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Old 08-20-2010, 07:44 AM   #1
Sjwillia
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PTR – Grandma’s FUN times – 9/18/10 to 9/24/10

Hello Everyone,
This is my very first attempt at a trip report. The DIS is my first and only experience with discussion boards at all, so I am really a novice here. I found this forum as I was searching for money saving tips for a planned Disney trip. I really hit the jackpot with the wealth of information I found here. I planned to be just a lurker, maybe ask a question or two, but just gather as much knowledge as possible. Then I started writing down tips and strategy notes and found it kind of fun. So here I am trying a trip report.

First a little about my previous Disneyland experiences.

Trip #1 was in 1959 when I was 10 years old. I flew to California in a propeller driven plane alone to spend several weeks with my Aunt, Uncle and ‘favorite’ older cousin. I sat in the last row of the plane with the stewardesses and was all dressed up in by Easter dress complete with white gloves. I was exhausted after the flight and fell asleep in the car ride to their house until my cousin excitedly shook me awake to point out the Matterhorn as we drove by. I was too tired to be impressed with that mountain but I changed my mind a few days later when we went to Disneyland and saw it close up. I thought that mountain was just a little TOO awesome, and much to my cousin’s dismay, there was no way I was getting on that tide.

My 2nd trip was a year later. Mom, Dad, my brother and I drove down 101 to spend a couple weeks with the same Aunt, Uncle and ‘favorite’ cousin. This is the trip where I got LOST in Disneyland. Times were different then. In the afternoon my Mom and Aunt found a cool lounge at the Disneyland Hotel and my brother, teenage cousin and I were left to explore Disneyland on our own. We were to meet back at the Main Street train station at a certain time and of course stay together. I was tired of the shooting gallery, where my brother would stay all day, and I took off on my own. My poor cousin, who was supposed to be in charge, didn’t know what to do. It seemed to get dark really fast after that and things just don’t look the same – especially when they start turning off the lights. I knew I needed to get to the Main Street train station so I got on the train but I just did not recognize the right stop. The train finally stopped running completely so I had to off. I have no idea where I was or how I got there, but finally a lady re-painting hippopotamus heads (yes – I remember those hippo heads very clearly even now!) took me to Lost and Found where my frantic mother was waiting. Oh, and I still would not ride those Matterhorn bobsleds.

My 3rd and 4th trips were with my own 3 kids in 1981 and 1984. In ’81 I pushed my 7 year old daughter around in a wheel chair. She had a cast on the ankle she broke a week before the trip by jumping down the stairs on a dare from her older brother. In ’84 I first tried, and learned to enjoy rollercoasters. Well some rollercoasters - not the metal monstrosities at state fairs, but BMRR became my favorite ride with SM a close second - but I still did not ride the Matterhorn.

Trip # 5 was in May of 2004 with my oldest DGD, and DGS and their mother, DSD (Danielle). DGD turned 7 on this trip and DGS was a week shy of 5. Since there were just 4, of us I could afford one room at the DLH. On this trip I discovered Fastpass machines in the park and had no clue what Magic Morning was. There was SOOO much I didn’t know! Maybe ignorance is bliss as we still had a wonderful time! DGD was in the Princess and autograph phase. I had my first character meal experience a GK for DGD’s birthday. Loved it! We didn’t know anything about Ariel’s Grotto but happened by for lunch one day – no PS but a short wait. What a wonderful experience for DGD - and me too. I stayed with DGD while DD and DGS rode the Matterhorn. I still did not conquer that mountain!


Trip # 6 was early April 2008. I met the twins - DGD(7) and DGS(7) with their parents in Anaheim. We stayed at the Doubletree and used the ART. It was a very nice hotel and a comfortable room with a separate bedroom. Eating at the hotel was expensive but there was a Denny’s across the street. I could never get everyone out the door and to the DL as early I would have liked. I had to keep putting the trip into their perspective as this was my gift to them not to myself. If sleeping late was more important than arriving early – so be it. The kids didn’t like any dark or fast rides. They loved learning to draw at the Animation Academy (did it 3 times), Aladdin, Muppets, Dumbo & Teacups, storytime at PFF, the Oasis, and Brother Bear. We did character meals at Ariel’s and Storytellers – again without PS and minimum wait time. Of course, the Matterhorn was not on the agenda again.


Next installment - September trip plans
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Old 08-20-2010, 07:16 PM   #2
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I enjoyed reading about your previous trips! I got lost at Disneyland as a child as well. Not once, but twice! One time I got separated from my family after coming off of Small World. Alice came up to me and just held my hand until my family came back for me -- I think about 20 minutes. (Wow, gone are those days...when a character could just stand with a lost child for however long...) I was recently talking to my sister about this and then she told me about the time SHE remembered me getting lost. I got separated from my family somewhere during the walk between New Orleans Square and Frontierland. A case of everyone in the family thinking someone else had me, but no one did. Well, enough about me! Looking forward to reading about your plans. What are your thoughts for the Matterhorn this time around? Less than a month to go!
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Old 08-21-2010, 09:08 AM   #3
Sjwillia
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What a sweet, special person Alice must have been. It probably made her one of your very favorite characters after that. What is it about some kids always getting lost - I did AGAIN too but at the Seattle World's Fair!
The Matterhorn is on my 'to do list' this trip. I promised by DGS(7) I would ride it if he did. We will see how brave we both are.
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Old 08-27-2010, 03:25 PM   #4
Sjwillia
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Plans and Schedule

Ok - here are the plans for my September trip with tips learned from others here. Any suggestions for improvement are more than welcome.

Setting the stage for my Sept. trip: I have 15 grandkids and I am taking each of 6 families to Disneyland before I retire. The third ‘Grandma Trip’ is being planned for Sept. with my daughter’s family - 4 grandkids ranging in age from barely 4 to 15. With that age range I figured I should do a much better job of planning. A big thank you to all the DIS members who wrote about such wonderful ideas.

Cast includes: DD-Julie, DSIL-Dennis, DGS(15)-Tom, DGS(7)-Aidan, DGS(6)-Dylan, DGD(4)-Chloe

Dates and Accommodations: We arrive Saturday Morning, Sept. 18th and leave Friday evening Sept. 24th. We have 6 day hopper passes which means there will be a day, or partial day, we will not be able to go to the parks. Most likely this will be the Friday we leave. We don’t have to go to the airport until 5:30 PM that day for a 7:30 flight, so we may purchase a one day ticket if we need more Disney time but that is quite a lot of money. I wish we could add a day to 6 day hoppers. We have a suite at Resident’s Inn Maingate. This gives us a full kitchen, 2 bathrooms, 2 bedrooms and a sofa bed in the living area. We intend to take full advantage of the free breakfast buffet each AM to save some food $$$.

Packing: I passed along the tip from the DIS boards to my DD about putting a “set” of clothing (shorts, shirt, underwear, socks, hair ties, etc.) per day for each child in a labeled gallon ziplock bag. I am not sure if she will do this as she is not the compulsive planner and organizer I tend to be. I think this will make getting the kids all dressed and ready in the mornings much easier and more importantly faster. Maybe I will have to go help her organize and pack!

With Jet Blue we each have 1 free checked bag. Since I can get all my clothes in my overhead carry-on bag, I will take advantage of a larger checked bag for those needed (and less expensive) extras that I can bring from home. The bag is about a third full of dollar store glow-in-the-dark things. I also packed some small ‘reward’ toys: dinosaurs, action figures, fairies, keychain misting fans, etc. I still have room for activity pads, books, rain ponchos, new Disney water bottles, Jedi t-shirts and a Princess dress & shoes.

Transportation: We must leave home about 4:00 AM to catch a 7:10 AM flight from PDX to LGB. We land at 9:25 AM and will take a taxi to our hotel. I priced taxis and several shuttles. The taxi is almost half the cost for the seven of us. I was concerned there would not be a taxi van readily available at such a small airport that could handle 7 people and luggage. The last thing I want to do was wait around for transportation. I emailed LBYellowCab and they will arrange to have a large taxi for the whole family available when we arrive. The cost is $45 plus tip. DD will bring her booster seat for the 4 year old. LBYellow cannot pick-up for the return trip to LGB so we will call AnaheimYellow or CaliforniaYellow. The cost will be a bit more as it is metered rather than flat with these companies.

We have an ART family pass for getting to the parks from Resident’s Inn. Many people have said the distance is walkable but the shuttle will be convenient if the weather is hot and/or if legs get really tired.

Fastpass / Single rider / Child swap: I used fastpass a few times on my 2 earlier trips with grandkids. I did not understand I should collect in the AM to use in the PM method, nor did I know you could ride after your ticket time window. I plan to make much better use of fastpass this trip. Single rider and Child Swap are totally new to me. I will be sure to tell DSIL and DGS(15) about single rider as they may go off on their own some of the time. DGD(4) is close to 40” but may not make it, I predict Child Swap may come in very handy. I am not totally clear on the Child Swap process, but I’m sure a CM will help me out the first time I try.

Stroller: DGD(4) has not been in a stroller much for a couple years now and she is a very high energy child. Even so, I think she would have a hard time keeping up with her older brothers for the whole day. My DD’s stroller is large and cumbersome, not good taking on and off shuttles or maneuvering in crowds. So I weighed several other stroller options. I could rent one for $7.50 a day with Disney Visa discount. The biggest problem is I would need to wait in line each day because you cannot pre-pay days and still take the Visa discount. Time is money when at Disneyland! Renting also might mean carrying a sleeping child from the Esplanade to the ART stop and then to the room. I would not have a problem pushing a stroller back to the Residents Inn with a sleeping child while the others get back via ART. I priced very nice umbrella MacLarens and Joovies at over $140, and then I found the First Years Ignite Stroller. It cost just $60, carries a 50 lb child, is fairly light weight, and folds very easily for bus transportation. I figure taking one rather than renting will give us more options and flexibility, plus I have a few more Disney trips to make over the next few years.

What I take to the parks: I personally pack very light. I use a very small Eagle Creek Travel Market pouch. This holds just the essentials: my Visa and Rewards cards, park tickets, small amount of cash, camera battery, and meds. It will also hold my small digital camera or phone if necessary, but I usually keep the phone in a pocket and the camera on a lanyard for easy access. Sunglasses, if not worn, go into a pouch attached to the bag strap.

Kids need a little more stuff, i.e. hand wipes, water bottles, snacks & drinks, spray sunscreen, etc. These items will be kept in a tote and small insulated lunch bag in the stroller. DD has a little larger cross shoulder Eagle Creek Guide bags. She will take her essentials, hand wipes, plus the I-Touch and PSP. If we find the stroller is too much hassle all together and we don’t need it, we have a small back pack and DD and DSIL can do the Sherpa duties.

Queuing with kids: We picked this week in September because it was low season with lower than average historic attendance. With Halloween starting the day before we arrive, the crowds may be heavier but we hope manageable. With kids we will try to avoid any really long lines. However, it IS Disneyland and I know there will always be waiting times so I have my list of guessing games, word games and activities all themed for Disney: I Spy, 20-Questions, Alphabet chain, etc., and DD will bring an I-Touch loaded with some new games.

I hate queuing in counter service food lines even more than for attractions: trying to remember what 7 people want to eat and drink after they have changed their mind 3 times; everyone telling you what they want at once, forgetting to order one sandwich WITHOUT ketchup and one WITH cheese; one kid not ‘liking’ anything on the menu; kids and adults that can’t make a decision by the time we reach the counter. I think you get the picture. So I have printed ALL the menus for places to eat at DLR, DCA, and DTD on 5 x 7 card stock. I have color coded the print to match the print color of each land on the map. I punched holes and added 2 book binding rings and a pencil bag. I use a carabineer to attach to the stroller handle. The pencil bag contains small activity books, crayons, pencils. Dover makes some very small (3”x 4”) activity books (4 for $4.50) that include dot to dot, word search, mazes, spot the difference, sticker scenes. I figure once we have a table or other comfortable spot to eat, we can all sit down and make a list of what everyone finally decides he wants. Then a couple adults can stand in the counter service line to get the food while kids work on the activity books.

Souvenirs: On their birthday I gave each child a $30 Disney gift card toward souvenirs. I bought each of the 3 boys a Jedi t-shirt. DD4 has a new Cinderella dress and slippers. I tried to clean a big bunch of pre-1982 pennies with vinegar and salt. They are definitely cleaner, but certainly not bright and shiny like new. I think we will use them anyway. I am sure each of the kids will have some additional money from the parents for souvies. For me, I generally only get a t-shirt and/or hoodie. Pictures of smiling grandkids having lots of fun are the best things to bring home.

Bibbiti Bobitti and Ariel’s Grotto: DD(4) has the hair & nail package reservation for 10:40 on Tuesday morning. I purchased a very lovely Cinderella dress and ‘glass’ slippers from the Disney Store in Portland where my Visa gets 10% discount and no sales tax in Oregon. She can choose her hair style, tiara, and a few accessories to complete the outfit. I have not decided if I will pay extra for the photo package. I will see how Chloe feels about it. If she thinks posing with all the special props is ‘fun’ – we will do it. However if she considers posing for pictures a hassle – we will pass. Of course, I intend to take plenty of pictures with my own little point & shoot where possible. If time allows, we will do a couple rides or go to Pixie Hollow before we meet DD at AG for a lunch with the princesses at 1:00.

Discover the Magic Tour: I have reservations at 10:00 Sunday for DGS(6), DGS(7) and myself. I have never done this but it looks like lots of fun. I will report back how it goes.

Jedi Training: The boys will wear their new Jedi t-shirts the day we to go to the Academy. I thought about making small signs to increase their chance of getting picked but there was quite a discussion on these boards about the ‘fairness’ of this. It seems Disney does not mind kids trying to get more attention to increase their chances, they just don’t want people getting carried away by bringing in bigger and bigger and more elaborate signs if they openly allow them. I have some Star Wars DK Readers I was taking for the boys to read on the plane or at the hotel. They are thin paperback books with lots of pictures, so I will toss them in the stroller and let the boys wave them to get attention. So, technically not signs. I just hope they are big enough to get the desired attention.

Fantasmic: I will look for a spot to camp about 6:00 PM while the rest of the family has dinner and a few rides. They will come back about 8:00 with dessert. To keep the kids entertained during the wait I have sword, glow sticks and some action figures for the boys. It is Fairy dolls and star, heart, and flower glow sticks for Chloe.

WOC: I have reservations for dinner at WCT at 5:10 for the 8:15 show on our last day, Thursday. I have been conflicted about trying to do this. I really want to experience WOC but it requires an investment of both big time and big money without a guaranteed return of an unobstructed view. I am only 4’11’’ and, of course, the grandkids are shorter. I know we must get a rail position to be able to see. Since it is on our last day, I hope to check out where the lines are and the layout of PP earlier in the trip so we know what to do and where to go.
Fireworks: I don’t have a strategy for this yet. Since I will be camping for F! and there will be a long wait for WOC, I am thinking I don’t want to try to save a great spot in the hub hours in advance. Besides, Saturday, our first day, will be our best chance to see them. We may try to find a spot by IASW about 15 minutes before the show. A friend said she was able to get a good viewing spot half way up main street (middle of the street) without much problem 15 minutes before the show. I have not been in the park during fireworks time so a bit clueless on how they manage Main Street logistics.

I have only scheduled the things that have really specific time requirements. DD, DSIL and I will review the plan each evening and schedule specific things for the next day.

Schedule
Saturday, September 18th
4:00 AM: Leave home for PDX
7:10 – 9:25 Fly to Long Beach
10:15 AM Check into hotel. Store bags if room not ready
11:00 AM: Arrive at Disneyland
Pick up Tour tickets for Sunday tour
Get a photopass card and group picture at the entry
Pick-up package backpack, lanyard, pins
Train ride around the park
6:30 PM Celebrate a Street Parade (Preferred viewing area)
9:30 PM: Fireworks

Note: Need to ride Roger Rabbit Sat or Sun. Closes on Monday
See Muppet Vision Sat or Sun. Closes on Monday

Sunday, September 19th
7:30 AM: Arrive at Disneyland for 8:00 Magic Morning
Ride: PP, Dumbo, Alice, Teacups, Matterhorn, Toad, Pinocchio, Snow White
10:00 AM: Discover the Magic Tour - me, Aidan and Dylan
6:00 PM: Camp for Fantasmic / Family back by 8:15
9:05 PM: F!

Monday, September 20th
9:30 AM: Arrive at Disneyland for 10:00 opening
ToonTown Morning Madness

Tuesday, September 21st
9:30 AM: Arrive at Disneyland for 10:00 Opening
10:40 AM: BBB appointment for DGD
1:00 PM: Lunch at Ariel’s Grotto w/ DD & DGD

Wednesday, September 22nd
9:15 AM: Arrive at DCA for 9:30 to ride Soaring

Note: Indiana Jones closed Wednesday

Thursday, September 23rd
9:30 AM: Arrive at Disneyland for 10:00 opening
5:10 PM WCT dining (6:15 Line up near red tower by Ariel bridge)
8:15 PM: WOC

Friday, September 24th
Swim until latest check out time possible
Check out and store bags
Lunch at Rainforest Café
Movie??? Bowling??? ESPN???
5:15 PM: Cab to LGB
7:15 to 9:30 Fly home
11:30: Crawl into my own comfortable bed
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Disneyland: '59, '60, '81, '84, '04, '08, '10, '12, '13, Mar '14, Oct '14

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