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Old 01-26-2009, 01:05 AM   #1
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My Huge California Trip Report (Disney, Universal, Knotts, Vegas) 500+ Pictures

Hey everyone. I introduced my self in another thread but I thought I would share with you the trip report I wrote up covering me and my wifes trip to Southern California last month. In a week we visited Universal Studios Hollywood, Disneyland, Disney's California Adventure, Knotts Berry Farm, and also a night in Vegas. The reason for the trip was cause this was our Christmas to each other this year. My wife has always wanted to see Disneyland when its all decorated for Christmas and I havn't been to Disneyland in over 13 years so we decided to make a big trip out of it while we are still young and have money and no kids lol.

I must warn you that this is a very long recap. I discribed my experinaces of each ride and also gave somewhat of a review of each attraction on the trip. So there is alot of reading. However if you don't want to read there is over 300 pictures included in this Trip Report. Anyways I hope you guys find this bennifical as I wrote it in my perspective of not visiting these parks in a very long time to those who also havn't visited in a long time and are considering if it would be worth it or not. Anyways one last thing. I run the SMF software on my own website and when I posted this up there I reaced the post limit so I had to devide the post into two posts. I hope that this will be ok here also. Anyways with that being said I'll post days 1, 2, and 3 of the recap today with more to come later on. Anwyays enjoy:

Day 1: The Drive

Well we left on our trip last Sunday the 30th. We went to church that morning cause we had to teach our Primary class that week so we didn't end up leaving until around 1:30. We decided to drive instead of fly to keep the cost of the trip down. Plus with how gas prices are right now we did the whole drive for less then $100 for the trip. Theres nothing too exciting to tell about the drive. We drove until we got to Vegas where we stayed the night. I have family in Vegas so we crashed there. We were going to go out that night but instead we decided to go get some In-N-Out burger and stay in and watch a movie.

Day 2: The Drive Part 2

The next day we randomly woke up sooner then we were planning so we decided to go ahead and get ready and get out of Vegas sooner then we planned. I make many Vegas trips a year so i'm pretty familiar with the area. But I havn't driven to California for over 13 years. Lucky for us my Wifes Dad let us borrow his GPS to help us get around. I can't tell you how thankful I was for that GPS all week long. I don't know how people get around Southern California without one. But anyways I got that all hooked up and we were on our way to our hotel just outside Anaheim.

I made a quick stop in Baker, CA on our drive so we could see the worlds largest thermometer. It was such an amazing site to behold. Ok i'm lying. It wasn't too impressive and the town has nothing there other then a few fast food joints and gas stations. So after about 2 minutes we were back on the road.

Our next stop was in the town of Barstow. Manily cause we needed gas. But also because of a tradition my family had when we would drive to California when I was little. We would always stop at the Barstow Station McDonalds to eat. So I told Kiera that I wanted to keep doing that too. So we did. She isn't a fan of McDonalds at all but lucky for us there are more places to eat there now then just the McDonalds. So after some Panda Express that we ate in one of the train cars we were back on the road non stop to our hotel.

When we finally got into the city I became very greatful we had that GPS cause I don't know how I would have found our hotel without it. But we did. We stayed at the Fairfield Inn of Placentia and it was very nice. Our room was very clean and even had a fridge and microwave. Plus the hotel offered an excellent contential breakfast each day. The only thing it was missing was a hot tub. But oh well. We decided before we left on our vacation that to help save money we would take our own lunches to the parks each day. So after we got settled into the hotel we found the nearest Ralphs (I work for a Kroger owned store) and got the rest of the food we would need to make our lunches each day.

After we got our food and stuff I wanted to go drive around the Disney Resort so we headed that way. We also decided to check out the new GardenWalk complex thats right across the street from the Disney resort. Basically its a outdoor shopping complex with many resteraunts and a movie theater similar to the Gateway in Salt Lake. GardenWalk is only a few months old and I heard it was very slow but i was shocked at how dead it was there. It felt like a ghosttown. Like me and Kiera were the only ones there. I didn't take many pictures here except for there Christmas tree that was made up of all poinsettas.

After that we just went back to the hotel room and relaxed. I watched my two TV shows (Chuck and Heroes) and then it was off to bed to get some rest for our busy week.

But thats it for now. Heres a preview of whats to come later in Day 3. And there will be tons of pictures in my next post.

Last edited by Teknik_DC2; 06-03-2009 at 05:58 PM.
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Old 01-26-2009, 10:02 AM   #2
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Nice start . . . waiting for more.

So that McDonalds is conected to the Panda and Quiznos? Can you order everything at the same place or do they have different counters? Is it pretty easy to find?
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Old 01-26-2009, 01:16 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Tasscrapper View Post
Nice start . . . waiting for more.

So that McDonalds is conected to the Panda and Quiznos? Can you order everything at the same place or do they have different counters? Is it pretty easy to find?
Everything is at different counters but the seating area is all the same. It is pretty easy to find since its right off the freeway. You can see it coming into Barstow from Vegas.
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Old 01-26-2009, 01:18 PM   #4
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Day 3: Universal Studios Hollywood Part 1

Our first park we would be going to was Universal Studios. Out of all the parks this was the one I had most recently visited. That being 11 years ago when I flew to Cali for a few days with my dad and brother. I don't know what it is but I love Universal Studios. I know theres not much there and its pretty expensive now but I always have a good time when I go. Also my wife has never been to a Universal park before so I made it a priority to go to the park. To make it even better I bought a $20 off coupon per ticket from ebay.

We started the day early so we could get to the park around opening. We were staying about 35 miles away from the park and I had no clue how traffic would be so we just we left about an hour before the park opened. To my suprise the freeways weren't bad at all and we made it to the park barely after it opened. Last time I went to Universal City Walk hadn't been built yet so it was fun checking out the shops and stuff they have there.

We finally made it to the gates of the park. What I found funny is how the tickets sellers kept trying to sell us on the better tickets. For example the guy who sold us our parking pass tried convincing us to buy the "Premium" parking pass over the regular one cause it would save us a "12 Minute Walk". We laughed at this considering it took us maybe 5 minutes to walk thru City Walk. And then when we buying our tickets to get into the park the ticket seller tried convincing us to buy a front of line pass. Which we laughed about later in the day cause the park was so dead the longest we waited for any attraction was like 3 minutes. We walked onto everything in the park.

Our first attraction of the day would be non other then what Universal Studios is famous for. The Studio Tour. To our luck we got onto a tram about 2 minutes before it departed. First they drove us thru the soundstage area of the lot. I'm not sure who it was but there was some celebrity that was waving as we drove past that many of the people on the tram were trying to get a picture of. We then drove past the area that was burned in the fire. It looked liked they were re-curbing the area and getting it ready for construction again. It made me sad to think that King Kong as I remember it was now gone forever as that was one of the attractions on the Studio Tour that I always looked forward to. I also loved going thru Courthouse Square (even if it doesn't look like I remember it) since Back to the Future is one of my favorite movies. After that it was on the Collapsing bridge. Once again another classic attraction on the Studio Tour. I guess they recently did some work on the bridge and it had been closed for some time. But I was happy to see (and go over it) again just like I remembered as a kid.

After that they took us thru a new area that they have added in the last few years. First they had many of the famous movie cars thruout the year. Including The Delorian and a few others from Back to the Future, Some of the vehicles from the Jurassic Park movies, and also some of the cars from The Fast and the Furious movies. They then took us into the area where The Fast and the Furious attraction takes place. I thought this was kinda cool and really lame at the same time. basically they have 2 Volkswagon GTI's placed on robotic arms. I thought it was cool cause they kinda simulated an explosion and when the vehicles were thrown up it really looked like the explosion thru them into the air. But then it got lame cause they then started bounching around and spinning to simulate like they were "dancing" to some lame rap music. I totally didn't think that was needed but whatever.

After the Fast and the Furious thing they took us thru a mock up of Jurassic Park. I thought this was pretty well done with some of the props from the movie as well as anamatronic dinosaurs that would pop up and spray you with water. After that it was on to the area where the simulated "flash flood" happens. Once again this was exactly as I remembered and I still think its pretty cool. After the flood area we went thru the old western sets. I don't know if this was set up or not but they had some guys setting up for a stunt sequence. They said they were just practicing and actually performed the stunts in front of us. I'm not sure if it is part of the tour now but it was kinda cool.

Next it was on to the spliting of the red sea. But I guess they don't refer to it as that anymore. especially since the skull island minature used in the new version of King Kong sits right next to it. I still think the sea spliting is pretty cool though. Then it was onto Amity Island to have an encounter with Jaws. Once again this is another classic attraction they still have on the studio tour.

Next they would usually take you thru the Desperate Housewifes set but they were filming that day so they just drove past it. After which we went past Whoville and the Bates Motel where they even had an actor playing Norman Bates putting a body into the back of a car. He then noticed us and came chasing after the tram with his knife. We then went thru the plain crash from War of the Worlds. I thought this was pretty cool cause it looked so real. The last attraction on the studio tour is something to do with the mummy. It use to be the snow cave that spun around and made you feel like you were spinning around. Now its different and only spins for a little bit. I honestly miss the old attraction. All and all though the studio tour was as good as I remember it being. One thing I did miss going in though was the "Earthquake" attraction. We drove past it and could see inside but they were doing some work on it and had it closed off.

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Old 01-26-2009, 01:19 PM   #5
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Day 3: Universal Studios Hollywood Part 2

Since we were in the area we decided to head over to Shrek 4D. This was our longest wait of the day and I thought it was a pretty decent show. On our way there though we ran into Curious George and Sponge Bob on the way out. It was also nice to see Jaws is still hanging up posing for photos.

Next we headed to the new Simpsons ride. I was looking forward to this ride the most. The old Back to the Future ride was my favorite one at Universal and I was very sad when I heard it was leaving. I too am a big fan of the Simpsons so my hopes were high that this new ride would be a worthy replacement to BTTF. I must say that I was very impressed with the ride and do find it was a worthy replacement. I loved this ride. We ended up riding it twice. Just everything about it is so well done. They also have a video that plays in the ques while you wait in line that pretty much makes fun of theme parks and such as you wait. We pretty much walked on though so we didn't get to see the whole que video. We even ran into Homer, Marge, and Bart as we walked off the ride.

After Simpsons we went down to the lower lot where we first rode The Mummy ride. Once again this ride is a replacement for one that was there last time I went to Universal. That ride being E.T. I loved E.T. but I diffenitly loved the Mummy even more. Its an indoor launched rollercoaster that takes you thru high speed banking and also in reverse. It was short but fun. There was no wait for the ride so we rode it 3 times. After that we headed to Jurassic Park. This ride was pretty new still last time I went but its just as I remember. My wife didn't want to get wet so she wore a poncho but i decided to brave it without one. Lucky for me alot of the extra water features were turned off so I didn't even get wet on the ride. We also did Jurassic Park twice. We also did the Backdraft thing while we were down on the bottom lot.

We then went and watched the Water World show (after we attempted to run up the stairs instead of the escalaters I don't recommend it). The show was alright. Not as good as I remember it being but still better then the movie. We also walked around the rest of the upper lot as well and went to the Termonater 3D show. I thought this show was pretty cool. They mixed in alot of real life acting with the 3D film. I just thought that was neat. It was my first time seeing this show even though it was there last time I went. We also ran in to Shrek.

On our way out they were getting all the final things ready for the big Grenchmas thing they do for christmas. The actors were practicing for the show so I snapped a picture and then we were out. We had alot of fun at Universal and I look forward to going back next time i'm in the LA area. We ended our night by heading over to WestWood to get some ice cream sandwhiches at Diddy Reese (these things are amazing and only $1.50) and then we cruised around Hollywood and Beverly Hills. Figured we were in the area so why not. We also went to a big mall in Beverly Hills that was pretty cool. But that all for day 3.

And lastly here is a preview for what Day 4 will be covering:
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Old 01-26-2009, 01:29 PM   #6
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great pictures , thanks for sharing your trip
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