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View Full Version : Disneyland/San Diego and feeling overwhelmed


ChristieJA1971
01-07-2012, 12:20 PM
Hi Everyone!!! First, thanks for sharing all your great tips/advice/experiences. I've been reading the boards but still feeling overwhelmed. I'm planning a first time Disney and San Diego trip for our daughter's 14th birthday and we will go approximately April 29-May 5, 2012. We are a family of five with three girls that will be 14, 5, 3 at the time of the trip. We'll fly into LAX and rent a car. Please, oh please get me started on the logistics of this trip. Here's what I'm looking for and whether we do Disneyland or San Diego first on the trip doesn't matter:

1. 2 days in Disneyland park with one character breakfast
2. Moderate-Nice Hotel near Disneyland with breakfast (if possible)
3. Moderate-Nice San Diego Hotel with nice pool
4. San Diego Zoo, Sea World
5. One day beach visit

Thanks in advance for any insight you can give me.

bondgirl007
01-07-2012, 12:46 PM
What time do you get in on th 29th? What time do you leave on the 5th? W/out knowing this, here is what I would do:
29th-drive down to San Diego
30th-Seaworld
1st-beach day
2nd-Zoo
3rd-Disneyland
4th-Disneyland
5th-if you have a 3 day hopper and leave later in the day you can have more park time.
We use priceline for San Diego-HotelCircle area. It is centrally located to everyrhing you want to do in San Diego. We like to stay on propery at Disneyland so I dont know what hotel to suggest. :)

Tommy_B
01-07-2012, 01:14 PM
Hi Everyone!!! First, thanks for sharing all your great tips/advice/experiences. I've been reading the boards but still feeling overwhelmed. I'm planning a first time Disney and San Diego trip for our daughter's 14th birthday and we will go approximately April 29-May 5, 2012. We are a family of five with three girls that will be 14, 5, 3 at the time of the trip. We'll fly into LAX and rent a car. Please, oh please get me started on the logistics of this trip. Here's what I'm looking for and whether we do Disneyland or San Diego first on the trip doesn't matter:

1. 2 days in Disneyland park with one character breakfast
2. Moderate-Nice Hotel near Disneyland with breakfast (if possible)
3. Moderate-Nice San Diego Hotel with nice pool
4. San Diego Zoo, Sea World
5. One day beach visit

Thanks in advance for any insight you can give me.

Can you give budget numbers to "moderate"?

My first recommendation would be the Residence Inn Maingate. It can accommodate 5 people and does offer free breakfast in the morning. Without the breakfast I'd look at Howard Johnsons.

The Park Vue Inn is clean and basic and has suites available.

In San Diego the Homewood Suites is very popular with families. It is a nice location with lots of restaurants nearby and a large park with a childrens play area next to the hotel.

As to beaches in San Diego, my three faves for families are South Mission Beach, La Jolla Shore and Coronado.

gabsandalex
01-07-2012, 02:59 PM
We stayed at the Homewood Suites near DL and really enjoyed our stay. They have their own shuttle (for a small fee), which was nice too. I am not sure if you have already bought your airline tickets, but I absolutely hate flying to/from LAX. I much prefer the smaller airports in Long Beach and Orange County.

As for San Diego, I love the Mission Bay area - it is very close to Sea World, and easy drive to the zoo. Mission Beach & Pacific Beach are near by, La Jolla is a short drive away too. Del Mar is just north of La Jolla, but also has a great beach. Our favorite family beach is actually Moonlight Beach in Encinitas: great parking, gentle tides, wonderful park for the kids, etc.

skiingfast
01-07-2012, 04:00 PM
I would finish the trip with dessert, that being DLR.

I would stay near there because your time is limited. Walking distance, across from the parks on Harbor only.

HydroGuy
01-07-2012, 04:38 PM
Hi Everyone!!! First, thanks for sharing all your great tips/advice/experiences. I've been reading the boards but still feeling overwhelmed. I'm planning a first time Disney and San Diego trip for our daughter's 14th birthday and we will go approximately April 29-May 5, 2012. We are a family of five with three girls that will be 14, 5, 3 at the time of the trip. We'll fly into LAX and rent a car. Please, oh please get me started on the logistics of this trip. Here's what I'm looking for and whether we do Disneyland or San Diego first on the trip doesn't matter:

1. 2 days in Disneyland park with one character breakfast
2. Moderate-Nice Hotel near Disneyland with breakfast (if possible)
3. Moderate-Nice San Diego Hotel with nice pool
4. San Diego Zoo, Sea World
5. One day beach visit

Thanks in advance for any insight you can give me.For DLR, there a lot of fine options. Since you want a specific recommendation look at the Candy Cane Inn as it is fairly close to DLR and has a nice breakfast. If you want to be as close as you can get offsite, look at BWPPI or Tropicana.

FWIW, just so you are not surprised later, the Matterhorn is under refurb until June so you will miss that.

I lived in SD for five years and again you have lots of options. If SW and the SDZoo are important I would stay in that general area. There are lots of options in the Mission Valley area. Just type it into Google.

I would do the beach day in SD. Again, lots of options. Mission Beach is a fine beach in the area of SW and the zoo.

Have a great trip. :wizard:

Brady's Mom
01-07-2012, 05:05 PM
Why not fly into San Diego? It would be more efficient. And then, fly out of John Wayne or Long Beach.

If you fly in early enough you could do the zoo or Sea World on your arrival day, spend the next day at the other park, do a partial beach day and then still have 3 full days for DLR.

Zoo hours for your trip 9 am to 6 pm
Sea World - probably 10 am to 6 pm
DL hours - probably 10 am to 8 pm
DCA hours - probably 10 am to 6 pm

29th - Zoo or SW - after early flight
30 - opposite of 29th
1st - beach/travel day
2nd - DLR
3rd - DLR
4th -DLR (this is a Friday - plan to see fireworks and Fantasmic! since hours will be about 8 am to 11 or 12.)
5th - oooohhh....partial DLR day? Might need a 4 day hopper! ;)

KCmike
01-07-2012, 05:17 PM
Coronado Beach in San Diego for your beach day. Then you can see the beautiful and historic Hotel Del Coronado (the original Grand Floridian!).

ChristieJA1971
01-07-2012, 06:26 PM
Wow, thank you...you're all great!!! For Hotels I was hoping to not spend over $125.00 a night but that can be somewhat flexible.

I'm reading through all your advice and suggestions and it sounds as though it would be best to do San Diego first? That would put us in Disneyland Thursday-Saturday. Is the park a lot busier on the weekends or does it not really matter?

I'm also trying to figure out if we can just rent a car for the San Diego portion and not for the Anaheim leg of the trip because I know parking can be expensive. Is that right?

As far as flights, I would prefer not to fly into LAX but cost is guiding the choices. There are five of us and so far the best rates are flying into LAX on Southwest. We also won't have to pay to each check a bag and that will save us $250.00 round trip. Is there an easier way to get good rates for example flying directly into San Diego and out of one of the smaller airports near Disneyland?

Thank you all so much again!!!

skiingfast
01-07-2012, 07:10 PM
it sounds as though it would be best to do San Diego first? That would put us in Disneyland Thursday-Saturday. Is the park a lot busier on the weekends or does it not really matter?


Oh yes it will be much busier. During the front of the trip it would be dead. The thing is DLR opeerates short hours and limited entertainment when it's dead. But weekends, Friday-Sunday, are always busy. So weekend have longer hours and full entertainment. Ideally you would mix the days.

Thursday will be quiet and the park will likely close as 8pm. Friday will be quiet in the morning with crowds growing later afternoon to a busy evening, closing at 11 or 12. Saturday busy closing at 12.

sonnyjane
01-07-2012, 07:16 PM
Wow, thank you...you're all great!!! For Hotels I was hoping to not spend over $125.00 a night but that can be somewhat flexible.

I'm reading through all your advice and suggestions and it sounds as though it would be best to do San Diego first? That would put us in Disneyland Thursday-Saturday. Is the park a lot busier on the weekends or does it not really matter?

I'm also trying to figure out if we can just rent a car for the San Diego portion and not for the Anaheim leg of the trip because I know parking can be expensive. Is that right?



Weekends are busier, but you're not going during a peak time, so the only time things like Fantasmic! or fireworks may be offered is weekends (Friday/Sat/Sun nights), so if you want to catch those, you'll have to have at least one weekend day. I definitely agree with doing SD before Disneyland though. Will the bulk of your DL trip be on Thursday and Friday, leaving Saturday morning? If so, roughly what time? I would definitely get a 3-day parkhopper rather than a two. Even if you just have an extra evening in DL, you can get so much accomplished during that time that you couldn't if you just did a 2-day.

As far as parking being expensive, that depends. Some hotels (but a shrinking number) offer free parking and then you could walk to the parks. Others charge a smaller fee ($8), while others charge much more ($15). Parking at the parks is also $15 per day, so if you stay far away and want to drive to the parks, make sure that place has free parking. If you stay close, you won't have to drive to the parks so you won't have to worry about the additional $15. I, personally, won't stay anywhere that isn't in walking distance.

bumbershoot
01-07-2012, 07:31 PM
With only two Disney days, and one morning you'll have a character breakfast, I wouldn't pay extra for a breakfast at the hotel. Unless you're doing the character b'fast as late as possible to count as a brunch/early lunch sort of thing.

Definitely check SW prices flying into or out of San Diego; it would be SO inefficient AND stressful to have to drive that hour and a half (at minimum, I've found, as a person not-so-familiar with the roads) when you don't really have to.

I find LAX to be just fine, FWIW. It's further away, sure, but I don't mind going into our out of there when the money works out so I have to.



In case you don't know, the Zoo is an ALL day experience. It's enormous and overwhelming, and can't/shouldn't be rushed. It's also very expensive (though parking there is free, which is lovely), so you WANT to spend all day there.

At SeaWorld, be sure to see the Pets Rule show if it's showing. Seriously, make time for it. It's *adorable*, and IMO more impressive than the dolphin or whale stuff (we still haven't seen the sea lion one). I mean....Shamu is great and all, but the Pets Rule show has trained CATS. Trained cats! (and lots of other animals)


Be sure you're checking the cost of the one-way rental car. Sometimes it's hard to get a good deal when you're not turning it in at the same place you got it.

If you don't really need a car while at Disneyland, you can take a shuttle from the airport (lax or one of the others) to Disneyland, and stay put. Then rent a car from the Downtown Disney Alamo when you need it. With the younger kids, taxis are going to be difficult (CA just upped their carseat/booster requirements FYI, to 8 or 4'9"), but if you are OK with taxis, you could always take one over to Amtrak, take the Surfliner down to San Diego (or go the reverse, taking the Surfliner north from the downtown, main, train station, and it lets you off at the Anaheim station which is in the Angels parking lot), etc etc. It's an idea, at least. :)


IMO, planning San Diego and Anaheim IS stressful, and the only reason I do it is b/c my brother lives down there. But to me, each of them can be a vacation on its own, and I think that's why it can be hard to combine them.

sonnyjane
01-07-2012, 07:37 PM
In case you don't know, the Zoo is an ALL day experience. It's enormous and overwhelming, and can't/shouldn't be rushed. It's also very expensive (though parking there is free, which is lovely), so you WANT to spend all day there.

At SeaWorld, be sure to see the Pets Rule show if it's showing. Seriously, make time for it. It's *adorable*, and IMO more impressive than the dolphin or whale stuff (we still haven't seen the sea lion one). I mean....Shamu is great and all, but the Pets Rule show has trained CATS. Trained cats! (and lots of other animals)


Gosh good catch, I missed that in the OP!! Yes, both Sea World and the zoo are full-day parks, so if you want to see both of those attractions, you'll need two full days in San Diego. When you say beach day, are you anticipating staying at the beach all day, or just stopping by to visit? You could easily stop by Mission Beach or La Jolla on the day that you drive up to Anaheim after either the zoo or SW. For the time that you're visiting (late April, early May), your highs will be in the 60's, low in the 50's. We also have a phenomenon here in SD called "May Grey" where we have heavy clouds in the mornings, and this past year it was funny because April 30th was a gorgeous day and right on cue, May 1st was cruddy! My point is you might not want to hang out at the beach for more than an hour. It's chilly on the water with wind, plus our water is freezing!!!! :) If your trip is getting pared down to more time at the zoo, Sea World, and Disneyland vs. a beach day, I'd scrap the beach day in the blink of an eye. Like I said, stop by, take pictures, dip your toes in, but other than that it's not that spectacular.

familyoffive
01-07-2012, 10:21 PM
You might want to plan a short beach visit, the Pacific is always cold. You should plan to visit both the SD Zoo and the Wild Animal Park. Each is different and have unique experiences.

lozzypop
01-07-2012, 10:36 PM
At SeaWorld, be sure to see the Pets Rule show if it's showing. Seriously, make time for it. It's *adorable*, and IMO more impressive than the dolphin or whale stuff (we still haven't seen the sea lion one). I mean....Shamu is great and all, but the Pets Rule show has trained CATS. Trained cats! (and lots of other animals)

I second this! We saw Pets Rule for the first time at Seaworld on the recommendation of our bus driver (we took the Grayline tour from Anaheim) and it was the best show ever! And I adore orca whales and dolphins.

Trained cats - where else are you going to see that?