Our first trip to DL & DCA as a family of five!

Discussion in 'Disneyland Trip Reports' started by tikimao, Feb 11, 2013.

  1. tikimao

    tikimao Earning My Ears

    Nov 9, 2012
    We've been several times as a family, first back in 2000 when ODD was 3 months old, most recently in 2005 when she was 6 and YDD was just about 2. We added DS to the family in November and thought a trip to Disney would be a great way to enjoy our new family of 5 and to reward our big girls for being such awesome older sisters. Here's our saga!

    First Disney trip as a family of 5; first trip since 2007

    Disneyland Trip Report: Jan 31-Feb4 2013
    present: me, DH, ODD13, YDD9 and DS3 months

    Day 1 Thursday
    We all got up a bit late on our departure day. The kids were excited to be skipping school. We'd mostly finished

    packing the night before and only had to load the car, have breakfast and take care of last minute details--feeding the cats, etc. Somehow, we ended up behind schedule. We did get to our parking lot only about 15 minutes late, but we'd cut it close. We got close to our gate and bought some lunches for the plane (note to self: do not schedule flights for meal times), and barely got to the gate. They were about to announce our names as missing passenger! Gate checked the car seat and stroller and loaded our carry ons onto the plane. We were traveling carry on only, which worked ok on the way there, but not the way back.

    The plane ride went well. We had the crying baby while boarding, but he quickly settled down and napped, nursed and played the whole time. We brought his binky for the plane, in case he didn't want to nurse at take off and landing. My girls had a good flight - both enjoyed the ride, but the pressure changes were hard on them as both were recovering from colds. ODD had an especially hard time. We had gum, and I coached her but she was still in pain from the altitude changes.

    Arrival at SNA is easy peasy. Everything is so close. We stepped outside and all took off our jackets and sweaters. Southern California sun felt great! We got a California Yellow Cab van (used the Anaheim Visitor's Bureau coupon f or $5 off) and headed for our hotel, Best Western Park Place Inn.

    We love the location of the BWPPI. We stayed there when we took ODD to Disneyland back in 2000, when she was 3 months old. The breakfast is meh (as described by recent posters, it is indeed sausage, egg patties, pastries &
    breads, yogurt, fruit, juice and really bad coffee). We had a 'suite', which consisted of a regular room with a pony wall separating a sofa bed and coffee table. It was fine, though the carpet was a little ragged. I had brought blankets so I could set DS down on the floor if needed. The bathroom was recently redone and there was a flat screen tv which we did not turn on once! The pool was a bit chilly, but the hot tub was nice. My YDD and I went several times, and the baby went once. He liked swimming. Next time we'll choose a hotel with a better pool. I've been advocating for the HoJo, but DH is worried about the walk.

    We had bought the Costco 4 day hoppers and were on the fence about upgrading them to 5 day. When we got there though, there was no way we could tell the kids they'd have to wait until the next day to go to the park! We upgraded at the ticket booth, it was $15 as has been noted here and no problem. Except...when the CM was putting our names in, he got two wrong! My name is Julia; I became Judy. And my YDD's name was misspelled from Arwen to Anwen. She did not like that! So, we decided to just go with it rather than making a fuss and Judy became my Disneyland name.

    They did take our pictures at the entrance and then scanned tickets. They checked pictures each time we entered a park, but it was quick and didn't seem to slow the lines much. They CMs are obviously getting good at doing it.

    Our first day in Disneyland was great! DH and I always turn left at the hub into Adventureland and we did that on Thursday too. We walked slowly through Main Street first and they all got ice cream while I went to the camera shop to activate my Photopass+. That was a great purchase. Easy to use, and I am in the pictures! Later, when we separated, DH got an extra PP card and I was able to merge our pictures on our last day. I loved getting the ride pictures.

    We rode the Jungle Cruise, climbed into Tarzan's treehouse, tried Indy but it was down for a lost item, rode Pirates (my favourite), Haunted Mansion, and the railroad (DH's favourite). We had a nice dinner at French Market, then took the train to Tomorrowland. We rode Space Mountain-used baby swap. I rode Buzz with the baby while DH took the girls on Star Tours. We were sure tired when the park closed at 8pm!

    Day 2 Friday
    This was our designated DCA day. Last time we'd been to Disney, DCA was meh. We loved Soarin' and Grizzley River Run, but not much else. Now, we just had to see Carsland. And it was awesome! We got there early to get in before rope drop. I took our tickets and waited in the fast pass line, which did indeed stretch to Carthay Circle. It moved fast though, once the park opened officially. DH took the girls to ride in the standby line and they were done riding by around the time I got the fast passes. I headed to Screamin' to get FPs for that, as our RSR ones said we could have another FP right away. I rode Toy Story Midway Mania with my little guy. It's fun, but I think I like Buzz better in DL. I met up with the rest of the family at the Sun Wheel ... ooops, I mean Mickey's Fun Wheel. DH took the baby and I headed toward Soarin' to get FPs for later. I rode the Little Mermaid on the way over. It's a nice ride, but seems to be missing huge chunks of the movie's story. Next stop, Fiddler Fifer and Practical for a decent cup of coffee. I am a huge Starbucks fan so I was excited to see that the menu is just the same (prices higher, but expected that). Also, I was able to use my Starbucks gold card. If only they had WiFi, it would have been perfect!

    Met up with DH and the girls and then it was my turn to ride RSR. I rode alone the first time and the kids used the other FPs. That is a great ride, a really well done, will be a classic, ride. We all loved it! We'd watched Cars in the days before leaving on our trip and the ride and Carsland were just like the movie. Such a brilliant job of recreating the scenery, the shops, everything. DH didn't want to leave! The girls rode Luigi's (I rode it later with DH while the girls watched the baby--only ride we went on alone together). It's cute and fun, but no headliner. We all rode Mater in various combinations since the baby couldn't go.

    We'd planned on lunch at Flo's but it was closed for some reason. We headed to Pacific Wharf purely because it was the closest spot and at close to 1pm, my girls were getting very hungry and cranky. DH and ODD had mexican; YDD and I had chinese. It was ok for the price, I would have picked something else for just me, but YDD is superpicky and I had to choose something she would at least eat a few bites of. It's strange to see alcohol in a Disney park, but I did have a beer. Something about being in the sun, warm, eating outside just called for it.

    After lunch, we checked out the Ghirardelli shop. ODD bought some chocolates and YDD got a chocolate bar. Then we headed over to Hollywood land for Tower of Terror. DH, DS and ODD stopped off in Bugsland; YDD and I did too. She wanted to ride Tuck and Roll. That is one short, slow ride, but she liked it. Me and the girls rode ToT; then DH went and came out just as the Pixar parade was starting. That's a good parade--love the stilt walkers and aerialists.

    DH and ODD went back to Carsland (I can't remember why actually) and YDD and I and DS headed to Hollywood land to ride Mike and Sully. We couldn't find it! So, we headed to Buena Vista street and went to the candy shop. On the way out, I spotted the info booth and asked them about Monsters Inc. It's behind the Mad Tea Party, which was in full swing and almost fully blocked the signage. We found it though and rode it. Very cute ride, better than Arial in themeing.

    By then, we'd been in the park since 8:30 am and we were all tired. We'd planned to take a break at the hotel but didn't manage to do it. We should have because we were so tired. But we wanted to ride Soarin'. We had dinner at Taste Pilots Grill, which was just ok. I wouldn't eat there again. But it was close to Soarin' and we were hungry. Soarin' was great, as I'd remembered it, but there were some noticible flaws in the screen and the movie was a bit fuzzy. YDD said she didn't like it, I'm not sure why exactly as I rode with ODD. Again, poor little DS was left out. We left the park around 8:40pm. We did not see World of Color even though I had FPs for it. DH couldn't face the standing up and we were all just too tired. Next time!

    Thoughts on the new DCA. Love Carsland! Brilliant update to the park. I really don't like that there are so few rides that every family member can ride. DS only rode Toy Story, Sun Wheel, Arial and Mike & Sully.

    Day 3 Saturday

    This was to be our big Disneyland day. DH was excited about early entry so he got us up and going. He and YDD were early to breakfast and so they headed over to the park. ODD, DS and I had breakfast and as we were leaving, realized that DS had a blowout! I swear, diaper makers do not build those things for breastfed babies. Every poopy change was a blowout on the trip. Not fun. We headed back to the room to change him and ended up needing to give him a bath. That used up most of our early entry.

    Still, by the time we got to the park, ODD and I got to ride most of the Fantasyland rides. We met up with DH and YDD and rode Casey Jr and StorybookLand Canal boats (one of DH's and my favourites). I missed out on Mr Toad and never did get back to ride it. The girls and I did the Sleeping Beauty Castle walkthough. It was my first time doing that since 2000. It's nicely redone with many little subtle effects.

    DH took DS to ride the train and the girls and I headed toward New Orleans Square by way of the Big Thunder Trail. We ran into Billy Hill & the Hillbillies on the way, and stopped to listen. They are just awesome! Then, we ran into Woody! Got some great pictures thanks to PhotoPass+. Unfortunately, our stops meant that by the time we go to the Golden Horseshoe, all the reserved tickets were gone. They did say no standby patrons had been turned away, but I didn't want to risk that so decided to see the show Sunday instead. We made it to NO Square just as Princess Tiana's bayou show was going on. We watched that, then went to meet up with DH at BB.

    The whole time in the park we'd been coordinating meetups with our phones. ODD and YDD both have phones, so we'd all be texting. Well, I got the dreaded 'blowout' text from DH. I had the stroller which had the diaper bag. He had DS with a bad diaper just coming off the train. We met up outside BB and DH grabbed the diaper bag to change. The girls went in to our BB table to wait.

    We had an 11:30am reservation and got a great waterside table at BB. They had some special menu items for Mardi Gras/Bayou Bash. I had the boulioubaisse (sp?). It was quite good and, a rarity for me, I finished the whole bowl. The girls both got kids meals--salmon for YDD and beef loin for ODD. DH got the jambalaya, which is what he always gets at BB. It was a lovely, slow paced meal. We enjoyed the quiet and watching the pirates boats float by. As planned, we left the park after lunch for a break at the hotel room. We only stopped for Indy FPs. At the hotel, DH slept and ODD rested. YDD and I took DS for his first time swimming! He had such a nice time. We swam and then tried the hot tub. He was tuckered when we were done and fell asleep in the hotel room. DH was still sleeping but me and the girls were ready for more fun, so we left DS and DH and headed out to ... DCA!

    YDD wanted to ride Screamin' so I checked DH's smart phone for Mousewait and since it was only a 20 min wait, I said 'sure' even though it was our DL day. We headed over. On the way to Paradise Pier, I found a FP for Screamin!

    Since I hadn't been yet and the girls had, I used it while they waited in the standby line, then after I rode, I joined them in the line and got to ride again. That's a great coaster. No themeing really, but it was a great thrill ride. Then we wanted ice cream so we headed to Ghirardelli and miraculously found a sundae we could all decide on to share. The ice cream treats there are, imho, better than Clarabelle's or the other DCA/DL ice cream spots.

    Since it was close to dusk, we stayed in Carsland until the neon turned on. That is so cool! They play the Life could be a dream song and the neon goes on just like in the movie! We all loved it.

    Then, back to DL. We browsed Buena Vista street and I made one of the few mistakes that marred our trip. ODD had decided on what she wanted for a souvenir and I should have just bought it for her then and there. But I pushed
    everyone to wait until the last day to buy and that was a bad idea, since we ended up rushed and accidently got the wrong size in her desired sweatshirt. I'm emailing with Guest Services to try to straighten it out (the hanger said the correct size, the actual item was the next size down and too small).

    Back in DL, we hit Indiana Jones (all of us taking turns trading the baby) and then ODD, DS and I went on Jungle Cruise while DH and YDD waited in the Dole Whip line. I had never had a Dole Whip, always choosing the pineapple
    juice or spear, so I asked him to get me a Dole Whip Float. We thought we'd be back in a jiffy, but our Jungle Boat cruise got extended when all boats were told to stop and hold where they were. We hung out by the headhunters for about 20 minutes before we were called back to the dock. No idea what happened, but our captain got us all special 'any ride' fast passes to make up for it.

    We headed to the Dole Whip line and somehow missed DH! We went into the Tiki Room waiting area thinking he had gone there, and the CM there said a show was about to start. Again, thinking DH had gone in, we headed in, but didn't see him! The show was starting so we had to just sit down and I texted him. He was still in the line! When the show was over, ODD and I whipped around and headed back in, meeting DH and my Dole Float on the way. It's good I like the Tiki room 'cause we got to see the show twice in a row!

    By that time, YDD was getting really tired and grumpy. She hadn't been sleeping well due to excitement and it was showing. We split up, with DH and ODD heading to Tomorrowland and YDD, DS and me heading to Pirates, then
    Pooh, then dinner (Stage Door Cafe -I had the Christo Bites which were really good), then Tomorrowland to meet up with DH so I could ride Star Tours. We met up at Tomorrowland Terrace. I gave DH my special fast pass for him and
    ODD to use on Space Mountain and YDD and I headed back to the hotel.

    Day 4 Sunday

    We were all a bit sad realizing it was our last day. The trip just went way too fast. We all slept in a bit and had breakfast at the hotel, then went over to DL. DH and the girls headed to the Matterhorn, and then rode Buzz, Mr. Toad, and the Carousel. I went to get a pass for the Golden Horseshoe show. I stopped in a Frontierland store and chatted with a friendly CM who gave me a birthday button for DS who was turning 3 months that day! Then, a quick hop to ride Nemo (disappointing! not enough to see) and then over to Plaza Inn for our ADR for Minnie & Friends breakfast.

    This was our only character meal of the trip. I picked it due to good reviews here at Disboards. The food was ... just ok. Nothing special. I did like that there was a lot of fresh fruit and it was good. The Mickey waffles were tasty, but they didn't have real butter only a blend. I liked that they had chilaquiles--those are good! The character interaction was just right for our group. YDD is a little wary of characters and not into having her picture taken, but she did, reluctantly, let me take pictures. Goofy's son (Max?) really interacted with DS! We got some really cute pictures of DS smiling and giggling at him. They got a nice picture of us at the entrance and thanks to PhotoPass+ it was included. It's our first family portrait as a family of five!

    After breakfast, we got PP pictures taken in front of the castle and then headed to see Toon Town (first time to get over there). I found a nice shady spot to nurse DS and DH and the girls wandered around and rode rides. Toon Town isn't my favourite, perhaps because it wasn't there when I was a kid so I don't have those deep memories of it. But there's not a lot that I enjoy doing there. I'm sure DS will love it when he's older though!

    It was almost 2pm by then and I advocated going back to the hotel to rest. DH originally agreed, but as we got to the exit gates, he started to argue for finding a shady spot to rest in the park. I knew we wouldn't really rest if we did that, so I pushed for us to go back, saying we'd be home by the top of the hour. It worked. DH got an actual nap, as did I. I got a quick swim with YDD and ODD just got some downtime. We got back to the park just in time for our reservation at Golden Horseshoe. We brought our Blue Bayou leftovers back in for lunch, no problem. But I had eaten all my food at BB, so I went downstairs and ordered some Christo Bites (so tasty!). The show was cute, with some audience interaction (downstairs only, and YDD had wanted to sit upstairs).

    After the show, we ...well, I can't remember what we did. We did stay in DL the rest of the day. I think we went to Tomorrowland. I know I rode Space Mountain with both kids, alternating. I know we had dinner at Tomorrowland
    Terrace. I don't care for the food there, but my burger loving family thought it was fine. I know I caught a few minutes of fireworks on the way out and wish I could have seen the whole show! YDD was so tired I was pushing her in the
    stroller. She's about 15 pounds over the weight limit so I hope I didn't damage it.

    Day 5 Monday

    Our last day! We didn't rush in the morning since the parks opened late, at 10am. We packed, had breakfast, and left our bags with the hotel desk. We headed to ... DCA! I had really wanted to ride RSR again and there were several rides DH hadn't had the chance to go on, like Ariel, Midway Madness, Mike & Sully. For the first time, we had to wait in a long line to get into the park. Hated that. A big mess of people, odd lines, no easy way to tell which was shortest. It didn't last long though, thank goodness. Once in, I headed for RSR FP line. It moved quickly, only took about 20 minutes. Then, I went to Starbucks...I mean, Fiddler Fifer and got some iced coffe and a Frap for DH and the kids to share. I chilled out at Starbucks for a bit, then headed to Hollywood. We all met up at Animation and did the Animation class. That was awesome! I would do that again and again. Even holding a slightly squirmy DS on my lap, I managed to draw a decent Pooh. Very cool. Then, we split up, me and ODD staying there to see Crush and YDD and DH on to ToT. We met back up in Carsland for lunch at Flo's (finally open!). It was really good, a full diner experience. We'd go back. Then it was time for our cars FPs and oh no! RSR was down! We had to change gears and decided to split up again and see some of Carsland again. Checked back half an hour later and RSR was back up, so I rode with both the girls. By then, we were getting close to our final countdown. We shopped Buena Vista street where I finalized one of the few mistakes made on the trip (accidently got the wrong size of ODD's only desired souvenir!) and then, to the Photopass shop to get our cards merged and get our final RSR ride photo on our card, since DH had the PP+ when I
    went on the ride. That was easy peasy, they were very helpful and thorough.

    Then, back to the hotel for big mistake #2. We called a cab company based on a coupon I had, rather than asking the bell desk to do it. Big mistake. The cab didn't come and didn't come and soon it was an hour later! We were
    desperate by then, and the great staff at BWPPI got us a van in no time. Not much more $ than the cab either! We barely made it through security to find our plan boarding. Once again, we were some of the last passengers on the
    plane. Now, with small kids, that's not bad. I prefer to get on later with kids so there is less time of them just waiting and wanting to GO NOW. Still, our stress level was higher than we would have liked.

    Also, our bags were checked free of charge! We'd traveled carry-on only, but coming back, one of our bags was too big, because I'd crammed in the bag of snacks (granola bars, nuts, etc) at the hotel, meaning to pull it out and repack at the airport. But since we had no time at the airport to do that, it just looked like our bag was too big. The compassionate staff took all three of our carryons (two rollaways and a big backpack) and checked them for us, along with gate checking the stroller and carseat. Getting ourselves on board was so much easier without those bags!

    The ride home was fine, our airport parking shuttle met us quickly and our car was ready. Home in time for 10pm bedtime.

    Lessons learned:

    1) Do not wait until the last day to buy souvenirs. Browse on day 1 and buy on day 2, no later for the really desired items.

    2) Do not choose flight times that overlap meal times unless a meal can be packed in a timely manner. We bought food at the aiport for lunch on the way out and got to the gate as our plane was finishing boarding! Had no time on the return flight and since the kids were starving, had to buy the snack packs on board. They were fine, but it was stressful not knowing we'd be able to get food. Our own snacks were in the belly of the plane, thanks to the bag they were in getting checked last minute.

    3) Be cheap on the ride from the airport and pay for quality on the ride to the airport. Waiting an hour at your hotel because the cab fails to show really sucks.

    4) Build in a rest day. For a 5 day 4 night trip, at least 2 half days or one full day of just hanging at the pool, browsing Downtown Disney, and relaxing. We were all exhausted at the end of the trip.

    5) With 3 kids, do not try to do carry-on only! Pony up for the checked luggage.

    6) Be willing to pay for whatever food/drinks the kids need. I am cheap--I happily drink tap water, will share a meal, etc.

    ODD hated the tap water. She just wouldn't drink it, said it tasted awful and made her throat hurt. After two days of trying, I finally ponied up for the bottled Dasani. She was happier, and I was happy that she was staying hydrated. YDD really liked the snacks at the resort-popcorn, Mickey pretzel, and apple crisps were her favorites. Once I realized that
    the apple crisps were just freeze dried apples, no sugar, I was willing to buy them for her as needed. She didn't eat much otherwise, and needed something to keep her going.

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