A WDW vets adventures at Disneyland...Feb 1-5...

Discussion in 'Disneyland Trip Reports' started by tweak89, Feb 6, 2013.

  1. tweak89

    tweak89 Mouseketeer

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    Well, we are back from our first trip to Disneyland Resort (at least as adults). Although we had a few ticket issues they are covered here where I will continue to comment as needed. This thread will cover everything else. I will highlight points I feel would be useful to other WDW vets on their way to Disneyland in blue! The party consisted of just me and my wife. So here goes!

    Day 1

    We had an uneventful late flight from Houston to LAX. We had booked the Disneyland Resort Express through Southwest Vacations along with everything else for this trip. The shuttle (bus) was on time and the staff was quite friendly. We were the first stop on their route. Check in was east at Paradise Pier. We asked for a park view room (we booked standard) and they said none was available. To our surprise or room (908) had a splendid view looking out over California Adventure, so maybe "park" view means Disneyland??

    Our room and our view:
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    Day 2

    After some confusion about what park was actually available (see the thread mentioned above for details) for Morning Magic we tackled Disneyland. With early entry we had the park to ourselves. We knocked out the majority of rides that we wanted to get on in just a couple of hours and spent the rest of the day exploring and riding everything we missed in the morning rush.

    Here are some thought on some of those rides:

    Space Mountain: On of our favorites at this park and WDW. The ride queue definitely goes to WDW with the game screens to take the edge of off long waits. The queue at DL is much too plain and LONG and OUTSIDE!! But, the ride itself is DL all the way. Just felt more fun is how I can best describe it.

    Indiana Jones: We rode this one three times over the course of our trip. It did seem to break down a lot, but we loved it.

    Star Tours: Being a Star Wars nut I naturally love this one. The ride and queue are virtually identical. I like the setting at Hollywood Studios with the AT AT out front. The gift shop also goes to it's Florida counterpart as it is themed (Tattooine Traders).

    Pirates: DL all the way. The ride is longer (starts with the modern day swamp area and features an extra drop. Everything seemed fresher as far as the animatronics and scenery.

    Matterhorn: We rode both sides and liked the left side better. Seemed a smoother ride, but that's just us.

    Peter Pan: This was actually our first ride of the day. This on also goes to DL. The scenery overall just looked better and cleaner that at WDW.

    I think the only rides we didn't end up on were the Storybook Canal Boats, the rockets in Tomorrowland and the kid coaster in Toontown.

    We really enjoyed the park. We found some of the layout strange (why is Pooh's ride tucked so far out of the way in a "land" that doesn't seem to fit (IMO). We also wish the photopass photogs were more plentiful. Perhaps it's a seasonal thing??

    After a long day at the park we caught the tail end of the fireworks and ended up watching WOC from our room.

    Wide open in the morning and staying through the night:
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    More to come.....
     
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  3. DandyDisneylandy

    DandyDisneylandy Earning My Ears

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    Thank you so very much for sharing! I am a California native who has been going to Disneyland since age 2, but I have been to and worked at Walt Disney World, so I know and love them both.

    So glad your room worked out! I have never stayed at Paradise Pier, but your room looked lovely.

    I totally agree with your thoughts on Space Mountain. Disneyland has the better ride, but the queue is quite a hike and can be very uncomfortable on crowded summer days. Did you know it only goes 25 mph at its fastest? Feels much faster than that, doesn't it?

    I have never had Indiana break down before. I know there is a part in the ride where it purposely makes you think it's breaking down, but it's just for fun and to add a little suspense. Is that when you thought it was breaking down, or did it actually totally break down?

    Star Tours rocks! Did you get the adventure where the sea monster shakes the "ship" from side to side? I love that one.

    Pirates is just the best. I too prefer Disneyland's, although I like the queue at WDW a little better. Didn't you think the Johnny Depp characters looked super realistic?

    Left side of Matterhorn is definitely better. It is pretty slow either way, though, and kind of uncomfortable. I think it might be time for an update.

    I often skip Storybook Land, Astro Orbitor and Gadget's Go Coaster as well. Those are rides that don't really need to be ridden over and over.

    The Pooh ride took the place of Country Bear Jamboree. That part of the park used to be called Bear Country, but then when they added Splash Mountain, they changed it to Critter Country. Then when Pooh became so popular, they removed Country Bear and so on. I like that area of the park as it's kind of tucked away. I wish you could have gone on Splash Mountain. I like WDW's more.

    Can't wait to read the rest!
     
  4. lsulindy

    lsulindy DIS Veteran

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    Great recap!! Looking forward to the rest!
     
  5. tweak89

    tweak89 Mouseketeer

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    Day 3

    Superbowl Sunday. After reading about the crowds on Superbowl Sunday and having no Morning Magic for either park, we decided to head over to Knott's Berry Farm for the day. We did run into DCA for about 30 minutes and rode Little Mermaid, Screamin' and Toy Story before heading to the transportation center to grab an ART bus (RT 18) to Knott's. We used the Resort Guest entrance that morning and it worked out well for us as the crowd was fairly light.

    Wife and I love coasters so we couldn't resist. It was DEAD!! We walked on all the rides and only Ghost Rider, Windseeker and the log ride were out of commission.

    We found the park to be nice and clean with very friendly staff. Pin Trading seems to be a bigger deal than it is at DLR???!!!??? We encountered numerous workers with lanyards chock full of pins (ride operators, the ticket takers, just about every shop worker).

    Xcelorator was out favorite. It's like Top Thrill Dragster lite (about 40mph slower at 80mph and not quite as high) but awesome nonetheless!

    We also stopped for some of the Famous Mrs. Knott's Fried Chicken. It was tasty and the boysenberry pie was delicious!

    Here is why we came:
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    When we came back we ran into DCA once again and hopped in the single rider line for RSR and got to ride in the same car. But we'll cover DCA properly next.

    Day 4

    This was our first day spending meaningful time at DCA. We had Morning Magic for this park and were up and in line 30 minutes early.

    First up was RSR. At the front for the rope drop and WIDE RIGHT worked like a charm. We ended up on the second car of the morning!!

    Ahead empty, behind the crowd builds:
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    With early entry and having gotten RSR out of the way we rod Luigi and walked around Carsland for a but before hitting the rest of the park. The themes aren't quite as fluid here, but it all works. We were able to do everything except catch Aladdin (which was disappointing).

    Here are out thoughts on some of the rides (WDW comparisons in blue where applicable):

    RSR: Not sure it's worth waiting hours in line for, but it's such a neat and dead on recreation of what Cars might be in the real world! It did break down a lot, but we weren't affected by that. WDW vets might find this quite similar to Test Track in that it's a slow part followed by a brief speed section. This one is no contest, the excellent theme puts this one way over the top. Now if Test Track had been fully re-themed to TRON during it's refurbishment, then we may have had a contest.

    Luigi: This one need some work. Not sure how or if this one could be fixed, but the operation of the ride vehicles is so sensitive that it can be hard to get going anywhere before the ride is even over. Kind of disappointing.

    California Screamin': A fun, if mild, coaster. By thrill ride standards it's not very thrilling. The coasters at WDW easily trump this one. Expedition Everest and Rock'n Roller Coaster are much more in the vein of non-Disney coasters.

    Mickey's Fun Wheel: Moving Gondola. We liked this one, probably wouldn't wait more than 15 minutes for it, but it was a neat sensation when the gondola started rockin'

    Soarin': The ride itself it identical and we always make sure to ride this one at Epcot. The queue is mostly outside so for that alone Epcot gets the nod here. Plus, the audience participation "games at Epcot help pass the long wait times if you didn't score a fast pass.

    Tower of Terror: FUN FUN FUN!! One of our favorites. This one is kind of a toss up. The queue at Hollywood Studios is longer and fully themed. The ride itself also has some big differences. Your ride car does not move along tracks like it does at HS so the experience is different but not necessarily better. This one, I think, it pretty much a toss up. The differences in the ride don't affect the fun factor at all.

    We had a lot of fun at DCA. We did run back through Carsland at night for the visual, but lines were too long to re-ride anything. We caught what ended up being the last Muppet Vision 3D show. The CM told us it is being replaced with a Wizard of Oz theme in conjunction with the forthcoming movie. Could be interesting.
     
  6. Blanche_Neige

    Blanche_Neige DIS Veteran

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    great thread. We too are WDW vets and we are going on our first DL trip in 7 days:woohoo:. Staying off site and got my tickets from Airmiles (free :cheer2:)

    Really hoping everything will be worry free.

    My DS still doesn't know we are going :goodvibes

    Can't wait to read more about your trip
     
  7. tweak89

    tweak89 Mouseketeer

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    Day 4 Part 2

    Having run through the park with extreme efficiency ;) we took a break and met up with some of my family that resides in the area. We headed over to the USC area to hit up some of the museums.

    Of course, being from Houston, we had to visit the Space Shuttle that we SHOULD have gotten :(

    [​IMG]

    We also ran through the Natural History Museum. It was a nice and quiet afternoon with family that I don't get to see often. We ended the evening back at Downtown Disney with dinner at the Rainforest Cafe. With the park closing early at 8pm we decided to retire early since we had to start getting organized for our flight back home the next day.

    Day 5

    Morning Magic at DL today at 9am. Since our bodies were still on Texas time I had been waking up at my normal time of 6am CST. Well, that's 4am Pacific so I always had lots of time to do nothing in the morning. So, I did laundry this morning to make packing easier.

    We had requested a late checkout and had everything ready to go before leaving for one last run through the parks.

    We made a run through DL and caught Star Tours, Space Mountain, Buzz Light Year and Indy. We also took pics by the Club 33 door.

    Maybe one day they will let me in!!
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    We noticed the Rocketeer spinning popcorn in front of Space Mountain:
    [​IMG]

    By the time we did all that DCA was open so we headed on over for a last look over there.

    Rode the Wheel again:
    [​IMG]

    We had hoped to catch Tower of Terror a couple more times, but it was not open yet. We ended up running around taking pics and browsing shops in hopes the Tower would re-open before we had to leave, but no such luck.

    We did notice, for the first time during our stay, that there was no ENORMOUS line for RSR fast passes. We thought maybe the ride had broken down or something. But, it was just a sloooooow day.

    With the time constraint we ended up having to leave without riding anything else.

    We ended up taking a quick nap before gathering our bags and hopping on the airport shuttle for our ride back.

    I'll have some random tidbits and closing thoughts coming up.
     
  8. tweak89

    tweak89 Mouseketeer

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    In closing...

    Aside from the ticket hiccups (link to that in the first post and below) we had a great time at DLR. It's a really different experience than that of WDW.

    On Paradise Pier Hotel...

    The times we stayed an property at WDW they have all been at Port Orleans Riverside, which is considered a moderate resort at WDW. As you can see in the original post, we had a great view. Beds were very comfortable. We read many reviews complaining about the slow elevators, but we never experienced any long waits. The theme was consistent throughout and we would stay here again in the future.

    WDW vets that stay on property regularly will miss the Magical Express and the luggage perks that go with it. No such thing exists at DLR. Dining at (comparing PPH to PO only) is definitely an area that needs improvement at PPH. For breakfast your choices boil down to a pricey character breakfast or a small selection of continental breakfast items. Dinner is a little better but still pricey. An ala carte option would be nice.

    Also, no refillable resort cups which we find quite useful at WDW.


    At the parks...

    Remember folks, these are just MY OPINIONS!!

    The smallness of the properties was nice for cross park hopping. Park was well kept and we almost always were able to get where we wanted when we wanted.

    Pin trading...for WDW vets this will be a let down. You CAN do it, but you have to work at it. It seems you can't walk 10 feet at most WDW parks without running into a CM you can trade with. They are few and far between. Some just have small pin boards that can be hard to see depending on their uniform. The ones we did find were always accommodating...it's just a process to find them.

    CM attitude...seems better overall at WDW parks and properties. While no one was unpleasant, a lot of folks were "just there". We had our 1st visit pins on and no one ever mentioned it. At WDW on our first visit, even random CM's passing us by welcomed us. Big difference there. Again, nothing bad, just different than what we are used too.


    On ticketing and ease of use...this will definately be a different experience than the ONE Key to the Kingdom experience at WDW parks/resorts. Again, I addressed that here. I hope it's something they get worked out, because it can be a problem.


    We do hope to return in the future as there is a lot to like about the parks even compared to WDW. We will likely stay off property as it would save a great deal of money and we would be just as close to the parks (something you can't really do at WDW). With morning magic being the only real perk of staying on property, I feel it's just not worth the extra money especially since you get one with your multi-day passes.


    Some random pics:
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  9. danaesacto

    danaesacto DIS Veteran

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    Glad you had a great time- love the report and pics~ thanks!
     
  10. ValpoCory

    ValpoCory DIS Veteran

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    Thanks for the report!
     
  11. ValpoCory

    ValpoCory DIS Veteran

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    I love this style of photo. What's it called? I'd like to research it and figure out how to take them. I've seen videos in this style too, and I love those as well.
     
  12. tweak89

    tweak89 Mouseketeer

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    This is done in camera. It's called mini (for miniature) mode. At least that's what it's called in Sony Cameras. I really like the effect. I use it a lot at concerts, and sporting events.
     
  13. theokris

    theokris Mouseketeer

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    Thanks for posting such a great report, I wish more people wrote them we really enjoy reading them!:thumbsup2
     
  14. Mr Snappy

    Mr Snappy Kansas DisneyLand Junkie

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    Terrific post!
    For the most part, I agree with your observations. Couple of points in response.

    1. Space Mountain Queue:
    It was once very nice. They had a coold escalator directly in front of the building and the interior cooridors were themed much more than they are now. It's hard to describe, but they used cool metal grids to create a hexagon around the walkway and had subdued lighting and cool ambient mission control noises. It really created a sense of hightened anticipation. They ripped most of it out and created bland walls and flooring. Probably cheaper to maintain.

    2. On-site hotels:
    This one seems like it is almost impossible to convey to WDW veterans. Let me start by saying that I would ONLY STAY ON PROPERTY at WDW. It's simply designed for it, makes life easier, and they are quality properties at fair prices. DLR is horrible. The properties are nice, but you gain no advantage for staying there and it will often cost 4X a similar quality hotel a block away. Things won't change however, because Disney has no problem selling these rediculously priced rooms for some reason.

    3. Luigis:
    The appeal to this ride is limited for me, but I give Disney huge credit for building this attraction. It was a risk...it was not a "safe" choice. It may not have been a home-run, but it is different and an attempt at maintaining a theme. I want Disney to take more risks with their attractions. We need more Indinana Jones and Star Tours....less Farris Wheels and swing sets.
     
  15. pixiewings71

    pixiewings71 <marquee><font color=deeppink>Sweet!!! Totally!!!!

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    Just so you know, you DID get a theme park view, the only theme park views at PPH are views of DCA. :) You had almost the same view we had and yes, we booked a theme park view. :)

    Pin trading is different because at WDW CM's are required to wear lanyards as part of their jobs, at DLR it is voluntary.

    Otherwise, thanks for your report, thanks for the amazing photos and I'm glad you enjoyed yourself. :)
     
  16. tweak89

    tweak89 Mouseketeer

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    Strange. We booked a standard and asked to be upgraded (when I called they said it would cost more per day and that we should request it when we arrive). The person at the desk even told us we would have a pool view. That's why we were surprised to get the view we did at 1) no additional charge and 2) after being told they had no park view rooms available!!

    Not that I'm complainin' :thumbsup2
     
  17. julydeya

    julydeya Mouseketeer

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    Thanks for sharing!
     
  18. stacy~**

    stacy~** DIS Veteran

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    I loved your review and pictures! Thanks so much for posting them! :thumbsup2
     
  19. TheChapman6

    TheChapman6 DIS Veteran

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    Your pictures sure tell a story. I can't wait to see it in person!
     
  20. Jaina

    Jaina Actually, my name is Sara. It's a long story...

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    Love your pictures! So much fun!
     
  21. Linda67

    Linda67 Has a Masters in Margaritas

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    Great TR and wonderful photos - thanks for taking the time to post this :goodvibes
     

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