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Vagabond Kids: Anaheim California Trip Plans and Review

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Anaheim California Trip Plans and Review

Repost from July 2008

One of the most important things about traveling with kids is being able to adjust and go with the flow. I know I struggle with this, I have certain expectations and things that I want to do, but I think Jeff has even more trouble with it. What we learned on this trip is while planning is great, and frankly made our trip more do-able, you need to be able to adjust when necessary.

I like to be a seat of the pants traveler, to go where the winds blow and be able to move around when I want. I have learned, from the school of hard knocks, that doesn’t work when you have kids. Without certain plans in place kids get grumpy, they don’t deal well with transitions and while I may be able to run an extra hour without dinner, the kids are much more difficult to keep going. My Spouse on the other hand does a fair amount of logistics planning, but forgets to plan for the little things. So before we left Singapore (in fact months before because we knew it was peak season) we booked our hotel. We were able to book through Hotel and got a fair rate on a hotel right across the street from Disneyland. Jeff also was able to book our car from Alamo, on line. From that perspective we were set.

I set our schedule, in terms of who we would meet and when, where we would go and who we would stay with while we were in Oregon. This is crucial as managing greater family obligations is probably harder than your own direct family expectations. But the best planning and expectation management we did was to use the advice from The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland and that was….” Plan your day in the park before you get there!” While we didn’t follow the touring plans offered in the book… we did plan our day (see my upcoming post on Disneyland in a day).

So, when we got to LA, things went rather smoothly, all things considered, we didn’t sleep well on the plane, but the kids did. I am sure that without advance planning on our part, even as to our estimated dinner plans, we would have been a mess. When we landed, we got our rental car and drove to the hotel. Originally we had hoped to be at the Hotel by 7 and be able to walk over to Downtown Disney for dinner, but again, adjustment was the key. Things took longer at the rental car place and we were all super tired, so before stopping at the hotel we decided Pizza at the California Pizza kitchen just down the street from the hotel was our choice for dinner. Well, frankly, I knew the food wasn’t the best in the world, but I didn’t expect the huge line. I knew Bubba Gump’s next door would be packed and we wanted to grab something and head back to the hotel and other options were too fancy or required us eating at the restaurant. So, we thought Pizza was the answer.

I DO NOT RECOMMEND CALIFORNIA PIZZA KITCHEN FOR YOUNG CHILDREN. The pizza, billed as gourmet, was too expensive, the types of pizza were not young kid friendly (and our kids are great eaters) and the wait was pretty long, even for take out. Note to self: Next time, just head to the hotel and call for Domino’s. The price will be better and the food can’t be worse.

Eating a late dinner after a 16 hour direct flight and the stress involved of getting and renting cars, facing rush hour traffic and having two tired kids tends to make adults crazy and cranky as well, but all told, tempers were kept in check and after a brief mumble or two, a few slices of crappy pizza we showered and got into bed. Sleeping was easy, it was the 3am wake up that was hard. Declan woke up at 3 and fussed and fidgeted. All of us sharing one room meant that we all woke up as well. After about an hour the kids went back to sleep, but I don’t think Jeff or I did. This made our planned wake up call at 6:30 a no-go, but I let everyone rest/sleep until 7. We got up, got dressed and went to breakfast in the hotel. We were eating by 7:15 and out the door on our way to the park to get our tickets before 8am. A few notes of advice, either try to get your tickets early or get them at the hotel if possible, many hotels offer this service and it saves you lots of time and is one less line to wait in. All and all, having made plans and being willing to adjust our schedule

So, more about the day at Disney later, but as always a picture.
Notes and recommendations:

Hotel: Anaheim Plaza Hotel- 1700 Harbor Blvd.
Price- Inexpensive (we were able to book online for 115 a night)
Room 2 stars
Service 3.5 stars
Breakfast 3.5

My Notes: It was ranked 2 stars in the Unofficial Guide to Disneyland, and frankly I would have given it a bump simply because the service was pretty good. The hotel caters to big tour buses but the staff was all friendly and gave Park information as soon as you check in. While I think if given a chance we would have stayed somewhere nicer, for the price and location it was a good deal. Plus, the kids loved the breakfast buffet (which actually wasn’t bad… I have had much worse in Asia) and the hot chocolate had whip cream on top!

Rental Car: Alamo- 3.5 stars
I have rented multiple times from National (right upstairs from Alamo) and found the check in at National to be much easier. We stood in line for a long while, only to find out we could have used the computer kiosk. The plus though was the huge play structure in the Almo section which kept the kids happy.

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