Friday, September 4, 2015

Secrets to Saving on Disney

Pillows I made for our first trip with the kids, and some plush toys
 I got for a great deal at the Disney store before our trip.

When I post pictures of my family at Disneyland, one of the questions I get asked most is "How can you afford it??"

Other than the fact that we all have our own priorities, there are some steps that we take to make sure we aren't blowing all of our money at Disneyland.

Here are some of the steps we take to help keep costs down.

1. Find a decently priced hotel. No, not the cheapest motel, because after you figure in the cost of food for 7 people (these places don't usually provide much of a breakfast), the cheapest motel just turned into an average, good rated hotel, except dingier and more time-consuming. The hotels we prefer to stay at serve a hot breakfast that can actually fill the kids up. That includes eggs, sausage, bacon, sometimes biscuits and gravy, in addition to yogurt, muffins, bagels, cereal and fresh fruit. I admit, we do take a few extra yogurts and fruit with us to take into the park. Also, if you want to step it up a little, there are a few hotels that also serve "evening appetizers"....the amount of food they serve can work for a free dinner!

2. Plan NOT to buy souvenirs at the park. We keep a Disney box at home. When I find Disney items on clearance for a great price at Target, I buy them and stick them in the box. We take the box with us on our trip. If/when the kids start asking for souvenirs, I just remind them that we already have some in the hotel room.

3. Be frugal with your meals! The official, written rule is that no outside food is allowed in the park...but they also advise you that if you are bringing in food that needs to be prepared, you have to go to the picnic tables provided. They know you are bringing outside food in :) One of our favorite meals is a large Mickey sandwich. We bring in our own lunch meat and cheese, and purchase our bread from California Adventures (Mickey shaped sourdough loaf). The kids love it, as do we. For snacks we put olives, pistachios, trail mix, and cut up fruit into plastic containers to munch on throughout the day.

What's your favorite frugal tip for Disney families?

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

A family of 7 at the D23 Expo!

Our latest Disney trip included one day at the D23 Expo...and it was truly amazing! I was told by many people that the expo (Disney expo, none the less) was not a place for kids. This is why we chose to go only one day.

We strolled in to the expo around 11 am...and by strolled, I mean we actually got to the doors, then had to head right back towards the water fountain because my 5 year old HAD to take a picture with "Elsa" and "Anna" and a few other cosplayers that were posing by the fountain.

After going back inside, checking in and getting our badge lanyards and bags, we headed to the main floor. We were all a bit mesmerized for a while. There was so much going on!

We made it just in time to see the Teen Beach 2 cast get introduced on stage, and watched their dance party a bit.

The rest of the day was lots and lots of picture taking of cosplayers, playing new video games, browsing all of the vendor tables with amazing Disney merchandise, and listening to a few panels. My 5 year old was convinced that most of the characters she saw were the "real" ones...except Baymax. She said she knew he was fake, so she couldn't take a picture with him. Funny, funny girl.

As you can see from the picture above, we all dressed up too :) I didn't have a pink dress to be Queen Miranda, so I used my Belle dress...the rest of my family are Sofia the First characters. They LOVED dressing up, and loved when someone recognized who they were "suppose" to be.

My 3, 5 and 6 year olds loved all these cosplayers!

We supposedly went on a "slow" day. Even then, we saw so many amazing cosplayers. So many characters that you'd never see at any of the Disney parks! Personally, that alone is worth the cost of a weekend ticket to the expo (which is what we are planning for the next expo). My kids had many great talks with the amazing people there, they loved playing the new video games, meeting new Disney fans, and even loved seeing the cast of shows that they watch. 

Here are my top 3 tips for anyone planning any type of expo event with their kids (this is only our second expo):

1. Help them get a good night's rest the night before! For this trip, on the Saturday before the expo, I got the kids up EARLY. We spend the day at Disneyland. Because they got up early, and were active all day, they were all ready for bed by 7 pm. All 5 slept very good that night.

2. Eat before you go! To maximize your "browsing" time, make sure to eat before you go. You can buy food there, but who wants to show up to an expo like this, only to have to immediately sit down and eat for an hour or so?

3. Let your kids be kids! Really, let them have fun. Let your little one run up to their favorite character to ask for a picture. The cosplayer will love that! Let them pick a few things they would like to do that day. Let them have as much fun as you are (hopefully everyone is having a blast!).

Have you taken your kids to any expos with you? I'd love to hear more tips, as I am a beginner at the expo side of this!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Planning Our Next Disneyland Trip-What I'm doing to prepare!

We are planning our next Disney trip!

Yes, I still get excited about going to Disneyland, even though we go on a fairly regular basis. Our kids are seasoned Disneyland and DCA guests. They have been on nearly every ride, and have seen nearly every show, that they are able to. Nearly.

On this trip, we will be going at the height of the 60th Anniversary celebration. There will be a new parade to see, new fireworks to see, and a new wardrobe for Mickey and Minnie. 

This will be our first homeschooling trip. If my son were in traditional school, he would be starting first grade this year. We have chosen to homeschool him, in a less traditional sort of way. We'll be doing more of an interest-led approach, to keep the kids wanting to learn, and enjoying what they do learn. I'm thinking we'll start with a "transportation" unit, since Disneyland has many different forms of that!

The last, more exciting, tidbit to this trip is, we'll be going to the D23 Expo! I would love to be able go for all three days, but these 5 kids lack the patience I think they would need for that.

Here is what I am doing now to prepare for our trip (after securing our hotel and expo tickets):

  1. Gathering road trip items (travel games, notepads, chalk).
  2. Sorting Disney clothes, to see who grew out of what.
  3. Printing easy patterns of items to sew before the trip.
  4. Planning my own Disney wardrobe.

I’ll post more in detail about different aspects of our trip later.

After booking your vacation, what’s next on your to-do list?


Friday, June 26, 2015

How to Create a Disney Look That Works For You

When I started planning one of our "big" Disneyland vacations, I was pregnant, and knew I would be carrying around a 2 1/2 month old by the time our trip rolled around. I am your average Disney mom....I wear my Disney character shirts just like my kids do (and my husband). I love having pictures of all of us in our Disney gear, with the characters. 

My dilemma for the trip mentioned was, I knew the baby wouldn't be out and about at only 2 1/2 months old, so buying a whole lot of Disney themed clothes for her just for pictures would be pointless. Cue babywearing here! This is also how I discovered Disneybound!

I have always used baby carriers for my kids, but I had never heard of a wrap before. Once I learned about different carriers, I knew this would be my go-to Disney "outfit". The first wrap that I purchased was a gorgeous Natibaby Faelinh (pictured below). I love the castles, reminds of of the Disney castles! The wrap is black, so I was able to wear it for an "Anna" type Disneybound (blue skirt, black top). I also made a diy purple wrap (pictured above) so I could wear it with a green skirt to disneybound as Ariel. 

As my youngest is now a year old and wanting to be out of the carrier more, I have been back to wearing easier carriers, such as my Lillebaby and Mei Tai. The Mei Tai is what I have on in the first picture above, with an extra small women's t-shirt slipped over it for a Disney themed carrier (stained glass Beauty and The Beast shirt from Hot Topic)! And the last picture...our Anna jacket fits over the Lillebaby carrier and my daughter on chilly days!

Here are my top 3 tips on creating YOUR Disney look:

1. Stick to your favorites. It makes the whole Disneybound thing much simpler, and you won't be taking a suitcase full of clothes you aren't going to wear.
2. Wear comfortable shoes. Shoes can be cute AND comfy. I love my Sanuk Yoga Slings  
 I bought on Amazon. They come in a variety of colors, and can go with just about any look you're going for. 
3. Dress based on what you are doing that day. Walking around browsing stores? Go ahead and wear that dress! Chasing littles around A Bug's Land? Might want to opt for shorts too ;) Also, I try to dress myself and the kids based on which park we are at, and which characters we might see that day. Makes for cute pictures.

You can follow me on Pinterest for more clothing inspiration!

What are your go-to clothing items for your Disney trips?

Monday, June 22, 2015

Sneak peak at our Snow White party!

I'll be going more in depth later on our Disney parties, but for now, here is a small glimpse of our latest, our baby girl's  first birthday!