Disneyland for Our Daughter’s 13th Birthday

Having a Blast on California Adventure's Tower of Terror

Having a Blast on California Adventure’s Tower of Terror

Going to Disneyland for our Daughter’s 13th birthday was a great idea!  We had a blast!

We stayed at the Grand Californian which was quite expensive, but we were able to get into California Adventure at 7:00 am with hardly any other people, and we were able to ride 15 rides before 11:00!

Because our family likes Disney for the rides, we find it worth the extra money of staying at the Grand Californian for the perks: 2 days “Extra Magic Hours” even with only 1 night booked, IN California Adventure & Downtown Disney, you can see the Disneyland Entrance from the hotel.  If you don’s use the perks, I’m not sure it’s worth it.

Splash MountainBesides being an incredible 5 star hotel with very comfortable beds, soft sheets, many pillows, great service,  fun pools, good restaurants, etc, we like how close it is to California Adventure and Disneyland and the “Extra Magic Hours” the most.  This is worth the $450 per night price tag for our family. If you can’t get to the early hour…don’t stay here.

There are other hotels close by, like our other favorite, Park Vue Inn, which is right across the street, about a 5 minute walk.  This hotel usually runs $190 per night, includes a light breakfast, and if you buy a 3 day Disneyland pass, you can go into the park for 1-2 mornings on the “Extra Magic Hour”.  The difference in these “Extra Magic Hours” is that the entire crowd of all the other hotels goes into either Disneyland or California Adventure and ONLY the Grand Californian guests go into the OTHER.  It changes daily.

For example:  Sunday, Monday, Wednesday & Friday are California Adventure, and the other days are Disneyland early entry for Grand Californian guests.  These days change randomly, so make sure to check when you are booking to see which park is on

We LOVE California Screamin' in Disney's California Adventure! Our Favorite ALL TIME ride!

We LOVE California Screamin’ in Disney’s California Adventure! Our Favorite ALL TIME ride!

which day.  All the “neighbor” hotels get in only 2-3 days per week early, and the number of people with this option from the “neighbor” hotels is many compared with the handful of Grand Californian guests going in the OTHER park on the same day.

So, for us, by lunchtime, we have finished one park.  We eat lunch at the Big Thunder Mountain Ranch BBQ, take a nap at our AWESOME hotel, and then we are back at it until Midnight.  If you EVER have Disney questions, PLEASE email me!  I would love to give you any tips I can!

Happy Birthday our gorgeous, brilliant, courageous, funny, obnoxious, playful, happy, kind, daughter!  We love you!  I’m so thankful that you are in our lives.  You rock.

Love, Mom & Dad

 

Disneyland or Walt Disney World?

Mickey MouseI’m a Disney lover and am always happy to find so many Disney lovers all over the world!  I used to keep my “Disney talk” to my family only, but I have realized how many families love Disney as much or more than we do!  Now, we have Disney parents who compare Disney plans & past experiences.  I love that!! It’s the best way to learn.

When starting the planning process, the question is:  Disneyland or Walt Disney World??

First, it depends on where you live and your budget.  The closer option is easier on the family travel exhaustion and family budget.  If you live on the East Coast or West Coast, your option is clear. If you have a choice, here are some things to think about:

  1. Disneyland is typically cheaper and easier to see in a shorter amount of time
  2. Disneyland is 300 acres while Disney World is 30,000 acres! (47 square miles!)
  3. Disney World is good “All-inclusive” where Disneyland is not
  4. Disneyland is boxed in, so some outside hotels are closer to the entrance than Disney World hotels

Pros for Walt Disney World:

  • It’s huge…also a con
  • all inclusive: if you don’t want to leave “campus” you don’t need to.  Everything you need is right there.  This also saves on a rental car.  This also makes it easier to focus on Disney instead of other options
  • More to see:  Disney World is much bigger than Disneyland and you could take days to enjoy all it has to offer
  • Many options to stay:  the “on property” hotels & places to stay in Disney World make much more sense than the “off-property” hotels, unlike Disneyland, where the hotels by the main-gate are closer than The Disneyland Hotel to the Main Gate.  Fort Wilderness Cabins, for example, in Walt Disney World give a great “suite” type cabin with a full kitchen and 2 sleeping areas while being very close to Magic Kingdom. (our favorite!) see Tips to Planning a Trip to Walt DisneyWorld
  • There are more specials for Disney World for longer stays, but Disneyland is catching up

Pros for Disneyland:

  • It’s small…also a con
  • You can get the entire 2 parks covered in 2-4 days
  • They offer a VIP tour that really rocks 714-300-7710 (Disney World is too big for this same tour)
  • There are many hotels RIGHT there….our favorite is Park Vue Inn which is closer to the main gate than the Disneyland Hotel (btw)
  • You are not too far from the beach…we always include a few beach days during our stay
  • It’s the original and there are some historic coolness you can find

We tend to choose Disneyland over Walt Disney World because of how close it is to us and our familiarity with Disneyland and the area around it.  We know exactly where to go…

Which would you choose?

Family Trip Planning For Christmas

We are brainstorming about where, which days & what to do for our Christmas Vacation.

Disneyland Christmas

Disneyland Christmas

As the kids get older, we can’t take them out of school as easily as when they were younger.  So, as many other families have to do…we go during Christmas Break.  We could stay home and really relax from all the after school run-around.  But, I like to get out of town because when I stay home, I continue to massage, move around the house,  and cleaning, organizing, etc.  It’s never really “relaxing” for me.  That’s more for the summer vacation: PJ’s for weeks at a time!!

What is our budget? Do we want to stay home for the Christmas Day or leave the day after?

Where should we go? There are so many great options:

  • To see family?
  • To relax and sleep for days?
  • A warm beach?
  • A White Christmas?
  • Golf?
  • History?
  • Disney?
  • Music?

The way I see it, there are only so many vacation opportunities before the kids are on their own.  Out of the 2 vacations per year, I only have 12 left with my daughter (or so).  There are the big places to see: New York City, Boston, Alaska, Washington D.C., Yosemite, The Redwoods, etc, etc.

I could name at least 50 places.  So, how do we choose 12?  DSC_0386

Any ideas out there?

Is there a bucket list for Family Vacations?

American History is fun to see in places like Pennsylvania, Boston & Virginia.  But so would the National Forests, or the great rivers, the Great Lakes, etc, etc.

As a kid, we only traveled to where our extended family lived.  We had the opportunity to see things IN BETWEEN us and family while driving.  And the driving was awful.  Remember the no-air conditioning, no radio signal, no car-seats type travel with a gas station every now and then?

Now there are so many fancy travel helpers like DVDs, iPods, travel games, stores every 30 miles or less, etc.  It’s much easier to go places in a car.  Many hotels have a pool.  Even small pools make it great for the kids to unwind and burn off some energy.  Then we go to the room and order a movie in the room!! So easy!

This year, we are going for a “dual-purpose vacation” involving family, Disneyland, ocean & history!

We will drive to save money, but that takes 2 days out of our vacation, which sometimes is worth the price of the plane tickets.

Instead, we added 2 days to our time, which was a huge relief.  That is one of the advantages of owning our own businesses: we can leave when we want.  In the massage business, the days we miss just means less income for those days.

I usually make an excel spreadsheet of dates, hotel info, prices, activity & prices.

Here’s our Itinerary:

Dec 26   Leave early, drive to Palm Springs, see family

  • Dec 27   Del Mar Beach Motel 2 nights

    Dec 28   Day at the Beach, Drive to Anaheim, check in to Park Vue Inn

    Dec 29   Disneyland

    Dec 30   Disneyland

    Dec 31   Disneyland

    Jan 1      Hollywood

    Jan 2      Hollywood

    Jan 3      Drive Home