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Old 04-24-2012, 09:19 PM   #1
dougsmom98
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WDW Vets Take on DL and Hollywood!

We have been to Disney World eight times. This year, I turned 40, and I wanted to do something big and I couldn't think of anything better than to go to Disneyland for the first time! So over a year ago, the planning started. We first considered Presidents Week in February because that is the week we usually go to Florida, but as I researched, I started to worry that the weather might be too cold for us and I had also read that in the low season, there are often a lot of refurbishments. Given that my DH and I are both teachers, the only other option was for us to go during our spring break, which was April 14-21. Luckily it did not fall the week before or after Easter, because we know that is a super busy time. So, it was decided, we would go then. So, here are the players:

Me - Amy - 40 years old
DH - John - 41 years old
DS#1 - Douglas - 13 years old
DS#2 - Matthew - 11 years old
DS#3 - Mark - 11 years old
DD - Melissa - 6 years old


April 13th - My DH coaches my son and the 7th grade baseball team, so he had practice from 2:00-4:00 pm. I am coaching my DD's eight and under softball team and we had practice from 3-4:30. By the time we all got home and finished unpacking baseball/softball equipment from our vehicles and replacing it with luggage, we did not hit the road until 5:45. The plan was to drive three hours to Boston tonight, stay in a hotel, and then use an offsite airport parking service. We had to stop at Wal Mart on the way down to pick up some breakfast items and we also stopped at McDonalds for dinner. We arrived at our hotel at almost 10 pm. We stayed at the Homewood Suites in Billerica. This room was great. It had two queen size beds in one room, a pull out couch in the other room that was connected to a kitchen area. We only paid $113 including taxes and fees for a AAA rate. It included free hot breakfast but that didn't start until 7 am on the weekends and we needed to leave at 6:45. I would definitely stay here again though. The room was great. It was 30 minutes from the airport and we would have preferred a place that did park, stay and fly, but none of the ones in our budget slept six and we couldn't afford two rooms. Here are a few pictures of the room:

The kitchen area:


The two queen beds:


My very tired 6 year old:


My very tired 11 year old, Mark:


Because it was so late, we pretty much got to the room and went to bed.

Up next - A long day of travel to the west coast and checking into our hotel.
__________________
-Amy
DH, John ME, Amy
DS 15, Douglas DS 13, Matthew DS 13, Mark DD 9, Melissa

Up next - Off Site @ Grand Reserve April, 2015
1st Trip Dec 2002 - Holiday Inn Nicki Bird, 2nd Trip June 2004 - Fantasy World Villas, 3rd Trip Feb 2006 - Windsor Palms, 4th Trip Feb 2007 - Regal Palms, 5th Trip Feb 2008 - Solana Resort, 6th Trip Feb 2009 - Windwood Bay, 7th Trip Feb 2010 - Grand Reserve, 8th trip Feb 2011 - Grand Reserve, 9th trip Feb 2012 Grand Reserve, 10th trip April 2012 Disney Land - Castle Inn and Suites, 11th trip Feb 2013 Grand Reserve, 12th Trip Feb 2014 Grand Reserve
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Old 04-24-2012, 09:35 PM   #2
KCmike
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I'm along for the ride. Can't resist a WDW vet going to DL for the first time thread. I was in your shoes back in 2007 and haven't looked back. DL is my home park now. I love Walt's original and still the best park period! Can't wait to see the results. 3 hour time difference right? It was two hours for us.
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Old 04-24-2012, 11:07 PM   #3
eargal
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That's one tall 11 year old you have there! I have an almost 11 year old about that size myself and I still did a double take!
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Old 04-25-2012, 04:35 AM   #4
dougsmom98
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eargal View Post
That's one tall 11 year old you have there! I have an almost 11 year old about that size myself and I still did a double take!
Yeah, he is taller than me. My DH is 6 feet 5 inches, so they get it from him. I am 5 foot 2.5 inches. DS's twin brother is not as tall as him. Most people think my 13 year old and the tall 11 year old pictured are the twins.
__________________
-Amy
DH, John ME, Amy
DS 15, Douglas DS 13, Matthew DS 13, Mark DD 9, Melissa

Up next - Off Site @ Grand Reserve April, 2015
1st Trip Dec 2002 - Holiday Inn Nicki Bird, 2nd Trip June 2004 - Fantasy World Villas, 3rd Trip Feb 2006 - Windsor Palms, 4th Trip Feb 2007 - Regal Palms, 5th Trip Feb 2008 - Solana Resort, 6th Trip Feb 2009 - Windwood Bay, 7th Trip Feb 2010 - Grand Reserve, 8th trip Feb 2011 - Grand Reserve, 9th trip Feb 2012 Grand Reserve, 10th trip April 2012 Disney Land - Castle Inn and Suites, 11th trip Feb 2013 Grand Reserve, 12th Trip Feb 2014 Grand Reserve
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Old 04-25-2012, 05:53 AM   #5
tessieg
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I am excited to read this report as well! We too are WDW vets, we used to live in FL and have gone at least two dozen times. In June we are taking our 3 kids on a California adventure starting in San Francisco and heading south. Can't wait to hear your thoughts on DL and Hollywood!!!
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Old 04-25-2012, 07:35 AM   #6
dougsmom98
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Saturday, April 14 - We got up at 5:30 am, showered, ate pastries for breakfast and then packed up the car. We needed to drop the car off at Preflight parking and take a shuttle to the airport. We got a great deal on parking for the week. We prepaid so it was only $86 including all taxes and fees. I would recommend Preflight parking. It was quick and easy. We parked and a shuttle drove up behind our car and helped us with our luggage. We got in, the driver handed us a piece of paper to help locate our car when we got back, and we were off. It was a quick 10 minute drive to the airport. We had checked in and printed off our boarding passes the day before so we just needed to get through security and we were all set. Security was pretty painless. My kids are used to flying so they know what to expect and we pretty much have it down. While we were waiting at our gate, the agent kept announcing that the flights were oversold and they were looking for passengers to get voluntarily bumped for $400 in travel vouchers per person. My husband checked and they only needed 3 passengers and they could only get us to Texas tonight so we did not take the bump. I was secretly relieved. So, we patiently waited for our flight and loaded the plane at 8:20.

Here is my oldest and one of the twins waiting for the plane.


I was nervous because we only had a 50 minute layover to catch our connection in Dallas Fort Worth, so I was hoping that there were no glitches and that our gate was not too far from where we landed. Our connecting gate ended up being fairly far away, but they have the Skylink train that goes from one terminal to another so that was perfect. We are used to making connections in Chicago where you have to walk from one terminal to another, so this was a treat. By the time we got to our gate, they were 3/4 of the way done boarding the plane. We knew we wouldn't have time for lunch at the airport, so we brought lots of snacks. On this flight our seats were split up. For some reason, five seats were together and one was 6-7 rows back. I ended up in the seat that was 6-7 rows back because my DH likes to sit next to my DD because he is tall and she is little and he gets more leg/seat room sitting next to her. It was kind of disappointing not sitting next to everyone else but I did get a window seat so I could look at the sights. I couldn't believe how pretty it was flying into California. I am not sure what I expected, but there were beautiful mountains and canyons and riverbeds. Some of the mountains were snow capped. It was really cool. If you fly into California and you have the chance to look out the window, make sure you do for the last 30-45 minutes. Around 2:50 Pacific Time, we arrived in California and landed at SNA (John Wayne - Santa Ana Airport). Since we didn't check any luggage, all we had to do was get off the plane and find the car rental locations. Along the way we saw this statue and had to get our picture taken in front of it.

Here is one with me and the kids:


Here is one with my DH, John and the kids.


We rented our car through Budget. We got a minivan for $300 including all taxes and fees. We have rented through Budget in Florida before and we have always liked their vans, but the van we got here didn't seem as clean/spiffy as the ones in Florida. Oh well, it was only a minor detail. We couldn't believe how quick the drive from SNA to Anaheim was. It took 20 minutes. My brother and his friend Diane were meeting us on this trip and they flew into LAX. Their flights arrived at 1:00 pm. When we got in the minivan, I texted them to see where they were, and they said they were in stop and go traffic. I am so glad that we found less expensive flights to SNA and didn't have to deal with the traffic.

We had booked a family suite at the Castle Inn and Suites on Harbor Boulevard. I was a little nervous about staying here because hardly anyone on Disboards has stayed here before and a few that have did not give it good reviews. We chose it though because it had 2 Queen beds in one area and 1 King bed in another room separated by a door. We are used to renting 5 bedroom 4 bath villas in Florida and having lots of room to spread out, so we were nervous about staying in a hotel for a week and wanted to make sure the kids had their space and we had our space. The hotel also fit our budget. We paid $1048.32 for 7 nights. A few weeks before our trip, I almost cancelled the reservation because yelp.com had some really bad reviews. Luckily, that same week, someone from the Disboards had stayed there and posted a good review, so I kept the reservation. I am glad we did.





This hotel is really a motel. It definitely could use some sprucing up, but the rooms were clean even if they were outdated. We walked around on the carpet and our feet didn't get black or dirty and there wasn't any mold or evidence of pests in the room. I forgot to take pictures early in the trip but here are some pictures later on. Excuse our mess in the room, we were on the go so much that it was always messy.

My son, Matthew is in this photo.




Refrigerator, coffee maker, and microwave in the room.


Television - Someone on yelp.com said that the TV was super old. Well, we just got rid of a TV like this in our home 3 months ago, so I didn't think it was too bad.


Bathroom - there was also a separate sink in the double queen bedroom that is not pictured.


Up next settling in at the hotel, impressions of the area, and our first day in Hollywood.
__________________
-Amy
DH, John ME, Amy
DS 15, Douglas DS 13, Matthew DS 13, Mark DD 9, Melissa

Up next - Off Site @ Grand Reserve April, 2015
1st Trip Dec 2002 - Holiday Inn Nicki Bird, 2nd Trip June 2004 - Fantasy World Villas, 3rd Trip Feb 2006 - Windsor Palms, 4th Trip Feb 2007 - Regal Palms, 5th Trip Feb 2008 - Solana Resort, 6th Trip Feb 2009 - Windwood Bay, 7th Trip Feb 2010 - Grand Reserve, 8th trip Feb 2011 - Grand Reserve, 9th trip Feb 2012 Grand Reserve, 10th trip April 2012 Disney Land - Castle Inn and Suites, 11th trip Feb 2013 Grand Reserve, 12th Trip Feb 2014 Grand Reserve

Last edited by dougsmom98; 04-25-2012 at 02:15 PM.
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Old 04-25-2012, 04:33 AM   #7
dougsmom98
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KCmike View Post
I'm along for the ride. Can't resist a WDW vet going to DL for the first time thread. I was in your shoes back in 2007 and haven't looked back. DL is my home park now. I love Walt's original and still the best park period! Can't wait to see the results. 3 hour time difference right? It was two hours for us.
We also LOVED DL. I was prepared to be disappointed based on some of the posts on the Disneyland forum, but we weren't disappointed in the least.
__________________
-Amy
DH, John ME, Amy
DS 15, Douglas DS 13, Matthew DS 13, Mark DD 9, Melissa

Up next - Off Site @ Grand Reserve April, 2015
1st Trip Dec 2002 - Holiday Inn Nicki Bird, 2nd Trip June 2004 - Fantasy World Villas, 3rd Trip Feb 2006 - Windsor Palms, 4th Trip Feb 2007 - Regal Palms, 5th Trip Feb 2008 - Solana Resort, 6th Trip Feb 2009 - Windwood Bay, 7th Trip Feb 2010 - Grand Reserve, 8th trip Feb 2011 - Grand Reserve, 9th trip Feb 2012 Grand Reserve, 10th trip April 2012 Disney Land - Castle Inn and Suites, 11th trip Feb 2013 Grand Reserve, 12th Trip Feb 2014 Grand Reserve
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