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Old 09-29-2012, 01:23 PM   #1
madmaxx
Earning My Ears
 
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Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Langley, BC, Canada!
Posts: 72

A Canuck's first trip report

I've lurked on the DIS boards for a few years, especially enjoying the trip reports. This is my first trip report, and hopefully a few of you find it interesting.

We're Canadian, so we look up to our big brother to the south with a sort of awe and curiosity. Your country has a much more vibrant sense of community celebration, in the sense of main streets, county fairs, tailgate parties, parades, and so on, so we always look forward to our visits.

Some prehistory

It's been 3 years since we've visited Disneyland California. It seems like forever.

Our first trip was in September '08. The kids were 7 and 9 and it was perfect. We spent 3 days in the parks, which was a good first taste. None of us had been to Disneyland before and our first steps in the kingdom were absolutely magical. The first few hours were a bit stressful too, but more on that later.

We prepared for our first trip by reading the classic planning books. It's funny to think of planning a trip with a paper bound book now, as things seem to change so quickly in the lands and the books are so huge compared to our smartphones.

We returned from our first trip feeling like the parks were so huge, almost unending. This was an incredible feeling.

Our second trip was a magical 5 days in October '09. It was too short, even though DCA was mostly under construction. Construction on Ariel's ride had just started, the rides on the pier were still undergoing rework, and Carsland was still incubating (I think there were walls up). The construction did not affect our enjoyment of DCA, in fact they left us with a sense of wonder for our next trip. We also mastered the Fastpass system, riding our favourite rides a dozen times or more.

The parks shrank a bit for us on this second trip, as we criss-crossed the parks dozens of times for Fastpasses, parades, and to hit our favourite rides. We noticed the artwork of the parks more on the second trip, and we poured over the paintings, the narratives, and other creative things spread around the parks. We also shopped more, which even for me (a DH) was a lot of fun.

Planning in a post-Carsland era

We had hoped to get back to Disneyland after Carsland was completed. We weren't sure how we would do it, but we knew we had to go again. I'm sure you all understand the addiction, that need for the immersive, imaginative experience.

We have a trick for planning big trips: we buy part of the trip on a whim, which commits us to saving and planning the rest. So one weekend in May this year we were wishing on a star and surfing the web. We visited the Airmiles site. "Look, they have Disneyland tickets!" And so they did. We happened to have enough points to get tickets for the four of us, so we ordered 7 day PHs. Later we found out that the 7 day PHs were discontinued a week after we ordered. Phew!

Once we had the tickets in hand, we were committed. The next question was: where should we stay?

Accommodations around the parks

On our first trip we stayed at the local HOJO. It was a clean, retro hotel. It was aging a bit and a bit noisy, but we were too tired for that to really affect us much.

On our second trip we tried the Ramada Maingate. This was before they finished remodelling their rooms and I really didn't enjoy it. It was dirty (I wore my shoes to bed) and everything in the bathroom was broken. I asked to be moved once, but nothing was available as they were remodelling a row of rooms. By the second day I made peace with the room (again, we were too tired to notice), and they quickly repaired the bathroom fixtures and were very kind about it. I realized that trip, though, that accommodations matter more to me than I realized.

Our dream has always been to stay onsite. DLH is almost 3x more expensive than some of the offsite hotels, but we decided to go for it anyway. We closed our eyes and booked our room, despite the cost. Later, I looked at the price carefully and found that it's actually pretty good value. Between the extra park time with daily early entry and the themed experience, it will be a trip we will never forget.

More planning, namely food

We have about a month until we leave and I've been brushing up on the latest DIS news. This board has been great for that stuff, and I've started compiling tidbits we'll need while in the parks. Mostly that means planning our meals.

We didn't plan our meals at all on our previous trips. We were pretty disappointed with some of our meals, and we couldn't find what we wanted when we craved it. Part of this was just how new we were to the parks and part of it was the old menus (we're excited to try some of the new eats).

We also have an extra challenge this year as our DD decided to go vegetarian more than a year ago. I want to make sure her food is magical too (and not just fries and shakes), so I poured over the menus. I have to say that the new menus are amazing and we're excited about the food more than we expected.

As part of my planning, I compiled a list of all the restaurants we're planning on trying in our 10 days as web page optimized for smartphones (as well as the desktop). The page is missing a few spots we're skipping this year, and it only includes snacks that we don't want to miss.

Transportation

We also booked our flights, finding a great deal from our local airport (YVR).

The flights are a stressful part of the whole experience, as the security stuff is harder for us as our DS can't go through the scanners (due to his pacemaker). He has to be patted down, which is awkward for both him and the airport staff. On our first trip it was especially awkward as we weren't expecting it to be so invasive and it's always a reminder of how fragile he is, so both him and I were off for the rest of the day. That stress wore off quickly once we hit the parks, score 1 for the magic!

This time around it should be better, as our DS is much older, and much more used to the whole process.

And now we wait ...

With our planning done and our last payment coming out next week all we have left to do is to wait. And we're excited!

Last edited by madmaxx; 09-29-2012 at 01:31 PM. Reason: Added details + corrections.
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Old 09-29-2012, 05:07 PM   #2
nzer
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We know that excited feeling.

We're heading over from New Zealand for a 5 week holiday at Christmas and for 2 weeks of that we'll be based in Anaheim. Here in NZ (and Australia) we're able to buy 14 day passes for not too much more than a 5 day pass. Yay!!
I'm the only one in the family who has had any 'disney experience'...but they were EuroDisney in 1993 and Disneyland in '94 so a lot has changed since then.
Our DD's are 10 and 7 and can't wait.

Looking forward to hearning about your trip.
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Old 09-29-2012, 05:55 PM   #3
madmaxx
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A 14 day Disney trip would be awesome.

I'm hoping to take the fam to Disney Paris in a few years as both of our DS kids are studying French in an immersion program here in Canada. It would be a great start to visiting France and neighboring countries too.

We also have not been to WDW yet, so that's on our wish list too. Maybe one day!
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Old 10-05-2012, 05:47 PM   #4
madmaxx
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About the Canucks

Continuing our pre-trip report: a bit about us ...

We're a family of four Canadian Disneyers, currently stationed on the west coast (around Vancouver, B.C.). We live only a few minutes from Washington state and we visit regularly, especially for our special Trader Joe's trips.

My DW has been a huge Disney fan since well before we met. She has a full collection of animated Disney films on VHS, DVD (and now many on Blueray). We have a DD (13) and DS (11), who are now also big Disney fans. And I'm a DH, who is now also a Disney fan who especially enjoys the art and engineering of the park. Oh the details!

Our DD chose to go vegetarian a bit more than a year ago and has stuck with her convictions honourably. As a family, we no longer eat meat at home (with a few exceptions), though my DW, DS and myself sometimes eat meat out (especially sushi). This presents a special challenge for my DD in the parks, so I've done a lot of work finding food that she both will enjoy and can eat. It turns out there are a lot more options for vegetarians at DL, so we're excited to try many of them with her.

It's all in the planning ...

This time around I'm far more excited than the rest of the family. I've been pouring over the boards, food review sites, and other Disney news outlets for months, and have inundated my fam with random Disney trivia and factoids on our car trips all summer. Our kids and wife are now very excited too, and the kids are very thankful that we've told them about the trip ahead of time (we surprised them the first two times).

We're giving each of the kids their own day to plan out. They get to pick the preferred meals and basic plan, and a few alternate ideas in case things don't work out. Our DD has planned a dinner at Ghirardelli Soda Fountain (dessert for dinner makes her giggle), and our DS is aiming for something meaty as we mostly eat vegetarian (which is the average of all of our preferences).

We've also decided to skip the character meals, with a possible exception of Ariel's (as the food was quite good there in 09). The buffets don't really fit how we eat, especially for the price. We also decided to skip the BB this year and eat twice at Cafe Orleans if we can. It's both cheaper and has a few things we prefer (ragout!).

So I have a basic food plan as a set of menus and dishes I think we would enjoy. I was able to find a number of restaurants we missed in past visits, and based on reviews here have pinpointed food that should be super duper. I also have a basic day plan, with our early entry days marked (as we splurged a bit more than planned and are staying at the DLH). We're hoping the early entry thing is worth it, and hope to get a good taste of Carsland over our stay.

That's it for the pre-planning. Now only 4 weeks until we leave!

Last edited by madmaxx; 10-05-2012 at 05:56 PM.
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