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Old 04-30-2012, 10:10 PM   #1
Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 94

Disneyland 4/22-4/28 - first visit was fantastic - mini TR

I rely on the disboards a lot so wanted to give back a bit by providing a mini trip review. Hoping it will be helpful, especially for those with small kids. Me (35), DH (40) & DS (5 ½) went on this trip.

We just returned from our first visit to Disneyland (4/22 – 4/27). I use the word first because we WILL be back. When we planned this trip everyone thought we were nuts since WDW is within a days drive for us. But we wanted to try something new and weren’t disappointed. We LOVED it. DH & I have been to WDW many times when we lived in Florida and taken DS once. So we had pretty high expectations.

We aren’t sure if we loved it so much because it was new to us, because DS really enjoyed the rides, or we just love Disneyland. We decided to go for 6 days so we didn’t feel rushed. We had also been working really hard and wanted time to relax a bit. If I had to recommend a length I would suggest 4-5 days. I just don’t see how you could fit in everything (or a lot of things) in 2 days. Day 6 we spent going on the rides we loved the most. But being there for a while let us take our time and savor each experience.

We also decided to not take any day trips – again in an effort to just have a relaxing trip. We will have to return to California to actually SEE California.

Airport – We got a great deal on airfare so flew into SNA/John Wayne. Wow – what a great airport and so close. I don’t think we’ll ever be able to do LAX. On our way home, we left the hotel at 8:30am, we were checked in, past security and at our gate by 9:15am!

Hotel – We decided to stay off-site because we just couldn’t justify the on-site cost. We chose the Fairfield Inn because DH uses Marriott when traveling/gets points. We had a King room with pull out sofa. It worked just fine for the 3 of us. Bed was comfy and it was clean. The walk wasn’t bad, and it was nice having a few restaurants nearby. We found the “restaurant” on the third floor sufficient for breakfast.

We found the exterior noise a bit of a problem. Now we go to bed earlier than most which doesn’t help, but the noise on the walkways is really loud – I assume due to the concrete. It was hard to block out the screaming kids in the pool, the rolling luggage, the running feet, etc. Next time I’d ask for a top floor and on a side not near the pool.

The boards seem to imply staying onsite at DL isn’t as important as WDW. While I agree that we still felt “magical” and close, our preference would be California Disney hotel. Can’t beat the Downtown Disney location and there is just something about a Disney hotel.

Size & Crowds – after reading the boards I was expecting a MUCH smaller park than WDW. While the parks are smaller, they are still H U G E. My feet still hurt from all the walking. Especially since DS’s favorite rides were Buzz & Winnie the Pooh – 2 rides that couldn’t be more further apart! I agree that the walkways are not well designed and felt crowded a lot.

We didn’t really feel like Disneyland was plopped in a city. It is very good at feeling self-contained. The only time we felt “city” was riding the monorail when you go by a lot of construction or junk piles.

We were surprised by the crowds. I expected VERY low attendance since most spring breaks were over. And while the week was low attendance, there were very few walk-on rides, and still 15-25 minute rides for the favorites. I think I’m spoiled by a deserted experience I had at WDW years ago. But I’m thinking that the parks are so popular now that low crowds is the best we can hope for.

We LOVED how close the parks were. In WDW it is hard to park hop with a child. At DL we park hopped daily - usually we started in DL and then went to DCA for rope drop then back to DL at end of the day for one last Buzz ride.

Food – got to agree with the majority here. There is a true lack of food options, especially if you don’t want “fast food” type food or REALLY expensive. Our favorite counter service was Hungry Bear – Turkey sandwich, onion rings and a water view! We actually walked down to the Gardenwalk a couple of times and enjoyed California Pizza Kitchen & Cheesecake Factory. There is also a subway near there which made for a nice easy dinner one night.

Characters – we found them a lot more accessible than at WDW. In fact, we were surprised at how often they were roaming without handlers. DS got 23(?) autographs without really waiting in long lines. He was ecstatic. There is also a nice variety of characters – Queen of Hearts, Pinocchio, etc that you don’t see at WDW.

One thing I’d love to see is Toy Story & Monster’s Inc characters more accessible. We only ever saw Woody or Sully and they always had huge lines. We would LOVE a character meal that included them!

We did the Minnie & Friends breakfast at the Plaza. We all agreed it was a great experience. The character interaction was fantastic. Chip & Dale kept coming back to tickle DS. Gideon walked DS out when we left and then followed him asking him to come back and hug – it was so cute. We decided you need to allow 45 min – 1 hour for this to see all the characters. We had several tables around us who left so quickly they missed a few of the characters. We found the breakfast just fine. Omelets, Mickey waffles, eggs, bacon, biscuits, sausage, pastries, fruit, and cereal – just plenty for us.

Parade – disappointed with the Soundsational parade. An example was that it ended with Mary Poppins float. What child really knows who Mary Poppins is? That said, it was nice to see once, but usually we have to see a parade EVERY DAY because of DS and he never wanted to see it again.

I’m sure he would have liked the Pixar Parade if it had been running. He did enjoy the Pixar street shows when we caught them.

DCA – I guess I’m in the minority – we LOVED this park. I thought it was themed in its own way and didn’t see it as “un-disney.” Some of DS’s favorite rides were in this park. The walls where Carsland was under construction didn’t bother us.

Rides in the eyes of a 5 year old – Our DS is very cautious. When we went to WDW he had just turned 4 and ride became a 4 letter word to him. Everything was too dark and noisy. What a difference 1 ½ years makes! We also brought his noise reducing headphones which magically helped him endure the noise on the rides. We also did some you tube videos before the trip to gauge if a ride would be too scary to try (e.g. Pirates of Caribbean).

Rides he loved – Buzz, Small World, Winnie the Pooh, Peter Pan, Monsters Inc, Toy Story Mania, Little Mermaid, Chew Chew Train, Dumbo, Ferris Wheel, Turtle Talk with Crush, Alice in Wonderland, Nemo Subs.

Rides he enjoyed and was happy to ride again – Jungle Cruise, Tarzan Treehouse, Soarin, Flik’s Flyers, Golden Zepher, Dune Bumper Cards, Autopia, Astro Orbiters, Casey’s Circus Train

Rides he put up with – Mark Twain(?) Columbia Boat, Carasouls, Disney LIVE on Stage.

Rides he’ll never try again – Walk through castle (he was positive a witch would pop out) & Muppets 3D movie (he thought the cannon was going to kill him) & Goofy’s Sky School – for some reason he just HAD to try this – when he got off he said “I didn’t know it was a roller coaster”

Adults – Enjoyed all the rides DS did. But found Casey’s Circus Train & Storybook Boats really nice. I LOVED Indiana Jones. We both enjoyed Pirates & Roger Rabbit. We thought Snow White had a strange ending.

Alas – I never made it on Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride – we will have to go back so I can try this!

The only thing I was disappointed with was Disney LIVE on stage. When I think “LIVE” I think characters. I was not expecting puppets. DS didn’t mind, but I wish it had been listed as a puppet show in the description.

We did not make it to Aladdin, WOC, Fantasmic, or fireworks. DS is not a night owl and we enjoyed our early mornings in the park. Hopefully when he is older we can take these in!

I sure wish they would find a way speed up the lines on Peter Pan & Toy Story Mania. We only got on these rides at rope drop because otherwise we weren’t willing to wait 30 minutes when the rest of the park wasn’t that busy.

I’m sure there are some I’m forgetting, but this gives you the meat of our rides.

Jedi Training – Thank you to everyone who gave input on the boards regarding the fact that a sign helps. DS made a sign (16 x 22 ish) that we folded into 4 and kept under the stroller. He was picked both times he tried for this and there were a lot of kids. He was “the kid with the cute sign.” The first time I had spent a lot of time preparing him to not be disappointed if he wasn’t picked, so when he got picked he thought his mom was nuts for the warning . I’m not sure if it is always like this, but both times they picked a lot more kids from the right side (looking out from stage). DS was always on the left, but just a thought for future kids.

Weather – A lot cooler than we expected of California. It was 60’s with some clouds most of the week. A sweatshirt with shorts worked out fine. We feared rain and really lucked out. Just some mist one morning. We’re not huge pool people so it didn’t bother us that it was too cold to swim. Though there were plenty of kids in the hotel pool so I guess DS could have done it if he wanted. I agree with everyone who says the lack of humidity is great. I’d rather have cool weather over hot any day!

That’s it in a nutshell. We’re already trying to decide will our next trip be WDW or Disneyland since we had that much fun at DL! I'm happy to answer any questions if you have them.

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Old 05-01-2012, 01:09 PM   #2
Earning My Ears
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Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 47

Great trip report!!

We are going for our first trip in June and we are super excited!!
:HildyRickLuis (21)Sebastian(19)Krysti(15)

Walt Disney World, Universal, and Busch Gardens annual pass holders
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Old 05-01-2012, 02:01 PM   #3
Earning My Ears
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Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Southern California
Posts: 18

So glad you enjoyed Disneyland.
Your son is so cute! Just wondering is the picture with Captain Hook at the Plaza Inn on Main Street?
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Old 05-01-2012, 06:13 PM   #4
Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 94

Originally Posted by skyway View Post
So glad you enjoyed Disneyland.
Your son is so cute! Just wondering is the picture with Captain Hook at the Plaza Inn on Main Street?

Yes it was Plaza Inn
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