Amanda Jenkins

Published: November 2, 2013 at 6:51 PM

James, I have been anxiously awaiting your trip report, and once again you do an amazing job of it! Looking forward to the next installment.

Published: November 2, 2013 at 7:09 PM

Loved your review. I'm a Disneyland local, but have visited the FL parks twice in the past year. It's interesting to compare. Some things are better here and some are better there. One question, though: who gave the routing from Las Vegas to Anaheim? You could have taken the 15 from Las Vegas directly to the 91 and missed a lot of traffic.
Don Neal

Published: November 2, 2013 at 8:27 PM

Good show James ol' boy! I look forward to part two with great expectation!
James Trexen

Published: November 2, 2013 at 8:57 PM

Very great to hear from you James, especially with *my* DLR trip coming up soon. Hope to hear more great things.

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.

James Rao

Published: November 2, 2013 at 10:01 PM

Thanks for reading so far... I appreciate your attention and very kind words. I hope you like the rest of the report/review. I definitely had a good time writing it and reliving some really great memories.

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! ;)

Published: November 2, 2013 at 10:34 PM

Awesome post. I can't wait for part two. The only thing better than going to Disney is reading about someone else's trip.
Tracy Bates

Published: November 3, 2013 at 1:36 AM

Sounds like fun. My wife and I went to Disneyland in 2011 for the first time as part of an 8 parks in 10 days theme park marathon and it was amazing. (We've been pass holders to WDW for years.) The best part was figuring out what's different from the east coast. I just wish cars land had been open then. Oh well... Time to start planning the next trip.
Annette Forrest

Published: November 3, 2013 at 3:31 AM

Ooooh! I loved this trip report and all the details. I can't wait for Part Two!!! What a terrific read from a great storyteller!!!
Tad Daily

Published: November 3, 2013 at 5:23 AM

Wow! What a great article! Your writing style is very impressive sucked me in and held onto me through every word...I wanted to skip ahead to see what was going to happen next...even though every trip I take to Disneyland feels the same way as you if I have come home again. :) Wow...I can't wait for part two and I hope it continues through every stage of your trip...I'm actually curious to hear you describe the REST of California... :)
James Rao

Published: November 3, 2013 at 6:32 AM

Ahhh, shucks, you all are way too kind. Thank you!

@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!

Rob Pastor

Published: November 3, 2013 at 6:34 AM

Excellent report. You tell a story well James. Looking forward to the next installments.

Published: November 3, 2013 at 8:06 AM

As someone who grew up in Southern California around the same period, but has been going to Disneyland regularly through my childhood and into my adult life, I probably would have had a similar experience if I visited the park for the first time since 1981. I find myself nostalgic for attractions I don't remember so well (Mine Train through Nature's Wonderland, the old Matterhorn with the single-car bobsleds, Captain Hook's pirate ship restaurant), but as others have commented elsewhere, a lot of people's fondness for Disneyland is purposely based on nostalgia.

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...

Published: November 3, 2013 at 10:30 AM

You do realize that Knotts hours are so short during the weekdays because no one is there? Had you gone, everything would have been a walk on. You claim to be a seasoned theme park person, yet you couldn't realize this?

Seems to me you just had Disneyland and only Disneyland in your plans.

Lori Jones

Published: November 3, 2013 at 11:45 AM

I am loving this report! So well written and in depth, I feel like I'm there! Cannot wait for part 2 :)
James Rao

Published: November 3, 2013 at 10:33 PM

Hello Anon Poster, to be honest, I did know I could get Knott's done it eight hours. In fact there was a discussion thread I posted where SoCal TPI expert AJ Hummel told me the following about Knott's: "I routinely visit Knott's after class when I get out of school early and usually only stay for about three hours. In that time, I often do close to a dozen rides and have never seen a wait longer than 15 minutes." So I ask you: is it really worth it to pay full price to go to a park that you can "get done" in three hours? Stack another day at a Disney park against a park that takes three hours to complete, and it is hardly worth the time and expense.

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.

Published: November 4, 2013 at 10:11 AM

I can't figure out why you used a days admission to DL at 4pm. More than half the day was wasted. Knotts tickets discounted go for 31 - 40 dollars on their web site. So for $200 your family could have visted an empty Knott's.

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.

James Rao

Published: November 4, 2013 at 4:26 PM

It was just the way it worked out, Mate. We arrived as early as we were able to arrive and stayed late. It was a shorter day, but also the only day to see Fantasmic, so it was what it was.

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?

Jo M

Published: November 6, 2013 at 6:32 AM

The wreck of the Titanic was found in 1985.
James Rao

Published: November 6, 2013 at 5:10 PM

Sorry, should have double checked my website reference. Will provide one of my many other "facts" so Mr. Niles can fix it!