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Old 06-27-2013, 08:51 PM   #1
MarbleBob
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Pre Trip Report: Are we there yet? A 5,000 Mile Road Trip from Missouri to Disneyland

Update: I broke my foot and had to cancel this trip. See notes on page 2 for details. At least there is a bright side in that we'll still be able to at least visit Disneyland for a week in October. If you would like to follow along with the new thread, please go here: http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=3142379

An epic two week road trip from St. Louis to California with major stops in San Francisco, Yosemite, Disneyland, and the Grand Canyon. July 13, 2013 through July 28. DW, DD13, DS10, DD6 and I, all packed into a minivan and heading west for two weeks! Are we there yet?!?!?

Background

As with many of you, Disney-centered vacations have been the norm for my family since we went to Walt Disney World for our honeymoon. For example, my oldest (DD13) has been to WDW 11 times, Disneyland once, and on two Disney cruises. However, over the last couple of years, we've wondered if we are doing our kids a disservice by focusing so much of their traveling on one part of the country.

This year we said, "Let's skip a Disney vacation and take them to Washington DC, Williamsburg, and NYC instead." Every kid needs to visit our nation's capital, right?

Well, after weeks of research and exploring options, we just weren't feeling it. We explored some other ideas, like visiting friends in Quebec (this was the runner up), just going to NYC, a trip to the Rockies, "giving up" on that idea and just going to Disney World, etc. Then we thought, we've always wanted to take an epic road trip to the west coast, why not now? And, we could pit stop for a day in Disneyland, right? (Or two, or three, nahh forget that, it's 4 days now.) We could visit my aunt and uncle in San Francisco (who we haven't seen in years), then spend some time in Yosemite Valley (Soarin' Over California, anyone?), head south to Anaheim for a visit to Disneyland, maybe a couple days at the beach and seeing SoCal sites, then stop at the Grand Canyon on the way home. Sounded good to me. Surprisingly, DW liked the idea too. The kids were all in too.

This will be our first trip west of Colorado as a family. I've visited my uncle in San Francisco a couple times, and we went on a "parents only" Disneyland trip back in 2010. My older kids have each been to Disneyland once with their grandparents on separate occasions. DD6 has never been to California at all.

So, there will be a lot of new and exciting things for everyone to see. We'll meet our original goal of exposing the kids to more of the country, and we'll get to sprinkle the trip with some of the Disney magic that we just can't seem to go without. We're definitely feeling this one!!

Cast of Characters

Matt (me) - Don't ask how/why I came up with the MarbleBob screen name, because I don't remember. I'm not related to anyone named Bob and I don't even own any marbles. Some might argue, that I've lost a few marbles, but that's a different story. About me? I'm a web applications developer, avid skateboarder, gardener, and of course, a Disney fan. I tend to go through phases where I'm super into Disney, and then I focus my interest on other things. But I always come back This is going to be my first "real" trip report. I tested the waters with a report about a day trip to Walt's hometown in Marceline, MO and it was fun. Check the link in my signature, if you are interested. Now it's time to go all in.



Stephanie (DW) - My best friend and awesome mother to our 3 kids. She's isn't really any more or less into Disney than I am, but she's certainly more consistently plugged in. I think she's listened to every DIS Unplugged podcast through the years (both WDW and DL) and she's probably listened to every one of Ricky Brigante's Inside the Magic podcasts too.



Ninja Potato (DD13) - My oldest daughter. Obviously, that's not her real name, but that's the name she uses a lot online. She must have inherited the knack for random screen names from my side of the family. We'll just refer to her as Ninja going forward. As mentioned above, she's grown up going to Disney World, and loving Disney princesses. She outgrew the princess loving stage a few years ago, but her love for Disney hasn't diminished. She also loves everything Nintendo and Japan, and of course, her favorite Disney attraction is the Japan Pavilion in Epcot.



Buddy (DS10) - Also not his real name, but this is what we usually call him around the house. He's our engineer. He loves building things with his monorail sets, Legos, Rokenbok, trains, etc. And of course, his favorite past time is playing Minecraft on the computer. Visiting the various Disney World Minecraft servers makes it ever better His favorite Disney attractions are the trains, monorails, Expedition Everest, and California Screamin'.



Pickle (DD6) - We don't really call her this too much in person, but she owns up to her nickname, and fits her well. Very sweet and loving, but she can be a bit ornery and spicey too! She's very much still in the princess stage, and her favorite is Cinderella.



Initial Plans



Part 1: Drive to California
Leaving on a Saturday morning, drive from St. Louis to Cheyenne, WY for the first day. Drive to Elko, NV on second day. Drive to Hayward, CA on third day. I'm guessing we'll pass through Sacramento area around 2 or 3 PM on the third day. We might stop at the train museum in Sacramento for a pit stop (DS10 loves trains), or possibly visit something gold rush related in Coloma. If neither of those pan out (pun intended), then maybe stop for a tour of the Jelly Belly factory in Fairfield.

Part 2: Explore San Francisco Bay area
We'll be staying with my aunt and uncle in Hayward for a few nights. We don't have everything locked in for this yet, but we have a couple of must do's:
- Visit Golden Gate Bridge - You can't go to SF and not walk on the bridge, right?
- Visit Japantown - Ninja being a big fan of all things Japan, this is a must do since it's the largest Japanese enclave in the US.
- Visit Sonoma Traintown Railroad - Buddy and Pickle both want to visit this place, since it's featured on a DVD that we've owned for years.

Other places that we'll likely visit? Walt Disney Family Museum, Lucasfilm campus in Presidio, Fisherman's Wharf and cable cars, Fenton's Creamery (to pay homage to the Up movie), Muir beach, computer museum in Silicon Valley, Chinatown. Etc.

We'll be hanging out with my aunt and uncle, so we want to be flexible and just go with the flow, so we don't have a lot of concrete plans here.

Part 3: Yosemite
We've got reservations for 2 nights in the valley at Curry Village (one of those tents with wood floors). We'll leave SF in the morning and get to Yosemite in the early afternoon. We haven't decided in which order we'll see things, since we have a very limited amount of time. We'll spend most of our time in the valley, but we'll likely take a few hours for the glacier point drive, and also hit Miraposa Grove (giant sequoias) on the way in or way out. None of us have ever been to Yosemite, but we've ridden the Soarin' ride in Epcot countless times and have always wanted to see the valley in person!!!!

Part 4: Anaheim
We originally thought that we'd camp out in Anaheim for a few days. Hit Disneyland for a day or two, go to Laguna and Newport beaches. Maybe hit some LA/Hollywood touristy sights, etc. Visit a couple skateparks. Possibly head down to San Diego for a day.

But the more we thought about it, the more time we wanted to spend at Disneyland. We decided to stay at HOJO for a few nights (with a park view room for watching the fireworks) and get 3 day park hopper tickets. Then, I realized that 4 day single park tickets were cheaper than 3 day hoppers, and we asked the kids - would you rather spend 3 days park hopping and a day at the beach - or 4 single park days with no days at the beach? I'm surprised that none of the kids really wanted to go to the beach. So, 4 days at Disneyland it will be -- we purchased our tickets in May before the anticipated price increase.

Now, the best part --- We came across some unexpected funds and decided to upgrade from HOJO to Disneyland Hotel.

So now, leaving Yosemite Valley early in the morning, then heading to Disneyland Hotel for 5 nights. We plan to stop at Griffith Park on the way in from Yosemite to see Walt's Barn (and some of his Carolwood Pacific Railroad memorabilia) as well as the carousel that partially inspired him to create Disneyland. We might stop to pay respects at Walt's grave too, since it's just across the highway from Griffith Park. And also, maybe a 30 minute detour over to Griffith Observatory for a quick view of the famous Hollywood sign and downtown LA.

We haven't planned out the Disneyland days too much yet, other than taking advantage of early entry each day; getting the RSR "wide right" thing down; and understanding the order to hit Fantasyland attractions first thing (Peter Pan first, and so on.)

Since we only have 4 day tickets (and we plan to take it easy, head back to the resort pool in the afternoons and whatnot), we aren't sure that we want to spend a lot of time at table service restaurants. We'll probably just hit counter service most of the time. Some must do's on the list are Corn Dog Castle/Wagon, Flo's V8, and Cozy Cones. And a Pu Pu Platter at Trader Sam's. (The kids crack up at that one! "I'm not eating any of that, Dad!") Otherwise, we'll just play it by ear.

We've considered eating at Carthay Circle just to get World of Color seating, but we aren't sure that it'll be worth the effort. It's not about the money as much as the time. If you consider how much time it takes to have a table service meal, then arrive for WOC early, then actually watch the show, and then herd out afterwards, it's quite an investment. DW and I have seen it once before. Buddy had the chance to see it and absolutely didn't want to. It didn't exist when Ninja went and Pickle hasn't gone yet. Anyway, I guess we still need to get votes from the girls. I'm cool either way.

I think we'll probably skip Fantasmic. We saw it last time, and while much cooler than the Holywood Studio's version, we'll probably put the time investment somewhere else.

Part 5: Grand Canyon and heading home
We've never seen the Grand Canyon before -- except from an airplane. We don't have time for a real visit, but you can't drive within 60 miles and not at least stop for a photo-op right? We'll leave Anaheim early in the morning and we should arrive at Grand Canyon Village around 5 or 6. We have reservations for one of the lodges in the park. We should at least have some time to walk around and explore for a couple hours and then see the sunset. Probably get up early to see the sunrise before heading out. A stop in Texas for the night, and then a long drive on the final day back home.

After the major destinations and day trips are considered, this trip is going to be just short of 5,000 miles. Lots of long days in the car. I'm sure it'll take a few days to recover when we get back, but it'll be worth it.

We've got about 2 more weeks before we leave and we are getting super excited!!! I guess it's getting close to time to start thinking about packing, car activities, books on tape, and all that kind of stuff
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Trip Reports: (In Progress) Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho. It's off to the Grand Floridian We Go! (6/2014) | Back to the Drawing Board - Missouri to Disneyland (10/2013) | A visit to Walt's Happy Place - Marceline, MO (9/2012)

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Last edited by MarbleBob; 07-16-2013 at 08:20 PM. Reason: added map
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Old 06-27-2013, 08:51 PM   #2
MarbleBob
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Index

Introduction

Ideas for Keeping the Kids Entertained During the Drive

More Ideas for Keeping the Kids Entertained During the Drive
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Trip Reports: (In Progress) Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho. It's off to the Grand Floridian We Go! (6/2014) | Back to the Drawing Board - Missouri to Disneyland (10/2013) | A visit to Walt's Happy Place - Marceline, MO (9/2012)

1981 Off Property, 1988 CBR, 1998 CBR (Honeymoon!!!), 2002 POFQ, 2003 Poly, 2005 WL, 2006 POP, 2007 WL, 2009 ASMo, 2009 POFQ, 2010 WL, 2010 DCL Wonder, 2010 DLR HOJO, 2010 PORS, 2011 off property, 2011 Bonnet Creek (DISApalooza 2011), 2012 DCL Dream, 2013 Disneyland Hotel, 2014 Grand Floridian


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Old 06-27-2013, 09:25 PM   #3
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Great start! I look forward to following along.
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Old 06-28-2013, 12:07 AM   #4
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It's about 6 hours from Elko to Sacramento. Hard to pass Reno without stopping by. With your kids, it might be fun to stop at Circus Circus for lunch.

The train museum in Sacramento is very nice and also is in old town. It might be a nice break from being in the car so long as it's another 90-120 minutes to Hayward. On the opposite end of old town from the museum, they have a store that sells lithographs with Disney and all old memorabilia stuff. Be aware, there is a candy store next to it. Tons of different flavored taffy. I enjoy going down there every once in awhile. Horse drawn carriages, cobblestone streets. They have a Wells Fargo building from the stage coach days, etc.

In SF, don't forget to take the kids down Lombard Street.
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Old 06-28-2013, 07:07 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sasywtch View Post
It's about 6 hours from Elko to Sacramento. Hard to pass Reno without stopping by. With your kids, it might be fun to stop at Circus Circus for lunch.

The train museum in Sacramento is very nice and also is in old town. It might be a nice break from being in the car so long as it's another 90-120 minutes to Hayward. On the opposite end of old town from the museum, they have a store that sells lithographs with Disney and all old memorabilia stuff. Be aware, there is a candy store next to it. Tons of different flavored taffy. I enjoy going down there every once in awhile. Horse drawn carriages, cobblestone streets. They have a Wells Fargo building from the stage coach days, etc.

In SF, don't forget to take the kids down Lombard Street.
Thanks for the great tips! And I forgot about Lombard Street, we should definitely add that one to the must do list
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Trip Reports: (In Progress) Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho. It's off to the Grand Floridian We Go! (6/2014) | Back to the Drawing Board - Missouri to Disneyland (10/2013) | A visit to Walt's Happy Place - Marceline, MO (9/2012)

1981 Off Property, 1988 CBR, 1998 CBR (Honeymoon!!!), 2002 POFQ, 2003 Poly, 2005 WL, 2006 POP, 2007 WL, 2009 ASMo, 2009 POFQ, 2010 WL, 2010 DCL Wonder, 2010 DLR HOJO, 2010 PORS, 2011 off property, 2011 Bonnet Creek (DISApalooza 2011), 2012 DCL Dream, 2013 Disneyland Hotel, 2014 Grand Floridian

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Old 06-28-2013, 08:09 AM   #6
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What an amazing trip you have planned! Epic indeed! This should be a fun read.
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Old 06-28-2013, 09:42 AM   #7
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Your trip sounds great. I just did the opposite. I am from CA (Sac area) and we flew to St. Louis and drove east. We went through Ill, Ind, Kentucky, West VA and Virginia and then headed down the coast Outer Banks, NC, and finally Charleston. We loved it. If you haven't done a trip that direction it is SO worth it and fun!!

Looking forward to following your report. Sounds awesome! Have a GREAT time and look forward to reading along!!
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Old 06-28-2013, 09:51 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kelmac284 View Post
Your trip sounds great. I just did the opposite. I am from CA (Sac area) and we flew to St. Louis and drove east. We went through Ill, Ind, Kentucky, West VA and Virginia and then headed down the coast Outer Banks, NC, and finally Charleston. We loved it. If you haven't done a trip that direction it is SO worth it and fun!!

Looking forward to following your report. Sounds awesome! Have a GREAT time and look forward to reading along!!
That's cool! We lived in Richmond, VA for a couple years when I was a teenager. We would drive back to St. Louis a couple times a year. And also between Richmond and Charleston to visit my grandparents. I wholeheartedly agree, trips in that area are definitely worth it!! Maybe we'll head that way next time
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Trip Reports: (In Progress) Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho. It's off to the Grand Floridian We Go! (6/2014) | Back to the Drawing Board - Missouri to Disneyland (10/2013) | A visit to Walt's Happy Place - Marceline, MO (9/2012)

1981 Off Property, 1988 CBR, 1998 CBR (Honeymoon!!!), 2002 POFQ, 2003 Poly, 2005 WL, 2006 POP, 2007 WL, 2009 ASMo, 2009 POFQ, 2010 WL, 2010 DCL Wonder, 2010 DLR HOJO, 2010 PORS, 2011 off property, 2011 Bonnet Creek (DISApalooza 2011), 2012 DCL Dream, 2013 Disneyland Hotel, 2014 Grand Floridian

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Old 06-28-2013, 10:53 AM   #9
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Can't wait to read more!!! My DD is 8 and we have decided she needs to see more than Disney after this trip, but then I keep wanting to do WDW, etc. I do not know that I will ever escape Disney!!
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Old 06-28-2013, 06:26 PM   #10
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Looking forward to reading all about your adventures! DH and I grew up taking road trips and have great memories from those, as well as from the trips we've taken with our own kids. No regrets on any of them, other than the time I realized I had left my purse at a Chik-fil-A 200 miles back in Georgia. (No worries, they shipped it to me and nothing was missing!)

Glad to see that you're heading to Yosemite! That's my favorite national park, and it really does smell fresh there just like it does on Soarin'. Since your time will be kind of short at Yosemite, I highly recommend the Valley Tram Tour led by a park ranger. The open-air tram is nice for taking pictures and seeing the sights. The tram stops at several scenic spots so you can get off, snap pics and enjoy the views. The rangers always have interesting stories (sit near the front) and you really do see a lot in two hours.

It looks like we'll just miss you at DL. DD (14) and I will be there July 18-21 while DH takes our other 2 to Comic-Con in San Diego. I can relate to how the Disney portion of your trip grew, because at first we were just spending one night at DL, then it grew to two and now we're staying for three nights. It's funny how that Disney magic can reel us in, along with our wallets too, of course!

DD (14) seems to share some similarities with your kids. She has that "pickle" streak in her too, along with a sweet side; plays plenty of Minecraft (Disney and role play); views Disney parks as her "second home", and loves Japan. So she'll probably enjoy reading your trip report as well. Have a great time!
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Old 06-28-2013, 09:12 PM   #11
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Thanks for the ideas and input everyone. I can't wait for this trip to start! Looking forward to sharing lots of pictures

Quote:
Originally Posted by sasywtch View Post
Be aware, there is a candy store next to it. Tons of different flavored taffy. I enjoy going down there every once in awhile.
In SF, don't forget to take the kids down Lombard Street.
You got me intrigued about the candy store. Is this it? Candy Heaven? That link takes you to an indoors google street view. Man, they have every kind of candy you can think of. That place looks beyond cool!! We are totally in for that, for sure

Quote:
Originally Posted by danacath View Post
DD (14) seems to share some similarities with your kids. She has that "pickle" streak in her too, along with a sweet side; plays plenty of Minecraft (Disney and role play); views Disney parks as her "second home", and loves Japan. So she'll probably enjoy reading your trip report as well. Have a great time!
Yes, your DD seems like she'd get along well with my kids Minecraft, Disney, Japan... Let me guess, does she like My Little Pony too? LOL All three of mine are excited to make My Little Pony dolls at the Build a Bear in Downtown Disney
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Trip Reports: (In Progress) Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho. It's off to the Grand Floridian We Go! (6/2014) | Back to the Drawing Board - Missouri to Disneyland (10/2013) | A visit to Walt's Happy Place - Marceline, MO (9/2012)

1981 Off Property, 1988 CBR, 1998 CBR (Honeymoon!!!), 2002 POFQ, 2003 Poly, 2005 WL, 2006 POP, 2007 WL, 2009 ASMo, 2009 POFQ, 2010 WL, 2010 DCL Wonder, 2010 DLR HOJO, 2010 PORS, 2011 off property, 2011 Bonnet Creek (DISApalooza 2011), 2012 DCL Dream, 2013 Disneyland Hotel, 2014 Grand Floridian

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Old 06-28-2013, 11:43 PM   #12
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Subbing in. Looks like a great road trip.
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Old 06-29-2013, 02:01 PM   #13
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Ideas for Keeping the Kids Entertained During the Drive

So, needless to say, this is going to be a very long trip, with a lot of "Are we there yet?'s". Since we leave 2 weeks from today, and still aren't quite ready for the packing phase, I thought that I'd try and brainstorm ideas to help keep the kids entertained during the drive.

We have a DVD player in the minivan and each kid has their iPod/Nintendo DS. That should cover, movies, music, and video games. I bet Ninja will be more than content with just that, but Buddy and Pickle are going to get bored more quickly.

WebmasterLeah shared some ideas here on the DIS, and I've found a bunch of others on Pinterest, http://www.momsminivan.com/printables.html, http://www.thedatingdivas.com/tara/the-road-trip-date/, etc.

Some of my favorites so far:

Anyone have any other suggestions or traveling traditions?
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Trip Reports: (In Progress) Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho. It's off to the Grand Floridian We Go! (6/2014) | Back to the Drawing Board - Missouri to Disneyland (10/2013) | A visit to Walt's Happy Place - Marceline, MO (9/2012)

1981 Off Property, 1988 CBR, 1998 CBR (Honeymoon!!!), 2002 POFQ, 2003 Poly, 2005 WL, 2006 POP, 2007 WL, 2009 ASMo, 2009 POFQ, 2010 WL, 2010 DCL Wonder, 2010 DLR HOJO, 2010 PORS, 2011 off property, 2011 Bonnet Creek (DISApalooza 2011), 2012 DCL Dream, 2013 Disneyland Hotel, 2014 Grand Floridian

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Old 06-29-2013, 06:26 PM   #14
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My DS is 13 and when we do a roadtrip, we STILL play I spy and Word Association.

We're heading back to the US in Sept/Oct this year and will be driving the Four Corners area. We plan on making DS keep a journey and also he will have a camera; so we think it might be cool for him to take pictures and then think about what it was about that particular scene that made him take the picture.

That way, you can add their pictures to the mile markers at a later stage.
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Old 06-29-2013, 06:55 PM   #15
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Sounds like a fantastic trip planned!
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