Exploring California via Highway 1
After being immersed in Disney’s delights, Brooke Lumsden and
family hit Highway 1 to explore California’s golden coastline.
Iblame Genie. Sure, Pocahontas’ rendition
of ‘Just Around the River Bend’ sets my
goosebumps to full tingle, but it’s Aladdin’s
blue buddy that forms the lump in my
throat. Once Simba appears trying to wake
Mufasa, I’ve given up. My son squeezes my
hand, a look of understanding in his eyes.
Within seconds my cheeks are tear-soaked
and I’m in standing-ovation mode. Before the
World of Color spectacle began, I doubted a
light show with some water spouts would really
be worth staying for after a jam-packed day
exploring Disneyland. Once the nostalgia-fuelled
montage started playing against the
mid-air mist, though, I knew I was wrong.
My son, Xander, had been learning how to
use The Force at Jedi training during the day,
while my eldest son, Harrison, had fulfilled his
artistic dreams at an animation workshop. We
didn’t think anything could improve on what
was, by definition, the perfect day, but World of
Color proves to be the cherry on top.
Whether it’s facing the giant boulder on the
Indiana Jones ride, or attending a live
production of Frozen, it’s the depth of each
experience that truly makes the Disney parks
magical. Lunch at Ariel’s Grotto gives the boys an opportunity to have one-on-one time with
their favourite princesses, who, like every
character we encounter, gives us a warm
welcome and undivided attention. This
includes Chewbacca as my husband collapses
into his arms and snuggles into his hairy
Wookie chest like a long-lost friend.
Our accommodation at the Disneyland
Hotel is no different as we dine at Goofy’s
Kitchen and Xander becomes besties with
Chip ‘n’ Dale. We’ve spent five days living
inside a Disney bubble, enjoying direct park
access and early entry every morning. We look
out at the sparkling pool and water slides that
we didn’t spend nearly enough time enjoying,
and talk about the park parades and shopping
we didn’t get to. We make a decision: we need
to come back, and next time for longer.
Visit Disneyland around the holiday season to see the park and characters transform into a Halloween festival or a Christmas wonderland.
World of Colour © Disney
La La Land
The next morning, as we weave our way
through Hollywood Boulevard to find our
favourite celebrities’ stars and handprints, we
encounter an array of colourful characters,
including a Wolverine so convincing he has me
wondering if Hugh Jackman really is nice
enough to hang around Hollywood taking
photos. Our hunt for glitz leads us to explore
the Dolby and Microsoft Theaters (home of
the Oscars and Emmys respectively), and the
Grammy Museum, where the kids play
instruments, record demos and watch music
history videos while we relive our glory days
exploring the Ramones exhibit.
Swept up in our Tinseltown high, we take a
tour the following morning with Ultimate
Hollywood Tours. Our guide ensures we have
the biggest seat and asks the kids who their
favourite celebs are. They take us past the
homes of Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, Justin
Bieber, Beyoncé and other faves, and show us
the famous hangouts around town, explaining
that, in a few hours, locals will start rolling out
of bed and these cafes will be buzzing with
celebrities and wannabes.
Universal Studios is a must before we leave
the bright lights of LA. As avid Harry Potter
fans, the kids’ excitement is palpable as they
weave their way through Hogsmeade and use
their new interactive wands to make magic. I
have to admit to feeling the same excitement
as we wander through Springfield and stop for
lunch at Krusty Burger.
Allow three or four overnight stops along Highway 1 to get the most enjoyment out of the sights and to avoid long days cooped up in the car.
On the road again
The next few days are filled with a road trip along
California’s famous Highway 1. A stop at San
Simeon gets us up-close and personal with
some of the local wildlife, while a visit to the
Getty Villa in Malibu and the Santa Cruz
Natural History Museum allows the kids to
combine hands-on fun with culture and education. Checking out the sand sculptures
and beach games at Santa Barbara, and a play
at Santa Monica’s Tongva Park and Monterey’s
Dennis the Menace Park are perfect
opportunities for the kids to stretch their legs.
After a day taking in the grand sights along
the rugged coastline of Big Sur, we pick up
some fantastic books and puzzles at Thinker
Toys at Carmel-By-The-Sea to get us through
the last leg of our journey. We stop for a
wander among the giants of Henry Cowell
Redwoods State Park, walking inside one that
the ranger tells us fits 86 children.
"We've spent five days living inside a Disney bubble, enjoying direct park access and early entry"
Through the golden gates
As we approach San Francisco, the hillsides
seem to explode with colour, and it only
becomes more lively as we arrive downtown.
Fisherman’s Wharf is a tourist family’s
playground full of captivating buskers and lively
attractions. We race from Ripley’s Believe It or
Not to a year-round Christmas shop and a
chocolate marketplace. Xander is mesmerised
by the two-storey carousel and Harrison
watches a sword-swallowing performer in awe.
Our journey is completed with a fascinating
tour of Alcatraz, leaving us with heavy hearts
and sore feet as we board the ferry just in time
to see the glorious sunset over the Golden
This article appeared in volume 52 of Holidays with Kids magazine. To subscribe to the latest issue, click here.