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    Anaheim – seven magical days

    Anaheim – seven magical days

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    Contributed by: Leearne Hynes, TravelManagers National Partnership Office

    Planning a holiday can be part tricky, part overwhelming and the best part, exciting. Here is what the criteria was from our crew when we were trying to decide where to go on our family holiday:

    • Somewhere fun
    • Theme parks for all ages
    • The hotel needed to be close to everything
    • Affordable area
    • Close to good shopping
    • Sporting events
    • Beaches
    • Good restaurants close by

    The answer for us was simple: Anaheim in southern California!

    Before we left

    • Make sure you check all visa requirements and give yourself plenty of time to apply for your visa
    • We purchased our park tickets online along with most other bookings
    • Research, research and more research
    • Get excited

    Tip: for a bit of family fun, we all chose movies that were filmed in LA or Disney or Universal and took turns in hosting a movie night.

    Movies you might want to re-watch or get familiar with:

    • Harry Potter
    • Secret Life of Pets
    • Toy Story
    • Peter Pan
    • Avengers
    • Cars
    • Jaws
    • King Kong
    • Nemo
    • The Simpsons

    Anaheim holiday

    Where we stayed

    We stayed at The Viv Hotel, Anaheim which is a Downtown Disney District hotel and is about 50 minutes drive from Los Angeles International Airport and 6 minute drive to Disneyland Resort.

    We chose this hotel for a several reasons:

    • Modern and spacious
    • Has an amazing view over Disney Parks
    • Pool & spa with outdoor fireplace and bar
    • Rooftop restaurant
    • Adults only spa area
    • Only a few streets from Disneyland Resort
    • Part of the Disney District Shuttle line
    • Included in the price were extras such as drinks vouchers, a welcome Disney bag and cafe vouchers

    The time of year we went was January during the school holidays so a heated pool was a must and the outdoor fire pit was a bonus.

    California turns on great weather most of the year and even though we were there in their winter, the days were lovely and sunny. But, at night it was a lot cooler and a jacket was required.

    Tip: use your café vouchers for breakfast and healthy snacks before you head out for the day. The café is located on the ground floor of the hotel and has great coffee!

    How we got around

    • Car hire – we picked up a car from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) as we wanted to do some short driving trips in the area and were planning on driving to Vegas next.
    • Shuttle – we downloaded the Anaheim Regional Transport (ART) app as advised by our hotel which was super easy to use and inexpensive to shuttle us to and from the Disney Parks, shopping and restaurants. It was easy to use to tap on for each ride.
    • Ubers – anytime we were out of the shuttle area, it was so convenient to book an Uber.

    How we spent our time

    Day one – let the magic begin

    There was no time wasted for us. As soon as we checked in and dropped our bags, we jumped on the shuttle and headed for Disney California Adventure Park and headed straight for Radiator Springs Racers in Cars Land. The wait in line was worth it, this ride was so much fun. After wandering around the park, we then hopped over to Disneyland Park in the evening and stayed until it closed.

    Food: we had dinner in the Disney California Adventure Park at Flo’s V8 Café in Cars Land.

    Tip: stay until as late as possible where lines are a lot shorter later in the evening – especially if it is a windy night and they aren’t displaying the fireworks show. Do the Haunted Mansion at night for the extra thrill – this has to be a favourite for everyone. Depending on when you go, the haunted house could be decorated differently from creepy Christmas to spooky Halloween. Keep an eye out for the hidden secret silhouettes of Mickey’s through the attraction.

    Disney fireworks

    Day two

    • We spent most of the day at Disneyland Park discovering the different lands and mapping out our rides
    • We then went back to Disney California Adventure Park for the afternoon to hit some more rides and enjoyed a nice cold drink in Pixar Pier
    • After dinner we just hadn’t had enough of Disney, so back on the shuttle and back to Disneyland Park for the fireworks display

    Food: lunch was in Café Orleans in the French Quarter of Disneyland Park and dinner we went across the road to Bubba Gump restaurant. Highly recommend Bubba’s with loads of movie memorabilia up around the wall, great food, good price and so close. They even have a souvenir shop so why not grab yourself a quirky souvenir from the hit movie Forrest Gump.

    Tip: Get a good spot in Disneyland Park to watch the light show and fireworks – it was beyond magical. I can recommend grabbing an ice cream from Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor on Main Street.

    Disneyland park, Anaheim

    Day three

    We kicked the day off going separate ways. I headed to The Outlets at Orange to shop up a storm while the boys headed to Knott’s Berry Farm for some thrill rides.

    Food: We met up at the Anaheim Packing District for dinner, drinks, and entertainment. This up-scale food market has it all. Live music, great cocktails and so many food options. It is one of the last remaining citrus packing warehouses in OC which has been historically preserved and retrofitted as a great American market hall.

    Tip: get the Fast Lane Pass for Knott’s Berry farm and beat the queues. The boys told me it was well worth paying extra to just jump off and jump straight back on the rides, no lining up.

    Shopping at The Outlets

    Day four

    • Universal Studios
    • Orange County

    We drove to Universal from our hotel which was around 1 hour and 15 minutes. You could spend more than one day at Universal Studios, but we purchased a one-day Express Pass. The back lot tour never disappoints and highly recommend you jump onboard that. It really is action-packed from Jaw-dropping sights at Amity Island to Skull Island coming face to face with King Kong. Each turn of the corner you will be finding yourself on the set of many different films and movies.

    There are lots of rides that are fun and scary, but my favourite has to be The Secret Life of Pets. Super cute!

    Food: Our teen had his eye on eating a giant turkey leg at Jurassic Café. Not for us, we opted for the salad. If you are a Simpsons fan, you have to get a Big Pink Simpson Donut. Head to Lard Lad Donuts in Springfield Land. For dinner we got an uber to Orange Hill restaurant. Amazing food and the view was out of this world. Orange Hill offers sweeping views of Catalina Island, Downtown Los Angeles, Disneyland Park’s magical fireworks show and during the day you can see the beautiful California coastline.

    Tip: Super Nintendo World is not included in the Express Pass at Universal Studios – get the early access pass if this is what you are mainly wanting to see as this is very popular.

    Day five

    • Third and last day for our 3-day pass – back to Disneyland Park for the morning
    • Hopped over to Disney California Adventure Park for the afternoon
    • Cheesecake Factory
    • Local shopping
    • Night swim

    It was our last day for our passes, so we hit the parks one last time to make sure there was nothing we missed. Not sure how I got talked into going on the Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission Breakout ride at Disney California Adventure Park – but there I was in an accelerated drop tower dark ride attraction screaming and holding on for dear life! And, guess what? It was awesome!

    After saying goodbye to our parks, we went for a drive around Anaheim before heading back to the hotel for a spa and swim.

    Food: Lunch was at The Cheesecake Factory opposite Disneyland Park and for dinner we ordered delivery from a recommended local Chinese restaurant.

    Tip: The food servings we found quite large at both The Cheesecake Factory and Chinese – so be careful not to over order like we did!

    Day six

    • Laguna Beach
    • Main Beach
    • Emerald Bay
    • Crystal Cove
    • Newport Beach
    • Huntington Beach

    We spent the day in the car driving the coastal roads to see California’s beautiful beaches stopping for pictures and some rays of glorious sun. After clocking up ‘theme park’ style steps in the thousands, it was a nice little break to chill and take in the view.

    Food: lunch at a local café at Newport and dinner was at the hotel restaurant sitting around the outdoor firepit by the swimming pool.

    Tip: If you’re feeling adventurous, turn the GPS off and see where the coastal roads take you.


    Day seven was our last day in Anaheim where we left the magic of Anaheim and hit the road to Vegas. On the way we stopped off at Angel Stadium to have a good look around.

    General tip: get tickets to your sporting events in advance as these can get sold out quite quickly and don’t forget to organise your Visa’s for USA entry well in advance.

    Departing Vegas driving back to LA, we had some free time to drive around and check the local tourist hot-spots such as the Hollywood sign and the Walk of Fame. If you get time, I highly recommend heading to The Grove – we did some last minute shopping and had a late lunch at The Grove – it has some of the best shopping and dining options and fresh growers market.

    Anaheim is a destination with so much to offer and really has it all with something for everyone of all ages. If you’d like to experience the magic of Anaheim, talk to your personal travel manager today.


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