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Old 10-20-2012, 07:53 PM   #1
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WDW Vets do DL for the First Time Trip Report 10/13-10/17

One bound-to-be-disjointed trip report, coming up

We decided to forego Christmas at WDW and try our daughter's Fall Break week for Halloween time at Disneyland.

This was a pretty big deal, since we have been many times, staying a week or more, to WDW and have our system down, what to ride when, where to go at peak crowd times, etc. I don't think I realized how much that improved our touring experience until it was all stripped away and I found myself staring at park maps in frustration trying to get my bearings.

The other factor, far beyond even Disney's famous ability to control things was the weather. We went from seeing extended forecasts of highs in the mid-80°s to being there with our phones showing 95°, then 96°, and on the last day, we hit 98°. Combined with the very heavy crowds and the concrete jungle of pavement, that made for a much more exhausting trip.

We've had Florida Decembers where we were in hats and hoodies the entire trip, and ones where we've been in shorts and t-shirts. But we've never tried anything approaching the heat from this past week. I spent the first 37 years of my life in and around Houston and Austin, TX so I know heat. I was always in awe of Disney summer tourists. They are made of hardier stuff than I. I never wanted to be one, though.

I know DL vets get annoyed at WDW people comparing the original with the World so I will try to keep that to a minimum, but like a foreigner, I couldn't help but be aware of how different "these people" do things differently.

The only Cast Member we heard say "Have a Magical Day" was the train conductor. It was odd to us. At WDW, if you don't get that greeting from every single CM you speak to, it stands out. We spoke with a numbers of CMs who weren't terribly friendly, shrugged shoulders, a few shouters at lines and crowds. They were all generally civil and mostly polite, but not effusively outgoing and friendly. Maybe it's a Florida/California thing. Maybe it was the heat.

The proximity of the two parks did make it nice for hopping, but we tended to take a break at the hotel if we were opening one park and closing another, so that didn't really make a lot of difference for our touring.

I am always befuddled by the craze of something new. The Toy Story Mania insanity of strategies for rope drop and wide right and FP planning a few years back comes to mind. This time, of course, it was Carsland. We gamely made it early enough to score FPs for the morning, did the single rider line, enjoyed RSR, but I still don't understand the hype. It was charming and fun. It was not something I would have waited two hours in standby for.

The Halloween Party was nice. We gave up wearing the costumes because of the heat and decided to avoid the majority of the crossover gridlock between party-goers and day visitors by arriving after 6:00. The trick or treat lines at that point were insane. It seemed like a waste of good park time when you could fly through them later in the night. The fireworks were great. They really need to work on the Halloween parade. (I harped on this in the Disneyland survey for the party I received, as if they haven't heard that before.) They were low on Halloween items, Lots of Nightmare before Christmas and Frankweenie merchandise, but only a limited number of shirts and hallo-ears for the most part of classic Disney stuff.

We did the preferred seating through Carthay Circle for World of Color, but neglected to account for the light tower directly in the center of our view, so not such good planning there. If I had to choose between seeing World of Color and Fantasmic, it would have to be Fantasmic. Lunch was delicious, if overpriced.

We exited Pirates (loved the longer version) at exactly "Some imagination, huh?" for the first Fantasmic and popped into the middle seating area for the fireworks, moved back for the sweepers, and then plopped back second line from the rail for the second show without too much hassle. Lord, the dragon, the pirate section instead of Pocahontas, and the Mark Twain certainly were impressive compared to WDW. But how nice it is to go into a show and not find your foot has completely gone to sleep trying to get up off the ground or have to strain around the heads all on the same level to see the action. I do like the stadium seating you get for the puny dragon, steamboat, and John Smith swinging around a mountain.

Our group's opinion was that DL Splash is faster and wetter, probably because of the single -wide design of the logs. We get "splashed" at WDW. We rode Drenched Mountain in DL.

We arrived on Saturday at 1:00 to tons of crowds (duh, weekend midday, totally expected) and dealt with the very heavy crowds on Sunday because of the CHOC walk. It was Sunday when both parks opened at 10:00 that we got to experience the gridlock of bag check. Why on earth don't they have entry lines for people without bags?

Highlights of the trip:

Animation Academy: don't miss this at either WDW's Studios or at CA on Hollywood across the entry to Muppetvision (which was down all trip). My daughter has been doing these for almost ten years and we hit up at least two sessions a day. Great fun, especially keeping her drawings as they've improved. It does help that she wants to go to art school and work for Pixar.

The Aladdin Show: another top of the list, per the 17 year old future animator.

Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy: the double wide cars make for a much smoother ride. I liked the overlay, not overdone but creepy enough. We were torn on the Haunted Mansion overlay, since we enjoy Nightmare before Christmas, but love the classic HM too and did miss some of that whimsy.

California Screamin' per hubby, was great fun. He rode the single riders line twice with no wait and ran across a lady standing there, staring at the long line as he was heading for the exit to get in SR. When he explained it, she said, "I'm single! Oh my, I was about to stand in that line!" so that was nice.

We were able to ride everything we wanted, most multiple times. Longest wait was that first Saturday when even Pirates was showing 40 minutes and had a queue going out toward the Mansion. We waited more than an hour to do the Mansion that time but never longer than that for anything else the rest of the 5 days.

Any questions, I'm sure I left a ton out, just ask!
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Old 10-20-2012, 08:49 PM   #2
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I've heard the reports that WDW CM's are nicer than DLR's but I just have not experienced that at all. I don't recall ever hearing 'Have a Magical Day' from any CM's at either WDW or DLR. CM's at both have always gone out of their way when a need arises. Always very nice.

Anaheim did have a very unusual heat wave recently. Far hotter than I can remember in a long time. However, 96 at DLR is FAR more doable than 96 at WDW with its intense humidity.

Crowds can be bad at either, hit or miss but CL certainly has made DLR crowds much greater.
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Old 10-20-2012, 09:18 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Huff View Post
Anaheim did have a very unusual heat wave recently. Far hotter than I can remember in a long time. However, 96 at DLR is FAR more doable than 96 at WDW with its intense humidity.
Very true -- which is why we will stick with December from this point forward!
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Old 10-20-2012, 11:20 PM   #4
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I've heard the "Have a Magical Day" thing is only done at WDW and they don't train cast members at DLR (or any other worldwide Disney resort) to say that.
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Old 10-21-2012, 01:46 AM   #5
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Thanks for the report, it has been unusually hot this October... hoping it cools just a bit for our November trip!

When we visited WDW last December 2011 for the very first time we did on occasion hear "have a magical day" but it was not a consistant by any means.

It's funny because I have read many a WDW vet state that they think the CM's at WDW are much more friendly and helpful.

What I have experienced are some great CM's in WDW that helped to make our trip "magical" and also some great CM's at DLR that spread the pixie dust as well... and I have also experienced the not so great/magical in both locations. It was not just a California thing.
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Old 10-22-2012, 07:03 AM   #6
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Great summary report! I was also at DLR on Oct 13-14 (and briefly on Oct 12). It was quite warm on Oct 14 (the 13th was perfect - mid 70's). I understand it got quite hot as the week went on. The crowds on Sunday Oct 14 were way beyond anything I have seen since the summer of 2005 during the 50th anniversary celebration.

Interestingly, the heat on Oct 14 was worse than anything we have seen in the last 10 years during our summer trips. Partly luck but mostly because summer weather ant DLR tends to be really nice.

And I too do not recall hearing "have a magical day" at WDW with any regularity.

Finally, it is not my experience that DLR vets dislike comparisons to WDW per se. In fact most of the time folks here love the comparisons when they are balanced. I think the issues crop up when WDW vets put forth WDW as perfect in every way and anything that is different is by definition inferior. All the Disney resorts around the world have something special to offer that the others don't. DLR Paris has that awesome castle and awesome Fantasyland. And Tokyo Disney has the incredibly themed Tokyo DisneySea.

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Old 10-22-2012, 01:23 PM   #7
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Thanks for the TR!
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Old 10-22-2012, 01:31 PM   #8
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Thanks for an honest report, where did you stay? I am always looking for planning information for a future trip to DLR. This helped out a lot because we have always thought that a Halloween trip would be great to do. Would you do it again and what would you do differently?
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Old 10-22-2012, 05:50 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mickeyplanner View Post
Thanks for an honest report, where did you stay? I am always looking for planning information for a future trip to DLR. This helped out a lot because we have always thought that a Halloween trip would be great to do. Would you do it again and what would you do differently?

First about the stay:

We stayed at the Howard Johnson's. We kept marveling that the walk from the gates was about the walk from the bus stop at a WDW resort to the room. Ok, I'll admit, I did cast a longing glance at the huge resort with its doors right there at Grizzly River Run before reminding myself of how much money I was saving.

And I asked for a fireworks view when I made the HoJo reservation and we got the best spot. There are trees that would block a number of the upper floor views, but ours was primo. In fact, I just realized that's a picture of our room on the HoJo site for the 2 Queens Prem view http://www.hojoanaheim.com/what-you-get/rooms

And with the Mousesavers rate, that ended up being what we paid way back in 2000 on our Magic Kingdom Club discount (state employees discount they discontinued shortly after) at the Wilderness Lodge. We couldn't say anywhere but values for that money today!

The room was huge and the beds/linens/pillows divine.

Here's a few shots of the view:

From the bathroom mirror:




The view from the private balcony:



The size of the room:




What we would do differently, if we did it again:

Choose a cooler time of the year. (We just didn't get lucky on that one.)

Choose a less crowded time of year (which may not exist while Carsland hysteria reigns)

Would definitely hit the party again and hopefully dress up without melting (or go as the wicked witch of the east and run around screaming that a lot...)

But...

the next time will be WDW for us.

Here's the review I wrote on my blog:
The Magic Kingdoms: WDW Versus DL with similar thoughts as the trip report but with a bit more depth and pictures.
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Old 10-23-2012, 10:33 AM   #10
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I have read great things about HoJo. I just didn't know if it is worth staying on property to get the parks earlier? But it seems like it worked out for your family.

I read your other TR. We have always thought we would want to see the HM decked out for the NIghtmare Before x-mas but now you have me thinking we should reconsider?
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Old 10-23-2012, 01:14 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mickeyplanner View Post
I have read great things about HoJo. I just didn't know if it is worth staying on property to get the parks earlier? But it seems like it worked out for your family.

I read your other TR. We have always thought we would want to see the HM decked out for the NIghtmare Before x-mas but now you have me thinking we should reconsider?

Halloween in Disneyland was fun, but Christmas at WDW is pretty hard to top, so our standards a little tough! I can't imagine going to either place and not being glad that I did.

The early entry thing didn't really impact us, except the day we did DCA they'd been in for an hour already. But they don't open the fastpass machines until real opening time, so the only advantage there was they could get in the FP line ahead of the great unwashed non-resort guests. Even with that, our FP time for RSR was 9:35 (pulled at 8:10).

I just couldn't justify the difference in room cost when we were hardly every there for that extra hour.
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Old 10-23-2012, 01:22 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DemonLlama View Post
Halloween in Disneyland was fun, but Christmas at WDW is pretty hard to top, so our standards a little tough! I can't imagine going to either place and not being glad that I did.

The early entry thing didn't really impact us, except the day we did DCA they'd been in for an hour already. But they don't open the fastpass machines until real opening time, so the only advantage there was they could get in the FP line ahead of the great unwashed non-resort guests. Even with that, our FP time for RSR was 9:35 (pulled at 8:10).

I just couldn't justify the difference in room cost when we were hardly every there for that extra hour.
When you say Christmas at WDW, do you go during the CHristmas season or for the actual holiday? We were there last year for the christmas season and did MVMCP. I loved the Osborne Lights but thought the party was a waste. You seem to really like the parties so is the Halloween party at DLR worth it?
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Old 10-23-2012, 05:20 PM   #13
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Quote:
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When you say Christmas at WDW, do you go during the CHristmas season or for the actual holiday? We were there last year for the christmas season and did MVMCP. I loved the Osborne Lights but thought the party was a waste. You seem to really like the parties so is the Halloween party at DLR worth it?
We've gone anywhere from the earlier Dec. 14-19 (first trip in 2000)

to 8 days through the day after Christmas (second trip in 2002). We were in the MK on Christmas morning, so we're slightly insane.

Most of our trips are 6-7 days and get us right up to Christmas Eve at least. We flew home in 2010 on Christmas Eve and got up to have Christmas morning at our place, which is having the best of both worlds.

I do really like the parties, but that's because seeing the holiday
parade and fireworks were once special to the parties only. Since they've expanded them, I'm not sure it's as worth it anymore. We still enjoy staying until midnight and walking on everything because fewer party guests go to stay until to close or go for rides, so that hour is awesome for having the park mostly to yourself.

And that's what it comes down to. How much would you pay for a couple of hours of no waits on anything (ok, Space Mountain was 30 minutes at the end when we hopped on as the very last thing) plus a fun parade and some special fireworks? If the fireworks and parade ran all the time and it was just about a couple of hours of what feels, to us, like private park time? And the answer is always that, even thought they've charged you six different ways from Sunday, it's worth it to us.

We've also done the extra evening hours that had us in the park until after 2:00 am. It's similar, but with the hard ticket event, you have fewer hard charging guests, so the midnight to 2am experience happens from 10:00 to midnight.

Every time our Christmas trip came around, I'd swear I was going to skip it that time because of the extra expense. And every year, I caved and bought them anyway.

So, for the Halloween party, we were hoping to have a similar experience with those last few hours and, for the most part, everything was virtually a walk-on. But it wasn't quite the same, and I'm sure that's because of my own bias. And there's something about snowflakes dancing on the walls of Main Street and Christmas music playing that I just love in ways that spiders and pretty bad covers of songs like the Monster Mash can't compete with. We wouldn't do it again at DL, but if we find ourselves at WDW in October, I probably wouldn't be able to pass up the Headless Horseman and that parade even if I tried.
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Old 10-24-2012, 07:37 AM   #14
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Maybe once our kids are older we can enjoy the late party nights more. I do agree seeing the Headless Horseman would be worth the price of admission. I am hoping when we plan our big family gathering for my son's 5th birthday in 2015 that Halloween party is going on while we are there.

Thank you for all your input, it truly helps.
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Old 11-06-2012, 09:10 PM   #15
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Quote:
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Thanks for an honest report, where did you stay? I am always looking for planning information for a future trip to DLR. This helped out a lot because we have always thought that a Halloween trip would be great to do. Would you do it again and what would you do differently?
Beach Club Villas!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Stayed at BWV which is right across the way from BCV. Walked over to check it out and it is awesome. If you have kids they will love the pool. Also, you can walk to Epcot (5 min.) and Hollywood studios (10 min.) Planning trip to WDW in 2014 and will be staying at BCV, WLV and Contemporary. Going to give resort hopping a try for first time.
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