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Old 12-23-2012, 12:53 AM   #16
StyledSugar
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Beautiful pictures mvf!! Wow!! Those are definitely getting me excited about our trip on the 24th.

We're all packed, house is cleaned (HATE coming home from a vacation to a dirty house -- am I the only one? lol) and kids are beyond excited! Our vacation starts a day early as we are staying at my parents the night before we leave to have a Pre-Christmas Eve celebration. Then we will be up bright and early for our 6:30am flight. Ugh! That is the only thing I am dreading about the vacation. Getting up at 2:30am is not at the top of my favorite things to do list. lol Hopefully we will get some sleep on one of the THREE flights we need to take (hate Delta airlines for screwing up our flights and changing things two WEEKS before we leave!!). Once we are in California all will be forgotten though I'm sure. We get into SNA at 5pm I believe, then off to the PPH and then to the park for the evening. No specific plans that evening, just going to wing it and enjoy Christmas Eve int he park. Can't wait!! This will be our first Christmas vacation away as a family so while it will be different than the big family get togethers we are used to during this time of the year, I'm sure we will be fine and enjoy our time with just the four of us.

Thanks to everyone in the Christmas thread for all of the help!! I'll be sure to post a trip report upon our return!!
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Old 12-23-2012, 11:35 PM   #17
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Getting everything ready to leave tomorrow afternoon - I'm so excited!
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Old 12-24-2012, 06:56 PM   #18
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I was able to see the CP for the very first time and was fortunate to attend the very last show on the 20th with John Stamos. I captured video of the performance and posted it to YouTube here: http://youtu.be/ZlghoS7dplg

The day after, we stood in line for Candy Canes and there was some confusion at the gates because there was Magic Mornings at both parks. We were directed to the farthest left gate and were told we would be in by 7:30 or 7:45. There were about 10 of us lined up, all wanting Candy Canes, and we were doubtful we would get one because of all of the Magic Morning people. The MM people were let in promptly at 7 and we could see some of them running, which we were assuming to get the wristbands. A few minutes later, a CM decided to give us some holiday magic and also let us in early. We went straight to Candy Palace and there were only a handful of people in line. Mission accomplished and the Candy Cane is definitely unlike any other I've ever had.
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Old 12-29-2012, 01:11 AM   #19
JediMasterNerd
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Talking The Merriest Place on Earth

Wow, wow, wow! All I can say to everyone who posted in the other Superthread, esp Sherry, is THANKS!!! We just completed our trip and it was amazing. We (7 of us) were in the parks Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and the day after Christmas going on rides and expected HUGE crowds, but they did not come. It was BUSY, but not at all what any of us expected. Thursday, on the other hand (two days after Christmas), the park seemed packed and there were only 3 of us! Perhaps it was the weather forecast with expected rain several of the days but it only rained a little on Monday (Christmas Eve) morning and the rest of the trip the weather was fantastic!

Now, to add to the thread...

Highlights:

Holiday Tour... Honestly, the tour itself (the information provided) is very good, but not fantastic (imo) but the other perks make up for it to make this a major highlight. Some of the info/stories is interesting - she even talked about the candy canes. Visited both parks and heard stories not only about Disneyland but different cultures and how the holidays are celebrated/etc. Got to snack on either an Egg Nog or Peppermint Marshmellow (my son and I did Peppermint and it was DELICIOUS) and the timing within the tour was good. Getting walk-on access to HMH and IASWH was great, no waiting, just walk-in and go. Totally worth it and both rides were amazing, love the way they re-did IASW for the holidays... Hot chocolate in a souvenir cup was very tasty and appreciated by all (and if bought outside the tour is a $10-15 purchase) along with the gingerbread... But the creme de la creme was when we walked to the parade area with everyone sitting around and they open up a rope for us to cross the empty street to our our cushioned seats facing It's a Small World Holiday. It's a priceless moment when your 73-year old mom comments on how she feels like such a VIP. For $55 after the AAA discount I would absolutely do this any time I visited the park for the holidays.

Decorations... Obviuously this is a big reason to visit. Christmas Trees, wreaths, decorations everywhere. Very beautiful... I must say it is A LOT better to view the decorations at night when everything is lit up but are still nice during the day.

Characters... Thankfully my DS8 still loves the characters and it was great to see so many characters out there decked out in holiday gear. I will add all of the Santas they have.

Photopass Plus... While this is not a Christmas item I know some were on the fence about it and want to say that I'm glad I did it. When we visited 3 years ago we did 3 character dining experiences but didn't want to purchase 3 sets of pictures at $30-40 a pop. This time we only did 2 character dining experiences, but we took both sets of pictures and that alone paid for the photo pass plus (pre-ordered at $70). But you also get the CD and the ride pictures included as well. Totally worth it and I'm looking forward to getting in there and seeing how everything turned out.

Fireworks... Amazing. Saw them multiple times from different locations. The best for us was with Fantasmic! - see below for comments. Never saw them from the castle area, but didn't feel the need to.

World of Color... It was great to see Prep and Landing in there, adds some nice Christmas cheer to the show and the show was great (first time seeing it). Would be nice to have the show be even more customized for Christmas but was great nonetheless.

Dessert Dining for Fantasmic!... Again, not a Christmas item but it was part of our overall experience and it was great. I did this with my son and mom and it I lined up at about 7:45pm to reserve seats. Due to my DS8 the CM recommended to take the last remaining front row seats off to the far left. They would work well for F! but they would block the fireworks and they would try to move us to see them. Showed up 5 mins before show time and saw everyone sitting around having waited for a long time to get close-up seats and took our chairs and enjoyed the show. The CM serving us was on top of everything as I wanted to start with a soft drink but wanted a hot chocolate to end the show and she was there. Then they did move us to great seats for the fireworks show and brought my son and I another hot chocolate for the fireworks. Snow fell, we got the full experience and my mom again felt like a VIP. I really thought we were served well and while I didn't think the CM could accept tips I asked anyway and was surprised to find they were allowed to accept tips - and she got one

Shopping... Love all the ornaments you could buy, they are great.... China Closet for the win! I assume they are only out at Christmastime but since I've never visited the store otherwise I couldn't say. Note that Shopping is also a low-point (below).


Low-points: - with every trip something must go wrong...

Dinner... Christmas Eve dinner at Blue Bayou for a party of 7... The food was great the problem - getting a table. We had reservations at 8pm. At 8:45 we were still waiting for a table and my dad was steaming at this point (not very patient and was in the restaurant business his whole life) and had complained several times. We finally got a table - the problem they were having was seating a party of 7. They did appease us with 6 magical any ride fast passes (good on any ride in Disneyland even if they don't accept fast passes, except Matterhorn for some reason, for up to 6 people each).

Christmas Eve Goodnight... CANCELLED!!!!! A couple of characters were milling around the front of Disneyland in their night-time outfits so I asked a CM if they had already said Goodnight and she said they weren't doing the Christmas Eve Goodnight this year and recommended that if we were disappointed we should complain @ City Hall in hopes it'll return next year (I got the impresstion she and most CM's were not happy it was gone). Never made it to CH to complain, anyway to complain to them online or through email??

Shopping... Yes, this was a high-point but also a low-point. how can they sell out of their 2012 gear BEFORE CHRISTMAS?!?!?! I REALLY wanted one of those Merriest Place on Earth shirts and they were NO WHERE. They lost a sale from me. Still bought my son a generic Disney shirt, still bought the ornaments. Would have bought more items though.


Items we missed out on: - either couldn't fit it in or just totally forgot about them until too late...
Jingle Jangle Jamboree - paid it a visit after the holidays. Seemed nicely setup. Characters were still there but $6 to decorate a cookie?!?! Really?? I assume it was more festive before the holidays but not sure.

Mad Tea Party - Disappointed we missed this. Oh well.

Candy Canes - We missed them on Christmas Eve (didn't think about looking into it).

Well, that's all I can think of for now. Haven't sorted through all the pics yet but wanted to come here and say THANKS to everyone who has contributed and hope you've had a Merry Christmas and have a Happy New Year!

J.
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Old 12-29-2012, 02:01 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JediMasterNerd View Post
Shopping... Yes, this was a high-point but also a low-point. how can they sell out of their 2012 gear BEFORE CHRISTMAS?!?!?! I REALLY wanted one of those Merriest Place on Earth shirts and they were NO WHERE. They lost a sale from me. Still bought my son a generic Disney shirt, still bought the ornaments. Would have bought more items though.
Seriously, this was pretty frustrating to me too. DBF and I visited Dec 9-11 and no 2012 ornaments were to be found. 2013 merch was already starting to crowd in. Really now? If we visit in 2012, we want a 2012 ornament, not a 2013 one. We asked a CM how long they keep it in stock for and she said that they keep ordering shipments throughout the year until they run out. What does that even mean??! How can you run out of merch if you keep ordering it??! Keep the merch in stock until the last day of 2012 or at LEAST until Christmas. Ugh.
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Old 12-29-2012, 08:53 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StyledSugar View Post
Beautiful pictures mvf!! Wow!! Those are definitely getting me excited about our trip on the 24th.

We're all packed, house is cleaned (HATE coming home from a vacation to a dirty house -- am I the only one? lol) and kids are beyond excited! Our vacation starts a day early as we are staying at my parents the night before we leave to have a Pre-Christmas Eve celebration. Then we will be up bright and early for our 6:30am flight. Ugh! That is the only thing I am dreading about the vacation. Getting up at 2:30am is not at the top of my favorite things to do list. lol Hopefully we will get some sleep on one of the THREE flights we need to take (hate Delta airlines for screwing up our flights and changing things two WEEKS before we leave!!). Once we are in California all will be forgotten though I'm sure. We get into SNA at 5pm I believe, then off to the PPH and then to the park for the evening. No specific plans that evening, just going to wing it and enjoy Christmas Eve int he park. Can't wait!! This will be our first Christmas vacation away as a family so while it will be different than the big family get togethers we are used to during this time of the year, I'm sure we will be fine and enjoy our time with just the four of us.

Thanks to everyone in the Christmas thread for all of the help!! I'll be sure to post a trip report upon our return!!
StyledSugar -

I hope the trip went well for you! When you have time, be sure to post here with a recap or review. I feel somehow invested in whether or not my Superthread people have good, rewarding holiday trips! It's not like I work for Disney or anything, but I like to see how things play out from way back when a person first started asking questions about the season (to plan out their trip), to when the trip finally comes to fruition. I always hope that the information/photos that have been provided and the discussions that have taken place here in the thread (well, in the previous thread) will help to create a great trip, and that most people will return from the parks with a love for the holidays at DLR!

And...did you get the Santa Mickey nutcracker in the Disney Showcase store (or anywhere)? After I showed fellow DIS'ers Laurie/DizNee Luver and Liza/funatdisney a picture of those specific Santa nutcrackers and explained that they appeared to be flying off the shelves in at least two stores, they both ended up getting a Santa Mickey at the Showcase store! Of course, this was back in the Wed., December 12th time frame, so I wasn't sure if Santa Mickey had disappeared from Showcase since then.




Quote:
Originally Posted by TotalDreamer View Post
Getting everything ready to leave tomorrow afternoon - I'm so excited!
Let us know how it went, TotalDreamer!

I hope you had a great time!



Quote:
Originally Posted by swooshbear View Post
I was able to see the CP for the very first time and was fortunate to attend the very last show on the 20th with John Stamos. I captured video of the performance and posted it to YouTube here: http://youtu.be/ZlghoS7dplg

The day after, we stood in line for Candy Canes and there was some confusion at the gates because there was Magic Mornings at both parks. We were directed to the farthest left gate and were told we would be in by 7:30 or 7:45. There were about 10 of us lined up, all wanting Candy Canes, and we were doubtful we would get one because of all of the Magic Morning people. The MM people were let in promptly at 7 and we could see some of them running, which we were assuming to get the wristbands. A few minutes later, a CM decided to give us some holiday magic and also let us in early. We went straight to Candy Palace and there were only a handful of people in line. Mission accomplished and the Candy Cane is definitely unlike any other I've ever had.
swooshbear -

Thank you so much for posting the CP link and the info about the candy canes!

So many people wonder about those candy canes and what makes them so special. Some folks just want to actually see them being made. It's good to know that there is something different about them that puts them in a league above other candy canes!

About the CP - What did you think of the crowds and the CP's impact on Main Street? I would have definitely signed on for a John Stamos CP if he had narrated earlier on in the month. I knew that December 20th would be really busy anyway (the closer to Christmas it gets, the more crowded it gets), but because John is such a huge Disneyland fan I'm sure that he attracted a lot more people to the parks to see him. I would have liked to see Kurt Russell, Dick Van Dyke or John Stamos, but I'm actually really happy that I got to see the Lou Diamond Phillips CP nights - he did a fine job - and I feel very lucky that I got seats both of those nights.

Plus, I don't know if I'm the only one who feels this way, but I am quite happy that I finally got to see the CP in its original, historical, longtime setting - Town Square - before it moves elsewhere. I know that most people hope that it moves to the Hyperion next year (because they think that this will diminish crowds on Main Street and eliminate scheduling issues - not realizing that if the CP moves to DCA it will likely be because there is a paid Christmas party in DL, which will then cause all kinds of other crowd and scheduling issues). I'm sure the CP will still be a lovely show when it's in a theater, but it won't be the same or have the same intimate - almost haunting - vibe that it has in Town Square! It just won't.

I really think that Town Square is a wonderful setting for the CP - and sure, I got caught up in some of the slow-moving crowds on Main Street as I was exiting the park during the last CP of the night (I saw the first show of the night), but it was fine. It didn't ruin my trip, or my night. I've seen worse crowds than that in Adventureland and New Orleans Square after Fantasmic, and on New Year's Eve many years ago.




Quote:
Originally Posted by JediMasterNerd View Post
Wow, wow, wow! All I can say to everyone who posted in the other Superthread, esp Sherry, is THANKS!!! We just completed our trip and it was amazing. We (7 of us) were in the parks Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and the day after Christmas going on rides and expected HUGE crowds, but they did not come. It was BUSY, but not at all what any of us expected. Thursday, on the other hand (two days after Christmas), the park seemed packed and there were only 3 of us! Perhaps it was the weather forecast with expected rain several of the days but it only rained a little on Monday (Christmas Eve) morning and the rest of the trip the weather was fantastic!

Now, to add to the thread...

Highlights:

Holiday Tour... Honestly, the tour itself (the information provided) is very good, but not fantastic (imo) but the other perks make up for it to make this a major highlight. Some of the info/stories is interesting - she even talked about the candy canes. Visited both parks and heard stories not only about Disneyland but different cultures and how the holidays are celebrated/etc. Got to snack on either an Egg Nog or Peppermint Marshmellow (my son and I did Peppermint and it was DELICIOUS) and the timing within the tour was good. Getting walk-on access to HMH and IASWH was great, no waiting, just walk-in and go. Totally worth it and both rides were amazing, love the way they re-did IASW for the holidays... Hot chocolate in a souvenir cup was very tasty and appreciated by all (and if bought outside the tour is a $10-15 purchase) along with the gingerbread... But the creme de la creme was when we walked to the parade area with everyone sitting around and they open up a rope for us to cross the empty street to our our cushioned seats facing It's a Small World Holiday. It's a priceless moment when your 73-year old mom comments on how she feels like such a VIP. For $55 after the AAA discount I would absolutely do this any time I visited the park for the holidays.

Decorations... Obviuously this is a big reason to visit. Christmas Trees, wreaths, decorations everywhere. Very beautiful... I must say it is A LOT better to view the decorations at night when everything is lit up but are still nice during the day.

Characters... Thankfully my DS8 still loves the characters and it was great to see so many characters out there decked out in holiday gear. I will add all of the Santas they have.

Photopass Plus... While this is not a Christmas item I know some were on the fence about it and want to say that I'm glad I did it. When we visited 3 years ago we did 3 character dining experiences but didn't want to purchase 3 sets of pictures at $30-40 a pop. This time we only did 2 character dining experiences, but we took both sets of pictures and that alone paid for the photo pass plus (pre-ordered at $70). But you also get the CD and the ride pictures included as well. Totally worth it and I'm looking forward to getting in there and seeing how everything turned out.

Fireworks... Amazing. Saw them multiple times from different locations. The best for us was with Fantasmic! - see below for comments. Never saw them from the castle area, but didn't feel the need to.

World of Color... It was great to see Prep and Landing in there, adds some nice Christmas cheer to the show and the show was great (first time seeing it). Would be nice to have the show be even more customized for Christmas but was great nonetheless.

Dessert Dining for Fantasmic!... Again, not a Christmas item but it was part of our overall experience and it was great. I did this with my son and mom and it I lined up at about 7:45pm to reserve seats. Due to my DS8 the CM recommended to take the last remaining front row seats off to the far left. They would work well for F! but they would block the fireworks and they would try to move us to see them. Showed up 5 mins before show time and saw everyone sitting around having waited for a long time to get close-up seats and took our chairs and enjoyed the show. The CM serving us was on top of everything as I wanted to start with a soft drink but wanted a hot chocolate to end the show and she was there. Then they did move us to great seats for the fireworks show and brought my son and I another hot chocolate for the fireworks. Snow fell, we got the full experience and my mom again felt like a VIP. I really thought we were served well and while I didn't think the CM could accept tips I asked anyway and was surprised to find they were allowed to accept tips - and she got one

Shopping... Love all the ornaments you could buy, they are great.... China Closet for the win! I assume they are only out at Christmastime but since I've never visited the store otherwise I couldn't say. Note that Shopping is also a low-point (below).


Low-points: - with every trip something must go wrong...

Dinner... Christmas Eve dinner at Blue Bayou for a party of 7... The food was great the problem - getting a table. We had reservations at 8pm. At 8:45 we were still waiting for a table and my dad was steaming at this point (not very patient and was in the restaurant business his whole life) and had complained several times. We finally got a table - the problem they were having was seating a party of 7. They did appease us with 6 magical any ride fast passes (good on any ride in Disneyland even if they don't accept fast passes, except Matterhorn for some reason, for up to 6 people each).

Christmas Eve Goodnight... CANCELLED!!!!! A couple of characters were milling around the front of Disneyland in their night-time outfits so I asked a CM if they had already said Goodnight and she said they weren't doing the Christmas Eve Goodnight this year and recommended that if we were disappointed we should complain @ City Hall in hopes it'll return next year (I got the impresstion she and most CM's were not happy it was gone). Never made it to CH to complain, anyway to complain to them online or through email??

Shopping... Yes, this was a high-point but also a low-point. how can they sell out of their 2012 gear BEFORE CHRISTMAS?!?!?! I REALLY wanted one of those Merriest Place on Earth shirts and they were NO WHERE. They lost a sale from me. Still bought my son a generic Disney shirt, still bought the ornaments. Would have bought more items though.


Items we missed out on: - either couldn't fit it in or just totally forgot about them until too late...
Jingle Jangle Jamboree - paid it a visit after the holidays. Seemed nicely setup. Characters were still there but $6 to decorate a cookie?!?! Really?? I assume it was more festive before the holidays but not sure.

Mad Tea Party - Disappointed we missed this. Oh well.

Candy Canes - We missed them on Christmas Eve (didn't think about looking into it).

Well, that's all I can think of for now. Haven't sorted through all the pics yet but wanted to come here and say THANKS to everyone who has contributed and hope you've had a Merry Christmas and have a Happy New Year!

J.


JediMasterNerd -

Thank you so, so much for coming back here and posting such a wonderful, detailed review that covered a lot of great subjects! I think you touched on a lot of things that people are currently interested in or talking about (such as PhotoPass Plus).

It sounds as though it was mostly a fantastic trip and that you had an amazing time.

I can't believe that the Christmas Eve Goodnight was cancelled! I know that there were at least 3 or 4 DIS'ers (from this thread alone) who were planning to see it. I wonder if it has been cancelled forever, and I wonder why. It's not like the CP was still going on by December 24th so the CP set-up wouldn't have affected it.

I definitely think the weather forecast helped to keep crowds down. For SoCal, compared to what we normally have through the year, we have actually had a decent bit of rain recently. So there was probably a strong enough likelihood that it would rain on your dates to keep people away, even if it didn't really pan out to be all that much.

That's too bad about the Merriest Place on Earth shirt (that's the red shirt, correct?). I assume you also looked in World of Disney? I found a shirt in World of Disney that I could no longer find in the stores in both parks.

China Closet is a great shop - in the past I have bought some of my favorite items there. China Closet does sell some holiday things year-round in a section of the store (though it is not an official year-round Christmas store because they mostly sell other things), including some ornaments, and then when it gets closer to the season they sell even more holiday things!

I was amazed by how beautiful and elegant so many of the ornaments are. They come in so many different colors and styles, and yet they all have Mickey on them somewhere, somehow.



Quote:
Originally Posted by mysteriouspnai View Post
Seriously, this was pretty frustrating to me too. DBF and I visited Dec 9-11 and no 2012 ornaments were to be found. 2013 merch was already starting to crowd in. Really now? If we visit in 2012, we want a 2012 ornament, not a 2013 one. We asked a CM how long they keep it in stock for and she said that they keep ordering shipments throughout the year until they run out. What does that even mean??! How can you run out of merch if you keep ordering it??! Keep the merch in stock until the last day of 2012 or at LEAST until Christmas. Ugh.
mysteriouspnai -

You certainly would not be the only one to be annoyed at this merchandise situation! It seems that more and more people are becoming bothered by not being able to find the appropriate year's merchandise when they visit, and more people have been mentioning it on this board this season.

I know that some items can certainly catch on and unexpectedly fly off the shelves (like the Santa Mickey nutcracker I mentioned in my reply to StyledSugar above), so Disney might not be prepared for that because they don't necessarily know what will catch on and what won't. But it sounds as if they just order a finite number of holiday items up to a hard end date, and then if the items are sold out at that point then they are gone for good. In other words, if something sells out well before 12/25 and their cut-off date to order holiday stock for the year was, say, 12/10, then I guess they wouldn't be ordering more. Their cut-off/end date for ordering more holiday season merchandise is probably well before the actual holiday season is even midway through! They probably place one big final holiday order in early December or late November and hope that it lasts all the way to January 6th! They probably begin ordering the non-holiday stuff for the new year well before January 1st.

I am just guessing at how it's all run, of course - I don't know any of it for sure.
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Old 12-29-2012, 01:52 PM   #22
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Sorry if this is the wrong place to ask but I am wondering a few things for our Jan 1- 6 trip. First are the stores in Downtown Disney open late for NYE? I'm wondering about driving in early and hanging out NYE at Downtwn. Second does anyone know if the Jingle Jangle Jamboree will be up until the Three Kings Days and if so what characters have been seen there. Thanks a much for all the great info of these threads
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Old 12-29-2012, 03:56 PM   #23
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Just wanted to pop in and say that today's the day! My mum and I arrive at Disneyland tonight! So excited!! :D
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Old 12-29-2012, 07:48 PM   #24
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Trip revealed Christmas morning.

Sherry, thanks for making #3. I will say that the superthread #2 was a life-saver in planning our trip.

So I posted a month or so ago that I was surprising my DD with a trip to DL, and that she would open the "present" Christmas morning. It was an exciting morning, and she was oh so patient in opening presents. Time came of the last present of the morning - the one from MOM. Inside the box was several smaller wrapped gifts, all numbered. The first gift had a couple of new Minnie Mouse Shirts. Gift #2, a Disney Barbie. Gift #3, a gift card and a picture of a churro cart (I swear the kid could eat DL out of churros during our trips!), Gift #4 had quarters/pennies for pressed pennies. Gift #5 was a note saying that we had 6 more sleeps until we left for the happiest place on earth - Disneyland. Well, she read the note, and I think it took at least a minute for it to sink in what she had just read. Then, she exploded! She was so happy. I think she spent the rest of the day in shock. She couldn't believe it.

Well we are down to 2 sleeps now (leave New Years Eve, but won't be going into the parks). We are both getting really excited. I've been nervously watching the weather, as we have the Holiday Tour booked for next Thursday afternoon, and I really don't want to get rained out. I've got some other fun stuff planned during the week too. But a surprise even I just found out about - one of her friends from school will be at DL next week for a couple of days too. I've already spoken with the parents, and we are going to meet up for a meal and surprise the girls. So I will warn everyone to expect those high-pitched little girl squeals sometime Wednesday.

Again, a big THANK YOU to everyone that posted in the previous superthread. I don't think I would have attempted this trip without all the valuable information. I will report back when we return.
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Old 12-31-2012, 10:52 AM   #25
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Sherry, I am a WDW girl. I clearly remember my first trip the year it opened. This was my first trip to DLR. Now, I am DLR girl! We had a magical time! Before the trip, I kept scrolling through your pictures quickly so I could be surprised when we got there. Now, I want to stop and look at every shot so I can remember. Thank you, thank you so much for all of your hard work. This thread helped us have the time of our lives. I want to go back next year. Do they change the decorations?

Grand Californian: It was grand. Santa and carolers in the lobby. A beautiful tree. The best corn chowder at Storytellers and a cute gingerbread house there, too! Can't beat the location, plus we could see the CA tree lit up all night out our window! Concierge lounge had a tea party every afternoon! Great scones and tea sandwiches!

Photopass Plus: The photographers were everywhere. What a deal! And we got the photo packages from Goofy's Kitchen and Minnie's breakfast.

Holiday Tour: This was a lot of walking. They started by walking us over to the entrance of Cars Land, but then we just turned around and walked back. The tour guide was nice, but wooden. Very scripted. I would have liked more info about the Disney decorations, and less about Christmas around the world. Getting right on HM and IASW was terrific. But, what made the whole experience was sitting in seats right in front of IASW for the nighttime parade. The cocoa and cookies were a nice treat although they ran out of holiday mugs for me. I got a certificate to get a holiday mug elsewhere, but the whole park was out. I will definitely do this again just for the parade seats.

Fantasmic Dessert Package: Great seats. Nice snacks. Super show, but the fireworks were cancelled because of the wind. Oh well, we got to see the fireworks on Main Street two nights, so it wasn't a complete loss.

In Room Decorations: Well, we ordered the tree and a Santa Bag. The room was given to us before the decorations were put in. So, that was a bit of a disappointment to just have the guy knock on the door and hand us a tree! The tree was beautiful. Worth every penny especially if you price out the ornaments. The Santa bag was cute as can be. It was just not as dramatic to have the guy just hand it to you at the door. I think I will bring my own decorations next time.

Jingle Jangle Jamboree: Pricey, but so much fun. We loved Billy Hill and the Hillbillies. The decorations were cute, cute, cute. The characters were just walking around having fun with you! Goofy was in a Santa suit!! Loved the peppermint cotton candy!

Candy Canes: We watched them prepare them in the window. Before the trip I really thought I wanted one of the candy canes, but when I saw how huge they were, I changed my mind. It would take a year to eat that cane! It was special just seeing them.

Decorations and music: Everywhere! It was like being in Christmas land! I especially loved the Buena Vista Street windows. I actually saw a box of ornaments that looked exactly like the box my mother had. Where did they find that?! I was intrigued by the colored bottles hanging from a New Orleans square balcony and was hoping the tour would tell about them, but the guide didn't even walk us in there. The decorations were spectacular! I hope they are different every year.

Character meals: Goofy's dinner and Minnie's breakfast were so much fun. The food was fine, better than expected from reading reviews. The characters were so interactive!

IASW and HM holidays: Loved them. Went on each multiple times and saw something different every time. I would never have believed that IASW would be my favorite ride, but it was. Loved Elvis on Lilo's surfboard! And the lights.....oh the lights!! Also, I learned that the gingerbread house on the HM table is different every year! I just have to go back! But, people, please stop taking flash shots. They probably won't come out and you ruin the ride for others!

Shopping: One of the complaints at WDW last summer was that the stores all had the exact same merchandise. That was not the case at DLR. I found the ornament I wanted at a little store on Buena Vista Street. That was the only place I saw it. Also, I got a school bag at a CA store that I did not see in any other store. (It is made out of seatbelts. Cute and durable!) Shopping is so much more fun when you can browse and see different things in different shops. It was weird that they were running out of holiday merchandise a week before Christmas, though. I am guessing that someone in the marketing department goofed. I had to hunt to find the holiday shopping bag, but I finally found it at a single check out stand in World of Disney.

Main Street Fireworks: Made me cry. Don't try to eat the snow though. It is soap! My daughter found that out the hard way! It was worth it to see the show in front of the castle. We got there 15 minutes early and had a great viewing spot.

Touring Plan: Get out of bed and to the parks 30 minutes early. Riding the rides between 7 and 11 was very doable. After that, it got crowded. That became shopping time and hotel time for us. Then in the evening we would ride one or two rides and just enjoy the lights. The wide right technique worked well for Cars Land.

Blue Bayou Dinner: Oh my goodness! Even though we did not get a seat right by the water, we could still see the cabin and fireflies. It really felt like we were outside. The steak was super, and the green beans were great! ( I guess you have to understand I hate green beans!) We loved this restaurant.

Flo's: Cars Land was perfect. We felt like we were in Radiator Springs. The turkey and the pork meals at Flo's were delicious. The pasta salad was great. I wish we could have just ordered it as a separate dish. The breakfast at Flo's was nothing special, though.

I just have to go back some day. Christmas is the perfect time to go. Everything was magical. Thank yo, Sherry, for helping us have the time of our lives!!
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Old 12-31-2012, 03:42 PM   #26
Sherry E
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HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYONE!

(Am I the only one who looks forward to New Year's Eve and New Year's Day because of the Twilight Zone Marathon on the SyFy channel?)










Even though we still technically have another full week of the 2012-2013 holiday season at DLR to go (many people will be heading out to enjoy it post-New Year's), and IASWH will likely be going until right around MLK Day, because we have come to the end of the year I think it's a perfect time to reflect!

Over the years (decades), the holiday season at DLR has changed quite a bit. Decorations have come and gone. Certain festivities and highlights have disappeared forever and new ones have taken their place. Some seasons have felt a little 'thinner' and more lacking, while other seasons have felt jam-packed with festive offerings. The 3 hotels and Downtown Disney have become more involved in the merriment too.

The last couple of holiday seasons have felt a bit incomplete because of DCA's makeover. To be honest, even before DCA's makeover was ever begun it never really seemed like that particular park could find its own special Christmas 'niche' (even though the lights on the Golden Gate Bridge and the candy cane-striped CALIFORNIA letters were great!). I don't think anyone wanted it to be a carbon copy of Disneyland but still, it needed to be equally involved in the holidays because Disneyland Resort was becoming too lopsided. It appeared that the bulk of holiday entertainment and decorations could be found in Disneyland, while California Adventure offered very little Yuletide fun.

Now that the DCA "re-imagining" is all done, I definitely feel that all of the holiday cheer is more balanced between the two parks. Disneyland is probably still the leader in terms of overall decorations (just the variety of themed decorations in Disneyland alone is astounding), but with the addition of Cars Land and Buena Vista Street, DCA held its own.

And, you know, because of the fantastic attention to detail in the CL & BVS decor (including the appropriately-themed holiday music too), I have been more compelled to pay attention to the existing decorations in the other areas of DCA as well. Both Grizzly Peak and Paradise Pier have some good themed decorations too, fitting for those areas, but they went virtually unnoticed in the past. Condor Flats and Pacific Wharf need help - let's be honest. Hollywood needs a bit of help (despite the garland on the poles), BUT if the Candlelight Ceremony (or Processional - whatever it is being called now) heads to the Hyperion in DCA next year I think that there will be more decorations put up in Hollywood to kind of set the tone for it.

We don't know exactly what the 2013 season will hold, and there could actually be some major changes in entertainment, park hours, crowds, etc. Will there definitely be a paid Christmas party like the MVMCP at WDW? If so, for how many nights will it be held and will the existing Christmas parade, snow and fireworks be a part of it, or will Disney do what I think they should do and roll out a whole new holiday parade and new fireworks for the party?

Is there any chance at all that DLR could possibly start a Christmas party in California Adventure in 2013? After all, the main reason that the Halloween party moved over to DL and out of DCA was because of the construction going on in DCA. Otherwise, it likely would have stayed in DCA. But now that DCA's work is complete, a party with an all-holiday World of Color and a TSMM holiday makeover (which has supposedly been in the plans for the last 4 years) could be successful!

Then there is the big mystery of whether or not the Candlelight Processional/Ceremony will stay in Town Square (which is a magical setting for it) or move to DCA. If it breaks its over 50-year tradition and moves over to DCA (which would be very significant), then that means a party will surely move into Disneyland. However, if Disney decides to keep the CP in Disneyland, then that could mean that a party will begin in DCA.

I know that a lot of people are anti-CP or against the idea of it staying in DL, in Town Square. Lots of people have complained about the crowds that were created because of it. I was in those crowds too, walking on Main Street and past the CP's second showing, and I didn't find it to be the huge nightmare that people are claiming it was. That doesn't mean that certain nights weren't worse than others - I'm sure they were - but I am just reporting on what I observed/experienced on my nights, and what my perception of it was in comparison to other super-crowded times I have been to DLR. The crowds were annoying, of course, but it wasn't enough to really 'get to' me. It was a momentary inconvenience for me, and I expect those kinds of inconveniences to happen at DLR all the time!

So, I'd say that, taking everything into consideration about this holiday season that is about to end in 6 days, I think it was a big success! I know that my personal holiday experience was much better and much more well-rounded this year, because of being able to see the CP and because of Cars Land & Buena Vista Street. I'd give it a solid A-/B+ if I were going to grade it! The reasons I'm not yet giving DLR's holiday season of 2012 an A+ are that: they cancelled the Christmas Eve Goodnight (as reported by JediMasterNerd above); they took out the jumbo Christmas tree in Downtown Disney to put the ice rink there, and I'm not sure if it was a good trade-off; they insist on keeping those hideous new Christmas trees in Toon Town instead of giving us back the old Toon Town trees; and Hollywood needs more decorations!!

So now we will begin a new year and anxiously await details of what is sure to be an interesting and discussion-worthy holiday season in 2013! Meanwhile, I will quietly and inconspicuously continue to assemble/organize the first page of this thread (it's still a work in progress, just like settling into a new home can be, but I have made a dent so it's a start!)!!

Oh, and, of course - there will be a new Theme Week Countdown to the Holiday Season, beginning in the Summer!!! (Usually I start the countdowns in late August, but I might bump the 2013 countdown up to mid-August or early August because we've got new material to include in the countdown!!)









Quote:
Originally Posted by scrapbunny View Post
Sorry if this is the wrong place to ask but I am wondering a few things for our Jan 1- 6 trip. First are the stores in Downtown Disney open late for NYE? I'm wondering about driving in early and hanging out NYE at Downtwn. Second does anyone know if the Jingle Jangle Jamboree will be up until the Three Kings Days and if so what characters have been seen there. Thanks a much for all the great info of these threads
scrapbunny -

I hope you were able to find answers to your questions by now. I didn't answer because I am just not sure. I don't know how late the stores in DTD stay open on NYE but I would think that they had normal holiday hours.

As for the Jingle Jangle Jamboree, this was the very first year for the actual Jamboree but it is supposed to be up through the entire holiday season - so all the way through January 6th. In the past it was the Reindeer Round-Up and it was kind of a different set-up. Now it is more spread out and spacious.

January of 2012 was the first time that I am aware of when Disney officially celebrated Three Kings Day. I don't recall them celebrating it in the past (though I could be wrong). At that point the Jamboree was still the Round-Up. This time around - next weekend - I think that the Three Kings Day festivities are going to take place somewhere around the Jamboree or in that Ranch area. I just don't know if any of the holiday/Jamboree stuff will still be going on too (like characters in their holiday garb and cookie decorating). I would imagine that the Billy Hill & the Holiday Hillbillies show is going to be gone by then, so that the Three Kings Day music can take its place?? I have a feeling that most of the obvious Christmas activities are going to be gone and replaced with Three Kings Day activities and characters dressed in themed costumes.



Let us know what's there when you get back!



Quote:
Originally Posted by Riniel View Post
Just wanted to pop in and say that today's the day! My mum and I arrive at Disneyland tonight! So excited!! :D
Riniel -

I hope you had a great trip!



Quote:
Originally Posted by NMDisneyMom View Post
Sherry, thanks for making #3. I will say that the superthread #2 was a life-saver in planning our trip.

So I posted a month or so ago that I was surprising my DD with a trip to DL, and that she would open the "present" Christmas morning. It was an exciting morning, and she was oh so patient in opening presents. Time came of the last present of the morning - the one from MOM. Inside the box was several smaller wrapped gifts, all numbered. The first gift had a couple of new Minnie Mouse Shirts. Gift #2, a Disney Barbie. Gift #3, a gift card and a picture of a churro cart (I swear the kid could eat DL out of churros during our trips!), Gift #4 had quarters/pennies for pressed pennies. Gift #5 was a note saying that we had 6 more sleeps until we left for the happiest place on earth - Disneyland. Well, she read the note, and I think it took at least a minute for it to sink in what she had just read. Then, she exploded! She was so happy. I think she spent the rest of the day in shock. She couldn't believe it.

Well we are down to 2 sleeps now (leave New Years Eve, but won't be going into the parks). We are both getting really excited. I've been nervously watching the weather, as we have the Holiday Tour booked for next Thursday afternoon, and I really don't want to get rained out. I've got some other fun stuff planned during the week too. But a surprise even I just found out about - one of her friends from school will be at DL next week for a couple of days too. I've already spoken with the parents, and we are going to meet up for a meal and surprise the girls. So I will warn everyone to expect those high-pitched little girl squeals sometime Wednesday.

Again, a big THANK YOU to everyone that posted in the previous superthread. I don't think I would have attempted this trip without all the valuable information. I will report back when we return.
NMDisneyMom -

Happy New Year to you! Thank you for the kind words - I am so glad the thread helped you to plan and build excitement for your trip!

It sounds like your trip reveal to your DD was amazing. She must have been thrilled. I can just picture the look of shock she must have had when she figured out what was happening! And how wonderful that you will be meeting up with friends at DLR too!

Someone else I know - not anyone on this board - just got back from a trip to DLR, and it was her very first time taking her two young boys there. She surprised them with it as well. I helped her plan and gave her tips and holiday-specific info. Her little ones were sooooo beyond excited to be going, and the holiday magic just made it even better. At the end of one of the days her youngest boy (I think he is 4 or 5) looked up at her and said, "That's the best day I ever had in my whole life." It brought tears to her eyes. (It pretty much brought tears to my eyes too, and I was only reading about it - I didn't even hear the comment in person!)

I hope you have that kind of trip too - the "best day I ever had in my whole life" kind of trip!

It looks like it is supposed to be rain-free for the week so I think you're in luck.


Quote:
Originally Posted by lucysmom View Post
Sherry, I am a WDW girl. I clearly remember my first trip the year it opened. This was my first trip to DLR. Now, I am DLR girl! We had a magical time! Before the trip, I kept scrolling through your pictures quickly so I could be surprised when we got there. Now, I want to stop and look at every shot so I can remember. Thank you, thank you so much for all of your hard work. This thread helped us have the time of our lives. I want to go back next year. Do they change the decorations?

Grand Californian: It was grand. Santa and carolers in the lobby. A beautiful tree. The best corn chowder at Storytellers and a cute gingerbread house there, too! Can't beat the location, plus we could see the CA tree lit up all night out our window! Concierge lounge had a tea party every afternoon! Great scones and tea sandwiches!

Photopass Plus: The photographers were everywhere. What a deal! And we got the photo packages from Goofy's Kitchen and Minnie's breakfast.

Holiday Tour: This was a lot of walking. They started by walking us over to the entrance of Cars Land, but then we just turned around and walked back. The tour guide was nice, but wooden. Very scripted. I would have liked more info about the Disney decorations, and less about Christmas around the world. Getting right on HM and IASW was terrific. But, what made the whole experience was sitting in seats right in front of IASW for the nighttime parade. The cocoa and cookies were a nice treat although they ran out of holiday mugs for me. I got a certificate to get a holiday mug elsewhere, but the whole park was out. I will definitely do this again just for the parade seats.

Fantasmic Dessert Package: Great seats. Nice snacks. Super show, but the fireworks were cancelled because of the wind. Oh well, we got to see the fireworks on Main Street two nights, so it wasn't a complete loss.

In Room Decorations: Well, we ordered the tree and a Santa Bag. The room was given to us before the decorations were put in. So, that was a bit of a disappointment to just have the guy knock on the door and hand us a tree! The tree was beautiful. Worth every penny especially if you price out the ornaments. The Santa bag was cute as can be. It was just not as dramatic to have the guy just hand it to you at the door. I think I will bring my own decorations next time.

Jingle Jangle Jamboree: Pricey, but so much fun. We loved Billy Hill and the Hillbillies. The decorations were cute, cute, cute. The characters were just walking around having fun with you! Goofy was in a Santa suit!! Loved the peppermint cotton candy!

Candy Canes: We watched them prepare them in the window. Before the trip I really thought I wanted one of the candy canes, but when I saw how huge they were, I changed my mind. It would take a year to eat that cane! It was special just seeing them.

Decorations and music: Everywhere! It was like being in Christmas land! I especially loved the Buena Vista Street windows. I actually saw a box of ornaments that looked exactly like the box my mother had. Where did they find that?! I was intrigued by the colored bottles hanging from a New Orleans square balcony and was hoping the tour would tell about them, but the guide didn't even walk us in there. The decorations were spectacular! I hope they are different every year.

Character meals: Goofy's dinner and Minnie's breakfast were so much fun. The food was fine, better than expected from reading reviews. The characters were so interactive!

IASW and HM holidays: Loved them. Went on each multiple times and saw something different every time. I would never have believed that IASW would be my favorite ride, but it was. Loved Elvis on Lilo's surfboard! And the lights.....oh the lights!! Also, I learned that the gingerbread house on the HM table is different every year! I just have to go back! But, people, please stop taking flash shots. They probably won't come out and you ruin the ride for others!

Shopping: One of the complaints at WDW last summer was that the stores all had the exact same merchandise. That was not the case at DLR. I found the ornament I wanted at a little store on Buena Vista Street. That was the only place I saw it. Also, I got a school bag at a CA store that I did not see in any other store. (It is made out of seatbelts. Cute and durable!) Shopping is so much more fun when you can browse and see different things in different shops. It was weird that they were running out of holiday merchandise a week before Christmas, though. I am guessing that someone in the marketing department goofed. I had to hunt to find the holiday shopping bag, but I finally found it at a single check out stand in World of Disney.

Main Street Fireworks: Made me cry. Don't try to eat the snow though. It is soap! My daughter found that out the hard way! It was worth it to see the show in front of the castle. We got there 15 minutes early and had a great viewing spot.

Touring Plan: Get out of bed and to the parks 30 minutes early. Riding the rides between 7 and 11 was very doable. After that, it got crowded. That became shopping time and hotel time for us. Then in the evening we would ride one or two rides and just enjoy the lights. The wide right technique worked well for Cars Land.

Blue Bayou Dinner: Oh my goodness! Even though we did not get a seat right by the water, we could still see the cabin and fireflies. It really felt like we were outside. The steak was super, and the green beans were great! ( I guess you have to understand I hate green beans!) We loved this restaurant.

Flo's: Cars Land was perfect. We felt like we were in Radiator Springs. The turkey and the pork meals at Flo's were delicious. The pasta salad was great. I wish we could have just ordered it as a separate dish. The breakfast at Flo's was nothing special, though.

I just have to go back some day. Christmas is the perfect time to go. Everything was magical. Thank yo, Sherry, for helping us have the time of our lives!!
lucysmom -

Thank you so, so much for the kind words and appreciation for this thread (well, I am lumping this thread in with the previous thread). It means a lot to me. I am also very grateful to everyone who has participated, contributed and helped in sharing info, reviews, opinions and photos, and I am so pleased that the thread has been a valuable resource and tool for so many people as they planned the different stages of their trips!

What a wonderful, comprehensive post you just shared with us! Just as JediMasterNerd did, you touched on a lot of points of interest that people would want to know!

It sounds like your trip was absolutely fantastic! I was reading the comments on each category as you went through them and thinking, "Yep. I agree with that. Yep, that too!" Just to single out a small portion of the things I was agreeing with you on:

1. I especially, wholeheartedly, agree that Christmas time is the perfect time to go. There is a particular feeling in the air during the holidays at DLR that isn't there during other times of year. Not to mention that the details and the beauty of it all are just exquisite;

2. I agree with the whole assessment of the Grand Californian Hotel lobby atmosphere (I love to see Santa and the carolers in that specific setting) - it is a great, festive place to relax during the season so that you are away from the chaos in the parks, but not totally disconnected from the Christmas merriment;

3. I am a big, longtime Goofy's Kitchen fan, so I sometimes think the occasional negative reviews of it are overly harsh - but I also think that people expect a lot due to the high price tag. I have never had a bad enough experience at Goofy's to turn me off of eating there for good. There are some 'off' days here and there, of course, but I have stuck it out through the off days and have had really great times (the 'on' days) there too! I will continue to eat at Goofy's and I am so glad you had a good experience there too!;

4. I also thought that the PhotoPass photographers were everywhere! It's weird because I have read some random comments here and there (on this board and others) saying that there were not a lot of photographers in the parks. I didn't see it that way - in my opinion, there were a lot of them. I saw 3 separate photographers stationed around the Buena Vista Street tree in November! I didn't even get any PP pictures taken this year (as I normally would), but I saw the photographers all over the place!; and

5. The mini-tree in your hotel room! While I am glad to hear that it was worth the money (I've considered getting one of those trees in my hotel room in the past and haven't done it), I totally agree with you that you'd want to arrive in the room and see the tree already set up and waiting for you instead of answering the knock at the door and being handed the tree! Eek! The magic of the tree would kind of be ruined at that point, I think. It sounds like it was bad timing. It was lucky that your room was ready early, but I guess the Vacation Planning people don't take into consideration that a room might be ready early. That's a shame.

Well, I guess you could just bring that same tree with you the next time you stay onsite at DLR and bring your own ornaments.




Now, as far as your question of whether or not the decorations are changed each year...

I guess the short answer would be...not really. The more detailed answer would be that, technically, no, the decorations really don't change from year to year - for the most part. However, sometimes Disney quietly removes certain things and adds certain things in without any fanfare.

I was recently telling Tom/I'mTooExcitedToSleep of DIS Unplugged that I am basically the "decorations police." I will go around and try to find things that have been added in or taken away. And if I am not there to see for myself, I will ask other DIS'ers to tell me if certain things are missing or new.

Last year we got "new" (translation: recycled from WDW) trees in Toon Town, but the previous Christmas trees were much better.

The New Orleans Square decorations have changed here and there. There used to be this - for lack of a better term - "light canopy" that hung overhead and illuminated the alleys of that land after hours. Disney removed the light canopy and the whole element of light disappeared from NOS. It really made a dramatic difference - and not for the better! Then they put back some light strands overhead the next year - but it wasn't the same as the original light canopy.

However, what Disney removed in light canopies, they more than made up for in MASKS!

On the subject of decorations being added in or removed - I have been a bit bummed out because I have been working on my December 2012 TR, "Candlelight and Cannonballs" (link in signature below), and have been posting some of my best photos to date, I think, but I can't get anyone to come out of hiding and speak up. All of my 'regulars' are away/busy for the holidays, or they are off & on commenters due to lack of time. So I am basically posting to myself and maybe one or two others most of the time! I'm in the final 10 pages of my TR thread (which spans 4 years), at which point it will be closed because it's reached its 250-page limit.

Meanwhile, I have been posting some good pictures in my TR! Not on the level of I'm mikey's pictures, or KCmike's pictures, or Elk Grove Chris' pictures, of course - and I couldn't even begin to get fireworks pictures like Bret/mvf-m11c is able to get - but pretty good pictures nonetheless! Gorgeous flowers! Beautiful sunrises! Intricate gingerbread house details! Paradise Pier Hotel room pictures. Lots of pictures! Specific Earl of Sandwich information. I haven't even gotten to the point in the TR where I saw my first Candlelight Processional/Ceremony, so those pictures will be coming soon too! I take tons of photos all the time anyway, and I am obviously very detailed, but I think I surpassed some of my previous efforts on this recent trip.

Anyway, the reason I bring up my TR in relation to the subject of decorations changing is because in the last 2 days I have posted lots and lots and lots of photos of the stunning, dramatic, mysterious, colorful Mardi Gras masks from New Orleans Square - and I have been saying that many of those masks have, indeed, been added in over the last couple of years...but you wouldn't know they were new additions unless you were specifically looking for them. I know that there were not as many masks back in 2010 (which was the last time I paid close attention to them).

So I guess the main point I am making is that the general, overall decorations don't change too significantly each year - but little things change here and there. The gingerbread houses will all be different each year. There are different wreaths that pop up in certain areas. The Main Street holiday window displays may change a bit each year. New Orleans Square may get more or fewer Mardi Gras masks. Some of the in-store decor may change a bit.

The flowers change - you will not necessarily see the same holiday flowers in the same spots every year. One year there may be poinsettia baskets in Downtown Disney; the next year there are none. You kind of have to look closely to see what is new or gone forever.

Since this was the first year for Cars Land and Buena Vista Street decorations and they were so extensive, I am wondering what will take place in 2013. We may find that some of the decorations are relocated to other areas in the same lands, changed a little bit, or entirely removed. Disney's Enhancement Team will look at photos of this year's decor and establish what needs to be changed/removed/added in/redone in time for November of 2013.






Anyway, I have babbled enough for today - in this thread, anyway! I have to get back to my TR and work on that, as well as continue to silently organize Page 1 of this thread!

Again, thank you to everyone who has contributed to this thread in any way, and to all of the people who have been lurking, reading, asking questions, subscribing, etc.! It has been a great holiday season at DLR this year, and we will await news of what 2013 holds for us!
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Taking on the holidays, one photo at a time...

Pumpkins, Peppermint, Pastels and...Club 33!!! - (A new chapter begins... Many photos and wacky tales, coming soon to a Trip Report thread near you!)
And for some non-holiday seaside fun in the sun ~~ 2012 Catalina Island/Avalon Trip Report - My Solo Day Trip, in Photos (LOTS of Photos!)- 7/21/12
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Old 12-31-2012, 05:07 PM   #27
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I hope to be in for 2013. Thanks for doing this Sherry! I was on last year's thread for a bit until we swapped to WDW for our trip. This time maybe we'll really head west!
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Old 12-31-2012, 07:50 PM   #28
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We are back from our first trip to Disneyland for Christmas and I just want to thank Sherry E and all the others that posted about Disneyland at the holidays.

We had the greatest time. We stayed at the Disneyland Hotel from Dec 23 - 29 in a standard room in the Fantasy Tower.

Here are some of our tips and highlights from our trip:

DLH Room Decoration Package & Christmas Tree
I decided to *splurge* and get the room decoration package and Christmas Tree (as well as 2 presents) through the Disneyland Vacation Planning Department. The total cost was just over $700 but I felt it was so worth it and it made our stay just that much more special. One word of warning...the room decorating package is done by the housekeeping department and the Tree and presents are arranged through bell services. I wanted everything for our check in day so I was aware that our room would not be ready until 6 pm as bell services do not deliver the tree or presents until between 4 & 6 pm. Since I wanted the decorations, tree and presents were a surprise for my Mom and the DL Vacation Planning Department made me aware that our room may not be available until 6 pm, I had prepared my Mom in advance that there was a possibility that our room would not be ready when we arrived. When I went to check in at 2:30 pm they advised that the room was ready with the decorations but not the tree or presents so I advised I would wait. I told my Mom the room was not ready so we went to purchase our premier passports and then checked out DCA to see CarsLand all decorated for Christmas. It was just after 6 pm when I got the keys to our room and when we arrived at our room I was surprised to see that the door was even decorated. The room decoration package and tree did not disappoint. My Mom was in tears when she saw it all. If you want to make your stay special, I would highly recommend splurging on the room decoration package and the Christmas Tree. We priced out the individual items and the tree ornaments (everything was available in the parks and it was close to what I paid for the items).

Crowds
Because of the posts I had read and because we had previously visited WDW at Christmas, we were prepared for crowds and made use of the extra magic hour available each morning to resort guests. We arrived at the parks between 7 and 7:15 am and we were able to ride all the rides we wanted before the major crowds arrived. For example, on Dec 26 we arrived at DL just after 7 am and by 11 am we had breakfast in the park and had rode the following: Star Tours, Space Mountain, Matterhorn, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Pirates, Haunted Mansion and Indiana Jones. We wanted to ride IASW but it was experiencing "technical difficulties". Also, having the extra magic hour allowed us to ride Radiator Springs Racers without much wait. In addition, we found the crowds really increased on Dec 27 & 28 and we were so happy that we had made good use of our time in the parks prior as the wait times (even during extra magic hour) were long. In addition, we went with the flow, when the parks got busy in the afternoon we headed back to the hotel for a break and then headed back to the parks at night.

Weather
One thing we were not expecting was how cold it was during our visit. We had taken fleece jackets for the evenings but ended up wearing our jackets all day everyday. My Mom had taken mitts as her hands tend to get cold quickly and I wish I had taken some as well for the evenings. Yes, DL did sell mitts but I refused to pay $11.95 for a paid of mitts that I could buy for a $1 in the dollar store - the ones being sold at DL didn't even have Mickey on them!!!! Also, we had a few mornings of rain and I recommend either taking ponchos or umbrellas because the crowds tend to stay away when it's raining. We had fun riding the rides in the rain.

Holiday Time Tour
We booked this tour for Christmas day as I wanted something special to do on Christmas. The tour was good but it was tough navigating the parks with the tour guide and our tour group because of the crowds. It was fun to walk on HM and IASW. We did get a few comments by people waiting for IASW (with a 2 hour wait time) that "we must be VIP's if we don't have to wait in line"...I think the highlight of the tour and what made it worth the money to us, were our padded front row seats for the parade, right in front of IASW and the cup of hot cocoa in the souvenir mug (the collectible pin was kinda nice too!).

Breakfast With Minnie & Friends at the Plaza Inn
We booked this character meal for Christmas morning and we found it very unorganized. We have done many character meals at WDW and we found this meal to be very unorganized. I'm not sure if it is because people didn't realize the characters would come to your table but kids kept running up to the characters and standing in lines waiting to have their pictures taken and get autographs. The character handler in the room we were in had to keep going over to three tables to explain that the kids needed to stay at the table and the characters would come to them because as soon as a character entered our room they would run over to them. Also the way the characters come to the table does not make for eating your meal while it is hot. We also found that our dirty plates were not removed from our table until almost the end of the meal. As this was our first character meal at DL, I'm not sure if this things are normal or not at DL.

Merchandise
We loved that each store at DL & DCA seems to carry different merchandise unlike at WDW where each store has the same things. We loved walking through each store discovering different things and all the special merchandise for the different areas (Buena Vista Street, CarsLand, etc). I was disappointed that there was no 2012 merchandise available. I am glad I purchased a few 2012 scrapbook kits when we visited in October. Also, I really wanted a Christmas fleece jacket but they only had small sized available.

Holiday Decorations
OMG...where to begin...the trees and decorations were amazing...we loved all the decorations and trees. Seeing Sleeping Beauty Castle during the day with the garland and icicles was amazing and to see the special lighting at night was just amazing. The resorts also have amazing decorations. We checked out all three Disney Hotels and they did not disappoint. We are planning to stay at Paradise Pier next year.

Santa
We loved visiting Santa at Elais & Co at DCA. The set up was like an old fashioned Santa in a department store. We also visited Santa at the Disneyland Hotel and thought that the area at the hotel they had designed for him was very special.

Dining
We had our Christmas Eve dinner at Steakhouse 55 at the Disneyland Hotel. I highly recommend this restaurant as the food is amazing!!!!! We also dined at Flo's V8 Cafe, Pacific Wharf Cafe, Rainforest Cafe and discovered on our last day the Pizza and Pasta place on the Boardwalk in the Paradise Pier area of DCA - yum!!!! can't wait for our next visit to DCA!!!!

Cast Members
We love the DL & DCA cast members. We found them to be very friendly and always seemed to have a smile on their face and willing to help. It seemed to us that they loved working at DL & DCA.

Lilly Belle
Third Time's a charm!!!! We have tried to ride the Lilly Belle during our last 2 visits to DL and each time we were unsuccessful but this trip, on our last day in the parks we were successful!!!! We were able to get a ride on the Lilly Belle at 9 am on December 28!!!! What a delight to be able to ride in this presidential car and the souvenir ticket we received will be the star of my Christmas scrapbook. If you want a ride in the Lilly Belle, you need to check with the train conductor right when the trains start operating at 8 am. We waited in line for almost a half hour for the train to start running and kept our fingers crossed when we asked for the train conductor. There were 3 runs on the 28th - 9 am, 12:15 pm and 2:30 pm...all spots were gone by 8:30 am.

We had the best time at Disneyland for Christmas and we are already planning our trip to Disneyland for next year but our trip will be earlier in December in order to get another chance to see the Christmas decorations before our Premier Passports expire on December 23, 2013.

Thanks again for all your tips and suggestions that made our trip that much more special!!!!!
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Old 12-31-2012, 09:06 PM   #29
czmom
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After the past two Decembers at WDW, we are heading West next year to visit Disneyland! I am so excited and will be following this thread. Thanks for all your work, Sherry!

Our current plan is to come the week immediately following Thanksgiving, December 1-7. What would the differences be if we came the week prior to Thanksgiving instead (not the week of)? I am wondering about crowd levels, weather, ride closures, decorations, etc. Are there any advantages/disadvantages to either week?

I know it is quite far away still, but I am trying to rent points for VGC.

Thank you!
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Old 12-31-2012, 11:43 PM   #30
Sherry E
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mom2rtk View Post
I hope to be in for 2013. Thanks for doing this Sherry! I was on last year's thread for a bit until we swapped to WDW for our trip. This time maybe we'll really head west!
mom2rtk -

You're very welcome! I remember that you popped into the previous thread a few times. Even though I'm sure the WDW trip was amazing, I do hope that you will be able to do a DLR holiday trip in 2013! I think it's going to be a very newsworthy season, assuming that a party comes to Disneyland and the Candlelight Ceremony moves over to California Adventure.

Stay tuned for August, when we begin the Theme Week Countdown! I think 2013's countdown will be really fun because so many people went to DLR in 2012 and got fantastic photos of Cars Land, etc.




Quote:
Originally Posted by Mickey&JoshNut View Post
We are back from our first trip to Disneyland for Christmas and I just want to thank Sherry E and all the others that posted about Disneyland at the holidays.

We had the greatest time. We stayed at the Disneyland Hotel from Dec 23 - 29 in a standard room in the Fantasy Tower.

Here are some of our tips and highlights from our trip:

DLH Room Decoration Package & Christmas Tree
I decided to *splurge* and get the room decoration package and Christmas Tree (as well as 2 presents) through the Disneyland Vacation Planning Department. The total cost was just over $700 but I felt it was so worth it and it made our stay just that much more special. One word of warning...the room decorating package is done by the housekeeping department and the Tree and presents are arranged through bell services. I wanted everything for our check in day so I was aware that our room would not be ready until 6 pm as bell services do not deliver the tree or presents until between 4 & 6 pm. Since I wanted the decorations, tree and presents were a surprise for my Mom and the DL Vacation Planning Department made me aware that our room may not be available until 6 pm, I had prepared my Mom in advance that there was a possibility that our room would not be ready when we arrived. When I went to check in at 2:30 pm they advised that the room was ready with the decorations but not the tree or presents so I advised I would wait. I told my Mom the room was not ready so we went to purchase our premier passports and then checked out DCA to see CarsLand all decorated for Christmas. It was just after 6 pm when I got the keys to our room and when we arrived at our room I was surprised to see that the door was even decorated. The room decoration package and tree did not disappoint. My Mom was in tears when she saw it all. If you want to make your stay special, I would highly recommend splurging on the room decoration package and the Christmas Tree. We priced out the individual items and the tree ornaments (everything was available in the parks and it was close to what I paid for the items).


Weather
One thing we were not expecting was how cold it was during our visit. We had taken fleece jackets for the evenings but ended up wearing our jackets all day everyday. My Mom had taken mitts as her hands tend to get cold quickly and I wish I had taken some as well for the evenings. Yes, DL did sell mitts but I refused to pay $11.95 for a paid of mitts that I could buy for a $1 in the dollar store - the ones being sold at DL didn't even have Mickey on them!!!! Also, we had a few mornings of rain and I recommend either taking ponchos or umbrellas because the crowds tend to stay away when it's raining. We had fun riding the rides in the rain.

Breakfast With Minnie & Friends at the Plaza Inn
We booked this character meal for Christmas morning and we found it very unorganized. We have done many character meals at WDW and we found this meal to be very unorganized. I'm not sure if it is because people didn't realize the characters would come to your table but kids kept running up to the characters and standing in lines waiting to have their pictures taken and get autographs. The character handler in the room we were in had to keep going over to three tables to explain that the kids needed to stay at the table and the characters would come to them because as soon as a character entered our room they would run over to them. Also the way the characters come to the table does not make for eating your meal while it is hot. We also found that our dirty plates were not removed from our table until almost the end of the meal. As this was our first character meal at DL, I'm not sure if this things are normal or not at DL.

Holiday Decorations
OMG...where to begin...the trees and decorations were amazing...we loved all the decorations and trees. Seeing Sleeping Beauty Castle during the day with the garland and icicles was amazing and to see the special lighting at night was just amazing. The resorts also have amazing decorations. We checked out all three Disney Hotels and they did not disappoint. We are planning to stay at Paradise Pier next year.

Lilly Belle
Third Time's a charm!!!! We have tried to ride the Lilly Belle during our last 2 visits to DL and each time we were unsuccessful but this trip, on our last day in the parks we were successful!!!! We were able to get a ride on the Lilly Belle at 9 am on December 28!!!! What a delight to be able to ride in this presidential car and the souvenir ticket we received will be the star of my Christmas scrapbook. If you want a ride in the Lilly Belle, you need to check with the train conductor right when the trains start operating at 8 am. We waited in line for almost a half hour for the train to start running and kept our fingers crossed when we asked for the train conductor. There were 3 runs on the 28th - 9 am, 12:15 pm and 2:30 pm...all spots were gone by 8:30 am.

We had the best time at Disneyland for Christmas and we are already planning our trip to Disneyland for next year but our trip will be earlier in December in order to get another chance to see the Christmas decorations before our Premier Passports expire on December 23, 2013.

Thanks again for all your tips and suggestions that made our trip that much more special!!!!!
Mickey&JoshNut -

You're welcome! And thank you for taking the time to also share such wonderful information with us! I am really appreciative and thankful that so many of our DIS'ers and thread followers are taking time out of their days to write up these amazing, informative recaps of their holiday trips (the good and sometimes not so good parts of the trip), which will really be helpful to people who come to the thread throughout the new year as they plan their holiday 2013 trips.

I am also finding it very interesting that our WDW veterans are saying similar things in their observations about the DLR Christmas festivities - like about different merchandise being in the shops, for example. I would have never guessed that WDW had the same items in every shop! Yay! Score one for Disneyland in that area! I'm also pleased that our WDW vets were not disappointed with DLR's decor, seeing that WDW's decor is soooo extensive throughout all the hotels, parks and everywhere else.

I could have commented on all of your categories, but I singled out certain ones above!

DLH Room Decoration Package & Christmas Tree - This information is extremely useful! More than ever it seems that folks want to know about these packages and trees. I'm glad that you were able to arrange it so the tree was not delivered to your room and then handed to you, like what happened to lucysmom above! The way it worked out for you, at least the element of surprise was maintained! That is so great that your mom loved it enough that it brought her to tears!

Weather - Yes, we have been having some extra chilly weather for SoCal lately. It can get cold. It can drop down to the 30's, and even below that in the San Fernando Valley and places like Palmdale/Lancaster/Valencia. One local city (not anywhere near where I am, sadly) just got snow overnight, and our news stations were showing the shocked residents down on the ground, trying to make snow angels in one inch of snow! If I ever saw snow on my street I would be so shocked I might be trying to do the same thing!

Don't ever listen to anyone who tells you that it doesn't get cold here (especially if they don't live in California). We may not be known for blankets of snow and blizzards in the middle of Los Angeles or Orange County, but it can definitely get crisp out there in December-January-February! My hands are frozen bricks right at the moment!

Breakfast With Minnie & Friends at the Plaza Inn - Now, to be fair, I will preface my comments by saying that I have never eaten at the Minnie & Friends meal so I do not have personal experience there, but lots and lots of people love it. Personally, I am a Goofy's Kitchen fan and many people don't like it, so what do I know?

BUT...I will say that your review of Minnie & Friends is not the only one I have read that mentioned it was disorganized, and that the kids run up to the characters instead of letting the characters come to them. I have definitely heard that in the past.

Also, I am someone who likes to ease into a character meal - I like to sit down and have a couple of minutes to get settled at my table, get my camera ready and prepare for characters. I also like to be able to eat my food without being interrupted every minute by a character. I like to have some space in between character visits, I suppose. I get the feeling that if I were to eat at Minnie & Friends, I would not have time to eat (as you indicated).


Holiday Decorations - I always stay at the Paradise Pier Hotel now for my December trips. I hope you enjoy it when you stay there. Isn't the Christmas tree in the lobby gorgeous? That is my favorite tree!

Lilly Belle - Great information about this too! I'm so happy for you that you were able to do this since the previous attempts were unsuccessful.




Quote:
Originally Posted by czmom View Post
After the past two Decembers at WDW, we are heading West next year to visit Disneyland! I am so excited and will be following this thread. Thanks for all your work, Sherry!

Our current plan is to come the week immediately following Thanksgiving, December 1-7. What would the differences be if we came the week prior to Thanksgiving instead (not the week of)? I am wondering about crowd levels, weather, ride closures, decorations, etc. Are there any advantages/disadvantages to either week?

I know it is quite far away still, but I am trying to rent points for VGC.

Thank you!
czmom -

You're welcome! Thank you for joining in!

Okay, here are my thoughts about the week before Thanksgiving:

1. I don't know about crowds because I'm not sure what will be happening in terms of a Christmas party - will there or won't there be one, and if so, on which nights will it take place? If a party happens, that will surely change the whole crowd dynamic and entertainment schedule.

I think that IF Disney has decided to start a Christmas party at DLR in 2013, we will probably hear about it early on in 2013. They will probably do a big press release and blog about it and start selling tickets in Summer. If we have not heard anything about a Christmas party by August, that may mean that there won't be one; and

2. I'm not sure if the season is going to officially begin on Mon., 11/11 or Fri., 11/15, but most likely none of the hotels will be decorated before Thanksgiving weekend (starting on the Friday after, the Grand Californian Hotel gets decorated first, then the Disneyland Hotel, and the Paradise Pier Hotel last).

In fact, even Downtown Disney doesn't start playing Christmas music until later in the season. And the Jingle Jangle Jamboree seems to have been missing a few decorations on the first day of the season in 2012, but as the season progressed more decorations appeared.

If you want the full holiday experience - such as enjoying the wonderful hotel decorations and the Grand Californian lobby atmosphere (mentioned by lucysmom above), I would stick with the early December dates. That way, all rides are sure to be running and a lot of people will be back at home and school, in between Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks.

Weather probably won't be too much different between November and December - December may be slightly colder.

I usually do my multi-night trips to DLR in either the first week or second week of December to avoid huge crowds while getting the complete holiday experience. I don't like to feel as though I am missing anything - even if it is just the hotel decorations! I want the full array of holiday offerings. For the last 2 seasons I found Mondays to be very pleasant, crowd-wise, and Tuesdays were more crowded. But, if you are at DLR for 6 days, even if it is crowded you will have plenty of time to get everything done.

I hope that helps somewhat!
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Taking on the holidays, one photo at a time...

Pumpkins, Peppermint, Pastels and...Club 33!!! - (A new chapter begins... Many photos and wacky tales, coming soon to a Trip Report thread near you!)
And for some non-holiday seaside fun in the sun ~~ 2012 Catalina Island/Avalon Trip Report - My Solo Day Trip, in Photos (LOTS of Photos!)- 7/21/12

Last edited by Sherry E; 12-31-2012 at 11:51 PM.
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