Disneyland 2/10 - 2/15

#1

Well, we just got back, and this may take a while. We spent three days in the parks, and another half day at a character breakfast and in Downtown Disney.
On Monday, we spent the day in Disneyland Park, and it was great. There were no lines at all. We went on every ride in the park that was open, and left before the park closed. We did wait for 45 minutes for Autopia though, and that was with a fast pass. We ate lunch at Rancho del Zocalo Restaurante, a counter service in Frontierland. Pretty good for counter service. We missed Mr. Toad’s, Peter Pan, Haunted Mansion, Splash Mountain and the Carousel. They were all closed. Most of the rides are very similar to their counterparts at WDW, Star Tours and Honey I Shrunk the Audience, but their are many unique rides as well, such as Indiana Jones, Matterhorn, the Toon Town rides, Alice in Wonderland and Pinocchio. There are quite a few more rides in Disneyland than there are in Magic Kingdom. I had forgotten how big it was, and how close all the rides are together. We ate dinner at Catal in Downtown Disney that night, and I must say, I deeply regreted that choice. It is supposed to be on of Southern California’s best restaurants, and it was just shy of horrible. The kid’s meals were straight out of a box, and my meal was burned. My wife’s steak was ok, but overall, it was very poor, and very expensive.
On Wednesday, we returned to California Adventure. We had a great time. There were no crowds, so we were able to see just about everything. We first rode the California Screamin’, the roller coaster that was made to look like an old wooden coaster, but is actually a high speed metal coaster with loop. Great ride, I think much better than any other coaster Disney has made. Very long, smooth and fast. We next did the Maliboomer, and anti-Tower of Terror, ok, but not great. The Sun Wheel was next, and it was great. Two thirds of the cars are on tracks, and they move as the ferris wheel goes around. Quit scary for little kids. Grizzly River Run was great, much better than Kali River Rapids. We also did Millionaire, Bug’s Life, Muppet Vision 3D, but the best ride in all of Disney is Soarin’ over California. Don’t be surprised to see this added to MGM in the near future. Great ride that simulates a hang glider flying over California. You get the smells, the wind and the actual feeling of flying. Think Star Tours on steriods, but at the same time, looking at an IMAX theatre fifty feet off the ground. Fantastic! We rode it five or six times.
On Friday, we spent the day catching things we missed, or wanted to do again. Haunted Mansion had been opened, as had Mr. Toad and Peter Pan, so we got to do those. Much more crowded though with the approach of the President’s Day weekend. We stayed in the Disneyland Hotel on Friday night, and it was fun to be on property, although most of us were sick, so we had an early night. We ate at PCH Grill after seeing the Electric Light Parade, first time in several years for me. Brang back flashes of childhood memories.
In the morning, we had breakfast with Chip and Dale and Pluto at the StoryTeller’s Cafe in the Grand Californian. Great food, reasonable prices, and fun. By the way, the Grand Californian Hotel is fantastic. Very similar in architecture to the Wilderness Lodge, but made to look like a giant Craftsman bungalo. It was increadible, and I can’t believe that I didn’t stay there. Oh, well, next time.
All in all, we had a great trip. We stayed at the Marriott Newport Coast Villas, which originally started out as a Disney Vacation Club, but was sold to Marriott. Great location and the views can’t be beat. It was about a 20 minute drive to Disneyland, and about a 2 minute walk to the beach. I think we will be going back there again, but probably not for two or three years. Back to the snow and traffic of the Olympics for me.

#2

It sounds wonderful out there in Cali! Which do you prefer WDW or DL?

That Soarin’ ride sounds great! They need to add on to MGM in my opinion and that would be a great addition (so long as I can tolerate it - not throw up :dazed )

I guess you didn’t mind the 20 minute ride to the park from where you were staying? When you go to WDW you always stay on property, right?

Besides the one bad dinner, it looks like your vacation was a success!! Yea!

When are you going again?

#3

Which do you prefer WDW or DL?
Definitely WDW. I really enjoy the Matterhorn, and some of the other unique rides, but the “magic” isn’t there. It is still Disney, but it just doesn’t feel the same.

(so long as I can tolerate it - not throw up )
Definitely not a throw up ride. Very gentle, really feels like you are flying. My wife hates all of those simulator rides, they make her sick, but she loved Soarin’, she went on it four times, and loved it.

I guess you didn’t mind the 20 minute ride to the park from where you were staying? When you go to WDW you always stay on property, right?
No, I don’t mind it. When we go to CA, we always stay in Newport Beach. Great city, nice beaches and good shopping and restaurants. You have to remember that at DL, there are probably 100 hotels within walking distance of DL, so it is quite different than WDW. There is no buffer zone, and everything Disney is squashed into a small area surrounded by hotels, restaurants and other junk. We always stay on property at WDW, usually at OKW. Totally different though.

Besides the one bad dinner, it looks like your vacation was a success!! Yea!
Yep, although one thing I failed to mention: Everything seemed much more expensive there. The kid’s meals were more, and you couldn’t even find a counter service where meals were less than $10 for adults. The hotels are very expensive for what you get. Disneyland Hotel is normally $250 per night, but is comparable to a moderate at WDW, and there is no theming at all. Also, it seemed less kid friendly, much more aimed at teenagers. I guess a large part of their clientel is locals, and that seems to be whom they are trying to please.

When are you going again?
Disneyland? Not for a couple of years, unless I find myself in LA again. WDW? Hopefully some time this year, haven’t got it planned though. For sure next January, I am trying to run the WDW marathon. I hope, at least.