Trip Diary: California July 20-27

Saturday – July 20, 2019

Morning: Anticipating a long travel day ahead, I took a Les Mills GRIT Strength class to kickstart my metabolism for the rest of the day. I had My Favorite Smoothie (linked here) and a Trader Joe’s frozen Belgian waffle for breakfast.

Afternoon: We didn’t have to leave for the airport until 4 PM, so I went over to my sister’s house to hangout before we left on a 5-hour plane ride. I always miss the food at home the most when I am traveling, so it was nice to have lunch at home before leaving.

Evening: We left BWI at 8:25 PM on a direct flight to LAX. A new quick service restaurant, Nalley Fresh, opened up in the terminal; I had a salad from there and a chocolate peanut butter Perfect Bar for dinner. Once we landed in LAX, we got a shuttle to pick up our rental car from SIXT. Around 1 AM PST, we arrived at a CVS in Anaheim to get a few snacks for breakfast the next morning. Disneyland has a few Good Neighbor Hotels, so we stayed in a Best Western Plus that was included on that list.

Sunday – July 21, 2019

Morning: As soon as the local Target opened up, we drove to pick up groceries for the week. The remainder of our stay was at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa; fortunately, we had a small refrigerator in our room to store any cold items. We were at the pool by 10:30 AM, and we ordered lunch from the poolside menu shortly after the restaurant opened at 11 AM. I ordered the forest mushroom pizza for myself, and would not recommend doing that unless there are 3-4 people sharing the pizza. The price is comparable to the size of the serving, but they were unable to do smaller servings.

Afternoon: The weather in Anaheim was perfect compared to the humidity at home, so we were soaking in every second of relaxation by the pool. The resort we stayed at was very in-demand because of the convenient location by both parks and Downtown Disney. A lot of celebrities were spotted in the parks and staying on Disney property while we were there. I ended up getting to meet Juju Smith-Schuster from the Pittsburgh Steelers while we were lounging by the pool. I brought my laptop, so I did CXWORX 17 from Les Mills On Demand in-between time at the pool.

Evening: At 6:30 PM, we walked to Downtown Disney for dinner. We were seated at Black Tap by 7 PM. I ordered a turkey burger and French fries, and the portions were huge. The restaurant is based in NYC, and is also famous for the elaborate milkshakes that they serve.

Monday – July 22, 2019

Morning: I had a peanut butter and banana sandwich on Dave’s thin white bread for breakfast. I tried the Pilates class that was offered by the resort, and ended up being the only participant. Disney California Adventure Park was empty in the morning, so we were able to ride a lot: Radiator Springs Racers, Jessie’s Critter Carousel, Incredicoaster, and Soarin’.

Afternoon: At 11 AM, we went to the Pacific Wharf area to check out the restaurants. I got the chicken apple walnut salad in a bread bowl from the Pacific Wharf Café for lunch. After we ate, we walked back to relax by the pool as the temperature started to rise.

Evening: We went back into the park at around 5:30 PM to use a Radiator Springs Racers Fast Pass. The Pixarmonic Orchestra was playing on the Promenade, so we listened to them on our walk around Pixar Pier. Downtown Disney had a lot of restaurants we had never tried before, so we chose to eat at Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen for dinner. We weren’t impressed by the food or the atmosphere. I got chicken fingers and French fries.

Tuesday – July 23, 2019

Morning: We ate breakfast in the room again, so I had the same breakfast as the day before. Our plan for the day was to explore Disneyland and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. A Fast Pass was not available for the Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run, which led our wait time to be 90 minutes in total. It wasn’t a bad wait; the queue started outside and led inside, where there was more scenery and detail. The attraction reminded us of Flight of Passage in Animal Kingdom. The only difference between the two was that the Millennium Falcon was more interactive because it was controlled by the guests. As two people who have never watched a single Star Wars movie, we were very impressed with the immersive experience of the land itself and the attraction. After riding It’s a Small World, it was time to go relax by the pool.

Afternoon: I ordered from the poolside menu again, and had the kale salad with chicken. It was delicious, but didn’t leave me feeling too full. Luckily, we had no other plans for the day.

Evening: Our dinner was earlier than usual because I was still hungry from lunch. I ate chicken fingers and French fries on the deck from the GCH Craftsman Bar & Grill, which was conveniently located right across from the pool. We went back into Disneyland, and as we were walking out, we got to see a performance by the Disneyland 2019 All American College Band. I ended my night with CXWORX 17 from Les Mills On Demand.

Thursday – July 24, 2019

Morning: Instead of going to the park for the whole day, our plan was to drive into Los Angeles. A family friend of ours works for FX, and she invited us to take a tour of the Fox Lot that afternoon. We ate a later breakfast in the room and did a few rides in California Adventure before we started our drive into LA.

Afternoon: At 1 PM, we arrived at IN-N-OUT in Fullerton. Driving to Los Angeles from Disney’s Grand Californian took 1.5 hours. We were two hours early, so we found a Trader Joe’s to browse and stumbled across Westfield Century City Mall. The mall had an open air layout and was gorgeous.

Evening: We arrived at 5 PM, got our guest passes at security, and toured the property for a few hours. Experiencing the Fox Lot was super special, and something that we definitely will not take for granted. We left the lot at 7 PM with our friend and drove into Culver City for dinner at Akasha.

Wednesday – July 25, 2019

Morning: The passes we purchased for this trip were for four days, and did not include a park hopper. That being said, we only had one day left at the park. The Orioles were playing at the Angel Stadium of Anaheim that night, so we had another full pool day.

Afternoon: There was a local pizza place called the Pizza Press, so we made our own pizzas and brought them back to the pool for lunch.

Evening: Disney Springs in Walt Disney World also has a Splitsville, so we chose something familiar for dinner. I ate a veggie burger there before taking an Uber to the stadium for the baseball game. The Orioles won 10-8 in a 16-inning game; we didn’t see the ending, because we left after 2.5 hours. All of the action happened after we left!

Thursday – July 26, 2019

Morning: As a resort guest, we were able to get into the park at 7 AM, one hour before the official park-opening time. That extra hour was spent on Guardians of the Galaxy — Mission: Breakout! I ate a churro after riding the Guardians of the Galaxy attraction five times in a row. In 2.5 hours, we were able to ride our favorite attractions multiple times with minimal wait times because of the FastPass: Toy Story Mania, Radiator Springs Racers, Silly Symphony Swings, and Soarin’.

Afternoon: Around 11 AM, I tried a teriyaki chicken Thai bowl in the Pacific Wharf. We went back to the pool for a few hours after lunch to avoid the midday crowds. I used this time to get in a workout via Les Mills On Demand.

Evening: Once the temperatures started to lower, we walked back into the park for dinner at Flo’s V8 Café. I also got a vegan mint chocolate chip ice cream cone at Salt & Straw in Downtown Disney on our walk back to the hotel room.

Friday – July 27, 2019

Morning: Our breakfast reservation was at 10:45 AM at Goofy’s Kitchen, which is located at the Disneyland Hotel. We walked through Downtown Disney to get to the hotel for our meal. This is a character buffet with a mix of breakfast and lunch items. Personally, I thought the food was subpar and the price was astronomical. Unless you were staying at the hotel and wanted to make this reservation for a convenient character dining experience, I would not recommend this dining option.

Afternoon: We returned our rental car to SIXT and took the shuttle to LAX for our direct flight to BWI.

Evening: I was very excited to get to shower and sleep at home after a long day of travel.

Our trip was very relaxing and well-paced. The mix of pool time and park attractions helped to keep us energized throughout the week, but was only possible because of the convenience of the resort. That factor alone causes Disney’s Grand Californian to surpass any of the Walt Disney World resorts. Instead of spending over an hour trying to find transportation from the park to the resort and vice versa, we were able to walk everywhere in under 10 minutes.

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