View Full Version : Trip Report and Random Tips

texas minnie
10-01-2005, 02:11 PM
Just returned on Thursday from an amazing Disneyland vacation. Our last time to visit was just after Sept. 11, and no one was there...so we were spoiled and had unrealistic expectations of off-season crowds. But everyone else we met commented on how light the crowds were, so I guess they were light (such a relative term, isn't it?).

The Disneyland Hotel was wonderful! DS (age 5) and DS (age 3) were so excited when they saw that giant Mickey statue that greets you when you pull in. Goofy was there playing with some kids in the lobby (a fun surprise!). Our room wasn't ready yet, so we hit the park! It was 9am on early entry day, so we headed through Downtown Disney to the main gate (gotta go through the main gate the first time...). By 9:30 we were on the Matterhorn (DS1's choice for first ride). DS2 hated it! Cried and said it was "ouwy". We followed it up with Alice and Wonderland, after which he proclaimed "that ride not ouwy!". From then on, all rides were classified into "ouwy" or "not ouwy" categories. It worked out well, though, because when we came to a ride he was too short for, we just told him it was an "ouwy" ride, and he was fine!

Had lunch at the Golden Horseshoe and saw the Hillbillies - they were great! And let me say, I'm not much of a chili person, but I ordered the chili cheese fries on a recommendation. They were amazing - and huge! Enough for a meal (which I couldn't even finish) for $4.25! We had a piece of their famous chocolate cake (about $5), and with the 4 of us working on it, we finished about 2/3 of it! It is the hugest thing I've ever seen! Great tip - how often can 4 people have dessert for $5??? Our boys loved the show, they clapped and sang along - so much fun! I guess it was a little too much fun, because the next day at the Blue Bayou, they were disappointed because there wasn't a show! Come on!!! It's the BLUE BAYOU (and waterside!)

DS1 proclaimed Splash Mountain to be his favorite ride, and rode it 6 times (poor DS2 had to ride Pooh 6 times while waiting). Not that he minded - he loved it, but once was plenty for me!

We took advantage of the parade time that night, and headed to Toontown for low crowds (we saved the parade for our last night, to go out with a bang). We waited in line to see Mickey for less than 10 minutes! We played hard until closing (acutally, I took DS2 back for a nap that afternoon. So worth it!). A great day!

The next day, EE again. This time, we were prepared. We were in line at the monorail at 8:40, ready to be on that first ride into Tomorrowland. Until we realized you can't rent a stroller in Tomorrowland!!! DS2 has to have one - he is as slow as molasses in January. So, we separated. I took DS2 to the front gate to rent a stroller and meet DH and DS1 in the park. As I approached the front of the line, I remembered that I needed the hotel receipt to get my EE, and DH has it! Luckily, the CM at the gate listened to my story and let me in by showing my room key, but not without a warning not to try it again. I thanked him, and got my stroller. Whew!
Another tip - bring your own stroller for this reason! If you're staying at the DLH, you can't rent a stroller when you enter via monorail. It's a long walk to the main gate to get one, and wasted time you could be on rides! Even if your not staying at DLH, you'll probably want a stroller in Downtown Disney, and there are no strollers to rent there. We have a Disney Visa, so we got free stoller rentals. Next time, I'll bring my own. Actually, there won't be a next time with stollers! We're about every-other-year Disney visitors, so I'm hoping when DS2 is 5, we'll have our stroller years behind us (yippee - how freeing!).

Great lunch at the Blue Bayou. I had the Crab Cakes, and I loved them!!! The lobster cream sauce they come with is delicious. DH had the chicken ceasar, and it was good. The boys had mini-corn dogs to share (they had snacked so much, we knew they wouldn't be all that hungry). We had great service, lots of refills, food was quick. The only problem was that the waitress accidentally brought us 2 kids meals instead of one. She sets the extra meal down in front of DS2 (celebrating his 3rd birthday, I might add), and then says - "oops, that's not yours! Here's your extra plate." What barely-3 child would take this in stride? He thought she was taking his food away from him, and he was very upset. We gave him his half of the meal, but it didn't matter. It just wasn't the same to him. It took him awhile to recover, but he finally did. He forgave her when she brought his jello with a candle and sang Happy Birthday. Am I crazy, or do ya'll think she should have given him a little something after taking his plate away and leaving him crying. If I had been her, I think I would have just left it (I mean how much can 5 mini-corndogs cost to the park?)... Oh well.

That afternoon, DS2 and DH took naps in the room, and I took DS1 down for a swim. That water was COLD! I know I'm from Texas and used to 100 degree summers, but that water was REALLY COLD! DS didn't seem to mind at all. Luckily, he quickly made some friends in the pool, so I got out and warmed up in the lounge chair. I even popped next door to the Lost Bar and brought a margharita back to enjoy in the California sun. It was heaven! Met a mom with APs who gave me lots of advice, too!

Then, off to the "Block Party parade" at DCA. We actually had to wake up DS2 to make it in time, which we was not happy about. That boy loves his sleep like no child I have ever seen! Anyway, he was still cranky at the parade, and every CM that came our way tried to cheer him up. It was really sweet. Finally, one of the girls brought him a yellow nerf ball and put it into his hand. That was it - he was smitten. He just grinned at her like she was the greatest thing that's ever happened to him! So cute! By the end of the parade, both boys (and even DH) were out dancing with the parade. It was the highlight of our day - a must do at the parks! Since DCA closes at 6, we joined the masses moving over to DL for the last 2 hours of the day. Again, we took advantage of the light crowds during the parade - a great tip!

Third day - character breakfast. We chose Storytellers Cafe, and here's why... We just had a hard time paying over $30 for breakfast at Goofy's. Come on!!! We've seen shows and characters all over the park for free. At Storytellers, you can order off the menu instead of the buffett (which is $22). I had the eggs benedict - some of the best I've had. DH had the country breakfast, with a little bit of everything, including a huge piece of applewood smoked ham that was amazing. The boys had huge plates of Mickey Waffles. We had lots of characters come visit with us - Terk, Kenai (sp?) and Koda, Pluto, and Chip and Dale. And we spent less than $40 for the 4 of us - great tip! Plus the food is just so much fresher when you order off the menu!

Then, off to DCA through the DGC private entrance (they will let you in at (9:30. Sourin' is open then, but the rest opens at 10 - Great tip!)
It was SO HOT that day!!! The Boardwalk area was just scorching! We did two really great things at DCA. One was the Meet and Greet for Disney Visa holders (if you don't have a Disny Visa, get one before your trip). You just show up at Ariel's Grotto between 10 and 11:30, and show them your Visa. They brought us downstairs and Mickey and Goofy were there waiting for us! We were thrilled - we didn't know who it would be, and I expected it to be a princess). We were the only ones there, and we hung out with Mickey and Goofy, just playing, for about 15 minutes! Then they took a picture of all of us (and we got a free 5x7), plus they offered to take one with my own camera, so I can get as many copies as I want. I'm thinking of using it for our Christmas cards this year. Anyway, what kid gets to spend 15 minutes with Mickey and Goofy?!! Great tip!

The Aladdin show was amazing - don't miss it. My 5 year old loved it and is still talking about. My husband and I have been to lots of Broadway shows, and we believe this show is Broadway quality. My 3 year old slept through it (oh well). After the show, nap time for me and DS2, Disneyland for DH and DS1. We met back up with them later at Tomorrowland, rode a few rides, and headed to the Mexican food place for dinner. Ranch something or other... It was good food (not great, but good). We enjoyed sitting outside in the evening, watching the lights come on and the people pass by. Then we headed to Small World to wait for the parade. Another tip - that's the place to watch it. It's not as crowded as Main Street, and it starts there, so you see it at 7 instead of 7:30, which gives you more time to hit the rides before closing. The parade was great - the boys adored it. Next, DH and DS1 headed for the Matterhorn, and I took DS2 on Dumbo one last time (his favorite). We walked down Main Street, saw all the lights. The boys thought it looked like Christmas! We went to WoD to shop, and then to the Lego store for more shopping (we save our shopping until the last day so everyone knows what they want). We're not big souvenir people and we don't like using our "park time" to shop when we could be riding! Anyway, the boys picked out some light-up toys and a great book. I got a Disneyland mug that I love and a Christmas ornament (we get one everywhere we go), and we got one of those souvenir maps (they are amazing - I'm going to put it in a frame and hang it in the boys playroom). Oh yeah - and I got tshirts for the boys.

We just had the best time! My 5 year old kept saying (while skipping along enthusiastically) "I just LOVE this place!" He must have told us 20 times "thank you so much for taking me here!". So sweet!

Oh - one more little story - we went to the Tiki room, and I just had to get a Dole Whip after all I have heard from you guys about them. No one else wanted one, so I just got one for me. Well, they loved it and we all shared it (wish I have gotten a couple more!). The CM told us that Dole only sells these at Disney's 2 Tiki rooms and at the Dole Cannery in Hawaii. She also said it is the busiest snack stand in the park. SOOOOO GOOD! DS1, who's not a huge ice cream eater, said "I love this stuff so much - it makes my tummy feel like apple pie!" He's quite the character! Anyway, I've been thinking about those Whips ever since... yumm!

One more tip - we rented a car, so we went to grocery store and got water, snacks, cokes for the room, a bottle of wine for the room, some bread, and PB and jelly. We made sandwhiches for the boys and brought them into the park. At meal times, we always gave them the choice (chicken nuggets, pizza, corn dogs, or PBJ) - and they almost always picked PBJ! It saved us SO much money! Also, (most of the time) we ate our big meal at lunch (cheaper), and at dinner, the kids would have a sandwich on the run. DH and I would have a little snack on the run. Then, at 8, back at the hotel, one of us put the kids to bed, while to other went down to the restaurant to pick up dinner for us. Then, with the kids in bed, we enjoyed a quiet dinner with a glass of wine. Perfect ending to our days! Crocks and Bits was great - the BBQ chicken and the chicken nachos - yum!

Yet another tip - we have gone to Disney (World, then Land) just before each of our boys' 3rd birthdays. They are still free, but old enough to enjoy a ticket price's worth of fun!

Thanks for all the advice, guys! We had a great trip and made so many memories...what a magical place. (big thanks to Walt - what a creative genious!!!)

10-01-2005, 02:40 PM
Trip reports are one of my favorite things about theses boards! Yours was wonderful! I felt like I was there with you. You also helped me decide on the Storytellers breakfast over the others. I was in limbo with that, but we have a dog named Koda and I think that will be nice for my daughter to meet the "real" Koda. Thank you again!

10-01-2005, 02:59 PM
Great trip report. 3 and 5 are good ages to enjoy the parks. Good thinking to go just before 3 to take advantage of free admisssion. Aren't Mousepadders the best for advise? Wish I had found them before our 2 trips to DL, but can always enjoy reports of other's visits to relive ours.

10-01-2005, 03:07 PM
I enjoyed your trip report! I know there was a thread around for awhile about the Disney Visa card, is that where you got your info on the "meet and greet"? I never read that thread. What else can Disney card holders get?

texas minnie
10-01-2005, 07:35 PM
I enjoyed your trip report! I know there was a thread around for awhile about the Disney Visa card, is that where you got your info on the "meet and greet"? I never read that thread. What else can Disney card holders get?

You can go to chase.com/disney for all the details. But here's a few things I remember... you earn 1% of everything you spend toward a Disney vacation, or Disney merchandise. I actually use mine for my small home monogramming business. I had over $100 in points in about a year's time - we used them towards our hotel. You also get 10% off a few restaurants (not all of them, you have to check the list on the website), and 10% off at the World of Disney store is you spend more than $50 (we did...). You don't have to use your card to pay for anything, just show it. You get up to 2 free stoller rentals a day at Disneyland (not World at this time), and then there's the Meet and Greet with the free picture.

Pirate Princess
10-01-2005, 07:54 PM
So wonderful to hear about your trip! It helps cushion the 3 month wait I have. Thank you! (I'm considering getting the Disney Visa.. mostly because I don't like my cc company anymore.)
Just as a PS- they have Dole whips in Kauai @the Coconut Market place (a small shopping center). I almost cried when I saw it, but there was Lappert's a few feet away (not the same as the California Lappert's since they are all separate owners and not even a franchise) and had to make a tough decision: Lappert's "Kauai Pie" or a Dole whip... yeah.. I had both.

disney jones
10-01-2005, 07:58 PM
very nice report. :)

texas minnie
10-01-2005, 08:03 PM
Just as a PS- they have Dole whips in Kauai @the Coconut Market place (a small shopping center). I almost cried when I saw it, but there was Lappert's a few feet away (not the same as the California Lappert's since they are all separate owners and not even a franchise) and had to make a tough decision: Lappert's "Kauai Pie" or a Dole whip... yeah.. I had both.

I don't believe it! I was just there last May for our 10th wedding anniversary. I had the Kauai Pie ice cream at the Coconut Marketplace! Well now I know what to get next time (or maybe both, like you!). Thanks for the ps!