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Trip Report - Great trip! Tips for doing it all!

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Petaluma, California
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Trip Report - Great trip! Tips for doing it all!

We just had a superb trip. I used all my years of experience to design a trip for a friend who had never been to Disneyland and was successful in getting in ALL rides and attractions we wanted in a day and a half. Here is how:

We started on Tuesday which allows for early entrance for 3-day pass holders. Arrived at 7:30 AM (regular gate opened that day at 8:00 AM) and ran like mad to Space Mountain. Only a 5 minute wait to ride. Great ride now. Really improved.

Then we skipped over to Buzz Lightyear as it is a new ride. You MUST know - there are Red "Z"s in a short tunnel on the ceiling - they are flashing "z"s and they are worth 10,000 points. Also, know from the beginning you can use the joystick to turn the vehicle you are in all directions!

Then we ran to Indiana Jones about the time the front gates opened! We did 3 rides very quickly with the early entrance!

Now the general public does not really arrive enmasse until about 9:30 or so, so we just took in Haunted Mansion, Splash Mountain and Pirates in very quick sucession. Ate at French Market at 11:00. This is an important tip! If you try to eat lunch later in the day there are LINES everywhere! Had steak gumbo in a sourdough bowl.

At this point we were ready to attempt CA Adventure. We ran straight to California Soarin. It was only a 30 minute wait. Then onto Grizzly Run and over to CA Screamin (which is open again and just as fabulous as always). Then we enjoyed "It's a Bug's Life." Do not allow the idea that this is for children only to deter you. It is great for all ages.

YOU CANNOT miss Tower of Terror! No one seems to know about it! This the absolute best Disney ride now. You drop 13 floors and it is a wonderfully exciting ride you will not forget. We rode it over again the next day. In fact all our favorite rides turned out to be in CA Adventure and we re-rode them the next day. Anyway, TOT does not seem to have long lines. It is out of the way, perhaps why so many are missing it.

Also, you can have a beer, wine and freshly made Boudin sourdough bread at CA Adventure. Which we did. Nice rest.

I had made reservations 30 days prior for an early evening dinner at Blue Bayou back at Disneyland. We leisurely walked back shopping along the way. We asked for a water table so you can watch the Pirates ride going by. Great food that night. My short ribs were the special and they were fantastic. We all had mint juleps. Great fun.

Soon thereafter we had tickets for the Dessert Show of Fantasmic above Pirates. YOU HAVE to call exactly 30 days prior and start phoning at 7:55 AM that morning by redialing and redialing until you get through. It sells out for the holidays within 10 minutes! But I had found this out and called in time to get them so we were set. I highly recommend this dessert seating if you can afford it. My friends loved the convenience and the time to rest since being up so early.

From the balcony you are allowed to see the fireworks after Fantasmic. It was good from this vantage point, but as others have said, the best is in front of the castle. When I finally saw the entire fireworks show 2 nights later in front of the castle and saw the real Tinker Bell flight - well I was almost in tears it is so full of memories for me. Just wonderful.

Special note: The Fantasmic dessert show includes any drink you can think of including mint juleps, hot cocoa, coffee, soft drinks. Along with fritters, cheesecake, fresh fruit on skewers, cake, etc.

We used our hot breakfast included in our package at Ayres Hotel in Orange and cut costs there. We did drive and park each day because we find that very convenient.

Like I said, we re-rode rides on Wed. morning before our friends left. Unfortunately, we were on the very TOP of California Soarin' when it broke down at noon that day. I am a bit afraid of heights, and this was truly scary for me. But now it is our favorite part of the trip to tell about. Of course, they fixed the ride and got us all down. But I was scared when it happened. This is my second favorite ride after Tower of Terror.

We missed the fabulous parades. If you can, don't miss them. We took the train three times in Disneyland to get us around the park to save our soles. We also used the Monorail to get from Disneyland to the farthest reaches of Downtown Disney for shopping.

Well, that is a pretty good update. Hope this helps!!

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1. Re: Trip Report - Great trip! Tips for doing it all!

Hi Gourmand! Sounds like a great trip. We were in DL for fourteen hours on Mon. and loved it! We did not get to see the fireworks that evening, but all other attractions were open. We especially enjoyed the Fantasmic show (we sat on the ground a few rows from the front) and Blue Bayou was very fun.

Our stay at the Grand Californian was amazing, it truly is a gorgeous hotel. We hope to have dinner Napa Rose next trip. Wasn't the weather gorgeous? The next day after shopping in Downtown Disney we hit Huntington Beach after a stop at In n Out. A great trip! We were celebrating our daughter's high school water polo team winning the Valley Championships for the FIRST time ever in the history of her school. :)

We loved the Small World ride with all of the extra Christmas decorations, also. :)

Petaluma, California
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2. Re: Trip Report - Great trip! Tips for doing it all!

Hi Syrahgirl. I will take your advice and stay at the Grand Californian next time. We did have dinner without our friends the second night at Napa Rose. It was simply outstanding!!! The food there is just incredible and we had our very knowledgable waiter select our matching wines. I had four courses that were out of this world. Maybe I'll write about it another time.

Yes, the weather was terrific. However, it got very cold our last day, Thursday after Thanksgiving with our family down there.

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3. Re: Trip Report - Great trip! Tips for doing it all!

We looked inside the place before we left and the dining room looked really small, does the dining room extend back and open up or is it a very small place? :)

Medina, WA
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4. Re: Trip Report - Great trip! Tips for doing it all!

Thanks Gourmand for the tips. I wrote each one down and I like the fact that you mentioned you arrived early even on early entry day which I would have not thought to do. I am contemplating the Fantasmic Dessert since the tickets are so darn expensive and I have two kids who barely eat anything but still think it might be worth it not to fight for a good spot for the show. I have a couple of questions if you don't mind. Is the Blue Buyou an upscale restaurant or just a nice atmosphere with good food? I would like to eat there and want to make reservations but not if it's fancy since I have kids. Is making reservations at the Blue Buou the same as Fantasmic? exactly 30 days no more in advance? and would you know if character meals are the same with making reservations? Appreciate your help. Thanks!

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5. Re: Trip Report - Great trip! Tips for doing it all!

We made our reservations for Blue Bayou about two months in advance. It is an upscale restaurant with a bit above average food. Request a water table, very fun. They have a kids menu also, ask for the Pirates of the Caribbean hats for the kids, they love it! :)

Petaluma, California
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6. Re: Trip Report - Great trip! Tips for doing it all!

Syrahgirl - I think the Napa Rose is quite large so you must have only seen the lounge. A special tip - a very few select people get to sit at a long bar and watch the kitchen and chef cook. We want to do that next time.

Joanna- Everything at Disneyland is set up for kids, so while Blue Bayou is white tableclothes and meant to be the more elegant restaurant there, you can definitely bring kids. Like Syrahgirl said they have a kids menu. My special tip is to get an early evening reservation (ours was 5:30 PM) and you have better chances of getting a water table. You want to sit here to watch the Pirates ride go by. Also, on the day of your reservation, when walking past Pirates, just go confirm your reservation and ask them again for a water table. This just about guarantees it.

You can call for Blue Bayou reservations anytime. The restricted call is for Fantasmic dessert tickets. That must be 30 days prior. So, if you are going Jan.2 you have to call precisely on Dec. 2 at 8:00 AM EXACTLY and keep redialing until you get through.

You may have misunderstood me. There is early entry only for people with 3-day passes. But early entry is ONLY on Tuesday and Thursday and maybe one other day. If the park opens to the public at 8:00 - then you can enter the park at 7:30 AM if you have a 3-day pass on Tuesdays. OK??

Depending on how small your kids are - many people feel Fantasmic is too scary for them. So, you may want to skip Fantasmic altogether and spend the money on the Blue Bayou and be sure to sit early for a seat to watch the fireworks at the Hub in front of the Castle instead.

I do not know anything about the character breakfast unfortunately. My kids are all grown. But others on this site know all about it.

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7. Re: Trip Report - Great trip! Tips for doing it all!

We had the great buffet at the Storyteller's Cafe at the Grand Californian. When I made our Blue Bayou rewervations, I secured a spot here as well, about two months in advance, but we were there during a holiday week. :)