SoCal and Oahu, here we come!

Hello there! Hailey here, and I’m back to write again about our most recent trip to the Happiest Place on Earth and the Aloha State. All ready for some fun in the sun, my parents and I hopped on a plane headed to California with my aunt and two cousins. Due to some unforeseen circumstances, my grandparents who were also supposed to travel with us unfortunately had to stay home, which was a huge bummer. After a quick layover in Dallas, we boarded on another plane and soon landed in Santa Ana. We then took a short ride over to the Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel, our home base for the next couple of days. After checking in and making a quick stop at our rooms, we headed out to visit Disneyland, a first time visit for both of my cousins, and first time in years for my aunt. We were all very famished from our early flight and many hours spent on the plane, but not to worry, corn dogs, grilled cheese, and tomato soup to the rescue! My dad always talks about how the Little Red Wagon in Disneyland has the best corn dogs, but since I’m vegetarian I can’t speak to this, so you will just have to take his word for it.

We then used the Genie+ service to ride all sorts of rides throughout the park, including Star Tours, Matterhorn, it’s a small world, Haunted Mansion, and Smuggler’s Run. On Smuggler’s Run we ended the mission with Hondo taking a large sum of our credits for “damages.” It turns out that the flight controls of the Millennium Falcon are quite sensitive, who knew! Shoutout to our gunners and engineers for capturing and securing the cargo, the Resistance is grateful for your efforts! My parents and I are huge Star Wars fans, and we ended up being at Disneyland while Star Wars Celebration was happening right down the road at a convention center in Anaheim. We were sadly not able to attend the event, which we were all a bit sad about, knowing that people like Ewan McGregor, Temuera Morrison, Dee Bradley Baker, Dave Filoni, and Hayden Christensen were all right there and we couldn’t meet them. We still hoped to run across some of the personalities from Celebration in the parks after the events for the day had finished but didn’t end up seeing any. If we had, I have to say I would’ve been fangirling very hard, and my parents would have been really excited too. After spending the first day in Disneyland, the next day was spent mostly in California Adventure. We had a great time riding rides like Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT!, Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree, The Incredicoaster, and Web Slingers: A Spider-Man Adventure. After riding Web Slingers, we all had sore arms due to very enthusiastically slinging webs at the Spider-Bots. While in Avengers Campus, we saw Doctor Strange and Scarlet Witch, and we had lunch at the Pym Test Kitchen. My cousin and I are both huge Cars fans, so we also spent a good amount of time in Cars Land. Sadly, Radiator Springs Racers was closed, so we didn’t get the chance to ride it. She loved seeing Radiator Springs in real life for the first time, and we all had a great time there!

We had a great time visiting the parks on the west coast, but even though we didn’t get a chance to see and do everything, it was time to hop on the plane again. We soon landed in Honolulu, grabbed our luggage, picked up our rental car, and drove out to Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa. Our room wasn’t ready yet, so we went over to a little shopping center just across the road from the resort. We had lunch and visited several shops located there, but then went back to the resort and room was ready. Our room was a two-bedroom villa located on the fourth floor, and we had a great view of the resort and the lazy river. We decided to get some groceries for our stay, so we drove out to a store to pick up some essentials, and it ended up working out great having breakfast, snacks, and drinks in the room. We spent the next day rotating through the lazy river, the ocean, the infinity pool, and the waterslides. We all enjoyed having some relaxing pool time, especially after the past few days had been so busy. We all tried shaved ice, a popular Hawaiian treat, and we were able to choose three flavors, mine were green tea, haupia (coconut), and li hing mui, which I really enjoyed. I personally do not recommend the lychee flavor, unless you happen to really like the flavor of rose, which was very unexpected and not very pleasing.  

On the next day we went out to visit Pearl Harbor National Memorial and Waikiki. My parents and I traveled to Hawaii nearly 8 years ago, and we also visited Pearl Harbor on that trip. I enjoyed being able to see the memorial again, since I am older now and was able to understand and appreciate it more. While we were in Waikiki, we went to one of the Honolulu Cookie Company’s stores, which has excellent macadamia nut shortbread cookies in a variety of flavors. We also went to the Paradise Cove Luau, located right down the road from Aulani, which was a lot of fun! There was a wonderful show with hula dancers, fire dancers, and live vocalists. You could also make your own flower bracelet and compete in several games with other guests. The Paradise Cove Luau is also known for having a great view of the Hawaiian sunset, with both ocean waves and beautiful mountains in view. Dinner was served buffet style with several types of meat, as well as rice, vegetables, salad, and bread. For dessert, one of the choices was haupia, a traditional Hawaiian coconut pudding, which we enjoyed!

We also rented a cabana at Aulani to use during one of the days that we spent a lot of time in the pool. This was very helpful because it can sometimes be difficult to find even a single chair to leave your belongings in while you are in the pool. It had a safe, a mini fridge, a fan, two sun lounge chairs, a huge sofa, a fruit tray, a dessert tray, and a snack bowl. There were several attendants who we could contact if we wanted to have more towels or to order food and beverages. We also spent a lot of time in the pool and ocean on this day, and one of my cousins and my aunt both snorkeled, which they had a lot of fun doing. Aulani has both snorkeling and stand-up paddleboarding, which you can participate in for a fee, but they also have boogie boards which do not have a fee. You just have to sign up to take them, so they can keep track of who has taken the boards out for the day. We used the boogie boards in the ocean, and all had a great time with them. We all were really interested in trying out the acai bowls from the Ulu Café at Aulani, and they were so good! My mom and I tried the tropical one, which had mango, pineapple, papaya, and banana on it as well as granola and honey. We both really liked it, but the portion size was huge, so I think next time we would end up sharing. We had a wonderful time at Aulani, but it was soon time to head back to the mainland.

We flew on Hawaiian Airlines both to and from Hawaii, which was a nice experience. The plane was very large compared to the others we flew on with a row of four seats down the middle of the plane as well as two rows of two down either side. Before we landed they gave us little treats, such as a pineapple flavored Honolulu Cookie Company cookie, or a small pack of chocolate covered macadamia nuts. Once we landed at LAX, we took a transfer to get to our hotel for the next few nights, The Garland, which is located in North Hollywood. The hotel was a very retro and boutique property. The hotel includes a shuttle service to Universal CityWalk Hollywood, which is just a short ride down the road. During this last part of our trip, we went on the A Day in LA City Tour and saw many different sights and scenes all across the city. Once we were picked up by the bus, we had to stop at a few more hotels to pick up other guests, but the last stop was on Hollywood Boulevard, and it was very interesting to see it early in the morning with basically no one there. We came back later in the day, but it was not anywhere near as peaceful. While on the tour we saw the Beverly Hills sign, Rodeo Drive, Venice Beach, the Santa Monica Pier, The Grove, The Original Farmers Market, Griffith Observatory and the Hollywood Sign, and Hollywood Boulevard. My parents and I have been on one of these tours before, and we did not stop at Venice Beach or Rodeo Drive, and I have to say that we preferred that experience. No one on the tour was going to be buying things on Rodeo Drive, otherwise they wouldn’t be on this tour, would they! And Venice Beach just didn’t have the greatest environment, in our opinion, but it was cool to watch all of the skateboarders there. Other than that, we all had a great time seeing all that the city had to offer.

And so, our trip came to an end. We were all ready to head back home after being out of town for so long and were looking forward to sleeping on the plane rides home. We were all very confused about what time and day it was due to going from the three hour time difference in California, then the six hour difference in Hawaii, and then back to the three hour difference in California. And then the one-hour difference in Texas for our connections each way. So yeah, we were a mess! By the time we got home, it was around 3am and we were still running on Hawaii time, but we were all glad to run inside and see the cats, who had a lot to say about us being gone for so long. They will be stuck with us at home for a while now, because our next trip planned at the moment isn’t until September for my 18th birthday! Super excited for that, but for now I think I will stick to some much needed pool time. Until next time!