My five-year-old hates being the third child, and she lets us know frequently that she hates it. Which is fair. After all, her older brother and sister get to do everything first, and she usually doesn’t get the deciding vote in family decisions.
After a challenging summer traveling around Europe with her (see The Truth About Family Travel), she needed some one-on-one time, so when the Rancho Bernardo Inn invited me down to San Diego to check out their Kids Rule, Ghouls Drool package, I jumped on it. A Halloween-themed weekend with no siblings around? Perfect! And for some extra solo-child time, I added a day at Disneyland on Monday.
The Rancho Bernardo Inn
Even without the Halloween-themed activities, I would have liked the Rancho Bernardo Inn a lot. Growing up a block from the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, I’m drawn to resorts that have been around for decades, as the Inn has, and retain their historical feel, as the Inn does. But the Halloween package made it especially fun for my daughter. At check-in she received a trick-or-treat basket filled with candy, games that required us to explore the property, s’mores ingredients and coupons for treats around the hotel. And when we arrived at our room, there was a tent set up with a sleeping bag and a teddy bear. How fun is that? My daughter made it her private fort for the weekend, hanging out to read or watch videos on her iPad. Not that we spent much time in the room.
Instead, we spent most of our day and a half exploring. We did the self-guided fountain tour, where my daughter loved learning about the various historical fountains around the property and the items that you’re supposed to toss in each one, like stones, pennies and rose petals, to bring luck. We also went on the Halloween-themed scavenger hunt, which led us all over accumulating stamps on a card which we turned into the cafe for a treat. We played miniature golf by the pool – just three holes, but we had fun.
We had a pool-side room and a private pathway to the pool. That was a nice touch, and we used that entrance a lot. Fortunately for California it rained most of the full day that we were there. It didn’t slow us down – that’s what umbrellas are for! But because of the rain, we didn’t get a chance to try out the pool.
Another really nice feature of the Kids Rule, Ghouls Drool package is that kids eat free virtually property-wide. We had dinner, breakfast and lunch at the hotel before leaving the property to try out a well-reviewed Italian restaurant nearby, Capri-Blu. All of our meals, both at the Inn and Capri-Blu, were very good.
So you’re probably waiting for me to list everything else that we did in San Diego. We actually didn’t do anything else! Obviously there’s a lot to do with kids nearby – the San Diego Zoo, Legoland and the beach at Coronado Island to name a few. But my five-year-old was perfectly happy at the hotel, and we enjoyed the rain. We just relaxed and had fun, and she got the one-on-one attention that she needed.
Every other time we’ve been to Disneyland we’ve gone for two days and stayed overnight in a nearby hotel. I actually had to figure out day parking for the first time. We headed out from San Diego early to beat traffic and arrived at the Toy Story parking lot (easy to find) right at 8am when the park opened. $18 later we had a parking spot, and after a quick shuttle ride we were at the front gates. We picked up our one-day park-hopper tickets and started at Disneyland, headed over to California Adventure, and then finished at Disneyland at 2:30 – just in time to allow us to get through Los Angeles before rush hour. Yep, planning in Southern California is all about avoiding traffic! It was a fun day. We had beignets for breakfast in New Orleans Square, went on several rides, saw a show, spent a lot of time at the playground at Toon Town and had lunch in Cars Land. Going on a Monday off-season there were more people than I expected (why isn’t everyone else at school? 🙂 ), but it’s all relative since our longest wait for a ride was probably ten minutes. If my daughter was older and she had wanted to go on Star Tours, Splash Mountain, etc… we would have spent more time in line, but for a five-year-old it was a perfect day, and for me it was low-stress and leisurely.
The best thing about heading to the Rancho Bernardo Inn and Disneyland in October was the Halloween theme at both destinations. I’m writing this from a hotel room in Bangkok and have two more trips scheduled in October, so I’m missing some of the pre-halloween atmosphere and activities at home. This was a fun way to spend some time with my daughter before my travels, give her some one-on-one attention, and go back to my own Halloween-loving childhood a little!
The Rancho Bernardo Inn’s Halloween package is $249/night including kid meals. Disneyland is around $300 for two park-hopper tickets, plus parking and dining. Obviously if we had Disneyland season tickets that would have brought the relative cost of a one-day park stop way down. And given that we headed out very early on Monday to get to Disneyland, an alternative would have been to drive to Anaheim the night before to stay in a less-expensive hotel near the park.
Note: The Rancho Bernardo Inn and Disneyland generously provided us with the resort stay and park tickets, but all opinions are mine, and no expectation of positive coverage or even this blog post was expected by either the Inn or Disneyland.