Wondering what it is like to visit Disneyland now that California is reopened? Want to hear about a fun place to stay near Disneyland that makes a great family vacation? Tune in this week while Kim shares her family’s experience in Disneyland and Irvine, California.
About Our Sponsor: Room Steals
Today’s episode is sponsored by Room Steals.
Listeners may remember Room Steals from our discussion on finding hotel deals in Episode 185, but Room Steals is a Chrome browser extension that works alongside existing booking sites to show you what the wholesale price is for that room.
Just install the browser extension and search for a hotel as you usually would on Hotels.com, Booking.com, Expedia, or Google. Once you’ve done your initial search, Room Steals will show you in a pop-up if that same room is available for less. If it is, you can click on that pop-up and book it directly through Room Steals.
Downloading and using Room Steals is free; however, if you want to book a discounted room you have to pay an annual membership fee. Listeners can save 20% off the annual membership fee with promo code vacationmavens.
If you travel multiple times in a year, the subscription will quickly pay for itself. One listener already saved $400 using Room Steals on her first booking!
To learn more, visit roomsteals.com. That’s roomsteals.com and use promo code vacationmavens to save 20% off your membership to Room Steals, and we thank them for their support.
Tips for Visiting Disneyland (Summer 2021)
- Disneyland reopened this spring and is now allowing out-of-state visitors, and has been steadily increasing capacity.
- The parks are crowded and they have not yet restarted Max Pass so you have no choice but to wait in long lines.
- The rides have also been breaking down frequently this summer, making it harder to ride all the rides that you want to get to.
- At the time, they were no longer offering annual passes, although there was a special for California residents. A new annual pass plan has recently been announced.
- When you purchase tickets, you need to make a reservation for a specific day to visit and which park you want to visit.
- Park reservations can be booked 120 days in advance of your visit.
- If you are visiting in less than 120 days, make sure you look at the availability calendar before booking your trip.
- If you purchase a Park Hopper ticket, you can hop to the other park after 1 pm.
- Two rides require boarding group reservations on top of your ticket reservation. You can try to claim a boarding group beginning at 7 am, and they are usually gone within seconds. Another opportunity will begin at noon, but only if you have already used your first boarding group or if you didn’t have success in the morning.
- Those two rides are Rise of the Resistance in California Adventure Park and the new Avenger’s Web Slingers.
- You need a Park Hopper ticket to be able to get two boarding groups/virtual queues within the same day.
- To get prepared for how to snag a spot in the virtual queue for Web Slingers, check out this post on Trips with Tykes.
- Mobile ordering for food is getting better but still a little spotty.
- It is best to plan on eating off hours and bringing snacks to tide you over.
- Kim stayed at the Hotel Lulu, which is nearby Disneyland and newly renovated. There are pharmacies on the corner, which are great for stocking up on snacks and drinks. There is also a Starbucks nearby.
- Hotel Lulu, which was recently taken over by Red Lion, is a good budget option.
- They are often allowing guests to go through security and the turnstiles before the opening time so for a 8 am opening, it pays to arrive around 7 or 7:10.
- It pays to stay in the Grand Californian hotel for easy access to the parks but the hotel pricing is $800+ right now so finding a nearby alternative helps the budget.
- If you stay at one of the Harbor hotels you can still take a break in the middle of the day.
- Just keep in mind that the hotels around Disneyland are suffering from major staff shortages this summer.
- Also keep in mind that car rental shortages and pricing continues to be an issue as well, especially with the smaller, non-airport locations. Auto Slash is a good option for finding deals on rental cars.
Tips for a Family Vacation to Irvine, California
- Irvine is where the John Wayne / Orange County airport is located, which is the closest Disneyland
- Kim stayed at the Marriott Irvine Spectrum hotel, which was a nice way to decompress after a few days in Disneyland.
- The hotel has a nice pool and a rooftop bar on the 16th floor that is popular with locals and guests.
- There is also a Club floor that provides access to a lounge with snacks and drinks.
- Boomers is a cool family fun park with go karts, putt putt golf, laser tag, an arcade, and all kinds of games.
- Irvine has one of the lowest hotel occupancy taxes in California.
- Tanaka Farms in Irvine is family-owned and is a non-profit that donates food to people in the area. You can do a U-pick tour on a wagon tour and you can pick the produce that are in season.
- Irvine is also known for its outdoor hiking paths.
- Irvine Spectrum Center is a large outdoor mall with a ton of restaurants and the Great Wheel ferris wheel. There is a lawn with a stage and they have live music.
- Irvine is also home to the Orange County Soccer Club, which is fun to watch and is near the Great Park Balloon.
- Diamond Jamboree is a great spot to find authentic Asian cuisine.
Full Episode Transcript
[00:00:00.060] – Kim Tate
It’s summertime at Disneyland, listen to find out what it’s like right now.
[00:00:15.900] – Announcer
Welcome to Vacation Mavens. A family travel podcast with ideas for your next vacation and tips to get you out the door. Here are your hosts, Kim from Stuffed Suitcase and Tamara from We3Travel.
[00:00:30.690] – Kim Tate
Today’s episode is sponsored by Room Steals. Listeners may remember Room Steals from our discussion on finding hotel deals in Episode 185, but Room Steals is a Chrome browser extension that works alongside your existing booking sites. To show you what the wholesale price is for that room, just install the browser extension and search for a hotel, as you normally would on Hotels.com. Booking.com, Expedia or Google. Once you’ve done your initial search, Roo Steals will show you in a pop up if that same room is available for cheaper.
[00:00:57.210] – Kim Tate
If it is, you can click on that pop up and book directly through Room Steals instead. Downloading and using Room Steals is free. However, if you want to book a discounted room, you will have to pay an annual membership fee. Listeners can save 20 percent of the annual membership fee with promo code vacationmavens. If you travel multiple times a year, the subscription will quickly pay for itself. One listener has already saved four hundred dollars using Room Steals on her first booking to learn more visit RoomSteals.com, that’s roomsteals.com and use promo code vacationmavens to save 20 percent off your membership to Room Steals, and we thank them for their support.
[00:01:30.790] – Tamara Gruber
So, Kim, last week we talked all about my trip to Greece and this week, we get to talk all about your return trip to California. You’re really doing a lot of California these days, huh?
[00:01:41.620] – Kim Tate
Yeah, it’s so funny because we had family and friends say, you’re going to Disneyland again. And it’s tough because I know that in some ways we’d like to do other vacations. But the girls had missed getting to Disneyland. And I feel like they really liked it and that’s what they wanted to do. And it’s a pretty easy trip in a lot of ways. So we headed back to Disneyland for family vacation.
[00:02:05.650] – Tamara Gruber
And it’s a really nice, I’m sure, a change of scenery to go to from pine trees to palm trees, right?
[00:02:11.680] – Kim Tate
Yes, exactly. It’s so different. It’s kind of funny how the atmosphere is so different there. And we experience that, especially because we did Disneyland for a few days and then we spent three days in Irvine, California, which is actually a city. It’s kind of the neighboring city to Disneyland. A lot of people will know if you fly in and out of Disneyland. The closest airport is called in a also known as John Wayne or Orange County Airport.
[00:02:36.040] – Kim Tate
And that airport is located in Irvine. So it’s kind of a neighboring city. And we thought it would be a good time to kind of get that Disneyland trip for the girls, but then also be in a hotel and kind of have a more relaxed end to our vacation so that Paul could be happy and have, you know, time to sleep in and kick up his feet a little.
[00:02:54.360] – Tamara Gruber
Yeah, that’s good. I mean, plus like you’ve been to Disneyland, but it’s probably been a couple of years or more since the girls have been. Right.
[00:03:02.110] – Kim Tate
Right. Yeah. So in February 2020 we actually went to a conference in Disney World and then I was in Disneyland for a conference in March of 2020. Well it was end of February when I flew home March 1st before everything shut down. But yeah, the girls have not been to Disneyland in a little while and so that’s what they were really excited about. And it was our home park that we kind of know the best. And I think for the girls, they feel really confident in how to manage it and touring it.
[00:03:30.440] – Kim Tate
And so that was kind of a for them. It’s a trip that they they feel, I think, empowered and excited about.
[00:03:37.970] – Tamara Gruber
And it all worked out because they just reopened for out-of-state visitors in June.
[00:03:42.640] – Kim Tate
That was one of the big reasons. When they got that news, they’re like, that’s what I want to do. I want to go back to Disneyland. And I figure, you know this, too. With the girls getting older and especially with Lizzy going into her senior year, it’s getting tougher and tougher. Once they get into high school and even late middle school, it gets tough to pull them out of school. And so you kind of need to do those summer trips.
[00:04:04.070] – Kim Tate
And that’s where they wanted to go. I thought, well, you know, I guess that’s what we’ll do. And I was hearing these reports that everyone was saying, oh, it’s the perfect time to be in Disneyland. You know, there’s no crowds and it’s really easy and it’s really nice. And then they had the new Avengers campus that was going to open. So we thought it was going to be a great trip and we had a lot of fun.
[00:04:21.850] – Kim Tate
But it’s definitely not the it’s not the low, low crowds that people were expecting, I think, for summer in Disneyland. You if you if you’ve been to summer to Disneyland in the summer and you know what those ride wait times were like, then, yes, it’s going to be a real delight for you. But if you go normally in off-seasons or other times and you kind of are used to being able to really own the park and kind of fly through lines, especially with the fact that there’s no Fastpass or Max pass, which we are very confident using, you are faced with just plain waiting in lines and that’s something my girls were not very excited about.
[00:05:02.020] – Tamara Gruber
Yeah, I was going to say. And just the fact that it’s been so long since people have been around a lot of people and had to do these kind of things were waiting in line. It must have like probably gets to maybe even a little bit more.
[00:05:15.490] – Kim Tate
Yeah, it is interesting, especially also because we some of the rides I felt like the rides were going down more often. Also it seemed like or they had limited capacity, not on, not for social distancing, but just you know, for example, Lizzy’s favorite ride is the Guardians of the Galaxy, which used to be Tower of Terror. And on we were there for three days. And the first day she rode it twice, thinking she would write it the other days as well.
[00:05:40.390] – Kim Tate
And they had two of their elevators break down. So they were only using one one elevator of. So basically they had to have six loading zones and, you know, park opening would happen and you would see it go from like a zero 15 minute wait all sudden in one hundred and twenty five minute wait, 90 minute wait throughout the day. And so that was real disappointing. They finally got it fixed, but she wasn’t able to go on it again the whole trip.
[00:06:07.210] – Kim Tate
So she was kind of bummed about that. So there are those little things where when you’re used to doing that and then I don’t know if it’s just staffing or if the maintenance I mean, I don’t know if Disneyland has been able to get all their workers back. But you can see that, you know, when something went awry that you love does go down, it can be tough. And then, you know, it’s weird because Space Mountain is normally one of the top rides with long wait times.
[00:06:30.510] – Kim Tate
And, you know, you’re used to seeing it with those kind of wait times, normally 70 to 90 minutes is what I see a lot of times, and it was regularly 40 to 60 minutes throughout the day. So that was a real win. But like the railroad was 30 to 40 minutes. It’s just unacceptable to me. So it was really weird how the the numbers kind of flowed. So I don’t know what to think. And they had opened up a Disneyland California resident ticket offer shortly before our trip.
[00:06:59.340] – Kim Tate
And I’m wondering how much of that special affected people, because, you know, they don’t have annual passes anymore. And I think a lot of locals are craving their Disney fix, but buying tickets each time has gotten expensive. And I think this ticket coming out probably made a lot of locals who really understand the park flocked to the park. So I think it affected certain certain rides and things more maybe.
[00:07:24.810] – Tamara Gruber
Yeah, I mean, that all makes sense. It seems like it’s just in that transition kind of phase. Now, what you said that there’s no max pass. So that obviously is a big change. What are some of the other things like do you need a reservation for that day in advance and that kind of thing?
[00:07:40.290] – Kim Tate
Yeah. So you still need reservations so you can buy your tickets and then you have to reserve the day you want to visit and it’s automatically linked to your ticket when you reserve the day through your, you know, like Disneyland, my Disney account. And so that’s one nice thing, is that it’s all linked. So as long as you have a reservation for that day, you have no issue booking, not Max, but the boarding groups for two other rides, which I’ll explain in a minute.
[00:08:07.770] – Kim Tate
And so there is that it’s it’s very fluid, like going through the turnstiles. It’s all linked. You just show your ticket. It’s it’s good to go, but you do have to do a little bit of advance planning and definitely make sure before you plan a trip that there’s the availability. So they are opening up the park reservations for you to book one hundred and twenty days out. So if you’re, you know, planning a trip that’s more than that, it’s no problem.
[00:08:33.090] – Kim Tate
Just decide what they want to do it and then you book it as those days open up on the calendar. And then if you are within the 120 days, you definitely want to make sure you check the availability calendar and make sure however, it’s the calendar is pretty open. It seems like the capacity has definitely been increased. I know our week that we were there, they had it looked like the Disneyland park, because that’s the other thing that I’ll explain in a minute, because you book a specific park.
[00:08:58.290] – Kim Tate
It looked like Disneyland had locked up and was closed and there weren’t any more reservations. But then all of a sudden, I know they opened up more reservations. So it’s kind of an interesting I don’t know if people are releasing reservations and that’s why it looks open or if they’re strictly just adjusting capacity limits as they want, I’m not sure. So something to know about the reservation system is it is so Disneyland has the two parks, they have Disneyland Park and then they have Disney, California Adventure.
[00:09:24.990] – Kim Tate
And the reservation works for one of the parks. And that’s the park you start in. Now, if you buy a park hopper ticket, you can hop to the other park after 1:00 p.m., but you have to start in that starting park. And if you don’t buy a park hopper ticket, then you’re only in that park for the day, if that makes sense. So that’s kind of an extra little level that you have to think about. And then it gets even further planning because there’s two major rides have to have boarding group passes, which is a huge ordeal in itself.
[00:10:01.080] – Kim Tate
And you try and get into a boarding group, which is basically the chance to ride. You still go stand in the line, although the line is very short, but you have to win one of those boarding groups and these things are gone in seconds, like not even minutes. These are gone in seconds. And your chances at seven a.m. and then at noon. And so whichever park you’re starting in is the one you can get the seven a.m. for and then at noon you can get it for the other part.
[00:10:27.360] – Kim Tate
So in Disneyland, it’s rise of the resistance. That’s that Star Wars in California adventure, the other is the new Avengers Web slingers ride. So that’s another level that we had all four of us logging in trying to get these boarding passes. And it was it was stressful, but we were successful every time. So but that’s part of it because I knew I, I knew this was a thing.
[00:10:54.420] – Kim Tate
And I’ve been reading articles like our friend Leslie from Trips with Tikes has an article about it. And then I actually watched like a video on YouTube to show Paul and the girls, like, here’s what you need to do. And it’s sad, though, because I think people who are wanting to experience those, the fact that you have to know all of that and be, you know, like 6:58 we’re there on our phones, like, OK, stop everything we’re doing and get ready to get these tickets and then setting alarms for eleven fifty eight so we can get the noon one and it’s it can be stressful.
[00:11:25.470] – Kim Tate
So it’s kind of an interesting and and if you don’t have hoppers you only have the one. You do have it at 7:00 a.m. and noon, so so if you’re booked at Disneyland and you miss out at the seven a.m. one, you can try again for the noon one. Either park, you can try again, but you can’t go on the same ride twice. So if we were in Disney, California adventure, we couldn’t go to Web slingers if we got a boarding group at seven a.m. and then try and get another boarding group for Web slingers at noon.
[00:11:52.100] – Kim Tate
But we can. And then this is another level of it. Sorry, you guys. This is getting a lot of information, but you have to have already used your first boarding pass before you can get the noon one. So if you have a late boarding group that hasn’t been able to ride yet and you haven’t used your boarding pass yet, by noon, you won’t get to try for the noon pass for the ride. Right.
[00:12:14.240] – Tamara Gruber
But if you had like a one o’clock boarding, I’m sure by one o’clock they’re all gone for the rest.
[00:12:18.740] – Kim Tate
Oh, definitely. Yeah, in seconds. I mean, literally it’s seven to one. There’s nothing available like for people who sit there and they don’t know the system and they think, oh, it’s seven, I’m going to open my app and try and get a boarding group. Nope. They’re already gone like you. There’s some tricks. You have to have the like, we were rebooting our phone. Everything was closed. We had the app already open and then there’s like refresh, refresh, refresh, and then you have to know exactly where to hit.
[00:12:42.230] – Kim Tate
Like you hit here and then you hit start hitting here and you just get lucky you’re not. And it’s crazy.
[00:12:47.930] – Tamara Gruber
I heard Leslie talking about that on her Disney deciphered podcast. It was yes. It was very intense. I know. And when Hannah and I were in Los Angeles, we had a free day and Glenn was like, oh, you should go to Disneyland so you can finally ride. You know, the the you know, Rise of the resistance. And I was like, no, it’s like, first of all, like, I’m just not it would have been like the day after they opened to out-of-state people.
[00:13:10.370] – Tamara Gruber
And I was like, I just can’t deal with that stress. Like, I, I want to go when I know that I can ride that ride because that’s why I would go, you know. Yeah.
[00:13:20.330] – Kim Tate
We were talking about that as a family. We’re just saying how, you know, hard and it’s nice that we knew what to do and that we were able to do it. But then the other thing is it’s kind of bad, like, OK, well, we got to ride the rides multiple times. What about like, we felt kind of bad. What if there’s people out there like this little kid who really wanted to go on Spider-Man loves Spider-Man and we wish there was a way we could be like, here, just use our pass, you know, for this kid to be able to go, you know, because it’s it feels bad because you.
[00:13:47.960] – Kim Tate
Yeah, and I saw people on Twitter, you know, they’re like, oh, I didn’t get it, you know, and I just want to ride this ride. I’d wait three hours for it because and I think that’s what they’re trying to do, is prevent, you know, when Disney World opened Avatar, Pandora flight of passage. Right. And people were like parking out in the parking lot at three a.m. so that they could get out of their car and go wait at the gates and be the first people to the rope line and then be the first people in that line because the line would grow to like three hundred and twenty minutes.
[00:14:16.070] – Kim Tate
It was just insane. Like, I don’t even know how you spend your entire day there. It’s just crazy.
[00:14:20.360] – Tamara Gruber
So I could just say, like, I’m sure there’s nothing in the world that I want to do that much.
[00:14:25.070] – Kim Tate
I do. It’s kind of crazy. I mean, you want to wait six hours for a ride. It’s just insane. But yeah. So I think they’re trying to avoid that because that’s it’s not a positive park experience. But unfortunately, right now and then the other issue you have is just these rides have a lot of working mechanisms and go down a lot. I mean, we got we were on ride of the resistance, and it went down and we got had to leave the line and then come back later.
[00:14:51.740] – Kim Tate
And thankfully, they do have a fastpass working for that now. They didn’t originally, I think, but they have that working again. So they were able to program that for our ticket. So we were able to come back when it was open and go back through. So it’s interesting. It’s it’s definitely another level. So I would say if you’re planning a visit and you’re not wanting or willing to be obsessive about getting those passes, definitely maybe take those two rides off your agenda and just pretend you never heard of those rides and be happy with all the other things that are.
[00:15:24.440] – Kim Tate
[00:15:25.820] – Tamara Gruber
So this helps to be like Disney ignorant in a way. That just going to be like happy with what you get, I don’t know.
[00:15:32.810] – Kim Tate
Well, and there is certainly some great I mean the wait times can certainly be great. So in a lot of ways certain rides, if you’re not trying to go for these certain rides, the wait times can be great, like Toy Story mania. We almost ride that only once because normally the family is not used to it and it normally has a long wait and nobody’s willing to wait with me because it’s one of my favorite rides. And this time, I mean, we went on it twice because the wait time was kind of low.
[00:15:56.390] – Kim Tate
And but then you looked at Mickey’s fun wheel, which you would normally. It’s not too crazy, but it was easily fifty to sixty minutes. It seemed like there in the middle of the day every time we were there. So it’s just weird. It was a really weird. That’s why I think there was a lot of California people maybe who just kind of wanted to go for, I don’t know how to read the visitors because it was just an odd, odd feel.
[00:16:19.580] – Kim Tate
Yeah, the numbers didn’t line up everywhere we wanted and dining was a little tough. Still, they’ve definitely they’ve got the mobile ordering down a little bit better, I think, at Disneyland. Where. You can place your mail order. We didn’t really have an issue getting our order, we found we have one place that we love called bingo barbecue, and we had no real issue with finding an open time slot that fit with what we wanted. And it was almost always available right away.
[00:16:45.020] – Kim Tate
And then it’s like a half an hour time slot. So then you go and you’re like, I’m here. And then once you say I’m here to pick up your food, it’s normally a it can be, you know, a minute to ten minutes before they have your food ready. But it was pretty quick. Well, that’s good. A little, yes.
[00:17:00.110] – Tamara Gruber
But with that, it sounds like you guys had a good time, though. I mean, luckily, it all worked out for you with the with those particular rides, because I’m sure the girls, you know, really wanted to. Yes.
[00:17:10.970] – Kim Tate
Yeah. Web slingers, we all kind of thought it was ho hum. In all honesty, we did it again. And once you do it a second time, you kind of understand it a little better. And so maybe it becomes a little more fun. But I think for people who are waiting and then we also we waited 60 minutes. Well, it was we got in line at like ten, I think it was ten or two or something.
[00:17:30.410] – Kim Tate
And we left at eleven o four after the ride. And that was the ride had gone down while we were in line and it was probably down for 15 minutes. So I mean, even when you get there, it’s you might still have a long wait to get on the rise of the resistance. We didn’t have quite that at any other times. We rode that. So but just, you know, Web slingers is a you kind of put on these 3D goggles and you it’s a bit like Toy Story in a way, but you use your hands to shoot webs and you’re trying to attack these, you know, little bots on the screen.
[00:18:02.570] – Kim Tate
And so your webs are shooting them and you earn points. And so at the end of the ride, you have accumulated a certain amount of points.
[00:18:09.260] – Tamara Gruber
So instead of like shooting a little laser gun thing.
[00:18:13.280] – Kim Tate
[00:18:14.630] – Tamara Gruber
The next generation more interactive, I guess.
[00:18:17.060] – Kim Tate
Yeah. Yeah. But you’re just moving like it’s I thought it would be more like I don’t know how to explain it like spinning or like, you know, universal Orlando. That’s the Harry Potter, the forbidden journey. I know how you go in front of the screens and you watch stuff happen, but going between the screens you’re like, oh it’s roller coaster.
[00:18:37.760] – Kim Tate
OK, yeah, but I kind of wanted that kind of experience. And this you’re just on a car like Toy Story mania and you just kind of get like moved over to this next screen and then you move to this next screen and it opens. And so there’s no real there’s it’s it’s literally like, yeah, Lightyear, not Buzz Lightyear, but like Toy Story with the screen. And instead of using a little gun thing that’s in front of you, you’re using your hands and then, yeah, you earn points and people want to do it because they want to get better at their points.
[00:19:07.700] – Kim Tate
And that’s it.
[00:19:09.380] – Tamara Gruber
[00:19:10.070] – Kim Tate
Rise, on the other hand, is amazing. We really liked it, although it it’s funny because we were so excited for Paul to finally get to ride it because he was a he’s a Star Wars guy like Star Wars. He’s not a Star Wars freak, but he I don’t mean to say freak if he runs into Star Wars fans. I know. No, I didn’t mean like that. But he’s he likes Star Wars, you know, like.
[00:19:27.890] – Kim Tate
Yes. Age. He grew up with it and like, I know Star Wars, but yeah. So we are really excited for him to do rise. And then we took him to Millennium Falcon. He’s like, oh, that was way better than it was so funny because we live opposite. We were like a Millennium Falcon is not that great. And then he just loved it and he thought it was so fun and he liked it. He liked Millennium Falcon and rides better than Web slingers so.
[00:19:49.580] – Tamara Gruber
Well, it’s just something about like when you’re so invested in a franchise, like to have like the that more immersive kind of experience is so exciting. I mean, that’s why I know, like, the first time we went to Universal and all the Harry Potter stuff, it was just like a dream come true, I think like to be like walking through Hogwarts and all this kind of stuff. So I think that type of response, you know, it doesn’t surprise me too much because it’s not just about the ride, it’s about everything else.
[00:20:16.790] – Kim Tate
[00:20:17.000] – Kim Tate
The characters and all that. Yeah. The big thing we dining just eating off hours is a big thing because seating seems to be a little limited again. And so just I recommend I always say like take a granola bar so that they can tide you over and just try and plan to eat off hours. We actually saw the first day the girls did the full day in the park and we got there. We did rope drop every morning, which they’re back to rope drop.
[00:20:42.410] – Kim Tate
So I was kind of bummed because they had done with rope drop because they didn’t want to have everybody congregating together. And so people were getting there early and they were opening the turnstiles early and people were able to go just on rides like an hour before the park officially opened. Wow.
[00:20:56.570] – Tamara Gruber
Because it used to be like even if you could get through the turnstiles, like the rides weren’t operating, but you could least get in line.
[00:21:02.210] – Kim Tate
Yeah. And so that’s what they’re back to. So you can get through the turns, you can get through security, you can get through the turnstiles and then you go wait at this rope. Were these, you know, cast members are holding and a big group mob of people just line up there and it’s kind of depending on where you’re at, but the ropes are leading into the main main areas. So you kind of held back and you can get there early.
[00:21:25.160] – Kim Tate
So that’s what we did. So we aimed. So we kind of aim to be on our way. Walking, we got we stayed at a new renovated hotel, it’s newly branded through a best western is called Hotel Lulu and it’s nearby. It’s kind of in walking distance a little longer. But the cool thing about it is it is near a Walgreens and a CVS. So we stopped in there and we’re able to get like Gatorade’s and water for much cheaper.
[00:21:49.440] – Kim Tate
Kind of, you know, that was nice for stocking up on little snacks and drinks. And definitely, even though it’s a pharmacy, you know, pricing it still way cheaper than in the park. And it was nice to have that. It was so convenient that it was next door and the walking distances, I would still call it walking distance. It was maybe a ten minute walk. And there was also a Starbucks next to it. They had mobile ordering most days, but they seem to close that down on our last day.
[00:22:14.100] – Kim Tate
We’re not sure why. So I don’t know if they’re just over staffed with mobile ordering, but that’s something to check. And it made it easier for us to get coffee in the morning on our way. And so we try and get coffees and then be on our way. And then we’d be slightly outside of the park and at the six fifty nine, when we’d try and get those boarding groups, we’d walk or, you know, pull over to the side of the sidewalk and get it and then go get in line.
[00:22:34.080] – Kim Tate
So we were showing up. It was an eight a.m. opening time. So we were getting to the security line up right around seven to seven tennish, you know, and it worked pretty well for us. We we got in there, so we went through the security line. Then we got through security fast and then we waited in the line for the turnstiles. They open the turnstiles a half an hour before the park opened. And then once you got through the turnstiles, you walked and waited again at the rope drop where you wait, you know, where you waited for the eight a.m. opening and then you quickly walked, don’t run.
[00:23:05.070] – Kim Tate
Even though people ran down to the whatever ride you wanted to go for. So that was it. It was fun. It was it’s a lot to manage. I think Disneyland is one of those things where if you just want to show up in the middle of the day and go on some rides, you should probably allow for more time, because there are people who I mean, we know the ins and outs. And if you’re not willing to learn all those ins and outs of tricks, then you’re going to just have to wait in lines, be OK with that.
[00:23:31.080] – Tamara Gruber
So I’m ready to go back after the fast passes are back and after the special like after hours events and all the kind of stuff.
[00:23:42.570] – Tamara Gruber
I was just going to say I just really I don’t love rides except some of the special ones like Flight of Passage and I’m sure I will love the Star Wars ones. And so just being able to do it without the lines, you know, that would be the way I prefer to go.
[00:23:58.260] – Kim Tate
Yeah. Yeah. I think that’s where our girls are at because they really liked the rides. And so it’s funny because Paul he wants to just like oh I want to watch that show or I just want to sit on this bench and people watch and I and there was like, no, we’re going to go get this right and we’re going to get this right. And this was the trip, though. It’s nice when you’re a little older and the kids can be left alone.
[00:24:17.280] – Kim Tate
Like like I said, the first day, the girls stayed the full time the park. And then Paul and I left towards the afternoon evening. We took a little break in the room and then we went and got dinner again. This hotel where we stayed down the road, it’s near, you know, like tourist restaurants. So it’s like Cheesecake Factory and Bubba Gump Shrimp and I don’t know what else there was, but opening. So we went out there and it was nice to have that little break.
[00:24:42.270] – Kim Tate
And then the next two days we left after we did the rope drop, the numbers were just going insane. And the girls, like I said, they’re all about the ride. So when those rides, the wait times were more than they wanted to wait. We just left and went back and took a midday break in the hotel and then went back later in the day to do more stuff. And so I think those it’s that’s one of the benefits.
[00:25:02.010] – Kim Tate
Where does that is if you stay on property, it’s great because you’re in kind of the bubble of Disney. And if you stay at the Grand Californian, it’s got the private access into Disney California Adventure Park. But those rooms are going for like eight hundred bucks a night right now. And you don’t get the early entry with it, which normally one of the benefits of staying on site is that you get into the parks an hour early. So it’s definitely a tradeoff.
[00:25:26.580] – Kim Tate
So if you stay off site on one of the harbor hotels, you can, you know, kind of take those midday breaks still and walk to and from the park. But you’re faced with that extra, you know, a little bit extra going through more people and a few extra waits. But it is nice to have the midday breaks.
[00:25:43.820] – Tamara Gruber
I’m telling you, if I ever come to Disneyland, I’m going to go with you. Yeah. You and Leslie. Oh, yeah. I follow you guys because, I mean, I feel like, you know, I had gone to Disney World a long time ago and then recently I’ve gone a few times in recent years. And so now I feel like comfortable with Disney World, you know, but I’ve never been to Disneyland. So whole new thing.
[00:26:03.870] – Tamara Gruber
Yeah, well, I’m excited to take you and show you all the ins and outs, but I will say for anybody who’s thinking of taking a trip, there’s a couple of things I want to mention. First is hotels. So our hotel that we stayed at, Hotel Lulu, they, you know, mentioned that they’re in a real staff shortage right now. And of course, there was no housekeeping. You can request your towels when you want them and if you need garbage taken out.
[00:26:26.550] – Tamara Gruber
So we definitely did that and they took care of it right away and. But it’s something to keep in mind, and the Hotel Lulu, like I said, it’s the best Western property recently got taken over by a Red Lion. And so it’s definitely a budget friendly park property. So if people are looking to save money, that would be a good option, especially since, like I said, it’s near the Walgreens and there’s a CVS right across the street.
[00:26:45.840] – Tamara Gruber
They both have like Disney souvenir stuff at less price than what you’re going to pay in the park. So if you want to surprise your kids with something, you could always go in there and grab it. They also have, you know, of course, sunscreens and anything. You might forget that it’s just a little bit different than buying them in the park. So that’s convenient from a budget standpoint. The rooms themselves, I, I think there they go for around, you know, depending on the season, around 150 a night.
[00:27:10.440] – Tamara Gruber
So comparing that to some of the other hotels that are a little closer, it’s definitely a budget savings. And then again, even with going down the street, you have those you know, there was a California pizza kitchen, P.F. Chang’s, and Cheesecake Factory. So you’ve got some major restaurants there. If you’re trying to save a little money and take a midday break and get lunch there, get an early dinner before you go back in the parks or something, that might be an option, but definitely something with all of the hotels around Disneyland right now is that they are all dealing with a severe staff shortage.
[00:27:42.240] – Tamara Gruber
They went, you know, the hotels where I talked to the people at the hotel where we stayed and they went from having like 17 rooms booked to all of a sudden having over one hundred. And they just don’t they haven’t been able to hire the staff. They’ve increased their pay rate and they still can’t get staff in. And so managers are going up to clean rooms. And it’s just I mean, we’ve heard this everywhere. But in Disneyland, it’s really obvious this summer is that hotels are hurting with staff.
[00:28:08.460] – Tamara Gruber
I know one of the hotels that’s a popular kind of mom and pop called candy cane inn. They are not even open again yet because of staff.
[00:28:16.720] – Tamara Gruber
Wow. So, yeah, it’s it continues to be a problem. I hope that by far maybe things will, you know, sort themselves out. I’m seeing even like restaurants around here like closing because they’re not able to have the staff and service that they want. And it’s yeah, I’m sure they’ll be back, but it’ll just take us some time.
[00:28:35.730] – Kim Tate
Yeah. And so I think you just have to be, you know, little things to just be aware of and be a little more. I mean, we’ve talked about this be patient, but just understanding that like maybe the cleanliness level in hotels and what you’re expecting or what you’re used to is not perhaps going to be what you are thinking you’re going to get. So just be aware of that. And then the other thing would be the car rentals. We had our own little issue with car rentals, which everyone knows the car rental shortage issue.
[00:29:01.860] – Kim Tate
We rented a car from the airport to drive and go to Disneyland and do it. We visited USC and Cal Tech for Lizzy and we had no problem. The car was there. We rented it. I was like, phew, I think it is no issue. We are fine. We dropped it off after ours, dropped our keys and we dropped it off at this Alamo that was right near where we were staying at Disneyland. And we were supposed to pick up another car on Thursday, so we dropped it off on Sunday.
[00:29:28.650] – Kim Tate
We’re supposed to pick up a different car on Thursday because we didn’t need a car for those three days when we were at the parks because we were just going to go to the parks. And we got called Wednesday night like five minutes before they closed, telling us they wouldn’t have a car for us. That was it. And then they never returned my phone call. So I reached out to them on Twitter, gotten a reply, and finally just used auto slash, which we’ve I think we’ve mentioned that before, and a rental car episode.
[00:29:54.840] – Kim Tate
But I’ve never used it before. But I used auto slash to just find a rate and they found me a great Hertz rate that was actually cheaper than what I walked through. Alamo maybe last minute, you know, they had some availability and I was able to go down there the next day and we got the car rental and had no issue. So thank goodness it all worked out. But just beware some of the smaller like I think this was part of it because it was a smaller location.
[00:30:17.160] – Kim Tate
They’re not managing their inventory well. And so beware.
[00:30:20.940] – Tamara Gruber
Yeah. I mean, if there’s problems at airports, I can certainly imagine that there’s even more problems at these, like off, you know, airport kind of locations. Yes, it’s it’s sad. I mean, I definitely see as places are increasing, you know, we’ve talked about Hawaii before. I saw someone that just got back from Iceland posting that things were like five hundred to a thousand dollars a day. And then I saw someone in my Iceland planning group just saying, like, I can’t find a rental, like, what am I going to do?
[00:30:48.450] – Tamara Gruber
And so I was just advising my aunt to try to book something like in advance, you know, as far as you can. But it’s just hard because like you did that and then they canceled that. What do you do? You know exactly.
[00:31:00.690] – Kim Tate
And I know I have another blogging friend who had the exact same thing happen to her with the exact same Alamo’s site there in Disneyland about a week or two before I did. I have that problem.
[00:31:11.010] – Kim Tate
So definitely something to be aware of. You can do the booking and know that you have your your reservation made. But whether they actually have a car for you when you show up for that reservation and they what I experienced, they did nothing to help us. So you just I think when you you have to be ready to backpedal and hope for the best and. So we were ready to just, you know, use Uber, find another one available, and thankfully it all worked out and we were able to get another kind of wonder if that’s a case where, you know, maybe it helps if you, like, pay more like Hertz is always usually the most expensive.
[00:31:45.940] – Tamara Gruber
Right. But it’s like if you pay more or if if you’re part of a like a loyalty club versus. Yeah, you’re going to save more if you use, like auto slash or Costco or something like that. But I wonder if booking direct helps at all, like if the first people they cancel are the third parties, like who knows. But it does. I have no idea. I even booked a premium car hoping that they like it would give us more as opposed to an economy.
[00:32:09.500] – Kim Tate
I booked the premium because it was only two dollars more. And so I thought that would help. But no. So it was nothing help. So I don’t know now.
[00:32:18.010] – Tamara Gruber
I’m glad it worked out for you. Yeah. And then you guys had some time to chill out and. Yeah.
[00:32:21.960] – Kim Tate
So that was the other part of it. Yeah. So we you know, Paul’s not a huge Disneyland person. Even I like Disneyland, but I’m not crazy crazy. And I can you know, I enjoy taking the breaks. And so we booked our final three nights in Irvine, which was nearby and near the John Wayne Airport that we were flying home from. And they we stayed at a brand new hotel called the Marriott Irvine Spectrum. And we loved it.
[00:32:47.540] – Kim Tate
We had such a good time is the perfect way to end our vacation, because we I worked with Irvine. They gave us a couple of ideas and helped us set up a couple of things. And then we got to our hotel, kind of had a lazy day that day and just had it. It was nice. We just had I don’t know what the term and what I’m trying to think of, but we just didn’t have a lot on our calendar, so it kind of worked out well.
[00:33:09.030] – Kim Tate
So the first day that we were checking in, we got in there and then we went to this kind of family park fun center called Boomers, and it was where they had a huge arcade with the arcade. But we did putt putt golf and then we did laser tag game, which surprisingly enough, we were all super competitive. I was completely out of breath after that. It was brutal. The girls beat both the parents. Paul actually was very sad to find out he was last, which is kind of sad.
[00:33:36.890] – Kim Tate
Doesn’t surprise me at all that you would be competitive.
[00:33:41.150] – Kim Tate
Yeah. Evidently I rubbed it off on my kids too. So but yeah. So it was kind of fun and we we had a great time there and then playing it was a lot of fun and it was a great, you know, like, that’s like a vacation. Right. I mean that was so nice. Like we did the Disneyland thing, but then we had this break in Irvine so close we didn’t need to do that much traveling on the crazy interstate’s of, you know, Sokal and.
[00:34:05.420] – Kim Tate
Yeah, so Boomers was fun. It was just kind of one of those family park fun centers. We didn’t do any of the arcade. We just did the laser tag. And oh, they did have go karts, which Paul got. You talk about competitive. He got super competitive. I got taken out by like a twelve year old boy. It made me really mad because you’re like you’re not allowed to bump.
[00:34:22.670] – Kim Tate
But they evidently care about the rules. And so and he was just going and going and going and he’d figured out that I think he was with a friend and they figured out which cars are the fastest. So they just kept going and going. And they would always like he would specifically skip cars and go to a specific car where the rest of us just got in the car where that was next in line and it was brutal. So that was one one negative.
[00:34:43.520] – Kim Tate
Is the teenage boy or not? I guess tween boy, but we still had fun and it was nice. So that was, you know, kind of a relaxed day. And then, like, we just hung out at the pool and the hotel was really nice. They, you know, it was a new Marriott. It had trying to think of how many flaws there were. Now I think it was sixteen floors. And on the sixteenth floor, they have like a rooftop bar that’s supposed to be really, really popular.
[00:35:09.170] – Kim Tate
They actually were able to get in on our last night and kind of go up there and look. And it’s absolutely gorgeous. And I talked to the manager of the bar and he was saying that it’s like seventy percent locals and visitors and only thirty percent for the hotel. So it’s got its own, like, vibe and social standing. Not that’s not even linked to the hotel, if that makes sense.
[00:35:29.120] – Tamara Gruber
Yeah, it’s a place to go.
[00:35:31.130] – Kim Tate
So, yes, the hotel itself is a gorgeous Marriott property. Knew the rooms were nice and everything was good. It had a view our room had like a view of the freeway, but it had mountains in the background. So it was really kind of cool. And Irvine, I think, is unknown. I’m trying to think of I thought it was something I’m trying to think of what I know them for. But they had a whole bunch of office buildings, so they must have.
[00:35:50.000] – Kim Tate
I know they have really they’re one of the lowest hotel occupancy taxes in California. So you know how you always get those, you know, 15 to 18 percent charges. There’s just like ten percent. So if you’re staying in a nice hotel for a while, that little bit of savings can be nice. So but they have a lot of businesses around there and we were staying right across from the Taco Bell headquarters. So we laughed. And I wonder if they have a drive through.
[00:36:15.920] – Kim Tate
So the hotel is nice. They had a club lounge which we were able to get into. And you know that with Glenn’s, you know, status, it’s always nice because lots of water. I mean, we went there for so much water, it was nice. And the girls would go there to get all the. Free chips and stuff, and then, of course, we had breakfast in the morning there, which was a nice little perk.
[00:36:33.600] – Tamara Gruber
Oh, that’s surprising. Like the actual hotel perks, really, when we were seated that that nice Athens hotel, that’s a Marriott and we were on the what did they call it like the the butler or concierge. Yeah, yeah, yeah. And we walk by like the little you know, usually the the lounge room and it was locked and I was like, oh well good thing we’re only here one day and it included breakfast early. So it was actually a wonderful breakfast that included.
[00:37:02.730] – Tamara Gruber
That’s nice. Yeah. But we were like oh can we get a little extra perk.
[00:37:06.660] – Kim Tate
Yeah. Yeah. This is nice because they had, you know, like the coffee machine there and then they had like three hot dishes so and a meat and potatoes and then they had like porridge and cinnamon rolls. But it was great. I mean it was really nice. And they have this little patio. I mean, the hotel itself, it’s a really nice property is one of those. It’s a it’s like weird. It’s kind of resource. We feel it’s not huge, though, but it’s a resource we feel in this, you know, city of California.
[00:37:33.180] – Kim Tate
So it was nice. But the pool lounge and then the restaurant and bar area is just beautiful. It’s absolutely gorgeous. Like downstairs restaurant of our not even the rooftop bar is just really, really nice. And we we enjoyed dinner there and it was great.
[00:37:47.760] – Tamara Gruber
Nice properties. Sounds like you wanted to have that pool time and stuff.
[00:37:53.190] – Kim Tate
Exactly. And we actually were able to get so we went down two times to middle of the day, like to lounge and everything, get drinks at the pool and we were able to get loungers each time and there’s not tons loungers. So I think we definitely noticed in the weekend because we we were there Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and we flew home Sunday. And we definitely noticed Saturday was much busier. Whereas when we were there Thursday and Friday, the pool was not as busy.
[00:38:18.910] – Kim Tate
So definitely kind of well. And a sports team came in for a competition. And so there was a lot of kids there in sports uniforms and stuff, which was kind of funny because it doesn’t strike me as a I mean, it’s definitely a business Marriott property. So it kind of struck me as funny that. But I don’t know. There must I mean, there’s a big sports complex that we went and saw a soccer game at. So it’s possible that that’s why they pick there, because it’s close to that kind of one of the most popular hotels near that sports complex.
[00:38:48.200] – Tamara Gruber
Makes sense. Yeah.
[00:38:49.680] – Kim Tate
So one of the I’ll just mention a couple of the other things we did was in Irvine, we went to a place called Tanaka Farms, which was really cool. It’s like this family owned, you know, farm it actually they told us the story that I don’t and I didn’t I haven’t checked this. But it’s a Japanese family who they said that in when the war was going on and they were doing the internment camps in the U.S., that if you opened a farmer, were running a farm, you were able to not go to an internment camp.
[00:39:19.800] – Kim Tate
And so this family opened this farm. And that’s sort of how it’s how it stayed and it’s family owned. And then it’s also a nonprofit. They have volunteers who worked there and they donate part of their produce and everything to local people in need in the area. So it was pretty cool. And so we did this. It’s called a you pick tour. So it’s like a wagon tour and they give you these little, you know, cardboard basket things and you go around to different parts in the field.
[00:39:47.940] – Kim Tate
They’re like, today we’re going to be picking tomatoes and Sushmita peppers and melon. And so they drove us. I mean, OK, we’re going to go here and you’re going to pick from these plans on the tomatoes and you got your little cardboard basket and you could just fill it up with whatever you want to. And they drove you on the wagon to the next spot and they’re like, OK, now we’re picking Chido Peppers. And we picked those and then moved on.
[00:40:06.450] – Kim Tate
OK, here’s our melon. So we’ve already picked some but pick which ones you want. So it’s kind of cool is a really neat experience and then they hand you it or. Yeah, we kept it so we ate it on our trip. We actually brought the peppers home with us in our suitcase and they were fine because we TSA says fruit and vegetables are allowed. Paul actually carried on some of the melons, but they were getting super ripe.
[00:40:25.350] – Kim Tate
It was funny because we were on the plane and I was like, OK, those melons are starting to smell too, right? Like I can. I’m starting to smell them. So, like, they weren’t soft. Yeah, but, you know, they just start putting off the strong scent. People are like smelling it. I’m like, don’t put it at your feet. Definitely put it up. I was so embarrassed. I was like, no, I have such a sensitive nose.
[00:40:44.390] – Tamara Gruber
I would have been like, you have melon like like hand cream or whatever was that
[00:40:50.220] – Kim Tate
It was so embarrassing. I was like, oh my gosh. So anyways, but yeah. So we you got to keep the food and everything and it’s just neat. And they had animals there. So we got to see some, you know, sheep and chickens and all that. But it was just a cool, you know, neat little thing to see this big farm and agriculture and then to get a pick food that you couldn’t eat.
[00:41:08.430] – Kim Tate
So we thought that was a neat thing. And then we like I said, we did. We went to UC Irvine, which they told you that. But Lizzy’s college shop in and UC Irvine was kind of on her list of interested campuses. And so we drove there and got out and she actually really liked it. It was kind of funny because she it seems like she’s drawn to more of the city college campuses, but this one’s more suburb, and she really liked it, she thought it was really nice.
[00:41:34.710] – Kim Tate
So who knows if she becomes an anteater that’s still there, the anteaters. It’s an interesting, interesting mascot.
[00:41:41.430] – Tamara Gruber
But I’ve been watching, like, never have I ever. Is that what it is? Yeah. Netflix, have you watched that.
[00:41:48.030] – Kim Tate
I haven’t. But the girls I know, the girls were like, oh, there’s a new season or there’s new something.
[00:41:51.680] – Tamara Gruber
It’s so cute. It’s like, I don’t know. It’s a teen comedy. Yeah. Yeah, I, I know. I love it. I thought it was so cute. But their mascot is a cricket like so terrible. Exactly.
[00:42:03.900] – Kim Tate
I think anteater is slightly better than cricket. Yeah. How funny. So we did that and we, we drove by. So Irvine is known for their outdoor like they have so many bike paths, hiking trails and stuff. So it’s really interesting. So if you’re an outdoorsy person and looking to do something like that remains a great destination. So we they had a wild, wild wilderness access to this place called Bomber Canyon, and it’s near the campus.
[00:42:29.670] – Kim Tate
So we drove over there and it was basically they give you this access to this deeper part of the woods, the deeper part of the park that normally isn’t open. And we didn’t pack for hiking. So we just kind of looked at it and got a feel for it. It’s definitely of course, not Pacific Northwest hiking. It’s definitely like Southern California, more arid hiking. So we but it was just it was neat. So it’s kind of a thing.
[00:42:52.200] – Kim Tate
So if you’re into outdoor stuff, Irvine is a destination for that. I don’t remember all the facts, but I know they have a huge number of miles of bike and hiking trails. It’s crazy.
[00:43:02.470] – Tamara Gruber
So definitely interesting because my perception as an east coaster, Irvine has just been. Yeah, like the John Wayne Airport. I used to work with a guy that lived in Irvine and he would talk about like some kind of giant shopping mall that’s out there. Like, I have very different view of Irvine. I think of it as very like Orange County upscale. Like, I do not think about outdoor activities.
[00:43:28.260] – Tamara Gruber
So that’s cool to know that it has that side, too.
[00:43:30.870] – Kim Tate
It’s really cool. It actually is a neat little city. I think. I think people would be surprised if they gave it a chance. It feels very spread out. So it’s not total. OASDI like Huntington Beach, Newport. It’s not one of those tiny it’s not one of those. It’s more spread out open a little more open area. But there’s got some really cute little houses, lots of businesses. And then, yeah, the shopping mall, which I’ll talk about in a minute, is a big part of Irvine, which is a huge aspect, but it was actually a lot of fun.
[00:43:57.960] – Kim Tate
So but yeah. So that was kind of that aspect of it. But the big thing that you’re talking about is the Irvine Spectrum Center, which is basically a large outdoor mall that has tons of restaurants. And then they have this thing called the Great Wheel, which is kind of a Ferris wheel. And so it’s not really like it’s not an enclosed wheel like some of the, you know, other cities have like. Yeah, like it a lot.
[00:44:22.920] – Kim Tate
And I and I not as big as that and not even like the Seattle one. That’s kind of like gondola Sized seating. This is more like Ferris wheel chair lift or not chair lift. It’s that’s the weird thing. So it’s almost like a ride where it’s got kind of bench seating around. So our family of four, we sat like in a circle and there’s a center thing that you hang on. But it was really cute and they had live music there when we went and we just sat on this.
[00:44:47.670] – Kim Tate
They have kind of Astroturf lawn in front of the stage that’s right in front of the wheel. And I showed on my Instagram stories people might have seen it, but it was just so pretty and it was fun. And the girls, whenever they had a Hello Kitty cafe and then of course, they had Brandy Melville. And I don’t know what other stores the girls went to, but they did a little shopping. I went early to a place called the Yard House, which we actually have in Seattle, but it’s a big sports bar with lots of beers on tap.
[00:45:11.610] – Kim Tate
And so I said, oh, Paul’s never been to Yard house and he would love that. So we went there and kind of watch TV while the girls finish shopping. And then we got some, you know, ordered dinner and they joined us and then we headed home. But it was fun. So it is a it is a big shopping mall, but it’s it’s got a neat vibe and a good feel. And it was busy on the weekend, that’s for sure.
[00:45:31.350] – Kim Tate
Definitely the the Irvine teen hangout spot.
[00:45:34.830] – Tamara Gruber
Well, then teens should fit right in.
[00:45:36.810] – Kim Tate
Yeah, exactly. So I mean they, I mean they were happy, they loved it so and it’s got a lot of name brand stores in Barnes and Noble. So Lizzie was excited about that. Yeah. It was good, good place. And one other cool little thing that we did was we went to a soccer match. So they have a it’s called the Orange County Soccer Club. And so it’s a, I think, level for soccer. So it’s not MLS like level one.
[00:46:01.260] – Kim Tate
So it’s level four. And so some young kids, but some people who just love playing the sport, some are paid, I think in some aren’t. I think some are just walk on. But it was a really cool kind of outdoor venue. And it’s in this area, I think it’s called Great Park, but they have this famous, like balloon thing called the Great Park Balloon. It’s this giant orange because destination Irvine, their logo’s and orange.
[00:46:25.110] – Kim Tate
I never found out if they have a bunch of orange fields or Richard. Nearby or something, but it’s this kind of I know that you’ve seen it from it’s very similar to Walt Disney World, what they have that downtown Disney, the Disney Springs balloon that kind of goes up and people get in the basket. Yeah. So that’s basically what it is. And it’s supposedly free, but there can be long waits and of course, it’s dependent on wind and all that.
[00:46:47.390] – Kim Tate
And so we didn’t we didn’t have time and go up it, but we saw it when we went to the soccer match and we were able to see that it, you know, looks like a fun little thing, gives you an overview of the whole area. But in that that complex was where it was staying so that we watched the soccer match and then there’s that balloon. And then there’s also like baseball fields and soccer fields and softball fields. So I think it’s a big little sports center for probably local teams to play it cool.
[00:47:13.760] – Tamara Gruber
So does that wrap up your trip?
[00:47:16.040] – Kim Tate
Yeah, I think I want it. I’ll mention one of the things we did, and that’s just about food, because we didn’t you know, we did eat at the hotel and then we ate at the Irvine Spectrum Center, like I mentioned. But one thing that’s interesting about Irvine that I learned is that they have a over 40 percent demographic Asian demographic for their in their citizenship. And so international, like Asian cuisines, have been a big part of their make up of their dining industry.
[00:47:41.210] – Kim Tate
And they have this area called Diamond Jamboree, which is basically a strip mall, but it’s filled full of, you know, like different Asian cuisine restaurants. And it was is they recommended that we go there. And so we went and it looked like a really popular place. And so it’s funny because you think, oh, it’s just a standard strip mall, but it’s just neat. They have all these different places you can eat. And they’d given us a recommendation, like one of the places they had it was called Tim Huan, which is a Michelin star, like he’s a Hong Kong based chef.
[00:48:10.640] – Kim Tate
And I guess there was something about like, oh, it’s a best paper place at Michelin Star meal. You can get her the cheapest Michelin star meal you can get. So I don’t know what he is, but it’s supposed to be pretty cool. So we were thinking about going there, but we ended up going to another one. They said it was called Pepper Lunch, which is like a DIY tepid restaurant. But it’s more like kind of we did teriyaki, but basically you’re served your food on a really hot, hot cast iron dish.
[00:48:37.220] – Kim Tate
So you don’t touch it. And they’ll put like if you get a certain meat dish, they’ll actually have the meat is raw and you kind of move it around and mix it with the rice to cook it because it’s that boiling hot on that cast iron still. And it was it was a neat experience. And it was again, it was so fast. I mean, it’s just order and it’s there. So it’s a popular lunch place for, I think, a lot of those businesses and working people in Irvine.
[00:48:59.570] – Kim Tate
But it was a really neat place. It’s called the Diamond Jamboree. And if you you know, it’s a great little stop and a very affordable too. So that was nice. Double bonus. That kind of wraps it up.
[00:49:11.810] – Tamara Gruber
Yeah, that sounds good. It’s like I love being able to try different cuisines when you’re traveling. I mean, here in Rhode Island, we don’t have like I mean, I don’t know, it’s getting better, but there’s not like as many different kind of ethnicities when it comes to cuisine. And so when I go other places, I’m like, oh yeah, I try that so well.
[00:49:32.610] – Kim Tate
And I think, yeah, I think the cool thing about this is that you get so I mean, being Americans like us, sometimes we get so pigeonholed like, oh it’s Asian cuisine, OK, like that must be Chinese or Japanese or and it’s neat to think no, there’s all Cambodian. Ah. There’s, you know, there’s a lot of types like, you know, different, you know, Hong Kong and different cuisine styles. And so that was kind of an interesting concept to consider.
[00:49:56.930] – Kim Tate
And keep in mind,
[00:49:57.830] – Tamara Gruber
when we were in Berkeley the first night, we’re exhausted. Hannah could barely stay awake. And I walked out to get something to eat. And, you know, it’s like a lot of just like more casual pickup places right near the school. Yeah. So I found, you know, like a good Korean place. And that was I think it was like kimchi garden or something. But I’m like, yeah, this is great, you know?
[00:50:15.950] – Kim Tate
And it’s like you said, sometimes those places are also very affordable because it’s not all about like the fancy atmosphere. It’s about just, you know, good food and more known to locals for like takeout and things like that.
[00:50:29.210] – Kim Tate
Yeah. We did also notice it was kind of interesting, like we were going to eat there and like there was a la it was like everyone was wearing masks. So we started feeling uncomfortable, like, oh, I guess we should go get our masks because we had been so confident, comfortable, like not wearing masks and or so. But we are kind of getting the vibe of the area and just kind of doing what they did. But yeah, when we were at the Diamond Jamboree, we definitely noticed that there was a very large percentage of people still wearing masks.
[00:50:54.110] – Tamara Gruber
So, yeah, it’s good to just like adapt to kind of what’s around you because then you’re going to put more of those people out is probably exactly.
[00:51:01.440] – Kim Tate
Yeah. So when I went to order, I started realizing I was like, oh, like I didn’t see a sign like her. And she’s like, no, I. And I was like, we’re vaccinated. But we’ll put on our masks. I’m sorry. And, you know, I didn’t want to say sorry. I’m not trying. And she’s like, no, it’s fine. So I felt better because I was worried I’d missed a sign or something that I seen it when I noticed it.
[00:51:19.460] – Kim Tate
But yeah, but we had a great time. So I definitely I think that that’s like if people are not like, huge Disney like doing it all. But your kids want to go to Disney. If you can make it a one week trip and do like Disney for a couple or three days and then go somewhere else to end your trip, I think that is a really exciting a good way to do it because you get to sleep in and you don’t have a lot on your agenda.
[00:51:40.890] – Kim Tate
You can hang out a pool. And we were really impressed with Irvine. And it’s certainly nice when you’re so close to the airport. And so we checked out of the hotel and 10 minutes later we’re dropping the car off. So it’s it’s nice that you guys had such a good trip. I’m glad you had, you know, had a chance to have a summer vacation. And it was a destination that the girls wanted to do and they were happy with and change of scenery and all that.
[00:52:06.090] – Kim Tate
And now do you have any more travel plans this summer?
[00:52:09.990] – Kim Tate
Yeah. So now that we just got the news, I know if everyone listening has heard this, but Canada is reopening their borders to vaccinated Americans on August 9th. And so we’re excited that we are going to plan a trip up to visit Paul’s family finally. And we’re going to take a little road trip up there in late August and then come back just in time for the kids to have, Mia is going to have two camps and Lizzy is going to get some more work done before she’s going to get some work savings built up before she starts back to school because they start back.
[00:52:40.410] – Kim Tate
Normally we start the Wednesday after Labor Day, but this year we start September 1st. So it’s kind of an earlier start than we’re used to.
[00:52:48.360] – Tamara Gruber
I think we’re doing the same starting early. Part of it is that the Jewish holidays, like about Labor Day, I think when they would have started. So they’re starting in those couple of days early. But yeah. Yeah. So seem like we have I guess I have the month of August still open. I have a couple of things planned. Like I thought Hannah was maybe going to come with me on one and but she ended up she’s staying up in Maine at camp for a little bit longer.
[00:53:13.860] – Tamara Gruber
So I’m going to go do actually want to go to Maine and do a little hotel review of a hotel that’s based on an island off of Portland, Maine. And I’m going to do that. And then I’m going to do a little road trip. I might have a friend that joins me, but I can to do a little road trip through New York State and hit some of their kind of food hot spots. And I’m going to go out to Buffalo, New York.
[00:53:36.960] – Tamara Gruber
So, oh, original Buffalo wings. And, you know, some of those other kind of things they have. Yeah. Like food trail kind of. And so I’m going to hit a few cities along the way. So it should be totally up my alley. I join you. I want somebody to come eat one. I know, like I want somebody to come join me because you know, when you’re doing all this food stuff, you can’t eat it all, but you want to try it.
[00:53:59.070] – Kim Tate
I’ll need someone who wants to try it with you.
[00:54:00.870] – Tamara Gruber
[00:54:01.680] – Kim Tate
Well, we’ll have to compare dates because maybe if it doesn’t work out, I was like, maybe I’ll fly over there, give me some air miles. I got to got to retain my my status with Alaska. So I need to do a few more cross-country flights, I’m low.
[00:54:14.290] – Tamara Gruber
Yeah. Come visit. Well sounds good but yeah. So hopefully we’ll talk about that soon and then we’re going to get back into a schedule of having some other guests as well. I know it’s been a lot of us sharing our travels, which I think is usually pretty usually popular as for listeners. But we will get back to having some interviews, too.
[00:54:33.390] – Kim Tate
Thanks for joining us and we’ll talk to you again soon.