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28 August 2011 @ 10:48 am
Trip report: Legoland and Disney's California Adventure  
Beth and I took the children to see Legoland and California Adventure earlier this week. It seemed like a good time: Many schools (but not ours) have started, so the parks shouldn't be too crowded. Also, it was Beth's birthday.

Legoland was fun, having pretty much what you'd expect. There's something of a paradox, though: Fundamentally, the most fun Lego-related activity is to build stuff, but we can do that at home. If Legoland was closer, I'd probably get a membership and take the kids occasionally (they did have a good time!), but I don't think we'll be making the trip very often.

California Adventure was sort of strange: It's very much a Disney theme park, only without all the familiar attractions. They were fun, but I found myself wishing we could do some of the more familiar ones. Our family in particular kept running into the height requirements: The big roller-coaster had a 48" minimum, which disappointed Peter. He was (eventually) OK with riding the other coaster, though (There are only 2 in the park). Amber at 40", plus-or-minus, was disappointed several times. She enjoyed the flying ride enough to want to retry, only to be disappointed when they ruled her not-tall-enough the second time around. Similarly, there are some 42"-minimum areas in the wilderness-themed play area, which would have otherwise been ideal for Amber. (I'm mystified why the horizontal climbing wall has that high of a requirement.)

At the end, we watched the "World of Color" show, which was spectacular. It's by far the most impressive thing I've seen done with fountains, even without the other elements. It's strongly reminiscent of Fantasmic, but with more space, and a more suitable park layout. There wasn't particularly much story to it, but we were watching it for the effects anyway.

I'm not sure how often we'll go back: Park-hopper tickets are noticeably more expensive, and if I have to pick one park, it'll be Disneyland. If somehow we did a multi-day visit, park-hoppers would make sense, but the children don't really have the stamina for even a full single day. Amber fell asleep for the World of Color part, and Peter fell asleep while riding on my shoulders on the way back.

Overall, fun, and good to see with friends, but I don't think we'll do the trip the same way again.
 
 
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elissalielissali on August 29th, 2011 03:25 am (UTC)
When I was a kid, we went to Disneyland every year because my mom loves it. :) So it's a fixture in my heart because of all those times we went, it's a part of my childhood. So, that's my background on this. California Adventure is dear to me now, but it doesn't replace Disneyland/Magic Kingdom, and if you only go to one, I agree that California Adventure wouldn't be it for me either.

I've found, that if you can spring it, and your kids are maybe a little older (or, I guess, taller! which now that I think of it is a pretty crappy way to restrict it because what if your quite mature child is just short?), that it's really nice to get a several-day park hopper, and take it easy, be strategic about which rides to go on when, etc (what lines to stand in!). (Fast Passes are a good thing) Take your time rather than try to cram it all into one day, or whatever. But yeah, the kids not being able to do anything is a serious problem! Maybe it comes out too expensive to really do that... but I've found it more pleasant than trying to run around and do everything on one day, especially if people poop out at some point.

If you stay in one of the Disneyland hotels (which are admittedly more expensive than others nearby), you can sometimes get concierge service, which adds several awesome factors: a lounge you can eat in (they provide breakfast, lunchy snacks around lunchtime, and wine and cheese in the afternoon, and tea and fresh baked cookies in the evening), free movie rentals so you can take a movie back to the room and watch that if you're feeling more low-key and don't want to go into the park, usual concierge-y stuff like making reservations, they meet you at the curb when you arrive, and other odds and ends I'm not remembering now. It's extra $$, of course, but you don't pay per person, its per room or reservation I think - and with a family of four, and with how expensive food is in the parks (and to some degree, in downtown Disney), it might actually come out ahead. Just random info for a future trip.
jon_leonardjon_leonard on August 30th, 2011 05:11 am (UTC)
Indeed; for moderately more money you can get more trip flexibility. Somehow we're in the mode of lower-cost, so we can justify going more often.

Sometime when the children don't get totally exhausted from one day of theme-park festivities. (We had an empty day in between Legoland and California Adventure just so they could recover, really.)
robszewczyk on August 30th, 2011 04:39 am (UTC)
The height requirement on rides is usually for safety -- that's how tall you have to be for the restraining devices to reliably keep you in your seat. The climbing wall, tho, I can't explain away.

I never went to Disney Anything before becoming an adult, and prefer Calif Adventure to Disneyland. With small kids, though, I like them both about the same. I hate the lines in fantasyland (we've only gone in summer), and the fact that several of the rides there are too scary for my kids. We love Tom Sawyer's Island and the canoes, and the not-scary rides at Disney; the kids love ToyStory Mania and the Redwood Adventure area at CaAdv. We haven't been back since Alex seriously got into rollercoasters yet.

We wound up going on parkhoppers because there were always good deals for the time period we were staying that made them cheaper than 1-park tix, but usually stuck to one park per day, going back to our (walking-distance) hotel for a mid-heat nap, which gave the boys enough stamina to make it to the fireworks or watershow.

I want to get to Legoland soon, before the kids outgrow the rides there; the deterrent this summer was other things we wanted to do more during the summer, and then the long drive or expensive plane tix when we considered a 3-day trip after school started. Maybe a weeklong trip during xmas break...

--BethS
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