Wednesday, November 15, 2017

California Theme Park Road Trip

We just got back from our Road trip to California. We went to 6 different theme parks 6 days in a row with 4 kids 7 and under :). We got a 4 day LA pass from Costco that included Legoland, Knott's Berry Farm, Universal Studios, and Six Flags Magic Mountain. For the two days at Disney I ended up purchasing a gift certificate at Smith's for Disney so I could get $50 off in Gas (2x the rewards for gift card purchases at Smith's) and then I bought the Disney tickets online with the gift certificate. 

Taking that many kids at those ages to that many amusement parks is a lot of work but we had a ton of fun! We just can't wait until they're all tall enough for all the rides-we have to go each time one child is tall enough for most of the rides and this time it was Parker-he was able to ride most all of the rides and LOVED them! We went in order of the weakest rides (Legoland) all the way to the most intense rides (Magic Mountain). Spencer and Caden were sad when they weren't tall enough for some rides but they were troopers (especially Caden!). 

All of the parks had parent swap programs so that we could all wait in line together (or get a fast pass at Disney) and then Darrin and I could each have a turn riding with Parker (or sometimes all the boys besides Rachel). We went on this trip with Brady and Melissa and their 3 kids and my awesome parents joined us for the first three days too! So we did a lot of switching watching kids with them as well. 

We first thought about doing this trip because Darrin (and his brother Brady who both work at Ebay and both had babies within 3 days of each other and both get 3 months paid paternity) has so much time off this year. Then we remembered that my niece Kezi was getting baptized in Cedar City and we'd already be 3 hours south so we may as well go to California :). 

Here's a day by day breakdown of the trip and pictures for each day:

Saturday: woke up at 5:30 am to get going in time for Kezi's baptism. We woke the kids up with Mickey mouse music and saying, "were going to Disneyland!"! We got it on video :). 

We made it just in time to the baptism after many stops to go to the bathroom and one for gas. The baptism was wonderful-Kezi looked so beautiful and was given a special blessing. We went to their house afterwards for lunch and then off to the Cedar City temple open house. It was extremely windy, quite cold, and the line was really long, but it was all worth it! What a beautiful family experience going through the new temple with my family. We then headed to our hotel in Jean called Gold Strike. It was ghetto. Darrin and the kids went swimming with Brady and Lincoln and I watched. Then we headed to bed. 

Woke up at 6am due to the time change. We gained two hours! We packed up, had breakfast and headed to church which was 2 hours away. The ward was super friendly-lots of people talking to us. Then it was another 2 hours to Oceanside, CA. We went to Oceanside Beach Park. It was such an amazing beach-clean, not crowded at all, and soft sand. Pretty cold when the sun started to go down but we built sand castles, dug deep holes, found some sand crabs, Spencer buried his legs, and we got to see the sunset. Beautiful! When it got dark we went to the hotel (Ramada Oceanside). Pretty decent hotel! Had dinner, watched some America's Funniest Videos and headed to bed. 


Met with my parents for breakfast at the hotel at 8. Then headed to Walmart to pick up a few groceries. Then headed to Legoland. It was such a fun day with gorgeous weather! The crowds were few and so we got on most rides very quickly. The longest time we waited in line was probably 30 minutes but that was only once. Favorites included the claw arm ride, the firetrucks, the 4D movie, getting wet on the pirate ship ride, the roller coasters and more. After the park we went to dinner at Blaze pizza which was delicious! Then drive an hour to get to the hotel which is Travelodge Anaheim Inn and suites. We noticed there was a black light in the room. Strange. After some investigation we found that the whole ceiling lit up like the milky way and glowed- so neat in the dark! 

Tuesday: Disneyland. Woke up at 6:30 to be to breakfast by 7:30 and then off to Disney by 8:15 or so. The walk was much longer than we thought. Google said a 20 minute walk but that was only to downtown Disney which is at least another 15 minutes to the park gate. Long walk! But Disneyland was so much fun. Crowded! But a blast! Highlights include: Space Mountain (Mom and Spencer's favorite!), Splash mountain (got to go several times), Mickey's Toontown because it was EMPTY in the evening including getting to meet Mickey in his house, and the haunted Mansion was all DECKED out as nightmare before Christmas which was seriously incredible! There were different smells, and you really feel like you were really in the movie! After the day came back to the hotel and crashed.

Wednesday: California adventure. Today was awesome! We continued to use Darrin's plan of getting two sets of fast passes for different rides and then we'd only have about 5 fast passes for one ride and then everyone would kind of sneak in while Darrin stayed back slowly scanning all the fast passes while the rest of us went ahead. Worked smoothly.  Our favorites included: Guardians of the Galaxy ride (soooo AWESOME), the Cars Ride (incredible!), The River Run (best we've been on), Soarin', California screamin roller coaster, and Arial's ride was also really cool! Loved this park! Said goodbye to my parents tonight who head home in the morning. It was great having them with us!

Thursday: Wanted to do something low key today to take a break! We've been having a lot of fun but are exhausted! So after much contemplation, we decided to do Knott's Berry farm since on the 4 day pass we thought the other activities just didn't seem as good of a value and we were hoping Knott's wouldn't be as packed as other parks so it'd be more relaxing and we could leave if and whenever we wanted to. It was really empty. We never waited more that one rides worth on any ride. We either got right on it on the next ride! It was fantastic! We figured out a great system with Brady and Melissa of staying with the kids for their rides and trading off for adult rides. We ended up getting there half hour after opening and staying until 6 which was close. What a fun day to get to do so many rides and not be stressed about crowds. Went to Walmart after to grab some groceries and then had dinner at the golden bowl which was really awesome and delicious! Drove 40 minutes to our next hotel which is Travelodge Hollywood-vermont/sunset. Smallest room we've stayed in this trip. Very squishy but we're making it work. 

Friday: Universal studios. We were hoping that despite it being a weekend it wouldn't be too crowded because it was overcast and off season. We were wrong. Just as crowded as Disney! But we still had a blast. We started off at the "Harry Potter and the forbidden journey" ride which was about a 45 minute wait. Then we made our way into the lower area by taking lots of escalators down down down. The kids loved that. We went to transformers, then Jurassic Park, and then meet the interactive dinosaur-Caden was TERRIFIED of it- holding onto me for dear life and Spencer wouldn't even come near it. Parker liked it. Then we went back up to the main level and did the Waterworks show which was awesome with lots of stunts with water and fire-the kids thought people were really getting shot, drowning, and exploding-we explained what stunts and stunt men are. We sat in the second row for that show which way the soak zone and we did get quite wet. We also did the Special Effects show which was decent but not as good as the Waterworks show showing different tricks they use when filming to create special effects. We also went to the walking dead haunted house which was pretty short but decent-Parker came with us and didn't get scared. We didn't dare bring Spencer and the rest of the day he was saying how much he wanted to go to the haunted house. We also went to the despicable me ride which was fun! A highlight of the day for all of us was the studio tour! We all got to go and it later an hour. We got to see actual sets, towns, etc and it even had 2- 3D action packed rides plus the set of jaws which was awesome! At the end of the day we got Frozen butter beer, rode the flight of the Hypogriff, and looked at all the Harry Potter shops. On the way home we grabbed some food at Burger King since we held off for dinner. 

Saturday: Drove 30 minutes to magic mountain six flags. Found out late last night that it was going to be key club day today so it is SO PACKED!!! We got there at 10-half hour before opening and it took us into 11 to even get into the park. We went straight to X2 where the line was 90 minutes to ride. Parker was the only kid who could ride and LOVED it-with parent swap he gets to go twice on all the rides which he loves. We also rode on Superman and Apocolipse which had about 45 minute lines. Then the Wonder woman ride and the boat ride that we all could ride on that's similar to the tidal wave at lagoon. Darrin and Parker waited in line for Goliath for 70 minutes while I took the other kids on 13 rides in the amount of time it took them. There was a train roller coaster ride in particular that Caden and Spencer were both real enough for that was really fast and they just wanted to keep going on it again and again! It got dark and cold and the crowds weren't dying down so we decided to head out. We found a Thai restaurant to go to on our way to our next hotel called Wanya Thai. It was soooo good! Then we headed to our next hotel which was in Barstow called Budget Inn. Not a family friendly hotel-wanted to charge $10 extra per person and their breakfast looked good but was actually disgusting. 

Sunday: Parker fell onto the hardwood floor last night in the middle of the night with a loud thud and kept on sleeping until morning poor guy 😁. We woke up, I'm the only one who went to breakfast because we didn't "claim" our children they wanted to charge $10 each for. The most awful pancakes I've ever had! Anyways, drove 2 and a half hours first to Henderson NV for 11:00 church, then onto Cedar City which was another 2 hours 45 minutes to Heidi's house. She was so sweet and had a nice roast dinner prepared with china, candles and everything. So fun to spend a little time with them and even my parents and Grandma since they came too. Then we headed home and I drove for the last 3 and a half hours to home. Got home at about 9 and unloaded and got to bed. What a great trip this has been!