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LA/Anaheim without a car-insane or merely inconvenient?


Feb 2nd, 2012, 06:03 AM
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LA/Anaheim without a car-insane or merely inconvenient?

This may be theoretical, since I will quite likely decide that Orlando is cheaper and easier, but I am thinking about taking my son to California/Disneyland for his birthday. I'm figuring that airport transfers aren't rocket science, and there seem to plenty of fairly reasonable hotels in walking distance of Disney. We could even stay at Knott's Berry Farm, since it has it's own hotel and a free shuttle to Disney. It also looks like I can book a day tour or two so we can see something that is not Disney.

I am trying to keep costs down, and not plunk down large sums of cash for cabs, etc. and I am kind of thinking it would be nice if we were not completely confined to a small square of Anaheim. I'd really like to spend a night at the Queen Mary, but I'm not sure how we'd arrange to get there.

The only major bucket list item that needs to be accomplished other than Disneyland is to see the Pacific, and hopefully dip our toes in it, but I'm thinking that the right day tour might take care of that, as well as some other general tourist stuff. My real concern is whether it is possible to get into a public transportation system and explore the area/city, or whether the coverage is so patchy that it's really not feasible.
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Feb 2nd, 2012, 06:25 AM
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The Los Angeles area has been accurately described as 100 suburbs without a city. Most other American cities, worthy of a major visit, have a central core to which tourists can take mass transit and around which they can easily walk to major attractions. LA isn't one of those -- you either pick ONE attraction to be close to (Disneyland, for example) and expend a lot of time and effort to get to others, or you rent a car.

I wouldn't go so far as to say "insane," as it's clear you are aware of the difficulties you'll be facing in seeing something other than two amusement parks. But you are going to face a great deal of inconvenience.
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Feb 2nd, 2012, 06:41 AM
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Oops! Usually I follow these warnings with some URLs that will help. I was too much in a hurry this time. So here they are:

A pdf with all Orange County Bus Lines:
It looks like you can ride the #47 bus from near Disneyland down to the ocean, and the #430 to the Anaheim Metrolink Station.

Schedule for Orange County Metrolink to Union Station L.A.:
Note that there is NO service between 9:11am and 4pm!

pdf for Los Angeles rail lines:
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Feb 2nd, 2012, 08:11 AM
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If you are just mainly doing Disney and the beach -- you won't need a car at all. But if you are staying more than 4 days (2 or 3 for Disney, 1 for Knotts, 1 for the beach) then you'd want a car. If you are going to other parts of the LA basinfrom a base in Anaheim, like to Santa Monica, the Getty, Universal, etc., you'd really want a car.

I almost always rent cars, but my 2 of my last 3 trips to Anaheim I didn't use one. There is a decent bus system in Anaheim/Orange County
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Feb 2nd, 2012, 09:04 AM
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Is there a reason you can't rent a car?

This would be far easier if you did.
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Feb 2nd, 2012, 09:35 AM
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If your main goal is Disney, Disney World is much bigger and better than Disneyland. Disneyland is in the middle of all of the LA sprawl. If you don't rent a car, you're not going to see much more than Disneyland and big city sprawl. If you rent a car, you can do/see a whole lot more. Without a car, you're not going to have much of a "California" experience.
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Feb 2nd, 2012, 07:51 PM
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I really can't rent a car, since I can't drive, and don't have a driver's license. My son will be 17 when we take the trip, so even if he had a driver's license, which he doesn't yet and isn't likely to by then, he couldn't drive a rental car. We have kind of been waiting to go to California until my husband can go to, since he does drive, but it hasn't really worked out as a family trip, and he doesn't share our overwhelming obsession with things Disney.

I am a little concerned that it's a lot of effort for a kind of difficult trip, but we like the idea of going to California instead of Orlando, which would be a bit cheaper, and I'm sure I can manage reasonably.
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Feb 2nd, 2012, 08:47 PM
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Have you been to WDW in Orlando? If you love all things Disney, that will, IMO, be not only more convenient and cheaper, as you indicate, but also more satisfying since everything there is Disney. Whatever you decide, I hope you have a nice trip.
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Feb 3rd, 2012, 06:16 AM
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Not sure about Disney, but la is totally do-able without a car. I agree la is vast indeed, so sometimes it might require you to make more than a transit to get to your destination, but not impossible.
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Feb 3rd, 2012, 06:17 AM
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We have been to WDW, and may end up there again for this trip, but we had been really curious to see Disneyland, since it really the "house that Walt built" in a way that Disneyworld is not, and of course they don't have California Adventure in Orlando. Plus it's somewhere we haven't been before.

By the way, thank you PaulRabe for the links. Those were really helpful.
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Feb 3rd, 2012, 10:15 AM
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Disneyland *is* a different experience than WDW, altho the California Adventure was not so great, IMO, but I totally get wanting to see the "original" place.

The first time we went to Disneyland, as opposed to WDW, was in 1986 and it has changed since then, but at that time, we liked the Magic Kingdom there more than FL. Somehow it felt like it was built on a more human scale, whereas FL was more larger than life.....

However, over the years, there seems to have been an attempt to make CA more like FL in whatever ways that they can, given the space limitations. They have managed to buy up and tear down parts of Anaheim and have built an on-property hotel, The Grand Californian (beautiful!!) and a sort of Downtown Disney, so there is more overlap today, IMO, between the properties than there was way back when.
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Feb 3rd, 2012, 10:21 AM
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We're mulling it over a bit. I've been looking at day tours, and it's clear that I can get tour operators to take me a LOT of places (although I have more options from LA per se than from Anaheim), but that kind of thing gets expensive fast. And I have heard that there are fewer differences than there used to be.
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Feb 3rd, 2012, 12:13 PM
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Was just going to suggest bus tours.... If you stay in Anaheim right close to Disney, there are several that will take you from the hotel to various parts of the larger area. Those hotels often cater to exactly your situation - people who don't or can't drive around but want to sightsee. (Don't know if you can get a tour to take you to the Queen Mary, which is a ways south, but it's worth it. And it's IN the Pacific.)

My preference between WDW and Disneyland would always be WDW if Disney is your only objective; but if I'd never seen the Pacific and the southern part of the West Coast, I'd stay near Disleynand and take tours from there.
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Feb 3rd, 2012, 10:28 PM
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Disneyland has its own shuttle bus service from/to LAX. $32 r/t pp.


After your time at Disneyland, take the Disney bus back to LAX and then take a cab (about $15) to the Sea View Inn in Manhattan Beach.


The Sea View is just a couple blocks from the ocean and has bicycles to borrow. There are restaurants nearby or you could walk or cycle about one mile to the 'downtown' area of Manhattan Beach. If you're up for it, you could cycle on the bike path south to Hermosa and Redondo Beach towns (about 5 flat miles each way) or north to the Santa Monica Pier (about 12 flat miles each way). If cycling isn't your thing, the local bus service ($1 per ride pp) runs on the street of the hotel. You could even take this bus to the Aviation St. light rail station where you can catch the free shuttle to LAX. If any of this appeals to you, I can provide some links for more info.
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Jul 6th, 2012, 07:05 PM
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Hi persimmondeb, I don't know if you've seen this:


I'm not sure I can make this but I'd love to see you again if I do.

(sorry about the thread hyjack)
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Jul 6th, 2012, 09:32 PM
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I much prefer a visit to LA over Orlando. Jean gives a really good plan.
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Jul 6th, 2012, 11:09 PM
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There are lots of tours based from Anaheim, I think All Anaheim Tours is the major company. There are city buses to get around and a bus that just loops around hotels and shopping as well. Anaheim is LOADED with tourists and very tourist-friendly and you would have no problems. The beach is the only thing I can think of that might be difficult, but the train (Amtrak or Metrolink) can get you down to Long Beach (and the Aquarium of the Pacific) or I think down to San Clemente if you wanted to spend a night or two beachside. Also , Manhattan Beach is just south of LAX airport, so you could actually start or end your vacation there.

If you fly into Los Angeles airport there is AirportBus.com to Disney, or you can also fly into SNA airport which is closer to Anaheim.
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Oct 3rd, 2012, 07:36 AM
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Sorry Birdie, I haven't been on in weeks due to gruesome computer issues. I wish I'd known about it, but we have plans to drive to Ohio that day. BTW, we went to Orlando, after all of that.
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Oct 8th, 2012, 05:56 AM
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Deb - glad your on had a good birthday trip
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Oct 9th, 2012, 05:42 AM
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persimmon deb,
I would not bother with Knott's Berry Farm. It really isn't worth going. If you are just going to experience Disneyland I would go to Disney World where the whole trip will be cheaper for you.

If you are coming to L.A. I would do more than just Disneyland. And you'd need a car for sure.
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