Brought the family out to DLR for the first time last week. Flew in Monday evening, 'crashed' at the Embassy Suites Anaheim South, and Uber'd up to DLH for Tuesday-Saturday. Had the CityPASS, but upgraded to 4-day hoppers from the 3-day hoppers, as we decided we didn't need a day all by itself to be completely removed from the parks, and the price difference was $73 total... completely worth it. OVERALL / HOTEL It was me, DW, DS (4 years), and DD (5 months). We utilized MP & RS to full effect. I've been to WDW several times, three times with DW, and for a 2-night/1-park (MK) trip last November when DW was 7 months along. I got a little stir-crazy with the baby in the house this winter, and all of a sudden we had a Disneyland trip booked for June Overall, we had an excellent time. It's not as easy/convenient for us to get to SoCal as Florida, so we wanted to stay on-site. DLH did not disappoint. I'd be hard-pressed to stay offsite in the future... that EMH at DCA is pure gold. 'Next time' will be when DD is at least 42" tall, so a few years... would love to try GCH next time. We took breaks each day back at the hotel, and used the pool (pretty much just the monorail pool for the slides) during our breaks on Thursday and Friday. Awesome pools and slides! DS would have stayed at the yellow slide all day if we let him. In the parks, I really noticed the Annual Passholder 'culture', which is mentioned on here quite a bit. At WDW, you feel like everybody is on a big family vacation, but we didn't feel that at DLR. Instead of being asked if we were on the Dining Plan everywhere, we were asked if we were AP's. This was fine, not saying it was better or worse, just contributed to a different feel. PARKS We strongly preferred DCA to DL... but, we didn't grow up on DL, and we typically like newer things. All of the charm and nostalgia at DL didn't mean as much to us, and the rides/attractions at DCA are almost all winners for us, while there aren't too many at DL that we love. I know we are probably in the minority here, just our thoughts. Cars Land is the best themed land that Disney has ever produced, and Radiator Springs Racers is the best attraction they've ever created. We'll see how Toy Story Land and SWGE stack up... but it's quite the high bar. We hit rope drop Wed/Fri for EMH at DCA, and got to DL within an hour of opening on Tues/Thurs. Our top five attractions were: Radiator Springs Racers, Toy Story Midway Mania, Soarin', Goofy's Sky School (son loved this), and Grizzly River Run. As you can see, all of these are in DCA... it just felt like 'home' for us over there. We also thought Guardians of the Galaxy was awesome, though we only did it once (son did it twice; once with each of us). Also loved Monsters & Little Mermaid. We caught the Cars Land "Sh-Boom" moment Thursday night, which gave us goosebumps... how awesome. We waited again for it Friday, but all of a sudden the lights just all came on... no sh-boom... we were pretty upset about this, but happy we had seen it the night before. They were setting up some grad night stuff up there Friday, we wondered if that had something to do with it. I knew the fireworks could get cancelled, but Sh-Boom!?!?!?!?! At DL, we enjoyed Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and our son did love Autopia (MUCH better than Tomorrowland Speedway at MK). Nemo was cool, though a little claustrophobic for me. DW and DS did not care for Space Mountain, and I'm not a big coaster guy so I did not go. Did not do Matterhorn (did not want to ride single-file with our son), and didn't get to Splash because of scheduling (only did GRR on our way back to hotel pool). The 'dark' rides at DL just didn't appeal to us much, and we didn't care to wait in any sort of line for them. Again, we aren't there for that nostalgia, so it wasn't worth it to us... where we enjoy the Monsters Inc. ride a lot, the Haunted Mansion is just a dark nothing-burger for us Sorry!!! CHARACTERS The characters were awesome, and we did enjoy the spontaneity in both parks, something you don't see at WDW. We did both Disney Visa Cardmembers Meet & Greets... DL's was Darth Vader, and it was incredible. Maybe the best meet we've ever done. Vader talked to DS about joining the dark side, it was spectacular. Felt so personal. At DCA, the Visa Experience wasn't as good. We met Minnie in an area that felt like it was thrown together, and she wasn't quite as engaging. But the other character meets were awesome. There's a pavilion back behind Goofy's Sky School where Pixar characters rotate through right now with Pixar Fest... I couldn't find it on the app or maps, but these were awesome. We met both Buzz & Woody (at the same time), and Mr. & Mrs. Incredible. We missed Mike & Sulley (these were the 3 character groups that rotated every half hour), but that was okay. The Incredibles in particular were amazing with our kids, especially our 5-month old. Really cool to feel like they were parents relating to us as parents. Met Mickey and Minnie in Toontown at their homes, and also ran into Goofy and Pluto back there. Really fun time there (I don't mean to hate on DL... this was a great part of that park!). Also met Rey and Chewbacca in the SW Launch Bay after Vader... both awesome. I also have to say how awesome ALL of the characters were with our DD... she was so engaged with them, it was a joy to see. SHOWS Wednesday we watched Together Forever from the middle of Main Street (right by Penny Arcade), and I thought it was the greatest show ever. Then Thursday we watched PTN, and that became the greatest show ever. You can't go wrong with either. Wow. Just amazing. Caught the Pixar Play Parade on Friday--it was fun! But not worth staking out a spot for, like the fireworks or PTN. FOOD Not bad, did counter service for most all meals. Flo's was great, Cozy Cone soft serve was awesome, Alien Pizza Planet was probably the best value, and Boardwalk Pizza/Pasta was solid. Did Goofy's Kitchen Tuesday night, which was probably the best character meal we've ever done. PCH Grill for breakfast Saturday wasn't the high note I was hoping for... but fun enough. Wouldn't do that one again, but would return to Goofy's in a heartbeat. MINOR COMPLAINTS There were just two negative CM experiences, and both happened on the final day (Friday). First, we were taking advantage of EMH at DCA and asked the CM for a Rider Swap for Guardians around 8:30 (Park opened to us at 8:00, and public at 9:00). She commented that we didn't need one, as the wait was only 5 minutes. DW asked if she could guarantee us a 5-minute wait, and CM said 'maybe 7-8 minutes'. We insisted on the Rider Swap, and she finally gave in... which is a darn good thing, because by the time DW and DS got off the ride, the public was in the park and there was a 45-minute wait. Really, really unbelievable that she didn't want to do that for us. We knew lines were coming, and she should have, too.... that extra hour is part of why we paid the ridiculous premium to stay at the DLH. Later that morning, DW and DS rode GRR and got a Rider Swap. When CM's do this, they basically add a FP to your tickets for a return time in the near future. Well this CM put the return time in for about 45 minutes in the future, so when DS and I went to ride on the Rider Swap our time was about a half hour away. This was our last stop before going back to the hotel for our noon-ish break, so we did not want to wait. I tried explaining the situation, and the CM told me "that's a Fastpass, not a Rider Swap".... Before I could explain his own system to him, the guy in front of me said "Here, we've got 3 extra tickets from people who chickened out, just use ours". So it worked out without bringing in a manager... but, you would think that CM's who scan tickets would know how the system works. A similar situation happened previously in the week, and they let us go no problem. MISC. COMMENTS Overall, we didn't wait more than 20 minutes in any line... MP/FP is pretty excellent and a great value at $10 per person (ESPECIALLY with all the photos you get! holy cow!). The Rider Swap is really great, too, as it allowed both my wife and I to enjoy everything with our son. It would have been nice to take him together, but at least we each got to experience everything with him (and he got to experience it all twice!). I did think there was a little pressure to maximize the MP and keep planning throughout the day... it would be time to book another MP, but I wasn't sure what to do.... but I felt like I had better do something, or else I'm wasting MP! So in that regard it can be nice to just have your FP+ set up at WDW ahead of time, and not be as worried about setting up MP's throughout the day. However, by the end of the trip we had it working well for us, and we had an excellent final night at DCA, finishing with RSR at night as our final ride. 3 of our 4 days were Grad Nights... While they weren't huge problems, you could really start to notice the crowds of teenagers later in the evening. Most were respectful, and I even took a photo for one group who thanked me a lot afterward. I get that it's a fun thing for SoCal kids to do, a rite of passage so to speak... but, I'll probably avoid Grad Nights when planning future trips. I think that's about it... just my general thoughts. We will surely be back some day when DD is older. But it was a really spectacular trip, and we thoroughly enjoyed our time at DLR. Thanks to all on this board who post so much useful information, it was invaluable in helping us plan.