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Old 12-19-2012, 11:10 AM   #1
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QueenDoOver's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Mukilteo
Posts: 1,708

Never a Dull Moment...

I wasn't going to do a trip report, but after returning, I felt like I had a few experiences that might help the next person a bit with planning.

My trip was very last minute, planned in about 20 days and without much time put into planning at all, since I was also in the middle of moving my household. It all came about due to the move really. And the fact that my son turned 10 on Thanksgiving day. I was desperate not to do a party or buy any more toys that would have to be moved. So I threw out there one day, "how about if we just go to Disneyland to celebrate your birthday". Both he and his Dad thought that was a great idea, so our trip was born.

Budget was important, so I started searching for great hotel deals. Couldn't find any reasonable rates, but then read about a great hotwire rate at Castle Inn and Suites. Well, I had read some bad reviews of this place so I was concerned but since it was the only place that sort of fit my budget, I decided to go for it. Of course it was a non refundable rate, but at $59 a night, I felt like it was worth it. I will say, we usually stay at the HOJO and love it there, but they didn't have any low rates available at 20 days out, so I passed them up. And then just 3 days before my trip they sent out an email with my dates for their super low rates. I was bummed! But seriously HOJO, I think you could have opened those dates up a little sooner. Anyhow...I sent an email ahead to Castle Inn and explained that I was traveling with my son alone and wanted a room near the front office for security reasons. I had a quick reply back from them, and they indicated that it shouldn't be a problem. (I was hopeful at this point!)

We had free airfare on Southwest, so that is who we took, and flying into LAX used significantly less points, so I had booked it that way. I had to change planes, but that is the way it is with Southwest, so I was prewarned. But a 5 hour trip to go from Seattle to California is a little long!

I planned to take the Disneyland Express bus, based on their advertisement of character wrapped buses and movies on the way, and leaving every 30 minutes etc, as well as the price. Upon arrival, the bus never showed up. When I called, they told me they were on an hourly schedule. So we ended up waiting for 45 minutes on the curb. Bus finally showed up and then circled the airport for 30 minutes before leaving and driving in major traffic, finally arrived at the Disneyland Hotel, where they put our luggage on the curb and told us to haul it to the other bus which would then take us to our hotels. There was no indication about this at all in their brochure. Then we were the last drop so our total time from getting off the plane to hotel was 3 and 1/2 hours. Because of the bad information, we couldn't get food and it was a miserable time. I was already practically in tears from frustration by the time I got to the hotel.

Upon arrival, we were checked into our room at the farthest corner possible from the front desk. We hauled our luggage to our room and I was appalled, as this was not what I had asked for at all, and I knew that I would be fighting my fears the entire trip. So we dropped our bags and grabbed our stuff for the park, and on our way, I stopped into the office and told them my concerns. I was obviously on the verge of tears, and I just told them we were going to the parks and to please, please call me with a new room. I have to say, the room itself was totally fine. Clean and spacious. The people at the front desk were very kind and understood my concerns. They called me within an hour with a new room. They just gave us a free upgrade to a suite in the front of the complex. I really appreciated this, as I felt it was so much safer. Again the room was clean and I really had no issues. Sure there was a bit of mildew in the caulking, but I've had that at the Disneyland Hotel itself. It had decor that I would expect for the star level. But it was totally fine and doable for the price and location. I would stay there again. I would say the walk felt exactly the same as the walk to and from the HOJO. I did miss Mimi's and McDonalds though.

I would NEVER take the Disneyland Express Shuttle again from the airport, unless I happened to be staying at the Disneyland Hotel. I will also avoid LAX if at all possible. In fact, I cancelled and rebooked our flight home to go from SNA. I just couldn't bear to fly out of LAX again. And then I did my favorite trick for getting to the airport...I rented a car from Alamo in Downtown Disney. It was $27. It uses so little gas that I don't even have to stop and fuel up. And I got to go when I wanted to...So much better!

Anyhoo, that was the ins and outs of getting to and from and where we stayed. I will be back to add a bit about our park experiences too.
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