In October 2014 I flew to Santa Ana, California for a week in Los Angeles, Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Universal Studios, and Disneyland Resort. Even though I was in this area last year for a shorter period of time, I couldn't pass up the deal to fly there again. Additionally, I included a couple side trips besides just doing Disneyland.

As I learned last year, I did not rent a car. I picked up the Disney Shuttle at the John Wayne Airport and was dropped off at my usual hotel, conveniently located a short walking distance from the Disney Park entrance. Since I only had a partial first day, I did the usual trek through Downtown Disney and the surrounding area. I had a good shrimp dinner at Bubba Gump Shrimp Company restaurant located next to my hotel with my favorite apple pie caramel apple for dessert. Disney only has these caramel apples around Halloween, and since it was a week before Halloween, I jumped at the chance to have one when I saw them at Downtown Disney. If you never had one, it is a tart Granny Smith apple dipped in chewy caramel, coated in luscious white chocolate, sprinkled with a sweet cinnamon sugar mix, and then finished off with pie crust crumbs! It was only the first of several I had during my stay.

Since last year I just did Disney, I spent all 5 of my days there and didn't go anywhere or do anything else. Since this year I had a couple extra days, I started off at Disney, then took a break for a couple days of side trips before returning back to Disney. So, my first full day started off at the Disney's California Adventure Park and I hit most of the big rides. Later in the afternoon, I went across the way to Disneyland Park and stayed there until it closed. Since it was only a week away from Halloween, Disney was all decked out for the season.

I took a break from Disney for a couple day trips. The first day trip started with a scenic tour of downtown Los Angeles, which included many buildings you've seen in most movies filmed here. We then drove to downtown Hollywood for an extended stop. Within easy walking distance was Hollywood Boulevard, Sunset Boulevard, the Hollywood and Vine intersection, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Chinese Theater, the Capitol Records Building, and the famous Hollywood sign (well, you can't walk there but it was within view). The next stop was Beverly Hills. Actually, it wasn't so much of a stop as a 'you're on a tour bus, so not rich enough to stop here drive by'. We did however stop in Santa Monica along the coast of the Pacific Ocean. It is also the site of the world-famous Santa Monica Pier, home to Palisades Park, and the ending point of the world-famous Route 66.

The next day I really mixed it up. I took a day tour to Universal Studios Hollywood Park, and purchased a Front of Line (FOL) day pass. This allowed me to go to the front of the line for all the rides, but I guess that was pretty self-explanatory. I figured since I only had the one day, I should take advantage of this option. Besides the rides and the theme park atmosphere, they also have a backstage tour of the Universal Studios film sets. It's pretty well planned out, and actually wasn't too long of a tour. Probably best to think of it as an extended ride. Still interesting to see the film sets and all the vehicles they have on display from various movies. You could see behind some construction fences where they were building the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter themed area (it is supposed to open in 2016). Even though I wasn't able to stay real late at Universal, it was worth it to avoid the driving and parking.

I returned to Disney for another 2 days of fun! Splitting my time between the parks, one of the parks usually closes early, and then you shift over to the other park until it closes. It's always a late night by doing this. Throughout the day you can also cross over since the parks are literally across the 'street' from one another. Of course, to do this, you need to pay extra and buy the flex-pass which lets you go to multiple parks in a single day. I did have a celebrity sighting! Nestor Serrano! Yes, from the many shows he's been in like Graceland, Dexter, 90210, Criminal Minds, 24, and a host of others too many to mention. Well, at least I recognized him.

For my last day there, I had some more time to walk around Downtown Disney. This was a nice mix of parks and non-parks. I also had some beautiful weather while I was here. You can't go wrong with time at Disney!

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Los Angeles, California - This is the city, Los Angeles. Well, this is the city hall of Los Angeles. Made famous by lots of movies and television shows.


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Los Angeles, California - The Capital Records Building. Said to resemble a stack of records, the blinking light at the top signals 'Hollywood' in Morse code. Does anyone under the age of 30 know what I'm talking about anymore?


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Hollywood, California - Forever the Grauman's Chinese Theater, I'm not going to give credence to the new name.


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Hollywood, California - The famous Hollywood sign. The letters are 45 feet tall (14 metres) and 350 feet long (107 metres).


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Beverly Hills, California - Rodeo Drive. Either expect to spend a lot of money, or no money at all.


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Santa Monica, California - Me on the Santa Monica Pier, the city's most famous landmark.


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Santa Monica, California - The end of (or beginning of) the famous Route 66. The only catch, you can't actually drive to this marker. Next stop, Chicago.


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Universal Studios, California - Me in front of the Universal Studios Hollywood globe. I bought the 'Front Of The Line Pass' for the day.


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Universal Studios, California - The backstage tour included Courthouse Square, used in too many shows and movies to mention. Probably most famously 'Back to the Future'.


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Disney California Adventure, California - Me. California Adventure opened in February 2001 with an attendance of only 5 million (my first time was in 2002 when attendance actually dropped to 4.7 million). For 2013, it was 8.5 million.


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Disney California Adventure, California - "I only hope that we don't lose sight of one thing - that it was all started by a mouse." - Walt Disney.


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Disneyland, California - Sleeping Beauty Castle is here, as opposed to Cinderella Castle in Disney World. Details, details.


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Disneyland, California - 'It's a Small World', and it looks like I'm the only one in it.


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Disneyland, California - My celebrity sighting, Nestor Serrano. Yea, you know him, usually playing a cop, bad guy, or bad cop. You just didn't know his name...