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Desperately need advice on disney/ Hollywood trip

Desperately need advice on disney/ Hollywood trip

Old Feb 18th, 2005, 09:28 AM
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Desperately need advice on disney/ Hollywood trip

I am going to take my 11 yo daughter to Disneyland, Universal studio and Hollywood. This is our first trip to California and I do not know the area and available transportation. I hate even to think about driving a car there. We are leaving on March 21 and first 4 days will be staying at Coast Anaheim Hotel which is close to Disneyland. The rest of the time we would like to be able to see Hollywood and maybe downtown LA. I need an advice on how to plan the trip to do it in 9 days and how to get from coast Anaheim hotel to Hollywood or maybe first downtown LA and what hotel to stay. Do we need to change hotels or take buses/subway back and forth?
Another important question is the safety. How safe it is there for a woman and a child? What places to avoid? And almost forgot, we are leaving from Orange county airport . What is the best way to get there?

I know it's a lot of questions but i am all stressed out and won't make it w/t your help.
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Old Feb 18th, 2005, 09:41 AM
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Here is my opinion: Hollywood and Downtown LA would not be my choices for a first-time trip to CA with a young girl. After Disneyland you may want to consider going south to San Diego instead. Hollywood and downtown LA are downright seedy (I was in both places last week.) San Diego seems cleaner, safer, more tourist oriented (zoo, Balboa Park, Sea WOrld, beach communities; downtown San Diego is a million times nicer than downtown LA.

If you do want to go to LA then I would recommend staying near Universal Studios and visiting there. Maybe also visiting the Promenade in Santa Monica or The Grove for shopping
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Old Feb 18th, 2005, 10:02 AM
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First of all, it's sounding like you really haven't done any real research on this trip. There is considerable distance between the three points of interest you have described (although Hollywood is convenient to Universal Studios), without viable public transportation options. That is to say: It would be much, much, much easier to do this by renting a car. It is NOT difficult to drive in southern California, in that the roads are clearly marked and mostly in grid formation. The traffic is quite bad a lot of the time, sure. But have you ever driven in Boston? Or Florida (where the problem is horrible drivers)?

If you refuse to rent a car, you will need to arrange package tours. Or research mass transit. To clear up a huge misconception: Anaheim is NOT in Los Angeles city or county. It is in Orange County. Universal Studios is about 35 miles from Anaheim. It is a day trip. Hollywood is 32 miles away. It is a shorter day trip (lots of fun things to see, but it IS seedy).

From Anaheim, you can do little day trips to MUCH nicer areas of southern California, like Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, etc. I'm not a fan of Anaheim-- other than as a mailing address for all things Disney, it really doesn't exist for me except as Suburbia.

The typical big city concerns exist everywhere in southern CA. Anaheim isn't unsafe per se, but you should keep to well-lit main streets after dark. It is a very middle-class city outside the Disney area. Hollywood? Stick to the main streets, absolutely.

Any hotel will arrange shuttle service to area airports. Orange County (SNA) is the closest to Disneyland, so they have regular, popular service. Hotels may even have regularly scheduled vans. If you choose to move hotels (to stay up in Universal City), shuttle service is available, just more expensive.

I really recommend you spend some time going over the Los Angeles and Disneyland information in this website. Without a better appreciation of the vastness of this geographic area, I think you're setting yourself up for an unpleasant holiday.
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Old Feb 18th, 2005, 10:10 AM
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If you do not want to rent a car during your trip, probably your best bet is to sign up for a tour to Universal Studios. There are several bus tours available from the Disneyland area. I agree that downtown LA is not really a must-see. You might want to try a city tour that would stop at several locations. Knott's Berry Farm is another place you may want to visit. I agree with the previous poster that a side trip to San Diego would be very worthwhile. You might want to go to San Diego for 3 days and visit Sea World and the San Diego Zoo (or spend a day at the beach). If you don't want to change hotels, daily bus tours are also available from Disney to San Diego.
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Old Feb 18th, 2005, 11:21 AM
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My husband and I were in LA area in Dec. We rented a car. Husband found the freeway driving very stressful. After a couple of days we quit using the freeway, which I thought was ok. It is very crowded, but moves along and everyone is fairly curteou...signaled to change lanes,etc. We ended up using city streets and had no trouble. As rjw pointed out, the street layout is fairly straight forward. We did take one of those all day city tours so we could see alot and wouldn't have to worry about map reading, parking, etc. Two of the people in our group only went as far as Universal with us. They stayed at Universal and were meeting up with another tour later for the ride back. There are also tours that take you directly to the park. I might suggest if you want to consider changing hotels that Santa Monica would be a good location. SM is right by the beach and there is alot to do. If you have a car you can easily drive to Beverly Hills, Malibu, etc. On foot you can walk to the beach, pier (has a ferris wheel, roller coaster), the 3rd street promenade (lots of shops, restaurants, street preformers, etc). It is a very pleasant area. I agree with other posters in that you can arrange a shuttle to get you back and forth from the airport. Take a good look at a map of LA. You will realize that most of what you would want to see is right along the coast and up in the NW quadrant. You really wouldn't be driving all over the place should you rent, but it's a driving town. If your comfort level is such that driving yourself is too much, you can see thing with public transport/tours/shuttles. And I'll add that if you relocated to Santa Monica, the Big Blue Bus is an option also.
I know I'm reading between the lines here, but I think you are concerned with protecting your 11 yo and not getting yourself into an iffy situation. The posters on this site will give you good advice. Decide exactly what you want out of this trip and we'll help!
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Old Feb 18th, 2005, 11:51 AM
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What day of the week and what time of day do you need to be back at Orange County airport?
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Old Feb 18th, 2005, 12:03 PM
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I think I would book another night in Anaheim, and take the bus tour to Universal one day. Round trip with no driving to worry about. On the weekend I would rent a car to head down to the San Diego Wild Animal Park, or Sea World, or San Diego Zoo. Knotts Berry Farm would also appeal to an 11 year old. You could book a rental car with drop-off at airport.

Here is some info on bus to Universal, but call to see if it's still valid:

" Universal Studios Hollywood has launched The Universal Studios Express to provide free round-trip luxury shuttle service from Anaheim to Universal City beginning Thursday, February 1.

Transportation will be provided on one of AirportBus' deluxe 50-passenger buses to each guest who purchases a full-price ticket to Universal Studios Hollywood from AirportBus. The buses, to be colorfully decorated with Universal Studios-themed images and icons, will feature video monitors displaying highlights of Southern California attractions, including current and archival material from the world's largest movie studio and theme park, Universal Studios Hollywood.

Tickets may be purchased in Anaheim at the Airport Bus Terminal conveniently located near Disneyland at 1415 Manchester Avenue.

The Universal Studios Express Bus to Universal Studios Hollywood will pick up guests from various Anaheim-area hotels several times per day and transport them to the Airport Bus Terminal, where they will board a Universal Studios Hollywood-bound bus for the 45-minute trip.

The buses will depart from Anaheim three times a day, with departure times tentatively scheduled at 7:30 a.m., 9:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Return trips from Universal Studios are tentatively scheduled at 4:30 p.m., 6:30 p.m., 8:30 p.m. with extended hours during peak season. For further information guests may call 1-800-Universal.

Admission to Universal Studios, including round-trip transportation is $43 for ages 12 and older; $32 for ages 3 to 11; children under 3 are free."

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Old Feb 18th, 2005, 12:04 PM
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P.S. Weekend traffic is often quite a bit less hectic than weekdays...that is why I recommended your car rental for the weekend days.
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Old Feb 18th, 2005, 12:17 PM
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The fact that you're "stressed out" just about the planning of this adventure should maybe tell me something. Regardless, I'll buck the tide.

We (I, wife, 13 and 8 year-olds) did this trip a few years ago. You will need a car, and as rjw notes, driving around Los Angeles isn't that difficult (but I'm reminded of your already stressed condition). After our time in Disneyland, we stayed at the Best Western Hollywood Hills:

http://bestwestern.worldexecutive.co...els/05204.html.

This place is just a couple blocks from the Walk of Fame, has easy access to the freeway for the 5-minute drive to Universal, and is a short drive away from Beverley Hills and the beach(es), which would probably also interest your daughter. While it's true that Hollywood is a bit seedy, resulting in we non-city folks feeling a little uncomfortable at times, I don't recall that we ever felt threatened.
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Old Feb 18th, 2005, 02:10 PM
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wow, so many good suggestions and ideas to think over. One thing I know for sure- there is no way you can convince me to get behind the wheel there. I am from a small, quiet , isolated 30.000 population place with one highway . I just won't survive on California roads. I guess the solution, like some of you suggested, is to take a bus tour to universal studio and get a hotel there and walk, walk and walk
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Old Feb 18th, 2005, 04:09 PM
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If you want to stay at a hotel near Universal, you don't have to take a bus tour to get there...you can take Amtrak train up from Anaheim to Union Station, where you will switch to the red-line subway up to Universal. You would need to travel light...luggage on wheels etc.

Also, from Universal you can take a short, safe subway ride down to Hollywood where you can look around the walk of fame and Hollywood/Highland mall. Warner brothers studio is also a short bus ride from Universal, they have a tour, I think it is about $35.

There is a Holiday Inn Express near Universal, and a Days Inn not too far away. Right at Universal is a Sheraton and a Hilton but they are usually booked up or $$$.
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Old Feb 18th, 2005, 07:48 PM
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"Hey! It's a great idea to drag your suitcases around LA and walking everywhere combined with public transportation is a great way to see the sights!" Not. Please take the good advice you are being given to rent a car or to rethink this trip.
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Old Feb 18th, 2005, 08:03 PM
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I would second the tought to spend part of your trip in San Diego, just from the point of view of an 11 yo girl (I have 3 teeage girls). There's a lot geared towards kids her age - especially Sea World and the Zoo, and she may even still like Legoland, which I felt was geared mostly to the under 12 set. The driving may be an issue though. Since you're nervous, look into the tour idea, that way you can relax and enjoy yourself.
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Old Feb 18th, 2005, 09:21 PM
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If you are not comfortable driving in the LA Area then don't do it. We have had several friends come into town and stay in the Disneyland Area and they have gotten to lots of attractions without a car. Most of the larger hotels do have tours you can take and that will leave the driving to them. I live in Orange County and drive all over S. CA and do the freeways but still hate them. Best to not be worried about it. Have a fun trip.!!
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Old Feb 18th, 2005, 09:44 PM
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You should check into the possibility of changing your return tickets to Burbank airport. MUCH easier than finding your way back to Orange County airport from Hollywood without a car.
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Old Feb 18th, 2005, 10:12 PM
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I live in southern california. Driving anywhere in or through L.A. is NOT a vacation, it's a punishment!

Here's what would be much more fun and enjoyable with your daughter. If you can't change airports, then find transportaton to Anaheim, but don't drive.

Enjoy disneyland and the Disney's California ADventures Park, which is right next to Disneyland. Also there are the shops and restaurants in "downtown Disney", the mall area between disneyland and Disney's california adventures.

You need to learn how to use the free fastpasses at both Disneyland and California adventures, because they save hours of time waiting in line. If you want me to explain how to use them write to me at [email protected], and put "disneyland" in the subject line because I pre-view all mail by subject line before I decide to open it. Otherwise you can ask disney employees to exlain it to you.

I'm not sure exactly where the Coast hotel Anaheim hotel is. The best hotel location is either Disney's Grand California hotel, or the hotels directly across from the pedestrian walkway into Disneyland. Also the Candy Cane Inn is good because it's the ONLY hotel near disneyland which has its very own exclusive free shuttle, not shared with any other hotel, and they don't charge for it. It's very convenient. You can also walk to disneyland from candy cane inn.

Have fun! Universal studios is fun too, and there are fun restaurants and shops right outside of it. But again I wouldn't drive. We live in San diego and still regard any drive into Los Angeles or through Los Angeles as an adventure into hell to be avoided if at all possible!

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Old Feb 20th, 2005, 06:16 PM
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I would like to thank you all for your input. After reading your responses I came to understanding of two things. First,you need a car in LA area, second, the distances b/n attractions are huge.Since the airline refuses to change Orange County airport to Burbank on the way back I am giving second thoughts to the idea of going to San Diego instead of Hollywood.Like some of you pointed out San Diego may be more interesting for my daughter.Does any of you know how is it possible to get from Anaheim/ Disneyland hotels area to San Diego without having to drive? Any advice will be greatly appreciated.
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Old Feb 20th, 2005, 06:40 PM
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How about Amtrak? There are stations in Anaheim and San Diego.
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Old Feb 20th, 2005, 11:03 PM
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You might just want to make Anaheim your base for the whole trip if you have a good hotel rate there. They can arrange for the round-trip tour bus up to Universal Studios for you, and there is probably a round-trip tour to Sea World or San Diego Zoo. You might even want to rent a car on Sat & Sun when the traffic is down, or you might even meet a friendly family at your hotel who let you tag along with them as they venture out.
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Old Feb 21st, 2005, 07:16 AM
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I drive in San Diego all the time. I do not drive in LA. Could not drive in LA. It is aweful. And, IMO, not worth it. I also would not stay in Anaheim the whole time. It isn't the most beautiful city in So Cal, if you know what I mean.

It would be easy to drive from Anaheim down to San Diego, depending on the time that you choose. Don't leave at 5 pm to go down the 405.

San Diego is a beautiful, often relaxing town. It is a big city with a small town feel. Lots to do, especially for an 11 year old. You could get a reasonable room off of Priceline. Or just find a mid point area like Mission Valley or Old Town to explore from. Or even stay at the beach, except that you could be running into spring break prices. The beach might cost too much.

It would be relaxing for you. Spend a day or two at the zoo and Balboa Park exploring the museums, and the Imax Theater at the Ruben E Fleet Science Museum.

There is nice shopping in San Diego, great restaurants, nice beaches to visit, parks and other beautiful areas. Expcept for avoiding certain traffic times, getting around San Diego isn't that difficult.

I really think you would enjoy this route much more than the hectic craziness of LA area. Very stressful, and nerveracking. San Diego would be a much more enjoyable place for a "vacation" for you and your daughter, IMO.
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