California Trip

For the third year in a row, my mother and I made a trip out to California where my brother lives. For the second time in three years, we made the drive from the Bay Area to Anaheim to take in Disneyland. We also stopped in to see family, took in a baseball game, and visited an area beach.


I'm wondering if visiting Disneyland (or Los Angeles for that matter) is like watching a movie more than once. I truly feel I was able to take the park in more, where the first time I went, I was probably more blown away by just being there. This trip I looked to take in every detail I could, from the little mementos to Mickey Mouse and Walt Disney, to how each world is well curated and divided between the next. There's never a sense you're in more than one world at a time very often in this park.

One of the first things my brother and I did was take on Space Mountain. Do note, I don't do roller coasters. My already sensitive stomach isn't aided by the fact I do get motion sick also. However, this is Disneyland, a world created for kids, so I should be able to handle the rides here, right?

Last trip in, I rode the Radiator Springs Racers ride in the Disney California Adventure Park across the way. That ride goes 45 miles an hour in certain spots and you can feel some G-force in some of the hairpins and drops on the ride. I throughly enjoyed myself on that ride.

In comparison, Space Mountain flies at 35 miles per hour at top speed, a full 10 MPH slower than the Cars ride. I should be able to handle this fine. I didn't.

The thing about Space Mountain is the entire thing is in the dark, so there's no way you can really brace yourself for what's coming. That's the thrill of the ride for some I'm sure. For me, it was my detriment and it was what made me feel sick on the ride (didn't puke though). At least I tried.

After Space Mountain, I needed a little pick me up, so we headed over to Toon Town. I love this area. If you have ever seen Who Framed Roger Rabbit? you have an idea of what this place is like. Everything is whimsical, the buildings are all funny shapes, and the whole place feels out of the ordinary and fun.

This is one of those areas where I loved the attention to detail. We went into Mickey Mouse's house. Inside, even the furniture feels like it's out of a cartoon. There's a dog gate on the steps for Pluto, family photos of Walt Disney and Mickey together, a note on the fridge from Mickey asking for a favor, and a film room which shows old Mickey Mouse cartoons. That film room is also the waiting area for anyone wanting to get their picture taken with Mickey himself, which my brother and I did. The whole place was put together well.

Most of the day after this was spent relaxing. After Toon Town, we rode the Mark Train riverboat. The ride is part cruise, part educational experience, as the narrator talks about early river exploration in America by the explorers of the time. I'm sure you could get more information from a book on this subject, but it was enjoyable nonetheless.

Our final ride at Disneyland Park was the Jungle River cruise. Again, we're talking a short boat ride, but with animatronics that threaten to splash water on you. The "tour guide" on this ride has a lot of dad jokes that'll make you laugh and grown at the same time. I'd call it an enjoyable experience.

After a much needed break to get out of the heat and grab dinner, my brother and I headed back to the park to catch the nighttime entertainment. First up was the Disneyland Forever fireworks show.

I suggest getting an early view of this show from either Main Street or near the southwest side of The Matterhorn. We caught a spot over in Tomorrowland, and while we could see the fireworks well, we missed a lot of the show that went with them. Still, it was a good show and I found myself a little spoiled from it going into the Fourth of July weekend.

Lastly, we checked out the Paint the Night Parade, which is a parade of Disney characters all lit up in neon lights and bright graphics. While simple in its presentation, it's still a fun show to watch because the visuals are beautiful.

Disney's California Adventure

In my first trip to Disneyland Resort in 2012, I found myself enjoying the California Adventure Park more than Disneyland itself. The Adventure Park is newer, so the rides are more comfortable and the ideas are fresh. There's also much more Pixar representation here, including full areas dedicated to Monsters Inc, A Bug's Life, and Cars.

This year's trip into the park was a chance to show my mom what she missed. During the day we were all out there together, we only took in the Little Mermaid ride, which was a tad disappointing. I would have liked to done the Cars ride again (which was shut down for the first part of the day) or Grizzly River Run, a ride where they put you in a raft and send you down a series of river rapids and waterfalls. Nonetheless, I have video experiences of both, so I can always relive those when I want.

I took a break from the heat with my mom halfway through the afternoon, leaving my brother behind where he went hog wild on the rides. When mom mother and I returned, we grabbed dinner, then reunited with my brother for the night cap. There was a point when the both of them wanted to sit down, I wandered back over to the Grizzly Peak area and ran around in the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail, which has rope bridges, rock walls, and many other things to run and climb through.

The final piece of the night was the World of Color water and light show at Paradise Pier. With the 60th Anniversary of Disneyland, this year's show has been adapted into a montage of Disney memories and a dedication to Walt himself. It's a beautiful show so be sure to get a FastPass just for this to make sure you get a good view.

Mariners vs. Angels @ Angels Stadium of Anaheim

Upon booking this trip, I took a peek at the Anaheim Angels schedule to see if they were in town during the time I'd be there, since the ball park is only about three miles from Disneyland. Not only were they in town, they were playing my favorite team, the Seattle Mariners. On top of all of this, Felix Hernandez was pitching for the M's. This became a golden opportunity to see a future hall of farmer in person.

Felix pitched great, allowing only one hit over six innings pitched. Unfortunately, the bullpen couldn't hold the 1-0 lead and the Mariners lost in the 10th inning, 3-2. Still, it was a good game. Could of been a little cooler, but no complaints overall.

One thing I do get into is seeing different ballparks and this was my first time at Angels Stadium of Anaheim. I will say they've done a good job remodeling this ballpark from the multi-purpose facility it was when the L.A. Rams were still in town. The rock fountains out in center field are a nice touch. Outside of that, there's not really much going on in this ballpark. It's a baseball field and not much else. Maybe I've been spoiled after seeing the likes of AT&T Park in San Francisco.

Dana Point

My mom made a point of getting to a beach. So, I did some looking around for a beach that's not a tourist trap and therefore full of people. This is how I found Dana Point, which is about 45 minutes down I-5 from Anaheim. Once there, we arrived at Strands Beach, which is wedged inside a crescent-shaped cliff and surrounded by some really nice houses. The beach itself is good for hanging out on, listening to the waves, and watching the seagulls. Very nice beach if you want to get away from a good chunk of society in Los Angeles.

Overall, this was a really nice trip. I also got a chance to hang out with some family while in Orange County, so it was good to see a side of the family I don't see too often. It sounds like next year my big family trip will be to the Pacific Northwest, so it may be at least a couple years before I see California again. That said, I feel like we made things worth it. @sku_b