Trip report + a week in paradise + a nightmare!

Did a few-day stop in California before my family headed to our (originally planned for the time Covid hit, and have been pushing it off ever since) first trip to Hawaii.

We were supposed to have almost a full day on our arrival night, but the airlines saw fit to ruin that. We arrived late afternoon and made a Saturday evening out of Santa Monica Pier and seeking out In N Out. Sunday was Six Flags Magic Mountain to knock out all the remaining coasters we had on our lists (still can’t get Superman, but everything else we needed to be open was open). I hit coster #200 on X2, too! What a ride! High-tailed it out of there just in time to make the WB Tour, then scrammed to the hotel to get some rest for the impending Disney Day.

Our 1st trip to DL was impromptu last year when Hurricane Ian diverted us from Disneyworld, and we did CA/most of DL in 1 day. This time we opted to just stick to Disneyland and hit a couple highlights and all the rides we hadn’t done yet. As you all surely know, DL is just nuts. We were there from rope frop to 8pm closing, we had Genie+, and we STILL had things left over. And Toon Town isn’t even fully open yet! Yeesh. We were able to knock out all but 2-3 attractions at Magic Kingdom with an afternoon arrival and FPP once, but you can’t rock out like that with Genie+ thanks to the limitation of rides support it. At DL, anyway.

I can’t put everything in order at this point, but either way we had a successful day and no complaints overall. We did break down on 2 rides though, which was a 1st for all of us. Space Mtn as soon as we loaded, we took off to the left and got removed. Then at the end of BTMRR we got stuck, which allowed us a Multi-experience pass that we used for Alice in Wonderland since it had the 2nd longest line all day long next to Peter Pan. We saved no time with that since we were stuck for 30 minutes anyway, but hey…

Here’s an interesting tidbit: in 2020 we happened to be at Disneyworld when the Chiefs were there for their Super Bowl parade. This year, we were at Disneyland for the Chiefs Super Bowl parade! I’m barely a football fan, but that’s cool. Moreover, what is the likelihood that that would happen? Craziness, and a cool story :slight_smile:

Here’s what we got done in 11.5 hrs (we kept our last 30min+ for shopping, so our ride-seeking ended around 730pm):

Haunted Mansion
Jungle Cruise
Matterhorn both sides
Star Tours
Parade / mini parade

Met Mickey, Goofy, Chip n Dale, Genie, and I think that’s it. No Pluto that we found all day at the front despite being advertised for it. My kid was decked out in his Pluto hat, shirt, AND custom Pluto shoulder buddy I made him. At least my wife got to show Goofy her custom Goofy :wink:

Would have liked to do the other Fantasyland rides again (still never did Peter Pan here, I assume it’s no different than WDW?), Tiki Room, and ROTR but wasn’t about to purchase access and not know how long the line was going to be. We’ve done it multiple times at WDW and had other 1st-time things to do at DL, so skip it we did.

That was our day. Woke up early and hit LAX to get out to Kauai for a week which was an amazing trip but not for here unless anyone really wants to hear it. I could go oooon and on!

Lastly, we arrived home to see our house was FLOODED! 6 days later they’re stilling tearing it apart and we have a HUGE project awaiting us to rebuild 6+ floors and hallways on the main floor, walls, kitchen, the basement (unfinished, but a 1000+ square foot gym full of rusty ruined equipment), and so on. An absolute DISASTROUS end to the trip of our lifetime thus far.

I figured I’d make a FUN post about the Disney stuff so I could help keep my mind off of it while I endure this process =P


OH No!!! I have come home to minor disasters at home before, but this is a nightmare scenario!!!

Glad you had the trip of a lifetime! Hopefully those memories will make up for the disaster.


Love just about everything about this trip, Disney & not! You got a lot into one day, rides & character meets (so sorry your kid missed out on Pluto tho).

DH & I honeymooned in Kauai, just about missed our flight back home & when we realized how far behind we were running on getting to the airport, in true island fashion we were 0% concerned about the potential of figuring out another way home and joked about sending a postcard home that we decided to stay, send funds! We did make it back, but it felt like home when we left & we’ve always wanted to make it back someday. So yes, please tell all! Especially if you need any distraction from that most definite nightmare that took over your home upon return. Hopefully they’re able to get the work done in quick order & that you can replace/rebuild anything that was ruined.


Missed this question - I too would love to hear about Kauai! Of the major four islands, it’s the only one I’ve never been to.


I can totally relate. When I saw our house I wanted nothing more than to say F it and go back to Hawaii :smile:

We’ve met Pluto countless times so it’s no big deal, but still who doesn’t get excited to see their favorites right? Donald is my guy, and I’ve seen him in half a dozen different costumes even, but no meet this time. At least he was in the parade! And bonus I got to see him at Halloween in his candy corn costume!

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It was our first trip to Hawaii. From what I read, it seemed like THE place to go for our first, and we’re really happy we did. Like I said, we originally booked it in Feb. 2020 before Covid shut everything down, for Nov. of that year. As Hawaii opened up, Kauai did not, had the tightest restrictions, etc., and we just pushed it off. Actually re-planned everything for Maui, then I think Delta variant came around and we didn’t want to chance that things would get crazy again. We just put it off, did lots of CONUS trips instead, then out of nowhere Kauai opened up fully. We were already so busy that we had to post-date this trip out almost another year just to fit it in properly. Ah well, it was worth the wait for sure. Of course I can’t help but think if we’d not gone at the exact time we did, my house would be fine right now. Sigh…


Looking at my photos, this is how I recall everything. I’ll try to post some pics tomorrow!

Arrived around 130pm, headed out to hit some stores and see what sights we could come across. Got a bunch of snacks and goodies, saw a few things, grabbed our 1st shave ice, had lunch, and then headed to our resort: Grand Hyatt Kauai. We’re root beer hunters and always look for new/house-made varieties when we travel. It’s funny how some places you can barely find anything that’s not the standard big-label stuff, and here in Hawaii I found Maui Brewing AND the restaurant we picked just so happens to have a house brew! I couldn’t believe it, however it was tolerable at best. Still fun though. Had my first rare mahi-mahi and I can certainly do without that next time. “The island” recommended it, so who was I to refuse?

Arrived at Grand Hyatt, got upgraded to an ocean view, got some champagne and roses decorated across our bed for our anniversary. It was also Valentine’s Day when we arrived; I had asked the GM if they could sweeten our arrival in any way, and we were happy for the gifts :slight_smile: We also had club access due to my status, so breakfast was free (thank God) and at least half our days there we were able to get a dinner out of their hors dourves hour. By the time we’d had a nice lunch, a shave ice, and whatever snacking throughout the day, it would have been all we could do to go out and eat a full dinner anyway. For the sake of sanity I think it would’ve been the move to get some food at the store to eat in on our balcony or something rather than drop $ for dinner. Didn’t matter though, the free evening nom-noms were perfect!

We had a helicopter tour booked for the late morning, and it was a little wet out so we got delayed. We took that opportunity to get lunch and explore a bit. We ended up finding a mall arcade and blew some time there. Always good to have some old-school fun. Thankfully the rain cleared up and we were able to get on the copter. We got the DOORS OFF tour, which was ultra cool. We got to fly through many rainbows, saw tons of waterfalls, and flew all throughout the canyon/volcano and around the island. What an experience! If anyone was ever considering doing one of these, I can’t recommend it enough. My son (8) was nervous but thought it was so cool that he couldn’t stop the excited chatter the entire ride. It was pretty funny. I got a full length GoPro video, short videos w/our phones, and tons of unreal pictures. Even w/turbulence from the rain (we still went through a bunch), it wasn’t scary or nerve-racking at all.

Visited Lydgate Chocolates for the tasting. Wanted to do the tour, but we were limiting our hours-long activities so we could explore as much as possible. Spent way too much at the gift shop, but that stuff was good! My wife is the chocophile so it’s her deal there. I’m sure the tour was neat, but the tasting and quick shopping was just fine. On the way in & out of that area, we stopped a bunch along the roads to get photos of the photo-op areas.

Did the Smith Family Luau and were happy with it. I tried to research and pick the best luau that I felt was for us, and this one I feel fit the bill. The show, at the end of the night, felt a bit long (an hour), but I assume that’s typical for most if not all of them. One thing’s for sure, no one can say you get short-changed here. The 30+ acre botanical gardens to peruse were wonderful, the food was great (holy cow, that pig was something else!), the dinner entertainment was much more than anticipated, the host (Mr. Smith) was delightful, and the show was sure in-depth. I can’t compare to any others, but this did seem to get the best reviews I could muster for a family. Plus we got to feed the chickens & birds while waiting for the imu ceremony, which of course was a hit for the young’n. Another thing, the Grand Hyatt luau charged nearly adult price for kids, and Smith’s only charged about a 3rd of that. On principle alone they get the nod, even if we had to drive 45min. vs. walking 2 minutes. The drive didn’t bother us at all because it allowed for more exploring at some of these other places. Win/win!

Did the tubing adventure in Waimea Canyon. It was a nice ride in on their truck, learning a bunch. Our tour guide there and on the water were awesome. Tubing itself was really fun. Nothing overly thrilling, but if you have kids they ought to LOVE it. We all enjoyed it for sure, plus at the end the lunch was pretty solid. Then again, we’re so simple when it comes to eating and running as fast as we can to the next thing that it doesn’t take much to impress us. It was a deli sandwich spread basically, but like I said that accounts for something and saves us $60 for lunch elsewhere so I call that a win.

We stopped & shopped, or at least browsed, pretty much everywhere possible. We’re ridiculous tourists, whattya want. We got Shave Ice pretty much every day, hitting a new place each time. Off memory we did Old Koloa Mill (I think?), Fresh Shave, Uncle’s, Jo-Jo’s, Wai

Our day on the North Shore was a half-dud, as it was raining HAAAAARD and the bridge to Hanalei was warned to close. We didn’t want to risk that so we stayed east of it. We do mini golf everywhere we travel, and this was no exception…pouring rain or not! We packed full-body rain suits and ponchos, and let 'er rip. The holes were plenty flooded, so we had to spot the balls half the time just to have a way to putt. Half those times, we still just hit through the puddles anyway. It was easier putting through puddles than driving off the tee, go figure. We’re competitive and my son is serious, so we never let him win (awww). He WON this time, or at least co-won with me. He’s the current Hawaiian Mini Golf Co-Champion at the very least, a feat for which was psyched. Plus he won a free game because we each got holes-in-one (take that, rain!) and spun a wheel luckily landing on the hole we aced. We had enough of swimming through a golf course so we’ll hope to go back before it expires (planning for December already, so it should work out lol).

On the way out we saw the lighthouse. It was free admission for President’s Day…BUT also required reservations. We were ready to admit defeat but the nice attendant let us sneak in anyway since there were a couple parking spots available. We made quick work of that to make sure to not impact any upcoming reservations, grabbed lunch up there, and then headed back south to Poipu Beach. It was still a bit rainy but we got new snorkel gear, had the GoPro ready, and were running out of time to get it done so into the drink we went. Saw a bunch of turtles on the beach, wife & kid had a seal swim right upon them to get to the beach to hang out, and we saw a bunch of fish. The snorkeling wasn’t too great, but we saw enough to not have it be a bust. As we were leaving after an hour+, the sun was coming out and people were coming in droves. Hit up Puka Dog, went shopping, had shave ice, had ice cream at Lappert’s, and called it a night.

We played on Shipwreck Beach, hiked the cliffs trying to get to the caves, realized the hike to the caves was too much for the boy so we headed back and drove the next day - LOL. On the hike, we came upon an injured seal hanging out on the beach. Conservationists had been called and were on-task to make a barrier around him, and we learned that it had been bitten by a shark a week prior and was going to naturally heal.

Throughout these days we tried our best to enjoy the resort because it alone was worthy of staying the entire trip therein. I lost track of how many pools they had, but they also had a saltwater lagoon which was a hit with us all (and many others). On our last day we took off to Hanapepe for the Swinging Bridge, more cool local food we’d found earlier, Spouting Horn, drove to the caves, and headed about an hour north again because we forgot about the rainbow eucalyptus trees. Those were so cool and I’m glad we made time for it before heading to the airport. Regarding the drive to the caves, it was just a couple minutes but most of it was horrible terrain especially with the huge puddles from the rain. Our little midsize sedan made it though, even Jeeps were putzing around slowly in it all. The caves were cool, even if I WHOMPED my head on a stalagtite when I walked in and then followed it up by smacking it on a tree. No blood though, so party on. Sure hurt though.


Thank you so much for Kauai trip report. Now waiting for pictures :slight_smile:
We are considering Hawaii trip with island hopping (4-5 days in each Kauai, Oahu and Big Island) and your information was very useful.
Which company did you use for tubing adventure? It sounds like something my family would enjoy.

We had similar flood experience a few years ago when returned from a two weeks trip. The floors had to be changed, everything on the floor was ruined… My heart still sinks when I think of DD’s princess dresses she kept in a bag on the floor and how upset she was. :disappointed_relieved:

You will get through this, give it some time :hugs:


Would love your opinion amd any details about this tour. I have it booked for April!

So sorry about the flooding :frowning:


We’d done it many years ago and really wanted to make time to get it done, even if that meant rushing down the highway like lunatics and splitting out day at Six Flags in half to get it done. Our son enjoyed it a bunch too, although most of the movie set stuff he didn’t find interesting. “It’s TV!” “Yeah, and?” lol. He likes the Animaniacs though, so the water tower was his favorite part. I forgot what it’s called, but we did the non-VIP/advanced tour. Just the “normal” one, I guess.


Great report! Thank you!!!

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Shipwreck’s Beach behind the Grand Hyatt, sights from the helicopter, view from our balcony


sorry to hear :frowning:

We went to Backcountry Adventures, which I think is the only place to do tubing.


More helicopter and roadside sights, balcony view without us in the way, Shipwreck’s Beach wide angle


Golf when we arried vs. departed, laua, caves, Hanapepe, turtles & making sand angels at Poipu Beach, Spouting Horn, rainbow eucalyptus trees,


Bird sanctuary at the north shore lighthouse

Cliff hike from Shipwreck’s Beach to the caves, wounded sea on our hikel (local conservationists told us he’d be OK and has been on his way to recovery for over a week),

Front of our resort enjoying an evening on the swinging bench, tubing. Funny he rides 200+ ft roller coasters without a care in the world, but got surprised at this little drop.

AND NOW…SOME DISNEY! We never rode DL Space Mountain before and had no clue where the camera was, but I nailed it :rofl:


Did you ever get shave ice at Hee Fat General Store in Kapaa? That’s my favorite spot!

I love Kauai. I’ve done two mini trips there and prefer it to Honolulu or the Big Island. I haven’t been to Maui yet.

Sounds like an amazing time in Hawaii and a pretty great time in California too! But what a bummer to come home to a flood! Don’t second guess the timing. It probably would have happened no matter when you scheduled the trip. Murphy’s Law! Hope the clean-up/rebuild isn’t too much of a headache.


Shipwreck Beach is great! But I recall the waves were pretty strong there. Your pictures make me want to go back!!

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They were doing some 100th M&G’s over by IASW when we were there earlier this month. We never waited in line for them, but did see Pluto was up there. I’m bummed your son didn’t get to meet him with all of his Pluto gear on! I have a vintage-looking Pluto t-shirt and whenever I’m wearing that and get to meet Pluto, he gets to excited! I’m sure he would have loved to see your son in his gear! Love the shoulder Pluto your wife made! That’s awesome. Pluto is one of my faves too.

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We went to Hee Fat but didn’t get Shave Ice. Someone urged us to seek out Ono Pops there, and they were out (I guess Ono Pops are out of business in Kauai?) so we had our goals set there. We ended up at Hoku down the street and got Shaka Pops. Should have gotten Hee Fat Shave Ice, but we were stuffed from lunch already. Next time we will, though! That should be December piggy-backed onto our Maui trip.


Next time! Goofy saw and loved the shoulder Goofy when we went to Epcot a few months ago. I love people noticing it and running up to us to ask where we got them. We first saw these a couple years ago and we came to realize that they didn’t make either of our favorites. Wife wanted a Goofy, so I sought out a perfectly sized stuffed toy, got some magnets, picked up some fabric, and got to work! After I made that, my son of course wanted Pluto after not having mentioned it before. So I had to do the same w/Pluto, and wow was it tough finding one perfectly sized that is rigid enough to sit up but not too large for an 8 year old! Goofy was like a 5min. online search and I got him from a vintage toddler book/toy combo item. Cut him off the front page and ta-dah! Pluto was a vintage Christmas ornament. No “actual” stuffed toys in this size and composition that we needed is apparently made. Kinda crazy, but I can find 100 of every other size and disposition in the world if I needed to :rofl:

I wish we’d seen some more popup M&Gs, but since we’ve done characters to death and we’re still newish to Disneyland, we were OK with it. I remember our 1st trip to WDW, we met so many characters I couldn’t even keep track. I think we hit 4 characterpaloozas on top of it all too, it was perfect for our then-5-year-old and our 1st visit. Nowadays it’s OK if we miss them, but we sure do try to work it into our hustle schedule.