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Old 07-16-2013, 08:14 PM   #1
MarbleBob
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Missouri to DLR - Take 2 - Oct 2013 - Updated: Trip Report Complete

Our first trip to Disneyland as a family - October 2013

Our trip is now complete and I'm about to start the trip report. If you are interested in following along, here's a summary of the vacation:

Saturday, Oct 12 - Travel, Disneyland Hotel, and Downtown Disney
Sunday, Oct 13 - Disneyland and Trader Sam's
Monday, Oct 14 - California Adventure
Tuesday, Oct 15 - Shopping in Downtown Disney, Swimming, Trader Sam's, and Halloween Party
Wednesday, Oct 16 - Little Tokyo in LA, Griffith Observatory, Seal Beach, and Vans Skatepark
Thursday, Oct 17 - Disneyland and California Adventure
Friday, Oct 18 - California Adventure, Disneyland, and Back to California Adventure
Saturday, Oct 19 - Packing, Downtown Disney, and Travel Back Home

Click here for this first post in the Trip Report, or continue reading the Pre-Trip Report below.

Also, see the next post for the table of contents.

Original Pre-Trip Report:

How our original July trip got delayed to October:



I've been laying in this same exact spot for 4.5 days straight.

(Not counting bio breaks, of course.) What makes it even worse, is that I've been planning to take these same days off from work for at least six months now. According to the original plans, we'd be hanging out in San Francisco right now. Heading to Yosemite this Thursday, spending most of next week at DIsneyland, with a final stop at Grand Canyon before driving back to St. Louis.

The bright side is that we'll still be able to go to Disneyland for a week in October!!! If you are interesting in reading about the plans for this new trip and/or sharing some occasional advice/opinions, then please follow along



So what happened?

I have a fairly detailed summary of the original plans in my pre-trip report thread titled, Trip Report: Are we there yet? A 5,000 Mile Road Trip from Missouri to Disneyland. In a nutshell, we had decided that we needed to take the kids to visit/experience more things in the country that aren't Disney related. After exploring options, we decided to take a 16 day epic road trip from St. Louis to California with lots of stops and seeing some major sites. And that we'd still sprinkle in a little bit of Disney by visiting Disneyland for a couple days. Well, everything was going perfectly. Except for I broke my foot skateboarding in early May. No worries, they said it would heal in 4 to 6 weeks, and I still had about 10 weeks left. Wrong! My bones healed up, but there was ligament damage that wasn't originally detected in the X-Rays. We had two weeks to go, and the doc said that surgery was required and that it couldn't wait until after the trip. So, we had to cancel it. I was crushed. The kids were crushed. My wife was bummed, but kept perspective and helped us get over the disappointment. If you read the original pre-trip report, it was going to be awesome, wasn't it? This was one for the record books. We might try again the summer after next.

Fast forward another two weeks or so, and I'm lying in bed recovering from surgery. Bored out of my mind, with almost no attention span due to the pain meds making me feel so loopy. I figured, that I'm "with it" enough now that I can start a new pre-trip report. In short, we'll be flying from STL to LAX on Saturday, October 12 and return on Saturday, October 19. We'll be staying at the Disneyland Hotel the entire time. We have 4 day hopper tickets for Sun/Monday. And separate tickets for Mickey's Halloween Party on Tuesday. Taking the day off on Wed (will probably go to Little Tokyo in LA and then to a beach for the afternoon/evening). Then using the last of the park hoppers on Thurs/Fri. For the most part, we have the skeleton of the trip pretty well defined, but I'm sure that we'll have some questions or things to sort out.

About Us

DW and I have been Disney fans most of our lives. Both enjoying the classic movies and cartoons as kids, and we went on family vacations to WDW a several times. (She had gone 4 times and I had been twice.) The first movie that we saw in a theater together was 101 Dalmatians in 1996. And when we were first dating, I remember she mentioned that as a little girl, she dreamed of going to WDW on her honeymoon. So, later when get got married, the decision on where to go for our honeymoon was a no brainer! That started the tradition of including Disney in family vacations and we've been going back for more ever since. We often travel with my parents and sometimes even with my sister and her family.

Matt (me) - Don't ask how/why I came up with the MarbleBob screen name, because I don't remember. I'm not related to anyone named Bob and I don't even own any marbles. Some might argue, that I've lost a few marbles, but that's a different story. About me? I'm a web applications developer, avid skateboarder (well until recently - darn foot!), gardener, and of course, a Disney fan. I tend to go through phases where I'm super into Disney, and then I focus my interest on other things. But I always come back This is still going to be my first real trip report. I'm not going to count the initial 1.0 version, since it didn't happen. And I also have an experimental trip report to Marceline, MO from last year. See my signature for it. Marceline is really a cool place!!!



Stephanie (DW) - My best friend and awesome mother to our 3 kids. She's isn't really any more or less into Disney than I am, but she's certainly more consistently plugged in. I think she's listened to every DIS Unplugged podcast through the years (both WDW and DL) and she's probably listened to every one of Ricky Brigante's Inside the Magic podcasts too. Stay tuned for a future post, because I just scanned 650 photo slides from her 4 family vacations (78,81,84,& 86). This took a ridiculous amount of time, but being stuck in bed since Friday, it's not like I had anything else to do



Ninja Potato (DD13) - My oldest daughter. Obviously, that's not her real name, but that's the name she uses a lot online. She must have inherited the knack for random screen names from my side of the family. We'll just refer to her as Ninja going forward. As mentioned above, she's grown up going to Disney World, and loving Disney princesses. She outgrew the princess loving stage a few years ago, but her love for Disney hasn't diminished. She also loves everything Nintendo and Japan, and of course, her favorite Disney attraction is the Japan Pavilion in Epcot.



Buddy (DS10) - Also not his real name, but this is what we usually call him around the house. He's our engineer. He loves building things with his monorail sets, Legos, Rokenbok, trains, etc. And of course, his favorite past time is playing Minecraft on the computer. Visiting the various Disney World Minecraft servers makes it ever better His favorite Disney attractions are the trains, monorails, Expedition Everest, and California Screamin'.



Pickle (DD6) - We don't really call her this too much in person, but she owns up to her nickname, and it fits her well. Very sweet and loving, but she can be a bit ornery and spicey too! She's very much still in the princess stage, and her favorite is Cinderella.



Well, I guess that's a good start. Stay tuned for more details and updates
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Trip Reports: (In Progress) Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho. It's off to the Grand Floridian We Go! (6/2014) | Back to the Drawing Board - Missouri to Disneyland (10/2013) | A visit to Walt's Happy Place - Marceline, MO (9/2012)

1981 Off Property, 1988 CBR, 1998 CBR (Honeymoon!!!), 2002 POFQ, 2003 Poly, 2005 WL, 2006 POP, 2007 WL, 2009 ASMo, 2009 POFQ, 2010 WL, 2010 DCL Wonder, 2010 DLR HOJO, 2010 PORS, 2011 off property, 2011 Bonnet Creek (DISApalooza 2011), 2012 DCL Dream, 2013 Disneyland Hotel, 2014 Grand Floridian


Last edited by MarbleBob; 04-13-2014 at 10:46 AM. Reason: updated title
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Old 07-16-2013, 08:15 PM   #2
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Pre-Trip Report
Introduction
Photos from Stephanie's childhood trips
Photo of Matt in the Magic Kingdom in 1988
Questions and Answers with the family
Pre-Trip Magical Moments at Disney Outlet Store grand opening!


Trip Report
Day 1 - Saturday, October 12: Travel, Disneyland Hotel, and Downtown Disney
Day 2 - Sunday, October 13 - Part 1: Extra Magic Hour at Disneyland and morning rides
Day 2 - Sunday, October 13 - Part 2: Afternoon at Disneyland
Day 2 - Sunday, October 13 - Part 3: Disneyland and Trader Sam's

Day 3 - Monday, October 14 - Part 1: California Adventure
Day 3 - Monday, October 14 - Part 2: California Adventure and Afternoon Break at DLH
Day 3 - Monday, October 14 - Part 3: California Adventure and World of Color

Day 4 - Tuesday, October 15 - Part 1: Exploring Disneyland Hotel and breakfast at Tangaroa Terrace
Day 4 - Tuesday, October 15 - Part 2: Shopping at Downtown Disney
Day 4 - Tuesday, October 15 - Part 3: Lunch at Trader Sam's and arriving early for the Halloween Party
Day 4 - Tuesday, October 15 - Part 4: Dinner and Hungry Bear and the Halloween Party

Day 5 - Wednesday, October 16 - Little Tokyo, Downtown LA

Day 6 - Thursday, October 17 - Part 1: Disneyland Early Entry
Day 6 - Thursday, October 17 - Part 2: Disneyland

Day 7 - Friday, October 17 - Part 1: California Adventure Early Entry
Day 7 - Friday, October 17 - Part 2: California Adventure Continued
Day 7 - Friday, October 17 - Part 3: California Adventure and Hopping over to Disneyland
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Trip Reports: (In Progress) Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho. It's off to the Grand Floridian We Go! (6/2014) | Back to the Drawing Board - Missouri to Disneyland (10/2013) | A visit to Walt's Happy Place - Marceline, MO (9/2012)

1981 Off Property, 1988 CBR, 1998 CBR (Honeymoon!!!), 2002 POFQ, 2003 Poly, 2005 WL, 2006 POP, 2007 WL, 2009 ASMo, 2009 POFQ, 2010 WL, 2010 DCL Wonder, 2010 DLR HOJO, 2010 PORS, 2011 off property, 2011 Bonnet Creek (DISApalooza 2011), 2012 DCL Dream, 2013 Disneyland Hotel, 2014 Grand Floridian


Last edited by MarbleBob; 11-12-2013 at 12:59 PM.
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Old 07-16-2013, 08:39 PM   #3
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I think DH was starting to question their sanity
I feel like I must be forgetting something!
 
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Count me in...

Hope you start to feel better real soon, MarbleBob. Your upcoming DLR trip should help keep you nicely motivated when it comes time to do your physical therapy.
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Old 07-16-2013, 09:10 PM   #4
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Thanks danacath! I'm really looking forward to getting past this

In the meantime, I mentioned that I scanned about 650 film slides from DW's family vacations. Here is a collage showing a few of my favorites. It's amazing how my DD's look so similar to DW at similar ages. (DW is the youngest in her family.) Very cool!


DW was thinking about making a retro trip report from the photos and her memories. She has a great sense of humor, so it would probably be fun to read.
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Trip Reports: (In Progress) Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho. It's off to the Grand Floridian We Go! (6/2014) | Back to the Drawing Board - Missouri to Disneyland (10/2013) | A visit to Walt's Happy Place - Marceline, MO (9/2012)

1981 Off Property, 1988 CBR, 1998 CBR (Honeymoon!!!), 2002 POFQ, 2003 Poly, 2005 WL, 2006 POP, 2007 WL, 2009 ASMo, 2009 POFQ, 2010 WL, 2010 DCL Wonder, 2010 DLR HOJO, 2010 PORS, 2011 off property, 2011 Bonnet Creek (DISApalooza 2011), 2012 DCL Dream, 2013 Disneyland Hotel, 2014 Grand Floridian

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Old 07-16-2013, 11:14 PM   #5
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Subbing in too.

Hope that foot is now recovering the way it should!
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Old 07-16-2013, 11:16 PM   #6
danacath
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I feel like I must be forgetting something!
 
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Love the pics! I can see who your kids got their great smiles from.

Yeah, I think a retro trip report could be all kinds of fun if your DW would enjoy doing that.
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Old 07-17-2013, 09:14 AM   #7
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I'm 'in'! How did you make the great collages? Hope your recovery is going smoothly.

TK
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Old 07-17-2013, 04:26 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tksbaskets View Post
I'm 'in'! How did you make the great collages? Hope your recovery is going smoothly.

TK
I found it by searching the Mac app store. It was a free download that turned out to be really good. They have a Windows version too, but I haven't tried it.

http://www.collageitfree.com
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Trip Reports: (In Progress) Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho. It's off to the Grand Floridian We Go! (6/2014) | Back to the Drawing Board - Missouri to Disneyland (10/2013) | A visit to Walt's Happy Place - Marceline, MO (9/2012)

1981 Off Property, 1988 CBR, 1998 CBR (Honeymoon!!!), 2002 POFQ, 2003 Poly, 2005 WL, 2006 POP, 2007 WL, 2009 ASMo, 2009 POFQ, 2010 WL, 2010 DCL Wonder, 2010 DLR HOJO, 2010 PORS, 2011 off property, 2011 Bonnet Creek (DISApalooza 2011), 2012 DCL Dream, 2013 Disneyland Hotel, 2014 Grand Floridian

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Old 07-17-2013, 09:23 PM   #9
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We are lucky to now have so many photos of Stephanie's Walt Disney World childhood vacations. Unfortunately, I don't have enough from my two childhood trips to make a collage, but at least I have one. This is from 1988.

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Trip Reports: (In Progress) Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho. It's off to the Grand Floridian We Go! (6/2014) | Back to the Drawing Board - Missouri to Disneyland (10/2013) | A visit to Walt's Happy Place - Marceline, MO (9/2012)

1981 Off Property, 1988 CBR, 1998 CBR (Honeymoon!!!), 2002 POFQ, 2003 Poly, 2005 WL, 2006 POP, 2007 WL, 2009 ASMo, 2009 POFQ, 2010 WL, 2010 DCL Wonder, 2010 DLR HOJO, 2010 PORS, 2011 off property, 2011 Bonnet Creek (DISApalooza 2011), 2012 DCL Dream, 2013 Disneyland Hotel, 2014 Grand Floridian

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Old 07-17-2013, 09:26 PM   #10
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A little bit more about our family.
I asked everyone a series of Disney related questions and here are the responses:

Q: What is your favorite Disney ride?

Me - I've always liked Spaceship Earth at Epcot
Stephanie - Splash Mountain at the Magic Kingdom
Ninja Potato - Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland
Buddy - California Screamin' - California Adventure
Pickle - "I don't have a favorite ride. I like them all."

Q: What is your favorite Disney food?

Me - It's too hard to narrow it down to just one, but I don't think I've ever gone to Epcot without getting getting Kaki-Gori (shaved ice) in the Japan Pavilion.

Stephanie - Strawberry Shortcake at the Sunshine Seasons in Epcot!


Sunshine Seasons Strawberry Shortcake: A “Best Snack Value” in Epcot

Ninja Potato: Churros at Disneyland


Buddy: Corn Dogs at Disneyland


Pickle - "I love their Disney Japanese food!"
(Photo: Eating Kaki-Gori on the Pagoda in the Japan Pavilion)


Q: What is your favorite Disney song?

Me - Not really a song, but I've always loved the spacey music that they play in the line for Space Mountain at the Magic Kingdom.
Stephanie: When you Wish Upon a Star. Bonus points for the Michael Jackson version. LOL. If you've never seen it, then do yourself a favor and "ease on down" to youtube and watch it now! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v-S0I_yO9to

Ninja Potato: It's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow (she said that she sings it to herself all the time)
Buddy: At first he didn't have one. But when he heard Ninja's response, he was like, "yeah, I get that stuck in my head all the time too." LOL
Pickle - A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes (because Cinderella sings it)

Q: Favorite Disney movie?

Me - Swiss Family Robinson
Stephanie - ??? She could never make up her mind.
Ninja - John Carter
Buddy - Doesn't have one, but his favorite Disney Channel show is Kickn' It http://disneyxd.disney.com/kickin-it
Pickle - Cinderella

Q: Favorite Studio Ghibli movie? (We are big Disney fans, but we are also big fans of Hayao Miyazaki. Since most of the English versions were produced by Disney, they are "in scope" for this type of question. Right?)

Me - Howl's Moving Castle
Stephanie - Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind
Ninja Potato - The Secret World Of Arrietty
Buddy - Castle in the Sky
Pickle - The Cat Returns

Q: What is your favorite Disney hotel that you've stayed at?

Me - It's a tie between Polynesian and Wilderness Lodge
Stephanie - The Polynesian Resort
Ninja Potato - Grand Californian
Buddy - Disneyland Hotel
Pickle - Disney Dream Cruise Ship (That counts, right?)
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Trip Reports: (In Progress) Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho. It's off to the Grand Floridian We Go! (6/2014) | Back to the Drawing Board - Missouri to Disneyland (10/2013) | A visit to Walt's Happy Place - Marceline, MO (9/2012)

1981 Off Property, 1988 CBR, 1998 CBR (Honeymoon!!!), 2002 POFQ, 2003 Poly, 2005 WL, 2006 POP, 2007 WL, 2009 ASMo, 2009 POFQ, 2010 WL, 2010 DCL Wonder, 2010 DLR HOJO, 2010 PORS, 2011 off property, 2011 Bonnet Creek (DISApalooza 2011), 2012 DCL Dream, 2013 Disneyland Hotel, 2014 Grand Floridian


Last edited by MarbleBob; 07-17-2013 at 10:02 PM.
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Old 07-17-2013, 10:19 PM   #11
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That's a nice list of Q&A from the family.

Love that early picture of you.
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Old 07-18-2013, 02:00 AM   #12
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So sorry to hear your plans for your first trip were messed up - however i'm sure you will get to do it someday - at least you'll have Disneyland, the happiest place on earth, to console you! Good luck for your recovery
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Old 07-18-2013, 01:55 PM   #13
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Love the Q&A! I ask my gang that every trip (food/ride/experience)

"It's a great big beautiful tomorrow" is my general ring tone on my iPhone. The announcement "When you Wish Upon a Star" tones from the cruise ship is my general text tone. Got those on the DIS boards. Love 'em.

Smiled reading all your families (and your) answers and eased on down the road with a fairly normal looking MJ.

How did we never know about that Strawberry Shortcake?????

Thanks for sharing
TK
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Old 07-18-2013, 10:12 PM   #14
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Initial Plans

OK, so here's where we are at with the plans so far...

Transportation

We originally planned to drive from St. Louis to California. That's 6 days of driving round trip. Not a big deal when you have a 16 day vacation planned. Not so great when you only have a week. So, flying is the only choice for this trip.

We've flown as a family only once before. (We woke the kids up at 4am one morning and surprised them with a trip to WDW, it was extra special because we normally drive to vacation destinations, and in this case, they'd be in the parks just a few hours after they found out about the trip.) So flying out to California will be another special treat for us. Perhaps we'll still be able to see the Grand Canyon after all, just from the air instead

We chose to go with Southwest Airlines. This will be first another first for us. Ultimately, they had the best prices and the free baggage check is a real perk. I really don't want to have to drag around carry-on luggage for 3 kids, and I didn't want to pay to check luggage on the other airlines. The negative is the boarding policy, which had me nervous about getting us all to sit in a group. We went with the pre-check in option (forget what it's called) for some extra peace of mind. From what I read, it's probably not truly necessary, but I don't want to have to worry about checking in exactly 24 hours before the flight. Especially on the way back.

We have a direct flight that arrives in LA around 11:00 am. Pretty excited about that, as we'll be able to eat lunch at the airport (suggestions anyone?), and then head to the Disneyland Hotel to check in between 2 and 3pm.

We'll probably use Disneyland Resort Express bus to get between the airport and hotel. They have a round trip family plan for $99.99.

The flight back home isn't direct, but it won't leave until 2:30 PM. This will give us a nice leisurely morning to sleep in a little and still have time to pack.

Lodging

In our original trip plans, we started with the idea of staying at HOJO. But, we've always wanted to stay at Disneyland Hotel. We received some unexpected funds from both sets of parents (coincidentally) and decided that we'd put that towards the cost of upgrading to DLH. My heart was set on DLH, so for this revised trip, I really didn't want to "downgrade" to another hotel. However, 5 nights (original plan) vs 9 nights is a huge difference in cost for us. We thought that we could spend 5 nights at DLH and 4 more nights at HOJO. But based upon the early entry options, it would be best to start the trip at DLH and then leave for the other hotel. I'd really rather finish the trip at DLH. End on a high note, you know… Also, I didn't like the idea of paying for taxi cab to drive us from one hotel to the other, and I didn't like the option of dragging our luggage through downtown Disney as we walked to the other hotel. Or the hassle of just switching hotels in general. Not fun. 9 nights at DLH is out of the budget, we've already stretched it too much. So, we compromised by just going for a 7 day trip instead of a 9 day trip (that we had available.)

Why DLH when there are other cheaper options?
#1 - Buddy went to Disneyland with his grandparents earlier this year. (My parents take each of their grand kids on a special trip around their 10th birthday. Such an awesome tradition! Both Ninja and Buddy picked Disneyland for their trips.) Anyway, knowing that we'd come back later in the year as a family, we decided to upgrade his tickets to an annual pass. Knowing, that we could use his AP discounts for lodging/meals/souvenirs/etc. So, we are able to get the DLH rooms at the AP discount rate. It's not a huge discount this particular week in October. But the nightly rate is still about $330/night which is still significant savings over 7 nights.

#2 - Early entry to the theme parks. Apparently, this week in October is more crowded than typical weeks in the fall. Anything we can do in order to ensure that we can spend less time waiting in lines is worth considering. It's worth noting, that even though you can get a single early entry option with the tickets that we purchased, Buddy won't have an early entry option for his pass unless we stay onsite. Having 3 of us go to the parks early, and then having Buddy stay back with a parent isn't fair to him, so it's early entry for entire trip at DLH or no early entry at all for us.

#3 - DLH sleeps 5. Many of the cheaper hotels in the area only accommodate 4 people per room. Some, like HOJO, have the option to bring in a rolling cot for an extra $15/night. That makes the room more crowded. Not too big of a deal, but sort of annoying. Other hotels have suites or rooms with sofa beds (similar to DLH), but they aren't exactly cheap. I looked at the Fairfield Inn (within walking distance) and it would be about $230/night for a room that accommodates the 5 of us. $230 vs. $330 isn't trivial, it's almost a deal breaker for us, but we are willing to push it a little for this once in a lifetime trip.

#4 - DLH keeps us immersed in the magic. I like the idea of walking through Downtown Disney every day. The monorail pool looks awesome!! We will be visiting Trader Sam's for drinks at least once or twice. The headboards in the DLH rooms look really cool! Although it's not the original location/building, the DLH is "the" original Disney hotel. My parents have stayed at nearly every hotel in WDW (the only major one that they have skipped is the Contemporary.) And they stayed at the Grand Californian (with Ninja in 2010) and then DLH with Buddy earlier this year. Anyway, my mom said that her favorite hotel would be Disneyland Hotel (with the Polynesian resort a close second). If my mom liked it that much, then I'm sure we'll enjoy it too. This will probably be the only chance that we'll have to stay there as a family, so when opportunity knocks? And so on...


Stay tuned for notes about our activity and meal plans
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Trip Reports: (In Progress) Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho. It's off to the Grand Floridian We Go! (6/2014) | Back to the Drawing Board - Missouri to Disneyland (10/2013) | A visit to Walt's Happy Place - Marceline, MO (9/2012)

1981 Off Property, 1988 CBR, 1998 CBR (Honeymoon!!!), 2002 POFQ, 2003 Poly, 2005 WL, 2006 POP, 2007 WL, 2009 ASMo, 2009 POFQ, 2010 WL, 2010 DCL Wonder, 2010 DLR HOJO, 2010 PORS, 2011 off property, 2011 Bonnet Creek (DISApalooza 2011), 2012 DCL Dream, 2013 Disneyland Hotel, 2014 Grand Floridian

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Old 07-19-2013, 01:19 AM   #15
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Great pre-trip report Matt. I think you made a wise decision on staying at the Disneyland Hotel vs. off property. You are so immersed in the "Disney magic" at this hotel and that is one reason I picked it as my favorite. I loved looking at all the pictures of early Disneyland and of Walt himself. Always had to look at the pictures walking down the hall from our room to the elevator. Sorry we were not photographers when you went to Walt Disney World growing up. But as grandparents, we sure have made up for it!

Hope your foot heals properly and you are able to "run" wide right for Radiator Springs Racers in October, (my new favorite ride!)

Hugs, Mom
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