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View Full Version : What I learned on my DLR Vacation - just back


minmate
04-03-2007, 02:34 AM
Just back and for those who read/responded to my mid-week Pixie Dust plea - Thanks! We had some ups and downs and some emotional moments but nothing that wouldn't have likely happened in some form or another no matter where the vacation had taken us. I detailed a bit more in my Minmate's Amuzing Adventure post on the trip reports boards if you are a glutton for details and trip reports. However, I just wanted to thank everyone for answering all of my last minute questions and offering the support I needed when I was afraid our trip was sliding down the tubes. In the end it was great. too short as always. feet too tired and of course, today, coming home was long... and hard. But here are some things I've learned. Keep in mind, I don't profess to be a Disney expert but I have been to DLR many times as a kid, got married there ten years ago and have been to WDW a handful of times... and I'm a quick learner. My dh proudly says of me... for someone who doesn't live near here and doesn't get to go her (Disney) that much, you sure have got it covered... then again he's never met all of you -- knows about you -- and all your sage wisdom....

But here's some of my random thoughts about our recent trip to DLR. First of all, I truly enjoyed it. I think DCA and DTD has really enhanced it to be more of a "resort" experience.... obviously b/c there's more to offer and to do. While DH wasn't feeling "the magic" as much as during our WDW trips, I reminded him that was b/c we stay on-site there. But here, we stayed at Residence Inn Maingate... you could walk - it's that close, but we drove. They have disney decor in the main parts of the hotel but not in the rooms themselves. Also, I was surprised to hear him say he missed having the towel animals and all that stuff. I didn't realize he thought that was soo cool! Personally, I loved our room. It was a bunk bed suite. The beds were comfortable and enough room for our family of six to spread out.

We didn't utilize the kitchen THAT much. I made some meals but I was on vacation remember!? It was nice to be able to grab a cold drink from the fridge and to pop some popcorn to watch a movie.

The two key reasons I choose on-site at WDW is proximity and Early Entry/EMH. Well, off-site in DL has both those... our hotel was probably just as close - if not closer - to DLR as the value resorts at WDW plus we came at went almost of our own will -- had to wait for a tram but seriously, even with the crowds, we never waited more than five miutes, even at closing time. It was nothing like the long lines at WDW. Transportation is such a big part of the WDW experience. I don't think so at DLR.

Early Entry -- at WDW is practically a must. So on-site is essential. I found EE - since offered to so many more people -- to have been the most crowded morning of all. Another note, we spent the mornings at DL but by 9:30/10ish, we got out of there and went to DCA for their opening. It really was great to hit both parks before the bigger crowd time. At WDW you'd lose so much time in transportation that wouldn't be possible.

Not sure how this fits in but our 8, 7 and just turned 6 yo walked the whole time. They were definitely tired, but they walked. We still brought a stroller for our 4 yo (dare I say she's a touch lazy to begin with? lol) -- but if they can do it -- hopping back and forth, etc -- all day -- that just shows you how close the parks are.

Speaking of strollers. I love that we brought our own. We didn't have to waste time and money on renting and we didn't have to switch and pull everything thing out when going from one park to the other and we had it when we went elsewhere. We didn't use it THAT much outside disney but it was nice to have while waiting in line at the gates and for what little we did at DTD.

The rides -- so many of them are way cooler at DL. Even Small World, which is essentially the same ride -- maybe it was just me, but I felt "closer" to the stuff on display in the ride... closer, more intimate more almost of a sense you could "reach out and almost touch stuff" -- (but keep your hands in the boat at all times please!) -- I liked this!

I just felt comfortable at DL. Attractions and restaurants were in their proper places. When I go to WDW, that whole area from Crystal Palace through to Splash Mtn. is "different." And now DL felt that way at first, but I easily settled back into it feeling familiar.

I love the location of Tomorrowland... it's so much closer to Main St.
Sleeping Beauty's castle is pretty but Cinderella's is definitely more impressive. Sorry! Just my opinion!

Everyone who loves Disney MUST see Steve Martin's the First 50 Years of Disneyland movie. Did you know Walt loved Autopia so much that at one point there were three of them in DL? They also had real stagecoach rides - briefly - but stopped them b/c they tended to tip over easily -- with guests in them -- hm... imagine if that were to happen in this day and age? Those are just two tidbits I learned while talking to a very cool CM while waiting for that movie to start.

Certainly, it would've been nice to see Fantasmic! and ride Splash at DL, but secretly, it was kind of nice to have certain things crossed off the list b/c they're not open. Pressure's off a little! Does that make sense?

I love POTC! The Jack animatronics are cool - as are the other additions -- the smoke screen and the music in the ship area --- cool, coool, coool. Love the drops too. Don't love when the boats get stuck though or when the chick has to come over the mic and remind people to keep their hands in the boats. C'mon people just follow the rules!

Wish I had more time for DTD and to explore the Disney hotels. I'm sure that would've helped dh with the "All-disney, all the time feel." Hmmm, could there be an on-site trip in our future?

There are fewer characters out and about at DL -- however, we saw Louis from Meet the Robinsons! Kinda cool!

In the future, if I have the control over planning, I will NOT go to DL on a weekend -- Friday or Saturday especially.... too much local crowd... Now, locals, please don't be offended. I think you know what I mean. It's the teens half-dressed, making out in line with their hands down each other's pants in front of my 6 yr old that bugs me... the kids who wait in line for a ride then rag on it the whole time, that takes away the magic.... the teens who complain about too many kids in the park -- hello - this IS Disneyland, not a bar! I never ran into that stuff at WDW. WDW guests are much more family-oriented. Now that's not to say they're nicer, more polite or have better etiquette all the time...

The use of late FastPass is TOTALLY, TOTALLY, TOTALLY rocking!!!!!!! I love that option! Also, I found it funny there were lines for FastPass distribution. I don't remember that being used at WDW. It was a bit bothersome at first -- what? We have to wait in line to get a ticket to shorten our wait in line? But it made sense and worked fine and moved quickly.

I'm so dead-tired right now I can't think of anything else to say for now.... except that I know there is probably a "perceived" value in WDW b/c there's more parks and there's a perception that there's more to do... It's more planned out -- more "resort-y" - esp if you stay on-site... all Disney, all the time. But DLR is more organic, more throwback. They didn't know what they were going to get when they built it -- and so all the hotels/restaurants popped up around it -- it's more natural actually....
But if you want to totally, go nuts and "Geek out" on Disney... at DLR, onsite is prob the better way to go -- though, let's not play naive... all those hotels know when they see a family of six, like mine, with kids as young as mine, why were in Anaheim and what it is were planning to do while we're there!

Know what else is cool? Not every single ride ends in the gift shop... the gift shops are there but you aren't FORCED to walk through them and say, "NO" to your kids every five minutes!

In a nutshell... had fun... very few things I could remember "missing" there not being at DLR that they have at WDW -- other than more/better food options...
Festival of the Lion King is about all I can think of right now... and Splash - but that was closed anyway. I didn't even really miss Epcot... okay, "the golfball ride," "carousel of progress" and the "people mover" -- my kids asked about those and also thought the monorail was kinda lame at DLR as compared to WDW -- where it stopped more frequently. They also missed having the non-park day activities like the Mad Tea Party and Pirate Cruise.

I see DLR as all the best rides at ALL four WDW parks wrapped into two parks at DLR -- which is kudos -- less walking/transporation/hopping time! Woo-hoo.

TeamTnC
04-03-2007, 09:43 AM
Sounds like all in all you had a good trip. We are going again in July and we can't stop thinkning about it. So much so, that the wife is getting tired of hearing different things I have learned here. Oh, well, I look forward to reading your trip report.

minmate
04-03-2007, 11:53 AM
I have posted my trip report -- I wrote it late, late last night so it is a bit scatterbrained... but it's there.
Also, I thought to myself, a number of times how on earth can people come to DL or WDW without being prepared? I don't mean it's necessary to have a minute by minute plan, but to at least be knowledgeable about the FP's and do some research on dining options and maps. I think that requires more bravery than I could handle! I would be so disappointed in spending all that money and not be prepared to get the most out of it... thanks to dis'ers I feel like I have enough knowledge that we can make spontaneous decisions and still have a good time and even when crowds are heavy, manage to not wait in very long lines. We kept shaking our heads when we would walk through the FP line, seeing all those people standing in lines posted at 45 minute, or even 80 and 90 minute waits! Thanks to FP, and all the tips here, we don't do that! And that alone, makes the trips enjoyable. I don't think I'd want to go if I had to wait in lines that long for every single ride!

jennib5426
04-03-2007, 07:59 PM
minmate-
Can you please tell me about the Residance Inn ?
I am planning a trip and was thinking of staying there with my Marriott points.
How far is the walk ?
Any good or bad things at this hotel.

We stayed at the Fairfield Inn last year and the walk was about 10 - 15 minutes, not to bad. On a map the Residence Inn looks about the same distance.

minmate
04-04-2007, 12:42 AM
We'd rented a car b/c we knew we'd be going to the beach one day, so we actually drove to and from the parks. We have four kids under age 8 too, which sealed that for us. I had intended to get up early and walk it a few days just to see how long it really took -- but it doesn't seem long -- less than half-mile I believe from the Harbor Blvd. entrance.

I loved the hotel. To me it was set up in what seemed like a typical California apartment complex. There were several building with probably three or four rooms in each. We had a second floor one, which was fine for us. But if you want a ground floor, I'd make a note of that when you reserve. Ground floor rooms had a slider and patio with table and chairs. Some of the second floor ones did too. But ours didn't exactly. We had a porch kind of thing that was "shared" with the room next door (which happened to be my dad's room for two nights we were there). We were in building 22 -- room 2222. We were able to see the DL fireworks from the window (which we only did once as we were in the parks the rest of the nights) - but that was really cool -- and how close we were.

They serve a hot complimentary breakfast every morning - starting at 6 or 7 a.m. -- early enough to eat and get moving to the parks. They give you coupons that state that it is a $9-$12 vallue (for kids/adults). We figure that saved us $60 a day. It was decent quality and variety. Variety of breads, bagels, muffins, fruit, make-your-own-waffles, eggs, sausage/bacon, hash browns, pancakes or french toast, cereal, coffee, hot choc, juice, water... typical breakfast buffet fare. It was never too crowded.

On weeknights they offer different kinds of snacks also. We were only able to take advantage of that once -- but they had complimentary s'mores in the "restaurant" area. It was help-yourself and the kids were able to take as many as they wanted. They were laid-back about letting people eat poolside, which I thought was nice. I never saw a mess by the pool either... so either people cleaned up after themselves or service people did so quickly.

The customer service was great. We called for extra pillows and blankets when we arrived around 10 p.m. Within minutes the blankets and pillows we delivered. They were great about offering us maps and answering questions regarding walking/driving to and from the parks, the nearest Target, Walgreen's, etc.

The room was clean, comfy and spacious. All the appliances (micro, stove, fridge) worked fine. There were dishes, silverware, etc. Only they didn't have a cookie sheet, which I needed when I tried to make some chicken nuggets. So I just used the bottom of the broiler pan.

We stayed in a two-bedroom kid's suite -- with bunkbeds downstairs, a fold out couch in the living room (which we never folded out) and the parents bed in an upstairs loft. If you have very small children, letting them play unsupervised in the loft area might make me nervous because it is a half-wall looking down over the living room area... safety-wise, they could fall... if they clambered onto the bed and over the wall. But our kids almost never went up into the loft area at all.

The pool is open 24 hours and is located near the main lobby area. We weren't near it so I don't know if it was used late at night or caused problems for rooms in that area. I never heard any noise from there when we'd be coming home at night though. The pool is a bit small -- it gets a bit crowded, but it's nice enough -- 3-5 feet deep. Also a kiddie pool at about one foot deep and a hot tub. There was also a hot tub located just outside our room. There may have been others in other "quads" but we didn't really explore that.
Oh and the last two days we were there the pool water was warm -- too warm. It was as if the pool heater was on overdrive or something but I'm pretty sure they were working on fixing it.

The one drawback, according to my dh was the parking lot. Especially late at night, when we'd return (as we usually wound up not coming back at night until after park closing) he'd have to park on the other end of the parking lot from where our building was. It wasn't THAT long of a walk but he complained about it a couple times. However, if you are considering walking to DL -- the walk across the parking lot is NOTHING!

They don't have a restaurant (other than the self-serve breakfast buffet), but they do have a small -- and I mean small/limited -- selection of foods you can buy for your room -- such as sandwiches, kids cuisine meals, drinks: wine, beer, soda, water, and some other items. There is no formal gift shop either.

I didn't end up using the fitness room but it's 24 hours and had your basic equipment... useable.

We felt safe and comfortable there. However, at some point we lost our camera and dh now believes -- after retracing his steps, that it may have been taken from our vehicle. I don't have any definitive proof of that... but regardless... a person shouldn't leave that kind of stuff in a car anywhere... so that's a topic for another time!

I saw inside the one bedrooms which my dad stayed in -- looked pretty much like you'd expect a Residence Inn to look. Kitchen, living room, bedroom.

Don't know what else to tell you except that I would stay there again absolutely! The staff was great, the rooms clean and comfy. No problems!

With all that said, I am not *that* fussy or high maintenance about my lodging -- clean and enough space for everyone to sleep really. But this place goes well beyond that! At WDW we've stayed both at Values and at the Grand Floridian. Naturally, I liked the GF best -- who wouldn't? But these beds were even more comfortable than the GF if you ask me. I liked the room so much, I think we spent more time in it than usual b/c it was so accomodating. We hung out and watched a movie on our non-park night instead of going to the theatre like we'd originally planned. However, the on-demand movie was $15!!! Ouch!

I hope you have a great trip!

Kailua's Belle
04-04-2007, 05:13 AM
I too recently stayed at the Residence Inn Maingate. I can ditto everything already said. Clean rooms, excellent service - more blankets in just a few mintues from asking, excellent breakfast in the mornings. I loved the make-your-own waffles. We would always take a few bananas for the road.

We walked the first day. I had four kids with me, DD13, DD's best friend, DS5and DD4. They made the walk just fine, but we also had ART passes and found that very convenient, espcially for heading back to the room. So, yes, it is walking distance, even for kids. I'd say about 10, 15 minutes, but the ART was very reliable too. We were able to eat breakfast, catch the ART, and be in line well before the gates opened (even on an EE day).

Hope you have a great time!!

Oh, and they even give you a log for the fireplace and a bag of microwave popcorn.:banana:

Hound 109
04-05-2007, 02:07 PM
........But here's some of my random thoughts about our recent trip to DLR. First of all, I truly enjoyed it. I think DCA and DTD has really enhanced it to be more of a "resort" experience.... obviously b/c there's more to offer and to do. While DH wasn't feeling "the magic" as much as during our WDW trips, I reminded him that was b/c we stay on-site there. But here, we stayed at Residence Inn Maingate... you could walk - it's that close, but we drove. They have disney decor in the main parts of the hotel but not in the rooms themselves. Also, I was surprised to hear him say he missed having the towel animals and all that stuff. I didn't realize he thought that was soo cool! Personally, I loved our room. It was a bunk bed suite. The beds were comfortable and enough room for our family of six to spread out.

We didn't utilize the kitchen THAT much. I made some meals but I was on vacation remember!? It was nice to be able to grab a cold drink from the fridge and to pop some popcorn to watch a movie.

The two key reasons I choose on-site at WDW is proximity and Early Entry/EMH. Well, off-site in DL has both those... our hotel was probably just as close - if not closer - to DLR as the value resorts at WDW plus we came at went almost of our own will -- had to wait for a tram but seriously, even with the crowds, we never waited more than five miutes, even at closing time. It was nothing like the long lines at WDW. Transportation is such a big part of the WDW experience. I don't think so at DLR.

Early Entry -- at WDW is practically a must. So on-site is essential. I found EE - since offered to so many more people -- to have been the most crowded morning of all. Another note, we spent the mornings at DL but by 9:30/10ish, we got out of there and went to DCA for their opening. It really was great to hit both parks before the bigger crowd time. At WDW you'd lose so much time in transportation that wouldn't be possible.

Not sure how this fits in but our 8, 7 and just turned 6 yo walked the whole time. They were definitely tired, but they walked. We still brought a stroller for our 4 yo (dare I say she's a touch lazy to begin with? lol) -- but if they can do it -- hopping back and forth, etc -- all day -- that just shows you how close the parks are.

Speaking of strollers. I love that we brought our own. We didn't have to waste time and money on renting and we didn't have to switch and pull everything thing out when going from one park to the other and we had it when we went elsewhere. We didn't use it THAT much outside disney but it was nice to have while waiting in line at the gates and for what little we did at DTD.

The rides -- so many of them are way cooler at DL. Even Small World, which is essentially the same ride -- maybe it was just me, but I felt "closer" to the stuff on display in the ride... closer, more intimate more almost of a sense you could "reach out and almost touch stuff" -- (but keep your hands in the boat at all times please!) -- I liked this!

I just felt comfortable at DL. Attractions and restaurants were in their proper places. When I go to WDW, that whole area from Crystal Palace through to Splash Mtn. is "different." And now DL felt that way at first, but I easily settled back into it feeling familiar.

I love the location of Tomorrowland... it's so much closer to Main St.
Sleeping Beauty's castle is pretty but Cinderella's is definitely more impressive. Sorry! Just my opinion!

Everyone who loves Disney MUST see Steve Martin's the First 50 Years of Disneyland movie. Did you know Walt loved Autopia so much that at one point there were three of them in DL? They also had real stagecoach rides - briefly - but stopped them b/c they tended to tip over easily -- with guests in them -- hm... imagine if that were to happen in this day and age? Those are just two tidbits I learned while talking to a very cool CM while waiting for that movie to start.

Certainly, it would've been nice to see Fantasmic! and ride Splash at DL, but secretly, it was kind of nice to have certain things crossed off the list b/c they're not open. Pressure's off a little! Does that make sense?

I love POTC! The Jack animatronics are cool - as are the other additions -- the smoke screen and the music in the ship area --- cool, coool, coool. Love the drops too. Don't love when the boats get stuck though or when the chick has to come over the mic and remind people to keep their hands in the boats. C'mon people just follow the rules!

Wish I had more time for DTD and to explore the Disney hotels. I'm sure that would've helped dh with the "All-disney, all the time feel." Hmmm, could there be an on-site trip in our future?

There are fewer characters out and about at DL -- however, we saw Louis from Meet the Robinsons! Kinda cool!

In the future, if I have the control over planning, I will NOT go to DL on a weekend -- Friday or Saturday especially.... too much local crowd... Now, locals, please don't be offended. I think you know what I mean. It's the teens half-dressed, making out in line with their hands down each other's pants in front of my 6 yr old that bugs me... the kids who wait in line for a ride then rag on it the whole time, that takes away the magic.... the teens who complain about too many kids in the park -- hello - this IS Disneyland, not a bar! I never ran into that stuff at WDW. WDW guests are much more family-oriented. Now that's not to say they're nicer, more polite or have better etiquette all the time...

The use of late FastPass is TOTALLY, TOTALLY, TOTALLY rocking!!!!!!! I love that option! Also, I found it funny there were lines for FastPass distribution. I don't remember that being used at WDW. It was a bit bothersome at first -- what? We have to wait in line to get a ticket to shorten our wait in line? But it made sense and worked fine and moved quickly.

I'm so dead-tired right now I can't think of anything else to say for now.... except that I know there is probably a "perceived" value in WDW b/c there's more parks and there's a perception that there's more to do... It's more planned out -- more "resort-y" - esp if you stay on-site... all Disney, all the time. But DLR is more organic, more throwback. They didn't know what they were going to get when they built it -- and so all the hotels/restaurants popped up around it -- it's more natural actually....
But if you want to totally, go nuts and "Geek out" on Disney... at DLR, onsite is prob the better way to go -- though, let's not play naive... all those hotels know when they see a family of six, like mine, with kids as young as mine, why were in Anaheim and what it is were planning to do while we're there!

Know what else is cool? Not every single ride ends in the gift shop... the gift shops are there but you aren't FORCED to walk through them and say, "NO" to your kids every five minutes!

In a nutshell... had fun... very few things I could remember "missing" there not being at DLR that they have at WDW -- other than more/better food options...
Festival of the Lion King is about all I can think of right now... and Splash - but that was closed anyway. I didn't even really miss Epcot... okay, "the golfball ride," "carousel of progress" and the "people mover" -- my kids asked about those and also thought the monorail was kinda lame at DLR as compared to WDW -- where it stopped more frequently. They also missed having the non-park day activities like the Mad Tea Party and Pirate Cruise.

I see DLR as all the best rides at ALL four WDW parks wrapped into two parks at DLR -- which is kudos -- less walking/transporation/hopping time! Woo-hoo.
MinMate, I agree with every single word you typed. You stated "MY thoughts" on DLR better than i could. :thumbsup2

I also love the "throwback" feel & the closeness of DLR & the fact that every ride doesn't "dump" into a gift shop. :lmao:

The only things I "missed" from WDW was perhaps the World Showcase Restaurants, Lion King & the Safari. (Of course there are hundreds of fantastic ethnic restaurants in SoCal one could eat at..... & down in San Diego, there's the best zoo in the world if you HAVE to see animals.) I enjoyed your post and will go read your trip report. Thanks for sharing! :hyper2:

hound :)

minmate
04-07-2007, 11:35 AM
Hound --
Glad to hear you agree! I realized we missed the Philharmagic -- the show at WDW, but I'm kind of excited b/c I've read rumors stating they are considering putting that in at DCA (maybe in place of Muppetvision) -- and a future Cars-themed Test Track type of ride! That would be so cool!

nurse.darcy
04-07-2007, 11:56 AM
Alot going on at the "land" right now. Should be interesting to see what unfolds for the future.

Cannot_Wait_4Disney
04-07-2007, 12:27 PM
The rides -- so many of them are way cooler at DL. Even Small World, which is essentially the same ride -- maybe it was just me, but I felt "closer" to the stuff on display in the ride... closer, more intimate more almost of a sense you could "reach out and almost touch stuff" -- (but keep your hands in the boat at all times please!) -- I liked this!

That's because you really were closer to the stuff. Disneyland's runs in a trough. WDW's is rail guided in a larger body of water similar to POTC.

Harvestdj
04-07-2007, 11:21 PM
I agree 100% with everything you said. We are regular DL particpants who just got back from our first ever trip to WDW. The are a few things at WDW that are that are certainly better than DL. Theater seating for fantasmic, and Festival of the Lion King was awesome, are two standouts. I am also a Country Bear fan and was upset when it was closed at DL. BUT, I still prefer the cozier, more intimate atmosphere at DL. From the time you cross Harbour Blvd and enter the park you are emersed in the sights, sounds, and smells of Disney and you can access any area of the complete park in minutes, most of the best of 4 parks compressed into two. WDW is fantabulous and the ability to expand without have to close down something else is a great advantage. BUT at times, it is also a disadvantage as the parks become almost too big and lose that DISNEY feel that is everywhere in the California park

pindecisive
04-07-2007, 11:41 PM
I am also a Country Bear fan and was upset when it was closed at DL.

Oh I know. :sad2:

Last time I didn't know until we went on the pooh ride that they were gone.
I remember that being the best part of my first trip to Disneyland, seeing the Country Bears with my Dad.

Ah memories...

Hound 109
04-09-2007, 09:54 AM
Hound --
Glad to hear you agree! I realized we missed the Philharmagic -- the show at WDW, but I'm kind of excited b/c I've read rumors stating they are considering putting that in at DCA (maybe in place of Muppetvision) -- and a future Cars-themed Test Track type of ride! That would be so cool!

My kiddo loved Test Track (in Epcot) :yay: . I thought it was a little overrated. (I much preferred Mission Space, but realize that I'm in the minority on that.)

Ron from Michigan
04-09-2007, 11:35 AM
Thanks for the trip report. We will be heading to Disnyland the end of May, so I was gald to read what you had to say about the parks. It will be our first time visiting DCA.