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Our Favourite Disney Souvenirs (That Won’t Break The Bank)

Our Favourite Disney Souvenirs

We love to bring home a little bit of Disney magic when we travel, so we can enjoy the memories of our Disney trips long after we are back into the daily grind. Here are a few of our faves take-homes.

Disney Souvenirs

Mugs
I love both the mugs from the Disney stores well as the special “You Are Here” Starbucks mugs that can only be bought at Disneyland. There are Starbucks stores on Main Street in both parks where you can buy these mugs.

Disney Souvenirs

Husband loves the Star Wars mug and I love the Ariel and Aulani ones. We picked them up at random little stores around the parks (the Aulani one is from Disney’s Aulani resort in Hawaii). The mugs cost around $20 each.

Disney Souvenirs

Pressed Pennies
We are new to these and they are so fun. You’ll need a selection of quarters and pennies and be on the look out for the machines around the park to convert them into little collectables. They’re a cheap souvenir to take home and are run to make as kids can put in the coins, select the design and turn the wheel to press the penny themselves. Serious penny collectors can use a map to locate all of the machines in the park. A pressed penny costs either two quarters or two quarters and a penny.

Disneyland California

Popcorn Buckets
My daughter is a popcorn monster so we eat a lot of popcorn when we are in the parks. The buckets are an additional cost to the standard popcorn in a disposable container – between $10 and $25 depending on which design and size that you choose. The buckets have seasonal and limited edition designs so we love to collect them – and yes we re-use them at home!

Disneyland California

Bubble Wands
One of our best souvenirs ever, as this bubble wand really goes the distance. We have refilled it over and over again and it continues to work flawlessly. At around $20 it’s an expensive toy but it’s lasted so well that we were happy with the purchase. Wands are available all over the parks.

Disney SouvenirsFridge Magnets
A really cheap and easy souvenir that we like to look at every day on the fridge. Our fridge is covered in magnets from around the world and they’re a nice reminder of our travels each time we open the door. You can buy these magnets at little stores all over the park and they cost around $10 each.

Pins
Pins are an easy souvenir to collect. There are stores all over both parks that sell the pins alongside other merchandise so they’re easy to find. If you get super into it, you can wear them on a lanyard to the park and swap them with the Disney cast members. Some pins are limited edition so make for particularly good collectables. Pins cost between around $11 and $20 each.

Disney Souvenirs

Christmas Ornaments
We collect Christmas ornaments from all over the world and get a great deal of joy every year unwrapping the ornaments and putting them on the tree, while reminiscing about our travels. Disney ornaments are available in several locations in each park all throughout the year, and cost around $20-$40 each depending on the size.

Disney Souviners

Silhouette
We discovered the silhouettes in Disneyland on our recent trip. It costs $10 to get two (identical) silhouettes cut and $20 for a frame. They only take about 10 minutes to get made and make a great gift for grandparents.

Disney Souvenirs

Stuffed Characters
The small stuffed characters are fun to collect. We love to find the seasonal and location-specific ones when we travel. These three are from Disneyland at Christmas and our Disney Alaska cruise. They cost around $20 each.

Disney Souvenirs

Mickey Sink
This delicious treat is available at Clara’s hand-scooped Ice Cream in Disney California Adventure Park. It costs $13.50 plus tax and you can take home the sink.

Disney Ears

Disney Ears
These are fun to wear at the park and make for great photos. Mickey and Minnie ears like this can be purchased all over both parks and cost about $20.

Disney Souviners

Hats
A useful souvenir to take home! Hats can be found in both parks in lots of stores and cost about $20-ish.

Disney Souviners
Keyrings

I use these as zipper-pulls on my bags and my daughter puts them on her school bag. They cost about $10 and can be found in lots of places in the parks.

There you have it! I’ll add to this post in time as we find more fun little Disney souvenirs to take a little of the magic with us.

 

 

Christine Knight

Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

A Guide To Using MaxPass At Disneyland

A Guide To Using MaxPass At Disneyland

In 2017 Disneyland California introduced a new ticketing addition called MaxPass. You can read about it here on the official Disney site.

Basically, a MaxPass is an addition to your Disneyland park tickets that gives you added benefits. For an extra $10 per person, per day, a MaxPass will let you:

*Save time at popular attractions by making Disney FASTPASS selections on your mobile device using the Disneyland app while you’re in the parks. Guests with Park Hopper Tickets can even make selections for attractions in our other theme park.

*Download all photos taken by Disney PhotoPass photographers.

(A FASTPASS is a ticket that lets you come back to popular attractions at a designated time and skip waiting up. The FREE PAPER FASTPASSES can still be collected from near the attractions).

What do I need to use Disney MaxPass?
You will need to download the official Disneyland app onto a mobile device. I highly suggest doing this the day before your park visit.

You can download the app here.

Disneyland parks do have WiFi but I found it a bit inconsistent, so it’s preferable if you have data on your mobile device.

You will also need to buy regular park passes, either single day or park-hoppers. If you buy your tickets from the website or app your tickets will automatically be linked and should appear when you log into the Disneyland app on your device.

Do kids need a MaxPass?
If they want to use the digital FASTPASS feature, then yes, they do.

Is MaxPass worth the money?
If you’re going at a busy time of year or for a short time, then a MaxPass can be a game changer. When we visited at Christmas, thanks to the MaxPass we were able to secure FASTPASS tickets constantly all day to rides in both parks, and hence didn’t line up for any major attraction. If I could see that I was going to miss the FASTPASS window for one ride, I would cancel it and then make another ride selection with zero effort.

I love getting lots of photos taken as well, so being able to download over a hundred images from a three-day visit for an extra $10 per day is an absolute bargain to me.

Should I buy MaxPass tickets in advance?
While you can buy the MaxPass at the same time as your Disney park tickets, you can also buy it through the app on the day.

I found it very easy to purchase the MaxPass each morning on my phone as I entered the park, so if you choose to wait until seeing how busy the park is each day and deciding then if you need it, then that option is available.

It is however much easier to already have bought the MaxPass and it also enables you to start booking in your FASTPASSES quicker.

How soon can make a FASTPASS selection using MaxPass?
As soon as your ticket is scanned at either Disneyland or Disney California Adventure park each morning, you are able to book a digital FASTPASS using your phone. This means if you are early to the gates and have your ticket scanned and then wait half an hour for rope drop and official opening, that you ARE able to make your first FASTPASS selection during this time.

What if the time I want isn’t shown?
You can refresh the app and, as people cancel their FASTPASSES, new slots sometimes open up for other times.

How many FASTPASSES can I have at once using MaxPass?
You can have two FASTPASSES booked in at the same time. As soon as you enter the return window for a FASTPASS (each window is usually an hour long) then you are able to book another FASTPASS. If you take a look in the app it will tell you what time you can make your next FASTPASS booking.

What if I just want photos?
Only one person in your party needs to buy the MaxPass each day if all you want are photos. Disney PhotoPass photographers will either scan the app on your phone or a physical PhotoPass card to give you access to the images. You can scan the physical card with your phone to link the photos to your Disney park tickets. While it’s easier to keep track of the one PhotoPass card, you can collect and scan as many as you please, meaning if you have a large party who splits up and gets their own photos taken in different locations, all of the cards can be consolidated into the one account at the end of the day for the single cost of $10.

I chose to use a physical card during our stay to save battery power on my phone.

How do I stop my phone battery from running out?
One of the biggest things to be aware of is how using the Disneyland app all day will run down your battery super fast.

A few tips to make your phone last the whole day:
*If each member of your party has their own mobile device: take a screenshot of your ticket and set it as your screensaver on your phone and have each member of your party do the same.
*If you’re a family with little kids: Take a screenshot and keep the images handy for scanning.
*Use a physical PhotoPass card for scanning with the Disneyland photographers instead of opening the app to let them scan your phone. Ask the photographers for the physical card. You can get one card and re-use it for your entire stay, or collect several and link all of the cards by scanning them with the Disneyland app.
*Take a portable phone charger if your battery is not the best. This will mean you can charge on the go.
*Set your phone to airplane mode when you’re not using the internet.
*If your battery runs out, either purchase a portable charging device or rent a charging station locker.

How to Purchase and Use Disney MaxPass If You Have Tickets
Taken from the Disney website

Download the Disneyland app.
Enter the park you wish to visit using your tickets.
Open the Disneyland app.
Tap the circular character icon at the bottom of the screen.
Sign in with your Disney account.
Tap “Get FASTPASS with Disney MaxPass”.
Select all Guests in your party who wish to use the Disney MaxPass feature—if someone is not listed, link their ticket or pass.
Purchase the Disney MaxPass feature for any Guests who do not already have it.
Make your FASTPASS selections and enjoy your Disney PhotoPass downloads.

How to Purchase and Use Disney MaxPass If You Don’t Yet Have Tickets
Taken from the Disney website

Purchase tickets on disneyland.com with the Disney MaxPass feature for your party.
Download the Disneyland app.
Enter the park you wish to visit using the tickets.
Open the Disneyland app.
Sign in with the same Disney account you used to purchase tickets.
Tap the circular character icon at the bottom of the screen.
Tap “Get FASTPASS with Disney MaxPass”.
Select all Guests in your party who wish to use the Disney MaxPass feature—if someone is not listed, link their ticket or pass.
Purchase the Disney MaxPass feature for any Guests who do not already have it.
Make your FASTPASS selections and enjoy your Disney PhotoPass downloads.

How to Link Disney PhotoPass Photos
Taken from the Disney website

Ask Disney PhotoPass Photographers to either scan your Disney PhotoPass card or the code on your phone. Be sure to also link your Disney PhotoPass card to your Disney account.
Enter the ID code for attraction photos in the Disneyland app. You’ll find the 8-character code on the photo monitor near where you exit the attraction. Ask a Cast Member for help if you cannot locate your photo.

Disney MaxPass for Annual Passholders
Taken from the Disney website

Guests who have a valid Disneyland Annual Passport may purchase the Disney MaxPass feature as an annual add-on for $75 at a Disneyland Resort Ticket Booth or as a daily add-on for $10 through the Disneyland app. The Disney MaxPass feature is an included benefit with the Disney Signature Plus Passport and the Disney Premier Passport.
The cost of the annual Disney MaxPass feature cannot be prorated for Annual Passports expiring in less than a year, and the feature expires when your Annual Passport expires.

Christine Knight

Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

A Guide To Celebrating The Holidays At Disneyland

A Guide To Celebrating The Holidays At Disneyland

The most magical time of year at the happiest place on Earth is the period between November and January (check dates as they change annually), when the Disneyland Parks receive an enchanting makeover. Celebrating Christmas at Disneyland is a must-do experience for young and old.

Visiting Disneyland at Christmas can be an incredible experience but also takes some planning and preparation. The tips in this guide will help you create a magical trip for your whole family.

A Guide To Celebrating The Holidays At Disneyland

Plan your dates wisely
By very careful planning, we were able to avoid the bulk of the crowds who head to Disneyland to celebrate the holiday season.

Check the following before booking your trip:

*US school holiday dates
*Australian school holiday dates (there are a lot of Australians who make the trek each year!)
*Annual Pass Blockout Dates (obviously it’s good to go when annual pass holders can’t!). Check them here.
*The busiest days according to the previous year on a calendar such as this. Weekends are always the busiest so I suggest avoiding them.

A Guide To Celebrating The Holidays At Disneyland

Book a hotel near the park
We always book a very budget hotel that is extremely close to the park. Our last trip we stayed at the Grand Legacy At The Park and found it to be extremely convenient.

A full review of the Grand Legacy At The Park can be found here.

A Guide To Celebrating The Holidays At Disneyland

Pack wisely
My daughter is too big for a stroller this year, so I took a backpack to put in water, food and small purchases and keep my hands free. Clothes-wise, mornings and evenings can be cool at this time of year while the middle can be super warm.

We were comfortable in jeans and tees during the day and added a light jumper/sweater for the mornings/evenings. Shoes are so important at Disneyland when you’re walking 22K steps a day: go for comfort! My daughter and I wore extremely comfortable sneakers ever day.

If your kid fits into a stroller then by all means take one or hire one from the parks. I saw kids who were aged seven in them being pushed around, so there’s no shame in it if it’s what you need to do to get the kids through the long days without tears.

A Guide To Celebrating The Holidays At Disneyland

Download the Disneyland App
It’s invaluable for planning your day – character meet-and-greet times and locations, show times, ride wait times, view and make dining reservations, see your Disney PhotoPass pics, and even buy your park tickets app. Plus it’s a must-have if you’re planning on upgrading your ticket to include a Maxpass (the below).

Get more info on the Disneyland App and download it here.

A Guide To Celebrating The Holidays At Disneyland

Purchase Maxpass
Upgrading our passes with a Maxpass (they cost $10 per person, per day) was the best decision we made. Maxpass does two things:

1. Provides digital FASTPASS to rides (A FASTPASS lets you take a ticket with a specific time printed on it so you can return to the ride at a later time and skip the queue.)
2. Provides access to download all PhotoPass images taken by Disneyland photographers each day.

If you like to get lots of photos taken then the Maxpass is fantastic value for the photos alone. While you can still get FASTPASS without a Maxpass, it does require walking a lot more all over the park to get the paper ticket from the machine and then return again later. A Maxpass lets you book your FASTPASS selections on your phone from anywhere in the park. It was a game changer for us.

Only one member of your party needs to purchase the Maxpass if photos are your goal rather than digital Fastpasses.

A Guide To Celebrating The Holidays At Disneyland

Plan your Disney days
I’m a big believer in schedules, particularly at Disneyland where timing is important. I created a spreadsheet in advance and researched the events that would be taking place each day, such as parades, fireworks, shows, character meet-and-greets, tree lightings and so forth, to slot them into the time we had at the parks.

A Guide To Celebrating The Holidays At Disneyland

Go early!
Not a morning person? Your experience at Disneyland will be vastly improved if you are! Mornings are the best for rides as it’s when the parks are quietest, so we would arrive each morning between 7 and 7:30am and be one of the first few people inside the park when it officially opened.

This meant we had from 8am-11am each day with basically no queues for rides as a result, and used the Maxpass to schedule the top rides for throughout the day to get them in several times.

Take a break for lunch in the middle of the day to early afternoon, and then enjoy the special Christmas entertainment.

A Guide To Celebrating The Holidays At Disneyland

Check out the holiday decorations
Both parks feature a stunning 50-foot-tall Christmas tree, wreaths, baubles, and more, festooning the lampposts, rooftops and window displays.

A Guide To Celebrating The Holidays At Disneyland

Two of the Disneyland’s rides get a holiday makeover as well: The “It’s a Small World” ride is lit by over 50,000 lights and video projections, while the Haunted Mansion is taken over by the cast Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, including Jack Skellington.

The town of Radiator Springs (AKA “Cars Land) in Disney California Adventure Park was given a makeover on our recent visit, including the actual cars themselves, plus the ride Mater’s Jingle Jamboree.

If you get time, check out the lobby of the Grand Californian Hotel, which is decorated beautifully for the holidays.

A Guide To Celebrating The Holidays At Disneyland

Catch the holiday entertainment
Disneyland has a twice-daily Christmas Fantasy Parade (check the Disneyland website closer to your visit to check parade times) featuring traditional Disney characters plus Santa, dancing gingerbread men, prancing reindeer and twirling snowmen.

A Guide To Celebrating The Holidays At Disneyland

We also highly enjoyed the Disney Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure Park, which featured seasonal celebrations from around the world. Our particular favourites were the Disney ¡Viva Navidad! Street Party, where mariachi and samba musicians and 12-foot-tall mojiganga puppets took to the streets, as well as Princess Elena of Avalor’s Grand Arrival, where Elena arrived on a float several times a day and sang her famous songs live. This was my daughter’s favourite live show of our trip.

A Guide To Celebrating The Holidays At Disneyland

Watch out for fun roaming entertainment in both parks, such as the drummers in California Adventure Park and carol singers in Disneyland. The festive fun is literally around every corner.

A Guide To Celebrating The Holidays At Disneyland

Meet the characters
We love meeting the characters anyway, but they’re that little bit extra special when dressed in holiday garb! We brought an autograph book with us (it’s a great ice breaker) and hunted down our faves throughout the day.

A Guide To Celebrating The Holidays At Disneyland

We especially loved Mickey and Minnie in their festive clothes, meeting Jack Skellington and Sally from Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas and watching the Disney characters dance in their ¡Viva Navidad! attire. You can locate the characters using the Disneyland app on your phone.

A Guide To Celebrating The Holidays At Disneyland

Eat all the food!
The Disney Parks employ a wide variety of exceptional pastry chefs and confectioners, so I highly recommend trying some of their seasonal treats.

A Guide To Celebrating The Holidays At Disneyland

Disneyland Park features peppermint Mickey Mouse beignets, festive candy apples, gingerbread men, snowman-shaped cookies, snowflake and Jack Skellington cake pops, and handmade candy canes that take three hours to make each batch. Watch them being made on Main Street; it’s mesmerising!

A Guide To Celebrating The Holidays At Disneyland

Disney California Adventure Park has a large Festive Foods Marketplace where you can try holiday favourites from around the world.

A Guide To Celebrating The Holidays At Disneyland

The popcorn is a fave of ours (for some reason, it tastes really amazing!) and we love to pick up a holiday-themed or limited-edition popcorn bucket to take home as a souvenir.

A Guide To Celebrating The Holidays At Disneyland

Watch the park light up when the sun goes down
Since we are such early birds at the park, we rarely make it to evening and always miss the nighttime lights. The benefit of visiting at this time of year is that sundown is earlier so the lights come on earlier, and we get to see the magic before bedtime!

A Guide To Celebrating The Holidays At Disneyland

The earliest display to watch is Sleeping Beauty’s Winter Castle which, at 6pm each evening, transforms into a shimmering display of 80,000 lights. Dazzling to watch!

Two special evening shows are presented if you can stay up late enough to watch them (we never made one, our eyes just wouldn’t stay open!):

The “Believe…In Holiday Magic” Fireworks Spectacular in Disneyland Park and World of Color – Season of Light in Disney California Adventure Park, which is a a show featuring videos projected onto screens formed by fountains.

A Guide To Celebrating The Holidays At Disneyland

Last thoughts on Disneyland during the holidays
Our time at Disneyland was magical. I would go every year if I could. The crowds weren’t as bad as when I have visited previously in summer (note: this might be because I planned the days we visited so carefully), and we found the temperature perfect for long days at the parks. I highly recommend this experience to families of all ages.

A Guide To Celebrating The Holidays At Disneyland A Guide To Celebrating The Holidays At Disneyland

A Guide To Celebrating The Holidays At Disneyland A Guide To Celebrating The Holidays At Disneyland A Guide To Celebrating The Holidays At Disneyland A Guide To Celebrating The Holidays At Disneyland A Guide To Celebrating The Holidays At Disneyland A Guide To Celebrating The Holidays At Disneyland A Guide To Celebrating The Holidays At Disneyland A Guide To Celebrating The Holidays At Disneyland A Guide To Celebrating The Holidays At Disneyland A Guide To Celebrating The Holidays At Disneyland A Guide To Celebrating The Holidays At Disneyland

A Guide To Celebrating The Holidays At Disneyland

We received Disneyland Park tickets courtesy of Disney. All opinions our own. We are life-long lovers of Disney.

 

 

Christine Knight

Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

The Best Bits of Disneyland with Little Kids

The Best Bits of Disneyland with Little Kids via christineknight.me

Our time at Disneyland was magical! My almost five-year-old and I spent a wonderful day-and-a-half at the park and it just wasn’t enough time. While we loved pretty much everything about the experience, we had to have our favourite rides and experiences, right? Here they are, through a mix of photos from our last trip as well as our time at Disneyland in 2014:

The Best Bits of Disneyland with Little Kids via christineknight.me

Fantasyland ride: Mad Tea Party
So much fun we went on it over and over and over again.

The Best Bits of Disneyland with Little Kids via christineknight.me

Fantasyland: Kind Arthur’s Carousel
It’s a gorgeous carousel and rarely has a queue.

The Best Bits of Disneyland with Little Kids via christineknight.me

Fantasyland: Dumbo The Flying Elephant
This is just fun. Best to visit in the morning when the lines are short.

The Best Bits of Disneyland with Little Kids via christineknight.me

Character meet and greets
Ask at guest services for a schedule of character meet and greets so you’re always the first one there.

The Best Bits of Disneyland with Little Kids via christineknight.me

Tomorrow land: Jedi training: The Trials of the Temple
My daughter still talks about defeating Darth Vader. Read about our experience here.

The Best Bits of Disneyland with Little Kids via christineknight.me

Tomorrow land: Buzz Lightyear ride
We went on this ride so many times. My daughter loved the laser gun that you use to shoot targets.

The Best Bits of Disneyland with Little Kids via christineknight.me

Fantasyland: Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique
Absolutely favourite of my daughter’s. Read about our experience here.

The Best Bits of Disneyland with Little Kids via christineknight.me

Mickey’s Toontown photo opps
While there are cool rides in Toontown, my daughter loved all of the pretend “toon” things she could climb on.

The Best Bits of Disneyland with Little Kids via christineknight.me

Fantasyland: Cinderella’s castle
Enchanting – an absolute must to walk through.

The Best Bits of Disneyland with Little Kids via christineknight.me

Tomorrowland rides: Star Tours and Space Mountain
A bit scary for little ones perhaps, but we did them anyway and survived to tell the tale.

The Best Bits of Disneyland with Little Kids via christineknight.me

Frontierland: Jungle Cruise & Tarzan’s Tree House
Easy fun for little ones.

The Best Bits of Disneyland with Little Kids via christineknight.me

Minnie & Friends Character Breakfast at the Plaza Inn
The only place to meet characters like Winnie The Pooh, Chip & Dale and Eeyore. Book in advance.

The Best Bits of Disneyland with Little Kids via christineknight.me

Fantasyland: Meet princesses at the Royal Hall
A must for any princess-lovers! Meet four princess in the one hall.

The Best Bits of Disneyland with Little Kids via christineknight.me

Must-see – Mickey’s Soundsational Parade
See all your fave Disney characters.

The Best Bits of Disneyland with Little Kids via christineknight.me

Fantasyland: Meet Tinkerbell in Pixie Hollow
Walk through a replica of Pixie Hollow, meeting Tinkerbell and friends.

Get tips on planning the perfect Disneyland trip here.

Travelling with a little one? Get tips on taking a toddler here.

What are your Disneyland highlights?

 

Christine Knight

Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Frozen – Live at the Hyperion, Disney California Adventure Park

Frozen – Live at the Hyperion, Disney California Adventure Park via christineknight.me

The hot ticket at Disney California Adventure Park this year is the brand new stage show, Frozen – Live at the Hyperion.

The show is exactly what you would imagine it to be: a very closely followed adaptation of the movie Frozen, performed live on stage by excellent performers on some seriously stunning staging.

Frozen – Live at the Hyperion, Disney California Adventure Park via christineknight.me

The show is one hour in duration (the movie is 1 hr 49 minutes) and as a result there are small cuts in places – a few minor characters are either missing or have their parts shortened significantly, but the changes I noticed the most were to take away anything remotely “scary”.

Frozen – Live at the Hyperion, Disney California Adventure Park via christineknight.me

As a result, the show is billed as “suitable for all ages” – and I have to agree, it was extremely mild and even my scaredy cat Cheese who refuses to see the movie at the moment because she deems it “too scary”, didn’t find a single moment of the show anything other than thoroughly entertaining.

Frozen – Live at the Hyperion, Disney California Adventure Park via christineknight.me

As per all of Disney’s productions, Frozen – Live At The Hyperion is of the highest standard. I was particularly impressed with their Elsa, considering the difficulty of the song Let It Go, (which she nailed, by the way).

Frozen – Live at the Hyperion, Disney California Adventure Park via christineknight.me

The set design for the show is incredibly impressive, particularly the scenes from the sisters’ childhood, where the props are made larger than usual to make the “child” Anna and Elsa really look small, even though they are played by adults.

Frozen – Live at the Hyperion, Disney California Adventure Park via christineknight.me

Even with the show significantly shortened from the original movie, it seemed a perfect length, with all the major songs and moments covered beautifully. It was also a great length for all of the small children in the audience, who were happily belting out the lyrics to each number and wiggling joyfully throughout the show.

Frozen – Live at the Hyperion, Disney California Adventure Park via christineknight.me

Tips on how to see the show:

When we went the show was new and popular and tickets were available through the Disney FASTPASS Service. As of September 2017, FASTPASS is no longer available for the show.

Frozen – Live at the Hyperion, Disney California Adventure Park via christineknight.me
Line up for the show at least 30 mins before the show begins, earlier on really busy days.

Frozen – Live at the Hyperion, Disney California Adventure Park via christineknight.me

Frozen – Live at the Hyperion, Disney California Adventure Park via christineknight.me

If you have a stroller with you, be very aware of where it is parked when you go into the show. Our stroller was taken from us and parked by a Disney cast member and we didn’t see where it was taken. As a result, at the end of the show it took us a very long time to search for our stroller among a sea of about a hundred or so.

Frozen – Live at the Hyperion, Disney California Adventure Park via christineknight.me

Get more information on Frozen – Live At The Hyperion and the latest show times here

Christine Knight

Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Meet Anna & Elsa at Disney California Adventure Park

Meet Anna & Elsa | Disney California Adventure Park

The Frozen sisters have found a permanent home in California Adventure Park’s Hollywood Land. The meet and greet isn’t anywhere near as crazy popular as it was when we visited two years ago. Back then, if you didn’t get to the link as soon as the park opened you were in for an all-day wait.

This time, we did the rounds in the morning to get FastPasses for our fave rides and then came back to meet the sisters. Anna and Elsa’s Royal Welcome is located deep inside the Animation Academy within the Disney California Adventure Park.

From the outside, it’s unclear that this is even the place to meed the Frozen duo as there are no clear signs that say so.  We asked a helpful Disney cast member outside who confirmed that this was the place and pointed where to go.

The Animation Academy has several experiences inside, just one of which is the Anna and Elsa Royal Welcome. it’s a huge space with Disney films playing all over the walls, which makes waiting to meet the sisters much more palatable. The queue wasn’t too bad – maybe 10 people before us, and we waited in total about 30 minutes to meet the pair.

Meet Anna & Elsa | Disney California Adventure Park

Anna and Elsa share an Arandelle-themed room in the Animation Academy for meeting their royal guests. I really think the pair are best as a dual act – they play off each other, make witty jokes, and in general are so much fun when they’re experienced together.

Meet Anna & Elsa | Disney California Adventure Park

The princess and queen really took their time talking to Cheese. They wanted to know all about her kingdom and commented on her beautiful hair.

Meet Anna & Elsa | Disney California Adventure Park

Meet Anna & Elsa | Disney California Adventure Park Meet Anna & Elsa | Disney California Adventure Park

After the meet and greet, with Frozen stars in our eyes, we head off to the new show, Frozen – Live that is now playing at the Hyperion Theatre next door. If you have an avid artist on your hands, drop by the Royal Academy (it’s tucked inside the Animation Academy) where a real-life artist is on hand to teach you how to sketch characters like Olaf and Marshmallow.

Get more information about Frozen experiences at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Park here.

Christine Knight

Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Disneyland Planning Tips: How To have The Best Disneyland Holiday Ever

Disneyland Planning Tips via christineknight.me

Disneyland is magical for adults and kids alike. It’s such an incredibly designed place that keeps the magic of childhood well and truly alive, through rides, entertainment and live characters. Disneyland is also a place that requires a lot of planning to get the most out of. I hope my tips will help you plan your perfect Disneyland holiday.

Disneyland via christineknight.me

What age is best for Disneyland?
Honestly, any age! Disneyland caters to all ages from 0-100 as long as you love Disney. I’ve been as an adult without kids, with a 2 year old, and most recently with my almost 5-year-old. Each time is different but equally enjoyable.

Disneyland via christineknight.me

What time of year should we go?
Disneyland is gorgeous to visit all-year round. They have special seasonal events around Halloween and Christmas in particular, making these two times of year a really special time to visit. Check out the crowds at the time of year you’re considering visiting at this website – if you can visit during a slower time, I would suggest doing so. We have visited twice in June or July and both times it has been very hot and very busy.

Where should we stay?
There are so many choices! Disneyland have their own hotels that are on the park grounds and give you special benefits – the biggest two being early entry into the parks every day (an hour before general admission) and a special entry to Disney California Adventure Park through Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa so you’ll never have to line up. While the Disneyland hotels also offer other great features that carry the Disney magic to all areas of your stay, they are also the pricey accomodation option – so if you’re on a budget you’ll want to consider staying at a “good neighbor” hotel instead.

All the benefits of staying at a Disneyland hotel

We have stayed at two different “good neighbor” hotels, the Howard Johnson Hotel and Water Park, and the Carousel Inn and Suites. Both were half the price of the Disneyland hotels and had excellent locations – directly across the road from Disneyland, making our commute each morning a mere 5 minutes walk.

Disneyland via christineknight.me

How long should we stay for?
We have stayed for three days both times we visited, and this was the perfect amount for us. We spent one day each at Disneyland and California Adventure park, and one day hopping between the two. If you buy tickets for three or more consecutive days, you get a magic morning included, where you can enter Disneyland an hour early (7am!) on a designated day.

Disneyland via christineknight.me

What’s a “magic morning”?
Magic mornings are the days when you can enter the park at 7am instead of 8am, which is when the parks usually open. You need to have a 3+ day pass to be able to use a magic morning early entry. Magic mornings are held on Tuesdays, Thursday and Saturdays. It’s recommended that you arrive an hour and a quarter before the regular park opening. We didn’t have magic mornings with our trip this time around, and we went to California Adventure park that day instead – which turned out to be a brilliant choice as the park was pretty much empty – everyone was at Disneyland using their magic morning!

Disneyland via christineknight.me

What tickets should we get?
You have a choice between single park passes, which allow you entry into one park per day, or “park hoppers” which let you go back and forth between the parks. If you buy multi day passes (which is the cheapest way to buy tickets), you will have to choose between the two types, you can’t mix and match. With older kids, I’d recommend park hoppers, particularly if you will be there three days. I found a full day at each park was perfect, plus that extra day to jump between the two and finish up a few things we missed or wanted to do again.

Disneyland via christineknight.me

I always advise buying tickets at least a few days in advance. While the queues have always been short to buy tickets when we’ve arrived, it just cuts out one extra step to get into the park. When you buy a ticket online you can choose an eTicket which you then present on your phone (or printed out) at the gates for entry.

More info on ticket types and prices

Disneyland via christineknight.me

What time of day should I arrive?
The parks open at 8am (with the exception of magic mornings when it opens at 7 if you have valid tickets). My best advice on getting the most out of a Disneyland day is to arrive well before the park opens. It can take quite a while to get through security, and also through the gates. When you use your tickets for the first time, you will have a photo taken and linked online to your pass, and you will need to sign the tickets they give you – all making the entry process that much longer.

We enjoyed the early mornings the most as there were the fewest people in the park, so lines were shorter.

Disneyland via christineknight.me

How do I plan a day at Disneyland?
My best advice is to plan to do all the rides first thing in the morning. As soon as the gates open, go straight to the rides you want to do the most that are the most popular rides, and either do the rides immediately, or get a FASTPASS (see more below) to return and do the ride later without having to line up to do so.

Disneyland via christineknight.me

We spent the first three hours just doing all of the rides, then took a break for lunch and spent the afternoons watching shows, meeting characters, shopping, eating ice cream, and watching the parades.

Disneyland via christineknight.me

Find out the height requirement for rides in advance and plan accordingly!

This site gives you the average wait time for each ride, so you can see which ones are the most popular.

Disneyland via christineknight.me

What is a FASTPASS?
A FASTPASS lets you skip the queue for the most popular rides at the park. Look for the FASTPASS Distribution sign near the entrance of an attraction, check the Return Time displayed on the sign, insert your Disneyland Resort admission ticket into the FASTPASS machine and take with you the FASTPASS ticket it spits out, printed with your return time. Then return to the ride during your time window at any time, show your FASTPASS ticket to the Cast Member at the entrance to the ride, and enjoy a minimal wait. Note: You can only have one FASTPASS at a time.

Disneyland has also introduced MaxPass as a way of making it easier to secure FASTPASS tickets.

Disneyland via christineknight.me

Attractions that have FASTPASS
Entertainment that has FASTPASS

Find out more about FASTPASS!

What is MaxPass?
Add Disney MaxPass to your park tickets for $10 per person, per day to receive all of the Disney PhotoPass photos taken during the day (the photos taken by the Disneyland park photographers), plus the ability to reserve digital Disney FASTPASS tickets directly from your mobile device using the Disneyland App while you’re in the parks. This saves having to run to the various ticket machines in the park in person.

Disney MaxPass = Disney PhotoPass Downloads + Digital FASTPASS Selections

Disneyland via christineknight.me

What are some tips for watching the parades?
The parades are incredibly popular, with people staking out their front row spots over 45 minutes before the parade begins. If you watch carefully around the park from an hour before the parades start, Disneyland staff will begin marking out the areas for crowd control. Grab a spot on a bench or on the gutter edge and either all sit with some snacks and wait, or leave one adult there while the rest of the family entertain themselves in other ways while you’re waiting.

Disneyland via christineknight.me

The parades wind their way from the back of the park to the front, so if the start time is 4:30pm, it will reach around the front of the park around 4:45-4:50pm.

Disneyland via christineknight.me Disneyland via christineknight.me

Can we take food and drink into the park?
Yes you can. Take a large refillable water bottle – you can refill with water at any drink station through out the parks. You can also ask for cups of ice water at any restaurant/fast food outlet. You are allowed to take whatever food and snacks you like into the park, which is a great way to cut down on costs. We didn’t take many snacks with us as we were staying at a very basic hotel with nowhere to keep food. We ate park food all day and didn’t find it overly expensive.

Disneyland via christineknight.me Disneyland via christineknight.me Disneyland via christineknight.me Disneyland via christineknight.me Disneyland via christineknight.me

Should I take a stroller?
If your child fits in one, absolutely yes. Many hours of walking will tired even older children. There is stroller parking at every ride, and every restaurant/facility is stroller-accessible. I also like having a stroller to put our stuff in, like water bottles and snacks, and the canopy provides much needed shade during the heat.

Disneyland via christineknight.me

Should I use the Disneyland photographers?
Personally, I always utilise the Disneyland photography service, called PhotoPass. For $39 a day you can download all of the images taken by the Disneyland photographers. The photographers are scattered around both parks all throughout the day and take some really great quality photos – with the entire family in them! I love that I can get out whole family in the same shot with zero effort, and I also like to leave my giant SLR camera at home and just take my point and shoot with me, knowing the Disneyland photographers will have their excellent cameras to snap portraits for me that save me lugging around my behemoth for the day.

At time of editing (Sept 2017), purchasing a MaxPass for $10 per person, per day also gives you the PhotoPass images. If you have three or less people in your group, this is the way to go.

disneyland-pro-day3-3

When getting your photo taken, you can either download the Disneyland app to your phone and present the app to the photographer and add the photos to your account, or the photographer will give you a small card with a bar code that you can then add into your account yourself later on.

You can take the cards to a Disneyland PhotoPass store to buy the images at the park, or log into the Disneyland PhotoPass website later to buy and download them.

Disneyland via christineknight.me

How do I keep on top of what’s happening during the day?
This trip I discovered the excellent (free) Disneyland app. It allowed me to see the wait times on every ride, has a map with a compass so you know where you are, and also shows what characters are where for meet and greets, where food outlets and bathrooms are, and times for entertainment such as shows and parades.

disneyland-pro-cars-3

How do I meet characters at Disneyland?
Characters roam around the parks all day. Some have designated spots and times that you can find either on the app or by asking at Guest Services inside the park. The core characters such as Minnie, Mickey and friends and the princesses have designated places where they can be found.

Disneyland via christineknight.me

Others simply roam and you have to be lucky to spot them, such as Alice in Wonderland and the Mad Hatter, and Mary Poppins. If you want an easy way to meet lots of the characters all together, book in for a Character Breakfast. Our faves are Ariel’s Grotto, which has all of the princesses some around to each table, and Plaza Inn, which has Minnie Mouse, plus core Disney faves like Donald Duck, Hook and Chip & Dale, Winnie the Pooh and Eeyore. (As of Jan 2018 Ariel’s Grotto has indefinitely closed)

Princesses at Disneyland via christineknight.me

How do I meet the Disney princesses?
You can meet three princesses at any time of day at the Fantasy Faire inside Fantasyland, Disneyland. The princesses change regularly so you won’t know which ones will be there until you go inside.

Princesses at Disneyland via christineknight.me

The princesses are in seperate rooms and you walk around to meet them one at a time. You can also happen upon princesses outside Cinderella’s Castle – we found Aurora this way. As of Jan 2018, this is the only way to meet multiple princesses at the same venue.

Anna and Elsa Disneyland meet and greet via christineknight.me

What about Anna and Elsa?
The sisters are located inside the Animation Academy in California Adventure Park, and are the only princesses you meet together. We really enjoyed meeting Anna and Elsa – they have a great repartee together, making the sisters a really fun duo to chat with.

Disneyland via christineknight.me

Is there any thing else “Frozen”?
Yes, there is a fantastic new live “Frozen” show in the Hyperion Theatre in California Adventure Park. the show goes for an hour, and runs several times a day.

Frozen - Live at the Hyperion Theater California Adventure Park

I would advise returning to line up for the show 40 minutes before start time to guarantee a decent seat. The show is excellent, and does a fantastic job of telling the Frozen story minus the scary bits.

More info on Frozen – Live at the Hyperion Theater

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique Disneyland via christineknight.me

What else should I know about that’s awesome at Disneyland?
My almost five-year old particularly enjoyed being turned into a princess at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, and taking part in jedi training at the Trials of the Temple show.

Jedi training Disneyland via christineknight.me

Do you have any questions about how to plan the perfect Disneyland holiday?

Tips on the best things to do at Disneyland with little kids

How to survive (and enjoy!) Disneyland with a toddler

Get ready for your Disney trip with these packing tips

Christine Knight

Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

16 Reasons why a Disney cruise is worth the money

16 Reasons why a Disney cruise is worth the money via christineknight.me

I’m going to be upfront and say Disney cruises are REALLY expensive. Crazy expensive – much more so than a lot of other cruise liners, in fact, that offer similar itineraries. So why choose to spend your time and your money that way? Simply because the experience is unparalleled. We just got back from the 7-Night Eastern Caribbean cruise aboard the Disney Fantasy, and can happily say that here are 16 reasons why, for us, a Disney cruise is worth the money.

Disney Fantasy via christineknight.me

1. It’s (almost!) all-inclusive
All your food at the main restaurants and snack joints, entertainment, use of facilities and even room services are included in the price. What’s an extra charge? The spa services, popcorn before the shows, snacks from additional cafes not in the main dining areas and alcohol, and gratuity at the end of the trip (it’s charged to the room at a rate of $12 per person per day).

Disney Fantasy via christineknight.me

2. The service is impecable
We received some of the best service of our lives on the ship, especially from the servers in the dining rooms. Our head waiter, assistance and dining room head all knew our name and our dining preferences (for example, I’m a fussy vegetarian and my daughter is fussy period), and would be prepared to offer us with alternatives to the menu each evening if they knew we wouldn’t like them. Our amazing servers followed us each night through the dining rotation (there are three restaurants that we rotated between) so we were always greeted with their smiling faces each evening.

Disney Fantasy via christineknight.me

3. Mickey is everywhere
It’s fun to make a game of finding all the hidden Mickeys. From tiny nautical Mickeys made out of ropes in the shower curtains to bigger emblems on the ships decks, there are Mickeys everywhere you look in both discrete and obvious ways, but still pulled together so harmoniously as to present an elegant ship for adults rather than a carnival for children. A masterful design.

Disney Fantasy via christineknight.me

4. Disney magic is all around
Disney is renowned for making the ordinary magical, and they don’t disappoint on a cruise, either. Little touches like magical pictures that guests can interact with, or a steering wheel set up in front of what looks to be an ordinary painting but turns out to be a pirate ship that you can steer in search of treasure really give the illusion of a bit of pixie dust sprinkled liberally over every element of the ship.

Disney Fantasy via christineknight.me

5. See the world with zero effort
One of the big bonuses to taking a cruise is that you get to wake up at exotic destinations without lifting a finger. Everything is so incredibly easy and manageable, which is what we wanted with a young child. On our cruise, we visited Tortola in the British Virgin Islands, St Thomas in the US Virgin Islands and Disney’s own island, Castaway Cay. We were offered off-ship excursions at additional costs, or you can also just walk straight off the ship and find your own way around.

Disney Fantasy via christineknight.me

6. Incredible entertainment every day and night
Dazzling shows is what Disney does best, and again they bring this to the cruise. Every night there is a new show to see, the highlight on ours being Aladdin. The performers and staging in these shows is just incredible – it’s a standard of quality that you would happily pay to see under ordinary circumstances.

Disney Fantasy via christineknight.me

If you feel like seeing a movie on the cruise, you can head into one of the two movie theatres playing brand new or recent releases (on our ship we had Finding Dory the same day it was released globally in cinemas, Jungle Book and the new Captain America movie), or lie in luxury on the pool deck and watch the “Funnel Vision” movie screen playing Disney classics above the pool on the top deck during the day and night.

Disney Fantasy via christineknight.me

7. Water play all day
The top desk is all about getting wet! Our number one fave water play activity was the AquaDuck slide, an exhilarating “water coaster” that sends guests clinging to rafts speeding around the ship enclosed in a tube. Kids can also enjoy a more sedate Mickey slide, the Nemo Reef splash area for littlies, the shallow Mickey Pool and AquaLabs for older kids. Adults can sit back and relax in adult-only pools, too.

Disney Cruise Planning: Tips & Tricks via christineknight.me

8. Everything is super high quality
This is Disney, after all, where nothing but the best is good enough. Every detail about the ship is flawless, and I’d challenge anyone to find a paint chip or a carpet stain on the entire boat. The rooms, the food, the facilities, absolutely everything is top notch, shiny and brand-new looking.

Disney Cruise Planning: Tips & Tricks via christineknight.me

9. The kids won’t want to leave kids’ club
There are plenty of options for kids to be entertained while adults take some time out to relax. As well as a nursery for babies, there’s the “Oceaneer Lab” and “Oceaneer Club” for kids 3-12, “Edge” for tweens 11-14 and “Vibe” for teenagers 14-17. Cheese was a great age for the Oceaneer Lab/Club and loved going so much she would request to be dropped off when we asked what she’d like to do. In the Oceaneer Lab/Club, as well as various open play areas, kids are also entertained with games and visiting characters such as Lilo and Stich or Tinkerbell.

Disney Cruise Planning: Tips & Tricks via christineknight.me

10. Activities are endless
Let me put it this way, no one will be bored. Every evening, an activity sheet is released for the next day which is jam packed with options for the whole family. Adults can choose from plenty of 18+ options such as bingo, animation and fitness classes, but the majority of activities are family-focussed, such as character appearances, trivia competitions and even baby racing. Yes, you read that right.

Disney Cruise Planning: Tips & Tricks via christineknight.me

11. The food is top notch
Dining aboard a boat was a major concern of mine, which thankfully we didn’t need to worry about at all. There were both plenty of options, as well as lots of fresh, healthy food to choose from. Each morning and lunch we dined at Cabanas, the buffet restaurant on the top deck, blown away with the choice of food such as fruit, made-to-order omelettes, yogurts, cereals, toasts, bagels, Mickey waffles and more for breakfast, followed by salads, more fruit, and hot food options such as vegetables, pasta dishes, pizza and so forth for lunch.

Disney Fantasy via christineknight.me

Dinner each night was served in a rotating restaurant – Animator’s Palate, Enchanted Garden and Royal Court, where we were presented with a three course menu to select what we would like. While there were always vegetarian options made available, if I didn’t particularly fancy that night’s menu, the kitchen staff were more than happy to either send me a dish from another restaurant, or whip me up something specially in the back.

Disney Fantasy via christineknight.me

If we missed our dining rotation or the Cabanas buffet times, there were snack options available on the pool deck most of the day, including burgers, sandwiches, pizza and fruit, plus the 24-hour room service. It was hard exercising off all the food we ate!

12. Free-on demand tv
On a Disney boat, you’d expect a lot of Disney TV, wouldn’t you? In the rooms, Disney TV shows and movies are streamed 24-hours on demand, with a huge variety to appeal to both the kiddies during the day, and adults once the kidlets have gone to bed at night.

Disney Cruise Planning: Tips & Tricks via christineknight.me

13. The Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique
Wittout a doubt my daughter’s favoruite thing abut the ship was her transformation into a princess at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. You can read about our experience here.

Disney Fantasy via christineknight.me
14. Plenty of 18+ only areas

While we loved spending time with our daughter on the Fantasy, we occasionally needed some adult time, so when she was keen to head off to the kids’ clubs we would also happily wander up to the 18+ areas for a drink or just a coffee and would sit happily watching the ocean roll past and chat or read a book without having to listen to other peoples’ children screaming. Bliss!

Disney Fantasy via christineknight.me
15. Everything is seamlessly run

The ship is run with what can only be called Disney efficiency. Everything happens exactly when it is supposed to happen, to the very second, and there are no hiccups, no mishaps, no wrinkles in the perfect Disney holiday experience. A Disney cruise is a slickly run machine.

Disney Fantasy via christineknight.me
16. Countless character interactions

The numerous character interactions were a big plus for our family and our daughter who is at the age where she likes to throw herself with gay abandon at all Disney characters like they’re a long-lost loved one. Luckily the characters are ready for four-year-old missiles and handle all the poking and whacking with swords with good humour.

Disney Fantasy via christineknight.me

I did wonder if, after the first day or so, she’d get bored with seeing the same characters over and over again, but, the geniuses, have outfitted the characters in numerous costumes, so each time we saw them they always looked a bit different (except for Peter Pan, who always looked exactly like Peter Pan in his tights and little green hat). On formal night, for example, the characters appeared in tuxes and sparkling gowns, and needless to say, pirate night was full of eye patches and bandanas.

Disney Cruise Planning: Tips & Tricks via christineknight.meEvery day the times and locations for where the character meet and greets will occur is printed in the “navigator” that is distributed to the rooms each evening with the following day’s activities so you always know where to find your favourite giant plush or princess. Characters often just roam the ship too, so you never know who might start crowing over the balcony (yes, the crowd favourite, Peter Pan, yet again).

Disney Cruise Planning: Tips & Tricks via christineknight.me

The most popular characters have free ticketed events that you can sign up for online before boarding the ship, such as the princess Royal Court, Anna and Elsa from Frozen and the Disney Junior character breakfast.

Disney Cruise Planning: Tips & Tricks via christineknight.me

Compared to Disneyland and Walt Disney World, the characters on the boat spend a lot of time with each guest interacting with them personally, rather than it just being a quick photo op. This does make the wait a bit longer, but the characters and also Disney cast members who are managing the crowds, make the kids each feel so incredibly special that it’s worth it.

Ready to book a Disney cruise? Don’t book before you read my tips and tricks here!

Have you been on a Disney Cruise? I’d love to hear your feedback!

Christine Knight

Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Hotel Review: Howard Johnson Anaheim Hotel and Water Playground

Howard Johnson Anaheim hotel review via christineknight.me

Choosing a hotel when visiting Disneyland is a big decision. To make the most out of an expensive visit to the theme park, I like to stay as close to the park entrance as possible.

My ideal location is somewhere I can wake up as late as possible, get the kid out of bed at the last minute and walk 500 metres or less across the road to the entrance to Disneyland, arriving well before the gates actually open.

The best time to visit Disneyland is first thing in the morning, as soon as the gates open and before the crowds descend, so it makes sense that the best place to stay is as close to the parks as possible and minimise your time travelling to and from the parks.

Howard Johnson Anaheim hotel review via christineknight.me

We decided to stay at the The Howard Johnson Anaheim Hotel and Water Playground on this trip. The hotel is extremely close to Disneyland – it’s actually closer to the park than two of Disney’s own hotels. On the Howard Johnson website it states that the hotel is an eight-minute walk away – I’m a fast walker though and I’m pretty sure I did it in five minutes or under. Fantastic location at a fraction of the cost of staying at a Disney resort.

Howard Johnson Anaheim hotel review via christineknight.me

The Howard Johnson is renowned for their water playground. It’s a huge, pirate-themed water area that includes a 30-foot pirate ship with slides, water cannons, fountains and toddler wading pool, plus a 15-person hot tub and a garden pool.

Howard Johnson Anaheim hotel review via christineknight.me

Having such amazing pool facilities is great for visiting the parks for an extended period. It’s a good idea to leave the parks around midday when it gets busy and hot, return to the hotel for a rest and a swim, then return to the parks before the parades and fireworks – I find that this strategy really makes the stay that much more of a holiday than just a theme park visit.

Howard Johnson Anaheim hotel review via christineknight.me

The rooms at the Howard Johnson are another reason to stay at the hotel. They are huge! Bigger than any other hotel we have ever stayed at now I think about it. We had two bedrooms with a king bed in one and bunk beds plus a fold out sofa in the other, plus two bathrooms. Yes, you could actually fit a family of five grown people in this single hotel room.

Howard Johnson Anaheim hotel review via christineknight.me

There was room for our mountains of luggage we collected along the way, which we had tripped over in every other hotel room. The added space just made us feel that much more relaxed as we had some real space finally to spread out.

Howard Johnson Anaheim hotel review via christineknight.me

The Howard Johnson also features free WiFi, free parking and a free laptop-sized safe. We had a microwave, fridge and tea and coffee making facilities in the room, plus the Main Street Market downstairs next to the hotel lobby where we picked up a basic breakfast every morning as we walked to Disneyland.

Howard Johnson Anaheim hotel review via christineknight.me

One of the problems we always face with visiting Anaheim is finding decent places to eat dinner – there is a lot of fast food, but that’s about it. We were so happy to discover a really nice restaurant a few steps from the hotel, Mimi’s Café Anaheim Restaurant and Bar, that offered affordable breakfast, lunch and dinner, including a decent kids’ menu.

Mimi's Cafe Anaheim via christineknight.me Mimi's Cafe Anaheim via christineknight.me Mimi's Cafe Anaheim via christineknight.me

We highly enjoyed our stay at the Howard Johnson Hotel and Water Playground in Anaheim and will absolutely stay here again when we visit Disneyland.

Howard Johnson Anaheim Hotel and Water Playground
1380 S Harbor Blvd, Anaheim, CA 92802

Christine Knight

Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple, Disneyland

Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple, Disneyland, California via christineknight.me

One of the most unexpectedly fun activities we tried at Disneyland this year was the Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple show. It’s a really clever idea. Kids aged 4-12 can sign up for “Jedi training”. They then take part in a little show that runs 6 times a day, dressed up as Jedis with lightsabers, getting to live out their Star Wars fantasy to battle the forces of evil.

Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple, Disneyland, California via christineknight.me

The show runs six times during the day – when we visited the times were 10:30am, 11:35am, 12:40pm, 2:25pm, 3:30pm and 4:35pm. When registering for the show you can choose the time you want. The staff will ask your child a few questions to make sure they know what they’re in for, and won’t freeze up or freak out on stage.

Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple, Disneyland, California via christineknight.me

After registering we went on our merry way and returned at the time specified – around 30 minutes before show time. The kids had their names marked off and were taken into a group and given their special jedi robes. There were a lot of spots available from kids who didn’t arrive in time for the show, so at least 10 kids off the wait list were accepted into the group.

Once the group was complete, the kids were whisked off for some jedi training while the adults were guided to the nearby Galactic Grill stage, where the show would shortly commence.

Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple, Disneyland, California via christineknight.me

The stage is quite wide and there are a lot of kids in each group, so it’s hard to know where the best spot is to place yourself to see your own child. I chose the front middle and lucky for me, Cheese was placed directly in front of me for the show.

Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple, Disneyland, California via christineknight.me

The show kicks off with the younglings entering in a group, and tells the story of a woman who wants to be a jedi – it’s really a story of her jedi journey with the kids as the supporting cast. She guides the kids through basic jedi training moves, just in time for the entrance of the villains – Darth Vader and a new enemy. The kids face off against the villains one-on-one on stage – surprisingly none of the kids freaked out either at the masked villains or the attention, so I’m guessing they were prepared for what was going to happen backstage.

Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple, Disneyland, California via christineknight.me

The show is 26 minutes long, a perfect length both for the kids involved and the audience watching. It was a lot of fun for families to participate and also to watch. For those involved, it was the highlight of their day.

Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple, Disneyland, California via christineknight.me

Need to know:
Participants must be between 4 and 12 years of age.
All participants must be present at the time of registration.
Register at the kiosk located outside the exit to Star Wars Launch Bay.
Registration begins when Disneyland Park opens for the day–including Extra Magic Hour or Magic Morning.
Availability is limited and offered on a first-come, first-served basis.

Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple, Disneyland, California via christineknight.me Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple, Disneyland, California via christineknight.me

More info on Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple 

Christine Knight

Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!