Thursday, December 10, 2009

California Adventure Construction Update

December 2009.
As you can see from this night time photo the lake that has been under construction for months has some water in it. However it is not know if the water was from the recent rain storm or the construction is completed and the lake was partially filled. As I was standing at this spot I over heard two Disney Security guards talking about how there is an extra water reservoir over by the hotel that will be used during the new water show. The extra water reservoir will keep the level of the lake from dropping when all off the fountains are in use at the same time. Many areas on this same side of California Adventure are blocked off for construction and will be for some time until the new rides are completed.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

New Rides Coming to California Adventure Starting in 2010

Here are some rendering of the new rides, attractions and entrance plaza under construction at California Adventure. The rides and attractions are scheduled to open between 2010 and 2012. The new attractions include Pixar Cars Land, The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Adventure, Micky's Silly Symphony Swings and new upscale restaurants (no more hamburgers). The main attraction is the World of Color water and animation show. The World of Color viewing area model and the renderings of how the water show will look are on display in the Blue Sky Cellar in California Adventure. You can also watch a great video of how things are developing.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Beach Vacations in California

Here is our map of the best beaches you will want to visit along with your Disney Vacation. We recommend going to the beach after Disneyland in case you get sun burned, and you will... everyone does.

So click on the link to see our recommendations for OC's and San Diego's best Beaches.

From San Diego Vacation

Thursday, July 2, 2009

10 Hands-on Activities Kids Will Love

Here is a list of some of the favorite activities kids love to do at Disneyland.

1. Disney's Animation Academy: Located in California Adventure you and your kids can learn to draw Disney Characters in a studios setting. This is something they can do over and over with a different character each time. Younger kids (6 and under) may have a harder time keeping up.

2. Jedi Training Academy: Kids are trained as Jedi. Very popular you may need to arrive early to be apart of the show.

3. Canoes: during the summer the canoes around Tom Sawyer Island are open. This takes about 15 minutes to paddle around the lake. Kids 5 and under will wear a life jacket.

4. Innoventions: There are lots of hands on activities (computer games) that kids can play for free.

5. Celebrate A Street Party: During this parade kids are invited to be apart of the action. Kids love dancing and when the confetti canons go off they love catching and picking up the little Mickey's. This runs twice a day so check show times.

6. Toon Town: Lots of hands-on things down on the east end by the Rodger Rabbit ride. Also there is the boat next to Gagets go coaster that kids can explore

7. Playhouse Disney: Everyone sits on the floor but during the show kids can get up and dance around. Good fun for kids 6 and under.

8. Turtle Talk with Crush: Kids sit on the floor and Crush asks them questions. Very entertaining for kids and parents.

9. Redwood Creek Challenge Trail: Lots to do and explore in this playground across from Bear Rapids in California Adventure

10. S.S. Rustworthy: There are enough Water cannons, Bell-ringing, Lever-pulling and Wheel-turning activities to ensure that your child has a fun time.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Night Time Summer Shows

Disneyland has new night time summer shows that are amazing. Here are some tips to help you decide which ones to see and when.

1. Magical - the new fireworks show over Cinderella's Castle. There is only one show each night a 9:25. If your visiting for two days you may want to see this one first then head over to Fantasmic the next night.

2. Fantasmic - There are two shows each night (3 if the park is really crowded). You may be able to see the first Fantasmic show and then head over to "Magical", but don't count on getting a good spot. Overall Fantasmic is the best of the three shows. Lots of action, fire and fireworks.

3. Electrical Parade - This take place at California Adventure at around 8:45 (later if the park is crowded) You can see the Magical fireworks really well from Paradise Pier and by over by Mickey's Funwheel.

Many people save their spot with a blanket for 2-3 hours before the shows starts. You need to get there early but not 2 hours early in order to watch, only to get a seat.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Best Sit Down Shows at Disneyland

Let's face it after a few hour of walking around at Disneyland your ready to sit down in a cool place and relax. Here is a list of some of the best sit down shows where you can take a break for 15 to 30 minutes. Starting with most entertaining and popular.

1. Golden Horseshoe Saloon - Billy Hill and the Hillbillies (check show times to make sure you see this show and not one of the others.)
2. Jedi Training Academy (kids get to fight Darth Vader outside in the Tomorrowland Terrace)
3. Innoventions ASIMO demonstration
4. Mark Twain River Boat (not a show but you get to sit down)
5. Honey, I Shrunk the Audience (3D show)
6. Enchanted Tiki Room

California Adventure
1. Aladdin Show (check schedule online)
2. Disney's Animation Studios
A. Turtle Talk with Crush (very funny)
B. Animation Academy (Kids and Adults love drawing Disney characters)
3. Muppet Vision 3D
4. Bug's Life 3D show

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

How to Survive a Crowded Day at Disneyland

I just spent two of the most crowded days at Disneyland and California Adventure. The reason is that June 15-16 were the last days of summer where the many Annual Pass holder could go and California schools were all out for the summer. On the 15th they stopped letting people in at 5 p.m. but opened up again once the crowds died down.

Regardless we still had a fun day and this is how we did it.

WE ARRIVED EARLY. Arriving early is the only way to get on tons of rides before the crowds arrive. We were able to get on 14 rides in the first 7 hours from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. because we started by collecting Fast Passes quickly before they ran out. We had one person take the tickets to the fast pass machine while we waited in line for our first ride. If your staying in a hotel near Disneyland this is sure fired way to get in early.

Here are our suggestions:
Make sure you get Fast Passes for these 3 rides in this order. 1. Space Mountain. You can ride this anytime after your fast past return time and you can get your next one 1.5 hours later. 2. Splash Mountain - you want to ride early in the day in case you get wet. Don't get this first or you will have to wait 2 hours for your next Fast Pass. I always ask to ride in the back and never get soaked. 3. Indiana Jones, should be your third Fast Pass but watch the clock as these run out fast.

Some people start by going over to California Adventure and getting a Fast Pass for Soarin' over California or Bear Rapids since they are close to the entrance. Then they head over to Disneyland. Since the Fast Passes in both parks are not connected this works well if your Hoppin. In between Fast Pass rides you can get in line for The Matterhorn and other rides.

The three rides you need to go in California Adventure are. 1. Tower of Terror - this is one of the top 3 rides. 2. California Screamin' - a very fast looping roller coaster with 48" height restriction because of the loop. 3. Soarin' Over California. If you pick a 4th ride it should be Bear Rapids but make sure you want to get wet or bring a poncho. These are the main rides at CA all the others are fillers.

Once you have your fast passes you will have some down time while you wait. This is a good time to go back over to California Adventure and use your first Fast Pass. It's probably the early afternoon by now and the hot part of the day so this is when you rest up and see some shows and plan on which night time shows you want to see and when. On crowded days make sure you get your hand stamped if your Hopping between parks, even if you have an Annual Pass.

If you plan ahead you can avoid waiting in long lines or even worse getting locked out. If your going 2 or more days the second day you will be tired so you may not be able to get there as early, unless your staying in a hotel. I've even seen people use Fast Passes from the day before, by holding their thumb over the date and using them at night. ;) And don't forget to ask for a stroller pass if you have a child in a stroller, even if they are tall enough to go on the ride. there are some rides that have Single Rider Lines, Indiana Jones, Screamin', Toy Story Mania. These let you get right on in most cases and often you end up riding with someone from your group.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A Kids Day at Disneyland

I recently went to Disneyland and California Adventure with a 5 year old. It was one of the best trips I have taken. We decided to let her pick the agenda so here is how it went. After this trip I realized that the best part about going to Disneyland is going with a child and watching their shear enjoyment.

Started at California Adventure
1. Monsters Inc.
2. Bugs Life Show
3. Playhouse Disney
4. High School Musical 3 Parade
5. Tower of Terror (this one was my idea, she closed her eyes the whole time)

Moved on over to Disneyland
1. Cinderella's Castle
2. King Arthur's Carousel
3. Dumbo
4. Pixie Hollow
5. Splash Mountain
6. Winnie Pooh Ride7. Train Ride
8. Pirates of the Caribbean (again this one was my idea)
9. Main Street Theater followed by a "Apple Pie" caramel apple

By the end of the day she wanted to keep going but we were worn out.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Top 10 Kid Friendly Attractions at Disneyland

Here is our list of the top 10 attractions in both Disneyland and California Adventure that are kid friendly. (see our list of NOT kid friendly attractions at the bottom)

1. Fantasyland - pretty much all of the rides in Fatasyland are kid friendly. Snow White can be a bit scary at times during the ride. Dumbo and Peter Pan are the most popular. The castle has been re-done to add more special affects.

2. Tiki Room - Kids love anything with music. Young kids think the bird are real and that it's really raining.

3. Aladdin Show - In the Hyperion Theater in CA the Aladin show is very funny and kid friendly

4. Crush the Turtle - Located in the Animation building in the Hollywood section of California Adventure, kids love interacting with Crush the Turtle in real time. This is always funny and fun for kids and adults too.

5. Small World - Since it has been updated it's a lot of fun to see in you can find the new characters in each section.

6. Toy Story Mania - this is easy for kids of all ages to play. The line is usually 45 minutes or more so be prepared to wait.

7. Buzz Lightyear Astro Blaster - its fun but it's hard for younger kids to hit the targets with the laser to gain points. Never the less it's just a great ride.

8. Autopia - kids love to drive. They may not be able to reach the peddle but they can steer.

9. Nemo's Submarine Voyage - this is the new submarine ride with very cool special effects inside and outside the sub.

10. Monsters Inc. - this ride is fun for all ages. Takes you on a taxi ride through Monstropolis. At the end Roz ask questions of a personal nature, which an interactive element.

Young children usually find the following attractions a bit scary. Our recommendation is that if you want your child to enjoy the day don't start off with one these attractions, build them up to it or go on them last. If you take them on an easy roller coaster such as Chip and Dale, then Thunder Mountain, then they may be ready for Space Mountain or the Matterhorn later in the day.

Young kids usually 6 and under may NOT like these rides as they have scary elements.
Indiana Jones - fire and snakes
Haunted Mansion - ghosts
Space Mountain - flashing lights and darkness
Splash Mountain - big drop
Matterhorn - abominable snowmen
Pirates of the Caribbean - dark drops and scary skeletons ( I have seen young kids hold on to the corral chains at the entrance Screaming No No No! while parents try to pull them onto the ride.)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Disneyland Family Vacation Planning Tips

Here are some tips and tricks for planning your family vacation at Disneyland. Planning ahead will help you save time and have an enjoyable family vacation.

1. Prepare and pack the car the night before. Have water and food, jackets and everything ready. Be prepared for the heat and to be on your feet all day. Look at a map of Disneyland the day before at Anaheim Visitors Guide to plan what attractions you want to visit first. Planning to go on rides in a counter clock wise circular path will help you save time.

2. Get to the park early as parking may take 30-40 minutes in the late morning to park. Bring $14 cash for parking or Visa credit card. Arriving early will help you get through the gate early. If your traveling with kids plan extra time to get the stroller aboard the front or back of the tram.

3.Buy your tickets online before and not at the ticket booth at the gate. This will save you one hour of standing in line at the ticket booth.

4. Bring some food and water into the park with you. This will help you save time and money. This is best transported in a stroller. Remember you will have to pass the security check point so no hard coolers, glass or objects that would cause a problem. You can rent lockers on the west side (the side near Downtown Disney) before the security check point. You can also rent lockers inside before you go in Disneyland or California Adventure.

5. Plan to get FastPasses for the 3 most popular rides first. If you get there early enough you can get on a couple popular rides before the lines get long. Rides that offer FastPasses are the most popular and have the longest lines. See our post on FastPass Tips.

6. If you are staying for several days and have a Hopper Pass you may want to go over to California Adventure during the busy times at Disneyland. If your riding Grizzly Rapids and Splash mountain give yourself daylight hours to dry off, or Remember to bring a poncho.

7. Look online for schedules show times the day before. Fantasmic and other shows may only be playing on weekends. Some shows at California Adventure may also have long lines so prepared to get there early. If you have seen a show on a previous day this is a good time to get in line for a popular ride such as Indiana Jones.

8. Check the schedule of where your favorite Disney characters will be so you can plan on being in the right spot for that Kodak moment. Upon entering the park you can request the current schedule for that day along with a map.

9. If you have the option to get early entry with your hotel package you may want to take advantage of that. Mostly planning ahead and being prepared will help you have a great day.

10. Most of all relax on your vacation. Your there to have fun and enjoy your time with your family and friends.

Monday, April 27, 2009

California Adventure - Toy Story Mania

California Adventure has some great new rides. Currently the most popular ride is Toy Story Mania. This ride is definitely worth the wait. But if you can't wait use the single rider line. Often if your with someone else you will both end up riding together. For rides that have single rider lines you will get on more rides in during your day.

Here are some great videos on this new attraction. Enjoy!!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Family Vacation Planning Tips

As you plan your family vacation to Southern California there are several things you need to do to make sure you have an enjoyable trip.

1. Where will you stay?
2. What will you do?
3. How will you get around?

1. Stay in a Vacation Rental
If you are traveling with kids a hotel room limits your space. Staying in a Vacation Rental costs the same price as a hotel room and gives you more space. If you have a large family this will allow you to avoid renting two hotel rooms and provides a more relaxing environment, especially if you rent a condo on the beach.

Click to see Newport Beach Vacation Rentals
Click to view San Diego Vacation Rentals

2. Look at all So. California Attractions
The Southern California CityPass allows you to visit Disneyland for 3 days and then you can go to Sea World, the San Diego Zoo and Universal Studios all at a discounted rate. Click here for Discount CityPass Tickets

3. Transportation Options
Rental cars are convenient but expensive. Public transportation options along the coast from San Diego to Anaheim are the Coaster and Metrolink. These have improved to the point that you can now travel from Costal San Diego to Anaheim with one transfer in Oceanside. Staying near the beach during or after your Disneyland days can provide a vacation from your vacation. Click here for Transportation Maps

Look at the bigger picture meaning don't make your vacation more work than fun. Usually after three days most people have had their fill of Disneyland and are ready for leisurely beach activities or other attractions. Here is a map of our favorite OC beaches

Friday, April 10, 2009

More Disneyland Ticket Buying Tips

When Buying tickets on eBay or Craigslist be sure you can trust the person so you don't end up disappointed at the gate. Honest people should be transparent meaning they have nothing to hide. I have had several good transactions with eBay and Craigslist and try to follow these steps. If you want to make sure you have a good time buy the California City Pass here.

For Craigslist
1. Get to know the person via emails and phone calls.
2. Don't send payment through the mail. Ever.
3. Meet the person at their house if possible, not at some 7-11 parking lot.
4. Even if you meet the person at work make sure you have their name and cell phone. Ask to see their business card. If they won't give information readily don't buy.
5. Get their story. Ask them when they first used the tickets and what park they went to make sure they are not expired.
6. Anytime someone says "Trust Me" don't. A picture of the tickets does not mean they are good.

For eBay and other sites
1. You can generally see their ratings, but still ask questions until you feel comfortable.
2. If your just trying to save money split a 2 day hopper pass with friends that can go on a separate day that week.
3. If your considering upgrading your ticket be aware that they ask the following questions at the ticket booth. What was the first day the ticket was used? What park did you go to first? What time did you enter the park? How many tickets did you buy?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Disneyland FAST PASS Tips

When you get to Disneyland the first thing you want to do is get a Fast Pass for the first major ride you want to go on. If you plan it right you can optimize the number of Fast Passes you can acquire during the day. For the first part of the day you may feel that all you are doing is collecting Fast Passes and going on just a few rides but this will pay off during the second half when you start using them up quickly.

Disneyland rides with Fast Passes in order of popularity:
Indiana Jones Adventure
Space Mountain
Splash Mountain
Big Thunder Mountain
Buz Lightyear
Enchanted Tiki Room - Just kidding

California Adventure Fast Pass Rides
Soarin' over California
Grizzly River Run
California Screamin'
Tower of Terror
Mulholland Madness

1. ARRIVE EARLY! FastPasses run out as the day goes on and if you get to Disneyland when the park opens you can get FastPasses 30 minutes apart. Later in the afternoon the ride return time get later and later, and eventually stop. Keep in mind that even if you do get a FastPass for some rides like Indian Jones, this only gets you through part of the line quickly. You may still have to wait like everyone else once the lines merge.

2. View the list of attractions that give out Fast Passes. Start with the attraction you want to ride first and send one person over there with all your tickets to get the Fast Passes. I recommend that you start with Splash Mountain because you may not want to get wet later in the day when it's starting to cool off. Also Space Mountain Fast Passes run out fast so you may want to get those second.

3. If you have a stroller this can be used to your advantage. Stroller Passes are given out if the rider does not meet the height requirement. This is good. On this ride if you have 3 people that can ride get 1 Fast Pass. Once that person enters the line ask for a Stroller Pass. The other two riders now have their ticket for the Fast Pass line in the form of a Stroller Pass.

4. You can also take advantage of the Single Rider lines. In this case you don't need a Fast Pass. California Adventure Fast Passes are not connected to Disneyland so if you hop over there you can start over.

5. Some rides only spit out Fast Passes once every 1-2 hours. Rodger Rabbits ride is not connected to the rest of the Disneyland system. Don't worry about the return time, every time I have been there they have always accepted a Fast Pass in the Return line no matter what time I go back as long as it's after the Return Time.

6. Keep track of the time, usually every two hours you can get a pass. But I'm sure that last week I got a Fast Pass on Buzz Lightyear Astro Blaster and then on Splash Mountain an hour later because it was early and the park was not crowded yet. At any rate once the time is near for your next fast pass send one person in your party over to the next ride to get the next pass. Again the earlier you start the more you will get.

California Adventure and Disneyland Fast Pass systems are not connected, but may be too hard to go back and forth just Fast Passes so send one person with all of the tickets, make sure they have a cell phone.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Annual Passes and Parking

At the end of the day you can turn your Disneyland ticket (park hopper, 2fer or any other type) into an Annual Pass. Go to an open ticket booth on the West side of the entrance and they will credit you at face value, but you have to upgrade to the next highest Annual Pass level (you can't get a $139 pass in exchange for a $149 ticket). They have started monthly payment plans which makes it easy. Make sure you add parking for $59 to at least one Annual Pass. If you go 5 times in a year it will pay for it's self. Remember parking also has the same blackout dates as your Annual Pass.

Now here's a tip
Once you have your receipt they tell you to go through the Main gate on your next visit to get your Picture taken for your Annual Pass card. Look at the blackout dates for your plan. You should be able to get in with your receipt on a blackout date to get your picture taken, at least that's how it worked for me, twice. This may allow you to get on a Saturday if you get the California resident pass.

If you don't want to pay for parking you can park at the Anaheim Garden Walk one block east of the park. The first 2 hours are free, $3 an hour after that. That should give you enough time to get in a couple rides. You can always try to get your parking ticket validated there too.

There is a 15 minute parking lot for drop-off and pick-ups on the east side of the park just off of Harbor Blvd and a block north of Disney Way. After a certain hour (9 pm I believe) they do not monitor the lot, so you can park longer than 15 minutes.

Plan an extra 30 minutes to get to the gate if you are parking in the Mickey and Friends parking structure. The cost of parking cars has gone up $14, but they do accept Visa. Remember the the lines can be long. If your arriving in the late morning enter the parking structure from Ball Ave. rather than via Disney Way, this will prevent you from waiting in two lines, the first one being the entrance and the second the parking structure. Use the elevators on the south side if you have a stroller. If you wait in the lines at the front and back of the tram you don't have to collapse your stroller as you will be in the wheel chair section if it's available. You can walk the two blocks to the park entrance see the following image of the parking map (also ask for directions when your there).

Disneyland Discount Ticket Buying Tips

Disney Ticket Purchasing Tips

Most visitors want to purchase a 3 day hopper pass at a discount. There are several ways to purchase Disneyland and California Adventure tickets. Always be careful when purchasing tickets on eBay and Craigslist, make sure you know or trust the person.

1. Disneyland California Tickets. This has a 3 day Hopper Pass to Disneyland and California Adventure as well as other Southern California Attractions such as San Diego Zoo and Sea World. It also comes with Universal Studios.

2. Sometimes Costco sells annual Disneyland pass or multi-day passes.

3. eBay - you can purchase electronic tickets online from a reputable vendor on eBay. Read the fine print and make sure you check the expiration date. You can also negotiate price especially if the expiration date is quickly approaching, but your going to use them before they do expire.

4. Vacation Package. You can sometimes purchase your tickets as part of a vacation package through a hotel. Click here to find Disney Vacation Packages.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Anaheim Garden Walk Slide show

The Shops at Anaheim GardenWalk is a great outdoor shopping, dining and entertainment center. Discover an abundance of retail stores, fine dining restaurants, an upscale bowling lounge and state-of-the-art movie theaters, in a truly unique environment of scenic waterfalls and luxuriously manicured gardens. This new hot spot for fashion, food and fun is between the Anaheim Convention Center and across the street (one block east) from the Disneyland Resort in the heart of Orange County and Anaheim.