Kids are used to wdw... How should we do DLR?

We have tentative spring break plans for California next year. Fly into lax or sna, 1n at Hilton universal followed by the group VIP experience, then evening drive to GCH, 3/4 nights there depending on how we decide to do DLR, then 3/4n on Coronado Island with a stop in La Jolla on the way down and a day at the SD Zoo. Fly home from SAN.

My kids (in March, DD5 and DS10) have been to wdw multiple times but neither of them have been to CA at all. I’m the only one who has been to DLR (my solo TR from July 22 is around here somewhere but I’m typing this while supervising two 4yo at a chuck e cheese bday party so).

First, should we even do this? If y’all know me, you know DH hates theme parks (mostly people. If they were empty he’d prob be okay) and DS gets hyperfixated on something different every year or so and doesn’t care about pretty much anything else. Minecraft then Pokemon now Fortnite. Cars was age 2, so radiator springs would’ve been amazing, but we are a few years off that now. He is, however, keen to see super Nintendo world.

I’m mostly going to DL for myself, admittedly. And to bring some theme park fun to vacation while also offering DH the relaxation he always needs at Coronado.

All I have booked so far are refundable rates at Hilton and beach village at the del. I also have reward flights to grand Cayman on hold because I have decision phobia and because DH mentioned wanting to dive.

Has anyone taken their wdw seasoned kids to DLR and regretted it? Wished they had spent time in CA differently ? Wanna offer me tips for convincing DH we should go back to wdw? I can prob sell San Diego with a side of DLR but wdw …


The kids will still love Radiator Springs. DH might even get a kick out of it.

My kid was a WDW baby/toddler but still very much appreciated the unique differences in DLR, and even got a kick when he would get the two confused.

Your itinerary is EXACTLY my dream CA stay, and that’s with me living there for 24 years and then running for the hills.


DD5 is the same age my DS was when we took him for the first time. I still have pictures of him in his pajamas on all the rides because he was too excited to change first. So DCA in our pajamas for the win.

I am just so excited for you!

The Del was where I wanted to get married when I grew up. I almost passed out when I saw “it” at WDW, and next to the Wedding Pavilion no less. It was kismet.

1 Like

The cheapskate in me doesn’t love the del but YOLO

1 Like

My parents had a timeshare across the street (after I moved out). We would day trip down there and walk to the Del’s beach. We never stayed either (yet), but it’s a bucket list item for sure!

1 Like

We took experienced WDW 9 year olds (cousins) to DL and they enjoyed themselves.

We then went to Legoland and they really had a great time!

I was glad we went in that order.

We adults were wishing we’d had the sense to reserve a room at the hotel at Legoland even tho we still had a nice room in Long Beach. The hotel looked so fun.

This was 10 years ago.

1 Like

We’ve also done Legoland in FL 3x and will be in Billund this summer. So we kinda skipped that one

1 Like

We have not done FL Legoland. Nor Universal.

We did Busch Gardens Tampa when we did a road trip around the Florida coastline - and not WDW.

For so many years a FL trip meant mainly visiting relatives - a day here, couple hours there, etc and driving in between - we tend to be WDW focused now.

1 Like

We live about 50m from BG Williamsburg!

Bet you know that like the back of your hand. :wink:

1 Like

It hasnt really recovered post COVID, sadly.


Someday we have to do a BG Williamsburg meet up!

I think your plan sounds solid. Asked DD12 and she agreed with me that 3 nights should be plenty given your description. Also because you will be there around spring break (early Easter next year) we strongly recommend rope dropping (we were the first to set foot in the park one day) and then heading back to hang out at the resort once the park gets packed. That will help your DH.

The convienience of VGH cannot be understated. It will give you flexibility with a 5 year old and let your DH bail if he needs to without it being a big deal like it might be at WDW.

The revamped Toontown is amazing.

1 Like

I love this idea!!! Too bad this weekend is such a bust.

Our spring break is usually a solid week before anyone else’s. We’d be flying in March 1. You think we will run into crowds still? The times we’ve gone to wdw that week it’s been quiet and then busy by end of week.

Oh no, that is early. You should be fine. If I recall this year, those weeks were suprisingly low crowds at DLR.

This weekend I went down to NC to visit my parents. Teated positive for COVID (first time) and had to drive back. Talk about a bust!

1 Like

Oh no!!! I’m sorry!! We were supposed to have a house full but they all bailed. Next weekend we are supposed to have 60 people here for my son’s 10th! I sure hope the yard renovations are done cause they are definitely not a week from being finished :rofl:

Wow - if everyone bailed and I had di e a lot to clean up the house, I would not be happy. But 60! I have a yard ready for that!

1 Like

My teens like Disneyland. Yours will like it too. There’s so much unique stuff and then even the familiar rides are longer and better in some cases. Spider-Man, GotG, RSR, IC, Indy, all some nice unique fun the older one will probably love if they aren’t afraid of rides and the 5 year old has way more dark rides that are fantastic like Alice, Toad and Snow White and I know I’m not in the majority but I love Roger Rabbit. And Pinocchio is fun to me too. Plus Monsters Inc in the DCA park.

1 Like

We’re biased because we LOVE DLR in this house but I feel like it’s compactness (meaning its walkability) + more chill vibe make it a lot easier to do relaxed touring like is sometimes warranted with kids & reluctant DH’s in tow. It’s much easier to send them off to the hotel for R&R when it’s adjacent to the parks.

If your DD is at ALL princess inclined & you have the budget for it, Napa Rose brunch with the princesses is AN EXPERIENCE. Each of the 5 princesses we met was the best princess interaction we’d had with that princess & all the food they bring to you for the apps portion & dessert portion was adorable (& all good & tasty too). The buffet was the only part that wasn’t a homerun hit, but we did do the brunch on the tail-end and part of that may have been that the buffet was wrapping up. If it’s not in your budget and/or face characters aren’t any of your jam, then Storyteller’s with Mickey & friends in cute camp outfits is the best buffet character dining in DLR (& could probably rival the best at WDW) & not nearly as chaotic as most character buffets are. My DH requests it every couple of trips because he loves the buffet offerings there plus on vacation he loves getting endless Coke/Coke zero refills that a TS meal affords.

I do still think that Carsland will hit with your kids. My DS6 is only very minimally a Cars fan & he enjoys it. Be sure to catch it with the neon lights & if you can swing it, time it to be walking into right at dusk to see the lights turn on to the song. It’s an exact re-enactment of the movie when they turn on the neons & one of our favorite things to do in DCA.

If you have any Marvel fans then Avengers Campus is a hit too, so many roaming characters & good entertainment. We also love the Quantum pretzel and Choco-Smash bars at Pym’s. We didn’t love the bfast at Pym’s but the lunch has some solid (albeit slightly different) lunch choices.

And then if you like snacks & especially theme park ones, DL delivers highly on those. We love beignets & mint juleps, churros, any ice cream, Dole Whip or Dryer’s, corn dogs, turkey legs, corn on the cob (the Buzz cart in Pixar Pier has a chili lime one that is yummy if you like a chili lime spice), Bengal BBQ skewers, most all of the treats at Jolly Holiday, soup bowls from anywhere that offers them (they are all the same Boudin sourdough delicious bread & the soups themselves have always been great too). There’s just so much good food. Maybe that can help entice the family to “put up” with Disney?

Another thing DL does fabulous on that might help with bringing the family is the spontaneous/roaming characters & on more crowded days, excellent atmosphere entertainment too that may combine the characters (have your kids ever played Musical Chairs with Cruella, Mad Hatter and Alice?) that make it easier to keep crowds occupied.

I don’t think you’ll run into crowd issues though going the first week of March. My DD10’s bday is that week and we’ve gone 3-4x for her birthday & it’s always been a nice at most moderately crowded on a Saturday time of year to go. Even less crowds if it’s rainy (which that time of year tends to be a little bit more rainy than the rest of the year). But you have up until the day before you get there for the weather to make up its mind, so even if there is rain in your forecast, just know it could change all the way up until you get there & the only tips I have for rainy days are to have a plan on where to eat since most of the dining is outdoor/indoor combo & if you want to sit down anywhere, it becomes a rare commodity & the limited QS places that offer indoor seating becoming inundated with squatters waiting out the rain.

The San Diego part sounds lovely too so I hope this pans out! SD Zoo is a must-see once in your life & if I ever can swing staying at the del without feeling like the riff-raff dragged in from the tide (how I normally feel at the very start & tail-end of my Disney trips), well then I’d do that too! But maybe just with DH on an anniversary trip or something.


Ok your post is SO helpful and got me excited to take the kids!! And I hear you about the del. I liked @Jeff_AZ 's reviews of the Renaissance they had, it looked very nice and the price is much better… And since we won’t have beach weather, it might make sense to do that instead. But the fomo and the yolo always get me lol