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Old 07-14-2014, 05:53 PM   #1
Californiacicle
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Doing Disneyland in 5 Days, our Tips and Tricks

First off I want to thank my fellow DISers for all of the help the past year while I planned this trip. Even though I have been to Disneyland a dozen times throughout my life I learned so many great tips and tricks that made our trip painless and wonderful. Thank you, thank you, thank you!


What worked for us:

-We chose to spend five days in the parks. The longest I had ever been was two days. Five days was awesome because we didn’t feel rushed (well I did on our last day a bit) and got to do 80% there was to do in both parks. I say 80% because even with 5 days we ran out of time for a couple things, rode certain rides over and over (I’m looking at you headache inducing Junkyard Jamboree), and avoided some because I knew they would freak the kid out after our initial day.

-We chose to enter Disneyland at gate 19. On MM it was crazy so it didn't help so much, on a regular no MM or EMH morning it was golden. More on why later.

-I used the fireworks viewing spot tip where you stand at the walkway at the 9 o’clock position at the hub. I sat on the curb for about ten minutes before the CM came by to put the rope up. At that point I could just move to my left and we had an excellent viewing spot.



-Our last night we watched the fireworks (bad spot, bad spot!) and I thought it would be a fun goodbye to leave by monorail. I had been warned it could be a nightmare to leave at that time but it was so easy and we had no problem getting on the first train. We rode it to DTD and then walked back to our hotel.

-Seeing all of the shows. Normally this is something I never would have done. Besides seeing Fantasmic or the fireworks, I would never have “wasted” time in previous trips on shows or parades. What a mistake. The shows were fantastic! Every single one was top notch entertainment.

-Free ice water, enough said.

-We purchased PP+ ahead of time and it was worth every penny. It was worth it to have every ride photo, every character photo (those that made it onto our account) etc. I loved it so much I recommended it to a few families who asked about the badge.

-Bringing our own light up stuff. We bought glow wands and glow bracelets from the dollar store. DS never once asked for any of the night time stuff because he already had his own. He even had a great time handing out extra glow bracelets to the kids around him during fireworks and made some friends. He even gave one to a little boy crying outside of first aid which was the sweetest thing.

-WE SAW ANNA AND ELSA IN 20 MIN WITH NO RUNNING! Yes, I am yelling, yes, I was/am super excited! One morning was a regular entry day and we weren’t particularly quick that morning so I was surprised we got to the gates before 8am opening. We used gate number 19 and were within three families from the front of the line. I figured what the heck, I’d take a chance to get in line for A&E. I told my family my intentions and told them to meet me either next to the Partners statue or in line. When they opened the gates I went through the left hand tunnel to be on the correct side (yes, even though both empty onto Main Street). I limped with my stupid ankle to the left side of the Partners statue where I saw the CM with the Frozen sign. There were CMs all up and down Main Street directing people where to go but maybe people weren’t paying attention and just headed to the rope. Anyway, when I got there I saw that I was within four families from the head of the line! I couldn’t believe it! All of the parents in line were high-fiving each other for being so close to the front. They lead us to the M&G spot before rope drop and at rope drop the line behind us was up to 90 min. DH checked his phone after we left A&E and it was 8:20.

I was so glad I took the chance to see them that morning because on our MM day it was insane! There was no way we would have been able to see them so my advice

See A&E on a non early entry day. Use gate 19 or 14 when the open the gates, not at rope drop, and be at the front of gate line if you can. Go through the left tunnel, stay to the left, and keep going (eyes on the prize, avoid Starbucks) until you are to the left of the Partners statue and in the CM’s Frozen line.

-Hooray for Ponchos! We bought dollar store ponchos for World of Color because I wanted to stand in the front of the yellow section making sure we could all see, so in the wet section. I had read on DIS that it wasn’t that wet. LOL Maybe it was our particular night (July 4th) but if we hadn’t worn those suckers we would have been drenched to the bone. DH left his at home because he didn’t think he’d need it. Poor DH, it was bad. I don’t know if I would stand there again because the amount of water pouring down made it hard to see everything. It would have been a great view though and I still enjoyed it regardless of the water.

What we would change:

-Although we were happy with the length of our trip we actually would have liked to have had one extra rest day. We planned our trip 2 days on, 1 day off, 3 days on. DH surprised me last night by saying his ideal trip next time would be 2 on, 1 off, 2 on, 1off, 2 on! I had to tell him Disney didn’t sell 6 day tickets, which is a total bummer.

-Our last day we park hopped twice. We had gone back to DCA so our son could ride his favourite ride and then hopped back over to DLR to watch Magical as a goodbye. Bad choice. We barely made it and there was no way we could have made our great fireworks spot so we ended up with the hordes on Main Street. It was so difficult to see and my son ended up crying because he couldn’t see the fireworks.

-We watched the 4th of July fireworks on the 3rd. I thought fireworks on my son’s birthday would be fun. And while we had a great spot, I felt the fireworks were a big let-down. Magical was so much better. If we return for his birthday another year we will skip the holiday fireworks.

-As mentioned, we had PP+. I wish I had checked our photos at the end of each day. We didn’t have a computer and the lines at the Camera shops were always nuts so I didn’t think about it. When we got home and I reviewed our account I realized we were missing three different sets of photos. They tried to find them but couldn’t. One set was a M&G with Rapunzel and Flynn, normally I handed my camera to the PP photog for them to take a few on it just in case but I hadn’t for that one M&G. It was sooo hot and I wasn’t thinking.

-We used the second light pole trick for Fantasmic. I really didn’t want to sit on the hard ground with my ankle for hours so it seemed like a good solution. There were other people who had the same idea but we were the second group to get there. What was difficult was standing, since there is no place to sit, for the hour we were holding our spots. What was even harder were the people arriving at the last minute thinking they could squeeze in. One couple was very passive aggressive and loud about their kids not being able to see as they were behind us. I may sound mean but I’m sorry, if you want a certain spot then show up early like everyone else, not literally five minutes before it starts, and don’t try and push your kids in front of people. I had to hold on to the railing due to my ankle and did not appreciate kids trying to force their way in front of me. So rude. DH thinks that if we were to do it again the dessert seating might be the way to go.

-Leaving the park after Fantasmic. We wanted to leave after the show and it was a nightmare. I figured it would be but I didn’t know of any other way to get out than through the Adventure Land or Frontier Land exits into the hub. Does the train run at that time? Next time I’d suck it up and find something to do until fireworks were over. It was nuts.

-As we were leaving our last night we walked by the 80’s cover band playing in Tomorrowland. Erasure!! It put and instant smile on our 40+ year old faces and we danced, ok I hobbled, all the way to the Monorail. It was a nice end of our trip but it made us wish we had actually sat and listened to them another evening. They were quite good.

-Parades and seating were an issue. I had heard it was easy to find seating near the bathrooms behind Alice for Soundsational. We arrived maybe 45 minutes early or so and there was no seating to be found. If we were to see this one again we’d do better to find a different spot. Over in DCA we found a great spot on a bench in front of the Hyperion Theatre for the Pixar Play Parade. However, our good time was kind of ruined by the copious amounts of water being sprayed on us. Maybe it was where we were positioned but they got us good. Woody had a direct hit and my kid was super sad over it. It’s our fault for sitting in the front but we weren’t aware of the water aspect and had our cameras out etc.



Some reviews (I’m not reviewing all of our meal spots but we really only had one bad meal):

Stovall’s Inn- It was a great choice! We loved the proximity. Even with my healing broken ankle it was walkable though we did utilize the ART a few times since it picked up and dropped off right in front. Our room (except for the floor) was really clean and the beds super comfortable. We liked the pool area and the different pools. Because there was more than one pool it didn’t seem like the pool area was that crowded. We used the laundry once and it worked well for us. Breakfast was just ok but my husband, who travels a lot said it was better than most hotel breakfasts. The only downside was the carpet. It was really dirty and I need to write them. I had put brand new socks on and the bottoms were black within an hour. That said, we were very happy with our choice and would definitely stay there again. The price was fantastic!

Surf’s Up- A+. The food was so good and the character interaction was top notch. We were the first family seated at 7am and it was still very empty by the time we left. Neither my husband nor I can understand why folks wouldn’t want to have an early seating because we were able to spend so much time with the characters. Our fave character was Stitch. Stitch must have taken a shine to our birthday boy or something because half of our time was joking around with Stitch and my kid was in heaven. I don’t think I have ever heard him laugh so hard. I asked my husband if he’d ever want to do a character meal again and his answer was, “heck yes!!!!”

Big Thunder Ranch BBQ- A+. Again very good food. We all had something we felt was our favourite. We went at dinner time (5pm) so we got the sausage which was fantastic. I do wish they had started the entertainment earlier because they didn’t start until we were getting our check. I would have liked to have heard more of it. I’m guessing they start at 6?

Plaza Inn- C. I had high hopes for the fried chicken but was not impressed. The mashed potatoes were very good though.

Blue Bayou- A-. The only reason I am giving it a lower score is the price. Ouch. However, it was so very good. Both DH and I got different steak items. I think I got the strip loin. I don’t see his on the online menus. I think they need to be updated. My son got the macaroni and cheese and my mom the Monte Cristo. Everyone was super happy with their meals. My son is already begging to go back to have the mac and cheese. LOL

Rainforest Café- B- We went because we were meeting up with friends with kids and I thought it might be fun for them but they honestly didn’t really seem to care. The food was ok but nothing outstanding. Next time I don’t think we’d go here.

Last Minute Travel Club- We purchased our Park Hoppers and Hotel through LMT Club. They had the best prices I could find and believe me I priced them all out for months. Not only did we get great deals but they were so easy to deal with. Using our vouchers at the gates and checking in to the hotel was as smooth as silk, no issues what so ever. I would most certainly use them again.

Kudos to:

-The princesses and characters we encountered; especially Tinkerbell, Stitch, Ariel, Merida, and Cinderella. They really are something special. Watching them interact with my son was a highlight.

-The folks in First Aid at both parks. They are so nice and accommodating. I visited a couple times to ice and elevate my ankle and my husband stored his injectables and insulin there during the super hot days. They really do provide an invaluable service to park goers.

-The CM in the store near the jungle cruise. She was talking to my son and must have seen he had a birthday button on because she came up to us later with a lollipop saying Mickey heard it was his birthday and wanted him to have it. So sweet!

-All of the CMs who took time to wish DS a happy birthday or to just talk to us. There was so much happiness and kindness we encountered I couldn’t mention them all.

We hadn’t even left yet when my son was begging to go back. Originally I had thought this would be a once in a lifetime kind of trip (my husband wasn’t a big Disney fan) but DH told DS we’d come back for his 10th birthday. By the next day it was down to 7th. LOL We’ll see if we do indeed come back in two years.

In short, in the words of my son three days after we returned home, “Disneyland is magical!”
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July 2-9 2014 Trip- Tips, Tricks, and Reviews http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=3303428

Last edited by Californiacicle; 07-14-2014 at 11:25 PM.
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Old 07-14-2014, 06:27 PM   #2
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So happy for you!! Yay! Love hearing about magical trips

Thanks for the PP+ tip. I will check out our photos each night to make sure they appear in our account!
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Old 07-14-2014, 07:06 PM   #3
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Great review. Thanks for the tips about glow bracelets and the A&E queue. I was disappointed to hear that you didn't have success with Alice Bathrooms or the Second Light Pole. Can you tell me more about the hub-9 o'clock strategy? Do you wait at the pathway to Frontierland or the center of the hub?
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Old 07-14-2014, 08:57 PM   #4
Californiacicle
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ehrawn View Post
Great review. Thanks for the tips about glow bracelets and the A&E queue. I was disappointed to hear that you didn't have success with Alice Bathrooms or the Second Light Pole. Can you tell me more about the hub-9 o'clock strategy? Do you wait at the pathway to Frontierland or the center of the hub?
Sure, I made up a little graphic (sorry for the bad line work LOL) to show you. We stood at the star for the show but I sat on the curb until they put the rope up so I wouldn't be blocking people. However I would keep an eagle eye out and if you see people are starting to show up, stand up or sit where the rope would be (black line in picture) to secure your space.



Supposedly you can do the same thing on the other side, 3 o'clock position, but when I went over there to look at the view, the sightlines were better at 9.
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July 2-9 2014 Trip- Tips, Tricks, and Reviews http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=3303428
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Old 07-14-2014, 09:23 PM   #5
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Great tip --- question.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Californiacicle View Post
Sure, I made up a little graphic (sorry for the bad line work LOL) to show you. We stood at the star for the show but I sat on the curb until they put the rope up so I wouldn't be blocking people. However I would keep an eagle eye out and if you see people are starting to show up, stand up or sit where the rope would be (black line in picture) to secure your space.
Thanks for the graphic and the tip! How much earlier than the start time did you arrive?
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Old 07-14-2014, 09:26 PM   #6
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Subscribed - thanks for sharing, we are going soon and A & E are a must for our daughter, so looking at peoples helpful tips is great! Is it true that is you hand your camera to a PP+ person they will take pics of your fam? I ask because 95% of the time im never in pics
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Old 07-14-2014, 09:38 PM   #7
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Awesome Report! Thanks for sharing!
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Old 07-14-2014, 11:26 PM   #8
Californiacicle
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Originally Posted by twinky View Post
Thanks for the graphic and the tip! How much earlier than the start time did you arrive?
I just checked my pictures and we took photos in front of the castle at 8:04 and then went to go find a spot so approx. an hour before. It didn't feel like we were waiting that long honestly.
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July 2-9 2014 Trip- Tips, Tricks, and Reviews http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=3303428
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Old 07-14-2014, 11:31 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by madasax12 View Post
Subscribed - thanks for sharing, we are going soon and A & E are a must for our daughter, so looking at peoples helpful tips is great! Is it true that is you hand your camera to a PP+ person they will take pics of your fam? I ask because 95% of the time im never in pics
Yes, they will. They were always super sweet about it. We used our PP+ and had them use our cameras. At one point in DCA DH and I were riding Screamin' and my mom had DS in Cars Land. They ended up seeing Red but didn't have my PP card. My mom didn't know she could have gotten a card from them so she just asked them to take pics on her camera and they did no problem. Just so you know though, not all characters have photographers with them. The meet and greet characters do but not all of the roaming ones.
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July 2-9 2014 Trip- Tips, Tricks, and Reviews http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=3303428
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Old 07-14-2014, 11:39 PM   #10
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Great post- sounds like you had a great time! We may wind up trying your advice for the fireworks when we go this year.

Sounds like you have caught the pixiedust bug as well . The same thing happened to us- we took our daughter for the once in a lifetime trip for her 8th birthday in 2008. Guess what- every two years since we have been heading back to Disney . Glad to know we 're not the only ones!
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Old 07-14-2014, 11:49 PM   #11
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Great post- sounds like you had a great time! We may wind up trying your advice for the fireworks when we go this year.

Sounds like you have caught the pixiedust bug as well . The same thing happened to us- we took our daughter for the once in a lifetime trip for her 8th birthday in 2008. Guess what- every two years since we have been heading back to Disney . Glad to know we 're not the only ones!
Disneyland has always been special for me but my husband is a different story. He had been to WDW once as a kid and didn't like it so when I took him to DLR for the first time in 2008 I was a bit worried he'd hate it. He ended up having a pretty good time. This trip just sealed the deal. He seemed to love every minute which makes my heart happy. I'll just sit back and let him decide when we go again because yes, he seems to had quite the sprinkling of pixie dust and that's fine by me
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July 2-9 2014 Trip- Tips, Tricks, and Reviews http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=3303428
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Old 07-15-2014, 02:19 AM   #12
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OMG ----- as I was reading you report.. it made me feel as if I was tour the park with you...

Loved it...
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Old 07-15-2014, 02:23 AM   #13
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Sorry - Posted twice
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Old 07-15-2014, 05:49 AM   #14
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Awesome trip report. Sounds like you had a wonderful time.

I am hoping to plan a DL trip in the next couple years, and your post definitely gave me some things to think about.
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Old 07-15-2014, 07:49 AM   #15
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Thanks for the report. Glad you had a great time.

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