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Nobody Does It Like Disney! Part Three

By:  Erica I. Peña-Vest

In this third and final installment on Disneyland, I will introduce you to the hidden gems of Anaheim, California, outside of Disney parks. Of course, for most of us, our main reason for traveling to Anaheim is to visit Disneyland; however, there are some other activities that shouldn't be missed during your visit. One such activity is the new Anaheim Garden Walk shopping center. You could spend a whole day in this ultra stylish mall that houses everything from an IMAX theater, great restaurants, upscale shopping and more. What sounds like a typical mall experience is anything but. You'd have to see it to understand. It houses some of the best restaurants available including Bubba Gump Shrimp House. If you've never been to a Bubba Gump restaurant, you should definitely try it. Their seafood is to die for (especially for those of us living in landlocked Nevada). Their coconut shrimp is my favorite. What I love the most about Bubba Gump's (yes, it's themed after the movie Forrest Gump) is that it is the perfect family restaurant. The service is excellent and you never feel guilty about the mess your kids are making. It is simply part of the family atmosphere. Their vast menu has something for everyone.

Also located at the Anaheim Garden Walk is a bowling alley called 300 Bowling. It is almost unfair to call this place a “bowling alley”. To me, that term conjures up images of bad bar food and old shoes. This place is like nothing you have ever seen before. It is an experience you will never forget. With jumbo screens at the end of each lane playing music videos while you bowl (mostly 80's videos which I loved!), it has more of the feel of a hip night club. Most importantly, their menu is top notch and their food is what you would expect to see at a high end restaurant not bowling alley (I highly recommend the quesadillas). You can eat (and drink) while you play and enjoy the music. For those of you looking for more of a family experience, try visiting during the day when it is least crowded and more kid-friendly. For those of you looking for a night out on the town, visit 300 Bowling any weekday or weekend night and find more of an adult night club experience. I promise you will be talking about it for days. Make sure to ask for their military discount. The Anaheim Garden Walk is located 321 W. Katella. For more information, you can visit

Like Bubba Gump's, there are some restaurants that are such a fun experience they shouldn't be missed. One such place is the Rainforest Café at Downtown Disney. Nationally, Rainforest Cafés' mostly congregate near tourism hotspots, so when you have a chance to visit one, you definitely should. Your kids will love it! Decorated in a wilderness/rainforest motif with real-looking animatronics, the Rainforest Café offers your family a great meal at a reasonable price, but most importantly it offers a dining ‘experience'. With tropical fish tanks located all over the restaurant which both children and adults will love and with timed performances by the animatronics animals that surround all the tables, your children will be mesmerized while they eat (which is a great way to get your young kids to sit still). Their menu is eclectic and has something for everyone. The food is surprisingly great but be prepared to eat way too much. You will be tempted to try a little bit of everything and it is well worth it! So take a break from the Disney parks for lunch or dinner and walk over to the Rainforest Café at Downtown Disney. You will enjoy the experience.

With Disney Parks offering military members free admission and discounted admission for friends and family (see ITT for more details), there has never been a better time to visit the Disneyland Resort and Anaheim, California. The hotel I recommended, the Sheraton Garden Grove, is offering a military discounted rate that is a great deal. Contact ITT or the Sheraton Garden Grove Hotel (714-703-8400) for more information.

One of the most prohibiting factors of a Disney vacation is cost. This year, the Walt Disney Company, has made it more affordable for members of the military. This is the time to visit. This is the time to relive those childhood memories or maybe create brand new ones. With free admission, discounted hotels, discounted activities and great restaurants, we'd be missing the chance of a lifetime to not visit a Disney Park this year.

I don't hold stock in the company, I'm not related to the management and I don't get anything out of this recommendation. What I can tell you is that the ‘magic' they talk about in their marketing campaign is real. You will feel like a kid again, you will love the look on your kids' faces when they see it for the first time, you will eat some of the best food and you will have a great time. But most of all, you WILL experience the magic, because as I have said before, “Nobody does it like Disney!”

---------------- is proud to be featuring the travel articles of Erica I. Pena-Vest to our users. Erica is a travel industry veteran with over ten years of experience in public and media relations. Erica has worked with hundreds of travel writers before becoming one herself in 2004. As a Navy wife, Erica understands the needs of military families and focuses her research and articles to travel deals for those in the armed services. Erica's travel column is appropriated titled “Sweet Land of Liberty”. works hard to bring a multitude of resources and information to our audience. This site has thousands of pages of resources and information. There is something for everyone. Users refer to, as the “the Go To Site” for the military and veteran communities. When the next tour is back home, it's on