Accessorizing for Disney


I recently got back from a trip to Walt Disney World, and had the idea for this post after I posted a couple of Instagram “selfies” (the pictures are in this post) and received a few comments and messages as a result. Since we already have a post that answers common questions regarding the dresses and other outfits I wear to Walt Disney World, etc., I’m just covering accessorizing for Disney in this post. It’s also a good post for doing a LeSportsac It’s A Small World bag giveaway, so two birds with one stone!

Disney’s big promotion this year is “Disney Side” and one of the ways people are supposed to show their Disney Side is through the outfits they wear to the Disney Parks. A lot of people like to go all out, dressed head to toe with Disney hats, shirts, pants, painted fingernails, hair bows, bags, and even painted shoes! Some people also like to put together outfits that are all individually non-Disney articles of clothing, but come together as a fashionable ensembles that evoke a certain character. The Disneybound blog and trend are a prime example of this.

My preference is to do something in between. I like putting together regular outfits that are park friendly, but fashionable.  Comfortable footwear is obviously a must, my current go-to choice is the OluKai Ohana sandal. They perfectly combine comfort and cuteness. In the past, I’ve done Mickey Crocs and tennis shoes, but I think both look too clunky with the light summer dresses I normally wear. (more…)

Rock Your Disney Side 24-Hour Party Planning Tips

Dreamy Sunrise Over Cinderella CastleBefore we traveled to Walt Disney World the week between Christmas and New Year's, which is notoriously the busiest week of the year, a lot of people asked us whether we were crazy. Yes, of course we are, but that had nothing to do with our decision to visit during that week. The decision to bear those brutal crowds was made easy for us thanks to the extended operating hours and impressive New Year's Eve fireworks shows. And although we're not fans of large crowds (I'm betting not many of you have

During the Rock Your Disney Side 24-Hour Party, Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, Disneyland & Disney California Adventure will be open for 24 consecutive hours beginning on May 23, 2014 at 6 am until 6 am on May 24, 2014. This is an extension of the “Disney Side” promotion (it’ll likely be promoting Disney’s Malificent, too) and since the Rock Your Disney Side 24-Hour Party falls on the Friday before Memorial Day weekend, it’s the perfect time to take a long weekend trip to Walt Disney World or Disneyland! We participated in the events of “One More Disney Day” (the 24-hour Leap Day event in 2012) and Monstrous Summer (the 24-hour Memorial Day party in 2013) and both were a ton of fun. They were also great, unique opportunities for photography. This is not a hard ticket event, so a normal, single day ticket will entitle you to visit the parks for the full 24-hour party!

Based upon our experiences at the parties, here are some tips for enjoying these special events if you’re going to be Walt Disney World or Disneyland, and also some tips for those of you watching the fun from home! While this planning guide is a great primer, if you want a better idea of what to expect during the 24 hour event, I strongly encourage you to read our trip report from 2012′s “One More Disney Day” 24 hour event. Even if you’re not going, there are some pretty photos from the event! This post was originally written for the first party, and it has been updated for each of the two parties since.

Also, check out our general Disneyland Trip Planning Guide and Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide if you’re not a “regular” at either park for more general planning tips. With that said, here are our Rock Your Disney Side 24-Hour Party tips! (more…)

Tips for Buying Discount Disneyland Tickets

Tips for Saving Money on Disneyland Tickets by Buying from Authorized Third Parties (AAA, Costco, etc.)

Looking to save money on your trip to Disneyland? (Rhetorical question–I doubt anyone wants to spend more money than necessary.) Lucky for you, discount Disneyland tickets can be found through a variety of vendors, including online, at Disneyland Good Neighbor Hotels in Anaheim, AAA, Safeway, Costco, online, and authorized websites. If you live in SoCal (and proof of residence), special offers are sometimes made available to SoCal residents during times when attendance is predicted to be light. So if you’re a local, you might be in luck.

AAA, Safeway, and Costco have small standard discounts of a couple dollars per ticket. From time to time, Costco stores on the West Coast will offer a gift card with purchase (this is never offered online and was last offered in-stores in March 2013–as of April 1, 2014, it is not being offered). If you live on the West Coast and this is available when you’re planning to purchase tickets, it’s by far the best deal. Currently, for the best deals we recommend buying safely and securely from Park Savers, an authorized seller of Disneyland tickets with the best prices that we’ve found (for an authorized seller).

Unfortunately, the discounts available on Disneyland tickets are not all that significant–usually between $2 and $15 per ticket–as compared to amount of money you can save on Walt Disney World tickets. But everything you save adds up, plus you save vacation time when you buy your tickets in advance from a Disney-authorized third party ticket seller!

Where you shouldn’t buy tickets is as important as where you should buy them. While Disneyland authorizes a number of third parties to sell its tickets at slight discounts, there is a huge black market for bootleg and partially used “rental” tickets. You might be familiar with this because Disneyland’s crackdown on these tickets has garnered national media attention. Whatever you do, do not buy Disneyland tickets on eBay, Craigslist, or on the side of the road near Disneyland Resort. Any ticket “rental” is a scam, and you will be throwing your money away. Disney Cast Members will not have any sympathy for you if you’re caught with these “rental” tickets, and you will have to purchase new tickets at the gate, at full price. Not exactly a fun way to start a vacation.

Much like Walt Disney World, Disneyland offers tickets with a “hopper” option (the ability to visit both parks in the same day) and one-day, one-park tickets that don’t allow hopping. Unsurprisingly, non-hopper tickets are cheaper. As of early 2014, 1-day non-hopper tickets are around $92, whereas hopper tickets were over $100.

Here are my thoughts on which tickets you should purchase… (more…)

Tips for Buying Discount Disney World Tickets

Money-saving Tips for Buying Discount Walt Disney World Tickets (from authorized sellers!)

Walt Disney World offers a wide array of tickets. These tickets are expensive, but luckily, if you shop right, you can find good discounts on Disney tickets. When it comes to a Disney vacation, the tickets are likely going to be your second-most expensive expenditure after your hotel room and perhaps airfare. For some people, they might actually be the most costly portion of the trip! Disney raises its ticket prices about once or twice per year with the last increase coming in February 2014, so it’s best to buy your tickets as early as possible, before your trip.

Given their cost, and the myriad of different ticket options, it’s important to know as much as you can about the different types of tickets, and what your family will probably need. The ticket system has its benefits and drawbacks. The biggest drawback is that there are so many options that it can be confusing. Conversely, thanks to all of the options, you can get exactly what you need and not purchase any unnecessary add-ons. Because of this, if you’re willing to do a little homework, all of the confusing options are definitely a good thing. We can help with this, so if you’ve come to figure out how to save money on Walt Disney World tickets, you’ve come to the right place. (If you’ve come looking for info on discount Disneyland tickets, you’ve come to the wrong place–but we do have an article on that, too.)

Of course, buying the right Walt Disney World tickets is just one aspect of planning a trip. To make sure you plan everything perfectly, make sure you read our 10 Step Guide to Planning a Walt Disney World Trip, which covers all of the essentials for planning your Disney trip!

Getting the Cheapest Tickets

To save money on multi-day Walt Disney World tickets, we highly recommend Undercover Tourist, an authorized ticket broker selling CHEAPER tickets than you can buy directly from Disney. Not only are these tickets cheaper, but since Undercover Tourist is authorized, you can make FastPass+ selections with these tickets before you arrive to the park!

Before we got our Annual Passes, we always purchased our tickets from Undercover Tourist. They are a Disney-authorized ticket broker (so no, they’re not the same shady stands you see offering “free Disney tickets!” on your way to Walt Disney World) offering excellent prices and customer service. Their prices are always lower than if you purchased from Disney directly. Disney prices don’t include the Florida 6.5% tax, whereas Undercover Tourist prices do include tax into the final price you pay. Another great benefit about Undercover Tourist is that you can buy your tickets in advance of your trip, and have them shipped to your house for FREE! No hassle with having to wait in line to pick them up at Disney, wasting your valuable vacation time! (more…)

Best Disney’s Hollywood Studios Attractions & Ride Guide

Disney’s Hollywood Studios doesn’t have a ton of attractions, but it has some great ones. This guide to Disney’s Hollywood Studios attractions contains short reviews of our top picks, as well as numerical scores for every attraction. If you’re planning a trip to Walt Disney World, it’s a great place to start when making a rough roadmap for what you want to do during your visit. Everyone’s preferences will vary, so we’ll also provide a brief description of every attraction to give you an idea of whether particular attractions will appeal to your group.

Our list of recommended attractions for Disney’s Hollywood Studios includes headliners and less well-known attractions that people overlook, but that are worth checking out. We don’t recommend skipping any attractions based upon the advice of others if you have the time to experience them all, and if you plan well and maximize your time in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, you should be able to come close to doing it all in a single day. If you go at a slower pace or stop for table service meals, this guide will help give you an idea of which Disney’s Hollywood Studios rides and attractions are must-see for you, and which ones you won’t have time to do.

Unlike our Magic Kingdom Attraction Guide and Epcot Attraction Guide, you’ll notice that this one is fairly top heavy. While this might seem like a good thing, unless you’re a party of only adults, it’s not. These attractions are rated based upon their target demographic (see below) and most of Disney’s Hollywood Studios’ attractions–particularly the rides–are aimed at an older audience. In addition to that, it doesn’t have as many attractions, so by virtue of needing enough attractions to fill a whole day, more needs to be in our “top” list.

Even still, Disney’s Hollywood Studios looks fairly good on paper. When comparing the top of its lineup to other parks, it stacks up surprisingly well. Unfortunately, in addition to the low attraction-count, Disney’s Hollywood Studios is more a collection of attractions than it is a theme park. The other parks have great rides and wonderfully themed environments, whereas Disney’s Hollywood Studios is sort of a hodgepodge once you get past Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards. If the parks are only about attractions to you and you don’t have kids, Disney’s Hollywood Studios might be a great park for you. However, I present this caveat for those of you who care about a sense of place and a balance of attractions…Disney’s Hollywood Studios isn’t nearly as good as it looks on paper. To the contrary, we consider it the weakest Walt Disney World theme park. (In its defense, many people consider Disney’s Hollywood Studios a “half-day park,” which it’s not, either, at least for first time guests. Those who have been several times will probably skip the long stage shows that never seem to be rotated out, which is where that half-day reputation originates.) (more…)

Best Epcot Attractions & Ride Guide

There’s a lot to do in Epcot, but not all of its attractions are equal. If you’re visiting Walt Disney World, you need to know which Epcot rides and attractions are not to be missed, and which you should skip. This guide to Epcot rides contains short reviews and numerical scores for every major attraction in Epcot. Everyone’s preferences vary, and we keep this in mind as we give an idea of the target audience in our synopsis of each attraction.

This Epcot ride guide includes headliners and less-popular attractions that many guests overlook, but that are worth checking out. We recommend experiencing as much as you have time to experience, even if we don’t rate it highly. It is worth noting that Epcot has a deceptively high number of “things to do,” even though it’s actual attraction count is significantly lower than the Magic Kingdom, so it’s quite likely that you’ll experience fewer attractions in Epcot than you expect. A lot of the things to do in Epcot are in the form of World Showcase entertainment. If there are adults in your party, also expect to spend a decent amount of time in World Showcase just absorbed in the atmosphere (perhaps Snacking Around the World or Drinking Around the World, which are common and fun ways to stroll from country to country). World Showcase is often viewed as boring, particularly by kids, but we vehemently disagree with this perspective. It’s just a different, slower paced type of theme park experience.

Regardless, this guide to Epcot’s attractions should give you an idea of which attractions are must-see for you, and which ones you won’t have time to do. Note that this list only covers Epcot. We already have a separate Magic Kingdom Ride Guide. Guides for Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom are coming soon.

Popular attractions are popular for a reason, and most people will hear praise for attractions like Soarin’ and Test Track from a variety of sources. We recommend these attractions (we’d be crazy not to!), but we also point out a number of lesser-known attractions that aren’t too popular. It’s these less-popular attractions that round out a day in the park, and experiencing the “right” ones can make or break your day. Epcot is definitely not about the thrill rides–it’s a park that merges education and entertainment (for “edutainment”), so hopefully you’re game for experiencing some of these “edutainment” attractions…because a lot of them make our list of recommendations! (more…)