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Old 05-06-2012, 07:36 PM   #1
Havebagwilltravel
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First ever Trip Report for April 30-May 5 2012

This is the first trip report I've ever done, so bear with me!! (don't "Bare" with me, nakedness does not apply lol)

Quick History:
I am a HUGE Disney fan! Love the movies, love the music, love the man - my first trip to Disneyland was when I was 12, and I still go every chance I get! In 2008, my then-fiance/now husband was introduced to Disney World, and then two years later, to Disneyland! He has always liked Disney, but is now a theme park nut just like me!
We recently had the opportunity to introduce my mother and father-in-law to Disneyland, for their birthdays. (My father-in-law just turned 60!) My in-laws hardly ever travel anywhere, (they are from a very small town in British Columbia) so we got to surprise my father-in-law with this special trip, and the following is a recap of our memory-making journey to the Happiest Place on Earth!

April 30, 2012
-Nothing too exciting to report for this day, except that my in-laws drove down from their small town to meet us in Vancouver for the big surprise! (My MIL knew about the trip, it was her job to get my FIL down for the big reveal). My FIL was extremely touched and teary-eyed, I think they had pretty much surmised that they would never get to visit such a magical place. We gave him a guide book, and boy, did he study that thing and have lots of questions for me!! (I have been to DL many, many times...lol) It was very nice for my DH and I to watch my FIL's inner child come out

May 1, 2012
-We drove from Vancouver to Seattle in about 2 hours! We ate at Olive Garden for lunch, and flew from Sea-Tac into Long Beach, CA, with no hiccups...flew Alaska Airlines (Skywest jet) and the trip was very smooth, and we even arrived a little earlier than anticipated! We had booked a shared van with Super Shuttle, as we had used them before and never had any problems, but THIS time was awful....the driver had most of his passengers in the van, and decided to leave because the final passenger's plane had not yet landed, but when he was about 5 minutes away from the airport, the dispatcher called him, and he decided to go BACK for said passenger, even though their plane had just landed!! Needless to say I was not impressed, and voiced my opinion of his decision very loudly to the driver. I suppose that when dealing with shared shuttle companies, it will always be luck of the draw, but that is not my idea of good customer service. It took us over an hour to get to our hotel, and we were not even the last stop!!

Speaking of hotel we stayed at the Days Inn Anaheim Maingate. My DH and I are not very fussy when it comes to accommodations in the Anaheim area, and we got a GREAT price for this hotel. It was fine for what it was - a clean room, comfy bed, air conditioning and a pool/hot tub is all we really need, and this place was more than adequate, even providing a free hot breakfast. Our only complaint was that it's within arm's length of a Jack in the Box, so if your room is on that side, you heard the drive-thru orders till about 1:00am. The hotel is located at 2200 South Harbor Blvd, about 1 mile or so from the Disneyland Resort, so we took the Anaheim Resort Transit each day, and never had a problem with timing. It ran consistently every 20 minutes, stopped right in front of our hotel, and was only ever full at night, and of course, ART runs extra shuttles at night. We were the second to last stop on the ART route, and always found seats in the morning

May 2, 2012
-Our first day in the parks! The weather was overcast, but still quite warm (we're from BC, mind you, so 70 degrees is warm to us lol). We caught the ART shuttle at 8:15am, and were lined up at the turnstiles to Disneyland by 8:25am. As many times as I have been to Disneyland, it was my first rope drop! As we entered the park, I went to City Hall to grab celebratory buttons for our group, and we then proceeded casually to the end of Main Street, USA. They had opened up the hub part-way, with ropes barring the entry to the specific lands. We lined up for one of the Fantasyland ropes at about 8:45am, and at 9:00am on the dot, the ropes dropped, and the herds began to move. We headed immediately to Peter Pan (and of course, everyone else had the same idea lol) but they loaded fast, we had less than a 10 minute wait. We then knocked off Fantasyland in less than an hour, walking on to Snow White, Pinocchio, Mr Toad, Alice in Wonderland, Storybookland Canal Boats, Casey Jr, & Small World. We seemed to hit everything perfectly, because at the end of each ride, we noticed the line had grown ever so slightly. After Small World, we hopped on the train, got off in New Orlean's Square, and walked onto Pirates AND Haunted Mansion! BTMRR was next, and the wait was about 5 mins...not too shabby! Noon was lunch at Cafe Orleans, where the four of us shared two original Monte Cristo sandwiches, they were as delicious and artery-hardening as always, but the staff gave the three of us celebrating b-days a complimentary Mickey beignet, which was very nice and VERY delicious

The sun was trying to break through, and after lunch, we headed over to do the Mark Twain River Boat (for the newbies) and I was reminded, as I looked at the boat, that you could ask to ride in the wheel house at the very top! So I got my DH to check with the captain, and sure enough, he took the four of us through the interior of the boat and up into the wheel house, where we signed a special log book, and where my FIL got to "steer" the ship! It was a very neat experience, and we all got to ring the bell and blow the whistle several times, my in-laws got a real kick out of the whole thing, with great pictures to boot! It really was a memory-making moment We then headed to Adventureland, waited less than 10 mins to board The Jungle Cruise, and then hit up the Tiki Room. We back-tracked to Winnie the Pooh (we postponed Splash Mountain for a warmer day, but the wait was about 20 minutes) and then hopped back on the train to Tomorrowland. We walked over to Buzz Lightyear, but it was temporarily down, so we got FP's for Star Tours (return window started within the hour we obtained them!) and watched one of my favorite shows, the Jedi Training Academy! Some of those kids are so very tiny!! We then watched Captain EO, and obtained FP's for Space Mountain (again, return window with the hour of obtaining them!) DH and I rode Star Tours (got the Darth Vader/Kashyyyk/Yoda/Naboo version, which I ALWAYS seem to get) and then my MIL and I rode Space Mountain, which is always extremely fun! By 4:30pm, Buzz was up and running, although the Buzz Lightyear audio animatronic was down and walled-up. (My current record on Buzz is now 634,000 points!) After Buzz, we decided to have a light meal at Jolly Holiday Bakery, and we were pleasantly surprised with the food, although the line was very, very long! We sat at a table and watched the Soundsational parade at 7:00pm (very disappointed that Belle (my fav!) has been demoted to the back of a float to make room for Rapunzel...lol) After the parade, we exited the park and hit up Downtown Disney for a little shopping, and then to Rainforest Cafe for a bigger meal. I was disappointed with RC, it had been years since I had eaten there, and except for the atmosphere, the food was not that great, and the prices must have gone up, I don't remember it being so pricy! I do give props to our waitress though, she provided excellent service

Recap -
Crowds were very light on this day. We walked on to almost everything, and didn't feel so sardine-like when walking along smaller paths. Most of the FP windows were within the hour of obtaining them, which was a surprise! The morning rope-drop crowd also seemed very light, although there was still mass exodus after the parade. Weather was mild, overcast but pleasant, and we were in t-shirts and shorts, with a light sweater after 7:00pm.

May 3, 2012
-Disney California Adventure! We caught the shuttle at 9:20am, and we were in the park around 9:30am on the dot. My original plan to do Soarin' was kinked, when we discovered that Soarin' was down...booo! I'm not sure if it was down for the whole day, but later on in the afternoon, they were again denying people entry. We headed over to the Paradise Pier rope, and followed the herd to TSMM, only to discover that it ALSO was down! Double boo!! We waited around for about 15 minutes (and were appalled to find a very rude guest berating one of the cast members - she was saved by many by-standers, which, if not for them, would have been me, I can't tolerate rudeness!!) We gave up our post and went off to ride Mickey's Fun Wheel, only to find that upon our return to the ground, TSMM was back open, and had already formed a 40 minute line! We postponed our ride, and did Goofy's Sky School, which, as a 28 year old, caused a couple of colourful words to fly out of my mouth lol. We had an early lunch, since we were doing the WOC Dining Package at Wine Country Tratttoria. I had my FIRST-EVER corn dog, and loved it! The other three ate at Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta, and found the food to be quite good. We then carried on to It's Tough to Be a Bug, followed by Mike and Sully to the Rescue, MuppetVision 3D, and then a stop at Disney Animation, where we spent the better part of an hour doing the different wings (we drew Dale at Animation Academy!) I rode Tower of Terror solo (why do they not have a single rider line for that attraction!!!) while the other three booked it back to Paradise Pier for TSMM, and I joined them just in time to ride!! Then we headed to Wine Country Trattoria for our 5:30pm reservation. As previously stated, we did the WOC package, and I found the food to be quite tasty. I had the Minestrone soup, with the filet mignon. My DH had the salad & chicken breast entree, while my in-laws had the seafood pasta entree. Dessert was...ok, not the best, but not the worst. The tiramisu was yummy! We finished our leisurely meal around 7:15pm, and were prepared to walk around a bit before getting into line for our WOC section, only to find they were already letting people into their sections! Sidebar: Each time I have done the dining package for WOC, the procedure always seems to be a little different. I've been when they have us in a separate holding area and let us into Paradise Park first....I've been when they have us in line after letting the FP holders into their sections first, and THIS time, they were letting people into their sections as they arrived! Well, we still got our excellent vantage point on the stairs of our section, but the elevated railing in the section was also wide open, with lots of spots left. The show was magnificent, as always, but I'm done with the whole extended POC part, they can bring back the "hellfire" sequence any time!!

Recap -
Crowds were light again on this day, with a little more sunshine. I found the temperature dropped a little more, as I was quite chilly in my light sweater (a great excuse to buy a hoodie!)

May 4, 2012:
-This day was a park-hopper day for us. We arrived at Disneyland for rope drop, to FP Indiana Jones and to ride Finding Nemo first thing. First thing I noticed was the amount of people - definitely a more crowded rope drop than the previous 2 days. Also, a bunch of very rude teenagers attempted to push their way to the front of the group for rope drop - who cares? We'll all get to ride eventually!! They were stopped by a family who wanted to know where the so-called "family members" were that the group was trying to reach. We got to Nemo, and we were on the first voyage of the day without running or pushing! We then walked onto Buzz, before heading over to do Indiana Jones, our first time since our arrival, because of its closure on May 1 & 2. The in-laws LOVED it! We rode Pirates again, and did Splash Mountain (walked on!) I always get more than a little wet on this ride, but, sitting at the back, got very little splash and just a few droplets on my shirt - probably my driest ride EVER! My MIL, not so lucky...she was sitting in front of me, and got a little more wet than I did After Splash, we headed over to DCA for Soarin' and the Little Mermaid....to our dismay, Little Mermaid STILL was not open due to its closure all week long, but the CM's were hoping it would be open later in the day, so we got FP's for Soarin', had some lunch, and headed over to the Hyperion Theatre for Aladdin. We arrived at 12:00pm for the 12:40pm show, and were one of the first few groups in line for the orchestra section! The show was fantastic as always (although, still no flying carpet, bummer...). Afterward, we headed back to Mermaid, to find it open but with a 30 MINUTE WAIT! WHAT???!!!?!! Well, it wasn't really a 30 minute wait, probably about 20 mins or so, because of the ever-moving line. The new hairstyle for the "Under the Sea Ariel" looks much better than her ice-cream hairstyle After Mermaid, we said goodbye to DCA, and headed out of the park. The in-laws went back to the hotel for some R&R, while DH and I headed to DTD for some shopping. The World of Disney Store has some great new merchandise, and we shopped for a good hour, before returning to the hotel ourselves. We caught the ART shuttle back to the park around 7:30pm, did a little more shopping in DTD, and then we hopped on the monorail (as per the request of my FIL) to get a spot for the fireworks. (Magical! is now showing, which surprised me, it felt a little early for the summer fireworks to debut). We were in place around 9:10pm, and there was still plenty of space around the hub. After the fireworks, I booked it to New Orlean's Square to find us a spot for the second showing of Fantasmic. We always try to find a seat next to the railing in front of The French Market, and by the time I arrived, there was still PLENTY of space left! I could've done an elaborate dance in all that space! Once the rest of the group caught up, we parked it and went to get gumbo bread bowls, (Royal Street Verandah had a HUGE lineup, but the Harbor Galley had almost no one!) and upon our return, the spots in our area had filled up, so clearly the space still doesn't stay empty for very long. Fantasmic was FANTASTIC, as usual, although still missing Flotsam and Jetsam....have they been replaced for good?? After the show, we went over to BTMRR, only to find there was a 45 minute wait!! No thank you! We were a bit on the tired side, so we headed to Main Street for some shopping, while the in-laws took in the Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln exhibit, a MUST-DO for newbies The shops were very crowded, with people leaving the park, but we managed to depart unscathed with our possessions, and headed to catch our shuttle back the hotel at exactly midnight.

Recap -
Much more crowded on this day, with locals, teenagers (possibly a pro-D-Day somewhere?) and vacationers just arriving for the weekend. The morning was the best for crowds, it only got worse as the day progressed. Weather was also a bit warmer, with more sunny periods, and still got just a little chilly at night.

Parting thoughts:
I have never had to do Disneyland in only 3 days, we always go for 4 or more, so there were several things my in-laws missed out on, including the Sleeping Beauty Castle walkthrough, time in Toon Town (and Mickey's Movie Barn!) and a few restaurants that I consider to be very good. But, they still had the time of their lives, and I don't think they would have ever been able to go if not for us, so we are very happy that we could do this trip for them I was appalled at the number of rude teenagers (most in groups without their families) this time around, and am kind of glad we made the trip BEFORE Grad Nites started up. The wheel house of the Mark Twain was certainly memorable, and I highly recommend it to any first-timers, or the young at heart - it was very special to be in a place where Walt Disney once stood, BEFORE Disneyland was even open! And, as a gentle tip - be nice to Cast Members. It is not their fault if a ride is not in working order, and they are trying to do the best they can. They can never give you an exact time when they expect the ride to be open, and the guy who reamed out the TSMM cast member was a huge jerk, who upset not only the female CM, but a few of the kids around him with his berating comments. I personally have never found the CM's who work at the Disney theme parks to be anything but wonderful, especially the ones who go out of the way to wish button holders a happy birthday, anniversary, or simply make nice chit-chat while you are waiting for one thing or another. My in-laws had no words for their experiences, and that alone is magic
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Old 05-10-2012, 08:54 PM   #2
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What fun! I love visiting with friends and family that have never been before. It makes everything more fun to see the excitement of someone's first time.

Thanks for taking the time to share.
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Old 05-20-2012, 12:51 AM   #3
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What a great summary and a great trip :-)

What a difference it makes when the crowds are just that little bit smaller too!

Great tip about the cast members- honestly, if you can't be nice to cast members at Disneyland, then I'm guessing you're a pretty grumpy person most of the time. Customer Service can be a tricky job, for sure!

Do you mind if I ask more about what the 'Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough' is?

Thanks for posting your TR!
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Old 05-20-2012, 08:07 PM   #4
Havebagwilltravel
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Thanks for your comments! I always enjoy going in the off-season BECAUSE of crowd levels, it's waaaay less stressful!

RE: The Sleeping Beauty Castle, unlike the Cinderella Castle in WDW, you can actually walk through Disneyland's version, where the story of Sleeping Beauty is presented with miniature dioramas. It is very cute, and if you've never done it, I suggest it, because it's something unique to Disneyland Have fun on your next big trip!!
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Old 05-21-2012, 12:15 PM   #5
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Sounds like a great trip, and what fun for your in-laws! Thanks for the report.
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Old 05-21-2012, 08:01 PM   #6
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I loved your report! What a fabulous trip.
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Old 05-21-2012, 08:52 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Havebagwilltravel View Post
Thanks for your comments! I always enjoy going in the off-season BECAUSE of crowd levels, it's waaaay less stressful!

RE: The Sleeping Beauty Castle, unlike the Cinderella Castle in WDW, you can actually walk through Disneyland's version, where the story of Sleeping Beauty is presented with miniature dioramas. It is very cute, and if you've never done it, I suggest it, because it's something unique to Disneyland Have fun on your next big trip!!
Thanks- I love discovering new things I haven't yet 'conquered'!
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Old 06-07-2012, 03:49 PM   #8
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Thanks for the great TR!
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