Disneyland who would miss it?

Last month, EastLife featured Part One of a local family’s recent holiday States-side. After exploring San Francisco, part of the Californian coastline and Las Vegas, Rachel Watts says Disneyland – or should that be Dizzyland – was next up.

She told HELEN PERRY it was both exhilarating and exhausting.

Shanae Watts – taking in the thrills of Disney’s California Adventure Park.

Kiwis expecting their first trip to Disneyland to be just the best, shouldn’t be disappointed but Rachel Watts says while the world famous amusement park remains magical, her family found Disney’s California Adventure Park an unexpected thrill.

“Disneyland was always top of the list when we started planning our American trip,” Rachel says. “While the park, the rides and all the other attractions were family-friendly and certainly delivered, the rides at Disney’s California Adventure Park were more modern and more adventuresome.

What’s more, because the adventure park is less well known, it was a quieter which made for a less exhausting day.”

Choosing to holiday in October, Rachel, partner Stephen and their children, Bailey (17) and Shanae (9), found the low season to their advantage.

“Temperatures were very comfortable, in the early 20’s so not too hot for walking around the parks all day. It also meant shorter queues – we never queued for longer than 15 minutes and we used the fast pass system on the most popular rides.”

Doing their research on park prices, deals and added events also paid off.

Rachel says a two-day park hopper pass which covered both Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure Park – $300 per person – meant it was possible to go back and forth between the parks, which was not possible on a two-day Disneyland
only pass.

“We also paid extra for tickets to Mickey’s Halloween Party – $70 each. This evening event was loads of fun with Halloween characters, various shows and trick and treat stations all
around the park – the kids came away with more lollies than they could carry…us too!

“Nearly all the rides were open and as most people were watching shows or interacting with the characters, there were no queues – the perfect time to catch rides missed during the day.”

Applauding the two parks and other LA attractions such as Universal Studios, Rachel says she is glad the accommodation at Staybridge Apartments was in the Disney district and just five minutes by bus to Disneyland.

“Any trip to the States is costly but a family trip can mean money slips between your fingers and tipping makes it disappear even faster. It all adds up especially when you start
converting costs to New Zealand dollars; that’s when you realise just how much you have spent.

“We ate out in moderation and at our L.A. hotel there was ‘happy hour’ three evenings a week with plenty of free finger food – nachos, hot dogs, even beer and wine.

After a long day out it was so easy to walk in the door, pick up some food and a drink and do nothing but relax.

“On our other two nights we just cooked on the barbecue set up in the grounds for guests. In fact, we spent one day just swimming and relaxing around the pool. It helped us recharge!”

When the time came to move on from Anaheim, Rachel’s research again paid off.

“We had intended to take a shuttle to Santa Monica. It was only $140 in total but it was just a direct, 45-minute, hotel to hotel journey.

Any sightseeing trips in the area would have been extra. Instead, we booked a private tour which picked us up from our Anaheim hotel then took us tiki-touring to all those ‘must see’ stops before dropping us at our Santa Monica accommodation – brilliant! ”

At $380 for the whole family, the Kiwis saw the likes of the L.A. Science Centre where they marvelled at the space shuttle, Endeavour. They also visited the Hollywood sign, the
Hollywood Walk of Fame and the famous Carneys Rail Car Cafe, which appears in the Big Bang Theory.

“We drove along Rodeo Drive – humongous prices and eye-popping cars – and we went past Katie Perry, and Taylor Swift’s homes; all up it was great value and also time-saving.

“That last night we went down to the Santa Monica pier where the amusement park was in full swing, the lights, the atmosphere…it was enthralling. We also had dinner at the
Gump Shrimp Company, a spin-off from the Forest Gump movie, and hugely popular.

“It was one of the best meals we had in the States – good quality, reasonably priced, jolly ambience and great staff. The next day we flew to Los Cabos in, Mexico rated one of that country’s top resort destinations.”

Family Resort to Cabo

Hyatt Ziva, Los Cabos

Los Cabos, Mexico had the same fascination for Rachel Watts and family as it has had for thousands of other visitors from all over the world.

“It is definitely my new favourite destination for a holiday which is all about sun, sea and relaxation,” Rachel says. “The scenery is stunning, there is some wonderful wildlife, and
there is plenty to do but if all you care about is sunning yourself on the beach or around the pool, followed by a night out enjoying great food, wine and a show, you can do that too.”

Staying at the Hyatt Ziva, an allinclusive resort, with sumptuous swimming pool and beautiful sea views, Rachel says it provided the perfect ending to a fast-paced holiday.

“We had done a fair bit of travelling and a lot of walking, so Cabo was a stunning finale. We only ventured out of the resort once when Shanae and I went swimming with the dolphins and the boys went on a quad bike tour.

The dolphin experience was amazing, very interactive and afterwards my daughter said it was her dream come true.

“We had intended to go into town one night to experience some more representative Mexican culture but then the hotel had a huge Mexican fiesta. The whole outside of the
complex was set up with food, music, dancers and stalls – everything one could imagine.”

The family spent four nights at Los Cabos and Rachel says they could easily have stayed on given the chance.

“Once again it was value for money. It cost $500 a night for all of us and that included everything – food, drinks (alcohol too) and entertainment. It actually worked out cheaper than holidays we’ve had in the Pacific.”

And Rachel says she couldn’t fault the facilities and service or the food.

“On the first day we were heading for breakfast but ended up sampling so many tacos and bacon-wrapped hot dogs along the way, we never made it to breakfast. Given my way, I would have been happy not to have made it home either, or at least not for a few more days.”