James Gjaltema writes on travel for The Armchair Mayor News.
COLUMN — Going to Disneyland is the dream of many children. I grew up watching the Wonderful World of Disney every Sunday night and was programmed from an early age that Disneyland should be on my travel wish list.
As my first trip was approaching I was so incredibly excited that I couldn’t sleep. I was beaming with enthusiasm and giddy with joy. I had wished upon many a star for this day to come.
We started in Tomorrow Land on Autopia, where you can “drive” your own car. Next we had a thrilling bobsled ride down the Matterhorn. As we moved over to Frontier Land, we ran into Goofy who was happy to pose for pictures with us. It was pure magic.
Theme parks are always developing and adding new features to keep attracting visitors. The two major centres for theme parks are Anaheim in California and Orlando in Florida. In Anaheim, there is Disneyland and California Adventure featuring Cars Land.
Disney parks celebrate great characters and movies with many enchanting details to discover. Most rides are geared towards an immersive experience rather than stomach dropping thrills.
Knott’s Berry Farm is another Anaheim theme park with many kid-friendly thrill rides. Further north in Hollywood Universal Studios has a good mix of shows and exciting rides with movie and TV themes.
Further south is Legoland, built on a foundation based on the ever-popular building blocks, and SeaWorld with legendary dolphin and orca shows. A very popular ticket option is a Southern California City Pass which includes three days at Disney, one day at Sea World and one day at Universal Studios.
While California is much closer, the scale of the theme parks in Florida is much bigger. I recently had the opportunity to go to Orlando on an educational trip for travel agents to experience many of the attractions. Disneyworld consists of four theme parks, covering over 40 square miles (twice the size of Manhattan Island).
The Magic Kingdom features many of the same attractions as Disneyland with recent enhancements including the expanded Dumbo ride, now with double the elephants and an air-conditioned circus tent play area.
The song “Be Our Guest” invites you to dine at the new Beauty and the Beast Castle. There is free WiFi allowing you to instantly post photos to Facebook and use the new FastPass+ system to make reservations for rides and shows.
Epcot Centre is an expo of countries from around the world featuring interactive experiences from such exotic lands as Canada, Mexico, France, Norway, China and Japan. It has some exciting rides and simulators like “Soaring” where seats lift up and moves around as you fly over the beautiful scenery of California.
The Animal Kingdom allows you to go on Safari and see gorillas, giraffes and zebras. It has a rapids ride and the Expedition Everest roller-coaster.
Hollywood Studios features some of Disney’s most thrilling rides, the Tower of Terror and the Aerosmith roller-coaster which sends you upside-down several times.
Universal Studios Orlando is divided into two parks; Universal Studios Florida features rides from movies and TV shows, including Transformers, ET, Minions, Shrek and the Simpsons.
Islands of Adventure has the Jurassic Park water ride, the Hulk Roller Coaster, Spiderman and the extremely popular Wizarding World of Harry Potter where you can fly over Hogwarts, order a butter beer or make a purchase at Olivander’s Wand Shop.
SeaWorld Orlando features two unique roller-coasters, a Pet show, the Antarctic Penguin experience; a separate water park called Aquatica with incredible water slides, a lazy river one with rapids; and another park called Discovery Cove, an all-inclusive experience where you can snorkel and swim with dolphins. The end of August is a good time to visit Orlando, as Florida schools are back in session.
Whether you prefer California or Florida, you may consider a cruise-and-stay package to add some relaxation time before or after the intense days on your feet at theme parks. It’s time to enjoy a fairy-tail holiday. Imagine the smiles and excitement on the faces of your children and/or grandchildren.
Cruise & Stay Package $655 per person based on a family of four (Sept. 21-28). Three-night cruise from Vancouver to LA, four nights in Anaheim and airfare back to Vancouver.
Orlando Family Package from Vancouver $759 per person based on a family of 4 (Aug. 20-27). Includes airfare, transfers, meal plan and a Disney hotel for seven nights.
Four-Night Anaheim Package $759 per person based on a family of 4 (Aug. 21-25).
Includes airfare, hotel, 3-day Disneyland passes and car rental
Direct flights daily between Kelowna and Los Angeles from $328 return.
Kamloops to Los Angeles (via Vancouver) from $375 return.
Southern California City Pass $366.
Three-Day Disney Park-Hopper Pass, one day at Universal Studios and one day at Sea World
James Gjaltema is a founding member of the Kamloops Travel Club and a Flight Centre Associate who works from his home office. He can be reached at 250-879-0873 or through his web-site: http://www.flightcentreassociates.com/jamesgjaltema.