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Old 03-29-2011, 07:30 PM   #1
VandVsmama
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Location: Tucson, AZ
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1st family vaca to D-land next year (2012)

Am planning our 1st family vacation to the D-land for some time next year (2012). We live in Tucson, AZ, so it's a drive for us. Have read these boards now a bit and gotten some good advice from a friend. My thoughts so far on planning the trip:
  • not sure if it's worth the extra $$ to stay in a DL resort or stay at a walking distance hotel.
  • cost is a bit of an issue, but convenience is, too. :-D
  • our 2 daughters will be turning 4 and 6 in June 2012, so I'm debating between a June trip or October (our school district takes a week off in Oct for 'fall break')
  • a room with a park view is not a requirement
  • a place with an awesome pool is nice, but also not a requirement
  • we'll probably do a 3-day park hopper pass
  • am leaning towards Disney Grand Californian, Howard Johnson's, Candy Cane Inn, or Best Western Park Place Inn
  • my dad and sister will also probably be joining us, but their room accomodations are up to them.
  • my girls are totally into princesses and all things girly, so I'll be making reservations at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique for 1 of the mornings. I'm thinking of doing it for the morning that we do Magic Morning...get into the park early, ride some rides, and get the 1st appointment of the day at the salon shortly after regular park opening.
  • is a character breakfast really worth it? Since cost is a factor, I don't think I can bring myself to spend over $100 on breakfast for the 4 of us.
  • being able to eat breakfast in our room will be ideal. I plan on just bringing some groceries with us, like bagels & cream cheese or donuts, juice, water, stuff like that for the mornings.
  • saw everybody's suggestions about packing snacks, so I'll be doing that, too.
  • I think that I definitely should bring a stroller. We have a well used, beaten up Peg Perego Pliko P3 stroller (that's had almost 5 years of good use now, I got it for a song when pregnant w/our oldest child). The stroller can be pushed with 1 hand. PLUS 1 kid can ride on the back of the stroller. Since our kids will be pretty worn out, I think that it would be silly not to bring the stroller.

One website I saw (mouseplanet.com?) suggested budgeting $50/person per day. Hm, do I really need to budget $600 for food for us for 3 days in the parks? We'd be doing breakfast on our own for cheap, but definitely lunch and dinner in the park. Probably all counter service since I am not a Blue Bayou fan.

I am planning this way in advance, but in order for us to afford the trip, I need to start savings $$ now. I am pretty torn at the moment re: whether to go in June or October. Our older daughter's birthday is 6/19, my husband's birthday is 6/17, and my youngest's birthday is 6/2. If we went in June, I think it would make more sense to go early in June since CA schools don't get out until usually 2nd week of June, whereas our schools in AZ end the year by Memorial Day.

However, I do NOT want to be going on Memorial Day weekend.

Shows like World of Color and fireworks don't make much of a difference to me, although my DH would probably want to stay for fireworks. Key to success, we've found, for trips with our kids is to ensure that they are well rested, which will mean having them in bed by 8-8:30pm. My kids are not the sort to sleep anywhere they happen to be (i.e., in your arms, for example), so if I work backwards from 8-8:30pm, then we'd need to leave the park 7pm-ish in order to have some down time for the kids' normal bedtime routine (baths, stories, etc.).
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Old 03-31-2011, 05:08 PM   #2
DizNee Luver
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VandVsmama View Post
Am planning our 1st family vacation to the D-land for some time next year (2012). We live in Tucson, AZ, so it's a drive for us. Have read these boards now a bit and gotten some good advice from a friend. My thoughts so far on planning the trip:
  • not sure if it's worth the extra $$ to stay in a DL resort or stay at a walking distance hotel. We've found that unless you plan on spending a lot of time at your hotel/motel....then spending your money elsewhere is better. As much as I love staying at the PPH......I can stay across the street for a third of the price.
  • cost is a bit of an issue, but convenience is, too. :-D The motels on Harbor, across from Disneyland are as close or even closer than the DLH or PPH. Motels like BWPPI, Tropicana & Carousel are almost at the pedestrian crossing over to the parks. The HoJo is about a 8 minute walk.....but totally worth it in my opinion!!
  • our 2 daughters will be turning 4 and 6 in June 2012, so I'm debating between a June trip or October (our school district takes a week off in Oct for 'fall break') Both times would be great!! Towards the end of June, I believe the So. Cali passes start getting blocked....so that could play into crowd levels. You can see the blackout dates on the disneyland website under the AP info. October could be a busy time, depending on how close you get to Halloween. The park will be decorated up for the season & there are Trick or Treat parties at this time as well.
  • a room with a park view is not a requirement I'm commenting here just for the chance you stay at the HoJo. We did a premium view room last summer & were able to sit on our balcony & see the fireworks. Where you're thinking early nights be happening....this is a nice way to see them without keeping everyone at the parks late.
  • a place with an awesome pool is nice, but also not a requirement Again, the HoJo has an awesome water play area for the kids....you can watch them from the hot tub!!
  • we'll probably do a 3-day park hopper pass
  • am leaning towards Disney Grand Californian, Howard Johnson's, Candy Cane Inn, or Best Western Park Place Inn The GCH is the most expensive of the 3 DLR Hotels. We love the HoJo. We've never stayed a the CCI or BWPPI.
  • my dad and sister will also probably be joining us, but their room accomodations are up to them.
  • my girls are totally into princesses and all things girly, so I'll be making reservations at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique for 1 of the mornings. I'm thinking of doing it for the morning that we do Magic Morning...get into the park early, ride some rides, and get the 1st appointment of the day at the salon shortly after regular park opening. The girls will love this!! We did this for our daughter.....early morning so she could be a princess for the entire day!!
  • is a character breakfast really worth it? Since cost is a factor, I don't think I can bring myself to spend over $100 on breakfast for the 4 of us. I guess it depends on how much seeing the characters matters. We've found the character meals to be worth their weight in gold when it comes to character interation!! The characters come to your table & spend time with the kiddos. At the parks, you will stand in sometimes endless lines to see Mickey for 30 secs. The cheaper of the meals are Minnie & Friends (where you'll see a number of characters from the classics & Pooh Bear & friends) & Mickey's Surf's Up (the only meal Mickey is at & usually Stitch too). So careful planning & budgeting might make it worth while to try & go to at least one of them.
  • being able to eat breakfast in our room will be ideal. I plan on just bringing some groceries with us, like bagels & cream cheese or donuts, juice, water, stuff like that for the mornings.
  • saw everybody's suggestions about packing snacks, so I'll be doing that, too.
  • I think that I definitely should bring a stroller. We have a well used, beaten up Peg Perego Pliko P3 stroller (that's had almost 5 years of good use now, I got it for a song when pregnant w/our oldest child). The stroller can be pushed with 1 hand. PLUS 1 kid can ride on the back of the stroller. Since our kids will be pretty worn out, I think that it would be silly not to bring the stroller. Good call!! Your girls will tire, DL is a lot of walking & standing in lines. You'll be glad you have it, especially going back to the motels!!!

One website I saw (mouseplanet.com?) suggested budgeting $50/person per day. Hm, do I really need to budget $600 for food for us for 3 days in the parks? We'd be doing breakfast on our own for cheap, but definitely lunch and dinner in the park. Probably all counter service since I am not a Blue Bayou fan.

A great place to look over what food is available at the parks is AllEars.....they have menus & pretty current prices, so you can look them over & get an idea of what to budget for your food. Just remember to add a 8.75% for the tax.

I am planning this way in advance, but in order for us to afford the trip, I need to start savings $$ now. I am pretty torn at the moment re: whether to go in June or October. Our older daughter's birthday is 6/19, my husband's birthday is 6/17, and my youngest's birthday is 6/2. If we went in June, I think it would make more sense to go early in June since CA schools don't get out until usually 2nd week of June, whereas our schools in AZ end the year by Memorial Day.

However, I do NOT want to be going on Memorial Day weekend.

Shows like World of Color and fireworks don't make much of a difference to me, although my DH would probably want to stay for fireworks. Key to success, we've found, for trips with our kids is to ensure that they are well rested, which will mean having them in bed by 8-8:30pm. My kids are not the sort to sleep anywhere they happen to be (i.e., in your arms, for example), so if I work backwards from 8-8:30pm, then we'd need to leave the park 7pm-ish in order to have some down time for the kids' normal bedtime routine (baths, stories, etc.).
I'd suggest hitting the parks before opening, taking advantage of the smaller crowds, gather FP's if needed & then taking a mid-afternoon break (swimming, naps, quiet time, etc). Go back to the parks around dinner time & then on a night or two, you could stay to enjoy the night time entertainment. As much as we loved watching the fireworks from the HoJo balcony.....nothing replaces seeing it in person in front of the castle!!

Fantasmic & WoC are both well done shows & worth seeing too. Hopefully as you get closer to your trip, you'll be able to figure out how to see at least one of these shows.

Looking forward to watching your planning as you go. If you have any questions......please ask.....lots of wonderful people on here that would love to help you plan the best trip!!!!

I have a couple TR's listed in my signature below that has a lot of pictures & details on some of the motels, restaurants, shows, etc......that might help in the planning as well!!!
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Old 03-31-2011, 06:26 PM   #3
VandVsmama
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Thanks so much for your reply! The more I read about HOJO, the more I think that HOJO is the place we'll stay at for our 1st trip. While the Grand Californian seems very swanky and very nice, I could pay way less and get a Kids Suite at HOJO, which would enable DH and I to have some quiet time to ourselves in the evening after ODD & YDD are asleep. You know, so we can without waking little kids up!

I think that we will probably skip the character meal. Our $$ would be much better spent towards Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, so they can be total on 1 of the days. Knowing my ODD, she'll want to wear the princess dress on each of the 3 days we'll be there. I plan on taking others' advice and bringing our own princess dresses with us (stuffed on the sly in a bag so they don't know until we get there).

*** edited to add ***
I forgot to add... We'll definitely be doing breakfast in our hotel room in the mornings. It's just easier for us this way. That's a plus to staying in some place like HOJOs that has a small fridge in the room. I could give the kids some bagels & cream cheese or donuts, granola bars, some fruit, juice...they could eat & watch TV while DH & I get dressed in the a.m. (DH is a slow poke! It takes him 45 min to get himself out the door in the morning. In that timeframe, I have showered, gotten dressed, packed 2 lunches for the girls, packed 1 lunch for myself, and put everything in the car). If we had to get everybody out the door in order to eat breakfast somewhere, that's just a hassle.

Another plus to us snacking on b-fast in our hotel room is that we save some time from not sitting in a restaurant. Makes it easier to hit Disneyland when the park opens for the day. I've now read lots of people's Trip Reports and it sounds kind of exciting to be there 1st in line when they open the place for the day. We only went to Disneyland a couple of times when I was a kid and we never got there until 10am... and all of you know that by 10am on a weekend, the place is MOBBED! Those were the days before Flash Passes, of course, so half of our day was spent waiting in line.

Last edited by VandVsmama; 03-31-2011 at 06:35 PM.
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Old 05-11-2011, 06:00 PM   #4
smiles33
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I think the other benefit to eating in the hotel room is that hungry kids can be fed right away! My DDs wake up before 7 and DH is likely to want to sleep in until 7:30 (if they're not too noisy). This way, I can feed them right away! Plus, I heard that Mimi's Cafe (near HoJo) will do take-out breakfasts so you can order bacon/eggs if you and your DH want more substantial breakfasts. My plan is to feed our girls cereal/bagels and get hot breakfasts for DH and me (with the girls ultimately scavenging off our plates, I'm sure!).
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