Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Disneyland Details: Street Signs




We've talked about special details you may or may not have noticed at Disneyland once or twice before, and we're at it again! Today's focus is on the street signs you'll find all over the resort. We're slightly obsessed with taking pics of these signs, and wanted to share our obsession with all of you. Aren't you lucky???

Let's start over at Disneyland Park

In case you're turned around, the signs are here to help!
We all might know about Royal Street in New Orleans Square (home of Club 33), but did you know that ALL of the streets and walkways in that land are named?
Don't forget the signs by Thunder Mountain letting you know about other landmarks nearby. Spiral Butte, anyone? Only a quarter mile away!

Heading over to California Adventure

So many ways to go when you're near Grizzly River Run. Which sounds best to you? 


And if you're turned around in the Redwood Challenge Trail (because who DOESN'T get turned around and separated from their group in there), you can text your friends and tell them you're heading to Eagle's Ascent.

This one makes me a little sad. Heimlich's Chew Chew Train is one of our kids' favorites, and we're losing Bug's Land soon. But who could resist the option between candy and brussels sprouts?

We saved the best for last. You know Radiator Springs is a small town when the cross street to the main road is literally called "Cross Street."

Friday, July 6, 2018

Tips For A Great Trip




Last week a friend asked us for some advice on her upcoming Disneyland trip. It had been over ten years since she'd been to the Happiest Place on Earth, and it was another five years before that. So needless to say there was A LOT we could go over. And while we may have written a list of tips and ideas about the length of a Harry Potter book, it made us think: It's been a LONG time since we listed out our favorite tips to make the most out of your Disneyland time (whether its been a month or 20 years since your last visit).


  • Leave Plenty of Time if You Want to Be There First
    • We love being at Disneyland for rope drop first thing in the morning. The park is still fairly quiet and we can get on a lot of rides before the crowds set in. But beware: being there on time for when the park opens at 8:00am, doesn't mean showing up at 8:00am. We recommend being there around 40 minutes early - especially during crowded times, and here's why: 
      • you have to get the main entrance from your hotel/the parking lot
      • you have to get through security and that can be slow if you have bags
      • you have to line up at the entrance gates
      • they'll begin scanning tickets 20 minutes before the park actually opens and will let you in the parks to a certain point (either the end of Main Street or Buena Vista Street, depending on what park you're in)
      • THEN you wait for the official rope drop at park opening time
  • Mobile Order your Starbucks
    Photo Credit: ThrillGeek
    • If you woke up early enough to be at the parks 40 minutes before they open, you'll probably want some coffee. On our last trip we came up with our new favorite way to caffeinate. You can change the timing to apply to you and your trip, but for us, we'd put in our Starbucks order using their mobile app to be picked up at the Downtown Disney location when we made it to the pedestrian entrance on Harbor Street (we walk from our hotel). By the time we got through security, one person from the group would run over and grab the order, it was always ready by the time we got there - no waiting! Then come back to deliver to the rest of the group waiting in the front gate lines. So convenient!
  • Stay Up To Date On Disneyland Technology
    • There's a lot to stay on top of, but let's try it
      • Max Pass - for $10 a day, you can get your fast passes from your phone rather than from the kiosk at each ride
      • Mobile Ordering - using the Disneyland App, you can order and pay for your food from your phone and then just pick up in person from the pickup window. Its not at every restaurant, so check with the app to see where its available. 
      • Play Disney Parks App - this app is designed to keep you busy and having fun while waiting in long Disney lines
  • Ticket Back-Up
    • Its happened to us, it could happen to you...you could lose your ticket! What would you do? Here's what we do:
      • Take a picture of each ticket in your group and keep it on your phone. That way you have the barcode and can show it to Guest Services, where they'll print you a new ticket. Easy Peasy.
      • Load your ticket into the Disneyland App. You can even use it for park entry and to check in for your fastpasses at each ride. You still need the paper ticket, though, to get a fastpass if you don't have Max Pass, so if you lost it, be sure to get a new one at Guest Services.
  • If You're Short on Time, Prioritize
    • One time I went to Disneyland just for the day with some friends who had never been there before. I didn't want to be overbearing with my Disney obsession, so I let them lead the way. We spent 55 minutes in line for Gadget's Go Coaster but didn't get on Splash Mountain. So think ahead on what you want to do if you're limited on time. Here are some things to ask yourself when making your plan:
      • What are my five favorite rides?
      • Do I want to meet any characters? (Check the app for where to find them!)
      • Is there a new show or ride I want to be sure to experience?
      • What new foods do I need to try or old favorites would I be sad to miss?
      • What do I not mind skipping?
  • Lots of Options for Fireworks Viewing
  • Fireworks from the Teacups is pretty special!
    • Main Street is the best, most immersive experience for the fireworks, but sometimes you have to stand around and wait a very long time to get a spot there. Here are some other spots to try:
      • Small World - This is often overlooked because not a ton of people are riding Small World at night. The projections are large on the face of the ride so its easy to have a good view. But be warned if you are sensitive to loud sounds or if you have small kids...its LOUD by Small World because you're so close to where they shoot the fireworks from. 
      • Rivers of America - If you're watching the first show of Fantasmic or just happen to be in the area, they'll do the projections on the Fantasmic water screens and there's a pretty great view of the fireworks. The upside is that because of Fantasmic, you don't stand around and wait for an hour to get a spot. The downside is that it can get crowded because of the shows (but a lot of people will leave right after Fantasmic is over and not wait there for the fireworks, so I think it's worth a shot!)
      • Fireworks on the Go - Especially if you've seen the fireworks show before and don't care as much about getting the whole experience, you can see them while on the Matterhorn, the Mad Tea Party, Autopia, or just hanging out in Fantasyland (areas they don't close during fireworks) and Tomorrowland.
  • Save 5% on Tickets
    Actual footage of my dining room table when I get ready to buy Disneyland tickets
    • Do you have a Target Red Card? Everything is 5% off, including Gift Cards and tickets (sometimes they sell one and two day passes right there in the gift card kiosk)! You can use Disney gift cards anywhere in the parks, so you can get a little discount on your tickets or on anything else you buy on your visit! Check out the full strategy here.
  • See the Second Show
    • If you're a night owl (or if you got a late night cotton candy and are running on a sugar high), the second showing of anything is always less crowded! We were there on opening night of Paint the Night at California Adventure in April. We waited two hours for a sidewalk spot to see the parade without an obstructed view...that was the first show. We happened to walk by again at 10:15 when the second show was starting and there were tons of spots so we just sat down and enjoyed one more time! (When can we do this again? 10:15 apparently!)
  • Dining Packages Save Time But Not Money
  • Maleficent chocolate dessert available with the Fantasmic dining package at the River Belle 
    • We got amazing views for Fantasmicby doing a dining package. We were practically front and center and only had to wait about a half hour. It was pretty incredible! HOWEVER, as delicious as our meal was (check out that amazing dessert above!), it was pretty darn expensive so you should weigh out your options and what's most important to you when deciding on a dining package for Fantasmic, Paint the Night, the Pixar Play Parade, the Frozen show at the Hyperion Theater, or World of Color (when it finally comes back...eventually...someday). Check out the official info on Dining Packages here.
  • Look at Your Fastpass Return Time
    • This is a weird one, but totally worked in our favor on our last trip. Double check fastpass return times! Would you rather wait 20 minutes for Buzz Lightyear or get a fastpass that's up in 5 minutes? Look at our fastpass in the pic above. Return time is 10:10, and in the bottom right corner you can see we got the fastpass at 10:06!
  • Check Out Our Phone Battery Life Tips
    • We've got some great ideas for keeping your battery going during a Disney day. Check them out here!


Monday, July 2, 2018

Pixar Pier After Dark





By now we've probably all seen amazing pics of the adorable (although still incomplete) Pixar Pier, especially if you're like us and follow tons of Disney accounts on Instagram and Disney groups on Facebook. The Incredicoaster, while still the same ride as the old Screamin', is fresh and exciting again. The Pixar Pal Around is just as terrifying as when it was Mickey's Fun Wheel (or Mickey's Wheel of Death, as we lovingly called it). We've all loved the pics of the "Adorable" Snowman's frozen treats being held up against the iconic background of the pier. But what we weren't yet prepared for is how breathtaking it is at night! Thanks so much to Dole Whip a Day friend Jenny for sharing her beautiful pictures from her trip this week.

Lights everywhere!

OMG, this view from the Pixar Pal Around

I'm glad they kept Mickey's iconic face, but it doesn't fit with the Pixar Theme. What do you all think?

Disney is just the best at night!

Check out the lights on the Lamplight Lounge! We can't wait to eat there

Ok, its not Pixar Pier, but how cute is the new Incredibles float in Paint the Night?

Gorgeous, right? What's your favorite part? When are you all going to be able to visit Pixar Pier?





Thursday, June 28, 2018

Play Disney Parks App is Here!




Worried about long lines in the summer crowds? The Play Disney Parks app is here to help keep you and your family and friends entertained during your Disney down time! Let's check it out!


Log in with your Disney account (or create one if you're new to Disney apps/website) and choose your park (Disneyland or Walt Disney World, not international for now). Scroll around the super cute maps and you'll see little icons (star, question mark, music note, etc) that'll let you know what to expect at that spot. 



Star means you can "check in" when you're in front of the attraction to earn achievements.
Question Mark is a trivia game, that you can even play from home - hooray!
Music Note will play clips of music either from that land or from movies that go along with the land you're in/looking at.
Special Icons (like the dart on a bullseye at Toy Story Midway Mania on the map above) are for games you can unlock and play while at the attraction!

Check in at Star Tours to earn achievements!
Play trivia games in the park or at home.
 It's fun and still challenging for even die hard fans! 
Play music clips from the parks and from your favorite Disney movies!


Games are available at many rides, from 2-5 players. 
Your whole family can join in or you can invite other guests in line if you want to increase your number of players!


We know battery life on your phone is a big concern for a lot of people, and staying on your phone in line will probably be a real battery sucker. But we have some tips to keep your phone going all day!


  • Try Airplane Mode During Rides - There are a lot of spots where you'll lose service once you go inside - think Haunted Mansion, Pirates, Small World, Indiana Jones, etc. Put your phone on airplane mode before heading into a long ride or show and your phone won't be spending the whole time searching for service and wasting your battery. 
  • Turn Down Your Screen Brightness - It takes a lot of battery to keep that screen bright!
  • Put your Tickets in your Photos App or Lock Screen - If you've loaded your tickets into the Disneyland App (either for scheduling fastpasses with MaxPass or for checking in to the fastpass line), opening that Disneyland App all day long will affect battery life. If you keep a screenshot of your ticket as the lock screen on your phone, or as a photo on your camera roll (more useful if you're in charge of more than one ticket), its much easier on your battery to pull that up.   
  • Use a Separate Camera If You Have One - We know the best part of a phone sometimes is having a pretty decent camera on you at all times. But, if you have another camera that you like taking pics on, it'll save you on phone battery if you're not constantly opening it to take pictures.
  • Utilize Fuel Rod Stations - Did you know you can buy and exchange Fuel Rod portable chargers at stations located across the parks? Your initial purchase is $30, but you can charge up your phone and then trade for a new, fully charged, Fuel Rod as many times as you want. You can even bring it back on future Disney trips for free exchanges. 
  • Or Bring Your Own Portable Charger - If you don't feel the need to trade in your charger multiple times per day, you can bring your own charger that's cheaper than the Fuel Rod. Personally, I have an off brand one that works fine! I charge once in the evening and then just plug in the charger when I'm back at my hotel so its ready for the next day. 
Here's the Dinoco themed Fuel Rod station at the store next to Radiator Springs Racers

Who's ready to try Play Disney Parks and let us know how it goes?

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Disneyland Details: Look Up!




Something Disney does better than anyone else is their attention to detail. From Hidden Mickeys to bits of old attractions left behind for you to find, there's always some new little detail that's easily missed if you're not looking carefully.

On my last visit, while I was walking through Fantasyland and trying to keep track of our group of 12 people, I looked up - and I'm so glad I did, because I noticed the cutest decorations on top of each and every building! I had seen a couple before, but never noticed how many there are. Look too low and you'll miss these awesome Disneyland Details:


Pirate Ship and Crocodile above Peter Pan's Flight



The Crown above King Arthur Carousel


Knight, School of Fish, Monstro, and a Stork all above Pinocchio's Daring Journey



Of course, Mr. Toad and his car top his own ride


And, for some reason, a Rooster on top of the Red Rose Taverne


What's your favorite Disneyland detail? Next time you're there, be sure to look up, or you just might miss something!

Friday, May 18, 2018

Making Group Trips Fun for Everyone!




Making Group Trips Fun for Everyone!


So, you’re planning a trip with a big group? That’s awesome! While big groups with lots of ideas can make things a little trickier, it is completely doable!

Recently, we went to the Disneyland Resort with a group of 12! From people in their 60s to toddlers, to nearly every decade in between! With that came plenty of favorites, likes/dislikes, schedules, and needs...but also a really amazing time.

How did we do it? Here are out best tips:


1. Plan! Plan! Plan!
Talk through everything ahead of time! (We like to hold official meetings and serve Disney–themed treats, but that’s just us.) Things to consider: Are you all going for the same amount of time? Do you want to stick together as much as possible or are you fine with splitting up? Do you like to open the park? Stay until closing? Both? What is everyone’s wish list or things to do and see? These are things you want to get established right from the get-go. For us, everyone agreeing to get park hopper tickets (instead of one park per day) was a huge and fantastic agreement!

2. Stay together, play together!
One great thing that we decided to do was to all stay at the same hotel. (Ok, motel.) They were even accommodating enough to give us rooms all next to one another! It was great to see everyone in the morning, sunscreen together, grab hotel-provided snacks together, and head out at the same time!


3. Play up the big group!
Big groups are fun, but can get separated easily. That’s why we love having a “Matching Shirt Day.” Not only does it make wandering family members easier to spot, but it makes for some pretty amazing photos! We also love making our own special buttons for everyone to wear. Try making ones with inside jokes that other visitors to the park won’t understand.


4. Take advantage of what the parks offer!
With a couple younger kids with us, the rider switch program is great for us! When your group goes to get in line for a ride, whoever is watching the littles goes, too. The cast member will scan your ticket and the ticket of two others(!) to go on the ride after your party has finished. What that means is that either 2 people from your group get to ride twice or, your group can split up: Some cam go on the big ride and others can take the littles on a ride for them, then switch! Having a couple people wait with you is pretty sweet and a perk of a larger group! (NOTE: THIS IS A NEW SYSTEM! IF YOU HAVEN’T USED RIDER SWITCH IN A WHILE, IT HAS CHANGED!)

5. Don’t forget to take care of your own needs!
Not everyone can stay up tackling the rides until midnight. My 2-year-old wouldn’t take a nap in the stroller (too much to see!) and we needed to go back to the hotel room to get him to rest. Don’t forget to take care of yourself and your needs. It’s your trip, too.

6. Don’t overthink it…Just have fun! It will be great!

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Pixar Fest at the Disneyland Resort!




Pixar lovers, this one's for you! Pixar Fest is going on now through September 3 and we were lucky enough to be there opening day. Here's the best of what you can expect to see at Disneyland and California Adventure.

Decorations

The theme of Pixar Fest is friendship, and that comes through before you even walk in the gates. The giant Pixar Fest signs above the entry to both parks. Each letter spelling "Pixar Fest" is decorated to represent of a pair of famous Pixar friends. Can you spot them all? Try yourself before checking out our list.


P - Mr. Incredible and Frozone
I - Woody and Buzz
X - Joy and Sadness
A - Lighning McQueen and Mater
R - Mike Wazowski and Sully

F - Dory and Nemo (or Marlin?)
E - Russel and Carl
S - Miguel and Dante
T - Wall-E and Eve


All along main street you'll find bunting in the colors of the Luxo Ball.




The Monorails help pixar characters ride through Disneyland all day long, but to be honest, they really block your view when you're actually on the ride.




As always, Cars Land added more decorations, including a toy car version of Woody and Buzz for the perfect photo op at the entrance to the land and car themed Pixar movie posters.



Food

The little green men from Toy Story have taken over the Pizza Port in Tomorrowland and (finally) turned it into Pizza Planet! There are a few new items on the menu, the best looking being the Little Green Man Macaroon.

Photo Credit: Disneyland News

And while we're talking about treats, take a peek at what's in the candy case: adorable Lighning and Mater caramel apples, a Grape Soda bottle cap cake pop, and a Mike Wazowski Rice Krispie treat!

Photo Credit: Personal Disneyland Shopper

Also keep an eye out for specially flavored Churros (cocoa for Coco, strawberry for Lotso in Toy Story), a Mike Wazowski shaped sourdough bread over at the Pacific Wharf Cafe, and color changing noodles inspired by Monsters Inc at the Lucky Fortune Cookery.


Merchandise

What would a Disneyland event be without special, limited time merchandise, amiright?


The Little Green Man cups are very popular and getting a little tough to find (along with the Sully popcorn buckets!), but there's so much cute merch to choose from, you'll have tons of options either way, including pins, shirts, hats, and backpacks.

All Three Photos: Personal Disneyland Shopper



Shows and Characters

Omg, the shows... We actually got to see Together Forever, the new fireworks show, two nights early, during their soft opening and wow. We just can't say enough about it. We were right on Main Street, basically next to the Refreshment Corner and it was a fantastic spot to see the projections on all of the buildings. While I'm a little short to have a great view of the fireworks from that spot, they were almost secondary to the music, projections, and of course both Buzz Lightyear and the house from Up flying across the sky over the castle. If you can get there early enough to get a spot by the castle, the projections should be amazing along with the spectacular view. Two other viewing spots where you can still see the projection show are along the Rivers of America and back by Small World.





The Pixar Play Parade is back with new floats added in and is as lively and fun as ever. Watch out for Crush - his float sprays water on the unsuspecting crowd!





If you're looking for some amazing Pixar photo ops, head to California Adventure near Goofy's Sky School, where you'll find lots of Pixar friends to choose from. Just beware there are some hefty lines. But it might be worth it to meet Mr. and Mrs. Incredible, Flik and Atta, Russel and Dug, and more!

Coming Soon - Pixar Pier

We're still two months out (at the time of writing this) from the opening of Pixar Pier, but you can tell something great is on its way. Work is visibly being done to the new Incredicoaster and Mickey's Fun Wheel.

If you're interested in learning more about the changes coming, head to the Blue Sky Cellar to learn more. 

Photo Credit: Disney Parks Blog