Monday, February 17, 2014

Disneyland and Legoland Vacation for the Family on a Budget

We just came back from a 5-day vacation in California because of an early Catholic school spring break for the kids. If you are looking for memorable family outings without breaking the bank, then our past week's experience might help you out. For scheduling, you should fly and rest the first night, spend a day in Legoland the second day, Disneyland the third day, shop at outlets on the fourth day, and then fly back on the fifth day. We were thinking of squeezing in a San Diego Zoo visit on the fourth day but that is a 2 hours drive south of Anaheim and we didn't think the kids would enjoy an early start and a late return to the hotel. Do what works for you, but here is some insight into what worked for us:

Book a flight+hotel+car package 
Flying from British Columbia may be more expensive so look to fly from Bellingham or Seattle in the US. And go with package deals that include flight+ hotel +car. The other reason it is cheaper is that the destination airport is in LAX  which is only 30 minutes from Anaheim. I use Priceline and Expedia because the search results are quick, I like the user interfaces, and am able to compare pricing between each brokers easily. Just remember that you have to pay $25 per checked-in baggage (this does not include overweight baggages like booster seats or strollers) so try and pack light.
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SeaTac Super 8 - ParkSleepFly in Seattle
Flying from SeaTac airport has many advantages, the most important being cheaper fares but also equally important is the fact that it includes the many competing park-sleep-fly hotels offering cheap and secure parking close to the airport. International Blvd has plenty of these hotel and they provide pick-up service as well when you return from your vacation. 
(3100 S 192nd St, Seattle, WA 98188, United States |‎)

Jollibee, Red Robin, and ChowKing at Westfield Mall in Seattle
The other advantage to using park-sleep-fly hotels by SeaTac is the proximity to Jolibee, Chowking, and Seafood City. It's only 4 minutes away and perfect for those who constantly crave Filipino foods like my wife.
(2800 Southcenter Mall, Seattle, WA 98188 |

Radisson Inn Suites in Buena Park
Buena Park is home to Knottsberry Farm theme park and because of that, there are many amenities and cheaper hotels around the Beach Avenue strip. It is also only 5 minutes away from Disneyland which is a big plus. Pick a suite so you can use their microwave and fridge after a bit of food shopping at the local Walmart. Continental breakfasts aren't  usually included with package bookings so suites come in handy.
(7762 Beach Blvd, Buena Park, CA 90620 | )

Legoland in Carlsbad 
Legoland is a 90 minute drive down South I-5 freeway. You can take the scenic route and drive through Newport Beach, Long Beach, and all the other beaches along the coast. The 1-day entrance pass is more than enough time and you don't need to squeeze in Sea life because you won't have time to enjoy it all. Also, it isn't any better than the Vancouver or Seattle aquariums if you have been to either of those attractions. You also don't have to prepay for the tickets online as the lines are decent and there weren't any waits during non-peak seasons months of January to March.
(1 Legoland Dr, Carlsbad, California |

Disneyland in Anaheim
You have to go outside of peak season between January and March, and go on a weekday because the wait in line for some of the attractions isn't really magical if it's longer than 30 minutes. You don't need to prepay for tickets online either as the savings aren't that significant, unless you buy them more than a week in advance, which gets you $7 off per ticket.
(1313 Disneyland Dr, Anaheim, CA 92802 |

Jolibee, Chowking, and Red Ribbon in Anaheim
These three fast foods are located right in the shopping district and has all the Filipino foods we know and love from similar franchises at Westfield Mall in Seattle.
(601 N Euclid St, Anaheim, CA 92801 |

The Outlets at Orange
This place has a lot of Asian cuisine and is a nice shopping experience walking around out in the open sun. This was only 5 minutes away from Anaheim.
(20 City Blvd, Orange, CA |

Citadel Outlets in LA
Only about 20 minutes away from Buena Park and 25 minutes from Anaheim. Much busier than The Outlets at Orange and much bigger. There was a 50% off sale at Michael Kors the day we went to visit. We were more than happy to line up here, even if the wait was similar to lines for rides at Legoland or Disneyland.
(100 Citadel Dr #480, Los Angeles, California |

One prerequisite is to use a GPS and a travel guide booklet provided at the hotel you are staying at. These two things will help you find the best shopping outlets and attractions to go to, and will save you tons of stress in getting to where you want to go. 

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