Find us on...

The Vanderveen Team

Contact Us


Login using...

New Search X

The Disney $6500 Diaries Part 6: California Theme Parks Reviews

Posted by Rachel R. Vanderveen on Tuesday, January 13th, 2015 at 5:16pm.

California theme park reviewEveryone's opinions on the California Theme Parks will vary, but these were our overall impressions based on a family with young children. My notes on the parks are as follows:

Get the 5 Day Hopper Pass

Disney we could have easily used an extra day or two. There is just so much to do and see. It was mine and Clint’s favourite park, but all the kids preferred Legoland (which I totally don’t get). So buy the pass, and once you’re at Disney, just add on the extra day or days to make a 5 day park hopper. The park hopper feature is important, and if you don’t go with the SoCo passes (which have the hopper feature) I would not skip this aspect of the passes.

You Have to Have the Fast Pass

The SoCo passes also come with fast pass. Absolutely, you need to have fast pass. I also recommend planning your vacation so that you’re never at the parks on the weekends. The difference in crowds is immense. Stick with Monday to Friday park visits and spend the weekends on the beach as we did.


Legoland: I mean, I am still rolling my eyes at this part of our vacation but it was immensely important to all of our kids so we made it happen. If you have younger kids, you could get the whole amusement park done in one day if you showed up at opening and stayed till closing and really motored. If you have a mixture of young and old, 2 days for Legoland is best. Even though Costco sells Legoland passes, I found it was cheaper to buy them on the Legoland website because of the deal that they had going on.

Legoland Water Park: During this time of the year, they are only open on a limited basis, so you only get to choose weekends to go. We actually quite liked this park for our family, but there isn’t a lot to do. You definitely don’t need more than 1 day here.

Legoland Sealife: Total waste of time. It came with our passes so we cruised through fast, but the kids didn’t care about it that much.

Only Crazy People Visit the Park on Weekends

DO NOT show up at the amusement park on the weekends! It’s at double capacity and the wait times are crazy! When we came on the weekdays we walked straight on to a lot of rides, but when we passed through the parks to get to water park on the Saturday, we were amazed that the crowds doubled and maybe even tripled. We talked over and over again how grateful we were that we got the park out of the way on a weekday.


OK, just to make some of you feel better: you will be happy to know that Seaworld is a barren wasteland. No one is there. I mean no one. There’s almost no waits for any of the rides, the shows are nearly empty and a lot of their facility is simply closed and not staffed. They’re feeling the pain, rest assured. My kids actually really liked it though. They were able to pet manta rays and feed otters etc.

The staff was very friendly and believe me, they are all concerned with rehabbing their image. There is Seaworld propaganda everywhere touting all the good things they do for the environment and ocean, which, actually is quite impressive. I had no idea how much Seaworld does do in that way. I’m not defending them…I just saying they are not Satan incarnate and the vibe that I have is that they are floundering and looking for a new direction.

Universal Studios

We all agreed that this was a waste of time for kids our age. I mean, it was worth it to go and say we went, but generally there was nothing earth shattering there. It was also Grace’s day to be puking, so my memory of it may be slightly tainted.

That’s it guys! Thanks so much to all the readers of this blog series. I had so much fun making it. I’m only sorry that I gave up on my spreadsheet because so many people have been asking me how I did and I can’t answer with a ton of certainty, I can only say I came close. I would love to hear about your own Disney adventures and if you were able to use any of these tips and tricks! Feel free to post below in the comments of this blog, or on Facebook.

Rachel Vanderveen

The Vanderveen Team
Maxwell South Star Realty
Phone: 403.253.5678 Fax: 403.592.6736

Leave a Comment