NoBellePrizeWinner's SoCrazy SoCal Trip

I would have benefited from Liner advice before now for sure, but life has been too busy for me to be very active here the last few months. So I’ve planned (and repeatedly replanned) this trip in a vacuum of information. The trip has expanded and contracted in scope, but the final shape is now set. I’ve got hotel reservations, park tickets and reservations, and most dining reservations I want.

For now, I’d like to outline my overall plan and see if there is anything that jumps out to anyone that I should change. As I have time, I’ll fill in the details. For those that know me, you know I have details. I promised DW I wouldn’t micro-plan this trip, but once my ADR day came along I went down the rabbit hole of planning each park day with TPs and ended up doing the same for the rest of the trip too.

Here’s the context. My family is waiting for Make-A-Wish to allow us to travel to Orlando (DD3 needs to be vaccinated which is not possible yet, or MAW needs to change their air travel policy). But DS7 and DS5 have been obsessed with LEGO since the pandemic began and we don’t want to lose the window of visiting Legoland. So we decided to visit San Diego in early June on our own to knock out that park. Then when our Wish trip does happen, we can just focus on WDW and UOR. Originally we thought of doing Legoland as well, but I much prefer the idea of just focusing on the two major resorts.

So a few months ago I started outlining a trip to San Diego and immediately noticed that Legoland was roughly halfway (ok I’m being a bit generous) to Disneyland, and my mental wheels started spinning. After a few minutes my brain was in full on Disney mode. I proposed the idea of extending the trip a few days and visiting DLR, and to my surprise DW said yes.

Ok, this post is already getting too long and I really just wanted to give an outline of my trip to get Liner opinions. So here we go.

Me, DW, DS7 (50"), DS5 (46"), and DD3 (41")
We will be using DAS at DLR and Assisted Access at Legoland
3-day hoppers at DLR and 2-day hopper at Legoland

Arrive SAN late(ish), pool/dinner/etc. at hotel

RD SD Zoo, start with bus tour, lunch at Albert’s, focus on animals we don’t have at DFW area zoos (e.g., polar bears), Balboa Park train, pool/dinner/etc. at hotel

Sunrise and exploring La Jolla, lunch on the go, car museum at Balboa Park (DS7 is crazy obsessed with cars right now), USS Midway (this is Memorial Day, so extra hoopla?), pool/dinner/etc. at hotel

Drive to Carlsbad and RD Legoland, epic day at the park hopefully hit everything we want, pool/dinner/etc. at Legoland Hotel

Late start, breakfast at Legoland Hotel, Sealife Aquarium, Karl Strauss Brewpub for lunch, Laguna Beach for lazy afternoon, get to Anaheim for dinner at Goofy’s Kitchen, staying at Disneyland Hotel

RD DLR, long mid-day break (pool/naps/etc.), dinner and evening at DCA, maybe World of Color if kids can make it

RD DCA, hoping to get 1pm ADR for Plaza VIP package (MSEP) otherwise lunch at GCH Craftsman, long mid-day break (pool/naps/etc.), dinner and evening at DLR, hopefully MSEP via VIP or Fantasmic via VIP (still waiting for these packages to drop before deciding, may do one on Friday and the other on Saturday)

RD DCA, early lunch, long mid-day break (pool/naps/etc.), dinner and evening at DLR, hopefully make it to fireworks

Breakfast at Storytellers and then driving to SAN for early afternoon departure

I won’t write up any more details right now, but here is my working itinerary if you’d like to see.


I should have mentioned this is our first trip to California with kids and possibly a one and done for DLR.


Sounds like an amazing trip!

Good think you’re not microplanning :wink:

A tip for you since you’re RD DCA it looks like twice — one of those days consider heading directly to Pixar Pier. It’s DEAD over there and everything is a walkon while people swarm Avengers Campus. And there’s plenty of rides for the littles as well as THE BEST ROLLERCOASTER for those tall enough and brave enough. And again, it’s all walk on first thing in the morning.


Im going straight to incredicoaster. I’m working up DS7 to ride with me. He’s scared of the loop.


It is possible your dates will overlap with @Jeff_AZ. He is going with his family at the end of May/beginning of June. Could be a full family Liner Bros meet!

I think three days will give you plenty of time to get most things done, especially with DAS. I second @OBNurseNH’s recommendation to RD the pier, specifically TSMM. That line can build quickly - faster than the IC. I would get a DAS for RSR immediately and then do the pier and possibly Mater and Luigi while you wait for your return time.

Fun! I love DLR and I hope you will too!


We overlap this day! It’s the last day of our 5-day tickets spread over a week. I will definitely keep an eye out for you.

Your plan looks great. A couple of thoughts:

  • you may have to make some priorities at Legoland because one day isn’t quite enough to do every single thing. But there are enough skippable attractions that you should be fine.
  • Are you going to the water park at Legoland? It is fun and could take up an afternoon if not a day. But I’d prioritize the actual park.
  • Skip the Skipper School motorboat ride. It is super slow loading and lame. You will hate yourself, sitting in your boat as the seconds tick by, questioning your life’s decision. Just don’t.
  • I agree to RD TSM. There used to be a “maneuver” that I can’t remember the name of on Chat (@Julianne_fki or @Wahoohokie remember?) where you get a FP (now LL or DAS) for RSR, then rope drop TSM and ride Incredicoaster before reporting to RSR. If you don’t ride TSM in the first hour or two, it will have a 60 minute wait the rest of the day.

Have a ton of fun! It’s coming up quick!


It was called “the Gabe.”

"The Gabe” is- TSM x 2 to IC x2 to Gotg x 2 and RSR MP. while waiting for RSR do Soarin and GRR .


Thank you! I knew someone would know this.


Oh yes, the Gabe. Seems like a million years ago when Gabe was an actual liner.


The Gabe!!! Yes, my family has loved and made good use of ‘the Gabe’. I think the actual Gabe was a liner even before my time (2015 when I realized this really cool subscription I’d bought 6 months ago to plan also had a chat), maybe I caught the tail end of him being around?

So much to say, I’ll try to be brief. But I think you really do have a good base of a plan.

You’ll definitely want to pick and choose what you want to see at the zoo to as one day is just not near enough. The bus tour will help as you can cover more ground (especially on some of the hills that all over this zoo).

When we were planning how to get from SD to Anaheim on our last June trip one of the best pieces of advice I got here was to wait until traffic died down as the drive w/ traffic is 2.5 hr drive. I do think that your plan to make it to Laguna Beach by afternoon definitely makes a difference, but I don’t know enough about traffic in that area to say if that’s any better or worse. I would definitely use a traffic app like Waze to figure out the best time to leave Laguna Beach to make it to your Goofy’s Kitchen ADR.

Just making sure you’re aware that to do the Plaza Inn package you’d have to hop from DCA to DL and that the hop time doesn’t start until 1pm. You should be fine to still book a 1pm Plaza (and may the odds be ever in your favor) and be the 10-15 min late that you might be because they let a line form over opening that hopping any earlier than 12:59:59 (at least that’s how it’s been when we’ve been there recently). And you should be able to book a time anytime between 1-3:30 (they won’t all be at 1pm). If you don’t go the dining package route there are some spots you can stake out that aren’t so bad (but would probably require at least 45 min. of staking out to enjoy).

I definitely recommend a Fantasmic dining package. And if wanting both Fantasmic and MSEP packages, then one for Friday and the other for Saturday is perfect. And on both nights FWs are just after the parade or Fantasmic ends and at DL they tend to put the dining packages for those shows in places that will also be a good spot to stay to see FWs and, should mostly be able to see the accompanying projections too.

In the Fantasmic viewing areas you are front and center sections along the Rivers of America and they use the water screens to do the FWs projections and you have a pretty good view of the bursts too, look towards Big Thunder on your right for those, and the music will be piped in on the speakers too.

For MSEP dining package, we don’t know yet where the section will be, but will by the end of this week. Judging by where they’ve been in the past it will either be drectly across from it’s a small world or right in front of the train station in Town Square. If it’s by small world you’ll have a great view of the projections on the small world facade and an excellent view of the bigger bursts that are launched from just behind small world. If the it’s, Town Square you’ll not have a great view of any of the projections but your view of the bursts will be straight with the castle which is how they design them to go off so it will be your most “accurate” view of the bursts and I always love them centered over the castle, but this will be the farthest back view of both fireworks and doesn’t have a fantastic view of projections (they will be on the Main St. facades so you’ll have some of that view, but you won’t be at a great angle or very close to them so it’ll feel out of the action a bit- whether that’s a good thing or not will depend on how you feel about projections with your fireworks).

It can get down to 30 min. close to the end of the night and maybe even less during World of Color but the morning is a far better time to do it.

The original Gabe also had the Pixar Pal Around (then known as Mickey’s Fun Wheel? I think? but was always referred to on chat as the Wheel of Death or WOD). I believe Gabe’s daughter loved the wheel so their primary reasoning to get to the pier was for her to do the crazy swinging side early before the line gets backed up. And I believe it was after TSM, IC. If you want to do the wheel at all, (swinging or non-swinging side that is much more relaxed), definitely fit that in before leaving the pier.


Has anyone ever done the “Inside Look” tours at the SD Zoo? They are pricey ($100/person), so wondering about the value. I’m thinking the kids won’t last all day, so this might be a good way to knock some things out in the morning and limit walking for 90 minutes. Then do early lunch, and check out a few things not on a the tour before leaving. The alternative is to do the regular bus tour, but a private tour sounds more appealing. Just not sure about dropping $500 for it… Maybe I should save that money for the DL part of our trip.


I haven’t done a private tour but have done the bus tour and even though it’s been almost 8 years, I remember it being a great way to see the zoo. We would’ve hands down done one if it had been available the last time we were there (June 2021). The only way I would fork over the money for the private tour (instead of using it for all things Disney for that portion of the trip) is if one of the kids specifically asked and it was a special occasion trip for them (i.e. milestone or birthday trip that focused on celebrating them and/or their accomplishment).


I love, love, love the SD Zoo!

It rivaled only Disney for my top place to visit growing up.

I can’t imagine anything they do not being top notch, but that being said I’ve never done a private tour there and it’s still one of my all time favorite CA spots.


I know it’s an unpopular opinion, but I’d do the SD Zoo over Animal Kingdom all day any day.

Then I’d end the day eating in Old Town at one of my favorite Mexican spots. Then walk off dinner by going and looking at the model trains at the museum up the street! :heart_eyes:

Wow, I think I totally get why AK is one of my least favorite parks now. :woman_facepalming:


DH & I love SD: Old Town, Sea World (their meal plan where you can eat all day if you want for one flat price), Padres games and then both the SD zoo and zoo park are all some of our favorite things there. We also need to check out Legoland one of these years soon.

I think I’d rather AK over SD zoo proper, but the zoo park was another experience entirely and I do agree that their safari > AK’s Kilimanjaro.

I need to go start bugging DH about when we could do a SoCal extravaganza trip to get all the days in SD that we need to do it properly. Last year it was just a quick 2 day add-on to start our DLR trip and we only had time for a teensy tinsy bit of Old Town (but we did right next to it like we like to do), Coronado Beach & not quite one day at the zoo proper.


I love SD too, and that’s a good thing since Carson will be spending the next 4 years there!


Where do you stay when you go to San Diego? I’ve stayed in the hotel loop at a few places there. I’m hoping for someplace a little nicer when I take my family there in October, but not too expensive.

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Carson’s got a great plan! And you’ll have to give me all the tips on how best to maximize having a kid move there for college.

S at age 5 has already decided he will be moving to California as an adult. He told me he will come visit me with his wife and kids but that we will have to visit him there too (and go to Disneyland). He also already has his heart set on going to UCLA (based purely on rooting for them in the last two years of March Madness). We’ll see how it pans out in the next 13 or so years.


We’ve historically stayed at a Hampton right off the 5 and really close to Sea World (I’ll look it up when I’m back on my laptop- you do have to drive to Old town though).

This most recent time we followed a Disneyland Daily recommendation and stayed at a Best Western that was right in Old Town and it was ok. The views of the ocean from the room we had were nice but the balcony to enjoy was also the outdoor walkway so not private so we didn’t really take advantage of the view. We were right in Old Town (at the top of the hill though so coming back to the hotel was uphill).