and choose lightweight and breathable fabrics. Pack several shirts for each day so you can bring an extra into the park and change mid-day when you’ve turned into a sweaty mess. Also, take a look at your outfit head-to-toe before you wear it under the hot sun all day. I bought a lightweight top a few days before my last trip and didn’t realize that it had a keyhole opening in the back. Yes, I applied sunscreen to my shoulders, arms and neck. But not knowing about the keyhole opening, I was left to cook and the result was a very strange sunburn!

Block it Out

Sunscreen at Disney is a no-brainer, but consider the type you’ll need for a day in the Parks. I don’t like the misty spray-on types because the coverage just isn’t great and most of your sunscreen gets blown away in the breeze. For my face, I like a matte sunscreen that’s non-comedogenic otherwise I just feel oily and that dust is just sticking to my face (it probably is).

While we’re on the subject of blocking rays from your skin, let’s discuss blocking the sun from your eyes as well. A pair of comfortable sunglasses is a must. Bring a case or a protective sleeve to put them in when you’re on a ride. And don’t wear them on top of your head because that almost guarantees that they’ll fall off!

Disney Lilo & Stitch Hawaiian Print Wire Rim Sunglasses (Amazon)

Cover Your Head

Nothing like having the sun bake on the top of your head all day to make you grouchy. How about a sunburn on your hairline part? That’s fun the next day, right? Try out several styles of hats pre-trip to find out what will work best for you. If you plan on riding anything remotely fast, you’ll be taking your hat off and on throughout the day so keep that in mind. If I have a multi-day trip planned, I’ll bring at least two hat options so I can change them out from one day to the next. Baseball hat one day and giant wide-brim sun hat the next!

2015-05-11 10.42.43-7  2015-05-11 10.42.38-4

Don’t Forget Your Hair

Bring hair ties. Several of them, because you never know when one will snap or slip off the end of your braid while you’re riding Space Mountain! And bobby pins or something to pin back your bangs. I decided one Disneyland trip to wear my hair down and it was just about the windiest day EVER! My hair was a tangled mess by noon. Pack a small brush in your bag to detangle if you wear your hair down. My recommendations? A ball cap with a ponytail looped through the back and bangs pinned back underneath the brim. Or a big sun hat with your hair in a braid.

Don't forget the essentials on your next Disney vacation! Mom's Disney Packing List with FREE Printable!

This was the last time I wore my hair down at Disneyland…it was a tangled mess from the rides and the wind!

Keep It Cool

Though it does rain quite a bit in Florida and it can get chilly on both coasts, the general weather at Disney parks is on the warm side. Consider also that many of the ride lines will have you waiting in the sun and you’ll be ready to head indoors for A/C by 9 am! Pack a few items in your day pack that will help keep you comfortable. A squirt bottle or misting fan that you can refill at the drinking fountains can be wonderful on a scorching day.

Don't forget the essentials on your next Disney vacation! Mom's Disney Packing List with FREE Printable!

We like to bring a travel size shaker of Gold Bond Ultimate Comfort Body Powder. It soaks up excess sweat and helps prevent chafing. A cooling towel that you wet and then shake to chill is just perfect for wrapping around your neck. Something like the Frogg Toggs Chilly Pad Cooling Towel really helps to bring down your body temperature (and this works better than wet paper towels from the bathroom!)

Don’t forget a water bottle to stay hydrated. You can request ice water at any counter service restaurant and then pour it into your bottle.

*ahem* Feminine Needs

Did you know that stress can cause your “monthly visit” to start unexpectedly? Even if you’ve checked the calendar and aren’t expecting to start, you might want to pack feminine hygiene products just in case. Disney does sell these items in the bathrooms (about 50 cents each) and you can also purchase them at the Baby Care Centers and in some hotel gift shops.


It’s a good idea to bring in a second pair of socks to change into if you get them wet or they’re just sweaty. Or have a pair of waterproof sandals that you can wear on wet rides instead. I like to bring in a second t-shirt with me too so that when I’m sweaty or I spill something on it, I have a fresh shirt to change in to. Though you could always buy one in the gift shop and call it a souvenir (I’ve done that too!)

Don't forget the essentials on your next Disney vacation! Mom's Disney Packing List with FREE Printable!

Break ’em In

Don’t even think about heading to Disney wearing brand new shoes! For the love of all things, break your shoes in before you spend 15 hours wearing them through the parks. And I recommend taking in a second pair to switch into when your feet start to ache. I’d also say you should give your outfits a “trial run” at home. You’d hate to be wearing something that was uncomfortable all day.

Pregnant at Disney? Expectant Mom's Complete Disney Packing List of Important Needs

Crocs Womens Women’s A-Leigh Floral Flip Flop (Amazon)

Keep in Touch

A phone charger and cord is a must. Not only do you want to be able to reach others in your group, there are also Disney park apps that will allow you to check wait times and book dining reservations. Besides you also want to be able to take pictures and share them to social media throughout the day, right?

EasyAcc Monster Power Bank (Amazon)

Be Prepared

Blisters are a Disney nightmare. Though you can get basic items like bandages at the park First Aid, you should consider adding a few things to your personal first aid kit. I swear by New-Skin Liquid Bandage because it’s waterproof and stays on all day. My kit also includes ibuprofen, headache reliever and antacids. Just make sure you store all the meds in a place where little hands won’t get to them (or keep them in child-proof containers).

Back at the Hotel

I don’t know about you, but when I’m at the parks I sweat like crazy under the sun. And that means that my bra is usually saturated by the end of the day…yuck! Make sure to pack at least 2 bras to alternate every other day. Bring a sample packet or a travel size bottle filled up with laundry detergent. Give your bra a quick wash in the sink and then hang it to dry so you’ll have a fresh one to wear each day.

Make sure you give your bathroom a top to bottom when packing to make sure you don’t miss packing any essential toiletries. You’ll want to remember to bring your make-up remover, hair brush and products, contact lens solution and case, etc. If you prefer to use your own shampoo and soaps pack travel size varieties, though they do offer very nice complimentary products at the Disney resorts.

Don’t forget your swimsuit! You won’t need to bring a towel if you’re staying at a Disney resort hotel, they have them at the pool. A pair of flip-flops and a cover-up are a good idea too.

Here’s the FREE PRINTABLE –  Mom’s Disney Packing List

Don't forget the essentials on your next Disney vacation! Mom's Disney Packing List with FREE Printable!

All packed up, Mom? Here’s another Disney packing list for the kids!

Disney Trip Free Printable – Packing List for Kids

Disney Trip FREE Printable - Packing List for Kids

For more Disney packing printables,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!

Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Blue | Disney Packing Printables Loop:


August 12, 2016

12 Things to Do Waiting in Line at Disney Parks

Check Out these 12 Best Uses of Waiting in Line at Disney Parks

Best Uses of Waiting in Line at Disney Parks

I’d venture to say that not too many people enjoy standing in line. That’s why they invented the FastPass, right? If you have to wait in queue though, there are some constructive ways you can spend the time. Here are my 12 ideas for the best use of waiting in line at Disney parks.

Check Out these 12 Best Uses of Waiting in Line at Disney Parks

A quick pic in line at Autopia

Apply Sunscreen

Outdoor queues can make you feel like you’re cooking under the sun! Waiting in line is a great time to reapply another coat of sunscreen. If you’re sweating, pat off the sweat with a napkin and then apply. Skip using spray-on sunscreen while standing in line though. The quarters in queue are a bit tight for that (and not everyone wants your sunscreen mist in their eyes!)

Check Out these 12 Best Uses of Waiting in Line at Disney Parks

Board with wait times at Disneyland. You can get these times on the free mobile app too.

Have a snack

Dry goods that you pre-package into snack-sized bags are perfect for waiting in lines. Things like nuts, dried fruit, trail mix, chopped veggies or sturdy crackers work well. If you finish the snack, you can dispose of the baggie (there are always trash cans in the queue for this). Or if you reach the end before your snack is done, just seal up the bag and put it in your pocket.

Check Out these 12 Best Uses of Waiting in Line at Disney Parks

Heimlich never misses a meal – Photo Credit: Jeff Holz

Study the Map

Where are you headed next and how will you get there? Now’s the time to pull out the map and plot your course. The map key will let you know where the nearest bathroom is too, in case that’s your next stop. Or try a little game with younger kids and see if they can find certain icons, like “Where’s the carrousel?”

Play a Game

Pictionary – Keep a small spiral-bound notebook and pen handy for quick games of Pictionary. The artist can come up with the idea (Disney movies!) and everyone in the group can try to guess.

Who Am I? – This is our family favorite in the car too. One person chooses a Disney movie character and the others have to ask questions that can be answered with a yes or no answer (ie: “Does this character have fur?” or “Does this character sing in their movie?”)

Check Out these 12 Best Uses of Waiting in Line at Disney Parks

In line for Star Tours – Photo Credit: Jeff Holz

Disney Mobile App

Thinking about hitting up Splash Mountain but want to know the wait time before traipsing across the Lands? Need to know where Mickey is meeting & greeting? Have to get a dining reservation on the fly? Check out the free Disney Mobile Apps for Disneyland and Walt Disney World.

Journal Your Memories

A small hard-backed spiral-bound notebook is perfect for jotting down special memories throughout your trip. This is also a great activity for when you’re waiting for a meal to arrive at the table service restaurant. Pass the journal to a new family member to write in for each queue. For little ones that can’t write yet, have them draw a little picture of their memories.

Check Out these 12 Best Uses of Waiting in Line at Disney Parks

Themed sculptures in line for Radiator Springs Racers – Photo Credit: Jeff Holz

Plan Your Next Meal

If you didn’t make any Advanced Dining Reservations (and you don’t really need ADR at Disneyland), you can figure out where you’ll be dining next. If you already have a restaurant decided on, I highly recommend figuring out what you’re going to order. It really saves you time that would be spent in the restaurant perusing the menu if you plan your meals ahead of time. I like to print out the restaurant menus so we can look them over in line and have everyone decide ahead of time. This way one adult is in charge of ordering for the group and it expedites the process.

Look for Hidden Mickeys

They’re everywhere! You’ll probably be able to find a few on your own (Imagineers hid them in plain sight in many of the line queues!) but if you need help, check out this book Hidden Mickeys: A Field Guide to Walt Disney World’s Best Kept Secrets

Take Pictures

No better time when you’re smooshed together in a queue than to snap a full-family selfie! Some line queue have interesting props to pose with along the way, so get out your camera and capture the moments.

Check Out these 12 Best Uses of Waiting in Line at Disney Parks

Waiting in line with the kids at Astro Orbiter


Well, if you’re a baby, maybe! Pop your little one in the front carrier and let them nap while you wait. You can always grab a Rider Switch pass too so that the grown ups can take turns with the sleeping child. Here are more tips about traveling to Disney with a baby.

Play with a Toy

Young kids tend to get pretty squirrelly waiting in line so give them something to occupy little hands (so they’ll resist climbing on the rows of bars, squabbling or hanging all over each other!). A small action figure, doll or race car can keep an imaginative child busy. Handheld light-up spinners are always fun (especially at night). Hold a small bottle of bubbles for them and let them dip in the wand and blow! Avoid any toys that need a lot of space, like a lightsaber or a toy that will annoy other guests, like a balloon that may hit people on head.

Check Out these 12 Best Uses of Waiting in Line at Disney Parks

Taking a photo of the kids in glasses from Toy Story: Midway Mania is a must!

Plot the Next Adventure

My kids always want to know what we’re doing next. Decide where you’re headed next and brush everyone up on what’s to come so when you hit the exit everyone knows what to expect.

Check Out these 12 Best Uses of Waiting in Line at Disney Parks

The talking and moving Buzz in queue – Photo Credit: Jeff Holz

Looking for more?

Check out these books, Lots to Do In Line: Walt Disney World and Lots To Do In Line Disneyland. Tons of things for kids (and adults) to spot while waiting.


What are your favorite things to do while you’re waiting in line? Share in the comments!

August 11, 2016

Budget-Friendly Back-to-School Outfits at Gymboree

Find out Where to Get Budget-Friendly Back-to-School Outfits

This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. I was compensated for this post.

Back-to-School Outfits

I love back-to-school shopping but not the price tags! And boy, do I hate buying something for my kids only to see it falling apart at the seams after a few washes. When I shop at Gymboree that doesn’t happen because the clothes are high quality (my 4-yr old is wearing Gymboree hand-me-downs that have now gone through 3 other kids!) No sticker shock there either because they offer wonderful sales and great coupons, not to mention Gymbucks for use on a future order.

Do your kids need clothes but you don’t want the challenge of mixing and matching the outfits yourself? Gymboree has paired up with Stitch Fix to give you some quick shopping ideas for back to school. Here are a few outfits that I put together for my kids!

Gymboree Back to School for Big Girls


Even though my 12-yr old daughter is on the upper size of Gymboree, I was still able to find something trendy and fun that she’d love to wear. Gymboree is great for offering full collections to coordinate head-to-toe but you can still mix and match for something unique and quirky too.

Boy's Gymboree for Back to School


My 12-yr old boy is all about athletic gear and comfort. Long gone are the skinny jeans and now he’s all about the basketball shorts! Gymgo Active has been the perfect line for him and he likes the bright colors and comfortable fit.

Preschool Boys Gymboree Back to School


My 4-yr old starts transitional kindergarten this year and he’s so excited! He’s a rough and tumble guy and Gymboree holds up to his active play. Gymboree jeans are a staple for my kids and their colorful graphic tees are always a hit. My kid loves to coordinate his undies to match his outfit (yes, really!)

Baby Back to School Gymboree


And even though she’s not starting school, the baby is still growing like a weed and needs a new fall outfit! Such pretty colors and patterns, and those tiny red shoes are adorable!

Be sure to check out Gymboree’s current sales and consider signing up for their emails so you’ll know when Gymbucks rolls around!



August 9, 2016

Disney Gift Card Giveaway! (ends Aug 21st, 2016)

Disney Gift Card Giveaway! (ends Aug 21st, 2016)

Every little bit helps when you’re saving up for Disney! $50 could buy you a sweet souvenir. Or maybe a quick service lunch at the parks for the entire family (with dessert!) It’s also almost halfway towards a one-day ticket! What would you spend a $50 Disney gift card on?

I am joining with some other awesome bloggers for a giveaway of a $50 Disney gift card!

Details: Must be 18+ to enter.  US only.  Ends August 21, 2016 at 11:59 PM (Eastern Standard Time aka Walt Disney World time). Void where prohibited.  Winner will have 48 hours to respond to the email from The Philosopher’s Wife.  After 48 hours a new winner will be chosen.  Disney, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, etc. are not affiliated with this giveaway in any way.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

August 5, 2016

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Tangy Slaw

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Tangy Slaw

Slow Cooker Recipe? Perfect Timing!

It’s been in the high 90s at our house for a few weeks and we don’t have air conditioning. When it’s that hot I do not want to turn on my oven. I do not want to stand over a hot stove. Sometimes I don’t even feel like I have the energy to think about eating because the heat just wears me out! Here’s a quick and delicious way to cook dinner without heating up the house. And clean up is super quick so you can eat and get back in the pool!

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Tangy Slaw

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

I saw a recipe online for pulled pork that required 7 HOURS of cooking in the oven!! Heck no, I’m not turning my oven on that long. You can still get a tender pulled pork in your slow cooker using my recipe. This recipe calls for a 4 lb pork shoulder roast or pork butt (I buy these in bulk at Costco). You could also easily double this recipe if you’re serving more or if you want to freeze half of the cooked meat for another meal.

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Tangy Slaw

I wrap my pork in foil to keep the juices contained as much as possible for moist meat!

Tangy Cabbage Slaw

You could buy one of those bags of pre-cut cole slaw mix but cutting your own cabbage is so cheap and easy. And using fresh cabbage really gives your slaw a great crunch! Consider using some purple cabbage to add color to your slaw. I cut my cabbage on the thicker side with a long bread knife but you can cut it however you wish.

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Tangy Slaw

I picked up these yummy buns in the bakery section of the grocery store. They are heartier than packaged hamburger buns so the bread doesn’t get too soggy when you add the juicy pork and slaw. Serve these sandwiches with a helping of BBQ potato chips and corn on the cob and that’s a tasty meal you don’t have to slave over the hot oven for!

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Tangy Slaw

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Tangy Slaw


  • 4 lb pork shoulder roast or pork butt
  • 1/8 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 cups of your favorite barbecue sauce
  • 4 buns, sliced lengthwise
  • 1/2 head of cabbage, sliced (I used a mix of colors)
  • 1/2 medium red onion, chopped (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp seasoned salt
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • Milk, as needed


  1. Remove pork from packaging and pat dry. In a medium bowl, mix dry spice ingredients. Add pork and rub on the mixture until pork is covered. Wrap pork tightly inside a sheet of heavy aluminum foil. Place the pork inside the slow cooker then add sliced onions all around inside. Cover and cook on high for 5 hours or low for 8 hours.
  2. When done, use a baster or a measuring cup to carefully remove 1 cup of liquid from the slow cooker and add to a large bowl. Mix in 2 cups of barbecue sauce and combine with the liquid. Remove the onions with a slotted spoon and add to the bowl.
  3. Carefully remove the roast from the foil while it's inside the slow cooker and discard foil. Transfer the meat to the bowl with the liquid and onions. Use two large forks to shred the pork with the juices and cooked onions until completely torn apart.
  4. For slaw, use a large bowl to whisk together vinegar, mayo, yogurt, salt and pepper. Add milk a teaspoon at a time until mixture is a good consistency and not lumpy. Add sliced cabbage and chopped red onion, combining with two large spoons until all cabbage is coated with sauce.
  5. Top bottom bun with pork, add a generous portion of slaw and top with bun. You might have to eat this with a fork and knife (that's what I do!)
Recipe Management Powered by Zip Recipes Plugin



August 3, 2016

Back-To-School DIY Disney-Style Storage Box

Back-To-School DIY Disney-Style Storage Box is Perfect for Storing School Supplies or Disney mementos!

Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Red Loop. Today we are sharing Disney inspired back to school ideas.

DIY Disney

New school supplies are the best part of back to school, right? The smell of new crayons, the feel of a newly sharpened pencil across the paper and all those crisp, lined notebooks! I love it all. And there’s nothing like adding a bit of Disney magic into your school routine. This DIY will show you  how to take an ordinary cardboard box and turn it into a personalized Disney-style storage box that’s perfect for safekeeping all your back to school supplies!

Back-To-School DIY Disney-Style Storage Box is Perfect for Storing School Supplies or Disney mementos!

Totally easy and you just need a few craft supplies that you probably already have on hand! Read on for the how-to!


  • Cardboard box with a lid. I used one with a hinged lid.
  • Scrapbook paper or wrapping paper
  • Glue or glue stick
  • Photographs
  • Ribbons, Washi tape, scrapbooking die-cuts, stickers, etc.
  • Clear packing tape
  • Scissors

Back-To-School DIY Disney-Style Storage Box is Perfect for Storing School Supplies or Disney mementos!

If your box is being recycled, remove all stickers or excess tape from the box until the surfaces are smooth.

Lay each side of the box on the wrong side of the paper and outline the shape.

Back-To-School DIY Disney-Style Storage Box is Perfect for Storing School Supplies or Disney mementos!

Cut the paper on the line. Add a light amount of glue to the wrong side and place the paper to the box, smoothing out any bumps or creases.

Decorate the top of your box with photographs, strips of ribbon or decorative Washi tape and stickers until you have a design you’re happy with. When decorating the lid, it’s okay to wrap things like ribbon and tape around the edges to the inside of the lid. I had a smooth black washi tape and a white Sharpie so I could personalize my box.

Back-To-School DIY Disney-Style Storage Box

Carefully apply clear packing tape in strips across the top of your box, going horizontally. I made my tape about a half inch longer on each side so I could wrap around the edges. Try not to overlap the pieces of tape too much, butting them against each other for a smooth finish. Work carefully because once you stick the tape you won’t be able to remove it. I had 3-D stickers so I applied them after this last step.

Back-To-School DIY Disney-Style Storage Box is Perfect for Storing School Supplies or Disney mementos!

Hot-diggety-dog! You have a perfect Disney-inspired back to school box for storing all your school supplies. Of course, this would also make a great place to store Disney mementos like maps, tickets and souvenir buttons, as well! My kids don’t start school for another few weeks so we haven’t bought our school supplies yet!

Back-To-School DIY Disney-Style Storage Box

Now that Dillon has his own box, I need to make one for each of my other kids! What theme will you use to make your Disney box?

Back-To-School DIY Disney-Style Storage Box is Perfect for Storing School Supplies or Disney mementos!

For more Disney inspired back to school ideas,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!

Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Red | Back to School | Disney Inspired Ideas Loop:

July 21, 2016

Prepping the Car for a Family Day Trip

Find out How I Prep the Car for a Family Day Trip #RoadTripOil #AD

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #RoadTripOil #CollectiveBias

Living in San Diego, we don’t have to drive far to find great adventures! Our summer plans include visits to the beach, local amusement parks, museums and even a drive to the mountains for a hike.  I bought my car brand new almost 12 years ago. It has over 140K miles on it and still runs great! Regular maintenance and oil changes is key, of course. Here’s how we have fun on our day trips, what we pack in the car when we hit the road and how the Walmart Auto Care Center gets the car in top shape.

Find out How I Prep the Car for a Family Day Trip #RoadTripOil #AD

Where To Go

You don’t have to go far to find family fun. Check local activities in your area for a great day trip, some place you can drive to and return home in the same day. Even if it’s just a nice picnic spot in a park, make a day out of it by bringing some outdoor games like a frisbee with you. Or grab a favorite board game and enjoy playing on the grass. We like to head out into the mountains for an afternoon fishing at the lake.

Have everyone in your family give some input on a place they’d like to go and then choose one each week until you’ve covered them all! My big kids wanted to play baseball at the park, I wanted to wander through Old Town San Diego and my little one wanted to swim at the bay. We’ve covered all three this summer and still have a few more fun day trips planned before school starts up!

Find out How I Prep the Car for a Family Day Trip #RoadTripOil #AD

What To Bring

Depending on where you’ll headed, your day trip packing list may vary. I have written this checklist on Traveling Mom for essentials everyone should pack with them in their bag. I keep a fabric bin in the trunk that’s loaded with day trip needs so I’m always ready and I can save myself some time.

If you’re going to be gone all day and would like to budget your meals, make sure to pack snacks and lunches to avoid having to make a costly stop for fast food. Bottled water is a must and I plan on three different snacks per person for the entire day. We like to choose snacks that can handle the heat inside the trunk, like nuts, dried fruit, apples and crackers. If you bring a lunch that needs chilling, place a small cooler in the car with a freezer chill pack that will keep everything a good temperature.

Find out How I Prep the Car for a Family Day Trip #RoadTripOil #AD

Don’t forget a towel, waterproof blanket or beach chairs to sit on. A disposable tablecloth is a good idea if you are going to be dining al fresco (picnic tables aren’t always the cleanest). On that note, bring hand sanitizer too, in case you aren’t able to wash hands before eating.

If you’re going to be gone until sunset, take note of the weather and bring a jacket if necessary. I like to bring my kids at least a clean shirt and shorts to put on at the end of the day so they aren’t sitting in the car wearing sweaty and dirty clothes! Bring a big plastic bag to throw everything in at the end of the day and pop it in the trunk to clean out when you get home. This will help you keep all the mess in one place.

How To Prep

My car has a lot of miles on it but it never lets me down. Pennzoil® High Mileage Vehicle® motor oil helps clean out the sludge lesser oils leave behind, while helping to reduce leaks and oil consumption in worn or higher mileage engines. It’s a motor oil specifically designed for new or late model vehicles with over 75,000 miles, with the mission of keeping engines running clean and going strong.

Find out How I Prep the Car for a Family Day Trip #RoadTripOil #AD

Make your life easier and get your oil changed with Pennzoil at Walmart’s Automotive Care Center. So nice that you can shop for your day trip and get your oil changed while you shop. You’ll be ready to hit the road immediately after check-out! I loved that I was able to drop off my car in Walmart’s Automotive Care Center and take the kids inside the air-conditioned store to pick up snacks for our recent drive up the coast to a theme park.

High mileage oil changes are on Rollback at Walmart ($35.88) from June 15 – September 28 so it’s a great time to prep the car for those summer adventures. Find your Walmart Automotive Care Center and drop in (no reservation needed) to get the oil changed on your vehicle so you can be trip ready too when the adventure-mood strikes!

What family day trips you have planned this summer? Share with me in the comments.


July 20, 2016

7 Rookie Mistakes to Avoid When Planning a Disney Vacation

Tip #1 - No surprises! Check out these 7 rookie mistakes to avoid when you plan your Disney vacation!

Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Blue Loop. Today we are sharing some common Disney mistakes and how you can avoid them.

Going to Disney can be overwhelming for even the most seasoned travelers. So much to remember and so much more to learn! But I find that I can have just as much fun in the planning stages as in the actual vacation itself. Last year my family and I (all seasoned Disneyland travelers) took our first last-minute trip to Walt Disney World and made *ahem*,  many mistakes! It happens to the best of us and if this is your first Disney vacation, you have your hopes up that everything will go well. And it can!

In order to make your vacation go as smoothly as possible, check out these 7 rookie mistakes to avoid when you plan your Disney vacation.

7 Rookie Mistakes to Avoid When Planning a Disney Vacation

Photo Credit: Jeff Holz

“Surprise! We’re Going to Disney…Right NOW!!”

It sounds like a great idea, right? You’ll take them to the airport or pop them in the car for the road trip and surprise them with a trip to Disney! They’ll be so happy, right?? Depending upon your kids, this surprise of a lifetime could go either way. And you’ll really have to know your kids to know how a big surprise like that would go down.

For my two older children, a surprise vacation would not be welcome and might indeed spark a meltdown. They both like to know early-on what’s going to happen and be totally prepared so a surprise Disney trip would not be the best idea. However, my 4-year old would be thrilled! He tends to roll-with-the-punches a little better and doesn’t mind a few changes in his routine. Only you know how your kids might react.

7 Rookie Mistakes to Avoid When Planning a Disney Vacation

What kind of reaction are you expecting?

Instead of surprising the kids just as you’re leaving, consider a surprise early on in the planning stages of the vacation. This still gives you the excitement of “Wow, we’re going to Disney?!” but allows them time to let the idea of a big vacation sink in. They’ll also be able to properly prepare and help you plan the trip as well and give input on what rides and attractions they’d like to see. I like the idea of a surprise that includes a Disney Vacation Planning DVD (you can order one free through this link) so they can watch and take notes on what to expect during their trip.

“Why Is It So Crowded?”

If you plan on visiting Disney on a weekend, summertime, holiday season or pretty-much anytime that kids are out of school, you’ll need to be prepared that the Parks will be crowded. Be sure to take a look at the calendar before booking your trip to make sure an avoid three-day weekends and holidays if you want to visit when the Park crowds are lighter.

Check out these 7 rookie mistakes to avoid when you plan your Disney vacation.

Photo Credit: Jeff Holz

See my post about the Best Times of the Year to Visit Disneyland

Best times

“I Am Totally Lost”

Finding yourself directionally challenged once you pass Main St. U.S.A? Take some time in your pre-vacation planning to study the maps of each Park. Each of the Disney Parks are large and have lots of nooks and crannies to explore. If you have a general idea of the layout of the “Lands” then at least you won’t be looking for the Haunted Mansion in Tomorrowland.

Check out these 7 rookie mistakes to avoid when you plan your Disney vacation.

“I Thought I’d Be Able to See ALL the Characters?”

At any given moment, you might find a dozen characters meeting and greeting guests throughout the Park. Will you find your favorite? Maybe! Not all characters meet guests year-round. Some you’ll be sure to see, like Mickey and the “fab five” throughout the day at the Parks and others only come out for special occasions. You’ll get an idea of which characters will be out that day from the Entertainment Times Guide you receive at the front gate. There are also special appearances that aren’t in the schedule and of course you can see characters in the shows and parades as well.

Check out these 7 rookie mistakes to avoid when you plan your Disney vacation.

Be sure to see my post on Traveling Mom, Ways to Meet Mickey and Other Characters for more details on how to see your favorites along with tips for having the best character meet n’ greet experience!

Check out these 7 rookie mistakes to avoid when you plan your Disney vacation.

Photo Credit: Jeff Holz

“What Are We Going to Eat?”

Waiting until your vacation day to decide on your Disney meals is a mistake. Even if you only plan on grab & go counter service meals, you should still plan ahead of time what food you’ll be eating. This not only saves you time deciding on the spot, time spent zig-zagging across the Park to get to the restaurant and time perusing the menu deciding on your meal. With such a large family, I always print off a few of the restaurant menus online so we can decide what we’ll be ordering before our trip. We can decide early about sharing platters of food, budgeting for meals and save us time in line trying to decide. One of us orders and the other gets the table and it’s a much more expedited process!

Check out these 7 rookie mistakes to avoid when you plan your Disney vacation.

Gaston’s Tavern is open, just stop in!

In the case of full-service dining, much of the dining at Disney is considered an “experience”. And at Walt Disney World especially, you’ll need Advance Dining Reservations (ADR) to get into these restaurants. When we were checking in for our reservation at 50’s Prime Time Cafe, there were a half-dozen people trying to get in to the booked restaurant without any luck. You’ll definitely need ADR if you plan on full-service. You can play it by ear at Disneyland for the most past, save for Character meals and peak season.

Check out these 7 rookie mistakes to avoid when you plan your Disney vacation.

Dining at Be Our Guest requires Advance Dining Reservations

Check out these posts about Sharing Meals at Disneyland and Dining at Disneyland without ADR.

Sharing Meals-PIN         ADR-PIN

“I Should Have Brought the…”

Regretting that you forgot to bring something with you into the Parks? Having a packing list ready before your trip will help you to remember everything you’ll need to pack up in your day bag. I find that jotting down essentials as I recall them in the weeks leading up to the trip will help me better than if I go off the top of my head when I’m loading up the suitcase. Certainly there are a lot of things you can buy inside the Disney Parks gift shops from antacids to flip-flops but the prices will be higher as well. At least at Disneyland, there are convenience stores within walking distance of the front gates.

Check out these 7 rookie mistakes to avoid when you plan your Disney vacation.

Thought you wouldn’t need a stroller and now you regret not bringing it? Fortunately you can rent one in the Parks.

See these posts about What to Bring to Disney, Expectant Mom’s Packing List and the Disney Packing List for Kids

What to bring -PIN     Expectant Mom's Disney Packing List-PIN     Disney Trip Packing List-PIN

“Why Are the Kids So Cranky?! This is Supposed to be the Happiest Place on Earth!”

Disney Parks are chock full of entertainment from rope drop to midnight, and beyond. For most kids, the constant activity combined with a disruption in their usual routine (and nap schedule) can cause tantrums like you’ve never seen before! For other kids, anxiety about all the new noises, sights and smells might put them into stress-mode. Be sure to work in some downtime into your Disney vacation schedule. A mid-trip “off day” will give everyone a chance to sleep in, relax and unwind a bit before getting back into the theme-park frenzy again.

Check out these 7 rookie mistakes to avoid when you plan your Disney vacation.

Someone was ready for a break

Here are a few handy posts about Avoiding the Disneyland MeltdownCalming Anxious Children and Things to Do on an Off-Day.

Meltdown-PIN (2)     Scared kids-PIN     Off-Day thumbnail

Need more help with your first time Disney vacation planning?

Be sure to check out this post about the 5 Things You Need to Do Before Your First Disney Trip for more travel planning tips!

5 Things You Need to Do

For more ways to avoid mistakes at Disney,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!

Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Blue | Disney Mistakes & How to Avoid Them Loop:


July 15, 2016
1 Comment

I’m a DisneyBaby Contributing Author!

I’m just delighted to share that I’m a new contributing author to the DisneyBaby website!

One of my "Disney Babies", 3 month old Natalie.

One of my “Disney Babies”, 3 month old Natalie.

I’ll be sharing my thoughts and Disney travel advice with DisneyBaby readers in several posts a month on their site with features on their Facebook page, Pinterest, Instagram and other social media outlets.

I currently have two posts up, 6 Items for Baby You Might Not Think to Take to Disney Parks and 7 Disney Experiences to Enjoy Before Baby Turns Two. You can find all my posts here on the DisneyBaby website along with my author profile. I’m so excited with this new venture and hope that you’ll follow me along with the fun!

July 14, 2016
Comments Off on All You Need to Know About Disneyland Tickets

All You Need to Know About Disneyland Tickets

Everything You Need to Know About Disneyland Tickets, from discounts, FASTPASS, Annual Passes and Where NOT to buy them!

One of the major expenses of your Disneyland vacation is your Park entrance ticket. Disneyland tickets are paper (no Walt Disney World MagicBands here!) and they are also your “ticket” so-to-speak for grabbing FASTPASS throughout your vacation. Naturally, with something so important there’s a lot to learn.

Here’s the scoop on what you need to know about Disneyland tickets!

All You Need to Know About Disneyland Tickets

My number one tip on buying Disneyland tickets is….

Don’t wait to buy your park tickets when you get to the park.


You are able to buy park tickets on the Disneyland website. You can buy them from travel agencies, AAA, credit union or at Costco. You can buy them at the Disney Store in the mall. Some of the Anaheim Good Neighbor hotels sell them. You can even buy them at Southern California grocery stores. I recommend purchasing online through Park Savers (affiliate link) because they are an authorized seller of discounted tickets.

Do not buy tickets at Disneyland…that is, unless you like to stand in line for 30+ minutes when you could be getting into the park. Or if you like paying full price instead of getting a possible discount by doing a little shopping around!

Everything You Need to Know About Disneyland Tickets, from discounts, FASTPASS, Annual Passes and Where NOT to buy them!

Lined up in the morning at the box office…when they could be in the Park!

If you buy your tickets elsewhere, you can go directly to the front gate and they will trade your ticket in whatever form it is (it might look like a plain print-out or like a plastic gift card) for an official park ticket right then and there.

Who doesn’t need a ticket?

If your child is under three years old, their admission is free!

Everything You Need to Know About Disneyland Tickets, from discounts, FASTPASS, Annual Passes and Where NOT to buy them!

Kids under three don’t need a Park ticket.

What’s a Park Hopper?

A Disneyland ticket with a Park Hopper option allows guests to visit both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Park on the same day. “Hopping” between Parks is generally quick (they are just across a short esplanade from each other) though entry to Disneyland can sometimes take longer on busy days.

Park Hoppers do add a bit more cost to your ticket price. If you are staying for only 1 or 2 days, I would highly recommend a Park Hopper option. This way you’ll be able to make the best use of your mornings by hitting popular rides, grabbing FASTPASS and going back and forth between the Parks. If you are staying for 3+ days, I would purchase non-Park Hoppers because you’ll be able to spend more time exploring each Park thoroughly by staying in one each day. You’ll also get a better rate on 3+ day tickets.

Everything You Need to Know About Disneyland Tickets, from discounts, FASTPASS, Annual Passes and Where NOT to buy them!

Standing in the esplanade between the two Parks (yep, very pregnant!)

How Do I Get the Best Rates on Tickets?

Generally the more in-park days you purchase upfront, the better discount you’ll be getting. Consider one of the Annual Passports if you plan on going back at any point during the year or if your vacation is going to be longer. If you purchase a Signature pass, you’ll have no blackout dates, receive free parking, food discounts and some retail shop discounts as well.

I highly recommend purchasing tickets from Park Savers (affiliate link) online as they are an authorized seller of discount tickets for Disneyland, Walt Disney World, Knott’s Berry Farm, Universal Studios and LEGOLAND . They also offer the SoCal City Pass which includes tickets to Disneyland as well as other Southern California attractions and you’ll save buying the set versus buying individual tickets for each park.

Park Savers logo

Stay at one of the Disneyland Resort Hotels and book one of their travel packages, which can include park tickets at a discounted rate. Of course, staying at a Disneyland resort hotel is going to cost more than an off-site hotel. Park Savers also offers discounted vacation packages, so I’d definitely request a quote from them first!

If you are a Southern California resident you often have the advantage of receiving discounted prices on short visit tickets during certain times of the year. You’ll need proof of residence upon entry to the Park. Military, teachers and some other professionals may receive discounts through your employer.

Keep in mind that a 1-day ticket price has seasonal pricing based on when the Park crowds are “peak” (more expensive ticket), “regular” or “value”(less expensive ticket). You’ll pay more to visit on the weekends and holiday seasons. Unless you are very tight on time and only have one day, you should definitely avoid the 1-day ticket.

How Do I Use My Ticket for a FASTPASS?

Everything You Need to Know About Disneyland Tickets, from discounts, FASTPASS, Annual Passes and Where NOT to buy them!

First I should answer, “What’s a FASTPASS?”

FASTPASS is a way for you to get a “reservation” in a shorter line for a particular ride. FASTPASS is free so there’s no reason not to try it! Each of the following attractions have a FASTPASS Distribution Area where you will scan in your park ticket and in return be given a special FASTPASS “return” ticket. This will have a window of time printed on it for you to come back to the attraction and be able to take a “short-cut” by using the designated FASTPASS line instead of standing in the regular line-up.

There are a few tips and rules about using FASTPASS

always use FASTPASS whenever possible. Of course there are days you won’t need to use it, like if the park isn’t terribly crowded. There are even days when Disneyland won’t offer the FASTPASS because the lines are short enough already.

However there are certain rides I absolutely will not wait in the regular line-up and will only use FASTPASS for. Radiator Springs Racers is one ride that you should grab a FASTPASS for first thing in the morning. Anything new, like the show Frozen – Live at the Hyperion will have a long wait in stand-by so nabbing a FASTPASS if you want to see it is imperative.

When you approach the FASTPASS Distribution Area for a particular ride, pay note to the time frame that you will be asked to return. If the Park is really crowded your return time might be a few hours out. There is even a chance that FASTPASS will not be available on extremely busy days because they will be “filled up” very early in the day. This happened to us for Soarin’ last time we visited on a busy weekend. It was about noon and the FASTPASS times weren’t available until after 6pm!

Everything You Need to Know About Disneyland Tickets, from discounts, FASTPASS, Annual Passes and Where NOT to buy them!

Get your FASTPASS early for Radiator Springs Racers!

Each person in your party will need their own FASTPASS. This means you’ll have to individually scan in each person’s ticket so they will each get a FASTPASS.

The best use of FASTPASS is to have a game plan of things to do until the FASTPASS time is ready. For instance, the Autopia line is always long and I always get a FASTPASS for this. You’ll have about 40 minutes to wait until your FASTPASS is valid so you could ride the Disneyland Railroad all the way around the Park, go on the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, watch the Star Wars show that’s close by or go inside the Star Wars Launch Bay for a while. The point is to do something else while you are waiting for your FASTPASS time to come up. Make the best use of your time and find something else in that area to occupy you until your FASTPASS time is ready!

Annual Passport

If you decide mid-vacation that you’d like to upgrade to an Annual Passport, you can apply the amount that you paid for the ticket (so long as it hasn’t expired) to the cost for the Annual Passport. If you buy the AP, consider which pass makes the best sense for you and your family. Different AP have certain blockout dates so check the calendar before deciding which one is best for you.

Keep in mind that you can mix and match AP within your family to get the best deal that works for you. When I had AP, my boys had the SoCal Passport and I had the Premium (now called Signature). This meant that I could get free parking and a discount on food and some merchandise. There was no reason for the kids to have the Premium because they would never be at the park without me and I would be making all the purchases, so I was the only one who needed to have the higher costing AP with the best discounts.

Annual Passports have a monthly payment option (after an initial down payment) so you can take the year to pay the price of the Passport off.

All You Need to Know About Disneyland Tickets

My husband having his photo taken upon entering the park for the first time with our multi-day Park Hopper ticket.

What NOT to Do When Buying or Using Tickets?

  • Don’t buy tickets on Craigslist or on Ebay. You have no way of looking at the tickets and knowing if they are valid or legal.
  • Don’t buy tickets from anyone selling them outside the Park. Buy only from an authorized dealer.
  • Don’t buy anyone else’s multi-day ticket from them. You have no way of knowing how many days are still valid on that ticket! Also your photo will be taken the first time you use your multi-day ticket and verified each time you enter.
  • Don’t lose your ticket!
All You Need to Know About Disneyland Tickets

Take a photo of the backside of your ticket in case it gets lost.

Your park ticket will allow you entrance in and out of the park for the day and also use for FASTPASS so don’t lose your ticket! I recommend that you take a photograph of the backside of your ticket as soon as you have it to capture the bar code/date stamp. You’ll be able to get a replacement at Guest Relations should your ticket go missing (make sure everyone in your group and all the tickets that were purchased are with you).