Just a short little update....
In an effort to prepay as much as possible, I bought our DLE tickets last week. GAT has a fantastic deal - $12 each way! For 6 one-way tickets, it cost $72. Not bad at all! I'd recommend this to anyone planning to use DLE - each leg of the trip was $8 savings per ticket. The tickets arrived Friday and are now in the binder. I decided to hold off on reserving the rental car. Right now all of the deals end in June, so I'm holding out to see if we can get a discount or free upgrades. We can't go with an economy car because of the wheelchair, so upgrades would be my choice.
MONEY, MONEY, MONEY, MONNNNEEEEYYY....
I don't use credit cards for travel, so a big part of preparing for the trip is pulling together all of the funds to make it happen. We are well on our way - saving faster than anticipated! In an effort to keep from spending funds on other things, I picked up a gift cards this week to add to the trip binder. We don't have a Disney store here, so the money is now safely waiting for our travels! The remaining money we'll need will have to stay in my account for hotels, car, and non-Disney expenses, so that's where willpower comes into play. I can do it! I can do it!
I loved the suggestion to ship thing to the hotel! Since DD will be the only person who is able to carry things during the travel portion of the trip, I worry that she'll hurt herself trying to get everything to rental cars, shuttles, and the like. I checked out UPS, and it works out to be roughly $1/pound if I use UPS Ground. It only takes 2 days, so it will take some trust and coordination. Either I send it the day before we leave and have it arrive at the hotel a day early, or trust someone here at home to send it the day we fly out. I have time to make that choice, so I'm not going to worry too much Since shipping is possible, I have more options for buying cheap supplies! I can find things on sale over the next few months.
LISTS AND DISCOUNT SHOPPING
Since shipping is possible, I have more options for buying cheap supplies! I can find things on sale over the next few months. I have a black belt in economical shopping practices, so this should be fun! Just about everything we need will go on sale between now and then, so I'll start stocking up as soon as I can.
Even though it's really early, we've already started assembling our packing and shipping lists. If I update the list everytime I think of something, I'm less likely to forget something when the time comes. I told you I was a crazy, obsessive planner!
Well, that's it for now. Thanks again for tagging along for this planning journey!
So glad things are moving along smoothly! I think I read somewhere that you can add to your gift cards over the phone, if there isn't a Disney Store near you. Not sure if it is possible online, too. That way you can keep adding to the balance. Between now and December, that could add up to quite a bit!
So I did it - I bought vouchers for 2 character meals from GAT! DD and I are the only ones going to these meals, so we limited ourselves to 2. We'll be going to Minnie and Friends (our tradition), and decided to add Storytellers this year since we haven't been to that one before.
I also found thin lanyards and zipper pouches on amazon, and was able to buy 3 sets for just over $5. I have thicker lanyards, but they are uncomfortable to wear all day. These are made more like a braided cord. They arrived yesterday, and I'm very pleased with the quality!
The money-saving is right on track. My next step will be to reserve the car. Right now the companies are only showing discounts through mid-June, so I'll probably have to wait until July to reserve if I want to pay less than premium.
I hope everyone has a great weekend!
It's been a while since I've posted an update, so I thought I'd drop in and share a few pictures of our trip planning book! Beware: It's insanely organized - bordering on obsessive
We decided to go with a mini 3-ring binder. It's a bit of a pain to cut pages to the appropriate size, but it'll fit in the hotel safe and backpacks easier.
Each section is labeled so we can find what we need quickly. Some sections have zipper pouches to hold documents (SD's records, etc.) and tickets (park tickets, Character Dining vouchers, etc.)
I even decided to print maps for every combination of places we might go while in the rental car in LA. This is simply a backup in case the GPS doesn't work.
I also included a place for my trip notes:
I didn't include pictures of ALL of the sections because I didn't want to bore anyone. Other sections include restaurants we may want to visit in LA (with addresses, phone numbers, and average prices), transportation (with airport parking, rental car, shuttle, and scooter rental info), important numbers (hotels, disney dining, museums, scooter rental company, rental car company, airlines, shuttles, etc), reservations (airline, hotels), and schedule.
In my 'real world', people see this perched on top of my refrigerator and laugh, shaking their heads. They don't get my planning obsession. DD and I, however, find it quite convenient! As details come together, we add it to the book and then we don't have to worry about things getting lost.
I like the idea of having all of this planned and accessible ahead of time. For me, it takes the stress out of traveling.
If you want to see how I formatted any of the sections, just let me know! I'd be happy to share.
That's it for now. I hope everyone has a great Mother's Day Weekend!
Thanks for sharing this! I'm sure it will be very helpful to lots of people who are following this thread. And a Happy Mother's Day to you!
I'm late to the chat... and I didn't read through everything, but wanted to chime in case no one else has... if they do indeed close Disneyland early for cast member parties when you are there, historically, those days have been phenomenal days to go. Low crowds, and a very early fireworks show!!! My family went this last year on the Tuesday and had the best day. Having a toddler and a DH who likes to get to his sleep early, we loved the early fireworks. It will be a great time to see the show with a much sparser crowd than on the other days.
I was wondering about how the cast parties would impact crowds. I'm happy to hear that it thins out the herd! I'm one who needs to take rests mid-day and go back to the hotel early, so this is all good news. I'm far past the time of doing commando park trips, so shortened days don't upset me. To know that the crowds are lighter just makes it more appealing!
If you have any more info/pointers for that time of year, please share!
AND THE CAST IS CHANGING...
When I first started planning this ultimate Christmas Adventure, the cast included:
Me (41), DD (18), My Service Dog (5), DMOM(She asked me not to say), DSIS (37), DBIL (37), Various friends (ages 30-65)
Since then, we've had a few changes. DD, My Service Dog, and DMOM will be joining me for sure. DSIS and DBIL will have to cancel due to unexpected expensive home repairs. The friend list has gotten a bit more clear:
- THE LIBRARIAN (LIB) and her husband (LIBHUB) will hang out with us in Downtown Disney one day, but won't be able to go into the park. They used to have APs, but have had job changes this year and are cutting costs. We'll have fun regardless.
- HIGH SCHOOL BUDDY (HSB) and his partner (HSP) will be joining us at Minnie and Friends! I haven't seen him in almost 25 years, but we've gotten back in touch over FB and love to share our love for DLR. They have APs, so they may make appearances more than once during the trip.
- GREAT AUNT (GA) will either hang out with us in LA or DTD. Here's another blast from the past. I haven't seen her since I was a young teen! She's another reason I'm so happy to be able to reconnect with people on FB! I can't wait to share a meal with her and catch up.
Now that the plans seem really solid, I started to do what I've always done.....second-guessing some of the choices we've made. Here's an example: we decided a few weeks ago that even though we've never seen WOC, we really didn't want to spend the time to see the show. Now, after reading all of the other reports and planning threads, I stared to second-guess that decision. Will we regret staying away from the show? After much back and forth, we decided once again that WOC just isn't a fit for us. With the way crowd control is handled and the viewing area being so poorly designed for short people, we'd rather spend our time elsewhere in the park.
I also started rethinking the dining decisions based on the group of people in attendance. In the past, we did all sit-down meals. This year we've decided to shake things up a bit to include CS locations. The original plan had ALL meals/restaurants listed - whether TS or CS. Since I won't be the only 'cruise director' of this trip, I decided to go ahead and reserve the TS meals and give everyone a list of CS places so we could choose on the fly. On that list is the name of each restaurant, the type of food served, and the approximate cost. I figured this would give us more flexibility, while still providing enough information that we won't be wandering aimlessly looking for food when we get hungry.
One last change (at least for now) is in the museums we will visit during our time in LA. Originally it was going to be The Tolerance Museum and the Wax Museum. With much help from you all responding to this thread as well as other trip reports I have been following, we decided to drop the Wax Museum. Instead we'll be going to The Tolerance Museum (http://www.museumoftolerance.com/sit...at_the_MOT.htm), LACMA (http://www.lacma.org/), and the Hollywood Museum (http://www.thehollywoodmuseum.com/).
MORE MONEY SAVING OPPORTUNITIES
I can't remember if I've mentioned this before, so if I have, I apologize.
So far, we've found a few ways to save money on meals. First, both my mom and I have birthdays within 60 days of the trip. This means by signing up for Patina Group eClub (http://www.patinagroup.com/joinus.php), we each get $30 coupons for dinners at their restaurants. We've decided to go to Tortilla Joes and Naples Risorante e Pizzeria. Mom, DD, and I will also all sign up for the Mimi's Cafe eClub (http://www.mimiscafe.com/EClub.aspx) a couple of weeks before the trip so we can each get a buy-one-get-one-free breakfast. Since their breakfast meals are so HUGE, we'll split 2 meals between the 3 of us. Finally, since my bday is in December, I signed up for the Coldstone Creamery Birthday Club (http://www.coldstonecreamery.com/mycsc/) and will receive a coupon for a free ice cream treat to be used during the trip. Since I never finish one of those things, we can split it one night after we leave the park.
That's it for now! We're inching up on the 6-month mark, so I'm sure time will fly by much faster now! Thanks for following along!
It's good that these changes are happening early in the planning stages, not last minute! And how great that you'll get to reconnect with your friends and relatives! Just to throw some more info your way, have you ever seen the Disney Archives (housed in the Frank Wells building on the Disney Studios property in Burbank)? If not, there will be an exhibit, "Treasures of the Disney Archives", at the Ronald Reagan Library in Simi Valley (not exactly close to where you'll be, but still... if you've ever wanted to see this...): http://d23.disney.go.com/news/2012/0...ibrary-museum/. (This exhibit will run from July through next April.) The Disney Archives don't go on public exhibit often (and this may be the first time), so this is really special for Disney fans.
Also, is there a specific reason why you've chosen the Hollywood Museum? If there is something special that you're interested in seeing, there might be a better location to find it. We've never been in that museum, but have walked by many times. Neither the museum nor the crowd looked very appealing.
As for WOC, that is something you have plenty of time to decide (with the Preferred Dining, reservations can be made 30 days out, and without reservations, FPs can be gotten day of). Personally, I think it's worth seeing at least once. When Disney makes magic, no one does it better; and WOC is a great example of Disney magic. You're right about the viewing area being poorly planned, but we've managed to get really good viewing spots when it mattered most (with my parents and with first time guests) by doing the WOC Preferred Dining meal. The Preferred Dining section is dead center, and it now has its own HCA viewing spots (but call the Dine Line to reconfirm this). If you were planning on doing at least one TS meal anyway, you could do the WOC meal at the Wine Country Trattoria and then see WOC. I'm short and our group of first time visitors was very short, and we got a great viewing spot -- so it is possible (with perseverence and planning)! Just a thought...
Way to go on the coupons and discounts! Keep up the good work!
I'm not tied to the Hollywood museum. We chose it primarily for it's proximity to other things we are doing. Neither of us would be sad to drop it from the list.
The WOC decision came about for a lot of reasons. The crazy viewing area and time investment were top of the list, but also the added cost for preferred dining factored in. That kind of controlled chaos is hard for all of us, including my SD. Sure, I can leave him in the room, but surprisingly enough, it doesn't seem worth it to do so. We are going to do the Fantasmic Dessert Seating and will leave him in the room for that, but I really didn't want to have to do that twice this trip. Nobody else going was interested in seeing the show, so it would be me dragging them along. If anyone changes their mind between now and November, I'll make the reservations and we'll go.
http://www.reaganfoundation.org/) -- look under "temporary exhibits" -- the Disney Archives exhibit should be on the list. The Reagan Library has lots of interesting non-Disney things to see, as well, like a piece of the Berlin Wall, a retired Air Force One, lots of White House memorabilia, etc.
As for Disney Studio tours, have you heard of the Lights... Camera... Magic Tour (http://disneyland.disney.go.com/spec...ic-adventures/)? I don't know if it will be offered during your trip, but that tour would cover Hollywood and the Disney Studios in one day, and you wouldn't have to drive! D23 offers studio tours several time a year, and members are allowed to bring a non-member guest. Do you know any members? Keep an eye on the D23 calendar for future reference -- if you have a trip planned that covers a tour date, you might find someone who can take you and your DD on as guests. So far, those are the easiest ways I know of to get a tour of the studios.
And, just for future reference, if your party decides to see WOC, it might be possible for a few members of your party to wait and stake your spots, while you, DD, and SD wait in a less crowded area. We were able to do this with my mom (sister and mom waited outside the viewing area on a bench, DH and I got spots and waited, then DH fetched mom right before the show.) CMs were cool with this at the time, but you would need to re-confirm if you decide to do this. Since you would need the HCA, I don't think this would be a big problem.
We're still discussing the museum options. I'm letting DD make the final decision since I'd be happy with LACMA or The Reagan Library. Once she decides, I'll post here. For now, we just know that we'll be doing the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Disney Soda Shop, and Museum of Tolerance. The remaining time in LA is still up in the air.
On a different note.....
I just wanted to say I'm SO HAPPY I went with my gut to buy the tickets so far in advance! Not only are prices going WAY UP, they're eliminating the 6-Day Park Hopper. Having to buy multiple tickets per person would have been quite a bit more expensive.
Here's to the benefits of obsessive planning!
Good call on the tickets! This price increase has hit so many people so hard.
Isn't the Reagan Library in Simi Valley? That seems very far away to me, from Culver City . . . and if you're not used to driving the L.A. freeways, especially with all of the current construction happening on the 405 (which seems to affect the 10 freeway, more often than not), I'd be a bit reticent about this. I didn't Google the distance/mileage -- but it seems like the travel time to that museum (back and forth) would eat up at least 45 minutes to an hour each way.
And . . . I went to the Hollywood Museum last August and it is FANTASTIC. It is housed in the original Max Factor building. This is where Max Factor held his make-up rooms for movie stars (real movie stars, like Ava Gardner, Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor!). You can go into each of the make-up rooms/hair salons (red heads, brunettes, blondes!) and there are many artifacts in each related to the various stars who once frequented the Max Factor salons. It's truly great. There is also a second floor devoted to special exhibits. Last summer, it was devoted to Lucille Ball. And there are many other artifacts as well, from movies, television shows, etc. Downstairs, though, is where the original make-up/hair rooms are, as well as the main room where the Max Factor make-up was sold to the public. Here there are additional displays from Rudolf Valentino, Mary Pickford, etc. Personal items -- like combs, brushes, mirrors, wallets. There is also an entire display case devoted to Marilyn Monroe with some lingerie items. The basement had horror film memorabilia. Anyway, to me, it was a unique and fascinating museum (and I live here!). I'd look at the website again before deciding to not go. It's really worth seeing. Plus -- this was an easy walk over to Highland Center, and the El Capitan, etc. And I believe you can park in the lot next to the diner (Mel's Diner?) beside the museum for a few hours. The info is on the museum website. So you won't have to move your car, in other words.
The Grove and the Farmers' Market will have many food options for you. And LACMA has a new restaurant (Ray's and Stark Bar) that is outside/inside and very, very good. I wouldn't go to the Getty if I were you. Not on the same day. I'd stay in the Hollywood/LACMA area. Look -- the traffic in L.A. is horrific. And it will be hard to drive to the Getty in the middle of the day and find parking in their immediate lot during Xmas time. Well, in my opinion, anyway. Unless you get to the Getty Center early in the day -- parking becomes harder to come by later. And often they direct you off-site, which requires taking a shuttle. It all takes up time. I think its best to either stay in Hollywood area and SEE it, or go the Getty and see that area and the Westside (including Culver City. There is Sony Studios in Culver City, which also has studio tours. Gone with the Wind was filmed there.) But to me, going from one end of the city to another -- battling traffic and freeways and parking issues -- would not be worth it.
With 2 different opinions of the Hollywood Museum, I'd like to hear if anyone else has strong feelings one way or the other. Worst case scenario we make the decision once we're there.
LACMA is on the list for sure. Now that DD knows it's there, there's no way she won't want to go. As an artist, museums always trump any other option. She doesn't want to do the Getty this trip because she wants to do it the next time around so we can spend a day or two exploring it in more detail.
If you plan to be right in the Hollywood area anyway, you could easily pop in to the Hollywood Museum to decide if you want to spend some time there.
Yes, traffic in L.A. can be very bad, but it isn't always. And we've found that planning ahead (which you're already doing!) and timing are the keys to getting places with minimal trouble. If there is something you and your daughter really want to see, you have plenty of time to find a way to do it. And, as you've said, you can always start your list of things to see on your next trip.
Escape -- how many days do you have free for sightseeing in L.A.? And are they full days, set aside just for that? I'm confused by all of the planning and changes in planning in the thread. I'm assuming you're spending X-number of days in Culver City and then driving down to Anaheim for X-number of days at Disneyland Resort?
You're right - it sure has gotten confusing since my original post! We have 2 days in LA. We fly into LAX on Thursday, December 6th and ar arriving at 9:30 AM. We'll rent a car for our time in LA. We're staying at the Doubletree in Culver City. That Thursday and Friday are for LA. Later Friday evening, we'll return the car at LAX and take the shuttle to our hotel in Anaheim. We'll stay in Anaheim until December 13th.
All of the changes are for the LA portion of the trip. I know very little about the area and want to make the most of that leg of the trip. The Museum of Tolerance on the first day is an absolute must....the 2nd day is a little up in the air. I don't want to be driving all over creation for many reasons. 1) I'm in a wheelchair and the in-and-out of the car is a little cumbersome 2) I don't like getting lost and 3) I don't want the whole day eaten up by being in the car.
We'll likely just stick to Hollywood and LACMA for the 2nd day. This seems a lot less stressful than getting lost on the LA freeways. We were entertaining other suggestions made in this thread, but when it came right down to it, I just don't want to drive that much.
I hope that clarifies some! Thanks for hanging out with us during the planning!