Canadians visited LA and Disneyland in Aug 2017 - Amazing Trip!

Discussion in 'Disneyland Trip Reports' started by Frozen2014, Sep 4, 2017.

  1. Frozen2014

    Frozen2014 DIS Veteran

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    Intro and Summary
    They say 'time flies when you're having fun' and after returning from our trip, I sure can vouch for that! Our 10 day trip to LA area and Disneyland felt more like 4 days max. I'm a planner, and started the planning this trip a year ago and then bam, it's over. But of course not complaining, that means that all went smooth and we had a blast! Here is a link to my pre-report:

    https://www.disboards.com/threads/c...sneyland-in-aug-2017-sounds-great-eh.3573054/

    Why do a report? While waiting for our trip to come, I love reading other people's trip reports, so I thought I'd do one as well to share with others. (Also love reading them afterwards to compare to our own experiences). Moreover, it helps with those post-trip blues, and helps keep the memories fresh.

    As a background, we have been to Disney World once in 2014 and this was our first trip to Disneyland and CA. Our trip was from Thurs Aug 24 - Sat Sept 2.

    Contents
    Day 1 - Hollywood
    Day 2 - Universal Studios
    Day 3 - Part 1 - LA Tour
    Day 3 - Part 2 - Dolby Theatre
    Day 4 - Part 1 - Warner Brother's Tour
    Day 4 - Part 2 - Santa Monica Pier
    Day 5 - Part 1 - Goodbye Hollywood. Hello Disney
    !
    Day 5 - Part 2 - Downtown Disney
    Day 6 - Part 1 - Disney Parks - Getting Ready for our First Day
    Day 6 - Part 2 - Disney Parks - Magic Morning

    Day 6 - Part 3 - Disney Parks - Explore Adventureland, New Orleans Square and Critter Country
    Day 6 - Part 4 - Disney Parks - Disney California Adventure
    Day 7 - Part 1 - Disney Parks - Tomorrowland and Repeat of Favorites
    Day 7 - Part 2 - Disney Parks - Return to DCA

    Day 7 - Part 3 - Disney Parks - Café Orleans and RSR Back Online?
    Day 8 - Part 1 - Disney Parks - DCA Start This Time
    Day 8 - Part 2 - Disney Parks - DCA is Heating Up
    Day 8 - Part 3 - Disney Parks - Over to DL Before Evening Activities
    Day 8 - Part 4 - Disney Parks - WOC Dessert Party
    Day 9 - Part 1 - Disney Parks - Our Last Park Day
    Day 9 - Part 2 – Disney Parks - Hitting Our Favorites One Last Time at DCA
    Day 9 - Part 3 – Disney Parks - Fantasmic Dinner Package
    Day 9 - Part 4 – Disney Parks - Disneyland at Night
    Day 9 - Part 5 – Disney Parks - Fantasmic and Fireworks
    Day 10 - Return Home

    Disneyland or Disney World Fan?
    FastPass+ vs Legacy FastPass vs MaxPass
    Did We See Everything in 4 Days?

    Conclusion

    The Players

    There’s me (the planner), DH (makes fun of me but is easy going and goes with the flow), DS12 and DD8.

    Day 1 - Hollywood
    Our flight from Toronto, Ontario to LAX was uneventful (which is a good thing!). We planned to use uber to get to our hotel in Hollywood but a taxi was right there and we didn't know where to go for Uber so we just got in the taxi. This probably was a bad idea since the drive took so long due to traffic. It amazed us all the cars that were out at 1pm on a Thursday! Don't people work?

    After a 1hr drive, we checked into Hollywood Orchid Suites. We were quite happy with the motel. Our room was quite wide and it had a separate kitchen. Now, I wasn't going to be cooking while on vacation, but the extra space was nice. We also got lucky and had one of the few rooms with a balcony on the main level that overlooked the pool. Breakfast was included each morning and helped to get us going (with the nicest lady helping out).

    After settling in, we checked out the area. Our hotel was basically at Hollywood and Highland with the walk of fame, Dolby Theatre, and a bunch of tourist attractions. The walk of fame is fun to see how many stars you recognise (while at the same time, not bumping into anyone). I didn't realise that it went on so long....for blocks and blocks on both sides. Note that this photo isn't that common as Hollywood Boulevard is typically wall to wall people - including annoying people dressed up like 'warped' characters trying to charge you for photos, or other trying to scam you by selling cds, or even some with snakes around their neck. Gross. We pulled our kids as far away from those as we could.
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    We were all hungry so we made an important stop - to Guidarelli Ice Cream shop. (From what I remember, that was our lunch).

    After that, we decided to check Madame Tussauds Wax Museum. We had seen it before in NY and Buffalo but it's still fun. When else do you get to meet Angelina Jolie, Pierce Brosnan, Simon Cowell and Spiderman? They are all pretty nice and not divas at all...lol.

    We finished with dinner in the area and were pretty tired. Ontario is 3 hrs behind California so at say 7pm, it was 10pm for us....which is quite late for our kids, especially for the 8 year old. So off to bed for us.
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2017
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  2. Frozen2014

    Frozen2014 DIS Veteran

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    Day 2 - Universal Studios

    We were all up at 4:30am! That's what happens when are bodies are still 3hrs ahead. Well, at least it made it not so bad to try for rope drop at Universal Studios. Only issue is that our hotel didn't serve breakfast until 7:30am and early entry was 8am. So we basically got ourselves ready and we waiting at the breakfast area by 7:15am. We weren't too late though and with taking uber, we got inside Universal by 8:30am.

    Based on research, we went straight to Harry Potter land and wow. To get to Forbidden Journey ride, you walk through Hogsmeade. It's so beautiful with the buildings and snow. It's like you are really visiting.

    [​IMG]

    It felt like we needed our winter jackets...lol.
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    Forbidden Journey had only a 15 minute wait so perfect. DD and I weren't going on the ride, but wanted to walk through the castle. The detail is amazing. You are really at Hogwart School! At one point, they even have Harry, Ron and Hermione. Neat effects! The pictures move as well just like the movie. When we got to the front, DD and I stepped to the exit while DS and DH continued. My son absolutely loved the ride and not only is it his favorite Universal ride, but his favorite amusement park ride overall! Unfortunately it was a bit much for DH's stomach, and that pretty much ended his simulator/motion rides for the day. While riding, there was some malfunction, and they let them ride again. So, DS got to go right back on again and ride again. I have eye issues so need to be careful with rides. Otherwise, I would have loved to have tried it to see what it was about.

    Our kids then rode Flight of Hippogriff, which they found ok and then we moved on.
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2017
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  4. Frozen2014

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    Next we made our way to Simpsons area. It was very cute and replicated a lot from the show. DH loves Simpsons so he was quite amused here.

    Here is the Kwik-E-Mart
    [​IMG]

    We looked around and then our kids went ont he Simpsons ride. DH really wanted to ride it bu this stomach was still wonky from Forbidden Journey so he skipped it. DH and I walked our kids through and then exited when they got to the starting room. After the ride we looked around (and DH secretly bought one of those huge donuts as he knew I wouldn't approve...lol). We got a few pictures with the characters and area and then we were ready to move on.

    Based on wait times, I was suggesting we got to the lower lot next but our kids found the Simpsons ride a bit rough and needed a break from simulator rides. So we next headed to the Fun land area. It felt so cheery.
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    Next our kids were ready to try Despicable me. I had heard on the boards here that they are 2 stationary seats on this attraction and thus, I would be able to go on this one with our kids. Unfortunately though, one of the workers said that those seats wouldn't be open until noon. Thus I walked our kids through and then took the escape exit. Note: The exit for Despicable Me is not by the entrance. It is in the store around the corner. DH and I had a bit of a parent panic as it had been awhile and our kids hadn't exited yet. But eventually, they did exit into the store (phew!). DS said that the ride did temporarily break down or halt.
     
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  5. Frozen2014

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    Next we saw the Special Effects show which is lots of fun and then headed down to the Lower Lot. Talk about never ending escalators! Now it makes sense why they call it that. Our kids really liked Jurassic Park. They got soaked as they ended up in the front row. Jurrasic Park is a good one to do on a hot day. Not only do you get wet on the ride if you go on it, but there are misting sprays through the queue. Such a smart mover on Universal's part! Our son did the single rider line of Transformers which meant no line up for him.

    After lunch we went on the Studio Tour. I had seen this when I was a child and was excited to see it again. The line up was long, but it moved and this is another ride with misters. I love the behind the scenes stuff so it was neat. They still have the psycho scene, the flood scene and the jaws 'scare'...but I think the fast & furious part was new. That part was lots of fun as was the earthquake.

    We hit other rides (including Despicable Me with the stationary seats running - or not staying stll...ha ha...so I went on with my kids to see what it was about) . We also saw the Water World stunt show.

    Unfortunately Shrek 4D was closed as this was one of the few attractions I was planning on going on.

    I did however, get to do the Walking Dead walk through. I'm not a huge fan of the show but I like haunted houses and stuff so the effects were neat as they looked so real. The zombies grab at you and seems like they can get you. My husband gave it a try too (but we didn't go together as one of us had to stay with out kids), but he didn't make it through the whole thing as it was a bit too much for him.

    We ended with Water World. It wasn't my kind of show, however the stunts overall were impressive.

    We grabbed dinner on our way out at Hard Rock and then headed out. Universal Studios is fun. I know it's not as big as the Florida location, but I like the fact that this is the actual studio. It was a good way to spend the day.
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2017
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  6. Frozen2014

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    P.S.- Are others seeing the pictures? I could see them at home but am not when i am looking at work .
     
  7. Frozen2014

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    Day 3 - Part 1 - LA Tour

    Before we left I had done a lot of research on a good tour of LA areas. I was looking for one that hit a lot of spots, not needing a beach stop (since we prefer to do that on our own time) and between 3-5 hrs. I had heard that Griffith Observatory gives great views of the city but parking was hard, so a tour that included a stop there would be ideal. Some tours matched but cost an arm and a leg and even an ear....and then I found the LA Guideline Tour. It seemed to match our wish list.

    The meeting spot was at 8:30am near our hotel on Hollywood Boulevard (that's where I took the first picture of the walk of fame...before most people got up). It had a few other hotel stops and then the tour started. We went downtown LA, then off to Griffith Observatory. As promised, it gave great views of the city including the Hollywood sign (unfortuntaely it was still a bit foggy in the morning...the afternoon would have been clearer).
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    You could also walk around the Griffith Observatory which is nice in itself and lets you see the other side of the city.
    [​IMG]

    Next the tour continued to the Walk of Fame (a stop we didn't need since that's near where we were staying), Sunset Boulevard, through Beverly Hills with some stars homes (including Michael Jackson) and then stopped at Farmer's Market for lunch. I guess the only issue with going on a tour is that you are stuck on their time. Once we decided where to have lunch (and stood in the long lines), it was time to meet back on the van.

    Overall though, the tour was good and gave a good 'overview' of some spots in LA (without us having to do the driving!). I will say though that after 5hrs, we were ready to return to our hotel.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2017
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  8. Frozen2014

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    Day 3 - Part 2 - Dolby Theatre
    When we purchased the Wax Museum tickets, we bundled it with a tour of the Dolby theatre. I have to laugh since most people know this theatre as "the theatre where they have the Oscars". However, our kids were super excited for tour so they could see "the theatre where they film America's Got Talent". The tour was pretty cool with some insider secrets (like how they block off the whole area for days before the Oscars...and even though the stars stay next door, they still have to arrive in their limo...so they go around the block for show). We got to see where they film some of the America's Got Talent non-show segments (like when the stars are on the carpet) and then we went into the actual theatre. It was a Saturday but they were still working and preparing for Tuesday's live show. Pretty neat to see.

    After the tour we went back to our hotel and the kids swam for a few hours. Once they showered and dried off, we were ready for dinner, but we couldn't figure out where to go (as we didn't want some $ tourist trap). Ended up at some Chinese buffet that was horrible. Good selection but that does't help when its not very good. We were all tired and so off to bed.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2017
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  9. Frozen2014

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    Day 4 - Part 1 - Warner Brother's Tour

    We had Warner Brother's Tour booked for Sunday morning at 10am. I love all the behind the scenes stuff so was looking forward to it, and knew that our kids would get a kick out of it too.

    We were up early again, had breakfast and then called uber to take us to the Warner Brother's Studio. (Don't remember if I said, but we decided to use uber for the trip rather than rent a car. The cost seemed less but more important, less headache as LA driving seems stressful).

    The uber dropped us off in good time and we were able to join an earlier tour that was just leaving. It starts with a short movie and then you get on a tram. It drives where it shows you sets from shows you've seen. I was a teenager in the 80s and so found it super cool to see the Growing Pains House. Mike Seaver grew up there!
    [​IMG]

    I also quite enjoyed the show Gilmour Girls so we saw The Gazeebo in person. I didn't know the Gazeebo was so close to where the Seaver's lived...lol.
    [​IMG]

    We also saw the Rory and Lorilei's house and well as Sookie's house (which is actually the same house...one side was one and the other side the other...neat movie tricks)
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    Next they took us to a building with artifacts. They had a bunch of superhero stuff and also Harry Potter memorabilia. Our son is a huge fan of both, but especially Harry. A few items...

    Harry Potter broom and Quidditch game accessories
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    Glasses
    [​IMG]

    Cloaks
    [​IMG]

    Afterwards the tour takes you to a Batman artifact room (not my thing but DH quite enjoyed). Next it drives by soundstages form the outside with who/what filmed where, and then you can go in the one for Big Bang Theory. Cool!

    Last it ends with a self guided tour and of course where else do it end but in a gift shop.

    Anyone recognise this set?
    [​IMG]

    As a clue...
    So no one told you life was gonna be this way
    Your job's a joke, you're broke, your love life's D.O.A.
    It's like you're always stuck in second gear
    When it hasn't been your day, your week, your month, or even your year, but

    I'll be there for you
    (When the rain starts to pour)...

    The few hours were quite enjoyable and I highly recommend it.
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2017
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  10. Frozen2014

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    Day 4 - Part 2 - Santa Monica Pier

    After the tour we called uber and had it take us to Santa Monica Pier. I think the rest of the city had the same idea since as usual, the roads were quite busy and it took 1hr to get there! We were all quite hungry so we had a fancy lunch at McDonalds on the street directly west and then walked to the pier. It was chillier than it had been (maybe because we were near the water?) and I was slightly cool when not in the sun. Needless to say it didn't stop our fun.

    Even though we were hitting Disneyland soon, our kids wanted to try out some of the rides. It was cheaper to just get the 'all day pass' so we did that. The rides were pretty standard (and simple) amusement parks rides, but the area was nice. At least when we were standing in the roller coaster line, we had something to look at.
    [​IMG]

    Once they got the rides out of their system we went to the beach. The sign says no swimming but our kids went knee deep and jumped the waves. Initially only our son was in his bathing suit, but as my daughter's shorts were getting wet, she changed too. DH was worried that uber would refuse us if she had a web bottom. This is the view from the beach area. It was quite nice afternoon and something different from the tours we had been doing.

    [​IMG]

    It was getting close to dinner so our kids changed and we found a place for dinner. Found this trendy 'healthy' place, I think on Ocean Ave, that was really yummy. It was a nice way to end the day before calling uber to return to our hotel.
     
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  11. Frozen2014

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    Day 5 - Part 1 - Goodbye Hollywood. Hello Disney!

    Today was a bitter sweet day...time to leave Hollywood, but head to Anaheim. We spent the morning packing up. Then after breakfast we formally checked out of Hollywood Orchid Suites but had them hold our bags as we were still going to spend a few hours in the area. Our son loves the Ripley's books so we checked out their museum. We had been to other locations before but exhibits with 'crazy' and 'wow' fact places are fun. We spent a few hours there and quite enjoyed.

    After the museum we stopped briefly at a few stores and grabbed lunch at Johnny Rockets. Then it was time to grab our bags, call uber and go to the happiest place on earth. :drive::yay: Since we had lots of luggage, we called UberXL

    The drive took about 1hr to get there (surprise surprise as we we well aware of LA traffic by now), but we finally got to our motel! Anaheim Desert Inn & Suites...right across the street from Disney entrance (the blue busses in the background are at the Disney entrance)
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    The entrance!
    [​IMG]

    For our room, we had a Parlour Suite on the 5th floor. The front room shown below had a sofa bed and a TV...where my daughter usually stayed (except for once when she bunked with me and DH and DS were together). Then the main room had 2 queen beds and a TV.
    [​IMG]

    The main room also had a sink area, and lots counter space and dressers. The bathroom was quite large and also had the shower. There is also a hanging (open) cupboard behind the door when you walk into the main room.
    [​IMG]

    Although the decor was old and ugly, it was quite spacious and had room for all our stuff. They were also really good with providing towels. Usually at motels/hotels, we have to go to the front desk to ask for more towels so was nice to just have them. I had read complaints from others that the beds are hard, but we found them totally comfortable. Everyone is different so it just depends on what you like.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2017
  12. Frozen2014

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    Day 5 - Part 2 - Downtown Disney

    I gave DH about 6 minutes to get settled in our room...lol...and then we went to explore. We weren't going to use park tickets for today but I wanted to go to the ticket booth to find out if we could exchange our Canadian voucher with actual tickets (special deal Disney was having for Canadians to help with the awful exchange rate). The lady explained that we would just do so when entering the park for the day. I was a bit worried it would take away time from our Magic Morning but the lady insisted that it's quite quick. We show them proof that we're Canadian and they take our picture and we're in.

    So next we checked out Downtown Disney. We never managed to get there at WDW so didn't know what to expect.

    For those that don't know...once you enter security (from Harbor side), you can either turn to your right to Disneyland,
    [​IMG]

    turn to your left to DCA
    [​IMG]

    or continue straight to Downtown Disney. The three locations are that close! It's awesome!
    [​IMG]

    Now one thing to mention about our week, is on the day that we arrived, Anaheim (and probably all of CA) experienced a heat wave. :beach: I love heat, but even I'll admit it was a "little" hot at high 30s ...or 100 degrees. So we right away ducked into World of Disney for some air conditioning. Wow...what a perfect Disney store. It has tons of memorabilia including figures, pictures, cloths, cups, candy, etc.

    Afterwards we continued and walked to Lego store
    [​IMG]

    And checked out other stores in the area. I think DH bought a few shirts (he has so many he can create his own tshirt store) but otherwise we just browsed.
    [​IMG]

    It was getting close to dinner. I had heard good things about Trader Sams, but I let DH pick the place since I did all other planning for the trip (more because he's not a planner and not Disney obsessed like I am, and so was happy to let me do so). DH wanted one thing non-Disney related s he knew he'd be immersed it Disney for 4 days straight. So we ended up at Denny's next to our motel. It actually was ok, and didn't cost $$$. After dinner we called it a night as we had an 'early-ish' morning the next day as that is when we were using our Magic Morning.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2017
  13. Frozen2014

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    Day 6 - Part 1 - Disney Parks - Getting Ready for our First Day

    Today was the day we were seeing Disneyland for the first time! So exciting! As it was a Tuesday, we decided to select today as our magic morning. Now, since it was last week in August, it is considered 'low season' and the parks don't actually open until 10am. Thus, it wasn't stupid early as this just meant magic morning was at 9am.

    I don't remember what time I set the alarm (and I don't remember an alarm actually going off so I think we were all up beforehand), but we showered and I gave our kids their "clothes bag". Don't think I've mentioned (unless you've read my pre-report) but I decided to be extra organised for this trip. I knew we'd have two big suitcases. I am in charge of selecting everything that our kids (and I need) but I just lay it in the floor and DH is in charge of fitting everything in the suitcases. He is great at space saving (it's like a puzzle to him) and he fills in every crack getting everything in...BUT... this means that stuff is all over (and smartly spread between two suitcases in case we lost one during our flight). I knew too that in the mornings, we'd want to get up and go (or more like "the kids and I would want to" as DH would be happy to sit and relax in the morning but that doesn't work for Disney...lol). Thus, I created zip-lock bags of outfits. I even had a spreadsheet of what bag was for each day. I know it sounds extreme but it worked really well and made mornings really efficient. No 'what to wear today?', or searching for socks or underwear or the shorts that match the top. I actually recommend doing this for family vacations that are high paced.

    So next step was to grab breakfast. We booked a hotel that included breakfast as this also simplifies the morning. We are not ones to bring in our own breakfast and eat in the room (to me, that is me serving cleaning and it's my vacation too) so 'breakfast included' was criteria when selecting a place to stay. The Dessert Inn & Suites has an 'ok' breakfast. It has the basics and really was no more than we'd have at home. If you are looking for hot items such as cooked eggs, bacon, pancakes, etc, you won't find any here, but it had toast/bagels, pastries (so our kids were happy), oatmeal and dry cereal (kids were really happy as they got fruitloops each morning), hard boiled egg (there's the protein), 2 fruit choices, and coffee and juice. It got us going and we were good until lunch.

    Breakfast was done. We returned to the room, put on sunscreen, and grabbed our backpack with our items (sunscreen, hats, cooling towels, collapsible water bottles, daughter's autograph book). Time to head to the park! :yay::yay::yay: I had read that even though the parks open at 9am for Magic Morning, that we should be there 1hr before. I knew DH wouldn't be happy with that, but we left around 8:15am, went through security pretty quickly and then stood in line at the Disneyland gates.
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2017
  14. Frozen2014

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    Day 6 - Part 2 - Disney Parks - Magic Morning

    The gates enter around 30 minutes before park opening (plus or minus). As promised, exchanging the Canadian vouchers for actual park tickets was a quick process and really didn't slow us down at all. Once in, we walked around the curve
    [​IMG]

    and then we went down Main Street. It seemed familiar as it's close to WDW...except of course the castle is quite a bit smaller. From the start of Main Street, it's almost comical if you're used to seeing it from far away and the centre point of the street.
    [​IMG]

    Having said that, the castle is actually quite beautiful close up.

    (This picture may be from the back once in Fantasyland)
    [​IMG]

    So where to first? Well from all the research on here, it was recommended to try Peter Pan first BUT if there are more than 100 people, then skip it for Magic Morning. Thus, we dashed to the ride and got there in good time with a 20 minute wait (didn't count the # people to see if this is less than 100...lol). We decided to stick it out. We had been on Peter Pan once at WDW (although I wasn't feeling well that day so couldn't fully appreciate it). Now I get why the fuss. It's not a thrill ride by any means, but it's one of those dark rides BUT you are flying ontop looking down as if you are in the air with Peter Pan. And like all Disney rides, there is just so much to look at. It really does represent Disney.

    I had my suggested Touring Plan (which I think had Alice next) but we just went in order and went on Mr Toad next. This ride is not at WDW and thus, we hadn't been on it before. The line was quite short at about 10 min. The ride was quite cute and again, a dark ride with lots to look at
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    Mr Toad is there to greet you while in the queue (inside)
    [​IMG]

    Next we headed off to Alice, followed by Matterhorn. I skipped this one as heard it was really rough. Poor DH is tall and his knees were scrunched. My son agreed too that it was rough and that was the one and only time they rode it. It was probably the end of magic morning by now, but we hadn't yet been on Pinocchio or Snow While, both of which are new to us. It took us a a bit to find Snow White, but just because we didn't realise it was near the Fantasyland entrance closer to the castle. I even had my own map drawn out. I remembered from WDW that they provide maps, but then you have to cross reference then numbers on the map with the rides. On my version, I labelled rides of interest right on the map. Guess its sitll confusing once you are actually there. :rolleyes1

    Now the rides the rides we wanted to hit at Fantasyland rides were done and off to Adventureland.
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2017
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  15. Frozen2014

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    Day 6 - Part 3 - Disney Parks - Explore Adventureland, New Orleans Square and Critter Country

    From my research, I had put to ‘grab FastPass for Indiana Jones’ as the first thing to do once Magic Morning ended. Thus, off to find the FastPass machine and figure out how it worked. We entered through Adventureland entrance and passed the Tiki room (oh perfect…we have located the Dole Whip location - we know where to return!). We found the ride but since we didn’t know what the machines looked like, we had to ask a CM where they were located. He of course pointed 3 feet from where we were standing. Doh. Anyways, our very first FassPass. Two of our passes were 5 minutes later so we took note of the later time.

    [​IMG]

    Jungle Cruise was next door so we went on that next. The line was quite short. We had been on it at WDW and this one was similar with the corny but laughable jokes. I’m sure the order and animals shown weren’t exactly the same (and I seem to remember getting splashed by the elephants at WDW which luckily was timed nicely at DL s you don’t get wet), but don’t remember the WDW one in enough details to compare to that level.

    By now, our Indiana Jones FastPass window opened up. Due to my eye issues, I had been debating whether to ride or skip this one. My main restriction is avoiding g-force or big drops (and even that I wasn’t told until I specifically asked with an answer of ‘may be ok, may be an issue’). From posts on here I was told that Indiana Jones is very rough, but no hills. So in the end I decided to give it a try. We scanned our park tickets and entered the queue and followed the path…and followed the path…and followed the path. The queue (now inside) seemed to go on and on. Eventually we got to the intro movie of avoiding the ‘eye’ and then were let in. You sit in this jeep thing and yep…it does bounce around with the theme of the movie (from what I remember as I probably haven’t seen the movies for 30 years). But wow…what a fun ride. The best is the boulder part where it chases you while you start moving backwards. This became one of my top 5 rides.

    My son was so anxious to ride Splash Mountain as that was his favorite at WDW. So we next walked over to pull a FastPass for him. Oh my…I must say he is super brave as we got a glimse of the last drop on Splash. It’s crazy steep! His FastPass:

    [​IMG]

    On the way to Splash, my DD and I gave a sign as we passed Haunted Mansion. We both LOVE that ride at WDW...our very favourite, so it almost hurt to see it but not able to go on it as it was closed for the Halloween overlay. We did get a picture in front of it to say that we were there.

    We then walked back to New Orleans Square and got in line for Pirates. There was a slight line but it moved quickly and I think start to end, it was no more than 15 minutes (which I think is pretty good by Disney crowds). We went on Pirates once at WDW. It was ok. None of us had seen the movie but there was still lots to look at and get the general idea. For some reason I wasn’t wow’ed at WDW….maybe because I was on the end and one of the few to get a pretty big wave when going down the hill (and it wasn’t hot out). However, I actually really enjoyed the DL version. It is much longer (and maybe one extra drop?), and I enjoyed the details. My kids and I were sat in the front row and we got splashed lightly going down the hills (DH was further back since at the last second, he changed his mind and decided to ride). We weren’t soaked like I was at WDW…just more of a nuisance on the glasses. Going on the ride, I know see what people mean about Blue Bayou being inside the ride. Pretty neat. Pirates was so much fun at DL and we would definitely be back.

    Once Pirates was done we walked over to Splash. My husband was going to wait for him at the exit while I took DD on Winnie the Pooh. We basically walked on the ride, which is different from WDW as there was always a line up when we went. The ride is cute...again, a dark ride with lots to look at and lots of colours. I can see the appeal to young kids. When it was done we walked to where my husband said was the exit. While standing there, I noted that no one seemed to be exiting. Turns out he saw a sign that 'FastPass Exit' and he thought that was the exit to the ride. We started to panic as it had been some time and were worried that our son exited Splash but yet we weren't there. SO we found the real exit and he still didn't exit. DH walked around, and then walked through the line panicky. Eventually, he did exit and needless to say, we were very relieved. He said he enjoyed the ride but the story isn't as concrete as WDW...but the drop was fun and it's still his favourite.

    By this time we were all hungry for lunch. In one way, I felt like we should grab a FastPass since now we were missing time, but we were planning on switching parks after lunch so it had to wait. Before leaving I had picked out good quick services so we walked to Jolly Holiday. Our kids had the Mac & Cheese, DH had some meat sandwich and I had the Caprese sandwich. We were disappointed with the meal. Mine and DH's were ok but not great. Our kids meal was so small that a 4 year old would have left hungry. It was quite pathetic.

    After lunch, we park hopped to DCA. Time to check out the other park.
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2017
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  16. Our Aussie six

    Our Aussie six Earning My Ears

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    I'm really enjoying your TR, we will be taking our first ever visit in November so I really enjoy reading your tips for first timers.
     
  17. Frozen2014

    Frozen2014 DIS Veteran

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    Thank you so much. Let me know if you have any questions. It was our first trip too so we were in your shoes. :-) Enjoy your trip. Disneyland is awesome!
     
  18. Frozen2014

    Frozen2014 DIS Veteran

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    Day 6 - Park 4 - Disney Parks - Disney California Adventure

    Ok…ready to explore the other park! It really is easy to park hop. You basically exit one park, walk 300 ft, and enter the other park showing your park ticket…and voila, you are there! My original touring plan had to grab a FastPass for either Toy Story or Soarin when we crossed, but our son expressed an interest in the new Guardians ride. Thus, we headed there to grab a FastPass. Our daughter wanted to try it too.

    [​IMG]

    Since Guardians is a headliner, our window opened up next for a FastPass 2hrs later. i.e. we pulled the FastPass at 1:35pm and had to wait the maximum time until 3:35pm to pull the next one. That is the only bad thing about headliners….it means less FastPasses overall. But of course, it avoids waiting 60+ minutes in the stand by line. I’ll take the latter. For all our rides, we basically FastPassed the headliners (just made up a new verb…lol) and did stand by for others. In both cases, we basically had no wait.

    One thing I should mention is that it was getting super hot. Time to pull out our ‘heat gear’.
    [​IMG]
    For anyone hitting the parks when its hot, I highly recommend these. First, we each had a cooling towel, each a different color. There are many different versions of them (a common one is Frogg Toggs). I selected the Way 2 Cool based on reviews (personal from Amazon and a comparison review). Some other brands complained of smell or mold so I went with Way 2 Cool. They worked pretty well and do keep a coolness to them. We kept them around our necks and I would just dab my face when in the hot sun. We also picked up the collapsible water bottles. The ones we got were lightweight and even folded up when not using them. The biggest issue is that the water fountain water wasn’t always that cold, but you can ask for ice water as well from the quick service places when needed. That impressed me with Disney since usually they charge for everything.

    So next was to check our Cars Land. If you’ve seen the movies…wow…it’s like you are in Radiator Springs. As you walk down the street, you see Flo’s Diner, Luigi’s Tire shop and the mountains in the background (which is Radiator Springs Racer ride).

    [​IMG]

    The other neat thing is that they have meet and greets for the various Cars characters. You would even see them driving down the road (to get to its designated spot). Unfortunately it was so hot that we never stood in line or stopped since we’d be right in the blaring sun, but it was still neat to see.

    We next walked to the Mater ride . Once again, it was a short line with maybe a 5 minute wait. My husband didn’t want to go on, so my kids and I fit on a single Mater. The ride doesn’t look like much, but it’s quite fun as it swings you to each side. My daughter partially liked this one.
    [​IMG]


    The Luigi ride is cute too. The line was always short too and pretty much walk on. You get in a car (again, it fits 3 people) and all the cars do a dance to some Italian music. It does one final spin at the end which I wasn’t expecting the first time, but it’s fun.
    [​IMG]

    Next we hit Bugs Life. It's a great place when its hot since it's indoors and air conditioned. It's a show and not a ride but quite amusing. One of those 4D rides. Only attend if you don't mind bugs..lol.

    Our kids are very scheduled and it was just after 3pm...which means snack time (or as they knew at Disney 'treat time'). We grabbed Frozen Lemonades from the stands. Not the most interesting snack when it comes to Disney but it was refreshing.

    Our FastPass window was opening up soon so I wanted to check the FastPass distribution time for Radiator Springs. Well wow...struck gold as I noticed that the (stand by) wait time was only 15 minutes! Never heard of that. So lemonades in hand, we rushed over. (DH didn't get the urgency but later understood). The ride must have broken down and it was just brought back up. Sure enough, Radiator Springs Racer ride was basically walk on. The walk to the front is so beautiful as you see the mountains around you and at a couple spots the cars zip by.
    [​IMG]

    I had heard the ride was similar to Test Track at WDW. You don't build a car or anything, and instead of car safety tests, the ride starts as a dark ride where you are in your car and you see the different characters and scenes. Then you get to the start line and race one other car. The ride is so much fun! It goes fast and up and down small hills, but enough you feel it in your stomach. RSR became my favourite ride and based on usual wait times of 60-120 minutes, I'm most likely not alone in that club.

    At this point, the Guardians FastPass window opened up. I can't talk much about it since I didn't go on it; however, DH and I could walk our kids through the ride until the got on the elevator. Also, I haven't seen the movie so can't relate what I saw to the movie but there is a cute scene in the beginning with one of the characters in a library. After that, you still walk to another room and wait a bit until you go on. My husband and I waited for our kids at the exit by the gift shop. Well our son came out excited...BUT...our poor daughter was in tears. She found it quite scary and said it felt like she was falling of a cliff. My heart broke and I felt so bad that we weren't with her. Needles to say, it wasn't one that she was going on again, but it was a big thumbs up for our son.

    By the time we got off Guardians, it just after 4:30pm (or there about). We had dinner reservation at Goofy's Kitchen at 6:30pm but that was at Disneyland hotel which meant a bit of a walk through Downtown Disney. Our daughter wanted to go on Little Mermaid as she loved that one at WDW (she was also 5 years when we went so she was totally at the princess stage). DS and DH wanted to sit for a few minutes so they waited for us on a bench. The ride is very similar to WDW, but even as an adult I always found this one very impressive. It does feel magical and captures the movie well. And it's bright with tons to look at. The clam shell seats are cute too.

    So next is a big example of where MaxPass vs Legacy FastPass would have been a huge help. Our son really wanted to go on Toy Story before we left. I had suggested that they walk over and get FastPass while my daughter and I went on Little Mermaid but they (understandably) wanted to rest for a few minutes). By the time we were done on Little Mermaid and walked over to Toy Story together, the FastPass return time would have us completing the ride close to the same time as if we got in line at that point with a 40 minute wait. We started to get in line but ended up ducking out after a few minutes since it was just too close for us to make our dinner reservation. Had we had MaxPass, we could have grabbed it earlier and then the timing would have been a non-issue. Our son was quite upset that we couldn't wait for it but we're ones for being on time and didn't want to chance losing a reservation.
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2017
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  19. Frozen2014

    Frozen2014 DIS Veteran

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    Day 6 - Park 5 - Disney Parks - Goofy's Kitchen

    We wanted to book one character meal. Although we like breakfast food, we preferred not to book a meal for it since (1) our hotel already gave us breakfast, (2) would rather be at the parks in the mornings rather than in a restaurant when crowds are lower. This left a lunch character meal; however, the one offered is a princess meal and we wouldn’t subject our son to that again (he had to at WDW). Thus, that left Goofy’s Kitchen for dinner. The place looked fun with a big buffet so we booked it.

    Our reservation was at 6:30pm. We arrived a bit early as it was hard to estimate the time to walk from the far end of DCA through Downtown Disney to find the restaurant (we weren’t even sure exactly sure where the hotel was located). They took us pretty much right away. You first get a picture with Chef Mickey (which is ironic as that is the WDW character meal). They of course try to sell you the picture (and unfortunately, we didn’t have PhotoPass/MaxPass on this day to take advantage), but I also had them take a picture with our camera which turned out ok. Then you are seated to your table.

    We were seated in the side room and there were already characters there so we waited before getting some food. Our daughter brought her autograph book that she had from WDW (and at home created a divider page for Disneyland) so she was ready for signatures.

    [​IMG]

    During our meal, we had Goofy, Minnie, Chip, Dale and Pluto come by and we got a picture with each. The interaction was good, although we’re not as good as some families where we keep “the conversation” going to keep them there longer.

    The buffet itself was pretty large and had options for meat eaters (DH), non-meat eaters (me) and picky eaters (our kids). Ironically one of the best items is their mac & cheese. They had the peanut butter and jam pizza which looked neat but I didn’t try it. It was sitting with the smores pizza so not sure if it was meant as dinner or dessert. Speaking of dessert, they had tons of options. Our kids were quite happy and their dessert plate were probably as big as their dinner plates.

    After dinner, we walked back (or wobbled) to our hotel. It was a pretty full first day. Time for showers and to bed. There is another full day ahead tomorrow!
     
  20. Frozen2014

    Frozen2014 DIS Veteran

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    Day 7 - Part 1 - Disney Parks - Tomorrowland and Repeat of Favorites

    Early entry today was at DCA so we started at Disneyland again so we weren’t at a disadvantage. DL opened at 10am so we left around 9am. We wanted to stop at the ticket booth to add MaxPass. Although I had explained FastPass vs MaxPass to DH more than a few times, it never clicked. But after experiencing legacy FastPass the day before, and now explaining that we can book on our phone for a fee or $10 per person (i.e. $40/day), he thought it’s a no brainer and “Why didn’t you tell me about that? Of course we should buy it!”. Doh…better late than never I guess. Anyways, at guest relations, the lady walked us through of how to add it to our phone, but we couldn’t complete the steps and initiate it until we entered the park with our ticket.

    We stood in line and tried to stop at a spot in the shade as it was hot already. We held off taking out our cooling towels until later, but we could have used them (once we wet them of course). They opened the gate shortly afterwards, DH completed the MaxPass purchasing process for that day (you buy one day at a time), and we headed to the waiting area at Tomorrowland. Once FastPass bookings opened, I (think) I booked Star Tours. How awesome to be able to book in less than 10 seconds.

    Note that since MaxPass doesn’t give paper print outs, I am going by memory and so the bookings may be off but will try and recount as best as I can.

    Since we had a FastPass for Star Tours, we headed to Buzz Light. Like other non-headliners, it was walk on. This one is fun to look at as it’s neon with lots going on, but it’s hard to aim the small laser beam at the targets (Toy Story seems easier to score). I do like though how the guns come off the stand. Don’t remember if they do that at WDW. I'm looking at the email you get to send to yourself when done, and I got a whole 19,900 points. That was probably the record...for the worst score..lol.

    After that we went across to Star Wars Launch Bay. Didn’t want to spend a lot of time in there as it was prime ride time, but thought we’d look for characters. We found a nice harry fur ball

    [​IMG]

    And another dude in a black outfit who breathed really loud

    [​IMG]

    Meant to return to Launch Bay when rides had worse crowds but never made it back. I’m not into Star Wars as much but DH and DS quite like it.

    I should note that the two pictures above are from our PhotoPass (I do edit the pictures as I'm not comfortable showing pictures of my family). By purchasing MaxPass, we got photos on our account. So now I was on the lookout for photographers!

    Next was to use our FastPass for Star Tours. This was one that I was debating and decided to skip this one. My son quite liked it at WDW but I didn’t know if it would be rough or quick accelerations. (Later in the trip though, I changed my mind and gave it a try). I was able to walk through the ride and just exit on the other side. After the ride you end up in the gift shop (so clever when they do that) and DH bought a few tshirts.

    What to do next? I pulled out my phone and booked a FastPass for Indiana Jones. No need to lug over there until we were ready. So cool!

    Next we headed over to Indiana Jones. That ride is so fun that we wanted to ride it again. When riding the second time, the walk in the cave to the front didn’t seem quite as long (whereas first time it went on and on). It’s also neat to notice new things on the ride second time around. When we exited the ride, I noticed a PhotoPass photographer so we stopped. The pictures were infront of the jeep that was actually used in the movies (or so he said).

    After the ride, we were walking back and even though we didn’t have lunch yet, thought we’d stop for a Dole Whip. I missed it at WDW so wanted to try it and DH did have a chance and confirmed it really is good. There are two kinds...one that is just the pineapple ice cream and one that is the ice cream in pineapple juice. I assume the latter is the authentic version. DS and DH got the full version and DD and I just got the ice cream version. The verdict? Yum. Now I get all the fuss.

    DS really wanted to go on Splash again so he went on single rider while I took DD on Winnie the Pooh again. At least they have something near by for her. Every time I see that hill, I cringe and admire those brave soles who go down it. It is so steep!

    We hadn’t yet been on Big Thunder Mountain se we headed there next. I don’t remember if we got a FastPass for it or if we did stand by. Either way, it took no time to get on the ride. To note as well, I don’t ever remember a time during our trip when a FastPass was really needed for Big Thunder as the wait times were always 15 minutes or less. The first time we rode it we were near the front, which feels a bit slower than sitting at the back (only because you are part way down hill/turn before picking up speed). The seats hold three and since DH wanted to sit this one out, my two kids and I fit in one car. Our daughter loved this ride, and as soon as we got off, she was running back to the entrance to go again.

    [​IMG]

    Time to look at the FastPass app and book the next one. Soarin seemed to be one that ran out quickly and we knew that we’d be switching parks in a bit, so I grabbed Soarin. Again, so easy. We are at Disneyland but can book for the other park.

    After that, our stomachs were starting to rumble (even though those Dole Whips held us over) so we stopped at French Market for lunch. I like the atmosphere of this place and we grabbed a table outside. Our kids got mac & cheese. I don’t remember offhand what DH had. There weren’t too many choices for a non meat eater , but I ordered the ceasar salad without the chicken. It came with corn bread on the side and although not the most exciting meal, it was quite good.

    When done, we were ready to park hop.
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2017
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  21. Frozen2014

    Frozen2014 DIS Veteran

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    Day 7 - Part 2 - Disney Parks - Return to DCA

    We crossed over to DCA. Bear with me as I'm recalling as best as I can based on pictures and timestamps. (Wish I had recorded FastPass times from MaxPass). As we walked into DCA I noticed a photopass photographer near the mountain so we stopped for some pictures. The photos turned out nice with the background. I believe we had a Soarin FP but we must have had some time and went on something like the Mater ride again (otherwise, not sure why we were walking that way). That one is fun.

    One comment about MaxPass vs legacy FastPass. With legacy, the maximum wait time before booking your next FastPass is 2hrs. Headliners such as RSR, Soarin, Guardians tend to be more than 2 hr waits before the FastPass time. However, with MaxPass, the maximum wait time is 1.5 hrs so you can book a bit sooner. Thus, our next FastPass window was opening soon and I booked Radiator Springs Racer.

    We headed to Soarin when the start time came. With only one side running, that ride really backs up so it was nice walking past the huge line up. However, even bypassing the line, you still have to wait a cycle or two for the previous ride(s) to complete. We watched the preshow and went in. We were placed in the first row, which after riding a second time later in the week, I (now) realise this is the best row. With second row, you see feet dangling in front of you so it loses the effect a bit. With front row, you don’t and all you see are the wonderful views. I liked Soarin at WDW but I loved it at DCA. Not sure if I just wasn’t into it or why the difference, but I just found it so peaceful and calming. They also add in smell at DCA which is quite neat.

    When our next FastPass window opened up, we booked Toy Story. DS missed it yesterday so we promised him today we’d make it.

    When RSR time opened up, we walked there but saw that they were turning people away. Oh oh. Looks like it broke down. The CM said that our FastPass turns into an ‘anytime multipass’ FastPass. (There is a term for it but I forget the name). We basically could return any time that day to ride RSR or any other ride except for Guardians. We were disappointed but hopefully we would make it.

    We walked towards Toy Story which is at the far end of the park. It’s a shame that there are no other rides that interest us there (there is California Screamin that our son won’t ride as it goes upside down plus standard carnival type rides). On the way, we passed Paridise Pier which is quite pretty.

    [​IMG]

    Toy Story is fun. It’s easier to aim at the targets compared with Buzz. It’s cute with all the characters and different kind of games. The cars whip you around sometimes too (which I felt in my tummy). It seemed similar to WDW but the waits there were super long.

    When we got out of Toy Story, I checked the app to see if Radiator Springs was back up but no such luck. It was quite hot so we thought we’d walk towards the animation building. We went on Luigi again (no line up). Then we continued down the path. Our kids saw the Tuck and Rull Drive Em Buggies and thought they’d try it since they like bumper cars. I’ll say that it was almost comical watching our 12 year old son's face while on the ride since he looked utterly bored. The cars went so slow.

    We went on Monsters Inc. I love the movies and the ride was super cute too. Even the queue had a bit of stuff to look at, which doesn’t seem as common at DL.

    I kept checking the app to see if RSR was back up but it was still temporarily down. So we went to the Animation building. My daughter noticed that there was a sign for Anna and Elsa. There were lots of people just hanging around so we thought that must be the line up (since at WDW it was 2hr waits without a FastPast…but then again, that was a couple years ago when they were super big). We asked the CM where the line started and she pointed to ‘there’. Well ‘there’ had no one in line. So we went to the spot and 12 seconds later they called us in. Not bad!

    Here is Anna and Elsa with my daughter photo-shopped out of it (oops…just noticed I missed her feet…lol)

    [​IMG]

    Anna and Elsa were interactive with my daughter. She happened to be wearing a baseball cap that had large sparkle on it, but it looked like a snow flake on top so of course they had fun with that.

    While we were at A&E, our son and husband went to Sorcerer’s Workshop (no way was he staying with the princesses). Our son actually really enjoyed this section as he thought it was neat making the animated picture.

    One last check but RSR was still down. It was getting time to head back to Disneyland for our Cafe Orleans reservation so we gave up and switched parks. Hopefully after dinner it would be back up and running. If not, we'd pick some other ride in its place but it was really RSR that we wanted to ride.
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2017
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