Ultimate Theme Park Trip overview report

Disneyland Resort Anaheim, CA

Tour Highlights
Halloween Theming of Disneyland
Start of the Year of a Million Dreams
Princess Fantasy Faire
Fireworks (only on weekends in off season)
Haunted Mansion Holiday
Pirates of the Caribbean
Turtle Talk with Crush (better seating than the Orlando version)
Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
Disney Day Tour in LA, visiting the Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, the Disney Soda Shop and El Capitan theatre in West Hollywood
Walt’s Barn in Griffith Park
Drive past of Walt Disney Imagineering.

Must See Attractions (Disneyland)
Indiana Jones
Jungle Cruise
Pirates of the Caribbean
Haunted Mansion
Splash Mountain
Space Mountain
Big Thunder Mountain
Matterhorn Bobsleds
It’s a Small World
Buzz Lightyear Astroblasters
Disneyland Railroad (full circle)

Must See Attractions (DCA)
Soarin’ over California
California Screamin’
Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
Turtle Talk with Crush
Monsters Inc
Muppet Vision 3D
Disney Animation
Grizzly River Rapids
It’s Tough to be a Bug

Must See Shows
Fantasmic (Disneyland)
Disney’s Parade of Dreams (Disneyland)
Remember Dreams Come True (Disneyland)
Jedi Academy (Disneyland – this show is easy to miss, but we liked it)
Aladdin Stage Show (DCA)
Block Party Bash (DCA)

Flight Times
We travelled direct to Los Angeles (LAX) from Orlando with a flight time of 5 hours. From Sydney, flight time is approximately 13 hours. We flew American Airlines again and they continued to impress in terms of onboard service and efficiency, though there is no food served – so remember to pack a muffin or something to nibble on!

There is a Disneyland Express bus service operated by Coach USA that provides a shuttle service from LAX to the hotels in the Disneyland area. Some of the party used this service (pre-booked by our travel agent, though tickets can be purchased at LAX). The service was very good (in fact, we were the only party on board!) We also used this service to return to LAX and the pickup point is the bus stop outside of the Best Western Park Place Inn on Harbor Blvd.

Others in the party caught the Super Shuttle from LAX – a privately owned mini-van company that service airports through the US. They were not too happy with the service as the driver was juggling to mobile phones as he was driving the Anaheim and it was thought that safety was being compromised.

We were staying in a hotel on Harbor Blvd across the road from the main entrance to the Disneyland Resort, so we had no need of a daily shuttle service. We would always recommend visitors to Disneyland to stay at a Harbor Blvd hotel near the traffic lights. Otherwise you will be reliant on the hotel shuttles that may not be as regular as required.

Tropicana Inn and Suites – this hotel is in a great location, almost at the traffic lights on Harbor Blvd which serve as the entrance to Disneyland. The hotel had been recently renovated and the rooms were bright and clean with new bathrooms and a separate vanity area. The hotel includes a continental breakfast including tea, coffee, croissants, muffins and iced pastries. You could also purchase cereals and a pint of milk for a $1 each, making for a cheap breakfast.

Rooms were a good size and were equipped with a fridge, microwave, hair dryer, iron and coffee making, as well as cable TV. The rooms had plenty of space for bags and also had two queen beds each. The reception area was particularly helpful and they had plenty of lockable baggage minding space for your last day. The safe deposit box was also available if you wish to lock up your passport etc.

We still recommend that you book an extra day of accommodation if you plan to fly out late at night, so you can spend the day in the park and come back to shower before catching the plane home.

Other things to do
Well, this is Los Angeles – so there is endless scope for things to do.
Other theme parks in the area include: Universal, Knotts Berry Farm, Legoland, Magic Mountain, Sea World in San Diego, San Diego Zoo, plus many more.

Visit Hollywood and the Disney Soda Fountain.

Plenty of days tours bookable – see the hotel reception for all the brochures.

We hired a private mini-van with a driver for $480 for the full day which is great if you have a party of 6 or more to split the cost. We were able to direct the driver to what we wanted to see and do and how much time we wanted at each site – this is better than the inflexible bus tours.

Disneyland Resort Anaheim is the loser in the food stakes. Although there are a number of eateries throughout the parks, we found most of the menus were similar and with a very limited selection. How many bacon cheeseburgers, turkey club sandwiches or clam chowders can you eat in a week? This type of food is also pretty expensive – we found the meals in Orlando cheaper – and France and Hong Kong cheaper again for a much better meal.

Generally the food was of decent quality though the River Belle Terrace disappointed with the food being quite cold by the time we got to our table.

One of our members was complimentary of the Blue Bayou steak – so there were gems if you could find them.

We found food service fairly slow and some food cast members were surly and un-Disney like.

Much cheaper and better food can be found outside the park, even the likes of Denny’s across the road on Harbor Blvd provided better meals (at a third the cost) of what we had in the Parks.

The Disneyland Resort in Anaheim shows the problems that inspired Walt Disney to purchase such a large parcel of land in Orlando – the suburbs have encroached of the resort surrounds making the area fairly ugly. Disney has tried its best to landscape the area surrounding the parks, and the esplanade area is very good, however it must come last in the picturesque stakes.

However what the resort loses in external visual appeal, it more than makes up for within the theme parks themselves – and Disneyland has something none of the other parks in the world have, and that is history and a great atmosphere.

Pros and Cons
Pros – it is Disneyland! Here you walk in the footsteps of the creators of the theme park genre, not just those who came later and copied. Anaheim has great weather, great parades, great fireworks, great atmosphere, great attractions.

Cons – Paradise Pier in DCA is not attractive (other than California Screamin’ which looks fabulous and the ride is amazing); food service and choice throughout the resort is poor; the surrounding area is not very attractive.

Leave a Reply