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glavine47
03-13-2010, 09:08 AM
I have traveled to WDW 79 times, but I need help with a trip to DL. We will be traveling to California for Christmas week. I will be traveling with dw36, dd9, and ds6. The first part of our trip we are staying at Marriott's Newport Coast Villas. The second part of our trip we want to stay in one of the DL resorts. We want to check-in at DL on Christmas day. I am considering buying the citypass.

I would love any suggestions: which Disney resort and why, airport suggestion, things to do, things to at Christmas (in or around the southern California area and DL), great places to eat, and any other useful infomation that may help us plan apixiedust: Magical trippixiedust:

Thanks for your help.

jlmarr
03-13-2010, 10:57 AM
Be sure to read the NEWBIE sticky at the top of the forum. That's definitely the place to start.

Dobie
03-13-2010, 11:24 AM
The first thing to do is go to the www.disneyland.com and punch in your dates for quotes for the three Disneyland Resorts.

After you see the quotes and recover from your sticker shock, you might want to check out some of the very close walking distance hotels. Since you are a WDW vet and are therefore used to buses, the Sheraton Anaheim is lovely, and is a quick 5 minute dedicated shuttle ride away.

Regardless of where you stay, make a ressie for dinner at Storyteller's Cafe in the Grand California Hotel. It is a beautiful hotel, and Storyteller's is a great experience.

You will want to get to the gates of DL before it opens, and collect fastpasses for evening. Matterhorn and TSM (in DCA) don't have Fastpasses. Disneyland is so small and so chocked full of attractions that everything else is easy!

Have a great trip!

glavine47
03-13-2010, 02:01 PM
Be sure to read the NEWBIE sticky at the top of the forum. That's definitely the place to start.

Thanks for the help, I have already looked thru the NEWBIE section, but I like personal experiences from great people like you.

glavine47
03-13-2010, 02:09 PM
The first thing to do is go to the www.disneyland.com and punch in your dates for quotes for the three Disneyland Resorts.

After you see the quotes and recover from your sticker shock, you might want to check out some of the very close walking distance hotels. Since you are a WDW vet and are therefore used to buses, the Sheraton Anaheim is lovely, and is a quick 5 minute dedicated shuttle ride away.

Regardless of where you stay, make a ressie for dinner at Storyteller's Cafe in the Grand California Hotel. It is a beautiful hotel, and Storyteller's is a great experience.

You will want to get to the gates of DL before it opens, and collect fastpasses for evening. Matterhorn and TSM (in DCA) don't have Fastpasses. Disneyland is so small and so chocked full of attractions that everything else is easy!

Have a great trip!


Great advice, I have already checked out the prices :eek:. I am in the frame of mind to stay at one of Disneys resorts. I will checkout Storyteller's, we love great magical experiences. Thank you for the help.

Sherry E
03-13-2010, 02:53 PM
First of all, how wonderful that you will get to experience DLR during the magical holiday season!! It is my absolute favorite time to be there, so I am always excited to hear when someone gets to experience it for the first time!! I will give you some links to threads that may be of interest to you.

Some of the other places you may want to visit in SoCal during the holidays are Rodeo Drive/Beverly Hills (the decorations are always beautiful during that time of year and it's fun to just drive around and soak in the atmosphere) and The Grove/Farmers Market outdoor shopping center (Farmers Market is a historical part of Los Angeles), which not only has some wonderful decorations and entertainment during the holidays, but is also great for celebrity hunting and people watching!!

To start you off, here is our delightful, wonderful, one-stop shop for all things Disneyland Resort-at-Christmastime thread (called, appropriately, "Disney at Christmas"). It is chock full of photos and info on decorations, seasonal food, special holiday photo ops, etc. at DLR during Christmastime:

http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2262171


Next, perhaps you might be interested in trying a character meal? Here is our dedicated character meal photo thread, which may help you decide which one to try:

http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2234435


I have stayed at all 3 DLR hotels and love them all for different reasons, but I, personally, love the GCH ambiance during the holidays, so check out our GCH Super-thread, courtesy of DmaxHawk, in case a GCH stay is something that interests you:

http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2396588


But many other DIS-ers love the DLH and other hotels during the holiday season, and for more economical purposes, so check out our hotel photo thread for other ideas:

http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=1745747


If you do stay onsite at one of the 3 DLR hotels, you may want to consider the concierge lounge service, which, by all accounts, seems to be a good value for the money. Here is a thread with photos of all 3 concierge lounge offerings, courtesy of Pycees312:

http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2181963


In my own mega-trip report, which spans 37 years of pictures from visits to DLR, I have photos and/or recaps of DLR trips at Christmastime from 2007, 2008 and 2009 - and even holiday pictures from 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 2000 & 2001, and many other non-holiday trips as well.

http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=1979268



As you are a WDW veteran, you may find these threads from fellow WDW vets/DIS-ers who either visited or are about to visit DLR for the first time useful, as they are personal experiences and observations shared of the differences between WDW and DLR:

Of course, be sure to read HydroGuy's essential, “A DLR Guide for WDW Vets”:

http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=1162599


From RweTHEREyet: “DL Observations from a WDW Vet”:

http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2386987


A great Trip Report from Pmama, another WDW vet who made her first trip to DLR (as well as Universal Studios Hollywood and Sea World) last year and offered her photos, observations and comparisons - “Which Way to Disneyland?”:

http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2096377


From (jeff968): “How will DL and CA compare if you've been to orlando a dozen times?”:

http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2366196


From jfstorm: “Disney World Vets heading to Cali for the first time this year. Need Advice!!!!!”:

http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2365914


From Mommato4: “Disneyland vs Disneyworld”:

http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2359153


From Chris and Pooh: “Disneyland versus Disneyworld: Your views please”:

http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2233319


From GraceLuvsWDW: “DL Vets answer some ?s please...1 day trip soon”:

http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2222620


From THESCHULTZFIVE: “Disneyland disappointment”:

http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?p=35296769&posted=1#post35296769


Enjoy the planning of your DLR holiday trip!!

glavine47
03-13-2010, 03:58 PM
WOW:worship:SherryE Thank you so much for taking the time to send all of that wonderful information. I will check each link. We have traveled to WDW 3 times for Christmas and cherish every memory. We are so excited about spending a DL Christmas and Southern California Christmas this year. Thanks again.:worship:

Sherry E
03-13-2010, 04:23 PM
WOW:worship:SherryE Thank you so much for taking the time to send all of that wonderful information. I will check each link. We have traveled to WDW 3 times for Christmas and cherish every memory. We are so excited about spending a DL Christmas and Southern California Christmas this year. Thanks again.:worship:

You are most welcome!!:goodvibes I am happy to help in any way I can. Given the kinds of questions that come up quite a lot on the DIS, I compiled a list of various links and Trip Reports that pertain to some of those topics for personal reference, so that I could pull the links quickly and provide them for anyone who has a question and needs info. So I had most of those links prepared and on my list, and with a swift 'copy and paste' maneuver, just inserted them here for you with some descriptions!!

From what I hear, the holiday offerings at WDW are spectacular! One day I hope to go there and see them for myself. At DLR, you will get to experience the very popular Haunted Mansion Holiday (which is Haunted Mansion with a total Nightmare Before Christmas makeover) and the jaw-droppingly gorgeous colors of It's a Small World Holiday (especially gorgeous at night). So even though we don't have all that WDW has, those two attractions are worth a DLR holiday visit alone, along with everything else there is to see and do!

Also, though I don't know if it will be this year or in the future, apparently the great Toy Story Midway Mania ride will be getting a holiday overlay as well. I hope it's soon!!

Grumpygrandpa
03-13-2010, 05:08 PM
If you want the best DLR experience you must stay at the GCH. It is the hotel where Storytellers is located. It has it's own private gate to DCA. The lobby is stunning. The hotel is themed in turn of the century Arts and Crafts. The lobby is amazing! Think of a more refined Wilderness Lodge (same architect). the Napa Rose (also located in the GCH) is the best restaurant on property. Don't miss eating there!

If you can, fly into Long Beach or the John Wayne airport.

Remember that DLR is quite a bit different than WDW. It is small and compact. Many of the rides at WDW are missing here in CA, but DLR has many things that aren't in FL. We love the comedy show at the Horseshoe Saloon. Don't miss Indiana Jones or the submarines. I think that Fantasmic, POTC, Toontown and Space Mountain are better in CA.

Have fun at my favorite place.

glavine47
03-13-2010, 05:17 PM
If you want the best DLR experience you must stay at the GCH. It is the hotel where Storytellers is located. It has it's own private gate to DCA. The lobby is stunning. The hotel is themed in turn of the century Arts and Crafts. The lobby is amazing! Think of a more refined Wilderness Lodge (same architect). the Napa Rose (also located in the GCH) is the best restaurant on property. Don't miss eating there!

If you can, fly into Long Beach or the John Wayne airport.

Remember that DLR is quite a bit different than WDW. It is small and compact. Many of the rides at WDW are missing here in CA, but DLR has many things that aren't in FL. We love the comedy show at the Horseshoe Saloon. Don't miss Indiana Jones or the submarines. I think that Fantasmic, POTC, Toontown and Space Mountain are better in CA.

Have fun at my favorite place.

Grumpygrandpa
Thank you for the advice, Napa Rose is a place that we intend to try. Also, How far in advance can reservations be requested? I know WDW is 180 days.

HydroGuy
03-13-2010, 06:51 PM
Grumpygrandpa
Thank you for the advice, Napa Rose is a place that we intend to try. Also, How far in advance can reservations be requested? I know WDW is 180 days.60 days, and they are in far less demand than WDW.

Grumpygrandpa
03-13-2010, 06:54 PM
Grumpygrandpa
Thank you for the advice, Napa Rose is a place that we intend to try. Also, How far in advance can reservations be requested? I know WDW is 180 days.

We almost always go with my DW's Brother and family. Sarah, my DN, does all of the ADRs....so I'm pretty useless on how far out you can reserve dining but I think it is 60 days. I'm sure someone will correct if I'm wrong.:goodvibes

franandaj
03-13-2010, 07:10 PM
Grumpygrandpa
Thank you for the advice, Napa Rose is a place that we intend to try. Also, How far in advance can reservations be requested? I know WDW is 180 days.

I don't know how well behaved your kids are (or if they even allow this), but I love to sit at the Chef's counter when I eat there. Because I've done the Cooking School with Andrew Sutton for a couple years now, he recognizes me and my DP when we come in. He comes over and talks to everyone who sits at the counter and sometimes give little freebies. He's very personable and it is quite entertaining to watch the chef's at work.

I have to give a plug for my hometown, the Queen Mary and the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach are nice attractions to visit. There are several restaurants on the QM and many more near the Aquarium, they have recently rennovated that area (last 10 years). There are shopping areas on the water front and all sorts of things to do when you want to escape the mouse. It's only about 20 minutes away from Anaheim.

glavine47
03-13-2010, 08:03 PM
60 days, and they are in far less demand than WDW.

HydroGuy,
Thank you for your help. I am trying to stay ahead of the game. When we travel to WDW, I make our reservations exactly at the 180 mark. It is hard to get Le Cellier or the Roundtable. I will try at 60 days out.

glavine47
03-13-2010, 08:10 PM
I don't know how well behaved your kids are (or if they even allow this), but I love to sit at the Chef's counter when I eat there. Because I've done the Cooking School with Andrew Sutton for a couple years now, he recognizes me and my DP when we come in. He comes over and talks to everyone who sits at the counter and sometimes give little freebies. He's very personable and it is quite entertaining to watch the chef's at work.

I have to give a plug for my hometown, the Queen Mary and the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach are nice attractions to visit. There are several restaurants on the QM and many more near the Aquarium, they have recently rennovated that area (last 10 years). There are shopping areas on the water front and all sorts of things to do when you want to escape the mouse. It's only about 20 minutes away from Anaheim.

franandaj,
Thank you for the advice. The Chef's counter sounds like fun, I will check it out. Also, I love the other suggestions. Since this is your hometown, do you have any suggestions on Christmas activities?

HydroGuy
03-13-2010, 09:29 PM
HydroGuy,
Thank you for your help. I am trying to stay ahead of the game. When we travel to WDW, I make our reservations exactly at the 180 mark. It is hard to get Le Cellier or the Roundtable. I will try at 60 days out.Now that I have gone to WDW twice and spent lots of time on WDW forums, I better understand the WDW mindset about dining. At WDW it is part of the resort experience for many people and the many creative options at WDW reinforce this.

DLR has grown up as a locals resort and still 70% of visitors are locals - many on day trips. So the mindset is "dining is something we should do quickly so we can go do some more rides". In other words DLR vets do not see dining the same way WDW vets do. DLR has less variety and is less creative than WDW dining.

With that said, I have found on recent trips that I am bringing some of the WDW perspective to DLR and now see dining at DLR in a different way.

Regardless, most DLR vets do not. They do not make reservations at table service restaurants and usually can still get in to eat at all the best dining venues on short notice.

If you make reservations 60 days out you will be way ahead of the game. I do that myself now out of an abundance of caution, but just letting you know it is usually not necessary.

Bottom line is you do not need to do the crazy 180 days out ADRs like WDW because there is a different mindset at DLR. :)

heatherleigh
03-13-2010, 09:59 PM
As far as airports go, you will want to fly into SNA, which is Orange County. It's the easiest, most convenient, and maybe even closest airport. I had my mom fly in there to meet us on our last trip, and she said it was very easy.

franandaj
03-13-2010, 11:44 PM
franandaj,
Thank you for the advice. The Chef's counter sounds like fun, I will check it out. Also, I love the other suggestions. Since this is your hometown, do you have any suggestions on Christmas activities?

Well since you said you were going to be in Newport, I've heard there is a boat tour that you can take of all the houses on the waterfront to see the houses decorated. There are also boat parades in various harbors where the boats are deocrated by their owners and parade through the harbor.

My hometown is Long Beach but I actually go to DL for much of my Holiday cheer! We always go out there for Xmas shopping and visit at some point for a meal and just to see the holiday decorations.

I wish I knew more of what goes on at Christmastime locally, but we're always so busy around that time that we barely squeeze in our trip or two to DL. We also try to stay home a lot because traffic in LA during Christmastime is horrible! If you want to drive from one end of LA County to the other, allow two to three hours at peak driving times. However peak driving times are extended by an hour or two on each end or rush hour, pretty much making the entire day peak driving times! This means if you are considering sneaking in a trip to Universal, plan on a lot of driving time.

I'll look forward to your trip report when it finally happens, please put a link on this thread so we can find you!

Sherry E
03-14-2010, 11:42 AM
By the way, OP, in my first post I suggested Rodeo Drive and Beverly Hills, as well as The Grove and Farmers Market up in L.A., for extra Christmas magic (though nowhere near as magical as DLR, but at night, still beautiful). I live about 3 minutes down the street from Farmers Market/The Grove in one direction (this is also the area where LACMA and the Tar Pits are located, is and pretty close to Sunset Blvd. and Hollywood Blvd.) and I'm about 4 minutes up the street from Beverly Hills in another direction. I can tell you that, on a day with no traffic - or at least reasonable traffic - and depending on how fast you drive, you can get from DLR to my area of town in 40-45 minutes. Same thing on the way back to DLR from this area of town. But if you drive more slowly or if you run into traffic, it can double to 90 minutes or more.

The PP is right about the traffic during the holidays - it is crazy, especially right in the weeks leading up to and right after Christmas!

I don't know how long your trip to SoCal will be, but if you have lots of time, I can suggest other places to eat and things to do in general (not necessarily Christmasy) in L.A. or up this way, but if your time is very limited, I almost tend to think you should just stick with DLR and enjoy all there is to enjoy there.

I agree that the Long Beach area of town is nice, and the Queen Mary and Aquarium are great to visit if you have time. Also, Shoreline Village is a lovely little place to stroll around and eat lunch. Plus, Long Beach is home to the Catalina Express, which takes you over to Catalina Island - my 'other' favorite place to be in Southern California!!:goodvibes

As far as making dining reservations at DLR, while it is not as necessary as it is for WDW dining, you need to make reservations if you eat at the Blue Bayou - they require it there 99% of the time. It is not necessary to make reservations for the character meals, but it is highly recommended, as those can get very busy and the waits to be seated very long. I would also highly recommend making a reservation for Carnation Cafe - a lovely place to eat along Main Street with very limited seating, and the wait for a table can be very long. Also, I would suggest making a reservation for ESPN Zone and Rainforest Cafe - I have waited for an hour to be seated at both of those places without a reservation.

HydroGuy
03-14-2010, 12:09 PM
As far as making dining reservations at DLR, while it is not as necessary as it is for WDW dining, you need to make reservations if you eat at the Blue Bayou - they require it there 99% of the time. It is not necessary to make reservations for the character meals, but it is highly recommended, as those can get very busy and the waits to be seated very long.I would second this for the BB but also say I have easily gotten reservations during busy summer days a week or two in advance. So even though it may be required that does not mean the ressies fill up quickly. :)
Also, I would recommend making a PS for ESPN Zone and Rainforest Cafe - I have waited for an hour to be seated at both of those places without a reservation.Agree again, but you can usually do this easily a week ahead of time. In fact last summer I had a res at RFC and wanted to bump it back an hour the day before with a group of 8 and it was no problem. So if you like RFC make a res. In fact make multiple ones and cancel the ones you do not use. I made four of them a week out because I was not sure when we would have time to get over there and then I cancelled the other 3 a day or two before.

Sherry E
03-14-2010, 12:15 PM
I would second this for the BB but also say I have easily gotten reservations during busy summer days a week or two in advance. So even though it may be required that does not mean the ressies fill up quickly. :)
Agree again, but you can usually do this easily a week ahead of time. In fact last summer I had a res at RFC and wanted to bump it back an hour the day before with a group of 8 and it was no problem. So if you like RFC make a res. In fact make multiple ones and cancel the ones you do not use. I made four of them a week out because I was not sure when we would have time to get over there and then I cancelled the other 3 a day or two before.

Exactly. Thanks for clarifying that. Make reservations for those places I mentioned (as opposed to not making them), but one or two weeks in advance is fine. Of course, if you know exactly where you are going to eat 60 or 30 days in advance, and at what times you'd like to eat, may as well make the reservations, but if you don't know until a couple of weeks before the trip, it shouldn't be a problem.:goodvibes

glavine47
03-14-2010, 12:20 PM
Now that I have gone to WDW twice and spent lots of time on WDW forums, I better understand the WDW mindset about dining. At WDW it is part of the resort experience for many people and the many creative options at WDW reinforce this.

DLR has grown up as a locals resort and still 70% of visitors are locals - many on day trips. So the mindset is "dining is something we should do quickly so we can go do some more rides". In other words DLR vets do not see dining the same way WDW vets do. DLR has less variety and is less creative than WDW dining.

With that said, I have found on recent trips that I am bringing some of the WDW perspective to DLR and now see dining at DLR in a different way.

Regardless, most DLR vets do not. They do not make reservations at table service restaurants and usually can still get in to eat at all the best dining venues on short notice.

If you make reservations 60 days out you will be way ahead of the game. I do that myself now out of an abundance of caution, but just letting you know it is usually not necessary.

Bottom line is you do not need to do the crazy 180 days out ADRs like WDW because there is a different mindset at DLR. :)

HydroGuy,
You are right , I am brining the WDW perspective about dining.
I just know at WDW, if you do not ADR's, you miss the great places to dine. Thank you for the great insight.

glavine47
03-14-2010, 12:34 PM
By the way, OP, in my first post I suggested Rodeo Drive and Beverly Hills, as well as The Grove and Farmers Market up in L.A., for extra Christmas magic (though nowhere near as magical as DLR, but at night, still beautiful). I live about 3 minutes down the street from Farmers Market/The Grove in one direction (this is also the area where LACMA and the Tar Pits are located, is and pretty close to Sunset Blvd. and Hollywood Blvd.) and I'm about 4 minutes up the street from Beverly Hills in another direction. I can tell you that, on a day with no traffic - or at least reasonable traffic - and depending on how fast you drive, you can get from DLR to my area of town in 40-45 minutes. Same thing on the way back to DLR from this area of town. But if you drive more slowly or if you run into traffic, it can double to 90 minutes or more.

The PP is right about the traffic during the holidays - it is crazy, especially right in the weeks leading up to and right after Christmas!

I don't know how long your trip to SoCal will be, but if you have lots of time, I can suggest other places to eat and things to do in general (not necessarily Christmasy) in L.A. or up this way, but if your time is very limited, I almost tend to think you should just stick with DLR and enjoy all there is to enjoy there.

I agree that the Long Beach area of town is nice, and the Queen Mary and Aquarium are great to visit if you have time. Also, Shoreline Village is a lovely little place to stroll around and eat lunch. Plus, Long Beach is home to the Catalina Express, which takes you over to Catalina Island - my 'other' favorite place to be in Southern California!!:goodvibes

As far as making dining reservations at DLR, while it is not as necessary as it is for WDW dining, you need to make reservations if you eat at the Blue Bayou - they require it there 99% of the time. It is not necessary to make reservations for the character meals, but it is highly recommended, as those can get very busy and the waits to be seated very long. I would also highly recommend making a reservation for Carnation Cafe - a lovely place to eat along Main Street with very limited seating, and the wait for a table can be very long. Also, I would suggest making a reservation for ESPN Zone and Rainforest Cafe - I have waited for an hour to be seated at both of those places without a reservation.

Sherry E,
Thank you again for this useful info. You are just a fountain of great knowledge. We will be staying for 10 days. We are going to buy the citypass. My only set plans are DL on my birthday Dec. 22 and end our trip with 2 more days a DL. The dining you have mentioned is great. Carnation Cafe is a place I will check out. We have eaten at both ESPN Zone and Rainforest Cafe at WDW. I have a safari card for Rainforest Cafe, which gets us front of the line access. Atleast, I hope they offer that in Downtown Disney.

glavine47
03-14-2010, 12:45 PM
Exactly. Thanks for clarifying that. Make reservations for those places I mentioned (as opposed to not making them), but one or two weeks in advance is fine. Of course, if you know exactly where you are going to eat 60 or 30 days in advance, and at what times you'd like to eat, may as well make the reservations, but if you don't know until a couple of weeks before the trip, it shouldn't be a problem.:goodvibes

Sherry E,
Like HydroGuy has suggested, I have the WDW dining mindset. I already have a outline for our dining and it is 279 days till our trip. I am the planner in our family and I try to stay ahead of others.

franandaj
03-14-2010, 01:56 PM
DLR is nowhere near as cut throat as WDW for ADRs, but you should definitely make them because it will streamline your trip. Some weekends I have been there and the wait for any restaurant on a walk up is 2 hours. By the same token, we will wake up some mornings craving a Monte Cristo. We call Disney Dining and make a PS for mid afternoon at Cafe Orleans and we are seated within 10-15 minutes while the walk up customers wait 20-30 minutes.

Really popular restaurants like the Blue Bayou you need to make your reservations in advance, but some are easily made as late as the day before or day of.

Sherry E
03-14-2010, 02:28 PM
Sherry E,
Thank you again for this useful info. You are just a fountain of great knowledge. We will be staying for 10 days. We are going to buy the citypass. My only set plans are DL on my birthday Dec. 22 and end our trip with 2 more days a DL. The dining you have mentioned is great. Carnation Cafe is a place I will check out. We have eaten at both ESPN Zone and Rainforest Cafe at WDW. I have a safari card for Rainforest Cafe, which gets us front of the line access. Atleast, I hope they offer that in Downtown Disney.

Sherry E,
Like HydroGuy has suggested, I have the WDW dining mindset. I already have a outline for our dining and it is 279 days till our trip. I am the planner in our family and I try to stay ahead of others.

Again, you are very welcome! I am more than happy to help and share the fountain of knowledge!:goodvibes:rotfl2::rotfl2:

I don't blame you for having the planning mindset - I am a planner too (much to the frustration of my friends!), and I am also probably one of the few "locals" (meaning lifelong SoCal residents and DLR vets/visitors) that counts the dining as an important part of my trips. I didn't care that much about it prior to 1992 or so, but now I like to plan where we are going to eat, if at all possible. I enjoy the meals at DLR as part of the overall experience. So there will always be a character meal involved (usually Goofy's Kitchen), and we generally like to eat at Carnation Cafe, Storytellers Cafe (for lunch or dinner) and Wine Country Trattoria in DCA. Those are the favorites that are exclusive to Disney. In Downtown Disney, we like Naples Ristorante, ESPN Zone and Rainforest Cafe. As far as counter service places, we like Blue Ribbon Bakery on Main Street (delicious, ooey gooey cinnamon rolls), Bengal BBQ (yummy skewers), Plaza Inn, River Belle Terrace and Taste Pilots Grill in DCA.

So, yes, by all means, if you have all your planned restaurants lined up 60 days out, why NOT make the reservations and get it out of the way?:thumbsup2 One less thing to worry about, right? But if you don't have them squared away just yet, you will be okay making them a little later. I found that we shaved a lot of wait time off of our day when I started making reservations (which used to be called Priority Seating) for our meals. Before making those, we would stand in a 45 minute line to eat at Carnation, or wait an hour for Rainforest Cafe or ESPN Zone. Such a waste of time.:sad2: Oh, and one tip about Carnation - they may not let you make this request on the phone at Disneyland Dining, but when you arrive at the check-in desk, ask them for a table right alongside Main Street if you can get one. It is great people watching!! Over at Wine Country Trattoria in DCA, if you land at one of the right tables at the right time, you may be lucky and see part of a parade.

Another thing about the 3 DLR hotels - even though I think the GCH is the one that lends itself the best to a holiday feeling and vibe (because it has that sort of elegantly rustic 'mountain chalet' kind of feel to it with dark wood and dim lighting, and the fireplace & lounge/lobby are cozy and inviting), and is a fantastic place to get comfy and listen to the carolers, the pianist or the guitar player, or watch folks get their photos taken with Santa by the tree - the PPH and the DLH have the coveted "Mickey ears" bath products in the bathrooms!!:thumbsup2 GCH has H20 Spa products for a more upscale feel. But I love to walk into my PPH bathroom and see these happy, cheery mouse ears greeting me:

http://i267.photobucket.com/albums/ii308/Mousesausage/DISNEYLAND%20OCTOBER%202008/002_23A-1.jpg

glavine47
03-14-2010, 03:18 PM
Wow you guys have done a great job with all of this useful information.

I am known here in Tennessee as that Disney guy. Fortunatelly, I have been allowed to help plan 42 wdw trips for friends and family. I have planned from small families to a large group of 22. Just this week I helped a couple plan their Honeymoon(airline, resort stay, ADR's and even a spread sheet with park information for each day of thier trip). I did all of that in 45 minutes. I love helping people get the most out of a Disneyworld trip. So I am thankful for your guys effort to help.

So, I can now understand how the non-disney people can feel overwhelmed. I really appreciate the help and I am sure I will have more questions in the future. If you have any other thoughts please share them.

glavine47
09-16-2010, 10:25 AM
We now have 93 days until our trip. So much to do. We are all excited. Any other advice for things to do during Chistmas time in southern California?

jlmarr
09-16-2010, 11:32 AM
We now have 93 days until our trip. So much to do. We are all excited. Any other advice for things to do during Chistmas time in southern California? If you'll be around on New Year's Day there is the Rose Parade in Pasadena. If not then you could seek out a float builder and take a tour of their operation. That generally kicks into high gear on the 26th. You can even volunteer to help with the float prep, but that might take up a whole day of your vacation.

travellovingirl
09-16-2010, 02:13 PM
Please post a trip report when you return!! We are headed to California for the first time easter week, and will be including a few days at DL, also thinking about a City Pass. We only have 7 days, and I'm concerned that will be too much "park", while we miss seeing other parts of CA. I also can't wait to hear how you do navigating the holiday crowds!!