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Old 12-27-2013, 02:59 PM   #1
mumto2
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Guess What Kids? They planned our first trip to DLR and LA - Wow, what a trip! Update

DH and I decided to give our kids an experience instead of things for Christmas this year. Weve done this from time to time in the past and think it really makes special memories. We decided pretty quickly on a trip, but where? New York? Chicago? Boston? All of these sounded great, but a little chilly for post-Christmas travel! We love WDW, but wanted something that the kids hadnt done before.

Then I flew to LA on SWA for a conference and managed to fit a day in to visit DLR. I knew right away that my kids would love LA and DLR, but didnt think it was even a remote possibility. I priced the fare, and, taking my rapid rewards balance into account, the trip was within reach!

Apart from the airline reservations, I have also decided to turn the trip planning over to DD15 and DS8 . I have retained veto power if needed, but I want the kids to have the experience of researching, planning and organizing the arrangements. So I am excited to see what they will come up with and thought I'd share the experience with you.

The plan so far:
Day 1 morning flight to LA, arriving around 1 pm
Day 2 ?
Day 3 - ?
Day 4 - ?
Day 5 - ?
Day 6 very early flight home from LAX

This trip coincides with a school break, but they will miss a day at the beginning of the trip. We chose the early morning flight back so that we would get home mid-afternoon and be all ready for back to school the next day.

The cast:
Me self-admitted Disney nut and travel fan
DD15 getting a little over WDW (eek! Broke my heart when I heard her say this), but thrilled to go to DLR and LA. Also has some mobility issues that require occasional wheelchair use, so well be bringing it along for this trip.
DS8 will turn 9 just before we leave. Wants to play baseball when he grows up and has told me that he will use his signing bonus to take me on a trip to every Disney Park there is. Boy knows how to work his mom!
DH will be staying home for this adventure, but we will be face timing him regularly (have already warned him that the kids dont seem to have a concept of time zones, so he may be getting woken up while we are away!)

While we dont have any plans yet, some of the things on the list of possibilities include:
DLR (two or three days staying at a DLR hotel with hoppers)
Pacific Ocean / Beach (not to go in, but to see it)
Whale watching
Little Tokyo
Hollywood (walk of fame, Pinks hot dogs, Chinese Theater)
Griffith Observatory
Space Shuttle museum

...and I am sure that the list is growing as they are in google mode as I type this. Thoughts or suggestions are greatly appreciated.

Next Up: The Reveal
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Last trips: Fort Wilderness Cabins 2008, Mommy and Me weekend at ASMo, Grand Gathering at the Cabins, both in 2010, POP surprise in 2011, 2012 Harry Potter and Cars in the same trip, Disneyland for a day solo 2013

Next trips: DLR with the kids and Thanksgiving on the Dream 2014

Trip Report: Guess What Kids? You get to plan your first trip to Disneyland!

Last edited by mumto2; 03-05-2014 at 03:33 PM.
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Old 12-27-2013, 03:08 PM   #2
mumto2
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The Reveal

Once we figured out that we could do the trip to LA, we started giving red herring clues every time the kids asked about gifts. The only consistent clue we gave was that they might just wet their pants when they saw it because it was the coolest thing EVER, like nothing we had ever given them.

On Christmas morning, they each received a set of stacked gift boxes; we told them they had to open them simultaneously, starting with the smallest on first.

Box number one contained ten trading pins and some chocolate made in CA – they assumed the pins were for the cruise we have booked for Thanksgiving, even though each of them had two Disneyland pins in the collection, and that the chocolate was for the shore excursion they had been looking at online (didn't realize that where it was made had any significance).

Box number two had sunglasses for each of them (I was thinking about movie stars, sure that would give it away) – again they asked if it was to do with the cruise.

Finally, thanks to special DIS pixie dust, I had park maps and some glitter Mickey heads. I placed the maps and Mickey heads in the third boxes facing down, with a folded sheet of paper that DH had printed with pictures of SoCal tourist attractions on it, including a star from the Walk of Fame.

DS: I see Photopass (the back of the DCA map) – looks like we are going to Disney World! (starts to bounce up and down)
DD: No, it can’t be Disney – remember, it’s like nothing else! (still no one has unfolded the paper)
Me: Hmmm – is there anything else in that box?
DD: just this paper (unfolds it and looks puzzled) Who is Don Rickles???
Me: Huh? (not realizing that DH could only find that Walk of Fame star)
DD: Don Rickles – this has his name on it. Who is he?
DS: (it is starting to dawn on him) Ummm, this is all California stuff except for this Japanese Building…
DD: It says Little Tokyo (it is now dawning on her as well) high pitch scream that may very well have caused me permanent ear damage…
DS: joins in on the scream
Me (looking at DH): Don Rickles?
DH: Hey, it was the best I could find…

We fess up and tell the kids that yes, they are indeed going to CA in not quite two months, but first, they have to plan the trip. We have a budget, and I have veto power, but other than that what we do and how we do it will be largely up to them.

Where will we stay? How will we get there? What will we see? This is where I confess that my compulsive planning nature is kicking in and not knowing anything other than our travel dates is enough to make my right eye start twitching. But, I think the kids will enjoy the trip even more because it will really be their trip.
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Last trips: Fort Wilderness Cabins 2008, Mommy and Me weekend at ASMo, Grand Gathering at the Cabins, both in 2010, POP surprise in 2011, 2012 Harry Potter and Cars in the same trip, Disneyland for a day solo 2013

Next trips: DLR with the kids and Thanksgiving on the Dream 2014

Trip Report: Guess What Kids? You get to plan your first trip to Disneyland!
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Old 12-28-2013, 04:39 PM   #3
OregonMomToWDW
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I am here for the ride. Can't wait to see what your kids come up with for plans.
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Old 12-29-2013, 03:50 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by OregonMomToWDW View Post
I am here for the ride. Can't wait to see what your kids come up with for plans.
and thanks for following along!

I am still enjoying cool mom status four days later - surely that is some kind of record?

I am actually pretty impressed with how well they are working together and researching options. They have just about made a hotel decision and are working on dates.
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Last trips: Fort Wilderness Cabins 2008, Mommy and Me weekend at ASMo, Grand Gathering at the Cabins, both in 2010, POP surprise in 2011, 2012 Harry Potter and Cars in the same trip, Disneyland for a day solo 2013

Next trips: DLR with the kids and Thanksgiving on the Dream 2014

Trip Report: Guess What Kids? You get to plan your first trip to Disneyland!
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Old 12-29-2013, 07:17 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mumto2

and thanks for following along!

I am still enjoying cool mom status four days later - surely that is some kind of record?

I am actually pretty impressed with how well they are working together and researching options. They have just about made a hotel decision and are working on dates.
I think you will keep the cool mom status until the first disagreement between them. I have 2 girls 7 years apart and they don't agree on much. However, once all the plans come together and you are on your way, you'll keep cool mom title.

I don't know if I could trust my kids. You definitely have me curious as to how this turns out.
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PTR: 1 Summer, 2 Coasts, 3 Kids...Ready, Set, Go! http://www.disboards.com/showthread....6#post51560086
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Old 12-29-2013, 07:25 PM   #6
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Subscribing !
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Old 12-29-2013, 09:29 PM   #7
mumto2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OregonMomToWDW View Post
I think you will keep the cool mom status until the first disagreement between them. I have 2 girls 7 years apart and they don't agree on much. However, once all the plans come together and you are on your way, you'll keep cool mom title.

I don't know if I could trust my kids. You definitely have me curious as to how this turns out.
Once my DS realized (at about the age of 3) that there was almost no greater joy in life than aggravating his older sister, it has been game on between them most of the time. However, there are times when they are so sweet together, it is heartwarming (unfortunately those moments can disappear as quickly as they come).

I am having a hard time letting go of the steering wheel, but this is their present, after all. Plus, I am hoping that they will learn some things along the way, like making tough decisions to stay on a budget, how to get around in an unfamiliar place, etc. I have to say, they are really taking to the research, so this is a learning experience for me as well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by stitchaholic View Post
Subscribing !

Glad to have you follow along!
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Last trips: Fort Wilderness Cabins 2008, Mommy and Me weekend at ASMo, Grand Gathering at the Cabins, both in 2010, POP surprise in 2011, 2012 Harry Potter and Cars in the same trip, Disneyland for a day solo 2013

Next trips: DLR with the kids and Thanksgiving on the Dream 2014

Trip Report: Guess What Kids? You get to plan your first trip to Disneyland!
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Old 12-29-2013, 09:49 PM   #8
mumto2
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A little bit more background on us.



This is DH and I. He won't be joining us on this trip, but will be a regular guest in this report. He has a wonderful sense of humor, and is never afraid to be silly, which is a great balance as I tend to be too serious (which is why I love Disney - I don't have to be serious!).



As I mentioned, DD has some mobility issues (she survived a stroke at birth). She has right-sided weakness and tires more quickly than most people. She began riding for therapy when she was little and loves horses more than almost anything else. We have had some great vacations at WDW because they made it possible for us not to have to worry about accessibility. I am sad that they have had to change their policies and programs due to abuse of the system, but understand it and am looking forward to seeing how the new program works at DL.



This is DS. We were at the beach (Atlantic Coast) this summer, and he begged for surfing lessons, even using up all of his own spending money on them. He has decided that seeing the Pacific Ocean will be almost as cool as seeing Disneyland.

Next Up: We have a hotel reservation!
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Last trips: Fort Wilderness Cabins 2008, Mommy and Me weekend at ASMo, Grand Gathering at the Cabins, both in 2010, POP surprise in 2011, 2012 Harry Potter and Cars in the same trip, Disneyland for a day solo 2013

Next trips: DLR with the kids and Thanksgiving on the Dream 2014

Trip Report: Guess What Kids? You get to plan your first trip to Disneyland!

Last edited by mumto2; 03-07-2014 at 07:56 AM.
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Old 12-29-2013, 10:08 PM   #9
mumto2
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Hotel at DLR is booked!

We had lots of family over on Christmas Day, and the day after was pretty crazy as well, so as I left for work Friday (not easy to do with everyone else still snuggled up under covers, but, hey, somebody’s got to do it…), I told the kids that I really needed their thoughts on the hotel when I got home so that we could get something booked.

I had already told them we would be spending our last night at the LAX Marriott since we have a very early flight the next day, and I have Marriott points.

So when I walked in the door, I was greeted with the announcement that they had made some decisions. I had given them a budget and pointed them in the direction of the Disneyland site to look at the Disney hotels and some of the Good Neighbor hotels. This was my first test of how I was going to like their choices! I had pointed them in the direction of appropriate and set limits on the budget, but would that work? I held my breath...

DS had spotted the statue of Goofy with the surfboard and decided that Paradise Pier was the place for him. DD loved the ambiance of GCH. DH said they spent most of the day going back and forth, but not arguing, just debating. Then, DD had done the math and decided that the concierge level gave us access to “free” food and drinks, so offered the most bang for the buck since PPH concierge actually cost less than a standard GCH room. Girl after my own heart – always looking for the bargain!

Of course, the pictures they found of the Theme Park view when DD googled it didn’t hurt either, LOL.

Then, to keep it all in budget, they decided that we would spend two nights at the Marriott (I have enough points) so that we could do three nights at PPH. Wow, kids, I am impressed!

I have always found it works better to call to make hotel reservations at Disney. We don’t necessarily need an accessible room for DD, but we do find that explaining our situation to the reservations CM helps us get what works best.

Even though they are three hours behind us, by the time I got other stuff done Friday night, the reservations line was closed. So I made reservations online, not realizing until after I received the confirmation email that I hadn’t gotten concierge, nor had I gotten theme park view (I think I forgot to “update” my changes before moving forward to the payment screen). Ack!

Today, right after lunch, I called to make the corrections necessary. The CM was wonderful! There were no theme park view accessible concierge rooms available, so we went with a theme park view concierge level room, and she put a note to the hotel to change us if an accessible room becomes available. She also noted that it was a first time visit.

My only concern is that I haven’t gotten an email yet confirming the changes and for some reason, the site will let me sign in, but not let me pull up my reservation. So I’ll give it a few more days, and then call back and see.
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Last trips: Fort Wilderness Cabins 2008, Mommy and Me weekend at ASMo, Grand Gathering at the Cabins, both in 2010, POP surprise in 2011, 2012 Harry Potter and Cars in the same trip, Disneyland for a day solo 2013

Next trips: DLR with the kids and Thanksgiving on the Dream 2014

Trip Report: Guess What Kids? You get to plan your first trip to Disneyland!
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Old 12-30-2013, 10:02 AM   #10
OregonMomToWDW
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Great decision they made. I have never stayed at the Disneyland resort hotels. We always stay across the street but I have done research. Even though GC is most expensive, they have the smallest of the rooms. So, Paradise Pier should be great.
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PTR: 1 Summer, 2 Coasts, 3 Kids...Ready, Set, Go! http://www.disboards.com/showthread....6#post51560086
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Old 12-30-2013, 10:19 AM   #11
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Following along!
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Old 12-31-2013, 10:29 AM   #12
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Following along! Can't wait to see what your kids have come up with.

I am thinking about taking my two kiddos to DL this fall and for some reason am very nervous about it. We are DW nuts so I feel like I am cheating on Florida! Crazy, I know.

Happy planning to your two.
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Old 12-31-2013, 03:36 PM   #13
mumto2
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Originally Posted by OregonMomToWDW View Post
Great decision they made. I have never stayed at the Disneyland resort hotels. We always stay across the street but I have done research. Even though GC is most expensive, they have the smallest of the rooms. So, Paradise Pier should be great.
One of the neat things I hope they are getting out of the planning is what things cost. I think it is a real eye-opener for them. They feel good about the decision they made, and they believe that while the others are very nice, they weren't willing to give up other opportunities during the trip to pay for them. I love the calculations that went into making concierge work as well, LOL.
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Last trips: Fort Wilderness Cabins 2008, Mommy and Me weekend at ASMo, Grand Gathering at the Cabins, both in 2010, POP surprise in 2011, 2012 Harry Potter and Cars in the same trip, Disneyland for a day solo 2013

Next trips: DLR with the kids and Thanksgiving on the Dream 2014

Trip Report: Guess What Kids? You get to plan your first trip to Disneyland!
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Old 12-31-2013, 03:40 PM   #14
mumto2
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Originally Posted by wiigirl View Post
Following along!


Quote:
Originally Posted by Lbachelot View Post
Following along! Can't wait to see what your kids have come up with.

I am thinking about taking my two kiddos to DL this fall and for some reason am very nervous about it. We are DW nuts so I feel like I am cheating on Florida! Crazy, I know.

Happy planning to your two.
I know what you mean about cheating on WDW. But I will tell you that while my kids love WDW (even if my daughter thinks it is cooler to be cool about it ), I have never seen them this jazzed about a trip. We'll be driving down the road and one of them will squeal just a little and say something like "I can't believe we are going to CA and DLR!" This trip definitely has the potential to be the one we talk about years from now around the Thanksgiving table...
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Last trips: Fort Wilderness Cabins 2008, Mommy and Me weekend at ASMo, Grand Gathering at the Cabins, both in 2010, POP surprise in 2011, 2012 Harry Potter and Cars in the same trip, Disneyland for a day solo 2013

Next trips: DLR with the kids and Thanksgiving on the Dream 2014

Trip Report: Guess What Kids? You get to plan your first trip to Disneyland!
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Old 12-31-2013, 03:47 PM   #15
mumto2
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Plans are starting to fall in place!

Worried for nothing – still can’t see my reservation online, but got an email last night from DLR with a confirmation number. Once everything is solidified, I will call them again to pay in full and confirm that they have the correct info (the email is just showing 3A under # of guests, and WDW confirmations usually have name rank and serial number, LOL. One of the interesting things for me is seeing that two organizations within the same company can do things very differently).

So, with PPH theme park view, concierge level booked, we talked about the general plan. DD had done the math and decided that if I was willing to use Marriott points for two nights instead of just for the last night, then it made sense to use LAX Marriott as our home base for the non-DLR activities. Plus, that gave us room in the budget for concierge upgrade at PPH, and I have concierge lounge access at the Marriot, so her logic is that we are saving a bundle on this trip. Disney math at work?

We went to the Marriott site to check point requirements and – – they are sold out the night before our flight. Our flight leaves LAX super early, so this was an important part of the plan for me.

Then we got an extra bit of pixie dust – for the same number of points, we could stay two nights at the Airport Renaissance, a nicer Marriott property with a dedicated airport shuttle service (the Marriott shares with the other Marriott properties).

I had originally thought we’d catch the Disneyland Express to Anaheim and back, then connect via shuttle to the airport hotel, but the more I think about it and look at the costs and dealing with the luggage and the wheelchair, it might be better to rent a car in Anaheim (I have read good things about Alamo in DTD here on the DIS) and use it for the LA portion of the trip. If we don’t rent a car, it would be taxis and tour buses (the hop-on, hop-off looks good).

Kids are still making their LA to-do lists, but whale watching has really piqued their interest. They found a package that includes a 2.5 hour cruise with admission to the Aquarium of the Pacific, so it looks like that is the way we will go.

Of course, Hollywood is a big deal, including the walk of fame and the Chinese Theatre (apparently R2D2’s “footprints” are there, which caused big excitement at our house). DD is looking up coffee shops and diners where we might spot somebody famous (but that we could still afford to go to – always the bargain hunter!).

The kids also looked up beaches and learned that the Santa Monica Pier is the official endpoint of Route 66. So while we still may try to find a more scenic beach, we have to pay homage – DS already has his Lightening McQueen shirt picked out for a photo op.

And DD wants to pay a visit to Little Tokyo as she loves all things Japanese (she took it in elementary school when she was in a Montessori program). I have a feeling I may need a vacation to recover from this vacation!
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Last trips: Fort Wilderness Cabins 2008, Mommy and Me weekend at ASMo, Grand Gathering at the Cabins, both in 2010, POP surprise in 2011, 2012 Harry Potter and Cars in the same trip, Disneyland for a day solo 2013

Next trips: DLR with the kids and Thanksgiving on the Dream 2014

Trip Report: Guess What Kids? You get to plan your first trip to Disneyland!
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