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Old 05-05-2011, 02:12 PM   #1
oumagic
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Join Date: May 2011
Location: Arizona
Posts: 273

September 2010: Kids first trip

I lurked around here when planning our first trip last year and then came back this year while planning our second trip. I wanted to post about some things that really stuck out.

We went to DL 5 days/5 nights, arriving September 19 and checking out September 24th. We had my kids who were 5 and 7 years old and my parents who are in their 60's and then my wife and I. We arrived by car from Arizona at roughly 2pm and it was CRAZY at the Grand Californian valet services. When we did finally get a valet, he was great. We had tons of bags/coolers and they did not bat an eye. We gave the keys to the valet and headed inside and they stored our bags.

Check-in was smooth. We were not surprised the rooms weren't ready since we were there before check-in. My mom and daughter had b-days that week and they gave us buttons and balloons upon check-in and told us they would text us when room was ready. We left all of our stuff and headed to DCA. The room requests that mattered most were received. We asked for adjoining room and one handicap accessible and got it. They even handled it delicately like I asked. My mom and dad both have mobility issues and NEVER ask for ADA rooms (though they do have ADA license plates). They can get up and down elevators but a room that can help them in and out of shower or off toilet with less walking/standing is more comfortable. Anyway, they got us the room like I asked and had a note in the reservation to approach it delicately and were WONDERFUL. My dad is the type that would have asked for a different room to prove he didn't need the ADA room and then just be miserable due to his pride the whole trip.

We absolutely LOVED the hotel. They didn't have the rooms ready when they should have (about an hour late) but we couldn't complain because they worked hard to get us exactly what we needed (minus the bunk bed request).

Disneyland and Disney dining is a dream when it comes to food allergies. My wife has severe allergies to tree nuts and carries an Epipen and all that. They contacted us after reservations and assured us we would be fine. We had a manager or head chef come to every table at every meal, only once did we have to ask to see someone (ESPN Sportszone). We never had an incident that was even questionable. We are pushing 40 and have been married and traveling for 16 years and have NEVER had luck with dining like we did this trip. The horror stories I could tell would take up many pages of other trips, but this was fantastic. We now will have a hard time going anywhere else and it is why we are going back again and taking the other grandparents (in their 70's) this fall.

Quick thoughts on Grand Californian:
Napa Rose was A++: I cannot recommend this highly enough. The sticker shock was there, but I have never spent so much on a place and thought I could not wait to go back. Ambience, food, service: I loved it all.
Storybook character breakfast was a B: was not as good as Ariel Breakfast, but we would do it again. Probably not take the grandparents, though. We will take them to Ariel's.
Pool: the kids would have rather been at Disneyland Hotel. They only got in once and the water was FREEZING. Nothing much Disney could do about the temp, but when they saw the kids playing at the Neverland pool, the water could have been covered in ice and it wouldn't matter because they wanted in.
Valet This was the worst part of the stay. Definitely nothing to be too upset about. When we parked, it was crazy. When we went back the next day, it took a LONG while to get our car, much longer than it took me to walk to the self-park lot and back (did it numerous times). When we checked out, they hit us for valet everyday even though we moved it to self park on day 2. A few complaints later, they removed the charge. I think they now charge something for self-park that they didn't last year. I would not have minded leaving it at valet. However, when we went to get groceries and it took 30 minutes to get the vehicle when I could see people walk across and get their car and bring it back to pickup their family faster, it rubbed me the wrong way.

Theme Parks:

World of Color was a good show, but I was not prepared for the crowds and chaos. I am not sure we will do that again. We did do the picnic basket thing and had a FP, but our view was terrible showing up 40 minutes early. If the kids would have just walked in and sat down and saw it, they would have loved it. However, walking in and standing around waiting and then still getting a bad spot had them say they did not want to go back. I know there are threads dedicated to this here that I did not see last year, but as of last night, they don't want to do the fireworks or WOC due to the chaos and bad viewing experiences at both. Anyway, I just thought I'd mention those as it was the only thing I was told by young kids that they did not want to see or do again. I take that back, my 7 year old likes roller coasters and astronomy but hated the Halloween version of Space Mountain. I hope to someday get him back there when it is not fall.

My family cannot wait to go back. We are not sure we will be able to stay at GCR this trip (where are those fall specials!?) but Disneyland was fantastic and we will go back and stay somewhere else if necessary.

Thanks for reading and thanks everyone who has posted and not knowingly helped me out
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Old 05-06-2011, 01:24 AM   #2
skiingfast
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Lots of good feedback.

Hope next trip is better now that you will have some experience and expectations to work off of.
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Old 05-06-2011, 11:21 AM   #3
oumagic
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Join Date: May 2011
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Thanks. We reserved a room for fall (HoJo) and I will be a little more prepared on this trip. We are taking the grandparents that are much more mobile this time. We still hope that there will be some better deals for Disney hotels and might switch if they pop up. I wanted to include a few images to make this thread a little more "fun" but need a few more posts to do so
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Old 05-11-2011, 05:28 PM   #4
smiles33
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Thanks for sharing. I figured my young kids (5 and 2) wouldn't want to deal with WOC crowds/chaos either so I'm planning to just return to HoJo after dinner.
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