Super Deluxe Mega Trip Reportinator! Now featuring 8/12 San Diego/Disneyland report!
Last year I wrote up a nice big pre-trip report for our DLR trip. I had every intention of following up with a post-trip report, really, I did! But when we came back I was so sad, so very sad, and I just couldn't write it! What can I say, I get post-DLR depression.
So now I'm back. From outer space. I just walked in to find you here with that sad look upon your face...
Oh wait, sorry. Disco moment. And now you're all singing it, aren't you. It's OK, I am too.
Originally I didn't want to go to Disneyland this year. Say WHAT??? No wait, hear me out. This summer I turn 39, which means next year I turn 40, and I thought it would be good to turn 40 in the Happiest Place on Earth. I figured the Carsland Hype would be gone, and there would be some other new and impressive thing, and we could splurge and stay at the DLH again, AND tack on a trip to San Diego with a stay at a nice hotel there, and that would be lovely and expensive and I'd need time to save for that. So that meant this year would be low key, or something different.
But I couldn't think of anything that didn't involve lots of driving, or even more money. And DD started talking about "When we go to Disneyland this summer..." and it just sort of made sense to go back. And to tack on a few days in San Diego in the beginning, because really, could we possibly have dragged ourselves to San Diego after being in Disneyland? No. We would have stayed put in Disneyland and canceled our San Diego trip for sure.
So let's get down to business!
Cast of Characters:
Me: Divorced mom of 2, teacher. I have always enjoyed Disney, but I really fell in love when I took DD on her first Disney trip when she was 15 months old, and I was pregnant with my son. It was just the 2 of us, and seeing the magic through her eyes was amazing. We've been to a Disney park every year since then.
DD: Happy, creative, dreamer. She is a feeler, LOVES Disney, and can be cautious about rides. She has always loved the characters though, and will talk their ears off.
DS: Adventurous, practical, logical. DS is a thinker, and he also loves Disney. He wants to try all the rides, but is a little shy around characters.
So, last year we went to Disneyland and did a day trip to Sea World. I love San Diego, but I couldn't fit a whole San Diego trip into the budget. I wanted to wait until next year to revisit DLR, so the Cars Land hype had a chance to calm down, but I just wasn't inspired and DD kept talking about the rides she was willing to try at DLR now. I figured we might as well go, and add SD to our trip.
We are flying in to SD, and staying downtown. When I ask the kids what they want to do in San Diego they both say they want to go on the Midway Museum (aircraft carrier). Our hotel has a view of a naval station, and the Midway, so I think they will be happy. I had wanted to stay somewhere "beachy" but then we'd have to take a taxi everywhere or pay for a rental car and parking. It made more sense to stay at a hotel that was near everything we wanted to do.
We will also hit the SD Zoo. I'm really excited to go there with the kids. They LOVE animals, and are so excited to see the pandas (well, and everything else). We have a "free" day in SD and I'm not sure what we will do. Maybe the Natural History Museum, maybe the beach, maybe (not likely) a whale watching tour. Don't get me wrong, I REALLY REALLY want to do the whale watching, but the tour is 6 hours (!!!) and I tend to get seasick and claustrophobic. And if the kids happen to get seasick, well, that's 6 hours of puking that I don't want to deal with. SIX HOURS?? Really? Is that necessary? I mean, they are taking people way out to see blue whales, which is awesome, but does it really take 6 hours??? Yikes.
Anyway, I hope to load some photos from our last trip. I never got around to doing a post trip report, because of post trip depression.
So last year we had this big hotel dilemma. I could not make up my mind on where to stay. This year I know where I want to stay, but I am hoping there will be a discount (not likely, but I will keep on hoping).
Our first trip to DLR, we stayed at the Park Vue. It was convenient and inexpensive. I hated it. There was construction going on, our room was right under the breakfast room and next to the store and front desk, so we had no quiet at all. In retrospect I should have asked to move to a room in the back of the motel, but I didn't think of it at the time.
On that first visit, we ate at Goofy's Kitchen at the Disneyland Hotel. The moment I walked into the center of that hotel I knew I had to stay there some day. I can't explain it, and the hotel has been completely overhauled since then, but it just felt like Disney.
Next time, we stayed at Hojo. They didn't have the family suites, and we got the entertainment rate, so we had a double/double room facing the highway. Again, I should have asked to move, but I didn't think of it. I liked the Pirate's Cove area, the motel grounds were beautiful with fragrant flowers, and it felt "Vacationy" to me. However, the "highway noise" people mention drove me n.u.t.s. I didn't sleep. Not at all. It wasn't noise, it was a trembling. I felt like there was a nonstop earthquake the entire time we were in our room. Also I was sharing a bed with my son, who snores and kicks, and I couldn't get some space from him. I would lie awake at night crying because I couldn't sleep. It was awful!!
But I was OK with staying there again because of the kid's suites. I figured it would be fine, since I wouldn't be kicked all night. But then Disney came out with a hotel deal that made a PP/DLH stay fit our budget, so we did it. I was hesitant about PP, because people have said it is a no frills, overpriced hotel. Having stayed there I can see why people might say that, but that wasn't our experience. What they lack in grounds (no lush pool/bar/garden area like DLH) they make up for in service. I talked to a gentleman at the front desk, not the check in desk but maybe the concierge, about special needs in the restaurant, and he made phone calls, took notes, and really made sure to take my request seriously. From then on, every time we walked in or out of the hotel when he was there, he addressed me, said hello, asked if we needed anything, and really went out of his way to make us feel... important, I guess. It was an awesome place to stay, and we were sad to leave, even though we were just moving to the next hotel over!
Anyway, let's see if I can get a few photos loaded since I seem to be having a spectacular bout of insomnia this evening.
We arrived at the hotel early, so our room wasn't ready. We decided to hang out at the pool while we waited. I was aware this might happen, so I had packed our bathing suits and sunscreen at the top of our suitcases. Smart mom, right? ;)
So at the Paradise Pier you have 2 elevator options: the glass elevator (which only goes up) and the regular elevators. I do have photos of the regular elevators, but I like this view better:
We arrived at the pool level and headed out. There is a sign, letting you know you have arrived at the pool (in case you hadn't noticed the large body of water, happy children, and yellow waterslide):
This was DS's first run on a water slide. If I said he loved it I would be understating.
Within about 30 minutes of arriving at the pool, I received a text message that our room was ready. That was faster than I had expected, and the kids didn't want to leave the pool!! I think we stayed for a little while longer, and then we headed to our room.
The rooms had recently (and quietly!) been "refreshed". I have to say I LOVED the decor!
The rooms have 2 beds, as seen above, and an awesome sofa bed. Now, when you hear "sofa bed", unless you've stayed at a Deluxe hotel in WDW or a DLR property you probably think of uncomfortable flimsy mattresses and metal bars. Maybe you even think of a Seinfeld episode involving Elaine, Jerry's parents, and an old sofa bed in Florida. Disney has reinvented sofa beds! This bed flips down into a twin bed. My kids actually fought over who got to sleep on the sofa bed!
The theming (hmmmm, spell check doesn't like that word) in the PP rooms doesn't end with the beach ball pillows.
I really, really liked this hotel!
Our room had a view of the pool. I had hoped for a theme park view, but I didn't pay for one so I had to take what we could get. I have to say, this wasn't half bad! By the way, those yellow things on the fence are life jackets. DS was so happy to have one for his first few runs down the slide (even though the water is barely knee deep, it was sort of a Dumbo's feather thing for him). For kids who aren't strong swimmers, those are great for swimming in the pool. I know I've brought a life jacket on vacation in the past, and I really appreciated finding a hotel that provided them for free.
Ok, gotta go to bed now. Apparently my body is already on California time!
After bringing our things to the room we headed out to the parks. Now, being an active DIS member, I knew about the shortcut through the GCH, but I wasn't sure of the exact path to take. When we checked in, they showed me a map and pointed out 2 ways to get to DL. We could go down the hall on the first floor, walk past the DLH, walk through Downtown Disney, then enter the parks, or we could cut through the GCH. The woman at the desk drew it out on the map, and that's the path we took from PP every day.
Looking back at PP, walking out the front door:
At the corner, waiting to cross the street, looking at the GCH:
Looking back from the same spot, this is how you get back on the return trip:
Beautiful flowers at GCH:
After crossing the street, approaching the GCH:
Inside the GCH:
I forget the exact path, but we found our way to the GCH entrance to DCA. I know we stopped for Mickey Bars for the kids, and made our way to DL.
I never plan it this way, but we always enter the park during a parade. Always!!!
Somehow, maybe because of the parade, maybe because the kids asked, we ended up in Tomorrowland first, and this is what the kids wanted to do:
DS had wanted to do the Academy, but DD wasn't sure. At the last moment she decided to do it, and both kids got to participate! This is DS, with his back to me, dutifully watching the Jedi Master:
DD, mercilessly fighting Darth Vader:
All the young padawans, ready to head out into the world, full of knowledge, experience, and The Force:
DS had only wanted one souvenir, and that was a self-constructed double lightsaber. We apparently bought it right then, as I have a bad photo of him holding it in line for the next ride. Before we go on our trips, I give DS and DD a $25 Disney Gift Card and they can spend it on anything. They can spend it immediately, or wait, they can spend it on food or toys or clothing or pins or whatever. I do get ultimate veto power, as I wouldn't let them buy something totally inappropriate, but I do let them buy something I normally wouldn't say yes to, if that means anything.
Next we had to do Buzz Lightyear. We all like the DL version FAR better than the WDW version. We like being able to pick up the blasters, as you can aim so much more precisely.
According to my photos, we must have walked by the Tiki Room, Tarzan's Treehouse, etc.
I love this so much:
I hate this ride and won't ride it, but it really is a pretty ride/area of the park:
I'm kind of shocked we didn't do this first, but here it is, on the first day:
I remember people balking when they heard that Disney was integrating characters into Small World. I really think they did it well.
I love the outside portion of this ride so much!
Tea Cups are just as pretty at night!
No clue what we did that night, but upon returning to the hotel we found this treat waiting for us! The kids were too tired to eat much, but we saved them and they worked on them the next day.
We are headed to DL/San Diego for the first time ever this August! Your report is getting me so excited! We are staying at the GCH for 6 nights and then Hotel Del Coronado for 3...we are DVC so I was able to use our points for both hotels. Looking forward to hearing more about your trip/planning!
Welcome! It sounds like your trip is the opposite of ours, as we will be in SD for 3 nights and DL for 6 nights. You should start a pre-trip report! I love having somewhere to contain my obsessive planning!
No, I think our days are the same! 6 nights Anaheim, 3 San Diego! How funny!
I have meant to do a trip report each time we travel and I never get around to it. I should try it, maybe it will help me with my planning? We are going to get a 3 day park pass...and the rest of the days will be sightseeing around Hollywood, etc. A friend got us free tickets to Universal, so I couldn't pass that up even though it wasn't on my must list.
As for San Diego...the only thing I have on the list is the zoo. My husband wants to do the Midway, and I need to get busy with my research for other places. I really want to just hang out at the resort one day. I get the feeling we are going to be exhausted by then!
There is a trolley tour that picks up a block or 2 from the Del that goes to Balboa Park (you can then walk over to the Zoo about 10 mins.) and also has stop near the Midway
Did you love the Del? How was it? I am SO excited to stay there, and was thrilled that I was able to use DVC points to do it. If I had my way I would be laying around the beach all 3 days but I have a feeling that wouldn't fly with my boys! I am considering buying the GO pass...it has LA/San Diego attractions on it.
And... start a pre-trip report!!!!! It is really nice to have an outlet for the planning stuff!
So day 2 began early, with breakfast at Surf's Up. We were heading to San Diego for the day, but wanted to have a little Disney send off, and since this was in our hotel it seemed like the best choice! We had been to this breakfast when it was Lilo and Stitch themed, and I wasn't all that impressed. This time was totally different!
If you want character interaction, this is the place to go!!! We got a photo with Mickey and Minnie (which I won't post because I look awful), and all the characters except Mickey came to our table.
There were a few dance numbers too, with CMs leading and interaction from all of the characters. There were surfing lessons with Mickey and Stitch, and dance parties with everyone else! It was a blast!! We barely had time to eat!
Now, I am vegan (and now gluten free) and this was a challenge here at Surf's Up. They didn't know what to do for me, and didn't walk me through the buffet. They offered to make steamed vegetables and rice, and I said OK. Honestly, that was fine, and healthy, and it was good. I suspect using the word "Vegan" threw the chef off, as I don't think English was his native language. Had I said "No meat, no dairy, no egg" I might have been offered something else. I suspect we will be back on this trip if we stay at PPH again, so I'll try asking for some of the GF waffles they make everywhere else and see what happens. I'm not unhappy with veggies and rice, but I know all the other restaurants in DLR and WDW can do better, so I think this was a fluke. The kids were thrilled, and my food was good, so I'm not unhappy at all. It was just... odd.
Anyway, we got on the Gray Line bus and headed to Sea World. Well, first we headed to the bus depot, where we had to check in and board our official bus. Now, this seemed like a huge waste of time to me, but it was beyond my control so I went with it.
We boarded a double decker bus and sat up top. The kids loved this! Our bus driver looked a lot like Frank Lapidus from LOST>. Given what I know about that show, which is a lot since I've watched the entire thing a few times, this was unsettling. I mean, I knew it would turn out well, but I predicted drama.
We saw surfers and "Army Guys" as my son says. That was a highlight of the whole trip for him. We stopped at a mission, and Frank Lapidus got out and picked peppercorns off a tree and passed them around the bus. It was very random, but kind of cool as I had never really thought about where peppercorns come from (don't they just grow inside the grinders?).
We arrived at Sea World, and dove right in! The kids got to pet a llama (not really sure why there was a llama, but there was!) and pet sea creatures!
Then we headed off to the Dolphin Show!
Now, in every show seating area there are sections marked off as "Soak Zone". It is pretty clear, and most people are prepared. Some people, however, don't fully understand the magnitude of these words, and sit there anyway. Then when this happens:
they run screaming. Luckily, we were far enough away to avoid this and simultaneously delight in watching people run from it.
It isn't just a dolphin show. There are birds, Cirque Du Soleil type performances, and whales:
And synchronized dolphin jumps:
When the show ended, we went to a little sea lion area where you can buy a little tray of dead fish (nummers! :crazy2: ) and feed the sea lions. I don't know who enjoyed this more: the kids or the sea lions!
We went to Pets Rule! which was great, and then we had lunch at Mama Stella's. I was not impressed. It was a cafeteria style "Italian" place, but they didn't know whether they could accommodate my needs. I asked whether the salad dressing had dairy in it and was told "It is Italian dressing." I said yes, I knew that, but did it have any dairy, like parmesan cheese, in it? The woman repeated that it was Italian Dressing, as though that should answer my question. Sorry, but that doesn't answer the question for me. Next time we go, I'm bringing in food for myself. Our dinner experience wasn't much better.
Good thing the shows and animals were so much fun, though! We LOVED the Clyde and Seymore show. The best part is Biff. If you go to the show, go early and watch as he "cleans" in the audience. Most people don't notice him, but he is HILARIOUS!!!
Here is Biff, mid-show:
Another part of the show:
Another reminder to respect the Soak Zone:
And we ended the day with Shamu. Ah, Shamu. I remember seeing Shamu as a kid, and singing the Shamu Disco song for years afterward. I hope my kids enjoyed Shamu as much as I did. Sadly, I think DS just remembers a brave Egret who was hanging out on top of the moving screens in the background. This little fellow was actually awesome, and deserved a show of his own. The screens move, turn, move again, rotate, etc. and the egret just walked on top the whole time. It was like the egret version of an OK GO treadmill video. Totally awesome. But I didn't take photos of the dancing egret, I only have the egret politely waiting for "his" show to begin, atop the screens in the background, and some silly whale jumping out of the water trying to steal the show:
Now imagine the screens parting and turning, and the egret strutting across the top!
If you remember anything from this post, remember to respect the Soak Zone. Big whale = Big Soak Zone. Be prepared.
The bus ride home sucked. We were supposed to be back at the bus by 6:30. We got stuck buying dinner and souvenirs, and were the last to return. This meant we couldn't sit together. Frank Lapidus tried asking if anyone would volunteer to move so I could sit with my then 5 and 7 year old, and literally no one would move, not even the people sitting alone. I tried asking people myself, and people would just ignore me. Frank got mad at me, telling me no one was going to kidnap my kids and I should just let them sit with random strangers because I had no choice. I hated feeling bullied like that. I will never use Gray Line again because of that. DS, age 5 at the time, volunteered to sit downstairs with a family who had a teenaged son. Now, luckily they were awesome, and their son brought him up to visit a few times (and I went down to visit a few times). And DD and I sat upstairs. I hated that bus ride. I also hated it because we were among the last to be dropped off, even though I felt like we passed our hotel several times.
Despite the sucky bus trip, we had a great time at Sea World, and will go back someday.
Ok, you won me over with Frank Lapidus! Boy, do I miss LOST! I am gluten free also, and did Disney World last November for the first time that way. They were awesome with the dietary stuff. Granted, I am not a vegetarian so I had more choices than you would as a GF vegan. My husband is a vegetarian though, so we are potentially a pain in the butt when we go out!
I really need to get going on that trip report/planning. I am working at a day camp as a Special Needs coordinator/Team Building counselor this summer and am too tired at the end of the day to think of writing...I just sit with my laptop and drool over the DIS pics!
I am torn about Sea World and Lego Land. They have both in Orlando now, and we are down there every year, so going in CA isn't topping my list. I keep saying we will get there in FL but we have yet to venture outside of Disney every time we go to Orlando! I can't leave Mickey. It doesn't feel right!
I miss LOST too! Such a good show. I wanted to get a photo of Frank Lapidus, bus driver, but he hated us for being late and I hated him for making us sit all over the bus, so I never took his picture.
So, Sea World was really fun, though I haven't been to the one in Orlando to compare it. We didn't do any rides, and the kids did enjoy the Sesame Street play area (though I forgot to post photos of it, but it is kind of like Redwood Creek HOWEVER there are multiple entrances/exits and I "lost" both kids and kind of panicked inside for a few minutes, and forbid them from going back up. If we ever went back, I'd tell them to stay together and/or make them give me a plan of how they were going up, where they were going, and how they would get down.
We didn't do any rides at all, not sure if you are a rides person but the rides all seemed thrill-ish, and we aren't thrill ride people.
We did do Legoland in Orlando, and I hated it. It was SO out of the way, like 45 minutes from WDW, and so poorly run. In all fairness, we were there 3 months after they opened, but after being at WDW it was such a huge let down for me. The kids loved it, but the rides SUCKED. They were either baby rides or thrill rides, nothing in between. And the one we really wanted to do kept shutting down. Even the lame rides had long, non-moving lines. One thing that really spoils you at Disney is that even if you are waiting in line for 45 minutes, you move. At Legoland you wait for 45 minutes but you barely move, so it feels worse. I think the California one is better, but I have no personal experience. I wouldn't do the FL one, personally. You'd feel like you wasted a Disney day.
Oh I totally get being too tired for the Pre-Trip Report. I'm a substitute teacher (though working 4-5 days a week during the school year) and probably the only reason I'm doing this now is because school is out!
Tonight I'm too tired to post photos. I think I might just sit at the computer and drool over Disney photos myself. :)
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