Trip July 2-5 Observations on Dining, MaxPass, Hotels, July 4th and Crowds

Discussion in 'Disneyland (California)' started by OhioStateBuckeye, Jul 12, 2018.

  1. OhioStateBuckeye

    OhioStateBuckeye DIS Veteran

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    Just came back from a great California trip, we celebrated the 4th at Disneyland, then want camping at Pinnacles National Park and ended up in San Francisco and toured Lucasfilm.

    Here are my observations, let me know if you have any questions or things I could help you with!

    Flights:

    Got amazing deals with Southwest. I really won't fly with anyone else. No change fees, I would quickly check my flights each morning and if the price went down I could rebook and get a voucher for future Southwest flights.

    Airports:

    We flew into LAX. We had done a one way rental through the car comparison site Zalyn. Was very satisfied with the price. Taking the shuttle to the rental center was very easy.

    We flew out of San Francisco. We had no issues at the airport, but then again, when you get to the airport at 4:30 you often won't have issues. I thought this was a fun airport since the runway is right on the water.

    Hotel:

    I booked the Super 8 on Katella like I've booked in the past. Except...when we arrived I discovered I had not, I'd booked the one on Disneyland Drive. The Super 8 on Katella became a King's Inn. I have no idea how this happened, I am usually a militant planner and booker. Dunno if I it was being super tired from my new work hours or what. The hotel itself was nice and updated. Parking, breakfast and wifi were free.

    The walk was terrible. You had to walk around the entire Disneyland park before you could enter. We are fast walkers and it took 35 minutes. There was no way that was happening so after the first day we saved our feet and took an uber. That fluctuated in price from $5-$12. I found it easiest to be picked up at the Harbor drop off/pick up area. It was convenient to start the day being dropped off at Downtown Disney, the security lines were much shorter over there.

    Max Pass:

    Max Pass was amazing and probably saved our trip. The parks were pretty crowded and we would have had much higher wait times without this.

    Photopass was included, but to be honest we did not see many photopass photographers this trip. It seemed there were only a few in the same places and the line was always long, like the Toy Story cars in Carsland.

    We didn't have an issue signing up for this, on your first day you have to take a quick picture of everyone's ticket, and be sure to memorize your credit card three digit security number because you will have to enter it.

    So convenient to be rope dropping Peter Pan and book a Radiator Springs Racers fp.

    I think the only negative is that there is no way this $10 price point per day sticks once Galaxy's Edge opens.

    July 4th:

    The only special activities I could find were the fireworks tag on the end of the Pixar fireworks and two performances by a military band.

    I don't think the crowds were much different most of the day. Probably about 3-4 hours before fireworks Main Street started to get really slammed.

    The park was more crowded than I thought it'd be, since it was a Wednesday. We were just doing fastpass after fastpass ride but by the time we tried to find a spot for fireworks it was too late. The area by IASW was shut off because it was at capacity. Some of that Disney luck happened to kick in though, we ended up by the Storybook Land Canal boats and jumped in line. They were warning us that the boats would stop loading as soon as the fireworks started, but we boarded our boat with two minutes to spare. Our wonderful skipper steered us to a good vantage point and stopped the boat. So instead of fighting crowds and tired feet, we sat in our own little 15 person 4th of July fireworks boat. Alls well that ends well, right?

    Dining:

    I made all my ADRs in advance and was glad I did. It may have been the holiday but I found day of availability to be few and far between.

    Fantasmic Blue Bayou dinner. I just love eating at Blue Bayou. We requested a waterside table as a party of 2. We had to wait 15 minutes, which meant we were seated at our original reservation time anyway since we'd arrived early.

    We both ordered the gumbo, surf and turf and then my boyfriend had the creme brulee and I had the sorcerer mickey dessert. We both very much enjoyed our food. We got our seat cushions and tickets for the first Fantasmic.

    Seating started an hour before the showing, we were 10 minutes late and got seats in the second row back, which I kind of prefer over front row because the railing is in your view for front row.

    After the show everyone stood up and crowded forward for fireworks. On second though, I wish I'd booked this for July 4th, then we could have watched the fireworks from our area and not had to camp a spot.

    Carnation Cafe lunch. I much prefer to sit outside for this meal, I feel like the inside gets super loud. My boyfriend had the turkey sandwich which he enjoyed, and I got the sourdough bacon cheese melt, which was amazing. One thing that I did notice is that the Carl and Ellie specials were not on the menu. I didn't end up asking about it so I'm not sure what happened.

    Storytellers' Breakfast. This is the best Disney buffet I have ever eaten at. The food is so far above all the other buffets it isn't even measurable. They had taken the eggs benedict off the menu but my waiter had them make it for me anyway. The smoked salmon is also delicious. I am a bit sad that we saw Kenai a few days before he left. I guess the masses want character meals with the fab 5 characters, but I must not be part of the masses because I like seeing rare characters at meals. Even though I think the food is top notch, that was probably our last meal at Storyteller's because we can see the Fab five everywhere and I don't need to pay Disney's character buffet prices to see them.

    Lamplight Lounge dinner. This got a lot of bad reviews, but we loved it. We had the Ratatouille, which might be the best thing I ate over the course of the trip, and also the Lobster Nachos which were great. I think the drink effect they do with the non alcoholic Infinity Fizz is one the best drink effects I've seen.
    I had the open ocean with a splash which was delicious.

    Also, this ADR is going to be so coveted once WOC starts back up. We sat downstairs at the bar and would have had a great view had the show happened.

    We also had lunch at Trader Sam's one day, which was awesome as always. They were out of the new piranha cup which made me sad.

    Well that is a very brief overview...anyone have any specific questions I can help you with?
     
  2. Lesley Wake

    Lesley Wake May the force be with you!

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    That sounds awesome! What great luck!

    When I ate there, they had (plastic?) versions of the specials by the front door. I planned on getting the tv dinner, so asked about it, but I don't remember seeing anything on the menu either.
     
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  4. Kkb0517

    Kkb0517 Mouseketeer

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    What is the infinity fizz drink?
     
  5. OhioStateBuckeye

    OhioStateBuckeye DIS Veteran

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    Ah well that explains it, I didn't notice anything by the door and I was thinking they'd either taken them off the menu or only had them for dinner.



    That is a link to a youtube video, we saw four of these drinks delivered at a time and it just looked really cool.
     
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  6. theluckyrabbit

    theluckyrabbit Moderator Moderator

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    The Super 8 on Disneyland Dr. gets good reviews as a budget option. There's a trick to the walk, which doesn't have to be terrible at all. Go straight down Disneyland Dr. (south) to Magic Way, cross at the light (west), and take the path (on that corner) right into the M&F lot for the tram. Bag check there is quick -- never takes more than a few minutes. Usually there is a tram right there waiting to load. The walk from the Super 8 to the M&F tram is probably about 10 minutes or so, depending on the signal at Ball Rd. (which can take a little longer since it is a major street).
    Glad to hear that you had a good trip!
     
  7. FoxC63

    FoxC63 DIS Veteran

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    Awesome! Thanks for this. July 4th was a Wednesday so no MM/EMH at Disneyland Park, I assume it opened at 8am? What time did you get there? Was Peter Pan a long wait? Do you remember all the rides you did? Did you notice what popcorn buckets they had?

    Bummer about the PhotoPass Photographers, I was planning on using this service a lot during our first trip.

    Oh, did you met Redd? What characters did you meet?

    Kinda bummed to see Matterhorn and Tiki Room in refurbishment during our trip. We leave Aug 12. First day in park will be Monday, Aug 13th and will follow thru Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. I had planned on spending half a day at Downtown Disney but have been advised against it due to it's small size. Might end up adding another park day. I created my own thread if you have time to take a look see: here

    Need more details sister!
     
  8. PHXscuba

    PHXscuba Mouseketeer since birth!

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    The Storybookland Canals Boats sound like an amazing place to watch fireworks. I'd never be able to time it right if I tried!

    Glad you had a great trip and got out before it got super hot. I want to hear about touring Lucaafilm!! (seeing Lucas' amazing library is a bucket list item for me)

    PHXscuba
     
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  9. Jkpark

    Jkpark DIS Veteran

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    Your trip sounds very similar to ours a few days before you. Agree with so much of what you posted.

    I had the same thoughts on Storytellers. Pluto had already replaced Meeko who used to be there, and now Mickey will replace Kenai - I do love Chip and Dale though. It was such a relaxing character buffet with great food. I figure it will get more crowded with the character changes and we also made the comment we probably would skip this in the future.

    We also were impressed with Lamplight Lounge - we had the Lobster Nachos and the Carne Asada roll - both were great, Any my daughter got one of those drinks after seeing them everywhere. Effect was fantastic but she didn't actually like the drink - lesson learned. This will be on our wishlist each trip.

    We also ate at Carnation Cafe and it was our first time dining there. I always cancel bc the kids want something else and this time I stuck with it. We enjoyed our food and liked being inside. It wasn't too crowded (loud) and the break from the heat was welcome. The iced tea refills were also fantastic.

    And MaxPass is a game changer.
     
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  10. FoxC63

    FoxC63 DIS Veteran

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  11. OhioStateBuckeye

    OhioStateBuckeye DIS Veteran

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    We actually did this our last night when everyone's phone died and the backup battery charger was dead so we couldn't call an uber (thanks PlayDisneyParks app). We didn't have a great experience getting on the trams. The waiting area was very crowded and there were no queue rails, so everyone just shoved forward when the next tram arrived. It did cut down on the walk, however. This might have been a better option for us in arriving at the parks, as I don't think we'd have had the same crowd issues.

    I was shocked we got on a boat, I thought we were going to just get cut off.

    I'm actually not sure how much I'm allowed to say about Lucasfilm, but it was fantastic! I am going to post some pictures on my instagram though, my username is rjrook. We did find out that our amazing Lucasfilm friend can have people to the Skywalker Ranch, so that will be our next trip!

    Oh I am sure Storytellers will probably see more business now, which frustrates me. Come on people, throw the rarer characters a bone they're getting tosses out on the street! I'm thinking of Q bert from Wreck it Ralph.

    That is too bad about the drink, bet it was fun to look at though! Where did you guys sit? We were at the bar facing Mickey's wheel of death, which would have been great seats if WOC was happening.

    With our Fantasmic meal we got the starter (gumbo or salad). I'm not sure if this is still included with the regular meals or not.
     
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  12. OhioStateBuckeye

    OhioStateBuckeye DIS Veteran

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    Yeah DL opened at 8 on July 4th, DCA had the early hour for hotel guests.

    We made it to the park before opening that day. We were kind of far back in the pack though, farther than I like to be. I think if you aren't among the first mass to make it to Peter Pan it is better to get in line a few minutes before park close.

    The only buckets I noticed were the yellow Mickey balloon, Sulley from Monster's Inc and the Star Wars AT-AT.

    Well, we might have just been in the wrong place at the wrong time for photopass. I have seen more photographers on past trips so don't be discouraged.

    We actually never saw Redd. Characters are usually a big part of our trip, and I even had KennyThePirate's finder, but we just didn't chance upon many.

    That said, we did meet some and I have some tips.

    Character Tips:

    -during the Pixar parade, check back at Snow White's wishing well. While the parade is happening the hub entrance to the wishing well is blocked off, however, you can still enter that path right as you go thru the castle. Aurora was meeting back there and was spending loads of time with each group because there were so few people.

    -try getting in line for the Princess Hall right as a fairytale show starts (Beauty and the Beast and Tangled). We did this and thought it was shorter and only waited 10 minutes. We saw Cinderella, Ariel and Snow White. All were good interactions.

    -we met Elastigirl next to the Incredicoaster early morning. Her area was out in the sun and was very hot later in the day. Meeting her early morning we were just able to walk right up and not wait. Also, if you want to play any of the Pixar Pier games go early. These got super crowded as the day goes on. We really wanted Mo from the Wall-e game. Since we had MaxPass we grabbed a Racers fp and went immediately to the games at rope drop. Since he is a smaller prize we played just the two of us so we were guaranteed to get him.

    -I wouldn't go out of my way, but if you happen to be around IASW in the afternoon glance toward the clock tower raised dias area. We found Peter Pan picking out guests to help him tell the story of Cinderella. Just when he started to tell the story Gaston came striding up and interrupted and tried to make everything about him. It was pretty funny.

    -In midday a lot of random characters seem to roam the Fantasyland area by the tea cups and the Matterhorn. The characters won't allow lines to form but feel free to walk up and talk with them as they walk. Captain Hook escorted me a good distance and offered me his arm. I've also exchanged terrible jokes with the Mad Hatter and Alice as they strolled.

    -one of our best interaction was at Launch Bay, if you have a Disney visa you can meet Darth Vader and he had no wait. We had Mo with us at the time, I told Vader he was a cleaner droid so maybe he heard people talking and so Vader spent the whole meet threatening poor little Mo. Ray was also a lot of fun and had no wait.

    We wanted to see Marvel characters, but a lot of them didn't come out until noon and we were never in that area at that time. We did end up walking past Capt America on the 4th of July, he had a huge line with people in various states of patriotic dress.

    That is too bad about Tiki Room and Matterhorn. I would check as you walk by Tiki Room though, I wonder if the Tiki Room side Dole Whip line will be open and people won't think to go in there since the attraction is closed.

    I agree that Downtown Disney isn't worth that much time. Adding a park day is such low cost at that point I definitely would! Even if you don't go in the whole day, you could use that to focus on a nighttime show or something like that.
     
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  13. FoxC63

    FoxC63 DIS Veteran

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    Thanks for all of this I really appreciate you taking the time!
     
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  14. Piglet99645

    Piglet99645 DIS Veteran

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    Quick MaxPass question since you were just there...... have the rules changed about how often you can get a maxpass/fastpass?

    I'm working on a tourinplans itinerary, and it's telling me to get three fastpasses in a row. In the past you had to wait 2 hours or until your next pass was active - whichever came first. I'm assuming touringplans is just being glitchy, but wanted to check and I can't find the answer with any search I can come up with.

    Thanks.

    P.
     
  15. cmarsh31

    cmarsh31 DIS Veteran

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    Just got back yesterday - 90 minutes or until you use your FP before you can book another. I hated that you couldn't choose a time. Sometimes I wanted to grab one for 2 hours from the current time, but all I could get was in less than a hour, etc.
     
  16. smartlabelprint

    smartlabelprint DIS Veteran

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    90 minutes between maxpasses.
    2 hours between fast passes.
     
  17. Skyegirl1999

    Skyegirl1999 1st pickle of the day!

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    To get three in a row without using any of them, they'd have to be 30 minutes or less out, and you'd have to wait 30 minutes in between. 90 minutes is the maximum you wait in between with Maxpass, though.
     
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  18. OhioStateBuckeye

    OhioStateBuckeye DIS Veteran

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    Three other people beat me to it, so yes, what they said :)

    The only time the 90 minutes really affected us was when we wanted a FP for Racers, Incredicoaster, Indy or Space. The rest of the time I could find fastpasses that were much closer in time for everything else.
     
  19. minniecarousel

    minniecarousel Chris Isaak fan

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    Oooh...I’m looking forward to new characters at Storytellers. We only go for a character meal for our grandchildren. The 4 year-old knows Mickey & friends. While he loved Pluto & Chip n’ Dale, he didn’t know who the others were.
     
  20. Piglet99645

    Piglet99645 DIS Veteran

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    Thanks all. Sorry for the hijack.
     
  21. AustinTink

    AustinTink DIS Veteran

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    That made me smile. My husband could not care less about character pics, but I'm sure he would stand in line for QBert.
     
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