DL & LA with Allergies Autism and Wheelchairs, oh my


expert on dietary needs and disney dining
I decided to go ahead and attempt a trip report. We'll see how far I get. I'll probably be writing in fits and starts because I tend to do a bunch after I get around to uploading some pictures and then stall until I get some more uploaded. Be prepared.

Trip Outline
Dates: July 10 to July 23, arriving home in the morning of July 24 since we had an overnight flight.
Transportation: We flew from BOS (Boston's Logan airport) to LGB (Long Beach airport). We had a rental van for the duration of our trip.
Accomodations: July 10 - July 17 we stayed at Residence Inn in Arcadia in a 2 bedroom loft suite and July 17 - July 23 we stayed at the Tropicana Inn & Suites in a Family Suite. The Tropicana is one of the hotels that is directly across the street from the parks and therefore is a short walk to the entrance.

Our cast of characters includes the following:
me: AKA OCD planner. I'm not fussy about what we do or where we go or what kinds of ammenities we have as long as everybody else's needs are met. I do make sure that I include a couple things that I really want to do are included in each trip so don't think I'm a total martyr, but honestly, it's more that I'm not fussy as long as everybody's huge list of needs are met (needs, not necessarily wants). I'll ride just about anything (except RNRC which is just too loud and gives me a headache) and while I don't like spinning I'll put up with teacups to made DD12 happy.
DH: Likes to sit back and not discuss trip planning until about 2-3 weeks before the trip and then wants input into everything. Likes to think he's easygoing but is probably the member of our family who is most particular about how things should be. He doesn't like thrill rides or being wet.
DD15: My little Aspie (person with Asperger Syndrome which is a high functioning form of autism). She can't handle long days because of her AS and she can only handle really 2 days in a row of activities away from our resort before she needs a rest day. She copes significantly better in the morning than in the evening. She's an avid artist (and very talented if I do say so myself). As a sensory seeker she LOVES speed and will ride anything as long as it's not too loud (she's an auditory sensory avoider) and she isn't crowded in with strangers. She really has to follow our at home schedule when we travel or she starts to have meltdowns.
DD12: For the purposes of this TR I'm calling her DD12 because she was 12 at the time of the trip. Her 13th birthday was July 27 so we celebrated her birthday during the trip but she was still 12 years old during the trip. She's been having a lot of foot, knee and ankle problems. We weren't sure if we'd need a wheelchair for her or not. Her physical therapist didn't think we would. She's a little ride weenie who hates speed but LOVES to spin.
DSD: DSD lives in LA, working full time. She stayed in the hotel with us when we were at the Tropicana, spent weekends with us as well as July 12 and most evenings when we were at the Residence Inn. She 100% deferred to us as to what to do and was helpful with suggestions for places to go around LA during our planning as well as advice about traffic.
DSSil: DSSil lives in LA, working full time. He didn't have the vacation time to take off work. The plan was for him to spend both weekends hanging out with us but he only ended up able to join us for the DL weekend. He'll ride anything but really likes the thrill rides and teacups.

I should probably put a glossary of ackronyms since some of the ones I use aren't necessarily common around here. Some are but I'll include them anyway. Don't you love that the explainations have ackronyms in them?
AS = Asperger Syndrome which is a high functioning form of autism
DD = Darling Daughter (same note as DH)
DH = Darling Husband (though that D does change depending on my mood and his temperment)
DSD = Darling Step-Daughter
DSSil = Darling Step-Son-In-Law (DSD's DH)
DL = Disneyland park
DCA = Disney's California Adventure park
DLH = Disneyland Hotel
DGC = Disney's Grand California hotel
MM = Magic Morning (1 hour early admission)
RSR = Radiator Sprints Racers
WOC = World Of Color

I've written up a detailed dining report so I won't include much about dining in this TR. If you're interested in it, here's a link to it. http://www.easywdw.com/forums/showthread.php?13651-Disneyland-amp-Los-Angeles-dining-with-lots-of-food-allergies

Lets see....what else would be helpful to know as background info....other than the fact I like elipses and there's nothing you can do about it.

The last time we were in LA was DSD's college graduation back in 2002. I think we went to DL one day (a friend of DSD's worked at DL and gave us some kind of friend & family tickets) and we didn't venture into DCA. We knew nothing about touring at the time. Trips we took to LA back then were significantly shorter and we really didn't do much around the city as we were focussed on things involving DSD's college (one trip was the tour, one trip was her graduation). We lived in Kansas City at the time so the flight wasn't nearly as long as our flight from Boston so we didn't feel the need for nearly as long of a trip back then.

Planned Itinerary
7/10 arrive late so just get rental car and check into hotel
7/11 beach after unpacking - figured either Santa Monica or Huntington
7/12 Warner Brothers Studio Tour then relax around the hotel (with DSD)
7/13 Natural History Museum or California Science Center (with DSD & DSSil)
7/14 Universal Studios
7/15 Monster's University at El Capitan Theatre maybe followed by Starline yellow or Griffith Observatory
7/16 Starline hop-on-hop-off red tour getting of at La Brea Tar Pits and The Grove and Farmer's Market at a minimum as well as photo in front of the Hollywood sign
7/17 switch hotels, DL fillers (with DSD)
7/18 DL MM, maybe WOC or F! (with DSD) - ADR Ariel's Grotto lunch 11:30am
7/19 resort & DTD (with DSD) - ADR Storyteller's Cafe lunch 2:00pm
7/20 DCA including RSR at RD (with DSD & DSSil) - ADR Steakhouse 55 5:30pm
7/21 DL & DCA, maybe WOC or F! (with DSD & DSSil) - ADR Goofy's Kitchen 12:30pm
7/22 sleep in, DL & DCA fillers and things we haven't done yet (with DSD)
7/23 check out of hotel, Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach with boat tour, late flight home (with DSD until we leave the aquarium)

I bought the tickets for Univeral and DL ahead of time through Orbitz since they were slightly discounted on Orbitz plus that got me cash back on ebates. When I bought the DL ones there was a double cash back deal going on for Orbitz so I got 10.5% back on those. I bought the Universal ones later, after it dropped back to 5.25%. Better than nothing.

Other things I booked ahead were the WB tour and Monster's U tickets. Nothing else was booked yet which at least gave us some flexibility.

If you're only interested in the DL portion of my TR then you'll have to bear with me as I slug through the LA portion since I'll try to go in chronological order. I won't promise anything but I'll try. I'll likely skip or gloss over less interesting parts. I know it's hard to imagine anything I do being less than interesting but trust me, it does happen.

So, on with the show......


expert on dietary needs and disney dining
A little bit more background. DSD12 has been having a lot of problems with her right foot, ankle and knee since April. She's been in physical therapy for it since mid-May. In late June/early July she seemed to have a sudden leap in improvement and seemed as though she could walk a good 15 minutes without pain during PT. Until that point I figured she'd need a wheelchair for the entire trip but her PT at that point said she believed DD12 could handle the walking as long as she got at least a 5 minute rest every 15 minutes. Less than a month before that she was in a lot of pain from walking around a mall that's really not very big so I was skeptical but I agreed to give it a try. DH really didn't think she needed it (he's not the one she goes to when she's in pain and he's not the one who goes to the doctors or PT with her) so he jumped on what the PT said and told me not to rent the wheelchair. More than anything I think he didn't want to deal with trying to fly with it. I know it's simple because I read forums that describe what's involved but he knows nothing about it and avoids the unknown. She does wear some good quality braces on her ankles but they only do so much. They have helped a lot but they're not perfect.

Before the PT said that I had researched wheelchair rentals in my area. I found one highly reputable place that would rent to me for a whole month for $60. In hindsight, I really should have just booked it.

I had also researched wheelchair rentals in LA but that went nowhere. The one company I saw recommended all over the place only delivers to Orange County and our first hotel was in Los Angeles County. The other company I found never called me back even though I left a few messages.

As you'll see, I ended up not following my gut and it cost us time and caused DD12 a lot of pain. I usually do trust my gut but with this trip I was getting more overwhelmed than usual so I deferred to the PT who really has been doing a great job with her. Let that be a lesson to others. Trust your gut and err on the side of caution when it comes to managing pain.

In case you're wondering, we still don't know the underlying problem that she's having but we're still searching. She sees a Rheumatologist at Children's Hospital in Boston in October. Until then she's continuing her PT and she'll have her custom orthotics next Monday so hopefully that'll help stop the constant injuries from turning her ankles or stepping wrong and then limping because of the pain. We treat with Tylenol and a prescription pain cream because her stomach just can't tollerate NSAIDs. We used more of the pain cream during our trip that I had used on her since filling the prescription around I guess 1.5 months prior.

Anyway, this is relevant to understanding some of what went on during our trip.


expert on dietary needs and disney dining
July 10 - travel day

I had found a groupon for Border Limo for round trip transportation to Logan for 4 - 6 people for only $139. We've used Flightline in the past but they were over $200 for round trip. I'd had people recommend Border Limo before so I decided to give them a call to get a quote directly from them figuring that worst case scenario I'd go with the groupon. They offered me the same price directly. Nice! So much easier and not prepaid this way. So I booked. I was able to even arrange the tip to be included so I wouldn't have to worry about having cash on hand for tipping. The girl I was working with seemed to like that I specified how much per driver instead of a flat amount because it seems that there has been confusion between drivers in the past. I wasn't worried about not wanting to tip as much due to poor service because I figured if there were problems I'd be complaining anyway. I had no reason to expect anything but professional service.

I got a call the day before confirming our ride. I like that. It gives me confidence.

Our scheduled pickup time was 2:30pm. The SUV showed up around 2:20. It was a full size SUV with lots of space and really plush seats though I can't recall the make or model. It was nice. It had 3 rows and could seat a total of 7 people. The driver helped us get our luggage from the house into the vehicle and off we went. The drive went really smoothly. DH enjoyed chatting with the driver and we got to the airport with lots of time for our 5:19 flight. I'm the kind of person who needs lots of time because I get anxious if I don't have contingencies and extra time is my contingency for traffic, lines to check in and lines or extra checks at TSA.

Our only other experience at Logan we had purchased the JetBlue more room seats meaning we went through the fast lane through TSA. This time we got regular seats so we were in the regular line. DH was commenting while waiting that we should have upgraded just to safe the time in line and I asked why it was better to wait in a chair by the gate vs in line at TSA since we'd be waiting either way. He thought a moment and agreed that it didn't matter. Anyway, not all that relevant but I thought I'd share.

The line moved pretty quickly as the agents checked ID. When we were sent forward to the scanners, I saw that almost everybody was being sent through I think it's the backscatter machine. DD15 is autistic (high functioning but still autistic) so I explained in detail to her what to expect and it went perfectly smoothly. The agent saw DD12's ankle braces and wasn't sure what to do. She confirmed with me that there was no metal in them and went to get her manager and had me stay with her while DH went through with DD15 (obviously one at a time). The agents were very professional with them and made DD15 comfortable with their instructions. The manager came over to ask me about the braces and then just had us each go through the metal detector. He said that they had to swab her braces and asked me to come with them. We only had to step to the end of where the bags come off the belt. He made sure every step of the way to explain to both of us what was being done and he made sure that I knew I was able to stay with her every second. Everybody was very professional and friendly and other than having to wait an extra maybe 2 minutes max while a manager was called (oh the horror) everything was also very efficient.

Like I expected, there weren't snacks other than chips that we could buy at any of the shops by our gate so I was glad that I brought stuff.

Boarding started right on time. Nice! Or so I thought. We were stuck waiting for a runway for an hour. They let us turn our electronics back on thank goodness. I assume we could have used restrooms as well but none of us put that to the test. Once we took off everything regarding the flight went smoothly. Sure my TV fizzled out a few times but I was reading anyway so it didn't matter to me. DD12's TV controls weren't working well and I had to help her change channels and volume but not a big deal. There were a couple snacks the girls could eat but DD15 only liked one (hey, one's enough) and DD12 didn't like any. She didn't want anything I packed either. She was unhappy and hungry. UGH! DH ordered one of those boxes of food and DD12 was able to eat the salami so he gave her that. She actually talked him into buying a second one just so she could have the salami. He didn't even eat the rest of the box. Oh well. Small price to pay to keep a kid happy over a 6 hour flight.

When we got on board the plane, DD15 started getting agitated. She couldn't get comfortable. She couldn't sit still. The person behind her was leaning against her seat. The person behind her was pushing her seat. The person behind her put her foot at the back of her arm rest (she's got MAJOR foot issues). The air wasn't strong enough. Her seat was uncomfortable. You get the idea. She was working her way towards a definite meltdown. This is exactly why I always make sure I'm beside her when we fly. Usually she flies without any problems but occasionally this can happen. I convinced her to have some snacks and to pull out her Oswald doll and to put on her headphones and listen to music. She clung tightly to me and closed her eyes trying to breathe deep. Once we took off and had a couple more snacks she calmed down but I had been nervous about a full blown autistic meltdown on board an airplane. That would not have been pleasant. She turned to me a couple times after that and said that flights at the beginning of our trips can never be late in the day again. Our return flights are usually late flights and she handles those but our departure flights are usually first thing in the morning. Lesson learned.

Obviously taking off an hour late meant landing an hour late so by the time we got to the car rental counter it was around 10pm PST which means 1am our time. I can't believe the girls weren't both melting down. They did both manage to sleep some even though DD15 usually can't sleep on planes. Phew!

There were no other customers at the car rental counter when we arrived so no wait. Nice! Our van was waiting for us right beside the building. Also nice! The guy checking us in showed us on the paperwork that there were a couple of dings marked. I figured I'd check to see if that was it. I'm glad I did. There was a big dent and some scrapes down one side. No way did I want to be on the hook for that. DH brought the paper back in and told the guy and he just marked it down and initialed it and we were set.

The van was a Kia Sedona and it only have around 5K miles on it. That was pretty sweet. DH never did get used to the handling on it though. He much prefers the feel of our vehicles. Oh well. It was a rental. Whatever.

Using the GPS I bought just before the trip, we found the hotel really easily. Because it was so late, our room was obviously ready when we arrived. There were no parking spots though. Interesting. We managed to get unloaded and DH parked quite a distance away and while he was doing that I dug out the pjs and toothbrushes so we could get to bed. We were all exhausted.

I forgot to mention that in the morning I had emailed a grocery list to the front desk manager after talking to her about how to go about doing this (more details in my dining report if you're interested). The groceries were there and I was happy.

Off to bed.


Nice grab; this username is going to be worth more
Thanks Trudy! Looking forward to more. I can't believe we leave in less than 2 weeks.


does anybody know how to change this?
I agree with your daughter about late outgoing flights. I'm on pins and needles the entire day anyway, and it's so much better to get going earlier.


expert on dietary needs and disney dining
Phew, people are actually reading. I really need to get pictures uploaded. That's my goal for the weekend so this won't be a whole lot of text of me rambling on without anything interesting to see.

Starr, you must be getting so excited, or is that anxious? For me it's always a bit of both.


Nice grab; this username is going to be worth more
Both for me too. Anytime it's somewhere new it's that way. I'm stressed about the driving and I won't even be driving. And hoping the hotels will all be OK.
I haven't made any dining reservations. I was going to do Big Thunder Ranch BBQ, but I looked at the menu again last night and DS15 doesn't like beans or coleslaw and I don't like beans, so I just don't think it's worth the money. I'm thinking maybe Café Orleans and Carnation Café and CS for the rest. I wanted to do Minnie and Friends but no one else really cares so I think I will scrap that idea.


expert on dietary needs and disney dining
If you really want a TS meal it appears that walk-ups are possible at a lot of the restaurants. There were empty tables at each of our 4 TS meals and when we rode POTC later in the day Blue Bayou had empty tables as we passed by. I would think that some of the character meals you might was to call to check on but if you don't want those then IMO you can probably wing it. It's not like you're going Christmas week or over Easter..

Driving had us stressed too. That Garmin GPS REALLY made it easy. Just an FYI: If you don't follow their directions (turn at a different time than it tells you to) then it'll assume you don't want to follow that road/highway and will calculate the next best route without going back on that road. If you did it by mistake or you just wanted to go around a little bit of traffic then have it recalculate the directions and it'll consider that road again.


Nice grab; this username is going to be worth more
Thanks for the GPS tip. Our old one use to say recalculating every time we turned different from what it was telling us and it used to stress DS out because he thought we were lost. We were trying to get to our hotel in Montreal once and we could see it, but could not get to it with the one ways etc. and the GPS just kept taking us in circles and saying recalculating ... funny now, but wasn't at the time - ha!
I had to go to Fredericton for work this week and took it just to see how it worked and I noticed this one didn't say recalculating. I'm hoping the traffic function works OK on it since I can't try that out here.
Did you use carpool lanes? Looks like they could help, but then you have to get way back over for exits.
Everywhere I read it says parking is really tight too. Should be interesting. :)


expert on dietary needs and disney dining
My DSD advised against the carpool lanes. She said it was hard to tell when the next opening to get out of the lane would be and people who aren't familiar with them often miss their exit because of it. It really is just a solid painted line separating that lane from the next but if a police officer sees you crossing the solid line then you'll get a ticket. You can only go in and out of the carpool lane when there's a broken line and those aren't that frequent. You'll go by several exits with only a solid line.

We had no problems with parking but we only parked in lots that were specifically there for our destination. I hear beach parking can be difficult but we never made it out there. We were in a mini van and never found the spots to be too small if that's what you mean by tight, but again, we were in lots and not doing any kind of street parking.

This GPS does recalculate when you go off the suggested route but it's pretty quick. As to the traffic, it almost always worked perfectly. We did get stuck in a parking lot due to an explosion which messed up traffic on several highways and the GPS said no traffic, but other than that it was completely accurate. What the GPS does is show the part of the highway in red or yellow depending on how bad the traffic is and it'll tell you how much longer than normal it'll take you to get through that section. When you first go to calculate your route it'll choose the fastest route taking traffic into consideration. If you choose "see route" instead of "go" then it'll let you scroll through a couple options if it's figured out more than one option and it'll show you the travel time for each one. Once you've chosen a route, there's be a little circle on the right with the outline of a car in it. It'll be green, yellow, or red. It'll show the worst colour that it finds on your route. If you click on it then it'll show you the bad traffic areas. If it believes there's a decent alternate route then it'll show it as an option. We did a few times get off the highway where we knew there was a stright shot down city streets to get to our hotel and it did recalculate for that but really it wasn't any faster than staying on the highway because of the stop lights. It just felt better not being stuck in traffic and seeing some of Pasadena but the GPS didn't suggest it because it really wasn't a better route from a travel time perspective.

Something I REALLY like about this GPS is that it graphically shows how many lanes there will be when you exit/switch highways as well as which lanes to be in. The overhead signs are clear but the GPS shows it long before the overhead signs so you can get into one of the correct lanes earlier without having to worry about traffic making it difficult to get over.

A few driving notes:
1. Motorcycles are legally allowed to drive between vehicles. When changing lanes, look for them.
2. Most people don't signal when changing lanes. Make sure nobody from the other side of the lane you're moving to is also trying to move to that same space.
3. People will move into the tiniest of spots. Be prepared for that.
4. You have to be very agressive when changing lanes. People won't necessarily just give you space. They expect that you'll squeeze into tiny spaces and force your way in.


Nice grab; this username is going to be worth more
Thanks - lots of great tips - I didn't know about exiting on broken lines from the carpool lanes.
It's people's comments on the hotel reviews that mention tight parking and they all seem to say that. We will only have a full size car, so it shouldn't be a problem.


expert on dietary needs and disney dining
At the hotels the parking spots were a bit tight but we've parked in worse. It's not like the van didn't fit and we were fighting to squeeze out the doors in order to not hit the door against the vehicles beside us. The hotels were the only places where we sometimes had trouble finding spots anywhere near where we wanted to be but that's the worst we encountered.


expert on dietary needs and disney dining
Residence Inn Pasadena Arcadia

Here's the details on the hotel. We stayed July 10 - July 17 at the Residence Inn Pasadena Arcadia. http://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/bwrar-residence-inn-pasadena-arcadia/

I mentioned DD12's knees and ankles. I know I did. The stinker wanted the upstairs bedroom. Silly girl. The upstairs was a loft style bedroom so that means 2 of the walls are only half walls and you can peer over the edge and look down on everybody down below. This was a novelty that she really liked. There was a full bathroom up there which was good so she didn't have to go up and down every time she needed to use the bathroom. DD15 seemed to prefer using that bathroom as well even though that one had the sink outside the bathroom. The loft bedroom had a queen size bed, a flat screen TV, a dresser with 3 good sized drawers and a closet. The bed was comfortable quite comfortable and she slept really well on it.

The downstairs bedroom had french doors with curtains separating it from the living area. DH and I took this bedroom. It had a king size bed that was as comfortable as the upstairs queen and an ensuite full bathroom. This bedroom had the same kind of dresser as upstairs, a closet, a flat screen TV, and a desk with computer chair. There were LOTS of easily accessible outlets in the room. I love that. The table lamps each had double outlets at the bases. I set up my power bar on the desk for overnight charging of all the electronics leaving the others free for whatever we might need.

DD15 slept on the sleeper sofa in the living area. As soon as we arrived the night before one of the first things I did was unfold the sofa bed. It was a bare mattress. At least the sheets and blanket were in the front closet so it only took a couple of minutes to make the bed. DH and I tend to like the temperature cool so we had to ask for an extra blanket for her in the morning but they were really prompt in bringing it. She seemed to think it was really comfortable. The room also had a chair that matched the sofa, a coffee table, a wood burning fireplace and a bigger flat screen TV. The front door of the suite opened up into the living area which was all to the left of the door.

To the left of the door was the full kitchen. The dining table was a typically sized table with 4 comfortable chairs and was just to the right of the door. On the other side of the table was the kitchen which consisted of a full size fridge/freezer, dishwasher, microwave, and full size oven/glass top stove. The kitchen came equipped with dishes and cutlery for 4 as well as pots, frying pan, roasting pan, covered bowls and a bunch of commonly used cooking implements. There was one cupboard free for us to use for our food once we moved a few things to another cupboard (they fit easily).

The whole suite was very clean and the decor was comfortable and cozy.

We were on the second floor (there are only 2 floors of suites) which really wasn't good for DD12 but my request for ground floor was only a request and I hadn't mentioned her issues and we checked in so late I'm not sure they would have had anything else plus I'm not sure if they would even have loft suites on the ground floor. Oh well. She managed.

The pool was a basic rectangle pool but it was clean and was filled with water. That really is our requirement of a pool. Our room was nowhere near it. DD12 asked us to drive her over there but there were never parking spots over there so we didn't do that. The hot tub was closed and when I asked when it's typically open the person at the front desk said they're filling it in and expanding the deck. Bummer. They had a bunch of loungers and tables with umbrellas and chair and there was never more than 2 other families in the pool besides us so lots of seating room. They had good sized towels at the pool which was nice. They also had a big bin of pool toys and noodles which was also nice. The laundry room was right around the corner making it easy to laundry while DD12 swam (DD15 reeeaaaaaly hates chlorine so it's hard to get her to swim).

Mon - Wed they offered light dinner from 5pm-7pm in the lobby area. DH and DSD enjoyed that. Every morning they also offer hot breakfast which DH also enjoyed. He wasn't so fond of the hike to get it or that he went alone (I wasn't about the shlep over there when I couldn't eat the food) but otherwise it was really good. DH did always bring me back some coffee and some fresh fruit. I was able to cook up breakfast every morning for me and the girls thanks to the groceries and full kitchen. I've got more details about dining at the resort in my dining report.

There was a gas BBQ and a picnic table in the middle of the courtyard between buildings but we never used either. There was also a basketball court near the main building and I believe you could borrow a basketball from the front desk but we never asked.

I wouldn't hesitate to stay here again. The staff was friendly, the hotel was clean, the grounds were pretty, it's only a minute from a major highway but no highway noises, and the area was nice.

When I get my pictures uploaded I'll look to see if I took some general hotel pictures. I'll include some if I find some.


does anybody know how to change this?
What a nice place! It seems though that many places are doing away with their hot tubs, I'm sure they're a hassle to keep healthy, and expensive to heat.

The California motorcycle lane splitting thing always freaks me out. I don't think I could ever ride that close to cars in traffic, and yes, it's hard to remember to look for them when you're changing lanes.


expert on dietary needs and disney dining
There were a few times I saw motorcycles look like they barely fit between a couple cars and I have no idea how there aren't more lane change accidents where motorcycles are hit.

DSD got MRSA from a hot tub or at least that's the only place she can figure that this particular part of her body was exposed to a surface outside of her own home (a spot not covered by a bathing suit but covered by clothes). It was really difficult to clear up and ended up becoming systemic. I think it took back and forth to doctors and finally an infectious disease doctor to finally get it completely cleared up a year later. She'll never set foot in a hot tub again. I bet they are difficult to keep healthy.


New member
Enjoying your report so far, Trudy! We leave for SoCal Tuesday morning - eek! As usual, I'm so not ready. But we have been there as a family once before (2010), so it's not completely unknown. DH also spent a lot of time in LA in the 1980s for work.

It's not legal for motorcycles to drive between vehicles in MA (that I know of), but I see it fairly frequently. Not to mention the bicyclists who completely ignore all traffic regulations - but they aren't on freeways!


Nice grab; this username is going to be worth more
I want to change to that hotel now after reading your description. How much of a pain was it going to WBS tour and Universal? We also have to go to Culver City one day.


expert on dietary needs and disney dining
We went to Universal on a Sunday so traffic was really light and the hotel wasn't far. WB tour was a bit further but I made sure to time the tour so we were heading down after morning rush hour and I was hoping to be on the highway before evening rush hour. Traffic did slow down a bit but mostly on the 210 near the hotel which seems to have problems even at the best of time. It was moving really slowly through there but it's easy to get off the highway early and just go through Passadena to the hotel.

RuthAnn, have a GREAT trip.

No, it's not legal in MA or NH but you're right, that doesn't stop everybody. But, I've never seen it anywhere as much as I did in LA and usually in MA and NH I only seem to see it on smaller highways or city streets, not the big highways. But, that's just been my experience. I'm probably not on the MA highways nearly as much as you are. For me it's mostly when shlepping into Boston for yet another doctor.


expert on dietary needs and disney dining
I uploaded a few pictures this weekend. Check this out. I forgot about this when describing our arrival day. This is what greeted us at the Long Beach airport when we landed.

It's the Despicablimp. http://www.despicablimp.com/ Talk about a great way to start off. It sure did set a much better tone for the beginning of our trip than the barely missed meltdown. We could see this from the window of the plan as we were pulling into our gate. I took this picture after descending the stairs from the plane before we walked into the terminal.

The first couple days of the trip I didn't get many pictures of the hotel (I have them sorted by date and only went through the first couple for uploading so far) but here's what I did upload.

This is the outside of the rooms. There are 2 rooms on each floor of each building. Four buildings face a single courtyard.

This is the upstairs bedroom. That half wall behind the headboard opens up over the living room. DH took this picture from the stairs and that white at the front of the picture is the half wall separating the stairs from the bedroom. The top of the chair you see on the left is pushed up to a desk. The TV and dresser are on the right (not shown) and the bathroom is behind where DH is standing.

This is the dining table as seen from the top of the stairs. The kitchen is to the left and the living room is to the right.


expert on dietary needs and disney dining
July 11 - the beach?

Having arrived so late at night I figured we might sleep in a little this morning. I'm not sure if I've ever mentioned this or not but DD12 wakes up by 5am every morning at home. Every day. Like clockwork. She might sleep in until 6am if she has a friend over and they don't go to sleep before midnight but otherwise you can count on it. Unfortunately, her brain and body were still on EST so she was up before 4am. I know this because it seems my brain and body were also still on EST so I was up by 5am. I should consider us lucky that she actually slept until near 4am since that's 7am EST which is unbelievably late for her. Anyway, I tried to let DH and DD15 sleep a bit so I just put on some coffee and got a few bathroom things unpacked before I started relaxing and reading a bit. DH woke up within an hour at which point I just started unpacking. DH got breakfast for himself while I unpacked and while he was gone I put on some breakfast for me and the girls. It was a nice easy and relaxing start to our first day in LA.

When DH returned with breakfast he informed me that it was drizzling and the forecast was for rain. Come again? What? It doesn't rain in LA in the summer, right? WRONG!! Yup, that's our luck. The forecast was for more than just a bit of drizzle or we might have considered still trying to go to the beach but I really didn't want to deal with real rain so we had to rethink the day and choose an indoor activity. I knew that DSD and DSSil wanted to go to both the Natural History Museum and the California Science Center but that seeing the space shuttle was higher on their priority list so I asked everybody how they'd feel about the Natural History Museum and everybody agreed so that was easy.

I finished all the unpacking and organizing and we headed off around 10am which was perfect for missing morning traffic. The GPS got us there without a hitch. Phew!

As soon as we walked through the gift shop into the main hall, we saw these dinosaurs. We thought it was interesting how much the t-rex looked like the one in the movie Night at the Museum (it's clearer from a different angle but this is where we took the picture).

We wandered into a nearby animal exhibit and we were shocked with just how much that room looked like several of the rooms from the movie. It was getting kind of weird just how similar it was. I've been to some museums in different cities and I've never seen halls that look so much like the museum in the movie but I figured it had to be some kind of common style. Well, there was an employee running a small hands on table just outside this room and she informed us that in fact that was the dinosaur from the movie and the museum was used for some of the movie. Cool! I seem to have missed uploading any of the pictures from these halls so I can't show you what I mean, but trust me that it was like stepping into a set from the movie. The actual exhibits in the cases were different but the halls were identical.

We spent the next hour wandering around looking at a wide variety of exhibits of dinosaurs through modern day animals and how what roams the earth changed over time. The exhibits were nicely displayed and it was easy to navigate.

I kept trying to get DD12 to sit down every 15 minutes or so but after a minute sitting down she would get restless and get to up look around some more. Big mistake. I should have forced the issue. By the end of the first hour she was in a lot of pain. I asked an employee if there was anywhere we could get a wheelchair and she directed me to the customer service desk at main entrance. They have wheelchairs that they loan out at no cost (sweet) and all you have to do is leave a drivers license or credit card with them until you return the chair. So, DD12 spent the rest of our time there in a wheelchair. It's a pretty easy museum to navigate in a wheelchair other than the fact that there aren't many elevators and the crowd around the elevator can get pretty big with families with strollers.

At this point we were starting to get hungry so we went to the cafeteria to get a bit to eat before continuing. I wrote a bunch about dining there in my dining report so I won't bore you with the details.

After eating we saw that there were some exhibits downstairs by the cafeteria so we decided to check them out. One area was all about the current local environment. The area had all sorts of stuff about the insects you find in the different areas around the LA area, different kinds of wildlife, pests, dangers, animal populations and more. It was pretty interesting to see since it was very much dedicated to just what is found in the area.

Not far from there was a big area showing the history of the area including the Spanish, Native Americans, the monks and all sorts of different kinds of settlements. I didn't seem to take many pictures at the museum but I did get a shot of this huge clock. It was from an old courthouse from the late 1800s.

We wandered around for another couple of hours. They had a bunch of the typical natural history museum types of exhibits but they were nicely done. The layout of the museum was such that there were only a few areas that seemed to feel congested. The building was beautiful and the exhibits were interesting. It was a really good size museum for a day's outing. We didn't actually get to see the whole thing because we wanted to hit the road by 2:30 in order to beat rush hour traffic back to the hotel (perfect timing since it did start to slow down a bit as we got near the hotel). I really liked all of the local stuff. I really wanted to focus our trip on doing things that we couldn't do in other cities so touring a museum that had a bunch of LA centric exhibits was really nice.

Like many places, they had a green screen picture location. I don't tend to buy many souvenirs but I do like pictures so we bought them.