Sunday morning we woke the boys up at 4:45am to head to the airport. They were feeling pretty excited, despite the early wake-up.
So, all around, our trip was pretty amazing - we did everything we thought was the best to do at Disneyland for the 3 days there and for the 1 day at Universal Studios. We got to know Los Angeles a bit and learned that we actually quite like it, (helped by the fact that the house I booked was in a nice neighbourhood). The weather might have been a bit rainy, but still plenty of warm days for February!
I'm pretty sure that at least Simon (and Jeff, of course) would agree with me that Disneyland actually isn't the "happiest place on earth" as advertised, considering the line-ups, the meagre food and the stress of how much everything costs. Let me get some complaining out of the way right now:
- Don't bother staying at the Paradise Pier or Disneyland hotel, since I think staying on the East side of the park is actually closer to walk to the park entrance and there are more restaurant options over there. (Unless you can afford the California Resort - super nice and right in the park)
- I think any younger than 5 years old might be too young for any of the rides that are any good, and dealing with a kid that is melting down at Disneyland is not something you want to deal with after you have spent so much money to go there.
- don't bother with the super expensive, really bad buffet "Character Meal Experience". Ew.
- I cannot even fathom going there when it is busy season: some rides are literally only 1.5 minutes long after you've waited for HOW long??
- I felt super unhealthy after 3 days at Disney: the food was just not good, unless you wanted to spend $3 for a slice of pineapple or walk to Jamba Juice for anything that tastes like real food.
Ok, so here's my attempt at a summary, but mostly I'll leave it to the photos to tell the story.
DAY 1: We arrived at the hotel around 1:30pm. We stayed at Disney's Paradise Pier, the cheapest of the 3 "on-site" options, and first we check out Downtown Disney where the boys loved the Lego Store. That night we had a "Character Meal Experience" at Goofy's kitchen where the kids really enjoyed meeting a bunch of the characters, insisting that we wait until Pluto showed up at our table.
DAY 2: We had a quick breakfast of granola bars in the hotel room. It was drizzling with rain that morning, so we hoped that would keep the crowds away. We made a quick trip into Disney's California Adventureland (DCA) since it had early entrance that morning, went on 1 ride then headed to Disneyland for the unexciting "rope-drop".
I had done some research about what rides to go on and how to schedule our time, so we had a bit of a plan to follow and headed straight for the Peter Pan ride... like everyone else.
It was probably the longest wait we did the whole trip and Simon hated it! That's when he had his brief meltdown and apparently "hates Disneyland and wants to go back to the hotel". We thought the Nemo submarine ride would be better for him, but it ended up being kinda dark and scary too, so we weren't off to the best start!
We decided to head into the Star Wars area, to avoid the rain a bit and check into the Jedi Training Academy. (We signed them up for it, but they ended up cancelling it anyway due to the rain that day). The Launch Bay had some cool stuff to check out and we got FastPasses for the HyperSpace Mountain. Jeff took Callum and Max to meet Darth Vader (and I just realized that I still haven't got all the photos from his phone), then we all got to meet Chewbacca. That lifted Simon's spirits a bit so the day improved from there.
Callum was uninterested in doing the Hyperspace ride, so Max and I did it first, then Jeff went on it. Jeff took Callum and Max to the other Star Wars ride, Star Tours, while Simon and I did the Buzz Light Year ride, then we headed out of that area to Toon Town and a few other rides.
Later in the evening they opened up the Autopia ride, so we waited a bit for the boys to test their driving skills before Jeff and Simon went back to the hotel for a little break. Max and Callum chose to make their own Light Saber and take me on the Star tours ride then Jeff and Sion came back for the Electrical Parade.
DAY 3: We had breakfast at the Rainforest Cafe and were in Disney for Magic Morning. There was the Tiki Room, Jungle Cruise, Tarzan's treehouse, Splash Mountain, met a few Characters, Simon says his "butt flew off" when we did the Thunder Mountain ride, we went back to Autopia and more time in the Star Wars area. We headed to DCA to see the "World of Colour" show, which was quite impressive, so waiting in a viewing spot with Corndogs was worth it.
Simon ended up getting himself a Light Saber too, so the rest of our trip had plenty of Saber-fighting.
DAY 4: We just grabbed pastries and Jamba Juice on our way to DCA for the day. We had to get Fastpasses for the Radiator Springs Racers ride, and managed to do it twice that day because it was a good one. I managed to get on the California Screamer a couple times too and we all loved the Soarin' around the world.
We had booked the boys for Jedi Training that afternoon, so popped back over to Disney for it. The didn't seem disappointed that they didn't fight Darth Vader, they all fought the "7th Sister" (I think) instead.
We spent more time at DCA, getting in some last rides before going to see World of Colour again, but as we waited for the show to start (in a difference spot that the bus didn't really like), we decided to just head out. The boys had had enough.
Jeff picked up the rental car and we drove and hour into Los Angeles to our Air BnB.
DAY 5: We wanted to take it easy for a day. We chilled out a bit at the house, but the weather cooperated, so we played some baseball, checked out a couple playgrounds, more light sabre fighting, then headed to Griffiths Observatory for the afternoon.
We tried to find some Hollywood Stars on the Boulevard, that we knew, and it was pretty easy.
We had dinner at The Farmers Market not far from us then slept easily again that night after a good day.
DAY 6: Universal Studios! We got into the 'early entrance', so headed straight to Harry Potter's area, Hogsmeade. We all loved the Hippogriff ride, but it was pretty short! I think, by the end of the day, Simon rode it at least 10 times! Callum and I did the ride in the Hogwarts Castle, but Callum got kinda sick for a bit from it (you can tell which picture I took of him after the ride!)