AlexB

USA 2013

39 posts in this topic

So the time has finally come for me to cash in my frequent flyer points, book some hotels, and make the pilgrimage to the states. It's been 17 years since my last trip state-side, so i'm looking forward to it, and the fact that it will also be my honeymoon is just a bonus. So now i'm putting it out there for all the advice from those who have gone before me. Flights are taken care of, as is accommodation. We've got 10 days in LA, a day on the road, and then another 4 days in vegas. Definites on our list are:

  • [*]Disneyland resort (DLcali and DCA) [*]Universal [*]SFMM [*]Knott's (and potentially Knotts water park) [*]SW San Diego, and potentially the San Diego Zoo [*]Stratosphere Tower (LV) [*]The MGM Hotel & Casino Coaster (LV) [*]We also plan on a half day (FIFO) trip to the Grand Canyon.
    • [*]Which tickets work out to be the best value? Ie: Universal and SFMM have premium ticketing with front of the line options and universal also has the VIP experience as well - are these worth the additional premium? Will we get through the whole park in a single day without them? [*]The last time I went to Disney (before DCA was built) We spent 4 days in the park, and still missed little things we didn't know about. I'm not making that mistake this time and making a list of all the various things we want to make sure we catch while we're there - but how many days do you need on Disney property to cover everything (and get some re-rides in?) [*]Can SW and the Zoo be done in a day, Is there a combined ticket that is good value for the two of them? [*]What other (parkz related) attractions are there in Vegas that are worth checking out? [*]Any other hints and tips - parkz related or not while we're over there (such as shopping etc)

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Whilst I haven't done it myself, my best mate did the universal VIP. Definitely said it was worth the money & experience, but wouldn't do if again so the day is so structured you don't have any time for re-rides if you want them, and you miss out on some of the general experience of just walking the park yourself. I'd recommend u just go with the front of line pass if they still have it available

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Hey Alex, First thing your going to have an amazing time. Ill start with the MGM, Having stayed there I can tell you there is no coaster there. You should try the coaster across the street at the New York, New York.

  • [*]Which tickets work out to be the best value? Ie: Universal and SFMM have premium ticketing with front of the line options and universal also has the VIP experience as well - are these worth the additional premium? Will we get through the whole park in a single day without them?
    • [*]The last time I went to Disney (before DCA was built) We spent 4 days in the park, and still missed little things we didn't know about. I'm not making that mistake this time and making a list of all the various things we want to make sure we catch while we're there - but how many days do you need on Disney property to cover everything (and get some re-rides in?)
      • [*]Can SW and the Zoo be done in a day, Is there a combined ticket that is good value for the two of them?
        • [*]What other (parkz related) attractions are there in Vegas that are worth checking out?
          • [*]Any other hints and tips - parkz related or not while we're over there (such as shopping etc)
Edited by MacPark

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Thanks Mac,Yes - New York New York was the one I meant at MGM.We do plan on taking in some shows around Vegas as well, which is why we've allowed the 4 days there. We don't plan on gambling a lot, but will have a flutter while we're there.

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VEGAS Must see are The Lake of Dreams at Wynn - its free but you have to visit one of a couple bars to see it Blue Man Group - for anyone interested in production there is no better show to see KA or LOVE - Pretty much the most amazing specticle of a show you will ever see DISNEY See World of Color more than once, videos do nothing for the justice of this show Eat at Flos in Cars Land, food is great and the keen eye will notice the lighting inside is even synced to the background music Get a reservation for Blue Bayou at a waterside table for lunch Try and catch the Billy Hill show, its a great laugh and another gem not to miss is Great Moments with Lincoln, the animatronic is just amazing You could do Disney in 2 or 3 days if rushing and 4 or 5 days would completely cover it, and give you some chill out time in between. Expect at least 1 major E-Ticket to be down. Knotts can be done in half a day if its quiet.

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For me the two must see shows in Vegas are KA and Le Rêve at Wynn - both shows are mind blowing. Blue Man Group has moved to Monte Carlo with a new show which is apparently infinitely times better than the old show at Venetian which I loved. Their humor is not for everyone though. I know you've already booked accommodation but if you haven't prepaid - cancel LVH and look at a hotel on the strip. You'll spend a lot of time casino hopping and LVH's location will mean that you'll need to hop in a cab anytime you want to get near the strip. I'm guessing you got a pretty good rate but trust me, splurge a little. LVH is definitely a hotel stuck in the 80's and doesn't really offer the over the top Vegas vibe that you get from staying in casinos like MGM, Caesars etc. MGM just renovated their rooms and it looks fantastic... rates run anywhere from $80-$150 a night, and a stupid big suite is usually only $20 extra per night. A lot of people are comfortable with having a cheap bed for the night but I think the quality of hotel/casino you stay in plays a big part in your overall Vegas experience. Shopping - head to the LV Premium Outlets toward the Stratosphere end of the strip. Proper brand outlets with crazy cheap stuff. Pop into Circus Circus while you're down that end of the strip and get a ride on Canyon Blaster. I enjoyed it, surprisingly a punchy little coaster.

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For US be careful on the days you go as you may just spend 100 extra bucks for nothing. When I was there around this time 2 years ago, the park was basically empty and every single ride was walk on or what for the current ride to finish. Yet it appeared as though half the park had a front of the line pass (a single day one not one combined with an annual pass), and it proved to be worthless. An example is we entered the que of the Mummy right behind a family with the passes. When we got on the ride we got on the exact same ride as them, even though we had to walk through the entire que. So before you go check with with the members on some US forums as they will be able to give you an idea if it will be worth it for that day or not. Also you may be able to take advantage of promotions US have. When we went the annual pass was the same price as a single day ticket, and we wanted to go for two days. So we got it and had the added benefit of 10% off all purchases in park.

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Agree with Flea 100% but I think even MGM is too far down the trip. I vote Planet Hollywood forth best bang for your buck. I've heard great things about Le Reve but haven't seen it, O is pretty special too. Love left me breathless though. After seeing that show I had to redefine what I thought amazing was. Blue Mans new show is fantastic and I only saw the 3rd or 4th preview.

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If you're doing the Grand Canyon I reccomend flying over to the Arizona side. The Nevada side is no where near as amazing. If you do fly to Arizona be sure to stay the night. It's a great experience there when you don't have to rush. Check out the Holiday Inn Express in Tusayan, a small town just outside the Grand Canyon national park. The hotel prices are much to steep in the park. And I agree with @djrappa Blue Man Group is the best show in Vegas!

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I stayed at MGM when I went to Vegas in 2010 with my family, the pools are awesome, whilst I did notice it was a little far down the strip the resort had so much for you to do. I went to circus circus and the roller coaster at New York New York, I went to the coaster on opening and got straight on, awesome ride, circus circus was a little overrated, the rides need some work but it did get you out of the heat. I did a whirlwind Disneyland/DCA trip with a 3 day pass and got almost everything done, I actually went to the premiere of World of Color and it was AMAZING, little did I know the night we arrived and I noticed that world of Color was on (thinking it was a dress rehearsal) it was the celebrity premiere, I was less than a kilometre from some of the biggest stars in Hollywood. Knotts berry farm was awesome, the xcelerator is a must do, the first ever intamin launch, but extremely fast. Didn't get to go to SFMM but I wish I did. Enjoy your trip and congratulations!

Edited by JacobSibbald

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I went to SFMM and used the Platinum Flash Pass (highest level) and it was TOTALLY worth it! Waited a maximum of 3 minutes for a ride (Tatsu) and rode it twice without getting off (as long as you aren't in the front or back row). The only bummer is they charge extra per ride on X2 with a Flash Pass. By memory it was about $15, but considering the lines are usually 2+ hours it is also worth it.

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Been to both LA and Vegas many times, and most recently July 2012. In terms of Vegas: There is good shopping at both North and South Premium Outlets We saw 3 shows on last trip there. Terry Fator Ventrioquist at The Mirage(Outstanding show, one the best I have ever seen!), La Reve(Also a great show, never seen O to compare though), and The Beatles Love(Abit dissapointing, seen better cirque shows, Mystere was great when i saw it about 5 years back) For LA: I did SFMM, with the unlimited Platinum Flash, which i would say is well worth it. The park itself wasnt busy at all, except for Tatsu and X2, with X2 about an 1.5-2 hour wait all day. So the price of the Flash Pass for 2 people, roughy $200 from memory, plus X2 tickets at $15 per rider, it does work out to be expensive, but in the long run, we were on a timed Shuttle Bus to pick us up in late afternoon, and we were able to get every rollercoaster done thanks to the pass.

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Thanks guys. Wow - a lot more suggestions for vegas than I expected... I'd expected to get more for LA. To answer a few things - The LVH is off strip, but it does have a monorail running up to the strip so we don't need to jump a cab (not to mention we also have the rental car as well). We've had a few people say to go for 'on the strip' as well as arrive without reservations, but we'd rather know where we're going, what we're paying and be assured its sorted before we fly halfway around the world. As for the 80's reference - I didn't get that vibe in my research, and it was only refitted a few years back... A half day at knotts? Really? Well theres about 100 days to go until we're there... time for more research... and keep the suggestions coming!

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To be honest Alex no LVH is not a good choice. Despite the monorail it is far at from the action and it is indeed stuck in the past. And JD Bunnies how on earth did love dissapoint? I don't want to argue but I actually want to know. Havin safely seen it all in my time I want to know how this OMFG show fell short for you?

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the fact that it will also be my honeymoon is just a bonus.

At the end of September I did the same thing as you. Whether or not you'll say it was a bonus by the end is a matter of some debate ;)/>

We've got 10 days in LA, a day on the road, and then another 4 days in vegas.

If you're making it solely a coaster holiday while you're in LA, then that will do. Of your list, I did: Disneyland Resort and DCA Universal SFMM SW San Diego Grand Canyon Vegas

Which tickets work out to be the best value? Ie: Universal and SFMM have premium ticketing with front of the line options and universal also has the VIP experience as well - are these worth the additional premium? Will we get through the whole park in a single day without them?

I didn't do front of line passes at any park we visited, and we got through everything. SFMM was done mid-late October, and Universal was on a hot day in September. Save your money.

The last time I went to Disney (before DCA was built) We spent 4 days in the park, and still missed little things we didn't know about. I'm not making that mistake this time and making a list of all the various things we want to make sure we catch while we're there - but how many days do you need on Disney property to cover everything (and get some re-rides in?)

I know everyone raves about Disneyland, and how you could spend forever there, but even as a theme park fan I found that although you could, the economics of it just don't stack up. I mean, you can spend days and days and days there trying to see everything, but how much of it is really worth seeing? They have some great shows, and you can usually check out the schedule of those in advance to help plan out the best way to be at all of those. From there, you can start planning out what rides you'll want to hit (and re-hit), and you'll already know what you want to re-ride. Particularly if the weather is going to be warm, you're going to find that it's a lot of walking around, and honestly - don't underestimate how tiring that can be. We did both parks in four days in 40 deg C heat, and we were stuffed. We stayed over the road from the park, so we would routinely escape in the middle of the day for a couple of hours to recharge. Depending on the opening hours when you're there you may feel like doing the same. I thought I would be running my arse off trying to see everything, and to an extent we sort of were, but we saw absolutely everything we wanted to, and got in plenty of re-rides. You have to remember that a lot of it is very, very kiddy - there's nothing wrong with that, and it's easy to appreciate the scale and quality of it all, but a lot of the time consuming stuff will be lining up for characters or rides that are geared at very small children.

Can SW and the Zoo be done in a day, Is there a combined ticket that is good value for the two of them?

I can't tell you anything about the zoo unfortunately, but I can tell you about Sea World. We went in late September on around a 30 deg C day and the crowds were pleasantly light. It's going to come down to whether you will want to do the shows or not. If you want to do the shows you could easily spend the whole day there because the shows are staggered to make that happen. If you're going to avoid the shows you're probably going to find it's a disappointing park. For me, the Manta ride was nothing special, and a lot of the rest of it is simulators (which you'll have had more than enough of once you've done Universal, I promise).

What other (parkz related) attractions are there in Vegas that are worth checking out?

The rollercoaster at New York, New York Hotel and Casino looks impressive, and probably is, but it's as rough as guts. If you had trouble with Lethal Weapon before the refurb you aint seen nothin' yet. Expect the new wife to complain bitterly. It's also pretty expensive for what it is, so be prepared.

Any other hints and tips - parkz related or not while we're over there (such as shopping etc)

I know it's easy to try and ignore the guys who are saying you should reconsider your Vegas accom, but doing so would be a huge mistake. The monorail is total, expensive garbage. I stayed at the Mirage on the strip, and that sort of thing puts you right in the middle of the action. Do not, under any circumstances, stay somewhere off the strip. You certainly wont feel safe walking the streets off the strip at night, either. Be wary of scams in Vegas. A common one is selling fake wrist bands to clubs that allegedly get you VIP access and free drinks - they don't. I loved Vegas, but my wife hated it. She isn't into drinking, gambling, or late nights, whereas I am. Plenty of stories there, and would go back to Vegas in a heartbeat. If you're considering seeing a show in Vegas you wont need to book in advance. What you want to do is head for Casino Royale and find the Tix4Tonite counter. They sell tickets to most of the shows in Vegas at a very significant discount. They also do discount entry to many of the buffets, so consider doing that too. I did a couple of the buffets, but preferred the one at the Wynn. YMMV. Have you driven in the US (or somewhere else on the other side of the road) before? If not, I was given some great advice which helped me get used to it very, very quickly, and am happy to share it. Have plenty more tips if you're interested.

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And JD Bunnies how on earth did love dissapoint? I don't want to argue but I actually want to know. Havin safely seen it all in my time I want to know how this OMFG show fell short for you?

Dont get me wrong, there were some great parts to the show, but overall, the show seemed boring to me, with too many slow parts, where nothing happened. I have walked out of many Cirque shows thinking how amazing they were, this one didnt deliver for me!

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Interesting to hear and your reasons are true and valid. The show does have parts that are light on action, but I took the show as more of a visual and aural spectacle rather than all about action as other shows are. To be honest I think AlexB would enjoy it, but I can understand why it wouldn't be for everyone.

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No it's just an amazing synergy of lighting, visuals, audio and performance. It's just a visual special. If you want to look at tech, go to KA. For an amazing show for you both, see Love.

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