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nancy drew 06-19-2011 01:03 AM

PPH/DLH Split Stay, with a day at Sea World!
Hello! I've been waffling back and forth, trying to decide whether to start a PTR, and finally realized that it was better than bouncing all of these ideas off my kids. The tipping point was today, when my kids were playing with Legos, and I overheard the following conversation:

DD: This is the Howard Johnson.
DS: NO! Its the Hyatt!
DD: No, it is HOWARD JOHNSON!! They have the water park AND another pool.
DS: Yeah, but Hyatt has the long hallway that goes on forever!!!

Can you tell we've been looking at Trip Advisor a little too much and waffling on where to stay? :eek: :laughing:

So here's the cast:

Me: Divorced mom, newly vegan, part time teacher (going to be more full time sooner rather than later), celebrating a birthday a week before our trip. I didn't LOVE Disney (was neutral) until I took DD on her first Disney trip when she was 15mo and I was 19 weeks pregnant with DS. I was separated from my (now) XH, and DD and I really bonded on that trip and I saw the magic in her. From then on, I've been hooked.

DD: 7yo, larger than life, sensitive feeler, learning to take risks, the sweetest thing alive. Her teacher this year said she could be a character on a Nickelodeon show. I wanted to correct her and say DISNEY show, but that didn't feel appropriate. DD loves pretty much all things Disney. She can worship the princesses and talk light saber battles without batting an eye. She takes after me in that respect. I suspect she will come home with a Duffy bear, and insist on meeting Duffy, because she first saw Duffy bears at WDW in December and she fell for him hard.

DS: 5.5 (will almost be 6 on our trip), processor, thinks he is at least 8yo, matter of fact bottom liner, cautious adventurer. He has the sass of a jaded 14yo boy, but can charm a female of any age. A deadly combo. He likes Star Wars, super heroes, but LOVES Transformers. He doesn't dig the characters, but if they lure him in he will totally participate. He is more concrete, and likes *real* things. The biggest smile I've ever seen on him was when we met Chris Kratt, of the Kratt Brothers (or Zaboomafoo). Despite his distaste for characters, he loves Disney and asks to go throughout the year. Also LOVES Phineas and Ferb, so I'm hoping their stage show/meet and greet/whatever it is will still be there in August and will make him happy. Oh, and I think he will love the TRON thing at DCA, if it happens to be kid-friendly. He was really into the TRON characters etc when the movie was out, and he likes lasers, music, etc.

We are going to Anaheim in mid/late August and staying a week! Last time we went to DL was in 2009, and I was so sad to leave, not knowing when we would return. This time we are going to Sea World, and possibly Legoland. The kids LOVE Legos, but they are opening a Legoland near my mom's house in FL and we are visiting her in December, so we might just go to LL then and skip it this time. I'm also considering a day trip to the SD zoo, because DD's teacher was *obsessed* with pandas, and they have a panda.

However... I've already been thinking about/planning a return trip to SoCal for 2012, when I turn 40. I was thinking we would spend maybe 10 days, and stay in SD and Anaheim. I really want to spend time in SD, do the zoo, the safari park, LL, and SW, and enjoy being near the beach. And I want the kids to be old enough to appreciate it and remember it. Then we will finish our trip in Anaheim, and do DL and see Carsland for the first time (a year after it opens, so hopefully the hype has died down.

We also typically go to WDW in December. Or, we did last year and plan on doing it again this year. My mom lives 2 hours away, so we are flying in to Orlando and staying 2-3 days, then she will drive up and spend a day with us, then drive us to her house. She likes spending time with us, and likes helping, but isn't that into Disney (and can't really keep up with our pace, though she respects and appreciates my planning abilities and has commented on how I saved us time and planned well). Last year we stayed at Pop, and loved it, but we might stay at a moderate this time to be closer to Epcot (didn't go there last year, definitely going this year) and DHS (did it last year, liked it, but for us it is a 1/2 day park).

So there it is, the beginning of my TR.

Right now we have reservations at 2 different hotels: Park Vue and Hojo. I am still considering another (Hyatt). So now you can see why my kids were playing "Which hotel is this?" earlier today. Yeah, I should narrow it down. I will write more about that later, just wanted to get things started here.

Previous trip report link in my signature, if you're interested in seeing what we did on our last trip.

So... welcome!

nancy drew 07-01-2011 01:09 PM

So, I should probably update this a little more often, right? :goodvibes

We were all set on the Park Vue, I was happy with the free bottled water, food, etc., then Disney sent us something about the Paradise Pier (we can't afford it, they gave us a PIN code for October, November, and December dates) and it got me thinking about hotels again.

I think I can rule out Hojo because of the noise. Family suites face the highway and I remember being unhappy with the noise last time. I do love the pool and water play area, but I just think the noise would drive me nuts. Haven't canceled that reservation yet, though, just in case.

So I'm torn between Hyatt and Park Vue.

Hyatt has a kid suite, so the kids have their own space and I have my space. That's the best setup for me as far as sleeping goes, as I don't sleep well with the kids in the room. They have restaurants/bars, including one with a kids movie area. They have 2 pools, basic pools but they look nice. I feel like the Hyatt would definitely have a vacation "feel" to it. On one of our last trips we took a shuttle back to the airport and on the way we picked up some people at the Hyatt, or Hilton, or one of those "far" hotels. I remember thinking "These places are nice! They aren't that far, why didn't we stay here???"

But the Hyatt IS far, farther than PV, that's for sure. And there isn't that free breakfast/happy hour, so we would be spending more on food. There is a dedicated shuttle, and everyone seems to feel that it runs in a timely manner and isn't over-crowded.

Park Vue is RIGHT THERE at the gate. Easy access, back and forth whenever we want. Free breakfast, snacks in the evening, free water in the lobby. Less expensive + free food = more money for other stuff. We've stayed there before and my biggest issue was the noise (they were renovating the lobby and we were almost next door to it, plus the kids stomping/thundering to the breakfast area every morning). They have a pool, but it is just a pool in a parking lot. Yes, there is landscaping, but still, it kind of has that "motel pool" feel, after all it IS a motel pool. I worry that I won't have that "Ah, vacation!!!" feel there.

On the other hand, we will have a few days at WDW in December, and will stay on site, and it may be more feasible to "splurge" there since it is a shorter stay. So if we stay at PV now, we can have a nicer place in December.

I'm sure I have more thoughts on this, but I wanted to get this all out there, kind of like Dumbledore and his pensieve. How do you spell that word? Well, who cares. HP fans know what I mean.

Belle Ella 07-01-2011 01:20 PM


MyPeanut&Bug 07-05-2011 08:34 AM

Joining in! I literally did LOL at your kids conversation about hotels. :lmao:

We're in OH and planning a big "out west" trip in summer 2013, with at least 3 days at DL, so I'm excited to start reading some DL trip reports. I've done WDW 5 times now but know next to nothing about DL - can't wait to hear all about it!!

reyasmommy 07-05-2011 04:37 PM

It is just down right exhuasting trying to find the "right" hotel sometimes! :sad2: I'm currently dealing with finding hotels for our upcoming trip. :surfweb: My friends and family always give me a hard time about obsessing over where to stay, because according to them we only use the room to sleep, anyway?! Which is mostly true? We don't spend a whole heck of a lot of time in our rooms, but I still like having a nice place to stay. I always make sure to write a pro and con list for each hotel I'm considering. And everytime I ask my husband for input all he says is " I don't care"!?:confused3 So he's of no help.

Anyway, I'm sure you'll make the right decision. I haven't stayed at either of those hotels so I can't offer any input myself.

I look forward to reading more of your ptr! popcorn::

nancy drew 07-14-2011 11:04 PM

Yay, visitors! Glad to know I'm not the only one paralyzed by the "Where Should We Stay" decision!

So, I've decided on Hojo. We have a family suite for the whole trip, instead of having to switch, so it seems like a good choice. The kids will love both the pool and the water park, and hopefully it won't be too loud for me. If it is, I suppose I might be able to switch hotels while we are there, right? Maybe?

So, Hojo. Yay.

So now this pre-trip report would be a little better with some actual reporting, right? Right!

I mentioned already that we are going to Sea World, which should be fun. Well I think we might also do a beach tour, either with or without a whale watching boat ride. How awesome would that be???

Still haven't bought the DL tickets, or SW tickets. Nor have I made any dining reservations! What is wrong with me? I guess I'm waiting to see what else we are doing (SW + beaches or just SW). I'm also confused on when it will be busy. Some say the expo will make it more crowded on certain days, some say the AP unblocking will make it more crowded, some say it won't be as bad as people say it will.... Some say traffic will be bad, some say it varies..... I know I want our last day to be at Disney. I first thought we should do our first 2 days as SW/beach days. But that leaves us at Disney Fri-Mon, which is likely to be the busiest time. So maybe SW, DL, DL, beaches, DL, DL? We can do DL on the beach day too, when we return.

I really need to sort this out and make some reservations/plans!

reyasmommy 07-14-2011 11:39 PM

Glad you made a decison on where to stay. One last thing for you to worry about. I think you could do DL and the beach in the same day. ((I guess it matters on what the hours at the park are on that particular day)) We might do the same thing. Adding an extra day is only and extra $15.00 total for us, so if we can make it to Disney for a little while on our beach day, GREAT... But if we can't no big deal it's only $15.00?

Look forward to reading more.

deejdigsdis 07-14-2011 11:58 PM

Just joining in! I see you decided on the Hojo Kids' Suite. We loved our stay there! I hope you do OK noise-wise. It wasn't an issue at all for us. It was really noticeable when we first walked into the room, but after about 10 minutes it became white noise for us. The kids didn't seem to notice it at all. We opened our balcony door once, just to see how loud it really was, and then quickly closed it and never opened it again. :) We were on the 6th floor, closest to the freeway. I've read that it's quieter on the lower floors, on the end closest to the elevators. Who knows, though. I'm sure it's one of those "depends on who you're talking to" things. But will love all the space if nothing else!

nancy drew 07-22-2011 04:45 PM

reyasmommy, I am so glad Disney makes it so easy to add a day to a park ticket. I think we will go to DLR the first day. How can we NOT, right? I mean it is right there!! LOL!

deejdigsdis, I really hope the noise doesn't bother us. I have to remember to get ear plugs and bring the white noise machine.

So... I booked dining reservations! So far we have Blue Bayou lunch and Minnie and Friends breakfast booked. Still debating on WOC picnic vs. Ariel's, and debating on a Fantasmic dessert package. I won't be able to eat nearly anything in the dessert box, but we'd have a place to sit for the show. I don't think I want to deal with showing up 2 hours early to stake out a good spot. In the past we managed to walk up and get a decent spot, but it was obstructed. And I'm completely stumped on the WOC thing. I've read all of the discussions and still cannot decide what is the best option for us.

Also still debating the beach tour/whale watching/wildlife tour. I've read the few reviews out there on the Woody Bus tour, and so many of them say that the tour date was changed at the last minute. That's not going to work for us! Right now I'm keeping 2 days open, but that's all I can do. We have Sea World, dining reservations and/or WOC or F! penciled in on the other days. So if they suddenly change our tour date, we can't do it.

Oops gotta go get the kids from the camp bus!

nancy drew 07-26-2011 06:52 PM

Well, now that Disney has come out with a deal for the time we will be there, I'm thinking about staying on site. Why do I torture myself? But, see, on our first DL trip, we went to the (then) Lilo and Stitch character breakfast at PPH. I wasn't all that blown away by the hotel, and it kind of felt like we had left DLR to get there (it felt very isolated, and we did go through GCH), but people really seem to like it and the kids really liked what they saw from a PIN code flyer (for dates in Sep-Oct). And the rooms do look big enough, and there is a day bed/couch for one of the kids to sleep on so I don't have to share a bed with them (I can't sleep with my kids in the bed). But it looks... bare? Boring? Isolated? I don't know. I feel like if we stay there I will be disappointed, or looking at the DLH thinking we should have stayed there, or something.

On that first trip to DLR we also went to Goofy's Kitchen, and I just had a feeling when we walked in that one day we had to stay there. It felt like Disney there. I could feel the history, just walking through the property. I knew had to stay there someday.

Now, all along while planning this current trip I've been telling myself that in 2 years, when I turn 40, we will celebrate with a big trip to San Diego and DLR, and on that trip we will stay at DLR. The construction will be done, there will be 2 completed pool areas, I can save $$ for a long time so it is affordable, it will be my birthday present to myself, blah blah blah.

Then Disney comes along with their new deal and makes it just within reach to stay at DLR on this trip.

I don't know what to do! (Of course!) One of the pools at DLH is under construction! With my luck, we will get a "construction view" room and I'll feel like I wasted my money. But the rest of the place looks nice, and the water slides look fun, and there is still a pool to use, and we could easily do Goofy's again.

And we could make it more affordable by splitting the stay and doing 3 nights at PPH and 4 nights at DLR. Or even staying at Hojo 3 nights and DLH 4 nights (though transferring from Hojo to DLH would be a pain). I mean, we will likely be at Sea World one day, and the beaches another, so who cares where we are sleeping that night. I'm already planning a grocery order so we have food to eat, to save some money.

I need to spend some more time thinking about this. Such drama! I wish this were easier!

nancy drew 07-28-2011 11:18 PM

So have I scared everyone away with my constant hotel waffling? ;)

I think I've made a decision, but I need another night to sleep on it. Nothing "feels" completely right, but for different reasons. Hojo has the right price, and I wouldn't need to worry about our spending (we don't spend crazily, but I would have a much bigger "cushion" if we stay at Hojo). But there is the noise factor, which could really be a problem. PPH would also leave us more of a cushion, and we would get the on site perks, but would staying that close to Disneyland Hotel make me wish we were staying there as well? Disneyland Hotel is a dream for me, but the split stay will leave me kind of stressed about money (unless I can see before we leave that we really do have enough left as a cushion; this depends on whether an expected paycheck arrives before or after the trip).

So stay tuned for the hotel decision (and if you have input, weigh in!!!).

In other trip-related news, I bought the Sea World tickets online tonight! I bought those and the Disneyland tickets through getawaytoday dot com, which tends to be a good source for tickets.

So for now, our schedule looks like this:

Arrival day

Sea World

11:50 Blue Bayou
9:00 WOC picnic (maybe)



MM Early opening
10:00 Breakfast at Minnie/Plaza


This could change, though, if we do the split stay, as I'd be really tempted to add the PCH character meal and/or Goofy's character meal. And we have to throw a beach/possible whale watching day in there too.

blabbermouth 07-29-2011 12:58 AM

My opinion on the hotels: I'm a cheapskate, Hojos is good, stick with it. Although, when we stayed at Hojos we had a pool view, so it seemed quiet, and also traffic noise doesn't bother me. If my neighbour is up late yelling or kids are running around I can't sleep (and that can happen in any room), but the constant drone of traffic I can sleep like a baby.

However, if I won some money or something, then I'd like to stay at PP or DLH or GCH. But right now, for my lifestyle, a decent offsite hotel is just fine.

Your schedule sounds good too. Minnie & Friends seems to have soooooooooooooooooooooooooooo many characters from the pics I've seen, so I'm sure your kids will love it!

nancy drew 07-31-2011 01:13 PM

Last winter I surprised the kids with a few days at WDW. They knew we were going to FL to visit Grandma, but they didn't know that we were going to spend 2 days in Orlando. I set up a "Hidden Mickey" treasure hunt/secret code. They had to find "Hidden Mickeys" with math problems on them, then use the math problem to figure out a secret code. The code was the answer to the question "Where will we spend 2 days when we visit Grandma?" They LOVED doing this, and have asked me to do it again, even though they already know we are going to DL. So I decided to do it again to reveal where we are staying.

I made the "Hidden Mickeys" and the code page.

Then I cut the Mickeys out and hid half in each kiddo' room. They were downstairs playing, so they had no idea what I was up to.

I dropped the note down to them, and they were sooooo excited to have a scavenger hunt! They found their Mickeys and set off on figuring out the code.

(They were having color wars at camp, DS was on the green team so that explains his temporary green hair, DD wanted grey hair but alas, they don't make grey hair spray since most people DON'T want grey hair.)

The figured out the code, and were so excited to discover that we are doing the split stay! I'm happy, too! I think it will be fun. We will get to experience two awesome hotels, have the perks of staying onsite, and then when we come back in 2 years I'll have a better idea of where to stay for my "big" birthday. I did some number crunching and it will be fine. I tend to hyperventilate about money, especially when it comes to vacations, but this will be fine.

So then I made a countdown chain. I copied something I saw on here, because it looked cool and I wouldn't have been nearly this clever if left to my own devices.

The kids have really enjoyed pulling one link off the chain each day. It took FOREVER to get the pictures and make each page on the computer, but I'm glad I did it.

We used to do Family Fun Night, where we watched a movie and had a themed dinner and activities. I've been really lazy and out FFNs have been really lame. I'll do the movie and a semi-themed dinner, but it has really felt lackluster. Here is our recent "Alice in Wonderland" night:

It was fine, but not quite what we've done in the past and there were no activities. I really want to do at least 2 *good* nights before we go. I have a ton of Toy Story things, so that could be one. Not sure which other one we should do. Time to get the creative juices flowing!

reyasmommy 07-31-2011 02:56 PM

Love it!!! My daughters hair is green right now too. Not on purpose however. She swims about 3-4 hours a day so it's from all the chlorine. He hair is super blonde so it's hard to avoid. Poor thing.

Anyway, look forward to reading more, love your pictures.

nancy drew 08-01-2011 02:04 AM

Oh the chlorine is the worst, isn't it? My kids are swimming every day at camp and their hair feels like straw despite nightly washing. I have to slather conditioner on their heads and leave it on for 5-10 minutes just to make their hair feel like hair!

I've been busy reading trip reports (I need to post and say hello in a few of them tomorrow, including yours, reyasmommy, as I have read it I just didn't post yet; I am the world's biggest lurker and I need to make my presence known!!) and trying to make a packing list for myself. I cannot believe we leave in about 2 weeks!!!!!!!

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