This is the final posting about our trip to Disneyland, and our attempts to travel and live green while on the road. As I mentioned in Part 1, my definition of living sustainably is being a good steward of our finances. Since we had five days total for our California trip including travel time, we decided to purchase three-day Park Hopper passes for Disneyland and California Adventure and spend the majority of our time at the parks. This turned out to be the perfect decision for us, and I was happy that we didn’t try to squeeze in trips to Universal Studios and other attractions on this trip; we’ll save those adventures for our next visit to Southern California.
On the day we arrived, we settled into our hotel, bought groceries and got acquainted with the area. Then we had three relaxed days to explore both parks, with no pressure to arrive early or stay late. Most days we walked back to our hotel later in the afternoon and went for a swim.
My sister turned me on to the wonderful site MouseSavers, which is chock-full of insider information about the parks, hotels, discounts and deals. I purchased our Park Hopper admission tickets online from ARES Travel, and they were waiting for us at the Will Call booth just outside Disneyland. It was easy, convenient, and at $144 per ticket, a darned good deal; the admission price averaged out to $48 per person per day.
We traveled during the first week of March and the weather was around 70 degrees each day. The crowds on Thursday and Friday weren’t bad at all and the longest we waited in line for a ride was 30 minutes; most waits averaged ten minutes or less. Saturday was more crowded, but by then we were pros and we utilized the Fast Pass tickets on many of the rides that day. In three days we were easily able to see and ride everything we wanted, and we visited our favorite attractions (yours truly loved Soarin’ over California) more than once. When we came out of our final ride on Saturday at 5 p.m., it was pouring rain. This was the only bad weather we encountered during our trip, and we ran directly to the covered waiting area for the shuttle bus so we didn’t get too wet.
They say Disneyland is the happiest place on earth, and if you’re concerned about the environment you’ll find lots of green practices to be happy about in the park. We saw evidence everywhere of Disneyland’s green efforts; there are recycling cans placed next to nearly every regular trash can. Merchandise bags at the gift shops are made from recycled plastic. There were even herbs and vegetables growing in the gardens.
Along with the churro stands and hot pretzel vendors, we found a variety of healthier food choices in the park, from frozen fruit bars to fresh-cut veggies on ice for snacks. One wonderful side benefit of the abundant and highly visible good food is that it demonstrates to kids that healthy eating can be downright normal. When my son asked for purple grapes after we finished a drive at Autopia, it made me so happy I almost forgot my earlier near-death experience on the Tower of Terror.
Prior to our trip, I had read that Disneyland now powers its trains with biodiesel; the park’s 16 guest trams are also fueled by a clean-burning compressed natural gas (CNG). My son and I were amazed at the submarine ride, which was renovated several years ago and re-launched with a ‘Finding Nemo’ theme. The submarines’ engines are now powered by eco-friendly magnetic coils, and the fantastical coral reefs under water were colored with recycled glass sprayed on with an organic epoxy.
We enjoyed touring the Mission Tortilla Factory’s demonstration area, where we saw corn tortillas being made and were able to enjoy a fresh, still-warm sample.
My sister had also recommended that we get a Chase Disney Visa card prior to the trip. I do like to use a credit card when we travel rather than travelers checks or cash, so we got one with the intention of paying it off immediately following the trip. In addition to awarding points that can be applied to park entrance tickets, the card offered several benefits like discounts at the gift shops and a number of restaurants inside the park. We also received a free portrait taken by one of the professional photographers located in both parks. It’s a neat system; you give the photographer a card that looks much like a credit card. After taking your picture, the photographer swipes your card. Then you go to the Main Street Photo Supply Co., hand over your card, view your photos and purchase whatever images you like. We simply redeemed our freebie, taken with Pluto:
We had a wonderful time in Anaheim, and although I would rate our green travel efforts ‘mixed,’ we learned along the way and I feel like we’ll be even better equipped for future travels. If you have ideas, suggestions or travel discoveries of your own to share, please leave a comment below.