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  1. #1

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    MickeyMania's DL 2010: Giving in to the Dark Side

    Hello, people. Here again are my thoughts on the Resort, having not visited since June of last year:

    Hotels: We stayed at Courtyard on day one, Embassy Suites South on day two, and then back to Courtyard on day three. Make little sense to you? Not so much to me, either, but for some reason booking more than one night at most hotels in Anaheim caused the rate per night to significantly go up.

    By which I mean, if I book Sunday night at a hotel, it's $90 for the night, but if I book Sunday and Monday nights then both nights are $140 each. I'm not sure why this is, perhaps activity at the convention facility, but it meant packing up and moving every day.

    Courtyard in Garden Grove just behind the old Mariott is an okay hotel. Room was clean, staff was friendly. I have two problems though: the continental breakfast downstairs that is not complimentary like it is at so many chains, and the hotel has no Anaheim Resort Transit stop. In order to use ART, visitors walk through a little cut in some hedges through a long haul in a parking garage. It's a bit foreboding when coming back to your room at night. The sidewalk is close enough that if I stayed here again I'd probably just skip ART entirely and use OCTA.

    Embassy Suites Garden Grove - South is a nicer facility. Rooms are about the size of a one bedroom apartment and the free continental breakfast downstairs was great.

    Both hotels were clean and I wouldn't rule out either one of them again.

    Off property dining: Tried Agio at the Doubletree Suites next to the Courtyard for ann early dinner. We were the only customer in there but the food was delicious and the service was friendly.

    Admission: For years and years now, I've been posting on MiceChat about the fundamental shifts in the park's operation once the audience base adjusted from west coast and the occasional midwestern tourists to Los Angelenos with Annual Passes who use the place as a stand-in for the local mall or bowling alley.

    I was tempted, and *sigh*... Bought an AP. My first, and probably my last?

    My arguments remain the same as they ever were, though. I could not buy any cheap "SoCal" pass, of course, but the $330-ish Deluxe one. The reason I bought my AP has as much to do with standard admission than anything else: $170 or thereabouts for a two day park hopper is so ridiculously high, that if I plan to make the four hour drive across the desert to DL on just two weekends out of the year, then the pass has achieved a price balance.

    I still maintain that cheap APs are often a bigger minus than a plus (although most of it has to do with crowds, which weren't that bad this time), but I guess I'd no longer say that the real solution is to drive the cost of APs up. The real solution is to slightly hike them and slightly lower standard admission.

    There isn't really a problem with the idea of the AP in theory, but it needs to be the kind of thing where you'd have to make a lot of trips before it pays for itself. Even as a periodic visitor 260 miles away, an AP makes more sense. That shouldn't be the case.

    Attractions: I somehow skipped Space Mountain again this visit. I hope to see Ghost Galaxy later in 2011.

    Alice was deeply modified a few weeks after I left. I don't mind the alterations, but they need to do something more permanent for the new understructure than an all-weather canvas covering up wooden beams.

    Holiday decorations were going down this week. I thought the "snowy" castle was a pretty silly idea the first year they pulled it off, but now that the snow is three-dimensional and added 'ice' versions of the masts on the top of the towers, the effect is much prettier. As the snow was uninstalled through my visit, they didn't turn on the fibre optics. Fine by me, I still think that's a bit much and appreciated the look of the snow on a more naturally illuminated castle.

    I also got to ride Small World Holiday on it's very last night all lit up. The Holiday variant is the only way I can go on that ride.

    Actually, this is kind of an odd trip. Maybe it's the AP and the knowledge that I'll probably be back in a few months, but I skipped the whole mountain range except for one ride on Matterhorn and did a lot of things I don't normally do, like Peter Pan (I normally skip for crowds) and Casey Jr. I haven't done Casey Jr in 20 years and was surprised that Storybookland is so well kept. I figured the deterioration of the 90s must have made it pretty ugly back there, but everything was clean and looking fresh and proper. Still funny when a duck the size of a house walks around back there, though.

    I also did Pirates only once and the Mansion was closed for annual rehab. Golly, looking back at it, I guess I spent the majority of my time wandering around, and shopping, and taking up space in paths when I'd normally be in a queue. I guess I really am becoming an AP.

    But the other thing is that after about so many years of DL, jumping into lines as quickly as possible just isn't as appealing as it once was. I still have that 'must. do. everything!!' drive, but that's what WDW is for.

    Food: This will be quick: For all the tears in the MiceChat WDW forum about declining product and tarnished legacy, WDW still out-cooks DLR for in park food. Now if only all WDW restaurants weren't booked so far ahead in advance...

    Blue Ribbon Bakery has no seating. There's arguably seating in the ice cream parlour, but it's taken up by people eating ice cream at any hour. In fact, guests looking for a place to sit are teased upon exiting the bakery with a roped off section of seats for some other dining option. There's seats across Main Street by another ice cream shop and an ODV cart, but it's sometimes full too. So the end result is walking down to Town Square with my hands full of goodies to eat and drink on a park bench. The overall experience kind of smells of a manager who hasn't actually tried their own product.

    If you want junk food, the Hunny Pot Krispy at Pooh Corner is delicious. Om nom nom.

    Wine Country Trattoria was a total letdown. The majority of seated guests were put outdoors, and I honestly found it too cold to be eating outdoors. So they put us in this little well-ventilated indoor area. Though there were two of us, there were lots and lots of empty tables with four chairs and more room; and our hostess kept trying to shove us into a two-chair table between other taken tables, or next to the cold doorway.

    The restaurant might have seating upstairs, it kind of appeared as such during the day, but in the downstairs portion we were seated the theming was very sparse. It was basically four painted walls with some knick knacks nailed to them. It's a bit of a reach to call it "bad show", but I think "no show" is more appropriate. Olive Garden's villa and wine cellar kitsch is more detailed and authentic than this. And we won't even begin to compare it to the detailing that went into the Italian restaurant that Epcot added the other year.

    Did I mention that the lasagna was one of the most boring dishes of lasagna that I've ever tried? I think they picked it up at a supermarket.

    The New York Roast at River Belle Terrace is still delicious. I would pick the fruit platter over the slaw, though.

    We finished with the WoC dinner at Ariel's Grotto. I've never been here before since it's a bit socially awkward for an older gentleman to walk solo into a princess meal, but the steak was very good and the veggies and cheese plate was... Interesting. You got a whole platter of desserts that I would call mixed quality. And when the waitress pointed out the white chocolate film strip that's been inked up with Disney graphics and WoC logo, she warned us "be aware that this will turn your teeth black." Not a good sign, and again suggests that some manager needs to go back to the drawing board.

    CMs: No real standouts this time, most CMs are pretty good though there is some downright Vogon-ish adherence to protocols. I mean that in the style of a CM who is completely and totally alone with no work to do telling you something like, "You walked up here on the wrong side of the rope. Walk all the way back and come back around on the other side of the rope and I'll let you through." Again, I blame it on higher-ups who program the front line to be this way. Many (but not all) asked me if I was an AP for discounts, which is appreciated.

    And though I'm not thoroughly a big fan of the Disney Look, it is policy regardless, and I saw a few slips of it here and there. Overall, CMs get an A-, with none of the downright rude "guests as cattle" treatment I've seen sometimes at WDW.

    Shopping: Shops are packed, and merch is actually much better with more varieties than I've seen in past years. I bought more in merch this trip than I have in a long time. Some of the designs are outright dumb (Turkey Leg shirt?), but others are eccentric or untraditional and are nice to see (there's at least one shirt of Mickey in the back of Emporium that is total nightmare fuel) even if they don't stand to sell a lot. I got tired of browsing the same five shirt designs in 2006-2007.

    Bought myself a Flying Saucers shirt and a TRON shirt from D Street in downtown. The Saucers I could only find there and at Star Trader, and this one TRON design I didn't see anywhere else in both parks. Likewise, while there's a lot of Nightmare Before Christmas merch through the park, Pieces of Eight has a few products I didn't see anywhere else.

    Entertainment: We'll close on a sweet note. DLR still does nightly entertainment better than the other two Disneys that I've been to. I caught the last(?) night of Remember in a not-too-crowded hub and since the park was open a few more hours, there was no closing crush. The fireworks show was definitely very cool. It did seem to be minus'ed in length though. Possibly because of the snowy modifications on the castle's roof blocking some of the effects?

    I've heard a lot of negativity on World of Color from locals, most of them are ones who come here to Vegas and think the Bellagio waters are still better. But I guess because I'm a huge Disney nerd I know which side my bread is buttered on! This show could stand to be cut in a few places, though. Pretty much everything from the Heimlich bit to the Pirates theme could stand to be cut. I would put Pirates in between the villains piece and Lion King. But otherwise, I'll keep going back for that show unless Remember is back on.


    And that's my thoughts for now. I guess I'll go back whenever Mermaid has soft opened.

  2. #2

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    Re: MickeyMania's DL 2010: Giving in to the Dark Side

    Also, I got the year wrong in the title. LOL.

  3. #3

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    Re: MickeyMania's DL 2010: Giving in to the Dark Side

    I have that same struggle with the AP it makes sense but since I live out of state would I use it enough to make it worth while! I know I would pay for it in use no problem but would I get the most bag for my buck! good TR thanks for sharing!

  4. #4

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    Re: MickeyMania's DL 2010: Giving in to the Dark Side

    Thank you very much for the review! I also live from out of state, and it's rare if I get to go even once a year. (Hope to remedy that, of course, now that I've come of age.) Regardless, while it's easy to rant and rave about how wonderful every aspect of Disney is, constructive criticism is more than welcomed. It makes the difference between a fantastic trip and a (still amazing) trial-and-error trip...especially for those without AP's. ;D

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