We’re Going to Disneyland!

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….and I need some advice.  Here’s the back-story, I have a friend from high school who has a child a few months younger than Little C.  She recently moved to California and while she was at Little C’s second birthday last month we started talking about how C and I should come out and visit her and her daughter.  When we “talk” about travel, we really mean it!  Today we firmed up a weekend this spring that will work for everyone involved,  and now Little C and I have tickets booked to Cali for the weekend.  Woohoo!  I’ll share with you how we used a combo of miles and dollars to get the tickets, but the real kicker is that I need a bit of help narrowing our hotel choices.  Normally I put ridiculous amounts of time planning each trip, but since this one just kind of popped up, I’d love some input.  😉

Here we are at my wedding a few years ago. and then with our own babies in December of 2010.  We have not lived in the same city since we graduated high school quite a while back, but I firmly believe that when you find a good friend you don’t let a few thousand miles get in the way of spending time together.

The Airline Tickets:

For the dates we wanted, tickets are not cheap.  It didn’t seem to matter what city we flew into or what airline we choose, flights with reasonable flight times were all in the $400 range.  Normally I would just use points for both tickets and be done with it, but there were a couple issues with that strategy this time.  First, I didn’t plan for this trip so I didn’t already have 50,000 miles earmarked for the journey.  I certainly have miles I can pull from, but I don’t have tons of extra miles lying around that I don’t already have plans for.  Second, I am trying to be a bit more strategic about flying myself on some paid tickets so that I can give elite status a try next year.  I have had elite status before, but it has been several years.  So, since I didn’t have tons of miles lying around anyway, I decided to use my husband’s 25,000 miles from the US Airways Grand Slam to book a Continental award ticket and I bought the ticket for myself using cold hard cash (well, actually with a OnePass Plus Card, but who’s counting).

Since you can’t book US Airways partner awards online, I called in and was a bit worried that they would have a problem with me booking a two-year-old on a ticket by herself.  I think I held my breath a bit when the customer service rep asked for C’s date of birth.  However, the fact that she is just two and was ticketed by herself never came up.  Kind of weird, but very glad it worked.  They charged the annoying $25 award ticket processing fee plus the regular $5 in taxes and the whole process took about five minutes from start to finish.  They even asked without me prompting if I wanted them to do a three-day courtesy hold on the ticket, or if I wanted to be ticketed immediately.  My husband spent about $80 to earn 25,000 US Airways miles in the Grand Slam last year, so all even with the taxes and fees, C got a $400 ticket for only $110.  Not bad.

The Activities:

Before I get to the hotel part, it might be helpful to know roughly what we plan to do during our weekend of California Adventure.  There will be two mamas and two toddlers, so we need things to be simple and kid-friendly.  We hope to go to Disneyland for most of one day.  How long we are able to stay will be influenced somewhat by whether the kiddos pass out in their strollers (oh please let that happen!).  I took C to Disney World in April of 2011, but she is already so much more advanced in every area that she was then, so this will be a totally different experience for her already!  I told her we were going and she got so excited.

During the rest of our time there we hope to play at the hotel, in the hotel pool, as well as visit the Pacific Ocean.  We are only there for two nights, so we won’t have time for a ton of different activities on this go-round.  The real focus is on the four of us spending time together and doing things that the toddlers will enjoy.

The Hotel:

This is where I get a bit stumped.  I have no shortage of ideas, I am just having a hard time making a decision.  Again, this trip wasn’t really planned far in advance, so while I do have points I could use, I think I would probably prefer to get a good rate and save the points for another trip.  However, I wouldn’t be opposed to a cash and points SPG stay as those are often the best way to maximize points and still save dollars.

I think I would prefer to stay closer to the ocean and just drive into Disney for the day, but I would possibly consider staying closer to Disney.  I would like to give preference to a Hyatt or Starwood Hotel, but am not entirely opposed to another chain if it met our needs better.  Here are some hotels I have been considering: Westin South Coast Plaza Costa Mesa, The Westin Long Beach, Sheraton Park Hotel at the Anaheim Resort, Hyatt Regency Orange County, Hyatt Regency Long Beach, Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort, and Avia Long Beach.  On average, the Starwood Hotels (Westin and Sheraton) are priced a bit lower than the Hyatt Hotels, but my Diamond status at Hyatt’s provide for free breakfast and possible confirmed suite upgrade.  If price wasn’t an issue, I think my clear front-runner would be the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort – they have a little on-site water park!  But, it is about twice as expensive as some of the others on the list and it is in the highest category for Hyatt point redemptions, so that probably isn’t going to happen either.

I have been to California before, I have been to Disney World in Orlando many times, but I have never been to Disneyland.  However, I am certain that many of you have, so I would love to hear your thoughts on where to stay or if we have missed a key toddler-friendly activity to focus on.  I can’t tell you how excited I am to go on this adventure with C.  She is destined to by my little travel buddy, so this trip is just the beginning.

PS, in case you wonder where The Man will be while we are on this journey, check the lake.  It will be spawning season, and we both get a huge win by indulging our own hobbies for one weekend this spring.  😉

 

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  1. i did the socal thing with my family a couple of years ago when my kids were 5 and 7 so a little older. we stayed at the st regis in dana point which was fabulous. place gets mixed reviews but we really loved it there. easy drive to disney. but that is way above the price range vs those you listed. i’ve stayed at huntington beach hyatt and while its nice it really is right along the pacific coast highway so traffic noise is quite an issue. if you cam find a cash and points rate that works at the st regis i doubt you woukd regret it

  2. How fun!! You are going to have a great time. It has been a tradition to take my nephews to Disneyland every few years. Luckily they are outgrowing it, because I’m getting too old to keep up with them.

    I recommend staying near Disneyland. The rationale: I would much rather drive AWAY from the congested area around Disneyland and go toward the beach, rather than drive toward Disneyland along with the thousands of other visitors – the traffic can just be miserable. Things will hopefully calm down by the time you return from the beach.

    Just my two cents. Have fun!!

  3. My vote would go to the Hyatt Orange County. They have a great bus service to the park which will save you $14 in parking on top of whatever the hotel you choose charges. Moreover, the north tower is quite nice, and free breakfast is always a winner. Being able to get in and out of the park during the day via the bus without having to go to a car and deal with parking is a big win in this area.

    If you do the Sheraton, make sure it is the newer property near the Hyatt, as the older property on the north side of the park is a little tired.

    Ceteris paribus, the Grand Californian hotel at Disney is **awesome**. Private entrance to California Adventure, early park access, etc. But they are extremely pricey and there are no points earned, so that may be a non-starter. 🙂

  4. Sounds like a fun trip!

    Personally, I would be hesitant to stay by the ocean and drive to Disneyland each day. It’s enough of a PITA drive, and then there’s the issue of parking at Disney which adds to the cost (unless your friend has an “annual pass with parking option”). IMHO, with young kids, I’ve also found that it’s nice to be at a nearby hotel (if not on property at the Grand Californian), because it allows us to take a midday break.

    Disneyland is VERY small compared to WDW. Whereas it is kind of impractical to go back to one’s hotel in Lake Buena Vista (even the non-hotel circle on-site properties, like the Grand Californian or the Contemporary are a monorail away), at DL, it’s very easy to walk back to your hotel and return to the parks later.

    Across the street from closest park entrance on South Harbor Boulevard, if you want to stay at a chain where you have / earn points, there’s a huge Marriott Fairfield Inn that’s a stone’s throw away.

    A little bit more of an upgrade, but a nicer hotel IMHO is the Courtyard Marriott. But while you can walk there, it’s a bit far with the stroller.

    The Hyatt Regency Orange County was renovated a few years ago, and is very nice. And, as you mentioned, you can fully leverage Diamond status. But you have to use the free shuttle bus to get back and forth. This is definitely too far of a walk.

    I would stay away from the smaller hotels/motels that are *directly* in front of the park entrance on South Harbor, because the rooms look and feel old and dirty. I’ve stayed in many of these properties, and vowed never again, walking convenience be damned.

    If you are set on the coast, the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach is a very nice property (stayed here when it was a Hilton long ago). I like it better than the Westin South Coast plaza, which basically gets you a view of one of the many outdoor SoCal malls. Note that the Long Beach hotels are the furthest away from DL, and I don’t recommend them.

    Probably could share a lot more. Feel free to ping me if you have more specific questions.

  5. I would recommend staying close to D-land. You’ll be surprised how worn out both you and your little ones will get and its nice to have a place nearby to escape to for a quick nap and just to relax. My husband and I tried to day-trip there from Sacramento last year and by the end of it, as adults, we were completely exhausted. Even then, our short flight on Southwest for the day was still easier than dealing with LA/OC traffic and parking when we used to live down there.

  6. That’s great news!

    I don’t mean to be a downer, but I think with little C’s age, she won’t enjoy Disney land as much as if you bring her there when she’s a bit older.

    Then again, you could always bring her there when she’s older too.

    I don’t have any hotels to recommend, but I can definitely say you should try the turkey legs at Disney land.

    Also, as with all theme parks, drinks and food are fairly expensive so if you can sneak in some food under the strollers or something it would help a lot if you want to be frugal.

  7. We go to Disneyland about 2-3x per year and have had experience staying at several hotels in and around Disneyland. By far, I would recommend the on-property hotels. The best, but priciest, is the Disney Grand Californian. You can beat the private entrance to California Adventureland, very nice rooms, and the ability to have quick rest breaks at the on-property hotels which are all walking distance to the park. Also, hotel guests get into the park an hour early, which is a huge time saver for lines!
    A quick tip: Buy a cup of coffee at the coffee shop on Main Street and get a free refill all day.

  8. Based on my recent past: stay near the park, book at a Hyatt with a suite upgrade and have your friend stay with you. Dont worry about going back to the hotel and then back to the park–your kids will have enough of the place after a few hours+nap+a few more hours.

    Betcha 5 dollars she will enjoy the time at the beach as much (or more) than disneyland.

  9. I live in Long Beach and would not recommend the downtown LB hotels if you’re going to Disneyland. Its too far away. The aquarium is really nice though, we have annual passes and go every other week. And whale watching is excellent from there right now. Other than that downtown is no good for toddlers, we stayed at the Hyatt/Westin for a wedding at the Queen Mary last year and they were boring business hotels. The AVIA looks nice though, Loyalty Traveler did a review last month. Dont count on using the beach, as it can be pretty gross.
    I highly recommend the Hyatt in Garden Grove. It was refurbed last year-ish and I’ve been upgraded to a suite 2/2 times now as a lowly Platinum. I stayed on a AAA Breakfast rate and the selection was excellent, plenty of healthy options. Convenient shuttle bus and there are ways around the parking charges too. Have you looked at the Hyatt Irvine? They generally have really low weekend rates. its located relatively close to the South Coast Plaza Westin (which in turn is across the street from a pretty epic Orange County mall).
    The Hyatt in Huntington Beach is in a good location (by California standards) and I too hear the pools are great for kids, but its waaay overpriced, especially since it costs the same (points) as the Grand Hyatt in Kauai. Save your points for that! Also its a prime wedding venue which can affect availibility/cost pretty dramatically. Our friends are getting married there this summer and they are still holding ALL standard room sales for that night.
    Good luck at the mouse. Be prepared for a nap fail.
    And be aware of traffic. Fridays can be deadly. Have the SigAlert iPhone app downloaded in advance!

  10. From a local LA mommy!-I would not recommend staying in Anaheim.I would recommend the Marriott in Manhattan Beach, Holiday Inn Hermosa or the Beach House in Hermosa (not good for points but a great hotel). Both are very close to LAX and manhattan, hermosa and redondo beach. All three are very nice beach communities with lots of good toddler activities! You can make it to Disneyland in less than an hour and be at the beach, coffee, two free small aquariums, the tot lot(toddler park) in less than 10 minutes. Tons of easy restaurants (highly recommend Marthas in Hermosa for breakfast) and lots of great walking and beachside places. Feel free to contact me with questions or more specifics. thanks
    gretchen gretbazela@yahoo.com

  11. I live 25 mins away from Disneyland. My suggestion would be to stay at the Westin in South Coast Plaza. If you stay in Huntington Beach, you’ll have to drive surface streets most of the way to Disneyland, and that will take 45 mins or so. Staying at the beach is nice, but you’re going to be at Disneyland all day, so is paying the extra worth waking up to the beach (that’s across the street). It’s not a Carribean beach either with turquoise water.

    Westin Southcoast Plaza is 3 min drive from John Wayne (SNA) airport (are you arriving at John Wayne or LAX) and is right beside one of the nicest malls around (South Coast Plaza) which you can always hang out at later I suppose depending how tired you are, and being that most females like shopping. 5 mins from the freeway, and a 20 to 25 mins drive to Anaheim with no traffic. 20 min drive to Huntington Beach, 15 mins drive to Newport Beach, 20 to 25 min drive to Laguna Beach.

    Disneyland is in Anaheim (aka. Anaslime) – called Anaslime for a reason although you probably wouldn’t be venturing out into the city or anything, but will be right there beside disneyland if you don’t want to drive far. It’s also mid way between LAX and John Wayne. Certainly NOT a nice city to walk in.

    Long Beach, not much comment, I’ve lived here for 16 years and have visited Long Beach less than 10 times, so don’t have much input on that. However, if you’re flying into LAX, that’s mid way between Anaslime and LAX.

    Hope that helps…

  12. I would also recommend checking out mouse saver’s website. It’s geared toward families travelling to Disneyworld. They also send out a monthly newsletter that usually has a code to get discounts on park admission.

  13. Living in Cali and having been to Disneyland several times with my kiddos, I would highly recommend staying at a hotel across the street from Disneyland. With little ones this convenience is so worth it. I wouldn’t use any points for a fancy places as you aren’t going to spend much time there. Sounds like you want to spend your time at Disneyland. After a long day there it’s nice to just walk across the street to your hotel and crash. Lots to chose from and very affordable. We stayed here http://www.jollyrogerhotel.com/disneyland.php
    Cheap and literally across the street. Walk to IHOP for an easy breakfast in the morning.
    Seriously, I would really save the luxury hotel stay for another trip. Or do your Disneyland days and then go stay at the beach. Going back and forth will be exhausting!
    Enjoy your trip! Sounds fun! Don’t worry what people say about Little C being too young, it’s not true. They have so much fun at each age. It’s just different. Some people say don’t take your kid here or there because they are too young to remember. Well, I say life is not about what you remember later, it’s about the moment. They surely enjoy that and you do too!

  14. Add my vote for the Hyatt Regency OC (Garden Grove). Diamonds tend to be upgraded there quite often. No Regency Club at that property but the comp’d breakfast and nice rooms make up for it. Enjoy your visit to SoCal!

  15. 1) All hotels in the area are walking distance or have a convinient shuttle. Every major hotel chain has a location.

    2) Use Mousesavers. It is a great website with great tips

    3) Use the Unofficial Guide to Disneyland. Save time in lines. Follow their touring plans like we follow your tips, and you will save hours and hours of standin in a queue.

  16. Staying at a Disney hotel gets you into the parks earlier than the crowds! Also, you are the very closest to the parka and get great service!

  17. I tend to stay within walking distance when going to Disneyland because it is easy to walk to and mid-day rests are close by. Plus it makes the long walk home a little bit more merciful. I’d stay on-site except the price difference makes it hard to justify. Perhaps see what the Disney Vacation Club point rental would be?

    If you stay further, consider making an afternoon reservation for dessert at the Blue Bayou so the kids can rest and enjoy the atmosphere. The cookie boat dessert is a good bargain compared to entree prices especially if you get a seat by the water. If you need an even quieter spot, try one of the Disney resort restaurants during the afternoon.

  18. My first choice will be huntington beach, next to pacific ocean, great RC, mini version of water park, and their huge spa! However,I wouldn’t pay more than $250+. I was able to stay there during Christmas for $140 plus costco promo give you $25 credit toward dinning, or other hotel charges. You will also get upgrade to ocean front deluxe room.
    My second choice will be orange county, it’s close to the park, and diamond gets complimentary upgrade to their two bedroom suites. I was there three times 2011, and i was given two bedroom suite without using suite cert. great breakfast buffet.

  19. There’s actually a pretty decent Hyatt Regency in Newport Beach, which isn’t a whole lot further from Disneyland than the other choices you’ve listed. It’s right on the “Back Bay” in Newport, which is a nice quiet (except for occasional jet noise) area adjacent to a nature reserve. I recall the rooms being sort of dated, but the grounds are immaculate. You’re close to the Bay, but not necessarily close to the beach…though you can make the short trip across PCH, Balboa Island, and the bay (via the Balboa Ferry — which Litte C might enjoy) to the beach. PCH is nearby, so you and Little C could cruise up/down the coast pretty easily from there. It’s also super-close to SNA — if that’s where you’re flying.

    The only other hotels I’d consider are the Hyatt Huntington Beach and Hyatt Long Beach. The Hyatt HB is nice, but the price tag isn’t. The Hyatt LB is pretty nice, though it’s certainly designed for convention center attendees. But that being said, there’s more to do nearby the Hyatt LB than near the inland choices you’ve listed. Hyatt LB is located pretty close to “Rainbow Harbor” which could be a fun spot for you and Little C to stroll around, especially if you want to visit the aquarium (certainly worth your time and $$, BTW), or go (grey) whale watching (which is still pretty decent in spring). Keep in mind that the beach in Long Beach is pretty disgusting, but Seal Beach (also not immaculate, but really family friendly with lots of “small-town” charm) and Huntington Beach are within 15-20 mins and not subject to rush-hour traffic.

    My suggestion, since you’re spending a lot of time and money to visit CA, would be to spend your time near the beach — perhaps SoCal’s greatest asset.

  20. I would absolutely minimize time commuting around on such a short trip. Not worth it. You can easily chew up 2 full days at DL and CA Adventure, especially if (as you should) you take the kids back for a midday nap.

    Someone mentioned DVC. I am a DVC owner who rents out points and there is virtually zero chance of a room now for that time period. There are only 48 studios and 48 one bedrooms and they are almost always gone 7+ months out. Great idea, though, if you can plan further ahead. Saves a TON over a cash rental and the rooms are nicer. Spectacular hotel.

    Take a look at the lesser Disneyland hotels.

    Convention Center hotels often go for very little if there is no event going on. We like the Hilton. Last time on Hotwire we paid $79 vs. $179 cash rate (3.5 star, South Anaheim area). Last time (Dec. 2010 just before Christmas) they had a great promo, though, so I went for the quad base points and stay 3, get one.

  21. My friends laugh at how easily confused I can be, these days.
    So, the weekend is really soon?
    And, your good friend lives in SoCal but will be staying with you at the hotel?
    At any rate, when I did my SoCal trip, I made it a point to visit the beaches from Malibu to Laguna Beach. Eveything I knew about SoCal was from the movies and TV; and Huntington Beach turned out to be my favorite by far!

  22. Just wanted to add that IMO your daughter’s first trip to DL ought to be about maximizing that experience and taking your time wandering/exploring there and not worrying about upgrades and breakfast and points and side trips to the beach. You can do that stuff later.

    Hope that doesn’t sound too critical.

  23. After an hour at Disneyland you’ll have stroller envy. You’ll see everything from WalMart types to Rolls Royce strollers. It’s an interesting people study. Enjoy! Disneyland is indeed the Happiest Place on Earth.

  24. Aww, I’m already late to the Disney party!

    1) I strongly recommend staying across the street at the Howard Johnson. I know you might be cringing at the sound of HoJo, but it’s really nice and reasonable. Check out Mousesavers.com for a decent discount. We stayed there in 2010, and plan on staying there again this summer. The convenience of being across the street from the parks is well worth it with little ones!

    2) If you are only there for two days, I would not go to ocean or plan on staying that far away. Each Disney Park can easily take a day, and with toddler naps in the strollers, you won’t need the ocean.

    3) Dealing with LA/Anaheim traffic and then parking at Disney should be enough of a deterrent to not want to stay away from the parks.

    4) Definitely take a stroller that can recline for naps.

    5) If you are already spending all that money to go to Disneyland, enjoy the Parks for the entire time (in other words, don’t cut your time short by driving from the ocean)!

  25. That will be a great trip! Disneyland is awesome and you and Little C will have a great time. You should consider staying across the street at the Fairfield Inn. The Fairfield is a good cash value, but a bad Marriott points redemption value. You can walk to Disneyland, and don’t have to worry about parking or driving once you get there.

    You also get Marriott points! There is a MiMi’s Cafe two doors down, or a McDonald’s right in front of it. Driving in LA, as others have pointed out, is miserable and is not worth it.

    You could book a character breakfast in the Grand Californian Hotel at the Storyteller Café. It is a lot of fun, and will give you a chance to check out the wonderful Craftsman resort. The lobby is amazing. It is the best place to stay, but expensive.

    If you want to try something new in the hotel point arena, take a look at renting Disney Vacation Club (DVC) points to stay at the Grand Californian. There is a thread on DisBoards.com on renting DVC points. DVC availability at the Grand can be a challenge.

    A DVC studio Sun-Thurs would be likely be 26 points a night (March – Mid April) or $20 a point in May. You can rent points for about $8 – $13 a point from a DVC member, or David – a guy that makes it easy who is at the higher end of the price range.

    Have fun.

  26. I am local- about 25 minutes away- and we have annual passes. I have heard lots of people on the disney boards say they liked the Howard Johnson across the street. They took out one of the pools and have a pirate ship spray play area ( the people that did it did the pirate ship at Legoland I heard). Also, I have heard that the Hyatt is good also. I have heard that the shuttles at the hotels aren’t free, there is an area shuttle that covers most hotels and there is a fee for it. Long beach is pretty far away and not a fun beach to go to. If you drive and park at Disneyland, use the Buzz Lightyear parking lot on Harbor Blvd, it is faster to get into the park and puts you closer to the front gate than the huge parking structure on the other side of the park. If you pay the Disney parking, you keep your ticket and can get free in and out priveledges for the parking lot for the rest of the day. I have a Disney guide to save money that I wrote for a newsletter if you want to email me for it. The Blue Bayou would take too long- you always have to wait outside even if you have reservations and my kids get restless with waiting.

  27. I agree with others that you should stay at a hotel near Disneyland. You’ll be doing a lot of walking plus dealing with a toddler will be exhausting enough. I also highly recommend that you check out Restaurant.com for restaurants to eat at adjacent to Disneyland. Currently they have FiRE + iCE Grill + Bar that looks like a fun place and they have children menus. Read the fine print to make sure that you can use it. Sometimes they have a House of Blues coupon which is another one right outside of Disneyland but that can be very loud which may not bond well with little ones. I highly recommend the Disneyland Corn Dog Stand located right hand corner at the end of Main Street. It is the best corn dog ever! The lines can be a little long but it moves quickly. Check out this youtube for history of the corn dog stand. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N29y12uDVp4

  28. Another vote for the Hyatt — shuttle service to the park, ability to come back for a nap, free breakfast, suite upgrade — what’s not to like?
    Also, re: Huntington Beach — it’s a bit early in the year to count on using the pool, and the little ones may be too tired from Disney and all of the commuting to really enjoy it. Stick close to Disney for this short trip and enjoy your Diamond treatment at the Hyatt. You might be able to get a fireworks-view room so you can see the fireworks show without having to stay late at the park.

  29. I’ve been to the Hyatt in Huntington Beach before and it is really nice and resort like. It is literally across from the beach as well. If you were doing a beach vacation I’d highly recommend this hotel, but since you are there for Disney, no need to stay there. It is in a cool little surfer area, but probably not catered towards your needs for this vacation. I also stayed at a Marriott close by there a few years ago and was able to use the elite BOGO certificate. If the BOGO comes out again (keeping my fingers crossed), not a bad option as well. Enjoy disney!

  30. Wow! You guys are all amazing for all the great tips and suggestions. Apologies for not being able to answer each awesome comment individually right now, but here are a few replies to some comments.

    We need a hotel b/c my friend lives in Cali, but not in this part of Cali. She will be driving in several hours to meet up with us.

    I don’t really care about upgrades and perks “just for fun”, but if I know we have enough space to share a room and get free breakfast then that translates to a real savings, so that is why I care about points/status/upgrades/etc on this trip. 😉 (well on most all trips for that matter)

    I know that C won’t remember this trip, but that is totally okay with me. The real point is for me to spend time with my friend and have the kiddos have fun in the process. Disneyland is more of a backdrop for fun rather than this being a once in a lifetime Disney experience. We actually did a big family Disney World trip in April where we did stay on property, get to the park early, etc…. This trip will be more of a taste on Disneyland than a full-on Disney trip. We will be back to both Disney parks several times as gets older for sure!

    I agree that Mousesavers is awesome – I bought our DW tickets last year using their discount codes. I need to read their Disneyland info now.

    I’m still not 100% where we will stay, but your suggestions have absolutely helped. Thanks a million.

  31. Why you didn’t use a companion certificate from US Airways CC? It is $99 (companion certificate), if I’m not mistaken.

    • @Sergey, good idea. I looked into that briefly, but the major deal breaker was the reality that we would have to have a connection if we flew US metal (can’t use partners when redeeming that certificate). I wasn’t very interested in doing that by myself with a toddler if I didn’t have to, especially since our trip is already short enough as it is. I do plan to use that certificate at some point though!

  32. I live in Northern California and have already taken my little one to Disneyland twice – once when she was 22 months old (last Jan) and once last month when she was just over 2 1/2. My little one still talks about her trips, so this may be more memorable for little C than you think!

    Let me add my voice to the chorus of folks who suggest staying close to the park. In fact, I’d suggest staying within walking distance or, at the very least, in a hotel on the Anaheim shuttle system. If you need to go with a chain to get the points, the Fairfield Inn is VERY walkable. My daughter isn’t one to reliably pass out in a stroller, so it is nice to go for a midday break and nap in the hotel after lunch. You will be exhausted from fighting crowds with her alone and you may need a nap too! Midday crowds are the worst, and better to just leave and then come back in the evening. My daughter always took a good nap and was then able to stay up extra late in the evenings when the park died down.

    Also, something to consider is beating the lines. Nothing is worse than standing in line with a toddler. You REALLY will want to get into the park immediately upon opening when the lines are the best. This is pretty much the only time that you can do the small kiddie rides in Fantasyland (Dumbo, Peter Pan) without a wait. I know this sounds crazy, but check out a software program called RideMax that allows you to pick your rides and gives you an “itinerary” to beat the crowds. My husband and I have used it ourselves for many years and it is even more of a lifesaver with a toddler. Truly magic.

    Happy Disneylanding!

  33. I would vote to stay close to Disney. Cali water is ice cold and dark & murky looking. I will reiterate the Hot Mommy Points moniker as you are the only chick blogging and looking at Gary, PointsGuy and Rick in their blogs just makes you look even better. Definitely a plus in my book. Have fun with the wee one in Cali.

  34. “(well, actually with a OnePass Plus Card, but who’s counting).”

    We all care! That’s why we’re in this game.

  35. I don’t have any kids, but I took my 9 year old nephew to Disneyland last summer. I’m probably not the best person to give advice, but here goes:
    It sounds like Disney is only 1 day or your trip, and possibly not an entire day. Based upon that, I would NOT stay at the park. In my limited experience, they are way over-priced for what you get, in that you pay for the “convenience” factor. IF you were doing more than one day at Disneyland, I would probably have a different opinion, but that does not sound like it is the case.
    You can drive to Disneyland from the multitude of hotels referenced above. Parking sucks, but there is plenty of it at Disneyland.
    In this regard, the ability to walk to the beach can’t be underestimated. I live in Manhattan Beach (which I think is a GREAT place!), and I can assure you that parking at the beach can be a huge hassle.
    Hope that is helpful….though I doubt that it is! LOL

  36. +1 for the HoJo across from the park — check out the pictures of their pirate ship toddler sprayground. They have a really good entertainment book discount and some kids suites (though bunks may not work for two toddlers). Even if you only go to the park one day, being able to walk back to your room in case someone needs a nap in a bed will be invaluable. The Disney day is going to be your long day, so it makes more sense (to me) to not have to drive on that day. Also, you lose a ton of time dealing with the parking garage and trams, which you could avoid by staying walking distance.

  37. I don’t want to encourage dishonesty but the IBM code makes the Hyatt HB really cheap and they won’t give you trouble in my experience…

  38. Hi MP
    I was in OC for business for 12 months and spent all this time in hotels, and they cover most of your choices- here are my thoughts
    Westin South Coast Plaza Costa Mesa – dont stay here with Family , complete business hotel, rooms arent that great , nor is the staff wonderful
    The Westin Long Beach- hotel is decent , but the drive would be too much.
    Sheraton Park Hotel at the Anaheim Resort – this would be a good choice for dysney as they have a shuttle I believe. Rooms are decent, tho I think they dont have tubs. Lots of kids, pools is pretty small.
    Hyatt Regency Orange County- business hotel again. Pilots and airhostesses frequent this place. Pretty outdated- they have tube tvs!!!!!! 😛
    Hyatt Regency Long Beach- this one I havent stayed at
    Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort – Nice hotel , with the diamond membership you should get a nice room, lots of pools, kids pool, etc- very nice pools, great view of the beach. Downside – breakfast might be free but parking will cost you around 20$ a night as you have to valet.
    and Avia Long Beach- not stayed at this one either.

    I would say go with the sheraton near dysney or hyatt huntington.

  39. While I love the Hyatt resort in HB, the Hyatt OC in Irvine is a better bet for price and convenience. Depending on IF you want to play the corporate rate game, you can call the Hyatt an request to book on the EMC, IBM, or Accenture rates. Use your Diamond suite cert to upgrade you to a suite.

    I’d advise not staying at South Coast Plaza, regardless of hotel.

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