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Old 11-14-2012, 02:12 PM   #1
WeatherbySwann
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Talking "Let's Choose a Swinging Car, It Doesn't Look Bad" First-Time DLR TR July 2012

Hi, everyone. This will be a trip report of my family's first-ever Disneyland trip after many Walt Disney World vacations. We spent most of the time at DLR, but also visited the Reagan Library and took Adventures by Disney's Lights, Camera, Magic tour, so those will be included along the way, as well.

The logistics
Who's traveling: Me and my two grandparents
The occasion: My graduation
Accommodations: Howard-Johnson

I will get to the title's meaning eventually in the trip report. It is worth the wait.

Everybody ready? Please take small children by the hand and stand clear of the doors. Por favor mantenganse alejado de las---oh wait, wrong coast...


Table of Contents
Day 1 - Traveling and Downtown DisneyDay 2 - DisneylandDay 3 - Disney California Adventure and DisneylandDay 4 - Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Foundation
featuring D23's Treasures of the Disney ArchivesDay 5 - Adventures by Disney's Lights, Camera, Magic
featuring Hollywood and the Walt Disney StudiosDay 6 - Disney California AdventureDay 7 - Disneyland



Part 1: Be Our Guest
Day 1
Traveling
Downtown Disney


I was thrilled to finally be visiting Disneyland, the place Walt had built, seen, and experienced himself. I was definitely excited to see all of the expansion of California Adventure, but I was more excited for just being in new Disney territory in general. I knew there would be plenty of similarities to WDW, but I also knew there would be many unique things and was so excited to walk through new (to me) Disney parks.



Warning: the first portion of our trip was decidedly unmagical. But thankfully it was out of the way and the rest of the vacation was wonderful. Our flight was on a Monday morning, which unbeknownst to us is typically one of the busiest travel periods of the week. We arrived early enough for most flights, but since it was Monday morning there were delays and crowds, prompting a sprint to catch the plane! [Insert Home Alone music.]

The flight was fine (there were quite a few hidden Mickeys in those crop circles ) and actually turned out being a little shorter than we expected.

Next for the part that made me feel like with a slight touch of : the Disneyland Resort Express. What a fiasco that was. The driver didn't seem to have answers to Guests' questions, some seats on the bus were dismantled and Guests themselves had to put them in place, it seemed like it took forever to leave the airport, and absolutely no welcome video. Compared to WDW's Magical Express, the DLR Express was a joke. Definitely un-Disney service and not a great first impression at all. (Oppositely, though, our ride back to the airport at the end of the trip was the exact opposite and was one of the best examples of the Disney Difference I have ever experienced, so I guess it just depends. I'm very glad the poor service was at the beginning of the trip and not the end, though, because I was so excited that I was going to Disneyland that I somewhat didn't care how I got there.)

Anyway, the first Disney sighting to be had was the Tower of Terror! It was truly like nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing.... woah the Tower of Terror, when did that get there?!

After dropping off at the DLR hotels, we headed toward the offsites including the HoJo. It quickly became clear, as I had read on the DIS, that offsite was not the same term I was familiar dealing with in Florida. For WDW, offsite means alienated from the Disney magic as you watch everyone else ride monorails and Disney motor coaches. DL offsite was more like a backyard view of the park even closer than the Contemporary is to the Magic Kingdom! From inside our HoJo room we could hear the train whistle and Tomorrowland background music, which I thought was just awesome. (It was at a level where you could hear it if you were listening, but could easily tune it out if you wanted quiet.) The rooms were comparable to a WDW moderate resort--comfy beds, fridge, coffee maker, porch. I felt the atmosphere was less than that of a WDW value resort, but you're really paying for location (about $150 a night in peak summer when we visited, pretty reasonable especially compared to DLR hotels). I soon grew to love being able to walk 10 mins back to the room instead of waiting for a crowded bus ride like at WDW.


Our first day was meant to be just an exploration day--I didn't want to waste a full Park day with just a few hours, and knew we would want to look around anyway, so we headed to Downtown Disney. Passing through the Esplanade was surreal for sure. It's one thing to drive a couple of hours from home and be in WDW, but an entire other psychological beast altogether to fathom I was at my own house all the way across the country that morning and at that moment I was setting eyes on Disneyland. DISNEYLAND.

We entered World of Disney first. At the beginning of any Disney trip, I feel like you're still pinching yourself that you're actually there, and thus want to take pictures of everything. So I have pictures of things that I saw in World of Disney that I thought were really cool, but didn't want to buy lol






I love this shirt, but... does it really make sense anywhere but Florida? The parade doesn't start at 3:00 in Disneyland! Or did it once used to?


My family has a plush Perry the Platypus that we carry around in the Parks and pose in different fun places, sort of like Flat Stanley. We just think his expression is so funny that it makes any picture of him immediately funny even if the picture wouldn't have been funny in the first place. Perry was very humbled when he saw the display of his merchandise in World of Disney:



We strolled around Downtown Disney a bit more, popping in and out of stores and soaking in atmosphere but not really looking for or buying anything in particular. We quickly discovered that we wouldn't need nearly as much time walking around as we thought... we soon came to the end of all we wanted to see with a few hours to spare before our Rainforest Cafe reservations. I was afraid they wouldn't be able to be changed, but another thing learned about DL--dining is not such a big deal, again as I had read here on the DIS. Not only were we able to change our reservation, but a table was available within 10 minutes of our inquiry!

I like Rainforest Cafe, but eating there this time made me realize it sort of loses its touch after the first visit (for me at least). The food was good--I got the ravioli--but admittedly a bit overpriced and not something I would go back specifically to eat. We ate upstairs, right up close with an elephant.


Even though it was around 4:00 by the time our meal was done, we were dead tired and decided to turn in early for the night. (And without a Park ticket for that day, it wasn't like we could do much more anyway.) We all fell asleep very quickly and probably got close to 13 hours of sleep! The fireworks did wake me up, but I'm not going to lie--being woken up by the sound of a Disney chorus singing "Magical" in the distance is pretty sweet, if one must be woken up. It really solidified that I was actually there and made me smile before I drifted back to sleep.

We woke up bright and early the following morning to head to Disneyland! We chose to use or Magic Morning later in the trip, so for the first Park day we entered at 8 a.m. We ate at Millie's on Harbor Blvd. on the way to the Park... it was good I guess, I honestly don't even remember what I ate because I was so excited. I do remember it was filled with Disney plushes everywhere, though.


I thought it was cool how you can see the Tower of Terror from right outside the HoJo.

We approached the Esplanade... went through the security check... passed through the turnstiles... here it was. Entering Disneyland for the first time is a moment I will never forget. We took our picture in front of the Mickey floral and walked toward the left entrance tunnel, and at that moment an instrumental version of Be Our Guest starts playing on the loudspeakers. Wowww. It was all I could do to keep it together. This was Walt's dream come true. This was the original. This was Disneyland. And I was about to step into its magic for the first time.

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Old 11-14-2012, 08:39 PM   #2
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Enjoying your trip so far- looking forward to more.
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Old 11-14-2012, 08:43 PM   #3
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Luv the title, can't wait to hear the story
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Old 11-16-2012, 04:31 PM   #4
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Part 2: A Whole New World
Day 2, Part 1
Parks

We passed through the entrance railroad tunnel, Be Our Guest playing on BGM, welcoming us into an almost-empty Town Square. Despite the fact that MM had started an hour earlier and it was now 8:00 opening time for regular Guests, we entered probably around 8:03ish, so we missed the rope drop rush, meaning our walk into the Park was a calm, welcome one and not hectic. Our first stop was City Hall, which my grandparents were a little confused about because they didn't know I was retrieving our celebration buttons for my graduation and my grandmother's birthday. I thoroughly expected mine to just be a generic "I'm Celebrating!" button, as I had never seen a graduation button in the Parks, so I was pleasantly surprised when the CM presented me with a blue "Just Graduated!" button. Cool!

We exited City Hall and I pointed out Walt's apartment to my grandparents. We began to make our way to head up Main Street, when who should walk into Town Square but and ! We followed Mickey to the flag pole and were his first Guests of the day (unless you count the random little boy that jumped into our picture lol). It was the perfect beginning to the day, and a great welcome to the Park.


We headed up Main Street, where a line of Cast Members were In this picture you can see Oscar, the CM who has been at Disneyland since opening day in 1955.



I knew I wanted our first attraction to be exciting, E-Ticket-worthy, something that would blow us away, and something that we had never seen in Florida, and I figured Indiana Jones fit that bill exactly. We all loved it! Such a wonderful attraction. I really like that ride system, which is also used in Dinosaur at Animal Kingdom. While I do enjoy seeing everyone scared silly by the giant dinosaur towering over the car at AK, overall I liked the Indiana Jones utilization of the system better as a whole attraction. (My grandfather brushed his hands in my grandmother's hair when the spiders showed up)
Overall Indiana Jones rating:

We opted on waiting later for Jungle Cruise (which was a mistake, since it was closed for a refurb later in the trip). I was really surprised at the size of Adventureland. I knew it would be small, but it felt sort of cramped and squished to me. Maybe it's just me, though. Next we ventured into Tarzan's Treehouse. Some pretty cool views up there! As you can see, there were not a lot of people in Park yet at all (this was about 8:30 on a MM day)



I like the retro feel of the Swiss Family Treehouse in WDW slightly better than the dense jungle-ish tone of Tarzan, but still worthwhile for the views and fun interactive elements. My grandparents loved looking at all the plants and identifying them.
Overall Tarzan's Treehouse rating:

New Orleans Square was next up. What an AWESOME atmosphere. At this point in the morning, there honestly wasn't much going on there, but later on it would grow to become one of my favorite Disney atmospheres ever. For now, though, we headed into POTC!!! My family loves the Pirates films and of course enjoy the ride, and I was especially intrigued with Disneyland's version being so much longer than WDW's. While I did like the extra scenes (particularly the bayou), I thought the pacing was sort of bizarre. At WDW, you go down the hill and are immediately immersed in the action of the ship battle. At DL, the first drop was brilliant. Go down the hill, and you're in the dark grotto with the Yo Ho song playing joyously. (SO COOL!) But the 2nd drop I felt was awkward. You go down the hill, go through some more dark grotto, and then slowly make your way to the battle scene. Still an excellent ride of course, but I thought that transition was sort of strange.
Overall Pirates of the Caribbean rating:


Moving right along, we went right down the path and continued successively with more attractions, all with no wait at all: Haunted Mansion, Splash Mountain, and Winnie the Pooh.

Overall Haunted Mansion rating:
Classic ride, such great fun, loved the exterior.



Overall Splash Mountain rating:
If I wasn't familiar with the WDW version, I would have immensely enjoyed it. However, since I've been on WDW's, I was surprisingly disappointed by DL's. I didn't expect there to be much difference, but I was truly shocked when the log ascended the final lift hill because I couldn't believe it was already over. It felt like it had just gotten started! I also thought the arrangement of Guests in the log was slightly uncomfortable and prefer the side-by-side seating in Florida.

Overall Pooh rating:
The scenes were in a different order than WDW's and while I don't have a problem with the idea of them being different, I thought their order didn't really make sense. It was also unnecessary for the ride vehicle to tilt back and forth the entire ride--at WDW, it only does this in the flood scene, which gives the illusion that you're floating on water, but it completely defeated the purpose with the effect being used for the whole ride. It also diminished the bouncing effect of Tigger's scene.


Next up, Tom Sawyer Island! I guess I was expecting more Pirates presence than there was considering all the hype I had seen surrounding the refurb a couple of years ago, but to me it felt more like traditional Tom Sawyer with the occasional pirate element tossed in--that was completely fine for me, it just wasn't what I expected. We roamed around a bit--so cool being on the Fantasmic stage! Disney does a great job of hiding everything, because there is not a trace of Fantasmic on the entire island. It really made me wonder where everything was stored! Quick question about the island, though--did we miss something? Like I said, I didn't see as much Pirates stuff as I thought, but I could have sworn seeing stuff a while back about Will Turner's blacksmith shop and Davy Jones' chest being on the island somewhere, but we searched high and low for those and couldn't find anything. Are these things no longer there, was I imagining their existence, or did we just not look hard enough?
Overall Tom Sawyer Island rating:





By now, it was about 11 and time for our reservations at Cafe Orleans! We requested a table outside, and I'm so glad we did because it truly opened my eyes to the brilliance of New Orleans Square. At this point there were quite a bit of people in the Park, making our view a busy sea of Guests going to and fro, accentuated by a horizon of landmarks (Splash Mountain, Haunted Mansion, Big Thunder) + the kinetics of the activity on the Rivers of America (with the Mark Twain and Davy Crockett canoes all gliding across the water) + the ambiance of atmospheric musicians (a jazz band began our meal and was switched out for a rustic pirate band). It is truly every essential element that should be present for an atmosphere to work in a magical capacity.



And the meal itself! My grandmother and I both ordered a plate each of the monte cristo and immediately saw that one plate would have been plenty to split! We brought a lot back to the hotel. The fries were excellent, as well. I would absolutely go back without thinking twice, and unlike Rainforest Cafe, I thought the meaty price was justified by a superb meal.
Overall Cafe Orleans rating:

Next we headed to Big Thunder to use our Fastpasses we had retrieved before lunch. What fun! I have absolutely no way of knowing if this is true, but it seemed like DL's version was faster and longer than WDW's. Also definitely lots more animals! I thought those were neat. One thing that disappointed me, though, was the way you could so easily see some of backstage from various parts of the ride. I know Disneyland doesn't have Utilidors, but surely there is some way to hide backstage from plain view on the rides! I didn't see anything that destroyed the magic (in fact there was really nothing to see at all other than maybe a car or two), but I was onstage and I could see backstage, which shouldn't be the case.
Overall Big Thunder Mountain rating:

We went back to the Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree to check if any characters were around, and indeed we found three of the Country Bears and Donald Duck standing around with nobody in line to see them! I found this amusing considering on our last WDW trip, I found Wendell the Country Bear all alone by himself in a random part of Animal Kingdom (very strange!), and now here I found him again in an obscure part of the Park with no one around, either. The bears expressed their sadness for not having their show in DL anymore, while Donald criticized my absence of Donald pins.



It was nearing time for our mid-day hotel break, as we knew we couldn't go go go all day every day if we wanted to keep our sanity for the entirety of the trip. We hopped on the monorail "just because," not really for any specific reason other to say than we had ridden it. Fun, but not essential. Great view from the station, though! We made a round-trip since that would be quicker than getting off at the Downtown Disney station for us.


Before exiting the Park, we stopped to meet some characters in Town Square. We caught up with Gepetto (haven't seen him in years!), as well as Chip and Dale. Chip loved Perry, which is cool considering he did the exact same thing in Florida! Must have remembered him.

California:

Florida:




We exited the Park and made it back to the HoJo for a couple hours of naps and rest. We needed our rest, as later we'd need the energy for something Soundsational...
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Old 11-16-2012, 07:35 PM   #5
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Great TR so far! Love the creative use of emoticons

One note, the DL Express bus is not actually run by Disney, unlike ME which is. So the employees and buses are not Disney at all. Weird I know, but that probably explains your issues on the first bus.
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Old 11-18-2012, 01:47 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Riniel View Post
Great TR so far! Love the creative use of emoticons

One note, the DL Express bus is not actually run by Disney, unlike ME which is. So the employees and buses are not Disney at all. Weird I know, but that probably explains your issues on the first bus.
Thanks!

Hmm, I guess that would make sense. Because it was certainly a bit strange! The ride back to the airport was the exact opposite, excellent service. We were the only 3 people on the entire bus, friendly driver, and a Disney movie playing to boot!
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Old 11-18-2012, 02:15 PM   #7
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Loving your TR! I have always wondered what the differences might be between WDW and DL on some of the more popular attractions like Splash Mountain and the Haunted Mansion. I haven't visited DL since 1983 but I did like DL's version of HM better than WDW. Hopefully since I am now living in So California that I can visit DL for Christmas (my kids will all be back East so this will be my first "alone" Christmas and a DL visit would be fun).
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Old 11-18-2012, 03:19 PM   #8
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Part 3: Let the Memories Begin
Day 2, Part 2
Parks

Back to Disneyland for an evening of fun. I tried to be intentional about our nighttime itineraries and plan fun things to look forward to at the end of the day. Tonight the goal was to enjoy ourselves and spend the majority of the evening on Main Street.

Upon arrival on Main Street, I expected us to eat dinner and then grab a spot for the parade, so I was surprised to see most of the street already filled with Guests waiting at 5:15 (the parade was at 6:30). I guess the mindset I had from WDW was that if there are two parades, then the second will be significantly less crowded, which I guess might be true to some extent in DL but in the busy summer months the crowds will persist anyway. I went to go get the food at Jolly Holiday Bakery while my grandparents grabbed a spot right before the Hub, which would provide a perfect view as the parade came toward us.



I knew I would take a liking to Jolly Holiday Bakery, but I wasn't expecting to thoroughly enjoy it as much as I did. It fits right in on Main Street! A wonderful addition. I really liked the nice Poppins touches everywhere, the background music was spot-on, and the cold, breezy temperature inside was very indicative of a nanny blowing in at any moment (though I'm not sure if that was intentional or not!). The food was great, too. I got the tomato caprese sandwich. It was quite a colossal thing, but not in the sense that the Cafe Orleans meal was. I had to stretch my mouth to fit the sandwich in, but I was definitely able to finish it all. The chips were really good, too--they seemed to be thicker than most chips. We enjoyed the meal so much we came back later in the trip to get the same sandwich. (I recently found a local bread place that has a similar sandwich. Score.) Among the theme, the food, and the very reasonable price, I'd put Jolly Holiday Bakery as one of my favorite Disney restaurants.
Overall Jolly Holiday Bakery rating:


Next up, the parade! The All-American College Band performed before the parade stepped out and they were pretty good. They really got into their performance!

I had heard a lot about Soundsational, mostly glowing compliments, so I was very much looking forward to seeing it in person. I had stayed away from any YouTube videos, though I did see some of it on the ABC Christmas Day broadcast last year, so I somewhat knew what to expect but still didn't know all the surprises. Finally the parade music started on the loudspeakers and..... the parade is coming from the other direction. Still a decent view, but not the awesome perspective I had hoped for. But oh, well. At least I learned my lesson about asking which direction the parade came from (oh wait, no I didn't, I did the same thing later at DCA )

Regardless, the parade was AWESOME. One of the best Disney processions I've seen in a long time. Theme, details, music, characters ....all of it was top-notch and very entertaining. Since for the majority that was the first time we had seen most of those characters on this trip, it really felt like an official welcome to the vacation, as if we didn't already know we were really there. Let the memories begin!
Overall Mickey's Soundsational Parade rating:



I think Simba needs a haircut, though!


After the parade, we took our time exploring Main Street. Very cool to see Steve Martin's portrait in the Magic Shop. After having fun with some of the interactive things in the shops (like the phones, etc.) we headed into Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln. No sign of Voices of Liberty unfortunately, I guess they had left for the day by that point. We looked around the Disneyland Gallery and the Lincoln preshow for a bit, but I wish we stayed longer (or at least long enough to see all of the video montage about the Park's history). That's just an excuse to go back, right? I was very impressed by Great Moments moreso that I thought I would be. I guess I just thought it would be restricted to him simply giving a speech and that be all, so I enjoyed everything else. Didn't expect them to bust out Golden Dreams from Epcot!
Overall Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln rating:


Adventure is out there! (Up, anyone?)



George Lucas. The irony.

Next we detoured from Main Street for a while and took the train to check out Magic, Memories, & You. Again, something I thought I would like moderately and ended up loving, especially the soundtrack. The decidedly non-flat surface of Small World made it a bit cumbersome at times, but that was probably because we watched from way too close (right near the Small World gift shop). Didn't see our pictures anywhere (but the trip wasn't over yet... )
Overall Magic, Memories & You rating:

After the show we migrated along with everyone else to grab a spot in front of the Castle for the fireworks. It was a madhouse. People everywhere We nestled into a decent spot right in front of Astro Orbiter, but I was concerned because our view was blocked of the Castle. I guess being a WDW vet, from what I had seen before, the Castle was an integral part of the fireworks show and the Castle with fireworks was practically the face of a Disney vacation. So, we ditched the first spot in favor on another one sort of near Jolly Holiday Bakery where we could see the Castle. Should have stuck with the first spot.

We observed earlier that we really liked the abundance of trees and greenery all over the Park, and that it added a charm to Disneyland that WDW really didn't have. Well, those trees are great during the day, but at nighttime they directly block the fireworks viewing! Most of the fireworks seemed to be based toward the left of the Castle, with the Castle not being the centerpiece of the show--still lighting effects on the Castle and things like that, but not nearly as integral to the show as in WDW and not the focal point of a preferred viewing spot. Here's a quick video to see more of what I'm talking about with the trees...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R42aEE0Bx50

So another lesson learned: when the Hub is a crazy madfest of people and the Cast Members are constantly (and I mean constantly) shouting "There is more and better viewing in Town Square by the flagpole!" what they really means that... there is more and better viewing in Town Square by the flagpole!

Despite my flawed plan, the show itself was great. Definitely did not expect Tinker Bell to flippin' bounce all over the place! That was a nice surprise, I fully expected her to just fly in a straight line. It was especially cool given the fact that fireworks were exploding every which way right around her as she flew in the middle of all of them. The Mary Poppins segment sparked a small, tiny memory from a similar segment of an old WDW fireworks show from when I was really little.
Overall Magical! rating:

Needless to say, we were pretty beat despite our nap earlier. We headed back to the HoJo (no massive post-fireworks line to wait in to get on a bus ) and get some shut-eye. Much awaited tomorrow. We were scheduled to participate in a big local race...
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Old 11-19-2012, 12:42 PM   #9
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I'm loving your review so much! This may me and my g/f will be making our very 1st trip to DL after going to WDW a couple of times. It's great to see the little differences between the parks that you highlighted for us. Can't wait to read more!!

On a side note: thanks for the tip about the fireworks. Since we will be going on a somewhat of a slower time, looking at last years calendar the only time we will be able to see both fantasmic and the fireworks is on the sunday the day after we arrive. So i'm praying now for perfect weather otherwise we will miss out on these shows
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Old 11-20-2012, 01:29 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by heaven2dc View Post
Loving your TR! I have always wondered what the differences might be between WDW and DL on some of the more popular attractions like Splash Mountain and the Haunted Mansion. I haven't visited DL since 1983 but I did like DL's version of HM better than WDW. Hopefully since I am now living in So California that I can visit DL for Christmas (my kids will all be back East so this will be my first "alone" Christmas and a DL visit would be fun).
Thank you! I'm glad you're enjoying it. That's great that you are close to the magic now! I've heard the Haunted Mansion at this time of year is quite the to-do.

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Originally Posted by flightdave82 View Post
I'm loving your review so much! This may me and my g/f will be making our very 1st trip to DL after going to WDW a couple of times. It's great to see the little differences between the parks that you highlighted for us. Can't wait to read more!!

On a side note: thanks for the tip about the fireworks. Since we will be going on a somewhat of a slower time, looking at last years calendar the only time we will be able to see both fantasmic and the fireworks is on the sunday the day after we arrive. So i'm praying now for perfect weather otherwise we will miss out on these shows
Thanks! You will have a wonderful time. As much as I absolutely love WDW, there is nothing quite like walking through Disneyland knowing Walt's personal imagination stamp is all over it.

Fantasmic was much easier to conquer than the fireworks in my opinion, and also much more reasonable than DHS in terms of seating and having a close view.

You may want to check out this blog post I wrote when I first came back from the trip... it doesn't really compare attraction by attraction like I'm doing here, it's more of an overall comparison of DL to WDW, but in any case it's what I wish I would have known before heading west: http://www.blakeonline.com/2012/08/a...lt-disney.html
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Old 11-20-2012, 01:41 PM   #11
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Really enjoying your trip report - it took me a while to work out which ways the parades would be moving too on our recent trip to Disneyland!
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Old 11-21-2012, 04:11 PM   #12
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Enjoying your report! Thanks for posting the link to your blog with differences between WDW and DLR. I've been to WDW probably 10 times, but will be visiting DLR for the first time next year!
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Old 11-29-2012, 01:36 PM   #13
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Enjoying your report! Thanks for posting the link to your blog with differences between WDW and DLR. I've been to WDW probably 10 times, but will be visiting DLR for the first time next year!
I'm glad you're finding it helpful! I was in your exact same boat--you will have a great time. Let me know if you have any specific questions!

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Originally Posted by Velvetia View Post
Really enjoying your trip report - it took me a while to work out which ways the parades would be moving too on our recent trip to Disneyland!
Thank you! Yeah... it's like I knew they switched for the 2nd performances, but for whatever reason completely forgot that when I got there.
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Old 11-29-2012, 03:13 PM   #14
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Part 4: Life Is a Highway
Day 3, Part 1
Parks

There were a lot of HUGE things planned for today, and I couldn't wait to get started. It would be my first time ever in California Adventure. The purpose of the trip was my graduation, not DCA's expansion, so I was thrilled when I found out that everything would be open in time for our trip dates. I (tried) to educate myself on the madness that was Radiator Springs Racers Fastpasses beforehand on the DIS... very glad I read up on it ahead of time or else I would have been completely lost. That being said, it was still overwhelming. The most intense madrush at opening time in WDW is either Toy Story Mania or Soarin', but even then, those don't compare to RSR's insanity!



We held off on breakfast because we wanted to eat at Flo's. There seem to be so many different versions of early entry for DCA that I honestly don't know what type of day we visited on (it was a July Wednesday, though)--in any case, we didn't have any sort of early DCA access and arrived to the gate around 7:15 in anticipation of the 8:00 opening. There were already quite a bit of people waiting to enter, but nothing enormous yet. Soon after we got there, Cast Members told the gathered crowd that Radiator Springs Racers would not open until noon, to which a considerable chunk of families ditched the line and headed over to Disneyland lol. We would still be able to retrieve Fastpasses at 8 as usual, though, so we stayed in line. I had spent too many hours strategizing this day to throw everything out the window!

The first goal was to get RSR FPs, and then to get World of Color tickets. I knew all of this would probably take around an hour and really truly only required one person, so rather than have my grandparents waste their time waiting with me, I told them where Starbucks was, and when the gates opened, I traveled with the masses to RSR FPs while they found sanctuary and Fidler, Phifer, and Practical and enjoyed people-watching on Buena Vista Street, which I think they really liked. There is so much going on on BVS, as I soon came to find, and that's part of what makes it such an exquisite new land: you can sit and do absolutely nothing, and not be bored. That's usually the case with practically any Disney atmosphere, but the Imagineers really did an above-excellent job with BVS.



While I'd like to say I strolled through the entrance, took my time, and soaked in every detail of BVS, it was quite the opposite. Honestly the whole thing was a blur. People moving everywhere, most walking briskly, some running (CMs calling each of them out very loudly and specifically--"Black jacket, yellow stripes, walk PLEASE, for your safety and mine!"), pretty much all headed toward the RSR FP machines (which are near a bug's land, not the actual RSR ride). My place in line ended up being about right at the entrance doors to the Carthay Circle.


This is about where I was in line after opening.

Again, CMs were present in abundant quantities to make sure everyone was clear on what was going on and explaining how we would get our FPs (I felt really sorry for some Guests who had to leave because they didn't know they had to have every person's ticket with them ). Things were moving along pretty quickly and smoothly, and then all of a sudden there was a really long standstill. Not sure what was the problem, but the line didn't move an inch for at least 20 minutes. I finally got the FPs around may 9:00, with a return time of about 4:45 I think it was. (Remember the ride's opening was delayed until noon, so ordinarily the return time wouldn't have been so late.)

Next up, World of Color Fastpasses! That was a walk in the Park (quite literally), no one there and able to walk right up, get FPs, and leave. By this time it was maybe 9:15, and when I met up with my grandparents, they told me what a great area they thought BVS was, and then we made our way to... Cars Land!


Hardly anybody around!




One reason I wanted to get FPs for RSR instead of heading straight to the ride at opening (despite the fact that it was closed anyway) was so that my first walk into Cars Land wouldn't be what I knew my first walk through BVS would be: rushed and frantic. From what I had read and seen, I knew Cars Land was too special a place to race (pardon the pun) through quickly the first time I saw it. What a reveal. Not sure if it's intentional or not (ok, who are we kidding, of course it was), but the approach to Cars Land is one of the most anticipatory reveals I've ever seen in a Disney Park, very similar to Main Street at DL and MK. You can't see Cars Land from the entrance, you approach it from a distance, looking out for any possible sign of it.... then, subtly, you hear the tiniest hint of Mater's voice in your ears, or maybe that's just your imagination because you're so excited... then you realize that, no, that is indeed Mater's actual voice, and singing, at that. As you come closer, you realize it's coming from Mater's Junkyard Jamboree as you see the tractors whippin' and whirlin', and then, turning the corner.... you are in Radiator Springs.
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Old 11-30-2012, 11:46 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WeatherbySwann View Post
Part 4: Life Is a Highway
As you come closer, you realize it's coming from Mater's Junkyard Jamboree as you see the tractors whippin' and whirlin', and then, turning the corner.... you are in Radiator Springs.
AHHHHH!!!!
What a cliff hanger! Waiting for the rest of cars land report
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