Disneyland and Legoland and beaches: Not a bad halfway point for a road trip

The Toupin family marks their halfway point with stops to Disneyland, Legoland, and the white sand beaches of Carlsbad, Calif. 

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Disney celebrates the opening of Cars Land at Disney California Adventure park at Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, Calif., June 13, 2012.

[Editor's note: Laurie Toupin and her family are road tripping across America and sharing their experiences in a series of blogs. See the related links menu to the left for past installments.]

"We won! We won!" Jacob, 5, shouted as we pulled into the finish line after completing the "Cars"-themed Radiator Springs Racers ride at Disneyland – easily the most popular attraction in all of our family's road-tripping-through-California adventures combined. 

And understandably so. Riders board shiny convertibles and begin cruising the red rocks surrounding Radiator Springs. Then we are prepped for the big race by Luigi and Doc, characters from Disney's "Cars". Suddenly we are screaming through the countryside beside another car.

Disney pays such close attention to detail that even the wait is an attraction. The line for Indiana Jones Adventure meanders through an underground cavern littered with skeletons, booby traps, lost treasure, and statues. The details were so elaborate that we began to think that the walk was the ride until we came upon the jeeps which took us deeper into the cavern. Here, Disney spared no expense.

The ride was so filled with detail, complete with fire, falling mummies and the famous boulder scene, that Maria, 11, demanded that a warning be placed on the ride saying, "Scary! Do not ride until you are 18."

We were all thankful for the character-filled breakfast directly after, so that Minney, Goofy, Chip and Dale, and Tigger could take our minds off of the ride.

Like at Hersheypark in Pennsylvania, we were able to ride both of these popular rides before daytime guests were allowed in. Called the "Early Magic Hour," Guests of the Disney Resort Hotels are allowed into the park at 7 a.m., an hour before other people. Since August is Disney's peak season, we found this to be indispensable for getting on the major attractions.

However, the combination of a midnight closing and a 7 a.m. opening does not promote happy children – no matter how exciting the rides.

After two days, the kids were happy to get back in the RV and sleep. They didn't care where we going, just as long as they didn't have to walk.

Legoland – An Interactive Park

Legoland was a much different experience. This park, geared for children under 12, is smaller, easy to negotiate, and the rides are very interactive. The Sky View, for example, travels all around the park on rails. But it has to be pedaled by the riders to move.

The big draw of Legoland, however, is the Legoland Hotel which opened in June. Lego creations are everywhere, as are Legos for children to use their imaginations to build their own. Floating Lego bricks even lined the beautiful pool.

The hotel consists of three themed floors: knights and dragons, pirates, or adventurers. Kids get their own room complete with bunk beds, a private TV, and a locked treasure chest containing surprises once they crack the code. A warning on the wall reads, "Adults: keep out." The elevator boasts a disco ball and dance music. Here, kids rule.

The Pacific at Last!

After five days of amusement parks, we finally stuck our feet in the Pacific Ocean. It is much colder than we expected! But the white sand beaches of Carlsbad, Calif., are beautiful.

Our beach is surrounded by shear rock cliffs with caves to explore and outcroppings to sit on and watch the waves roll by. I honestly didn't think it looked much different than the New Hampshire portion of the Atlantic, except the sand is whiter.

Colie, 9, commented that it was amazing to think that one could drive 3,000 miles to the other side of the United States. I had to agree.

Now that the excitement of the reaching our destination has passed, I can see signs that the kids are starting to think about home. Jacob is talking about inventing an RV with wings. Colie is talking about her pets. And Maria, 11, is making plans to build a diorama of the Star Wars set she saw at Disney.

We've gone as far west as we possibly could. Tomorrow, we are eastward bound.

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