So we just got back from our 4 day 'empty nest' celebration. This is my first trip report so bear with me.
This was our (DH & I) first trip to DLR together without one or both sons (now grown). I must say it really had a different rhythm to it, a wonderful relaxation & dare I say it..romance. We stayed at the DGC (our 2nd stay there), had reserved a standard room but were upgraded to a courtyard view, rm 4162. No easy access to the 'secret staircase', but we did use the staircase near our room which opened into the courtyard near the regular DGC entrance to DTD. Saved having to walk all the way back around the hallway to the elevators & down the hallway by the convention center to access the courtyard entrance to DTD. As with the 'secret staircase' it's an exit only, you can't enter the staircase from the outside to walk up. The room was very nice, Mousekeeping was excellent. We just wish we could have snuck the mattress into our luggage. It was wonderful!
If you can, stay at the DGC. For two adults in our 50s (and me with my bad ankle) the short walk to DCA, or to DL using the monorail was wonderful. We would play in the parks, go back to the hotel for a rest, an icepack on my ankle, and a cocktail, then back to play some more. The weather was hot, so the mid-day break was really nice. Before, with the kids as they got past the napping age, it was go go go all day. Actually, part of the go go go was ME! But this trip I learned to relax. It was so lovely to just stroll hand in hand with my DH. I would suggest no less than a 4 day hopper. It really gave us time to leisurely explore, ride & relax, explore, ride & relax. We were able to do all the rides we wanted at least twice and my favorites 4-5 times. We actually had the time to go on some rides I'd never bothered with before because of time pressure, like Toy Story & AstroBlasters. Of course the lack of crowds made it easier to repeat rides like HMH, ToT, Matterhorn, POTC, BTMRR over and over. The longest lines were for RSR (duh) and GRR in DCA and in DL Splash & Space. Our longest wait for the whole trip was 50 min for Splash. We did RSR at opening during EMH using the 'wide right' technique I mentioned in the previous post. Fastpasses for RSR were gone by 11 am.
As I had mentioned in a mid-trip post, the crowds weren't 'too' bad. It seemed that DCA was more crowded than DL. Maybe it's because I don't know that park as I do DL, but it felt that there wasn't as easy of a 'flow' of the people through DCA. I also find that I don't spend a whole day at DCA, I could do what I wanted to do by early afternoon (with EMH entry for RSR) & we pretty much ended up at DL in the afternoon & evening of the 2 days that we started out at DCA. My impression of the crowds (during regular hours) were on a scale of 1-5 (5 being most crowded) : Monday DCA 3.5, DL 3; Tuesday DL 3: Wednesday DCA 3, DL 2; Thursday DL 1.5.
As a rule, people were nice. The teens that I saw were all pretty well behaved with just the usual silliness & some line jumping of friends into where a group of them already were in line (a no-no to me). In moving from place to place in the parks there wasn't much crowding or pushing through by others. EXCEPT, and I know it's not every one, the people (especially moms) with strollers!!!! I've really not seen such rude behavior before. No eye contact, just get the h*** out of my way or I will run into you or run up on your heels. I'm sorry, it wasn't that crowded, did you really have to practically knock others over? And then the snotty looks from you when YOU bumped into me? Sheesh!! I have done DL with strollers myself many a time, and was always mindful of others and did not use my stroller as a battering ram or the equivalent of a snow-plow. Ok, rant over. I will also say that the people in scooters were never a problem for us. I was moving slowly due to my still rehabbing ankle (fracture healed but still needs strengthening & stamina) and as a rule people were nice about saying excuse me when they wanted to pass (I try to walk to the side so I don't block traffic) either on foot or scooter.
I chose not to get a GAC, partly because of the negative comments I have seen on this & other boards about people being perceived as abusing the system. I just really did not want to be subjected to stares & comments. Even though I wear an ankle brace to help give support, at times I have a noticeable limp while at others (usually early in the day) my gait is almost normal. CMs were very nice when it took me a little longer to get in or out of ride vehicles & DH was very much the gallant gentleman helping me. The only embarrassing time was Space Mountain. Between my ankle & DH's long legs (he's 6'5") it took too long & they ended up pulling our cars off. We had to get out, walk up a ramp, & reload a new car on a siding so we could take our time. The only real killer for me was stairs, mostly during the exits, but I managed by taking my time. Again, people were very nice & I didn't hear any negative comments as they passed me to exit.
Disney is Gluten Free heaven. The list from City Hall is great, plus many times the chef will make you something special not on the GF (or regular) menu. I had a wonderful club sandwich & fries at Storytellers & great carnitas at Rancho del Zocalo. Burger on a very tasty GF bun w/fries at Taste Pilots. The only thing to remember is that you must do your own due diligence. One CM told me that the mochas at the Mint Julep bar had gluten, only to find that he thought gluten was in milk (that's lactose). I was told at Storytellers that the flourless cake Donald demitasse was gluten free so I had one, only to be told the next day they weren't. I didn't have a reaction, but if any Celiacs are reading, please use your own judgement. Most CMs are knowledgeable, or will go ask if they aren't sure. My only complaint is the lack of baked goodies in the 'treat' stores, like the old Penny Arcade (now a candy store??!!), Pooh's or Jolly Holiday. There was not one single thing in the bakery cases that is GF. It would be nice if they would even just have one treat, a brownie or GF cupcake. Also, I was assured by 3 CMs that the Tigger Tails (& other dipped marshmallow treats) are NOT GF. There is a blog out there that says they are, of course that particular blogger also says you can eat the cheesecake if you 'don't touch the crust'. Wrong!
In short, it was a wonderful trip, even my non-Disney DH had a fun time. While DCA is fun & I got my Oswald pin, it just doesn't have that magic that DL does for me. Walking down Main St the first day had me wiping away tears I was so happy just to be there. And tears again when I had to make that final walk back down Main St to the DGC yesterday evening on our last day. Hopefully I will be able to return before another 5-7 years pass. And I want to thank everyone on MiceChat for the information and tips you provide. Posts that began "my favorite..." or "what is your favorite..." gave us some wonderful new experiences and some new traditions. Can you believe that after over 200 trips to DL during my lifetime (I spent the first 32 years of my life as a local) I had never had a mint julep? Had never noticed the crypt on the riverfront near HM? You MiceChatters really added so much to our trip. I wish there was a way to give each and every one of you a big hug. Instead I'll just say:
"M I C (See ya real soon!) K E Y (why? because I LIKE you!) (now everybody sing!!!) M O U S E!!!!