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Old 10-09-2012, 02:16 PM   #1
Gina
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Smile Some thoughts on our 1st DLR trip

My son & I just got back from our first trip to DLR, and had a ball. It was a short trip - just Friday-Monday, and very much a budget-minded trip. We've been going to WDW since my son was turning 4, and he's almost 17 now, but had never been to DLR. A great SW Vacations deal fell in my lap back in March, and we wanted to walk where Walt had actually walked, so I decided to jump on the deal.

We flew into the Burbank Airport -- was SO much cheaper than the others for some reason. Really small little airport, so easy to deal with. Had rented a car from Alamo with a great Entertainment Book coupon - grabbed our Ford Focus hatchback and off we went. Got to Anaheim around noonish. We stayed at Best Western Pavilions, and thought it was just great. Extremely clean, super nice staff, comfortable firm beds. The mini-fridge and microwave came in handy, and I was very very thankful for the little 1-cup coffee maker on those early early mornings, lol.

My birthday is this coming Thursday, so I celebrated my day the whole trip. We always go to WDW or cruise in February, right on or around my son's birthday, so I've never had the birthday focus on me. I have to say, was very cool. I had tons of birthday pixie dust from CM's, and lost count of how many other random guests would walk by and say "Happy Birthday, Gina!" It was awesome.

It was really crowded, but I knew going into it that it was going to be that way. Was still hard, though -- as I said, we usually go in February, and WDW doesn't have much of that "locals factor" that DLR does. If something has a 30 minute line, that's pretty ridiculous to us and we'll definitely FP it. Our jaws dropped at seeing Space Mountain at 145 minutes stand-by. But this isn't our first time at the Disney rodeo, and we were up & at 'em at park opening, and it made all the difference in the world. Between the one MM and just being at the parks at opening the other days, we walked right onto pretty much everything we wanted to. Main exception to that was RSR -- we got there about 15 minutes too late, and the FP line was beyond words already. We opted to just aim for the single rider line at rope drop, but even that took us almost 30 minutes. It's a great ride -- I'm so glad we got to do it at least once!


So in comparing DLR and WDW, for any other WDW vets who have not yet visited DLR, these are my random thoughts. The good about DLR:

Everything is so compact! I can't even put into words how nice it was at the end of the day to leave the park and barely have to walk at all to get to the bus areas. Loved that!

Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy is freakin' AMAZING. SM is amazing just in how smooth it is, and how cool the in-car sound system is! But add the Ghost Galaxy overlay, and we just couldn't get enough. Even me, who wouldn't ride SM at WDW even on a dare. Just too jerky and hurty.

California Screamin' is amazing!! Love that launch!

Love the whole Paradise Pier and Pacific Wharf area -- the theming is wonderful, and feels so different between night & day.

OMG, why didn't anyone tell me how awesome Toontown is?!? No one here must play Toontown... DS & I couldn't get over how much it was like we stepped right into the game!! I only popped in to finally meet Mickey & Minnie, but stayed a good while just soaking up the atmosphere. It just made both of us grin from ear to ear.


The bad (relatively speaking):

The bubble: For WDW vets contemplating a DLR visit, don't underestimate the power of the "Disney bubble" and the lack thereof at DLR. I was mentally prepared - or so I thought - but the reality of it is *much* harder to deal with. It hit my son & I both hard, and seemed to be cumulative... we missed it more the longer we were there. At DLR, as soon as you go outside the park property, "real life" is right there in your face. Cars honking, bums begging for money, liquor stores, a score of non-Disney hotels. By the end, we wanted to just sleep on a bench inside the park so we wouldn't have to face it anymore. And while I know it's possible to stay onsite and not deal -as much- with the above, Disney didn't see fit to put anything but luxury hotels onsite at DLR. We're a Pop Century-budget family, not a Grand Californian-budget kind of family.

CM's: My son was the first to bring this up, telling me that the CM's at DLR didn't seem as magical as at WDW. We spent the next couple of days observing more closely and trying to pinpoint what the differences were, and it just seemed that the CM's at DLR cared way less. I've never seen such utter looks of boredom on the faces of CM's before. And there were several instances where CM's were standing around at their ride posts, chit-chatting with each other about very mundane things like lunch breaks and complaining about other CM's and whatnot. It was very un-magical, and we have *never* heard anything like that from CM's at WDW. Maybe we have just been lucky, but that would make for a heck of a lucky streak across so many WDW trips. Don't get me wrong, though -- there were some truly wonderful CM's who created exceptional memories for us!!

Strollers: I can say with conviction that my hatred for them is equal on both coasts. By the second day, I wanted to take every one of them, put them in a giant pile, and set them all on fire. Seriously. I'm sorry, I'm sure many of you are perfectly considerate with your strollers, but a good 90% of the people pushing those battering rams in the parks have no clue they even share the planet with anyone else. Let your kids actually use their legs, take a break mid-day so they don't get cranky and screamy (same goes for you!), and then go back for more fun later. /rant off


I know there were other points I wanted to touch on... but danged if I can remember them now, lol. My poor sleepy brain. Anyways, these are just my worthless opinions and I'm sure they differ from many if not most. Any questions, just ask!


-gina-
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Old 10-09-2012, 02:32 PM   #2
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Awesome post. I'm in the very early stages of planning my first trip to DLR in a few years for my 50th birthday with my kids who will be 14 and 17. We've been to WDW a few times and will go again before the DLR trip. You gave some great food for thought.
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Old 10-09-2012, 02:56 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gina

Strollers: I can say with conviction that my hatred for them is equal on both coasts. By the second day, I wanted to take every one of them, put them in a giant pile, and set them all on fire. Seriously. I'm sorry, I'm sure many of you are perfectly considerate with your strollers, but a good 90% of the people pushing those battering rams in the parks have no clue they even share the planet with anyone else. Let your kids actually use their legs, take a break mid-day so they don't get cranky and screamy (same goes for you!), and then go back for more fun later. /rant off



-gina-
I could not agree more. Epically people who bring these enormous strollers for their kindergarten looking aged kids. Leave the enormous strollers at home and bring the umbrella stroller. If your kid doesn't like it, do what my parents did. Make your kid walk or no go.

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Old 10-09-2012, 03:03 PM   #4
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I realize now how disjointed my post sounds... Ugh, getting in late and not getting to bed until 12:30 then getting up for work at 5:45 does not make for great thought cohesion, lol. Sorry!!

I also forgot to say how much we both loved California Adventure. The transitions from the different lands are so smooth and effortless, and engrossing. When you're in the area near Grizzly River Run (Grizzly Peak?), between the dense trees and the water sounds and the wonderful little scenic spots, you'd never think you were anywhere else. Same goes for the other areas such as Ornament Valley. The immersion is just so total, and I *love* that. No one does that better than Disney, and they really got it right at CA to me. Really loved that park more than I thought I would.

And I did just remember one of the things I forgot: We were able to catch Billy Hill and the (Haunted) Hillbillies, and LOVED them!! Just loved them. And saw more characters in that area than anywhere else in either park!

Also: The fall/Halloween Time decorations at DL are so total and absolutely wonderful. Everywhere we turned there was some adorable decoration, and I felt like I was in one big autumn festival. Loved that!!
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Old 10-09-2012, 03:14 PM   #5
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Thanks for the review from a WDW vet. We are planning our first DL trip for July 2013. We were considering one of the small motels (Candy Cane Inn or FFI) but I am now re-thinking to spend it on the DLH after some recent posts(besides this posting) about the "Disney Bubble" I was ready for the traffic outside & the small non-Disney motels(those are not a big deal for us) but not too thrilled hearing about bums begging for money & liquor stores.
This will probably be our once & a lifetime trip to DL
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Old 10-09-2012, 03:14 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aan1701

I could not agree more. Epically people who bring these enormous strollers for their kindergarten looking aged kids. Leave the enormous strollers at home and bring the umbrella stroller. If your kid doesn't like it, do what my parents did. Make your kid walk or no go.

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Strollers are a necessary evil. Sadly...

We just returned from 3 days at Disney & attempted to do the first day (also MHP date) sans stroller. It was disastrous!

Let me say that yes- I'm fully aware that at 7, DS is too old for a stroller. But let me also tell you that a year ago DS was hit by a car & broke his back. He's been fully cleared by his doctor but after a year of limited mobility in a back brace, his endurance is just not what it should be.

Since our first day was the party only, we thought he would be fine. But all the walking, standing & heat just combined to create "the perfect storm". So yes, 2nd & 3rd days we had the stroller. And it was a huge blessing to us.

I just wished that some folks didn't feel it necessary to stare, give us dirty looks & pass judgements. Yes he's 7...but you don't always know everyone's story....we didn't let it ruin our trip but it did make for some uncomfortable moments.

IMO- it's not the strollers that are the problem. It's those steering the strollers....just be careful & mindful of others. And for heavens sakes, if you see an older child riding in a stroller- it is NOT your place to comment on what lazy parents we are...so sad & very Un-Disney.
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Old 10-09-2012, 03:28 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gina View Post
The bubble: For WDW vets contemplating a DLR visit, don't underestimate the power of the "Disney bubble" and the lack thereof at DLR. I was mentally prepared - or so I thought - but the reality of it is *much* harder to deal with. It hit my son & I both hard, and seemed to be cumulative... we missed it more the longer we were there. At DLR, as soon as you go outside the park property, "real life" is right there in your face. Cars honking, bums begging for money, liquor stores, a score of non-Disney hotels. By the end, we wanted to just sleep on a bench inside the park so we wouldn't have to face it anymore. And while I know it's possible to stay onsite and not deal -as much- with the above, Disney didn't see fit to put anything but luxury hotels onsite at DLR. We're a Pop Century-budget family, not a Grand Californian-budget kind of family.


-gina-
This is the reason why we don't go as often as some others (last trip 3 years ago) but we do splurge on the hotel. We love the walk through DTD and that you never leave the magic.
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Old 10-09-2012, 03:29 PM   #8
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Strollers are worthless. 2 kids here, 2 and 3 y/o. Wife and I have never owned a stroller.

Wear your kids. I am not talking about Baby Bjorns, but real wraps - the kind you make or buy for $200.

Unless you are out of shape or otherwise not able bodied ( meaning you NEED a stroller ) - why bother with such an enormous hassle for yourself and everyone else?

We can load a kid on our backs in less than 10 seconds. With the kid off, the wrap stays attached to your waste and dangles down a bit. Easy. We can move freely and quickly throughout the park even on crowded days doing this when the kids don't want to walk.
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Old 10-09-2012, 03:38 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chrissiecutie View Post
Strollers are a necessary evil. Sadly...

We just returned from 3 days at Disney & attempted to do the first day (also MHP date) sans stroller. It was disastrous!

Let me say that yes- I'm fully aware that at 7, DS is too old for a stroller. But let me also tell you that a year ago DS was hit by a car & broke his back. He's been fully cleared by his doctor but after a year of limited mobility in a back brace, his endurance is just not what it should be.

Since our first day was the party only, we thought he would be fine. But all the walking, standing & heat just combined to create "the perfect storm". So yes, 2nd & 3rd days we had the stroller. And it was a huge blessing to us.

I just wished that some folks didn't feel it necessary to stare, give us dirty looks & pass judgements. Yes he's 7...but you don't always know everyone's story....we didn't let it ruin our trip but it did make for some uncomfortable moments.

IMO- it's not the strollers that are the problem. It's those steering the strollers....just be careful & mindful of others. And for heavens sakes, if you see an older child riding in a stroller- it is NOT your place to comment on what lazy parents we are...so sad & very Un-Disney.
Certainly some of the Kindergarten aged kids have medical issues but the majority probably do not. We took our kids when they were 4 and 6 and did not bring nor need a stroller. We took breaks to watch shows or have a snack in between all the walking and had a wonderful trip. We kept an eye on how the kids were doing and took breaks accordingly. For example the afternoon we were going to do the Redwood Creek Trail, kids were clearly tired so we went to watch Disney Junior Live instead.Problem is, many kids don't walk anywhere anymore so having to walk at DLR may be tough.
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Old 10-09-2012, 03:57 PM   #10
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I'm not sure how long the CM's have been 'grumpy' at DLR, but in their defense, I read recently that the Disney 'corporate monster' has really stabbed them in the back this season. They used to have a holiday party every year, where the CM's could bring their families and have the parks all to themselves. Disney corporate just took that away in favor of *gasp* bringing more people and their wallets into the resort. I'm not sure if that's what the CM's you were witnessing were griping about, but I'd be in a bad mood if my employee benefits were slowly being stripped away.

Couldn't agree with you more about the strollers. If the parents "driving" them knew how to avoid crashing into people or blocking walkways, I wouldn't have a problem. Unfortunately, I feel like they should take "stroller driver's ed" and buy collision insurance while they're in the parks. Some parents know what they're doing....and many do not.
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Old 10-09-2012, 04:06 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gina View Post
The fall/Halloween Time decorations at DL are so total and absolutely wonderful. Everywhere we turned there was some adorable decoration, and I felt like I was in one big autumn festival. Loved that!!
Hi Gina! Did you get a chance to ride the Haunted Mansion with the Nightmare Before Xmas overlay? You don't mention it, but that's one of the Halloween DL things we're most proud of over here!
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Old 10-09-2012, 04:22 PM   #12
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Quote:
The bubble: For WDW vets contemplating a DLR visit, don't underestimate the power of the "Disney bubble" and the lack thereof at DLR. I was mentally prepared - or so I thought - but the reality of it is *much* harder to deal with. It hit my son & I both hard, and seemed to be cumulative... we missed it more the longer we were there. At DLR, as soon as you go outside the park property, "real life" is right there in your face. Cars honking, bums begging for money, liquor stores, a score of non-Disney hotels. By the end, we wanted to just sleep on a bench inside the park so we wouldn't have to face it anymore. And while I know it's possible to stay onsite and not deal -as much- with the above, Disney didn't see fit to put anything but luxury hotels onsite at DLR. We're a Pop Century-budget family, not a Grand Californian-budget kind of family.

CM's: My son was the first to bring this up, telling me that the CM's at DLR didn't seem as magical as at WDW. We spent the next couple of days observing more closely and trying to pinpoint what the differences were, and it just seemed that the CM's at DLR cared way less. I've never seen such utter looks of boredom on the faces of CM's before. And there were several instances where CM's were standing around at their ride posts, chit-chatting with each other about very mundane things like lunch breaks and complaining about other CM's and whatnot. It was very un-magical, and we have *never* heard anything like that from CM's at WDW. Maybe we have just been lucky, but that would make for a heck of a lucky streak across so many WDW trips. Don't get me wrong, though -- there were some truly wonderful CM's who created exceptional memories for us!!
Glad to see I am not the only one that takes note of these things. This is why we stay at the DLH or we don't go. It is that simple. We go to the DLR and enter the "Bubble" and we stay there for our vacation. I deal with the beggers, pushers, and other "Misunderstood" people while on duty, I choose not to do so while on vacation. Gotta make the best of it....
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Old 10-09-2012, 04:22 PM   #13
Gina
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chrissiecutie View Post
Let me say that yes- I'm fully aware that at 7, DS is too old for a stroller. But let me also tell you that a year ago DS was hit by a car & broke his back. He's been fully cleared by his doctor but after a year of limited mobility in a back brace, his endurance is just not what it should be.

Since our first day was the party only, we thought he would be fine. But all the walking, standing & heat just combined to create "the perfect storm". So yes, 2nd & 3rd days we had the stroller. And it was a huge blessing to us.
I just wished that some folks didn't feel it necessary to stare, give us dirty looks & pass judgements. Yes he's 7...but you don't always know everyone's story....we didn't let it ruin our trip but it did make for some uncomfortable moments.

IMO- it's not the strollers that are the problem. It's those steering the strollers....just be careful & mindful of others. And for heavens sakes, if you see an older child riding in a stroller- it is NOT your place to comment on what lazy parents we are...so sad & very Un-Disney.


I promise you, I would never in a million years voice my thoughts, because I know there is an outside chance that it's a case like yours. Unfortunately, what you said is completely true -- it's those doing the "steering" (and I use that term loosely) that cause all the trouble. Oblivious, ignorant, self-centered people are bad enough all by themselves -- a stroller in their grip is a weapon.

My solution is some sort of measuring gate like they have at the airport to gauge the size of your carry-on. Like, "If your stroller can't fit through here, it isn't allowed." Some of those behemoths were the size of my Toyota.




Quote:
Originally Posted by pinksand View Post
Hi Gina! Did you get a chance to ride the Haunted Mansion with the Nightmare Before Xmas overlay? You don't mention it, but that's one of the Halloween DL things we're most proud of over here!

Oh!! I knew I forgot something else... Yes, that was so cool!! It didn't make a lot of sense to me, because I never saw the movie (not a huge Tim Burton fan), but I was amazed and in awe of the *totality* of the overlay. I thought they would stick a Jack Skellington thing here, and a Sally whatever there, but they really went all out. I loved Madame Leota in the big ornament.
BUT, not having FP had to be *the* most boneheaded thing to me. Wait, make that #2 most boneheaded thing, right after TSMM not having Fastpass. What were they thinking??
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Old 10-09-2012, 04:22 PM   #14
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I took an umbrella stroller for my just turned 4 yr old. She is active and not fat and lazy. But the stroller made it easier for us to get places more quickly w/ two older brothers and not wear her out. She is a napper and was exhausted everyday. yes we took a late afternoon break but even so w/ the early mornings and late nights - I am really glad I had the stroller. I have no desire to wear my child. She could easily walk when she wanted to and rest as needed. I did look and wonder why people would bring a ginormous running stroller into the park however.
If you can get by w/o a stroller great. But, why worry about those who want to use them unless they are running in to you.
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Old 10-09-2012, 04:34 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hootey View Post

Glad to see I am not the only one that takes note of these things. This is why we stay at the DLH or we don't go. It is that simple. We go to the DLR and enter the "Bubble" and we stay there for our vacation. I deal with the beggers, pushers, and other "Misunderstood" people while on duty, I choose not to do so while on vacation. Gotta make the best of it....

Unfortunately, as a single parent, it would take a lottery win for us to be able to stay at someplace like the DLH or GC. And even then, I don't think I could mentally bring myself to spend upwards of $300 a night for a hotel room. Ever. I just wish there were actual *choices* of onsite lodging as at WDW, but I know there is no room. And I know that's why Walt bought so much land in Florida, to prevent that ever happening at WDW. What I don't get is, how come Disney doesn't buy out some of the places across the street like the Park Vue Inn, and at least have a moderate category hotel price point?? They could extend the entry across the street, surely, and have at least a little of a bubble. Not much they can do about the very disillusioning things like hearing sirens while you're in the parks. Heard that twice, pretty loud, and it was jarring and burst even my in-park bubble.
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