Travel dates: Friday, November 2- Sunday, November 11, 2012
Travel method: Fly Alaska Airlines into SNA
Resort: Doubletree Anaheim-OC
Accommodations: King bed
Disney Resort Experience Represented in Group: We've been every year since 2007!
Cast of characters: Smarty (Me) & SS (Smarty's spouse)
This is our anniversary trip!
Transportation: Alaska Airlines. We used the $99 companion ticket (Price is really $160.99 for that ticket according to the receipt.) and are traveling in First Class on the way there. Coach on the way home.
Accommodations: We had booked the Red Lion hotel, which is about a 15 minute walk (or 5 min walk and bus ride from Toy Story Lot) to the turnstiles, for about $78 a night plus $14 parking and $1 resort fee daily. Last week I was perusing betterbidding.com and saw that people were getting hotels in the 3.5 star range for around $60 a night. I checked with SS and we decided the worst that would happen is we'd end up at the Doubletree, where we've stayed before. We won it at least twice on priceline ($55 a night in August 2010) and we stayed there on our first trip at regular price. I bid $60 in the 3.5 range and was rejected. I was offered an automatic rebid of $70 and I'd have it. I declined, that always means you're getting close! I added a region and bid $61, rejected! I bid $62 and we were accepted! The Doubletree is nice; they give free cookies and have a free DL shuttle hourly. The most important thing is that I saved over $150 on the hotel alone (taxes are lower in Orange). I also saved at least $25 in parking/daily fees. We ended up in a king bed room with a DL view on level 15. We didnít need or ask for the view but the room was fine. Bed wasnít that comfortable and felt smaller than a king but that may have been from the spring style bed.
Tickets: We purchased the Southern California CityPass through Disneyland.com using a discount code offered through one of SS's work perks. It was $251. For one of the tickets I used a $200 Chase Visa reward and 2 $25 Disney gift cards. I purchased the gift cards using a Target card for a 5% discount. The two tickets were $290.50 or so. After the ďMagic MorningĒ on Saturday, 11/3 we upgraded to Deluxe Annual Passes. That cost $484.50 paid with the gift cards. In total it cost $775 for 2 Annual Passes and 2 Universal Hollywood tickets using all discounts and the free reward.
---------- Post added 11-12-2012 at 05:59 PM ----------
Day 1 Friday, November 2: We took 7,115 steps. We arrived at SNA 45 minutes late 11/2 on Alaska air from SEA, at 8 pm. A dad on the flight said it was the 1st time late in 30 rides this year and he was bummed since he missed part of his sonís sports game. They said the engine wouldn't start because it hadnít run in a day. It turned out to be the start of "everyone" trying to delay my Disneyland evening. LOL
We rode California Yellow Cab to the hotel for $32.85. I had a $5 off coupon from anaheimic.org. He was quick & cab was nice & clean. Theyíre not too good with those coupons. He didnít remove it from the bill so I only gave a partial tip. I hope he was able to get that from the company when he turned in the coupon. If they offer coupons on anaheimoc.org they should teach the people how to accept them!
At hotel check in a lady from Canada had no reservation. Can you imagine? Traveling within the US I would never leave home without a reservation!! She took "forever". Really 10 min. We had 25 min to freshen up & take the hotel shuttle to Disneyland. We came down 10 min early but it wasn't necessary. Around 9:10 we finally left in the shuttle. They gave us 2 coupons for free coffee at the starbucks in the lobby because we waited. We never used them since it didnít specify if it was drip coffee and we donít drink thatÖ
Bag check at Disneyland was quick. The ticket line, not so much! There were 4 booths open. 10 min later we got to an agent. We had vouchers to exchange for Citypasses. Even that took "forever"!
Finally, the good stuff! We checked mousewait & POTC had the shortest wait time listed. It was a great ride! We got there at 9:49 and the wait was 12 minutes. When we left the ride it was so much more orderly than when we lined up. Everyone was now waiting for Fantasmic!
By the time we got off we were ready for a snack. We waited 6 min for skewers at Bengal BBQ. The onion was so spicy it made me cry & feel a bit of a bad tummy. We next went to Dole whip! There were 4 people in front of us but it was amazingly fast! 3 min. We walked around the fairies place, Matterhorn & Tomorrowland (used bathroom outside Space Mtn) & went out to 11:15 shuttle.
What a nice evening. Though it all felt a little rushed it was worth it to get our vacation "started".
Day 2 Saturday, November 3: 31,283 steps taken. The wonderful concierge at Doubletree informed us there was an ART shuttle available at the Ayres hotel, just across the street. We paid $6 and arrived at DL right as it opened for the ďMagic MorningĒ hour. We ate granola bars on the way there. The lines were HUGE! We waited Ĺ hour in the bag and entry lines. I donít know any other way to plan my day at the park than to get FP, jump over to the other park and get FP there and then go back to use the FP from the 1st park. However, Iím not sure this is really going to work anymore with these huge lines. It worked OK for this trip but was slightly frustrating. It felt like there were always lines. On this day and through most of the trip, at least until Friday, Nov 9 they had the 4 day and up ticketholders in 2 separate lines. There were a lot of complaints. I even read one on one of these trip planning or mouselover sites saying he waited 5 days and didnít get a RSR FP because of the lines. Personally I donít feel the lines were that bad but to each his own.
Our first ride was Matterhorn. I loved it! This is my biggest surprise of the trip. After hearing all the complaints on various websites about the seats I was shocked. Part of it may be nostalgia for those complaining. Personally, I hated Matterhorn before and Iíd ridden it only the one time I think. The bobsleds have 3 seats so each rider has great support. I think it might make the ride a little faster to load as well.
Next we waited a bit for Peter Pan. Maybe 15 minutes at the most. Iíd never been on this ride and it was great fun. I doubt Iíd ride it again since the wait is generally longer than any other in Fantasyland.
There was no wait at teacups. This is such great music! Definitely a happy place to be.
We walked onto Pinocchio and Snow White. They were ok rides. I just wanted to check them off my DL list.
After this itís 9 am and MM is over so we walked to Star Tours and picked up fast passes. After this we park hopped to California Adventure and got in line for RSR FP. It took 10 minutes. I was expecting a big traumatic experience getting FP for the rides due to all the crazy things Iíd heard and was really stressed out we wouldnít get any. Getting the FP was not a big deal for us at all. We were probably in the line at 10 a.m. and we got FP for 2 p.m. so I donít know what the hassle is. One thing to note is that I felt sorry for families with small children waiting in the FP line. Just one could have gone and the other could have taken the fam to do something fun!
A side note about when to get to the parkÖ In the past on our trips when weíd get to the park first thing we had the best time. Iím finding that this is no longer the case. It was great to get there for MM but we wonít be able to do that anymore as Annual Passholders. On weekends itís OK but those are also the days the park closes late and the park was emptier the last two hours. In the future I might not want to be there first thing in the morning so I can be well rested to stay late. Iím not sure what my plan will be for weekdays when the park opens at 10. By then all the families are able to be at the gates. I think Iíd have to show up at 9 am and get in line to enjoy the morning. We waited in Ĺ hour lines each day just to enter.
Back to SaturdayÖ We were ready for breakfast since weíd only eating the granola bars. We ended up at Pacific Wharf Cafť. Weíd never been in this area of the park. I think itís really cool how it connects to Paradise Pier, the main path and Carsland. SS got the Egg Boule. Yes, I spelled that right, Boule. Ridiculous! Use proper grammar. J I had the chinese salad. Itís basically a huge loaf of bread filled with Ĺ cup of lettuce, 1 cup of chicken and Ĺ cup of dressing. I did not enjoy it. Maybe it would have been better without the chicken. I wanted a salad not chicken. J (I donít eat meat BTW) This is also where I got SS a little can of pepsi Iíd brought in the park. We asked for a cup of ice. It was a human size soda. I love that they sell those cool little 8 oz cans! There are only so many chemicals that we should ingest per day! We also filled our water bottle that weíd brought in.
We picked up a FP for Screaminí. This is currently a ďdisconnectedĒ FP station and you can hold one of these FP at the same time as one of the others in DCA. Tower of Terror, one of our favorites was next on the list. There wasnít really a wait.
We had a 2 p.m. FP for RSR and we were excited to use it so we headed over to Carsland. It wasnít quite time so we rode Materís. It was fun. I donít plan on doing it again as it hurt my neck a little. The cushions that have been added were a great necessity. Iím not a fan of the music but it fits the ride. We arrived at RSR right on time! The wait was 10 min. It is really cool to be right in the beautiful mountains. I felt so bad for all the people waiting in the long line. Iíd read a comment by someone that they rode using the regular queue just to look at stuff. Yeah, you might miss some things but thereís no way I could stay for over an hour in line. I loved the ride, but itís not worth a 2 hour wait by any means. I surprised SS by not telling any details about the ride. We ended up getting our tires changed and winning our first race!!! The tractors were not tipping. I did not like that.
It was getting pretty warm so we were ready for some splashing. We went to Grizzly River Run after finding the 2 hour free lockers behind the sales station for Dvacations. There was a 5 min wait here. We didnít get soaked but we had fun anyway! Next we rode Screaminí while our stuff was still in the locker. We enjoyed it so much we picked up another FP! 5, 4, 3, 2, 1!
(to be continued)