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Old 04-06-2013, 02:05 PM   #1
WendyWhy's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: San Francisco
Posts: 160

Two days at DLR during Spring Break!

Just returned from from 2 days at DLR last night and feel the need to make a short trip report to hold on to Disneyland for just a little bit longer...

We are a family of four with a 2.5 yo DD and 6 yo DS, traveling with another family of four with two boys - 3.5 yo and 5.5 yo and a bun-in-the-oven for our good friend and her DH! Our last trip in Nov. 2011 was also with this family and it is such a great way to tour - they are in Modesto and we live in Palo Alto - so we get to have a reunion at Disney and they also have the same commando touring style, we have the same constraints (naps, cranky kids), and we have enough adults to help with FP running, bathroom breaks, etc. I don't think we would really want to go to DL without them!

PREP: We watched/rewatched a bunch of Disney movies to give the rides extra relevance - since our kids don't get to watch TV or movies regularly this was an extra special treat! So glad we got to watch Cars for the first time - I cried at the end!

Ordered Photopass+ - we had gotten something similar last trip but it didn't include ride photos so even with a short trip, I figured it was still worth it. No character dining for us since DD is on the shy side and the boys don't care. We will definitely try character dining when she is older!

Since our Spring Beak was after Easter, I hit up the Easter clearance at Target and got some Darth Vader treats for my friends' boys and DS - and picked up a bunch of random treats/junk for the 6hr car ride down to LA. I also had previously bought DD two adorable Minnie Mouse tees - one for each day of our mini-trip, and DS got a Buzz tee - all clearance buys! Yay!

DAY ONE: Thursday, April 4th - We had spent the night before at my MIL's place 20 minutes away - we woke at the butt-crack of dawn and arrived at PPH at 6:15 AM. Our friends had driven in from Riverside that morning and arrived only a few minutes before us and were already checked in to their WOC-view room. We pre-registered and got our keys but weren't able to check in - probably because we had requested a standard view room and those were all filled up. Bell service was sloooow - there was no one available and another family ahead of us, so we just dropped our bags in our friends' room.

We raced through GCH, DTD and security only to find that there would be no rope drop in Main Street and we were holding at the ticket turnstiles - bummer!! We had gotten there early in the hopes that we would have time to redeem our Photopass voucher and take some of our own pics on Main Street while waiting for rope drop. While waiting the crowds were already starting to look intense. We were flying down Main Street at 7:05 by the time we got through the line.

First stop Peter Pan with no wait. DD was not amused. PP was not one of the movies we watched - I figured since she loved it during our last trip when she was 18 months she would be fine...oops. I am proud of her though - she did not cry, just whined a tiny bit and covered her eyes with her little hand.

No wait for Dumbo or the teacups - both rides a hit with my scaredy-cat DD. Then we split off - everyone else went to ride the Matterhorn while I took DD back to Main Street to get our Photopass card. When I saw the ropes between Main Street and the rest of the park I realized I had no proof of my MM eligibility since DH had everything. The CM said - no problem, just come back to her - so I dashed across the street to the photo supply store - only to be told they were not open till 8!!! Argh.

Matterhorn ended up being a longer line than anticipated and by the time they finished and met me at BLAB, our DL MM was already over! Grabbed ST FPs before riding BLAB with a 5 min wait - again DD self-covered her eyes. Then we ran through the standby line for SM while DH took DD to finally! get our Photopass+ card. The stated wait time for SM standby was 30min but it moved so fast -it felt like 10-15 min tops. Our preggo friend (she is only 17 weeks - still skinny and cant tell she is pregnant) waited in line with us and just exited as we were boarding the ride. Afterwards we were able to redeem our ST FPs even though we were technically about 8 min early, while our girlfriend tracked down DH in line at Pixie Hollow to grab our tickets so she could get FPs for Autotopia.

Then we jumped into a short line for IASW. It was very funny to see how wary DD was until she figured out about halfway through that it was just her speed. Then we hit up Toontown and the boys rode the Go coaster, while DD and I hung at Goofy's Playhouse and had a snack. Our girlfriend had inadvertently turned into our FP runner and ran to get our IJ FPs and then met us at Autotopia.

DD loved Autotopia! She just made the 32" height cut-off and was able to "drive"! Great ride for all of us. Then we headed for Adventureland - we hit up POTC which our family was excited about since it was closed for refurbishment last time. DD hated it but the rest of us loved it. Then the boys tried to redeem their IJ FPs but the ride was down - it was deja vu all over again - this ride was my son's top must-do ride and it had broken down twice while he and DH tride to ride it las time! So, HM was next and again DD hated it but did not cry and simply covered her own eyes. Our friends' 5 yo DS did not want to go on HM either and covered his ears while his dad covered his eyes - he was persuaded to go on by reminding him that our DS didn't want to ride SM but did it anyway. We all survived.

By this time, it was 11:30 and we were getting hungry so we put ourselves on the waitlist for Cafe Orleans. We had a 15 min wait so we walked through Tarzan's treehouse and had a potty break before getting our table for 8. DH, DS and I shared the chicken sandwich and a salad, DD got the salmon. Shortly after ordering we noticed alot of people had the Monte Cristos and we ordered one to share - OMG, so crazy delicious. DH and DD did not really care for it - not a fan of fried foods in general, but DS and I loved it. I will dream of it for a while...I was really pleased with the service - frequent refills of our lemonade and cokes which was really nice. We had a big table in the shade and could people watch and just have a really nice relaxing lunch!

Last edited by WendyWhy; 04-06-2013 at 04:13 PM.
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Old 04-06-2013, 02:43 PM   #2
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Part 2:

After lunch - the big boys went to try IJ again since according to Mousewait it was back up. Since the ride was down during their FP time they were still able to use them. They said later they had arrived at the right time because it was a zoo afterward! My friend and I took the little ones to Winnie the Pooh after getting FPs for Splash - the line was not bad but DD was starting to get whiny and she didn't really care about the ride anymore.

We met back in Adventureland - the boys proclaimed IJ as their new favorite ride! We were getting hot and tired so I called PPH but they couldn't tell me that they had a room ready or when they would but assured me that rooms are guaranteed by 3pm. It was about 1:50 - so we decided to hop into a 30 min line for Jungle Cruise, then head back to PPH. On our walk back, I did notice that people were already starting to claim curb seats for the parade. Yikes! In that heat I know I wouldn't have been able to do it. We had our FP runner grab ST FPs for a repeat ride that night.

There was no wait at the PPH front desk - and I headed up to the room with the kids while DH went to get our bags from our friends' room. When we arrived, I was shocked that we had the most stunning view of DCA! We were overlooking the water and the Mickey Funwheel and were up on the 13th floor - it was amazing! When DH came back with our bags he was really surprised because he said our view was even better than our friends' who had requested/paid for a WOC room, whereas I specifically requested the "cheapest room available." it must have just been dumb luck because I never slipped anyone a $20, and even when they asked if we were celebrating anything special (ie. birthday or anniversary) or if I had any special room requests - I said, "Nope!" It was truly a wonderful surprise!

The boys headed to the pool and DD and I got cleaned up and tried to nap. Even though she did not fall asleep - she was happy to be out of the heat and the lines. While we were resting, room service came and dropped off a big plate of chocolate dipped Mickey rice krispie treats - complimentary!

DS loved the pool and slides and DH loved the hot tub. We decided with our friends to let go of the Splash Fastpass which would have required us to get back to the park by 4:15 - and ended up not leaving PPH until 5:20.

We headed to the castle and got our pictures taken. We saw lines to take pics with Mickey and Minnie but DD preferred to wave from a distance. Then we went to Carnation Cafe where we had dinner reservations. It was crowded! Even with reservations - we had to wait 15 min likely bc our group was big. We had a big outside table in the back but were still able to get a partial view of the parade - it was perfect! We got an order of fried pickles to share - eh, not for us. I got the shrimp penne in cream sauce which I thought was pretty good but DD didn't care for it. DS got the child's meal of fried chicken which was pitifully small - one fried chicken tender and a small scoop of mashed potatoes! Sad. DH had the meatloaf which he ended up sharing with DS. Again - good, friendly service.

It was starting to get dark and we were still tired but figured we could rest and digest in line for Nemo. The line was 45 min - but when you're chatting with friends it only feels like 35 min. DD adored Finding Nemo so I thought she would love it but she was so tired that she passed out about halfway through. At that point, I decided to take her back to PPH while the boys rode ST again and got ice cream.

When DH and DS got back they were able to catch the last half of WOC from our room. They were able to see the fireworks too but the view was at an angle - so they were able to get a better view from a big window in the hall and ended up chatting with some very nice neighbors! After quick showers, everyone was knocked out before 10. An amazing first day!

Last edited by WendyWhy; 04-06-2013 at 04:17 PM.
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Old 04-06-2013, 04:09 PM   #3
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Part 3: DCA

DAY 2: Friday, April 5th - Up bright and early again, checked out, left our bags with bell services and left the hotel at 6:40 and met our friends in line at the turnstiles for DCA - again no rope drop inside the park. We tried wide right but as we entered Carsland, there was a CM there telling everyone that RSR was down!! Ack!

Our friend's DH waited in line for RSR FPs. Our DH waited by RSR with instructions to call when it reopened while we rode TSMM. DH texted while we were riding that RSR was back up - DS was sad because we couldn't ride TSMM again when the CM asked if we wanted to go again without getting out! We raced to RSR - my friend took DD, while DH and I had all three boys since our friend's DH was still in line for FPs. The wait had already swelled to 45 min! Yikes.... I got a rider swap and our friends got us Screamin' and Soarin FPs while we waited.

Obviously, it was totally worth the wait! Amazing ride - I didnt really know what to expect so I enjoyed it that much more. There were no Photopass pics and we were told it would be down all day!! So that was a bummer

We then met up and rode Luigi's and Maters with only minimal waits. Fun for everyone. Then we were able to use our RSR FPs - this time Photopass was up - but only for cars that were on the track for getting their tires changed and not for the ones who got spray painted. Guess which track we were on?

We got some other pictures in Carsland and then headed to Screamin' to use our FPs. We had to bribe DS with a churro but he rode with us while ur friend watched the little ones. Cool ride! There were some extra Screamin' FPs so two in our group rode that again while the rest did the carousel. Then it was churro time! The dads waited for churros while the rest of us waited in line to ride TSMM again. A 45 min line with a churro only feels like a 40 min line! Our girlfriend decided partway in the TSMM line to jump out with her youngest DS to run to DL for SM FPs (they had hoppers - we didn't).

After TSMM we all met up but my friend's DS was melting down bc he didn't understand that they only headed to SM to get FPs and not actually ride. We decide to let go of our Soarin FPs and go eat. We had reservations for lunch at Carthay Circle - it was our family's first time and our friends' favorite DLR restaurant. In retrospect, I am glad we tried it but it was just not that fun. It is an absolutely lovely restaurant - a perfect date night place. Impeccable service. I had the steak flank Cobb salad - yum. DH only got a beet salad for his entree - he wasnt hungry and was in a bit of a bad mood (annoying work related email chain). We did get the cheesy biscuits to share - they were alot smller than expected but really tasty. Our friends' entrees - lamb pasta, soup and salad -also looked amazing...but the kids' items off the kids' menu was a joke. Two of the boys ordered the mini tacos - there were two sorry looking tacos that looked like the cost about $0.25 to make, and the other two kids had the oriechette pasta with tomato sauce which was simply inedible. How did they mess up pasta with tomato sauce? We won't be back.

After lunch, we split up - our friends went to get our second set of Soarin FPs and head to DL. We went to ride Monsters Inc since DD really liked the movie - she had decided that she was actually in the movie as Boo since they basically look just like each other! Anyhoo - she did NOT like the ride after all - oops. We picked up ToT FPs for two of our friends - we used our tix since they were in DL. Then headed over to Animation Academy for a place to take a break but just missed the Turtle Talk showing. We got some pictures, then went to the 2:15 Disney Jr show. We ended up sitting towards the back - and though we went for DD, our DS really liked it too! Very cute show.

We headed back to Turtle Talk and the kids just loved it - again, it was adorable.
At this point, our friends are back at DCA and the boys meet at Grizzly River Run with a plan to ride Soarin with FP afterward. (GRR ends up breaking down while they were in line.) I take DD to LM - she was OK with it but shook her head "no" when I asked her if she wanted to ride again. The two of us watched the Phineas and Ferb dance show which was right outside LM. I was amazed because there was this little Asian girl who was dressed exactly like the dancers - some kind of girl scout uniform - and knew all the dance moves! It was like the dancers had a mini-me! So cute!

After this, we met our friends at It's tough to be a Bug - and I took DD to Flik's Fun Fair. She just wanted to sit - so we got drinks and frozen lemonade - took pictures, etc. When we met up, the two daredevils who rode ToT were so thrilled that they were able to use the FPs even though the return time was at 8:30 - don't know how that happened!

We walked back to Paradise Pier to ride Goofy's Sky school - our friend had gotten us FPs while we were in the Disney Jr show. Since there were only 4 FPs - I rode with all three boys, fun fun! I rode with my friends' youngest DS and he was laughing at my screaming the whole time!

The boys wanted to do the Wilderness training thing over by GRR - so we headed that way when we saw the start of the Pixar Play Parade. Since there was plenty of curb seating, we plunked down and caught the parade - the kids (especially my DD) loved it, especially the bubbles.

We had never gone to that Wilderness training place before but it was great. Everyone had a great time running around and they even did a short zip line! My DD just liked chasing the boys and going up and down the slide. After about 30 min, our friends decide it's time to get going. So we said goodbye to our friends and we then headed to RSR for one last ride at around 6:30pm.

We used our rider swap from the morning and DH sat with DD. The FP line moved fast and at the top of the queue I asked for a car that went through the Luigi tire change but was told it is pure 50-50 chance based on car spacing. We WERE able to go through Luigi's this time - though the pic is not great since my hair is flying over my face and DS is still a shorty. The other side with the spray paint was still down for pictures.

We get more pictures and then try to decide whether to do a sit down dinner or just grab a snack before getting our car at PPH. We end up deciding on corn dogs at Paradise Pier - that way we get one more stroll through the park before we have to leave. Anyway, I think we started a quasi-tradition of getting a treat before leaving DLR from the last trip as a way to try to lessen the pain of having to leave! The corndogs were perfect and we finally left through GCH before walking back to PPH. Getting our bags from bell service was easy and fast, the valet took 10-15 minutes. The lobby was absolutely packed with a hundred high school kids in matching tees - glad to have missed them but sad to be leaving ourselves!

Last edited by WendyWhy; 04-06-2013 at 04:25 PM.
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Old 04-06-2013, 07:39 PM   #4
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Great report with interesting detail--Thanks! How fun to travel with friends twhom you actually enjoy and don't hinder you in any way. Thanks for sharing about Carthay Circle--I believe we'll give it a pass--too nervous to pay inflated prices and then be disappointed.
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Old 04-06-2013, 10:26 PM   #5
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Great trip report, thank you for taking the time to write it!
1996 - ASMu
2004 - ASMo and POFQ
2005 - POP
2007 - POP
2008 - POFQ
2011 - Beach Club and POFQ
2012 - CSR
2013 - DL
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Old 04-07-2013, 04:10 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Cheshirecatty View Post
Great report with interesting detail--Thanks! How fun to travel with friends twhom you actually enjoy and don't hinder you in any way. Thanks for sharing about Carthay Circle--I believe we'll give it a pass--too nervous to pay inflated prices and then be disappointed.
Thanks! Wish we could go with our friends every time! I think Carthay would still be a great place for foodies without kids who are either not price-conscious or willing to splurge - not for us!
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Old 04-07-2013, 04:11 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by undertheseas View Post
Great trip report, thank you for taking the time to write it!
Thank you! Writing it helps me remember what happened and let me relive it! Already missing it!
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Old 04-07-2013, 10:56 AM   #8
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Thanks for sharing! We head to DLR next week for just 3 days and my kids are 3 and 6 so I was particularly curious to see how your DD handled some rides. Sounds like a great trip (though I hope they fix the RSR cameras as we, too, bought the Photopass+!).
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