I have traveled to WDW 79 times, but I need help with a trip to DL

Discussion in 'Disneyland (California)' started by glavine47, Mar 13, 2010.

  1. glavine47

    glavine47 Mouseketeer

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    I have traveled to WDW 79 times, but I need help with a trip to DL. We will be traveling to California for Christmas week. I will be traveling with dw36, dd9, and ds6. The first part of our trip we are staying at Marriott's Newport Coast Villas. The second part of our trip we want to stay in one of the DL resorts. We want to check-in at DL on Christmas day. I am considering buying the citypass.

    I would love any suggestions: which Disney resort and why, airport suggestion, things to do, things to at Christmas (in or around the southern California area and DL), great places to eat, and any other useful infomation that may help us plan apixiedust: Magical trippixiedust:

    Thanks for your help.
     
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  3. jlmarr

    jlmarr See you at Fenton's

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    Be sure to read the NEWBIE sticky at the top of the forum. That's definitely the place to start.
     
  4. Dobie

    Dobie <font color=darkorchid>We had a fabulous time<br><

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    The first thing to do is go to the www.disneyland.com and punch in your dates for quotes for the three Disneyland Resorts.

    After you see the quotes and recover from your sticker shock, you might want to check out some of the very close walking distance hotels. Since you are a WDW vet and are therefore used to buses, the Sheraton Anaheim is lovely, and is a quick 5 minute dedicated shuttle ride away.

    Regardless of where you stay, make a ressie for dinner at Storyteller's Cafe in the Grand California Hotel. It is a beautiful hotel, and Storyteller's is a great experience.

    You will want to get to the gates of DL before it opens, and collect fastpasses for evening. Matterhorn and TSM (in DCA) don't have Fastpasses. Disneyland is so small and so chocked full of attractions that everything else is easy!

    Have a great trip!
     
  5. glavine47

    glavine47 Mouseketeer

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    Thanks for the help, I have already looked thru the NEWBIE section, but I like personal experiences from great people like you.
     
  6. glavine47

    glavine47 Mouseketeer

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    Great advice, I have already checked out the prices :eek:. I am in the frame of mind to stay at one of Disneys resorts. I will checkout Storyteller's, we love great magical experiences. Thank you for the help.
     
  7. Sherry E

    Sherry E Currently tag-less... Moderator

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    First of all, how wonderful that you will get to experience DLR during the magical holiday season!! It is my absolute favorite time to be there, so I am always excited to hear when someone gets to experience it for the first time!! I will give you some links to threads that may be of interest to you.

    Some of the other places you may want to visit in SoCal during the holidays are Rodeo Drive/Beverly Hills (the decorations are always beautiful during that time of year and it's fun to just drive around and soak in the atmosphere) and The Grove/Farmers Market outdoor shopping center (Farmers Market is a historical part of Los Angeles), which not only has some wonderful decorations and entertainment during the holidays, but is also great for celebrity hunting and people watching!!

    To start you off, here is our delightful, wonderful, one-stop shop for all things Disneyland Resort-at-Christmastime thread (called, appropriately, "Disney at Christmas"). It is chock full of photos and info on decorations, seasonal food, special holiday photo ops, etc. at DLR during Christmastime:

    http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2262171


    Next, perhaps you might be interested in trying a character meal? Here is our dedicated character meal photo thread, which may help you decide which one to try:

    http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2234435


    I have stayed at all 3 DLR hotels and love them all for different reasons, but I, personally, love the GCH ambiance during the holidays, so check out our GCH Super-thread, courtesy of DmaxHawk, in case a GCH stay is something that interests you:

    http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2396588


    But many other DIS-ers love the DLH and other hotels during the holiday season, and for more economical purposes, so check out our hotel photo thread for other ideas:

    http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=1745747


    If you do stay onsite at one of the 3 DLR hotels, you may want to consider the concierge lounge service, which, by all accounts, seems to be a good value for the money. Here is a thread with photos of all 3 concierge lounge offerings, courtesy of Pycees312:

    http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2181963


    In my own mega-trip report, which spans 37 years of pictures from visits to DLR, I have photos and/or recaps of DLR trips at Christmastime from 2007, 2008 and 2009 - and even holiday pictures from 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 2000 & 2001, and many other non-holiday trips as well.

    http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=1979268



    As you are a WDW veteran, you may find these threads from fellow WDW vets/DIS-ers who either visited or are about to visit DLR for the first time useful, as they are personal experiences and observations shared of the differences between WDW and DLR:

    Of course, be sure to read HydroGuy's essential, “A DLR Guide for WDW Vets”:

    http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=1162599


    From RweTHEREyet: “DL Observations from a WDW Vet”:

    http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2386987


    A great Trip Report from Pmama, another WDW vet who made her first trip to DLR (as well as Universal Studios Hollywood and Sea World) last year and offered her photos, observations and comparisons - “Which Way to Disneyland?”:

    http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2096377


    From (jeff968): “How will DL and CA compare if you've been to orlando a dozen times?”:

    http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2366196


    From jfstorm: “Disney World Vets heading to Cali for the first time this year. Need Advice!!!!!”:

    http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2365914


    From Mommato4: “Disneyland vs Disneyworld”:

    http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2359153


    From Chris and Pooh: “Disneyland versus Disneyworld: Your views please”:

    http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2233319


    From GraceLuvsWDW: “DL Vets answer some ?s please...1 day trip soon”:

    http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2222620


    From THESCHULTZFIVE: “Disneyland disappointment”:

    http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?p=35296769&posted=1#post35296769


    Enjoy the planning of your DLR holiday trip!!
     
  8. glavine47

    glavine47 Mouseketeer

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    WOW:worship:SherryE Thank you so much for taking the time to send all of that wonderful information. I will check each link. We have traveled to WDW 3 times for Christmas and cherish every memory. We are so excited about spending a DL Christmas and Southern California Christmas this year. Thanks again.:worship:
     
  9. Sherry E

    Sherry E Currently tag-less... Moderator

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    You are most welcome!!:goodvibes I am happy to help in any way I can. Given the kinds of questions that come up quite a lot on the DIS, I compiled a list of various links and Trip Reports that pertain to some of those topics for personal reference, so that I could pull the links quickly and provide them for anyone who has a question and needs info. So I had most of those links prepared and on my list, and with a swift 'copy and paste' maneuver, just inserted them here for you with some descriptions!!

    From what I hear, the holiday offerings at WDW are spectacular! One day I hope to go there and see them for myself. At DLR, you will get to experience the very popular Haunted Mansion Holiday (which is Haunted Mansion with a total Nightmare Before Christmas makeover) and the jaw-droppingly gorgeous colors of It's a Small World Holiday (especially gorgeous at night). So even though we don't have all that WDW has, those two attractions are worth a DLR holiday visit alone, along with everything else there is to see and do!

    Also, though I don't know if it will be this year or in the future, apparently the great Toy Story Midway Mania ride will be getting a holiday overlay as well. I hope it's soon!!
     
  10. Grumpygrandpa

    Grumpygrandpa dvc owners and loving it

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    If you want the best DLR experience you must stay at the GCH. It is the hotel where Storytellers is located. It has it's own private gate to DCA. The lobby is stunning. The hotel is themed in turn of the century Arts and Crafts. The lobby is amazing! Think of a more refined Wilderness Lodge (same architect). the Napa Rose (also located in the GCH) is the best restaurant on property. Don't miss eating there!

    If you can, fly into Long Beach or the John Wayne airport.

    Remember that DLR is quite a bit different than WDW. It is small and compact. Many of the rides at WDW are missing here in CA, but DLR has many things that aren't in FL. We love the comedy show at the Horseshoe Saloon. Don't miss Indiana Jones or the submarines. I think that Fantasmic, POTC, Toontown and Space Mountain are better in CA.

    Have fun at my favorite place.
     
  11. glavine47

    glavine47 Mouseketeer

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    Grumpygrandpa
    Thank you for the advice, Napa Rose is a place that we intend to try. Also, How far in advance can reservations be requested? I know WDW is 180 days.
     
  12. HydroGuy

    HydroGuy DIS Veteran

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    60 days, and they are in far less demand than WDW.
     
  13. Grumpygrandpa

    Grumpygrandpa dvc owners and loving it

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    We almost always go with my DW's Brother and family. Sarah, my DN, does all of the ADRs....so I'm pretty useless on how far out you can reserve dining but I think it is 60 days. I'm sure someone will correct if I'm wrong.:goodvibes
     
  14. franandaj

    franandaj I'm so happy, I could BOUNCE!

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    I don't know how well behaved your kids are (or if they even allow this), but I love to sit at the Chef's counter when I eat there. Because I've done the Cooking School with Andrew Sutton for a couple years now, he recognizes me and my DP when we come in. He comes over and talks to everyone who sits at the counter and sometimes give little freebies. He's very personable and it is quite entertaining to watch the chef's at work.

    I have to give a plug for my hometown, the Queen Mary and the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach are nice attractions to visit. There are several restaurants on the QM and many more near the Aquarium, they have recently rennovated that area (last 10 years). There are shopping areas on the water front and all sorts of things to do when you want to escape the mouse. It's only about 20 minutes away from Anaheim.
     
  15. glavine47

    glavine47 Mouseketeer

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    HydroGuy,
    Thank you for your help. I am trying to stay ahead of the game. When we travel to WDW, I make our reservations exactly at the 180 mark. It is hard to get Le Cellier or the Roundtable. I will try at 60 days out.
     
  16. glavine47

    glavine47 Mouseketeer

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    franandaj,
    Thank you for the advice. The Chef's counter sounds like fun, I will check it out. Also, I love the other suggestions. Since this is your hometown, do you have any suggestions on Christmas activities?
     
  17. HydroGuy

    HydroGuy DIS Veteran

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    Now that I have gone to WDW twice and spent lots of time on WDW forums, I better understand the WDW mindset about dining. At WDW it is part of the resort experience for many people and the many creative options at WDW reinforce this.

    DLR has grown up as a locals resort and still 70% of visitors are locals - many on day trips. So the mindset is "dining is something we should do quickly so we can go do some more rides". In other words DLR vets do not see dining the same way WDW vets do. DLR has less variety and is less creative than WDW dining.

    With that said, I have found on recent trips that I am bringing some of the WDW perspective to DLR and now see dining at DLR in a different way.

    Regardless, most DLR vets do not. They do not make reservations at table service restaurants and usually can still get in to eat at all the best dining venues on short notice.

    If you make reservations 60 days out you will be way ahead of the game. I do that myself now out of an abundance of caution, but just letting you know it is usually not necessary.

    Bottom line is you do not need to do the crazy 180 days out ADRs like WDW because there is a different mindset at DLR. :)
     
  18. heatherleigh

    heatherleigh DIS Veteran

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    As far as airports go, you will want to fly into SNA, which is Orange County. It's the easiest, most convenient, and maybe even closest airport. I had my mom fly in there to meet us on our last trip, and she said it was very easy.
     
  19. franandaj

    franandaj I'm so happy, I could BOUNCE!

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    Well since you said you were going to be in Newport, I've heard there is a boat tour that you can take of all the houses on the waterfront to see the houses decorated. There are also boat parades in various harbors where the boats are deocrated by their owners and parade through the harbor.

    My hometown is Long Beach but I actually go to DL for much of my Holiday cheer! We always go out there for Xmas shopping and visit at some point for a meal and just to see the holiday decorations.

    I wish I knew more of what goes on at Christmastime locally, but we're always so busy around that time that we barely squeeze in our trip or two to DL. We also try to stay home a lot because traffic in LA during Christmastime is horrible! If you want to drive from one end of LA County to the other, allow two to three hours at peak driving times. However peak driving times are extended by an hour or two on each end or rush hour, pretty much making the entire day peak driving times! This means if you are considering sneaking in a trip to Universal, plan on a lot of driving time.

    I'll look forward to your trip report when it finally happens, please put a link on this thread so we can find you!
     
  20. Sherry E

    Sherry E Currently tag-less... Moderator

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    By the way, OP, in my first post I suggested Rodeo Drive and Beverly Hills, as well as The Grove and Farmers Market up in L.A., for extra Christmas magic (though nowhere near as magical as DLR, but at night, still beautiful). I live about 3 minutes down the street from Farmers Market/The Grove in one direction (this is also the area where LACMA and the Tar Pits are located, is and pretty close to Sunset Blvd. and Hollywood Blvd.) and I'm about 4 minutes up the street from Beverly Hills in another direction. I can tell you that, on a day with no traffic - or at least reasonable traffic - and depending on how fast you drive, you can get from DLR to my area of town in 40-45 minutes. Same thing on the way back to DLR from this area of town. But if you drive more slowly or if you run into traffic, it can double to 90 minutes or more.

    The PP is right about the traffic during the holidays - it is crazy, especially right in the weeks leading up to and right after Christmas!

    I don't know how long your trip to SoCal will be, but if you have lots of time, I can suggest other places to eat and things to do in general (not necessarily Christmasy) in L.A. or up this way, but if your time is very limited, I almost tend to think you should just stick with DLR and enjoy all there is to enjoy there.

    I agree that the Long Beach area of town is nice, and the Queen Mary and Aquarium are great to visit if you have time. Also, Shoreline Village is a lovely little place to stroll around and eat lunch. Plus, Long Beach is home to the Catalina Express, which takes you over to Catalina Island - my 'other' favorite place to be in Southern California!!:goodvibes

    As far as making dining reservations at DLR, while it is not as necessary as it is for WDW dining, you need to make reservations if you eat at the Blue Bayou - they require it there 99% of the time. It is not necessary to make reservations for the character meals, but it is highly recommended, as those can get very busy and the waits to be seated very long. I would also highly recommend making a reservation for Carnation Cafe - a lovely place to eat along Main Street with very limited seating, and the wait for a table can be very long. Also, I would suggest making a reservation for ESPN Zone and Rainforest Cafe - I have waited for an hour to be seated at both of those places without a reservation.
     
  21. HydroGuy

    HydroGuy DIS Veteran

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    I would second this for the BB but also say I have easily gotten reservations during busy summer days a week or two in advance. So even though it may be required that does not mean the ressies fill up quickly. :)
    Agree again, but you can usually do this easily a week ahead of time. In fact last summer I had a res at RFC and wanted to bump it back an hour the day before with a group of 8 and it was no problem. So if you like RFC make a res. In fact make multiple ones and cancel the ones you do not use. I made four of them a week out because I was not sure when we would have time to get over there and then I cancelled the other 3 a day or two before.
     

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