Jan 29, 2012
Hi everyone! This is my first attempt at a trip report, but I have enjoyed reading everyone else's for years, so hopefully somebody can learn something from mine. My family consists of my husband and I and our 3 kids, AL, Nat, and Asher. My brother also joined us after our 1st week.

This is my brother

Our schedule:
Day 1, June 9- Fly to LAX, WB Studio Tour
Day 2, June 10-Griffith Park Observatory, Merry Go Round, Tam O'Shanter, Santa Monica Pier
Day 3, June 11-OUE Skyspace, Disneyland Hotel concierge
Day 4, June 12-California Adventure
Day 5, June 13- Disneyland
Day 6, June 14- Disneyland
Day 7, June 15- California Adventure
Day 8, June 16- Travel to Visalia/La Brea Tar Pits
Day 9, June 17-Sequioa National Park
Day 10, June 18- San Francisco
Day 11, June 19- Napa
Day 12, June 20- Yosemite
Day 13, June 21-Las Vegas
Day 14, June 22- Grand Canyon
Day 15, June 23- Grand Canyon
Day 16, June 24- Page, AZ
Day 17, June 25- Travel to Kingman
Day 18, June 26- Route 66 back to LA
Day 19, June 27- Universal Studios Hollywood
Day 20, June 28- Fly back home


Jan 29, 2012
Day 1-We can have lots of fun
We took a 5:20 flight to LAX and arrived at 10:20. We then rented a minivan from Alama which was super easy to pick up and headed to our scheduled WB tour. We had to eat at a food cart outside the studios due to lack of time. Looking back, it would have probably been easier to eat at the airport. Our tour guide was not the friendliest at first and seemed annoyed at waiting for the group to take a picture every once in a while. I learned a lot about Warner Brothers and really enjoyed seeing where several movies and tv shows I enjoy have been filmed. The biggest things they focused on were Gilmore Girls, Friends, and the Big Bang Theory. We got to actually see the set of Big Bang Theory, but no pictures were allowed. I am not a big fan of the show, but it was still interesting to me. We tried to get onto the set of Fuller House, but sadly we could not since they were setting up for the newest episode to be shot. We did get a picture with the facade. I also enjoyed getting to see lots of Harry Potter stuff. After our tour we ate at the Saddle Ranch Chop House in West Hollywood close to our hotel.

Fuller House


Harry Potter

LaLa Land Cafe

Gilmore Girls



Jan 29, 2012
Day 2-There's so much we can do
We visited the Griffith Park Observatory when it opened for views of the Hollywood sign and LA. We then went to the Griffith Park Merry Go Round when it opened at 11am. My husband and kids went on it, while I watched since I am prone to motion sickness. It was fun to be at the same place as Walt was while he thought of Disneyland. After playing at the park some, we went to our 1:15 appointment at the Tam O'Shanter. We asked for Table 31, but since we were 5, they sat us right next to it. We did sit at it for a little while and felt the etchings. The finale of The Office and an episode of Man Men were also filmed here. After lunch, we went to Santa Monica Pier to visit the aquarium and to get our legs wet. The kids loved the aquarium, and it was hard to get them to leave the touch tanks.
The Merry Go Round/carousel

A Bench There

The Tam O'Shanter

Table 31

Santa Monica Pier

Touch tank

  • Nalshersmom

    Jan 29, 2012
    Day 3- It's Just You and Me
    We woke up from our stay at the Intercontinental Los Angeles Century City and walked to breakfast in Beverly Hills. The location was nice and has been featured in several tv shows including Modern Family. It is right next door to Fox Studios which is the Nakatomi Plaza from Die Hard.

    We then drove to the OUE Skyspace LA. It was Sunday Family Fun day, so it was $20 apiece for all of us. Adults just got to ride the slide once, but kids had unlimited slides. My kids went on it about 15 times each.

    We also walked to the Disney Concert Hall to peek at it's gorgeous architecture. From there we went to Anaheim with a stop for Dragon's Breath at the Chocolate Chair on the way. They have cereal infused with liquid nitrogen when causes you to breathe smoke.

    Our next stop was the Disneyland Hotel!! We stayed 1 night concierge level, and it was awesome!! We ate there for heavy hor d'oeuvres and then ate delicious desserts while watching the fireworks. The pool was also super nice! Our room was very Disneyfied, and it was an overall wonderful experience.



    Jan 29, 2012
    Day 4- I Can Give You More
    We awoke and ate breakfast in the E-Ticket lounge which was very good before we said our goodbyes to the Disneyland Hotel and headed out to our extra magic hour at Disney's California Adventure.

    view from our room on the 10th floor of the Adventure Tower

    The Summer of Heroes was in full swing. Our first stop was Guardians of the Galaxy Mission Breakout. We also pulled a fast pass for the next hour. The music and excitement was awesome, and I grinned from ear to ear from the beginning to exiting the ride. Our first song was "Hit Me With Your Best Shot." Our second ride was the Jackson 5 song. I was slightly nauseated after the second ride, but it subsided soon after.

    Our favorite Guardians pics from the 1st and 2nd days in CA Adventures

    We brought a Tower of Tower bell with us.

    Cars Land was gorgeous! The last time we were here they were building it.

    We also tried out Avenger training. They gave the kids Avenger slap bracelets at the end, and they all enjoyed it.

    We then explored the park, ate at Carthay Circle for lunch, ate corn dogs from Corn Dog Castle for snacks, and rode so many rides. We then ended our night with the World of Color Dessert party. It was the perfect end to our night. The only downfall was the drop in temperature. My girls used our napkins to cover up. The cheese and dessert plates were so much food that we took home to go plates of our leftovers. They also served us cute little cups of hot chocolate. The kids got beautiful glowing World of Color cups for souvenirs. The show was also amazing! We then were super exhausted as we checked into our next hotel, the Courtyard Marriott Theme Park Entrance.



    Jan 29, 2012
    Day 5- Don't you know the time has arrived
    We used our extra hour early in the Magic Kingdom that came with our park tickets this day. We were exhausted but arrived bright and early with our energy coming from pure excitement. We rode several rides for the first time including Indiana Jones, Alice in Wonderland, and the Matterhorn Bobsleds. The Bobsleds were rough and a slight disappointment, but we loved all of the other rides. The Haunted Mansion seemed very comparable to Walt Disney World's. I have given up roller coasters since getting an ambulance had to come get me from Cinderella Castle during dinner after riding Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. My husband and kids are still big coaster fans. They enjoyed Disneyland's Big Thunder Mountain and Space Mountain more than their east coast counterparts. Small World was way better here, but Splash Mountain is preferred by me at Disney World. We wore our pirate shirts today since it was our day to eat lunch at the Blue Bayou. We had reservations at the first seating at 11am and easily got a seat by the water. We ordered to Monte Criscos which fed all 5 of us with leftovers. This was my husband's favorite meal of the trip. It was also so much fun to wave at the boats! I am not sure which Pirates ride I prefer. I really enjoyed the drops more and extra scenes on this version. I prefer the smell and the large fight scene at Disney World's version.

    I also found a love for mint juleps on this trip! We had them at the Blue Bayou and the Mint Julep bar. We also snacked on the seasonal lemon Mickey beignets which were delicious.

    We were exhausted by mid day, so we took a pool and nap break. Our hotel pool area was fabulous!

    We arrived back in Disneyland for dinner at the Red Rose tavern, which we all enjoyed.

    We then rode rides until closing the park down! On the way out we stopped at Moments With Mr. Lincoln to visit one of the park benches from the Griffith Park Merry Go Round which we had just visited. We had such a nice day!
  • ExcitedMama

    DIS Veteran
    Aug 29, 2013
    Thanks so much for sharing! You have such a beautiful family! The happiness just radiates through in all of the pictures which is so wonderful! That picture now has the Red Rose Tavern on my to do list! The burger and fries look great, but what is behind it? It looks like swirled frosting on a cookie? I don't know what it is but I know my kids would love it!

    Edited to add: thanks again for the dessert picture! I went googling to figure it out and now I finally know what that grey stuff is!
    Last edited:


    Jan 29, 2012
    I am happy I could help someone ExcitedMama! The gray stuff here was delicious, but I also enjoy the cupcakes at Be Our Guest. I got the beast burger, and it had a pot roast on it. Our food was good, and my kids loved finding all of the Beauty and the Beast details that were integrated throughout the restaurant.


    Jan 29, 2012
    Day 6
    We were again excited to get to the park at rope drop. Today we visited Disneyland again, which did not have the extra magic morning hour. We were able to ride several rides in the first few hours. We then had a brunch at the Plaza with Minnie and Friends. Everyone there was friendly, and the food was pretty good. They had everything but grits. The characters were also friendly. My kids especially loved communicating with Max.

    My youngest was trying to make up for his last meeting with Pooh when he poked him in the butt.

    We also signed up for Jedi Training. We have done Jedi Training at Hollywood Studios, and this was similar. I thought the stage coming out of the ground was really cool. My kids had a great time. They fought off Darth Vader and the Seventh Sister. At Hollywood Studios my now 9 year old was once too scared to battle Darth Maul.

    We also met with Chewbacca who was so fun!

    We then tried to re ride our favorite rides and enjoy as much as we could at Disneyland on our final day there. We also had to track down the last two places we had not been that were on our list. One was Snow White Grotto and wishing well. It was gorgeous, and I am so glad we came by. We did not see anyone propose, but it was fun to listen for Snow White.

    We have also read the Little Man of Disneyland, so we had to find his home!

    We then said our goodbyes at around 6ish and headed to Downtown Disney to visit and to get pizza from Napolini to bring back to our room.

    Our room had a small balcony and a view of the fireworks. It was so nice to eat pizza and relax so we could rope drop the next morning.

    Our room had a great eating area!

    We camped out on our balcony and watched the fireworks.

  • Nalshersmom

    Jan 29, 2012
    Day 7-
    We arrived for our last day at Disney's California Adventure at rope drop. We first headed to Guardians of the Galaxy for a fast pass and then on to Radiator Springs Racers. Both were awesome. It also happened to be the 5th year anniversary of Cars Land. We snacked on some random breakfast food such as pickles.

    The dance party was super busy, so we waited in line to see Groot instead.

    The Guardians ride is my new favorite Disney ride! We also bought lots of Guardians products to bring home such as an awesome hat, shirt, dancing Groot, and a Groot cup. We then enjoyed a delicious lunch at Flo's. My youngest 2 especially loved the ribs. We all enjoyed the milk shakes. We also were able to visit the Animation Academy to draw baby Groot, which I highly recommend.

    We stopped by for a Rocket Fuel coffee drink and noticed a filming crew. My curious 9 year old asked what they were filming for. It turned out to be the Disney Parks Blog, and they were doing a Summer of Heroes food video with Chef Toby. We got to learn all about the process of how they designed the Groot bread, and my 9 year old got to be interviewed.

    Chef Toby was so nice (as was the crew), and it was a great experience!

    She makes an appearance at the end of the video.

    A new favorite of our family turned out to be the swinging cars on Mickey's Fun Wheel.

    We also had some yummy snacks such as Mickey ice cream bars and rode a few of our favorites before leaving the park at 9ish.

    My brother met us as we were leaving and had just come from a long ride from LAX. He was disappointed that it took so long to get there and that he could not ride the Guardians ride.

    We then picked up a late dinner at Jimboy's tacos (which was really good), and we headed back to our room to show my brother the fireworks from our room. This happened to be the only night without fireworks :(



    Jan 29, 2012
    Day 8-
    I woke up early to wash 4 loads of laundry. I hate washing laundry o vacation, but it was a must with the length of our trip. I had packed the 4 in 1 Tide pods and fabric softner sheets inside bar soap travel containers. This worked great. My family slept in some and then enjoyed the water park at the hotel.

    We then packed up and stopped for brunch on the way to LA. We ate chicken and waffles at the Roscoe's in Anaheim. It was really good and worth the wait.

    Our next stop was the La Brea Tar Pits. We have a local museum membership which also got us in this museum for free.

    We then at In and Out Burger again and headed to Visalia to get ready for for an early morning at Sequoia National Park.


    Jan 29, 2012
    Day 9-
    We woke up early, and after a breakfast at our Hampton, we headed to Sequoia National Park for the day. Our first stop in the park was Hospital Rock. It was right off the road.

    Our next stop was a parking lot where we rode a bus to Crescent Meadow. It was gorgeous and a flat walk. There we put our cooler in a bear box and explored the meadow. The giant trees and Tharp's Log were our highlights.

    This was a giant log spanning the meadow. You are not allowed to walk on the meadow itself.

    The inside of Tharp's Log.

    We enjoyed a picnic lunch on one of their many tables.

    Our next stop was Moro Rock. My brother barely made it up at part of the way. My husband and girls made it a little over half way. My son and I were the only ones who made it to the top. I had a death grip on him. It was so high but amazing!

    We felt like we were on top of the world (I was tempted to play the song from the Imagine Dragons which was on our playlist for the trip.)

    Our final stop was the largest living thing in the world (by volume), the General Sherman.

    We then headed to our next location, San Francisco. We drove in at night, and it was so pretty. Our hotel was the Hyatt Centric at Fisherman's Wharf.



    Jan 29, 2012
    Day 10- San Francisco
    We woke up and packed up everything to leave it with the bellhop. We also said our goodbyes to Elton John who was hanging out in the lobby.

    San Francisco was one place that we wish we could have spent longer. This was our first time here. If we go back, we will plan for several days. We were super close to Pier 39 and the Wharf. We walked there and ate breakfast at the Boudin Bakery. The sourdough creations were really cool.

    The best part of Pier 39 were the sea lions! We stayed a while just to watch them. Overall it was a a very touristy area which was okay to us, but the sea lions make it worth the trip.

    We then walked to China town. It was super hilly, but the temperature was pretty comfortable. I planned on visiting the Golden Gate Good Fortune Co. I had read the reviews and knew what to expect. My family was surprised with the smallness of the place. It was just 2 ladies making cookies with a man directing them and a lady giving samples and being a cashier. It was 50 cents to take a picture, and for a couple of dollars we wrote our fortunes, and the ladies put them inside cookies for us. The company was also in an alley and slightly hard to find.

    China town here was also interesting to look at. Many people live here, and there are open markets everywhere. This was much different and more authentic feeling than other China towns we have visited. We also had to try San Francisco's It's It ice cream. We stopped in a corner Walgreen's for one, and it was a nice cool treat.

    As we were walking to our next stop, Lombard Street, we passed a laundry mat that looked familiar. I did some quick googling, and it was the laundry mat from the Heartbreak Kid which I suspected. We had to recreate the purse stealing scene the best we remembered it.

    Lombard Street was super busy, and I am so glad we did not drive it! There were even a few tourists who stood in front of a car for a picture. We even spoke with one lady who lived there. She said she did not mind the tourists until they asked to use her bathroom :) It was a cool street to see once, but the kids were not too impressed.

    Our view from the top

    The best pictures are from the bottom.

    We then went to Ghiradelli Square, which was not very cool if you have limited time in San Francisco. We should have skipped this part.
    We did get a candy sample, though. We then loaded back up in our rented minivan and headed to the Cliff House for a late lunch. It ended up being an early dinner because that was when their next seating was in the restaurant part that we wanted to eat at. This gave us time to explore the Sutro Bath remains, the beach, and a really cool cave. This turned into a fun adventure!

    You can see the Cliff House in the background.

    We had a gorgeous view from our table of the waves crashing on the Seal Rocks.

    The crab cakes, chicken fingers, and pork chops were all really good.

    We then started our drive to Napa. We drove on the Golden Gate Bridge and stopped on the other side for pictures.

    Our next stop was the Holiday Inn and Suites in Napa where we rested before our next early morning.


    Jan 29, 2012
    Day 11-
    We woke up early for our Napa day. We drove to Domaine Chandon where our hot air balloon tour started. We decided to go with Napa Valley balloons, and it was our first time ballooning. They had breakfast snacks, orange juice, and coffee as a starter before boarding our balloons. Our balloonist began ballooning before I was born, and I felt completely at ease. It was gorgeous. The requirements for ballooning with this company is that children must be 7 and 48 inches. After about an hour of ballooning over Napa Valley, we arrived to a nice "champagne" or sparkling wine brunch. It was a gorgeous setting all around, and it was a great experience!

    We were able to investigate the balloon after landing.

    Our next stop was close by Fairfield, CA where we took a free tour at the Jelly Belly factory. I would recommend this. We made it there for the first tour of the day. We got to learn and watch all about the jelly bean process. My favorite part was watching them mix all of the flavors into a variety pack.

    The sample bar allowed 3 samples every trip. My kids visited many times before they were cut off :)

    There were so many things to try made by the Jelly Belly company.

    We then loaded up and headed to Yosemite National Park. We were in the middle of a crazy heat wave, and I was slightly worried about being in a tent cabin with no air conditioning.

    Our ride there was breathtaking but intense for us.

    We stayed in a tent cabin in Half Dome Village.

    Our first outing was Mirror Lake. It was an easy and flat trail. The views were unbelievable!

    There were also lots of stacked rocks in several places we looked. They looked really cool! The park was full of adventure everywhere. There were places to climb on and explore everywhere.

    The tent cabins were not bad either. We had to put everything with scents into the bear box which was kind of a pain. We also ate all of our meals in the camp food court areas.



    Jan 29, 2012
    Day 12-Yosemite
    We woke up to explore Yosemite. One of our first stops was lower Yosemite Falls. The water levels were high, and this was a highlight of our day. There is a bridge leading to the falls which you get really spit on by the falls. It felt so good over in this entire area!

    We then went on to visit a swinging bridge which did not swing. This was a disappointment, but it provided beautiful views of the waterfall (upper and lower Yosemite Falls.)

    We also found this piece of wood that someone had arranged like a cross. We loved it!

    We ate all of our meals in their restaurant area at Half Dome. My husband said the ice cream here was his favorite.

    We also had to visit the Magestic (formerly the Awanee) since it was an inspiration for the Grand Californian. The fireplace was indeed giant!

    We also went on a fun adventure to find a mysterious cave. It was super fun, and we enjoyed exploring.

    We missed a lot of other cool things, but we did not think our kids would enjoy some of the strenuous activities. That night we watched a movie about bears at the campground. We were pretty dirty, but I was nervous about using the showers ( I am a weirdo), so we just washed off knowing we could shower in Las Vegas.


    Jan 29, 2012

    Day 13-
    Yosemite to Las Vegas

    We woke up fairly early to say our goodbyes to Yosemite and head to Las Vegas.

    Our original plan had us going through Death Valley, but unfortunately the Tioga Pass was still closed on June 21. We then had to do some back tracking to get to Las Vegas. It was still super hot outside. On our way we stopped at a donut shop called Judy's. It was just okay, and we ate it in the car.

    Our drive was uneventful, but I loved looking at all of the scenery. We were excited about our arrival in Las Vegas, but I was also a little nervous also about having our kids there. I had researched it a lot and knew what to avoid. I was surprised by the number of kids milling about. We checked into our one night at the Palazzo. We checked and were given a suite on the 42nd floor. It was so nice! My kids loved it and its 3 tvs.

    taken from the sunken living area

    Our living area

    part of the view

    Our bathroom

    We swam in the gorgeous pools in the super heat for a little while (after washing off.) We then took baths and showers. We tried not to watch tv on our trip, but the kids really wanted the tv on during their baths for the novelty of it. We then headed out to dinner at Wahlburgers. I have been a fan of the New Kids on the Block since I was in the 4th grade. My friend since the 4th grade, Becca, and I were able to meet them in 2009.

    We have also watched the show about Wahlburgers as a family. This was our first time to eat at one.

    On our way back, we stopped to see the fountain show at the Belligio and then saw their world's largest chocolate fountain.

    When then went back to our room to see Treasure Island's pirates versus mermaid show that everyone their told us we should watch. After watching for a while, we googled it to find out it had been done for a while.



    Jan 29, 2012
    Day 14- Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon

    We slept in thanks to the amazing blinds in our suite. We explored our hotel which was ginormous. The stores were mostly really high end and not in our budget, so we mostly just window shopped.

    The gondola rides looked okay, but were too overpriced for us.

    We decided on an affordable pizza for lunch and brought it back to our room. After lunch we got in our minivan and headed toward the Grand Canyon. We made a final stop by the Welcome to Las Vegas sign. There was convenient parking and a man who was taking pictures for tips. We just teamed up with the people behind us and took pictures of each other. It was so hot and felt like we were in an oven while we waited in line. There was a small shady area where the kids waited.

    We stopped for a milkshake after and were on our way.

    Our hotel at the Grand Canyon was the El Tovar. I called for a reservation the first day they were available (almost 13 months before), but I was still unable to get my first choice of the Mary Coulter suite. We also tried on that day for the Presidential Suite, but it was taken :(. Our room was nice, and I loved the history of the hotel. It was also in National Lampoon's Vacation movie. We were lucky to be able to find a close parking spot.

    Our room location

    The bathrooms were all unique and had large bottle of toiletries to share.

    Our first views from our hotel!

    Some of the views made me very nervous. We explored a little while and then ate dinner at the close Fred Harvey restaurant which was okay but very convenient. We then drove to the visitor center for a star party. They have star parties there one week a year. This was one of my favorite experiences of the trip. It was unbelievably gorgeous! We parked and then followed red lights to an open area where many people had registered and brought their personal and professional telescopes and were sharing their knowledge with the public. There were many friendly people, but our favorite was 12 year old Katie and Katie's dad. My brother set up his camera to take pictures while the rest of our family decided to lay back on a sidewalk and just gaze at the unbelievable beauty. Amazing is an understatement. We also lost count of how many shooting stars we saw. I wish we could have slept out there.

    We then headed back to the El Tovar and sat awhile on the porch before going to sleep.



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