It's Been More Than Two Decades, but I'm Finally Going "Home"!-A DLR PTR *updated 1/9*

Discussion in 'Disneyland Trip Reports' started by ashw100, Oct 27, 2017.

  1. ashw100

    ashw100 DIS Veteran

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    That title may be a tad hyperbolic, since the time I technically set foot on Disneyland Resort property was actually only 13 years ago, we’re going to go with it since I didn’t actually go to Disneyland my “home”. Let me introduce myself.

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    I’m Ashley, lover of all things Disney, full time mom to three energetic boys and part-time Disney planner. In just a couple of months I will turn the big 3-0 and yes I am dreading it, but more on that later.

    We are planning this trip, very “last minute” for us. I usually know how we will vacation over the next few years, carefully planning and saving. We weren’t supposed to hit DLR until 2019. But I had that itch, you know the one I’m talking about. I needed a Disney trip on my horizon, something to make me forget about that awful birthday coming up, so the wheels slowly started turning .

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    Now you may be looking at this and thinking, but she has a WDW trip coming up in her signature:confused3. Why yes, yes I do::yes::, but as any good Disney addict knows, one trip is never enough.

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    But before we dive too deep into the trip details just yet, let me introduce you to the rest of my family.

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    DH is more recently on the Disney train, but his excitement at this trip clearly shows how much he has converted. The practical side of him was saying we don’t need a Disneyland trip two months after our WDW one, but the crazy Disney side won! He is also about to turn 30, he’s also not a fan and works as a rental manager for a trucking company. He is a lover of all things Star Wars and Marvel and most things Disney.

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    C is my precocious 7-year-old. He wants to grow up to be a scientist or Disney imaginer and he really is my Disney kid. I would wager to say he is just a big a fan as me and if not, he will certainly be in due time. He is hesitant of the thrill rides, but I am hoping we can coax him on some rides this time around.

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    J is my sweet 5-year-old. He is shy and reserved, but pretty much melts everyone’s heart. He is very into super heroes, so I am so excited to be able to meet some Marvel guys with him. He won’t do anything thrilling, so lots of rider swaps in our future.

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    Last, we have N, my strong-willed three-year-old. Man this one is a handful, but he loves his thrills. We just took them all to the Texas State Fair and this boy loved everything. He is currently 39 inches, so we need some pixie dust to get us that extra inch in three months.

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    Trip details

    February 2-February 5

    Staying at Homewood Suites Anaheim Convention Center

    3 day, 1 park per day tickets

    Character Dining

    I am so excited for this quick trip, it’s hard to put into words. I certainly doesn’t feel real yet, but I am so overwhelmed. Even though I have been to DL before, it was so long ago and it’s so different now and different than the WDW I am used to. I hope you will join me in the Disneyland planning fun.


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  2. ashw100

    ashw100 DIS Veteran

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  4. MeghanEmily

    MeghanEmily DIS Veteran

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    Hi, Ashley! :wave: So excited for you! With every DL TR I read I get more and more anxious to go there! Looking forward to hearing about your plans.
     
  5. afwdwfan

    afwdwfan DIS Dad #460

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    Disneyland???? Awesome!! This will be a fun trip! Definitely a lot has changed since your last visit!
     
  6. Lesley Wake

    Lesley Wake DIS Veteran

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    Awesome! I've been following your WDW TRs! Let me know if you need any DL advice or want to meet up at all!
     
  7. rdkeim

    rdkeim Mouseketeer

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    I'll be following along - I love Disneyland! For me it's kinda fun to plan a Disneyland trip - still Disney but requires a little different strategy.
     
  8. ashw100

    ashw100 DIS Veteran

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    I think you would love Disneyland, definitely worth at least a trip out there once.

    :rotfl2:For sure it's like two whole new parks, but Disneyland hold my early Disney memories and I can't wait to go back.

    :welcome: I might just take you up on the planning advice offer. I am a little lost so far, but thankfully there doesn't seem to be too much to plan for which is nice. Are you a local there? I am always down for a DIS meet :thumbsup2

    For sure, I am lost right off the bat. How do I know how to plan my days if I don't know what fastpasses I will get and for what times?? I've only done my own planning post MDE, so there will be a learning curve for sure.
     
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  9. Dugette

    Dugette DIS Veteran

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    I'm here and so excited for you! Our DLR trip was the same time of year as yours and the weather was great - we'd do it again. I bet your boys will have so much fun seeing the familiar yet different things since they've been to WDW so recently! And good luck to the little guy on that 40" mark. What I did with Izzy (who JUST squeezed by the 44" mark at WDW this last time) was to practice touching her head to my hand at home - basically making sure she knew to stand up straight (but not on tiptoes) and not be shy to touch her head to the bar above her. Have fun with your planning!
     
  10. Dugette

    Dugette DIS Veteran

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    On the height - one other note. If he's really on the edge by that point, know that at least in WDW (and probably DLR), the signs are not totally consistent. She literally bonked her head on the measuring stick outside Everest, but was told she was definitely too short outside Mission Space Orange (but the stick inside the entrance agreed she just made it and they let her in). So, if you try one, try them all. :)
     
  11. Lesley Wake

    Lesley Wake DIS Veteran

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    Yup, I live about 45 minutes away. And go to the parks pretty often! For a while there it was nearly every Saturday at least for a few hours!

    For DLR, there isn't as much advanced planning required. It's pretty much only big-ticket dining reservations!

    Some tips:
    Tickets: noticed you are doing base tickets. I think that is a good start, but after you get there and start touring you can consider whether park hoppers are useful for you! It is so easy to hop between parks I often do it multiple times each visit. But you can always add on hoppers once you are there. With a 3-day base tickets I would normally say 2-days Disneyland and 1-day California Adventure, but your boys may love any Marvel and Carsland stuff at DCA you will want to spend more time there!

    Transport: because you will be next door to the Toy Story Lot, you can take advantage of the park buses rather than walking/driving. Anyone can walk in off Harbor Blvd and hop on the buses. Those buses come and go constantly so there isn't much, or any, of a wait.

    MaxPass: Absolutely get it, at least for 1-2 days! It is so much more convenient to book via your phone vs having to run around the park. For a WDW vet, it would be more familiar with MP. And then you get photopass. Though you will be at a lower crowd time, so if you need to save money you can always skip for a day or two!

    Dining-here are places I would consider for ADRs:
    Fantasmic package-this is key! It is the only way to get a seated spot for Fantasmic; almost all FP areas are standing room only, which can be a huge pain for kids. The dining areas are front and center and everyone sits on the ground. Blue Bayou, while it is pricier, is worth it! The food is great and atmosphere awesome. I don't know yet if River Belle Terrace will be reopen by February, or if it will be Cafe Orleans, but that is your other sit-down meal option. I didn't like it as much as BB, but is cheaper and maybe better atmosphere for kids? Though I'm sure they will think it's fun at BB too! With either of those, I absolutely recommend an early dinner reservation, as it will not be a long wait to be seated and you can do things afterwards. I did a 4:30 BB reservation and had a 10 minute wait for a water table; meanwhile I had a 7pm River Belle reservation and it took 45 min to get seated! One last option is Hungry Bear, which is the cheapest. You basically get a meal to-go, which you can eat at the tables at Hungry Bear. And as long as you show up early enough you can get an awesome view for Fantasmic.

    For character breakfasts, there is Plaza Inn inside Disneyland and Storytellers Cafe at Grand Californian. Both have unique characters who you may not see often at WDW. I haven't done either but people who have like it.

    Then there is Ariel's Grotto at DCA, which has the princesses. I like the food and atmosphere, but don't know if the boys care about princesses!

    And then there are character buffets at DLH and PPH.

    For other restaurants, I don't know how necessary they are for you guys! I prefer the counter service at DLR vs that at WDW, and those don't need ADRs!
     
  12. Jaina

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

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    So awesome! I'm excited to see how your trip goes!
     
  13. ashw100

    ashw100 DIS Veteran

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    That's a great idea we will definitely work on that. He is going to love the thrill rides, so I hope he makes it but I won't push it too much, there's always next time.

    I have heard of this and it is incredibly frustrating, hopefully we won't experience this.

    Thank you, btw I love your signature, it's a nice trip down memory lane.
     
  14. ashw100

    ashw100 DIS Veteran

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    This so incredibly helpful, thank you so much for taking the time to give me your insights. I will definitely be referencing back to this while I plan. Do you not think I need a dining package for WoC then? I planned on doing the Fantasmic one and the WoC one, but honestly I am not too thrilled with the restaurant choices for the WoC one, so I am more than willing to skip it. Also crowd levels are supposed to be at a 7 according to Touring Plans, is this pretty typical just because it's a weekend, because that seems high for a random weekend in February, especially with the Super Bowl that Sunday?
     
  15. missangelalexis

    missangelalexis DIS Veteran

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    Wow how exciting that you all are heading to DL! I look forward to hearing your plans!
     
  16. DLo

    DLo DIS Veteran

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    Still haven't made it DL and I had a milestone birthday way past you last year : ). On my bucket list for sure. Looking forward to reading about your trip . (and taking notes on the planning tips you are getting)
     
  17. mcbj

    mcbj I want to work at WDW

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    Following along! I just booked flights for my milestone 50th birthday trip in July! Haven't been to DL since I was 12. Spent my 40th at WDW photo in my avatar, need to figure out how to update that...
     
  18. ashw100

    ashw100 DIS Veteran

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    :welcome:

    Hopefully you can get some good tips here and you can make the trip to DLR soon.

    How exciting! I need to change mine too, mine's from when I still only had two kids o_O
     
  19. Lesley Wake

    Lesley Wake DIS Veteran

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    For WoC, there are 3 options: Fastpass, Dining package, or dessert party.
    FP: it's easier to get these than the FP for Fantasmic; because Fantasmic is so new the FPs run out in the first hour of park open! WoC is usually available for a while! It is standing room only, but it is tiered with planters and railings, so with kids you'd want to arrive early to get one of those spots.

    Dining package: I actually really like Ariel's Grotto. They have good food for adults, and fun food for kids (hot dog octopuses are always cute)! The dining package is only for dinner, when there are no characters. But the theming inside is very nice with really cool decorations. I haven't been to wine country trattoria in years, but it was always excellent food. Carthay Circle was fine, but definitely has a formal feel, so maybe not best for kids!
    The viewing area is standing room only as well, but because there are fewer people you don't need to worry about lining up super early to get a railing spot, though still should get there early just in case.

    Dessert: I have actually never done this! The desserts don't interest me. But it is the only option for seats, and the view is great because you are raised above people's heads. It is certainly pricier, but will guarantee a good spot, and if you instead do a counter service dinner, could work out ok!

    Crowds: I'm confused too about how high it is for a Feb weekend. I'm trying to remember typical Feb crowds, but I wasn't there this year (no AP from dec-April). Weekends can tend to fill up more when Deluxe APs aren't blocked out. I would just make sure to optimize your time on Friday. And get there early on Saturday/Sunday; APs tend to not arrive until lunchtime or later!
     
  20. ashw100

    ashw100 DIS Veteran

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    Thanks, I think we will probably just go the FP route. We'll see I am trying to keep our food budget from getting to crazy and I am want to do the Minnie Brunch and some type of Fantasmix dining package, so we'll see. The day we do WoC will be DH's actually birthday, so maybe the dessert party will be good. Ahh I don't know and I am just think aloud (or more accurately as I type :rotfl2:) we shall see.

    APs were blocked out for for 5 months?! :scared1: That's good to know though, I didn't check the AP black outs. We are just going to get there early like you said and have a good plan.
     
  21. Lesley Wake

    Lesley Wake DIS Veteran

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    Haha, no, I misspoke! I didn't have an AP for that period of time. I had one for 2014-2016. Then I thought I'd take a year off since we were doing WDW in Sept 2017. Well, that lasted only a few months before I was desperate to go back. I ended up holding out until April. Now I have learned my lesson and won't let it lapse again!

    There are 5 levels of Disneyland APs: SoCal Select, SoCal Deluxe, Deluxe, Signature, and Signature Plus (plus Premier which is for both parks). Signature Plus is 365 days a year, Signature blocks out the two weeks surrounding Christmas. Deluxe is what a lot of locals get; during the summer they are blocked out on Saturdays, plus other days throughout the year! The SoCal ones are much cheaper but insanely limited for blockout dates, most weekends and basically the entire summer.

    Excluding the christmas weeks, the lower crowd days end up being those where Deluxe passes are blocked out. So Saturday summers are much much better than Sundays. Weekdays, you will have higher crowds in evening once locals finish school/work, much more pronounced than at WDW. Even though the Deluxe passes are not blocked out during your trip, it shouldn't be too bad. The worst weekends are late spring/early fall, where all the locals are trying to go before their passes get blocked out.
     

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