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Old 04-07-2013, 04:19 PM   #1
pnwsurfer
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Trip Report – A 10-year old Pixar Boy with his parents –April 1- 5, 2013-Spring Break

Us – 10-year old Son raised on Disney/Pixar Movies with his Dad and Mom (early 40s) from Washington State. This was DS first trip to the land of the Mouse. Both of his parents visited over 30 years ago.

Our goal – Have a magical, family vacation (Unofficial goal - Radiator Springs Racers or BUST!)

Boring details -
• We booked a travel package through Alaska Air. I researched everything ala carte but the package was the best deal – air, motel, shuttle and park tickets. The staff were very helpful and enthusiastic. Everything was just as advertized. We would book through Alaska Air again without hesitation.
• We chose round trip air travel from Portland (PDX) to Los Angeles (LAX) because it was the best price. Both airports have full body scanners, however if you are traveling with a child, your whole family gets to by-pass and go through the metal detector. Security was easy at both airports. Luggage check was more organize and faster at LAX.
• Round trip shuttle through Disneyland Resort Express by Grayline was excellent. We would travel with them again in a heartbeat! So easy. The pick-up points at LAX are right outside baggage claim under the Green Bus sign. The “Disneyland Report Express” lettering is faded/dirty and therefore hard to see, but it is located as advertized. Both buses were clean and the drivers were courteous, helpful and very good drivers. The return trip was easy. I called the day before to schedule the pick-up and the driver arrived within 5 minutes of the scheduled time. We chose wisely for a 3:40pm pick-up to allow plenty of time to travel to LAX on a Friday afternoon with traffic for an 8:00pm departure.
• We stayed at the Fairfield by Marriott on Harbor Blvd. It is a nice motel, not fancy, but very clean with a nice pool and kind staff. We had a room facing the HOJO and could see the fireworks right outside of our room. The room entrances are outside, but you have to walk through the lobby to access the rooms, unless you are on the ground floor. The café on the 3rd floor came in very handy for breakfast each morning.
• We had 5-day park Hopper tickets.

Our experiences –
• We spent about equal time at DL and DCA. We did DCA the first half day, DL the first full day, finished DCA the second full day, finished DL the last full day and said tearful (o.k. that would be me) good-byes to both on our last day.
• This may be a bit sacrilegious, but we found Carsland touched our hearts the most. With DS being 10yo and growing up more with Disney/Pixar vs the classic characters, it just felt like home. We rode all three rides and had lunch one day at Flo’s V8 Café. And DS treasures his Cozy Cone cup (it really is adorable).
• I researched just about everything and felt very prepared. I made touring plans, but we didn’t follow them to the exact detail and still managed to do everything we wanted. Our exact plans included more rides that we rode, but we realized some on our list weren’t necessary (usually geared more toward younger children).
• The wait times posted at the entrances to each ride are very handy, but underestimated the wait, from our observation.
• Fasspasses make you feel like a ROCKSTAR! It is a guilt free pleasure to walk to nearly the front of the line, but know you are not taking advantage of anyone.
• Of all the rides that come with a potential to get you a bit damp (Grizzly River Run, Matterhorn, Pirates of the Caribbean, Splash Mountain), Splash Mountain came with the biggest splash of us. I suggest skipping the white pants/shirt on this day! Those sitting next to the raft openings on Grizzly River Run will get wetter. Even if wet/damp, you will dry quickly.
• DS made a car at RideMakerz. I found a coupon online for $10 off a purchase of $40 or more. He chose an expensive Lightning McQueen car with a few upgraded accessories (there were certainly more he could have chosen), the remote control option and the total bill after the coupon was almost $100. He really enjoyed making his car and the experience/purchase will be treasured for a very long time.
• We didn’t have any dinner reservations or take in any of the high end restaurants. We did dine at ESPN Zone and found the food to be tasty and a good value.
• DS was not picked for Jedi Training, but we only tried one time. There are many children at each opportunity, so it is good to prepare your younglings for the high statistical possibility they will not be a chosen one. DS even had a sign (The force is strong in my family. My father has it. I have it!), to no avail. Our observation was much younger children were picked, likely in the 5-7 yo range. They also seemed to heavily target children that appeared to be “levitating” or otherwise being hoisted into the air by a parent. At 80+ pounds, our DS stayed on the ground and firmly within Earth’s atmosphere. To be honest, I wanted it more for him that he did. Younger children were also chosen to talk during Turtle Time w/Crush. If you attend, I suggest thinking of a question in advance, so your little Squirt is prepared, just in case.

Final thoughts/suggestions -
• One of our best decisions was to stay at a motel within easy walking distance. The three of us were able to get to the front gates of the parks within 15 minutes of leaving our hotel room. We arrived first thing in the morning, stayed until after lunch, returned to the motel for a rest/swim in the afternoon and then returned to the parks in the evening. We saw many overtired children in the evenings, one even appeared to be sleeping walking! Don’t get me wrong – while we are healthy, active people, we were tired at the end of each day! Rest when you can and stay hydrated!!! Standing in line is NOT resting!!!
• VERY IMPORTANT - Get to the parks as early as possible! I cannot stress this enough. We are not morning people, but we are so happy we pushed through and arrived at the parks as soon as we could enter. This way, you run around the park like crazy people riding the rides in the morning when you are rested, then bask in the glow of your accomplishments all afternoon while you leisurely take in the shops, shows, etc.
• Don’t wait until your last day or night to do any “must dos”. The fireworks were cancelled due to wind (or a breeze from where we come from) one night, but we had already seen them so it wasn’t devastating. Toy Story Midway Mania broke down 30 minutes into our 40 minute wait and they made us all leave instead of waiting until it was fixed. We were able to return later and ride, but we cut that one a bit close. Things happen – so please for the sake of your children and the other thousand people standing around you, please roll with the punches and conduct yourself with patience, grace and a big smile on your face.
• Everything is expensive – it’s best to accept this fact before you pack your suitcase. Yes, that 32 oz. bottle of Gatorade, the one you get for a dollar at Dollar Tree, is almost $4. Yes, the R2D2 ears are almost $17. Have a budget and prepare your children in advance for what will be spent.
• And last but certainly not least and worthy of its own bullet point – RADIATOR SPRINGS RACERS – start to finish, it’s an experience all by itself. If you are not prepared for this “mission”, it will likely be painful. We arrived before rope drop (8am for the underlings/non-resort guests) and joined the crowd. We were close to the front and because I had read about the “wide to the right” technique, we stood to the far right against the curb. At 8am, the staff start walking toward Carsland while the crowd follows behind. As soon as they turn left into Carsland, they call out “Everyone, please start forming a single line to the RIGHT”. This is why “wide to the right works” – if you are already standing to the far right, you are already in the right place! Be careful, the crowd is excited and the vibe is electric. DH looked down and saw a small child’s shoes on the ground as we walked by – thank goodness the shoes were empty! You go with the movement of the crowd, so hold on tight to your family members!!! We arrived in line and still waited about 45 minutes. But standing in line actually was fun. The incredible and adorable details to take in while waiting in line were wonderful. And the excitement of the waiting crowd is contagious. The ride was phenomenal – better than expected!!! Speak up if you have a preference to be seated in either the front or rear seat. If your children are small, you will be able to see them better in the picture taken during the race if you are in the back seat. Another option is to get a Fastpass. But you still need to get in line for this early! Fasspasses were gone well before 10am during our visit. And by the afternoon, the stand-by wait was over 150 minutes. The relief I felt after the ride was profound – we did it!

We had a truly magical time – thanks to being prepared and having a relaxed, patient, appreciative and gracious attitude. I hope your experience is the same.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Faith, Trust and Pixie Dust!
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Old 04-07-2013, 05:45 PM   #2
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Sounds like a wonderful time!

Did your DS try Tower of Terror and Soarin? Two of my DS's favorites in DCA :-)
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Old 04-07-2013, 05:53 PM   #3
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Sounds like a wonderful trip. I love your easy breezy attitude. Nicely written report
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Old 04-07-2013, 06:14 PM   #4
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Sounds like you had a nice family vacation -- thanks for sharing!
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Old 04-07-2013, 06:18 PM   #5
pnwsurfer
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We did Soarin' twice and skipped Tower of Terror. The swinging gondolas on Mickey's Wheel were enough for DS.
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Old 04-07-2013, 06:39 PM   #6
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Great report!
It's nice to read about people really enjoying their vacations!! Glad to see you had a great time.


RSR is such a great ride.
Little ones in the back for the photo is good advice, unless they are on the left side of the car like my daughter was. Next time I'll put her in one of the other 2 seats so her face isnt completely obliterated. It's not like you can easily take another photo, right?

And watch for people with poofy hair! haha


(I'm in the middle back, 46" 4yo daughter on my left)
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Old 04-07-2013, 07:50 PM   #7
pnwsurfer
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"And watch for people with poofy hair! haha"

With my own poofy hair and my arms in the air "like I just don't care", it's a good thing I was in the back!
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Old 04-07-2013, 07:51 PM   #8
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Glad you had a great time! I'm the mom of three Pixar boys, and we LOVE DCA. That's before Cars Land, so I can only imagine how much more we'll love it with Cars Land. Our last visit to DL was shortly before Cars Land opened and our next is in just four months. Appreciate your report and love the details regarding Radiator Springs Racers! Thanks!!
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Old 04-07-2013, 07:52 PM   #9
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sounds like an awesome time!
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Old 04-07-2013, 08:23 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pnwsurfer View Post
We did Soarin' twice and skipped Tower of Terror. The swinging gondolas on Mickey's Wheel were enough for DS.
DS begged me to do the swinging gondolas and I said NOOOO WAY ;-) He, however, has no fear.
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Old 04-08-2013, 10:55 AM   #11
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Sounds like you guys had a great time! Thanks for the report/tips.
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Old 04-08-2013, 11:19 PM   #12
pnwsurfer
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Quote:
Originally Posted by awdsmama View Post
DS begged me to do the swinging gondolas and I said NOOOO WAY ;-) He, however, has no fear.
DS held it together, but he didn't enjoy it. I tried to hand him a motion sickness bag and we all had a good laugh. I have never seen bags on a ride before!
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Old 04-08-2013, 11:54 PM   #13
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Great report!

DH, DS, and I also loved RSR. My girls didn't get the hype. Teenagers.
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Old 04-09-2013, 02:30 PM   #14
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Glad you had a great trip!! Did you get to see Aladdin or the Animation Academy? My kiddos have to go draw a couple characters at the academy every trip. And it's a nice way to take a little rest.
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Old 04-09-2013, 02:44 PM   #15
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Sounds like a fantastic visit! Do you hope to return soon?
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