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Old 05-25-2014, 10:52 PM   #1
bellebookworm9
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"Why is EVERYTHING better here?" First trip to DL, May '14

Come one, come all to the trip report about my first trip to the west coast.

This is me, Gretchen.

I'm 23 years old and just finished my second year of grad school, where I'm working towards a clinical doctorate in audiology (hearing). I'm a former Walt Disney World cast member; Epcot's main entrance and toll plaza were my home for the better part of 2012. I've taken seven trips so far in addition to working there, so I definitely consider myself a veteran!

This is my "twinsie", PB.

He is 26 years old and currently works full time at Magic Kingdom in outdoor foods. We met in 2012 when we both worked at Epcot. We call ourselves the twinsies because we look alot alike! People think we're related or we're dating (or married, as you'll soon find out). Nope, we just get each other in a weird way.

We started planning this trip almost a year ago. Our hotel choice was Disney's Paradise Pier Hotel. PB gets discounts at the hotels, so we were able to score a concierge level theme park view room at 50% off-which was cheaper than a plain old standard room with a parking lot view at rack rate! He also gets free tickets, so that saved us a ton of money as well. And he receives merchandise and dining discounts-I couldn't afford to go without him!

Our dates were May 18-23, 2014. As you might be able to tell from the title, Disneyland Resort BLEW US AWAY. We were constantly wondering why WDW couldn't do something a certain way, or why the lines were shorter at certain attractions, or why various rides were better than their WDW counterparts.

What you can expect from this report:
-A TON of pictures. I take ridiculous amounts of pictures, plus we had Photopass+ (a great value at DL)
-Dining at Cafe Orleans, Steakhouse 55, Storyteller's Cafe, and PCH Grill
-FOUR rides on Radiator Springs Racers
-Early Entry at both parks
-Part of the Rock Your Disney Side 24 hour event
-World of Color from the front row, two nights in a row. We watched it two more times from our room.
-Paradise Pier hotel and concierge

I hope you'll join in, read, and comment, cause our trip was a BLAST and I can't wait to share it!
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Old 05-26-2014, 12:46 PM   #2
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"As usual, my flight has been delayed"

Before I talk about my own trip to Anaheim, I should mention that PB had flown out the day before. He wanted to spend some time exploring LA; he went to the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Graumann's Chinese Theater, and In n Out Burger, before spending the night at a gated hostel on Hollywood Blvd.

My day on Sunday started super early. I hadn't gotten much sleep the night before. Surprisingly, it wasn't because of excitement, it was that the girl who lives upstairs was making a ton of noise. I also had a sinus/allergy/cold thing going on, which I knew was going to make flying an unpleasant experience.

My friend Matt came by to pick me up at 4:30am. I was at the airport by 4:45. If I recall correctly, the Southwest line was pretty short. I checked my bag and made my way to security. The line there was almost nonexistent. The last two times I've gone through Buffalo, they've stopped making people take off shoes and jackets, or take laptops or liquids out of baggage. No problems there, so it was over to the coffee shop to grab some chocolate milk and a danish.

Our plane boarded on time. I was in the A group, A45 to be exact, so I knew I'd have a good choice of seats. In fact, there was a window seat open in the second row! This was my view before take off.


I sat next to an Asian man who was traveling with a large group of people, and he didn't speak any English. Trying to explain that his backpack needed to be fully under the seat in front of him was quite a challenge. I read a book and listened to music for most of the flight, but I also took some pictures.

This was somewhere over Kansas/Oklahoma.


My snack was a pack of giant Ritz Bitz cheese crackers.


Right around Albuquerque.


I was fascinated with this line in the landscape. Was it a road? A dried up riverbed? No idea.


Descending into Phoenix.


I got off the plane relatively quickly and made my way to my next gate. I had about an hour before my next plane was set to depart. Except about 30 minutes before take off, we got the announcement that something was wrong with our plane. I have the absolute worst luck with flights, so I texted PB that, "as usual, my flight has been delayed". I was getting very hungry so I stopped in a nearby store to grab a snack (Muddy Buddies) and Dr. Pepper. They moved our gate to the one across the hall. I left my purse at the first gate and had to run back to get it. Finally, a plane was available from the hangar, and we were able to board. I have to say, the Phoenix airport was really nice.


This time I had A29, so even better than the first leg of the trip. I got the same seat in row 2, but I had to put my carry on in the compartment of row 6. I sat next to two older women, who were flying to LA to go on a "cruise to nowhere" for two days. The one right next to me told me her entire life story, including how she'd had brain cancer and part of her brain had been removed.

Taking off from Phoenix (about an hour later than planned).


The flight to LA was pretty short. We were supposed to land at 10am, but we came in at 10:45ish...which is when my bus was leaving. So I had to wait an hour for the next one. As we were descending, my right ear got super plugged up. I tried every single thing I could think of, but nothing worked. I couldn't hear out of that ear for the rest of the day.

My luggage came pretty quickly, though they had to announce which carousel it would be on, since it wasn't posted on the sign, for whatever reason. I made my way outside to wait for the Disneyland Resort Express. While I was waiting, I took photos of my surroundings.

The parking garage across the street:


The Bob Hope USO center in the middle of the terminals:


Finally, the bus showed up. I had already purchased my ticket and was the first to board. Unfortunately, I was not impressed with this service. The bus driver didn't ask where we were going, so there was no rhyme or reason to the way he stored the luggage. Since you don't have to make reservations in advance, the bus filled up after two terminals and we didn't make it to the other five. I felt bad for those people. And the bus driver was just loud, rude, and obnoxious, talking bad about other shuttle companies and passengers who were confused about which bus they were taking.

I got to sit in the second row here, too. Tired, but ready for some fun!


Finally we were on our way. The Tesla building.


A sign for Disneyland.


Almost there!


Aaaah we're here!


The first stop was the Disneyland Hotel.


This was a banner that was lining the driveway.


Fantasy tower and lobby area


Not so hidden Mickey.


Next stop was me, Paradise Pier!


PB was waiting outside for me. The bus driver couldn't find my bags. I was like, "they're dark blue with bright purple luggage tags". Finally, the bell services people noticed them behind the one compartment that this incompetent driver hadn't opened. In addition to the purple luggage tags, my big bag also had a hot pink "transfer" tag on it as well. Ugh, just an overall bad experience with this shuttle.

Anyway, PB had gotten our room number assigned just minutes before, room 1434. After our customary hello hugs, we stopped at bell services to get his bags, then took the glass elevator up to the 14th floor to check out our room.
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Old 05-27-2014, 12:20 AM   #3
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"The showerhead spins!"

I forgot to mention in the last post about the difference in Southwest planes. The second one I boarded felt a lot more cramped. One of the women I was sitting with informed me that it's one of the newer planes and therefore has three inches less of legroom and also shorter seatbelts. I was glad to hear I'm not gaining weight, it's just the seatbelts getting shorter! But between the flight delays I've experienced with Southwest recently, the stressful boarding process, and the change in planes, I'll stick to JetBlue if at all possible.

Anyway, we were taking the glass elevator up to the 14th floor. We turned into the right hand tower to get to our room, and immediately ran to check out the view.

AAAAAAHHHHH! There was definitely some very excited jumping up and down, clapping, squealing, etc., that went on.

Looking to the left we could also see Space Mountain and the Matterhorn over at Disneyland.


And although I couldn't get a good picture, if you looked waaaay to the left, even Big Thunder Mountain was visible.

Now, for our room itself. In most rooms, when walking in the door, the closet would be on the right, the entrance to the bathroom on the left. Just past the bathroom is a little nook with a chest of drawers and the coffee maker. The shower, toilet, and vanity are all in one area.

However, this was not the case for us. For whatever reason, this side of the building had pairs of doors recessed into a little foyer area, and the foyer could be closed off by what we think were fire doors. I wish I had taken a picture to explain it better! But we did not get the nook, and our bathroom was laid out differently.

When walking into the bathroom, the vanity was on the right.



The closet was to the left and there was quite a lot of space between the closet and vanity.


Between the door and the closet was the towel rack.


Straight across from the door was the shower. It ran perpendicular to the vanity, so there was a partial wall. This made the shower curtain slightly frustrating to get it closed properly.


And then next to the shower on the left was a little room with just the toilet.


The coffee maker and stuff took up quite a lot of room on the counter. I wish we would have had the nook instead. Under the vanity there is a large wicker basket to throw your dirty towels in. I liked that a lot, rather than just having them in a heap on the floor. There's also a makeup mirror on the wall-one of those kind that magnify your face like 87 times. I had a love/hate relationship with it. The water pressure in the shower was barely adequate. My hair is very long and thick, so it took quite a lot of time and effort to get all the shampoo washed out. Sometimes the water tended to run very, very hot. And finally, the shower head spun! We couldn't figure out how to make it stop, but PB was very startled when he first got in. Actually, so was I later that evening because I'd forgotten he told me about it!

Onto the rest of the room. Our two queen beds. These beds and pillows were heavenly, we wanted to take them home with us. And while the beach ball pillows were cute, they're also $65 each. Plus, they tended to kind of roll off the bed.


Nightstand with a telephone and clock.


Artwork next to the bed.


The dresser. I took the bottom two drawers and all of the hangers in the closet for myself. PB could have used the other two dresser drawers but decided to just put all his stuff on the couch instead.


The safe and mini fridge behind the dresser door. The safe was quite large. We liked the fridge for storing beverages and treats from the concierge lounge.


Desk, with a smaller rollout desk for a laptop. There are two outlets built into the back of the desk. We also used the one behind the nightstand, the one next to bed by the bathroom wall, and the bathroom outlets to charge laptops, phones, and cameras.


And the couch, which we never sat on once.


Finally, my fancy gold concierge key.


We unpacked and PB showered while I went down to the lounge to get something to eat-I was starving! They had chips and snacks, but not anything very filling. That was okay though, because I was sick and couldn't really taste anything anyway.

While it probably would have been wise to take a nap, we headed out to the parks instead. I think we left the room around 2:45-3:00. The shortcut through the Grand Californian into Downtown Disney definitely helped us out timewise. We went through security-super quick and easy. Then PB said we had to go to the ticket booth to exchange my e-ticket...or something like that. The lines were HUGE. My thought was it was due to ticket prices unexpectedly going up that day, and locals were trying to lock in the current price? They had more windows open than I've ever seen at WDW, and the lines were still slow and massive. Finally, we got up to the window and found out we didn't have to be there anyway.

Joining the lines at the turnstiles, which moved pretty quickly. I got Donald for my ticket!

I love that the tickets there have a large variety of colors and characters, unlike Disney World.

Our first stop after heading into the park was the Camera Shop to exchange our Photopass+ voucher. That took very little time, but it was nearing 3:30 and time to get in place for Soundsational.

RideMax gave me a great tip about where to sit, over by the Matterhorn, so that's where we went. I sat down while PB went to get a Chimichanga around the corner at Edelweiss Snacks.



When PB returned, I had claimed spots right on the edge of the road. He asked how I got them and my simple reply was, "No one was sitting here!"

One last shot before the parade started. This was our view from our sitting spots; you can kind of see the Matterhorn through the trees.


Coming up next: A crazy amount of parade pictures!
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Old 05-27-2014, 05:10 AM   #4
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Bring on the parade photos! I'm a sucker for the parades.
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Old 05-27-2014, 09:37 AM   #5
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Following along!! I started with your PTR and moved on over to your TR!!...We got 60 days before our first day in the park so I am going to enjoy all your pics!!!
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Old 05-27-2014, 09:51 AM   #6
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Following along. I take it from the title you and PB had a fantastic time. Can't wait to see more pics.
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Old 05-27-2014, 06:32 PM   #7
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Great start....I can not wait to read more I am planning a trip this July for just 2 nights (have to work during the day), can not wait.
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Old 05-27-2014, 09:11 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Luisa View Post
Bring on the parade photos! I'm a sucker for the parades.
Good, because I took a lot of pictures of both Soundsational and the Pixar Play Parade!

Quote:
Originally Posted by luulu1999 View Post
Following along!! I started with your PTR and moved on over to your TR!!...We got 60 days before our first day in the park so I am going to enjoy all your pics!!!
It's getting closer and will be here before you know it!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rubygoose View Post
Following along. I take it from the title you and PB had a fantastic time. Can't wait to see more pics.
We had an awesome time! I'd go back in a heartbeat if it wasn't so expensive.

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Originally Posted by chiefdragon View Post
Great start....I can not wait to read more I am planning a trip this July for just 2 nights (have to work during the day), can not wait.
Welcome! July is coming up fast and even two nights is better than nothing!
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Old 05-27-2014, 09:34 PM   #9
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Soundsational Part 1

Here we go! The drumline that starts off the parade:


Mickey & Minnie float-we loved Minnie's dress!




Who remembers this blue owl from the Disney Sing Along Songs videos?



Some more classic friends:


Bring out Prince Ali and his entourage!



^Is she supposed to be the magic lamp?


The Banana Man with is Banana shoes!


Heading Under the Sea with Ariel and friends:






Loved these Pinata Girls with the Three Caballeros:





Last edited by bellebookworm9; 06-07-2014 at 11:27 PM.
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Old 05-27-2014, 10:20 PM   #10
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Soundsational Part 2

Princesses on Parade








Heading into the Jungle


PB adored this costume:




Floatin' Down the Bayou





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Old 05-27-2014, 10:25 PM   #11
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Soundsational Part 3

A Pirate’s Life is a Wonderful Life






Step in Time






What did we think of this parade? We loved it! So much fun and I've actually been jamming out to the soundtrack in my car for several months now. Having watched it on YouTube long before we went, I warned PB that in my opinion Festival of Fantasy took a ton of its ideas from Soundsational. I don't think he believed me until he saw it himself, because every so often he'd go, "That's in our parade too!"

We stepped in time all the way down Main Street where we had to wait for the parade to go backstage before heading to our next destination: Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln.
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Old 05-27-2014, 10:32 PM   #12
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Old 05-28-2014, 09:13 AM   #13
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Does that parade go all thru the summer too? We didn't get to see DL parades when we went and it was the Christmas one so I would LOVE to get to see this one....we did see Pixar parade THREE times lol
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Old 05-28-2014, 09:38 AM   #14
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Does that parade go all thru the summer too? We didn't get to see DL parades when we went and it was the Christmas one so I would LOVE to get to see this one....we did see Pixar parade THREE times lol
Yes, you can see soundsational twice a day in the summer. A good spot to watch is by the bathrooms behind Alice.
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Old 05-28-2014, 10:18 AM   #15
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Yes, you can see soundsational twice a day in the summer. A good spot to watch is by the bathrooms behind Alice.
That's exactly where we were And yes, this parade runs all summer, but check the schedule. On this day it ran at 4 and 6:30, but all our other days (when there were no fireworks) it only ran at 7.
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