Meep Meep

West coast V East coast theme parks in USA

23 posts in this topic

Hello🙋

We want to take our children on one last family holiday( for a while anyway ), as they are 18 & 19 and super busy with work and uni. Normally every year we go to Goldie for 2 weeks and incorporate fright night with that. But just wanted to do something different, can't afford west and east coast. So what do people think has the better parks? Also any tips on accommodation, public transportation, hiring a car and so on.

We are a normal family with a normal income, this could be the once in a life time trip.

Thanks in advance😙😙😙😙

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Can you give us more information on what you want out of the holiday?  If I go on a trip by myself it’s theme park one day, theme park the next day.  When I take the wife it’s one theme park with the family and endless sightseeing and shopping trips.

Good things for us to know are –

How long are you going for?

What do you enjoy at theme parks?

How many theme parks are you looking at?

What other type of activities are you planning on doing?

Do you want to stay in one location or are you willing to travel around?

Really, we just need a picture of the type of holiday you want.

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Given they are two young to drink in the US and you state it may be a once in a lifetime trip, if you have the funds I'd be heading to do an on property stay at Disney World. Compared to the Gold Coast parks they will be blown away and you can hit up Universe Horror Nights which again, just won't even compare to Fright Nights.

Having said that, if the budget isn't there for Disney World then I wouldn't bother trekking all the way over and instead would try and stay at Disneyland. The Knott's halloween is every bit as amazing at Universal and maybe even more so, and you can day trip it to Universal and then Magic Mountain if you want to make it about rides.

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By West and East coast do you mean Los Angeles vs Orlando? I’ve only done LA.

It also depends how long you’re staying for. You can easily spend 7 days at theme parks in LA (3 days at Disneyland, 1 day at Universal Studios, 2 days at Magic Mountain and 1 day at Knotts Berry Farm). 

LA obviously has lots of other attractions too like Hollywood, Santa Monica/Venice Beach and museums etc. There’s also Legoland but it’s more for younger children and SeaWorld San Diego but it’s just a better version of SeaWorld Gold Coast but still worthwhile.

You also have the option to explore Las Vegas or San Francisco which are a few hours away. Vegas has Adventuredome which is decent as well as the Stratosphere which would be great for late teens. There’s WetnWild Las Vegas which is not that great but could be nice if they like water parks.

Sites such as Yosemite National Park or the Grand Canyon are also breathtaking if you have time.

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At 18-19 they won’t experience Vegas to its fullest so better to let them do that when they’re older. 

I’ve never done Orlando, so can only recommend Disneyland. A week in Anaheim with a 5 day park hopper for DL/CA will give you plenty of flexibility to come and go whilst you do other things. All the hotels are pickup points for day trips to Universal, Knotts, Hollywood, San Diego, Tijuana - if you don’t opt to hire a car.

 

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9 hours ago, Meep Meep said:

Hello🙋

We want to take our children on one last family holiday( for a while anyway ), as they are 18 & 19 and super busy with work and uni. Normally every year we go to Goldie for 2 weeks and incorporate fright night with that. But just wanted to do something different, can't afford west and east coast. So what do people think has the better parks? Also any tips on accommodation, public transportation, hiring a car and so on.

 We are a normal family with a normal income, this could be the once in a life time trip.

 Thanks in advance😙😙😙😙

What time of year are you looking at? My answer will greatly vary - I would assume October-ish if you're talking about Fright Nights... 

Both Coasts have their pro's and con's - If you're comparing just Southern California and Central Florida - Central Florida hands down is a better "once in a lifetime" if you're looking at Roadtripping, East Coast is better for theme parks in close proximity than West Coast - and features some awesome parks however most parks outside of Florida are seasonal and close over winter, and will open weekends or limited hours depending on the park when outside of Summer... 

If you need help planning please get in touch - I specialize in Theme Park Travel and have covered a majority of major East Coast theme parks, and of course the SoCal and Central Florida parks. 

 

42 minutes ago, Brad2912 said:

At 18-19 they won’t experience Vegas to its fullest so better to let them do that when they’re older. 

 

I respectfully disagree here - I visited Vegas as both a 17 and 18 year old and certainly didn't feel I was missing out (at least once I was 18, there were things I couldn't do at 17!) - Short of Gambling and Drinking I was able to do everything else in Vegas, I'm heading back there next year as a 25-year-old and honestly I'll probably do much the same experiences as I did when I was younger, though different shows of course!

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No I will agree with the original poster, don't take your kids to Vegas at 18. As much as people 'think' they didn't miss out on the full Vegas experience not being 21, they soon realise once they are 21 they did exactly that.

Las Vegas features some of the most extravagant nightlife on the planet, none of which can be experienced as a minor. Most importantly, it's pretty safe to say, no teenager wants to hang out as a minor in Vegas with their parents. 

The original poster was looking for a last family vacation kind of option, so I don't even know how Vegas was thrown in the mix, but no, stick to your plans and let the kids go to Vegas on their own when/if they so desire.

 

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5 hours ago, Skeeta said:

Good things for us to know are –

 

How long are you going for?

 

What do you enjoy at theme parks?

 

How many theme parks are you looking at?

 

What other type of activities are you planning on doing?

 

Do you want to stay in one location or are you willing to travel around?

 

Really, we just need a picture of the type of holiday you want.

 

Would be looking at 10 days.

WE LOVE THEME PARKS 💃enjoy rides and shows, soaking up atmosphere.

looking at the most popular parks really not much idea yet. Universal,  Disney, even though not a fan of those old school characters.

No idea of other activities yet, depending if free time after all parks.

Haven't even look at accommodation yet and not sure what side of country going to.😆

 

3 hours ago, ambe_bambe said:

What time of year are you looking at? My answer will greatly vary - I would assume October-ish if you're talking about Fright Nights... 

Both Coasts have their pro's and con's - If you're comparing just Southern California and Central Florida - Central Florida hands down is a better "once in a lifetime" if you're looking at Roadtripping, East Coast is better for theme parks in close proximity than West Coast - and features some awesome parks however most parks outside of Florida are seasonal and close over winter, and will open weekends or limited hours depending on the park when outside of Summer... 

If you need help planning please get in touch - I specialize in Theme Park Travel and have covered a majority of major East Coast theme parks, and of course the SoCal and Central Florida parks. 

Having to go around uni holidays, summer athletic season and US holiday.

So looking at November or September.

Is upsetting to be missing October there with Halloween.  😢

Has anyone done TWD walk through?

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Purchase the unofficial guides to Disneyland and DisneyWorld.

Watch YouTube channels like Touring Plans and The Tim Tracker.

I think if you want to stay on property you can only really do that at DisneyWorld. Most other Disneys have good public transport or in LA’s case lots of cheap motels nearby. LA is good if you want to see the original parks - there is some novelty in that. 

Don’t forget that there are plenty of Disneys and Universals closer to home in Singapore, HK, China and Japan.

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Haven't done LA, and have only done Universal/Islands of Adventure in Orlando. Considering you're doing this as a 'once in a lifetime' and you're parks enthusiasts, I suggest Orlando.

- Disney World is almost a whole trip in itself, well discussed elsewhere on this forum.

- Universal/Islands of Adventure.

- International Drive area (which includes a Sea World).

- NASA over at Cape Canaveral to the East.

- Busch Gardens just over an hour south in Tampa Bay.

 

I don't envy your decision. As posted in this thread, LA offers so much as well.

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Check your dates, because depending on when in Sep/Nov you may still be able to hit the Halloween events as the big ones start end of sep and go a few extra days into Nov. 

You never know 🤞 

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9 hours ago, iwerks said:

I think if you want to stay on property you can only really do that at DisneyWorld. Most other Disneys have good public transport or in LA’s case lots of cheap motels nearby. LA is good if you want to see the original parks - there is some novelty in that. 

 

 

LA has 3 Disney Hotels.  As you are walking from Grizzly Peak to Paradise Pier you are walking right next to  Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa.

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2 hours ago, Skeeta said:

LA has 3 Disney Hotels.  As you are walking from Grizzly Peak to Paradise Pier you are walking right next to  Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa.

There are approximately 25 DisneyWorld resorts, with a good mix of mid priced ones. How do the LA ones compare as you could walk from some of the local motels too? Can’t really do that at DW.

Edited by iwerks

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DL hotels are expensive but probably comparable to the cheaper ones at DW if you consider the airfare to get to the othersider of America.  I’ve never stayed in the DL hotels because I can’t justify the cost when I all I want is a bed.  The hotel I stay at DL is a 10min walk from the front gates.  It gives me time to eat my breakfast on the way.

 

@Meep Meep you don't always need a hire car when traveling to DL or DW. Half the hotels are closer to DL than the Disney car parks are.

If I was to describe the difference between the 2 locations it would be

Disneyland is built within a suburb where DW is the suburb if that makes sense.

Purple DL hotels

Red DL Car Parks

Green non-DL hotels

Capture.thumb.JPG.84fe43473ea0e47dcf7436c652c6caf5.JPG

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There's lots of good advice here, but I'm sure it isn't really helping the OP much since many of them directly contradict the rest!

First let me state that I (like others) have only done the west coast run, so I cannot comment on the east coast.

Second let me say that Disney is as much about the 'old school characters' as Movie World is about Bugs Bunny. Sure - he's there, and its part of the park fabric, but there is SO MUCH MORE about them than just the old school characters... especially if you've never done a Disney park before - I assure you it is not to be missed, regardless of which coast you do.

Now, it's been a while, but I was almost in your kid's positions over 20 years ago. It was my first overseas trip, we did the west coast, and hit Universal, Knott's, Six Flags Magic Mountain, Disneyland and Sea World San Diego (amongst other things). I was 14, whilst my brother was 17. I can still remember every single thing we did on that trip, and it was quite the memorable one.

Of course, I am biased - but here's what I'd suggest:

  • West Coast will be just as amazing, and offer so many things the kids haven't come close to at our local parks etc. It really comes down to your budget, but you can travel to the west coast cheaper, and accommodation can be cheaper too.
  • Whilst staying "on property" (eg:Disney Hotel) is pretty cool - the mouse does charge a premium. There's a reason for it, the little things that almost go unnoticed that are pretty cool when you notice \ realise, but at the end of the day its a matter of weighing up whether you want to spend the money on a 'nicer bedroom' or a 'better experience'. If you think it'd be a nice touch, maybe plan to spend just a day or two at Disney (and do it at the end of your trip so you finish on a high) but make sure you do your research on what perks are available to you so you can take full advantage of them! As pointed out in @Skeeta's post above - there are plenty of Non-Disney hotels surrounding the park and many are quite affordable. Check out hotels that offer the ART bus - as that's really all you'll need for most of your stay.
    • Don't discount the mouse. Disney is way more than just Mickey Mouse, and you won't regret a visit. Many say 5 days are needed. I'd suggest the minimum would be 3 depending on crowds - with 4 being a good middle ground (remember there are two full parks to visit!). Knott's is just up the road, and whilst not as 'big' as say, Universal's brand, the park is definitely worth a full day of your time. Universal Hollywood is unique with it's backlot and working studios, as well as being home to the animal actors schools  - whilst they aren't as big as the universal properties on the east, I think Hollywood has a little something extra - like Disneyland - about being the original. Six Flags Magic Mountain is also worth a trip. Without paying for a premium queue jumper pass, you won't do it all in a day, but I'd be honest  - I've never felt like doing a second day. This one has the most coasters of any park in the world and is definitely an easy way to experience a dozen different styles of coaster in one day, in one place... but the place is huge, and it's packed!!!  

      That alone is 7 out of ten days. for the length of the trip and your interest in parks, keep the other days for other things, but from a park perspective that'd be my go to list. plan some rest time in there, and also plan some shopping time. that should leave you with a little time to hit up some other non-parky stuff that the area is known for, or just doing other fun things that don't have rollercoasters attached (if such a thing even exists!)

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Thanks for all the information everyone😙,  it really does help. Thinking just for the savings might stick to west coast and put the $$ I've saved into fast passes or Vip experience. 

 

 

 

 

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You can do SoCAL in 10 days. 

4 days at disney, 1 at knotts, 1 at USH, 2 at SFMM, 1 at SW;SD and legoland, belmont park and adventure city in the one day ( at your kids age just spend a few hours at each).

As others had said the longer at disney the better.

We also did a 6 week east coast trip, if anyone is interested in the itinerary. ( was not cheap but worth it.) 

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Hi,

My family (2 kids, 2 Adults) went on a West Coast holiday a year back. Not everyone in the family is a die-hard themepark lover so we had a pretty decent mix. This was our Itinerary...

1. Hollywood (Six Flags Magic Mountain)

2. Hollywood (Bus tour, Sign and Universal Studios)

3. Hollywood (Santa Monica Pier)

4. Hollywood (Warner Bros. tour and drive to Anaheim)

5. Anaheim (Wallmart 😂 and Disneyland day 1)

6. Anaheim (Disneyland day 2)

7. Anaheim (DCA day 3)

8. Anaheim (DCA and Disneyland Day 4)

9. Anaheim (Legoland)

10. Anaheim to Vegas (drive, calico town, the strip)

11. Vegas (walked around)

12. Vegas (Elvis renewing of vowels and stratosphere tower)

13. Vegas to Grand Canyon

14. Grand Canyon to Vegas

15. Vegas to San Fran 

16. San Fran (Bike Ride over the golden gate bridge)

17. San Fran (Alcatraz)

18. San Fran (The Piers and other touristy stuff)

19. San Fran to home.

 

Highly recommend staying at the Magic Castle Hotel in Hollywood and the Hotel Zypher in San Fran if those were locations you were looking at going to. San fran is one of the most amazing cities I've been to, you could head over to California's Great America and SF Discovery Kingdom while you're there but San Fran was incredible without that.

 

I hope that helped a bit, if you have other questions send me a message :) 

 

 

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On 14/07/2018 at 5:53 PM, SuperV said:

 

Highly recommend staying at the Magic Castle Hotel in Hollywood

 

 

I 100% agree with this, the hotel is a bit dated, but the service is amazing and the location just a 1 min walk from the tourist section of Hollywood Blvd is wonderfully central for doing LA. This is my go to hotel in LA.

If you are doing Disney, I recommend staying out near it. The last trip we stayed at the Super 8 near main gate (pretty sure that is what they referred to it as). Comfortable, not expensive (don't bother with the breakfast it really isn't worth the fight for a table) and only a few minutes walk to the parks & the Disney shopping area (plus a Denny's nearby if you are after, cheap, quick, 24hr food)

They can also organise a shuttle drop off & pick up for universal. (we used the service to change to a hotel near universal)

I have done both coasts, and love the Orlando area parks, but if you are watching the $$ stick with the west coast, you will get more time for your dollars since you wont have to fly across the country & as other posters have said there are a lot of other attractions not too far away from LA.

As for hiring a car in LA, can't say, never done it, but I was not convinced I would be fine driving in the LA traffic. I have driven from Vegas to Orlando and in many countries around the world, but still not confident on driving in LA.

If you (or your kids) are really into movies/tv, do the WB studio tour.

Whatever you decide, plan ahead, and read up on tips and tricks for Fastpass, etc. (those alone could be a post that goes on for months).

But mostly, have fun :)

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1 hour ago, troll under the coaster said:

If you are doing Disney, I recommend staying out near it. The last trip we stayed at the Super 8 near main gate (pretty sure that is what they referred to it as).

I'm trying to picture this Super 8 near main gate.  I can't recall where it is.  I know there is a Super 8 which is north of DL which is a bit of a pain in the ass to get to DL.  There's was a Super 8 next to Gardenwalk which has changed to King Inn.  On Disney Way there’s a motel call Super 6 Main Gate.  I’ve stayed at King Inn before and after it was a super 8 and it did the job of supplying a bed.

1 hour ago, troll under the coaster said:

As for hiring a car in LA, can't say, never done it, but I was not convinced I would be fine driving in the LA traffic. I have driven from Vegas to Orlando and in many countries around the world, but still not confident on driving in LA.
 

LA isn't as bad as it looks.  Lane guidance on a GPS takes the stress out of driving.

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I stayed at the Super 8 Anaheim on West Katella Bvd last time - it was a convenient 10min walk to DL. 

It was 18 years ago though haha, a quick google maps search shows it’s still there. 

The continental breakfast consisted of trays of Donuts. But who doesn’t want donuts for breakfast...

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