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Old 11-11-2009, 07:28 PM   #1
Ariel224
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TR: Competition w/hotel water park, Lilly Belle & more

Highlights from last week's DLR trip.....the trip that almost didn't happen due to 4 of us coming down with H1N1 less than 2 weeks before the trip.

Please note that I am not a picture taker. My mother-in-law is...I was going to wait until getting her pics to post, but the risk of the details getting fuzzy in my head leads me to post now.

November 1-7, HOJO Kids' Suite. We drove 11 hours down I-5 to get there.

Cast of Characters....
Me....37 yo mom of 3. Love Disneyland with everything that's in me. Spent 6 months planning this trip, which is the first time for the kids. I am a detailed planner that doesn't like it when things aren't on schedule.

DH46....much more easy going than me, except when on a destination drive, then he's all about the business of getting there...as quickly as possible. Likes Disneyland (we went on a weekend trip together in May), but is not the die-hard junkie that I am.

DD8....”The Dictator”. Enjoys bossing her younger siblings. “No” to her doesn't mean no; it's an invitation for a negotiation of terms. Analytical, and wants a reason for everything.

DS6....Very cautious temperment. Likes to observe things for a long time before trying them out the first time (not easy in DL). Scared to death of many things. Gets migraines when overstimulated or hasn't gotten enough food or rest. For me, planning around him was hard....trying to predict which rides he might like, and then actually convincing him to get on them. Little did I know that all of our predictions would be worthless.....he constantly surprised us the whole week. The other thing about DS is that he always feels the need to walk ahead of, and never WITH us. This has been a constant battle since he could walk, and we knew it would be a major factor in this vacation. Loves loves loves cars and anything to do with driving.

DD4....”The daredevil”. This kid loves kinetic motion and being upside down. If anyone is going to like coasters, certainly it will be her. She's very outgoing, and loves to try new things.

MIL70...Mom is the most easy going person I've ever met. Rarely shows emotions or preference, sometimes making it hard to tell if she's enjoying herself or not. Will go along with most any plan. Loves photography and carries a camera with her everywhere. Has a new iPhone, so we got to try out the DL wait times app.


SUNDAY....The drive down

We leave home at 6:30am. The 11/1 change to standard time helped with that. DH's philosophy in the car is to go go go, no stopping unless someone requests it, and it better be a quick stop. This is incompatible with anyone who is either female or under the age of 10, which is pretty much everyone else in the van. Much drama over potty stops and food breaks ensues. My desire to fly for any subsequent trips becomes carved in stone.

Somehow we survive the trip and arrive at HOJO at about 5:30pm. Dinner at Mimi's. Unpack and “move in” to our suite.

Since we have ARES travel vouchers for our hoppers, we walk over to the entrance plaza to exchange our vouchers for tickets. DS becomes angry that we aren't actually going into DL that night.

We return to the hotel and I pass out the pins I have been stockpiling for the girls. DS has had the pin trading process explained to him multiple times, and every time insisted that he absolutely did not want to do it....I should have known better. Of course once he saw the pins, he was on board. We promise to get him a lanyard the next day.


MONDAY.....first day in the parks
My goal is to be out of the room by 9am, at the gate at 9:30, and front and center for rope drop. Apparently, I didn't adequately convey the “why” of this plan to DH, who insisted on stopping for coffee on Main St. The park opened while he was still in line....

The first ride of the day is the Nemo Subs. It will turn out to be one of the few rides that all 3 kids like. While in line, DS begins obsessing on the Tinkerbell cell phone pin that I bought for myself several weeks ago as a “keeper”. This isn't the cell phone pin currently being sold in the parks; this one is a flip phone, and DS WANTS IT! Thus begins an entire day of him asking every 15 minutes if I want to trade, and pouting when I say no. “You're hurting my feelings” becomes his signature phrase. We did BLAB and Autopia after that, with not much of a wait.

Off to Fantasyland after that. DS prejudges every dark ride by the vehicle being ridden in. Mr. Toad scores major points for being a “motorcar” ride. MIL, DH and the 2 littles get in line for Dumbo while DD8 and I break away to ride Matterhorn. Less than a 5 minute wait. She loved it!! We had a great time together. We rode both sides and met up with the rest of the family, who were on the carousel. Then DH and MIL took the girls back over to the Matterhorn. DD4 hated it. The Yeti terrified her.

We retrieved our lunch from the locker and sat in the hub to eat. DS wanted to ride the double decker bus. DD4 announces that she wants to go back to the hotel to play at the water park (Castaway Cove at HOJO).

We convinced them to go to Critter Country. Rode Pooh ride and met Pooh and Tigger.

The kids, by this time are hot, and getting cranky. They are begging to return to the hotel. Reluctantly I give in. Walking out, I notice that HMH and POTC are both 10 minute waits. No lines, and we're leaving....

DH and the kids rode the double decker bus back down Main St while MIL and I cleared out the locker. There were tons of characters out and about by City Hall. Cruella deVille came up to us and was giving us a hard time about not having any pins with her on them. Pluto came up behind her and they began fighting. It was hilarious!

Back to the hotel.....Castaway Cove kept them happily entertained for over 2 hours.

For dinner we ventured over to Westminster and ate at a place called Thai Secret. I had picked up a gift certificate from Restaurant.com. The food was some of the best Thai food I had ever had. Delicious!

Next post....DCA day
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Disneyland November 2-5, 2009; November 11-21, 2010; November 7-11, 2011
Disney Fantasy Western Caribbean November 10-17, 2012

Last edited by Ariel224; 11-11-2009 at 07:39 PM.
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Old 11-11-2009, 07:33 PM   #2
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TUESDAY......DCA day
We got a more timely start and were second in line at the gate. A family in the next line over got chosen to open the park. We went straight to Soarin'. The girls LOVED it. DS hated it. Went to TSMM and had less than a 10 minute wait. MIL and DD8 had a malfunction in their shooters, so we all got to have an immediate reride! Then we rode Triton's Carousel over and over and over.....DD4 loves carousels....

Lunch under the Golden Gate Bridge, then off to GRR. DS really doesn't like water, so we thought we'd have trouble getting him on this one. He loved it. We went a second time. He got off the ride screaming, “THAT'S SO AWESOME! I GOT TOTALLY SOAKED!” We're wondering who this kid is, because he can't be our son... Thank you DISfriends for the tips about the free lockers. I don't know how people would find those on their own.

We finished off in Hollywood, got ice cream from Catch-A-Flav, and prepared to hop over to DL when DCA closed. There was only one gate marked for hand stamps, but they weren't doing stamps. They said they had already put them away. I questioned this, and was told “Just show your ticket.” Of course, my bad feeling about it was legitimate. As we got to the DL gate, the lady in front of us was getting a hard time from the CM about not getting a stamp at DCA. I chimed in to explain that the same thing had happened to us, and the very rude CM told me I should have gotten it when I entered the park! Huh?????

After finally being allowed in, we hung out in NOS, and walked right on to HMH and POTC twice! That was amazing! The funniest thing began happening. DD8 began analyzing the queues and rides.....Why are there skeletons? Why are the pirates fighting? Why are they auctioning brides? Why are the brides sad? ….and so it went the rest of the trip.

After staying until closing, we were exhausted! Grabbed McDonald's and had dinner in the room.


WEDNESDAY....all day at DL
We decided to rethink the picnic in the park idea. It was too much hassle to try to get dinner after park closing, so we thought we'd try eating restaurant food for lunch and eat our picnic food for dinner after we got “home”. This approach worked much better, and will be something we'll continue on future trips on days when the parks close early.

DD8 was begging to do Space Mtn first. I reviewed with her for what felt like the millionth time what the ride consisted of. She was still committed, so off we went. Absolutely zero line. The ten minute posted wait was the time it took to walk the queue. We were seated in the front. This is one of my favorite DL rides, but my concern over DD's tolerance of it diminished my experience. She didn't like it.....because.....it was dark. Really, DD? We went over this, lol!

We went to the Little Green Men Outpost and I bought DS a cell phone pin so he would quit trying to get mine. MIL caught up to us and we rode BLAB. It kept breaking down, but the shooters were functional, enabling us to rack up lots of “bonus” points.

Then the three of us went through Adventureland. Fifteen minutes for Indy, with DD questioning every detail of the queue along the way.....why can't you look at the eye? Why is there a curse? Have you ever looked at the idol's eye? Where is it?

Did Jungle Cruise and Tiki Room and decided we'd better find DH, since it was lunch time.

We took the Monorail to DTD with a mind to visit Tortilla Jo's takeout window, which, when DH and I were there in May, was literally a window in the side of the building that you walked up to to place your order. They've remodeled, enclosing the Tacqueria inside, and fencing around the seating. At first glance it looks like it's just additional seating for the main restaurant. Now you go into the fenced area and through the doors to place your order. It's much nicer now, but very much hidden away, unlike the old setup. I'm craving those tacos as I write this!!

DH took the kids back to DL to play on Tom Sawyer's Island. MIL and I walked through DTD so I could show her the GCH lobby. She and I both love this type of architecture. It was about 3:00 by this point, so we went back to DL, stopping at the train station to ask about riding the Lilly Belle. We'd seen her out and about, so I thought we'd give it a shot. The conductor said to come back at 4:30 when they would start taking reservations for the evening. Uhh....ok....so we killed some time in Fantasyland and went back at 4:30. A different conductor said there might be room to “squeeze us on” the next run, which was in about 8 minutes and directed us to sit inside the station and wait. The train came in, and that conductor was nowhere to be found. We asked someone else and were told that someone had already claimed that run, and it was up to him if he wanted to share his trip. Luckily, he was generous and invited us to join “his” trip. The conductor gave us the history of the DLR, the Lilly Belle, the trains, and answered every question we had. He had worked for DL for 20 years and shared a lot of information.

After that, we regrouped with the others, who had had a great time on the Island. They were there until it closed at dusk. DH had taken the littles on Big Thunder. Again, the kids totally went against our predictions. DD4 didn't like it, but DS did.

The Celebrate Street Party was at 7pm. We were able to get a good spot by IASW. After that we headed back to the hotel for a PB&J dinner.

I attempted to do some laundry, but only got one load done that night, as many others had the same idea. I resigned to doing it the following day.

Next post....Down day
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Old 11-11-2009, 07:37 PM   #3
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THURSDAY-----down time
This was our “no parks” day. We had a ressie at Goofy's Kitchen for brunch. I had gotten 4 free vouchers for getting a Disney Visa, and had a gift card for the other 2 meals. I could not justify the price of this meal if I was actually paying for it. The variety is amazing and the food was really good, but the atmosphere was a bit of a letdown. I think the fact that there was hardly anyone in the restaurant contributed to this. The kids met Goofy, Pluto, Chip & Dale, Baloo and Cinderella. DS was telling Cinderella about how we had driven far to get there...”We did a whole Sunday.” She replied, “You ate the whole thing?” The joke was lost on DS, but I thought it was cute. The kids traded pins with one of the managers, and again outside with another CM. They really got the trading bug that day!

The Rain Forest Cafe was doing their bird show outside. The macaws are beautiful. The kids spent a lot of time at Pin Traders, both trading and buying. DS spent the rest of his money at the Lego store.

We went back to the hotel in the afternoon. DH promptly crashed for a nap and MIL took the kids to Castaway Cove so that I could do laundry. While waiting for loads to finish, I stretched out by the Garden Pool to relax.

Dinner that night was Bucca di Beppo. Fun atmosphere and really great food!!


FRIDAY---last day
The guys went to Adventureland while the girls did Pixie Hollow. DS, who loves going offroad 4-wheeling with DH, absolutely hated Indy....again, totally going against our predictions. Pixie Hollow was cute. I have to admit I was excited to meet Tink, who is my favorite! Rosetta was beautiful, and Terence and Tink spent a lot of time talking to the girls. Terence messed up his signature in DD4's book, and started to rip out the page. Tink, sensing a potential little girl meltdown over a torn book, saved the day by grabbing the page and saying, “Oh, you wrote me a note! Thanks! I'll put it right over here!” I love Tink!

The plan had been to see the first show of Jedi Training Academy, but right at show time, they announced that it was being cancelled, for reasons that were not disclosed. There was some confusion for several minutes and then most of the characters came out for photos.

DD8 and I rerode Matterhorn. Then we regrouped and went to Toontown for the remainder of the morning. I had never been to Toontown. Those who know me know that I am an old house junkie. I especially love early 20th century arts and crafts style architecture. Mickey's House is just that! I could have hung out in Mickey's house for hours. Mickey's House was also the site of our only lost kid scare of the trip. We realized DD8 wasn't with us. I thought she had gone back to Minnie's House, as she had been having a really great time reading the emails at Minnie's computer. It turned out that she had actually gone on ahead of us in Mickey's House. It was a short-lived scare, but unnerving nonetheless.

We had snacks and then hopped over to DCA so that DH could take the kids to Playhouse Disney. MIL and I rerode Soarin' and then went back to Hollywood for the Animation Academy.

After that, we all went to the Aladdin show. The Hyperion Theatre is very plush and comfortable. The show is very well done. It is basically a Reader's Digest version of the movie, so if you haven't seen the movie, it could be a bit confusing. I recommend this as a must see even if you haven't seen the movie though. The music, action, and stage effects are top-notch.

Churros, then back to the hotel. We got take-out from PF Chang's and had some downtime before heading back to DL at about 7:30.

Our plan had been to watch the fireworks from the Hub and then try to get a decent seat for the second Fantasmic! show. We decided that our fireworks seats weren't that great, so we wandered over to NOS at the end of the first show. I had wanted to try the middle light tower trick, but the traffic control C.M.s weren't letting anyone linger there. Right across the walkway, up the first set of stairs, there is a little dead-end area on the landing. Behind you is Cafe Orleans. We watched the fireworks from this spot. I was still thinking of moving to the railing behind the light tower, but we realized that right where we were would be a great viewing spot for F! The kids were getting tired. By the time F! started, DD4 was asleep in the stroller and the other two were asleep on the sidewalk! DD8 woke up about halfway through the show, but the other two slept through all the noise. When it was over, we had to pry DS off the sidewalk and get him onto DH's back. This was the only time that the walk back to HOJO seemed long!


All in all, it was a good trip. It's hard to get consensus with 6 people, so splitting into smaller groups seems to work better for us. Unfortunately, it meant not spending much time with DH.

Thank you DISfriends for packing tips, H1N1 crisis moral support, locations of filtered water spigots, info on free GRR lockers, F! seating tips, and most of all for giving me an outlet to share my DLR obsession!
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Old 11-12-2009, 12:02 AM   #4
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Just skimmed real quick as I am heading to bed, but it is looking like quite the colorful adventure with a fun family cast! I certainly know that loooonnnngggg drive, I made it back from DLR once in 11 1/2hrs

I'll be back tomorrow to read in earnest!
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Old 11-12-2009, 09:43 AM   #5
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Sounds like a fabulous adventure. We used to end up splitting a lot when my youngest could not do all the rides, but now we usually stay together, which is nice.
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Old 11-12-2009, 11:53 AM   #6
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Thanks for posting a TR

It sounds like it was a good first trip for your kids... It was fun reading and got me really excited for our kids first trip (8 and 4.5 year old girls) we leave tomorrow night. My 8th year old has said she wants to do Space but I am afarid she will be like your DD and not like it very much... Can you tell me what time you got in line for Pixie Hollow and how long the wait was?

Beth
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Old 11-12-2009, 11:39 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AZBeth View Post
It sounds like it was a good first trip for your kids... It was fun reading and got me really excited for our kids first trip (8 and 4.5 year old girls) we leave tomorrow night. My 8th year old has said she wants to do Space but I am afarid she will be like your DD and not like it very much... Can you tell me what time you got in line for Pixie Hollow and how long the wait was?

Beth
Kids of that age liking Space is totally random I think. When DH and I did our weekend trip in May, there was a little girl about 7 with her mom sitting right behind us. She was extremely anxious as we loaded and prepared for launch. I heard her screaming the entire ride. When it was over, she said, "That was great! Let's do it again!"

For Pixie Hollow we got in line at about 9:15, right after park opening. The line was only about 15-20 minutes. The queue kept the girls fairly well entertained. There is a stream, and the rocks randomly spit water into the air, which they loved. The CM at the head of the line had pins to trade. She lets families enter one at a time, so we didn't feel rushed at all. Just be prepared that as you exit, they have a bunch of Fairies merchandise set up. Expect to get sucked in!
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Old 11-16-2009, 12:55 AM   #8
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Just read through your report - sounds like a wonderful time!

I envy your ability to plan and eat meals outside the park. I always try to, but it just never seems to happen. I need to learn someday before we have a family and one lunch costs more than a weekly grocery budget.
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Old 11-16-2009, 02:28 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by hurleysweety View Post
I envy your ability to plan and eat meals outside the park. I always try to, but it just never seems to happen. I need to learn someday before we have a family and one lunch costs more than a weekly grocery budget.
Well, I did what I had to because I didn't have a choice. I would have loved to have tried a Monte Cristo & pomme frites, and still feel a twinge of regret over it, but the budget was extremely tight for the trip, and it was either pinch pennies or stay home, as some unexpected $$ issues came up in the weeks prior to the trip. Then MIL offered to pay for the restaurant meals, and I didn't want to feel like we were taking advantage of someone else's dime, so that kind of reinforced my resolve to keep costs down as much as possible.

I had actually planned out every single dinner for the week, buying gift certs at restaurant.com for 3 nights, finding a $10 off coupon for Buca di Beppo, and joining e-clubs for Mimi's and Millie's. We did end up straying from this plan somewhat, as we didn't anticipate how tired everyone would be come dinnertime. I guess you could say I "overplanned" and then cut myself some slack and allowed some variations (like McDonald's the one night).

Buying groceries for the room helps. I wasn't crazy about the idea of having to bring all that food back home with me at the end of the week, so I insisted that it get eaten!

Plus, with DS's migraine issues, it was better to have healthy snacks available at a moment's notice anyway.
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