Updated on 1/11/18 - A 2017 Valentine's Day Trip

Discussion in 'Disneyland Trip Reports' started by MyWndrlnd, Jan 11, 2017.

  1. MyWndrlnd

    MyWndrlnd Earning My Ears

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    To skip to the TR click the links below:
    Day 1 - LAX, Prime Time Shuttle, Desert Palm Hotel and Suites
    Day 2 - Oak Glen and DTD
    Day 3 - USS Iowa
    Day 4 - DLR/DCA and WOC Dessert Package
    Day 5 - DLR/DCA Blue Bayou Valentine's Day lunch and the MSEP

    The Cast
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    1. Brooke (Me)- 31, Disneyland addict and proud of it. I have been going to Disneyland ever since I could walk. With an aunt who lives close by and a best friend who is just as Disney-crazy as me, I have been lucky enough to continue going each year.
    2. Ean (Husband) - 34, not really a Disneyland addict but he definitely enjoys going. This will be his 4th time going to the parks and his 3rd time going with me. I don't think he has an innate love of Disney but he enjoys my excitement over it and gets sucked in by it.
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    The Plan (Feb 10-15)
    We got married last year and have decided to take one last adults only Disneyland trip before we start a family. Since neither of us have ever been to the park during Valentine's Day, we decided it would be the perfect time to go!
    • The Flight: We are flying Alaska Airlines into LAX on Friday Feb 10 after work. We typically fly into SNA, however, Alaska was having a really good sale on tickets to LAX and we got our 2 non-stop round trip tickets for less than $250. Woohoo! We also bit the bullet and signed up for TSA PreCheck recently. This will be our maiden voyage with this feature so I'm hoping it makes LAX more bearable.
    • The Hotel: We are staying at the Desert Palms Hotel & Suites. We've stayed at the Clarion in the past but the last couple times have been unpleasant, so we are hoping we have better luck with this new hotel. The reviews are really positive so I'm hopeful! With a free breakfast, free parking, and being walkable to the parks I am very excited about this hotel. I got a great deal through my union which made it about $200 less than any other travel website. Double woohoo!
    • The Activities in DLR/DCA: We are only going to Disneyland for two days, Feb 13 & 14. We have WOC Dessert Party reservations for the 13th and Blue Bayou Reservations on the 14th. I was amazed when I went online for the BB reservations 48 days in advance and the only thing available was one lunchtime slot! I was glad I was able to snag that last time slot at 1:40pm!
      We will also be watching the Main Street Electrical Parade on the 14th. I am so excited!
      I also can't wait to see the new Soarin!
    • The Activities Outside DLR/DCA: We have 2 non-Disney days on Feb 11 & 12 and have a car rental for these days. We are thinking of going to see the USS Iowa and possibly Universal Studios since neither of us have been there in 20+ years.

    Past Trip Reports are in my signature below. :-)
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2018
  2. EsmeCullen

    EsmeCullen Mouseketeer

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    Sounds like an amazing trip. Universal is a great experience, especially with the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter, but that part of Universal is always insanely crowded.
     
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  4. MyWndrlnd

    MyWndrlnd Earning My Ears

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    I was worried about the crowds at Wizarding World of Harry Potter but I think it might be worth it. The photos I've seen of that area are amazing! If we go, I will have to buy a wand and robe there!:wizard:
     
  5. kaitmaree

    kaitmaree Mouseketeer

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    That wedding photo is beautiful! :lovestruc Hope you have a wonderful trip, we'll be there around the same time.
     
  6. jenng1983

    jenng1983 Disney fanatic in Canada

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    We went for Valentine's Day last year. Personally, I didn't have a good time, and will never go on Valentine's Day again, but SO many people enjoyed it!! !
     
  7. MyWndrlnd

    MyWndrlnd Earning My Ears

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    Thank you! The Mickey & Minnie cake topper was part of DH proposal so it was great to have it on the day of our wedding as well. Plus, what better photo to use than the one with Disney in it! :-)

    Disneyland can vary so much at different times of the year. It really is about finding the time of year that works best for you. I've been in late February and enjoyed it so I am anticipating much the same this trip. :-)
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2017
  8. jenng1983

    jenng1983 Disney fanatic in Canada

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    Totally! I loved the rest of our trip, and would go back in February in a heartbeat. But would avoid Superbowl parade/Valentines Day/Presidents Day
     
  9. Frozen2014

    Frozen2014 DIS Veteran

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    Following. Great that you'll see Disney and also get to Universal. Would love to hear how you find Desert Palms. We considered that one too. You hear lots of good things about the WOC Dessert party and Blue Bayou.
    Congrats on your marriage last year. Romantic time to go to Disney!
     
  10. MyWndrlnd

    MyWndrlnd Earning My Ears

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    I totally understand that! My no-go time is the last half of December near the holidays and New Years Eve. I have been in the parks on NYE, new years day, and right around Christmas and the intensity of the crowds was a bit too much for me. I am glad I went and experienced that once in my lifetime, but once was more than enough for me! :scared:

    I will report back about the Desert Palms. I am really hoping it turns out well because it is so close to the parks and has several included amenities that are invaluable to me (breakfast, parking, etc.). Some friends of ours and their two daughters went down to DLR last October and we just found out last week that they had stayed at the Desert Palms Hotel. They said they LOVED it and would definitely go again so I am really excited now! :cool1:

    We've done the WOC Dessert Package before and I really enjoyed it. Nothing really beats the opportunity to sit down after a long day and enjoy a drink and some tasty desserts. The drinks were VERY WEAK but that didn't really bother me since I don't like alcohol but my friend and DH were quick to point out that it tasted like there wasn't any alcohol in it. I wish they would let adults have one of those light up WOC cups, I think they are really fun but it is only for children 10 (or is it 12?) and younger. I am also excited to see the older version of WOC. I wasn't a big fan of their Diamond Celebration WOC show.

    I am a wondering what the BB will be like since POC will be closed for refurbishment. I am hoping that at the very least it still has water and isn't drained. But even if it doesn't and the ride is bone dry I'll be happy because a) I'm at Disneyland! and b) the BB is tasty no matter what.
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2017
  11. MyWndrlnd

    MyWndrlnd Earning My Ears

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    We're back! As with my other TR, I will try to give some helpful things I learned and include plenty of pictures. :-)

    Highlights/Main Thoughts
    1. NEVER USE PRIME TIME SHUTTLE. EVER. This was the worst shuttle experience I have ever had with the worst customer service I have ever encountered. After reading reviews when we returned home, this appears to be the norm for this company. Details below.
    2. The Desert Palm Hotel and Suites was ok, but for immediate future trips to Disneyland I will be staying at the Clarion and for future trips when we have kids I will probably find a different hotel. Details below.
    3. The USS Iowa is a really cool attraction if you have any history (or in my case, engineering) buffs in your group.
    4. I love the WOC Dessert Package. This was our second time doing it and I don't think I can ever go back to the general FP option. LOVE THIS.
    5. Blue Bayou Valentine's Day seafood special was a bit disappointing. I loved the lobster but the rest of the dish was only so-so.
    6. The park crowds weren't too bad but it was surprisingly busy for a Monday and Tuesday.
    Warning, our arrival day wasn't a great start so it might not be the most upbeat read. However, all the other days were terrific so keep reading, it gets better! :P

    Day 1
    First a mini rant about Prime Time Shuttle (PTS) because this is how our trip began. We arrived at LAX 10 minutes early, touching down at about 10:05pm. I had booked and pre-paid a Prime Time Shuttle transfer and they sent me several confirmation emails telling us to meet the shuttle at 10:40pm (based on our flight information). They gave us no information about where to meet the shuttle and we were fortunate enough to find it on our own and arrive at exactly 10:40pm for our reservation.

    When we checked in with the employee at the curb she seemed surprised to see us and was very rude, unhelpful, and apathetic. Apparently, PTS didn't dispatch a shuttle for us and we didn't get on the van until 11:15pm. We then saw a sign that said all PTS make an additional trip around the airport, a fact that was not disclosed anywhere on their website or their confirmation email. After the additional loop, during which we picked up one other passenger so there was now 3 of us, the driver then parked the van at the curb and got out to talk to the employee at the curb. It was 11:40pm at this point and after waiting 10 minutes like this my DH got out to ask why we weren't leaving for the hotel. We were told:
    • We were waiting for a party on a delayed flight with no specified arrival time
    • That the 7 passenger van couldn't leave the airport without being at least half filled (again, never mentioned on the website or confirmation emails)
    • That if we didn't want to spend hours at the airport at midnight on a Friday we should have booked their private service and could do so now.
    I will not get into all the details of what happened after that but needless to say, the van finally pulled away from the curb and made its way to Anaheim. We arrived at the hotel about 1am. I had been up since 3:30am that day and hadn't slept more than 4 hours a night for the last two weeks. My mood at this point wasn't a pleasant one.

    Now for my thoughts on the Desert Palms Hotel and Suites...

    As I mentioned above, we checked in at about 1am and we requested a room that was on the back side away from the street noise. We were told that we were being upgraded to a suite and put in room 225... Here are a few important points for anyone considering staying in this hotel:
    • Room 225 is not a suite. It is a very dysfunctional room and my DH suspected it was their "free upgrade" room that was probably worse than the standard room we booked. The main complaints I have with this room are a) it has a giant frosted window into the bedroom area that acts as a nightlight ALL NIGHT, b) it has a really noisy fan, and c) The bathroom/vanity area had a really odd shape to it and they tried to jam an armoire into the back corner which was basically unusable due to the angle of the walls.
    • This hotel has no blackout curtains, it only has shutters. Sunlight starts streaming in about 6am no matter how tightly you close the shutters.
    • If you are on floor 2 you must use a completely different elevator that isn't even in the main building and also doesn't connect to the floor breakfast is served on. This means that you will have to take your special elevator down to the lobby, get off, go to the main elevator in the main building, and then take that to the 5th floor for breakfast.
    • Breakfast was very disappointing. We only went once and after seeing the food we never went again.
    • Mattresses in all the rooms we stayed in were very hard and very bouncy.
    • All the vanity areas in both rooms we stayed in were light by a very harsh light that surrounded the mirror and blinded you. But because there was no other lighting option in that area you are forced to use that light.
    • Every employee we interacted with was very pleasant and helpful.
    • The real suites are very comfortable (still no blackout curtains though). On the 2nd night, after not sleeping more than 3 hours because of the nightlight frosted window in 225, we were moved to room 467 which was a real suite. It was a very comfortable room and had a full kitchen which was really nice.
    • The location is excellent for Disneyland. It is right behind Cars Land and there is only one crosswalk between the hotel and the parks with is really nice.
    • It is next door to National Car Rental which was super convenient for picking up and dropping off the rental car.
    Room 225 Entry Room (notice the frosted window)
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    Room 225 Heading into Bedroom Area (notice the giant fan in the wall)
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    Room 225 Bedroom Area
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    Room 225 Vanity Area (notice the light around the mirror, it was A LOT brighter in person)
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    Room 225 Dysfunctional Armoire (notice the drawer doesn't even pull out because the door is blocked by the wall)
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    In contrast, Room 467 was great. Here is the Entry into the kitchen and Living Room Areas
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    Room 467 Kitchen/Vanity Areas
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    Room 467 Bathroom (same as bathroom in 225)
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    Room 467 Bedroom (notice the blanket hanging over the shutters to block out the sun)
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    Room 467 Vanity Area as seen from the bedroom
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    Up next, I finally get a good nights sleep which vastly improves the entire trip for me and we explore Oak Glen and the USS Iowa!
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2018
  12. MyWndrlnd

    MyWndrlnd Earning My Ears

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    Day 2

    Our first full day in SoCal started with us sampling the Desert Palms Hotel and Suites breakfast for the first time. It was not very good and we did not eat there again. After that, we changed rooms and went to pick up the rental car. It was SUPER convenient to have the car rental right next door. No need for a long trek when picking it up or dropping it off. The free parking at the hotel was also a really nice amenity and hassle-free.

    After we picked up the car we headed to Oak Glen. I went here as a kid and remembered it being really fun. As an adult...? Not so much. It was great to revisit for the sake of nostalgia but not as exciting as I remembered as a kid. Then again, it was the off-season so who knows. Although I must say, the pies and Apple Annie's is almost worth the trip all by itself.
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    Oak Glen is also known for the roaming peacocks and they were out in force that day.
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    After spending a few hours here we headed back to Anaheim. We hadn't made any reservations for dinner that night and decided to try our luck at Catal in DTD. They were completely booked solid with no room for walk-ups so we ended up eating at the Uva Bar. I got their steak and fries and I can't remember what DH ordered. It was tasty. Nothing to fancy but it was just what I wanted.

    After dinner, we wandered around DTD for a while and I snapped some photos. After that, we headed back to the hotel and went to bed early.
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    Last edited: Jan 14, 2018
  13. MyWndrlnd

    MyWndrlnd Earning My Ears

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    Day 3

    This was our USS Iowa day. It was a really neat self-guided tour and I would recommended it to others, especially if you have history or military buffs in your group.

    We woke up and got ready in our much more functional room. We picked up my aunt and uncle and drove off to Long Beach to explore the ship. DH really enjoyed this day- the weather was perfect, the ship tour was right up his alley, and we ended the day with the butter cake from California Pizza Kitchen (YUM!).

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    Executive Officer's State Room
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    A map of all the places the ship had been deployed[​IMG]
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    Where President Roosevelt stayed while onboard. Fun fact, they installed a bathtub in this state room's bathroom so that the president could continue his therapeutic baths while on board.
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    Proof that I would get hopelessly lost if left to navigate for myself on the ship.
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    The picture my DH (who is an electrical engineer) sent all his co-workers.
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    After touring the USS Iowa, we ate a late lunch/early dinner at California Pizza Kitchen in Long Beach before dropping my aunt and uncle off and returning the rental car.

    After not sleeping more than 3-4 hours a night for 2 weeks straight and battling a head cold, I knew I had to break out the big guns to prepare for Disney the next day. I ended up finally sleeping that night after taking melatonin, theanine, and ibuprofen PM. I was so glad because I didn't want to be tired the next day for DISNEY! :-)
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2018
  14. MyWndrlnd

    MyWndrlnd Earning My Ears

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    Day 4

    OUR FIRST DISNEY DAY! Unlike previous trips, I didn't really have a plan. We had WOC Dessert Package reservations for that night, but other than that we just wandered around and did things on a whim.

    We started the day at DLR and after riding a few rides, we decided to poke around Toon Town and visit Mickey's House. We didn't wait to meet him since the line was so long but I always enjoy the fun designs in TT.
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    As we left TT we saw that the next show for Mickey and the Magical Map was about to start so we stopped in to catch it. I am always impressed with the live shows at Disney.
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    While we were there, we took a trip over to the dark side and met this intimidating fellow.
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    We then decided to pop over to DCA for a little while. We rode the new Soarin' and Ariel.
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    As we were walking around DCA Chip and Dale were being very playful and fun and I stopped to snap a few photos. They were hiding behind the churro cart.
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    He found this sweater on top of a stroller and decided it looked good on him!
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    I love the Animation Studios room. I could spend all day here.
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    Soon it was time for our WOC Dessert Package reservations so we made our way over to DCA once again to check in and select our seat. They don't allow check-in until 7:30pm for our 8:15pm show and we had some time to kill before check-in so I wandered around Paradise Pier and played with the camera.
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    We were the 6th or 7th party to be checked in and we chose a tall table in the front row. It was a perfect view. My only complaint is that people allow balloons to float up into the view of the show even after Cast Members asked them to pull them down and out of sight for the sake of the people behind them. It didn't really impede our view too much but I've had a very hard time seeing around them when I am in the general viewing area.

    Waiting to check in.
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    The view from our seats.
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    The show was absolutely wonderful. They have gone back to the original format which makes me so happy. I wasn't a big fan of the 60th anniversary show.

    Once the show ended the park was closed. DLR was still open for about 40 more minutes so we hopped over and rode Peter Pan before calling it a night and heading back to the hotel.
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2018
  15. Canadian Harmony

    Canadian Harmony DIS Veteran

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    None of the photos are showing :(
     
  16. MyWndrlnd

    MyWndrlnd Earning My Ears

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    I saw that yesterday. No idea why they disappeared but I won't be able to fix it until the weekend. :-( But I promise I'll fix it :-)
     
  17. Canadian Harmony

    Canadian Harmony DIS Veteran

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    Yay! I'm really enjoying your TR so far!
     
  18. MyWndrlnd

    MyWndrlnd Earning My Ears

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    Day 5

    Ok, a year later and I am ready to start the next post for this trip. Yikes! I won't lie, I was prompted to do so because we are going back in late February and I realized I hadn't completed my TR for this trip. The 2nd day in Disneyland was similar to the first. We rode rides...
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    Enjoyed Fantasyland...

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    And witnessed shoes that terrified me when worn to Disneyland...
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    The best part of our 2nd day at Disneyland was seeing the Main Street Electrical Parade and our Blue Bayou Valentines Day lunch!!!

    At the BB I got their Valentines Seafood Special and while I enjoyed the lobster tail, I wasn't thrilled with the rest of the food in that special and I wouldn't wouldn't get it again. Regardless, it was so terrific to spend Valentines Day at the BB, it was the perfect way to celebrate.

    I was so excited to see this parade, I remembered seeing it as a kid many years ago and I was thrilled that I had the opportunity to do so again as an adult.

    The parade was amazing and I may have just been a little picture-obsessed...
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    We flew home the next day and ended our trip on a high note when we got a first class upgrade. Yay!
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    Last edited: Jan 14, 2018

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