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I’m Carissa from All Day Mom and I’m happy to be guest posting on Planning the Magic today!
All true Disney fans know you can never get enough Disney magic! Our family spends more than 30 days a year at Disneyland, but we do explore other great family destinations in California (my home state) and Arizona (where we live now)!
No matter where we go, our family is on the lookout for a Disney link—even a drive through Monument Valley on the Utah/Arizona border made our Disney radar go crazy as we spotted natural rock formations that we’re sure Pixar animators used as inspiration for the landscapes in Disney-Pixar Cars and Cars Land in Disney California Adventure!
It’s easy to find Disney-themed fun in California, home of the original Magic Kingdom! If you have an “off” day on your Disneyland or Universal Studios Hollywood vacation and want to find even more Disney magic, take your family on a day trip to Hollywood!
You can read more about family-friendly Hollywood destinations in the next book in my Budget Tips for Family Trips series. An exclusive heads-up for Planning the Magic readers: my new L.A. in a Day: Hollywood book will be free on Amazon 11/16–11/18 as an early Black Friday treat! Follow Carissa Houston’s Author Page on Amazon here to read the latest Budget Tips for Family Trips travel guides!
6 Things to See in Hollywood for Disney Families!
Hollywood is surprisingly compact—you can visit every tourist trap in Hollywood on a day trip! For this Disney-themed Hollywood itinerary, you only have to park twice and you’ll pay just $2 for parking. Total trip distance to see all 6 Disney-in-Hollywood sights is just 6 miles! Most of these Hollywood sights are free to explore, so a trip to Hollywood is a great way to spend a budget-conscious day on your Disneyland vacation!
Travel Tip: Eat lunch at the In-N-Out at 7009 Sunset Blvd, Hollywood, CA 90028 for the essential California burger—and a cheap family meal!
Park at the Hollywood & Highland Center and get parking validation at the Visit Los Angeles office to get 2 hours of parking for $2. Stops #1, #2, #3, and #4 are all at Hollywood & Highland.
1. Disney Stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame!
Your kids will have fun finding these Disney stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame:
- Walt Disney—look for two stars, one for music and one for TV.
If you’re staying on Harbor Blvd. on your Disneyland vacation, look for Walt Disney’s star at the Disneyland pedestrian entrance, part of the Orange County Walk of Stars.
- Johnny Depp (Your kids know him as the Mad Hatter and Captain Jack Sparrow!)
- Julie Andrews (Mary Poppins and Queen Clarisse in The Princess Diaries)
- Kermit the Frog
- Stan Lee
- Tinker Bell
- Snow White
and of course,
- Mickey Mouse!
Grown up Disney fans will recognize these Disney stars:
- Mickey Rooney
- Dick Van Dyke
- The Sherman Brothers
Serious Disneyland fans will appreciate this Disney-Doogie Howser tie-in:
- Neil Patrick Harris, host of World of Color at Disney California Adventure and voice of the carnival barker on the California Screamin’ ride (also at DCA).
2. Disney and Star Wars Handprints in front of TCL Chinese Theater!
Budget Bender: You can see The Last Jedi in IMAX 3-D at TCL Chinese Theater! Matinee tickets are $21 for adults/$20 for kids but how cool would it be to see The Last Jedi at this world famous theater?!
Grauman’s Chinese Theater (now called TCL) is the iconic Hollywood sightseeing spot! Disney fans of all ages will love putting their hands and feet in the hands and feet impressions of these Disney and Star Wars stars:
- Foot prints (and tread marks for R2!) for the Star Wars characters are all together on one plaque: Darth Vader, C-3PO (Anthony Daniels), and R2-D2!
- Harrison Ford
- George Lucas
- Steven Spielberg
- Donald Duck
3. El Capitan Theatre
Price: Ticket prices start at $16 adults/$13 kids.
Owned by Disney, the El Capitan Theatre is more than just a movie theater! Many movies include entertainment before the movie—included in the ticket price, which makes a visit to El Cap an experience your kids won’t forget!
Movie tickets that include the coolest pre-shows sell out quickly, so check out the El Capitan schedule as soon as you know which day you’ll be in Hollywood.
Tickets are available now for The Last Jedi with a Laser Lightsaber pre-show! Tickets are spendy at $28 each but they include a souvenir popcorn tub, soft drink, and VIP seating. You’re going to see The Last Jedi no matter what—why not make it a family Christmas gift and see The Last Jedi at the El Capitan Theatre?
4. Ghirardelli Soda Fountain
Price: This is really expensive ice cream! Sundaes cost about $12.
Budget Best Bet: Double Scoop, Chocolate-Dipped Waffle Cone with Sprinkles for $8. It’s as big as a sundae, but you save $4 by skipping the sauce—plus you can eat the “bowl”!
Right next door to the El Capitan Theatre is the Ghirardelli Soda Fountain, also owned by Disney. It’s decorated in a Disney theme, and the shop is a mini Disney Store plus an ice cream shop!
Drive by Stop #5
5. The Hollywood Tower Apartments
This Hollywood destination is for die-hard Disney fans only! The Hollywood Tower Apartment building is said to be the architectural inspiration for the Hollywood Tower of Terror at Disneyland! We disagree, because it looks a lot more like the Hollywood Tower of Terror ride at Disney Hollywood Studios to us!
(The Tower of Terror at Disneyland is now Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout, so you won’t see a resemblance to the Disney California Adventure ride anyway!)
If you’re a WDW family, it’s worth driving past the Hollywood Tower Apartments on your way to Griffith Park to check it out! Location: 6200 Franklin Ave, Los Angeles.
Park at Griffith Park (free!) for Stop #6.
6. Walt Disney’s Bench at Griffith Park
Price: Free to visit, $2 per person for the carousel.
This Hollywood sight will likely be the very favorite stop for the Disney-loving adults in the family because it’s like walking in Walt’s footsteps—but the kids will love the carousel!
As a Disney fan, you’ve probably read this quote by Walt Disney before:
“We believed in our idea—a family park where parents and children could have fun—together.”
Did you know that Griffith Park is where Walt Disney dreamed up Disneyland? As the story goes, Walt watched his daughters ride the Merry-Go-Round (carousel) at Griffith Park as he sat on a nearby bench. He decided that what America needed was a place where everyone in the family could have fun at the same time!
Pay homage at the bench where Walt Disney sat at Griffith Park. Funny thing: there is a bench at Griffith Park and a bench at Disneyland—and both claim to be the bench Walt Disney sat on while he planned Disneyland! If you know which bench is the real deal, let us know in the comments!
Carissa Houston blogs about Disneyland and family travel at All Day Mom and is the author of Disneyland on a Budget: How Our Family Spends 30 Days a Year at Disneyland Wit+hout Breaking the Bank.