Anyway, I discovered something that's close, but not quite the same as that, and it's a really cheap option. Enter Megabus. Maybe you've heard of it, and maybe you haven't. Well, they are famous for their $1 fares, which honestly are really hard to get, even though I snagged one my first time trying. Most of the tickets I got were actually $5, which is also insanely cheap. They charge you $3.50 per transaction when you buy the tickets, so it's best to buy them all at once if you're trying to save.
Megabus does have a route in the West that was perfect for me. I live close enough to Las Vegas, and I saw that they had a route that goes to Southern California, stopping in Riverside, Los Angeles, and Anaheim. How does this fit into my dream? Well, they have a trip that leaves Las Vegas from the RTC South Strip Transfer Terminal at 1 a.m. and arrives at 9 a.m. in Anaheim (I live in Utah, so it's 2 a.m. my time!). I decided to try to live "my dream" by driving to Las Vegas Friday night, boarding the bus, sleeping on the bus, waking up in Anaheim, and going to Disneyland. I decided to try California Adventure for the day, though, since I wanted to ride California Screamin', they were closing Paradise Pier for refurbishment the week after I was going, and I hadn't been on the new Guardians of the Galaxy ride yet. The return tickets on the bus were for 10:50 p.m. that night.
I knew some of the problems of the trip ahead of time:
1. 1 a.m. is late (2 a.m. for me!), and buses are not hotel rooms, so we would likely be tired at California Adventure, as we didn't expect to sleep well on the bus.
2. 9 a.m. is arriving at the bus station in Anaheim. We would still have to actually get to Disneyland from there, so we would get to the park after everyone else and miss the shorter lines that you get when you're there as the park opens.
3. Not having a car or hotel room would mean we would have to figure out the food situation for all the meals.
4. We would need to leave the park early to make sure we got back to the bus station in time.
5. Driving home exhausted after two nights on the bus was going to be scary.
How did the trip go? It actually went pretty well!
These are the things we did to combat the above problems:
1. We ate dinner on the way to Las Vegas at a casino buffet, so we were really full for the bus ride. We all took water and snacks. If you don't prepare, the bus stops each way in Barstow or Baker (I can't remember which because I was sleeping) at a gas station, so you can use the facilities and get more drinks or snacks if you under-prepared. Since I was pretty full and tried to sleep, I only drank water and didn't feel the need for snacks. We also took stuff for breakfast. I took granola bars and an apple. Some people took frozen Go-gurts, string cheese, Rice Krispies treats, muffins, etc. We had enough snacks. I also took floss, a toothbrush, and toothpaste because I really can't stand un-brushed teeth. My teeth get really gross after a while and especially after sleeping.
2. I took a jacket that collapses into a pillow. The rest of my friends took travel pillows and blankets. When I do it next time, I'll probably take a travel pillow and blanket or a travel pillow and jacket.
3. We figured out the bus routes ahead of time. Megabus drops off at ARTIC station that's located close to the Angels Stadium. You can ride bus route 14 from there, and it drops you right off at Disneyland after a stop or two. My suggestion if you're just going for the day is to download the mobile app called Token Transit and pay on there for a day pass. It's $5.50 for the day per person or something like $3 each way. I downloaded the app and paid for all five of us. Then you just have to show the driver your app when you get on the bus.
4. We left the park at about 9:30 p.m. to pick up the bus to head back to the ARTIC station. One thing we noticed was that it was best to get there early because then we could pick our seats on the Megabus, instead of being the last ones on the bus. I suggest being there an hour in advance, both to and from Anaheim.
With all of these things, our trip went really smoothly. Here are some additional tips if you decide to try it!
1. Parking at the RTC South Strip Transfer Terminal is free as of my writing this. However, you do need to make sure nothing is in your car because it seems like they get people breaking into cars there sometimes. Also, you are supposed to fill out a form if you are leaving your car there for longer than a day.
2. Realize that these are extremely cheap bus tickets in the middle of the night. I cannot vouch for the characters who will be on the bus with you. We had a woman who was constantly crying out, which made sleeping difficult. I think she needed a doctor for whatever pain she was having. She and her husband got in a big fight with the employee because they hadn't paid for a ticket for their infant son. You have to buy a ticket for everybody, even if babies sit on your lap. It was resolved when my friend said they could use our extra ticket (one of my friends backed out at the last minute, which is more likely when you just buy $5 tickets). All was well after that. Also on the way home, the person across the aisle from me was completely plastered. So I wouldn't necessarily suggest this cheap trip for children. But really, I did notice that there were a bunch of Chinese tourists on the bus from Las Vegas to Anaheim, and they were all fine of course.
3. The bus stops in Riverside first, then Los Angeles, then Anaheim. It also arrives at its destination, entirely subject to however traffic is that day. Mondays through Fridays they post 9 a.m. as the time due to traffic, but since we went on a Saturday, we actually got there right around 7 a.m. We were excited about this because California Adventure opened at 8 a.m., and we ended up being there as it opened. I also suggest downloading the Disneyland app and purchasing your tickets on there so you can go straight to the entry turnstiles.
4. We rented a locker at California Adventure. This adds an extra cost to the trip if you rent one. I think it was $15 for the day, but it was nice to stow our blankets and pillows and toothbrushes in there. Our stuff just barely fit.
5. We ate all our meals except breakfast at California Adventure. You may have an issue with the price of the food, but one thing to remember is that there are some items that can be easily shared with another person. Also, I've basically enjoyed everything I've eaten there. Just know what you like and get that. I hate hot dogs, so I would never get one. Follow your taste buds and you won't regret the cost.
6. Pack light. Seriously. I had this tiny bag with only a bottle of water and my toothbrush/toothpaste/floss, which I would have been okay with carrying around in my purse. I would take a blow-up pillow next time, but that's the only thing I'd change. Well, maybe I'd take a charger for my phone, since I used my phone a lot and almost ran out of batteries. Megabus does have electrical outlets, so you can charge your phone on the bus, as well. Two of the guys with me said they would pack less next time. If you forgot something or need it, they probably have it for sale at Disneyland.
7. If you're trying to take your family on the best Disney Vacation EVER, don't do this. Drive down, get a hotel and enjoy yourselves. This is meant to be a one-day quick trip technique. If you have a family, it's probably actually cheaper to drive down. The joy of this technique is not having to drive and instead of staying in a hotel, sleeping on the bus. Doesn't sound like the best vacation, right? Right. It's a quick day trip and nothing more than that.
8. I'm not going to lie. When we got back to Las Vegas I was SO TIRED. I could not have driven home if I had been the one driving. Since I wasn't the driver, I was out snoring and drooling in the back seat. The driver was so tired the whole time. You get back to Las Vegas around 4:50 a.m. Since I live in Utah, we had to drive back, and it was 5:50 a.m. our time. This was the worst part of the trip. I am so grateful for my friend who drove. If you're planning on making it to 9:00 a.m. church and live where I do, you're not going to make it, even if you don't have to stop for gas at all. You can definitely make 11:00 church, though.
9. To get the $1 or $5 fares on Megabus, you have to book them right when they go on sale, which could be four months in advance or two months in advance. It really depends on when they release them. You have to watch. I'd say the average is three months in advance, but for Christmas season, I think it's even sooner than that. You don't have to sleep on the bus, either. They have routes during normal awake times.
10. You can also use this technique easily for the following touristy things in Southern California at any time:
Disneyland - Take ART bus 14 from the Anaheim ARTIC station straight to Disneyland (or bus 15, but it's longer and stops more).
Knott's Berry Farm - Take ART bus 14 from the Anaheim ARTIC station and switch to bus 18 on the Buena Park Line either at Disneyland or Anaheim Convention Center Grand Plaza.
Angel's Baseball Game - Just walk from the Anaheim ARTIC station to the stadium. It's basically right there.
Universal Studios Hollywood - Get off the Megabus at Los Angeles, which is at Union Station. Take the red line metro toward North Hollywood, and it takes about 20 to 25 minutes to get to the Universal City stop. Map You have to buy a TAP pass for $1 and load it with money for the fare. The day pass is $7. I think each ride is like $1.75.
Dodger's Baseball Game - Get off the Megabus at Los Angeles, which is at Union Station. Take Dodger Stadium Express. Apparently your ticket counts as your bus fare. Or you can walk if you feel like walking 2 miles.
I'll report back on these. I'm going to do Knott's Berry Farm in June and maybe Universal Studios later this year! Otherwise, enjoy your day trip!