As big of a Disneyland fan as I am, I just don't make it to the park very often. Usually it's years before I visit and I don't normally go very far outside Disneyland. But this time I didn't have any money for the park, so I decided to stick around Downtown Disney and the Hotel. I hadn't been to the Hotel since 1993 and I've never been to DD, but I have to admit I wasn't impressed with DD at all. I loved the Disney music being played in the street by the violinist and I like the Disney touches all over the place, but overall it just feels way too much like CityWalk at Universal. Please don't get me wrong, these complexes have their place, like I'm sure Disney World's is amazing since it has its own dedicated land and even Universal's CityWalk is great, but putting it right next to something as special as Disneyland just doesn't sit well with me. The shops are definitely a step up from the typical urban complex, but a mall by any other name is still a mall.
Originally, I thought Downtown Disney was small because I had only seen it from the Esplanade and monorail station. But the entire time I was trying to picture what was there before and where all the room for DD came from. I know some of it was the parking lot, but did it cut a lot into the Hotel's space as well? The Hotel is just as nice as I remember, with beautiful gardens and walkways. I was very saddened upon seeing the new planter, aka the old water show. I liked that the Mickey Mouse theming was kept to a minimum, the sorcerer's hat and stars around the entrance is about the only hint of the type of Mickey Mouse theming that now runs through Disney-MGM and Epcot's park icons. It sure would be nice if they put half of the effort they do to promote Mickey in the form of sorcerer hats and wands like at Disney World into their TV channels.
Also, I would like to thank ALL of you who regularly post pictures of the Disneyland Resort on this site. Because of you guys, I felt like I had been coming to the park every day and I felt right at home. There were no surprises and it was so interesting to see all the stuff that gets reported on MiceAge in real life. Like I said, I don't get to the park more than once every few years so I really rely on Al and the posters on MiceChat to find out what's going on at the resort, especially through pictures. So please keep posting your pictures on MiceChat, they are very useful and very helpful when I can't make it to the park as much as I'd like.