Updated on August 29, 2016
Make the most of your vacation at the Happiest Place on Earth with these Disneyland hacks!
If you’ve been, you know how daunting a first-time visit to Disneyland can be. And if you haven’t been, these five Disneyland hacks I’ve assembled are here to save the day (and your sanity). Covering approximately 150 acres, Disneyland and Disney California Adventure can give your shoes a serious workout, especially if you’re park-hopping. So to maximize your visit, whether it’s one day or five, these are my recommendations:
1. Buy Your Tickets In Advance
Early morning line-ups can seem endless and a real time-waster before you even get through the gates. Many Disneyland Good Neighbor hotels offer the ability to purchase tickets from the hotel concierge or at a kiosk within the hotel (like we did last year at the Hilton Anaheim). If that’s not available to you, grab your tickets online or stop by the park via Downtown Disney the day before so you’re ready to stroll through the gates on play day.
2. Double-Up On FASTPASSes
Most people know about Disney’s excellent FASTPASS system. (If you don’t, click here for a crash course.) But did you know that you can hold a FASTPASS for a Disneyland attraction and for a California Adventure attraction at the same time? This is my favourite Disneyland hack. Double-up on your FASTPASSes and be prepared to take park-hopping to a new level. As long as you’re always holding two passes and then picking rides with short line-ups in between, you’ll never wait long for a ride.
PRO TIP: As soon as I enter the gates, I beeline for the Radiator Springs Racers FASTPASS distribution (located at the entrance to A Bug’s Land) and grab one before they’re gone. Then I hop back over to Disneyland and grab one for either Indiana Jones or Hyperspace Mountain and constantly grab more FASTPASSes throughout day.
3. Single Rider Lines
Speaking of wait times, while not technically a Disneyland hack, learning to use the single rider lines was game-changing for me! Some favourites, such as the Matterhorn Bobsleds, don’t offer the FASTPASS system, so to avoid long waits on hot days, take advantage of the single rider line. On the Matterhorn, for example, Rebecca and I waited no more than seven or eight minutes (as opposed to 50+ minutes like everyone else), and we still ended up in the same bobsled.
Choosing the Single Rider line will almost guarantee you a spot with minimal wait times – like on the Matterhorn Bobsleds or my new personal favourite, California Screamin’.
4. Free Water, Anyone?
The first time I went to Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, I easily spent upwards of $20 on bottled water. While I could have brought my Nalgene with me, I didn’t want to spend the whole day carrying something around – hands-free is the way to go! But did you know that any café or restaurant in either park that sells fountain pop will let you fill a fountain cup with water and ice – for free? This brilliant solution helps save a ton money and the environment. My favourite places to fill up are at Red Rockett’s Pizza Port in Tomorrowland and Smokejumpers Grill at Grizzly Peak.
5. Disney PhotoPass
Another brilliant idea from the minds at Disneyland, I admittedly shirked the PhotoPass system the first time I visited, assuming it was just a bit of a cash grab. As I recently discovered, it’s anything but. Disney photographers are dotted throughout both parks, and for a flat rate, you can access unlimited photos throughout your visit. The beauty is that it also includes all your attraction photos (you know, the shots that are snapped when you’re at your most terrified), and then they can all be accessed and downloaded online. Using PhotoPass means everyone in your party gets in your photos – which is especially useful since selfie sticks are prohibited at the parks.
I don’t need to remind you to download the Disneyland mobile app, wear comfortable shoes, and slather on the sunscreen, do I? Any visit to Mickey’s stomping ground can be memorable, but with these few handy Disneyland hacks, I guarantee you’ll up the ante on your Disney days!
Updated on August 21, 2016
20 Questions with Jennifer Robertson
When I first made the move to Vancouver many years ago, Jennifer Robertson quickly became one of my first friends. This thing called life took us in different directions for a few years, but we recently had the fortune of reconnecting. Despite that, she has always remained one of my most favourite people. Jennifer has an infectious optimism for life, and she embraces her passions with a moxie you can’t help but admire. She has a new project on the horizon that I was excited to ask her about, so including her in 20 Questions is a no-brainer. Jennifer is my friend but she is also a wife, sister, daughter, world traveller, a dreamer, aspiring SNL regular, bookworm, and an avid basketball fan.
1. What are you really excited about these days?
Essential oils! I never could have imagined what a profoundly positive impact using them daily would have on my life and well-being. They’ve been a mega game-changer for me in so many amazing ways; from health, self-care, and emotional support to allowing me to significantly reduce the toxic load in our home.
2. What was the last picture you took on your phone?
I snapped a photo of the sunshine peeking through the trees in the trails of Stanley Park last Sunday morning. Getting into the trails with my “run club” buddies is one of my favourite ways to get sweaty on the weekends. We all met years ago at a Running Room training clinic and still get together regularly, not only to run but also to socialize.
3. Making yourself accessible through social media (and/or blogging) opens the door to admiration but also criticism. How do you handle criticism?
I’ve been lucky in that I haven’t really been faced with much criticism, even though I’ve been sharing online for several years. When I have, I’ve tried to decide whether or not I think it’s constructive. If not, I do my best to ignore it and try not to let it hurt my feelings.
4. Without giving away more than you’d like to, tell me about the project you’re diving into at the moment.
I’ve been working on a passion project called Young & Illuminated with one of my best friends. It’s all about empowering women to take charge of their own health and wellness. Our goal is to inspire body love, intuitive self-care, and natural living – with our greatest tool being essential oils. We’re pumped to be launching our website this Fall!
5. Give me one piece of indispensable advice you follow for loving yourself.
I think self-love is a struggle for most of us, at least some days. My advice is to really try not be too hard on yourself. That quote we’ve all seen about not comparing your behind the scenes to another person’s highlight reel is true! It can be really challenging when social media constantly provides us with people to compare ourselves to, but I think you have to really try to keep things in perspective. Love is something we choose. We can choose to be grateful for what we have. We can choose love. It’s always a choice within us. To me, choosing love is the most powerful healing force there is.
6. The Breakfast Club featured a rebel, a princess, a brainiac, an outcast, and a jock. Who were you in high school?
Well, I can tell you that I was definitely not the rebel. I was way too into following the rules for that. I was a straight-A jock with (maybe) just a little bit of princess thrown in. I loved fashion just as much as I loved basketball (and I still do!). I was the girl who had friends in lots of different groups.
7. If I gave you $50,000 to start a business that was just for you, what would you start?
I’ve always dreamed of having a space to curate things that I love: books, clothing, cosmetics, jewelry, you name it. At this point, I’m not sure if the space would be online or in an actual storefront but I’d love to be able to sell all of my favourite things.
8. What’s your all-time favourite jam from the ‘80s or ‘90s?
Ooh, that’s such a tough one. Janet Jackson’s “Escapade” and Salt-N-Pepa’s “Shoop.” Those are my throwback booty-shakin’ jams. And I couldn’t answer a question about ‘90s music without mentioning two albums that had a significant impact on me during that time: Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill and Hole’s Live Through This.
9. Entrepreneurship has its fair share of ups, downs, and bumps along the way. Where do you see yourself in 2021?
Maya Angelou said, “Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.” That’s the kind of success I strive for. By 2021, I hope to still be doing something I’m passionate about that gives me flexibility, freedom, and abundance. That’s not too much to ask, is it? I promise I’m willing to work hard for it.
10. It’s girls’ night in – sweatpants included. What are we watching, what are we drinking, and what are we chatting about?
We’re probably watching Sex & The City, drinking a delicious pinot noir, and chatting about life, love and everything in between. We never have any shortage of things to chat about!
11. It’s now 2:00 a.m. and we’ve had half a dozen (or more!) of glasses of pinot noir. Where are you suggesting we get our greasy food fix?
I haven’t been in years (because 2:00am is waaaay past my bedtime these days) but Fritz Fries comes to mind. It’s a classic. Mmm, poutine!
12. In downtown Vancouver, what’s the one restaurant that no one has heard of but everyone should eat at?
I’m not crazy enough to think that no one has heard of it but my current favourite restaurant in Vancouver is The Mackenzie Room. I love the vibrant ambiance, incredible food, and friendly service.
13. What’s the biggest misconception people have about you in real life?
Probably that I’m always out and about. I can actually be quite a homebody and I really cherish my quiet time at home; reading books, organizing, cooking, and having Netflix marathons with my husband.
14. If you could star as any character in the remake of any movie, which famous role would you reprise?
Cher Horowitz in Clueless. It was a personal mission for me in high school to re-create as many of her outfits from that movie as possible.
15. If you could learn a new skill, language, or hobby, what would it be?
I would love to learn how to sing. I feel like if I’m ever going to get my big break on SNL, I really need to add singing to my repertoire.
16. Who are you most proud of?
I’m really proud of my brother for following his heart and pursuing comedy. I’ve been living vicariously through him since he started doing improv several years ago. I go to every one of his shows and I sit there absolutely in awe, not only of his guts for getting up there but also of his insane talent.
17. Who is (or was) the single most influential person in your life?
I couldn’t possibly pick a single person. There’s not enough space for all the names. Everyone who has touched my life has helped to make me who I am today. My immediate family has certainly had a significant influence. They all embody the trifecta of being brilliant, kind, and hilarious. That’s good energy to grow up around! My grandmother was also a huge influence: she led with her heart and lit up every room she entered with her bright smile and witty humour. And of course my husband, Justin – he’s my best friend and biggest supporter. He’s a lot more adventurous than I am and encourages me to get out of my comfort zone as often as possible.
18. I’m throwing a dinner party next weekend. You’re invited and can bring three others with you (dead or alive). Who should I set the table for?
Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, and Mindy Kaling. I would love it if we could squeeze in an extra place setting to make room for my grandma too. She’d fit right in with this funny bunch of babes.
19. What’s the one question you wish someone would ask you?
“When would you like to pick up the keys to your mortgage-free dream home?”
20. So when would you like to pick up the keys to your mortgage-free dream home?
All photos are provided courtesy of Jennifer Robertson.
Updated on August 24, 2016
Are you an essential oil skeptic? They’re not just for hippies – I promise you!
When I say “essential oils,” what’s the first thought that comes to mind? Some would say crunchy granola, flower crowns, and peace signs. Want to know a secret? I used to think that too. So let me ask you another question: Do I look like a so-called “hippie?”
See? Didn’t think so. Good, okay, so now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s continue. I started using essential oils about 10 years ago when a girlfriend gave me a bunch as a Christmas gift. I, like many of you, was an essential oil skeptic at the time. Apart from using lavender oil to sleep well, I had no idea what they were for. Fast-forward a decade and now essential oils are… what’s that word I’m looking for? Oh yes. They are essential to my everyday life.
Essential Oils Aren’t Weird
You use canola oil, olive oil, and coconut oil in various forms each day, so why not the oils of other plants too?
If you’ve ever enjoyed the smell of a flower or the fresh, earthy fragrance of a walk in the woods, you’ve enjoyed an essential oil. Simply put, they’re chemical compounds found in seeds, bark, stems, roots, flowers, and other parts of plants. In scientific terms, these compounds tend to change quickly from their solid or liquid state to a gas at room temperature and they’re volatile because they change state quickly.
What Do I Use Essential Oils For?
I’m glad you asked. Truly, the list is endless.
- lavender essential oil when I’m having trouble sleeping or I’m fighting a headache
- peppermint essential oil in hot water when my tummy is upset
- ylang ylang essential oil in the bathtub when I’m PMSing something fierce
- tea tree essential oil on zits when my skin is angry at me
- arborvitae essential oil when I’m stressin’ and need to get grounded
- grapefruit essential oil in my water to curb my appetite
- ginger, lime, or lemon essential oils when I’m cooking an exotic dish
I also use essential oils to make my own perfumes, hand soaps, and cleaning products. I diffuse it in my home when I need a pick-me-up or to keep the air clean and free of nasty germs.
How Do I Use Essential Oils?
There are three main ways I use essential oils
1. Topically – I apply it to my skin, most often with the use of a carrier oil like fractionated coconut oil. Because, believe me, some oils are crazy strong.
2. Aromatically – I diffuse it in the air or place a drop in my hands and inhale.
3. Internally – Some oils can be safely used internally such as grapefruit or lemon essential oils in a glass of water.
Why Do I Use Essential Oils?
I use them because, in my 10 years of experience, they work for me – and effectively so. Let me be perfectly clear: essential oils are not a miracle cure and I won’t make you any absolute guarantees. But they are incredible little powerhouses that can supplement and support your health and overall well-being.
This question can’t be answered without bringing up toxicity. Our hand soaps, cosmetics, perfumes, glass cleaner, and 100 other things we use in our homes every single day are loaded with highly toxic chemicals. I’m talking skull-and-crossbones toxic. Using natual essential oils to actually (and easily) make a lot of these items helps significantly reduce the level of chemicals in our home.
Practice Safe Scents
And this is where I turn it back on you. I can’t stress enough how important it is to do your research. Do it, do it, do it. Read lots, check resources, be thorough, and use essential oils responsibly.
With essential oils all over Twitter and Pinterest and Facebook and on the shelves of my local pharmacy and grocery store, it can be challenging to wade through the information overload. Essential oils are not regulated in Canada, so it’s vital that you get yours from a reputable source. Check for purity but also for high standards of the growing, harvesting, and distilling processes.
Which Essential Oils Do I Use?
As I said, I’ve been using oils for about 10 years. I’ve tried many different brands from many different sources and companies. I personally use and recommend doTERRA oils because their oils are direct from the source and triple-checked for purity.
Plus, on a more personal note, I appreciate their integrity as a company. doTERRA is committed to sourcing their oils in an ethical and sustainable manner, working directly with farmers and harvesters to create a positive difference in their lives. This allows me to think global but act local. More than half the countries their oils are sourced from can be considered developing countries, so to see a company actively caring about the footprint they’re making is super heartening for me.
Still an Essential Oil Skeptic?
I get it – I do. I’m a skeptic by nature. But once an essential oil skeptic, not always an essential oil skeptic. I hope this post has at least somewhat convinced you that: A) essential oils are not scary; and B) I am not a hippie.
If you have questions, concerns, or just want to chat, that’s what I’m here for! Jot down a comment below or pop me an email because I love to hear from my readers!
Updated on August 23, 2016
When in Los Angeles, there are few things more “must-do” than attend an LA Dodgers game!
As we planned our recent trip to Los Angeles, Rebecca discovered that the Boston Red Sox would be in town and asked if I’d be interested in seeing an LA Dodgers game. It took me all of 1.57 seconds to respond with a resounding “yes!” I’d never been to a Major League Baseball game but I know how quintessential the sport is to American culture. Plus, it was the Dodgers and Red Sox! You can’t get a match-up more classic than that.
The day finally arrived – August 6th – and I couldn’t have been more excited as we rolled into the parking lot at Dodger Stadium. Just ask my friends Rebecca, Preston, or Tony: they can attest to the fact that I was practically skipping to the gates.
In life, and especially in travel, I adhere to the “when in Rome…” ideal. So not only was I purposefully decked out in white and Dodger blue, I grabbed a baseball cap, a big Budweiser, and my first-ever, infamous “Super Dodger Dog.” You can’t imagine my delight at the abundance of relish available in Dodger Stadium.
Photo by Rebecca Bollwitt
The game itself was incredibly exciting to watch! I know enough about baseball to (mostly) understand what was happening. The electricity of the fans combined with the pulse of the music made it impossible not to cheer and shout with everyone else.
Being that my pal Preston came along with us, he couldn’t go to an LA Dodgers game and not exercise his artistic talent. If you follow Preston online (which you should), you’ll know he’s quickly becoming known for his minimalist ballpark art as well as his #BallparkPrincess drawings. We were able to watch him in action before a fan claimed the day’s masterpiece.
In the end, the final beer was downed, the last player slid across home plate, and I managed to wipe the residual relish off my cheek. The home team ultimately dominated the Red Sox 3-0 to hold steady at first place in the west. The LA Dodgers game certainly made a fan out of me, and my first MLB experience was one I won’t soon forget.
Updated on August 21, 2016
Don’t miss the laughs, thrills, and chills as I spend a day at Disneyland & California Adventure!
“Go big or go home.” That’s the theory I prescribe to when I visit Disneyland & California Adventure. At over 150 acres combined, the parks are massive in both size and adventure. When time is limited, conquering both parks in one day is ambitious but definitely doable.
Recently I visited with two good friends – Rebecca and Preston – and managed to capture the entire visit on video. During 15-and-a-half hours (yep – you read that right!) we walked more than 18 miles (29 kilometres) and took over 38,000 steps. Like I said, “go big or go home.”
Want to join in on the Disney fun? Click play and come along!
I know you’re about to click on over to the Disneyland website to book your own trip, so let me make it easy for you. Here you go!