Friday, June 28, 2013

Our Disneyland Vacation! {Daily Diaries}

A little over a month ago Jared and I decided that we needed a vacation. We've discussed going to Disneyland multiple times, but the timing just seemed off. So when Jared had a 2 week break from school we decided to make the most of it and head to CA for 9 days. Let me share some tips/suggestions for traveling with a toddler and for getting the biggest bang for your buck.

First we had to set a budget and see what we could afford and where we could get the most bang for our buck. We decided to drive to CA instead of flying. Obviously it's a lot cheaper to drive instead of fly. We knew it would be difficult with a 21 month old in the back seat of the car so we downloaded some videos onto the ipad, bought some of her favorite snacks, and packed up all the toys we could fit into our Corolla. We broke up the drive to CA into two days. (Which seriously saved our sanity.) We left Ut around 7:30pm on friday after Jared got home from work and we arrived in Mesquite NV 12:30am (ut time). Grace did pretty well and slept most of the way to Mesquite. We stopped in Mesquite because we have a family condo there. So no hotel fee!

The next morning we woke up bright and early at 5:30am (thanks to Gracie), got ready and left around 8:30am. We stopped by McDonalds and grabbed some breakfast. We arrived at our hotel in CA (Fairfield Inn at Marriott) around 2pm. Grace, again, slept most of the way. She did break out her good old raptor/dinosaur scream a few times before we reached our hotel. I thought I might go crazy! lol! But she did do really well on the car ride there. I was a proud momma.

Here's a pict of Jared and gg getting ready to leave Mesquite and head to Disney :)

Here is gg catching up on her beauty rest on her way to Disney. She always puts her feet like that. Weirdo. lol!

When we got to our hotel we grabbed some lunch and decided we couldn't wait to go to Disneyland. So we used one of our 3 day park hopper passes and went to Disneyland from 3pm-11:30pm. We wore Gracie out! She passed out in my mom's arms on the way out of the park. It was so funny! (Oh yeah! My parents met us in CA and were there from Sat-Tues.)

Here are some pictures from our day at Disney :)

On Sunday we decided to visit Riverside Ca, where Jared served his LDS mission. We visited an old ward he served in and then went to his old mission presidents house. Jareds mission president and his wife were so nice and had nothing but great things to say about Jared. They sent us away with lots of goodies and gifts for our travel back to our hotel later that day. We took a detour on the way back to our hotel and went to huntington beach for an hour or two. The CA beach sunsets are something else! I love it there! If you know someone in CA take advantage of that and see if you might be able to stay with them a couple of nights or get together for a BBQ or something. This is another great way to save money. Having a rest day was totally crucial with a toddler. She was absolutely exhausted from Disneyland the day before. I'm so glad that we chose to have a rest day and just visit friends and have a low key day. I think if we didn't do that, Grace would've been totally grumpy and tired the rest of the trip.

Here are some picts of us at the beach :)

On Monday we had another Disneyland day! We woke up bright and early and were there just as the gates were opening. In order to save money on food we ate off the dollar menu at McDonalds every morning for breakfast. Fast, easy, and cheap. (I know it's not healthy, but whatever. It's a vacation.) And McDonalds was literally right in front of our hotel. We chose an awesome location!

More picts of our Disney day!

Before we left for CA I did a little grocery shopping for treats in between meals. Things like granola bars, goldfish crackers, peanut butter filled crackers, bananas, grapes, bottled water etc. This was crucial! Treats in Disneyland are outlandishly priced! (Don't get me wrong, we did buy a few treats here and there, but not a ton.) Having snacks while waiting in line for rides and such was awesome! We were never starving by the time lunch/dinner came around. And I'm positive that helped us save money too. So we didn't order a ton of food that we couldn't end up eating.

Tuesday we decided to have another beach day. We went to huntington beach all day long. (YUP. You guessed it. I was as bright as a tomato by the time we left.) It was nice to have another low key day. Grace was so tired again from doing Disneyland all day on Monday. She ended up falling asleep on my lap while we were sitting on the beach. It was pretty cute :) We brought lots of snacks, water, sunscreen, baby powder (a must have for removing sand on your feet, hands, etc. thank you pinterest!), towels, umbrella for shade, among other things. We had so much fun and played our hearts out! I love the California sun! We met my best friend, Jessica, and her family in Downtown Disney for dinner that night. It was so good seeing her and her sweet family. You HAVE to check out her blog. Go to Her baby has a very rare skin disorder called EHK. Educate yourself. And enjoy Jessica's blog! She is an inspiration.

Wednesday was another Disney day! Jared and I also celebrated 5 years of marriage this day. Jared made this whole day so special. At the end of the day Jared took Grace and I to dinner at a very nice restaurant in California Adventure park. We enjoyed a very nice 3 course meal and a beautiful view of the vineyard and water fountain. We then went to the Wonderful World of Color water show where we had second row seats. It was so much fun! And very romantic. I'm so glad that Jared asked me to marry him. He truly is my better half. 5 years is a long time! But it's gone by so fast! I'm one lucky lady! We definitely splurged this day. But we had a wonderful reason to! 5 years! Go us!

Thursday we headed to San Diego. We stayed right in the bay area. It was a lot of fun! We headed to Sea World right away and spent most of our day there. It wasn't as fun as I remembered as a kid. And it was a HUGE let down from Disney Land. All of their shows were really short. And most of them have turned into a Cirque De Sole show. There were tons of acrobats and divers. All I wanted to see were the dolphins!!! If I wanted to see Cirque I would've stopped in Vegas! I was pretty upset. And the Shamu show lasted like 10 mins! Needless to say, I'm not going to Sea World again. We ate at a burger place called Islands that Jared had been bugging me to go to. It was actually pretty good. And I'm not much of a burger gal. Grace slept on the bench next to me the whole time we were at dinner. We tuckered that girl out!

Friday we went to the San Diego Zoo. And we definitely got our moneys worth!!! The San Diego Zoo puts Utah's zoo to shame. This zoo is 100 acer's and the exhibits/habitats were amazing!!! If you have the chance to go to this zoo, do it! Totally worth it! Definitely bring your walking shoes. Lots of hills and trails to explore. We were fortunate enough to be there the day that they opened up the new Koala habitat. Those little guys are so cute!!! Grace was entertained the WHOLE time. (Just like she was at Disneyland!) The animals were very active and you got to see most of them up-close and personal. Jared and I were just as enthralled as Gracie was. The zoo closed pretty early, so as soon as it closed we headed to old town San Diego and had a blast! We visited the Old Mormon Battalion, ate some amazing mexican food, and enjoyed all of the old town culture. We loved it there!

Saturday we made our way back to Mesquite. We made a few stops along the way. Trader Joes, Old Town Temecula and dinner in Vegas.

Sunday we spent the day lounging and took our time getting home to Utah. It was such a great trip. We definitely had a hard time coming home and getting back into the groove of things. I wish everyday was a vacation! What a life :)

Ok, So here are my tips for planning a trip to Disneyland!

*Go with a Travel Agency!  Especially if you are going out of town for a significant amount of time. We went through Get Away Today Vacations. They were awesome! And they saved us A TON of money. We received free breakfasts from our hotel in San Diego, free parking at both of our hotels (can you believe that hotels charge for parking now days?), an early bird pass to Disneyland park, and discounts to restaurants around our hotels. They even gave us lanyards and some sweet bracelets to boost your energy. Woot woot!

*Plan ahead! Take cash with you to the parks! A lot of places in CA charged us an extra buck or two just for using our debit cards! YIKES! Go grocery shopping ahead of time. Buy snacks, drinks, hand sanitizer, ponchos, etc. Make an itinerary of rides you want to hit everyday. That way you don't feel rushed or pressured to get everything done in one day. Also, if you have small kids you might want to seriously consider breaking up the days at the park with a beach day or just a relax day. I was so glad we ended up doing that with Grace. She would've been so pooped out and mean if we decided to go to Disneyland 3 days in a row.

*Get organized! Take the time to organize everything you're planning on taking with you on your trip. From clothes to toiletries and phone charges to itinerary. I organized every outfit of Graces in a gallon size ziplock bag. It saved me! I even labeled what day she was wearing what. That way if Jared needed to get Grace dressed, he could just grab the bag that said "Tuesday" and put it on her. It was great. Little things like that help A LOT. It seems tedious, but I promise you'll feel better about your organizational status. haha!

*Book a hotel that's close to the park! Like I said, our hotel was right across the street from Disneyland. It was great! I thought that I would go back to the hotel around 1pm everyday and put Gracie down for a nap. But I didn't. We had too much fun! But it was SO nice being able to just walk right across the street from Disneyland and have our hotel right there. Gracie fell asleep in our arms every night on our way to our hotel from the parks. Our arms were killing us by the time we got back to the hotel. Imagine if we had to load her in a tram, walk to a parking garage, load her in her carseat, drive how ever long to get to our hotel, and put her down for the night. It's such a hassle. I'm so glad we stayed so close to the park!

*Ask questions! The only thing we didn't pay for in advance was our meals and our tickets to the San Diego Zoo. We asked the hotel concierge some questions about the Zoo and come to find out, we could buy our Zoo tickets at our hotel AND they could give us a discount. We would've never known about the discounts if we wouldn't have asked.

We had an absolute blast in California! I would totally live there if it weren't so expensive! I hope you enjoyed my ramblings and got some good info for your next Disney vacation!!!

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