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  1. #1

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    1st trip in 30 years

    Hello everyone. I've been lurking for a month or so and greatly appreciate all the tidbits of information I've gleaned from all of the experts.
    I am taking my wife, 2 children (7 and 4) and my Mother-in-law to Disneyland the first week of April. I am planning on staying for 5 nights at the Grand Californian (mainly due to location) with a 5-day Park-Hopper pass. I'm booking through AAA because 1. they seem to have the best all-around rates and availability and 2. because of what I've read about the enhanced Fastpass when booking through them.
    I have a couple of questions that I can think of right now.....likely more to come.
    1. I am planning on booking a room with a Theme Park View. Would you recommend this over the Downtown Disney view? I don't think I'm interested in Concierge level.
    2. I have read discussions about which hotel is better with young kids - Grand Californian or Disneyland Hotel - and get arguments for both. There seems to be a slight preference for the DLH, simply due to theme issues. I am also wanting something that has a very central location so that I can take breaks with the kids as easily as possible.....that's why I am leaning toward the GCH.
    Let's start with those questions, but feel free to give me any advice you would like, especially considering I'm bringing a 7 y.o. and 4 y.o. with me. By the way, my 4 y.o. daughter is all about princesses. I'm planning a character dinner, but is there anything else that I should plan on for her?

    Thanks, Dean

  2. #2

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    Re: 1st trip in 30 years

    Ariel's Grotto at DCA has a Princess (lunch or brunch, I can't remember) that she would probably go crazy for. I would also choose the theme park view, but that is just my preference.

    Have a great trip, your kids are the perfect ages for a first trip to Disneyland
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  3. #3

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    Re: 1st trip in 30 years

    I would definitely choose the Theme park view over the Downtown Disney view. DCA closes by 10:00, but Downtown Disney stays open much later (2:00 for some places), which means less noise when the kids (and you) are trying to sleep. I recently stayed there and had a pool view, but we could still faintly hear the music from DCA, so I imagine you would get alot more noise from Downtown Disney where they have outdoor performers and also large crowds that go on longer into the night.

  4. #4

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    Re: 1st trip in 30 years

    Quote Originally Posted by dramaqueen
    Ariel's Grotto at DCA has a Princess (lunch or brunch, I can't remember) that she would probably go crazy for.
    I second the idea of Ariel' Grotto for lunch with the Princess's. My wife and I had lunch there a few weeks ago (no kids for us) and we had a blast, the princess come around to every table so there is no rush or real crouds to deal with there. just a side note i was told by one of the prnicess's that I should not have eaten the salmon sandwich in front of Ariel.

  5. #5

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    Re: 1st trip in 30 years

    Thanks for the responses so far. Ariel's Grotto looks like it's going to make it onto the "must-do" list. I'll have to make sure we have a strategic viewing of The Little Mermaid shortly before our visit.

  6. #6

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    Re: 1st trip in 30 years

    Since this will be a first trip for your kids, and your first in 30 years... depending on what the crowds are like in April, you might want to actually brave the attraction lines. Some of the queues for the rides are attractions in themselves and really help set up what you're about to experience. Indy, Roger Rabbit, Star Tours, Thunder Mountain, and to an extent Splash Mountain, have great queues with loads of atmosphere that really do set up the mood for the ride. Fast Pass actually cheats you of the lavish detail and anticipation. Since you're going to be there for five days, dive in the first time and then go for the Fast Pass afterwards if you choose.

  7. #7

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    Re: 1st trip in 30 years

    GCH is a great choice and I would recommend the "theme park view." Not only is DCA very pretty at night, but Downtown Disney can be noisy and you might like the buffer. Oh my... 30 years. Are you going to be surprised at the changes!!! Fortunately... most are for the better. Enjoy your trip!
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  8. #8

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    Re: 1st trip in 30 years

    I loved our Downtown Disney view room, BUT I was woken up VERY early when they started to run Indiana Jones Adventure. It's a loud ride. @_@
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  9. #9

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    Re: 1st trip in 30 years

    But the Downtown Disney view is also a view towards Disneyland.

  10. #10

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    Re: 1st trip in 30 years

    I stayed on Property for the first time this summer. My wife and I stayed at the DH (only because it was the original). We had a lovely room facing Downtown Disney and Disneyland Park. It was incredible. You can even see the fireworks at night from both "Remember, Dreams Come True and from Fantasmic!. It was a short walk from the hotel to the Monorail which was really nice when you're tired of walking. The kids pool area there was really cool as well.
    Tough choice I guess, since both have great dining too. Good luck and have fun!
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  11. #11

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    Re: 1st trip in 30 years

    FYI, from what i've heard, you can get a room in the GCH that's actually further away from DL then the DL hotel is, based on having to walk all the way down DTD to get out, then going nack the other way to get into the park.
    If that makes any sense.
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  12. #12

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    Re: 1st trip in 30 years

    Thanks again to everyone for the replies. I went ahead and pulled the trigger on the Grand Californian with the Theme Park View. One thing I didn't realize - There are NO ROLL-AWAYS at the GCH. No big deal except my Mother-in-law will be accompanying my wife, 2 kids and I on this trip. 2 Queen beds + 5 people = 1 person sleeping on the floor in a sleeping bag (albeit a "puffy" bag supplied by the Hotel).......looks like Dad gets this honor. Oh well, small price to pay. By the way, if I would have gone with a Standard room, I could have gotten 2 double beds plus a "day-bed" which would have better accommodated the 5 of us. Again, oh well. I think the Theme Park view will be worth a few creaky joint on old Dad.
    Anybody have this same experience and have any tips on a work-around. I spoke to the AAA rep. at the hotel and it looks like that's just the arrangement, not much getting around it.

  13. #13

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    Re: 1st trip in 30 years

    How about an inflatable mattress/bed? Some of those are actually pretty comfortable. You could even purchase one down the street from the park once you arrive, or make arrangements to borrow one. They're pretty convenient, and the pumps work both ways (inflate and deflate).

  14. #14

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    Re: 1st trip in 30 years

    ^ Thats a good idea- I sleep on an air mattress when we visit the in-laws and they are not bad at all- a twin bed is very reasonably priced and you wouoldn't even need the pump (hair dryers will work in a pinch) Just throw the sleeping bag on top and you should have a great nights sleep!
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  15. #15

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    Re: 1st trip in 30 years

    Most of the rooms at GCH are very small. Good luck trying to fit an air mattress on the floor. We stayed at the GCH at the end of November and the only place it would have fit in our room would have been directly in front of the door or in the bathroom area (and therefore blocking access to the potty at night). The rooms at Paradise Pier are much larger and come with a couch/pull out. Even tho the walk is a little longer, we have done it many times and it isn't that bad. Being there for 5 days with 5 of you in such close quarters may begin to take the magic out of things.

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