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Old 09-21-2011, 11:58 AM   #106
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Originally Posted by lynn46356 View Post
I'm so glad I found your trip report. We are trying to plan our big adventure out west for next June. Of course, I have a few days at Disneyland planned. We were planning on going to WDW, staying at the BC, for a week but my husband has two brothers in California so we've decided to drive out west for 2 weeks. I have WDW down to a science. I'm sure I haven't gone as many times as you have but I can plan it in my sleep. That is so not the case with DL. I think I'm going crazy trying to plan this trip. Between DL and everything else we want to do on the drive out and back. It has me more than confused. One of the questions (I probably have too many so I'll limit myself) is how long of a walk is it from your hotel to the parks? I've looked into the Good Neighbor Hotels but really really want to stay at one of the on site resorts even though its not necessary. I think that decision is making me the most crazy. Will I be able to get most of the parks done in 3 days also? Any opinions would be appreciated.
No problem! I think what helped me and my group is that because we've never had to "plan" a trip to WDW, it was easier for us to go with the flow at DLR. Not to say it wasn't still daunting to take on a Disney vacation without knowing anything about the DLR "way of life." But nearly all of the advice I read on the DLR boards assured WDW vets that DLR does not require a lot of planning because everything there is SO concentrated and, comparatively speaking, limited. DLR is more of a "locals park" ... something WDW is starting to realize it wants but its size and location make that more difficult. As result, what seems to cause the DLR visitor's frustration is the lack of out-of-town amenities for folks who don't simply just drive in for the day.

Another thing that is heavily preached on the DLR boards is that the Disney-owned hotels at DLR are not that big of a deal. Of course, you have the set that swear they'll never stay anywhere else, but for the budget conscious--the amenities don't really match the price when cheaper, just as comfortable options are even closer. Now, I wanted to stay on-site for the complete "Disney vacation experience" but my finances couldn't allow it. The Fairfield was as nice as the value resorts at WDW (though without a worthy pool; we didn't mind nor need one for this trip) and was closer in walking distance than the Disneyland Hotel or the Paradise Pier. The only Disney-owned hotel that is closer is the Grand Californian (it's attached to California Adventure and next to security for Disneyland). The Fairfield was probably about the same distance by foot to the Disneyland gate as it was from the Disneyland Hotel. The monorail station at Downtown Disney is a few minutes' walk from the DLH but it won't drop you at the front gate but rather at the back of Disneyland near the Nemo subs--it does not stop at California Adventure.

In all, it took about 5 to 8 minutes to walk to the DL gate from the Fairfield on Harbor, depending on the wait to cross the street. The DIS favorite Ho-Jo was about another block away and across a small street. After a long day at the parks, any further than the Fairfield would have been brutal. Check out the maps linked on the DLR boards that indicates where all the hotels are.

You should also be able to see most of DLR in 3 days. Keep in mind, though, that Disneyland is jammed with attractions--twice as many as MK at WDW. While the park itself is smaller, there are few wide open spaces and rides are very close together. Prepare yourself for few gift shops! We had about 5 days, with at least 2 full days set aside for each park. We did nearly everything on our first day for each, but keeping at a good clip and staying 'till almost park closing. We entered DL around 10 AM or so on our first day, and shortly after opening for CA on our second day. The only rides with serious lines were Star Tours, Indiana Jones (though it kept breaking down so that didn't help), the Nemo Subs, the Matterhorn (at times), and somewhat Peter Pan. Star Tours is identical to the one at WDW, so if you've done the updated version, don't bother unless it's a favorite or if FP's are available/line is short. Because you have 3 days, do Nemo as soon as the park opens on one of your days. It's a neat ride! The Matterhorn is a must, so try to ride that early, too. And do Indiana Jones at any cost--get a FP. If you can afford it, book a premium meal for World of Color at California Adventure---you're guaranteed a FP and get access to some of the best views of the show; this takes care of the need to join the stampede in getting FPs at the beginning of the day and waiting with the hoards to pile in an hour and 30 minutes before the show starts. The rest of the park you can easily do in one day. Don't bother with Soar'n unless the line is short--it's identical to WDW (being the original and all). Start with the new Mermaid ride, then hit everything at Paradise Pier. Toy Story Mania is also identical to WDW ... this had the longest line next to Grizzly River Run (and you wait OUTDOORS) so don't bother unless, again, it's a favorite. There's no FP for TSM. Make time to see the Aladdin show, and don't worry, there really wasn't a bad seat I could see.

So, if you make the most use of each day--being there close to park opening and staying 'till the park closes--you should see all there is to see. We didn't bother with Fantasmic (at WDW) or the fireworks (I would have stopped to watch, but the crowds just discouraged that plus ... we can see fireworks at home) so that afforded us more time to do rides. Since you're there only 3 days and have never been ... staying off-site will more than suit your needs, rather than paying twice as much and not having time to enjoy the resort pools and such.
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Old 09-23-2011, 08:05 AM   #107
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OrcaPotter, thank you for the great advice! I think it's going to take me until next June to get this trip planned for sure. Since its a driving trip there's a lot of hotels to figure out besides the other attractions we want to do. I always worry so much about the planning portion of the trip. I remember the good old days when my Mom just pulled out her Rand McNally book for whatever section of the United States they were traveling and she never ever made a reservation for a hotel prior to going. Those days are over!!!! I really enjoy planning a vacation but then again don't sometimes too. Make any sense???? I'm also glad I have a vacation planned to WDW next year (as you can see by my signature)!!!! I'm in favor of the WOC package. Sounds like its a zoo if you don't book that (and I hate zoos). Our only problem is our son is a PICKY eater. I just have to be able to find something he'll eat out of the three places that offer it. Another question, would you pick the Fairfield again? I really don't want to walk any extra after a full day at the park. I've looked at the maps here on the Disboards and its hard to really make a decision on where to stay. I keep going back and forth about it. Again, thanks for all the great tips!!!!
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Old 09-24-2011, 12:18 AM   #108
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Glad I could help! I would definitely stay at the Fairfield Inn again, especially if for a future trip I still could not afford to try an on-site hotel. It was very comfortable, clean, the staff was friendly, and I appreciated the Disney touches in the decor. The McDonald's in the parking lot was great for grabbing breakfast, though there is also a Pizza Hut Express that serves breakfast on the 3rd floor of the hotel, also. Honestly, I don't know why more people don't stay there The only downside was I had learned parking was difficult, and we did notice the lot was full during our stay--there were even cars parked along the curb next to the restaurant that was also in the parking lot. I would try to arrive early (around check-out time) to make sure you get a space (if you decide to stay there). I had also considered the Carousel Inn, which is a hundred or so feet closer, but really, the walk was not bad at all to the Fairfield and there is always a crowd going back with you for safety.
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