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Old 07-25-2011, 11:23 PM   #1
g0lden
Earning My Ears
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: San Antonio, TX
Posts: 28

DLR Trip Report, Multi-Family 7/21/11-7/22/11 (Long Post)

We just got back from a three-family Disneyland vacation and wanted to thank EVERYONE here for their tremendous help with planning. The information here was much more current, thorough and clear than the Unofficial Guide Disneyland 2011. I didn't even use the awesome, free MouseWait app on my iPhone because I felt so well-prepared by DISboards. MouseWait has a convenient Hidden Mickey checklist, but the kids had fun finding them on their own. Our visit was filled with many proud moments and a few not-so-proud moments. Although I have read what it’s like for one family to have a perfect visit to Disneyland, I wanted to share my personal experience on what it’s like for THREE families with children--of mixed ages, heights and courage levels:

Family A: two parents plus DNiece9
Family B: two parents plus DNieces10, 9 and 5
Family C: two parents plus DNephews9 and 5 and DNiece9months
Single Sister and Me

Tickets At Work offered the lowest prices on 2-day, 1-park per day tickets (we checked Last Minute Travel, Ares and Fun Family Favorites. We called AAA, who said they no longer sell Disney tix. At the time, Costco only offered 4-day Park Hoppers to So Cal residents). I had suggested the summer 3-day Park Hoppers with bonus MM, but the families thought that three days were overkill and didn’t think that they could park hop with kids (even though the parks are next to each other). Once they saw it for themselves, they expressed that they would have liked a third day and said, “Oh, we could have hopped.” While the taxes/fees were the same, Tickets At Work was cheaper than the Entertainment Book member website because it offered tickets with both a 2011 AND a 2012 expiration date--the 2011 version was cheaper. Be sure to click on every single Disney option because it's easy to miss. Redeeming was easy--after disembarking the hotel shuttle and passing through security, we presented our order confirmations at the ticket booth and proceeded to the turnstiles. Bring your ID and printout to show proof. Purchase your tix at least 48 hours before you go--it's good for about 3 months. Unofficial Guide readers: turnstile line 13 is NOT the shortest.

I used DISboard's “Disneyland Packing Tips” to pack my “Disney backpack” and used everything except stamps/address labels, lanyard, bandana, glasses case, fanny pack, mister fan, insect repellent, aloe, playing cards and safety pins. My Travelon ID/boarding pass neck wallet secured Disney tix, FPs, shuttle tix, pen, ID, credit card and room key (I also brought a small amount of cash and quarters and pennies for pressed souvenirs but never used them). Additionally, I brought retractable Sharpies for autographs. A soft insulated bag might have been handy for water bottles and juice packs, but the drinks survived in a doubled plastic bag in the bottom of the stroller. A penlight/keychain flashlight might help reading maps at night but isn't necessary. I abandoned the noble idea of making autograph books and told the parents to buy them. If you have several children in your family, buy one autograph book and have them share it to save money and bulk (if they go along with it). After the meet-and-greets, the books were put away and never seen again. Pack more Ziploc bags and Wet Ones than you think you need. Dollar Tree sells Disney Princess sandwich bags and 2-for-$1 disposable ponchos which packed flat--slightly long for 40" kids but manageable. I ran out of space for the Disney bags, but the quart bags helped divvy up pretzels/popcorn, and the gallon bags protected camera gear.

We were scheduled to fly in by mid-morning, pick up car rentals and stow our luggage at Homewood Suites. The original plan was to hit DCA by 1:00 p.m., but Family C's flights were bumped. We hung out at Downtown Disney and at the hotel pool until they arrived, had dinner and saved our energy for DLR the next day. Parking at DTD is free for 2 hours (the Disneyland website indicated 3, but the parking lot sign read 2), and up to 5 hours at participating locations if you validate your receipt.

Day 1, Thursday, 7/21/11 (a MM, but we did not have access)
12 Rides: Mad Tea Party, RR, IASW, Alice, ST, BLAB, SM, HM, POTC, JC, Splash, Indy

PFF, JTA, TT with meet-and-greets, fireworks (obstructed)

There was mutiny when I announced that we would eat breakfast at 6:00 a.m. and take the 6:45 a.m. shuttle to beat the crowds to security and turnstiles for the 8:00 a.m. general opening. Can you imagine if we had access to MM? We compromised on having breakfast at 6:40 a.m. and taking the 7:15 a.m. shuttle. Although 6:40 a.m. cut it close for a group our size (by 10 minutes), it somehow worked out just right. The park opened at 7:40 a.m. that morning.

After grabbing everyone's tix, I directed them to enter Main Street on the left to make their way to PFF while I veered right to get FP’s for ST. I realized after the fact that the only way to get to PFF is to walk all the way around on the right side of the park. I'm not sure if taking the Disneyland Railroad would have worked better for them since it's such a long walk.

If you are in the ST FP line at park opening, stay on the Main Street sidewalk on the right-hand side and follow the mass exodus. The ST FP kiosks are BLAB's old ones and are therefore still located at BLAB. A ST sign marks their location. The family lined up to ride Mad Tea Party after being informed that they could not just stand around to wait for PFF to open. I suppose, upon entry, that we had a few minutes to pose for pictures in front of the Mickey Mouse flowers or to stop by City Hall to get our Birthday and First-Timer pins. But I thought we'd get to those later in the day and didn't know what to expect at PFF or ST FP kiosks. After Mad Tea Party, we headed back to PFF at 8:50 a.m. and waited for the 9:00 a.m. opening. There were probably 3 families in front of us. Families A and B went through the Royal Walk and met Belle, Ariel and Minnie but opted not to stay for the 10:00 a.m. Coronation Ceremony to meet other princesses. The photographer lost Family A’s Photo Pass in the middle of the Royal Walk, so my recommendation is to probably write your name on the back of it! We were so happy to have been at PFF right when it opened; shortly afterwards, the line was very long. Family C's boys with no interest in princesses could have ridden something else, but their mom wanted to check out the IASW Toy Shop instead.

After PFF, we headed to TT where there was a 30 minute wait at Mickey's House. Family C's mother reported no wait at IASW, but I didn't want to risk going on it and finding a longer wait at Mickey's afterwards. I got FP’s for RR in the meantime, handed them to the group and ran to get FPs for SM. The kids enjoyed meeting Mickey and Minnie in their homes and exploring the "neighborhood"--so many cute photo ops. Since they had no plans to return to TT, they got RR "out of the way" and noticed that the standby line was faster than the FP line. On a tight schedule, skip RR--this was probably everyone's least popular ride, and it spooked even the older kids.

Afterwards, we rode IASW which now had a short wait (Mothers of Families B and C really wanted to ride it; otherwise I would have skipped this for another time). The line split into two and I jumped into the longer right line; I now know from disneydream74 to be on the left! The movie character additions are cute, but I heard some moans and groans from the older kids. We were just about to head to Tomorrowland when the kids reminded me that I never showed them the secret passageway—so don’t give kids much information ahead of time—just point things out as you stumble upon them. We rode Alice then walked back to the castle (I kept losing my bearings from the back of the park with the trees blocking everything). Much like the story, Alice was zig zaggy with some creepy parts. It’s a good thing that we took the secret passage because we ran into Peter Pan! I asked DNiece9 if she wanted to meet Peter Pan, and she said, “No.” After signing posing for the last photo, he walked right up to DNiece9, folded his arms and said, “Well, it’s nice to meet YOU, Emily.” (He heard me calling her by name). Everyone was laughing at their exchange.

We entered Tomorrowland via the secret entrance (courtesy of DISboards and My Year With The Mouse) and bumped into the parade of characters (Alice, The Mad Hatter, Pinocchio, Donald, Chip, Dale, Mickey, Minnie and Pluto). The moms of Families A and B wanted to ride Astro Orbitor, but the kids weren’t interested. They were DYING to ride SM all morning, but the FP return time wasn’t ready. So I let them ride ST (all levels of AWESOME! ). Everyone enjoyed it, but we couldn’t use Rider Switch with the infant napping in her stroller, which we would have had to park outside. My sister would have had to wake the baby to take her out to go to the waiting area (is the waiting area inside? Or do you just go in whenever you’re ready--like Indy?). So she didn't get to ride ST. We never found the “spy,” on the ship by the way! Maybe they changed the script?

While using FPs early in the day isn't recommended since you could be on non-FP rides, riding ST got everyone pumped for JTA. We arrived at JTA at 12:15 p.m. for the 12:40 p.m. show. Some kids were already waiting, but there was still plenty of room in the front row along the blue tape. I felt bad sitting right behind our group's kids, thereby blocking other little kids that came in after me, but sitting any further away from them would have created chaos. Mothers of Families B and C fed the kids Star Wars chicken nugget meals in the front row while waiting for JTA to begin. The meals weren't good, but they kept the kids still for a good five minutes. By then it was time to get the Splash FPs, but I was so nervous--about the kids being patient, keeping them scattered, and making sure they cheered and went through with it if they were picked--that I decided to stay until after the show to grab the FP (the kids kept getting up and talking to each other, and I was afraid they'd lose their coveted spots). Not grabbing the Splash FPs would later create a domino effect leading to my demise. I made six posters with Star Wars fonts (I stole the cute idea from My Year With The Mouse!). One DNiece10 opted to not do it at all, but all remaining five kids got chosen! Another DNiece5 who got chosen also backed out. No one else in the audience brought posters, btw. An added bonus to our JTA experience: my DNephew5 was hand-picked to use the Force to fight the Storm Troopers! After the show, the CMs let me have my posters back! Now all of us dedicated DISers who worked hard on our posters know that we can re-use them! Hide the posters in a manila folder or wedged between papers in your bag as you pass through security.

Everyone was crabby, so it was time to eat. I thought I would have time to run off to get the Splash FPs right after JTA, but we decided to take the monorail to Downtown Disney for lunch. An announcement indicated that two monorails were down, and that it would be a 40 minute wait. While waiting for the monorail, the kids and Single Sister begged me to let them ride Nemo (but I told them to wait until the line died down during the Soundsational Parade). At the monorail queue, my sister convinced me not to get the Splash FPs bc she thought that we could make the next monorail earlier than the estimated time and that I might not be back in time. She was wrong, but truth be told, I was so exhausted by the barrage of questions and complaints that the thought of running all the way to Critter Country from Tomorrowland in the hot sun was making me dizzy. Jumping back in the monorail line seemed tricky, too. FYI, since there was only one operating monorail, there were already people lined up to ride in the first car, so we'd have to wait for the next one if we wanted to ride in front (no thanks!). And because there was only one working monorail, it was making round trips with no empty monorails departing from Downtown Disney. Therefore, there was no possibility to ride in the first car from Downtown Disney, either (since passengers would already be on it). I had heard that kids who request to ride in the front get a certificate. Next time!

After lunch, the families voted to push on without a break at the hotel. First lesson: force a nap/break, even if your party fights it! We took the monorail back to Tomorrowland (the A/C wasn't working, but we enjoyed the aerial view of DLR and DCA). [Side note about our lunch at Ralph Brennan's Kitchen Express: great variety, hearty portions, tasty food and lower prices than the more crowded New Orleans Square eateries. Nice, shaded open-air seating with restrooms next door in the table-service restaurant. If you order the fried chicken with biscuit, ask them how long it will be--it took forever. But at least you sit down while you wait, and they bring the food out to you. There is a free pitcher of water near the soda fountain; otherwise the sodas are pricey but not as expensive as DLR.]

Everyone rode and enjoyed BLAB (20 minute wait) while I got Splash FPs. It was 3:50 p.m., so I hurried them to Nemo, hoping that the wait would be shorter right before the Soundsational Parade--but it was still 45 minutes. I was frustrated that I grabbed the Splash FPs so late, and now the FP return time was 7:55 p.m. (not the time you want to be on a wet ride).

SM was the source of many breakdowns (pun intended). The ride was down, so Dad of Family A ran to get slushy drinks, and Dad of Family B ran to the restroom while we rested in the adjacent food court. Once the ride was running, Dads of Families A and B weren't back yet, so we sent Family C to ride while we watched their DD9months and waited for the dads. Family C accidentally entered the standby line because there were no chains/ropes or CM there to direct them to the loading area. They crossed over and stood outside in the hot sun with the other standby’s. A nice kid noticed that they were in the wrong line and sent them on the right path.

Meanwhile, back at the food court, a nasty sequence of events was about to take place. Not-so-DearNieces10 and 9 took turns having temper tantrums because their moms and dads, one by one, went to the restroom, looked for slushy drinks and bought popcorn. Each time one family was ready to ride, that family's parent was missing. So we all took out our frustrations on Family C and asked them why they took so long because we were convinced that they were in the wrong line (which they were momentarily). The truth is that the SM FP line takes a while, just as it does at Indy and at Splash. It wasn’t Family C's fault. Now enter mother of Family B with boxes full of popcorn, which now NOBODY wants bc they all want to ride SM. Ziploc bags to the rescue: we poured the popcorn in them to save it until after the ride. Second lesson: you have your entire vacation to enjoy family togetherness. It doesn't need to be experienced on each and every ride. Send kids on rides with ANY willing adults in your party ASAP; they don't "need" to ride with their parents.

After SM, everyone FINALLY shut up and took the Disneyland Railroad to New Orleans Square (the train ride and dioramas saved us a very long, congested walk). The group lined up at HM while I got FPs to Indy. Since the name, "Haunted Mansion" scared DNiece5, I took her with me to get Indy FPs so that everyone else could ride. HM took long despite its continuous loading nature. The kids thought that HM was a “waste of time.” Next, we rode POTC which everyone enjoyed (Jack Sparrow additions were funny). You may get slightly wet. The entrance confused me a little. I pointed out the Dream Suite. After POTC, we rode JC which the little kids liked, but the older ones complained was fake (except for the gun).

Following JC, we headed to Splash (the ideal situation would have been to already hit Splash after HM and hit Indy after JC, but because of getting FPs so late in the day, we had to backtrack). I ran to get BTMRR FPs. We waited forever for our family members to come out of Splash. The group sent Single Sister alone with all the kids on the ride. I thought about suggesting that they ride Pooh during the wait, but Single Sister left her cell phone with them. It was cold by then, so the family members who rode Splash had donned the Dollar Tree ponchos, and onlookers asked them where they got them!

I had to separate from the clan at Splash to scout a location for the fireworks. It was 8:40 p.m. which was 20 minutes later than I had planned. I camped out in front of Carnation Plaza which I thought was perfect because of the secret bathroom and passageway to Frontierland since I planned to run to Fantasmic’s 10:30 p.m. showing (about nine o’clock if you are in the hub facing the castle). There were only two trees hovering nearby, but everything was clear. This added to my ongoing demise. I was worried about the group finding Single Sister and kids and then navigating the crowd and finding me. The family finally found my spot after ignoring my directions, walking past me and going to Plaza Inn instead. After pleading with a CM to allow them to cross Main Street, we got ready to enjoy the show. Again, the kids were cranky (the two good ones were sleeping in their strollers). DNiece9 was tired and wanted to go home, but DNephew9 was dying to ride BTMRR. I was torn on what to do after the fireworks. [I had to use a picnic blanket to save their spots, which is bad etiquette. The ideal thing would have been for all of us to be there at the same time. I let the neighboring crowd step on and sit on my blanket, so they didn't yell at me!]

We were all excited to see Tinkerbell fly from the Matterhorn to the castle but never saw Dumbo. Then, to our dismay, almost all the fireworks occurred BEHIND that stupid tree. I know I was supposed to sit at the six o’clock position (as an alternative, my aunt even recommended sitting in front of the Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor bc of its proximity to Carnation Cafe's secret bathroom), but I really thought by the way that the sidewalk ran--and the fact that I had originally planned on going to Fantasmic afterwards--that I was in a prime spot. My family was very frustrated and quick to let me know. The kids had no interest in watching Fantasmic, the adults were restless and I knew we couldn't ride both BTMRR and Indy. We voted to ride Indy.

At Indy, Families B and C were MIA and left me with DNephew5 who I had to wait with to use Rider Switch. Family A rode Indy and loved it, but the FP line took long (probably because the first Fantasmic showing had just concluded). It was then my turn. Family B found me, so I handed over DNephew5 since they (and Family C) didn’t end up wanting to ride Indy at all. They wanted to go home, but I didn’t get their subtle hint or chose not to. In retrospect, if I knew that they had no desire to ride Indy, I would have told them find a spot to view Fantasmic to pass the time while waiting for us. I had their 7 FPs left, so the people who rode Indy first wanted to ride again, and I joined them. Again, another AMAZING ride that I wished I could have ridden again. I got dinged post-trip for "ignoring their fatigue," so another lesson learned is, send the scared-y cats and Grumpy Gusses HOME!

Afterwards, we walked to City Hall to check out our JTA pictures, but the line was long, so we skipped it. We walked to our shuttle zone and waited for the next pick-up time, which was a half hour away. We had just missed it.

Day 2, Friday, 7/22/11
8 Rides: PP (with DNiece5 and DNiece9months riding King Arthur's Carousel during the wait), Snow White, Gadget’s Go Coaster, BTMRR, Indy, Nemo and Autopia
Fireworks (unobstructed)

Day 2 was cut short due to a rehearsal dinner being scheduled in the middle of it. On top of that, everyone (except for me) wanted to sleep in, and Family B ran to Target to replace DD5's broken flip-flop. Our DLR visit was meant to start a day earlier but was postponed due to flight delays; hence the rehearsal dinner being in the middle of our day. No one thought that they would be back that evening, so I pushed to get FPs in the limited time and tried to get everyone on the rides that they wanted to go on the day before but missed (such as Peter Pan and BTMRR). I wanted to take them to Storybook, but we had no time.

Everyone got in line at PP (I encouraged the tiny ones and their parents to ride King Arthur's Carousel during the PP 30-40 minute wait). I ran to get SM FPs since some people wanted to ride it again. GEEK ALERT: that morning, SM had an unscheduled late opening, so I was the VERY FIRST PERSON at RD! When I say "RD," I mean that I actually saw the CMs walk back the white rope. This was NOTHING like the RD that I had seen in Day 1's ST FP line where there were thousands in front of me. Afterwards, I joined my group at PP, blinked once and the ride was over! Next, they lined up to ride Snow White. I ran to get FP’s for BTMRR, but the standby line was really short. I debated whether or not to get the Indy FPs first since those have a longer FP return time and sell out earlier, but the kids had already ridden Indy and had demanded to ride BTMRR the night before during the fireworks (they didn’t want to watch fireworks, but their parents did). I opted for the BTMRR FPs and got back into line with everyone for Snow White. Everyone enjoyed watching the Evil Queen peer out the window above and hearing her cackle after touching the Golden Apple (both at the ride entrance). The ride was weird with no resolution, but it was less zig-zaggy than Alice.

DNiece9 had been looking forward to The Little Mermaid ride since discovering it on TV, but we were no longer visiting DCA. So when she asked to ride Gadget's Co Coaster, we obliged. I wished I would have known at TT yesterday that she wanted to ride Go Coaster! We could have done that instead of creepy RR.

En route to Fantasyland, I happily bumped into Ariel and Sleeping Beauty standing at BOTH secret passageways—the one at Frontierland AND at Tomorrowland (thanks for the Bonus Princesses Tip, Shelby from My Year With The Mouse )! I called mother of Family A, but she didn't pick up. She was at Go Coaster, so I figured that the clan would not make it in time to meet the princesses. At that time, there were about 25-30 people in line to meet each princess. Btw, the kids loved Go-Coaster, but mother of Family A did not enjoy the wait or ride as much.

Next, I ran to Indy to get FPs. Boy, was there a line, so don't get these too late in the day (a rooky mistake to get BTMRR FPs first but the kids already rode Indy and not BTMRR). Stupid me—while waiting in line, I grabbed the Disney tix out of my pouch and didn’t bother counting them ahead of time. I fed all my tix through the FP terminal and went off to the side to count the tix and FPs (I had read somewhere on this board that someone does this, and I followed suit). I recommend you always do this, too, because I accidentally left an admission ticket on top of the SM kiosk on Day 1, and after coming up short, ran back quickly to retrieve it). Luckily, no one else saw it or took it. Anyway, I realized that I only had only 12 FPs when I needed 14 and panicked because I thought I had lost 2 Disney tix. It turned out that the 2 Disney tix were buried DEEP in my pouch. Since there were already tons of people at the FP kiosk that I had originally used, so I got back at the end of the FP line to get the remaining 2 FPs. By then the line was all the way past Tarzan’s Treehouse! That cost me about 20 minutes in return time between the first 12 FPs and the last 2 FPs.

After everyone was finished with Go Coaster, I rushed them to BTMRR. The bonus princesses were no longer at the secret passageway, and to make it worse, I completely missed said secret passageway at the back of the castle and accidentally went all the way around. I do not have a strong internal compass. Everyone except the mother from Family C rode BTMRR and loved it. She had the baby who was wide awake, so I suggested Rider Switch. She claimed that she had a headache, but she was probably paranoid from being yelled at SM on Day 1 and didn't want to repeat the same fate. The same mother got hungry and wanted to go to Plaza Inn for fried chicken, but we really had to leave the park by 2:30 p.m. and didn’t have time to have a table-service lunch. I suggested Bengal Barbecue because I thought that we could eat and wait in the long FP line at Indy, but we discovered soon after that the meat is too tough to eat right off the skewer. You need a fork and knife. I thought about recommending French Market once we got to Bengal Barbecue bc they didn’t seem all that impressed by Bengal, but that required backtracking to New Orleans Square, which, with 15 people plus strollers, isn't easy. I guess I should have shown them the French Market and Bengal Barbecue menus on MouseWait before we reached Bengal Barbecue. Anyway, I ordered the Banyan Beef and was disappointed--strange spices without enough salt. My sister ordered the vegetable skewer and said that it wasn’t cooked through and also had no flavor. The fruit cups, however, were more like fruit plates and were fresh and varied with plenty to share. The lines there are inefficient because the cashier also prepares your food. Covered seating is limited, so get someone in your party to look for tables while you're in line.

Everyone rode Indy except for the parents of Family A, three kids who didn’t meet the height requirement and me. We had already ridden Indy the day before and loved it but didn't necessarily need to ride it again. So we just took the kids to the restroom and waited in some shade. Everyone finished riding quickly, and we were pleasantly surprised to find that we had a whole hour left to get Dole Whips on the way to riding SM again! Then, DNephew8 turned up missing. Three adults formed a search party and informed CMs. I knew about the lost children at Baby Center/City Hall on Main Street but had faith that he would be found before we could even leave Adventureland. And because Disney does everything so well--he was. Luckily, a sweet passerby noticed that he was lost and reported him to a CM (they are the unsung heroes!). The spirit to continue had now left us, and it was just about time to head back to the hotel. We had money left on a gift card given to us by the bride’s family and decided to spend the remainder at a souvenir shop near the exit. I was secretly plotting to return solo to DLR after the rehearsal dinner when Mother of Family A tells me that we should come back at night even if no one else wants to. A split second later, mother of Family B whispered that we should get our hands stamped “just in case.” Some color--and a smile--returned to my face.

After a painfully long rehearsal dinner, we popped and packed some free popcorn provided by Homewood Suites, changed into warm clothes and hurried back to DLR. The CM didn’t check our hand stamps. We sent the scared-y cats to Nemo while we went to SM with our FPs, but alas, the SM ride was down again (like on Day 1). We then joined the rest of the family at Nemo. They said there was a 30 minute wait, but it was more like 45 minutes because they had to put us in a holding area to accommodate our large party of 15. While waiting, we reveled in the lively atmosphere of Tomorrowland because a band was performing 80s songs at Tomorrowland Terrace. The added bonus is that while we were in the holding area, we got to see the fireworks, this time un-obstructed! Everyone in the group rubbed it in that this view was SOO much better than the night before. Nemo was not worth the wait (in my opinion), but my assessment may be tainted by the fact that the kids were upset with me the day before for not letting them wait 45 minutes in the hottest part of the day for a non-airconditioned ride. Not to mention that while I am not a diagnosed claustrophobe, I am the type to bypass crowded subways and elevators for emptier ones (the Nemo seats are a little hard, small and closely-packed, too). DNiece9 (who never got to ride The Little Mermaid on this trip, clapped at the conclusion of Nemo. ).

The mother of Family B and I discussed plans of seeing Fantasmic after Nemo since we missed it on Day 1, and everyone seemed to be in better spirits. But DNephew9 overheard and protested, “Hey, you promised fewer shows and more rides today.” So I did. Autopia only had a 20 minute wait (and because of the Lost Child Fiasco described above, I really didn’t collect FPs after Indy since I didn’t think we would return to DLR that evening). I tried to get most of us in line, but everyone ran to the restroom. By the time they were done with the restroom, they decided to go souvenir-shopping. Then the Autopia line became a 30 minute wait. I knew that Autopia FPs don’t work as well as FPs everywhere else because of its loading nature, but I grabbed them anyway. Mother of Family C wanted to go home but for whatever reason decided to stay. The brave souls and I made our way to SM while the scared-y cats sat down at Tomorrowland Terrace and watched the concert.

When we returned to SM, the ride was still down. We ran back to Autopia. The wait time was still 30 minutes which was exactly when our FPs were ready, so we decided to wait it out in the standby line. DNiece10 pointed out the standby line for BLAB was only 10 minutes, but no one was even standing outside (so maybe the wait was shorter). In retrospect, we should have ridden that again (it would have been my first time and their second time) and then used our FPs for Autopia. But I didn’t realize then that the Autopia standby line was really 45 minutes rather than the estimated 30 minutes. We contemplated getting out of the standby line and entering the FP line, but we were close to the loading area, and I remembered that Autopia doesn’t have an efficient FP line. I rode with DNephew9 and was bored to tears. The ride is fun and cute at first but gets boring after a while because I don’t even like to drive in real life. I didn’t hear what the CM was saying at the required stop before you reach the loading zone (it's loud with all those cars). As I was slowly proceeding to the loading area, only one CM was there but wasn’t looking our way. Even though she was motioning for the cars to move forward, she wasn’t making eye contact with us and didn't hear us when we asked, “Do we keep going or stop?” Well—and here’s a not-so-proud-moment—I kept going! The ride started getting REALLY LONG and my DNephew9 turned to me and said, “I think we went twice.” I was alarmed as everything started to look familiar to me, and I didn’t see any of my family members on the road anymore. It dawned on me when the same CM at the required stop (right before you reach the loading zone) said to me sternly and sarcastically, “NEXT time, STOP.” I was so embarrassed that my judgment was subsequently clouded. This time, there were two CMs at the loading zone who were directing me forward, and I was so scared to screw up again that I froze, and my car “stalled.” I kept stopping a little too short of where they wanted me to pull up. They got frustrated and jumped on the car to move it forward. Above, on the bridge, the kids were yelling at DNephew9, asking why he didn’t want to let go (meaning that he wanted to ride 2 rounds instead of 1 like everyone else). What they DIDN’T know was that it was I who messed up! Of course, mother of Family A looked at me puzzled and said, “You didn’t hear the CM when he told you to stop?” I said, “NO!” And she said, “He even tells you which number to stop at.” OOPS. Needless to say, I had my Autopia Driver’s License revoked.

The scared-y cats had moved from Tomorrowland Terrace to the wait for us at the SM exit (we had forgotten to tell them that SM was down, so we rode Autopia instead). This time, SM looked like it was closed for the night (just as it had an unscheduled late opening in the morning, it might have had an unscheduled early closing). When we arrived, we told our group about SM being shut down all night and they said, “No, we were waiting for you and saw a ton of riders coming out and wondered where you were.” So SM was up and running while we were on that lame Autopia ride! They asked me what I wanted to do, but I could tell from their faces that they wanted to go home. So I said, “Go home!” They laughed because they thought that I wanted to go home, but the truth is that THEY did (well, I did partly want to go home because I was still scarred from my Autopia screw-up, costing everyone another 20 minutes of waiting time!).

All in all, I would say that the trip was a success (by my group's standards), and I have all of you to thank. If the average family does 8-9 rides in a day, then we did pretty well because we got to do many time-guzzling attractions, like PFF, TT and JTA (and considering we did not spend a full day at the parks on Day 2).

Last lesson: at the beginning of the trip, tell everyone that at any point if they want to separate and go home, then GO HOME and don't try to be a hero. Otherwise, you, as Pack Leader and FP Runner, will HEAR about it later!

Proud Moments
  1. Everyone realizing how much time was saved by using FPs.
  2. The kids wanting to do JTA again on Day 1 and then on Day 2.
  3. ALL the kids being chosen for JTA.
  4. Upon being asked, DNephew5 saying that JTA was his favorite part at DLR. His answer changed after he rode BTMRR.
  5. Scared-y cat DNiece5 actually shooting her arms straight up and keeping them there during the entire duration of BTMRR.
  6. Grumpy Dad of Family B being so proud of his DD5 on BTMRR.
  7. Mother of Family B loving how I planned a Disneyland Railroad ride from Tomorrowland to New Orleans Square.
  8. Grumpy Dad of Family B asking his kids if they wanted to go to Disney WORLD when they returned home from the trip.
  9. Mother of Family A wanting to go to DLR every year from now on.
  10. Dad of Family A and Mother of Family B wanting a third day at DLR.

Not-So-Proud Moments
  1. Not following my instincts to get Splash FPs before lunch, thereby making almost everyone chicken out of the ride since it was then cold by FP return time; causing some backtracking since I got the FPs so late.
  2. Picking the WORST spot for the fireworks.
  3. Failing to follow directions at Autopia, getting lost on a guided track and wasting everyone’s extra time.
  4. Not getting preemptive FPs while waiting for everyone to finish at the Indy ride on Day 2, thinking that no one wanted to return that evening. ALWAYS ASSUME YOU'LL BE BACK IN THE EVENING, EVEN WHEN IT SEEMS IMPOSSIBLE!!! I could have gotten the FPs while waiting in line for Nemo after we realized that the kids once again did not want to watch Fantasmic, but I was no longer thinking clearly.

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Old 07-25-2011, 11:54 PM   #2
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Sorry. I only made it all the way through Day 1 and I was getting stressed out for you.

Maybe next time just add another day and go with the flow a little more. That, or go without Family A, B, and C.

I hope you were able to have a vacation from your vacation.
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Old 07-26-2011, 05:50 AM   #3
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I think you deserve a medal for organizing a trip for such a large group and I would be extremely grateful to you for all that running around you did to get fastpasses. It really does sound like it was a wonderful trip all round, although very stressful for you. Maybe next time though, tell the families to go their own separate ways and to meet up for lunches. It's impossible to please everyone in such a large group and I think you did an awesome job.
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Old 07-26-2011, 10:51 AM   #4
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Thanks, jacs1234 and nerdboyrockstar! I agree that it's a dizzying report. I don't think people realize just how tireless a FP runner has to be until they do it themselves (and how many miles and energy that runner saves the rest of the group). It's a completely selfless job!

I agree that the 3-day summer tix with MM bonus would have worked much better for a large group with children of varying ages, but my idea was rejected (with the flight delay, we also didn't build enough days into our vacation for it, unfortunately). It didn't seem like my sisters had a plan and therefore didn't seem comfortable splitting up. I can't imagine going to DLR without any idea of what I'm getting myself into. But splitting up would have been perfect. One thing about having all the kids from all the families together is that when one kid is bad and starts acting bratty, they all do!

It's funny, after the rehearsal dinner on Day 2, the kids begged us not to "make" them go back to DLR. The mother of Family A and I lit up, thinking that Grandma can watch them while we zip through the grown-up rides. Unfortunately, mother of Family B must have bribed them because they joined us that evening.

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Old 07-26-2011, 11:06 AM   #5
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Whew, I feel like I need a nap after reading this!

I will be doing a multi-family trip next year with 15-ish people, so this was interesting. My sister and I will probably share the FP-running duties for the group. I don't imagine that we will stay all together, all of the time, though. Too many different interests, priorities, etc.

So does Homewood Suites have its own dedicated shuttle to DLR? If so, is it free? That is one of the places I am looking into. We stayed at the Homewood Suites near Legoland a couple of years ago and loved it.

Thank you for sharing! I am glad that your proud moments outnumbered your not-so-proud moments.
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Old 07-26-2011, 12:20 PM   #6
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Sorry

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Old 07-26-2011, 12:51 PM   #7
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Hi, deejdigsdis!

The guides out there only seem to cater to either young children or older children with nothing in between. I thought about purchasing RideMax which sounds like a fantastic program for those families who are organized--my family is decidedly not! It does help when the people you are traveling with like to have a game plan and a list of priorities.

For reference, we looked at Residence Inn Maingate (but plans fell through), Staybridge (but the location seemed shady), Candy Cane Inn with its free shuttle (but it was sold out) and Hampton Inn & Suites which seemed to have everything we needed and was the cheapest (but it didn't have enough rooms for our large group). It was $135/night with advance purchase, but I'm sure you can get it for less. Still worth every penny. Everything looked new and well-maintained. The pool area was great with a spot to rinse off before heading to the room (there was a pool, kiddie pool and hot tub and towels were provided in a chest). There was plenty of seating, and it was not crowded when we went. The staff was super attentive and customer-oriented. The complimentary breakfast (6-9 a.m. weekdays and until 9:30 a.m. in Sat/Sun) had a lot of variety and healthy options for us (waffles were great; eggs, potatoes, toast, bagels, English muffins, muffins, yogurt, fruit, oatmeal, cereal, soda fountain, juice, ham and sausage alternated each day, but I didn't see bacon during our stay). The breakfast dining area and outdoor courtyard were spacious and comfy. You can bring it to your room, though. I'd say that it may get crowded later in the morning. There are two elevators on both ends of the hotel; the front one will take longer during crowded times. Basically, just as crowds build at DLR, assume that they build in a very similar fashion or slightly earlier in the DLR area hotels. When we booked, we initially requested suites with fireworks views but changed our minds and requested lower level rooms to take the stairs if needed. We were on the 4th floor which was a happy medium. They also accommodated our request to keep our rooms near each other. My sister had the fireworks view and enjoyed it. The fridge and microwave came in handy, and so did the kitchen sink (for washing baby bottles). We didn't find the need for the two-burner stove, but FYI the kitchen doesn't have an oven. Each suite provides everything you'd find in a typical hotel room (plenty of towels and Neutrogena toiletries), plus paper towels, dishwashing detergent, sponge, can opener, wine opener, cups, cooking utensiles, a knife, plates and silverware (probably enough for 3-4 people). We didn't cook, but I think I remember seeing pots and pans.

The vanity is outside the bathroom, so it helped us get ready faster. From Mon-Thurs, there is a Manager's Reception where they serve a comp light dinner from 5-8 p.m. We did Taco Night one night and the rest of the time we were at DLR. The 24-hour guest laundry (3 washers/3 dryers) was a great perk, but it does get busy in the mornings, so time your laundry in the afternoons/evenings. There were two people in front of me on Sat morning when I did laundry at 9:00 a.m., so I didn't finish until 11:45 a.m. The middle dryer stopped working. Coffee is served all day near the front desk with ice water with citrus slices, and there are Chips Ahoy cookies in the kitchen area. As you might assume from my trip report above, I had to make many trips to the coffee station (even though there was a coffee maker in each suite). There are little French vanilla and Half-n-Half creamers.

Parking is $12/day, but I honestly forgot to register the late arrival van and didn't get charged for it! The hotel shuttle is the same price as ART: $4 for adults; $1 for children ages 3-9 (all day, unlimited trips). We didn't end up using the hotel shuttle in the middle of the day for naps like smart people, so if that's your intention, I can understand why some people like hotels within walking distance of DLR. My family, however, doesn't walk much. I mean, don't you do ENOUGH walking in the actual parks? Anyway, you don't lose much time taking the shuttle to the hotel for naps if you time it right. You can purchase your passes at the front desk, and if you have them bill it to your room, you get HHonors points. You get a free Nestle Crunch bar at check-in if you are an HHonors member. The driver only checks your passes when you board at the hotel and not at night. It leaves at the 15 and 45 minute mark of very hour from the hotel and goes straight to DLR; no other stops on the way. We had the shuttle to ourselves every single time we left the hotel to DLR. On days when DLR has MM, the first shuttle leaves at 6:15 a.m. On days that DLR opens at 8:00 a.m., the shuttle leaves at 7:15 a.m. The last shuttle leaving DLR is at 1:00 a.m.

From DLR (the White Zone is along the hedges all the way at the end on the left as you are exiting the park--just ask CMs who are standing around or look for the signs), it leaves at the beginning and 30 minute mark of every hour. If you don't have a good memory or strong sense of direction, just take digital pics along the way (but it's not hard to figure out). CMs done with their shifts head toward the same direction as the White Zone for their shuttle. And the shuttle is always on time. With a group of 15, we found that the nonstop nature of this shuttle was perfect. No worrying if the shuttle would be too crowded and that we'd have to wait for the next shuttle if we had taken the ART. True that the ART runs supposedly every 20 minutes which makes the frequency 3X an hour and not 2X like the hotel shuttle, but we didn't like the multiple stops that it makes. Also, I believe on this particular ART route, the last stop is at Marriott Suites which is where you would board (you'd purchase your passes at a kiosk there). So the chances of seeing a full bus when it's time for you to embark may be high. But the Homewood shuttle (large plain white bus) picks up and stops right in front our hotel entrance across their main entrance driveway. And there is no one else to compete with for a seat (besides the hotel guests). In our case, we didn't have to compete with anyone when we boarded. At night, Homewood and Sheraton share their shuttle duties so sometimes they drop off Homewood guests first and then Sheraton, and other times, it's in reverse. The shuttles are full by then but never so full that we'd have to wait for the next one. Supposedly, you can catch the Crowne to DLR as well, since it runs at a different interval from Homewood. But one night at DLR, I asked the Crowne driver if we could do this and he said no and to wait for the Homewood/Sheraton one. Maybe on the way to DLR it's not a problem, but coming from DLR it might be an issue (because the buses have more people)?

I'm glad that you have a sister who can share FP runner duties. The two people that I could have asked to help are a) not used to walking much; b) have no sense of direction--worse than mine; and c) don't have a lot of energy. Lemme know if you have any other questions!

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Old 07-27-2011, 10:13 AM   #8
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Sounds like you had a hectic, but fun trip! I agree with the proud moments outnumbering the not-so-proud ones. Good job!

I am planning my own multi-family trip and really found this post and all the others on these boards useful.

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Old 07-27-2011, 07:01 PM   #9
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Thanks so much for reading, and for the feedback, Momof2boys! When are you going? How old are your boys? Jedi Training Academy was the highlight of our experience, and it's easier to participate in and more impressive than one might expect. Maybe it's because I worked so hard on those posters!

This was a first trip for many of the kids and for us as responsible adults, so next time we will have a better idea of what to expect and what to skip! Perhaps in the future, the 5 year-olds won't be as afraid of SM. But they, and the infant, seemed to get the most out of the trip and were truly the most well-behaved children. The older ones were baaaaad! And the families will hopefully have a higher comfort level to split up! Having a nice hotel to come home to after long days at DLR was perfect.

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Old 07-29-2011, 09:07 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by g0lden View Post
Thanks so much for reading, and for the feedback, Momof2boys! When are you going? How old are your boys? Jedi Training Academy was the highlight of our experience, and it's easier to participate in and more impressive than one might expect. Maybe it's because I worked so hard on those posters!

This was a first trip for many of the kids and for us as responsible adults, so next time we will have a better idea of what to expect and what to skip! Perhaps in the future, the 5 year-olds won't be as afraid of SM. But they, and the infant, seemed to get the most out of the trip and were truly the most well-behaved children. The older ones were baaaaad! And the families will hopefully have a higher comfort level to split up! Having a nice hotel to come home to after long days at DLR was perfect.

Our family will be going in early september around the labor day weekend. We'll be there for our 10th wedding anniversary and my brother, his family, and a family friend of ours will be going. I think we will have approximately 15 people with us.

I have two sons, ages 7 and 9, although my oldest will be turning 10 in late august. The oldest is especially excited for the Jedi Academy and it's all he's talked about since we started planning for this trip.

Planning is going well, but we are still trying to get all of the details settled!
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Old 07-29-2011, 11:31 AM   #11
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I agree with you that a trip to DLR with children (especially other families with children) is quite different than an adult trip. I have done both..and they are completely different. Our first trip to DLR was for just 2 days..with a 2 yr old..NEVER again!! I need a minimum of 4 days when I have children on board. We also prefer to go at a more relaxed pace so that we don't get tired and cranky. We ALWAYS go back to the hotel for a nap/break. I am happy to hear that you had a great a time!!
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Old 08-01-2011, 01:30 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Momof2b View Post
Our family will be going in early september around the labor day weekend. We'll be there for our 10th wedding anniversary and my brother, his family, and a family friend of ours will be going. I think we will have approximately 15 people with us.

I have two sons, ages 7 and 9, although my oldest will be turning 10 in late august. The oldest is especially excited for the Jedi Academy and it's all he's talked about since we started planning for this trip.
Happy Anniversary! I'm sure that you are aware of this, but Disneyland's park hours and schedule start changing at the end of August and at the beginning of September--which is roughly when you are going. Then, on Monday, Labor Day, summer hours resume for that day. It seems that Matterhorn may be up and running again (I don't see it listed under Reburbishments anymore) but that Haunted Mansion will be closed to get it ready for the Halloween/Holiday Install. Lady Bug Boogie in DCA will also be closed).

You are your boys are going to have a GREAT time at Jedi Training Academy! Just make signs beforehand and smuggle them through security. The signs don't have to be elaborate and can be folded in half and tucked into a manila folder (or the sign can be the interior of the actual folder itself). The unsuspecting CM who checks your bag will just think that it's a bunch of harmless DISboard thread printouts.

If you haven't come across this yet, read Hound 109's very adorable and thorough thread of Jedi Training Academy: http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=1478699

The only change since that was posted is that there is no longer a rope at Tomorrowland Terrace marking the front row; just an easy-to-find blue tape on the ground. I have a long, overdue thank you that I need to post to that thread.

Also, read the humorous and colorful MyYearWithTheMouse's lovely blog (parts 1 and 2):
http://myyearwiththemouse.com/2011/0...-and-training/

It goes in-depth about who gets chosen and who doesn't (don't bring a light saber, for example). I'm waiting on some digital pics from my family to share with Shelby to thank her as well.

The signs will guarantee your sons get chosen, and the bright, easy-to-describe shirts that they wear will increase their odds (they don't necessarily need to wear Star Wars shirts but fluorescent green shirts and plaid shorts are hard to miss!). You can even separate them if you want, but I had three nieces and nephews standing right next to each other with signs, and two nieces next to each other on the other side, and they all got picked. Make sure they shout and jump in the front row for added insurance (get there about 30 minutes prior).

You can stand in the rear to take pics, but I think that it might be helpful if you stand in the cracks on the right or left sides of the Tomorrowland Terrace stage (near the cabinets that store the robes, sabers, etc.). You'll look like a stalker. Standing in the rear, you may get pictures of your kids from the back, the aisle rope (in the center) or tall people's heads. They do turn to face the audience for a few minutes to practice their training. Or maybe one person can take pics/videos on the sides and another can take pics/videos from the rear. If all else fails, there is a Photo Pass photographer there who will give you a piece of paper to take with you to City Hall. You can have JTA pics added to your current PhotoPass.

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Old 08-12-2011, 11:09 AM   #13
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Hi, deejdigsdis!

I rambled a lot in my post, but the point of it was to definitely prove that no DLR trip can be perfect with a group this large! If I can help at least one person, then I am happy. The guides out there only seem to cater to either young children or older children with nothing in between. I thought about purchasing RideMax which sounds like a fantastic program for those families who are organized--my family is decidedly not! It does help when the people you are traveling with like to have a game plan and a list of priorities. My family did not.

I also agree that when your proud moments outnumber your not-so-proud moments--your trip is a success!

Feel free to PM me any time about Homewood Suites in case I get yelled at for being off-topic. We all LOVED it. For reference we looked at Residence Inn Maingate (but plans fell through), Staybridge (but the location seemed quiet/shady), Candy Cane Inn with its free shuttle (but it was sold out) and Hampton Inn & Suites which seemed to have everything we needed and was the cheapest (but it didn't have enough rooms for our large group). It was $135/night with advance purchase, but I'm sure you can get it for less. Still worth every penny. Everything looked new and well-maintained. The pool area was great with a spot to rinse off before heading to the room. The staff was super attentive and customer-oriented. The complimentary breakfast (6-9 a.m. and until 9:30 a.m. in Sat/Sun) had a lot of variety and healthy options for us (waffles were great; eggs, potatoes, toast, bagels, English muffins, muffins, yogurt, fruit, oatmeal, cereal, soda fountain, juice, ham and sausage alternated each day, but I never did see bacon). The breakfast dining area/outdoor courtyard was spacious and comfy. You can bring it to your room, though. I'd say that it does get crowded perhaps after 7 a.m. There are two elevators on both ends of the hotel; the front one will take longer during crowded times. Basically, just as crowds build at DLR, assume that they build in a very similar fashion or slightly earlier in the DLR area hotels. When we booked, we initially requested suites with fireworks views but changed our minds and requested lower level rooms to take the stairs if needed. We were on the 4th floor which was a happy medium. They also accommodated our request to keep our rooms near each other. My sister had the fireworks view and enjoyed it. The fridge and microwave came in handy, and so did the kitchen sink (for washing baby bottles). We didn't find the need for the two-burner stove, but FYI the kitchen doesn't have an oven. Each suite provides everything you'd find in a typical hotel room (plenty of towels and Neutrogena toiletries), plus paper towels, dishwashing detergent, sponge, can opener, wine opener, cups, cooking utensiles, a knife, plates and silverware (probably enough for 3-4 people). We didn't cook, but I think I remember seeing pots and pans.

The vanity is outside the bathroom, so it helped us get ready faster. From Mon-Thurs, there is a Manager's Reception where they serve a comp light dinner from 5-8 p.m. We did Taco Night one night and the rest of the time we were at DLR. The 24-hour guest laundry (3 washers/3 dryers) was a great perk, but it does get busy in the mornings, so time your laundry in the afternoons/evenings. There were two people in front of me on Sat morning when I did laundry at 9:00 a.m., so I didn't finish until 11:45 a.m. The middle dryer stopped working. Coffee is served all day near the front desk with ice water with citrus slices, and there are Chips Ahoy cookies in the kitchen area. As you might assume from my trip report above, I had to make many trips to the coffee station (even though there was a coffee maker in each suite). There are little French vanilla and Half-n-Half creamers.

Parking is $12/day, but I honestly forgot to register the late arrival van and didn't get charged for it! The hotel shuttle is the same price as ART: $4 for adults; $1 for children ages 3-9 (all day, unlimited trips). We didn't end up using the hotel shuttle in the middle of the day for naps like smart people, so if that's your intention, I can understand why some people like hotels within walking distance of DLR. My family, however, doesn't walk much. I mean, don't you do ENOUGH walking in the actual parks? Anyway, you don't lose much time taking the shuttle to the hotel for naps if you time it right. You can purchase your passes at the front desk, and if you have them bill it to your room, you get HHonors points. You get a free Nestle Crunch bar at check-in if you are an HHonors member. The driver only checks your passes when you board at the hotel and not at night. It leaves at the 15 and 45 minute mark of very hour from the hotel and goes straight to DLR; no other stops on the way. We had the shuttle to ourselves every single time we left the hotel to DLR. On days when DLR has MM, the first shuttle leaves at 6:15 a.m. On days that DLR opens at 8:00 a.m., the shuttle leaves at 7:15 a.m. The last shuttle leaving DLR is at 1:00 a.m.

From DLR (the White Zone is along the hedges all the way at the end on the left as you are exiting the park--just ask CMs who are standing around or look for the signs), it leaves at the beginning and 30 minute mark of every hour. If you don't have a good memory or strong sense of direction, just take digital pics along the way (but it's not hard to figure out). CMs done with their shifts head toward the same direction as the White Zone for their shuttle. And the shuttle is always on time. With a group of 15, we found that the nonstop nature of this shuttle was perfect. No worrying if the shuttle would be too crowded and that we'd have to wait for the next shuttle if we had taken the ART. True that the ART runs supposedly every 20 minutes which makes the frequency 3X an hour and not 2X like the hotel shuttle, but we didn't like the multiple stops that it makes. Also, I believe on this particular ART route, the last stop is at Marriott Suites which is where you would board (you'd purchase your passes at a kiosk there). So the chances of seeing a full bus when it's time for you to embark may be high. But the Homewood shuttle (large plain white bus) picks up and stops right in front our hotel entrance across their main entrance driveway. And there is no one else to compete with for a seat (besides the hotel guests). In our case, we didn't have to compete with anyone when we boarded. At night, Homewood and Sheraton share their shuttle duties so sometimes they drop off Homewood guests first and then Sheraton, and other times, it's in reverse. The shuttles are full by then but never so full that we'd have to wait for the next one. Supposedly, you can catch the Crowne to DLR as well, since it runs at a different interval from Homewood. But one night at DLR, I asked the Crowne driver if we could do this and he said no and to wait for the Homewood/Sheraton one. Maybe on the way to DLR it's not a problem, but coming from DLR it might be an issue (because the buses have more people)?

I'm glad that you have a sister who can share FP runner duties. The two people that I could have asked to help are a) not used to walking much; b) have no sense of direction--worse than mine; and c) don't have a lot of energy. Lemme know if you have any other questions!
Thank you for all that great information! I like that the shuttle leaves 45 minutes before park opening as opposed to 30 minutes (like the Hyatt shuttle). I think I read on another thread that you can get discount shuttle passes when you purchase a 5-day shuttle pass. Every little bit helps.

It sounds like a great place to stay. Strange that there isn't an oven. Not that I plan on doing any baking while I'm there...but you'd think with a kitchen like that, an oven would be involved in the set up! I also like it when the vanity is outside the bathroom. Thanks again for sharing!
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Old 08-15-2011, 01:37 PM   #14
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You're very welcome, deejdigsdis! You and all the other contributors on this board have been so instrumental in the success of my trip that I am glad to return the favor in any way I can! Yes, I do remember that Homewood offers discounts for shuttle passes 3 days and more (we didn't get to take advantage of it since we only went to the parks for 2 days). For convenience, the front desk sells Disney tickets (but we purchased ours online for less stress and potentially more savings). Like you, I also like that their shuttle runs earlier than other hotels (and their breakfast opens early, so no rushing!). For some with Magic Morning access or large groups, this is very important to consider when comparing hotels.

I know you weren't planning on baking, but FYI, I believe that the Residence Inn Anaheim Maingate has an oven, free parking and more suite choices for a larger family or two families to share (for example, on their website description, their 2-bedroom suite has a queen in one bedroom and 2 queens in the second bedroom plus 2 bathrooms). Plus, some consider Residence Inn to be a manageable walk to the parks. It didn't seem like it to me, so then we would be at the mercy of the ART there. Residence Inn's evening reception is only Mon, Wed and every other Friday, whereas Homewood's is Mon-Thurs. But unless Residence Inn is offering the deal of the century, you would have to pry me away from Homewood Suites! I thought Homewood's shuttle was a great perk over other suites in the area.

And the staff is beyond professionally courteous; they are always smiling, personable and have a great memory! I commented to one employee that they were so nice, and his response was, "We want to make you feel at home." The receptionist always remembered my room number to bill the shuttle passes or to replace my key. Once we ran into the housekeeper and asked her for a couple of more bottles of shampoo. She asked us for our room number and from that day on, she gave us more than we could possibly need for our stay and for several future trips!

You may think the hallways could use a little updating; apart from that, everything is new, reburbished and spacious.

I still have to post my review on TripAdvisor. I was that impressed! Oh, and I heard post-visit that warm cookies are served, but you have to ask the front desk about times. Or the front desk has them near them, not the kitchen area. I'm usually good about asking, but when I saw the Chips Ahoy cookies, I thought that they changed their warm cookie policy!

Last edited by g0lden; 08-15-2011 at 01:46 PM.
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