I just got back from a week vacation with my family and I have a full review to give. When I say “full review” I mean everything – the good and the bad.
First off, family vacations are crazy. If you have a family you travel with you know exactly what I mean. If something doesn’t go wrong then it wasn’t a family vacation. Unless your family is perfect…then that’s cool…but mine isn’t haha.
We arrived at the Anaheim Hilton (just walking distance from Disneyland) and it was gorgeous, clean with huge ceilings in the lobby and beautiful art work all around. The employees at the reception area were very helpful and very friendly. We made our way to our room which was pretty far from everything. I got a super deal on it though – It was only $150 a night. Layla over heard me telling my mom about the room rate as she walked in front of us. She looked back over her shoulder and said, “OH. That’s why… because it’s CHEAP we have to walk so much to our room.” She rolled her eyes. I just laughed. But yes, actually, “that is why” haha. I was still proud of the super deal I got.
We spent that evening at the pools which was filled with other happy families and their kids. Then I ordered Pizza because is there anything better after pool time? I think not.
I thought it was funny when one of the servers came over with our pizza and addressed me as “Madam”. Sometimes people address me as “Miss” also. I just find it funny that we live in such a modern world but people still address me as if we were in old times. Honestly I want to laugh because it’s so proper but I really appreciate the token of respect and I find it flattering at the same time.
That night we watched the Disney • Pixar movie “Soul” in our hotel room. If that’s not a great movie I don’t know what is. I absolutely loved it.
The next day we got ready for Disneyland. My mom had some issues to take care of which delayed us but we made it to the park at 11 am.
The ladies checking our tickets were older (around 70) and grumpy. They weren’t very nice but they let us in. They weren’t supposed to let us in though because our tickets were only good for California adventure. I wanted to go to Disneyland and didn’t realize how that worked online (there was a huge mix up.)
So in a way I’m thankful to those older grumpy ladies for letting us in.
Once inside Disneyland we went on a train ride which the girls and my mom really enjoyed. Meanwhile I was making food reservations the whole ride. I was told you had to make food reservations on the Disney app or else you couldn’t eat so I was quite busy. I found out later that you really don’t have to as they now accept walk ins. Oh boy. This pandemic has really made things a little confusing.
There is no mask wearing required at Disneyland anymore (unless you want to) so most people were mask-less and while the volume of people is supposed to be at 50% it really felt like it was at 75% capacity. The park was very full that day especially in certain areas like the TIKI ROOM where you can get Dole Whips ice cream.
We did try the famous Dole whip ice cream and it was delicious. However we got it with the pineapple juice and we didn’t like the juice very much. We’ll be getting only the ice cream next time.
I got Layla a tropical Disney dress and tropical Mickey ears as well as some tropical gold fish. She looked adorable but within minutes she spilled the goldfish inside the double stroller I had rented. We cleaned up the mess and we were on our way to our next attraction: Toon Town.
We made it to Toon Town and the girls were absolutely flabbergasted. They ran around everywhere with big smiles. We have been to Disneyland before but it seems at this age they really enjoy it so much more.
We saw so many characters – Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Winnie the Pooh, etc. as well as so many Disney princesses: Ariel, Jasmine, and Alice from Alice in Wonderland. There is still social distancing with the characters though and you can only take pictures from far away.
We went on a kids rollercoaster in Toon Town and Layla cried. It was a little too scary for her. Actually my mom and Sophie were about to cry too. I was the only one who liked it.
We ate at the Plaza Inn for lunch which was fantastic. Most restaurants are open again except for street food carts.
At the Plaza Inn we had chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans and biscuits. It was incredible- the mashed potatoes with bacon especially. It tasted like crack. Best mashed potatoes I’ve ever had in my life.
Next we went to the Bippity Boppity boutique. We picked out some new princess dresses for the girls. A lot of the Disney clothes are exclusive at Disneyland. I’m huge on fashion so this was a definite stop for me.
Layla was mad because she wanted a Belle dress and so did Sophie but Layla doesn’t like “matching” with Sophie. I decided to get both of them Belle dresses anyway (haha I’m savage.) Sophie’s dress is a limited collectors edition so they were a tad bit different from each other anyway. I also got them matching Belle crowns because they were gorgeous and the only ones that matched with the dresses.
Once at the check out Layla started throwing a mini tantrum. She didn’t want the same dress as Sophie’s. I told her, “Oh they aren’t the same. Yours has red roses and hers doesn’t. Plus yours is the grownup version of Belle and hers is the baby version.” She nodded her head in satisfaction and we were good after that.
The girl at the register asked if it was a special occasion or a birthday. I nodded my head no and smiled. Inside I thought, “Nope…I just love pretty dresses.” I didn’t know most people purchased these dresses for special occasions though. Here I am casually buying them thinking the special occasion will come later haha.
I think I will dress the girls up in their Belle dresses to go to Disney On Ice and then a fancy restaurant afterwards. Maybe I’ll even rent a limo just for fun. Disney on Ice should be reopening later this year.
Anyway back to our Disney adventure: I have always wanted those clear balloons with a Mickey balloon inside of it but for some reason I never bought one in the past. We were on the search for them when Layla spotted them. I made a stroller U turn and ran over to the guy holding them. I bought 5 of them in different colors. Literally one of my dreams came true when they handed me the balloons.
We stopped at the corner restaurant on Main Street to get powerades and fuel up. We got our electrolytes in and Sophie chased a duck around while we rested.
I hardly do rides at Disneyland because I feel that it’s boring to wait in line all day but that’s just me.
We began our walk over to California Adventure which we weren’t supposed to technically be allowed into but under the confusion…they let us in. I was just as confused as they were.
We stopped to get our ice cream cones at “Adorable Snowman” and they were a hit with my mom and the girls. The girls were cold afterwards though so I stopped inside the store next to Adorable Snowman and bought them identical zip up hoodies. Layla didn’t seem to mind and I thought they both looked adorable.
We walked back into Disneyland but we were told we couldn’t re enter since our tickets were only good for one park. I told the ticketing employee that I had made a reservation inside Disneyland and already paid $70 for dinner. Both Disneyland and California adventure employees had been ok with letting me into the parks earlier so I thought the tickets were good for both especially since the online ticketing process confused the heck out of me.
The ticketing employee said she’d have to talk to a manager and left. 5 minutes later she returned and told me it was the employees fault for letting me in to both parks, saying they “dropped the ball” and she would let me re enter just this time. I thanked her and we walked in. So basically I got to go to both parks on accident! I saved about $300. Woohoo!
We stopped at the Mickey Mouse theatre on Main Street in Disneyland and watched a black and white cartoon. Layla laughed while watching the cartoon – which surprised me since it’s a black and white with no voices, and yet it’s so classic kids from today still find it amusing.
We made our way to the French Market restaurant just in time for our dinner reservation. My my my was it delicious. Layla and I had the French dip sandwich with chips and holy moly I will definitely be eating that again next time I’m there! We finished it off with a haunted mansion cake and that was stupendous! It was cherry strawberry flavored and my taste buds didn’t know what to do with themselves.
In between all of this there were many bathroom breaks as is to be expected with kids. Unfortunately we didn’t make it to our last stop which was supposed to be the Winnie the Pooh ride in Critter Country. Normally that’s always our last stop when we go to Disneyland. There’s usually no line and it’s a cute ride to end the night.
We made our way to Main Street which was still open for one more hour. There were no fireworks and no parades – at least not that night (we went on a Wednesday – June 16th.) People crowded Main Street to do their last minute shopping for souvenirs and treats. We decided to go to downtown Disney instead. We got our lollipops, butter cookies, popcorn, and candy apples from Marceline’s Confectionery, our usual stop of the night. There was almost no line and the store was not too crowded. It was perfect.
The next morning we slept in, then got ready to go have brunch and ice cream at the Anaheim Packing District. I used the same Taxi guy from the night before since I was already familiar with him and his rates. He picked us up at the front of the Hotel and this time he played classical piano music on our way to the Packing District. He told me a story about how he got kidnapped in Iraq and held for ransom. Crazy stuff.
I was about to pay him before getting off at the Packing District but he told me I didn’t have to. “Just pay me after I pick you back up,” he said. Well Ok then Taxi man.
The Anaheim packing District was beautiful with its plants growing everywhere. It has a charming feel to it. We tried the Chicken Sandwiches at Sweetbird. The chicken was very tender – almost falling apart.
Next we tried the mini monster drinks and we all loved the cotton candy on top. I got a glass bottle to take home as a souvenir. I will be using it instead of my usual mason jar.
Our last food stop was at the Pop Bar inside the Anaheim Packing District. We got Oreo gelato bars. I had mine dipped in chocolate and almonds. They were SO CREAMY oh my goodness. It was definitely some of the best gelato bars we’ve ever had.
My mom said her favorite ice cream places so far I’ve taken her to are: Bumsan organic Milk bar, SOMISOMI ice cream, Chick-Fil-A ice cream and now PopBar.
We walked across the street to a restaurant called 18 Folds. It has a huge outdoor area with “grass”, chairs to lounge on and a giant heart swing. The girls ran around and played for a while before our Taxi guy arrived. I would definitely try this restaurant out if I’m back in Anaheim.
Our Taxi guy, Ehad, drove us back to our Hotel but this time he had cologne on. It seemed he got a fresh hair cut too. He made it known that he’s a single father and a bit lonely. I told him I have a boyfriend. He asked me about him and when I told him he lives in another country he laughed and said, “You need a boyfriend that lives here! You’re too gorgeous!” He told me that maybe my boyfriend is cheating on me or only pretending to be nice until we meet in person. All I know is I’m happy with my boyfriend. Very happy.
We went back to our room and “grandma” (my mom haha) took a nap for a while, the girls watched cartoons and I sent my boyfriend pictures of our trip. Then we got ready to go to an Angels Baseball game.
I LOVE BASEBALL. SO MUCH. So I was especially hyped about this. Maybe even more than Disneyland. Ehad, our taxi driver, picked us up again and drove us to the baseball Stadium. Since he’s in a taxi he was able to drop us off almost right in front of the stadium. Meanwhile the rest of the cars were stuck in long lines all around.
Once at the Baseball Stadium I ran into an issue. Vivid seats didn’t want to send me my tickets electronically because they needed to verify my identity and weren’t able to with the information I was submitting. “GREAT.”
I went to the customer service office at the stadium and they suggested I buy new tickets and try to get a refund on the other ones as they aren’t able to accept tickets from outside parties.
So that’s what I did – I bought new tickets and we went in because dammit we weren’t about to miss a baseball game!
Since they weren’t able to verify my identity “vivid seats” cancelled my order and refunded me my money. So at least I didn’t have to pay double. Thank you Jesus!!
We had great seats and Layla got to experience her first real baseball game with me.
The stadium was at full capacity (50,000 people) and masks were not enforced. People looked so happy. If anything baseball games are where people forget race, religion and politics. Everyone just wants to have a good time.
I went down and got some Angel gear for me and the girls – T shirts and caps. I also stopped by to get snacks and drinks: popcorn, nachos, m&ms, sodas and waters. The lines were super long but it’s not a baseball game without all of that stuff. Next time I will get there super early to avoid the lines because I literally missed half of the game.
Once back in my seat, I handed everyone their snacks and Angel gear and I happily munched away as I watched the rest of the game.
I’ll be honest: I HAVE NO IDEA HOW BASEBALL WORKS OR WHAT AN INNING EVEN IS but I do know that baseball games are the best thing in the whole entire world.
Also… the Angels won that night. It was amazing. Everyone was so happy!
On our way out we stopped to take pictures and two different guys offered to take family pictures for us. They weren’t the best angles but lord have mercy they tried. Bless their souls.
The next day we hit the Anaheim outlets. We got Cotton Candy, some popit and slime toys for the girls and they got to ride electric motorcycles outside. I also found an amazing little boutique called “Pin Up Bootique” with retro 50s clothes and dresses. I was in love with almost everything but picked a Denim pencil skirt with straps and a red peasant blouse. The girl who worked there was super nice and friendly.
We stopped at other stores at the Anaheim Outlets but they didn’t have anything good. The only store I would come back for is the Pin Up Bootique.
We went to visit some (distant) cousins who live in Anaheim and had the best time at their house. We really do have amazing family on both of my parents sides. We left at night and headed home to unpack and re pack for our next trip to Legoland.
The next day we headed to our hotel in Carlsbad. Traffic heading towards LA was unbelievably bad and I couldn’t understand why until I realized it was Father’s Day weekend and a lot of COVID restrictions in California have just been lifted. Everyone and their neighbor seemed to be out driving.
We were stuck in traffic for hours and don’t even get me started on traffic at the Magic Mountain 4 way stop – that was a disaster. I had taken that exit to get some food but realized that was a mistake. Cars were honking like crazy and crowding each other. I called the sheriffs department just to inform them of the situation. They said they received several calls already and were on their way. I decided to get food elsewhere.
We got Chik-FiL-A – which we’ve been getting a lot lately.
I had to make a stop in East LA because Layla had an accident. She went #2 in the car. She felt really bad and apologized about it but I told her it was ok. We’ve been giving her medicine from Mexico for her constipation and it’s been working really well. While this would normally be a terrible thing (her going #2 in the car) I was actually happy she went again. She’s been so regular lately and nothing makes me happier.
We stopped at a McDonald’s restroom and threw away her soiled underwear and changed her into new clothes. Thankfully nothing got on the seat of my car. I put a blanket over it just in case before she sat down again.
We were ready to hit the road again. My mom woke up from a nap only to realize we were still In LA. I laughed. Traffic was just so slow.
7 hours later we finally made it to our Hotel in Carlsbad: The Sheraton Inn.
We stayed in the Ponto suites which was nice for us since I rarely book a suite room as those are usually just too expensive. I got a good deal on this one at $350 a night. We were all pretty impressed with the suite at first but I was unbelievably angry the next day to find out that they have no cleaning service, the phone in my room didn’t work and the mattresses were crap (my moms mattress coils kept squeaking and she said the mattress hurt her back.)
The front desk girl didn’t seem to care as she just works there so I held my anger in and decided I needed to speak to the right person at the right time.
I wasn’t going to let this ruin my vacation.
That first evening the girls changed into their bathing suits and we headed to the resort. Layla made a friend at the jacuzzi named Lizzie.
The next day we woke up early to get ready for Legoland. It had been on Layla’s bucket list forever. We had breakfast at the hotel resort restaurant and then I got them into our Wonderfold wagon (which I got on albeebaby.com) and off we went to Legoland!
We took the private back entrance into Legoland which was pretty awesome. If you stay at the Westin, Sheraton or Marbrisa inn in Carlsbad you get access to this private back entrance. It’s pretty nice – there are no lines and it’s just a walk down from your hotel.
A sales person for the Hilton Marbrisa greeted us before we went into Legoland and told us about a vacation package special. For $300 we would get 3 nights and 4 day stay at our hotel of choice: Sheraton, Westin or Marbrisa AND we’d get a $100 gift card AND $200 towards Legoland tickets.
I mean… what??? YES PLEASE. I’m saving over $1,500!
The only catch is we have to watch a Hilton presentation for an hour when we come back. Apparently they are trying to promote their new line of hotel: The Marbrisa.
Honey, I will bring my popcorn and watch that presentation!
I signed up, paid for it and it’s a done deal. We have a vacation now that we can use any time in the next 13 months. We also got a goodie bag with an umbrella, mini black flashlight (it’s actually really nice) a wine opener (which I’ll donate since I don’t drink wine) and some cute sea keychains.
We happily made our way into Legoland after that. The park had some guests already but not too many. It felt peaceful.
The attractions at Legoland are quite simple looking compared to Disneyland but kids and parents seem happier. These are just my observations.
I kept looking around at the SMILING parents and kids. I couldn’t believe it. I was honestly kind of shocked.
I thought about it and realized that maybe Disneyland is a bit overwhelming. I mean it’s great and I’m still a HUGE Disney fan no matter what but maybe it’s just a little too much in a way.
Legoland has some rides that are actually so simple it’s kind of dumb (like a slow moving horse that slowly goes around the bushes) but that ride made parents and kids smile the most!
I think that sometimes it really is the simple things in life.
Layla and Sophie were ECSTATIC to be in Legoland. I had never seen Layla happier in my life.
They had fun playing with Legos and building things with them in two different areas. Again, such a simple thing, yet they were having the time of their life. I was still in shock mode haha.
The strap of my cute new Disney bag ripped when we were inside the Lego building area. I told Layla “See my bag ripped but it’s just a problem to solve. That’s life. I just have to figure it out now.” I want to raise her to be a problem solver.
So I walked over to an employee and asked if I could use their stapler to put the strap back on my bag. He said they didn’t have a stapler but he could get me a bag to use. He left and a short while later he came back with mesh Legoland bags with long straps in different sizes for me. I thanked him and told him he was so nice for doing that.
We took a picture in front of some of the lego sculptures which was fun, except for the Donkey lego sculpture. Layla tried to climb it, but she ended up slipping and hit her chin right on the legos. She started crying. There was no bleeding but I knew that had to hurt pretty bad so I hugged her until she felt better.
We ate at the Knights Smoke house BBQ. There was almost no line since it’s a buffet which was great since I don’t like waiting in a long line when I’m hungry. Also I’m a meat type of girl so this place was perfect.
We decided to go into the water park despite the sky being gray and cloudy. We were a little cold but the water was somewhat warm so it wasn’t too bad.
I went to buy towels and had no idea the chaos that would happen. Apparently my mom lost Layla and freaked out. Meanwhile Layla was going down a slide for the first time alone and she ended up getting water all up her nose as she went down. She started crying loudly and a lifeguard ran over to her, which helped my mom finally see her. Everything was back to normal when I came back with the towels though.
Our favorite attraction in the water park was the Lazy River where we went around in a double tube. The water was set at a warm temperature because of the weather and Layla and I had so much fun here. Normally they have huge legos you can play with while you go around the river but they didn’t have them this time. Either way Layla and I had the time of our life.
Also I think it’s important to point out that there’s lifeguards EVERYWHERE in the water park. I was very impressed. Good Job Legoland.
Layla braved it and went with me on a rollercoaster in the pirate reef inside the water park. I asked her if she was sure she wanted to do this since she cried last time. She assured she was. I was so proud of her for facing her fears.
As we went down my stomach dropped. We were splashed with a huge wave of water but it was over before we knew it. Layla smiled at me afterwards and said, “At least I did it whew! It wasn’t that scary but something did happen in my stomach when we went down! I felt something in my stomach.”
Yea kid. Those are your guts and stomach dropping. Me too though, me too.
We paid $10 to get dried off inside a dryer station. Apparently this is a thing now and I’m living for it. Kudos to whoever invented it.
We stopped to get Layla her first “drivers license” which Is around $20. I think it’s a souvenir that she’ll most likely treasure forever so I feel it’s worth the $20. She got to drive around in a little car with other kids after that.
We loved Mini land USA and wish we would’ve had more time to stay there. The creativity and detail to the most amazing places in the U.S. is really worth looking at. It’s amazing that I’ve been to most places displayed, except for New York.
It was almost closing time and my mom really wanted some apple fries so we were running around trying to get there before they closed. I finally got to the window, all out of breath, when I saw that they were closed and locking up. My heart sank.
The girl opened the window back up to see what I wanted. I asked her if I could buy some apple fries. She said “Ok sure.” I couldn’t believe it. Most of them time people say no when they’re closing.
“I’ll let you get them since I couldn’t even lock the window – so I guess it must’ve been for a reason,” she said as she rang me up on the register.
I couldn’t be happier. I got my two small baskets of apple fries with whip cream dipping. This is basically equivalent to the dole whip ice cream in Disneyland. People go crazy for these at Legoland. The line earlier for these was huge and you could smell the apple fries a mile away.
I lost my mom (she’s a slow walker) so I had to go find her. I decided to go back to where we had been and hopefully I’d find her there. Our phones were both dead so I couldn’t call her.
Luckily a little bit up ahead I found her and we sat down on a bench and ate our apple fries.
I got a lot of moms complimenting me on the wagon that day. I almost felt like a walking commercial. Some dads even asked me where I got it. It just made sense for me to get a wagon since the girls complain about walking but Layla is too big for a stroller. Also it’s nice to put my bags in it as it holds everything. It’s super easy to maneuver and the front handle is nice and easy on the hands.
I noticed a lot of moms at the park using wagons though so I think it is a growing trend with parents.
Anyway, after we finished our apple fries we headed to the back entrance as the park was closed (they close at 6 pm.)
We entered our room to find that it was just as we had left it and it hadn’t been cleaned. The thing is Layla peed on the bed and I thought the sheets would’ve been changed out but they weren’t. Also we had no clean towels or shampoo or conditioner. I was pretty disappointed.
We got ready to go to dinner. We tried out a Mexican restaurant called Miguel’s Cocina in Carlsbad, just a drive down from our hotel, by the ocean. We ordered enchiladas and a coconut flan. The enchiladas, rice and beans were average. The coconut flan was amazing.
That night back in our hotel room, after putting new sheets down, I was trying to pick pictures out from our trip to send to my boyfriend but my eyes were literally closing. I ended up falling asleep without realizing it.
We checked out, and while I was angry that the hotel didn’t have cleaning service I bit my tongue while checking out since it was the same girl who didn’t care. It would be worse if I asked her for a manager and it turned out to be her. I prefer to wait and speak to a general manager or write/call the owner.
After leaving the hotel we stopped at a Bounce House / Pick your strawberries attraction in Carlsbad. The girls were going crazy over this.
They were having fun jumping in the different bounce houses when they got thirsty so I left to go get water. I stood in line at a coffee tent right outside of the bounce house area. I decided to try their cold brew and I had a nice chat with the owner about coffees. I got my cold brew and water bottles and headed back.
After the girls hour was up in the Bounce Land we went to pick strawberries in the field nearby.
Those were some of the sweetest strawberries I’ve ever had. It was also a really nice family activity.
We had shaved ice afterwards which the girls really enjoyed.
Then it was time to head home but we were hungry so we had one more stop to make.
We found a cute restaurant in Oceanside (totally by accident) called “Hello Betty”. It’s right across from the pier and it has the coolest convertible car inside the restaurant that you can take pictures in. I ordered shrimp and chips for all of us.
Since we were across the beach the girls obviously wanted to go…so off we went even though this wasn’t a planned part of our vacation.
We let the girls play in the kids playground next to the pier. My mom and I sat in a bench watching them.
Sigh. That’s where I lost my new iPhone 12 Pro Max.
I must’ve left it on the bench when we got up to take Layla and Sophie down to the water.
I watched Layla happily play in the water and after about an hour we decided to leave. That’s when it hit me: WHERES MY PHONE?? I freaked out. I looked for it everywhere. I retraced my steps. I asked the lifeguards about it. No one had seen it and it was no where to be found.
I started walking back to the car with my mom and they girls. I knew my only other option was to call my cell phone provider and let them know what happened.
Layla looked at me as we waited to cross the street and said to me, “Well, like you always say: life is about solving problems so you just have to figure it out!” I smiled. I’m glad something is sticking to her.
“Yes you’re right,” I told her. “I’m just going to have to get a new phone. At the end of the day it’s a material thing and most things are replaceable.”
Am I happy about spending more money? No but it is replaceable and I have all my photos and notes on my iCloud.
The ride back was silent. I was on wait with my cell phone provider and traffic was slow. My mom fell asleep. Later she told me she was sad for me. I was sad for me too. She woke up when she heard me talking to a T-Mobile rep.
My phone was dead when I accidentally left it on the bench so there was no way to track it unfortunately. So I had my phones IMEI deleted/erased and my line cancelled so no one could steal my information. I had no insurance on the phone because I’ve literally never lost or damaged a phone in the last 10 years so I didn’t feel I needed it. So…that’s great haha. Oh well.
The T-mobile rep must have been working from home because I could hear her cat meowing pretty loudly and at one point she excused herself to take the car out. It made me smile though.
On our way home we passed a 4 car accident that had just happened. It completely stopped all traffic and there were a lot of ambulances and firefighter trucks arriving. We stared in silence but both my mom and I thought the same thing: it was better to lose my phone than to be part of that accident. Some people have worse days.
Once home I realized I got a pretty bad sunburn. I was red all over. Wow haha. Cherry on top – literally. Or should I say Lobster on top? Haha…bad joke. Anyway, I’m putting aloe Vera jelly on it and it’s helping.
So moral of the story: don’t go on a family vacation. Just kidding haha… kind of.
Truth be told though, I will most likely still plan another family vacation because despite things going wrong…there’s always things that go right and seeing your kids happy makes it worth it.
Also I think I just need a girls trip…sans kids haha. Which speaking of…I’ll be going on one next week for my besties Birthday! Napa Valley should be fun!
Thanks for reading,