Thursday, May 19, 2016

Disneyland and California Adventure in a Day

As you can tell, I love traveling but with my schedule I stay busy and unfortunately can't take the time to spend long amounts of time away from home. However, I frequently make mini-trips and have become somewhat of an "expert" on these short on time, big on adventure trips. I'm going to show you how to take on both parks, Disneyland and California Adventure in one day!

For my first tip, if you can stay on site do so. We stayed at the lovely Grand Californian Hotel but if you are looking for the most budget friendly, check out the Paradise Pier Hotel.  It is known as the "value resort" of Disneyland and one I highly recommend. Unfortunately, it does book fast so try to nail down your dates as soon as possible and look for discount rates (for all Disney hotels) throughout all times of the year. However, you can't deny the Grand Californian is the most elegant and beautiful of all the hotels!

Grand Californian Hotel Lobby 

After you book your room, you need to figure out what you want to see and do. Are you traveling in a group? Friends? Couple? Family? Each situation brings a new experience to the table. Couples probably want to have a romantic dinner at least one night whereas families are looking more to find quick service restaurants that can accommodate large crowds and foods for all members. As for the parks? I can give you one word of advice...ARRIVE EARLY! Yes, little ones (and some not so little ones) will hate the idea of getting up early but they will be happy when they are riding Space Mountain when others are outside in an hour wait.

You can find a time schedule here (bonus of staying at a Disney resort, Early Admission Hours).
Wall Art at Disney's California Adventure park

Now as we were discussing restaurants, there is one must do for those venturing over to California Adventure, is the Cove Bar. It has the best seat in the house for the some of the most scenic areas in the park. Oh and adults, they have the yummiest drinks! They even have a secret menu that has some fun drinks you have to try!
Line around 10:30am for 11am opening of the Cove Bar
Word to the wise, this place fills up early! We got in line about 30 minutes before opening (11am) and there was already a bit of a wait in line. Disney parks are all about arriving early! Once you realize this the more you will accomplish in a short time!

Yes, there are drinks with cotton candy that exist here! Lunch is also a good time to plan out the rest of the day since you will have probably accomplished quite a bit so far. Especially since you have been up early and arrived when the parks opened :)

On this particular trip we went to California Adventure first since there were more things we wanted to do at Disneyland and knew it would be easier to cross our must-do's off at California Adventure. Then we would be able to spend the bulk of our day at Disneyland. Luckily both parks are an entry-way from each other and withing walking distance so you can easily park-hop if you choose to. Here is a breakdown of park hopping ticket options here!

Disneyland is more compact than it's bigger counterpart over in Orlando so it is easy to cover lots of ground in one day but you will be walking ALOT so wear your comfy shoes! If you have younger kids, tackle Fantasyland first always. The rides are slower to load thus make the lines move at a snails pace at times. Now if you are touring with older kids, teens, adults, etc. then you can pretty much start wherever. Star Wars is a hot commodity right now and the newly launched "Hyper Space Mountain" is one you can't miss! That is if you like roller coasters (no, it does not go upside down) however, you can check out all the Star Wars Summer events here no roller coaster necessary.

Mini-trips also mean you can budget your money a little better without the week long stay. One of my biggest tips is food choices. I do not care about eating at sit-down restaurants each meal, there are so many snacks that we love and some we still need to try that it is sometimes better to forgo the large meals (and price tag) and snack your way around the parks. Choose one restaurant for your "big meal", I recommend lunch, dinner is automatically more pricy. No, snacking on churros, ice cream, pretzels,etc. is not the healthiest option but one day is ok to splurge a little! I also love getting fresh fruit at the snack stands and substituting fruit for fries with chicken fingers. Little cuts along the way can be healthier for you and easier on your wallet!

I do advise hitting some of the classic attractions like The Haunted Mansion (pictured below), the Pirates of the Caribbean, It's a Small World (yes, I know annoying but a classic), and Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. Also, if you frequent the Florida park then try some of the rides that are not offered at Disney World like the fantastic Indiana Jones Adventure and Roger Rabbit's Cartoon Spin. Check out a map of Disneyland attractions here and Disney's California Adventure here!

While you may want to go, go, go all day and the parks are fun so you may not want to take a break but you need to! Take a short nap for an hour or two, catch some pool time, explore the Downtown Disney District. You will feel refreshed and ready to tackle the parks (and crowds) again! We love going to the parks after dark. There seems to be less people, cooler temps and it's fun to see the parks at night! Even though you are only there for a short time, still take your time to enjoy yourself!

I hope you all enjoyed some of my tips on conquering the Disneyland parks in a day! Any tips I missed? What's something that you want to share? Let me know!

You can find all the information on Disneyland, California Adventure, rides, restaurants, hotels and more right here! Oh and Disneyland is still celebrating it's 60th Anniversary so there is lots of cool stuff happening, it's summer, you need a vacation, why not go to the "happiest place on earth"?

Happy Travels!



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