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


39 thoughts

  1. Christie

    2013-11-01 10:43:43 -0400

    I'm using this same line to do my last Disney trip. Thanks for sharing how you are doing your album. I'm sure I will gets lots of ideas from you!

  2. tammy b

    2013-11-01 10:45:52 -0400

    oh ali, thanks for sharing that even the 'pros' have intended albums sitting around! i'm currently working on planning our trip to disney from this past august so this was great timing for me!

  3. Cynthia H

    2013-11-01 11:36:51 -0400

    This looks so so cool! Thanks for the breakdown of how your travel albums tend to go. It really helps!

  4. Nat

    2013-11-01 12:04:18 -0400

    Don't be so hard on yourself when you haven't gotten to something like this. Things like these, especially vacations, have a right moment to do them and sometimes it can take a while.

    I stick to ephemera collecting and writing a bit in a handheld journal on our trips, nothing more. Well, if I'm feeling industrious, I'll delete bad photos at the end of the day but that's it. I want to experience my travels, not put too much on myself to worry about how I will document them.

  5. StacyK

    2013-11-01 12:54:27 -0400

    Coincidentally I did some research last night on vacation travel journal writing tips, and the article I read basically said what you stated above. Thank you for the confirmation by sharing your process it is really helpful in guiding those of us new to the idea. Not sure you need another book to read, but the article also suggested reading The True Secret of Writing: Connecting Life with Language by Natalie Goldberg which was listed in the O Magazine not too long ago. Anyway, thanks Ali! I can't wait to see what else you come up

  6. audra

    2013-11-01 15:42:55 -0400

    This is totally what I needed! My family went to Disneyland once (Fall '11). I'm completely overwhelmed with all the photos and have not touched them. Watching your video just helped me rethink the process and totally motivates me! I really appreciate you taking the time to make/share these videos, I love sitting down with a cup of coffee to watch them! Thanks so much!

  7. suew

    2013-11-01 16:15:08 -0400

    thanks Ali you have inspired me to get back into doing my Ireland album! Can't believe how busy you are before your China trip.....have a wonderful time! xxx

  8. hannah

    2013-11-01 16:26:34 -0400

    I love the idea of story chapters ... but what do you do for any extra miscellaneous photos? do you plan a section in the middle or end to catch other great photos that don't fit a story chapter?

  9. lin marie

    2013-11-01 20:08:01 -0400

    Everything about this is so wonderful! I've been eyeing the Say Cheese products --and I haven't been to Disney and don't have kids :) You've given me great ideas...love the die cut pages.

    And yes, also bothers me that full pages are more 6 x 8.5. I switched my Project Life to monthly spreads in this 6x8 black leather album (after being inspired by Kelly Purkey's) and find this size so much more manageable.
    I would be interested in any 6 x 8 overlays you may create in the future. (have your dec daily's) Can't wait to see this finished album. Fun!

  10. Peg

    2013-11-01 23:09:27 -0400

    Thanks Ali, this was really great. I have a big trip to Italy from last spring and I am TOTALLY overwhelmed so it's great to see some of your process. Your album is going to be awesome!

  11. carine1234

    2013-11-02 07:10:10 -0400

    hi Ali, happy (relieved) to read that you might work on albums one year after the event.. I have several ideas of albums to be documented, and sometimes I'm just overwhelmed before beginning

  12. TracyBzz

    2013-11-02 12:06:45 -0400

    We travel quite often and I take tons of photos (like every other scrapbooker). My problem is HOW to whittle down my photos. How did you decide which few photos to include in a 6x8 book (that has full page enlargements no less!)? We've been to Disneyland, soon to be 4 times, and I have trouble with making the decision to not scrap all 500 (or whatever) photos I've taken. Which is why my first 2 trips are just barely done. Or do you print a ton of them then throw the extras into photo albums. I only have trouble with travel photos.

    After our first Disneyland trip, I printed my photos and slipped them into a photo album. Then got my girls to flip through and as they talked about the photos I jotted things down on sticky notes and stuck them on the photos. Then I had journaling ready whenever I got to scrapbooking the photos.

  13. Laura

    2013-11-03 05:39:24 -0500

    I carry a little spiral notebook on trips, writing date and things we saw, comments, moments. I then use those when making scrapbook, sometimes several years later. I tried using journal cards, but then would not like how they looked with photos after. Love this little Disney albulm. The divided pages are definately a good option.

  14. Teri H.

    2013-11-03 10:54:45 -0500

    Thanks Ali and StacyK. Just ordered Goldberg's book. Her "Writing Down the Bones" is on my CHristmas wish list! :)

  15. Abby P

    2013-11-03 11:19:14 -0500

    Wow -- LOVE how you broke your plan down into "chapters". Gives me a whole new approach to making albums. Thank you for sharing!

  16. Debbie P

    2013-11-03 21:36:44 -0500

    Thanks for sharing your album Ali! I can't wait to see more of what you have done. I always get overwhelmed and I feel like I need to scrap every photo. Your album reminds me that the story and flow of the trip is much more important that including every photo.

  17. irene

    2013-11-04 06:26:12 -0500

    love this video. It really helped me. Just bought al the same stuff for a Disney Album. So this came just at the right moment. Love the idea of the big diecut pages as dividers of the different chapters. And that chapter idea is just great to build an album. Thanks for being an inspiration, as always ;0). Bye Irene from the Netherlands

  18. Artfulscrapbooking

    2013-11-07 21:44:07 -0500

    Love your approach!! Looking forward to seeing you put it all together! :) Evie

  19. Carol

    2014-01-16 15:17:30 -0500

    Hi Ali,

    Would love to see a compilation of your digital products that would be useful for a Disney album or photobook. I seem to remember that you featured a photobook that was put together using your digital brushes years ago, but I couldn't locate it on the site. I have so many photos, and people I would like to share them with through gift copies, that I may have to do a photobook rather than a scrapbook.

  20. Rachael

    2014-01-31 21:45:04 -0500

    I love that you are going back to work on an album. This gives me hope for the unfinished projects I have stashed aside to complete "some day". Thanks for the inspiration. I know it will be awesome and fun to actually finish them up despite the time that has passed!!

  21. sharon

    2014-02-11 04:23:59 -0500

    Hi Ali,

    I love how you are putting this album together. I often turn to your work for inspiration and would love to see the completed album on your blog.

    Thank You

  22. Tackling Those Unfinished Projects | Ali Edwards

    2014-02-17 06:00:30 -0500

    […] Disneyland 2012 Album (see my start here) […]

  23. Heather

    2014-02-17 11:26:00 -0500

    Funny! I just started organizing our 1st Disney trip and did a blog post on my organization from a 'picking photos' perspective. I read your blog but have been off the last few months with a new baby distraction and read your travel post today to get here. Have fun catching up - makes me happy to know I am not alone!

    I really wanted to scrap this right away but like you having the look back gives it so much perspective. The important thig is to hot down the little notes and stories you may forget (love Instagram for that because I have a snapshot and commentary easy to find)

  24. Amanda A

    2014-04-23 18:01:07 -0400

    I'm going on a couple of road trips this summer. Two with a friend and one on my own. My plan is to write a postcard to myself and mail it off from certain spots on my trip. That way when I get home I have mail and will be able to remember how I felt right at that moment.

  25. fauvevanmaanen

    2015-03-08 07:24:53 -0400

    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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