Planning 5 day trip to LA or Anaheim, need advice!!

Discussion in 'Southern California' started by louise1928, Sep 4, 2006.

  1. louise1928

    louise1928 Mouseketeer

    May 27, 2001
    I am in the planning process for a trip to California. My husband and I both want to visit Disneyland and Universal Studios, but would also like to visit Hollywood.

    How should we work this vacation???

    I was thinking about spending 2 days at Disney and 3 days in Hollywood, or 3 days at Disney and 2 days in Hollywood. Is it also possible to stay in Anaheim, and do a day trip to Hollywood??

    I found some great hotel prices at Embassy Suites-Downey, but some trip reports I have read said that its about 20 minutes from Disney.

    I am confused trying to decide which is the best way to go without wasting a lot of time and money. We do not plan to rent a car, or should we???

    Thanks for all tips and suggestions

    P.S. I forgot to mention, we are traveling without kids, and my husband is an amusement park junkie :thumbsup2
  2. tinagirl

    tinagirl DIS Veteran

    Sep 24, 2001
    Quick Questions:

    1) Which airport are you planning on flying into.
    2) Are you planning to hit up both DCA and DL.
    3) You say that your hubby is an amusement park junkie. Does that mean you'll be hitting up Knotts or Six Flags as well?

    Ok, so some basic tips. I don't know your budget, but if you want to hit Universal as well as places in Hollywood (like Hollywood & highland, etc.), I would suggest staying at a hotel in North Hollywood/Studio City/ Universal City. Particularly the ones at Citywalk. Then, you can take the train (Los Angeles Metro subway) to Hollywood & Highland (it's 2 stops on the train), and be staying in a safer area.

    I guess I kinda need to know what sites you plan on hitting (is there a beach in your bout medieval times...thoughts on what attractions in hollywood you want to see), as well as your budget, to help you figure out how to go about it.

    Let me know, eh?

    All my best
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  4. louise1928

    louise1928 Mouseketeer

    May 27, 2001
    Thanks Tina

    I was just talking with my husband, and we have come up with two ideas;

    We are flying into LAX from Philly

    We have no plans to visit Six Flags or Knotts

    1) Stay in Anaheim (have not decided on a hotel yet) as our home base for DL, DCA, and Universal, and book a starline tour to Hollywood

    2) Stay in Hollywood (best western sunset plaza) as our home base, and book a tour to Disneyland and Universal for 2 days. We like booking bus tours in cities that we are not familiar with and starline offers good prices. Some of the tours takes you to many the sights we are interested in.
    Do you recommend the tours, or should we wing it on our own??

    We would like to stay in a fairly decent hotel that has a pool, offers free breakfast. We also like hotels that have a bar/lounge on site to unwind after a long day out sightseeing, but thats not as necessary in hollywood, as it would be staying in Anaheim. We really do not want to rent a car at all if possible.

    My husband like the amusements, and I like to sightsee, but on this trip he is interested in both. I definitely do not want to be in a hotel where we are confined and need to depend on taxis just to hang out for drinks, so Embassy suites in Anaheim may not work for us.

    let me know if I am leaving out anything.

    Thanks for your help :wave:
  5. MinnieFan

    MinnieFan DIS Veteran

    Jan 20, 2005
    We did the Starline "Grand Tour of L.A." last month. We figured that it would be a good way to see the highlights of the city and Hollywood without having to worry about driving in the city, looking for parking, etc. and Starline will pick up guests from Ananheim hotels. I have to say that we were all extremely disappointed in the tour. We spent most of the time in traffic, very little time actually seeing anything. The first actual stop on the tour was at Hollywood Boulevard (Chinese theater, Kodak Theater, Walk of Fame and Hollywood sign). My DD8 was very upset at this location. There are a lot of "street performers" in cheesy costumes in front of the Chinese theater who want to pose for pictures and accost tourists for money in exchange for the pictures. There was a guy in a very flimsy Mickey Mouse costume who was very persistent in asking for money (we did not take pictures of him or any of the others). DD kept asking me all day if that was the real Mickey, and saying "Mickey wouldn't ask anyone for money, would he?" You can get a picture of the Hollywood sign at this location if you have a good zoom lens on your camera. The next stop was at the LA Farmer's Market. This area is mostly tourist-trap type shops. The final stop was at Venice Beach, which always looks very nice on TV in reality is different. The bus driver told us to get off at this stop to look around, and then said he had to stay on the bus at all times at this stop because it was not safe to leave it (!!). I agree that this is not a neighborhood that I felt particularly safe in. This area is full of shops selling items like X-rated t-shirts - I had to take DD back on the bus because I did not want her to see this. Other than these stops, the only things that you see on the tour are places that you drive past in the bus. The four of us really felt that this tour was a complete waste of time and money, and we wished that we had spent this money on tickets for another day at either Disney or Universal.
  6. LuvTigger

    LuvTigger <font color=deeppink>Just wanted to add that I'm a

    Jul 3, 2000
    Just FYI, Universal is much closer to Hollywood. If you decide to split your stay between Anaheim and Hollywood, you should probably throw the Universal portion of your trip into the Hollywood segment.

    The drive time between Anaheim and Universal can range from 45 minutes to an hour (more in very heavy traffic). We usually stay in the Anaheim area, which is much nicer and I think generally cheaper too, and drive to Hollywood. If you stay in Hollywood, I would recommend doing a lot of research before you book a hotel (unless, like Tina said, you stay in one of the Universal City hotels) -- some of the areas can be a bit sketchy.

    Personally, I would rent a car, but I can understand not wanting to rent a car in an unfamiliar area (esp. with those crazy LA freeways!). I think I would look into just staying in Anaheim where it is cleaner and you will probably feel safer. It is much more of a walking area, and you should have lots of restaurants, etc. (plus, Downtown Disney) in the immediate area. Although I've never done a Starline Tour, I would think they would be easily accessible in Anaheim.
  7. woody73

    woody73 <font color=darkorange>Enjoyed the Pumpkinmen<br><

    Jun 7, 2005
    With five days, I suggest staying in Anaheim, and making a daytrip to Universal Studios Hollywood. (USH offers a free bus from Disneyland Resort to USH with purchase of full price admission ticket.) If time allows, you could take the Metro Red Line from USH two stops to Hollywood & Vine (Grauman's Chinese Theatre, El Capitan, and the Disney Soda Fountain).

    If you change hotels, you will lose half a day packing, checking out, transportation, and checking in.

  8. tinagirl

    tinagirl DIS Veteran

    Sep 24, 2001
    So - It seems as though Minnie fan had a bad trip, but what she saw is what hollywood really is. It's like New York. If you go to a center of an urban city that you aren't comfortable're going to feel...well.. uncomfortable.

    I don't say this to be flaming her. Just to show another point of view:

    Let me have my little (Tina's about to defend her home city) rant... I only serve to present this as a rebuttal to the earlier comments.

    I love this town. Sometimes it's not pretty. Sometimes it's gritty, but it's my town and gosh darn it, I love it!

    1) Hollywood and Highland - Yes there are street performers. Yes most of them are lame (Who wants a 6 foot 4 Elmo anyways). Yes most of them will ask for money. This isn't really any different from being in New york near TKTS, or in San Francisco near the Embarcadero. It's a part of urban landscape. I've never personally been harassed, but I see on the news that it happens.
    2) The farmers market on 3rd and Fairfax is in NO WAY full of touristy trap shops. The farmers market is separated into two separate areas. *The Grove* (A neo-parisian themed marketplace) with upscale shops, theaters, and restaurants. There is a trolley from one side to the other, and a water fountain show. In the summer there are concerts (Saw lisa loeb there just a bit ago), and it's definitely of the more beverly hills class. The other portion is the real farmers market, filled with small produce stands, butchers, nut makers, my favorite candy store, a hot sauce and tabasco store, and more. There are exactly two shops that sell tourist items (marilyn shirts and rodeo drive signs). The farmers market comes alive on the weekend with a large mass of multicultural folks. Mosieur Marcel is a fantastic french food shop with a restaurant outside. (Best Fondue EVER!)
    3)Venice Beach - Ok this one, I somewhat agree with, only because since most of the canals were filled in over the 80s and 90s to make room for further housing, the city lost it's soul. You'd have a better time in Santa Monica or actually staying in OC and seeing Newport... I don't think the area is unsafe. I just think it's a little boring.

    Now for my thoughts:
    1) I will always advise people to not stay in Hollywood, especially if they don't have a car, and VERY especially if they are not comfortable with urban life. In Anaheim, there aren't that many transients camped outside the Embassy suites. In hollywood you WILL encounter it. If you don't feel comfortable with that (and not even I love it), you will have a better location base in Anaheim or in No. Ho. near Universal. (I always suggest Beverly Garlands Holiday Inn or the Sheraton Universal). Being in Universal means that you get to go to Citywalk and do things without needing a car. Being in Universal means that you can take the train to the arclight, cineramadome, ameoba records, pantages, hollywood & vine, el capitan, chinese, egyptian, roosevelt and more without a car, while still being in a safer area.

    2) Anaheim has quite a lot to do, and a very safe environment. It is a friendly city with lots of great places to see that are only a cab ride away - or Another plus is that most Irvine/Garden Grove/ and some anaheim hotels offer shuttles to both Disneyland AND The Block area (very similar to the grove... same developer, but this one has a different vibe... vans skate park, hilo hatties, etc.). That gives you more opportunities to see and do things.

    3) I can't comment on the tours, as the only tour I've ever been on is the Haunted Hollywood tour (Halloween excursion a few years ago). I do agree that some tours are very good in cities (had a great one in Seattle a bit ago), but others kinda suck. I wish I had more info on which was better in the hollywood area...I always tend to self-tour (and I was an English Major with a Civics Minor, so I wrote lots of papers on the town anyways) , so I could tell you all about the Hollywoodland housing development. The water right scandal. The breaking of the St. Francis Dam and many other boring things. ;)

    I don't know if I've helped. I got all huffy and wanted to defend Hollywood. (It's kinda like family, *I* can say it's crowded and has too much traffic all I want but it's hard to hear someone else say that...) So, if you have further questions, please ask, and I'll try to reign in my answers. :blush:
  9. louise1928

    louise1928 Mouseketeer

    May 27, 2001
    Thanks Tina,

    Great job writing your thoughts about your hometown. My husband and I love NYC, and we try and visit at least 2x a year. We never have problems riding their subways or walking their streets. We just proceed with caution, as with any large metropolitan city that we visit. That being said, I do like the sounds of Anaheim. It sounds like a very relaxing place to stay, but yet offers many things to do outside of Disney. We have not decided yet, but I am leaning towards staying in Anaheim. We can get a little more bang for our buck, and we can always do the tour to Hollywood for a day.

    As much as were against it, we are reconsidering renting a car in Anaheim, but have not decided yet. We have also extended our trip by one day, so now we will be staying 6 days instead of 5.

    How far is the drive from Anaheim to Universal?? I think the Embassy Suites offers shuttle there, but I have to check again.

    Anymore information you and others can provide is much appreciated!!

    Thanks again :)

    P.S. If I have more questions I will post them!!
  10. LuvTigger

    LuvTigger <font color=deeppink>Just wanted to add that I'm a

    Jul 3, 2000
    I would allow at least an hour or 1 hr. 15 min. to get there, assuming you're going close to opening time. There's usually some morning traffic. Also, if you self park, it's a little bit of a walk to the front gate (although a couple of years ago we paid extra for "premium" parking, which was a very quick walk!).

    If you stay through dinner and return to Anaheim at night, the drive should be closer to 45 minutes since there's not as much traffic (barring unforeseen circumstances!).
  11. tinagirl

    tinagirl DIS Veteran

    Sep 24, 2001
    Staying in anaheim is a great decision. It will afford you lots of nightlife, safety, and things to do. There is also great anaheim city bus (trolley bus) transportation, and schedules are available at most hotels in the area. It can help a lot.

    If you decide you want a car, you can always just call up enterprise to get one for the day, instead of getting one for your week. You may pay a bit of a premium since you're only renting for one or two days to go to Hollywood, but it's better than paying for the whole trip if you really don't need it.

    Keep in mind that many Anaheim Hotels do charge for parking, so if cost is a big factor, make sure you tabulate that in with the car price.

    In other news, when visiting Universal, there is a trade secret. Most folks enter the complex by turning from ventura, or coming off the freeway (101 North) which puts you in the Curious George Parking lot at the very end of citywalk. If instead, you enter the complex from the Lankershim entrance, you will likely park in Jurassic, which spans from the front of city walk to the middle. In either case, entering from Lankershim gurantees you a shorter walk, at the "non-premium" price.

    Even if you do walk, it's not even a block from one side to the other, although it can seem that way when you're trudging back to your car at night after a long day at the park. Also keep in mind that through most of the winter, Universal has VERY limited park hours, so you'll want to check that.

    You'll have a great time!
  12. captaincrash

    captaincrash <font color=darkorchid>!!!Surrender over yer LOOT!

    Feb 23, 2005

    ... really great remarks posted here... and I wanted to add that there were other alternatives in case your AMUSEMENT PARK JUNKIE spouse is interested... we have a place north of LA called Magic Mountian with lots of serious roller coasters. Although from Disneyland it is over 1.5 hours WITHOUT TRAFFIC... it is an "all coaster" park.



    A scenic adventure with a splashy 57-foot plunge finale. (under 42" must be accompanied by an adult)

    This spinning, twirling fast moving ride sends riders to the edge of their seat! (42")

    Combining hairpin turns & zero gravity with Batman movie magic. (54")

    This wacky pirate ship has run amok. (under 42" must be accompanied by an adult)

    Spin in tight circles as the entire vehicle twirls. (under 42" must be accompanied by an adult)

    The tallest and fastest wooden coaster in the West. (48")

    CYCLONE 500
    Drivers wanted for this high-speed road race. Drive solo or with a friend! Ride requires an additional fee. (driver must be 58" - see attendant for other restrictions)

    Think you've experienced it before...think again! This next generation super boomerang roller coaster is the world's tallest and fastest of its kind. (must be over 54" and under 75")

    Skydive without a parachute on this 150-foot, 60 mile-per-hour free fall. Ride solo or up to 3. Ride requires an additional fee. (48")

    The world's only hairpin drop coaster. (48")

    An unrestricted drop from the top of a 10-story tower, plunging at 55 miles-per-hour in just two seconds. (42")

    Ride the Park's first roller coaster. (48")

    Looming 255 feet in the air the blazing orange track sits high above the Six Flags Magic Mountain skyline. (48")

    Enjoy a nostalgic ride on this restored 1912 classic. (under 42" must be accompanied by an adult)

    The gears of this wild ride twirl you high into the air, plastered to the wall at a 45-degree angle. (42")

    A wet and wild trip through the mountain side in a hollowed-out log. (under 42" must be accompanied by an adult)

    Suspended, swinging black trains accelerate to speeds up to 55 miles-per-hour. (42")

    A wooden roller coaster replica of New York's legendary Coney Island Cyclone built in 1927. (48")

    The first looping coaster ever built. (48")

    Western America's first man-made white water river. (42")

    Good, old-fashioned bumper cars. (42" to ride, 54" to drive)

    Twirl, twist, gyrate, whirl, spin and rotate. (36")

    Our "Sweet 16" coaster has a unique floorless train design. Feel like you're soaring through the air at 65 miles-per-hour in a "flying chair" with your feet dangling! (54")

    Sleds spin riders around a fast track. (42")

    As you spin, the floor drops out below you. (must be over 36" and under 75")

    Blasting out of the station, riders accelerate from 0-100 miles-per-hour in seven seconds before shooting straight up a 41 story tower. (48")

    An out-of-control spinning swing set. (42")

    The Tallest, Fastest, Longest Flying Coaster on Planet Earth. (54")

    The world's tallest and fastest stand-up roller coaster. (54")

    An extremely Insane experience! Ride requires an additional fee. (52")

    A wet-and-wild, heart-pounding plunge of a lifetime over a 50-foot waterfall. (42")

    The largest looping roller coaster in the world. (54")

    X is the world's one and only fourth dimensional roller coaster! Xperience the Xtreme on X! (48")

    An Xtreme family fun adventure down the untamed rivers of High Sierra Territory. (under 42" must be accompanied by an adult)

    A thrilling roller coaster designed just for the little ones and their families to enjoy together. (under 36" must be accompanied by an adult)

    Enjoy a bundle of laughs on this fun, twisty-turny hot air ballon adventure. (42")

    A wild ride on an out-of-control tour bus! (36")

    All aboard!! A pint-sized train made just for the pint-sized set. (36")

    A miniature version of one of the hottest rides in America. (must be under 54")

    Electrically-powered mini-antique cars. (under 42" must be accompanied by an adult and driver must be 48" or 42" and accompanied by an adult)

    Pick your favorite horse in a kid-sized version of a theme park classic. (must be at or under 54")

    Spin along as Pepe chases the love of his life in a twirling, whirling tea cup ride! (42")

    Bouncy, bouncy we go! This fun and wacky ride will tickle your little one's funny bone and wake up your inner child in just one - ok, maybe two - bounces. (36")

    The best little bigfoots in the West. Grab your tot-sized wheels and take em' for a spin, good buddy! (42")

    Jump in a Tweety cage and watch out for Sylvester in this classic Bug's Bunny World attraction! (must be at or under 54")

    Take a lesson in high-flyin' fun from the master of the air - Yosemite Sam! (42")
  13. moikturtle

    moikturtle You can learn a lot of things from the flowers.

    Jun 4, 2006

    I would just like to say, that having been born and raised in Los totally summed up my city and my feelings about it PERFECTLY. :thumbsup2
  14. Poohnatic

    Poohnatic <font color=deeppink>I haven't seen it and it soun

    May 7, 2002
    Just got back from a week in California, with 5 nights at the Hyatt Regency 4 blocks from DL. Priceline is your friend. I bid 80 a night for a 2.5 star and got upgraded to this gem. Once there, they upgraded us to a kid suite. Comfy beds, great staff, free shuttle to DL. Our original plans for the last night were to get a hotel closer to LAX, but we ended up Pricelining a 3 star for 70 bucks and got the Hyatt again.

    Our itinerary there was
    Day one in Anaheim (after 2 days elsewhere), we did DCA-which was rather enjoyable.

    Day two, we took a drive up to Hollyweird. Doing the bus tour probably would be a great idea, however, our kids wouldn't stand for a tour like that. We walked it-spent some time at Amoeba Records, took lots of pictures of stars, visited Graumanns and the Disney Soda shop. For fun, we drove down Sunset strip, then took the 105 back to the 5 and back to Anaheim. Saw way too many Scientology buildings. I agree with the locals, even this NYC area girl wouldn't stay in that area.

    Day three, Disneyland. In the offseason, most of the park can be seen in a day. We were there from open to close and the only rides we missed were a couple of the lesser toontown rides, the matterhorn, monorail and HM-because they were closed. It sure was nice having the shuttle from the hotel! Fireworks were great, at first we thought 'wishes', but it was different.

    Day four, Newport beach and vegging at the pool. My kids are iffy on the thrill coasters at this point, otherwise Magic Mountain would have been our call. DH and I both have wanted to go there since the movie "Rollercoaster" in the 70's. Ironically, this was planned to be a day in LA, but we were unimpressed after the day in Hollywood. We were very happy with the beach, lunch in Costa Mesa and evening spent at Downtown Disney. YMMV.

    If you're going to base yourself in Anaheim and day trip to Hollywood, you probably won't need a car the whole time you're there. However, something to be aware of is that most of the hotels charge a hefty fee for parking. Many of them have shuttles to the park for a fee as well. We were lucky that the Hyatt (and Courtyard across the street) don't charge a fee. We realized that we probably would have been perfectly happy to have a car for only one day-but now we know it for the next time.

    Enjoy your trip! We're glad we went (and are now planning for a San Francisco trip next)

  15. Zoemakes5

    Zoemakes5 <font color=deeppink>Support me in my Disney mania

    Jun 13, 2005
    Wow, some really great input here! I'm a So.Cal. native, though I now live in MN. I lived in Redondo Beach, but spent alot of time all over the city.
    While I love Hollywood, I can understand some of it's negative aspects, too. Certainly it wouldn't keep me away, though!
    I'd also recommend a base in Anaheim. If you stay on Harbor, there's a number of hotels that are literally across the street from DL where you wouldn't have to take a shuttle at all. HoJo's is a popular one. There's also Holiday Inn up across from HoJo's that would seem to meet most, if not all, of your criteria.
    Personally, for all the juggling I'd have to do, I'd recomment getting a car for a day if you want to do Hollywood area. Why? As an example, you could take the special bus to Universal, see universal and then go to Hollywood from the park when you're done. That, however is a dang long day. AND, when you're finished visiting Hollywood, how do you get back to Anaheim?
    OR You divide your time between one or two days at the Universal hotels and the rest in Anaheim. Sounds good, but how do you get from one to the other? I'd get a car for one day. I'd go one day, mid-trip and go to Universal via the shuttle service that's already been discribed. Then, on another day, I'd rent a car and go down to Hollywood, visit any beaches, tour around other LA area things I'd want to do. Hollywood in and of itself isn't a whole day. There's lots of other things you can see and do.
  16. tracys2cents

    tracys2cents DIS Veteran

    May 17, 2006
    If it were me, I would shuttle or AirportBus from LAX to Disneyland and spend four nights there. On my third day I would buy the full-priced Universal ticket and head up on the "free" bus to Universal. At 2:30pm or so, I would take a break from Universal by walking down the hill to the subway and taking a ride down to Hollywood and Highland/ Hollywood Boulevard. After a couple of hours walking the walk of fame and browsing around, I would return to Universal until it was time for the bus trip back to Anaheim.

    I would plan my fifth/final night near LAX, especially if I had a morning flight out of LAX. On that final day, I would rent a car for one day. Maybe pickup car Anaheim and drop-off car LAX 24 hours later? Avis and others near Anaheim will pick you right up at your hotel. Then I would have the final 24 hours with a car and would drive up through Santa Monica and Malibu, up Sunset Boulevard into Beverly Hills and Bel Air etc. I would have dinner in Malibu, or if it were a Fri or Sat at the Getty Center restaurant (open evenings on Fri and Sat)....or even at the Cheesecake Factory near the water in marina del Rey.
  17. 3DisneyNUTS

    3DisneyNUTS <font color=green>can't think of anything witty!<b

    Apr 5, 2004
    free universal bus what is that :)
  18. woody73

    woody73 <font color=darkorange>Enjoyed the Pumpkinmen<br><

    Jun 7, 2005
    Free bus ride with full paid admission.

  19. 3kidz4dis

    3kidz4dis DIS Veteran

    Jan 27, 2005
    Suzanne, I am curious about the whole priceline thing... I did look into it alittle and it did not seem like a good thing for our family sitution because we have 5 people (3 kids) and we usually need a suite (not two rooms but like a jr. suite with a little extra room) but it seems like you were upgraded to that anyway. Is Priceline something that would benefit us or do you think it wouldn't work for our family? Thanks!
  20. heathpack

    heathpack Mouseketeer

    Jan 9, 2003
    Hey now! I actually live in Hollywood (well actually the Hollywood Hills) so I am a bit surprised to hear the recommendations against staying there. There are some very nice places to stay in Hollywood-- the Standard, Chateau Marmont, the Mondrian immediately come to mind. I probably wouldn't go for any budget accomodations in Hollywood, but if you are looking for something hip and swank, you can certainly find that in Hollywood without fear of getting mugged or accosted by costumed oddballs soliciting cash. There are endless great places to eat in Hollywood, great clubs and bars, interesting film, and shopping for pretty much anything you could want. Plus you can get a flaming margarita-- a frozen drink that arrives at your table aflame is not something you can get just anywhere, mind you. Now I am not necessarily saying that you should stay in Hollywood-- Anaheim would be better perhaps if you really need to unwind and have things relatively tourist-friendly (easy parking, nice clean cut people waiting on you in shops and restaurants and a general sense of tidiness and prosperity). Hollywood is a good place to stay if you are looking for interesting experiences of various sorts-- like maybe a show at a comedy club or a director's screening of a film or eating an extraordinary meal. Parking will be annoying, the waitstaff edgier, and there will be frequent pockets of grunginess. Either location to stay could be a great time depending on what you are looking for from the trip.

    By the way, I would not consider staying in Hollywood without a car. Its not really laid out for walking around. Points of interest are just too far from each other with not necessarily anything of great intrigue in between.

    Whatever you decide to do, you aill have a great time, I'm sure.


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