What to Expect When Visiting Anaheim’s Downtown Disney

By now you are well aware that Downtown Disney in Anaheim is open. If you aren’t a Disneyland native, it’s the equivalent of Disney Springs at Walt Disney World. And if you REALLY aren’t aware of what either of those are, then it’s basically an outdoor mall that has a very close proximity to Disneyland and California Adventure.

With me being a Disneyland Annual Passholder, I have many memories of Downtown Disney. And because Disneyland is still closed to the public, I wanted to at least go to Downtown Disney to get a little bit of the magic it holds.

First off, the only Disney parking that is open is the Simba lot. The easiest way to map a route to it would be to map it towards the entrance of the Grand Californian or the Disneyland Hotel. It will be on that same road! Also, parking is free! Usually parking is around $20 for the day, or $14 an hour, on a regular park day. But seeing as the parks aren’t open, they aren’t charging.

Once you park, the path kind of leads you to the entrance of Downtown Disney. The cast members are everywhere to make sure everyone is following along the right path! Because walking in is a one way walking area. You will first come across a temperature check where groups need to stay together. From there we then had to walk through a dog-sniff station. We were told to walk at a normal pace and to not stop through this area as a K9 walked around us. Lastly, we came across the bag check area. We were separated from the cast member checking our bags by a clear shield. This was a very hands off bag-check which I think is why they had the K9 before the bag check to make sure no one is trying to use this system as a way to sneak anything in. Good call, Disney! This whole process seems a lot longer with how I am explaining it, but it probably took us around three minutes to get through it all.

Once inside Downtown Disney, we saw hand sanitizing stations directly after the bag check and at other random areas around the mall. They even had a photo opportunity with this amazingly fun wall which had markers on the ground to remember to keep six feet apart while waiting to take a picture! Disney definitely knows their clientele well.

All of the restaurants had outdoor seating which looked like the only option considering the new California regulations regarding restaurants. Ballast Point looked like they were able to participate by having all of their windows open in their upstairs seating area. Cody and I decided to grab drinks at UVA Bar where we were told that we HAD to order food (we forgot about this also being a new rule in California). Since the rule says that any establishment that has a food license is allowed to stay open, meaning that bars are closed, the establishment has to serve you food for them to be in compliance with the rule. So we ordered a couple of drinks and a basket of fries! And man were those garlic fries goooddddd.

Since we decided to go on a Thursday, I thought it would be pretty slow which was not the case. It wasn’t so busy that we felt uncomfortable and it wasn’t so busy that people had no where to sit or groups weren’t able to social distance. But it was busier than what I thought it would be. All shops or kiosks had markers on the ground to mark where six feet apart was, and most every shop had you wait outside in a line before entering the store to make sure that it didn’t get overcrowded. Some shops even had one-way-in and one-way-out doors (which I saw some people just not see – even with the signs that said “EXIT ONLY”, but don’t worry the Cast Members were VERY on top of getting those people back out of the store to wait in line). Even the sitting areas were also marked off with “six feet apart” markers!

In regards to World of Disney, they had a very long line! The entrance is at the side of World of Disney that borders Starbucks and the exit was at the opposite end of the store that borders La Brea. Keeping in mind that everyone in line out front of the store is keeping six feet apart, the line actually went all the way from the store, up towards the trams, and then out towards the front gates of Disneyland! Although it looked like a huge line, it took us about 35 minutes to get all the way from the back to inside the store. Once inside, it wasn’t busy and again they had plenty of markers to make sure people were kept apart. At no time when checking our merch did I feel like others were crowding me nor did I feel rushed to finish looking at stuff.

Overall, it wasn’t crazy and despite there being more people than I thought there would be, people were very well behaved and no one was blatantly disregarding the rules. A saw maybe six people with their masks under their nose while walking around outside, but that was about it! I would definitely want to go again and I felt very safe and comfortable being there and knowing that all of the employees and people were taking the situation seriously. If you have been considering going just to experience a little bit of the magic, I would 100% recommend it!


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Planning Disneyland and WDW Trips Amidst the Recent Openings

The news is out and so are our mouse ears – both Walt Disney World and Disneyland have planned dates for reopening! WDW is set to reopen July 11th and Disneyland on July 17th (on it’s 65th anniversary!). It should go without saying that both will have reduced capacity entries and both will have a reservation system in place, meaning that you will have to reserve your ticket date in advance to attending the park. Annual passholders will also have to do the same to plan which day they are using their pass. No news has come out yet as to how this reservation system will look, but I’m sure we can assume that it will look very similar to how Shanghai Disneyland has been running their system.

With this news buzzing in everyone’s ear, the big question is “how do we plan our trips?” Well first off, if you already had a vacation planned and you had not already re-booked it, then you all get first dibs! News went out effective immediately following the Disneyland reopening date that Disney was temporarily stopping the sale of new ticket purchases. Kind of a bummer if you didn’t already have something planned, right?

Well luckily Get Away Today was able to score a LIMITED number of tickets to purchase to start planning your vacation. If you aren’t already familiar with Get Away Today, it’s pretty much the Disney version of Expedia. They offer a number of vacation plans to various locations, resorts, and amusement parks nation wide as well as global, but their forte is helping you plan the best Disney vacation.

You may notice that once you click this link to be directed towards their Disney tickets that you will see a number of other notable amusement parks and attractions that you can book tickets to! Some are even packaged together! This page is literally the one-stop-shop for your SoCal vacation. But hey if you’re just looking at Disneyland, I don’t blame you.

The only real kicker here is that you can’t just buy a 1-Day ticket – the lowest tier price is for at least a 2-Day ticket price. You still save quite a bit by using Get Away Today though! Especially if you are booking for you and your family.

Better yet, if you combine these tickets with at least a 2-night hotel stay, then you can use my promo code, DGB10 to save an extra $10 off your package. Click HERE to start planning your vacation!

Now let’s start planning your next magical trip!

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Into the Unknown // Frozen 2 Review

When Frozen came out in 2013, it was an automatic hit. And like most people who watched it, I actually really liked it! I especially liked that after countless princess movies, in just one sentence Elsa practically crapped on all of them and how it was impossible to know someone after only one day. Love doesn’t work like that and I was happy that Disney put an end to that trend in their princess movies.

But soon enough, Disney started to see just how big of a success Frozen was and decided to start making it seem like it was the only thing that mattered. As such, I got pretty sick of it.

So why am I seeing Frozen 2? Honestly because I am curious to see if the hype is truly warranted or if it’s another thoughtless praise to Disney. I know that sounds harsh but I am not afraid to say that a movie made by Disney was not up to snuff! I think sometimes bloggers or influencers inflate their feelings towards movies as to not ruffle any feathers. I want to continue bringing genuine content, and if that just so happens to not line up with the majority opinion, then I am ok with that!

I am writing this portion of the blog a day before seeing the movie. What is to follow will be a NON-SPOILER review and a SPOILER review. Obviously if you don’t want to ruin anything about the movie, then don’t read the spoiler review. But if you have seen it already or don’t care about spoiling it, then the discussion below should be a good one!

NON-SPOILER REVIEW

I honestly don’t know where to begin. But let’s get this started – it was incredible! In saying that, I am really hoping Frozen 2 does not get inflated out of proportion because I never want to think anything negative from it or get sick of this movie. It was much more mature than the first. The themes that were produced of love and loss were beyond anything I have seen in any princess movie, and those themes were perfectly displayed in song form as well. I appreciate that there are so many small children who love Frozen and are probably patiently waiting to see it, but I have no doubt that this will be a movie they see in 15 years with all new eyes from their own struggles through this crazy journey we call life. I also love that each individual character had their own separate journey within the story line, yet it was not separated from the overarching story itself. And the music! WOW! While watching, I was already waiting until I could get out of the theater and add the songs to my Spotify! Everything about this movie was better than the first, and I adored that the story line matured through the six years that the time line progresses through.

SPOILER REVIEW

Oh my gosh do I need to talk to someone about this movie and how much I love it. If you didn’t read the section above, then the recap of it is that I adore that the story line matured through the six years that the time line progresses through. The characters and the individual journeys they make and the song production overall showed that Frozen 2 was not a movie to take lightly and this was not just a frilly princess movie. Because each character had their own journey, I want to talk about that individually.

Elsa: Honestly, Elsa hasn’t changed at all. She was shutting Anna out, she was closing doors and trying to not break the status quo. She hears a voice, but doesn’t want to mess anything up so she keeps it to herself – only to bring destruction to Arendelle. The group begins their journey and all Elsa wants to do is protect Arendelle, protect Anna, but also find answers about herself. It’s only when she dies that she realizes that she needed Anna’s help all along to not make this huge mistake. It reeks of the first movie. I will say that more often than not though, the moments with Elsa (especially the big scene with her mother in that ice cave) did make me tear up a little bit. I guess we all needed the satisfaction of finding out where she came from and what her true role was. I am happy that at the end she found out where she truly is supposed to be, even if that is not in Arendelle and with her family. But you can tell that she feels much more free – I mean obviously, her hair is down! Which was a pivotal moment of freedom in the first movie when she “let it go”.

Anna: The six years during which the timeline has progressed, Anna has definitely become less naive and, although still tries to protect Elsa from literally everything, she has gained a wider sense of self. Once the group gets divided and they start going on their different journeys, you can really see the maturity of Anna. She is now responsible for herself and Olaf and has to act on the decisions she makes with no help whatsoever. At the point where Elsa dies thus killing Olaf in the process, she grieves as any normal person would. But the song to follow that is something no kid in that audience will understand without first having a family or friend loss or even heartbreak. That song rings true to the core of how all these characters have grown up. This whole movie leads up to her eventually becoming queen, and after what we see during the movie, it makes sense!

Kristoff: He’s still a goof ball which is obviously his nature but I love that during the entire movie he is trying to find the perfect moment to ask Anna to marry him. The reason I love this so much is because this is the first time a Disney princess movie goes over the REAL time line of love for a couple. They have had six years of love together and only then did he decide was it the time to take the next eventual step with Anna. That’s how true love works. It doesn’t happen over night, it doesn’t fast forward through the ups and downs, and the big question is well – BIG! Along his journey, he also has a solo song and although it starts BEYOND cheesy, it actually works well with the movie!

Olaf: Olaf’s character development is the biggest one of all the characters. Through his life over the last six years, he has grown this immense love for learning. The other thing he is coming to terms with is that he’s just a kid! And as a kid there are a lot of things he doesn’t understand but hopes that one day when he’s grown up he will understand. So yes, he is naive but he is naive with the understanding that he is still growing up! I really loved that about this movie – that it centers around growing up. Not just for Olaf but for all the characters.

Overall, I loved that this is hopefully the first in many princess movies that don’t have the princesses falling in love over the course of three days or are hell bent on “I don’t need no man in my life”. It’s refreshing to have something that is close to what actually happens in real life where the love is real, the timeline is real, and the steps taken to get there are real! I especially love that these characters matured over these six years and although they have their original character traits of being flighty, protective, cheesy, and naive, they have all grown into those traits, developed more, and by the end of the movie they all have a true sense of belonging. I would highly recommend seeing this movie!


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Where Do You See Yourself in Five Years?

Happy birthday! Happy anniversary! Happy whatever-it-is that you say when your business is another year older!

In January 2014, on my short fight from Salt Lake City back to San Diego, I came up with a vague shirt shop idea. I drew up some shirt ideas and I called it Brand By You. Why? Well that answer is two-fold.

At the time, I guess I was a little upset whenever I would shop – it seemed like I had to compromise on my tastes when it came to buying anything. “Oh my gosh, I love this design, but I hate the color it’s on..” “Wow this color is perfect for my style, but the cut is extremely unflattering..”. Time and again I found that my closet was filled with stuff I only half liked and it was getting tiresome. If I was going to make a shirt shop, then I was going to give people options. If blue doesn’t fit their aesthetic, then they could get a different color. If they don’t feel comfortable wearing tank tops, then they could get it on a crew neck or a sweatshirt or literally anything else. WHY NOT?! My only job would be printing, so why is it considered so much extra work if the person I am working with wants something that fits their style? Answer – it’s not.

Not to mention I was also shopping with my mom a lot at Nordstrom and I found the designer collection names to be so ridiculous – Marc by Marc Jacobs, Michael by Michael Kors. Really? You couldn’t think of anything more original??

Thus blossomed Brand By You. An ode to the idea that this shop, this brand, was for the people who would be buying it. I wanted those people to be able to choose what they wanted so they never had to settle with their wardrobe. And secondly, the name is a playful hit at those designer labels. Because “Marc” might have been created by Marc Jacobs for people like Marc Jacobs – but this brand is by and for people like you.

So now here comes the cliche question that interviewers or first dates ask you: Where do you see yourself in five years?

A lot can change, right? Did I think this would be popular 5 years in – no, but I was hopeful. Did I think my brand’s success would be subject to the countless social media algorithm changes that would actually cause a number of successful businesses to suffer or even go out of business – no, but I would always keep pushing. Or better yet – did I even think my dream would become a reality thanks to the people that I named the business after – HELL NO! Which is why even though these plans were created January 2014, Brand By You did not become Brand By You until August 22, 2014 {The same day I signed my paperwork to work at Gap, and a week before I started my junior year of college. Stress overload happened exactly a year later!}

Looking at 2019 as the fifth year of BBY, I have new hopes and new dreams. A lot has indeed changed since I first opened this business, and honestly that algorithm change has been relentless!! For me this year has been me finally getting on top of new designs and launching them in time for their corresponding movie releases. It has been collaborating more with the other small shops that I respect so much and were around to help me get my business off the ground. It has been experiencing more of what the Disney parks have to offer me and having all of you, my amazing followers, interact with me on those experiences. And most importantly, it’s now actually been moving away from the business side.

Wait what? Didn’t you just say that you were staying on top of movie releases with new designs?”

Well… yes. But halfway through the year, I decided that for my own sanity that it was time to start doing what I wanted to do. And it was also time to stop letting this algorithm take the best parts of myself and making me feel like they were worth nothing. I moved away from the business side 1) because the algorithm was shoving me (and many other small shops I love!) out of their businesses, and 2) because I wanted to start having fun with my page again. I wanted to start posting Disney Style and Disney Bound pictures and writing blogs that will help and inspire people. I wanted to take back everything I felt like the algorithm was taking from me.

Overall, I just wanted to have fun again!

After five years, everyone keeps telling me it’s a feat to have a business last that long despite all these changes. But after five years I never thought I would end up feeling like such a failure with that same business that brought me so much joy, life, and the sense that I had a CAREER. I never thought that after five years I would be back to having another job, living at my parents house to try my best to pay off all the debt that I accrued trying to “save” the business, and having this new direction with BBY that didn’t focus on trying to make money. And most importantly, starting this blog site!

And this isn’t a pity party – I don’t want people to feel bad for what’s happened. It sucks, yea, but a lot of things that make us better in the end always start out as really sucky scenarios. I would like to believe that this is sort of my rebirth into something better. Because the truth is I love my new job and I love my new direction with BBY and this blog, and I love not paying for rent so that I can focus on paying off debt and really get on track with my future.

It’s been five years of fun, adventures, new, old, mistakes, successes, learning, re-learning, trying, failing, and pain. But I survived even though there were countless moments of self-doubt, stress, and crying on the bathroom floor about everything I felt I lost.

But look at what I have gained in the process?

Five years. A lot can change in that amount of time. So to answer the question for the next five years – I have no freaking idea where it will take me next.


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Search for the Photo Ops

Disneyland and California Adventure are not only home to the main mouse, but if you have spent even a little bit of time in any Disney park, you are bound to see someone posing against a backdrop at some point in time!

Granted Walt Disney World definitely has more photo opportunities than the Disneyland property does. I mean for goodness sake you are comparing Disneyland at 500 acres to Walt Disney World at the same size as San Francisco (source from howtodisney.com – click here for the link to full article on the differences between Disneyland and Walt Disney World). That being said, often times I have to go to more secluded places around Disneyland or California Adventure to get more variety on my page. But if you have been a fan of Brand By You for a little bit, then you definitely know that I have a favorite spot on property. And that is most definitely Pixar Pier – formally known as Paradise Pier! To be more specific, I especially love taking pictures across the way from Mickey’s Fun Wheel (no, I will never call it the “Pixar Pal-A-Round”).

Whether I am in the pictures or not, beautiful photo opportunities can be had here. From a lunch time, afternoon shot at Lamplight Lounge, to a radiant, sunset shot that captures insane sky colors, and finally to beautiful night time shots while watching World of Color – the pier itself is the best hands down. Don’t @ me if you think differently! πŸ˜‰

The colors of the pier, the Pixar soundtracks playing in the background, and the fact that this area is just a wide open space where you can see everything and not feel so cramped, there is no other place on Disneyland property that is quite like it. As much as I resented the change from Paradise Pier to Pixar Pier, I have to say that I now love the re-theming because it is on par with all things Disney, whereas before it just focused on a theme of California fan favorites. And because it focuses on so many incredible movies (like The Incredibles – do you get it? ;D), it makes it so much easier for me to find a perfect backdrop for my own t-shirts.

It just so happens that the entire pier itself is color themed to match the Luxo ball which just so happen to match the Toy Story color scheme pretty freaking well. So naturally when I grabbed my “Reach for the Snacks” shirt, I knew that I could use my favorite photo op place for all the fun pictures! Earlier I wrote a blog on some of my tips and tricks that I have picked up along the way to learn to take my own photos. And along with the 5 tips that I already mentioned, it is also very important to pick a location that you thoroughly enjoy too! Being in your happy place will definitely bring out the most radiant in yourself. (Not to mention, yes, I did invoke my favorite tip, tip #3, during this shoot to make it even more fun!)

Coming out with new shirt ideas always causes some sort of minor stress for me to try to come up with new locations to shoot in to keep things fresh on my page, but let’s just say that searching for the perfect photo opportunity in this situation was as simple as reaching for my favorite Disney snack. Honestly how could I go anywhere else for the perfect Toy Story pics?

Do you have a favorite photo op place or a favorite snack? Let me know in the comments below! Also I challenge you to get out there and find your favorite photo op place like I have with Pixar Pier <3


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