Disney Gift Guide 2019: a pixie-dusted guide to the holidays!

**This post contains affiliate links! If you click some of the links here and make a purchase, I may get a small commission at no additional cost to you! As always, I only support and recommend products I love and/or have tried myself. Thank you for supporting them, too!**

We all have that friend who gets way too deeply into Disney movies, goes to Disneyland way too much, always has the new hot spirit jersey or Loungefly bag, and can sing every single line in the newest soundtrack – including the instrumental parts. Hi, I’m that friend. I wanted to give some love to those of us that would choose Disney items over a bunch of electronics. I feel like most “grown up” gift guides show the hottest new Apple Watch or the best 4k tv and that’s definitely not my speed. Here is a compilation of gift ideas for that Disney lover in your life!

“Into the Unknown” Long Sleeve Tee from Core Memories Co.

I’ve been SO obsessed with Frozen 2 since I saw it the first time, and I’ve been eyeing so many shirts that reference the movie. This shirt really caught my eye and it’s actually on it’s way to me as we speak! I CAN’T WAIT! My good friend Carolyn and her friends own this wonderful Disney inspired small shop called Core Memories Co. and I love their shirts because not only are they incredible quality and professionally printed, they’re not always so obviously Disney. Sometimes shirts can get pretty cringe worthy now a days, but Core Memories Co. really knows how to avoid that. They have a wide selection of clothing and most designs are very unisex which makes this shop a definite must-stop for any Disney fan on your list.

Custom Handmade Minnie Ears from LittleMissWonderland

LittleMissWonderland is by far the most elaborate ear artist I’ve ever worked with and her ears are literally masterpieces. She can make beautiful creations from almost anything you suggest, and she’s one of the only ear makers I know that uses vinyl on her ears! These ears are sturdy, don’t slip, and don’t pinch – three things that are a MUST if you’re going to be wearing them in the parks all day. I highly recommend her if you’re looking for something truly special. She never disappoints!

Fabric and Glitter Tumblers by CraftyyTwist

CraftyyTwist is one of my favorite small shops of all time. Her love for what she does really shows in her work and she has the best taste in fabric choices! If you’ve never owned one of these, the fabric and glitter is encased in epoxy resin which makes it super simple to wash these as opposed to other tumblers that just have vinyl or glitter on the surface layer! There is so much variety and she has specific prints for both Disneyland and Walt Disney World, so your drink can represent whatever coast your heart lies on! I actually have a discount code for her Etsy shop! Use code DisneyFam at checkout to save 10% off of your purchase!

Disney+ and Chill sweatshirt by Champagne Rain Studio

This sweatshirt is one of my favorite pieces of clothing I own. Not only is it super comfy (size up for ultra comfiness!) but its really cute. It comes in a bunch of colors and is screen printed so you don’t have to worry about the design getting messed up. Since Disney+ came out, I can’t count the amount of chill movie days we’ve had and from what I’ve read online, many other Disney fans can relate. This sweatshirt is a great gift idea, and this shop is 100% worth supporting. She preaches kindness, has the most positive outlook, and is so sweet.

Park Inspired Coffees and Cocoa by Expedition Roasters

I don’t know about you, but I’m a different person if I don’t have my coffee. Thanks to Expedition Roasters, I can add my love for Disney into my daily coffee routine! Their coffees are so delicious and smell incredible. There are many flavors to choose from and each one has a different ride or character theme. These are definitely at the top of my list and would make a great stocking stuffer or gift for someone at the office!

Minnie Coffee Cozies by TeilormadeDesigns

On the subject of coffee, no drink hot or cold is complete without a cozy! This is another shop that, just as much as I love her products, I love her as a shop owner. Her life is so busy as it is and she still puts her heart and soul into crocheting these beautiful coffee cozies! These are the only crochet cozies that I’ve used that don’t stretch out over time. They maintain their shape and the appliqué doesn’t fall off or even really wear at all. I have a million of her cozies and they’re so cute for any occasion. They’re not just for hot coffee either! I use these for iced drinks as well to keep the condensation off of my hands. She comes out with new designs all the time so this is definitely a shop that’s worth checking out every few weeks. I have a coupon code for her Etsy as well! Use code Sarah10 at checkout for 10% off!

Magically Inspired Headbands by NikkiMouseCreations

This wonderful shop owner makes a wide variety of things! From Minnie ears to insulated cozies to earrings, she’s very creative in everything she makes, and she cross-uses fabrics so you can sometimes get a matching cozy and pair of Minnie ears! I specifically love her knotted headbands. They’re so cute and most are sewn over an actual headband so if you have thin hair like me, you can show the illusion of having a wrapped headband on without having to have the hair to hold it in place. These are super cute and comfy. I love using them on my lazy days and when I’m doing my makeup to pull my hair out of my face. She makes Disney and non-disney so whatever the occasion, there’s something in her shop for you!

Character Slippers for the Whole Family by BuyHappyFeet

I saved the best for last. Hands down these are my favorite Disney clothing items I own and I can’t get enough of them. Happy Feet is a company who makes your classic character head slippers in toddler to adult sizes and it’s the greatest thing I’ve found to date. Not only are they super cute, silly, and unique, they’re MEMORY FOAM and so comfortable! They come in almost any character you can think of. I was recently in a wedding where we all wore them in the morning while we got ready and it was so much fun and gave our morning outfits a little Disney twist! I originally gave them to all of the girls at the Disneyland bachelorette a couple weeks before the wedding and we had so much fun walking around the grounds of Hojo Anaheim in them and taking silly photos. I’m always down to conga line in the hallway with these on. The Donald Duck ones are the next on my list to get for Andy, Angelo, and I for Christmas morning. Which ones would you pick? Let me know on my instagram!

I hope this list gave you a head start on your Disney lover’s Christmas list! Let me know down in the comments below which ones you got, and what you would add to yours! Keep an eye out later this week for a couple more gift guides. This holiday season is going by so fast! I can’t even believe how close we are to Christmas! Thanks for visiting my blog! I appreciate every single one of you!

2019 Toddler Gift Guide: 5 unique gifts with a Disney twist!

**This post contains affiliate links! If you click some of the links here and make a purchase, I may get a small commission at no additional cost to you! As always, I only support and recommend products I love and/or have tried myself. Thank you for supporting them, too!**

Am I the only mom who gets totally stumped at holiday time on what to buy my kid, husband, parents, SELF!? Andy’s my one and only child so he tends to get a lot of the things he wants throughout the year already, Angelo buys what he wants when he wants it because he’s a grown adult, and I feel like if I buy my parents one more piece of technology, they’re going to sell me to the circus. Thankfully, I found the holiday blogging masterpiece of GIFT GUIDES! Bloggers from around the world have compiled their own lists of hot items to gift each holiday season, and I figured I would hop on the bandwagon but put a little bit of a Disney spin on mine while also keeping my gifts practical and not just a bunch of breakable nonsense. Without further ado, here’s my 2019 TODDLER gift guide! More will come in the next few days, so hang tight if this one doesn’t apply to you!

KidsEmbrace Combination Harness Booster Car Seat: $149.99

These awesome car seats are a life saver, LITERALLY! Andy was always the kid to fight with us the whole way to the car and never wanted to buckle into his seat. Once we installed his Buzz Lightyear seat, he gets into it all by himself! This makes a great gift that can be used over and over and doesn’t just break and sit in the toy pile. They come in a variety of characters and fit in almost every type of vehicle. Keep in mind that these are front-facing only seats and your child must be at least 22lbs and 29″ in height to start using these seats! Also look out for coupon codes on their website and socials! They’re known to discount their products frequently!

Sunstaches: $7.99+

These fun sunglasses are great if your little ones like to dress up! They’re very versatile and can be used for photo booths as well! Sunstaches has licenses from many of your favorite movies and characters and they’re adding new ones every few days. They also have party packs, mommy and me, and daddy and me bundles so you can match your littles as well! If anything too, they’re functional sunglasses and your kids will love wearing them. I’m a big fan of Sunstaches and definitely want to stock up on some for stocking stuffers this year!

Frozen 2 Bedding by Franco Dreams: $39.99 at Target

Your little ones can dream Into the Unknown in this cute Frozen 2 bedding by Franco Dreams! I remember how much I loved giving my room a makeover with my favorite characters when I was a kid. Franco Dreams is such high quality bedding and keeps Andy’s little toes warm all night. They’ve got many different character licenses as well so there’s something for every one of your babies! The best part? You can find these right now at your local Target!

Luggage by Bixbee: $49.99+

Now, these aren’t necessarily Disney licensed, but they can be USED for Disney trips! I personally love the Bixbee brand of luggage and backpacks because for every bag purchased, they donate one to kids in need! They’re incredible quality and can really take a beating without showing signs of wear (Think of your toddler rolling their own luggage up to the room….yikes. LOL) There’s a good variety of prints, too. I personally want the sparkly gold set for myself….*cough cough hi bixbee* hahaha. They’re decently priced for luggage and fit carry-on travel requirements. Definitely a must have for your next Disney trip! This would even be cute if you’re surprising your kids with a trip for Christmas!

Snacking Essentials from Bumkins: $9.95+

We all know that toddlers are the messiest humans alive, and if yours isn’t, put them in a museum now because they’re a modern marvel. Bumkins has the cutest accessories for snacking and eating from newborn to big kids. I especially love their Disney line, of course. Their reusable snack bags are PERFECT for Disneyland snacks. Just fill them with your favorite dry snacks and toss them in your bag. Pull it out whenever your kiddos need a refresher and toss it back in when they’re done. Their bibs are also amazing because they realize that messiness doesn’t stop at the baby stage. Snacking has never been easier (or cleaner! Let’s be real instamoms, that’s important when you’re at the park and they’re dressed all cute.)

I think this is a great starter list for your shopping this month. I like to keep holiday gifts practical and useful since he gets so many filler toys throughout the year. All of these can be purchased online, most will be on sale at random times this month. I also tried to keep these items gender neutral – or I chose things that offer multiple color choices and character options.  I hope you found this guide useful – if you choose to purchase anything from this post for your little one (or someone else’s), I’d love to hear about/see it! Stay tuned this week for a husband/spouse gift guide, and even a self gift guide! Keep up with me on instagram to see daily deals, coupon codes, and more!

Necessities I must pack for my Disney trips!

I like to think I’ve got the whole packing thing down with the amount of times I’ve gone down to Disneyland, but I always find myself forgetting at least one thing whether it be sunscreen, eyeliner, or even (yes, seriously) UNDERWEAR. You’d figure after all of the planning and preparation that I put into these trips, I wouldn’t forget underwear but here we are. Thank god for Target.

Outfits

I’m very particular when it comes to my Disneyland trips. I must have outfits that are equal parts comfortable and cute. Comfortable for the hot or cold weather and 10-12 miles of walking per day, and cute for the memory cards full of photos for content. I start usually with a theme. For example, for 4th of July this year we picked the very appropriate Captain America as our theme, so I found Andy and I some cute matching leggings! LuLaRoe is great for mommy and me leggings for all color schemes, sizes, and holidays, and there are tons of buy and sell groups on Facebook to find them for cheap! Once we had the leggings, we moved onto my FAVORITE part – the shirts. I have many friends with Disney based small shops as well as a Cricut and Easypress myself, so the design ideas for shirts are almost endless. My favorite park inspired shirt shop is Core Memories Co. Their shirts are screen printed and are made SO well. I love all of the little Disney channel references they use too. A shop after my 90s kid heart. As for making my own shirts, I’m a big fan of the Ava and Viv blank tees at Target and they’re great for heat transfer vinyl. This particular trip I went with the stereotypical “Mom” shirt, but with a Captain America shield twist. For Andy, I prefer embroidered shirts just because they last longer and are harder for him to ruin. My friend Allie runs an amazing embroidery shop! Click here to check it out! His birthday is August 3rd, so we made our 4th of July trip into his birthday trip as well, so we picked a Captain America/Mickey themed birthday shirt. Accessories are always a must. My heart shaped glasses are from amazon, and my coffee cozy is from TeilorMadeDesigns on Etsy. Andy’s Captain America glasses are from Sunstaches. A good outfit really does make a day at Disneyland the BEST DAY EVER!

Stroller fans and portable chargers!

In summer, Disneyland can get completely miserable when it comes to the heat. A lot of the time, I’ll head back to the Howard Johnson across the street and cool off for a few hours and come back when the sun starts to go down; it really does get that bad sometimes. I’ve found a couple of portable fans that I can’t do Disneyland without! They make the heat less miserable and saves my makeup from being completely ruined by hour two of being there. For a stroller fan, I recommend this one. It has smaller openings so curious little fingers won’t get hurt, and multiple speeds so you can get a really nice airflow going. This is a lifesaver for Andy and the clamp makes it super easy to place it anywhere on the stroller. Great for stroller naps too if you have a little radiator of a kid like I do!

We all know if I’m at the parks, I’m all about the photos. The downside of being a mamarazzi is that my phone battery is constantly running low. Recently, the Fuel Rod locations at Disneyland have changed from having unlimited free swaps to having $3 swaps (on TOP of the $30 initial purchase) and that’s just not a good deal at all. I got this awesome portable charger from Best Buy that can fully charge two devices at once for $45. It’s a must have! I use this probably more than anything else when I go to Disneyland and if I forget it at home, its probably the only thing I would actually go out and buy another in Anaheim.

Ears

I feel like every day there’s a new pair of Minnie ears at Disneyland causing the next craze. Though I love some park ears, they’re honestly not that comfortable! They’re too tight and the sequins get itchy and I’m just not really a fan of wearing them for 12+ hours straight. A quick search on Etsy or Instagram will dive you into the world of handmade ears. You can get a pair themed after almost anything nowadays. I currently have three favorite ear shops: Liana’s Dazzling Designs, NikkiMouseCreations, and Lil Miss Wonderland. They each have their own spark of creativity. Nikki has mastered the art of dainty whimsical ears. Lil Miss Wonderland makes the most elaborate ears, including a LIGHT UP WREATH pair. (Look out for my Christmas posts to see more of those!) and finally, Liana has the best selection and most well made ears I’ve ever worn! I’d say hers are the best bang for your buck that I’ve tried thus far and I own a LOT of custom ears!

What are some of your park essentials? I’d love to hear in the comments below or over on my Instagram!

Beech-Nut®️ Naturals: Healthy, yummy, and safe for your tummy!

The following post is sponsored by Beech-Nut®️ Naturals. All opinions and stories remain my own.

Ever since he was born, Andy’s safety and health have been the most important factor to us in every aspect — especially in food. We went for a good few months there where we made our own baby food, bought unnecessarily expensive baby food, and finally one day we discovered Beech-Nut®️ Naturals! For a fraction of the price of  similar baby foods, we could have some peace of mind that he was eating right while also having the convenience and price of buying it from our local Target.

Never heard of Beech-Nut®️ Naturals? Let me give you a quick run down! Beech-Nut®️ Naturals is baby food made with REAL ingredients — gently cooked over indirect heat to preserve color, flavor, and nutrients! By real, I’m talking natural fruits and veggies that are Non-GMO Project Verified, never artificial, and it doesn’t stop there; it also comes in Organic! Talk about a first time mom’s dream!

Andy has grown out of the baby food stage, but Beech-Nut®️ Naturals didn’t stop at the infant age! Toddlers everywhere can continue enjoying Beech-Nut®️ Naturals with their snack bars! They come in a variety of flavors, but I think the banana and pumpkin flavor is Andy’s favorite. He always has followed his mama when it comes to tastes! These snack bars are worry free and carry all of the same healthy traits that Beech-Nut®️ Naturals promises with their baby food. As a toddler mom, I’m always super appreciative of any yummy snack that can disguise nutrients and veggies. For those of you who follow me specifically for Disney tips, these also make a really nice Disneyland backpack snack! They keep in the heat surprisingly well!

In my opinion (and maybe this is just because I’m a mom), babies are the truest influencers on the planet. They’re the most opinionated, strong willed beings and have us all wrapped around their fingers! Believe me, when Andy loves something, you’ll know it. If he hates something, you won’t FORGET it! Beech-Nut®️ Naturals also noticed the genuine influence of a baby and has started their own campaign called #Infantfluencers. By going to this link and telling your own #Infantfluencers story, you can enter to win some pretty amazing prizes!

Let me know in the comments below if you end up trying these yummy snacks! You can find them at Walmart and Target in the baby food section; just look for their signature honeypot shape and bright green lid!

Halloween time at Disneyland! My must do’s.

Being an October baby, Halloween is my JAM. From the decor to the scents, everything about fall and halloween is magical to me. Throw Disney into the mix? It’s my ultimate.

Photo: Disney Parks Blog

I have two trips coming up this season so The Beardless Coffee and I are going HARD on the planning. To kick off this awesome season of blogs and magic, I wanted to come on here and talk about my must do’s when it comes to visiting Disneyland during halloween!

Mickey Pumpkin photos!

It’s not halloween at Disneyland without our good ol’ friend Winky Blinky. He’s the center of the Main Street Pumpkin festival, and is the epitome of Disneyland halloween fun. Stacked high up on a pile of pixie dusted pumpkins, Mickey glows happily to greet you coming in, and winks at you on your way out. This is one of the best spot to get photos at during this time, and the line to be front a center gets LENGTHY. My advice? Stand over to the side away from the pumpkin and model your little heart out with it in the background. Camera angles are everything when it comes to crowds and snagging a good picture.

Snacks, Snacks, Snacks.

One of my absolute favorite parts of Disneyland in any season is the snacks. I’m shamelessly the girl that counts down the entire year until the release of pumpkin spice, and let me tell you, Disneyland DELIVERS.

Image result for halloween snacks disneyland
Photo: Disney Tourist Blog

A few honorable mentions: Pumpkin Spice Beignets from the Mint Julep bar in New Orleans Square, The pumpkin spice churro with optional cream cheese dipping sauce at the cart near Haunted Mansion, and the pumpkin spice funnel cake fries at Award Wieners in Disney’s California Adventure. There’s also an array of cute caramel apples and cake pops in each bakery at the park! Whatever your personal tastes may be, Disneyland will always have something for you during the holidays!

Haunted Mansion Holiday!

Jack’s back, y’all, and I’m HERE FOR IT. This is my favorite ride, hands down year round.

Image result for haunted mansion holiday
Photo: Disney Parks Blog

Every Halloween season, Jack Skellington arrives and gives the entire Haunted Mansion a makeover and leaves it up all the way until January! With Nightmare Before Christmas being my favorite movie, this ride is meant to be my favorite. I’ve recently gotten Andy into it so much that he can sing some of the songs better than I can and I’m not even mad about it. If you’re in Disneyland at any point from September to December, definitely head over to the mansion. If you hear eerie jewelry box music, you’re getting warmer. Also, you can meet the man himself over at the Port Royal store in New Orleans Square!

Halloween Screams Fireworks

Photo: WDWNT.com

Normally, these fireworks only happened at Mickey’s Halloween Party, but since Oogie Boogie decided to take over California Adventure this year, these fireworks will be shown to the public every night over at Disneyland! Hosted by Jack Skellington himself, this show contains all of your favorite creepies and crawlies, has an homage to almost every villain, and even have a “scream” along at the end! These have been a favorite of mine since the first Mickey’s Halloween Party I went to and I’m so excited to see them again.

I can’t wait to go on these next two trips and enjoy all of the spooky fun that’s ahead! What’s your favorite holiday at the Disney Parks and why do you love it so much? Go find me over on instagram and tell me! Happy Hauntings!

A tired Disney mom’s review of the Howard Johnson Anaheim Hotel and Water Playground!

The following blog will include affiliate links. Please see my affiliate disclosure page to understand what that means. I am not paid to write this blog, say these things, and all opinions and statements are my own and any vital questions should be directed to the hotel. Their front desk number is 714-776-6120. All photos are mine unless otherwise stated.

My stay at the Howard Johnson Anaheim Hotel and Water Playground was undeniably the best Disneyland Resort good neighbor hotel experience I’ve ever had. Bold way to start a review right? That’s exactly how I feel about this hotel and in this blog I’ll tell you why I’ll never stay anywhere else again!

Photo: @adam_claudia_photography on instagram

Upon entering the lobby, you walk into this beautiful oceanic tiled mosaic floor that fits perfectly with their pirate theme. Andy loved looking at the fish. They also offer “If I Am Lost” temporary tattoos and candy at the front desk, free to all guests! They sometimes even have balloon pirate swords, and also have signs offering free face painting for guests on Saturday mornings!

On top of our gorgeous surroundings, we were greeted with warm customer service at the desk while checking in. Once all of the necessary financials and paperwork were taken care of, they handed me a convenient little folder full of all of our documents we would need for our stay, along with room keys, a parking pass (FREE parking within walking distance! $$ saver!), and one wristband per guest for Castaway Cove, their on-site water playground!

We stayed in Building 1, which contains the premium level rooms, some which have a beautiful park view! Imagine waking up every morning to the Matterhorn right outside your window! This picture doesn’t even do the view justice. When you’re there, it’s SO much closer. You also get a view of the monorail as it goes by, a fantastic firework view at night, and you can hear the whistle of the Disneyland Railroad as it pulls into Tomorrowland station.

Howard Johnson Anaheim’s premium rooms are not only the cleanest hotel rooms I’ve ever stayed in, they’re absolutely beautiful inside. Between their famous blue wallpaper and orange headboards, mid century modern decor, Mickey Mouse artwork, and their top floor skylights – I can’t tell you enough how fancy we felt staying here! It honestly felt more “Disney” to me than an actual on site hotel! Some honorable mentions about the room – There’s an Amazon Alexa in all of the premium rooms that allow you to not only play music, but you can order towels and amenities just by asking Alexa! There’s also a mini fridge, microwave, Keurig coffee maker, and valuables safe in every premium room. A key feature of our room that I loved was that it came with a collectible Howard Johnson Anaheim rubber ducky in the bathroom! It gave us a little souvenir to remember our stay here. There’s also a little market on the bottom floor of building 1 that has /literally/ everything you could want, on top of having Hojo Anaheim t-shirts, mugs, and other little Disney trinkets for purchase. Check out their website for more details on what amenities each room has!

Let’s talk beds. For those of you who expect to be completely relaxed and comfortable on your stay, look no further. The beds at Hojo Anaheim are the most comfortable beds I’ve ever slept in – INCLUDING my own. Angelo and I constantly joke with each other that we want to call into the front desk and ask how much it would cost to take one of the beds home. Our room had two queens so Angelo and I could both stretch out and have our own bed because the last thing you want to do after a long, sweaty, sore day in Disneyland is snuggle up to your sweaty husband LOL. It was fantastic! Andy could decide every night of our stay who he wanted to crash with and there was still plenty of room in each bed. The beds face a large tv that is set up with cable, Netflix, Hulu, and more! You know how much I enjoyed laying there after a long day in Disneyland, getting to rest my feet and watch the Office at 1 am? That was probably one of the highlights of my entire trip! LOL. I laid there and felt like I was staying in my own studio apartment, rather than a hotel. I feel like that’s what pushed me over the edge of never wanting to stay somewhere else. I’ve never felt like I was “home” while staying at a hotel, and at Howard Johnson Anaheim, I felt home.

Photos taken from the Howard Johnson Anaheim Hotel and Water Playground facebook page.

I feel like before I stayed at the Howard Johnson Anaheim, I already knew they were the coolest hotel in the area for the sole fact that they have an on site water playground, free to all guests. This area includes a shallow kiddie pool, a dump bucket, slides, and a hot tub for parents to relax in while their kiddos run wild. I know SO many parents who’s kids have asked to play here instead of Disneyland, and I can’t really blame them. Castaway Cove is the name, and pirate mischief is their game. With water cannons and pirate ship slides, I can almost guarantee that your kids will love this area. Just remember your orange wristbands and your room key! You’ll need them to have access to this gated area.

Photo taken from the Howard Johnson Anaheim Hotel and Water Playground facebook page.

Waterslides aren’t your thing? There’s a full sized regular pool over in the garden area out in front of building 2! Please take note that between November 1, 2019 – April 15, 2020, the garden pool and Building 2 (seen pictured in the background) will be closed for a complete modernization! This is super exciting since the remodel of building 1 has been such a hit! I’m excited to see how everything looks come mid-April! If you’ll be visiting in September, make sure to pencil in that Talk Like A Pirate Day will be happening on September 19th, 2019! There will be a fun event from 4-7 PM at Castaway Cove featuring facepainting, ice cream, and a ton of fun surprises! This is open to guests only, so use the information below to book now!

I hope this review has given you a little more insight to what’s its like staying just 8 minutes walking distance from the happiest place on earth. This quiet and beautiful hotel has become a second home to me, and I’d love to spread that joy to you! If you click this link and use either of the corporate promo codes below, you’ll get a discount on your rate! Thanks for reading!

  • Corp code: 1000022077 for 15% off!
  • Corp code: 1000025935 for 20% off if you have an Annual Passholder in your party!

So I ghosted my blog for a while – Here’s why.

Some people really underestimate what it takes to be a content creator on social media. It looks as easy as just slapping a filter on a cute Disney pic and choosing a couple of hashtags to caption it with, but it goes /MUCH/ deeper than that. For those of us who really commit to growing our social media presence into more of an influencer platform, its long nights of pitching to brands with long emails, setting up the next month of posts in a layout app to make sure your feed looks cohesive and flows well, all on top of making sure you stay on a consistent schedule and ENGAGE, ENGAGE, ENGAGE!

Still doesn’t sound like much? Add that to being a toddler mom, failing small shop owner, and retail manager wife. I stretch myself so thin without realizing it. It’s hard for me to slow down and just cherish what’s in the moment while I’m always thinking of the next 6 moments ahead of time.

By all means, I’m not complaining. I willingly choose this life and could delete all social media right now if I wanted to. I do this ultimately for my future self. I love looking back at where I was 2, 4, and 6 years later and watching how much I’ve grown as a person, a mom, and now as a content creator. It’s crazy to me to look back at posts from 2015 and what I thought was /good/ content back then. Have you ever cringed at something you posted years ago and think, “Why would I ever think that was a good idea to post for the world to see?”. Welcome to my everyday life. This helps me appreciate my current content even more. I’m constantly on a quest to better my content while still keeping the real life, unfiltered element that my followers have grown to love about me. I may post cute post photos in all of the popular picture spots in Batuu, but I’ll also post the 16 sweaty, crying, tantrum fueled photos that led up to that one half smiling photo I THANKFULLY captured.

I know what you’re thinking: Sarah, this is such a first world problem of a post. Honestly, to me it’s not. This is my life and my story to tell and I understand it can sound like so little of a problem, but its much deeper than that TO ME. To get to the bottom of this post, and the reason for the title; I ghosted my blog months ago. Why? Because emotionally and mentally I couldn’t keep up with it. The thought of logging in and taking the time to write a mini-essay made me want to curl up in a ball and cry. My husband and I have had the roughest year of our lives this far, and it’s all happened in the last three months. He recently switched jobs unexpectedly which has been a financial nightmare and we’ve been living every day just praying for good news. Today, he finally started his new job and I’m seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. In turn, my consistency in my content creating has plummeted. I’m missing deadlines, my orders in my small shop are INCREDIBLY late (luckily I have amazing customers who understand that life happens and love my products enough to wait for them.), and I completely deserted this blog. I was so excited to start my new series about how to successfully plan a Disneyland trip step by step, but that quickly took a cold spot on the back burner for a while.

I’m feeling better and finally getting back to business. No more putting things off, no more giving into depression. I’m back, I’m here, and just in time for three back to back Disneyland trips. Two for business, and one for a really fun bachelorette. I can’t wait to bring you guys along! Let me know what you’d like to see on here!

If you’d like to keep up with me on a more day to day basis, please follow me over on instagram! @thatdisneylandfamily

❤ Sarah

So I booked a Disneyland trip; Now what? A series.

I’ve been on around 150 Disneyland trips in my life. Some were planned, some were with school, others were a result of us not being able to control the urge to not turn around when we drive south on the freeway. Living so close, we have the privilege of going more than most people and I have to remind myself that Disneyland is a once a year, or once in a lifetime thing for a lot of families. With that being said, starting next week I’m going to be posting a series on my blog appropriately titled, “So I booked a Disneyland trip; Now what?” diving into the different things we do to plan for a more thought out Disneyland trip.

We’ve been annual passholders since our honeymoon in early 2015. Angelo and I quickly got used to the free parking, discounts, and perks. It made Disneyland extremely affordable for us and just worked flawlessly. It was so nice to look in my wallet at my AP and know that at any second, I could go to Disneyland and they’d let me in. We made it our mission to go every month or two, and even after Andy was born, we still made it happen. We didn’t renew this year with Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opening, just because we know it’s going to be miserably crowded for months and everything will be unbearable. Living 6 hours away, it just wasn’t going to be worth the monthly payment if we didn’t go as often as we did before and that really tore me apart inside. I’ve lived the last 4 years of my life going to Disneyland every few weeks, and now we’re having to revert back to being standard ticket holders. I know it’s such a first world problem and I’m blessed to go at all, but it really does make me sad that our monthly trips have turned back into yearly trips. We’re going one last time this May for our anniversary before Galaxy’s Edge opens in the summer, and that’ll be it for the unforeseen future. I figured since this is our first longer, ticket based Disney trip, I could post our processes of planning, ordering stuff, and show how we get prepared pre-trip.

This is where I leave it to you guys; what topics are you most interested in when it comes to planning? Is it the methods of travel? Dining reservations? Outfits? How to get those cute matching family shirts? Custom ears? You name it, I have advice for it. Let me know in the comments below where I should dig in!

The best way (in our opinion) to book a Disneyland trip on a money managing budget!

I’ve said it before; Disneyland is a universe in its own. There’s no amount of blog space on the entire internet that I could write every single tip or trick out there to save a buck in the Happiest Place on Earth. However, I’m here today to tell you some of my favorite BOOKING tips. These aren’t in-park tips; these are for those of you who are like me and can’t resist spending money that I’m trying to save. I can’t just save up 2k in cash and drop it on a vacation and don’t understand how people can just do that. GOALS! But personally, I just can’t do it. This is how to book an expensive Disneyland trip on a money managing budget.

VACATION. PACKAGES. OH MY LORD. I can’t stress enough that these things are so easy and convenient for the family on a budget who goes once a year or once every few years (or once in a lifetime!) They let you book your trip as far as a year or so in advance, ask for a small deposit of $200-300 to book, and from there, they let you pay it off whenever you want in random payments of $20 or more. You have by a month before your arrival to pay it off, so it lets people on a budget take more lavish and expensive vacations without having to drop a giant chunk of money at one time. Angelo and I did these for our engagement trip and our honeymoon (Trust me, a 6 day honeymoon is NOT cheap and we are NOT even close to being rich. It was AWESOME!) and they were SO easy to do.

There are so many travel sites on the internet that offer Disneyland ticket and hotel packages, but we’ve always gone directly through the Disneyland website. It’s comparable in price, we know the tickets are legitimate, and you get so many fun extra goodies in the mail all the way up until your trip.

This is a screenshot of the Disneyland “Price Your Vacation” tool on the main page of their website. This is where the magic gets started. Enter your details, make sure to select ALL HOTELS from the dropdown bar, and click Find Hotels. It will first show you this screen:

Now, I don’t know your personal budget and won’t judge one bit, but see those prices? EEEEEK. Go ahead and click that magical choice on the bottom that says “Or Browse Good Neighbor Hotels.” These hotels are all Disney selected, approved, and certified. They’re all very close to the park, and most have a shuttle for free or very cheap that runs between the hotel and the park so you don’t have to worry about paying and parking in the Disneyland parking! The best part? There are some as low as $100 a night. YAAAAAS savings!

Alrighty, so now we’re at the spot where we have to select a hotel. I can’t stress enough to set the filters at the top to your preferences; ESPECIALLY the hotel category. They mix up the hotels in the list so there’s $100 hotels right next to $400 hotels and it can get pretty frustrating when comparing prices. Since our family only showers and sleeps in our hotel, I’m going to go ahead and just select Moderate for my example. Once you do that, click on multiple hotels and find one you like!

I’m going to choose the Fairfield Inn by Marriott Anaheim Resort because that’s where we stayed on our honeymoon. It’s a really nice lightly Disney themed hotel, clean, decently priced, and it’s across the street from Disneyland. Literally walking distance. Keep in mind, the “package price” it shows when you select a hotel is NOT correct yet. They assume you’re going to buy the most expensive ticket option and automatically adds that as the package price. This price, once correct, includes your entire hotel stay combined with tickets and any extras you decide to add.

Past this point, they’re doing some updates to the Disneyland site and it won’t let me proceed anymore with my screenshots, but luckily we’re almost done so I’ll just describe what you do from here. You’ll select your type of room, click “Check Availability” and it will let you know if they have vacancy. If so, that type of room will be added to your vacation package.

The next screen is where you decide what park tickets you want to purchase. We’re going to Disneyland from May 2nd, 2019 until May 6th, 2019. Automatically, Disneyland wants to give us 5 day park hoppers with MaxPass because that’s the most expensive option that aligns with what hotel dates we selected. Realistically, we want to go 3 days, 1 park per day, with MaxPass. So I select those ticket options, and that will adjust my vacation package total.

The final page it brings you to is a review of everything in your package this far, and a list of extras you can add such as flights, airport transportation, car rental, and much more. Select the things you wish to add, and it will update your total. At this point, it’s time to talk numbers, and pay for your deposit. We’ve only done hotel/ticket packages so I’m unsure of how flights and car rentals work in these; (I’d assume you have to pay those in full at the time of booking, and then pay the deposit on the hotel and tickets.) On normal packages, you usually pay $200-300 for your deposit, and then have the freedom to pay whenever you want in amounts of $20 or more.

Here is an actual screenshot of our honeymoon package invoice when we booked it. This was in 2015, so definitely ignore the price total because of ticket and hotel price increases. Once you pay your deposit, you’re all done! Or are you?

FOOD. CHURROS. SOUVENIRS. SPIRIT JERSEYS. MINNIE EARS. How am I supposed to save up for all of these while paying for a vacation package? (Or if you’re like me and barely have any discipline when it comes to not touching money I’m trying to set aside for something. Hahaha)

Behold, the most MAGICAL card in all of budgeting for Disneyland trips. Whenever you have extra money, BUY ONE OF THESE. Pre-loaded at stores, they come as low as $25, but you can go to the Disney store and do lower amounts. These gift cards are accepted in 99.999% of places in Disneyland and California Adventure, INCLUDING THE IN-PARK STARBUCKS! AHHH. Disney gift cards are by far the best way to stockpile a good amount of spending money in my opinion. They’re also great for splitting souvenir money between kids and letting them have a little bit of financial freedom to get what they want (and discipline! When you run out, YOU’RE OUT. Sorry kid!) We even do this for Andy, and he’s only 2. BONUS! If you have a Target RedCard (credit OR debit), you can get 5% off of these babies and save even more money! Let’s all say it together: YAAAAAAAAAAS SAVINGS! Disneyland also doesn’t mind if you have a pile of 20 random gift cards. No judgement in what works! Now all you have to worry about cash-wise is parking (if you choose to park at Disneyland.), gas, and road/in hotel food.

I hope that this little bit of information helps y’all and that you’ve learned something from this today! This is only our opinion and what works for us, and if you find another way that works for you, that’s AWESOME! I love hearing about families finding their way to my favorite place in the world no matter how they end up there.

Comment down below and let me know if you do this! I’m so excited to see who gets to go to Disneyland now because of this money managing trick. 🙂

So this is a blog…

Hi, whoever decided to actually read this thing!

Welcome to my brain. It’s a strange place, right? Definitely a little crazy, sleep deprived, caffeine addicted, and magical. More than likely there’s a food stain from my toddler somewhere, and a pair of underwear on the floor that I just don’t have the motivation to pick up, so just ignore it, K?

So, to be completely transparent with you guys from the start, I’m really not sure why I’m finally wanting to start a blog; its a mixture of wanting to expand my social presence further than just Instagram, as well as just wanting a place where I can type out my thoughts and maybe help some other parents out there with tips and tricks on how we vacation (or exist in general) with a toddler.

I guess I can start with a formal introduction! My name is Sarah Axelrod, and I am a Disneyland addict. There, I said it. Was it that obvious? I’m the wife of a retail supervisor and the mom of his miniature twin. Life is never dull in the Axelrod household between these two and I’m definitely outnumbered.

My life went from glitter and makeup to dinosaurs and superheroes REALLY quick. I found myself buying less Minnie Mouse stuff and more Donald Duck, which, no offense to the Duck or anything, but I’m not sure he’s ever been even close to my favorite before having a boy. It’s funny how your favorites can turn so quickly as soon as you see your 11 month old waddle by in a Donald Duck costume.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am STILL a glitter queen even though I’m surrounded by dirt, farts, Hotwheels, and tools. I’m a crafter at heart even though I’ve never been really good at any of it. I am the QUEEN of Pinterest fails. It’s gotten a little bit easier since I got a Cricut Explore Air 2 for Christmas and now my whole house is labeled and my husband never has to ask where anything is anymore. That machine is my LIFE now. It makes me look like I actually know what I’m doing half the time.

I really don’t know how to end one of these, so I’m just going to leave it open to you guys! Do these things have comments? I’d assume so. If not – DM me on Instagram (@thatdisneylandfamily). What would you guys like me to write about? Anything super specific? “Tips and Tricks about Disneyland” is VERY vague and it’s probably the most common question I ever get. I can try to gather a bunch but honestly, there’s so much to say. Disneyland is a universe in itself and it’s hard to condense every little tip or trick I’ve learned into one blog post. PLEASE let me know! I’d love to jot some topics down in my planner so I can get some blog posts going here!

Thank you guys for taking the time to read this far. It seriously means the world.