The S.O. and I took some time off last week and headed to southern California for a long weekend visiting friends and exploring Disneyland! We left around 2pm on Wednesday and drove to Chatsworth, where our friends Gary and April moved a few years ago. It was so good to see them again, even if it was only for one night. We were able to see their new house, have a few beers, and entertain ourselves with the face swap feature on snapchat.
On Thursday morning we woke up early to beat the infamous LA traffic and get to Disneyland on time. I snagged a cup of coffee before we left Gary and April’s but we didn’t get a chance to eat breakfast. Instead of overpaying for food in the park, we stopped a few miles before our hotel and got breakfast croissants at a little one-off coffee shop. Our intention was to go to Subway but found this place instead and, wanting to support local businesses, decided to eat here.
We stayed at the Carousel Beach Inn right across from the park entrance. The hotel wasn’t anything special but it was about a 10 minute walk to Disneyland. The lack of amenities (no WiFi or breakfast!) was doable given the great location. Besides, when you’re at Disneyland, you’re really only in the hotel to sleep and, believe me, sleep comes hard and fast after 12+ hours of walking.
Mike and I got the 2 day park hopper tickets ($$$$) and started our adventure in Disneyland. Growing up, I went to Disneyland often with my mom, grandma, and grandpa but we only went to California Adventure once; so Disneyland is really the beating heart for my childhood memories and nostalgia.
Needless to say, like most of the population, I was pretty stoked to be starting the day in the happiest place on earth. (If only it wasn’t so crowded…) We walked to Space Mountain* first to grab a fast pass and were completely overwhelmed with how insane Tomorrowland was. Star Wars has taken over. We made an agreement to spend as little time as possible there.
Luckily the rest of the park wasn’t as crowded. We were able to ride Pirate’s, The Haunted House, the Matterhorn, and a few others before going back to use our fast pass on Space Mountain. Space Mountain was my favorite ride when I was little and it didn’t disappoint now being 26 years old!
After riding rides all morning, we were ready for lunch. We made our way to Harbour Galley and shared a shrimp salad, a lobster roll and a giant iced tea. Theme park food is often unhealthy and caloric but I’m always starving! A salad would not hold me over (plus, most of the time, the salads aren’t actually even that healthy…) so I love that Mike is willing to split things with me! This way we are able to at least get some vegetables but also splurge a bit. Win-win.
Next we went to explore California Adventure and I was pleasantly surprised with how enjoyable it was! I thought I was going to want to stay in Disneyland the whole trip (possibly clinging a little too hard to some childhood memories!) but it was well worth it to pay the money and go back and forth between the two parks.
Added bonus:California Adventure has alcohol.
For dinner we went to Downtown Disney and sat outdoors at a place called UVA Bar. We split an order of the calamari to start. I ordered the mushroom flat bread pizza, opting for a vegetarian meal because of the ham I had on my breakfast croissant, and Mike order the lamb burger with spicy Greek fries. The food was so good but we needed to eat quickly in order to ride the Tower of Terror one more time before closing.
After a long day of a lot of walking, riding, screaming, eating, drinking, and plain ol’ Disney magic, it was time to go back to the hotel and sleep.
On Friday we were at the park before opening, deciding to start the day in California Adventure to capitalize on the Starbucks there. Armed with my iced coffee and spinach and feta egg white wrap (a go-to breakfast for me when I’m traveling), I was ready for another round of Tower of Terror.
We went to Cars Land after and rode Radiator Springs Racers, which was definitely my favorite ride in California Adventure.
After a few other rides we grabbed a beer and sat down for a while. Mike had his step tracker on his phone and it calculated we had walked ~29,000 steps on Thursday and ~36,000 by the end of Friday.
Another round for us!
By chance, while we were there, the Food & Wine festival was going on so we were able to try some really good beers and small plates. We snacked on chicken and 4 cheese mac and cheese and some fried artichokes while people watching.
After our light snacks, we went back to Disneyland (a lot of park hopping comes with the park hopper tickets!) for more rides and lunch. Having eaten (mostly) vegetarian throughout the day, I was ready for some meat during lunch! (Weekatarianism isn’t really a thing on vacations…) We stopped at Bengal Barbecue for chicken and bacon wrapped asparagus skewers and split a jalapeno stuffed pretzel.
Towards the end of the day, we had our fast passes lined up perfectly and spent a fun 2 hours running through the parks to make all of our rides on time.
After our last ride on our fast pass binge, we went to downtown Disney again for dinner. This time opting for a little fancier eatery and dining at House of Jazz. I ordered the Gulf Shrimp Pan Roast, which came with (more) artichoke hearts, andouille sausage, tomato veloute and Cajun rice. SO GOOD! I love New Orleans inspired food.
And of course we couldn’t resist the Beignets for dessert!
After dinner we went back to Disneyland to finish out the evening. We rode Big Thunder Mountain (one of my favorites!) one last time before the park closed and we went back to the hotel for another deep, deep sleep.
On Saturday we woke up early and drove to Orange County to visit some very good friends of mine. I met my friend Sam in college, who was living with her aunt Robin and uncle Tony. Robin was expecting her first baby and I was looking for a job! Having experience with kids (my mom owned a home daycare and I started babysitting when I was 13), I started watching Robin and Tony’s son (and a few years later, their daughter) every week for over 2 years.
I spent basically every day with Sam and her family and love them like they are my own. Sadly in 2009 they all moved down to southern California and now I don’t see them nearly as much as I would like to.
Sam had a precious, pretty, perfect little baby girl in March and I finally got to meet her sweet little self. It was so good to end our weekend with such close friends.
Overall, we had a great vacation – a perfect couple of days spent away before I start my new job next week!
*I know it has been renamed Hyperspace Mountain but I disagree with changing this classic coaster’s name so will continue to call it by the original.