Disneyland Hotel Review

DLPool

If you are considering visiting Disneyland during the 2016 year, we highly recommend staying on property at the Disneyland Hotel. We recently stayed at this hotel on our last vacation and we loved the new renovations they did over a year ago. The pool was renovated with a new Monorail theme slide area that kids love! The pool area includes 3 pool areas for families – one being the slide area. The only downside is that you can’t sit in one area and see all three pools to watch your kids while they swim. My preschooler went down the small slide about 100 times!

MonorailSlideDLPoolSign

DLPool2

As always at all Disney pools, they offer complimentary life vests for little ones as well as free pool towels. We enjoyed some delicious lunch pool side from Tangaroa Terrace. It was fantastic!

Between the three Disneyland resort hotels, the Disneyland Hotel is the oldest hotel and has the largest rooms for families because of its age. We have stayed at the Disneyland Hotel many times and we love the new renovations. The lobby was redesigned to be more open concept as well as the surrounding areas. The hotel still has the three main towers of rooms.

DLHotelTower

We stayed in the Adventure Tower with views of the pool. This tower also has theme park views available. Between the three resort hotels, the Disneyland Hotel offers the most Disney-theme magic! The most magical thing that was added to each room is a beautiful wood-carved headboard that lights up fireworks when you turn it on, and plays “When You Wish Upon A Star”. It was so lovely! The lights were just enough for a soft nightlight when we slept. Our kids loved it!

DLHotelRoom1 DLHotelRoom2DLPillowDLHotelBathDLHeadboardDLHeadboardLights

For our big family, we had plenty of room in the hotel and we loved it there. It was a short walk to the parks and we were so close to Goofy’s Kitchen which is a great character dine!

We know at Disneyland, there are a lot of choices in places to stay with your family. But I think the best part of our trip was staying at the Disneyland Hotel. We were able to come back to our room to rest and we loved relaxing at the pool or hanging in our room.

The room is filled with Mickey magic and kids will love it there!

DLHotelSign

15 Tips for MagicBand and FastPass+ at Disney World

PreschoolearsMagicBandTips

Disney World has turned high tech with MagicBands, FastPass+ and the My Disney Experience app. Their new system is designed to make your visit to the happiest place on earth as easy and simple as possible! While it is quite slick, you have to get to know the system a bit to make it truly easy and seamless. We were newbies on our last trip to the world with the new system, but after two weeks, we consider ourselves pros on it now. We would like to share our 15 top tips and advice for using the MagicBands, FastPass+ and the My Disney Experience app for families.

Keep in mind that MagicBands are free for guests staying on Disney property with purchased park tickets. If you are staying off property, you can still purchase a MagicBand if you have park tickets or use paper tickets for FastPasses.

PreschoolearsMagicBands1PreschoolearsMagicBand2

  1. On the My Disney Experience website, make sure all family members in your party are linked together. This will make it simple for one person to make all the FastPass choices and reservations for everyone.
  2. Customize your MagicBands on My Disney Experience by color and name. Each person can have their own color and their name is printed on the underside of the band. Also, the bands come in one size BUT you can remove the gray surround to make the overall band smaller for kids. They are meant to be adjustable this way.
  3. Wear them all the time. They can go swimming with you and get wet – no biggy! Get used to having them on so that you are never without them. They are your key to your room as well as your pass to the park as well as your FP for your next ride as well as linking your photos to your Memory Maker. And you can charge things at dining and shopping from your band. So with all that linked to one band, you better keep it on ALL THE TIME!
  4. Schedule your FastPass+ right when your window opens. Don’t wait on this one because times are being taken quickly especially during busier times of year. And the hottest FastPasses go really fast.
  5. To open the door to your room, you have to give it a hard tap. This may seem like an odd tip but all other places in the park, you hold your band on the scan for a few seconds. But on their hotel doors, you have to give it a hard tap on the sensor for the door to open. This little tip will save you some time fighting with your room door late at night. Your welcome.
  6. Pre-purchase Memory Maker and link it to your band. When you are on attractions with ride photos (i.e. Space Mountain, Expedition Everest, Buzz Lightyear…) the ride will automatically load those photos onto your account by reading your band on the ride. Yep, you don’t do anything but wear the band. See tip #3 for a reminder of wearing your band all the time! And PhotoPass photographers just scan your bands when they take pictures. Easy pleasy.
  7. You are given three FastPass+ options each day at one park, but once you are done with those three, you can visit one of the FP+ kiosks to add more one at a time. Only one person from your party needs to go to the kiosk (since you did tip #1 and linked everyone’s bands) and then they can get another FP. Cast Members are standing next to each kiosk to help you through the process although it is really simple.
  8. Use the My Disney Experience app in the parks to check your scheduled dining,  and FastPasses as well as attraction wait times. You can make some changes to FastPasses from this app but the kiosks are a bit easier. Also, keep in mind that the app is dependent on signal and number of users at the park so it has times it doesn’t load. Wait times were fairly accurate on the app within each park. It is a great tool while at the parks.
  9. Want to bling out your band? You can get Disney Band-its to add to your MagicBand. They are similar to the Jibbitz that you could put into your Croc shoes–they simply stick into the empty holes on the band, and there are lots of choices. There are also LOTS of choices of special MagicBands you can buy that are available at select locations in the parks.
  10. Know where the kiosks are in each park. All parks have three locations and Magic Kingdom has four. So there aren’t a huge amount of spots, which means when crowds are high, the lines are long. It is very, very important that you know where these locations are at each park – memorize it! Bring a list with you! Trust me – this little tip will save you lots of wasted time.
  11. When you all use a FP, make sure every child/person swipes their band BOTH times through the line so that the computer logs it at used and you can add additional FP. Once a FP window has passed, you can add more as well.
  12. Remember the grace periods on your FP window. Five minutes early is fine, and fifteen minutes late is fine. Anything outside those times and you won’t be let on the attraction or show. If you miss your FP, its gone.
  13. When you schedule a FP for a show and they give you a window of time to return, for the best seat, arrive at the beginning of that window. If you arrive at the end of that window, you are basically the same as the standby line. If you have a FP for an attraction and you have an hour window to return, anytime in that window is good–it won’t matter when you arrive in that window.
  14. Anyone with a band on your account can use it for photos, park passes and opening your resort door. You have to authorize who can use it for purchases and a pin is required when you scan it. It could be “dangerous” at Disney for kids to have authorization for purchases depending on the age. But using the band for quick snacks and meals was so great and easy.
  15. Finally, to make sure you don’t forget a band each day (see tip #3 again!) make a Park Packing List that you check off every morning to make sure you have it all. Sunglasses, sunblock. autograph books, snacks AND MagicBands! You won’t forget necessary items as well as those marvelous bands.

In general, we loved the MagicBands. Our kids thought they were so much fun! I must confess I loved how slick it all was and we didn’t have to think about too many things. And we didn’t have to carry as much. The system itself still has some glitches but I believe it is getting better and I think it is a revolutionary idea. If you are heading to the parks this year, have fun with the MagicBands and the My Disney Experience system! And take our tips and advice to make it even better!

**Last little tip: If you also wear a FitBit or electronic exercise band, wear your MagicBand on the opposite hand as the signals can compete with the scan. Always wear your MagicBand on the same hand you use for the finger scan at the gates each time.**

Halloween Events at Disney World and Disneyland

MickeyMinnie

Its that time of year again when Halloween has come to our favorite Disney parks. Both Disney World and Disneyland celebrate Halloween in an amazing way, and they both offer similar but different experiences. If you will be heading to the parks this fall and would like to know what the parks are offering for Halloween fun, we have the rundown for you. We have been to both park’s celebrations and we will share with you what is in store for Disneyland and Disney World during Halloween time.

Disney World Halloween

WDWHalloween-Castle

If you will be visiting Disney World this fall (September through October), you will experience not only fall celebrations but Halloween as well. Most of the Halloween celebrations are done at Magic Kingdom. During September through November (9/19-11/10), Epcot has the Food & Wine Festival in full swing and that is the focus at that park. Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom do not have Halloween festivities.

The main attraction during Halloween at the Magic Kingdom is Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. This is a ticket event, meaning even if you already have park passes for that day, you need to purchase additional tickets for the party. The Halloween party is only on select nights, which are:

September 12, 14, 16, 19, 21, 23, 26, 28
October 2, 3, 5, 9, 10, 13, 16, 17, 19, 21, 23, 24, 26, 28, 30

Cost for tickets are $62.00 plus tax (ages 10+) and $57.00 plus tax (ages 3-9). The party times each night are 7:00 pm – 12:00 am, but they let guests with tickets into the park 3 hours in advance (4:00 pm). We advise you to arrive at 4:00 to get into the park and have your wristband.

Here are all the magical happenings at Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party that are included with a ticket:

  • Mickey’s “Boo to You” Parade, twice a night. This is a wonderful parade and should not be missed!

BooToYouHalloWishes

  • HalloWishes Fireworks, following one of the parades. This is one of their best fireworks shows.
  • Trick or treating stations throughout the park. These have long lines and can get congested. Plan on hitting just one for fun and skip the rest.
  • Villain pre-show in front of castle before fireworks

WDWHalloween-Malef

  • Dead Cowboy Quartet in Frontierland. Similar to the Dapper Dans with their performance.
  • Unique and special character greets throughout the park, including Anna & Elsa, Cinderella & Rapunzel, classic Disney characters in Halloween costumes, villains, Pixar characters, Cinderella’s coach, Seven Dwarfs, Jack Skellington & Sally, Jasmine & Aladdin plus Genie & Abu, Winnie the Pooh & friends in costume, Captain Jack Sparrow and Tarzan, Jane & Terk. Character greets are subject to change.

WDWHalloween-Tink

  • NEW Villain’s Sinister Soiree – Additional tickets required
    • Dessert party inside Cinderella’s Royal Table restaurant
    • Hosted by Lady Tremaine and features other Disney villains
    • Live piano music
    • Preferred viewing area for the 8:15 Boo to You parade
    • Offered at 10:15 pm and 11:45 pm
    • Desserts and non-alcoholic specialty drinks offered
    • No Disney Dining Plan
    • Cost is $99/person plus tax (gratuity included)
    • Booking not available online – to purchase tickets, call (407) 939-5262
  • During the party, many of the park’s rides are open and the waits are short since most people are waiting in line for a photo op or enjoying other party festivities. It may be a great time to enjoy a ride or two!
  • Costumes are allowed at the park during the party. Disney has guidelines for costumes worn so visit their website for details.
  • Special party treats and merchandise that is only available during the party

WDWHalloween-Hearse

If you are visiting the park and not going to the party, you will still enjoy the amazing Halloween decorations throughout the park as well as special Halloween treats and merchandise. There are not Halloween photo ops except during the party.

A few tips on the party:

  • Arrive early to receive your wrist-band for the party. The largest crowds stay on Main Street so it is best to move past that part of the park.
  • Decide before that night what your high priority photo-ops will be and limit that list. Lines can be 30-60 minutes long for some pictures and you can’t spend your whole party time waiting to meet a character.
  • Find your spot for the parade about 30-45 minutes early (at least)
  • Make sure kids are well rested if you plan to stay late that night. And plan for a late morning the next day.

Disneyland Halloween

Entrance

Disneyland offers a special Halloween event as well called Mickey’s Halloween Party. It is only offered at Disneyland and not California Adventure. It requires an additional ticket to attend, meaning if you have a park pass for that day, you will need to purchase a ticket for the party as well or exit the park when it begins. Party runs 7:00 pm until midnight. Guests with tickets are allowed to enter the park 3 hours prior to the start of the party. Here are the select dates of the Halloween Party:

September 26, 30
October 3, 6, 8, 10, 14, 17, 20, 22, 24, 27, 29, 31

Here is all the magic during Mickey’s Halloween Party:

  • Monsters U Dance Party in Tomorrowland – lots of fun Pixar Monsters characters out and dancing. Not a great photo op
  • Mickey’s Costume Party Cavalcade – this is a small parade of characters in their Halloween costumes. Very cute and it is easy to find seats for this parade.

Parade2Daisy

  • Halloween Screams Fireworks – one of their best fireworks shows! Hosted by Jack Skellington, Oogie Boogie and a special visit from Zero!
  • Trick or Treat stations throughout the park – expect long lines for candy
  • Disney villains out for greets
  • Costumes are allowed for guests – Disney has guidelines for acceptable costumes so visit their website for details
  • Most attractions open all night
  • Fun activities and treats for families
  • Character ops throughout the park including Jack Skellington & Sally, Winnie the Pooh & friends, Toy Story pals, Mickey and friends in their Halloween costumes, Disney princesses, Peter Pan and Captain Hook, Smee & Jack Sparrow, Phineas & Ferb, Merida, and Star Wars Storm Troopers plus more! Characters are subject to change.

JackSallyStormTroopers

  • Complimentary parking
  • Special treats and merchandise offered only during the party

If you will be visiting the park and not attending the Halloween party, there are actually lots of other Halloween things to enjoy and Disneyland!

  • Haunted Mansion Holiday – The Haunted Mansion is taken over by Jack Skellington and his pals from A Nightmare Before Christmas. The attraction is “redecorated” and it is truly fabulous! Jack and Sally do meet and greets outside the mansion as well. Long lines for the ride during this time but it is well worth it!

HauntedMansionEnt

  • Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy – Space Mountain is changed to include zombie ghosts that scare guests during their ride. We didn’t enjoy this transformation but tweens and teens will think it is a frightful fun.
  • Halloween Carnival at Big Thunder Ranch in Frontierland – There are Disney Villain greets as well as other classic Disney characters in Halloween costumes. Kids can enjoy Halloween crafts and lots of Halloween fun at the ranch.
  • Dia de los Muertos is celebrated in Frontierland.

Disneyland vs Disney World

It may seem like both parks do about the same for Halloween but that isn’t quite true. Both parks have a ticketed Halloween party along with a parade and fireworks. Here are the difference between them if you are deciding which park you want to visit for Halloween time:

  • Disney World’s Halloween Party is much bigger than Disneylands. It attracts a larger crowd because it offers more events and appearances.
  • Disney World’s parade and fireworks are much grander by far. The Disneyland parade is less of a parade and more of the characters walking down the streets in Halloween costumes. It is still fun but much less “grand”.
  • Trick or Treating at both events have long lines for candy
  • Disneyland offers Halloween festivities and rides even if you don’t buy a ticket to the party. And you can still take Halloween photo ops with characters before the party. The characters change into different Halloween costumes for the party, but who cares?
  • Disneyland is more low-key, which is nice for families. It will still be busy and have crowds, but nothing like Disney World. We found it to be a little more fun and less stressful.
  • They both have the same guidelines for costumes – no weapons that resemble real weapons, no dragging parts, nothing inappropriate or scary, no dressing like a Disney character and signing autographs…
  • There are more unique character photo ops at Disney World, by far!
  • They both use the wristband system for ticketed guests and offer guest entrance 3 hours before the party begins.
  • There are many more dates of the Disney World Mickey’s Not-So-Scary than Disneyland’s Mickey’s Halloween Party.
  • Both parties have sold out for Halloween night or the nights closest to it.
  • Most rides stay open during the parties and the lines are pretty short, so plan some ride time!

If you are heading to one of the parties this season, here are some of our tips for young kids and families so you can enjoy the evening and not stress out!!

  • Have an easy day at the parks before the party. If you can have rest time before, even better! The parties run until midnight, and if you are planning to stay all evening, kids will need lots of rest and energy.
  • If you stay out late that night, expect a late morning the next day. Don’t schedule an early breakfast the next day. Plan on everyone being wiped out!
  • Dress comfortably. Even if you are planning to wear a costume, wear your tennis shoes. Make sure everyone is cool because costumes can get hot. I actually think kids are happier not in costumes but a cute Halloween shirt.
  • Bring glow-in-the-dark necklaces, bracelets and such, from home and give to the kids as a surprise at the party. The Disney glow in the dark toys are pricey. Something that blinks is even better!
  • Plan meals early. Many table serves close once the party begins, so either have an early dinner or plan for a fast quick-serve.
  • Limit the characters you want to meet. The lines can get pretty long and you will be very sad if you spend all that money on party tickets and spend the whole party in lines to see characters. Have a few must-see characters, split up the line waiting duty and then enjoy the night.
  • Get into character lines early in the evening so the rest of your evening can be parade, fireworks and fun!
  • Hit maybe one Trick or Treat stop and skip the rest. The lines are long there too. Your kids don’t need more candy and there are other things to do.
  • Parties closest to Halloween night sell out fast. In fast, some are already sold out now. Some nights, they will sell tickets up until the party starts.
  • Use the Photo Pass photographers. They have special “magic” pictures they take just for the Halloween party, like with the ghosts out front of Haunted Mansion. You have to ask for the magic shots if you want them.
  • It is essential at both parties to grab a map and guide for the party so you know where special events are as well as character greets.

We hope everyone has a fabulous Halloween, especially if you will be at a Disney park this season!
Boo to you!!

Travel Products We Love Part 2

TravelProductsLogo

We are continuing our series, Travel Products We Love, with our next two products. We have grouped these products together as they are stroller related products and they work great with all stroller types. Since most families with young kids take a stroller to Disney Parks, these two products help make those long days a little easier.

The first Travel Product We Love is The Mommy Hook. This large carabiner style hook attaches to the handle of any stroller. It has a cushion wrapped around it so that it doesn’t slide or scratch the stroller. You can then hook anything you want onto the hook to hang off the back of the stroller. While we don’t hang bags from these hooks, we do hang water bottles. With a large family, we have six water bottles we carry throughout the park, and the best way to have them accessible to everyone and easy to carry, is to hook them to the side of the stroller. The kids can grab their water bottle when they need it and they don’t get lost. The Mommy Hook is quite perfect for this and it travels very light.

MommyHook2MommyHook1

If you are interested in buying The Mommy Hook, they are available in many stores such as Babies R Us and Target. You can also purchase them at Amazon in a multitude of colors.

The second Travel Product We Love is The Walk-Along Stroller Handle. Previously called the Tag-A-Long, it was purchased by the Skip Hop company and is now the Walk-Along. This is an ingenious plastic handle you loop on the side of any stroller and it creates a handle for older children. As you push the younger child in the stroller, the older child can walk along the side, holding the Walk-Along, and stay safely next to you. It is perfect for the parks because there are crowds, and older kids may want to walk more than ride in a stroller. It really is a clever invention and it has been a big help for us on our Disney vacations.

TagALong

WalkAlong

If you are interested in purchasing a Walk-Along Stroller Handle, we have seen them at Babies R Us but you can also purchase them at Amazon.

Both of these travel products are low cost with great benefits for being on the go with little ones. We have found both to be very helpful at Disney Parks and we hope they can help you as well!

For more travel products we love:

Travel Product: EasyLunchboxes
Travel Product: The Shrunks
Travel Product: The PiggyBack Rider

WDW Dining Review: Cinderella’s Royal Table

Cinderella

One of the most popular character dine experiences at Walt Disney World is Cinderella’s Royal Table. This table-serve restaurant is located inside Cinderella’s castle at the Magic Kingdom, and guests can dine with views onto Fantasyland while their favorite princesses visit each table.

We have dined at Cinderella’s quite a few times and have always had a wonderful time. In January 2015, the restaurant will be closing for refurbishment and renovations. We aren’t sure what the renovations will include, but it is at least a three month scheduled closing. **

Knight

If you will be visiting the Magic Kingdom this fall, consider getting a reservation at Cinderella’s Royal Table for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Reservations book up quickly though! All meals have similar character experiences. Cinderella greets guests in the lobby and families can take photos with her then. During the meal, you will meet other princesses that walk from table to table. The princesses that are typically there are Snow White, Sleeping Beauty (Aurora), Ariel, and Jasmine. Belle no longer is at this character dine as she can be found at Belle’s Enchanted Tales in Fantasyland. As of right now, none of the newer princesses are here (i.e. Tiana, Merida, Rapunzel, Elsa or Anna).

SnowWhite Aurora Jasmine

The meal is a traditional table-serve, not a buffet. The food is quite good and there are many options for children and adults. During the meal, princesses are given wands and princes are given swords. All princesses and princes are given wishing stars. They will do a wishing ceremony at least once during the meal, for everyone to make wishes with their stars and wands.

WishingStar

They used to give families a print copy of their photos with Cinderella, but that feature is no longer being offered. If you have Memory Maker added to your Magic Bands, your photos with Cinderella will be loaded to your account. You can also use your PhotoPass card for these photos. There are no PhotoPass photographers inside the restaurant for the other princesses.

Aurora

We have both princesses and princes in our family, and they both love dining at Cinderella’s. It is not just for girls, I promise. My son loved seeing the princesses and taking photos with them. It is a very magical experience. The decorations inside are medieval themed with hanging tapestries and family crests. There is lots of wood and stone decor as well as royal fabrics that frame the large windows overlooking the park. The stain glass windows are beautiful.

Cinderellas3 Cinderellas2 Cinderellas1

Any table-serve restaurant that is located within a Disney park, that serves breakfast, will offer reservations before the park opens. This includes Cinderella’s Royal Table. If you have reservations at a restaurant before park hours, they will have one entrance gate for special entry only for your party to use. Simply use your Magic Bands to show proof for reservation. I also advise having a backup reservation number or print out in case technology fails (that would never happen, right?)

We have always dined at breakfast, and here is a sampling of the food for adults and children:

BreakfastChild Breakfast2 Breakfast1

We highly recommend this table-serve restaurant if you are able to get a reservation. Space is extremely limited as there aren’t a huge amount of tables. I would suggest looking into lunch or dinner for this one if breakfast is not available.

Preschoolears Rating: Four (4 out of 5 stars)

**If you will be visiting the parks during 2015 and would like to dine with princesses, your other options until Cinderella’s is open is Akershus in Epcot. Cinderella also visits 1900 Park Fare dinner character dines, as well as Prince Charming, Lady Tremaine, Drizella and Anastasia.

I dedicate this post to my wonderful “princess” niece who is turning 21 today. She celebrated her inner princess with us at Cinderella’s Royal Table when she was almost 20 year old, and she had a fabulous time! It goes to show that you are never to old to dine with royalty!

Kayli

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...