On the way we decided to stop by the Hoover Dam. We had never taken the kids there. Apparently they are building a suspension bridge over the dam and that in it self was worth the drive. It was so cool to see the process. Apparently it takes a lot of work to build a bridge over the dam. The kids enjoyed seeing it (especially because I told them Megatron used to live there), but tours were $30 a person. So we skipped that. It was a quick little detour.
We got to Disneyland Monday morning. That day was insanely crowded and it was hot (I don't do hot and crowded). We stayed till about 4:30 and went to dinner and to bed earlyish. We stayed until Friday morning, spending Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thurday in the park. The rest of the time was more crowded then I'm used to, but it was managable.
We always do Disney on a budget and people are always asking me how. So instead of giving you a play by play of what we did, I will tell you how we do Disney on a budget.
First of all we drive. It is a 10 hour drive from here, long but managable. We have a place to stay in St. George so we stop there to break up the trip. Why drive? It is cheaper, plus you don't have to rent a car, you are also not limited on how much more you can bring with you.
Next since we go so often we bought season passes. If you plan on going at least 2 times a year, the season pass is worth it.
Hotel: We have gone way ghetto as far as this goes. We stay at a Ramada Limited that gets you 2 rooms and free breakfast for about $60 a night. It is obviously nothing fancy but the sheets are clean and there are no bugs. The downer of this place is that it is a long walk to the park, we did try it one day and it took us 20 minutes to get there, which in the morning was fine, but after walking through the parks all day the walk home seemed to take forever. There is a shuttle that you can take for about $10 a day. If you want to stay a place a little nicer, we have stayed at the Howard Johnson, it is right across the street, so definetly walkable. For about $100 a night you get a large room with 2 queen beds and a fridge. It also has a fun pool area for the kids.
Food: Our hotel has breakfast, so that is free. We pack a lunch (Lunchables, Uncrustables, Chips, Apples, Cheese, Drinks and snacks). Bring your own bottle water, sodas, etc. They cost a fortune in the park. As long as they are plastic bottles, they do not mind you bringing them in the park. When the weather is hot we will buy ice cream in the park, it is pricey, but when it is hot it sure is nice. For dinner we will eat at fast food in the park or leave the park and eat at a sit down place somewhere close by. If you are not eating in the park, you are not missing out on much, the food is not that great.
Characters: There are some pricey character meals that you can go to to meet some of the characters, we've done then, but to me they are not worth it. There are other ways to meet characters. One day we were at California Adventure and while Kevin, Tanner and Isaac were riding Tower of Terror, Noah and I saw Mickey, Minnie, Captain Hook, Mr. Incredible, Goofy, Queen of Hearts, Pluto, and some wolf (that was all within 30 minutes). It is not always that way but charaters are around in Toon Town, Main Street (when the park opens) and Sunshine Plaza and Hollywood Backlot area.
What to do when the park is busy? Use FastPass. You do not need to return in the hour time frame they give you, they don't care. We get to the park first thing in the morning. We get a FastPass right away and then as soon as we are able, we get another, etc. We do not use them in the morning when it is not busy, we wait till the afternoon and evening when the lines get long. Ride Peter Pan, Dumbo and the Matterhorn first thing in the morn. Those lines get long and do not have FastPass and trust me it is not worth it to wait 30 minutes for Dumbo. If it is a real busy day, typically California Adventure is not as busy.
Parades: Disneyland and California Adventure both have a parade that runs everyday. Disneylands parade is insanely crowded and it is hard to find a spot to watch at the last minute. It is a fun little parade and the kids love it, but California Adventures parades are not nearly as crowded and are just as fun. The DL parade features more of the classic disney characters and the CA parade is more of the Pixar characters.