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Old 04-14-2013, 01:16 PM   #1
cohoman
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Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: Seattle,WA
Posts: 20

Spring Break Trip Report (Apr 8th-12th)

I took my 3 kids (16, 13, and 9 year-old) to Disneyland last week and here's my report for anyone who is interested:

We arrived in Orange County at the SNA airport and after getting our luggage took a cab to the Disney Grand Californian Hotel. We decided to take a cab instead of the Disney Shuttle Bus since we didn't want to wait around and have to stop at every hotel along the way. In 30 mins, we were at our hotel for the price of $40.

We arrived around noon, so our room wasn't ready yet (checkin is at 3pm). The hotel held our luggage for us and gave us our park passes, so we ventured off into DCA (the hotel would send me a text message when our room was ready). Very smooth checkin and transition to the park.

Being spring break time, we were expecting huge crowds but was pleasantly surprised to find both DL and DCA parks not too busy. Most rides were only 10-20 min wait times. I think most of the Spring Breakers visited the park last month or the previous weeks.

The weather was great (especially for us coming in from Seattle!), as it was sunny and in the 70-80's degs all week. So we were in shorts and T-shirts during our entire stay.

Staying at the GCH gave us "Magic Morning" access to the park every day, which means we could get in 1-hour early before the park opens to the public. This was a huge benefit, as it allowed us to ride a lot of the rides with virtually no wait times. In fact, one morning we were literally the only people walking down the Hollywood backlot street!

Note, that not all rides are operating during the magic hour in either park. For DL they only opened up Main Street, Tomorrowland, and Fantasyland. For DCA, they had the Radiator Springs Racers, California Screamin, Tower of Terror, and just a few other rides running during the magic hour. But, you can ride all of these attractions in that one hour period faster than during normal park hours. Also, you're inside the park just before it officially opens so you can head to your favorite ride (like Indiana Jones or Splash Mountain) and be the first one on!

Another note, is that being at the hotel allowed us to use the Magic Hour everyday, but we could only get into DL on monday, weds, and fri and DCA on tues, thurs. So there are specific days which you can use those options.

The biggest new attraction is Cars Land in DCA. They opened up the Buena Vista area with new shops and eateries, and Cars Land looks just like Radiator Springs from the Cars movie. Luigi's Flying Tires ride was actually not that exciting, as the "flying cars" didn't really move very much. The big attraction was the Radiator Springs Racers, where you sit in a car and go inside a mountain to see the Cars characters come to life. At the end, the race begins and you fly down a raceway (actually traveling fairly fast) with some up-and-down roadway.

With regards to the Racers ride, there was a HUGE line just to get Fastpass tickets for it. I'd never seen such a long line in my life, as it wrapped around down to the Hollywood Backlot street area. If you want a Fastpass for this ride (and don't have the Magic Morning option), get in line first thing. There's also the "Single Riders" line which is a good option for the Racers ride.

These ended up being our favorite rides at DCA:

Calfornia Screamin Roller Coaster (rode this a thousand times)
Tower of Terror
Soarin over California
Toy Story Mania
Grizzly River Run (prepared to get wet!)
Radiator Springs Racers (only rode this once)

Favorite places to eat in DCA:

Clarabell's Hand-Scooped Ice Cream (great waffle cones)
Paradise Pier Bakery Cafe (great cinnamon rolls)
Fifer Cafe (for Starbucks fix)

So far as Disneyland, there wasn't much change from the last time we had visited about 1.5 years ago. We did the standard rides and shopping. Starcade is a video game arcade shop which had the "Fix-it Felix" video game from the movie "Wreak-it Ralph" which was cute. That arcade was fully functional and free, so you could play it as much as you want.

The Autopia ride broke down while were were in line which was disappointing. But most of the other rides were running ok all week.

Our favorite rides in DL park:

Splash Mountain
Indiana Jones
Buzz Astro Blasters
Winnie the Pooh
Train Ride
Nemo Submarine
Monorail

For the most part, we stayed in DCA as that park had most of the newer attractions.

One thing to note: We has several pictures taken by the Disney photographers at different locations in both parks. You use the "Photopass" card, and can see your pictures later online for purchase. We noticed that they photoshop out the people standing in the background so you only see your family and the scenic view!

We also visited Downtown Disney for shopping, quick snacks, and lunch/dinner. Tortilla Joe's was our choice for lunch (they have a great tableside Avocado dip), and we also visited Jamba Juice, Wetzels Preztels, and La Brea Cafe for a good breakfast.

On our 4th day we decided to take a break from DL and visit the near by beaches. Luckily, we were able to rent a car from Alamo's on-site office at the far West end of Downtown Disney (behind Earl of Sandwich) for $37/day. We drove down to Newport Beach but was disappointed because the weather was cloudy and very windy at the beach. In hindsight, it might have better to drive down to San Diego for the day. Renting from Alamo was great, since their cars are on site right across from the GCH (in the self-parking lot).

By the 5th day, we had seen and done everything, and were ready to head home. We checked out at 11am and spend the rest of the day by the hotel pool and visting Downtown Disney again. Note, that the restrooms adjacent to the pool area of the hotel (South end) has showers, so we were able to clean up before changing out of our bathing suits and dressed for the trip to the airport.

We got a flat-rate voucher from the hotel guest services ($35 price for a cab ride to the airport) and had the bell captain arrange for a waiting cab to take us to the SNA airport.

We didn't know what to expect at the airport so far as checkpoint lines, but discovered that there were absolutely no lines at all (at 6:30p). We breezed through the checkpoint and waited for our departure time, with all our electronic devices charging at the seating area that had a huge powerstrip running down the backside.

In all, it was a great trip allowing us to get out of the Seattle rain for one week and enjoy the great Southern Calif sun. DL and DCA wasn't too busy, and the GCH stay was great as usual. My wife and I agreed that we probably won't be back again for a while, so this may be our last big family trip to Disneyland with the whole gang!
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Old 04-14-2013, 01:46 PM   #2
tksbaskets
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Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: SE Michigan
Posts: 4,082

Sounds like you had a fun family vacation! Thank you for sharing your experience.
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