February 22, 2017

20 Trusted Tips for Traveling Alone with a Baby to Disney

Traveling Alone with a Baby to Disney? Check out these 20 trusted tips for solo travel with a baby.

Traveling with a baby has many challenges. Traveling by yourself with a baby? Even more to consider! How about traveling alone with a baby to Disney? I’m here to tell you it can be done! With some advance planning and knowledge, traveling alone with a baby doesn’t have to be vacation-doom. Read on for my 20 tips for traveling alone with a baby

Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Orange Loop. Today we are sharing tips and ideas for a solo trip to Disney.

Traveling Alone with a Baby

Last year I had the opportunity to travel to Walt Disney World for a conference with the TravelingMoms. With a 6 month old at home, I knew that I’d need to bring her with me for the 4 days I’d be out of town. I was feeling confident and excited. First of all, I was going to Disney World! Second, with only a baby in tow, it was going to be almost like a solo vacation (hmm, almost but not quite!)

Traveling Alone with a Baby to Disney? Check out these 20 trusted tips for solo travel with a baby.

Starstruck by Chip

I had a lot to learn, it seems! I’ve outlined all the details you’ll need to consider when traveling alone with a baby, with special considerations given for Disney vacation travel.

Please note that I use affiliate links in this post. Clicking through and making a purchase through these links helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

1. Travel Times

When considering booking your flight, take a look at your baby’s schedule. I chose to fly in the morning, which would fall during my daughter’s first nap of the day. She’s also in a much better mood in the morning than in the evening so I knew she’d be happier during the flight. I was flying from San Diego to Orlando which clocks in at just around 5 hours. I lucked out and she was able to sleep for about 2 hours on the plane while I wore her in the front carrier.

Solo with a Baby Traveling Tip: Choose a non-stop flight whenever possible. Getting on and off the plane with all your stuff and a baby is less daunting if you know you only have to do it once each way.

Traveling Alone with a Baby to Disney? Check out these 20 trusted tips for solo travel with a baby.

2. Checked Luggage

One of the best things about a Walt Disney World vacation is that luggage is handled for you when you stay on-site. Check it curbside at the airport and the next time you’ll see it will be inside your Disney World resort hotel room! Yes, they take care of getting your luggage from the airlines and then deliver it directly to your room. One less thing to worry about for sure!

What do you need to pack with you for a Disney vacation? Be sure to check out these two handy printable lists, a list for mom and a list for baby! I’ll mention that I underestimated the number of wipes I’d need and had to buy more on the last day. Fortunately they sold them inside the Baby Care center at Epcot!

Solo with a Baby Traveling Tip: You’ll be lugging your luggage to the front of the hotel on check-out day so make sure you have one that rolls well and isn’t so impossibly heavy that you can’t handle it yourself.

3. Carry-On Bags

In addition to what you’d normally pack in a carry-on bag for yourself, you’re also going to need to carry everything for baby as well. This would include plenty of diapers and wipes, changing table pad, baby snacks, blanket, bottle or cup and at least 1 change of clothes (some babies have intestinal issues during air travel because of the increased pressure, so you might want to bring 2+ outfits!)

The baby’s #Disneyland outfits are done, we can officially go on vacation! #Disney #sewing #babyclothes

A post shared by Julie Bigboy (@juliebutterfly2000) on

Solo with a Baby Traveling Tip: Consider making your carry-on bag a backpack. Not only will it be easier to carry through the airport, you’ll also be able to access your supplies easier when you can compartmentalize in a backpack rather than a cavernous tote bag.

4. Navigating the Airport

From checking your luggage, passing through security checks and making the long walk to your gate, you’re going to need free hands. Holding a baby and juggling these other tasks is tricky so make it easy on yourself and wear the baby so your hands are free. On my flight to Disney World I was allowed to pass through security while baby-wearing and didn’t have to take her off my body. I use a Boba Air Baby Carrier and wore it through my entire trip. Invaluable!

Solo with a Baby Traveling Tip: Wear shoes that slip on and off easily without your hands so you won’t have sit and bend over to tie them.

5. On the Flight

My daughter sat on my lap during the flight, mostly held in her front carrier. I opted not to purchase a seat for her or bring her car seat because I knew that I would not be able to carry it on the travels by myself. Once in my plane seat, I used a sanitizing wipe to clean down any surface that my baby might touch (windowsill, arm rests and tray table).

Ready for takeoff! SAN to MCO #waltdisneyworld here we come #tmomdisney #Tmom

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I was blessed to have an empty seat next to me on the flight there and a completely empty row on the flight home! This allowed me to spread out a bit and use the empty seat to hold my carry-on backpack. You might not be so lucky and of course, space is tight on a plane. Pack your carry-on bag judiciously so you can reach in for what you need quickly when it’s at your feet.

Solo with a Baby Traveling Tip: Forget pulling out the laptop on the plane; with a lap-sitting baby you probably won’t have the space for it on the tray table. Bring a good book or magazine for when baby naps (or heck, take a nap yourself!)

6. Bathroom Breaks

When you gotta go, you gotta go! What do you do when you have to use the bathroom? Because I wasn’t going to have a stranger on the plane hold my baby, I placed her inside the front carrier and still had my hands free to do my business and properly wash my hands. When in the Disney parks, I’d simply roll her inside the bathroom in her stroller and use one of the large stalls. Take the changing pad with you and take care of baby’s needs while you’re in the bathroom too.

Solo with a Baby Traveling Tip: Changing diapers on the plane has it’s own challenges! Be sure to read this post with tips for changing a diaper on a plane from my friend Leslie at Trips with Tykes.

7. Using a Stroller

Since I was using the front carrier to tote my baby through the airport, I opted to leave our regular stroller at home. I had used Amusement Park Rentals in the past for my son and contacted them once again for a stroller on this trip with the baby. It was so convenient to meet them in the lobby, have the rental stroller for the trip and then have them pick it up at the end of the visit. They even included a rain cover for the stroller in case of showers.

Solo with a Baby Traveling Tip: If you choose to bring a stroller with you, roll it right up to the entrance of the plane and the stewards will store it for you.

Heavy sleeper. @disneyland #disneybaby #Rollercoaster #Disney #Disneyland

A post shared by Julie Bigboy (@juliebutterfly2000) on

8. Take the Magical Express

One of the fabulous benefits of staying at a Disney World resort hotel is complimentary use of Magical Express. This is bus transportation that will take you from Orlando Airport directly to the front entrance of your Disney World resort. Babies can lap sit just like on the plane. If you have a car seat they will not allow it on the bus, it will be stored underneath the bus with carry on luggage.

Solo Traveling Tip: If staying off-site at a non-Disney resort hotel and unable to use Magical Express, bring a car seat from home for baby. Services like Uber and Lyft do offer car seats in some vehicles but they aren’t rear-facing seats for babies under 2.

Need park tickets? You can buy them before the trip at a discount from Park Savers!

Park Savers affiliate link

9. Transportation on Disney Property

Once on Disney property you’ll be able to get to and from your hotel to the parks and Disney Springs via transportation buses, monorail system and friendship boats. You’ll be in charge of carrying your baby, folding and carrying your own stroller and handling your own bags so consider this when packing for a day in the parks. If you find yourself in need of help, ask someone standing in line with you for assistance. In my case, I always had someone asking me if I would like help or they’d even swoop in and grab my stroller to put it on the bus for me!

Solo Traveling Tip: During peak season and when mass groups are entering or leaving the parks, seating can be very limited. There were several times I had to stand on the bus and hold onto the rail. Wearing baby in a front carrier so you can hold on to the rails and not take a tumble when the bus turns or stops is imperative.

10. Hotel Choice

The rooms at All-Star Music and Sports were on the small side but adequately suited for just the two of us. It had enough space for me to park the stroller in the doorway and the second bed allowed me to spread out luggage and use it as a changing table for the baby. I was co-sleeping with my daughter so we simply shared one of the queen sized beds. However resort guests can request a pack ‘n’ play portable crib when booking your reservation. It would have been a very tight fit for a crib in the All-Star rooms so keep that in mind when looking at the resort hotel square footage.

Traveling Alone with a Baby to Disney? Check out these 20 trusted tips for solo travel with a baby.

All-Star resort hotel room

Solo Traveling Tip: Getting back and forth from the hotel room to the bus pick-up, the time it took to travel and then the walking from the bus depot into the parks really takes a great effort when alone with a baby! Consider booking a hotel on the monorail line to cut transportation time and struggles.

11. Room Location Requests

On my visit, I stayed in three different hotels. Certainly not ideal but I was padding my stay at the conference hotel on each end of the visit with a Disney Resort hotel. Unfortunately the two Disney Resorts were All-Star Music and Sports, which are both very large resorts. The rooms I was given at each hotel were the furthest walk to and from the front entrance. It would seriously take me 15 minutes of brisk walking to get from my room to the bus each day. It took even longer on check-out day when I was trying to push a baby in a stroller, carry a diaper bag and wheel my luggage at the same time!

Solo Traveling Tip: If you’re traveling alone with a baby put in a request when booking the room for a location that isn’t such a long distance away.

Thankful for this sweet girl, who has been the best travel companion I could have asked for! #TMOM #TBaby #WaltDisneyWorld

A post shared by Julie Bigboy (@juliebutterfly2000) on

12. Consider Renting a Locker

If you’re packing in everything you’ll need for a Disney day including diapers, wipes, a change of clothes and baby food, consider renting a locker in the Park to hold items until you need them. No need lugging around all the diapers and food for the day if you can store some of them in a locker that allows in and out privileges.

Traveling Alone with a Baby to Disney? Check out these 20 trusted tips for solo travel with a baby.

13. Dining at Disney

If your baby is big enough to sit inside a highchair you’ll find that they are plentiful inside restaurants, including quick service locations. I decided not to pack the highchair cover because it was just so big to lug around with me inside the parks. All of the highchairs I used were quite clean and had functioning buckles. I simply wiped the chair down with a sanitizing wipe before putting my baby inside.

Although children under 2 are free to eat at the buffet with a paying adult, I chose to skip the buffets. It’s next to impossible to hold two trays of food on your own as well as handle your baby! I also opted out of full-service dining on my trip as my baby wasn’t eating table food yet.

Traveling Alone with a Baby to Disney? Check out these 20 trusted tips for solo travel with a baby.

Definitely ask for help if you need it. Navigating inside the quick service lines with a stroller and balancing a tray of food through crowded seating areas is hard when you’re alone. I requested help from the server when I ordered, asking if I could have assistance with getting my tray to the table.

Solo Traveling Tip: Check out this post about feeding your baby at Disney, including what to pack (disposable bibs and stick-on place mats are a must!)

14. Taking on the Rides

There are so many rides and attractions to experience, even with a baby on board. Since you won’t be able to use Rider Swap on this trip if you want to go on a ride, you’ll have to take baby with you!

Pre-trip, check out the height restrictions on the Disney parks website. If there are no restrictions, you can bring baby with you onto the ride. At both Walt Disney World and Disneyland I’ve been able to ride dozens of things with my baby on my lap, even Pirates of the Caribbean, Mad Tea Party teacups and the Haunted Mansion.

PeopleMover for the first time! #Tmom #MickeysNotSoScaryHalloweenParty #WaltDisneyWorld

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Sleeping baby in a front carrier? Ask the Cast Member at the front of the attraction if you can ride. I was able to hop on Dumbo the Flying Elephant while my daughter napped and she never woke up. At Walt Disney World on the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh I was instructed by the Cast Member to remove her from the carrier and turn her forward facing with her legs under the bar. And keep baby in the front carrier through the queue waits…your tired arms will thank you!

Solo Traveling Tip: Use FastPass when you can to keep the line waits down. You’ll find that getting a FastPass for the non-thrill rides is pretty easy. I even used my choices for character meet n’ greets.

Traveling Alone with a Baby to Disney? Check out these 20 trusted tips for solo travel with a baby.

My very cool travel companion.

15. Shows for All Ages

Certain shows (like Mickey’s PhilharMagic and It’s Tough to Be a Bug!) have extremely high volumes and may contain some frightening elements. Things like the fireworks spectacular may frighten your baby. If you’re far enough away from the action, she may be fine with the show (mine wasn’t fazed by the noise).

Other shows are very calm, like Enchanted Tales with Belle and The American Adventure. Some shows feature lively music or bright colors (like Finding Nemo-The Musical, Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room or Country Bear Jamboree) that baby may enjoy watching the action. Of course the parades are all very fun for baby to watch as well. All of the indoor shows I saw requested that you leave your stroller outside.

Solo Traveling Tip: Read up on what show elements will be appropriate for baby in the books The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland 2017 and The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World 2017. There are details on the scare-factor of each attraction.


16. Quiet Areas

Baby’s overstimulated? Or do you just need a quiet place to rest and recoup? Check out the Baby Care Centers. There is one located in each Disney Park and it’s a clean place to nurse, feed, diaper change, rock or just relax quietly with your baby. The nursing rooms are dimmed and some have rocking chairs. For more breastfeeding tips at Disney parks see my post on DisneyBaby blog.

Solo Traveling Tip: Bring your cell phone and charging cord inside with you. I found outlets inside the nursing rooms (for plugging in a breast pump) but you can use it to recharge your phone while feeding your little one (so long as someone with a breast pump doesn’t need it).

Traveling Alone with a Baby to Disney? Check out these 20 trusted tips for solo travel with a baby.

Each Disney Park has a Baby Care Center.

17. Naptime Needs

Babies tend to sleep wherever and whenever, which is a great thing! However over-stimulation may result in naps that are delayed or skipped and shortened sleep schedules. Rested babies are happier babies so take time to make sure baby gets the rest she needs, even if it means returning to the hotel. I was able to get my daughter to fall asleep in the parks, usually after a feeding and then placing her inside the front carrier. There were times when my daughter was napping in her stroller. I took that time to browse the shops, stand in line for character meet n’ greets, eat a meal or simply rest and people-watch from a bench.

Traveling Alone with a Baby to Disney? Check out these 20 trusted tips for solo travel with a baby.

My sleepy girl “meeting” Jessie & Woody at Magic Kingdom

18. Capture the Moments

You NEED memories of this trip so be sure to take a camera with you! Take selfies. Hand over your camera to Disney PhotoPass photographers. Get in line with the characters for a sweet meet n’ greet. Make sure to get in the pictures yourself, too! Take pictures of it all, you’re going to love looking back at your baby’s first Disney trip!

Solo Traveling Tip: Don’t forget to collect a “First Visit” button to document your baby’s first day at Disney!

Traveling Alone with a Baby to Disney? Check out these 20 trusted tips for solo travel with a baby.

19. Accept Help

I was checking out of the hotel on the last day and struggling under all my bags. I had acquired a few souvenirs for the kids back home and my bags were overflowing. I was wearing the sleeping baby in her front carrier, pushing a stroller loaded down with one bag and pulling a suitcase behind me. Suddenly someone came up from behind me and started pushing my luggage for me, a teacher from Minnesota who was on the trip with students. She’d seen me lunking that suitcase across the sidewalk and happily pushed it for me as we chatted on the way to the front of the hotel.

Sure, there are sometimes you really can do it alone but if someone wants to help, let them! It makes them feel good to help you out. I can still remember the conversations I had on the transportation bus with the dad of the adopted children from Africa who carried my stroller on board. And the smile from the Cast Member who carried my food tray to my table.

20. Go With the Flow

For sure, traveling alone with a baby is sure to be a vacation that’s different than any other. You’ll be dealing with diapers, tears and feedings all by yourself. Baby’s having a meltdown at the sight of Mickey? Believe me, it won’t be the first time a baby has cried in a character’s face! Don’t stress, just laugh about it.

Traveling Alone with a Baby to Disney? Check out these 20 trusted tips for solo travel with a baby.

She woke up and the first thing she saw was Mickey’s face. She was not amused.

And just because you aren’t riding coasters and are going by baby’s schedule instead of your own, doesn’t mean you can’t have a magical time! Think of traveling alone with your baby as the perfect opportunity to do things on this trip that you wouldn’t consider otherwise because you’re at a slower pace. Before you know it, your baby will be joining you on the coasters!

For more ideas for traveling solo to Disney,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!

Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Orange | Traveling Solo to Disney Loop:

Have you ever considered traveling alone with a baby to Disney? I’d love to hear your comments!

February 15, 2017

Disneyland Splurges for Kids (and Where to Cut Costs)

Disneyland Splurges for kids (and Money-Saving tips that still feel like a splurge!)

Disneyland splurges can really add a certain magic to your vacation. From tiny sweets to full-blown boutique make-overs, there’s a Disneyland splurge to fit every kid (and every budget)! With four kids in our family we don’t tend to go “all out” but it certainly adds joy to our trip to surprise the kids with a few little splurges. I have some suggestions of Disneyland splurges for the kids, plus some money saving ideas that still allow for special treats!

Disneyland Splurges for Kids (and Money-Saving Splurges You MUST make!)

Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Blue Loop. Today we are sharing fun ways to splurge at Disney.

Disneyland Splurges for the Kids

Yes, Disneyland is already a magical place. Throwing in a few splurges here and there on your trip will really put a twinkle in your child’s eye! These are some of the Disneyland splurges that kids will enjoy, with a range to fit any budget.

Please note that I include affiliate links in this post. Clicking the link and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

Sweet Treats

When I think of Disneyland splurges, I think dessert! All those sweet treats to indulge in, with many of them perfectly designed for the delight of children. There are character-themed marshmallows on a stick sold all over the Park, sundaes from Gibson Girl, milk shakes from Flo’s V-8 Cafe and adorable cookies we found at Jolly Holiday Bakery & Cafe (check out the Cheshire Cat cookie! It matched my daughter’s leggings!)

Disneyland Splurges for Kids (and Money-Saving Splurges You MUST make!)

And of course there are some amazing caramel apples sold throughout the Parks. We love watching them create the apples at Marceline’s in Downtown Disney District. Each apple is painstakingly dipped and decorated by hand.

Disneyland Splurges for Kids (and Money-Saving Splurges You MUST make!)

*Money Saving Splurge* – Buy a caramel apple and request to have it cut into slices. Then everyone can indulge and share the treat!

Watch the video of how caramel apples are made at Disneyland on my YouTube channel.

Portrait Drawing

Older kids may appreciate this more than youngers but having your portrait done (in the streets of New Orleans Square, just down from the exit of Pirates of the Caribbean) is a souvenir worth framing. Choose from silly caricatures or more serious pastel drawings.

A Splurge in Hand

Handheld goodies will put a smile on a child’s face! Items like balloons, light-up toys, spinners, Princess wands, swords and bubble blowers add to the Disney joy and are a nice souvenir too.

Disneyland Splurges for Kids (and Money-Saving Splurges You MUST make!)

*Money Saving Splurge* – If you buy a balloon and it pops, return the remnants to any balloon vendor in the Park for a replacement.

A Special Meal

Looking for a dining splurge you’ll never forget? Consider a meal at The Blue Bayou Restaurant. Not only do they have a location to die for inside the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction (it’s the only restaurant at Disneyland inside of an attraction!) but they have a menu that’s kid-friendly.

There are simple dishes like mac and cheese with veggies or more sophisticated options like salmon and beef strip loin. Kids will get a kick out of watching the ride boats float by and in the decor, which looks like you’re dining outside (complete with chirping crickets!) Just be sure to a get an Advance Dining Reservation because this is a very popular dining location.

*Money Saving Splurge* – Dine for lunch instead of dinner to save on the cost of adult meals.

Splurge-Worthy Special Event

There are several special events and packages available at Disneyland if you’re wanting to splurge! Check out the World of Color Dessert Party that gives guests reserved seating as well as dessert and drinks.

Disneyland Splurges for Kids (and Money-Saving Splurges You MUST make!)

Photo Credit: Jeff Holz

Visiting Disneyland during the fall? A ticket to Mickey’s Halloween Party is a must so that kids can dress in costume and trick or treat through the Park at night!

Stay On-Site

From the themed rooms, Extra Magic Hour, and the amazing pools, staying at a Disneyland Resort hotel is a splurge worth making. I’ve stayed in all three of the Disneyland Resort hotels and each offers their own magic.

Disneyland Splurges for Kids (and Money-Saving Splurges You MUST make!)

*Money Saving Splurge* – Naturally weekends, holidays and peak season dates will have higher prices. Stay mid-week and in the off-season to save on a Resort room. Sign up for offers and you may be sent a discount code in the mail or via email.

In-Room Decor

Want to give your kids a magical impression from the moment they enter the hotel room? Contact Disney Floral & Gifts for an in-room celebration that includes decorations, goodies, treats and personalized souvenirs laid out for them when they arrive.

*Money Saving Splurge* – Bring your own store-bought treats like bubbles and glow necklaces. Put them on your kid’s pillows and say that Tinker Bell delivered them!

Character Dining

Do your littles have a hearty appetite? Consider a character dining experience with an unlimited buffet. You’ll not only meet n’ greet with characters who come to your table for one-on-one time (photos and autographs too), you’ll also have some great options for dining that will please everyone in your group. Goofy’s Kitchen is a favorite, with an expansive buffet that includes pb & j pizza as well as freshly carved meats.

Disneyland Splurges for Kids (and Money-Saving Splurges You MUST make!)

Donald nabbing a strawberry at Minnie’s Breakfast at the Plaza Inn

Disney’s PCH Grill is our breakfast go-to with made-to-order omelettes. The Plaza Inn hosts Minnie in the mornings with a vast breakfast spread that kids will love (in between photo ops with a wide range of characters).

*Money Saving Splurge* – Choose breakfast instead of lunch or dinner to save on the cost.

Take a Tour

Older kids may enjoy the in-depth tour like “Walk in Walt’s Footsteps”. For a major splurge, reserve a “Plaid” for a VIP tour that will allow you priority access, reserved seating and a personal guide for the day.

Splurge-Worthy Souvenirs

Build-your-own light saber inside The Star Trader. There’s a large station with bits and parts to make it your own design. This area is usually crowded and you’ll be carrying around a big light saber so consider this a late stop in the day. If your kiddo is more the soft and cuddly type, they might prefer a Disney-themed teddy created at the Build-a-Bear Workshop in Downtown Disney District. Start your daughter’s first Pandora charm bracelet and purchase a Disney themed charm.

Disneyland Splurges for Kids (and Money-Saving Splurges You MUST make!)

*Money Saving Splurge* – Have a teddy at home? Shop the a la carte teddy bear outfits instead of making a bear.

Afternoon Tea

Do you have a sophisticated little lady who would enjoy an elegant snack of scones, tiny sandwiches and sips of tea? The afternoon tea held at the Disneyland Hotel has three options (classic, premium or kid’s tea party) and takes place in the elegant Steakhouse 55 restaurant. Dress to impress!

*Money Saving Splurge* – If this upscale experience is too much, consider a stop at the more casual Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe inside Disneyland. You can still indulge in treats, sandwiches and Very Berry Diamond Tea. You might even see Mary Poppins and Bert!

Sip and Splurge

Yes, even your beverages can be a splurge when you indulge in some of the fun that Disney offers. There are souvenir sippers, glow ice cubes and silly straws that can “upgrade” your drink. Check out the restaurant menu for other child-friendly beverage treats like mint julep at French Market, Louisiana Lemonade at Blue Bayou or Red’s Apple Freeze at the Cozy Cone Motel.

Disneyland Splurges for Kids (and Money-Saving Splurges You MUST make!)

A cool Olaf sipper

*Money Saving Splurge* – Ask for a “Shirley Temple” at some full-service restaurants. We were able to get this sweet drink (Sprite mixed with cherry juice) at the same cost as a fountain drink at the River Belle Terrace Restaurant.

Birthday Celebrations

No better time to splurge than for a birthday! Parents can pre-order a custom birthday cake to be served at select Disneyland Resort restaurants. Contact Disney Floral & Gifts for a birthday themed in-room celebration that includes room decoration and special gifts. The Build-a-Bear Workshop hosts birthday parties as well.

*Money Saving Splurge* – Pick up a complimentary personalized birthday button from guest services when you enter either of the Parks.

A Snack & a Splurge

Many of the snacks sold throughout the Disneyland Resort have an upgrade option. Choose to have your popcorn sold in a regular carton or splurge on a whimsical souvenir bucket. When ordering a kid’s meal at Flo’s V-8 Cafe you can opt for a Lightning McQueen keepsake. Order the “Kitchen Sink” like we did at Clarabelle’s and receive a souvenir Mickey-themed sink (mine holds desk supplies at home!)

Disneyland Splurges for Kids (and Money-Saving Splurges You MUST make!)

*Money Saving Splurge* – The Kitchen Sink is definitely big enough to share. Order ice cream cones separately if you want to fill them with the sundae from the “sink”.

A Magical Make-Over

What little princess wouldn’t love a head-to-toe fairy tale make-over from Bibbidi Bobbidy Boutique? Sparkling new gown, glittered up-do, make-up, nail polish and more! Even your little prince can get in on the action with a Knight’s Package. For the over-the-top splurge, Disney PhotoPass photographers will capture the moment for you with a customized portrait package.

Disneyland Splurges for Kids (and Money-Saving Splurges You MUST make!)

*Money Saving Splurge* – Purchase your own princess costume from DisneyStore online before your trip and wear it into the Park. Instead of going for the full-out make-over, you can still choose the hairstyle and make-up but save on the (very expensive) dress.

What are YOUR favorite Disneyland splurges? Share them in the comments (and be sure to check out the other Blogorail posts!)

For ways to splurge at Disney,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!

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

February 9, 2017
Comments Off on Disney Souvenirs To Buy BEFORE Your Disney Vacation

Disney Souvenirs To Buy BEFORE Your Disney Vacation

Buy Disney souvenirs before your vacation? Here are the practical reasons why you should buy these things ahead of your Disney trip.

Disney souvenirs bought in the Disney parks can be expensive! Yes, there are sometimes exclusive Disney souvenirs that can only be found in the parks, but more often than not you can purchase them at home for a reasonable price. There are also some souvenirs that you can purchase ahead of your trip and take them with you on vacation to use in the Disney parks! Keep reading for my list of Disney souvenirs to buy BEFORE you go on vacation.

Please note that this post contains affiliate links. Clicking and purchasing through my links helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

Buy Disney souvenirs before your vacation? Here are the practical reasons why you should buy these things ahead of your Disney trip.

Why Buy Disney Souvenirs Ahead of Time?

Why should you consider buying your Disney souvenirs before your vacation?

#1 is the cost benefit – You’ll save a great percentage buying items at home and bringing them with you versus purchasing them in the Parks.

#2 is that you’ll have more choices – Rather than be “stuck” with the limited choices available in the Parks, you’ll have the option of picking from the entire world wide web if you order them before you leave home!

#3 is that you’ll save precious vacation time – Why spend your vacation shopping for trinkets when you could be maximizing your Park time, swimming in the resort pool or sipping another Dole Whip float?!

No need to fill up your suitcases before your trip. You can certainly have souvenirs shipped to you at home or have them sent directly to meet you at your Disney Resort hotel.

Buy Disney souvenirs before your vacation? Here are the practical reasons why you should buy these things ahead of your Disney trip.

From the Walt Disney World website:

If you intend to receive mail during your vacation, be sure the letter or package:

  • Includes the mailing address of your Disney Resort Hotel
  • Clearly features the word “Guest” on the front and the date of your arrival

Please note that a $5 per package handling fee will apply to all packages that are received through the Front Desk or are delivered to your Disney Resort hotel room.

Buy Disney souvenirs before your vacation? Here are the practical reasons why you should buy these things ahead of your Disney trip.

Souvenirs to Cover Your Head

Did you know you can get Mouse Ear hats before your Disney trip? And adorable Ear headbands too! Or choose a ball cap to shield the sun from your eyes or a warm Disney cap to keep you toasty. Wear your hat on the plane to save on luggage space.

Pins for Trading

Some of these souvenir pins are PRICEY! Purchase ahead of time and shop for individual Disney Parks authentic trading pins from Disney Store. You can also purchase bulk lots of authentic pins on Amazon (like this Disney Trading Pins Lot) if you don’t have a specific pin in mind and don’t mind a few obscure pins. This is a great gift to give a child before your trip to get them started on pin trading.


If you must buy them in the Parks, choose only those pins that can’t be purchased elsewhere or that are limited edition specials.

Misting Fan

It can get hot at Disney and as the sweat rolls down your back you’ll be eyeing these misting fans that many of the guests buy in the Parks. You can find a Disney Misting Fan on Amazon for a lot less than you’ll pay in the Parks.


Lanyards can serve multiple purposes from holding trading pins, paper tickets & FastPass cards at Disneyland or your medical identification. You can purchase these in the Parks or find them online. Some even have a coin purse or pouch to hold cash.

Disney Store has Park Authentic lanyards, including this pretty Vera Bradley version. I like the Disney Mickey Mouse Lanyard with Coin Purse from Amazon.

Souvenir T-Shirts

I saw a souvenir t-shirt at Walt Disney World that I was considering for my baby girl on my last visit…until I saw the price tag of $30! Yikes! You can get three for the price of one if you shop wisely beforehand.

Target, Disney Store and Amazon all have fantastic authentic Disney designs and you won’t be paying more than you should for one tee.

Souvenir Plush

Cute little stuffed animals in the Parks come at a premium price. Why not buy them upfront and take advantage of frequent sales and special offers, like the Disney Store online often has. You can still get Mickey and Minnie but you’ll likely get them for a steal when you buy them beforehand.


Unless you’re using up your Disney Dining Plan snack credits, don’t use your souvenir money to buy pricey snacks. Tote in your usual snacks and if you must “Disney” them, pack them in a Disney-themed container.

Purchase Disney Park tickets ahead of your trip at a discounted price from Park Savers!

Park Savers affiliate link

Pretty Baubles

Okay, I’ll admit it, I can’t seem to stay out of the Pandora shop! I’ve purchased myself Pandora charms at both the tiny shop in New Orleans Square in Disneyland and the dreamy Main Street U.S.A. shop at Walt Disney World. Okay…and at the World of Disney too! These are the three charms that I have on my Pandora bracelet.

Pandora seems to have a set price on their charms so you won’t find that the price higher or lower by much. They do sometimes put them on sale at the Disney Store online (including the Disneyland 60th Anniversary charm).

Souvenirs to Light Up the Night

I’m a big fan of the Target Dollar Spot glow jewelry. Makes it easy to spot my kids after sunset. I use a few to wrap on the handle of the stroller so I can spot it in the crowd in the dark.

As soon as the sun is setting, the Disney Parks crew will pull out the carts stocked full with fun toys that glow and spin. Come prepared with your own light-up souvenirs for the kids, like the Mickey Mouse Glow Spinner.

For the Pool

Resist the urge to buy the new bathing suit, sandals, sunglasses or towel in the Disney Resort gift shop. I’ll admit that I bought my two older kids each a Disney-themed towel when I went to Walt Disney World and they cost me upwards of $20 a piece!

Get two for the price of one by purchasing Disney swimwear and towels before you leave home.

Souvenirs to Keep You Warm

Yes, I have several “souvenir” sweatshirts from day trips to Disneyland when the weather was chillier than expected! $50 later I wasn’t cold anymore but wow, I could certainly buy a nice sweatshirt or jacket for much less at home. Don’t forget to pack rain ponchos if showers are in the forecast!

What souvenirs do you buy before your trip? Share in the comments!

February 7, 2017

ALL the Disney Princesses in a Disney Collection by Jamberry GIVEAWAY!

 Disney Collection by Jamberry featuring All the Disney Princesses including Disney Princess Belle from Beauty and the Beast
I’ve been in LOVE with the Disney Collection by Jamberry wraps! Truly, I love these amazing designs that feature my favorite Disney characters and have enjoyed wearing them on my Disney vacations. Now ALL of the Disney Princesses are being featured in this next round of wraps in the Disney Collection by Jamberry, Volume 5.

Disney Princesses in the Disney Collection by Jamberry

What a dream come true! This new collection features ALL eleven Disney Princesses, including Disney Princess Belle. Naturally these arrive just in time for the premiere of the live-action “Beauty and the Beast” movie! See all of the wraps here!
Disney Collection by Jamberry featuring All the Disney Princesses including Disney Princess Belle from Beauty and the Beast
Yes, Buy 3 Get 1 Free applies to the Disney Collection by Jamberry! You can get four for the price of one, including Jamberry Junior wraps for little fingers.
Disney Collection by Jamberry featuring All the Disney Princesses including Disney Princess Belle from Beauty and the Beast Disney Collection by Jamberry featuring All the Disney Princesses including Disney Princess Belle from Beauty and the Beast


I’m hosting a giveaway here on my blog of a $25 Jamberry gift card that you can use to purchase any Jamberry products on the website, including the Disney Collection by Jamberry wraps, Going, Going, Gone styles or anything else on the website that makes your Princess dreams come true.

Disney Collection by Jamberry featuring All the Disney Princesses including Disney Princess Belle from Beauty and the Beast

If you can’t WAIT for the giveaway to end and just HAVE to buy them now, these Disney Collection by Jamberry wraps are available NOW through my link.

I am a Jamberry Independent Consultant so please email me if you have any questions about Jamberry wraps, the Disney Collection by Jamberry or if you are interested in hosting your own Jamberry party in-home or online!

Disney Collection by Jamberry featuring All the Disney Princesses including Disney Princess Belle from Beauty and the Beast Disney Collection by Jamberry featuring All the Disney Princesses including Disney Princess Belle from Beauty and the Beast Disney Collection by Jamberry featuring All the Disney Princesses including Disney Princess Belle from Beauty and the Beast

“Save Up for Disney” as a Jamberry Independent Consultant

If you’ve been considering becoming a Jamberry Independent Consultant there is no better time than NOW!!! In the month of February, you’ll receive a discount off the cost of your consultant kit.  If you’ve been on the fence, now’s the time to JOIN Jamberry!! (P.S. The 30-40% commission is lovely too!!)

Message me or email at savingupfordisney@yahoo.com for more info. You can also join up via this link.

Disney Collection by Jamberry featuring All the Disney Princesses including Disney Princess Belle from Beauty and the Beast

Disney Collection by Jamberry featuring All the Disney Princesses including Disney Princess Belle from Beauty and the Beast Disney Collection by Jamberry featuring All the Disney Princesses including Disney Princess Belle from Beauty and the Beast

Enter the Giveaway HERE!

February 1, 2017
1 Comment

Lovely Ways to Celebrate Valentine’s Day at Disneyland

Lovely Ways to Celebrate Valentine's Day at Disneyland

If you love Disney what better place to spend Valentine’s Day than at the Happiest Place on Earth! What can you do to celebrate Valentine’s Day at Disneyland? Whether it’s just the two sweethearts or you’ve got the whole family with you, there are some very lovable ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day at Disneyland. Keep reading for sweet ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day at Disneyland from morning to night!

Please note that I use affiliate links in this post. Clicking through and purchasing via the links helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

Ways to Celebrate Valentine’s Day at Disneyland

Love is in the Air – Photo Credit: Disney Store


Start off the day on either a sweet or a savory note. Since you may indulge in some sweet treats through the day, might be best to have some protein in your tummy first! We like to grab breakfast inside Downtown Disney District and eat while we wait for rope drop. There are hearty (and low-priced) breakfast sandwiches at either Earl of Sandwich or La Brea Bakery. Or sip and go with a fruit smoothie from Jamba Juice.

Sweet Ways to Celebrate Valentine's Day at Disneyland

Inside the parks if you’re prefer a leisurely breakfast with your sweetie-pie, you can dine on Mickey waffles, eggs, bacon and fruit at Carnation Cafe and watch the crowds rushing by. And if you want to start the day with something sweet, swing into Jolly Holly Bakery and Cafe for a cinnamon roll or muffin.

A Fresh Bouquet

If you’re staying at a Disneyland Resort Hotel, consider a call to Disney Floral & Gift for the delivery of a magical floral arrangement. They can also go all out with romantic in-room decor like rose petals on the bed, spa robes and chocolate covered strawberries! If you’re celebrating the love with the whole family, they even have collections that include something for everyone, like red roses for Mom and sweet treats for the kids.

A Sweet Souvenir

Keep your eyes open for adorable love-inspired souvenirs in the Disneyland shops, including this Mickey & Minnie boutique lace-trimmed bag!

Image Credit: Disney Store

If you like to purchase your souvenirs online and have them arrive to you at home, shop the Disney Store online. They have dozens of precious Valentine’s Day themed items that will delight everyone.

Sweet Sips and Snacks

Enjoy a classic afternoon tea at Steakhouse 55 inside the Disneyland Hotel. As a special treat for Valentine’s (available Feb. 3-5, 10-12 and Feb. 14), the Classic Afternoon Tea will feature Shanghai Rose black tea, specialty tea sandwiches, a chocolate raspberry scone with vanilla glaze, chocolate cupcakes with ganache, pink velvet cupcakes with champagne mousse, a chocolate ganache cupcake, chocolate-dipped strawberries and a heart-shaped macaron.

Lovely Ways to Celebrate Valentine's Day at Disneyland

Image Credit: Disney Parks

Very Sweet Treat

Only available on Feb 14th, both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure park will offer Valentine’s Day cherry-vanilla flavored cotton candy for sale at their street vendor carts.

A Valentine’s Day Gift

Pop into the Pandora shop in New Orleans Square for a Valentine’s Day gift she’ll never forget (or buy it early online via Disney Store and have it ready for gifting at the parks!)

Image Credit: Disney Store

Dinner for Two

Perhaps your Valentine’s Day at Disney will be spent with just the two of you? A romantic dinner is in order then and Disneyland has some special meals planned.

On Valentine’s Day The Blue Bayou will feature a special menu item: Lobster A L’Americaine, a rich blend of lobster sauce, roasted lobster tail, snow crab, sautéed mahi and potatoes in a creamy lobster-cognac sauce with onions, celery and peas.

If you’re looking for an amazing splurge the ultra upscale Napa Rose inside Disney’s Grand Californian has a 4-course meal that includes a wine flight. Be sure to book your Advance Dining Reservations early for these meals!

Purchase discounted Disney parks tickets upfront with Park Savers.

Park Savers affiliate link

Watch the Sunset

Finding a lovely spot to watch the setting sun at the Disney resort is a perfect way to close out the day. The sun will set behind Mickey’s Fun Wheel so catch a ride on this Ferris wheel for a panoramic view. Or grab a drink at Wine Country Trattoria and take a seat on the steps in Paradise Park (located in front of the Little Mermaid ride, where World of Color is shown). Or dine on the patio at Carthay Circle for a view over the crowds.

Planning a Disneyland Vacation? These are the Dates to Avoid!

Sun setting over Cars Land

Dinner for the Family

Several other Disney restaurant locations will be offering Valentine’s Day dinners that are inclusive of the entire family. Carnation Cafe will be serving up Surf & Turf featuring sirloin steak, shrimp skewer, mashed potatoes, sautéed broccoli, sun-dried tomato butter and herb beurre blanc sauce.

The Disneyland Resort hotels will also be offering special dinners. On February 14th, Storytellers Cafe a prix-fixe, three-course meal will be available, featuring farmer’s market field greens, New York strip loin and lobster tail with sun-dried tomato risotto and asparagus, vanilla crème brûlée with berry compote. At Goofy’s Kitchen, Valentine’s Day-themed desserts will be available on the buffet.

Lovely Ways to Celebrate Valentine's Day at Disneyland

For an elegant meal, Steakhouse 55 will have a three-course dinner that wine pairings, featuring chipotle-spiced Ahi tartare, bacon-wrapped filet of beef with Mascarpone whipped potatoes, vegetables and a cognac cream sauce and white chocolate crunch cake with dark chocolate ganache and raspberry ice cream (hello!)

Special Desserts

The Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe in Disneyland Park will have a heart-shaped strawberry macaron, how delightful! Over at Disney California Adventure life is sweet with three special Valentine’s desserts. At Clarabelle’s pick the Valentine Sundae, featuring strawberry and vanilla ice cream in a waffle bowl topped with strawberry sauce, graham cracker, pink whipped cream, Valentine’s Day sprinkles and chocolate-covered strawberries.

Lovely Ways to Celebrate Valentine's Day at Disneyland

Image Credit: Disney Parks

If you’re a simple gal, perhaps you’d enjoy the chocolate-strawberry swirl soft-serve ice cream at Paradise Pier Ice Cream Company. Or sip your way to bliss at Schmoozies with a decadent chocolate-strawberry smoothie with frozen fresh strawberries, strawberry juice, chocolate syrup, ice cream and milk blended with ice and topped with whipped cream and chocolate syrup.

Which way to celebrate Valentine’s Day at Disneyland sounds the most sweet? Share with me in the comments!



January 30, 2017
Comments Off on 10 Ways to Save Money on Groceries and Still Eat Healthy

10 Ways to Save Money on Groceries and Still Eat Healthy

Practical Ways to Save Money on Groceries and Still Eat Healthy - 10 money-saving tips including recipes

Grocery shopping doesn’t have to bust your wallet. You can still eat healthy and save money on groceries. Some will tell you that you’ll need to use coupons to save cash (not true!) Or the hype that tells you organic and healthy foods are so much more expensive. That’s certainly not true either! With 6 to feed in my family and only one full-time income, these are tried and tested money-saving tips. Here are my 10 practical ways we save money on our groceries.

Save Money on Groceries (and Still Eat Healthy!)

Please note that I use affiliate links in this post. Clicking through and purchasing through the link helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

Practical Ways to Save Money on Groceries and Still Eat Healthy

Don’t Use Coupons (with One Exception)

I used to spend hours each week clipping coupons from the newspaper mailers and driving around to several different stores to redeem. So much work! Sure there were some times where I’d get a great deal (25 cent tube of toothpaste! 75 cent box of cereal!) however those really great deals weren’t the norm. Most of the time I was purchasing things I didn’t need just because I had a coupon.

I remember looking in my storage cabinet and bemoaning that I didn’t have any more space because it was already stuffed full of about 5 years worth of deodorant, mouthwash, hair conditioner and macaroni and cheese!  And my kids didn’t need to be eating all that sugary cereal, whether I got it on sale or paid full price.

Practical Ways to Save Money on Groceries and Still Eat Healthy

Here’s my one exception to using coupons: If you flip through the mailer and see something there that you already use and plan on purchasing in the near future, then by all means clip and use the coupon.

If you can save 50 cents off your favorite brand of pasta then yes, you should definitely use the coupon. But if you find that you’re making purchasing just because you have the coupon, it’s time to step away from the mailers.

Make a Price List

It can be hard to remember which store has the best prices on the top 20 things you purchase each visit so I recommend creating a price list. Jot down the price on your list next time you’re at the store so you’ll know which store has the best price on bananas, peanut butter and milk, etc.

Our local Sprouts has the best prices on fruits, veggies and dry bulk bin items but prices for dairy and cereal are considerably higher. Keep track so you’ll know where to shop for certain items and aren’t spending more than you have to.

Practical Ways to Save Money on Groceries and Still Eat Healthy

Recipe for Cast Iron Skillet Cornbread

Don’t Shop at the Grocery Store

Grocery stores notoriously mark up the price of certain “convenience” items that you might pick up when you’re there grabbing fruit and veggies. Items in the health and beauty department are usually at a higher price than somewhere like Target or Walmart.

But I’ve found that other items can have a higher cost at the grocery as well. Things like canned tomatoes, pasta and cereal are often found cheaper at Target. You might find that your options are limited at the “big box” stores but that might not matter if you always purchase the same brand.

Shopping Apps

Certain grocery stores have special shopping apps that you can pull up on your smart phone before checkout to save you a few bucks. I personally use Cartwheel when at Target, Shopkick at many locations in my area (just open the app at the front door), and Ebates when I’m shopping online. I’ve received gift cards and cash just by using these apps and it doesn’t take me more than a minute or two.

And of course, if I’m shopping at Target I use my Target Red Card (debit) to save me 5% off my total purchases!

Practical Ways to Save Money on Groceries and Still Eat Healthy

Buy in Bulk

Yep, we’re Costco shoppers and buying in bulk is definitely one way we save money on groceries for our big family. But don’t load up that enormous shopping cart just yet. You’ll need to make sure you can get through that 5 lb bag of mixed greens before it goes bad! And do you really need a giant tub of coconut oil? Knowing how much your family can eat and balancing that with the product’s expiration date is a must-do before bulk buying.


Dry goods in bulk bins that you scoop and weigh yourself can give you a great deal. Just be sure to compare the weight per pound of the bulk bin versus purchasing the item prepackaged. A 1 lb bag of beans may run me about $1.25 but only 75 cents a pound if I scoop it from the dry goods bin. Consider purchasing your own oats, flour, sugars, beans, lentils and nuts from the bulk bins and storing them in your own containers at home.

Price Per Ounce

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked at the price per ounce listed on the shelf label and noticed that it’s actually more cost effective to buy the product in a small size. See, groceries often “trick” you into thinking the bulk size is more economical! So be sure to check out the price per ounce (or pound, or whatever) to make sure it’s really the best bargain.

Practical Ways to Save Money on Groceries and Still Eat Healthy

Hidden Tip: Foods like pizza are cheap and easier than you think to make at home. Skip the frozen box pizza and make a quick dough, smear with pasta sauce and top with a few slices of mozzarella. For just over $1.00, I made this pizza for lunch in about 15 minutes! What other foods are you buying that you could be making yourself for pennies on the dollar?

Go Shopping More Often

What was the last item you had in the fridge that went bad before you had the chance to eat it? You might be purchasing too much upfront and then it spoils before you can cook it. Certain foods move quickly through my house, like onions, bananas, garlic and apples so I can purchase them in large quantities. But we can never seem to eat enough of the giant bag of spinach before it starts to smell funny.

Rather than bulk buying some items, we purchase smaller amounts and shop more frequently. We might spend a bit more on our greens upfront but if we aren’t tossing out half the package when they’re slimy, then we’re probably making out better on the cost in the end.

Pricing Organic VS Non-Organic

If you usually avoid organic foods as a rule because you believe they are more costly, take a look again because that’s not necessarily so. Yes, for sure there are some products that are more costly than others because they are organic but not always. At our local Sprouts, many of the organic fresh veggies are cheaper in cost than their non-organic versions! Some canned goods (like beans and tomatoes) are similarly priced organic versus non-organic.

Practical Ways to Save Money on Groceries and Still Eat Healthy

Isn’t that a gorgeous loaf? Bake your own artisan bread with the book, The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking. The beauty of making it yourself is that you know what ingredients you’re adding!

Shop the Outside Aisles

Visualize your grocery store. Generally stores are designed with produce, meats, grains and dairy on the outside aisles and canned and processed foods in the middle. Gone are the days when I purchased pre-seasoned rice and pasta mixes. Commercials will have you think that you’re saving time and money buying these types of products but it’s really not that much more time-consuming and definitely not more expensive to cook your own rice and add your own seasonings.

By avoiding processed foods, you’ll not only save yourself money but save your health from excessive preservatives, sodium and unpronounceable ingredients. Think about the foods you’ve been purchasing in the middle aisles of the grocery and how you could prepare them yourself instead.

Avoid Boxes & Bags

I’m working towards feeding my family more “real food”. By following Lisa Leakes’ book 100 Days of Real Food. I’m aiming to choose foods that have 5 or less of the “approved” ingredients. That means a lot of items that come in boxes and bags are off-limits. Avoiding foods that come packaged in boxes and bags (unless they follow the 5 approved ingredients or less) will save you money and help your health as well.

Practical Ways to Save Money on Groceries and Still Eat Healthy

What are the ways YOU save money on groceries? I’d love to hear your tips…share them in the comments!


January 16, 2017

MORE Ways to Save Money on Food at Disney Parks

Dozens of ways how to save money on food at Disney! Save money on dining at Disneyland and Walt Disney World with these dining tips.

If you know me via this blog, you know that one of the BIG ways my family saves money at Disney Parks is at meal time. I’ve written about saving money on food at Disney on my popular post, 7 Tips to Save Money on Food at Disney Parks. I’m back with MORE ways to save money on food at Disney parks…keep reading for my tips!

Save Money on Food at Disney

Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Red Loop. Today we are sharing ways for you to save money while you’re at Disney.

Please note that I use affiliate links in my post. Clicking through and making a purchase through my link helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

Customize Your Order

Even if the menu only shows “meal deals” that include a main dish, side dish and a beverage, you can (in most cases) request only the main dish at a reduced cost. So if you only want the burger but the deal comes with fries and a soda, request only the burger and ask about the cost (it should be lower).

Dozens of ways how to save money on food at Disney! Save money on dining at Disneyland and Walt Disney World with these dining tips.

Be Choosy at Special Events

Special dishes can be found in the kiosks at Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, Festival of the Arts and Flower & Garden Festival and Disney California Adventure Parks Festival of Holidays. These plates of food are of high-quality and can’t be found outside of the event. And for that, you’ll pay a premium price!

Dozens of ways how to save money on food at Disney! Save money on dining at Disneyland and Walt Disney World with these dining tips.

At the kiosks for these events you’ll be able to order fancy appetizers, small servings of a top-notch dish and alcoholic sips. And each one of these mini-delights could be almost the same cost as a full-sized quick service meal!  If you’re wanting to indulge in a few of these kiosk treats, stick to a set amount and choose wisely or else your meal budget could be eaten up very quickly.

Dozens of ways how to save money on food at Disney! Save money on dining at Disneyland and Walt Disney World with these dining tips.

Very expensive little dishes bought in Italy at the Flower & Garden Festival

Save Money by Purchasing Discount Disney Park Tickets from Park Savers!

Park Savers affiliate link

Two Tips About Kids Meals

Kids meals sizes and prices are smaller than full-sized meals. And that can be a both a positive and a negative, depending upon your needs!

When I last went to Walt Disney World, I arrived to my hotel late. I was hungry but didn’t want to eat an enormous meal. I opted to order a kids meal burger that came with a smaller amount of fries and chocolate milk. It was the perfect size meal for me and came at a much smaller cost than the full-sized adult meal ($6.50 versus $14). I was traveling solo, so ordering this made sense (both portion and price wise).

Dozens of ways how to save money on food at Disney! Save money on dining at Disneyland and Walt Disney World with these dining tips.

A kids meal burger ordered by an adult to save on cost and portion

However on the flip side of this, when it comes to ordering meals for my kids I very rarely order them kids meals. I have two kids who are almost the same age so we’ve always purchased them one full-size meal to split between them. Now that we have more kids, we tend to just order several plates of food and then share between us. This offers us a good portion for each person and a greater variety of food as well, as the menu for kids is often limited.

Dozens of ways how to save money on food at Disney! Save money on dining at Disneyland and Walt Disney World with these dining tips.

A full sized burger meal to be shared (avocado on the side!)

This is Where You Should Eat Dessert

If you’re dining at a full-service restaurant, skip ordering dessert off the menu. The dessert prices are going to be considerably higher in the sit-down restaurants. Consider picking up dessert at a walk-up location that only serves sweets. There you’ll have a wider variety to choose from. Also the portions are often more generous as well, so you can share between two or more (but only if you want to share!)

Dozens of ways how to save money on food at Disney! Save money on dining at Disneyland and Walt Disney World with these dining tips.

These Lemon Meringue and The Master’s Cupcakes served inside Be Our Guest Restaurant are an astonishing $5.00 each! I can’t believe I spent $10 on these two (quite small) cupcakes! Especially when you can head over to the Plaza Ice Cream Parlor and get two huge chocolate chip cookies with generous scoops of ice cream for only a little over $5.

Dozens of ways how to save money on food at Disney! Save money on dining at Disneyland and Walt Disney World with these dining tips.

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner…in That Order

If you’d like to eat one meal full-service but are still trying to be budget conscious, consider sit-down dining for breakfast. The prices of the dishes will increase at lunch and raise even higher for dinner.

Dozens of ways how to save money on food at Disney! Save money on dining at Disneyland and Walt Disney World with these dining tips.

The cost difference between breakfast and dinner is significant

Beware the Souvenir Cup, Straw and Ice Cube

Just about every dining location offers some sort of upgrade to your beverage in the form of souvenir cups, twisty straws shaped like Mickey’s silhouette or flashy glowing colored ice cubes. Naturally these add-on’s come at a steep price! Disney seems to hit pretty hard on the kids menu in this category.

Dozens of ways how to save money on food at Disney! Save money on dining at Disneyland and Walt Disney World with these dining tips.

While a standard pineapple Dole Whip in a cup is priced at just over $4.00, the same soft serve in a souvenir tiki sipper will cost you over $10. I bought the sipper in this case for my brother, who collects tiki items. Make sure you work these add-on items into your souvenir budget!

Leave the Park

No reason to feel trapped with your park-only choices! You can leave the parks and head over a Disney Resort hotel for dozens of more options. Rather than eat inside Magic Kingdom, I hopped the Monorail and had dinner at Capt. Cooks in the Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. The Pulled Pork Nachos plate was huge and just over $9. I couldn’t eat it by myself it was a very generous portion. There is also a Dole Whip location here, so that was a plus!

Dozens of ways how to save money on food at Disney! Save money on dining at Disneyland and Walt Disney World with these dining tips.

Downtown Disney and Disney Springs also have loads of dining options with budgets that fit everyone. There’s an Earl of Sandwich at each location and you can pick up a sandwich for a great price (they have delicious breakfast sandwiches as well).

Dozens of ways how to save money on food at Disney!

Eat with Discounted Gift Cards

Purchase Disney gift cards at Target to use when purchasing your meals. When you use your Target Red Card to purchase the cards, you’ll receive 5% off! That may seem like small savings but if you’re eating a lot of meals in the parks and paying for them solely with these Disney gift cards, you’ll be saving good money! Sounds pretty sweet to me!

Image Credit: Target

7 More Ways to Save on Food at Disney

Be sure to check out my other posts about how to save money on food at Disney!  7 Tips to Save Money on Food at Disney Parks and What are the Best Meals for Sharing at Disneyland?

Top Tips on Saving Money on Food at Disney Parks  What Are the Best Meals

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

Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Red | Saving Money at Disney Loop:

How do you save money on food at Disney? Share your tips with me in the comments!


January 11, 2017
Comments Off on Hearty Bean and Lentil Soup Recipe

Hearty Bean and Lentil Soup Recipe

Never Cooked with Lentils?  This Hearty Bean & Lentil Soup is quick & delicious!

Let’s be honest. Lentils don’t make for the prettiest soup. They often look dark and unappetizing, making most kids turn up their noses at dinner. This lentil and bean soup is something different entirely though because it not only tastes delicious, it’s also lovely to look at and appealing for everyone. I hope that you’ll enjoy my hearty lentil and bean soup recipe!

Never Cooked with Lentils?  This Hearty Lentil & Bean Soup is quick & delicious!

Never Cooked with Lentils?

We aim to eat 2-3 meatless meals during the week for our health and digestion (lots of fiber in this bowl!) We also try and choose organic when we can. This is a deliciously hearty cold-weather meal that can be served with a slice of buttered bread, roll or a warm tortilla.

I’ll be totally honest: I never cooked with dried beans until just a few years ago. I thought they were time consuming and that I wouldn’t make them correctly. And I never really liked the flavor either.

Never Cooked with Lentils?  This Hearty Lentil & Bean Soup is quick & delicious!

I didn’t make beans because I didn’t think the kids would eat them. However all of my kids have grown to love beans, and so have I! If you use great ingredients, the flavors just come together. My preschooler says he doesn’t like soup so I just serve him the beans and the veggies on a plate, sans broth and he gobbles it up (silly boy!)

My local store sells these lentils and beans in a dry goods blend. For around $1.50 a pound, you’ll get a great mix of lentils and dry beans. If your store doesn’t sell this type of mix, you can easily put one together yourself with a colorful mix of lentils and some dry beans.

Never Cooked with Lentils?  This Hearty Lentil & Bean Soup is quick & delicious!

Sometimes I use the beautiful organic rainbow carrots for an even more colorful bowl of soup! The dark specks are from the fire roasted tomatoes, which add lots of great flavor but not a bunch of heat.

Hearty Lentil and Bean Soup Recipe

Hearty Lentil and Bean Soup Recipe


  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 large carrots, chopped
  • 1 cup of celery, chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can of fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups dried lentil & bean mix
  • 2 cans (or one box) vegetable broth
  • 4 cups water
  • Salt & Pepper to taste


  1. In large soup pot or Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions, carrots and celery. Stir and cook until onion is tender.
  2. Add garlic, oregano and basil and cook 2 minutes.
  3. Stir in lentils and beans then add broth and water and the can of tomatoes with the juice.
  4. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer covered for 90 minutes.
  5. Season with salt and pepper and serve hot!
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January 9, 2017
Comments Off on Disney Valentine’s Day Gifts for Everyone You Love

Disney Valentine’s Day Gifts for Everyone You Love

Special Disney Valentine's Day Gifts They'll Love

Celebrate your love for Disney and your love for each other with precious Disney Valentine’s Day gifts! These are all sweet but practical things that can be used and enjoyed after February 14th passes. I don’t really make big purchases for Valentine’s Day but these are all reasonably priced and sure to bring Disney joy to your sweetheart!

Disney Valentine’s Day Gifts They’ll Love

I’ve put together a collection of Disney Valentine’s Day gifts for everyone. These are almost all budget-friendly (Come on, I had to put that gorgeous Dooney & Bourke purse in there!) I’m all for adding a sweet splash of Disney to my life and these gifts are sure to please your Valentine.

Please note that I use affiliate links in my post. Clicking through and making a purchase helps support me in a small financial way, thank you! 

Disney Valentine’s Day Gifts for HER

Get in the romantic mood with this collection of heartwarming love songs from Disney movies. Essential Disney Love Song Collection

Credit: Target

I’m not much of a collector (tiny house = small space) but I have to admit that this Valentine’s themed figurine is precious! “Love” Minnie & Mickey Figurine by Jim Shore

Credit: Disney Store

Okay, I have a tiny collection…literally! I have three Disney-themed charms on my Pandora bracelet & I’d love to receive this one for Valentine’s Day. Mickey Mouse “Sparkling Mickey & Hearts Charm” by Pandora

Credit: Disney Store

So, this is love! Make-up lovers will appreciate this collection by Sephora inspired by Disney’s Cinderella Disney Cinderella Collection Storylook Eyeshadow Palette

Practical and pretty! And the love between Mickey and Minnie is a classic romance for all time. This one’s a splurge but she’ll totally love it and be able to use it day after day. Romancing Minnie Lola Pouchette bag by Dooney & Bourke.

Credit: Disney Store

Who doesn’t choke up a bit thinking about the love between Carl & Ellie in UP! Start your own Adventure Book as a place to store your greatest memories together.
Our Adventure Book DIY Scrapbook

Credit: Amazon

If I had this ring, I’d wear it every day to show my love of Mickey! (Psst…honey, size 6!) Mickey Mouse Love Ring 

Credit: Disney Store

Dress up those fingers (for a special Disney trip or everyday!) with the Disney Collection by Jamberry nail wraps. I wear them anytime I need a Disney boost and they just make me happy! Disney Collection by Jamberry Nail Wraps

Give her a place to safely put her ring (I like having a ring holder in the bathroom so I can take off my rings when I put on lotion). Lenox Disney Mickey and Mini True Love Ceramic Ring Holder

Credit: Amazon

Disney Valentine’s Day Gifts for HIM

He’ll wear his heart on his chest with a bit of Disney inspiration. Cartoon Glove Heart Men’s Long Sleeve T-shirt

You love him and he knows it. Give him a little sass with his morning coffee. Princess Leia & Han Solo “I Love You” Mug

Maybe it’s just my husband who loves soap and shower products but these are some of his favorites (and you can use it too!) Sea Salt & Sea Marine Spa Collection

Credit: Disney Store

Totally silly and fun but still practical! If your man loves Star Wars, Chewbacca and funky underdrawers, these would be perfect. Star Wars Valentine’s Boxer Briefs

Credit: Target

A candle that’s reminiscent of the Pirates of the Caribbean? “A Pirate’s Life for Me!” I know a few guys who would be lighting this candle every night! The Black Pearl Candle – Anthology Candles, Pirates of the Caribbean Candle

Disney Valentine’s Day Gifts for KIDS

Wear it on Valentine’s Day (or any day!) Tweens love Tsum Tsum and this t-shirt is adorable! Girls’ Disney Tsum Tsum Tee

Credit: Target

Big boys don’t seem to want much to do with Valentine’s except for candy…they never seem to say no to candy! And this Darth Vader Valentine with a candy light saber is pretty cool. It even lights up! Disney Star Wars Valentine Candy Dispenser

Credit: Target

This iPhone case cover is so sweet (see the cut out heart?). Your teen may swoon! Mickey and Minnie Mouse Heart iPhone 6 Case

Credit: Disney Store

One thing my preschool son loves to do is reminisce about our Disney trips together. I bought him a Disney-themed memory album from Shutterfly with all his favorite Disney vacation photos inside! Disney Shutterfly Photo Books

Credit: Shutterfly

Babies will love this adorable board book. My little girl and I have been reading this one together a lot. The illustrations are adorable! Disney Baby I Love You This Much!

Credit: Amazon

Mickey is always Mr. Right. Toddler Boys Disney Valentine’s Mickey Mouse Tee

Credit: Target

Cuddle up to this precious polka-dotted personalized pillow! Disney Minnie Mouse Pillow

Credit: Shutterfly

What Disney Valentine’s Day gift do YOU have your eye on? Share in the comments!


January 6, 2017
Comments Off on No Spending Month – 30 Days Without Extra Expenses

No Spending Month – 30 Days Without Extra Expenses

Challenge Yourself to a No Spending Month - 30 Days Without Extra Expenses

I have a 30 day dare with myself and my family not to have any extra expenses. This is our “no spending month” and I’d love for you to join me on this challenge. Read about my “why” and how I plan on implementing these no spending rules, without undue stress or resistance from my kids!

The Start of my No Spending Month

It was January 2nd and I needed to make a Target run for more whole wheat flour and canned tomatoes. I had no reason to walk through the Dollar Spot area but I did, you know, just to see what was there (I know you feel me on that, right?)

Into my cart went stickers ($1 – for the students I teach at the rec center), Valentines ($3 – for my preschooler) and a Day planner ($3 – for my husband, who’d mentioned wanting one). Then I remembered that the dish soap had run out so I grabbed a refill bottle ($3.99).

Almost eleven dollars spent. Sure, that’s not much but  in hindsight, it wasn’t anything I needed to buy. I already have stickers I could use for my students, I didn’t need to buy more but they were cute and “cheap”. Valentines Day is still a bit of time away and I actually could probably print them myself at home. The dish soap wasn’t really needed. I have multi-purpose soap concentrate that we bought in bulk that can be used as dish soap. And my husband said he didn’t really need the paper day planner after all, he’s going to use a free app on his phone.

If I took a more serious look at my budget I just know that there are more ways I could be cutting back; I know there are extra expenses I’m making that don’t really need to be made! I’ve decided to make January my “No Spending Month” and intend to go at least 30 days without extra expenses.

Challenge Yourself to a No Spending Month - 30 Days Without Extra Expenses

What are “Extra Expenses”?

Extra expenses mean different things to different people. Perhaps for you it’s skipping the coffee shop and making your morning brew at home. Maybe it’s brown bagging lunch to work or not buying any clothes for the month. Or eschewing entertainment costs for at-home family fun.

For us, eliminating extra expenses means-

  • Not eating out
  • No frivolous food purchases, including chips/crackers, dessert items and alcohol
  • Nothing that we don’t imperatively need or require to run our family or home.

What are your “No Extra Expenses” rules? Write them down to make them real and do your best to stick to it for at least 30 days.

Discuss it as a Family

Everyone will need to be on board to accomplish getting through 30 days without extra expenses. Talk about your plan with the kids so they’ll know what to expect. If they’re used to spending money out on the weekends or dinner in a restaurant a few times a week, they’ll need to see and hear why you’re making changes in the usual routine.

However saving money doesn’t have to be a downer and here’s a story to reiterate that. Once in a while I take my preschooler out to lunch, just the two of us as a special treat. Those “special treats” are usually only twice a month but with the average cost around $15 a visit, that’s $30 I could be saving! Today when I picked him up, he asked if we could go to lunch in a restaurant and I had to tell him no, that we aren’t doing extra spending this month.

However I want to make saving money a positive thing for thing, so I told him we could still do something special. When we got home, we made pizza together for lunch. It cost me about $1.50 in groceries (that I already had at home) and it was still a special treat for just the two of us!

Challenge Yourself to a No Spending Month - 30 Days Without Extra Expenses

Why are Your Doing it?

In essence, why are you making this change to eliminate extra expenses? Your reason might be different from your spouses, and even your children.

  • Do you feel like you’re overspending?
  • Do you have too much unnecessary stuff in the house?
  • Are you an impulse buyer and need to rein it in?
  • Do you want to save up extra money for something specific?

Consider the Cut-Back First

If your family is accustomed to movies, date nights, dinners and shopping every weekend and you’re planning a nix to all of it, a drastic change in the usual plans may be a shock to them! Perhaps consider a cut back for 30 days first before completely cutting things out. If you’re used to eating lunch out every day, cut back and only indulge in one or two lunches out and pack your lunch for the other days. If you always purchase concessions at the movies, still go see a film but have a snack at home first. When you’re ready to cut back further, skip movies in the theater and watch them only when they come out on DVD.

Challenge Yourself to a No Spending Month - 30 Days Without Extra Expenses

Fun Stuff Already in the Plans

What is you already have something planned during the 30 days? Use good judgement and don’t outright cancel your fun plans. If you’re going to a birthday party it would be okay to purchase a gift rather than showing up empty handed.

What About Entertainment?

We’ve slowly eliminated most costly entertainment over the years so it won’t be much of an affect for my kids during the 30 days of no extra expenses. We eat at home before we go somewhere or pack a lunch and snacks to take with us so we aren’t tempted to eat out when hunger strikes. We choose free things around town to do, usually something that gets us up and moving. We’ll take the soccer or basketball to the park or we’ll set out on foot to explore a trail. We can usually find a family movie on Netflix or we pull out one of our tried-and-true DVDs to watch in the evening.

What Will We Do With the Extra Money?

As usual, I’m “Saving Up for Disney”! Hoping to be able to take my kids to a conference at Walt Disney World this year and airfare is over-the-top expensive for all of us. $11 here and there really can add up! My goal is to save $200 a month for the next 4 months to get the airfare costs covered.

What will YOU do with the extra money you’ll save from this challenge? Share with me in the comments!