Category Archives: Disneyland

News & discussion from Disneyland in Anaheim, California

My High and Low of 2017 D23 Expo Announcements

If you haven’t heard, more announcements than I can count on two hands were made at 2017’s D23 Expo.  Many of these have been floating around as rumors for some time, but some took me by complete surprise.  If you need a refresher on the announcements, here is a recap post from the Disney Parks Blog.

Out of all the announcements made, here are the highs and lows I can’t stop thinking about!

High
Third ship added to Disney Cruise Line expansion
Last year Disney Cruise Line announced two new ships (similar in size to the Dream and Fantasy) that would launch in 2021 and 2023.  DCL has been quiet since the announcement, so a surprise third ship due in 2022 is icing on my I’m-excited-by-the-idea cake.  So little is known about this expansion it’s hard to be excited about specifics.  I remember when the Dream and Fantasy launched in 2011 and 2012 and I’m ecstatic to see more ships expand the line.  I can’t wait to see what destinations and experiences this brings to Disney Cruise Line!

Space restaurant in Epcot
Normally I give a big eye roll to restaurant announcements for Epcot, but the new space themed restaurant near Mission Space has me pumped.  The kid inside me, who wished to go to space camp, who watched Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century more times than you could guess, cannot wait for opening day!  I don’t care what space food they feed me, I’m ready to make my reservation!

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Snapshot – A Mary Poppins Dream

It’s funny how trip memories can sneak up on you out of the blue.  I’ve suddenly remembered the fortuitous stroke of luck on our December 2013 trip to Disneyland and that put us in the right place to fulfill one of my Disney dreams.

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For some time before this trip I’d had a dream to meet one of the penguin waiters from Mary Poppins.  At some point I heard about a Saving Mr. Banks promotion that was scheduled for California Adventure.  Luckily for us the timing of this fit perfectly in our trip.  One morning we waited in line to receive a movie poster, then met Mary Poppins, Bert and a penguin waiter all at once!

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“Sometimes, wishes can be granted in the most unexpected ways”

Immediately after this we rode Tower of Terror with our movie poster and took a silly on-ride photo with it, but I’ll spare you that photo! ;)

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I’m the penguin papparazzi

Using Tax Refund for Disney Vacation

Are you stuck inside on a cold and snowy day?  Makes you want to plan a Florida vacation, right?  Now is a popular time to plan your next Disney vacation and for good reason.  These cold, short days are a great time to plan some fun in the bright Florida sun.  If you’re anticipating a tax refund you can pay for part of your trip without impacting your monthly budget.

Here are a few things to keep in mind if you plan to pay for your Disney vacation with a tax refund-

1) Book a Package
Booking a Magic Your Way Package combines multiple aspects of your trip under one booking.  If you prefer to minimize your expenses on the trip, a package with dining is a great choice.  If you have a set budget, tell your agent.  We can work backwards to find a balance between your trip preferences and vacation budget.

2) Travel this calendar year
All of 2016 is available to book a Walt Disney World vacation.  If you’d like to travel in 2017, those dates will be available to book sometime in the summer of 2016.  If you’d like to use this refund to pay for next year’s vacation, you may save the money in a Disney Vacation Account or a special savings account.  We use an online high-yield savings account for our vacation fund.  If you prefer a physical location, check local credit unions for vacation savings accounts.

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5 Tips for Bag Check Line

All Disney theme parks have a bag check station before you reach the turnstiles. Bags are checked to ensure guest safety and to prevent banned items from entering the parks.

Writing this article has been in the back of my mind for a while, but with recent security changes I decided now is the right time. On our November 2015 trip we experienced more thorough bag searches and an increased presence of patrol dogs outside the gates. As of December 2015, walk through metal detectors have been installed for additional random screening.

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Example of Magic Kingdom’s bag check station. There are two stations, one or both may be open depending on crowds.

Here are some helpful hints to make the bag check process quicker for everyone-

1.  Remove bags from your body and from the basket of any strollers
Security will not search bags while they are attached to your body in any way. All bags must be removed from stroller baskets or EVC baskets and searched as well.

2.  Unzip all zippers
When you reach the table and can set your bag down (which happens when you’re next or almost next) unzip all zippers on your bag. Yes, that includes the tiny pocket on your backpack. Security will look through all pockets of a bag and any cases inside a bag. If you’re carrying a large backpack, this could take a while, but having your bag ready for them helps prevent delays.

3.  Be ready to unpack
If your bag is only moderate full, security will most likely be able to complete a search of the bag without removing any items. If the bag is so full that they cannot see the bottom, they will ask you to remove some items. Don’t stuff a coat in the top of your bag, for example, as they will likely ask you to remove it.

4.  Show your empty basket
Most of the time security will ask to see your stroller basket as you roll past them to ensure it is actually empty and no bags were overlooked.

5.  Don’t bring prohibited items
It’s acceptable to bring in your soda, a granola bar, and peanut butter sandwich for your kid (or your starving husband.) It’s not acceptable to bring alcohol, glass containers, selfie sticks, wagons, coolers or suitcases of a certain size, weapons or toys that look like weapons. See here for the full list of current park rules.

Bonus tip!  Each table has two lines
The tables at bag check are spaced in such a way to allow lines to form on both sides of every table.  Security will alternate each side as they check bags.  The same holds true at many quick service cashier stations.

If you read this and thought, “But all I carry are my wallet and phone!” then you can utilize the line for guests without bags. If you have a fanny pack, small purse, or even a camera case, don’t try to sneak through this line. You’ll be redirected to the bag check line.

Bag check is a necessary security precaution. When you’re itching to get on a ride it may feel like a burden, but these tips can help you get through smoothly and on your way to fun!

Park Bag for Adults

After many years of visiting Disney theme parks I’ve perfected the process of packing my park bag.  I could call this Park Bag Packing 101, but this is more than an entry level course.  I present my thesis for park bags for adults!

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Let’s start with the bag.  It took many years before I learned about LeSportsac bags, but I now consider them perfect park bags.  The ripstop nylon is lightweight and water resistant.  I like the Cleo the best.  It’s a good combination of roomy interior but small profile, and has a strap that can be short over the shoulder or long crossbody.

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Snapshot – Rivers of America

This snapshot comes from Disneyland’s Frontierland and Rivers of America.

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Confession time – we habitually run late in the mornings on vacation.  One nice thing about our Disneyland vacations is that our Eastern time zone bodies have no problem waking up at 6 am Pacific.  We make more rope drops in Disneyland than we ever make in Walt Disney World.  This particular morning we enjoyed a few key rides with short lines then stopped for a breakfast at River Belle Terrace.  The park was still relatively quiet and we could have taken advantage of more short lines, but instead we took in the peace of lounging by the River, watching the Mark Twain paddle by.

Night vs Day

Day or night, night or day? These words have a lot of meaning when planning your Disney vacation, and understanding how they are used means you’ll understand exactly what you’re booking. This post pertains specifically to theme park vacations, like Walt Disney World and Disneyland.

For an example, let’s consider a trip with a check-in date of August 9, 2016 and a check-out date of August 15, 2016. This is a 6 night, 7 day trip.

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Night
A night is the number of nights of your hotel stay. It is the number of times you’ll lay your head on your hotel pillow to sleep. On a 6 night, 7 day trip, you’ll sleep in your hotel room 6 times. This determines the cost of your room. The number of hotel nights is explicitly determined by your trip dates.

Nights are the number of times you'll sleep in your hotel...but not this hotel!

Nights are the number of times you’ll sleep in your hotel…but not this hotel!

The number of nights of your hotel stay also determines the number of dining plan credits you receive (for Walt Disney World vacations only.) You receive dining plan credits equal to the number of nights of your hotel stay. For the example trip, the travelers would receive 6 Table Service credits, 6 Quick Service credits, and 6 snacks per person on the basic Dining Plan. Dining plan credits are explicitly determined by hotel nights, and therefore trip dates. You cannot increase or decrease the number of credits you receive unless you are also changing your trip dates.

Day
A day is the number of calendar days you will be on property. This includes your check-in and check-out dates. Your number of days will always be one more than your number of nights. Nights determine your room and dining plan costs, days do not. Days are important because you’ll want to book your flights on the correct dates, or plan your drive and vacation from work appropriately.

Days are the number of calendar days you will be on property

A day is also a length of ticket. Tickets for Walt Disney World can be anywhere from 1-Day to 10-Day tickets. Tickets for Disneyland can be anywhere from 1-Day to 5-Day tickets.  Your ticket length is the number of individual days you may visit a theme park. You choose your ticket length, it is not determined by your hotel stay. Any ticket length is valid for any trip length.

Using the example trip of 6 nights, 7 days, 5-Day Tickets are shaded in gray. Tickets can be used on any day of the trip, but the shaded days are the common days to visit the parks in this example.

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We hope this guide helps you understand the difference between nights and days on your vacation package.  As always, if you have questions about your trip don’t hesitate to ask your agent!

Snapshot Disneyland Train Station

This photo is the type that captures a truly unique moment in time, the first time I set foot inside Disneyland!

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Visiting a park for the first time is a unique experience that feels unlike any other park experience.  We checked in at the Grand Californian the night before and walked to the closed gates…standing at the gates, staring at the train station, knowing the next morning we’d be walking through.  Early the next morning we anxiously lined up at bag check, then at the turnstile, and eventually at the end of Main Street to await rope drop.  Walking past the beautiful train station and down Main Street for the first time was a thrilling experience I won’t forget.

Tips for a Walt Disney World Babymoon

You have assembled the crib and stocked your dresser full of cute clothes. Now one thing is missing – a babymoon to Walt Disney World! Or maybe you’re expecting your second or third child and want to take your young kids before you add another baby to the bunch? Traveling to Walt Disney World while pregnant can be a fun vacation filled with lots of unique memories.

 1st Trimester – Traveling during your first trimester presents more difficulties than you first expect. If you have any morning sickness, your day may revolve around food – what to eat and what not to eat. If your tastes change by the hour, you may not be able to commit to dining reservations. The Quick Service Dining Plan or no dining plan may be the best option for you.

Plain crackers? Nilla wafers? You don’t want to be without that magic item that keeps your stomach settled. If it’s a necessity at home, pack it or consider a grocery delivery.

You may also be unusually tired, so afternoon naps and early evenings may be the best activity you plan.

The baby needs you to eat a Nutella Waffle Sandwich

The baby needs you to eat a Nutella Waffle Sandwich

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Snapshot – Disneyland Band

A quick moment in time from my first Disneyland trip…

Disneyland Band in Town Square

Disneyland Band in Town Square

This photo takes me back to a very specific moment, but also embodies my general feelings of Main Street.  I saw this scene on the Walt in Walt’s Footsteps tour, shortly before we toured Walt’s apartment above the Fire Station.  Seeing the Disneyland Band play in Town Square set the mood for what I was doing that day, reliving the history and place of Disneyland itself.  It also sets a mood on Main Street.  It establishes that this is an idyllic place different than what is outside the gates.  It’s nearly a scene from the Twilight Zone…a place you can forget your everyday worries and simply enjoy.