No announcement yet.

An Englishman Abroad: The slow moving adventures of a British Family at Disneyland


Ad Widget

This topic is closed.
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Trip Report An Englishman Abroad: The slow moving adventures of a British Family at Disneyland

    Well, I am back from my first visit to DL (after a couple of visits to WDW and numerous visits to DLP).

    Apologies for this TR appearing in short bursts - my computer is down and I am having to do this on NDJnr's MacBook after he goes to bed!

    The TR will take the form of sections covering different aspects of our trip. I find chronological TRs to be a little boring at times...

    We (myself, Mrs D and NDJnr - aged 9) visited America for three weeks, spending 15 nights in Boulder, Colorado and six nights (9th - 15th October) at Disneyland Hotel - room 2513.
    Mrs D suffers from low blood pressure and a heart condition which means that she cannot stand or sit still for long periods of time. NDJnr is on the autism spectrum meaning he cannot stand standing in lines for too long or being in large crowds. We got a GAC which will be covered later....

    After spending over two weeks in the beautiful city of Boulder, we found LAX to be a big change of pace. The airport was the worst of any of the six that we spent time in during our trip although thankfully we kept our time there to a minimum.
    I had booked a private Execu-car through Supershuttle and called them upon arrival. They were there within 10 minutes and the driver was friendly and courteous. Since we arrived on a Sunday afternoon, the traffic was light and we arrived at the hotel in about 40 minutes. I would recommend this method of transfer.

    The Hotel
    Arriving at a Disney hotel is always rather exciting, and it is even more so when the hotel in question is as imposing as the Disneyland Hotel. Even with the temporary boarding covering up the nearly completed renovations, it is still an impressive structure that looks better in reality than in the photos I had seen.
    Sadly, our arrival was marred by several issues. Firstly, our first human contact at the Happiest Place on Earth was with a very rude and abrupt car park attendant/doorman. His attitude with our driver was terrible - so much so that after we unloaded, our driver went to complain about him. The bellhop's comment was that we were lucky - they had to put up with it all day. Hardly an impressive start to the trip!
    Complimentary flavoured water and cookies were in the lobby as well as Goofy, Pluto and Chip (no Dale). The line for checking in was quite long but moved fast enough. As we had arrived at just after 2pm, we were told that our room would not be ready until between 3 - 4pm. We were given our key cards, maps etc and told to call from the house phone later to check if the room was ready and get the room number. With a couple of hours to kill, we left the bags at the luggage desk and hit Downtown Disney (my thoughts and experiences on that to follow). We returned at 4pm and called as instructed to be told that our room was not ready and wouldn't be for a further hour. At this point NDJnr was getting very stressed and Mrs D was getting very tired. I went to guest services and complained about the situation (we Brits are good at complaining!). The lady there looked on her computer and told me that our room was ready and that we could go straight up. Grinding my teeth and this lack of organisation, we made our way up to our room.
    We were on the seventh floor of Fantasy Tower which is the main building. Our room faced out over the front car park and lobby (the other side looks out over the building site that will eventually be the new pool). On this side of the building, we could see the tops of the Matterhorn, Splash and Thunder Mountain over the trees and had an excellent view of the fireworks.
    At the time of our stay, two of the three elevators were operational. The third (in the middle) was boxed off in the lobby. This did mean that sometimes it was rather difficult to get up or down, but this wasn't too big a deal to us.

    Our Room
    After our less-than-impressive arrival at the hotel, it was wonderful to arrive in our room and find it perfect.
    The room had two Queen sized beds, a writing desk with chair, one armchair, a chest of drawers/cupboard that housed the (very small) fridge and large flat screen TV, a built-in wardrobe with a safe, and a full wall window that made the room seem even bigger than it was (floor space was quite generous). There was a bedside table between the beds with a lamp, and a wall mounted angle lamp on the far end of each bed.
    The bathroom had a separate toilet, small bath with fixed-head shower, large mirror over a good sized sink and another full length one on the door.
    All the furniture was wood and the bathroom had a black granite worktop. Hidden Mickeys were in the carpet, lampshades, table lamp stand and on the bath and sink faucets. Large Mickey hands also held the bathroom lamps. The large wooden headboard that covered both beds had the castle carved into it (not actually carved, more like moulded). A switch on the bedside light made a firework effect appear above the castle while a hidden music box played a verse from 'A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes'. The first two lines of this song were also embroidered onto two beautiful blue velvet cushions on the beds. We got two bathrobes and chocolate coins on the bed daily.
    The TV had all the usual channels (including the likes of Cartoon Network as well as at least one Japanese and one Spanish one). There were also several Disney channels including one that played the fireworks music and one that played the World of Color music when they were happening (Disney music at all other times), one that showed bedtime stories on a continuous loop (the one I watched was a 'live' Cinderella telling her own story to camera), a channel that showed highlights of the parks etc and one called Company Clips (I think) that basically showed adverts and trailers for Disney movies and other products and services.
    House Keeping did a great job and we did once have to call security up to our room when NDJnr accidentally locked a pair of shoes in the safe and forgot the combination! After our initial problems, the hotel service was faultless.
    Each floor had an ice machine and an overpriced soft drink vending machine ($3!). The lobby featured the obligatory merchandise store as well as a smaller one that also sold over-priced drinks ($3!) and snacks as well as magazines, toiletries and other holiday essentials.

    The Pool
    The Neverland pool is still under re-construction (port holes in the temporary walls allowed us to see the progress) and so we were limited to the new D-Ticket Pool. The pool features two Monorail-themed slides, a splash zone and a medium-sized swimming pool (depth is four feet throughout). The splash zone is pretty small as most of it is taken up with the stair case to the slides and the end of the shorter slide. The longer slide empties into its own mini-pool. There are plenty of sun loungers, tables, chairs and umbrellas and towels are provided.
    The pool area was ok but we were slightly disappointed and only visited once. This was mainly because even the longer of the two slides was pretty tame, and to NDJnr's disgust the water in the pool tasted salty. This was enough for him to vow never to return!
    Also, we had a pool side meal and totally regretted it. It was easily the worst thing we were served in our three weeks in the States. But I don't want to say too much more yet- the 'Food' section will follow!
    A nice detail the the swimming pool was incorporated into some of the yellow tiles around the edge - a replica of the original D-Ticket printed on the tile and partially submerged.

    That's all for now - I am still recovering from jet lag. To follow will be sections covering DTD, Food, CMs, Tips and Tricks and of course The Parks! I will also be trying to get some photos up ASAP. Stay Tuned!!
    WDW - 1987 & 1991
    DLP - 1996, 2004, 2006 & 2007
    DLR - October 2011

  • #2
    Re: An Englishman Abroad: The slow moving adventures of a British Family at Disneylan

    In for the well-documented Trip report!

    Unfortunate that your first day was full of unexpected snags, but glad everything worked out in the end.

    Can't wait for more


    • #3
      Re: An Englishman Abroad: The slow moving adventures of a British Family at Disneylan

      I was there last weekend also, but was in the Frontier Tower. Just wondering if the wifi worked in your room, because we couldn't get it in any of the 4 rooms our family booked, nor in the Frontier lobby.
      "Greetings, Starfighter! You have been recruited by the Star League to defend the Frontier against Xur and the Ko-Dan Armada."


      • #4
        Re: An Englishman Abroad: The slow moving adventures of a British Family at Disneylan

        looking forward to this one nathan! great start!


        • #5
          Re: An Englishman Abroad: The slow moving adventures of a British Family at Disneylan

          Can't wait to hear more! I hope your trip ended on a high note.


          • #6
            Re: An Englishman Abroad: The slow moving adventures of a British Family at Disneylan

            Really good report so far, and very thorough...looking forward to reading your experience with the parks and food and the rest
            when the spooks have a midnight jamboree....


            • #7
              Re: An Englishman Abroad: The slow moving adventures of a British Family at Disneylan

              Originally posted by calsig31 View Post
              I was there last weekend also, but was in the Frontier Tower. Just wondering if the wifi worked in your room, because we couldn't get it in any of the 4 rooms our family booked, nor in the Frontier lobby.
              We had no issues with the wifi thankfully.

              And thanks to everyone for the kind words.
              WDW - 1987 & 1991
              DLP - 1996, 2004, 2006 & 2007
              DLR - October 2011


              • #8
                Re: An Englishman Abroad: The slow moving adventures of a British Family at Disneylan

                Looking forward to your trip report!

                As an aside, did you have a good time in Boulder? Colorado is my home turf, so hopefully the other natives treated you to a good time.
                "You may not realize it when it happens,
                but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you."


                • #9
                  Re: An Englishman Abroad: The slow moving adventures of a British Family at Disneylan

                  Originally posted by nathan detroit View Post
                  I had booked a private Execu-car through Supershuttle and called them upon arrival. They were there within 10 minutes and the driver was friendly and courteous. Since we arrived on a Sunday afternoon, the traffic was light and we arrived at the hotel in about 40 minutes. I would recommend this method of transfer.
                  I've done that, too. Well, going to Costa Mesa rather than straight to Disneyland, but same idea. I wish Supershuttle was available at all major airports!


                  • #10
                    Re: An Englishman Abroad: The slow moving adventures of a British Family at Disneylan

                    ND, I'm really enjoying the amount of thought and precise detail in your report! It's not going unnoticed!

                    I look forward to reading the rest of it so please don't stop!

                    Visit my mice chat toy shop!

                    Track Disney Animation Presence in the Theme Parks Worldwide!


                    • #11
                      Re: An Englishman Abroad: The slow moving adventures of a British Family at Disneylan

                      Great write up so far, very detailed! I look forward to reading about the rest of your trip.


                      • #12
                        Re: An Englishman Abroad: The slow moving adventures of a British Family at Disneylan

                        :clap: Yes!! Trip report!!! I look forward to seeing the rest of your report once you get some... rest! So fun to hear from a first timer!

                        Help me get more security in Pingvinivlle! Click here!

                        Originally posted by AGhostFromThePast
                        all you need to know about the mommy stick is.. out of all the bad things that could happen to you... it's right between wetting yourself and death.


                        • #13
                          Re: An Englishman Abroad: The slow moving adventures of a British Family at Disneylan

                          ok - no more posting until nathan feeds us with more goodness!! we must draw it out of him!!


                          • #14
                            Re: An Englishman Abroad: The slow moving adventures of a British Family at Disneylan

                            Part 2 - In which our intrepid explorers venture park-ward.

                            Downtown Disney
                            After experiencing the rather pathetic Disney Village at DLP, DTD is a refreshing treat.
                            The stores and restaurants have a good diversity and the maintainance of everything there is top-notch. Of course everything is overpriced but just walking through the place to and from the parks was a joy.
                            The inclusion of live musicians most evenings added to the atmosphere. I was however surprised to see that most of the businesses there were all closed up by 10.30pm.
                            One evening I went in search of some late-night sustanance and ended up having to enter Disneyland itself to get food!
                            World of Disney was too big, crowded and over-facing for our tastes, but NDJnr loved D Street as he is a keen Vinylmation collector.
                            The monorail was operating on a limited schedule (and was completely closed for the first couple of days). Depending on the time of day the queues could be long but the wait was worth it. One thing that caused needless delays were the people who rode the round trip back to Tomorrowland. Don't they have anything better to do than get in the way of people who want to get on at DTD?! The monorail is a practical transportation solution IMO - not a leisurely attraction.

                            As previously stated, the Detroit family are far from the healthiest. This led me to City Hall on our entry into the park on the Sunday afternoon to request a Guest Assistance Card. These GACs have been discussed widely on these boards and I was very conscious that we not abuse it. I also wanted to ensure that City Hall had no doubt that we really needed one (following stories I have read here of eye-brow raising CMs being dubious as to legibility) and so had ensured I had both Mrs D’s and NDJnr’s medical diagnosis letters with me. I explained the situation and when I produced these I was assured by the very nice CM that they were not necessary. A card for all three of us was produced immediately covering our entire stay. The ease that this was arranged was a great relief to me as I had expected to have a fight on my hands after reading some horror stories about acquiring a GAC.
                            I also expected to come up with some resistance from the CMs at the attractions and some sneers from other guests (as neither NDJnr’s nor Mrs D’s conditions are physically apparent). Happily this was not the case either. At each ride we were happily and politely guided to either the FP queue or in through the exit and never waited more than 15 minutes for an attraction. NDJnr in particular loved this and I did need to restrain him on several occasions from laughing at the ‘queuing noobs’ – his typically unrestrained words!
                            The GAC was a particular blessing in light of the fact that NDJnr needed time in the morning to get mentally prepared for his day ahead. Typically we did not leave our room and hit the parks until around lunch time because of this and so the GAC allowed us to still get a good amount of attractions done in a shorter space of time. Sadly we still did not see everything – which I will cover later.
                            One attraction where the GAC was treated slightly differently was Star Tours. Upon our first daily visit to this attraction, the CM would write in the corner of the card the date and time. If we returned within the advertised queuing time from the time written on the card, we were issued a bespoke FP to return at after that time. As this was clearly one of the most popular attractions, this made sense and we still rode it numerous times despite this limitation (I would point out that the first time this happened, the CM wrote on the card but did not explain the procedure. This did lead to disappointment when we returned for our second trip.)

                            As we had arrived on a Sunday afternoon, our first experience of Disneyland was a crowded one. It took longer than I would have liked to get our tickets but this was partially due to me having purchased an AP to take advantage of the discounts offered. The lines to enter the park were also long but fast moving.
                            Visitors to WDW who then go to DL seem to always comment on how small the park is. As a regular at DLP, I did not find this – although the size of the castle did surprise me! I also found certain areas to be overly crowded and some walkways too narrow in places (particularly in Tomorrowland). It was interesting to see this as it highlighted how DLP had improved upon this with wider walkways and more entrances and pathways littered throughout.
                            Main Street was the nicest I have walked up although we did not frequent many of the stores. I did miss DLP’s arcades that run adjacent to Main Street on both sides and which afford nice short cuts – however this again highlighted how the imaginers can improve upon perfection.
                            In all of my time in both parks, I was very impressed with the high level of cleanliness and maintainance. I know that regular visitors often complain about the opposite being true but I can honestly say that I never once saw anything that suggested that management did not care about the park – something that is sadly not the case at DLP (sorry for so many DL/DLP comparisons – I will try and minimise them!). Litter was non-existent and the bathrooms were well maintained. I did however once get a bad whiff of drains on Main Street – something I have also read about on these boards.
                            Our most frequently visited area due to NDJnr’s love of Star Tours and Space Mountain. As previously stated, I found this land a little cramped particularly around Star Tours.
                            Attractions visited here were as follows:
                            Star Tours – NDJnr’s favourite (to begin with). Having already flew several times on the original, we loved the randomness of the destinations, the 3D aspect and the added wit. Over our five or six trips we got all aspects except Kyshyyk and Corrusant. Naboo and Hoth were our favourites. I must admit to growing tired of this attraction quite quickly with our last couple of rides not really doing it for us. The fact that we nearly always got the podrace was probably a big factor in this and the fact that we were never lucky enough to be a Rebel Spy! I loved the witty queuing area and we spotted the Hidden Mickey in the window display.
                            Space Mountain (Ghost Galaxy) – NDJnr moved very quickly from being a Star Tours devotee to loving all four ‘mountains’. This is obviously the most extreme of them and we loved it! I have not ridden a Space Mountain since our original trip to DLP shortly after it opened and so this was quite a shock to the system. The Halloween overlay was most welcomed and very impressive and I cannot actually imagine the ride without it. We were lucky enough to ride this several times in the front seat – a definite advantage.
                            Autopia – This was my first ever trip on any Autopia and we really enjoyed it. NDJnr took the wheel and was surprised how much hard work it was to ‘drive a car’.
                            Nemo Subs – I remember the original from WDW and did not see this as a step forward. Seeing the subs cruise around the lagoon and the funny seagulls on the buoy were both a joy, but the actual attraction lacked. The reef, plants and fish in the lagoon seemed to need a little TLC and I felt cheated by all of the Nemo characters being animated. I at least expected a nice big AA Bruce! NDJnr proclaimed the ride ‘boring’ and it was not revisited.
                            Innoventions – Every second we spent in this abomination was a waste. What a complete waste of prime Disneyland real estate. The only section that looked even remotely fun was the thing that ages your face – and despite several attempts it refused to work.
                            Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters – Fun but we had ridden this to death on our last trip to DLP and this one offered nothing new. I have always liked the Buzz AA in the queuing area though and this was only one of two rides that momentarily broke down during our time on it (the other was HM).
                            I was amused to see the unpopularity of Captain Eo. We did not bother with it but it was fun to see the CMs at the entrance desperately looking for willing customers as everyone walked past to get to Space Mountain!

                            NDJnr believed himself too old for most of the rides here and so we spent very little time in this land. Although there was one attraction that we visited frequently…
                            Matterhorn Bobsleds – This is a real classic that truly lives up to its hype and has aged extremely well. The mountain itself is very impressive and I took numerous photos of it from every angle. I do however think it a shame that it dwarfs the castle but I was constantly looking admiringly at it. The ride is great fun and we had several trips on both tracks (the one on the left of the entrance is the best). The yetis are fun and their roars as heard whenever anywhere near the mountain were wonderful. One of the best attractions in either park.
                            Mr Toad’s Wild Ride – Another I remember from 20 years ago and it still raised a smile. The characters being cut-outs is made up for by a good pace, great music and wit – things that other dark rides at DL lack IMO (but more of that later). The train effect at the end and the descent into hell are just superb!

                            I have to admit to loving Toontown although we made the mistake of visiting on an extremely hot day. With no shade this is a real suntrap and more than once NDJnr was burned by a red hot photo opportunity toon car etc. However, the place still affords great fun for a child (and adult) filled with curiosity and we spent a few hours here exploring the abodes of the characters and enjoying the hidden sound effects, in-jokes and photo ops. Both fountains are nice although the blistering heat meant that we did feel like leaping into them more than once!
                            Roger Rabbit - We skipped Gadget’s Coaster but did do this. I love Roger Rabbit – both the movie and the character – but this disappointed me. I found it too manic and fast (I know that is the point) and no time is given to the rider to enjoy the AAs and scenery. The storyline (if there is one) was also very confused. I might as well have been the Teacups although NDJnr did enjoy spinning the car.
                            Mickey Mouse – NDJnr was insistant that we queue to visit Mickey in his Movie Barn and I am pleased he was as we did not see Mickey at any other time in the parks. This was the longest queue we stood in for our entire stay (thanks to the GAC) but half an hour was helped to pass by the very funny movie clips shown prior to entering the dressing room. They do need to make these longer though as we watched the same loop nearly three times. One thing I observed that amused me was a floor sweeper who was charged with sweeping this queuing area. He was obviously too polite to push past anyone and so stood in the line a few people ahead of us and swept the floor a few square feet at a time as the line progressed. This meant that the Movie Barn took him 20 minute to sweep! What a job!

                            Always my favourite land as far as atmosphere is concerned and DLs is no exception.
                            Big Thunder Mountain – A firm favourite with the Detroits, this may have been our most frequently revisited ride. Although not quite as good as DLP’s version (sorry!), we still had great fun and managed to experiment with where was best to sit. The front seems to move faster (apart from over the brow of the bigger hills) while the movement seems more extreme at the back. We liked both. We also noticed and loved the witty conversations that are heard coming out of some of the buildings (“How can I ever leave you?” “By stagecoach?”). Surprised to see that this ride did not offer a photo.
                            Big Thunder Ranch – NDJnr is a boy of extremes. His favourite attractions are rollercoasters and quiet hands-on areas. So he loved this. He had also been missing our cats and dog and so the opportunity to pet something furry (fat goats and a donkey) helped him enormously. Halloween meant that this area in particular was littered with impressively carved pumpkins and here we were able to watch the talented carvers at work. The area was never crowded and this meant that when Woody and Jesse from Toy story arrived, there was no mad rush to meet them. The provision of colouring-in sheets, some fun scarecrow photo ops and plenty of shade added to make this area a real hidden gem. We visited several times.

                            Old Orleans Square
                            Sadly POTC was closed for our entire visit (the number of disappointed guests was unreal) but I still liked this area, if for no other reason than for the lovely views and wide walkways.
                            Haunted Mansion Holiday – a crashing disappointment. I love HM. I love TNBC. I love the music from the overlay which I have on CD. I love Christmas. I love Halloween. I love Tim Burton. I loved the exterior decorations. So why did I hate the ride so much? Gaudy, tacky and messy, I found the whole thing offensive to the senses. Sometimes the music drowned out the Host and apart from Jack and Oogie, I found everything else looked cheap and nasty. Where Ghost Galaxy enhanced the attraction IMO, this seemed to take HM and pee all over everything that makes it great. None of the effects (such as the pumpkin-in-the-box or the ghouls popping up from behind the gravestones) seem to work as we passed them although they did seem to work for the buggy in front. Is this a timing issue or do they only work for alternate buggies? Whatever the reason, this only added to my irritation on the ride and we could not wait to escape. Poor show.

                            A nicely themed little land that we generally enjoyed.
                            Jungle Cruise - I liked the actual ride (loved the pirahnas!) but we were let down by what i considered a sub-par skipper. He delivered his (pretty good) schtick in a fast and monotonous tone meaning that many gags were lost and most of the others were killed. A real shame.
                            Tikki Room - This was simply used as chance to eat our Dole Whips in a cool relaxed atmosphere although we all enjoyed the show. Maynard was there delivering his schtick although I did not approach him for two reasons - one, I was a little afraid and two, he gets on my nerves.
                            Indiana Jones - This was another that I had been looking forward to and which ultimately disappointed to the point where we only rode it once. After walking the length og the what must be the longest queue area ever (and rushed past the video into which seemed kinda important and fun), NDJnr and I were placed in the back row of our vehicle. This soon proved to be a problem as this does seem to be a ride whose impact depends on where you sit. From my vantage point (and we were behind several gentleman of generous girth), it was clear that we were not getting to see the effects to their full advantage. I also felt (as with Roger Rabbit) that the ride is too rushed with far too much to take in at once and a rather confused (or confusing) narrative. I did however enjoy the final encounter with the boulder.

                            Critter Country
                            Small and need with two attractions, I rather liked this mini land although I would prefer to see a little more detail in it.
                            Winnie the Pooh - I persuaded NDJnr to ride this for one reason. I wanted to see max, Buff and Melvin. I did spot them but the rest of the attraction was very poor despite some nicely modled characters. It went nowhere, lasted no time and said nothing. And was clearly done on the cheap.
                            Splash Mountain - I have deliberately left the best until last. This was far and away my favourite attraction with the combination of thrills, fun, music and AAs, it is simply what I consider a great Disney ride should be. Since my last encounter with Splash Mountain was my last visit to WDW when it was still being built, I have literally waited 20 years to ride it and was happily not disappointed. We managed to sit in all sections over our numerous rides adn of course the front is the best (and wettest) place to sit. A guaranteed smile-raiser that I cannot imagine ever tiring of. One thing I spotted on this ride was that one of the geese's feather were getting in its eyes. the next day, this had been sorted out and he was freshly groomed. This attention to detail (completely lacking in DLP) impressed me enormously. I also noticed a 'snowman' made of pumpkins in one of the scenes. Is this always there or is that a subtle overlay?

                            Disneyland attractions that we missed and that I kinda regret missing - Alice in Wonderland, iasw (I have never seen it with the characters), POTC (never seen it with added Sparrow but it was closed so what could I do?!), The Columbia and Great Moments with Mr Lincoln (American history fascinates me). These will obviously have to wait for another time.

                            In conclusion (and this goes for our entire time in the resort), we never came across any rude or impolite behaviour from any guests. Everyone was courtious and obliging and this also impressed us. Some CMs were better than others - the best being fantastic and the worst being merely disinterested. Disneyland is beautiful and well run and a park to be proud of.

                            Still to come - our adventures at DCA, the food we ate and the Halloween Party we attended...
                            WDW - 1987 & 1991
                            DLP - 1996, 2004, 2006 & 2007
                            DLR - October 2011


                            • #15
                              Re: An Englishman Abroad: The slow moving adventures of a British Family at Disneylan

                              too bad you didn't give Indy more of a chance. The degree the EMV's movement impacts you can be impacted by your seating position. While it is a face paced ride, it truly can be stunning.. it just takes more rides to actually see it The queue issue is just the byproduct of when they added FP to the existing queue, their choices made most of the indoor queue unusable and it's sole purpose is to get you to the show building. Another sad choice in the history of the park, but you can see how grand it's initial use was.

                              Alice is cute, but you really only missed 'well I've done it' checkbox. IASW is nice to see the different implementations of the attraction. Mr Lincoln is 'so so' if you've ever done American Adventure or Hall of Presidents. No great loss there. The Columbia is great to explore and another DL unique it's nice to experience.


                              Ad Widget