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Disneyland, SanDiego/SeaWorld with Small Children

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Aug 5th, 2003, 01:47 PM
  #1
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Disneyland, SanDiego/SeaWorld with Small Children

I've read the previous postings re: San Diego / LA Hotels, but my situation is somewhat different.

My wife and I have about three and a half days in October in Southern California for a mini-family vacation. Our five year old son wants to see Sea World and we think he will enjoy Disneyland. We will also be travelling with our 18 month old daughter and we want to keep things realistic and convenient given her her schedule (i.e., a hotel near the parks for nap time would be nice). With all of that in mind, could anyone give any recommendations for the following questions:

Are the Disney hotels worth it? It looks like you can stay next door for one third the price. The character breakfasts look fun, but do you need to stay at a hotel to do that?

Is one and a half days at Disneyland enough?

If we tried to take in a third day at the San Diego Zoo in addition to Disneyland and Sea World would that be too much time in amusement parks? Would we be better off taking a day to explore the beaches or some other attractions?

Anyone done the meals with Shamu or any of the extras at Sea World? Are they worth the $$$

Finally, any recommendations about where to stay with small kids in San Diego (preferably near Sea World).

Thanks a bunch, AndyO
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Aug 5th, 2003, 02:01 PM
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When our kids were that small we stayed at both the Disneyland Hotel and in a nearby place. Found that it really didn't matter. Eating with the characters is open to aal. DH and daughter ate in the park with the characters at the Plaza at the end of Main Street near Tomorrowland.

Also when they got a little tired we slipped into Tinkerbell's shop in Fantasyland near the castle where the princesses rotated reading stories to the children. Belle was accompanied by a side kick when I saw it.

They are pretty little so 1 1/2 days should be just about right. It won't be too hot in Oct. Have fun!
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Aug 5th, 2003, 02:10 PM
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The San Diego Zoo is most assuredly NOT an "amusement park" per se-- it's a world-class zoo. There's a tram, there's a gondola ride, but the thrill is seeing the animals. If you're already doing Sea World AND Disneyland, it might be overkill. It will also be a lot of walking, and with a toddler it might be best left for when the kids are older. But it is SO worth a visit.

Given the theme-park focus of the trip, you might appreciate having a "day off" on the sand in San Diego. That's what I'd do.
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Aug 5th, 2003, 02:48 PM
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Personally, I think you are trying to cram too much in a very short period. For a 3 1/2 day trip, I would skip D-land entirely - for now. The 5 year old might get some fun out of it, but your daughter will probably sleep through the whole thing. Plus, most of the rides are geared towards children a little older than your son.

I would stay completely in the San Diego area. The Zoo, while terrific, might be a bit much with the kids unless you are willing to push them all over the zoo in strollers. (And San Diego Zoo is built on hills)

I would do Sea World, definetely. A lot there to keep the 5 year old interested, and if the baby sleeps it's no big deal. You might want to consider going to Legoland on another day. It's half the distance to D-land and more geared towards younger children. (Though I've heard older kids like it, too)

October can be hit or miss with the weather, but it's usually still warm in So Cal. Putting in a day at the beach can be a good break in between SeaWorld and Legoland.

I really would leave D-land until the kids are a little older and they can handle longer car rides. Most things to see/do are a bit of a distance from D-land. That's something the little ones sometimes have difficulty with.

Enjoy!
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Aug 5th, 2003, 10:48 PM
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I have two little children. We've been to DisneyWorld and Disneyland three times while they've been small. They never tire of those places. They LOVE it, and their favorite thing is to see the characters. I would not miss going to Disneyland.

We went to the Shamu lunch, and we loved it. It was worth it to us. You can get really good pictures with the giant whales in the background, and the food is good. Ask for and reserve a table by the pool.
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Aug 6th, 2003, 06:50 AM
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Thanks to all for the feedback. It is all helpful. I appreciate the different perspectives. Didn't mean to lump the zoo in the "amusement park" category -- they are really special places where scientific work goes on.

One more question: How about the coastal towns between LA and San Diego? I've read that Huntington Beach is nice?
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Aug 6th, 2003, 07:40 AM
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definitly skip the zoo. you are trying to cram too much in and your kids will just be tired and crabby. i agree with the above poster that i'd just stick to san diego for this trip. plenty of great things there to do & see. sea world is great. check out the "bahia", "catameran", "pacific terrace", "best western, blue sea lodge" or "hilton mission bay resort". all of these are a short distance from sea world. if too pricey, check out hotels on "hotel circle". they are close too, cheaper but no atmosphere". the weather for the beach & pool is usually still great in october.
if you do disneyland, do one day there, take a day to drive down to san diego enjoying the coast and then the afternoon/evening at the beach. then the third day do sea world and leave your other 1/2 day open to do what you please; more time at the beach, check out the tide pools in la jolla or at cabrillo monument, just stay at the hotel and play at the pool, check out the sea lions at the "children's pool" in la jolla...
most of my guests said that their one regret was that they had planned too much "stuff" and what the kids preferred to do was hang out at the beach. have fun.
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Aug 6th, 2003, 07:57 AM
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AndyO: as for where to stay with small kids in San Diego near Sea World...my suggestion, since i did this in April would be the Hyatt Islandia. so close to Sea World you could actually walk to it (not that you would or should!). my son is 10 and my nephews are 2 and 4 and the Islandia worked out perfectly for all three of them and the adults as well. we spent 3 full days in San Diego. day one was the zoo, day two was Sea World and day three was Coronado.
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Aug 6th, 2003, 10:19 AM
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Try my recipe for success in traveling with little kids: alternate/alternate! Three straight days of driving to amusement parks/zoos, waiting in lines and lots of walking is too much for the little ones. Have a day of it, then take a day off (with beach or pool, a little strolling, shopping and maybe a non-fast food dinner for parents.)

My boys loved Sea World at that age. Either Disney or the zoo or Legoland is fine for the other "big" day; check out prices, discount cards and driving times before deciding; you may also want to leave the third day's activity unplanned and see how everyone feels. Also consider that moving a family kills half a day, minimum. If it were me, I'd stay in the San Diego area and drive as little as possible. Your goal is to have things go as smoothly as possible, and that doesn't happen when kids or parents are overtired.
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Aug 6th, 2003, 01:59 PM
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If your son knows he wants to go to sea world than you probably should do that. He will be happiest where he thinks he will be happy. My husband and I didn't really like sea world but my 4 year old 3 months later still talks about shamu. I find it more relaxing to not keep changing hotels, so I think you should stay in SD. The zoo is lovely. We had a relaxing non-park or zoo day in which we went to La Jolla for breakfast, then took a harbor cruise, and finished with dinner in old-town.
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Aug 7th, 2003, 09:10 AM
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topping for kgn
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Aug 7th, 2003, 09:58 AM
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Andy - have you considered Legoland? That's a great place for young kids. You could use San Diego for a base - spend a day at Sea World, a day at Legoland (less than an hours drive north), and then the zoo or a beach. You would save a lot of driving time between Sea World and Disneyland. I agree with Chele that you should wait on Disney until your kids are a bit older to appreciate and remember it. La Jolla makes a great stop for a walk and putting your feet in the water. We did a family trip to San Diego in April and we all had a fun time. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Bayside. It was about 15 mins. from SeaWorld, very reasonable, had a nice pool. It wasn't my first, or even my second choice, but we were happy with its location and our stay there. Karen
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Aug 7th, 2003, 10:58 AM
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Okay, people will hate me for this but I have to say, there are no giant 'whales' at SeaWorld. Orca's are dolphins, not whales, and just like the other captive dolphins they have there, I'm sure they would rather you go have lunch or dinner elsewhere.

I LOVED Disneyland when I was a child, not that anyone cares now that I've opened my mouth about the poor dying dolhins.
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Aug 7th, 2003, 11:29 AM
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Be sure tjo find out about the special programs Disneyland has for parents with small children. They have a feature where one parent can do the ride with the child and then when they come out, the other parent can go with the second child.

Use the fastpass system where you are able to bypass the long lines for some of the more popular rides - our family probably cut 3 hours of waiting in line on our visit last week
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Sep 9th, 2003, 08:23 AM
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Thanks for all of the excellent advice. Current plan is to spend a day and a half at disneyland, take another day driving down to san diego, stopping at tide pools at La Jolla, the coronado beach, Legoland or whatever interests us and then the last day at SeaWorld. We plan to stay at suite hotels so someone can stay in the hotel and read while our toddler sleeps in the back bedroom. Thanks again, I'll report back on how everything turned out,
Andy
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Sep 10th, 2003, 12:50 PM
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Yes, I agree to most of the replies. You'll have to walk a lot if you want to see all the animals in the San Diego Zoo, and remember there're uphills walking and staircase too. For the Disneyland, you son will still be very enjoying althought he can't try some of the exciting rides. But your kids can spend most of the time in Fantasyland and Toonstown. Even your little kid will be happy to play around in Mickey and Minnie's house and take the little train ride. The Seaworld is definitely a place you shouldn't miss!
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Sep 10th, 2003, 01:40 PM
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I have been a passholder at Disneyland for about 10 years. I have stayed on and off the property numerous times. I do think that the properties are worth it to a certain extent but at other times no. Hard to explain. But the candy cane suites is just outside the door of the park, has very nice rooms and a free breakfast. It is an EASY stroll into the park whereas boarding the monorail or those stinky trams can be a PITB some days. I do highly reccomend Goofys Kitchen for character dining to get a feel for the hotels if you don't choose to stay there.

Also with your child being the age he is I think I will have to put in a strong plug for lego land over the zoo. I am sure you have a zoo at home though maybe not as nice as ours I am sure it is adequate. Legoland is pretty great with a child that age and is mellow in comparison to Disney. There is a lot of think and do rides that are somewhat interactive and make the kids think.

JMHO but that is what I would do. Seaworld? I dont know if a child that young would care to sit through the shows? You do know your child best and perhaps he is enamoured with Shamu? LOL!! My son when he was little would be happy just to drive to the train tracks and watch trains pass every half hour!!! So who knows!

Have a great time!
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Sep 10th, 2003, 05:22 PM
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We recently stayed at the Disney Grand Californian Hotel (which we loved) at Disneyland and there were tons of families with children there and they all seemed to be having a great time. It seemed that most were age 5 or younger (could have been that school had already started). I say go for it!!
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May 4th, 2005, 10:10 PM
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ttt
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May 5th, 2005, 08:56 AM
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scatterfly, do you have a particular question?
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