"I miss Mickey." Family Trip to CA with a surprise visit to Disneyland!

Dec 5, 2017
Hello Everybody!

This is my first trip report. :goodvibes I'm a big fan of reading trip reports when planning so I thought I would post a bit about our trip from June. Our trip was June 2-13th. This included me, my husband, 7 year old son (DS7), 4 year old son (DS4) and youngest son (DS1) who was just 22 months old at the time of trip and not quite reaching the terrible two's. :rotfl:

In January we decided on taking a vacation to California. I had been wanting to visit San Diego for quite awhile and decided to start planning a trip. I knew since we were flying with 3 young kids I wanted to stay longer than a week like our last trips so we planned a 12 day trip. When I was doing my research I also saw we could purchase the Southern California CityPass which included tickets to Disneyland so we ended up deciding to add that on as a surprise for the kids! DS4 had been complaining frequently that he "Missed Mickey". I heard this on a regular basis and had a hard time keeping the trip a surprise as he constantly asked about visiting Disney World again. He also kept asking me a lot of questions about "Walter". He's taken quite an interest in Walt Disney. :rotfl:

So now on to our trip. We were up just after 4am with all our bags packed the night before and headed to the airport for a 6am flight. Luckily we made it through security with all our bags, car seat, and kids in tow without any trouble. We had a connecting flight in Denver with a two hour layover. The kids did great waiting in the airport and entertaining themselves watching a ladybug on a window and giggling nonstop about it. DS1 did get antsy on the 2nd flight but fell asleep on the descent into San Diego. :rolleyes:


to be cont'd
  • Joined
    Dec 5, 2017
    Day 1- San Diego

    After we arrived in San Diego we had several hours before check in at our airbnb so we picked up our rental car(horrible experience with Thrifty) and then headed to Old Town for lunch and to explore.

    Since the kids were hungry we ended up stopping at the first restaurant we saw after parking which was Casa De Reyes. The food was OK but the kids were more interested in the live entertainment.

    I don't remember what I ordered but the presentation was nice!

    DS4 enjoyed watching the dancers. :)

    After lunch we let the kids burn off energy running around, did some window shopping and I took a million pictures of flowers and whatever caught my attention. :D
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    Eventually DS1 started to get very tired and was ready for a nap. Luckily I received a message our airbnb was ready so we headed out to check in. We loved our Airbnb. It was a granny flat with a great view in the back yard. The kids enjoyed playing out back and in the sunroom all week.

    DS1 checking out the view.

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    We headed out for groceries and spent the evening having dinner in. I thought we would all go to bed early since we got up at 4am and were dealing with a 2 hour time change but my kids really put off bedtime that night. o_O:P


    Actually, my name is Sara. It's a long, VMK story.
    Jul 22, 2005
    Wow, that is an amazing view! Very cool! That's one of our problems with vacationing still, our kids struggle to sleep all together in different places, and they're still up at the crack of dawn...
    Dec 5, 2017
    Wow, that is an amazing view! Very cool! That's one of our problems with vacationing still, our kids struggle to sleep all together in different places, and they're still up at the crack of dawn...
    They managed to wake up bright and early everyday but by the end of the trip they started staying in bed a bit longer in the mornings. We never did make it to Disneyland at rope drop any of the mornings we were there. :rotfl:
    Dec 5, 2017
    Day 2 - USS Midway Museum

    We headed out first thing in the morning to the USS Midway Museum. We managed to arrive 20 minutes early and were able to line up right away since we pre-purchased tickets. Once inside we were given 4 speakers for the self guided audio tour which ended up being a mistake. DS1 stole mine and we had to head back and get one more.

    First stop was the information booth to learn about the Junior Pilot program. DS4 was not that into but DS7 was obsessed. He listened intently and worked on answering all questions to earn his wings at the end of the tour.

    We stopped for some photo ops on the planes and then headed below decks.
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    DS1 getting to work... :P
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    Eventually we stopped for a snack and then headed to the flight deck. We should have started out on the flight deck first because it was getting hot at this point and crowded!

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    After the tour we hit up the gift shop so I could get my go to souvenir (a magnet) and ended up getting a Christmas ornament too. This led to the kids wanting something. Whoops! :rolleyes: We also stopped at the information desk so DS7 & DS4 could turn in there questionnaire's and earn their wings. DS7 was very into pinning ceremony. :laughing:

    We walked along the pier to see the Unconditional Surrender Statue and took a ton of pictures. Then headed out with 3 tired boys who were ready for a break.

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    After the break we went to Cali Comfort BBQ for dinner. It was crazy busy and packed inside so we asked to sit outside which ended up being nice. We sat at a picnic table and enjoyed the cooler weather.

    I ordered the Sangria Fishbowl. I shared it with my husband since it was huge. :drinking1

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    The food was good. I had a BBQ pork platter, DS4 had mac n'cheese with bacon, DS7 had mini sliders and DS1 mooched from everyone. :laughing:


    We had some leftovers which we saved for another night. We convinced the kids to go to bed almost on time since we had a full day coming up the next day!
  • Joined
    Dec 5, 2017
    Day 3 - San Diego Zoo

    Today we headed to the San Diego Zoo. We packed a lunch and planned to spend most of the day here but ended up staying all day! We saw most of the zoo but with kids we weren't able to make it everywhere. We had to stop and hit up all the play areas and statues so that really slows things down a bit. :laughing:

    Started out in Africa...
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    The first of many stops. :rotfl:
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    Snoozing Koala's
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    DS7 checking out the Southern California animals then and now. He's really into the ice age right now. ::yes::
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    I had read that the wait to see the panda's could be long but we managed to only wait a few minutes. The line was slow moving and it got annoying listening to them bark out keep moving over the loudspeaker. It seemed to be going quick enough at the time. :confused3
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    The kids loved the panda's so much we ended up dragging two stuffed animals home with us. They get a lot of love though. DS1 ended up with a panda hat. There's something exciting about an animal you don't have at your home zoo. ::yes::

    The layout of the zoo got a bit confusing and walking up hill in some places was not fun but it had some very pretty views!
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    We rode the Skyfari back across the zoo and hopped on the bus for a quick tour. Pretty much saw the whole zoo again and gave DS1 a chance to nap. We took an ice cream break and headed to the kids area to play on the playground before leaving. It was a long day but everyone seemed to enjoy it.

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    Actually, my name is Sara. It's a long, VMK story.
    Jul 22, 2005
    That zoo is pretty amazing! But the hills, not so much. I loved riding the Skyfar and pretending I'm on the Skyway to Tomorrowland again though! I'm glad you had a good visit! My kids were kind of obsessed with the pandas too.
    Dec 5, 2017
    Day 4 - Shopping & Mission Beach

    So we woke up to a cloudy morning and hung out at the airbnb for awhile before decided to head to Seaport Village for some morning shopping.


    It ended up being a lot colder than we expected so we bought the kids hoodies and then window shopped. We did stop to get a fortune from Blackbeard but the kids were not impressed. :laughing:

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    As lunch time neared we stopped at the Pier Cafe since I thought the kids would be impressed with dining over the water. Spoiler Alert: They weren't. :rotfl:

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    Unfortunately during the wait for food DS1 became hangry and had to leave the restaurant twice so the other diners wouldn't have to listen to his fits. Once he calmed down we came back in to find the wait staff had brought out some oyster crackers and cherries for him to snack on. I was impressed with how thoughtful that was. :thumbsup2 The other boys enjoyed their pizza and I had some fish and chips!

    We went in a few more stores, let the kids run down the pier, and then headed out for a break since it seemed that the sun was not going to come out for the afternoon.

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    Eventually after nap time the sun stated to show and we decided to go to Mission Beach for a few hours. This was our kids first visit to the ocean so they were hesitant to get into the water but eventually they became braver and loved it.
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    As the sun set everyone was freezing so we headed out for dinner. In our Airbnb there was a restaurant recommendation from several former guests for a place called Beef N Bun so we headed there to check it out. The burgers and fries were OK but the the peanut butter chocolate shake I got was so good! Doesn't look fancy but tastes great! Another one sounds good right about now. :laughing:

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  • Joined
    Dec 5, 2017
    Day 5 - SeaWorld

    So today we go up and and headed to SeaWorld. We spent a lot of time at the pools in the front of the park with the kids watching the sharks swimming. We skipped the Orca's to watch the dolphin show and never did make it back to see them.

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    We headed into a few aquariums and then over to see the Manta Ray's. DS7 was really into the Manta Ray's but wouldn't touch them.

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    DS4 was super angry that he wasn't tall enough to ride the Manta roller coaster. He threw a never ending fit about it and really didn't understand he needed to grow a bit more so we convinced him it was time for lunch. I was kind of annoyed we couldn't bring in outside food since I didn't like the restaurant options but we stopped and got BBQ. I think the kids had chicken nuggets and watermelon.


    My food looked better than it tasted and within 20 minutes I started to feel horrible. To make things worse DS1 was tired and wanted to nap. So I found somewhere to sit down and held a sleeping toddler while my husband took the older kids on rides. I have no idea what was up with that brisket but I was feeling nauseous for about an hour after eating it. :sick:

    Eventually DS1 woke up and we let the kids play in Sesame Street Bay of play for what seemed like an eternity. :laughing: Then we headed over to see seals, more sharks, and sea turtles!

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    We had issues this trip with DS1 refusing to ride in the stroller and I ended up carrying him almost everywhere we went. After we saw the sea turtles I was ready to go since I had been lugging him around most of the day. We hit up the gift shops and then headed out to have dinner at our Airbnb.
    Dec 5, 2017
    Day 6 - La Jolla

    Today was going to be a beach day. We loaded up our beach gear, packed a lunch and headed out to La Jolla. We stopped at the Children's Pool first to see the seals basking in the sun.

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    We then walked over to Shell Beach to look for seashells and just to mill around in the sand.

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    We didn't go very far because I was worried about the kids climbing on rocks or falling. DS7 and DS4 were obsessed with finding shells and sea-glass. After about an hour I had to convince them to leave so we could have lunch.
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    We went over to La Jolla Shores and found a spot on the beach to have a quick lunch and then play in the sand. We spent most of the afternoon watching the kids playin the sand and run up and down the beach.

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    DS1 was obsessed with growling at the wildlife on the beach. :laughing:

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    DS4 spent most of the afternoon building sand castles and befriending everyone who walked by. :rotfl:

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    We eventually packed up our stuff and took it to the car. We then walked to the pier to take pictures but there were some High school Grad's taking pictures and they were not moving any time soon so we let the kids play a bit and left.

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    We did laundry and packed most of our bags in the evening since we were leaving Friday morning for Legoland and then on to Anaheim. We told the kids we were visiting Anaheim next but did not tell them we were going to Disneyland. I wasn't sure at this point when we would tell them. I was getting excited though! :hyper:
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    Dec 5, 2017
    Day 7 - Legoland

    This morning we packed up and checked out of our Airbnb. We were heading to Legoland and then on to Anaheim in the evening. We arrived right around opening and headed to the Ninjago area since DS7 and DS4 were fans of the movie.

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    We watched the 4D movie and the boys headed to wait in line for a ride while I walked around with DS1 and took pictures. We probably should have bought the reserve 'n' ride pass because the wait for some of the rides took forever.

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    When DS1 began to get hangry we stopped at the closest restaurant which was a pizza buffet. Everyone enjoyed pizza, pasta and salads but I really wish they would have offered fruit at their salad bar because I was really craving it at that time.

    After lunch the kids rode several rides, played legos and attempted some of the carnival games. I'm not a big fan of Lego's but really liked the Lego sculptures everywhere.
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    We spent a lot of time in Miniland USA checking everything out. It was so hot out at this point that we had to stop a few times under some trees.
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    The detail is really fun and I could have spent way more time wondering around here but we headed over to the Star Wars area next.

    To be continued in the next post.....
    Dec 5, 2017
    Legoland cont'd.

    The kids did some looking around a mostly sitting in the shade while in the Star Wars area. I walked around taking a ton of pictures because they had so many fun scenes from the movies. I'll only add a few here and not overload the trip report with the 100's I took. :P

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    We headed over to ride a couple more rides and everyone was getting a bit cranky so we new we needed to head out. DS4 saw a character out so we stopped for a meet n greet. He was really excited about this and I was excited because he had no idea we were going to Disneyland next and I couldn't wait for him to meet more characters. ::yes::

    It needed up taking awhile to get back to the front of the park since we had to stop frequently for the kids to point out everything they saw. Eventually we hit up the big gift shop so the older boys could get some Lego's and DS1 a water bottle since I left his sippy cups at home. :guilty:

    I liked this BB-8 at the front of the store and this happened to be the very spot where DS1 dumped out all the mini m&m's he got as a treat. :rolleyes:
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    We headed out for the day stopping to get some snacks and then drove on to Anaheim. We were staying at the Tropicana Inn & Suites right across from Disneyland so I began to worry on the drive there that the kids would see Disneyland and realize where we were going next. I agonized over this so much that after we got to the hotel and brought our stuff in I decided to tell them early that we were going to Disneyland in a couple of days. This did not go over as I expected. o_O I should have waited since they were all tired and had woken up from a nap. I got a very lackluster response. DS7 was confused as to why I kept it a secret and DS4(who I thought would be very excited as a Mickey fan) just said "Oh". :guilty: We had dinner, let them play and then as time went on they began to get more excited. I just wish I had waited until the morning we were headed to Disneyland because I think they would have been more excited. Both boys even told me I should have waited. :laughing:
    Dec 5, 2017
    Day 8 Part 1. - La Brea Tar Pits

    This morning we were headed to the La Brea Tar Pits. DS7 is a big fan of the ice age and I knew this would be a hit with him. We arrived right around opening and had scheduled to watch the Ice Age Encounters show later in the morning.

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    Both DS7 and DS4 ran around outside like crazy excited to see the tar pits and once inside they rushed through the museum. It's hard to get them to stop and check out the exhibits because they get so excited. :D

    This saber tooth cat exhibit was fun to watch.

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    Ground Sloth
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    Wall of dire wolf skulls.
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    After we visited all of the exhibits we went over to the Ice Age Encounters show. I had not told the kids what it was about and I wasn't sure if they would be afraid of the big saber tooth cat that comes out. When the saber tooth cat came out DS1 clung to me and watched it closely while DS4 moved closer to me and listened to the show intently. DS7 said he wasn't scared but he was confused like most of the kids in the room trying to figure out if it was real. :laughing:

    We went back outside to check out the excavation sites and then headed out for our next destination.
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    Day 8 to be cont'd.
    Dec 5, 2017
    Day 8 - Part 2 California Science Center

    This day I should have really just cancelled afternoon plans and either spent time in the pool at the hotel or hung out in Downtown Disney. We went to the California Science Center after the La Brea Tar Pits and ended up wearing the kids out way to much. I had wanted to really go to see the King Tut exhibit but was disappointed afterwards.

    First we arrived had lunch and visited a few exhibits before our entry to see the space shuttle Endeavour.
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    The kids were not impressed with the space shuttle for some reason so we headed to the Kelp Forest where we took a break and DS4 took pictures with my phone since he was getting a bit grumpy. DS4 and DS1 liked watching the divers and we spent quite a bit of time here.

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    Once our time for the King Tut exhibit was close we headed over there. We entered and then waited and waited and waited for what seemed like forever to get into the exhibit. It was super crowded and people hung out all around the displays making it hard to see anything. We ended up quickly going through the whole exhibit because it was just so hard to really view anything with how crowded it was. Probably not something I would do on a Saturday again if at all.

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    We headed back to the hotel to get everyone ready for bed since in the morning we were headed to Disneyland!
    Dec 5, 2017
    Day 9 -Disneyland & DCA

    When planning our visit to Disneyland I decided to not "overplan" anything and really just kind of outline what to do. I only made two dining reservations and a short list of must do attractions. Since we had the SoCal CityPass we had 3 day park hoppers. I was going to only use the park hopper on our the third day of visiting the parks but that plan changed right before we went to the parks and we ending up park hopping daily. I was also unsure of using Maxpass and ended up buying it just two days for fastpasses and photopass.

    When we arrived at Disneyland I took DS7 to ride Indiana Jones Adventure and my husband took the younger boys to visit Tarzan's treehouse. This is where my loose plans fell apart. :laughing: While we were in line my husband texted to the say the boys were disinterested and they were now in line for POTC. I had wanted to ride it all together but had to change plans now. I loved Indy but DS7 hated it since it was too rough for him. We headed to POTC and got in line just as my husband and the other kids were almost done.

    This is one of my favorite rides so I took a lot of pictures but won't overload the post with them all. :D
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    We all met up and my husband DS4 head off to ride Indy. I saw Redd out meeting and was excited but DS7 didn't want to meet her. 8-)

    It was a nice morning but becoming increasingly busy. We took some pictures and headed to Jungle Cruise.

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    So I made the mistake of sending DS4 with my husband to Indy and while in line for Jungle Cruise with DS7 & DS1 I got a text asking where we were at. DS4 was not quite tall enough to ride. I forgot to check before I sent him off. :eek: DS4 got in line with us and my husband headed to Indy to ride by himself.

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    My kids enjoyed Jungle Cruise and we went off to make some pressed pennies and visit a few gift shops while waiting on my husband. Indy ended up going down while he waited and it never did open back up on our trip. :worried: My husband met back up with us and we headed to Haunted Mansion. DS7 is afraid of the dark but rode it anyways. DS4 rode it when he was 1 but didn't remember. He said he didn't like it. DS1 did not like it either. Guess I'll ride it by myself next time. :laughing:

    It was close to our lunch reservations so we decided to head over and check in.

    Cont'd in next post...
    Dec 5, 2017
    Day 9 Cont'd

    We had lunch reservations at Cafe Orleans. The check in line was long but we only waited a few minutes. We sat outside and it was nice. The kids were excited about the ducks no matter how much our waiter tried to shoe them away. :D

    We started off with the Pommes Frites and you can see DS4 loved them. This became a problem because at every meal he asked for french fries only and I had to insist he eat something other than fries. :sad2:

    DS7 is picky and we ordered him the kids chicken. He hardly ate anything. :sad2: DS4 had the kids mac n cheese. He ate some of it but mostly the pommes frites. DS1 decided to finish off the mac n cheese for DS4. :teeth:


    My husband ordered the Monte Cristo and I was going to order the same thing but for some reason I pointed out the 3 cheese Monte Cristo. It was good but not what I meant to order. Guess I need to pay less attention to ordering for the kids and more attention to what I want. :P

    After this we headed back to the hotel for a couple hours to give the kids a chance to nap. We then decided to park hop and headed to DCA in the around 4:30. DS7 is a big fan of Black Panther so we waited for about half an hour and then his meet n greet closed. >:( I told DS7 we would come back another time since the other kids were getting grumpy waiting.

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    We headed back to A Bugs land so the kids could ride a few rides and play. My husband rode rides with DS7 & DS4 while I let DS1 run around in the puddle park. They rode Flik's Flyers and Francis Ladybug boogie. I wanted to ride Heimlich's chew chew train but DS1 was getting hangry. I had gotten him some popcorn but he needed more to eat.
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    We now headed to Cars land to get some dinner at Flo's and I wanted to see Sh-Boom so we decided to hang around for that too.
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    I can't remember what everyone had at Flo's but I tried the pot pie and didn't care for it. The food choices weren't the best but I liked the atmosphere. The kids also headed out to the street to dance after we ate.


    We got in line to see Lightning McQueen, took some pictures, and then hung around the very very busy cars land waiting for Sh-Boom. After awhile we headed out for the Paint the Night Parade.

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    Paint the Night Parade next....


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