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Old 05-29-2014, 02:29 PM   #1
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GatorChris's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: Modesto (Waterford), CA
Posts: 638

WDW Vet goes to DL - Report and Comparison

First and foremost, I'm a WDW nut, so cutting back to just two parks was tough. But I couldn't afford the extra $2K to fly the family (wife and 3 kids) back to FL this trip, so SoCal became our destination. We did go by the San Diego Zoo, and all it did was make me miss the Animal Kingdom at WDW. A LOT! So we'll just skip to the DL portion of the trip. We arrived at Paradise Pier on Monday 11-11 in the afternoon, checked out Saturday 11-16, and spent 4 full days in the parks.

There was a lot I liked and there was a lot I didn't like, so I'll seperate the two. This won't be an actual play-by-play trip report like I've read here. This is the highlights and lowlights of our fun trip.

1. Cars Land - we spent our first day at CA to see what $1 Billion can do, and we weren't disappointed.
1a. Radiator Springs Racers - what a ride! Just incredible. It's fun, it uses thematic elements from the movie. It definitely moved into the "favorite" category. It takes Test Track to a whole new level.
1b. Flo's V8 Diner - the pork with coke bbq sauce was fantastic. And the milkshakes there were super yummy! We ate once with a view of Ornament valley and once in Doc's section. Both were really cool just to be sitting in, listening to the 50's music.
1c. Mater's Tractor Tipping jamboree- I'm not sure if that's the name, but kids loved this ride. It has a quick line and it's a lot of family fun.
2. So glad that there's now a path from Tower of Terror to Bug's Land to Cars Land to Pacific Wharf. I hated getting trapped in a corner, and Disney has fixed this.
3. Treasures of Asgard - This was really cool. I was lucky enough to get in line with only about 20 people in front of me about 15 minutes before the attraction opened, so not a long wait. We went into this small room to waith for Thor and.... well, I won't spoil it, but when Thor appeared, it was about the coolest thing I've ever seen at a Disney Park. Period. Wish WDW had something like this.
4. Pirates of the Carribean - I do love how much better this ride is than it's WDW sister. Plus, the Bootstrappers playing outside in the morning gave it an authentic touch.
5. Big Thunder Ranch BBQ - WOW!!! This place has super good food. The ribs and chicken were fantastic, but the cornbread with honey butter stole the show for me. I can't wait to hit that place again. It made up for BTMRR being down - almost
6. It's a Small World Christmas version was really great. Probably the first time since I was a kid that I enjoyed this ride. Of course, it's better than the WDW version, but the Christmas music added in gave it a new punch.
7. World of Color - Tuesday was my first time seeing it and it was really good. Finally, something worth staying in the park all day for. 30 minutes, I couldn't believe how long the show was. Definitely a great one. However, this show was also a source of pain as I'll mention below in the lowlights.
8. World of Color Winter version - This was also a lot of fun. My kids really liked the "Frozen" theme to it.
9. Dark Rides/Kids Rides - I like all the rides that WDW doesn't have, like Alice in Wonderland, Mr. Toad, Casey Jr, Storybook Canal, and Nemo Subs. It gave my 2yo some extra things to do while the big kids hit other rides.
10. Space Mt - Sooooo much better in DL.

These are just the top 10. There was a lot I loved about all the rides, shows, and parades. Just too much to mention.

Now on to the rough stuff. I put a lot of it in detail.

1. Disneyland Castmembers - this is my big beef of the trip. When I go to WDW, I love it because it's such an escape. The hotels, the buses, the parks. I don't have an inkling of what's happening outside the 47 square miles, and I love it that way. At DL, that goes out the window. I heard on at least 8 different occasions, and my wife 3 times, castmembers talking about how much longer their shift was. "I've only got 10 minutes left" or "I'm not taking my lunch right now, you take it." Or even complaining about back pain and being upset they were put on a pin cart. Talk about the magic leaving when I heard that stuff. I even saw a CM talking with Winnie the Pooh while waiting for kids. And there was a time at Big Thunder Ranch where Goofy pointed at his wrist and the cast member told him, "Just two more minutes". And then Goofy just walked to the back. I was livid at that. I wrote Disney on this one.
2. Christmas fireworks - The fireworks were good and I was glad to have them on a weeknight, but I was a bit surprised at a few things that didn't seem very magical or Disney.
2a. First, it was only 10 minutes. That seems short by Disney standards.
2b. Where was Tink? I heard so much about the DL fireworks, how Tink flies back and forth, and even Dumbo comes out. But they were AWOL. A big BOOOO for that one. They need them for the Christmas version.
2c. At the end of the fireworks, the Castle turns on some white Christmas lights on the roofs of the towers. Not the icicle lights, just the white lights. I didn't get that. But to make it worse, less than 5 minutes after the fireworks are done, the white lights just turn off. They don't leave them on for the rest of the night! Totally lame, Disney. Leave the lights on. It's only another 20 minutes.
2d. After the fireworks show, "White Christmas" started playing while snow was blowing onto main street. First, the snow was really weak. At WDW, it covers all of Main Street. At DL, it covers about 6 feet from the blowers. Second, while the song was still playing, 2 CMs actually walked out onto the roof of the Castle in plain view and began working on something. What? I don't know. But they couldn't wait another 20 minutes when the park closes? Magic gone on that one.
3. Shutting down Fantasyland - I get that a lot of rides can't be open during the Fireworks show for safety reasons. But they had shut down all of Fantasyland by 6:40 (fireworks at 7:30). And then when the fireworks were over at 7:40, nothing opened up again. I was hoping to hit a ride or two before the park closed. When I asked a CM about it, she was quite rude. Maybe I wasn't the first to ask, but this goes back to Lowlight 1. Here's my thoughts. Either open Fantasyland back up after the fireworks, or quit trying to save a buck on employee salary and have the fireworks happen after official park close like they do at WDW. If the park closes at 8, have the fireworks at 8. Then we, the paying customer get Fantasy land for a whole hour more. But then again, this just seems like a cost cutting move.
4. Monorail service - at WDW, the monorails run a whole hour after MK and Epcot close. But not at DL. Nope. If you want to get on the rail from Downtown Disney to DL less than an hour before the park closes, they'll turn you away. And here's my big beef: we decided to take the monorail out of the park on Wednesday after the fireworks and after we'd been told all of Fantasyland would not re-open. So I see a handicap entrance to the monorail. Since I have a stroller, I take the elevator. I get to the top and a CM shouts at us saying, "No, you can' t come that way!" But I have a stroller and I saw the handicap sign. "No! The regular entrance has a ramp. You have to go get in line behind all of these people who are in line." The people were coming in just then. He didn't let us wait. He just sent us the other way. So we take the elevator back down, go around to the monorail ramp entrance .... which is now roped off because it's exactly 8pm. For my wife, that is when the world ended. After the Fantasyland fiasco, after being berated by several CMs, she had enough. I won't give you the details, but she fought her way onto that monorail. So what's with the monorail closing so early? What's the point of having a monorail if even Disney Resort guests can't use it to get to/from a park?
5. Disneyland doesn't "get" big crowds - I'll start with Fantsmic! It seems terrible that you have to grab a spot with a blanket 3 hours before the show (in the off season) to get a good "seat". I can say I really miss the nightly Fantasmic! shows at WDW with actual seats, not a place on the cement. Next would have to be World of Color: for as good as this show is, it's equally bad in viewing. On one of the two I caught, I found a great place by accident which I won't share for fear of everyone being there next time. But they really need to get more viewing area. There's an entire section of lagoon that sits inbetween the current viewing area and Ariel's Grotto. That needs to be filled with cement and get some tiered seating. You could fit an extra 1 or 2 thousand there and relieve the "Southwest Airlines" rush to get that perfect standing area so that the kids don't have to be hidden behind some hulking adult. Whenever I experience these big shows, all I can say is "Disneyland just doesn't get it". Not to mention I'd see lots of people sneak into the taped waiting areas without a fastpass. What's the point of a good show if only about 200 people have a decent view - and they have to stand in line for hours to stand for another hour waiting for a show that they stand through. If DL can "get" how to deal with big crowds, I'd love this place as much as I love WDW.
6. Disney resorts - Our hot water never worked right the entire time, even after calling twice on it. It would be a cold shower, then burning hot shower. And where's my Mickey Mouse soap?

Overall, it was a great trip. We really loved it. Yes, there were some major things I'd like to see fixed before I call DL my vacation home of choice. But the kids loved it, I loved it, even the wife loved it. Which is far different from how we felt back in February 2006. It won't be another 7+ years before we return. In fact, I bought APs for our next trip so that we can keep coming back. So take the bad stuff I wrote with a a grain of salt. It was definitely a great trip! Looking forward to future trips.
If God wanted me to live at Disney, He would've made me a seagull.

WDW: 2002,2004,2006,2008,2010,2011,2012 = 55 Park Days
DL: As a kid - 1981, 1990, 1992; as an adult -2006, 2013, 2014 = 17 Park Days
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Old 05-29-2014, 08:05 PM   #2
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Join Date: Mar 2013
Location: Arizona
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Really great detailed feedback---Thank You!!!

I love how even though you experienced some "bad" moments, you still labeled your trip as "great"! To me, that says much about your good/fair attitude!

I absolutely agree with you about the grossness of trying to watch Fantasmic! It's pretty ridiculous(others will violently disagree)! Also agree about the Winter Castle lights not being on the whole time, and the "snow" fall, as well as the shutting down of Fantasyland for so long, and the Monorail situation.

Hope your next trip to the Resort will offer some improvements to the things that turned out to be "lowlights" for this one!
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Old 06-02-2014, 12:44 PM   #3
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We don't even try to watch WOC. I have 4 kids, two of them being little ones. We would need to have an excellent viewing area to make it pleasant. That means getting in line to enter the area REALLY early. We just can't justify it. We spend a lot of money to be at DLR and waiting 1-2 hours for a show is a waste of money in our opinion. We love Aladdin which only requires a 30 minute wait for great seats. I want to see Mickey and the Magical Map next time. I hear it's a short wait as well. I would also like to see the Fantasy Faire shows. At least there are seats!

We feel the same about F! To much up front wait time. My 16 year old son and I watched it last time. Everyone else had gone back to the motel so it was just he and I. We found a spot by a big light tower thingy. Pure luck! But with a large group, that wouldn't have worked.
We're going back August of 2015! Hoorah!
DLR: Dec. 2011, Aug. 2013
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