Disneyland Birthday Trip

Disneyland Birthday Trip

Turning 31 isn’t exactly the most exciting thing, but we decided to make it more so by taking a trip to Disneyland! You may have read my post about planning a Disneyland trip last year, but that trip ended up falling through and we never got to go. Huge bummer because we were excited, but we’d already bought a 2-day Park Hopper ticket, so we knew we had to make it out there before the tickets expired. I won’t go into ever last detail since you can read about a lot of it in that prior post, but a lot of our plans this time are different, so read along if you want to hear all about it. 🙂

The first big difference between the trip we almost took and the one we are taking for my birthday is we are staying on Disney property. There are tons of non-Disney hotels right around Disneyland, some walking distance, some with shuttles, and some you could easily Uber to and from. They’re all much less expensive than the 3 Disneyland hotels (The Grand Californian, The Disneyland Hotel, and the Paradise Pier Hotel) but this trip being for my birthday and who knows when we’ll get back to CA, we decided to splurge. We’re spending 4 nights at the Disneyland Hotel, then getting a rental car and heading down to San Diego for a few days!

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The next key thing is we get more time! We were originally going to be going at the beginning of a work trip for my husband, so we were at the mercy of the schedule of his meetings. We were going to get 2 days in the parks but only 1 dinner because there was a dinner scheduled for work the 2nd night, so it’d have barely even been 2 days in the parks.

So, what’s our actual plan? We fly out to CA on a Wednesday and check in to the Disneyland Hotel. We’re not heading to a park at all that first evening, but we’ll wander around Downtown Disney and kinda just wing it for dinner (the fact that you don’t need to plan dining reservations in advance in Disneyland is still such a weird concept for me).

Then we’ll have 3 days in the parks! I heard, since they’re so close, you can easily pop back and forth between the 2, but we are definitely starting our 1st day in Disneyland…I need to see that castle! When we bought our 2-day tickets way back in the summer, we paid a little extra for the MaxPass option, so we’ll be able to snag FastPasses once we enter the parks and get as many photos as we can manage!

Sleeping Beauty Castle

One of the things I am most excited for is all the rides that Disneyland shares with Disney World, because most of them are different, despite sharing a name! The entire outside of Small World is completely different, and I hear the Disneyland versions Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean are amazing!

DL Small WorldDL Mansion

We have 3 dinner reservations made and are planning on just snacking or hitting up counter service places for lunches (I hear the Disneyland and Disney California Adventure quick service game far exceeds Disney World’s). We’re also planning on bringing cereal and buying milk to have for breakfast every morning to save some money. I know for sure I need to get some Mickey-shaped beignets as a snack in Disneyland one day and we’re so getting bread cones from the Cozy Cone Motel in Disney California Adventure for lunch at some point! Our dinners are at Cafe Orleans in Disneyland, Carthay Circle in Disney California Adventure, and then my birthday dinner is going to be at Blue Bayou in Disneyland!

Carthay Circle
Carthay Circle
Blue Bayou
Blue Bayou

I am also SO excited for Cars Land in Disney California Adventure! I hear Radiator Springs Racers is the most incredible ride and pales in comparison to Test Track.

Cars LandRadiator Springs Racers

I am pretty sad we won’t get to check out Paradise Pier due to the construction to transform it into Pixar Pier and am most disappointed that the World of Color nighttime show will have just closed for refurbishment as part of that project. But, I am trying to focus on all the aspects of the trip I am excited about! Like Paint the Night parade in Disney California Adventure!

Paint the Night

And the new nighttime show in Disneyland – Together Forever — A Pixar Nighttime Spectacular!

Together Forever — A Pixar Nighttime Spectacular

Once we make our departure from Anaheim, we’re driving down the CA coast to San Diego. I’m a big baseball fan, so we’ve got tickets for Padres vs. Mets as soon as we get there. Not sure if we’ll have time to check into our hotel before the game or if we’ll wait til after, but after the game we’ll have dinner somewhere in San Diego. I have a co-worker from CA and very familiar with San Diego, so I’m going to tap into her expertise for dinner recommendations.

Petco Park
Photo from 

To round out our trip, we’re going to spend our final full day at the San Diego Zoo!!

San Diego Zoo
Photo from 

What suggestions do you have for Disneyland, Disney California Adventure, and San Diego?


All photos from this post are from the Disneyland website, unless otherwise noted.

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