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Q & A with Toy Story Dad and Family

Q & A with Toy Story Dad and Family

I just wanted to write a little post so you could get to know us a better. Below are the questions we are most frequently asked. Where did you and Rachel meet? -To make a long story short we met each other in high school […]

DIY No Sew Peter Pan Costume

DIY No Sew Peter Pan Costume

If you are looking for an easy costume idea, then this Peter Pan costume is exactly what you need. The best part about this costume is that no sewing is required. All you need for this costume is faith, trust and a little Pixie Dust […]

Planning Your Disneyland Vacation

Planning Your Disneyland Vacation

We are Annual Passholders to Disneyland from Utah. Because of this, we are often asked how we plan our trips. The secret really is in the planning ahead. There is nothing better than an impulse trip to Disneyland, but in reality, these trips do take a bit of planning ahead. These tips will help you get the most magic out of your trip, be less stressed, and just enjoy the moment.

Start planning at least 2-3 months before your trip

Between Disneyland and the Anaheim Convention Center across the street, hotels in the Anaheim area can often sell out up to 2-3 months in advance. Not only can you secure a hotel at a better price when booking early, but you will also often find the same is true when booking a flight. If you plan to visit Disneyland around a holiday or the summer I would recommend you start planning even sooner.

Avoid Summer Months, Weekends and Holidays if Possible

“Why would I pay hundreds of dollars to stand in line in the hot sun for hours?” This is what I always hear from people who haven’t caught the Disney bug. Yes, Disneyland crowds have grown dramatically over the last 10 years and it is pretty much always crowded but we have found certain times that are less crowded throughout the year. Because kids are out of school, Disneyland is obviously more crowded on weekends, holidays and during the summer months. If possible, try to plan most of your Disneyland days for weekdays during the “offseason.”  Our favorite less busy times to go are in January/February and September and November. Hotels and airfare tend to be cheaper during this time as well.

Set a Budget

Now that you have the dates picked, it is important to set a budget for your trip. When budgeting make sure you include all of the following: Transportation (flight & rental car/shuttle or driving), hotel, Disneyland tickets, food/treats in the park, souvenirs, and Max Pass (more on this below). Be realistic and generous with your budget for food, treats, and souvenirs because you know you are going to want those newly released ears and to eat that churro.

One way that we like to save money is by bringing most of our own food into the park. We usually eat one meal in the park that Rach and I split and then snack on whatever we brought the rest of the day. Obviously we splurge on treats because Disney treats are life!

Flying Tips

Depending on where you live, flying might be the best option. I mean I know the last thing I want to do is spend my vacation days driving. Here are a couple tips we use when it comes to flying:

1) Use Google Flights– As I mentioned before, planning ahead of time will get you the best deal. Google Flights will allow you to choose your dates and then see the prices of flights around that time. Sometimes we have saved hundreds of dollars by simply flying on a Tuesday instead of a Wednesday or moving our trip one week sooner or later. That’s another reason why planning ahead of time is so crucial.

2) Get a Credit Card with miles– No, I am not encouraging you to go into debt to pay for your Disneyland trip. I believe you should only use a credit card when you have the money in your account and can pay it off right after or at least by the end of the month. With that being said we use the American Express Delta Gold SkyMiles card for a couple of reasons other than just collecting miles for free flights. The first is that everyone in your flight party (up to 7 people) get a free checked bag. This is a savings of  $50 per person round trip. The second big perk for us is free Car Rental Loss & Damage Insurance which is a huge comfort and budget saver as rental car insurance is legally required in California.

Bonus Tip: LAX is not the only airport near Disneyland. So when you are looking at flights don’t forget to check prices at LGB and other surrounding airports. Most of the time LAX has the best options but on multiple occasions, LGB was cheaper.

Driving Tips

Although flying is much faster, driving is usually more affordable, especially with a large family. Many of my favorite childhood memories are when we all piled in our big white van for a road trip.

“Road Trip Presents” is one of my favorite traditions that came from Rachel’s family. All you have to do is find a few cheap gifts or goodies. Some great ideas are card games, coloring books, treats, or basically anything that can hold your children’s attention for more than a few minutes. We usually hit up the dollar store and grab 1 present per person for every 2-3 hours of the drive. Before your road trip make sure to wrap all of the present as the unwrapping adds a fun surprise factor. Then simply hand out the presents every few hours or as needed to help break up the drive.

Also don’t forget the road trip snacks, water, and great music. We usually listen to Disney songs to get in the Disney spirit on the way.

Bundle Tickets and Hotel

Before we became Annual Passholders to Disneyland we would always bundle our Disneyland Tickets and hotel together through Get Away Today. Get Away Today gives amazing discounts when you bundle tickets and hotel together. They also often have special rates with certain hotels that allow you to get FREE breakfast or FREE parking. Keep an eye out for great deals throughout the year that will allow you to save hundreds of dollars. Use code TOYSTORYDAD for an additional $10 off.

Choose A Nearby Hotel

Yes, you can save a few dollars by staying further away from the park but trust me when I say, staying close is definitely worth it. If you stay far away you have to deal with parking($$$) or shuttles($$$) which also can get backed up during busy seasons. If you are within one mile of the park you can easily walk to Disneyland in about 15 minutes.

One hotel we love to stay at is the Howard Johnson Anaheim.  It’s right across the street and is less than an 8-minute walk to the park. They even offer my followers a 15% discount using code LNLR and Annual Passholders get a 20% discount using code LNAP. If you want more info about this hotel you can check out this blog post I wrote about it.

Create A Disneyland Game Plan

If you go to Disneyland without a plan you can easily end up “Paying hundreds of dollars to stand in lines under the sun.” Having a game plan helps you get a ton done. Here are a couple of tips when planning time at the park:

1.) Buy a 3-Day Park Hopper– For those that have never been to Disneyland, I always recommend getting a 3-Day Park Hopper. That allows you the ability to hop back and forth between Disneyland and California Adventure. We spend the first 2 days getting everything done that we want to do. On the third day, we go back and do our favorites again. 3 days in a row at Disneyland can be exhausting so if your schedule allows it, I recommend planning a beach day or pool day at the hotel between your park days. Another great perk of a 3 or more day park hopper is Magic Morning which allows you to get into Disneyland park an hour before it opens. Note: This is only available on certain days and only certain parts of the park are open but it is still a great perk. Be sure to check which days have magic morning during your visit.

2.) Get MAX PASS!!!– Remember when I told you to budget for Max Pass? Well, I hope you did because it is awesome. Max Pass is $10 per person per day and it is totally worth it, especially if you are trying to get a lot done in a short amount of time. Max Pass allows you to select fast passes right from your phone on the Disneyland app which saves so much time and allows you to get the big-ticket rides done. Photo downloads from rides and photographers are also included when you purchase Max Pass. You can download these photos from the Disneyland app right to your phone. Bonus Tip: When selecting fast passes look at the times to see which fast passes are close to “selling out”. The later the return time is, the sooner fast passes won’t be available for that attraction. Usually, Radiator Springs Racers is the first attraction to “sell out.”

3.) Pick your must do’s– Make sure everyone in the family gets a chance to do what they want. Depending on the ages certain rides will be more enticing than others so just make sure to work that into your plan. If you are traveling with a small child be sure to check out my blog post for tips on making the most of your trip with your little one.

4.) Have Fun– As much as you plan, you will inevitably have to wait in some sort of line. However, just make the most of it and enjoy the time you have with family and friends. Tell jokes, play games, smile, and laugh. You are at Disneyland to create memories, so do it!

I know that planning a trip to Disneyland can be stressful so hopefully, these tips helped. If you have any other questions or concerns don’t hesitate to reach out to me on Instagram or leave a comment here and I will be happy to help with what I can.

Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliate links. All opinions expressed are my own. 

Disney Movies You Won’t Want to Miss in 2019

Disney Movies You Won’t Want to Miss in 2019

As a die hard Disney fan I was so happy with all of the amazing movies Disney Studios blessed our lives with in 2018. Incredibles 2 was the perfect sequel and helped me realize just how much my little boy Beckham is exactly like Jack […]

Tips for Taking Your Tiny Baby or Toddler to Disneyland

Tips for Taking Your Tiny Baby or Toddler to Disneyland

The most common question/request we get is asking for tips for taking tiny babies or toddlers to Disneyland. Hamm’s first trip to Disneyland was in October 2017 when he was a little less than 2 months old. Although he will never remember it, we took […]

Disneyland Attractions with No Height Requirement

Disneyland Attractions with No Height Requirement

If you are looking for a list of attractions at Disneyland with no height requirement, you are in the right place. If you are looking for tips on taking a baby or toddler or Disney check out this post.

Disneyland Baby Friendly Attractions

  • Winnie the Pooh
  • Haunted Mansion (can be scary for little ones but Beckham does GREAT on it)
  • The Disneyland Railroad
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Rafts to Tom Sawyer’s Island
  • Mark Twain River Boat
  • Sailing Ship Columbia
  • Jungle Cruise
  • Tarzan’s Treehouse
  • Casey Jr. Circus Train
  • Pinocchio’s Daring Journey
  • Snow White’s Scary Adventure
  • Peter Pan’s Flight
  • Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride
  • King Arthur’s Carrousel- You can sit and hold newborns on the benches on this ride. If your baby can sit up on their own, they can sit on a horse with you next to them.
  • Dumbo- Babies have to be able to sit up on this ride
  • Mad Tea Party (teacups)
  • Alice in Wonderland
  • Storybook Land Canal Boats
  • “it’s a small world”
  • Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin
  • Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage
  • Astro Orbiter
  • Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters
  • Main Street Vehicles

Disneyland Entertainment

  • Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln
  • Mickey and the Magical Map- Check the app for show times. This is one of our MOST FAVORITE shows at Disneyland! It is great place to take a break and relax and enjoy the shade.
  • Main Street Cinema
  • Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room
  • Shows on Mainstreet- Dapper Dans and The Disneyland Band- We LOVE hanging out on Main Street and enjoying the fun music. One of our favorites is the Happiest March on Earth with Mickey and Friends.
  • Parades- Seasonal
  • Fireworks- Disneyland has season firework shows.They’re typically only on weekends during the slow seasons, but every night during summer and the holidays.
  • Fantasmic- The BEST viewing spot is on the ramp above Pirates of the Caribbean.
  • Character meet n greets- Little ones love to explore Mickey’s house in Toontown!

Disney’s California Adventure Baby Friendly Attractions

  • The Little Mermaid~Ariel’s Undersea Adventure
  • Golden Zephyr- No lap riders are allowed on this ride so your baby must be able to sit up on their own
  • Pixar Pal-A-Round- Babies can go on either the Swinging Gondola Side or the Non-Swinging side (Beckham seems to enjoy non swinging more)
  • Red Car Trolley
  • Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue!
  • Toy Story Midway Mania- This one can be a bit jerky so it’s best not to take newborns on

DCA Entertainment

  • Redwood Creek Challenge Trail
  • Sorcerer’s Workshop
  • Turtle Talk with Crush
  • Disney Junior Dance Party
  • DJ’s Dance ‘n Drive
  • Frozen- Live at the Hyperion
  • World of Color
  • Operation Playtime! Featuring the Green Army men from Toy Story
  • Animation Academy Building- This is a GREAT place to rest and cool off. There are huge screens surrounding you in this room always playing fun clips from your favorite Disney/Pixar shows (No strollers are allowed inside)
Mary Poppins Returns Family Activity Sheets

Mary Poppins Returns Family Activity Sheets

The wait is over, Mary Poppins Returns is now playing in theaters everywhere. Do you plan on seeing the movie soon? I am hoping to see it over the holiday break. Until then, Disney Studios has released these activity sheets with fun for the whole […]

Club 33, A Dream Come True

Club 33, A Dream Come True

Have you ever had something happen where still, to this day, it doesn’t seem like it was real? That’s what happened to us during our last trip to Disneyland. It started on Friday the 13th, which most people believe is an incredibly unlucky day. For […]

Howard Johnson Anaheim Hotel and Water Playground (Our Recent Stay/Review)

Howard Johnson Anaheim Hotel and Water Playground (Our Recent Stay/Review)

 

We were so stoked to stay at The Howard Johnson Anaheim Hotel & Water playground during our last Disney trip. The “HoJo”  sits directly across from Disneyland Resort and the beautiful Matterhorn Mountain. The hotel sits on a 7 acre lot full of gardens and secluded walkways. The best part is that the walk is only 8 minutes from the hotel lobby to Disneyland’s security line, we timed it. 😉 This made it very convenient to walk back to our room when we needed to escape the heat of summer or take a cranky baby to have a nap.

 

The hotel has over 300 rooms with different options including double, queen, king beds and even newly built pirate themed kids suites with two rooms. We stayed in a premium 2 queen room with an amazing view. I still can’t believe how perfect our view of the Matterhorn and more importantly the fireworks were. We arrived to our hotel on the first night at the perfect time to watch the incredible “Together Forever” firework show right from our balcony and Beckham loved it, and so did I! I think it’s safe to say Beckham got his obsession for fireworks from me.

 

The rooms have all been recently remodeled in early 2018. We just loved how bright and fun the room was. It was accented with bright blues and oranges as well as fun Disney themed artwork. The most important thing we look for in a hotel is cleanliness and our room was very clean. The housekeeping team did a great job of keeping things tidy and fresh during our stay. Our favorite things about the rooms were: Mom- The light up mirror over the double sink vanity making it nice and easy to get ready. Plus the bathroom light turned on by itself whenever we walked in! Dad- The smart TV that had built in Netflix, Amazon Prime, Youtube, etc and Wi-fi for working. Baby Beckham – Hamm loved the rubber ducky that they left for him at check in for his baths.

 

The thing that really sets this hotel apart from the rest is it’s watery pirate themed playground, Castaway Cove! As part of your stay you get unlimited access to this fun water playground full of slides, water cannons, a 200 gallon drench bucket and so much more. Beckham was a little too young to truly appreciate this part but we all still loved getting wet and cooling off on a hot summer day. The hotel also has a seperate garden pool if you would rather just jump in and go for a swim. Beckham completely loved swimming and wasn’t pleased with us when we got out. I guess we’ll just have to go back!

 

Although the hotel does not serve breakfast there are plenty of close dining options. If you just need a quick snack or drink the hotel market has just what you need. It is also the perfect stop to grab any miscellaneous supplies you may need during your stay. If you forgot to pack your disney wear the market is full of Disney clothing and other souvenirs. Located right across the street from the hotel is Mimi’s Cafe, Panera Bread and good ole Mc. Donalds. All three of these restaurants serve breakfast, lunch and dinner.

One other quick thing to note is that parking is free which is awesome because most hotels charge $18+/night. Overall we seriously loved our stay at the Howard Johnson Anaheim Hotel and we will definitely be going back. The location, price, views and water park seriously make it the perfect family hotel for your next trip to Disneyland.

GREAT NEWS!!! If you are planning a Disneyland trip and want a great place to stay Howard Johnson Anaheim has offered to give our followers/readers a great deal. If you book online at www.hojoanaheim.com and use code LNLR you will get 15% off your stay. You can also call to make your reservation: 714-776-6120, just make sure to use the code to take advantage of that great deal.

To Eternity and Beyond – The story behind it all

To Eternity and Beyond – The story behind it all

ONCE UPON A TIME… My wife and I first met in high school. I moved out to Tooele, where my wife grew up, my sophomore year of high school in 2006. I never met Rachel till the summer before our senior year in 2008. I […]