We had many ideas for this trip. In fact, we wrote 3 pre-trip reports:
- The What If I Get a Contract and We Go to Disneyland trip
- The What If I *Don’t* Get a Contract and We Go to Disneyland trip
- The Countdown to Vegas Disneyland trip
They were all supposed to be the follow-up to the First Trip Back to Disneyland at the GC Part 1 trip report. For one thing, we never actually made it to Disneyland. We spent that first trip back catching up with DCA and the GC. This was our first trip back since moving back from Florida last year.
I did not get another contract so we chose the budget route – staying offsite. But then we had to decide where to stay offsite – Disneyland or the beach? We tossed around many ideas – in fact, we booked and unbooked several hotels – some near Disneyland – some near the beach.
We focused on a couple of requirements (after this trip, we would amend this list):
- Shuttle to Disneyland without being too far away
- A suite to hang out in comfortably when we weren’t at Disneyland or the beach
- Hotels only – no motels
- Some place new – we didn’t want to return to our previous offsite hotels – they were fine but we wanted to change it up
We finally settled on the Marriott in Costa Mesa near South Coast Plaza ((at the intersection of Costa Mesa, Santa Ana, Newport Beach, and Irvine) – all rooms were suites and we thought it would give us access to Disneyland *and* the beach. We made this decision after choosing to focus on the beach and other OC attractions rather than Disneyland.
Because of this, we also decided to drive down 101 instead of I-5. On our return trip, we had taken 101 back north and it was pretty speedy (speedier than we’d remembered from years ago) so we thought it would be a good choice. It was not. It was long (7.5 hours) and tedious and we were exhausted by the time we arrived. Also, the summer weather pattern was still apparent just 2 days before the first day of Fall and it was foggy near Monterey and other coastal areas – we do not like clouds after living in Oregon again for 4 months.
The good news is there is a carpool lane by the time you merge onto 405 compared to I-5. The bad news is SoCal seemed much busier on this trip compared to May and they need 2 carpool lanes to handle the traffic. Sometimes SoCal is ahead of NorCal when it comes to traffic flow – in the past SoCal was actually winning – but we’d have to give it to NorCal a tiny smidgeon after this trip.
As soon as we entered the hotel, we felt the OC vibe. Locals often socialize at hotel restaurants and bars and host special events like weddings and other celebrations at local hotels. The pool with cabanas and firepits was a popular place to hang out.
We were so tired, we ordered in a couple of bowls of rigatoni with sausage and a couple of glasses of Paso Robles Cab, enjoyed our meal and then went to sleep. We’d kicked around dropping in on Disney this night but because of the long trip and the fact that we were not staying nearby, we quickly nixed this idea. We needed to rest up for a big morning at Disneyland – or so we thought.