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Anaheim Travel Tips

4.0 stars

Insider advice for your Anaheim vacation , west coast


AudreyBrown
Bat En Rouge, New Orleans Square, Disneyland 3 stars
Bat En Rouge is the cleverly named (Like Baton Rouge, get it?) gift shop located in New Orleans Square in Disneyland. It is one of the smallest shops in the park, but it has some of the most one of a kind items. This shop is close to the Haunted Mansion and it sells items that fans of that ride may enjoy. It has a lot of Nightmare Before Christmas themed stuff, including clothing, blankets, keychains, and the usual gift shop fare. But it also has some really beautiful glassware and snow globes that I have never seen anywhere else. This is a must stop shop for fans of the Nightmare Before Christmas movie, the Holiday Overlay at the mansion, or the Haunted Mansion itself.

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AudreyBrown
The Lego Store/ Downtown Disney 3 stars
This is one cool store, especially if you have little ones in two while visiting. It should be obvious what they sell by their name, LEGO’s! But this is a large store, and they sell boxed sets for constructing special items, legos by the block, and have several large and impressive lego “statues” on display that will impress even you. They have a lego Darth Vader, a Lego R2D2, a giant LEGO dragon, and several other figures as well. Take yourself to the store for the inspiration and to be impressed with the art, and take the kids to the store…but beware, once they are in there, you’ll have to buy them something!

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AudreyBrown
The Disney Vault/ Downtown Disney 1 stars
The Disney Vault isn’t how it sounds. When I saw this store, I got really excited. I just kept thinking about how they lock films away in the “Disney vault” and I immediately thought this store would contain rare merchandise not available in most Disney stores. Boy, was I wrong! Imagine my disappointment when I walked in to find a clothing store directed at teenagers and tweens. It was mostly just meant to appeal to teens though as it had current fashions available, only with Disney logos and cartoons on them. I don’t think I would’ve been so annoyed had I not had that wonderful hope of finding rare merchandise inside. So don’t get too excited if you see this store in Downtown Disney.

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AudreyBrown
The LaBrea Bakery 4 stars
The LaBrea Bakery is located on the immediate left once you enter Downtown Disney. It offers real food if you enter and walk to the right, in a sit-down atmosphere that is just a little more upscale. If you take the route on the left, you have more of a coffee shop atmosphere where you can just buy what you want and walk out. There is a very nice seating area that is outside that is a great place to have some coffee, rest, and find some more energy. The coffee was surprisingly excellent, and my husband and I found ourselves thinking that it was actually better than Starbucks coffee. So if you want some decent lattes, go to the LaBrea bakery. If you just need some quick energy, just go to one of the Nescafe stands inside the park.


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AudreyBrown
Wetzel's Pretzels - Downtown Disney 3 stars
Wetzel’s Pretzels specializes in, you guessed it, pretzels. It’s akin to Auntie Anne’s Pretzels in that it sells pretzels with different coverings and many different dipping sauces. It also serves drinks, and something called the “Wetzel Dog”. I’m sure you could put two and two together, but I’ll tell you about it anyway. It is a hot dog wrapped in a pretzel, my husband said his was pretty good, but I’m not much for hot dogs, so I took his word for it. These places have non-existent lines, even on days that are busy, because you don’t have to wait for food. They just hand you your pretzel and drink the second you order it. I thought they were a little steep price-wise, but everything is more expensive in California.

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AudreyBrown
AMC - Downtown Disney 4 stars
The AMC theater located in Downtown Disney is wonderful. The lobby is decorated in a very art deco style, and the ceilings are very high. The theater is close to the Grand Californian Hotel and I noticed a lot of other people killing time there the day we went. The theaters themselves are gigantic, probably to accommodate the large flow of tourists on such a regular basis. Not to sound like a mid-westerner, but this was the biggest theater I have ever been to. When I think of the gammit of theaters I have been to in my life, from the abandoned buildings in Romania to this place…I can’t help but be amazed. This place was so luxurious that I even took a picture of the bathrooms because I was so impressed. The sound was incredible, the seats were comfortable, and it was cool in there but not cold.


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AudreyBrown
Downtown Disney 5 stars
Downtown Disney is a large upscale shopping area nestled in between the Disney Hotels and the Disney Theme parks. This area is much larger than a typical outdoor mall, and the shops are all of a much higher quality thanks to that famous Disney quality control. There are also plenty of non-Disney shops in the area, such as the Rainforest Café, LaBrea bakery, and a giant LEGO store. There are several places to stop and sit, lots of colorful fountains, and as with everything else, this area is beautifully lit at night. Disney is the master of atmosphere, and the Downtown Disney area is no different. It’s free to get into this area too, so this is a nice place to go if you need a break from the park in the heat of the day or for a meal.


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AudreyBrown
Cabs in Anaheim 3 stars
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Taxi cabs everywhere are remarkably expensive, mostly due to the prices of gas continuing to climb. But when you are only needing to go from the airport to Disney or hotels close to Disney, cabs are still your best bet. Here’s why, if you are with other people, you only pay one price for the cab and it’s based on mileage. You can choose to take a shuttle, but most of those charge roughly 25.00 per person, so that jacks up the price immediately. Taxis are easy to catch, and we literally walked right out of the airport and into a cab. It cost 35.00 for us to get to our hotel, which was two blocks away from Disney. After tip, it cost 40 flat. But on the way back to the airport, we had to reserve a cab because our flight left so early in the morning. This was a flat fee of 40, with tip it was 45. So no transportation was cheap, but since we were so close, taxis were our best bet and I think they’ll be yours too.

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AudreyBrown
Geting around on-foot in Anaheim 3 stars
Things you need to know about getting around on-foot in Anaheim. There’s construction everywhere right now, so some places may be muddied and not have sidewalks. When I asked if there were sidewalks at the airport, they looked at me cross-eyed…but there aren’t always places to walk at your destination. Luckily, that is not the case in Anaheim. There is probably a 4 or 5 block radius around Disneyland that has nice wide sidewalks, so you can get to the park on foot every day. There are also several restaurants and hotels along these walking routes. Anaheim is not in a bubble, so if you are going to walk late at night, please be careful. My husband and I managed to walk home two nights in a row around midnight and we stayed safe, but it was nerve-wracking. All in all, it’s a great place to walk around…just know the area before you go wandering.


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AudreyBrown
Extended Stay America 1 stars
Well, I’ve mentioned this before, but everything in California is way more expensive. That goes for the hotels especially. We stayed at the Extended Stay America, which is a franchise I have been to before and enjoyed my stay. But the franchise in Anaheim was not the best, and that’s putting it lightly. To be fair, this hotel is an efficiency suite, so it has a kitchenette and isn’t meant to have perks. It’s for business people who will be in town for an “extended stay”. But the pool was crummy and outdoors, we were on the ground floor, which is always nerve-wracking, and the keys were remarkably old-fashioned. Again, it wasn’t awful, but when you’re on vacation, you want to be able to enjoy what you paid for in your hotel, and that was not the case here.

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AudreyBrown
Disney Gift Shops 4 stars
Disney is all about the gift shops. They are everywhere you turn, and they are typically themed to whatever area they are in. This means that there is lots of merchandise that may only be available in one location. For example, if you want an Indiana Jones t-shirt, you’ll have to go to the shop located across the street from the ride itself. Many things are priced the same no matter what shop they are in, a blanket with the Pirates of the Caribbean logo on it is 35 dollars, and a Nightmare Before Christmas blanket will also be 35 dollars despite being different appearance-wise. So don’t buy hastily, you might find something similar that you want with details closer to something you might like better. Clothes are always the most expensive items in the store, but necessities are fairly priced. For example, we asked if there were batteries available for purchase, thinking that the process would be gouged, but a four pack was only dollars. So don’t assume everything will be price-gouged.

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AudreyBrown
Disney Nescafe Coffee Stands 2 stars
Peppered throughout the park are Nescafe Coffee Stands. The last time I saw Nescafe products this readily available was in Europe. However, they don’t sell all Nescafe products, only simple coffee. So that’s something of a disappointment because the best coffee products Nescafe sells are their lattes and cappuccinos. The majority of people that I see at the coffee stands are exhausted parents needing a pick-me-up. And for that, Disney’s coffee stands are excellent. If you want coffee, but you need it to be more palatable, consider stopping by one of the many churros stands that will probably be nearby. Those cinnamon treats make the coffee all that much better.

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AudreyBrown
Fastpass System/ Disney Theme Parks 5 stars
This is a wonderful system designed to keep lines as short as they can be. This is also unique to Disney, and something you should definitely take advantage of while visiting the park. All you do is follow the fast pass signs, take your ticket and insert it to the slot (this will be obvious where…), the machine will then spit your ticket back out as well as your fastpass. KEEP YOUR PARK TICKET with you at all times. Look at your fastpass and it will tell you when to return to the line, usually you have an hour to kill which gives you plenty of time to eat or go on walk-through attractions, or play games and shop. Once you return, you will go through the fastpass lines where your pass will be checked to make sure you have one, then you will zip right past the majority of the line! It’s a great feature, especially on a hot day! If you are still intimidated, please ask a Disney cast member, they will help you.

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AudreyBrown
Fantasmic/Disneyland 3 stars
Fantasmic is a live seasonal show that originated at Disneyland, and still plays there at the Rivers of America. In Disney World it is located at the Disney Studios and has its own special lagoon and amphitheater. So there is less room to gather in Disneyland to watch the show, but you can find a fairly good view anywhere. Also, a bonus to the show at Disneyland is that the show is much closer to you than it is as Disney World, but it is a smaller scale. This is a truly wonderful show, full of stunts and ships, creative uses of water, cartoons, music, and you will love it! You may even find the show so endearing that you will want to pick up the CD to the show before you leave the park.

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AudreyBrown
Hidden Mickeys/ Disneyland 4 stars
There is a huge following around finding “hidden Mickeys” at all of the Disney theme parks. This is an extra little something that Imagineers and Disney designers have done to add an extra touch of fun to the parks. There are hidden Mickey shapes absolutely everywhere. There are even books written about where they are exactly and how you can spot them. For example, there are six hidden Mickey’s in the stained glass windows at the front of the Blue Bayou. There is a hidden Mickey in the Indiana Jones Adventure where if you look hard enough you can see one of the skeletons wearing Mickey ears. This is a super fun game for kids, as it can often keep them busy looking when waiting in long lines.

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AudreyBrown
Disney Holiday Overlays 5 stars
Disney does something very unique around the holidays, something that no other park currently does. But since Disney sets the precedent, I’d be willing to bet that other parks will be doing this in no time at all. Disney, of course, decorates for Christmas. And in and of itself, that is wonderful and atmospheric. For example, the castle is decorated with snow capped peaks and giant wreaths. But they also do an entire overhaul for Christmas inside the haunted Mansion, making it an entirely different ride completely. At Disneyland they also overhaul the “It’s a Small World” ride too. The entire atmosphere of Disney changes at Christmastime, and if you get the chance to go, you should.

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AudreyBrown
Cinderella's Castle/ Disneyland 3 stars
Cinderella’s Castle is vastly different at every Disney theme park and the difference is clear between Disneyland and Disney World. The castle at Disney World is absolutely huge and intricate. It has a restaurant inside and draws a lot of visitors with it’s beautiful artwork depicting different Disney stories. The castle at Disneyland in much smaller, probably half the size. But it is still beautiful and deserves it’s spot as the centerpiece of the park. Make sure to get a good view of the castle for the fireworks at night, you won’t regret watching Tinker Ball dance and fly and the “Disney Magic” of it will absolutely baffle your kids. (If you have them.)

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AudreyBrown
The Ride Rehab and Update Board 5 stars
Right at the end of Main Street, in both Disneyland and Disney World there is a large white board. This looks somewhat innocuous, but it’s really important because it can save you time. This is the place where they list important “ride rehab” facts. Often times, rides can be closed down for a number of reasons. Sometimes rides can be broken down, but it is usually minor or maybe someone lost something really important. Other times rides will be closed down for longer durations due to repairs or entirely being overhauled with new themes or new elements. This board is important to glance at during the day if you happen to be passing, because rides can close at any time during the day and it can save you a long walk for no reason. But rest assured, because Disney is very quick and efficient with repairs, and it isn’t often that rides close down due to malfunctions.

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AudreyBrown
Disney Photo Ops 5 stars
All around all the Disney theme parks, there are many photo opportunities provided by Disney. Some are obvious, like the spots marked as good photo ops with plaques. Often times these have good views of iconic rides such as the Matterhorn. But there are also many statues to pose with and they encourage you to be hands on, sitting, acting, and playing on and around these prop-like elements at the parks. Make sure to keep your eyes open for these, because often times they blend right in with the rest of the park, or people assume they aren’t allowed to touch them. But it’s Disney people and it’s made for family time, so pose with your kiddos or all alone. You’ll be glad you did when you get home and see your pictures.


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AudreyBrown
The Disneyland Parade of Dreams 5 stars
This is Disneyland’s answer to Disney World’s Spectromagic parade. It is a mix of floats, animatronics, dancers, lights, actors, and costumes. It is very entertaining and quite inspirational. The lights in the park are dimmed along the parade route so that the floats make a bigger impact. The parade emphasizes “family time” and “brotherly time” amongst many other family heavy themes. The best thing about the show is that by using such a catch-all theme like, “Dreams”, nearly every major Disney film that your kids love is present and accounted for. As with all Disney parades, the people in costume interact heavily with the kids in the crowd, so the little ones will love it.

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