Bakery, Barbells and Bargains I own a bakery, and I like to lift weights and shop

October 25, 2017


Filed under: Vacations — shuss @ 10:15 am

Hello all! We just returned from our very first time at Disneyland California and I wanted to share some stories and tips from our trip.

To start, we are East Coast people, so we normally visit Walt Disney World which I have written about previously. When we planned a big family trip to visit the Sequoia’s (more on that later) we thought it would be fun to spend half of the week in the LA area and visit Disney. There are a lot of similarities and differences so I wanted to write and share both. Hope you enjoy and find this helpful if you are planning a trip.

What’s Similar?

Well, it is Disney so you will find a clean park, smiling faces, helpful cast members and lots of Disney magic at every turn. The prices for tickets, food and merchandise also seemed the same. Both resorts have a Downtown Disney District, on-site lodging and resort transportation.

If you have been to Disney World, you will find that the Magic Kingdom and Disneyland are very similar. Both have a charming Main Street that leads to a beautiful castle, then various lands branch out from there. The rides are also very similar but we were thrilled to find some rides in CA that are not in FL like Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride and the Matterhorn.

Both locations also had great parades and impressive night shows, I really enjoyed World of Color at California Adventure.

So what’s different?

The first big difference I noticed was the size. When approaching Disney World, there are multiple exits off the interstate depending on which park/hotel you are going to and a huge arch over the highway to welcome you.  The parks and hotels all have a large distance between them.  At Disneyland, you basically walk or drive down Harbor Blvd in Anaheim and you will see a sign that says Disneyland Resort, you just turn in and you’re there!  After walking past all the bus stops, you go through security and you are in this center area between the two parks and just turn left or right depending on where you want to go, easy!

The other big difference, on-site hotels!  I always recommend staying at a Disney hotel when in Disney World because there are so many options for different budgets, hotel parking is free and there are shuttles to the park.  Disneyland offers three beautiful hotels but they were on the expensive end so we opted to stay at what they call a Good Neighbor hotel.  Good Neighbor hotels are listed on Disney’s website and you book them on your own.  Our hotel was about two miles from the entrance, offered a shuttle, included breakfast and we had a nice roomy suite.  The cost was around the same as a moderate level resort at Disney World.

Dining was also a bit different in a few ways.  Disneyland seemed to have less table service places and less character meals.  We were able to book a princess lunch that was excellent but I think it was the only non-breakfast character meal.  Disneyland also does not have a meal plan.  I know you pay regardless, but that meal plan is just so dern convenient.  Somehow it stings less to use your snack credit to buy that Dole Whip rather than forking out the $14.  And this is not dining specific, but I did not see any Magic Bands at Disneyland.  I just loved those things at WDW….your room key, park ticket, meal plan and credit card all on your wrist.  No purse, no backpack, nothing in the pockets, PERFECT!

Since I like to write about budgeting, onto cost.  Cost is a scary thing at anything Disney but there are a few ways to save.  First all, you’re going to spend some money so just go ahead and accept that way before you go and save up.  Second, if you are a responsible credit card user, consider a Disney credit card.  We were able to use our points to cover almost all of our ticket prices, we all three got into the park for two days for just $85, that is less than a one day ticket for a child.  You can also use your points redemption card (a gift card) for purchases in the park such as food and merchandise.  It will take a while to earn a lot of points so plan ahead on this one.  Another way we saved was bringing our own bottled water and a few snacks into the park, Disney allows this and it will save you a little cash.  We also chose a hotel that included free breakfast.  Research and compare prices and you can get a hotel that includes breakfast for the same cost as one that does not.  We stayed at a Hilton hotel and since I am a Hilton Honors member (free program!) I got a lower price on the room and used some of my previously earned points to pay for the room.  To do this you will need to book directly through Hilton and not a third party site.  For even more savings, Hilton does own Hampton Inn which generally costs less per night and offers similar amenities.

The final thing I really liked about Disneyland ‘s smaller size was we really only needed two days to enjoy both parks.  This gave us the opportunity to spend the rest of our week exploring other areas of California.

So my favorite parts of Disney?  Guardians of the Galaxy Breakout (formerly Tower of Terror), Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, Matterhorn, Jungle Cruise, Pirates of the Caribbean and Peter Pan.

Overall, if you want to go to Disney, I would recommend going to the one closest to your home.  You will spend less money getting there and you will have a great time at either location.  However, if you are are visiting the Southern California area anyways and love Disney like me, it is totally worth the visit.  I have some pics from our trip below to share!


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