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Christmas Trip Report - Part One

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  • Trip Report Christmas Trip Report - Part One

    Happy New Year!

    We made our second (not to be annual, potential SWGE crowds scare me!) Christmas trip to Disneyland this year from the 18th-25th. I can verify that everything I've ever read here is absolutely correct about crowds; they are progressively worse as the season progresses. Last year the 22nd was our last day and it was still manageable. Our last park day this year was the 24th and the crowds were massive. I think we may have eked out five fast passes that day, but does a Buzz FP really count? We went to Downtown Disney for a few hours on the 25th and I could practically feel Disney seams bursting.

    Lodging: First some background on my history and expectations: We have made seven summer trips and two Christmas trips in the last twelve years and stayed at a variety of hotels: First family trip was the Clarion. I'm convinced everyone stays there first because it pops up on most sites. Nothing was wrong with the hotel, but after that we decided to always stay within walking distance. We have also stayed at Fairfield, Tropicana (2x), Disneyland Hotel, Grand Legacy (formerly Ramada Maingate), Anabella, Park Vue. My teenagers like their own space, so I had booked a suite at the Camelot and Desert Suites this year and couldn't decide between them. Both went for around 300/night, but then I was looking on Mice Chat to see if they had partnered with another hotel after the Anabella. I had never thought about the Anaheim Hotel before because it wasn't directly across from the Harbor entrance, but I was enticed by the prices. A suite is nice, but if you don't have two bathrooms, it's still three of us waiting for one person to shower! I canceled my other reservations and booked two rooms at the Anaheim with the Mice Chat discount. Parking was also less, too, so we saved hundreds of dollars.

    I can tell you that the walking was a non-issue. It took me about eleven minutes from exiting Disneyland to get to the hotel lobby. I didn't take any pictures, but all of the pictures online are fairly accurate. The rooms are clean and housekeeping did a great job. I have seen some online reviews that complained about doors sticking. I did kind of have to wriggle the door to line up with the lock, but it took about two extra seconds. My husband and son were next door and theirs didn't do that. Bottom line: My expectations were a clean room and a soft bed. I got both and I was tickled pink that my daughter and had a room to ourselves; it really did make for a relaxing trip without the bathroom rotation and getting four people to come to a consensus on the room temperature. My go to line now is that the best part of vacation was not sleeping with my husband and having the bed to myself. If any families have felt cramped in their hotel rooms, two rooms at the Anaheim may be your solution.

    I believe that we ate at Pizza Press at least four times and every time was great. Reviews are not exaggerated; great food - great price.

    Weather: If summer is too hot for you, I'd highly recommend December. It really didn't even feel like California. Last year, we were shocked at just how cold December was in Disneyland; I think the winds added to it. Meals outside really weren't enjoyable because the food cooled off so fast. This year was mostly in the mid-high 60s, with two afternoons reaching a high of 71. I noticed that all people were a little less grumpy than they are in August. Maybe a combination of Christmas spirit and no heat exhaustion? ? ?

    Food: The highlight of my trip was finding that out that they brought back the pretzel rods! The lowlight was discovering that the price had increased to $5.99! This really is my favorite treat at Disneyland. The ordinary pretzel rod has an insane amount of caramel coating on 2/3 of the rod and is then covered with milk chocolate. This also used to be the cheapest treat at the resort.

    We made sure we got our bracelets for candy canes. The pickup time was already and 1 PM fifteen minutes after park opening. We bought our four candy canes. In good conscience, I just couldn't eat a $14 candy cane. I figured I would save it in case someone else wanted it. My son, 15, bit into his and said, "It tastes like a candy cane." Later in the day I relented and broke off a piece and concurred. I think this will be one time purchase for our family. I'm not cheap, but the candy cane purchase was over half our Carnation Cafe bill; I would rather eat a great lunch than a small, minty snack.

    Speaking of great lunches, is anybody surprised that they have kept the Red Rose Tavern overlay? We enjoyed it a lot last Christmas and just as much this time. One dish that I thought sounded disgusting at first was the poutine. I have enjoyed it "poutine" it in my mouth several times and it is quite filling. I would never order something like this on a summer ninety degree day, but it is a great winter dinner.
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    Another great warm meal involves the breadbowls. I followed some suggestions and got the soup in a cup so I could eat a non-messy bowl. In addition to clam chowder, I'd highly recommend the turkey pot pie soup. This was one of the best restaurant soups I've ever had. If you're hesitant, ask for a sample. I'm usually afraid to do this, but I saw it happen at Jolly Holiday and the CM was more than accommodating. The sourdough bread is so delicious! I always passed by the bread OVC at the wharf and figured the bread would be a lot and it would go to waste. I was inspired by a previous trip report and bought some this time. I asked if they had any warm bread, the CM was more than helpful and said that he just put out the Mickey loaves. I thought it was more than reasonably priced at $8 and some change. We ate it with lunch and my daughter, 17, kept it in her backpack for the next two days to avoid those “hangry” moments that come in long lines. I still ended up throwing some away at the airport. (Sidenote: I have never gotten or returned a car faster than at Long Beach Avis.)
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    The other food of note was found at Tropical Hideaway. We were lucky enough to wander by the soft opening on the 19th. We liked it enough to stop in two more times on our stay. (I posted some pics earlier.) The CMs act like off-duty Jungle Cruise skippers. I always had at least one bow when I ordered a bao. By the second day, they had stopped ringing the gong when a tropical ambush was ordered. I overheard a CM talking about something distracting the cruises, so I assume the constant gong was too much. It seriously was constant on the 19th. We probably heard it 20 times in our ten minutes in there. The frequency of their orders should send a message that guests are extremely anxious for new menu items. If people were willing to spend $6 for a meat roll and $8 for some dressed-up Dole Whip, Disney should heed the call. Sadly, we stopped on the 23rd or 24th and the tropical ambush was gone from the menu.

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    Am I crazy to think these prices aren't too bad? I was more offended by $3.49 price tag on a bag of chips.

    My son's ambush was gone by the time I pulled out my phone, but I managed to get my raspberry swirl. Surprise: it tasted like a dole whip with raspberry sherbet.

    Rides/lines: I really can’t complain. We went knowing it would be busy and planned accordingly. I always get five day park hoppers so we won’t feel rushed or slighted if we want to wait an hour to ride something. As always the first hour or two in the parks is the best; it’s almost as if you can’t use your fastpasses quickly enough. We bought them every day except for one, I suggested we didn’t so we wouldn’t feel rushed to walk across the park or Esplanade. Not surprisingly, that was the only day we didn’t hit ten miles. Wouldn’t it be wild and crazy if FP and MaxPass disappeared? People might be forced to look up from their phones and live in the moment.
    The 23rd was pretty crazy and any E-ticket that day was ridden before noon. The only exception was RSR. Our FP were scheduled at 8ish by 10AM. If I thought the 23rd was busy, I was in for a rude awakening on the 24th. I think we managed four FP that day with Maxpass. I think everything was gone by 2 – except GRR and Splash. I was glad that we hadn’t decided to spend Christmas day there.


  • #2
    Greetings Legofan! Thank you for taking the time to write out a detailed trip report.

    That's unfortunate to hear about the candy canes. I was hoping they'd be something really special. Something different that just a larger version of a regular candy cane.
    I had no idea those Mickey sourdough breads were that cheap. And I didn't even think to ask for whatever bread is coming out warm. Thanks for the tips.
    Visit my blog at http://flowerstales.blogspot.com/

    I stayed overnight in the Disneyland Dream Suite! Read all about it here!
    Joe's Epic Overnight Disneyland Dream Suite Trip Report

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    • #3
      Thanks for sharing Legofan101! I enjoyed your trip report, especially your thoughts on food. I think we’ll try the Mickey bread on our next visit. Looks like it could feed our whole family!

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      • #4
        Thanks for the TR! Love reading about the food offerings.

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        • #5
          Thank you for your detailed TR. I may have to try the Anaheim Hotel next time. I can handle an 11 minute walk!

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          • #6
            Thanks for the trip report. I appreciate all of the detail you put into it.

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            • #7
              Great trip report, I will need to try the poutine at the red rose tavern, I for one love poutine anyway and that looks and sounds delicious
              BGood! It's not just my motto its my name!

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