In November/December 2019 I flew to Anaheim, California for almost 10 days at Disneyland Resort, Hollywood, and Los Angeles. I flew there the weekend of Thanksgiving holiday. I planned a couple day tours, one of Hollywood and one of the Warner Brothers Studios. The rest of the time I'm in Disneyland. I thought it best to do the tours on the weekend, and leave the week days open for Disneyland. My research showed the guest occupancy in Disneyland the week after Thanksgiving was actually very light. It was that gap week between people going there for the long Thanksgiving weekend and going there as part of the time off for Christmas.

When I arrived at the Anaheim airport, I wanted to catch the Disney shuttle that goes to the hotel area around the parks. I had learned on a previous trip not to rent a car, and this Disney shuttle service drops you off right in the area you want to be. Unfortunately, there was a delay in the departure of the next Disney shuttle and it was going to be a long wait. They gave us some Goofy excuse. Conveniently, the airport has other no-name Mickey Mouse (non-Disney) shuttle services available at the same bus terminal at the airport. So, I checked and it was about the same cost, and dropped me right at my hotel door. Good to know. I arrived late in the afternoon to my hotel. The hotel was where I had stayed before, only about a 10-minute walk to the Disney Park entrance. The remainder of the day I walked through the Downtown Disney shopping area right beside the parks and had a nice dinner.

Before starting into Disneyland Resort, I started my California Adventure with a day tour to Hollywood, Los Angeles, Santa Monica, and Venice. They picked me up at my hotel in the morning, and we went to a couple other hotels for a few more people. It was a small extended van that held about 12 people, but there were only 7 of us. We started by driving to Los Angeles, about a 30-mile (48 kilometre) ride from Anaheim, where Disneyland is. Because it was Saturday, the traffic was really light. We drove around downtown Los Angeles (LA as they say in the biz) and saw some sights. Lots of homeless people with tents setup all over, right on the sidewalks. We then headed to nearby Hollywood.

In Hollywood, we were dropped off at the Chinese Theater on Hollywood Boulevard for about an hour to walk around. The street was closed off in front of the theater for some sort of event that was going to be happening, they also had a stage and some stadium seating put up on the street. I got a picture of the Hollywood Sign from there, as well as a number of stars on the Hollywood Star Walk of Fame. There are a lot of gift shops up and down Hollywood Boulevard, and in front of the Chinese Theater a lot of characters in costume looking for money to have your picture taken with them. I found out later, the street was closed for the filming of the Hollywood Christmas Parade that night.

We continued driving down Hollywood Boulevard and got to the fancy section. We passed by the homes of Jim Carrey, Danny DeVito, Gene Kelly, Eddie Murphy, and Tom Selleck. We eventually drove down Rodeo Drive where all the fancy and expensive stores are. It was nearing lunchtime, so we drove to The Grove and The Farmers Market. The Grove is a nice shopping area beautifully landscaped and similar to Downtown Disney. Right next to it is The Farmers Market, which has been there since the 1930s. It's a large variety of various food stands with all kinds of things to eat. Both of them are next to the 'CBS Television Studios in Hollywood'. We next went to Santa Monica Pier along the Pacific Ocean. It has a small amusement type ride area (Pacific Park), and is also the end of the historic Route 66. Lastly, we drove up the coast to Venice and Venice Beach. Sometimes referred to as Muscle Beach, this is where Arnold Schwarzenegger was discovered. Rather than a pier, like Santa Monica, it has a boardwalk with shops that go up and down the beach area. On the way back, we drove past Marina del Rey, where there are a lot of big and expensive yachts. Because it was Saturday, the traffic was very light and we were always ahead of schedule. Because of that, the tour guide gave us extra time at every stop, which was very nice. Despite being cloudy that day, it was still about 60°F (15.5°C) and still nice out.

The other day tour I planned was of Warner Brothers Studios. The tour bus was a little different for this tour. They picked me up at my hotel in the morning and took me to their main bus terminal in Anaheim, where I caught another bus to Hollywood. I knew the tour at the studio was only about 3 hours long, plus the time to get there and back which was about another hour and a half. What I didn't know was that they were taking me to their other bus terminal behind the Chinese Theater on Hollywood Boulevard, where I was yesterday, and I was to catch yet another bus to the studio. Eventually. Even though I was in this same location yesterday, I only had an hour on Hollywood Boulevard. For this tour, there was a three-hour layover in Hollywood before the studio tour. Besides having lunch, I spent the time walking up and down Hollywood Boulevard. I managed to get to all the way to the intersection of Hollywood and Vine and the Capitol Records Building.

When I did finally catch the last bus to the Warner Brothers Studios, it was only about 15 minutes away in 'beautiful downtown Burbank'. The studio had a nice arrangement with electric trams transporting you around the tour. They went through a number of backstage outdoor sets, an archive of artifacts that have been used over the years in many movies and shows, a display of items and costumes from several recent movies, a Batman exhibit with a ton of vehicles, a backstage view from their new show 'All American', and a visit to the set of Ellen's talk show. There was a lot. At the end of the tour, they dropped you off in a soundstage set-up for you to walk through at your leisure. It had a mock set of The Big Bang Theory, a mock set of Friends Central Perk coffee shop, old costumes from Classic Movies, behind the scenes photographs, and then some green screen activities where you could place yourself in the movies. Overall, a really great tour. A lot more extensive than the Universal Studios back stage tour I've taken previously.

Disney! I finally got to Disneyland Resort. I knew 5 days was plenty, and I was in no rush. I would be bouncing between the 2 parks based on when they opened, closed, or simply on a whim. I started in the California Adventure Disney Park. Its entrance is actually just across from the Disneyland Park entrance. They are centered around a huge courtyard type area. Even though it was a little cloudy, it was still about 60°F (15.5°C) all day. It was a long day.

One of the newest things at Disneyland Park was the new land, Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge. It just opened in May of this year. If I knew more about Star Wars, I probably could tell you some pretty super exciting cool stuff about it. It had a big ship, it had some shops, it had some restaurants, it had a ride. There were also some bathrooms. They were Star Wars themed.

At Disneyland Park, I had booked the 'Walk-in Walt Disney's Steps' tour. It rained the night before, and was supposed to rain during the tour. The tour information said the tour would go on rain or shine, and it was raining very heavy when I signed-in for the tour. Luckily, they let me reschedule it for the next day. Cool. I still went into the park and started going on some rides, it was not crowded. Shortly after, the rain was coming and going and eventually stopped. I spent the remainder of the day drifting between the California Adventure and Disneyland Park. There is lots to see and do at the parks. It was a late night.

What fortuitous timing. Walt Disney's Birthday - 12/5/1901! The highlight of the day was the re-scheduled 'Walk in Walt Disney's Steps' tour, on his birthday. What are the chances? Well, honestly, 1 in 365. They walked us through the park telling us a lot about the history. They provided headsets so we could hear the guide, as well as playing clips of Walt Disney talking about the park. The tour was about 4 hours long, and they provided us with a nice lunch. Then the highlight of the highlight. They took us into Walt Disney's personal apartment located above the fire station on Main Street. The description of the tour did not mention anything about that, and apparently, they don't do this all the time. It's a little over 500 square feet, has one bathroom, a kitchenette area, and a living space with couches that pulled out into 2 beds. This was the apartment he stayed at during the construction of the park as well as his family gathering together in the park after it opened. We were not able to take pictures, but the guides took pictures of each of us in the apartment. Way cool, and amazing!

I specifically picked this trip since I knew I wouldn't have to do virtually any planning. I was certainly right about that. Before the trip ended, I arranged my bus transport back to the airport (I used the same shuttle service I used at the start of the trip). Always a good time with Disney involved...

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Downtown Disney, California - Some nice colorful decorations in Downtown Disney. Admission: Free!


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Los Angeles, California - The iconic Los Angeles City Hall building.


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Hollywood, California - The historic Grauman's Chinese Theatre, next best thing to seeing the Great Wall of China.


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Hollywood, California - They wouldn't let you too close to Vin. Nice guy, but doesn't say much.


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Hollywood, California - Dick Van Dyke star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.


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Hollywood, California - The famous Hollywood sign perched on Mount Lee.


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Beverly Hills, California - Part of the Hollywood tour were some star's homes, they claim this was Steven Spielberg's. Who would know?


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Beverly Hills, California - Although Rodeo Drive is only 2 miles (3.2 kilometres) long, it is known the world over.


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Los Angeles, California - The Farmers Market is a great place to get something to eat, they have a large variety.


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Santa Monica, California - 2019 marked the 100th Anniversary of the Santa Monica Pier. And I forgot to get it a present.


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Venice, California - Venice Beach has an interesting board walk and shops, not to mention the people.


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Burbank, California - Great tour behind the scenes of the Warner Brothers Studio, lasts about 3 hours.


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Burbank, California - They have a variety of backstage locations, this could be Anytown, U.S.A.


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Burbank, California - Me on the Ellen Show sound stage.


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Disneyland, California - Sleeping Beauty Winter Castle is covered with 126,000 twinkling lights for the holidays.


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Disneyland, California - The Millennium Falcon landed in the newly opened Star Wars Land, designated with the airport code C3PO.


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Disneyland, California - The ever delectable pineapple Dole Whip. You don't know what you are missing if you don't try it. I had several (fancy umbrella optional).


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Disneyland, California - Sleeping Beauty Winter Castle at night is even more gorgeous. But, the lights must keep her up all night.


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Disney California Adventure, California - Incredible live performance of Frozen.


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Disneyland, California - December 5th, Walt Disney's Birthday. I took a behind the scenes tour that included his apartment over the fire station. Very cool!


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Disney California Adventure, California - Nothing like Hollywood within Hollywood, but this is 1930s Hollywood, Disney style.


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Disney California Adventure, California - You have to be there at night with the lights.


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Disneyland, California - Midnight! I'm too excited to sleep...