Green Monorail Destinations

Green Monorail Destinations

Tips, tricks, and news updates for Disney destinations. Featured Disney products and merchandise as well!

Disney for Adults

Where to Find Good Coffee at Disneyland

There’s only one way to start your magic morning right at Disneyland and that’s with a steaming hot (or ice cold) cup of nature’s best creation: coffee. I know it’s a…

There’s only one way to start your magic morning right at Disneyland and that’s with a steaming hot (or ice cold) cup of nature’s best creation: coffee. I know it’s a little dramatic and downright grouchy to proclaim “don’t talk to me until I’ve had my coffee,” but that sentiment rings true for me and many others. As a native to the Pacific Northwest and having lived in Seattle for the past 6 years, I can fairly say that I’m a coffee snob and a Caffeine Queen. I’ve made it my mission to find the best coffee in Disneyland and share it will all my fellow coffee lovers!

A Little Bit of Caffeinated Disney History: In 2013, Disney knighted Joffrey’s Coffee as the official coffee of Disney Parks and since then, the quality of drip coffee has increased substantially across Disneyland and Disney World. If you’re not in line for Starbucks, you can assume you’re drinking Joffrey’s. I happen to prefer Joffrey’s taste to Starbucks, so you can’t really go wrong!

Starbucks

Let me make me myself clear: Starbucks is never my coffee preference. I will drink it if it’s available, but it’s not my first choice. Like I said before, I live in Seattle where the coffee is good. We may have created Starbucks, but we’ve perfected the art of caffeination since then. However, I still enjoy an Iced Grande Caramel Macchiato every once in a while and I definitely don’t judge you if you love your Starbucks! If you want your Starbucks fix, there are three locations on property, two of which are under pseudonyms to blend into the Disney atmosphere.

  • Market House: Disneyland on Main Street
  • Fiddler Fifer & Practical Cafe: California Adventure on Buena Vista Street
  • Starbucks: Downtown Disney next to World of Disney

Starbucks Iced Coffee on Main Street at Disneyland | Where to Find Good Coffee at Disneyland

Jolly Holiday Bakery Disneyland

A true Disneyland classic. This where you can find light snacks, sandwiches, and the infamous Matterhorn Macaroon. They have a real cappuccino machine so you can order an espresso or a latte if you prefer something more than drip coffee. Also, I recently saw a Pineapple Upside Down Bundt Cake on the menu and I’m so ready for it.

Tray of Matterhorn Macaroon's from Jolly Holiday Bakery | Where to Find Good Coffee at Disneyland

Matterhorn Macaroons from Jolly Holiday

Cappuccino Cart Disneyland

If the line is too long at Starbucks then head over to the small cappuccino cart right next to the castle.  They do freshly-made lattes and mochas and you’ll find unique treats like the once trending Dole Whip Donut here as well.

Dole Whip Donut from the Cappuccino Cart in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle | Where to Find Good Coffee at Disneyland

Hungry Bear Restaurant Disneyland

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Hungry Bear serves cold brew. The coffee itself isn’t too bad, but if they’re serving a “specialty cold brew” made with honey and vanilla syrup, don’t do it! It sounds delicious, but man, it was bitter and bad. It could be that the proportions were off in my batch so I might be willing to give it another shot. Otherwise, just stick with regular coffee here. It’s hardly ever crowded and you get a beautiful view of Tom Sawyer Island with the new railroad track running right by you.

Specialty Cold Brew from Hungry Bear in front of Tom Sawyer Island | Where to Find Good Coffee at Disneyland

Cappucino Cart California Adventure

This cart is nearly identical to the one in Disneyland. There’s always some fancy treats in the display case and the line is usually pretty short. The location is perfect because it’s at the entrance of Pixar Pier. If you need coffee you won’t want to go all the way back to the park entrance to get Starbucks or Schmoozie’s.

Gourmet Cappuccino Cart near Pixar Pier in California Adventure | Where to Find Good Coffee at Disneyland

Schmoozie’s California Adventure

You know what Heaven is? Getting an iced hazelnut latte from Schmoozie’s then heading into Animation Courtyard for a midday cool-down. In my opinion, Schmoozie’s has the best coffee in all of Disneyland. The Cast Members know what they’re doing here. If you want a coffee indulgence, try the Make Mine Mocha, a frozen chocolate espresso with whipped cream and chocolate shavings.

Iced Hazelnut Latte from Schmoozie's at California Adventure | Where to Find Good Coffee at Disneyland

Flo’s V8 Cafe California Adventure

Schmoozie’s may have the best coffee, but Flo’s is the best place to enjoy your coffee at Disneyland. The atmosphere is adorable, the crowds are thin in the morning, you get a great view of Radiator Springs Racers and the food is fantastic. Flo’s serves regular Joffrey’s drip coffee, but for me, it’s not the quality of the coffee that makes it great, it’s the whole experience. Watching the racers zip by while guests leisurely wander the area in the warm Cali morning. *sigh* So lovely.

Coffee and Chicken Tamale Breakfast from Flo's V8 Cafe at California Adventure | Where to Find Good Coffee at Disneyland

Ghirardelli’s Chocolate Shop California Adventure

Pro Tip: Order a scoop of the Espresso Chip and a cup of drip coffee for a DIY affogato. Or, how about a hot fudge sundae and a latte before the 9:00 PM showing of World of Color? Yes, please! The yummiest place for an after dinner pick-me-up!

Ghiradelli's Chocolate Shop Factory Mural | Where to Find Good Coffee at Disneyland

Hearthstone Lounge Grand Californian Hotel

Hearthstone serves coffee all day. In the morning, it’s a full-service coffee bar complete with fresh pastries and hot cocoa. Later, it transforms into a full-service lounge and coffee bar. If you want to take a break from the parks, head into the hotel via the not-so-secret entrance from California Adventure and take a load off at this lounge. Last I visited, I had a very special caffeinated beverage called the Cold Brew XO. Joffrey’s cold brew coffee with a splash of XO Patron coffee liqueur and heavy cream. It was so good.

Cold Brew XO from Hearthstone Lounge at Grand Californian | Where to Find Good Coffee at Disneyland

The Coffee House The Disneyland Hotel 

This little nook is the perfect pit stop if you’re staying at the hotel or exploring the property. I like to enjoy my coffee on the steps of the wedding pavilion located closer to the Paradise Hotel. Picture perfect morning routine! The Coffee House is also the only place where you can find a Dole Whip with a shot of rum at Disneyland. YAS.

The Coffee House Menu at The Disneyland Hotel | Where to Find Good Coffee at Disneyland

La Brea Bakery Downtown Disney

Ever had a Nitro Brew coffee? It’s basically a cold brew on tap so the coffee comes out super smooth. La Brea Bakery serves this yummy drink and also has the option to either sit down or use their quick service line for breakfast on-the-go. It’s my first choice for a quick breakfast on my way into the parks. Freshly baked pastries, sandwiches prepared to order, and fantastic coffee!

 

La Brea Bakery Take Out Bag at Downtown Disney | Where to Find Good Coffee at Disneyland

For all you coffee lovers out there, never fear! Each of the locations I listed has decent coffee whether you’re a lover of Folger’s or a lover of French Pressed. Also, although I feel like I can survive on cold brew alone, it’s better if you hydrate and eat healthy throughout the day. Coffee will perk you up, but healthy snacks will sustain that energy. Be sure to read my guide to Energizing Disneyland Snacks to keep the magic alive throughout the day!

What’s your favorite place to grab a cup o’ joe at the parks?

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13 Places to Get Good Coffee at Disneyland

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Disney’s California Adventure for Adults: The Complete Guide

90’s babies have grown up and the challenge to market to our interests has surfaced for a lot of companies. I don’t want to speak for everyone in my age…

90’s babies have grown up and the challenge to market to our interests has surfaced for a lot of companies. I don’t want to speak for everyone in my age group, but one way to strike a chord with us is to tap into our childhood nostalgia. If we visited as kids, we want to revisit the memories of vacations and if we didn’t, we probably still watched Disney movies. In response to “grown-ups” gaining an interest in the parks, I’ve written a series on what to do at Disneyland as an adult.

This park was a little easier to write about than Disneyland proper. First off, California Adventure is not a “dry park” like Disneyland. Meaning, alcohol is sold in this park and there’s a lot of it. If you don’t like to drink there are plenty of thrill rides and entertainment to peak your interest. Now that Cars Land has been added and the transformation of Paradise Pier to Pixar Pier is complete, this park is becoming a rival to Disneyland.

This article is focused on California Adventure so be sure to check out my previous adult guides to Disney:

Events

Most of the festivals at California Adventure appeal to an older demographic because they tend to be food & beverage-centric. We love posting pictures of beautiful cocktails and dishes on Instagram so why not make it easy for us? It’s basically free advertising for Disney anyway.

Food & Wine Festival: This is the baby version of Epcot’s Food & Wine in Disney World. Instead of featuring snacks and cocktails from around the world, this festival puts a spotlight on California-inspired food and beverages. I paired their version of the “frushi roll” with a wine slushie and all my Disney dreams came true.

Warm Bourbon Cider with a Homemade Marshmallow from Festival of Holidays in Disneyland's California Adventure

Festival of Holidays: This is my favorite festival at the parks. The food and entertainment si inspired by holidays from around the world like Hannukah, Christmas, Diwali, and Kwanzaa. Last year they featured bands like Mostly Kosher (Hannukah tunes), an all-female mariachi band, and an a cappella group that sang both Kwanzaa and Christmas songs. It was a ton of fun and I’m hoping to go back next year!

Pixar Fest (2018): I wouldn’t be surprised if Disney kept some of the elements of Pixar Fest for next year and beyond. The festival featuring Pixar-inspired beverages, food, and entertainment has been a hit. You can check out my full guides to Snacking at Pixar Fest and Entertainment for a full review.

Lunar New Year (2018): This year they rang in the Year of the Dog with food, entertainment, and character meets inspired by the holiday and culture that surrounds it. Obviously, Pluto was the star of the show. I’ll keep everyone updated if they decide to bring this one back next year!

Attractions

Soon California Adventure will feature a land devoted entirely to the Marvel canon. They’ve already transformed Tower of Terror into Guardians of the Galaxy and they’re getting ready to close down Bug’s Land to make way for more action-packed attractions.

Radiator Springs Racers in Car's Land at Disneyland's California Adventure

Attractions with Single Riders: If your travel group doesn’t mind being separated, use the Single Riders Line. This will cut down your wait time considerably.

  • California Adventure: Radiator Springs, Grizzly River Run, Goofy’s Sky School (strange, but true)
  • Disneyland: Matterhorn, Splash Mountain, Indiana Jones, Space Mountain
Thrills

Incredicoaster: The Incredibles hype made it possible for Disney to transform California Screamin’ into an incredible roller coaster. Overall, the ride is the same as it once was with some elements added to fit the Pixar Pier environment. It’s the only large coaster on property with an upside loop.

Guardians of the Galaxy: Listen, I’m a Tower of Terror purist. When I heard they were transforming it into Guardians of the Galaxy, I was not amused. However, the Imagineers did a great job with the re-imagining of this attraction. The technology is fantastic, the ride is smooth, and I’d say it’s more thrilling than Tower of Terror. I approve of this reinvention, but if they change it in Disney World, I will protest.

Guardians of Galaxy Mission Breakout Ride at Disneyland's California Adventure

Radiator Springs Racers: This ride is like Epcot’s Test Track on steroids and an absolute must-do. The architecture and rock work alone is magnificent and the attraction features animatronic cars that look almost lifelike.

Pixar Pal-Around: Formerly called Mickey’s Fun Wheel, now with Pixar themed gondolas. If you seek a bit of thrill, try the swinging cars that rock in and out while you rotate. Even some grown-ups find this Ferris wheel a little too intense.

Chills

Soarin’ Around the World: There are plenty of attractions that will help you wind down after a morning of coasters and high-speed rides. Soarin’ is a spectacular ride for all ages, but adults seem to appreciate the technology. The ride is relaxing and gorgeous.

Animation Courtyard: I appreciate this hidden gem so much I wrote an entire post highlighting why it’s the best attraction at Disneyland (in my honest opinion). With large projection screens featuring clips of Disney movies and sweeping orchestrations, it’s the perfect place to catch your breath before heading back out into the sweltering sun.

Scene from Up Projected in Animation Courtyard at Disneyland's California Adventure

Dining

Carthay Circle Restaurant and Lounge: “Hollywood, 1939. Amid the glitz and the glitter of a bustling, young movie town at the height of its golden age.” This restaurant is inspired by the real Carthay Circle and yes, it’s quite romantic. If you’re looking for a cocktail, the first floor has a lounge that does not require a reservation. Up the stairs is the main dining room which splits off to secluded dining areas and private dining nooks reserved for large groups. This place shares the same Chef from the Grand Californian’s Napa Rose, Andrew Sutton, so you know the food is perfection.

Carthay Circle Restaurant Dining Room at Disneyland's California Adventure

Wine Country Trattoria: The atmosphere is inspired by wine countries in Italy complete with an extensive wine list. I love the outdoor seating, covered in winding vines. I suggest the Spaghetti Aglio Olio. Delish!

Alfresco Tasting Terrace: Before you enter Wine Country Trattoria, take the stairs on your right. The rooftop lounge feels secluded and removed from the park hustle. You will have access to the same wine and appetizer menu from Wine Country plus a great view!

Sonoma Terrace: If you’re not in the mood for a lounge setting, near Wine Country Trattoria is a quick-service bar with outdoor seating. They serve some snacks like cheese plates and Bavarian pretzels along with wine and beer.

Lamplight Lounge (Formerly Cove Bar): As we say goodbye to Cove Bar, we greet Lamplight Lounge with open arms. The re-conceptualized lounge is stunning and features unique cocktails, sushi, and the old Cove Bar favorite: Lobster Nachos. There’s even a secret door that leads to a private dining area. I’d give this place a 5 star rating if they didn’t charge $20 a dish. Yikes!

Lobster Nachos from Cove Bar and Lamplight Lounge at Disneyland's California Adventure

World of Color/Paint the Night Dining or Reception Party: The World of Color package is temporarily unavailable until the show is done with refurbishment. Hopefully, it will be back soon! Much like the Tomorrowland Lounge, for an additional cost, you can indulge in specialty cocktails and snacks then watch the Paint the Night parade from a private viewing area. The dining packages are a great deal if you already plan on eating at either Wine Country Trattoria or Carthay Circle. Great way to beat the crowds and have a unique experience!

Coffee

I feel like I can never write a post without mentioning my one true love, coffee. There are three great places to find coffee at California Adventure I’ve listed below and if you want more ideas for coffee take a look at my full guide to good coffee at Disneyland.

  • Starbucks (Pseudonym: Fiddler, Fifer, and Practical Cafe): Located towards the entrance of the park and shares a building with Clarabelle’s Hand-Scooped Ice Cream (also delicious).
  • Schmoozie’s: Best iced coffee available at California Adventure, in my humble opinion. You can also indulge in one of their frozen blended mochas.
  • Gourmet Coffee Cart: Located at the Pixar Pier entrance. This will have always have a shorter line than Starbucks and they also have some breakfast pastries and other goodies.

Iced Latte in front of Schmoozie's at Disneyland's California Adventure

More Libations

There are a lot more places that serve alcohol in this park, so I made a short-list of every place you can find it. You can do a “Drink Around California” excursion akin to the “Drink Around The World” at Epcot. Best of all, you can get your drinks to-go and carry it around the park. Just like Vegas! Here’s evidence of me carrying around an Island Sunset from the (now deceased) Cove Bar.

Karl Strauss Beer Cart from Pacific Wharf at Disneyland's California Adventure

Pacific Wharf Cafe: Grab an infamous soup in a bread bowl and either a “hazy” unfiltered IPA or a blood orange blonde beer.

Rita’s Baja Blenders: Frozen or on the rocks? These margaritas go well with some tamales from Cocina Cucamonga Mexican Grill.

Mendocino Terrace: I’ll take a cheese plate and sparkling white wine!

Bayside Brews: A Mickey pretzel and beer kiosk. Perf!

Karl Strauss Beer Truck: Need I say more?

Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta: Pizza and beer, or, pizza and sangria. The choice is yours.

Lucky Fortune Cookery: Tofu and the Japanese beer: Sapporo

Paradise Garden Grill: Two kinds of Dos Equis and red sangria!

Smokejumpers Grill: Waffle fries and beers!

Flo’s V8 Café: The 50’s style diner serves wine and beer, but I’d opt for a milkshake here.

Carthay Circle Restaurant Ceiling Mural at Disneyland's California Adventure

Carthay Circle Restaurant

Maybe you think I’ve drunk the Disney Kool-Aid, but I think the parks have a lot to offer to both young and old! Whether you seek thrills, a relaxing day out, or frozen margaritas, you have a ton of options. Make it a honeymoon, a trip with friends, or go rogue and do a solo Disney trip. All you need is a touch of magic,  a shot of tequila and a sprinkling of pixie dust to make the perfect Disney vacation for grown-ups!

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Downtown Disney for Adults: The Complete Guide

Downtown Disney is my favorite place to visit the minute I land in Anaheim. There’s no cost of admission and there are plenty of options for food, drink, shopping. It’s…

Downtown Disney is my favorite place to visit the minute I land in Anaheim. There’s no cost of admission and there are plenty of options for food, drink, shopping. It’s basically a big party and bustling with street performers. It’s the perfect way to get you excited about your vacation. If you have some time before checking into your hotel room drop your bags off at the front desk and visit for dinner and drinks! Even though it’s not quite as expansive as Disney Springs in Florida, Downtown Disney has a lot to offer. It is also designed with an older demographic in mind.

This is only one part of my Disneyland for Adults Series. Be sure to check out the rest of the guide here:

Entertainment

Splitsville: This is a brand-new bowling alley restaurant and lounge recently replaced House of Blues this year. The retro concept is gorgeous and it’s open until midnight for all you night owls. With crazy cocktails and bar food, this is a great place for a night out with friends or a friendly date night! And don’t worry, House of Blues just moved down the street if you miss the old concert and restaurant venue.

Splitsville Bowling Alley in Downtown Disney - A Guide to Disneyland for Adults

Star Wars Hyper-Reality Experience: This experience is for Star Wars fanatics over the age of 10. This is a “fully immersive” experience where you’re sent on a mission for the rebellion. You get to see, touch, and interact with the Star Wars environment along the way. Your travel group can go as a unit or join another party if you’re traveling solo is sent undercover on a mission for the rebellion.  You can find tickets for the experience here.

A Capella Groups and Street Performers: Every few steps you’ll run into either a singing group, a band, and entertainers. The performers heighten the energy which gives Downtown Disney a party atmosphere.

A Cappella Group Singing at Downtown Disney - Nightlife at Disneyland

Shopping

The Disney Dress Shop: They added this new shop to Disney World and Disneyland and I’m absolutely in love. Finally, an adult version of Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique! (Without all the Fairy Godmother’s, of course.) The dresses, mostly designed by Her Universe, are inspired by the retro/Dapper Day aesthetic with a Disney twist. Some of the dresses and accessories are sold throughout the parks as well. If you like vintage, you’ll love this.

Orange Bird Purse from the Disney Dress Shop at Downtown Disney in Disneyland

WonderGround Gallery: Gorgeous Disney-inspired art pieces like custom Vinylmations, giclées, mugs, and more. Also, if you fall in love with a giant painting, Disney can ship it to your home so you don’t have to worry about bringing it on a plane.

Sephora: There’s nothing too different about this Sephora, except perhaps, that it’s placed on Disney property. So it’s somehow more magical, eh?

Disney Home: More Mickey mugs for me! This store has taken all of the Disney themed home goods from around the parks and placed them in one centralized store. The products change throughout the year to fit the seasons.

Disneyland Home Good Store at Downtown Disney

Pandora Jewelry: If you’re a charm junkie you can get all the Disney park-exclusive charms here. I was never too big on charms, but it’s the coolest idea if you’re looking for something to collect every time you visit the parks. Even though they’re spendy, it’s good quality jewelry.

Coffee

The most important meal of the day! I’m gutted that my favorite place to get coffee, Haagen-Dazs, is now closed but I’m delighted that they’re replacing it with Salt & Straw. The next place I suggest is either the Starbucks next to World of Disney or La Brea Bakery where you can pick up fresh pastries and breakfast sandwiches! For great coffee choices in the rest of the parks check out my full guide to good coffee at Disneyland!

Sandwich, Salad, and Iced Coffee from La Brea Bakery in Downtown Disney at Disneyland

Dining

Salt & Straw: Opening late 2018! This specialty ice cream shop started near my hometown in Portland, Oregon and will surely be a great late-night treat after a day at the parks! I have a feeling that Disney acquired Salt & Straw because Universal opened Voodoo Doughnuts, another Portland favorite albeit less family-friendly, at both of their locations.

Ballast Point: Opening late 2018! Disneyland is opening their first brewery and outdoor beer garden. This brewery is popular among Californians and based out of San Diego. The menu will also be inspired by SoCal cuisine.

Black Tap Burgers & Beer: Opening late 2018! This is a great option if you’re traveling with a mixed group of drinkers and non-drinkers. Black Tap is another local chain that will add to the new Downtown Disney vibe. The diner themed restaurant will have tons of burgers, including a vegan option, and their signature “CrazyShakes” topped with piles of cotton candy and candies.

Uva Bar: This is my favorite place in Downtown Disney. It’s an outdoor bar located right in the middle of the walkway, between Catal and Build-A-Bear. It’s a great place to take in the atmosphere, listen to the street musicians, and people watch. However, if you’re looking for a quiet dinner, this might not be a great choice.

Bustling Uva Bar at Catal Restaurant in Downtown Disney - Nightlife at Disneyland

Catal Restaurant: With menu items like assorted paellas and filet mignon, Catal is slightly more upscale than Tortilla Joe’s. Outdoor seating at Catal is located on the 2nd floor and a prime spot for taking in the sights and sounds of Downtown Disney. Some say they’ve caught the Disneyland fireworks from upstairs.

Naples: Due to lukewarm reviews, Naples is getting a lot of renovations. Reopening Fall 2018, Naples will have a new outside bar and patio and also 3 new wood-burning pizza ovens. This means that the food is also getting an upgrade. I can’t wait to have a glass of wine and gorge myself on a freshly made pizza under the Southern California stars.

Naples Ristorante e Pizzeria at Downtown Disney - The Complete Guide to Downtown Disney for Adults

Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen: This is an optimal venue for a date night. There is nightly jazz and gumbo, all set under an open-air atrium design. If you’re in a hurry, they have an express window that serves yummy cajun fried goods and their popular beignets.

Tortilla Joe’s: For a lively night out this place is an old standby. Fresh guacamole is made tableside and there’s a dedicated tequila bar where you can get margaritas made frozen or on the rocks. On Saturdays, an all-female mariachi band wanders the restaurant. Loads of fun!

Coming in the next few years, Downtown Disney will have a brand new hotel in place of Rainforest Cafe and ESPN Zone (both have already closed down). Once the hotel opens, this area will hardly be recognizable and I honestly can’t wait. They’re slowly transforming it to what Disney Springs has become in Disney World: a shopping and food mecca for young adults. I can’t wait to watch this place transform over the years!

What’s your favorite adult-friendly thing to do at Disney? Comment below!

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10 Disneyland Hotel Activities for Adults

Long gone is the assumption that Disneyland is just for kids. You know who has to bring those kids into the parks? Parents! And it’s not just for parents either….

Long gone is the assumption that Disneyland is just for kids. You know who has to bring those kids into the parks? Parents! And it’s not just for parents either. Disney is for young honeymooners, groups of friends visiting SoCal, retired folks coming back for their annual visit, or solo travelers looking for an escape from reality. As someone who doesn’t have children and often travels alone, I’ve found tons of things to do in the parks that keep me coming back. So, I compiled a series of posts about what to do as a grown-up at Disneyland.

Now, I’m finally getting to my favorite part of the series! Disneyland Resort Hotels. Disneyland has three official hotels with a fourth hotel coming in 2021. All three are a little bit pricey, but even if a Disneyland Hotel is outside of your budget, there are a ton of activities, food, and drink to be explored at the resorts. Most of them completely suitable, if not made for, adults.

Check out our other three Guides to Disneyland for Adults here!

Paradise Pier

Paradise Pier is severely lacking in dining and entertainment and really doesn’t hold a bar to Grand Californian or The Disneyland Hotel. If you’re looking to stay at a Disney hotel, I would say due to the high prices, you’ll get a lower value compared to the other two. There other nearby hotels like Four Points Sheraton that would be a better choice. I will also say that it still has the Disney touch and it’s close to Downtown Disney, so it’s not a bad choice, just not the best one. There are two

Paradise Pier Hotel Entrance with Palm Trees - Disneyland Resort Activities

1) View the Fireworks from the Rooftop Pool: The firework viewing is the best thing about this resort. In true Disney fashion, they also pipe in the soundtrack while you watch. Arrive about 20-30 minutes early if you want a seat and there is plenty of standing room if you come late. This is technically for resort guests only, but I somehow found myself on the rooftop one night and I wasn’t turned away. I don’t know if everyone will be that lucky, however, so visit at your own risk!

2) Surfside Lounge: If you’re looking to a Disney bar crawl and hit up every lounge in the area, this will be the place to start off. However, if you’re looking for a good Disney cocktail, I suggest heading across the street to another resort or Downtown Disney.

Disneyland Hotel

Walt’s flagship hotel has fantastic park views and located just steps away from the monorail. The hotel is defiantly Disney in a way that’s neither cheesy or oversaturated. The rooms are filled with “magical” elements like the light-up headboards and Hidden Mickeys. If you’re a grown-up Disney fan you’ll love the theming and the historical elements scattered throughout the hotel. Last I visited, they were having a special showing of Disneyland’s opening day documentary in one of their conference rooms. It was extremely nerdy and awesome.

3D Map of Disneyland's Frontierland at The Disneyland Hotel

Disneyland Frontierland 3D Map

3) Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar: You’ll find the best mixed drinks at Trader Sam’s. On the patio, you’re treated to a live band and tiki torches. The indoor bar is very tiny so you will most likely have to wait in a line to be admitted. Even then, you’re not guaranteed a seat and you might have to cozy up to the bar. Once you’ve made it inside, you’re transported to an immersive tropical hideaway with really great food. Try the Chinese Long Beans or just get the sampler Pu Pu Platter. Also, I don’t want to give away too much, but if you order a Krakatoa Punch, you’re in for a surprise!

Trader Sam's Enchanted Tiki Bar and Lounge Entrance and Sign - Activities for Adults at Disneyland

4) Rum Dole Whip – The Coffee House: This the one place on property that serves the classic Dole Whip with a shot of rum. Extremely dangerous! They also have coffee (duh) and specialty pastries and treats throughout the day.

5) Fancy Dining – Steakhouse 55: What’s more adult than a fancy steakhouse? The specialty is the 24 layer chocolate cake (YAS). If you want to be extra fancy, try the Afternoon Tea where you can indulge in a spread of scones and tea sandwiches. I have a preference to Napa Rose for fancy feasts, but I know plenty of others who enjoy this place.

6) Explore the Wedding Pavillions: Spread out among the finely tamed lawn are small wedding gazebos, usually abandoned, and ready for you take some Instagram pics in a picturesque setting. Sure, they may not be as grandiose as Grand Floridian’s wedding pavilions, but they’re still pretty cute. I’ve had the opportunity to run into a couple wedding ceremonies. I creepily watched from the bushes while the bride and groom made their happily ever after come true!

The Grand Californian

Napa Rose Restaurant Outside Patio and Fire Pits - Disneyland Hotel Activities for Adults

Napa Rose Terrace at Grand Californian

The most adult-centric resort is the Grand Californian and if you have the budget, this place is worth every penny. There’s poolside service, a gorgeous lobby to rest your feet, and a private entrance to California Adventure. If it’s not in your budget, you can still enjoy some of the things the resort has to offer.

7) Napa Rose: This is my favorite restaurant in Disneyland and the best place you can go for a quiet evening out. Everything is delicious and the service is excellent. On a slow night, I took my champagne to the firepits on the outside terrace. Right on the other side winding grape vines is California Adventure and you can hear the ambient music and chatter from the parks. Pure Disney bliss. If you don’t want to splurge on a full meal visit the lounge for cocktails and appetizers. I can’t suggest a single meal because the menu changes often and also because everything I’ve tried is so darn good.

Napa Rose Lounge and Restaurant at the Grand Californian - Disneyland Activities for Adults

8) Get Up and Go Power Walk: This is probably the coolest thing I’ve ever done at Disneyland. If you happen to stay at any of the resorts you have the ability to see the parks before anyone else that day. I mean, you still have to work for it, but it’s still pretty cool.  Every morning, a Cast Member leads a group of hotel guests through the special entrance of California Adventure and on a guided power walk. The Cast Member who lead my group worked in the corporate office and told us fun facts and stories about his life at Disney. I promise you it’s not that difficult of a workout either. As long as you can keep up with a quickened step for about 20 minutes, you should be good. I am definitely not an athletic person and I did just fine. To sign up, visit the Concierge at your hotel when you arrive and they’ll let you know if they have open spots.

9) Hearthstone Lounge: In the morning, grab a coffee or pastry and in the afternoon, grab a drink! The lounge is located inside of the lobby with decor that matches the rest of the resort. It’s a great place to escape to when you’re about halfway through your day and in need of a good, solid cocktail. Best cocktails to try: Pina CoLava or the Bourbon Flight!

Rum Swizzle Cocktail at Hearthstone Lounge at The Grand Californian - Disneyland Activities for Adults

10) Mandara Spa: On my last two visits I booked a massage at Mandara and I’m officially hooked on this spa. Get a massage with your partner or a pedi with your best friend then relax in their steam room and sauna. It’s a great way to experience the luxury of the Grand Californian without completely emptying your bank account. Also, be sure to check out Groupon before booking here! I’ve found a few discounted packages in the past.

Mandara Spa Sign at the Grand Californian Hotel -Disneyland Hotel Activities for Adults

Whether you’re drinking at a resort or taking in a spa day, there are plenty of things to do at any of the hotels. And most of them don’t require the price of admission or even a one-night stay! Take the day off and do some shopping at Downtown Disney, grab some lunch at Napa Rose, take a walk around The Disneyland Hotel, and cap off your night at Trader Sam’s! Also, if you’re traveling with kids they can join you for most of these endeavors, so there’s no need to find a babysitter on date night. 😉

Pin it for later!You don't have to splurge on a stay at The Grand Californian to enjoy the tasty cocktails or full-service spa. All three Disneyland hotels have a ton to offer couples, friends, and even solo adventurers!
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Disneyland for Adults: The Complete Guide

Walt’s inspiration for Disneyland sparked when he was sitting on a bench watching his kids ride a carousel. He decided at that moment that his calling was to create a…

Walt’s inspiration for Disneyland sparked when he was sitting on a bench watching his kids ride a carousel. He decided at that moment that his calling was to create a park that everyone could enjoy, both kids and adults, together. Over the years, this idea has adapted with the times. We’re seeing more adults enjoying Disneyland, whether they have children or not. In doing so, Disney has responded by adding food and entertainment to keep the attendance high and their new and modern audience engaged. As a frequent guest, I can attest there are plenty of things to do at Disneyland as an adult with or without kids! I’ve highlighted food, events, trends, and entertainment that makes Disneyland great for couples, groups of friends, or solo trips.

I intended to write one post including an Ultimate Guide to Disneyland as an Adult, but it was enormous, so I’ve broken it up into four parts. Be sure to check out the other three!

Haunted Mansion Side View of Entrance at Disneyland

Attractions

Single Riders Lines: First and foremost! You can turn a 90 minute standby line into a 20 minute wait using the single rider queue. If your group doesn’t mind being separated that is. Occasionally, you’ll get lucky and board together or at least in the same car.

Rides with a Single Riders Line:

  • Matterhorn
  • Splash Mountain
  • Indiana Jones
  • Space Mountain
  • California Adventure: Radiator Springs, Grizzly River Run, Goofy’s Sky School (strange, but true)

Thrills

The Mountain Rides – Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, Splash Mountain, and Matterhorn: The Mountain Rides are the best thrills Disneyland has to offer. Space Mountain tends to be the most popular with the longest wait. Unless it’s the middle of summer then Splash Mountain will also be crowded. Pro Tip: If you can, try to time your ride on the Matterhorn during the fireworks. You get a view of the castle and fireworks up close and it’s a pretty cool experience. I’ve somehow managed to do this twice.

Matterhorn Mountain and Finding Nemo's Submarine Voyage Lagoon

Indiana Jones Adventure: The perfect ride for 80’s/90’s babies. It has a bit of a thrill factor and throwback to some of our favorite Harrison Ford moments. The vehicle throws you around quite a bit so if you have any chronic back pain or motion sickness, I might avoid it.

Star Tours-The Adventure Continues: Disney has been updating this ride since the new movies came out and it now features some of our favorite new lands and characters. This attraction will satisfy your Star Wars needs until the new Star Wars land, Galaxy’s Edge, opens in 2019.

Haunted Mansion: This one is somewhere between thrill and chill. It has the “spooky” factor, but it’s no Hollywood Horror Nights at Universal. It’s still an all-time favorite for most. The technology was very innovative at the time it was built and proves to be impressive today. I’m also a big fan of the Nightmare Before Christmas overlay that happens every Christmas.

Chills

About halfway through the day, I start to feel overwhelmed with crowds and heat so I seek out calming dark rides, the railroad, and log ride attractions. You gotta pace yourself a bit if you want to last until closing!

Tom Sawyer Island: This is easily one of the most beautiful and underrated areas in Disneyland. The island is hardly ever crowded and features activities or hideaways that you can explore. I like it because it’s a great place to relax. Buy a chimichanga at a nearby food cart and venture to the island for a quiet picnic!

Tom Sawyer Island and Pirate Lair surrounded by the Rivers of America at Disneyland

Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln: This attraction was Walt’s pride and joy. Abraham Lincoln was one of the first Audio-Animatronics and I can only imagine the reaction it got the first time guests saw a robot stand up by itself. This show is filled with so much American and Disney history you could just burst.

The Enchanted Tiki Room: If you’re already standing in line for a Dole Whip, you might as well stick around for the Tiki Room. Another classic that has been open since day one at Disneyland. The air conditioning is welcoming and there’s never a long wait to see the show.

Coffee

The most important meal of the day! Many of us, whether we have kids or not, depend on coffee to make our day a little more magical. If you’re looking for an excellent cup of joe in the parks check out my guide to good coffee at Disneyland.

Dining

Disneyland may never accept alcohol into this park because every time they mention the concept, people lose their minds. This is due to the idea that Disney once intended Disneyland to be a “dry park.” That was a long time ago and they certainly allow alcohol at Club 33, so we may see a change in the future. Never fear! You can still walk 50 yards across the Esplanade and grab a cocktail at California Adventure if you so desire.

Insta-Snacks: It seems like every week Disney is cooking up another trendy dish for people to snatch up and post on Instagram. Many will scoff at those who #doitforthegram but I say bring it on! I love looking at pictures of food, especially when it’s Mickey shaped. Lately, the hype has been the Dole Whip donut and Disney World’s Millenial Pink Champagne and both are limited-time treats (I believe the donut is no longer available). Keep your eyes peeled for Insta-worthy snacks around Disneyland. The most common place to find beautiful treats are Jolly Holiday Bakery and the cappuccino cart.

The Dole Whip Donut - Disneyland for Adults: The Complete Guide #vacation

Blue Bayou: The coolest thing about this restaurant is that it’s located inside Pirates of the Caribbean. The “nighttime” environment is dark, moody, and incredibly romantic. However, much like Rainforest Cafe, you’re paying for the atmosphere, not the food. Unless, of course, you’re talking about the Monte Cristo. It’s the only thing worth shelling a pretty penny for.

Cafe Orleans: What this place lacks in atmosphere, it gains in food quality. The menu is absolutely incredible and catered to an adult appetite. They serve the same famous Monte Cristo as the Blue Bayou and also the infamous Mickey beignets. If you can’t get a reservation at Blue Bayou, try this one! (I like their entrees better here anyway!)

Stack of Mickey Shaped Beignets with Powdered Sugar at Carnation Cafe in Disneyland

Mickey Beignet | Cafe Orleans

Carnation Cafe: This restaurant has been around since the park’s opening in 1955. It’s lead by Chef Oscar Martinez, the longest-tenured Cast Member who just celebrated 60 years with Disneyland. If you’re a Disney nut like me, you’ll love the sentimental values of this restaurant. If you’re a foodie (also like me) you’ll love the food here. They serve comfort foods like fried pickles, baked potato soup, and Walt’s favorite meatloaf.

Fantasmic! Dining Package: If you plan on having dinner at either Blue Bayou, River Belle Terrace, or Cafe Orleans, you might as well book it with the Fantasmic! Dining Package. The package includes a 3-course meal and a reserved spot in the preferred viewing area. Unless you want to camp out for an hour, it’s difficult to find a clear viewing spot for the show so the dining package is the way to go.

Blue and Green Pirates of the Caribbean Ship at Disneyland's Fantasmic Night Show

Fantasmic! Pirates of the Caribbean Ship

Tomorrowland Skyline Lounge Experience: For an extra price, you can indulge in some Disney snacks and watch the fireworks from a private viewing area in Tomorrowland. The reservation allows you to come and go as you please, from 8:00-10:00 at night. Great option for a group of friends!

Events & Entertainment

Disneyland After Dark: This year Disneyland launched a special-ticket event series where they keep the park open late to host a themed night-out. The first theme was Throwback Nite where guests were encouraged to wear their Dapper Day best and the second was Star Wars Nite. Each event hosts themed entertainment and photo ops. You can check out the official website here for any updates regarding upcoming events.

Late-Night Shopping: The shops on Main Street usually remain open after close for about an hour, so don’t rush out after the fireworks! It’s the perfect time to peruse the stores and collect your souvenirs. It’s also the best time to get your castle pictures since the crowds will have died down.

VIP Tours: This is a fantastic idea for big Disney fans or frequent visitors who are looking for something unique to do. The most popular tour is Walk In Walt’s Foot Steps, which takes you on a guided tour through the history of Disneyland. I hope to someday take The Grand Circle Tour which explores Walt’s love for trains and also where you’ll get to ride in the special parlor train aboard the Lily Belle.

Golden Horseshoe Review: If you’re looking for a fun date night this campy dinner show might be a good option. If your party is full of introverts you might want to try Blue Bayou though! The show involves a little bit of audience interaction, so don’t be surprised if they call you out!

Photo Shoot: I’m a big fan of perusing Disney Instagram’s before dozing off. Now that everyone has semi-pro phone cameras, a lot of Disney fans have gotten creative with their photography. There are dedicated walls and popular spots to take selfies and portraits around the parks and it’s a fun way to pass the time. For inspiration, Disney Style explored some fantastic places to take your Disneyland photos.

My generation was born in the height of Disney’s second golden era with classics like Beauty & the Beast, Toy Story, Lion King, and so on. It makes our heart melt when we hear the sweeping orchestration I Can Go the Distance or watch Ariel and Prince Eric dance together in Fantasmic. More grown-ups are visiting without children and those with children are enjoying the parks more than ever. Disney seems to have taken advantage of this and as time progresses, so will the parks. I’m interested to see what they will add to spark the interest of future generations!

Also, if you’re looking for tips for visiting Disney World in Florida as an adult, head over to Lissy Through the Looking Glass for Disney for Adults -7 Things to Try if Thrill Rides Aren’t Your Thing.

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Disneyland for Adults: The Complete Guide

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Best and Worst Disney World Value Resorts

“How do I save money on my vacation?” is unsurprisingly one of the most frequently asked questions when planning a Disney trip. Park tickets are expensive, quick service meals cost…

“How do I save money on my vacation?” is unsurprisingly one of the most frequently asked questions when planning a Disney trip. Park tickets are expensive, quick service meals cost too much, and you’re probably gonna want a pair of Mickey Ears to feel like you’re doing it right. One small way to save money is to eat outside of the parks and pack your lunches. But honestly, due to lines, parades, and FastPass reservations, you usually don’t have enough time to pop in and out for a cheap meal.

So, if you’re budget-minded, what’s the easiest way to spend less money? Choose a value level resort. Choosing a resort in this category (the lowest price with fewer amenities) can decrease the cost immensely and take a little stress off the idea of going on vacation. There have been plenty of blogs that outline money saving tips and tricks. This is one of the easiest ways to do so. Which brings me to another frequently asked question: “Where should I stay?” Here’s a ranking of all the Disney World Value Resorts to help you decide.

Something To Remember: Value resorts are more often booked by large families with kids in an effort to save money and for a kid-friendly atmosphere. Just making this clear so you don’t expect a tranquil getaway. It is, after all, a Disney vacation.

But first, if you’re not sure what I mean when I say “on and off property…”

On Property vs. Off Property: Each on property resort (owned by Disney) features multiple pools, shuttles to the parks, free transportation to/from the airport, 1 quick service restaurant, use of the Magic Band system and the Disney touch. The off property resorts (not officially owned by Disney) are a little cheaper, have a few more food options, free shuttles to the parks, and offer a break from the magic if you’d rather not fully immerse yourself in the Disney experience.

World Showcase Panorama at Disney World's Epcot at Sunset

World Showcase at Sunset

Ranked Value Resorts

Best Western Lake Buena Vista (Off Property “Good Neighbor” Hotel): Most of us have an idea of what a Best Western is like. You can trust that this hotel will be clean and have decent service. The rooms and overall “décor” of the hotel are outdated and remind of the 90’s and not in a nostalgic way. But, it’s still a decent place to stay because it’s a step above some other Best Western’s. This one has an onsite restaurant and lounge along with a quick service pot and a Pizza Hut Express. The pool is decent and provides free shuttles to the parks. I don’t think it’s a bad choice, just not the greatest.

Wyndham Garden Lake (Off Property “Good Neighbor” Hotel): The only reason I’m putting this one after the All-Stars is purely nostalgic reasons. I love staying on property because it reminds me of my childhood family trips. But, I’ve sent quite a few of my clients to this hotel because I think it’s quite nice for the cost and people love it. The official Disney Value Resorts don’t have a poolside bar and grill, but this one sure does! The rooms seem to be updated recently, they have a 24-hour café, and a Lakeview Restaurant that features character dining on Tuesday, Thursdays, and Saturdays. What more could you possibly want?

Place Pizza Box Here Trash Can at Disney World's All Star Music Resort

Disney World’s All Star Movie Resort

Good news! They are renovating the All-Star Resort rooms as well! The insides are looking much better than what they used to be and the design is very similar to Pop Century’s upgrade. Note: The All-Star Resorts sometimes share buses during the day, but have their own bus in the morning and evening.

All-Star Sports (On Property): I rank this one last out of the All-Stars because it’s the least “Disney” of all the Disney Resorts. There are a few character statues throughout, but it doesn’t quite capture the magic. But, I do know plenty of people who like the sports atmosphere and stay here every visit. They have a large open “football field” to play on and I’m a big fan of the Mighty Ducks pool. Other than that, staying at Sports really isn’t my cup of Gatorade, so I’m putting it last. The biggest perk to this resort is that it’s the first stop on the bus line during the day.

All-Star Music (On Property): This resort is rumored to be slightly quieter than the other two, but I honestly can’t tell the difference. I prefer rooms in the Calypso building because you’re near my favorite pool featuring The Three Caballeros fountain. The Calypso rooms do cost a bit more because they’re also near the food court and bus stop, FYI.

All Star Movies (On Property): Movies is my go-to cheap Disney stay. I love the larger than life Toy Story statues and I always stay in the Herbie the Love Bug building. Mostly because it’s towards the back of the property and a little calmer, but also because Herbie himself sits back there.  P.S. If you haven’t heard, you can ask for the “secret menu” at their quick service spot. The Cast Member will pull out a briefcase equipped with a couple of old View-Masters inside. The pictures you’ll see inside the View-Master are of the secret menu items available. A fun thing to do with kids!

Pop Century (On Property): What’s the best inexpensive Disney Value Resort? 9 times out of 10 a Disney veteran will answer with “Pop Century.” It’s a newer value resort and most of the rooms have been recently renovated. You also have the added plus of having your own bus line rather than sharing a line at the All-Star Resorts. My favorite feature is that the “Generation Gap Bridge,” which had the original intent of connecting the current themed buildings (decades ranging from the 50’s to the 90’s), to future generation buildings (2000’s and beyond) on the other side. Instead, they decided to build Art of Animation in that place and kept the bridge up. Meaning, you can pop over to Art of Animation if you’re staying at Pop Century any time you want.

You’re Probably Wondering Why I Didn’t Mention Art of Animation

Although Art of Animation is considered a value resort the prices do not reflect the same idea. The Little Mermaid Room, which is a standard non-suite, usually starts at about 150/night. Compare this to an All-Star that can sometimes go down to about $80/night. The family suite can be worth it if you have a larger family though. The suites accommodate 6 people so that means you won’t have to purchase two rooms. If you love the atmosphere of this resort, but can’t afford a room, then stop by for a visit!

Spaceship Earth at Night at Disney World's Epcot

Just because they’re easier on your wallet, doesn’t mean value resorts aren’t enjoyable places to stay. The amenities are generally good, onsite restaurants available, pools are nice, and the service is great. Besides, you’ll most likely be spending most of your vacation in the parks and only use your hotel to collapse after a long day.

If you’re looking for more ways to save money on vacation, feel free to contact me. As a Disney Travel Planner, I can help navigate current Disney World discounts and promos throughout the season.

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Best and Worst Disney World Value Resorts

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Adorable Junk Food Clothing Line at Target is Perfect for a Disney Vacation

Despite being reported on various fashion blogs, I didn’t find out about Junk Food’s new Disney line at Target until I wandered into one this afternoon. The clothes are way too…

Despite being reported on various fashion blogs, I didn’t find out about Junk Food’s new Disney line at Target until I wandered into one this afternoon. The clothes are way too adorable and perfect purchases to gear up for a summer vacation! Comfy vintage-inspired Disney wear is perfect for my age group. A generation infatuated by the nostalgic early years (even if we weren’t born yet) mashed up with our childhood memories of snuggling up with a Disney VHS. This particular line is perfect for a Disney vacation. Obviously due to it’s theming, but also because the clothes are lightweight and comfortable. Two extremely important factors when dressing for a day in the parks. I wanted to go all out and get the Mickey shoes, but I held myself back and budgeted for a couple new shirts and the absolutely precious Mickey capris. The best thing about these new products is that everything is fairly cheap and good quality, typical for Target items. If you love this stuff as much as I do, I’ve placed links to the products throughout the post!

The first outfit features the Mickey Mouse blush shirt. You can’t see it here, but it has a retro-esque rainbow on the back. It reminds me of the 80’s rainbow outfits Mickey and Minnie used to wear at Epcot. The sunglasses, sun hat, and sandals are all from Target too. Can you tell where all my money goes? Target has a wide variety of the rose gold glasses, complementary to the infamous rose gold Minnie ears as well!

Pink Mickey Mouse Shirt by Junk Food and Denim Capris Pants with a pink sun hat and sunglasses from Target on a deck

Shop This Look

Mickey Mouse Chambray Tie-Front Pants

Mickey Mouse Rainbow Blush Shirt

Rose Gold Cateye Sunglasses

Lavinia Toe Wrap Sandals 

Mickey Mouse Embroidered Straw Hat (Not pictured, but adorable)

The next purchase I made was the understated “Follow the Sun” tank that ties in the front and the Mickey bobby pins that you can just barely see in the photo. Both purchases are great for the “everyday outfit” when you don’t want to shout from the rooftops that you are a Disney fanatic.

Follow the Sun Mickey Shirt with Denim Pants and Rose Gold Sunglasses by Junk Food Clothing Line from Target

Shop This Look

Follow the Sun Tie-Front Tank

Mickey Mouse Bobby Pins: Available in store, not on Target.com

Silver Minnie Mouse Ears: Shop Disney

Ukele Not Included 😉

The “Love Mickey” line also features dishware, camping gear, pet gear, and bathroom products. There were even some cosmetics branded with the Disney name, although, those were less impressive. Most of this stuff costs as low as $5 and it’s way too cute! My favorite is the Steamboat Willie inner tube. Although, judging from the dimensions, it looks kinda small.

Maybe it’s because I started binging Mad Men on Netflix this week, but I’ve become obsessed with the dapper aesthetic. The high-rise canvas capris with the waist tie belt are lightweight, perfect for the beginning of summer. Also, I’m not a natural in front of the camera, but it made me so happy to put on my Mickey pants and sit in the sun today, I had to take a pic. Being in the Pacific Northwest, it’s no surprise that when the sun decides to show itself, I get a little excited. Let me know in the comments if you pick up any of these cute finds!

 Adorable outfits from Target for your next Disney trip! #disney #summer #vacation

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Summer Vacay! Adorable outfits from Target for your next Disney trip! #disney #summer #vacation

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Entertainment and Merchandise Guide to Disneyland’s Pixar Fest

I’m not a big fan of overlays or the over-saturation of seasonal festivals. I give exception to the holiday overlays like it’s a small world and Haunted Mansion, or Epcot’s…

I’m not a big fan of overlays or the over-saturation of seasonal festivals. I give exception to the holiday overlays like it’s a small world and Haunted Mansion, or Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival,  but other than that I think they’re kinda cheap and lazy. I probably wouldn’t feel this strongly if Disney didn’t raise the ticket prices every year and CEO Bob Iger didn’t have the potential to earn 423 million dollars in bonuses while his employees go hungry. End rant.

But I digress, because here’s the thing, despite all the politics that Disney has been haphazardly battling, I absolutely fell in love with Pixar Fest last week. How do you keep pulling us in, Disney? How do you continually win us over with your spirit and tenderness and make us spend thousands on park tickets and food? Obviously, I was skeptical going in because I expected it to be a couple of banners and regurgitated old parades. And yes, it was basically that as far as the atmospheric elements.

But, I think it’s a good time merely for the fact that the festival is Pixar themed. The movies and the music from those movies captured our hearts, so naturally, if we see a Bing Bong themed parade float or hear a Dapper Dan rendition of You’ve Got a Friend in Me, you’ve won us over. Due to this alone, the festival had just the right amount of heart, charm, fun, and nostalgia. Watching the crowd light up when Owl City’s When Can I See You Again began as Tinker Bell lead Paint the Night preview was incredible. I’ve never seen so many Disney fanatics lose their mind over a parade. It was magical and we were all crying over our churros. The festival runs now through September 3rd, 2018, so take a look below at our guide to get yourself better prepared!

Pixar Fest Sign at Disneyland's California Adventure Entrance

Atmosphere

There are some hidden touches here and there adding to the Festival, but not enough that will hinder your experience if it’s your first time. I know people who have only ever ridden the Haunted Mansion with the Nightmare Before Christmas overlay because it’s the only time they’ve ever visited. There are some decorations and of course, the giant Pixar Fest sign hanging above the entrances. My favorite touch is that the Esplanade (the large walking area connecting the two park entrances), which plays a fresh new background soundtrack featuring Pixar soundtracks as opposed to their normal backtracking. It’s a subtle and super sweet detail. And of course, there are the Pixar monorail makeovers. Other than that, there are themed banners hanging about and the new Pixar Pier sign has been branded on the future Incredicoaster.

Incredibles Monorail at Disneyland's Pixar Fest

Entertainment

Initially, I thought bringing back two former parades is a bit of a cop out, but they did add a couple of new floats and characters that are quite adorable.

Luxo Lamp Float for the Pixar Play Parade at Pixar Fest in Disneyland

Luxo Lamp Float for Pixar Play Parade

Pixar Pals Character Spot (Paradise Garden Grill at California Adventure): Throughout the day, this new spot features characters like Woody, Mike & Sulley, and Russel from Up. It’s a good chance to meet some friends that are more difficult to find.

PhotoPass Spot (Cars Land): The cars parked at PhotoPass spot at the “Welcome to Cars Land” entrance are dressed up and looking adorable!

Buzz and Woody Cars Land PhotoPass Entrance Dressed Up for Disneyland's Pixar Fest

Dapper Dans and Disneyland Band: The regular Disney musicians will perform some Pixar soundtracks and songs in their daily performances. A very cute touch.

Pixarmonic Orchestra (Paradise Garden Bandstand at California Adventure): This was the best discovery for me. The most adorable ragtime band that plays their renditions of Pixar songs and jokes in short, 30-minute sets. They were hilarious, ridiculous, and super talented artists. Here’s a short video I got of their performance last week.

Pixar Play Parade (Disneyland Day Parade): This is another old parade that they spruced up a bit. It was cute and all, but it was no Paint the Night, of course. They added a couple new floats and characters including Inside Out and Up. And also, you guys, the moment I saw Russell riding Kevin, I flipped the heck out. It’s so cute.

Joy and Sadness from Inside Out Pixar Play Parade Float at Pixar Fest in Disneyland

Pixar Play Parade

Paint the Night Parade: If anything, I think the whole festival is worth it if you can catch this parade. Fans were furious when they prematurely removed this gorgeous and technologically advanced parade a few years ago. But now it’s back! Imagine grabbing a cup of Mexican Hot Chocolate in your Coco souvenir mug and settling up for that 10:30 showing on a warm summer night. *sigh* Pure Disney comforts.

Mike Wazowski on a Paint the Night Parade Float for Pixar Fest in Disneyland's California Adventure

Together Forever – A Pixar Nighttime Spectacular: The special fireworks that feature all the beloved Pixar movies is full of heart. So much heart that the person standing next to me was sobbing through the entire show. I definitely teared up a bit myself, don’t get me wrong. It has that extra special Disney touch where they combined touching images, well-timed fireworks, and just the right amount of sweeping orchestrations to pull at your heartstrings and say  “Ok Disney, take all my money, you’re worth it.” The best part is that the same projections that are displayed on Main Street and the castle are also projected on the front of it’s a small world, the water features used in Fantasmic on the Rivers of America and The Matterhorn. So it’s easier to get a nice view of the show.

Reason being, Disneyland’s castle is much smaller than Disney World’s so the projecting mapping technology doesn’t work quite as well for big crowds. Disney had to figure out how to bring the same experiences of Disney World’s firework displays to Disneyland. Their solution is brilliant, which is to apply the projections to other areas of the park, not just the castle. If you want the castle experience, I had a great time watching from the middle of Main Street. I could see all the projections, have a bit of the castle experience, and didn’t have to wait 3 hours to see it. Also, there’s an awesome surprise during the Coco segment on Main  Street!

Green Aliens Projected on Main Street for Together Forever Fireworks at Pixar Fest in Disneyland

Green Alien Projection on Main Street during Together Forever Fireworks

Pixar Shorts (Sunset Showcase Theatre – previously Muppet Theatre- at California Adventure): I never quite got over the fact that they turned the Muppet Vision 3D Theatre into a regular movie theatre to show previews (i.e. advertisements) for upcoming Disney movies. It seemed so unnecessary to me. I did really enjoy watching the Pixar Shorts in this venue, however. Throughout this summer, they are having a special showing of 3 Pixar shorts which are For the Birds, Lava, and Piper. This is actually quite cute because they made the show 3D and use other special effects like wind and wall televisions to add to the presentation. Best way to experience this? Grab an iced coffee from Schmoozie’s and settle in for an air-conditioned 20-minute break.

Pixar Shorts Entrance at the Sunset Showcase Theatre in Disneyland's California Adventure

Imagineering Blue Sky Cellar: This little cozy cove tucked away next to the Wine Country Trattoria is only open when the parks are previewing new attractions. The last time it was open was in 2013 they were displaying the new Starbucks that were moving into the parks. They’ve reopened the walk-through attraction to preview all the concept art and concept models for Pixar Pier and also play a short movie depicting the Imagineering process. It’s a cute display and also offers some escape from the heat for a short bit.

Pixar Pier Concept Model for Pixar Fest at Disneyland's California Adventure

Pixar Pier Concept Model at Blue Sky Cellar

Souvenirs

In honor of Pixar Fest, California Adventure has opened their new souvenir shop, Knick Knacks, located on Pixar Pier (formerly known as Paradise Pier). They added some new merch to the shop and a kiosk where you can print some Pixar art and take it home with you. For more details on the special merchandise, you can visit Disneyland News.

Character Wallpaper at Knick's Knacks Pixar Pier Merchandise Store at Disneyland's California Adventure

Wallpaper at the New Knick Knack’s Pixar Pier Merchandise Store

Pro Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Experience

  • No need to stand in line! If there’s a line for that Sulley Popcorn Bucket or the Paradise Garden Grill, come back later. Throughout the day, the line will come and go. Especially if it’s a bit later in the summer.
  • When To Go: Pixar Pier in California Adventure along with the renovated Incredicoaster and Lamplight Lounge (formerly Cove Bar/Ariel’s Grotto) will open on June 23rd. The parks are likely to be a madhouse the first week of opening so if you do visit during that time, I highly advise purchasing the MaxPass to help with the lines. If you have the chance, go later in the summer. Pixar Fest lasts until September 3rd and the crowds will go down closer to fall. And it will be slightly (slightly!) cooler.
  • Check out disneyland.com for parade and show times throughout the summer and don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter for future updates! (See how I snuck that in there?)

This festival won my heart and I have a feeling it will for you too! Hopefully, they can pull some more events like this in the future and it will only get better once Pixar Pier is open!

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The can't-miss guide to food, drink, and entertainment at Disneyland and California Adventure's Pixar Fest this year! #disneyland #vacation #food

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10 Cheap Disney Finds to Make Your Day a Little More Magical

I remember when my family would visit Disneyland our vacation wouldn’t even be over before we started feeling the Disney blues. One way to combat the sad feeling that your…

I remember when my family would visit Disneyland our vacation wouldn’t even be over before we started feeling the Disney blues. One way to combat the sad feeling that your vacation is over is to start planning your next vacation. Sometimes after spending all your money on churros you really can’t afford another vacation. If that’s the case, there are plenty of other things that will add a touch of magic to your day. I did some digging on Amazon and found some things that will kick the postpartum Disney depression and also won’t break the bank. I’m a little embarrassed to say that I own most of the things on this list!

Mickey Waffle Maker: This is my favorite Disney product available on Amazon. I used this waffle maker to create my Copycat Pumpkin Spice Mickey Waffles last Christmas and the appliance been holding up really well since then. The waffle is “child-sized,” so you’ll need to make two for yourself! Perfect for a Christmas morning breakfast.

Mini Mickey Waffle Maker from Amazon - Size Comparison

Disney Parks Presents: it’s a small world: The illustrations in this children’s book are inspired by Mary Blair’s animation and includes a singalong version of it’s a small world on a C.D. (What’s a C.D.??) This would be cute as a gift for a little one, or for a nursery…or for your own bookshelf.

it's a small world Picture Book with CD

Adult Coloring Books: I’m pretty partial to Disney Coloring Books for Adults. They’re a therapeutic way to pass the time and they come in hardback. Great for long road trips. Also, this isn’t Disney, but in the spirit of 90’s nostalgia, there’s a Splat-Nickelodeon color book that looks awesome as well. 

Disney Princess Art of Coloring Book and Colored Pencils with Sequin Mickey Ears and The Disneyland Story Book on a table

Disney Cookbook: If you’re going to buy a Disney cookbook then I highly recommend Eat Like Walt. This cookbook doesn’t just list copycat recipes, but also explores the history of Disney Park food with pictures and stories of Walt’s era. One of the best gifts you could give to a Disney foodie!

Eat Like Walt Cookbook by Marcy Smothers

Historical Disney Books: If you’re a huge Disnerd I suggest The Disneyland Story which tells the story of Disneyland from conception to what is today. And, if you’re willing to invest in a little Disney history, I also advise looking into Ink & Paint: The Women of Walt Disney’s Animation. It’s a beautiful coffee table book, telling the stories of the first female Animators at Disney.

Stack of Disney Historical Books -The Disneyland Story and Triumph of The American Imagination

Disney Pixar Oval Slow Cooker: I’m kinda pushing it as far pricing, but $35 ain’t bad for a good kitchen appliance. And if you’re gonna have a crockpot, you should definitely have a Disney/Pixar crockpot! These are a fairly new to Amazon and already very popular among Disney enthusiasts.

Pixar Crock-Pot Slow Cooker

Disney Park Guide Books: Guidebooks are fun to read whether you’re planning a vacation or not. They’re full of tips, tricks, pictures, hotel and dining reviews, so they’re perfect to conjure up a Disney daydream. The most thorough and reliable book is the Unofficial Guide.

Disney Planning Guide Books in a Stack on a Desk - Unofficial Guide to Disney World

Postcards: There’s something so personable about getting a piece of mail sent to you from a friend or a loved one. I send the Art of Disney/Pixar postcards to my clients to wish them well on their vacations because they’re so darn cute. Postcards also make great collectibles and artwork for around the house!

Art of Pixar Collectible Post Cards

Danielle Nicole Bags: Anything by Danielle Nicole is friggin’ adorable and most of the products sold in the parks are available on Amazon as well. But, not everything is what most of us would call “affordable.” She does have some small cosmetic bags for about $18.00, featuring the dwarfs. 

Seven Dwarfs Make-Up Bag by Danielle Nicole Mickey Tea Strainer: Are you ready for the cutest “Hidden Mickey” tea strainer ever? This is a Disney Parks official item, no longer available on disneyshop.com and only sold by third-party sellers on Amazon. I can’t guarantee this item will always be available, but for the time being it’s there!

Disneyland Once Upon a Time Mug and Mickey Tea Strainers on a Tray of Cookies

It’s the middle of February and you’re longing for the Florida sun and a hug from your favorite mouse. Sometimes all you need is a Mickey mug and your favorite Disney movie. Add a Disney podcast to the mix and you’ll start feeling better in no time. I personally like to listen to the background music they play at the parks and read a good Disney history book. Whatever your preference is, it’s perfectly healthy to add a little pixie dust to your day…At least that’s what I tell myself.

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10 Affordable Disney Finds to Make Your Day a Little More Magical! Gift guide to coloring books, kitchen gadgets and Disney Park Guide Books found on Amazon!

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Pictorial Tour: New York City’s Snow White Window Displays

New York City is particularly magical during the holidays. There’s the Rockette’s, Tiffany’s, The Plaza, Dyker Heights, Central Park, and the list goes on. If you’re lucky enough to be…

New York City is particularly magical during the holidays. There’s the Rockette’s, Tiffany’s, The Plaza, Dyker Heights, Central Park, and the list goes on. If you’re lucky enough to be there when it snows (very rare) it’s like you’ve stepped into your very own Hallmark movie. Every year Sak’s Fifth Avenue decorates their window displays with holiday themes. For 2017, in honor of Snow White’s 80th birthday, the displays were based on her story. The animatronics had the extra Disney touch and the holiday remixed versions of the soundtrack made you feel like you’re at Disneyland. Across the street from the window displays is the famous Rockefeller Christmas tree and ice skating rink. We watched 2 couples get engaged in front of the tree when we passed through. It was pure magic. I was able to get some pretty good shots of the window displays for all you to enjoy!

In true Disney fashion, the window displays were treated as a storyboard, much like the dark rides in the Disney parks. Each display featured a highlight of the Snow White story and used movement, lighting, and music to enhance the displays.

Snow White Window Display Saks Fifth Avenue

Someday My Prince Will Come

 

Snow White Sak's 5th Ave Window Display in New York

Snow White: I said, how do you do? Grumpy: How do ya do, what? Snow White: Oh, you can talk. I’m so glad.

 

Snow White Sak's 5th Ave Window Display in New York

Whistle While You Work

 

Snow White Sak's 5th Ave Window Display in New York

I’d like to dance and tap my feet, but they won’t keep in rhythm. You see, I washed ’em both today. And I can’t do nothin’ with ’em.

 

Snow White Sak's 5th Ave Window Display in New York

Heigh-Ho, Heigh Ho!

 

Snow White Sak's 5th Ave Window Display in New York

Apple, dearie?

 

Snow White Sak's 5th Ave Window Display in New York

Dwarves: Maybe the old Queen’s got Snow White!

 

Snow White Sak's 5th Ave Window Display in New York

 

Snow White Sak's 5th Ave Window Display in New York

The victim of the Sleeping Death can be revived only by love’s first kiss.

 

Snow White Sak's 5th Ave Window Display in New York

And wedding bells will ring some day when my dreams come true.

Wrapping around the building, you’ll also find dresses inspired by Snow with a modern touch. Designers include Alberta Ferretti, Naeem Khan, Monique Lhuillier and Marchesa. The crowds were too intense for us to get more shots of these dresses, but they are still worth perusing if you have the time.

Snow White Sak's 5th Ave Window Display in New York

Bonus Happy Accident Shot: My camera decided to focus on the reflection of the Rockefeller Christmas Tree behind me, rather than the window display. Pretty cool effect for a super amateur photographer like myself.

Snow White Sak's 5th Ave Window Display in New York with a reflection of Rockefeller Christmas Tree

The unveiling of the window displays happened over Thanksgiving weekend and was also completely magical. Complete with dancers, a performance by Sofia Caron, a jig by the Seven Dwarves, and a dedication by the Prince and Snow White herself. You can watch a snippet of the show filmed by Inside the Magic below.

While these displays are beautiful, there are plenty of other Disney themed attractions to visit in New York year-round. Here are a few ways to work some Disney magic into your trip to New York City:

  • Aladdin (Broadway)
  • The Lion King (Broadway)
  • Anastasia (Broadway) The show isn’t technically Disney, but the movie used some of Disney’s animators, so it’s close enough!
  • The enormous multi-floor Disney Store in Times Square
  • Alice in Wonderland Statue in Central Park
  • Adventures by Disney tour of New York

Got any more questions about the big apple? Fire away in the comment section! I lived there for a bit, so I know quite a bit about the city!

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Snow White Sak's 5th Ave Window Display in New York

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