August 22, 2012

My Adventures in Disneyland Travel Tip #4 : Staying On Site

While I realize that it is often more expensive, I highly recommend staying at a Disneyland Resort hotel, especially if you are traveling with babies or young children. When you stay on site, you truly never leave the magic and you don't have to constantly deal with parking, shuttles, crowded sidewalks or any excessive walking. You are always no more than 10-15 minutes from your room and this can help quite a bit with things like nap times, wet clothes, upset stomachs and tantrums. As a bonus, all rooms include a Pack n Play. The resort staff is always helpful and I have numerous examples of them going the extra mile to make our stay even better. From free room upgrades (including our favorite, rooms with park views) to finding surprise "just because" treats waiting for us in the room at night, we always feel well-taken care staying at Disneyland.

I love to travel and I have been to many nice hotels but my very favorite hotel of all is still Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa. It is the best hotel at the resort (and so the most expensive) and the large picturesque lobby is truly amazing. The California Craftsman styling found throughout the hotel is classic and welcoming. The biggest draw for this hotel, in my opinion, is its proximity to both parks. In fact, the Grand Californian has a private entrance to the Disney California Adventure Park. This guest-only entrance is available to anyone staying on site at any of the three hotels. By entering or exiting here, you get to avoid the larger crowds at the main gates and enter at the perfect spot for getting your World of Color FASTPASS tickets. We also love eating here at the Chip 'n Dale Critter Breakfast found in the Storyteller's Cafe for character dining because each person can choose to eat off the buffet or order off the menu while most character dining options are pricey buffets (like at the other two hotels) or have fixed menus like Ariel's Grotto in California Adventure Park or the Big Thunder Ranch Barbecue in Disneyland. This can make it the most cost-friendly character dining experience. The Grand Californian is home to beautiful pools (including a water slide) and the resorts only spa, the world-class Mandara Spa which offers numerous spa services. I recommend their nail services and I am already looking forward to my next spa visit. If a night without the kids is what you need, contact Pinocchio's Workshop where, for an addition fee, children ages 5 to 12 can enjoy arts and crafts, games, Disney films and dining options in this licensed activity center.

Photo Courtesy of My Adventures in Disneyland
Photo Courtesy of My Adventures in Disneyland
The Disneyland Hotel is my #2 hotel pick for staying at the Disneyland Resort. Recently renovated, the rooms are truly beautiful. They all have a clean modern styling and those special Disney touches that both children and adults alike will love, such as specially-made headboards that light up and play a special tune and those sentimental pillows that you will find on each bed. The best pools of the resort can be found at the Disneyland Hotel - the D-Ticket and E-Ticket pools plus the new Monorail pool with two very cool Monorail-themed water slides. The Disneyland Hotel is also the home of my favorite place to eat at the Disneyland Resort (not including Club 33), the elegant Steakhouse 55. In fact, Steakhouse 55 is my favorite place to have breakfast because of the quiet ambiance, quality service and reasonable breakfast prices. Their dinner menu is more expensive but it includes many delicious options. An honorable mention also goes to Trader Sam's, the Enchanted Tiki Bar, which can be found next to the main pool area and the Tangaroa Terrace restaurant which offers casual dining options. Trader Sam's is an interactive experience and a very fun little tiki bar with lots of surprises... It is the perfect place to get a quick bite and a unique cocktail while listening to live island music. The Disneyland Hotel is located at the end of the Downtown Disney area so it is also just a short walk from the parks and a perfect place to stay.

Photo Courtesy of My Adventures in Disneyland
Photo Courtesy of My Adventures in Disneyland
So, that makes the Paradise Pier Hotel my #3 pick and another great option for lodging while visiting Disneyland. While it is the least expensive place to stay onsite, we have always enjoyed staying here. It may not be as close or as majestic as the Grand Californian Hotel or as magically-themed or newly renovated as the Disneyland Hotel but it has its own beachy sunkissed charm and, of course, you still get all the special perks of staying at a resort hotel. Like the Grand Californian Hotel, the Paradise Pier Hotel does offer some theme park view rooms, although some of those views are somewhat limited. For us, the friendly concierge staff has always been especially helpful and amazing. This seaside-themed hotel features Disney's PCH Grill restaurant and a rooftop pool, a perfect spot for relaxing and for watching the Disneyland fireworks. The Paradise Pier Hotel also features the very fun California Streamin' water slide, a boardwalk roller coaster-inspired water slide, in addition to a whirlpool spa and a toddler wading pool.

Photo Courtesy of My Adventures in Disneyland
Photo Courtesy of My Adventures in Disneyland
While I realize that this might not fit into your budget, please don't assume that is the case without at least looking into it. For the majority of our stays, we have gotten 20-30% off our room rates with promotions through the Official Disneyland Resort website. The rest of the time we have used annual passholder discounts. I check the Disneyland website regularly for special promotions and it's important to note that only a certain number of rooms are offered for any promotion. If you don't act quickly, you risk missing out on discounts, especially during the busy summer months and the holiday season. To make your own hotel reservation, you will need to pay a deposit equaling the total cost of one night. The rest of your bill will be charged at check-out. If you do arrive early, you can check-in, drop off your bags at the hotel and head straight to the parks. We have stayed both on site and off and our stays at the resort are always the very best. For my own adventures in Disneyland, staying on site will always be my lodging preference.

Resort Hotel Guest Perks Include:

* Being able to never leave the magic... For me, this detachment from reality is a welcomed change and really helps keep our trips from being hectic because we know the resort well, as well as its policies and procedures.

* Those special Disney touches such as free balloons and signed character photographs through Bell Services, heavily themed pool areas and special Disney chocolates on your pillow each night

* Private hotel guest-only entrance at Disney's California Adventure Park - Please note that you will be asked to show your hotel room card to use this entrance.

* Free delivery of resort purchases - You buy it, fill out the required form upon purchase and your items will be ready for you the next morning at Bell Services. This way you can buy anything you want, from delicate items to food, and you don't have to worry about carrying them around with you or renting a locker.

* Your room keys can be used for charging at the resort, if you wish - Please note that the name on your ID will need to match the name on the room key to use it for purchasing items. You can give purchasing power to each guest as you see fit.

* Extra Magic Hours - Currently Disneyland Resort hotel guests are offered early admission to either Disneyland or Disney California Adventure Park every day of their stay (with valid theme park admission and an active hotel key card)

* Hotel arcades and cartoon screening areas for kids at all three hotels - My son loves these spots because the kids can all hang out together while the parents and adults deal with things like checking in or speaking with Guest Services.

* Close proximity to fine dining options, such as the amazing Napa Rose (Grand Californian) and Steakhouse 55 (Disneyland Hotel) restaurants

* Close proximity to the Downtown Disney area and several additional casual dining options, including an always crowded McDonalds and a nearby Mimi's Cafe which notably offers tasty healthy family style meals at a good price.

* The resort offers three hotel character dining options - the Chip 'n Dale Critter Breakfast (Storytellers Cafe in Grand Californian), Goofy's Kitchen (located in the Disneyland Hotel) and Surf's Up! Breakfast with Mickey and Friends (Disney's PCH Grill in the Paradise Pier Hotel.

* Christmastime Extras - Countless beautiful Christmas trees, carolers, hot chocolate and more. If you do come during the Christmas season, be sure to stop by the Grand Californian lobby. The large fireplaces and massive Christmas tree are perfect for your family photos and something that all resort visitors are welcome to see and experience, whether they stay there during their visit or not.

* Free tour opportunities only provided through the hotel (Ask Guest Services at your hotel about their current offerings for resort guests upon check-in.)

August 15, 2012

Wednesdays With Walt : The Treasures Of The Walt Disney Archives

After my latest adventure in Disneyland last month, we made one very important stop on the drive home. In fact, it was one of the main reasons for our family trip from the Napa Valley to Southern California. Walt Disney is someone I respect deeply so, of course, I had to see the Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives exhibit at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library & Museum presented by D23. The exhibit is reasonably priced and definitely worth a visit. It runs through April 2013. Below are photographs of some of my personal favs from this substantial exhibit. 

Photo Courtesy of My Adventures in Disneyland
Photo Courtesy of My Adventures in Disneyland
Photo Courtesy of My Adventures in Disneyland
Photo Courtesy of My Adventures in Disneyland
Photo Courtesy of My Adventures in Disneyland
Photo Courtesy of My Adventures in Disneyland
Photo Courtesy of My Adventures in Disneyland
Photo Courtesy of My Adventures in Disneyland
Photo Courtesy of My Adventures in Disneyland
Photo Courtesy of My Adventures in Disneyland
Photo Courtesy of My Adventures in Disneyland
Photo Courtesy of My Adventures in Disneyland

My Adventures in Disneyland Travel Tip #3 : Packing Tips

A sure way to ruin any vacation is to not be prepared. When traveling, it is always important to bring the necessities for the local climate and occasion and a trip to Disneyland is no exception to that rule. Below is a packing list that you can use when packing for your next Disneyland adventure, be it with or without children. 

The Essentials:
* Valid IDs
* Extra Cash (for tips and more)
* Credit or Debit Cards
* Health Insurance Cards
* Printouts of Hotel and Ticket Information
* Medications
* Toiletries
* Sunscreen
* Sunglasses
* Swimwear 
* Hats
* Comfortable Shoes
* Extra Socks (for after water attractions and sweaty feet)
* Light Jacket (mostly for early mornings and later in the evening)
* Flip Flops (for the hotel, pool and even to change into for water attractions)
* Umbrella or Raincoat
* Small Bag or Backpack
* Phone (with charger)
* Camera
* Camera Supplies (battery, memory card, lenses, charger)
* Sandwich Bags (for keeping your phones and wallets dry on water attractions)
* Autograph Book with Thick Pen (thick pens are easier for some characters to use)
* Mailing Addresses (for gifts and postcards)
* Postage Stamps
* Cooler (for keeping beverages and food cold in your room)
* Band-Aids (for things like skinned knees and blisters)
* Fans and Misters (for summer) 
* Laundry Bags
* Laundry Soap Sheets (for big messes)
* Bottled Water
* Snacks

Additional Suggestions For Traveling With Children:
* Stroller with Blanket (to cover your little one from the elements)
* Juice Boxes (perfect for the park, hotel and restaurants)
* Earplugs (especially for younger children)
* Extra Clothes
* Swim Diapers
* Beach Towel (for puddle park in a bug's land) 
* Water Shoes
* Extra Wet Wipes
* Portable Changing Pad
* Baby Carrier
* Nightlight
* Books for Bedtime
* Favorite Blanket
* Favorite Stuffed Animal
* Coins (for pressing)
* Glowsticks
* Toys

So be prepared. Please don't pack like my son.

August 14, 2012

My Adventures in Disneyland Dooney & Burke Giveaway 2012

I am excited to announce that my first giveaway is finally here! To enter to win, simply be a fan of My Adventures in Disneyland on Facebook and use the Rafflecopter widget to enter on this page or on my Facebook page. I really love Dooney & Burke Disney accessories and Disney Baby clothes are all adorable but these two are my own favorites of the collection. Good luck Adventurers!

This giveaway is in no way sponsored by Facebook, Dooney & Burke, Disney or any other entity other than My Adventures in Disneyland. You can enter this giveaway starting on August 15, 2012 and the winners will be determined and announced on September 15, 2012. You must be 18 years old to enter. The photos provided below are examples and not the actual items that will be awarded.

* Grand Prize:  Dooney & Bourke Disney Parks Buttons Mickey Mouse Wristlet

* Runner-up Prize: Two Adorable Pieces From The Popular Disney Baby Collection

Follow Me On Twitter And Facebook...

You can now follow My Adventures in Disneyland on Twitter. You can find me at to stay connected. Also, don't forget to "like" my Facebook page at for jokes, fan art, updates and more! Just this week My Adventures in Disneyland hit 500 "likes" on Facebook and it is where you will find blog posts, daily updates and a community of great Disney fans. Join the fun today! 

August 1, 2012

My Adventures in Disneyland Travel Tip #2 : Sun Safety

It doesn't really matter when you visit the Disneyland Resort, California is a sunny place and you will need to be prepared. Always use a waterproof sunscreen (with an SPF of 30+) and reapply every few hours throughout your day. If you are someone who burns easily, you should wear a baseball hat or even a sun hat for the most sun protection. While wearing a visor does feel cooler than wearing a baseball cap, your scalp is left vulnerable and you risk getting a sunburn. Sunscreen is not recommended for children below the age of six months so sun avoidance if really the best way to go when dealing with a young baby at Disneyland. Be smart with sun safety because a bad sunburn is no fun, especially when you are on vacation. Sun safety is surely a must for any Disney adventure.

Below are recent pictures of Princess Dot Puddle Park. This whimsical water play area can be found in a bug's land and is located in Disney California Adventure Park. It's the perfect place to cool off on a hot summer day. Be warned though... If the ground under your feet is wet then keep your eyes open for shooting water. I have seen countless parents blindsided because they thought they were in a safe zone. For your convenience, the puddle park is surrounded by benches (with some shaded areas) and there are drinking fountains and family bathrooms nearby for bathroom breaks and for changing into swimsuits or dry clothes. If you are still looking for other ways to cool off at the Parks, you can also take a wild ride on the popular Splash Mountain or raft along the picturesque Grizzly River Run. While hotel pools and slides are also a fun option, it's nice to not have to leave the action to cool off. So, have fun but please don't forget the waterproof sunscreen!

Photo Courtesy of My Adventures in Disneyland
Photo Courtesy of My Adventures in Disneyland