Oh, and if you're ever in the Chicago area, be sure to find a Meatheads complete with cajun fries along the way. As much as I love Smashburger, nothing compares.
And for the anon poster, I had to go into Bakersfield before heading to Anaheim (to drop my mom off at her sister's house). From Bakersfield, the most direct route seemed to be I-5, but if there was any easier way... I guess that is just water under the bridge. Besides, if I had gone another way, I would not have been able to experience the worst stretch of interstate ever! ;)
@Tad, as for the non-Disneyland portion of the trip, suffice it to say we did see the Sequoias (General Sherman is a sight to behold), the beach (sandcastles are a specialty of mine!), and more mountains than a Yeti could climb. But none of those adventures will be covered in this report... to which many of you will breathe a big sigh of relief! ;)
I will say that there is more to California than Disneyland, roller coasters, and bad interstates. If you can get away from the well traveled areas, it is really quite a beautiful place. And it is a lot different than it was back when I lived in a humble, little cottage in Simi Valley....
One piece of trip advice for anyone planning to pass through the Bakersfield area: make stop at Dewar's Ice Cream and Candies. Their sundaes are amazing, and their peanut butter taffy is what makes life worth living!
I would definitely be interested in reading about your trip to Sequoia National Park (I took my family this spring after my not having been there since the mid 1980s) and other scenic wonders, but sadly it don't fit into the scope of this website. Maybe it's time for someone to create a National Park Insider website...
Seems to me you just had Disneyland and only Disneyland in your plans.
Another reason I did not want to go to Knott's is that I knew the current state of the Calico Mine Ride would absolutely ruin the fond memories I have of it from the mid 70's. Maybe if Cedar Fair addresses the poor condition of this attraction with a Timber Mountain Log Ride style refurb, I will feel more compelled to visit.
And finally, there was the short hours problem I mentioned (ever so briefly) in my trip report. Let me explain further: despite knowing the park could be completed in three hours, and despite knowing it would not be crowded, I still felt that if I was going to spend $400 to take my family for a day at Knott's (tickets + parking + food), I would at least want the park to be open late enough to ride a couple coasters at night. And while dusk is firmly settling in at 6:00, it certainly is not late enough to provide those coveted night rides. Furthermore, in an iron ride park, those night time hours are very important since that is when the park really comes alive. I actually did consider going on the weekend for the later hours, but then I figured the crowds would grow as well and I would have to add another $250 for the FastLane option to keep things relaxing. In the long run, it was actually an easier, cheaper, and more relaxing option to add one more day to my Disney trip rather than spend a day at Knott's.
But, having written all that, I won't deny it, you're right: I was just looking for an excuse to add another day to my Disney tour... and as you can see, Knott's closing at 6:00 PM was just one of several reasons I used to make that decision easier.
The tour tram at USH is the most popular attraction and the only attraction of it's type in the world. Water World is a great show that won't be there the next time you go to LA. And while The Mummy isn't as good as the one in Florida it is unique and a good ride. USH does have discounted admission and is still less expensive than a day at DL.
If well planed a trip to DL can cover everything in 2 days maybe 3 max. You went during the slowest time so 2 should have done it.
You keep talking about the expense of Disney admission... you do know that a five day Disney ticket comes out to ~$50 per person per day, right? That price is essentially half the cost of a single day ticket. Not a bad deal, at all. And I also noted that I used Disney Visa Rewards to buy my tickets, so basically, I got into the Disney parks for free. No other SoCal theme park can match that deal.
As to your assertion that one can "cover everything" at Disneyland in a max of three days, I completely disagree. However it depends on what you consider to be "covering everything". And when you consider there's another great park just across the esplanade that takes another "2-3 days max to cover everything" you suddenly understand why I booked a six day trip!
And one other note, while the parks were not crowded by Disney standards, they certainly were not "slow". When a park pulls an average of ~44k guests a day as Disneyland does it is never really "slow". So the term "slow" as it is generally understood does not have application in this case. "Slow" for Disney is still an amazing attendance day for 90% of the other parks across the nation, including USH which averages ~16k a day and especially Knott's which pulls less than 10k a day on average.
As for USH, do you really think it makes sense to spend upwards of $500 (tickets+gas+food) for a tram tour and WaterWorld? Really? There is a reason Universal is spending $1B to expand their Hollywood operation - there is precious little for visitors to do especially if they have already visited their far superior Orlando Resort. Look, I wanted to go to USH, but just could not justify the expense vs experience ratio.
And if Knott's is so empty, it must be because it is not a great park. So your suggestion to skip a day of Disney to go to a lesser park makes little logical sense. However, I do think Knott's is a great park, maybe one of the best iron ride parks in the nation. And it is improving all the time, getting back to its theme park roots. But it is not in the same league with what Disney is offering. In short, I would rather enjoy a half day of Disney Magic then experience a half dozen good attractions at a lesser park especially when the park closes so early you can't accomplish any night rides on their coasters.
Look, I did the math, I really did, and it was cheaper, by far, to spend six days at Disney, then to compress my Disney days and hop all over SoCal to ride a Tram Tour, a Log Ride, and to look at a SBNO X2.
And at the end of the day, we had a wonderful trip, and I have no regrets. If I lived in SoCal I would visit all the parks. If I was single or had unlimited funds and time, I would vacation at all the parks. But with a budget, a wonderful family, and just one week of theme park time, I had to choose wisely and carefully. So, I choose the best of the best. Can you really expect me to do anything else?