Friday, June 12, 2015

5 Tips for your Trip to Disneyland as a Utah Couple

My husband and I have been married nearly four years, and apart from our honeymoon, we hadn’t taken a vacation. The plan was to take a trip to the Czech Republic, where my husband spent two years on a church mission, until I was diagnosed with a pituitary tumor. Surgery and doctor’s visits clouded the vision.  Needless to say, we scaled back our plans and gleefully settled on a trip to Disneyland. This post is for the young-at-heart Utah couple seeking tips on a successful Disney adventure.
Let's look at that a little closer.
Even closer... photobomb gold.

Tip #1-The Drive:
If you plan to drive to California, here are a few things we learned.  First, you will need to have some road trip entertainment. Pick up an audiobook from the library and make a playlist of upbeat songs. (This trip we enjoyed Jim Gaffigan’s book Food: a Love Story. Hilarious.)

A Cautionary Tale:
 On our honeymoon, we drove through Las Vegas on I-15 on Sunday. We were stuck in traffic for hours! I think we left Salt Lake City at 7:30 am and didn’t get to Los Angeles until 10:00 pm (14.5 hours).  Good thing we were so twitterpated, we didn’t mind too much, right?

This time we did a little research. Las Vegas traffic is really bad on Friday and Sunday. Most people go to Vegas for the weekend and need to get back before the work week. Unfortunately, we had planned our trip to leave from Utah on Sunday.  After reading up more on Vegas traffic, we learned it doesn’t really pick-up until around 10:30 a.m. We left from Tooele (near Salt Lake City) around 3 am and arrived in Anaheim at 2:00 p.m.  (11 hours including gas and lunch breaks). Waking up early was rough, but it gave us enough time to nap when we got to our hotel, check out the local mall, get dinner, and take a dip in the pool. Getting up those extra few hours early can really set the tone for your whole trip.

 Tip #2-Getting Gas:

Filling up on gas can be a pricey part of your trip! If you plan ahead to save a few dollars here and there, you won’t feel so guilty splurging on some delightful Disney treats like Cozy Cone Churro Bites.  So helpful when you are on a road trip!
First off, I would recommend downloading the app Gas Guru. This app will tell you where the cheapest gas is in comparison to your current location.

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I would recommend filling up on gas in St. George before you hit the Arizona and Nevada borders. Gas prices skyrocket in the desert. Supply and demand, it is a thing!  If you fill up in St. George, you should be able to make it through the terribly priced gas stops. If you can make it to Barstow, you will save almost a dollar off of every gallon of gas you purchase, even more if you are paying for gas with cash. I will warn you, some of those outlier California cities have the scariest, most disgusting bathrooms, I have ever been in. Bring hand sanitizer and a lot of courage. 

Tip #3-Hotel Recommendation:

While we were in Anaheim we stayed in two hotels, Hotel Pepper Tree and the Clarion on Harbour Blvd. Hotel Pepper Tree was a boutique style hotel, some rooms have a full kitchen, some have a fridge and microwave. I think all rooms had a step-out balcony, complete with adorable fountain.

 The room was affordable at around $90 including all the fees, and very close to local amenities. There was a  Savers across the street. Walmart, Ross and TJ Maxx were just a couple exits away. Just an exit or two further, was the Main Place Mall complete with a movie theater  and the most amazing grilled cheese I have ever had at Boudin.

The next two nights we stayed at the Clarion on Harbour Blvd. Clarion wasn’t as well kept or fresh as the Hotel Pepper Tree. However, it was just a few blocks from Disneyland and the sheer convenience factor made-up for its shortcomings.  We just walked to the park both days we were there. If you are feeling brave, you can walk across the street to the Toy Story parking lots and have one of the buses shuttle you over for free to avoid paying for the hotel transit. We did this our last night with no trouble.

Tip #4- Time, Your Most Valuable Asset:

The most important tip I could give you regarding a successful trip would be to value your time in Disneyland. Get to the park around 30 minutes before it opens. Most people don’t get to Disneyland or California Adventure until mid-morning. This means shorter lines and more adventures in your day. Same thing goes with staying until closing; many families with young children will leave after the parade or the fireworks. Again, shorter lines!

 I would recommend getting a few Fast Passes first thing. If you plan on riding Cars or Indiana Jones, those lines can be an hour and a half long or more. On our way out of the park, one lady on the train said she spent three and a half hours in line for it. We grabbed a Fast Pass for Cars as soon as the park opened  and came back to ride it around 10:30, when we were done riding, we were able to get another Fast Pass and ride it again at 4:30. Both times, we were only waiting in line for five minutes, and we rode all sorts of rides in between. Fast Passes will make your day, use them. You can get a new Fast Pass every two hours. But, remember, you can only hold one Fast Pass per attraction at a time. P.S. Wearing a lanyard with your day pass and Fast Pass tickets makes keeping track of them super convenient.

Tip #5- Ride Recommendations:
There are attractions that everyone loves and enjoys at Disneyland and California Adventure, and there are some that seem to go un-noticed.  Here is my list of must sees and stunning pictures of me, the most photogenic human being there ever was, enjoying said rides.

The Classics-Disneyland

 ·        Indiana Jones- Such an  experience, even waiting in line is a fun part of this ride

·         Jungle Cruise- The tour guides are hilarious. Maybe more hilarious is watching people take pictures of the animatronics thinking that they are real. (Seriously though, we still don't know if the lady enthusiastically taking pictures of them knew they were fake...)
·        Haunted Mansion- This is a favorite, we rode it 3-4 times in two days.

·        Pirates of the Caribbean- Another favorite, such amazing attention to detail.

·        Splash Mountain- Lines are shorter in the morning, be ready to get a little wet.

·         Peter Pan’s Flight- Such a delightful ride, sad it was closed when we went.

·         Enchanted Tiki Room- Fun place to cool down, pick up a Dole Whip on your way in to complete the experience.

·         Space Mountain- Roller Coaster in the dark, best idea ever, so much fun.

·         It’s a Small World- For nostalgia…and happy, joyful feelings. (Challenge mode: somehow get the song out of your head that day)

·         Matterhorn- This is newly renovated with a more realistic Yeti and Longer line.


The Creepy Ones-

Just a warning, these rides are just plain spooky. It feels like Disney went through a phase  where they tried to scare children into behaving. You may need to ride these three classics just to see what I mean, or just YouTube a ride through video and save yourself some time and nightmares.

·         Snow White’s Scary Adventure-The evil queen chases you down the whole ride leading up to a happily ever after?
·         Pinocchio’s Daring Journey- A stay-in-school, Pleasure Island cautionary tale.
·         Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride- Basically, this ride takes you to Hell.

Fun in California Adventure

·         Tower of Terror-  This is a sudden drop style ride, use Fast Passes to ride it over and over.

·         Cars: Radiator Springs Racers- Fun ride in high demand, use Fast Passes so you can catch both alternate endings.

·         Toy Story Midway Mania- This is an interactive carnival game ride, way better than the Buzz ride in Disneyland. Try to beat your score the second time.

·         Ariel’s Undersea Adventure-Featuring beautiful new animatronics. Very short lines in the morning.

·         Monster’s Inc. Mike and Sulley to the Rescue-  The door sorting room is pretty fabulous.

·         Soarin' Over California- Feels like you are flying over California, complete with yummy smells.

·         California Screamin’- Most intense roller coaster out of both parks, it has one upside down loop.

·         Hyperion Theater- Amazing Aladdin Show, Genie is hilarious.

·         Animation Studio- Drawing tutorial with a Disney Animator, new character each half hour

·         Turtle Talk with Crush- Honestly thought this would be lame, but it was super funny.

 Well, that's it folks! Hopefully, something in here was useful for you! Have fun on your trip. Be sure to comment if you have any tips to add!

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