Disneyland 2012 | Creating A Story-Based Album With Simple Stories (Includes Video Overview)


One of the projects on my list has been to create a mini-album of our Spring Break adventure to Disneyland in 2012. You can read about the surprise here.

I'm excited to say that I've got it underway and wanted to share a bit of my planning and process with you today.

I decided to use a Simple Stories Snap! 6x8 album and their Say Cheese line for this project. It's a great collection of magic messages that will go really well with the stories I want to tell from this trip.

The last time I put together a Disney album was many years ago. It remains one of my favorite albums. Parts of it were included in my book Life Artist - a digital version of that book is available here. Here's a look at one of the spreads from that album:

What I loved about that 8.5x11 album was that it was really thought out and story-based. To me that means that I took the time to look through all the photos and bring them together based on story themes vs. a straight-out chronological approach (more about that below).

For my Disneyworld album I followed that same basic foundation/design throughout the album. Story + photo on one page of the spread paired with a collage of photos on the second page.

As I begin to work on this new project I'm thinking about my basic approach to travel albums. I generally do two kinds of travel albums:

  1. Document while I travel (aka "scrapbook on the road"). This tends to be in-the-moment documentation capturing my thoughts and feelings while I'm experiencing them. I journal. I collage ephemera/all the stuff together. I play. It's also very dependent upon how I feel on the trip - how busy I am and my general motivation to document. Sometimes it's high and sometimes it's low. I never really know until I embark on the journey.

  2. Come home, wait a couple of years, make an album. This is generally what's been happening even though I've intended to scrapbook on the road for my last few trips. This one actually tends to tell a more complete story with perspective about the adventure and I'm usually able to include more.

There are pros and cons to both but they can actually work really well together by taking the time to journal during your trip and then bring it all together when you get home.

And as with all other aspects of memory keeping, there's no right or wrong. What exists is the opportunity to try things out, to experiment, to see what works and what doesn't and to recognize that what works on one vacation might not work the next time around.

I have a bunch of trips that I want to scrapbook in their own albums: Greece, Italy 2010, Italy 2011, Ireland 2012, etc. Some of these I have a bit of documentation I did during the trip and will pair that with a more complete approach when I actually bring all the content together in an album. Most of these I started out with the intent of doing a pure scrapbook on the road and then adding the photos when I get home.

It hasn't worked that well.

Well, it's worked kind of.

That means I've done some documenting while I was traveling and often a lot of gathering of papers and other ephemera. I really and truly love writing during my travels. I simply can't capture those same in-the-moment reflections in the same way after you get home. The stories are still there and the perspective that's added to those stories after the fact is awesome.

What I've learned about myself through all this traveling is that I want both: the in-the-moment-journaling and the perspective of after-the-fact storytelling with the whole adventure in mind.

Make sense?

All that said, I'm super excited to be reflecting back on this trip. To be re-living so many awesome moments in the process of putting it together. Looking back through the photos, choosing which ones best tell the story, and writing with the perspective of time.

Here's a look at the start of my album:


The title page. Simple. Yes. It's what I like. I envision I will add another little phrase strip here (maybe using the typewriter) that says "Disneyland | April 2012."

The sticker from the 12x12 sticker sheet is popped up using two foam squares on top of the kraft dots pattern paper.


My approach to this sort of an album is to think of it like writing a book. I establish themes/chapters for all the different stories I want to make sure I include. These stories most often come from taking the time to look through all my photos from the trip. What stands out? What can be grouped together into a theme (like transportation, food, rides, relationships between specific people, etc)? What were the most meaningful parts? What connections can be made between all the different photos to tell a complete story?

I also ask myself if it makes more sense to simply tell it chronologically or if the themes feel stronger than a straight this-then-this-then-this approach. For me it usually ends up being a combination of both - it will start with the beginning of the trip (just like I did here) and then it will evolve into theme-based chapters.

This album begins with the story of the surprise. I formatted it and printed it out on Epson Presentation Paper (the same paper I've been using for printables) and added two little yellow stars from the 12x12 sticker sheet to the top of each page.


After including the story about the surprise the next logical chapter is travel (how we got there). I've included a few photos above from being in the airport and plan to journal on one of the journal cards.

I love enlarged images and definitely plan to do more of those throughout the album. These photos are a bit taller than 6x8. I did one at 6x8 and it felt too short for the page protector. 6x8.25 seemed a better fit.

I'm using RadLab for my photo-editing (such as changing photos to black and white or lightening them up a bit).


After travel I plan to address our hotel. I've got photos of Simon sitting on the balcony, fireworks from our room, etc. I might move this one from the hotel pool to another chapter that will just be about swimming.


Part of the Say Cheese collection includes these great die-cut pages. I'm thinking I will use them as dividers between some of the main content areas. One of the next chapters I want to include is Simon's favorites from the trip (and then do the same for Anna).


They also have a set of 4x6 and 3x4 die cuts that includes this one that says "dreams do come true." I'm planning to journal on that 4x6 card below about Simon's experience.


His most favorite thing was getting to do Jedi Training. Of course. It was so awesome and I have a bunch more photos of that I want to include along with the story of him getting picked to participate.


That cut circle spinner is from the Decorative Metal Brad set. This is just a start to lay things out a bit and get an idea visually of how I want to move forward.


Anna's favorite was having the princess makeover. Of course. There's a whole story and more photos that need to go along with this as well. Just typing this all up makes me so excited to get these memories documented.


As you can tell I'm using sticky notes to help me identify and plan for other chapters that will be coming as I go through and print my photos and write up the stories. Two more topics I know I'll cover are (1) the theme of cousins and what that means to all of us and (2) how awesome it was to have Katie there and what that relationship means to us.

It's so much more than just a trip to Disneyland.

So that's where I'm at right now. My next steps are to go back through my photos and establish my chapters and print photos and write up the stories. Then I will add stickers and other embellishments on top.

Excited to get started and I'll share my progress along the way.


I put together about a 12-minute video overview where I talk about the products and the process.


Click on the images to link to the products.

Also, here's a look at how I documented this week/trip in Project Life: Week Thirteen 2012


47 thoughts

  1. fauvevanmaanen


    Just reading this and watching the little surprise video you made, have made me all teary eyed. It is such a wonderful experience, and i am happy that we have the same memories. Reading your story brought back many happy memories, thank you! <3

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