Your Guide to California, Dolphin and Whale Watching, Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood

As a business owner, and a coach of business owners, it is important to make sure your operating with counter balance in your life. There is no such thing as balance so stop chasing an elusive dream. Counter balance in my life is travel with my family. Our goal is two vacations a year with the intention to create lifelong memories. Our school district recently voted on a new calendar which provides students a week long fall break. Upon the news, we booked a trip to California to escape the unbearable Texas heat. 

I am often asked about my trips. What we liked. What we didn't like. So to venture a little from business today, here is a post capturing a few of the moments on our trip. You can also click here to see my Google Reviews of the different places we traveled while on the trip. Enjoy.

The Marriott Newport Coast Villas

We flew into Anaheim, California on a direct flight with United from Bush IAH. Leaving on a Saturday, we encountered no lines at tickets and through security at Bush IAH, and when we arrived to John Wayne Airport in Anaheim, we easily picked up our bags, and headed out to where we would be staying for the week in our Hertz rental; a Dodge mini van. The Marriott Newport Coast Villas overlooking the Pacific ocean would be where we would stay for the week, and it was about a 20 minute drive from the airport.

The Marriott Newport Coast Villas was a huge development built into the sides of the hilly terrain overlooking the water. Our villa was in the 1100 building; room 1121 to be exact. The picture above was from our private balcony that overlooked the Pacific with Catalina Island in the background. The sunsets were amazing. I would highly recommend this place as it is away from the hustle and bustle, and centrally located to many different activities and small towns along with coast. Laguana and Dana Point were located south, and to our north was Huntington Beach which was hosting The Great Pacific Airshow while we were there.

One of the things we enjoyed most while staying at The Marriott Newport Coast Villas was sitting by the fire having a glass of wine at the end of a long day of countless miles of ground covered by foot. The villas also featured 3 different pools, putt-putt course, basketball and tennis courts, and we even enjoyed a Magic Show by Anthony the Magic. A great way to get to know the property better is participating in their scavenger hunt. Beware. This scavenger hunt is going to cover some terrain with lots of stairs. Make sure you're wearing a good pair of tennis shoes.

The Marriott Newport Coast Villas was centrally located to the activities we did as a family during the trip; with the exception of Universal Studios Hollywood which was an hour-and-a-half north from our location. Captain Dave's Dolphin and Whale Watching Safari located in Dana Point and Disney where located about 30 minutes from where we stayed for the week.

Captain Dave's Dolphin and Whale Watching Safari

On our first full day in California, we headed 30 minutes south along the coast to Dana Point to take a dolphin and whale watching tour with Captain Dave's Dolphin and Whale Watching Safari. The 2 and a half hour trip took us about 5 miles off the coast where during our trip we saw two pods of common dolphins numbers in the 100's. The catamaran we were on had a unique feature in that the pontoons for the boat were glassed in so you could see the dolphins beneath the surface of the water. I was highly surprised at the clarity of the water being from the Gulf Coast. I highly recommend taking this tour if your in Dana Point.

Disneyland, California Adventure Park, and Universal Studios Hollywood

The rest of our week was spent at various theme parks including 2 days at Disneyland, 2 days at Disney California Adventure Park, and 1 day at Universal Studios Hollywood. Getting to and from the Disney parks was fairly simple. The parks are about 30 minutes from The Marriott Newport Coast Villas. Most of the driving was on HOV lanes, and Disney had their own exit from the HOV lane allowing you to avoid traffic. To park at Disney was $25 a day, and there was a steady flow of buses to take you the few blocks to the park gates. Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Park are located directly across from each other and within walking distance of Downtown Disney.

The one ride we anticipated the most was Star Wars Galaxy's Edge. The area was well-themed, and the only challenge was this ride did not offer Fast Passes. The wait on the ride was a little over an hour of being stuck in a cruel cue. I say cruel cue because just when you think you're there, the line enters another room, or it heads up a flight of stairs or ramps. We did enjoy the ride, and all of us agreed riding it once was okay to not wait in the line again.

One of the days, we paid to participate in the Oogie Boogie Bash at Disney's California Adventure Park. The ticket allowed us into the park at 3:00 pm, and at 6:00 pm anyone in the park not participating in Oogie Boogie Bash were ushered out of the park. They had several special activities throughout the evening including Trick or Treat Trails. Our kids loaded up on candy. The other benefit was that the crowds were greatly limited for the event. For all the rides in the park, the longest wait we had was 10 - 15 minutes.  My wife insisted on seeing the headless horseman ride through the park to announce the parade. 

One day of our trip, we made an hour-and-a-half drive north through LA rush hour traffic to spend the day at Universal Studios Hollywood (on the drive there look for the Hollywood sign and hotel). Most of the rides in this park immerse you into 3D/4D experiences so if you get motion sickness, this might not be your park. One of the best parts of the park was the Studio Tour. It is a 1 hour tour by tram through 400 acres of studios and sets that you will recognize used in many movies. The hours are limited for the Studio Tour so make sure you get it done sooner than later in your day.

Parking at Universal Studios Hollywood is a little cumbersome. Make sure you check the hours as there are some days that close by 6:00 pm.

The weather was absolutely amazing in October at Universal Studios Hollywood. A little cooler at night, and you might carry with you a light jacket.

Overall the trip was amazing. It was easy to sleep most of the way back to Houston on the plane. On average we walked 10 miles a day. We were able to create several memories, and are already looking forward to our Norwegian Cruise out of the port of New Orleans later this year. While I coach up business owners to be productive, I also coach business owners to carve time out of their calendars to ensure time to travel and be with family. Having a great business is not worth it if you don't also have a great life.

Get the Rest of my Reviews Here

See the rest of my reviews from this trip here.

See my reviews from a trip last year to Las Vegas with my wife.

Onward and Upward,
Coach Jeremy WIlliams

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