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Entries in Disney (4)


Holiday Traditions

This week, Zoe had her first “homework” assignment. It was a collage of our family holiday traditions. Since it was her very first project of {transitional} kindergarten, I helped a lot. Okay, I may have done most of it. Whatever. She’s 5.

As we were talking about it, I realized that when she thinks “Holidays” she thinks solely of presents – not of the zillion other things we do each year to “make memories.” Which would lead me to think I’m a horrible failure of a mother, if it wasn’t for the fact that she this is only her 5th December and probably really only the 3rd one she has any comprehension of.

And let’s be honest, December hasn’t really a shining month for me in the past… maybe it’s better she doesn’t remember much.

A few years ago in a desperate attempt to fight my December demons, I signed up for a scrapbook “challenge” of sorts - Journal Your Christmas – as a way to “take back December!” The thing is, I don’t really scrapbook. And I get a little OCD about crafting. But a store I had never seen before, Paper Source, had just opened by me and I needed an excuse to buy all that paper and to heat-emboss EVERYTHING IN SIGHT. Amazingly, I actually got the book done {sometime in February}.But now every year, I know it’s the Holidays when I start getting my daily “prompts” from Shimelle.

But, if I learned one thing about myself, it's that I’m a really crappy scrapbooker. So how excited was I to hear about her Instagram photo version this year! That I can totally do.

The first assignment was all about “first signs” of the holidays in your area. How do you know when the Holidays are here. It was fitting that this prompt came in as I was at Disneyland, for a Holiday visit that has become a bit of a tradition for us.

As Zoe and I sat and chose pictures to use, her beginning to understand the concept of “tradition” – she chose the picture I took this past weekend of Sleeping Beauty’s castle all lit up for the holidays.  

It was the same picture as I used for the first day of my challenge – first signs.

Because in Southern California THAT’S how we know the holidays are here. This is our Winter Wonderland. 


Yes, We NEED to Take a Disney Cruise

A few weeks ago I had the rare pleasure of boarding the Disney Wonder as it sailed to far off Bora Bora was ported in San Diego. This occasion marked the first time the Disney Cruise line docked in San Diego, on a special Pixar cruise of the California coast. As we toured the ship, the one thing I kept thinking was "WHEN are we going?"

I've never been on a cruise before, but I will say that Disney sold me hands down on not only taking a cruise, but doing it the Mickey way. Not only is the cruise 100% DISNEYTASTIC, but it seems like it would be a trip the entire family would enjoy. While I'm not sure I really need to talk Jason into taking this magical journey on the sea, if you are thinking about taking a cruise, here are my top reasons why Disney Cruises are the way to go:


  • 100% Family Friendly - Disney takes family friendly to a new level. With every little detail thought of for every age and height, a Disney cruise allows everyone to have a vacation. Parents - when was the last time you really relaxed on a vacation? Oh, the one without the kids? with young kids are about as relaxing as being at home - and you have to pay to eat and you're all in one room. Disney cruises offer the longest complimentary child care of any cruise line - with facilities often open until midnight for "Goofy Slumber Parties" so parents can enjoy a little time off the clock. (As in "go hang out in one of three adult only bars".)
  • Personal Service - On a Disney cruise, you are assigned a server that travels with you to all of your pre-determined dining experiences (if you chose to go - you can always eat at the buffet or order room service too!). Why is this cool? Because these people get to know you and your needs. Like for me - they would never offer me a tomato and always have a glass of chardonnay waiting upon my arrival. (I kid. Kinda. Not really.) But that's great with kids too. If your kids are antsy, they will know to have food waiting for them. If they know you don't allow dessert every night, they won't even offer. Little personal services that makes traveling with the family easier for all involved.
  • Mickey Bands - The techy in me geeked out over this, but upon checking into the ship, each child gets slapped on the wrist with a Mickey Band - a "lo-jack" for your kid. If you are worried that your kid is going to fall off the ship when no one's looking, this is perfect to put you at ease. But mainly it's so your kids have the freedom to roam the secured kids' areas (all connected with hallways only accessible to kids and Disney counselors). If you drop your kid off at one side, but they decide to head to another area, the counselor at the front will be able to check and immediately tell you where Jr. has run off to.
  • Wave Phones - another genius techy tool! So, apparently your cell phones don't work when you are crusing (duh, right? But I never thought of it!) so in each room there are two "Wave Phones" available for your family to use to stay connected while on the ship.
  • Pirate Night - Yes, I would chose a Disney Cruise for Pirate night alone. Who doesn't want to get dressed up and have a pirate theme dinner, dance party and fireworks on a cruise ship?!


All in all the experience upon the Disney Wonder ship seemed to be the perfect {family} trip. The only negative part I could see was the experience of having to leave the ship at the end of the day - it was hard going back to my daily life even after just a few hours.

Is it too late to chuck it all become a cruise ship performer?


For more information on Disney Cruises, visit their website.

For detailed information on the Disney Wonder ship, please visit here.


*This is not a sponsored post and besides being served lunch, I was not compensated in any form for this post.


Just Got Happier! 5 Things Not To Miss At Disneyland & Disney California Adventure

Are you ever someplace, experiencing something and you take a mental step back and think "This is so amazingly cool I can't handle it?" That was me a few weeks ago at the grand re-opening of Disney California Adventure. Standing there at the entrance to the new Cars Land area, amongst the sea of press and VIPs, watching the one yellow street light flashing in the middle of a darkend Radiator Springs, I became overwhelmed with emotion. 

This was seriously one of the coolest things EVER. 


I wax poetic about Disneyland all the time. I can't help it. Being from LA, I grew up with Disneyland. It's comforting and familiar and one of my favorite places on earth. Over the past few weeks, I've written about about what to wear to Disneyland, what to eat when you are there, and even reported on other's expriences. So for this post I'm going to expand a bit and give you my top 5 tips to make your trip to Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure complete. 

1) Purchase the Photo Pass Plus Package

I'm personally a fan of the Photo Passes in general. You get a nice, professional pictures of your whole family when a great background. Before this past trip, I purchased the images after the fact a la carte on the website. For this trip we were gifted the Photo Pass+ - a package that puts all your Disney’s PhotoPass photos PLUS select Attraction photos AND Dining Print Packages – All for one price of $100 (at Disneyland Resort. Prices higher at Disney World). 

While yes, spending $100 on pictures when you have your camera may seem high, this is what you get: 

  • PhotoPass+ Card and Lanyard
  • A gallery CD with over 300 stock photos
  • A unique code to create and order a PhotoCD with all your photos online at
  • Print Packages at select Dining locations
  • Digital Downloads of select Attractions

But even better, you GET all the prints from the rides such as:

  • Space Mountain
  • Splash Mountain
  • The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror™
  • California Screamin’
  • Radiator Springs Racers

AND the character dining locations like:

  • PCH Grill
  • Goofy’s Kitchen
  • Ariel’s Grotto
  • Plaza Inn

I loved coming home to over 100 great pictures - with me IN THEM! :)

2) Stay for the MadTParty

Growing up, we used to love when it got dark and what we called "Club Disney" would start. If you are the parent of a tween, or just an adult looking to chill out and have a drink, the MadTParty is the place to do so. Think of Alice's tea party on acid. Giant walking flamingos, light-up adult beverages, oversized brightly colored furniture, Alice singing on the mic and the White Rabbit spinning some tunes. The MadTParty is FABULOUS. While it is a "club-like" atmosphere, because it's Disney it's still 100% kid friendly. 



3) Get the Flashing Light-Up Ears for MadTParty and World of Color

In celebration of the grand reopening of Disney California Adventure, Disneyland introduced new, interactive light up Mickey ears called "Glow in the Show Ears."  

These new Mickey Ear hats incorporate the infra-red trigger technology to engage the audience during “World of Color” and Mad T Party. The Ear hats feature iridescent lights that change to complement the imagery and beat of the shows. When not activated by the shows, more surprises are in store for guests as the magical ears glow with other settings around Disney California Adventure Park.

During our sneak preview at the park, all 3,000 or so attendees were given these ears to wear to be worn during a showing of World of Color. If you've seen WOC before, you know that in itself it's an amazing experience, but when you are surrounded by thousands of syced Mickey ears, it becomes surreal. The Glow in the Show ears cost $25, but once again SO worth it for that added experience. 

4) Breakfast or Lunch at Ariel's Grotto

If you are bringing a little Princess with you to the park (or a big Princess for that matter), plan ahead and make a reservation for Ariel's Grotto dining with the Princesses. Here's why: you get A GOOD filling meal*, time to stop and relax, and about 5 princesses come to YOUR table and spend a few minutes with you. Forget chasing the Princesses all around the park or waiting in line for over an hour at the Princess Fiare - this place is a one stop shop: Food, Princesses, BAM. Mission Accomplished.

*It's a multi-course meal with a veggies and cheese starter, a good solid meal and a dessert platter like you won't believe. And if your child is 3 and under - they eat free. 

5) Visit Big Thunder Ranch at Disneyland

While all my other tips have been DCA-centric, this tip is for when you are in the Magic Kingdom proper. On the path from Big Thunder Mountain to Fantasyland you pass by Big Thunder Ranch. I say "pass by" because many people walk right on past it...but this one of the best places to stop in the park. 

Big Thunder Ranch is shaded, hardly ever crowded and a great place to see Mickey and Minnie and pet a goat all at one time. The characters, dressed in western attire, do Meet-n-Greets. Tables have coloring activities for kids and it's a great place to chill out and have a snack. And there's a petting zoo.

Disneyland doesn't do anything half-way, and the petting zoo here is a great example of just how amazing Disneyland is. The goats are clean, friendly and wearing bandanas or leather collars. The space is impeccably neat and I didn't feel the need to sanitize the kids from head to foot with foam sanitizer after we left. 

We ended up spending about an hour here, just hanging with Donald and Daisy and having one of those momentous memory-making moments Disneyland is famous for. 

You may notice I didn't include Cars Land in these tips. That's because that is a NO BRAINER. Of COURSE you will go to Cars Land - and you will love every moment of it. But adding on a few other things here and there and remembering to stop and check out ALL Disneyland has to offer will make your visit even happier. 


*disclosure: Disneyland Resorts provided myself and my family with tickets to the parks, the glow Mickey ears, the PhotoPass+ and a stay in the Disney Grand Californian Hotel. The opinions expressed in this post are my own. 


Ka-Chow! Cars Land at Disney California Adventure Opens Friday And I'll be on the Red Carpet!

While Disneyland will always have a special place in my heart, I must admit that Disney California Adventure may be my favorite of the two parks. Maybe it's because that's where all the Pixar stuff is. Maybe because it seems just a little less crowded and less-hot mid-summer, or maybe it's because I can get a glass of wine - but I just love the vibe of Disney California Adventure. 

And it's just getting better. 

By now you've heard that Cars Land is opening this Friday. This 12 acre expansion to the park started being built in 2009 and is a re-creation of the iconic town of Radiator Springs. If you are a mom to a boy 10 and under like me, you've probably seen Cars about 1050 times. And now? We get to walk through the town - Flo’s V8 Café, Fillmore’s Taste-In, Cozy Cone Motel, Radiator Springs Curios, Sarge’s Surplus Hut and Ramone’s House of Body Art are all there. Yes, I'm geeking out. 

This week, I'm lucky enough to be among first people to check out Cars Land, Carthay Circle and all the other new attractions at the newly remodeled Disney California Adventure park. From inside stories on the planning to reviews of the new attractions and rides, this blog, my Twitter, Instagram and Facebook timeline will be inundated with all things DISNEY for the next 3 days.  

And just added, I'll be covering the red carpet for the Cars Land party tonight!

Follow @HipMamaB along as I snap pics of the celebs and maybe even snag a few interviews with the cast of Cars and other celebrities out to celebrate this amazing new area.