Two boys cross to the other side — pre-planning advice

Paul is very into Halloween and he and I have talked about doing WDW and UOR next year. Meanwhile, @JuliaMc has been bugging me to visit the West Coast. In a moment of genius, I realised we could do Halloween at DLR and USH rather than in Orlando. I haven’t been to either in at least 25 years and I would love to go. Besides, word on the street is that the West Coast does Halloween better.

The very early stage plan is: Fly UK to Boston, because Paul wants to take a trip to Salem, MA. Then — here’s where your advice comes in — somehow travel from Boston to LA. Do all the things, then fly back direct to the UK.

Now, we could obviously fly from BOS to LAX. But we’re both open to a longer trip so that opens up other possibilities. Train from Boston to whichever random stop it ends up at on the West Coast. Drive from Boston to LA. Some combination, visiting Chicago or somewhere along the way.

What are your thoughts, suggestions, recommendations, warnings, …


If foliage is your thing there are lovely boutique towns in the western part of MA and gorgeous drives along the Mohawk trail. You could also hit Six Flags for Frightfest or whatever they call their Halloween stuff if you wanted to. Also, it wouldn’t work with any reasonable itinerary for Boston to LA, but Cape Cod is great in the fall and the National Seashore is lovely to tour with a stop overnight in Provincetown.

Amtrak from Boston to LA - change in Chicago -would be an awesome trip IF a person can put up with that mode of travel for at least 3 nights. (Unconfirmed info)

A coach ticket per person will need to be bought. Then if you’re flush, a sleeper. A sleeper price is per room, the smallest of which is a two person, referred to in our family as a knee knocker. Two facing seats make into upper and lower bunks, by car attendant (who gets a tip cuz a good one anticipates). The next level sleeper can accommodate 3, has a couch and a chair and an en suite bathroom. (For the knee knockers, toilets, sinks and showers are on the lower level.)

The en suite provides plenty of trip report fodder as the whole toilet room IS the shower.

Included in sleeper fare is meals and upper crust lounge/waiting rooms, generally with free luggage storage so that if there’s a several hour layover in Chicago one can walk a few blocks to the building previously known as the Sears Tower or they can get deep dish pizza.

Chicago Union Station is nicely confusing or used to be. Damn phone gps has changed that somewhat.

The most important thing about Amtrak is that type A persons should avoid it like the plague. All that lovely scenery as you cross the continent - perhaps musing on the amazing folk who took the same trip walking beside their oxen pulled wagons - might not overcome the annoyance of a slower and often off schedule form of travel.

If I had the time I’d definitely take Amtrak over flights. So far, touch wood, they don’t put hands on you before you enter the station or board the train.

But then I like reading on the train, which is defined as holding your book while gazing out the window, regularly waking up to “read” again.

eta: coach has access to only toilets and sinks.


Halloween at DL is awesome, especially if you like villains. DL beats WDW for Halloween decor and vibe.

If you want to book anything in New England in the fall, book as soon as possible. Everything sells out very early here because of leaf season. Try to find something refundable just to have something booked.

I avoid LAX and Boston. I fly into SNA or Long Beach from Providence. It’s an easy Uber to DL from either one. My flights from PVD connect in Chicago and then it’s direct from Chicago. Boston probably flies direct to Chicago too.

Speaking of Chicago, I always recommend a visit to Chicago. It’s an easy L ride from Midway Airport to downtown and I think O’Hare as well, just go during the day for safety as Chicago isn’t as safe as it used to be. Chicago restaurants are fabulous. I always recommend the river/lake architecture boat tour for great views of the city. It would be a little cool in fall though on the boat. I think Navy Pier is an overrated tourist trap but the Ferris wheel offers nice views. There is a ton to do in Chicago depending on what you are looking for. Historically, it’s nicely decorated for fall as well with planters of mums and fall plants all along Michigan Ave and State Street. Safest place to stay would be north Michigan Avenue area. I always stayed in River North as it’s a little cheaper but I’d want to check that right now. Avoid Chicago marathon weekend to keep airfare and hotel costs down.


Yes this, especially if you want to visit Salem. There are sooo many things to do in Salem, museums/houses/ tours, do them all. DC isn’t that far away and you could stop in NYC along the way. I’m sure there are trains, or rent a car.

Minneapolis is safer than Chicago :wink: and has a number of underrated museums and you can see live theater every day in the Twin Cities and never see the same show twice.

If you were going to drive, don’t forget to stop at Mount Rushmore at night and also Jeronimo, nearby.

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Sounds like an amazing trip! Look up some of the photos online about crowds in Salem as it gets closer to Halloween (insanity). If it’s possible to schedule this portion of the trip in September, you might be happier from that standpoint.

We are looking at the first two weeks in September. Plus maybe the last in August.


We love Amtrak. June 2021 WDW trip we took the train. Maybe 10 years ago we did Chicago-LA-Seattle to visit family. We booked roomettes (knee knockers) but 1 each or sleeper cabins no coach. It is a wonderful way to see the country. Feel free to ask any questions.

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A passenger holding a sleeper ticket does not travel in the coach cars, tho they will have bought a coach ticket in addition to the sleeper charge.

Are you saying you had two roomettes? No climbing to upper bunks? I’ve never slept in the upper bunk. Trying to recall the last time DH climbed to the upper bunk. I know he did in 2011 at 75. If he could avoid being dizzy, he’d be able to attain the upper bunk now. I think it was all that practice of 20 years and 4 submarines in the Navy. :smile:


You HAVE to have a full room, don’t even think about booking a roomette.

I nearly made that mistake in August but decided to have the full room for me and my kiddo when we took the auto train and it was worth EVERY PENNY. And then some.

So yeah.

Everything else, we shall chat when I get home.

Currently enjoying a sunny day in Scotland.


I think this is a great idea. Disneyland is wonderful and worth a visit.

As for visiting the U.S., my opinion is that the best man-made things to see are on the East Coast: Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington. The best natural wonders are in the West: Yosemite, Yellowstone, Zion, Grand Canyon, Rockies, Cascades, etc. You’d probably have to choose one or the other and then narrow it down within each category to 1-3 options.

Amtrak sounds fun, but it would get old real fast. Better to choose a small stretch of rail than to do the transcontinental experience. Just my opinion.


There’s like 5 bedrooms and (maybe) 20 roomettes per car on the double level western trains. Book early. :blush:

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Yes, 2 roomettes are usually cheaper than a full room. Plus there was no way either one of us were going to climb to the top bunk!

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Definitely book early!

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We’ve only done half the country at a time but really loved it. Dream trip is to go across all of Canada by train.

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You probably weren’t properly indoctrinated at an early age. It’s all good. There’s often not enough rolling stock to accommodate those who are looking forward to a land cruise. :smile:

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2 roomettes across from each other is pretty good. I consider a roomette a one person option lol. We would usually put all our luggage in one room during the day and sit with each other in the other one. Then at night put any needed luggage on the upper berth and each sleep in our own bottom berth. Only issue is if you are particularly tall it can be interesting to get comfortable.

Enjoy Scotland!

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This. You should totally do this. I mean, I wouldn’t but it would be waayyy entertaining for us.


:rofl: :rofl: :rofl:


This was my thought. I generally take natural wonders over man-made wonders, though, and I’m not sure that is @mousematt and/or Paul’s preference.

@mousematt I’m excited to hear you’re considering a DL visit! Do it!!!