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Old 05-03-2012, 02:57 AM   #1
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The vacation of a lifetime!

No, not an advertisement.
We are going to Disneyland for the first time next April (2013). We have a wonderful 15 days to be at DLR.
This will probably be our one and only trip there.
I have researched all over the internet for as much information as I can get. So much to know it's hard to digest and know just what to do with it. I felt it was time to speak with some Disneyland experts.
Right now we think our best bet might be to call the Disney Travel Company and book 15 days in a hotel and 2 6-day park hopper tickets. I would call because you can't book this online.
What do you all think?

There are 4 of us. Myself, DH, and twin DS-5 (who will be celebrating their 5th birthday at the park).
We will be driving in, so need no airline information. Our whole vacation is 23 days...15 at DLR, 3 in San Francisco, 2 in Willow Creek visiting relatives, and 3 driving round-trip from Iowa.

We want every character meal and as much eating in the park as we can as long as the food is at least tasty, if not the best. We're piggies with food. lol
The boys want to meet every character they can. These boys are most excited to meet Buzz and Tinkerbell. We want to see every show, etc.

You have the chance to plan the ultimate Disney vacation. What would you do? Also any tips, lesser known activities, etc. would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you all in advance!

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Old 05-03-2012, 04:57 AM   #2
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Welcome to the boards!

Personally I prefer to book everything myself. It might be a bit more time consuming, but I feel I've got greater control over everything and usually get a better deal.

Usually I research and decide on one aspect at a time. That way it's not so confusing.

Have you looked into annual passes instead of 2 6 day passes? This might work out cheaper for you, especially if you consider the discounts you can get with them.
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Old 05-03-2012, 07:38 AM   #3
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I also tend to book everything myself. Annual passes are worth looking at in your situation. I assume you'll be staying on property, so you'll get all the Magic Mornings (NICE!!!!!) while you are there.

Did I mention how jealous I am? Oh I am, but in a good way! You are going to have so much fun!
~Life's just better when you're planning a trip!~
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Old 05-03-2012, 08:23 AM   #4
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Iowa too!

We're in Iowa too and driving to DL next June! Our plan is to drive through Utah to see the canyons there, then spend just 2.5 days at Disneyland, then visit the Grand Canyon on the way home. Wish we had the vacation time and funds to spend as much time as you are. Congratulations on your trip of a lifetime!!
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Old 05-03-2012, 08:24 AM   #5
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Old 05-03-2012, 08:32 AM   #6
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As much as I love DLR, I can't imagine spending 15 days there and 12 at the parks. Especially with 5 year olds who can't do all the rides. I'm just saying that is a lot of time and I suspect 6 days at the parks will be more than enough for your family - even on a once-in-a-lifetime trip.

So since you are posting here looking for input, and you have a lot of time to plan before April, consider branching out and doing other things.

Best of luck to you!
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Old 05-03-2012, 08:58 AM   #7
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I love Disneyland, but I too wonder if that is a bit more time than you would need just at the DLR. I would maybe go with 7 or 8 days (yes, 7 and 8 day tickets are obtainable; there are explanations on these boards of how to get them). You will still be able to take everything slow and take in as much as possible and feel settled in one base location for a good stretch of time. You might then consider looking for some other fun things to do with the 4 or 5 other days. With kids that age, Legoland is a good option for one day. It's about an hour's drive from DLR if the traffic isn't bad. There are a lot of rides suitable for kids that age, and the Lego theming is very cool. Also, does your family enjoy museums? There are quite a few to choose from. My boys love the Discovery Science Center in Santa Ana which is only a few miles away. If you are sports fans, you may be able to find a game to go to. Hockey season will be wrapping up and baseball season will be starting. If you want to drive further, you could catch basketball or soccer in the L.A. area. San Diego is 90 miles from Anaheim. A bit of a drive but might be worth it if this is a once in a lifetime experience. Just wanted to give you some ideas to think about. You may still decide that 12 days at DLR is perfect for you. Whatever you end up doing, have fun planning and enjoy the trip.
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Old 05-03-2012, 09:17 AM   #8
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Six-day park hoppers should be plenty of time to do all that you want to do in DLR at that time of year.
If I were you, I would definitely go to San Diego, to the San Diego Zoo and Sea World. If your boys like animals, they will love both places. And San Diego is a beautiful city.
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Old 05-03-2012, 09:25 AM   #9
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I love DLR, but to me 15 days is a WDW trip, not a DLR trip. I could easily spend 15 days at WDW and be absolutely thrilled about it! We usually spend 8 days there and always leave wanting to stay longer. We usually spend 4 days at DLR, and I could see myself liking a nice slow pace and a few more days there, but not two weeks. I'm with those who say 7-8 days at DLR and then I would move south and spend the rest of the time exploring the San Diego area (that is usually where we spend the second half of the week). If not that, you could stay in the DLR area and keep that as your base, but only spend 7-8 days in the parks, and the rest of the time exploring things in the LA area. I am jealous that you get to spend basically as much time as you want at DLR!!!
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Old 05-03-2012, 10:49 AM   #10
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I agree with previous posters - 15 days will likely be overkill. Many people say 4-5 days works for them. We go for 6 days because we have to take things slow and take lots of breaks. For us, 6 days allows for time at the hotel and taking in all of the shows.

I also agree with the suggestion to head to SD. The beaches are nice, and there are lots of fun areas to explore. If your kids like museums, I'd suggest heading to Balboa Park. http://www.balboapark.org/ There are lots of different things to do in a concentrated area.
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Old 05-03-2012, 11:04 AM   #11
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I would drop some of the DLR time as well.

You are driving past some awesome places.

On the way, stop at Yosemite for 2 nights, then San Fran for 3, followed by your Willow Creek.

Do DLR for one 6 day pass...that may even be too much...I don't know.

Then either drive down to San Diego and do Seaworld, the Zoo, Legoland.

Or drive to Utah and visit all of the amazing National Parks.

You could even do Yellowstone on the way to Cali.
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Old 05-03-2012, 11:11 AM   #12
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We had always done 5 days in the parks in the past. Usually about the 4th day we have done and seen everything so many times that we are ready to head home.

I do remember walking thru tomorrowland and overhearing a large family talking about this being their 12th day and they were leaving the next day.
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Old 05-03-2012, 11:39 AM   #13
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I would personally get a longer pass than 6 days, stay near DL and do a combination of day trips and DL. I think Legoland is a must-we are excited to check it out with our kids this year. Do a day at the beach, then come back and watch the fireworks that night. We did a week at DL a few years back and I would've been happy to have more time .
Sara : , married to David , Mom to Mary, age 17 , Else, 8 , and Cader, all of 4!
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Old 05-03-2012, 11:58 AM   #14
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I agree with PP that it may be overkill. I think a week would give you plenty of time to do it all, while taking many breaks. Are you staying onsite? That would be my first suggestion. I know most people think the motels across the street are suitable and they are, but if this is your dream vacation, stay onsite. I would suggest either the DLH or GCH...they are both lovely and keep you immersed in the Disney magic. PPH is okay, but I don't like crossing a major street. Disney is my escape and I don't want to see a car my entire trip (except when I'm on the Monorail and pass Harbor Blvd).

Food, it's good, but not great for what you spend. We really like the options in Downtown Disney and the hotels. Gives us a break and a chance for a cocktail. During dinner hours they have balloon artists, always a hit.

With that much time, you will be able to meet all the characters. We've done it one day, which made the kids happy and us happy that we didn't have to "waste" a good chunk of our trip.

See all the shows. Billy Hill and the Hillbillies have entertained my family for over 20 years and we're still not tired of them.

Spend a whole afternoon on Tom Sawyer's Island. Let your boys run wild and you get a nice break in the shade.

Spend a good part of a day in Mickey's Toontown. This is the one place my kids love but we always cut it short because we feel we're wasting too much time and missing out.

If you stay onsite, have a pool day. We haven't done the Monorail slides at the DLH, but fully intend to in Nov. The kids can't wait. Also I think they offer scavenger hunts...that would be a fun way to spend part of your day.

Character meals. We love Goofy's and Ariel's (not just because we have girls, but it's really good food). Minnie's is fun for character interaction. Is it Surf's Up at the PPH? I may skip that one....but then again, I've never had that many consecutive days.

If you do enjoy a cocktail, head over to Trader Sam's (inside) at DLH and order one of the 3 specialty drinks in the souvenir glasses. You get to keep a cool glass and your kids will be entertained with a quick little show. And they have great appetizers.

If you are considering cutting down the DL days and will be in SF, I highly recommend a trip to Yosemite. My DH had never been until 6 years ago and now it is a must yearly trip for the family. There's no where else like it. April has the potential for bad weather, but it wouldn't hamper your trip and the waterfalls would be flowing big time.

Have an amazing time!!!
Me: DH: DD (8): DD (6):

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Old 05-03-2012, 12:12 PM   #15
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This trip sounds INCREDIBLE!!! You are going to have an amazing time, and I am very happy for you. However like previous posters I would like to suggest to you as an option only, to look into other alternatives about day trips to Legoland or even San Diego Zoo, Sea World, etc. to break up your Disneyland days and give you a break. I wouldnt want you to overwhelm yourself and feel later that you may have missed out on other things that are fun. Even a dinner out to a fun family place like "Medieval times Dinner and tournament" Or "A Pirates Dinner", where you are entertained with a show as you have dinner, could break up your day nicely and give you something other then Disney to look forward to.

From my own experiences, my family (Adults only), we go to Disneyland each year for 10 days, and we always get 8 day hoppers. However we cover both parks in 4-5 days and feel that we missed nothing. After 3 or so days (and this feeling starting on the first trip we ever made to Disney), we felt like we needed a change of scenery and are ready to have a day doing something non Disney related. So a day at San Diego Zoo, or Sea World, a day in LA, Venice Beach, Santa Monica or even a day shopping have always been enjoyed. However having an 8 day pass to Disneyland allows us to go back to the park when we are ready to see things a few more times before we head home.

So I would kindly suggest to do a bit of research on other excursions and keep an open mind as an alternative only. Your trip sounds amazing and I want you to feel you thought of every possibility to maximize your awesome experience.
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