Planning Archives

November 23, 2011

Disneyland Hotel Update - 11/18/11


The Disneyland Hotel has been undergoing a lengthy remodel, which is close to completion. Contributing photographer Jason of sends us these photos his visit to the hotel on Friday, November 18, 2011.

At the Disneyland Hotel they are still working on the front drive way.

Disneyland Hotel Update - 11/18/11

The valet booth is being redone.

Disneyland Hotel Update - 11/18/11

They rest of the driveway was being torn up so it can all be resurfaced.

Disneyland Hotel Update - 11/18/11

The new fountain area in front of the hotel is receiving more plants.

Disneyland Hotel Update - 11/18/11

Inside Pluto and Chip were roaming around the lobby.

Disneyland Hotel Update - 11/18/11

The Fantasy Tower sign was being installed.

Disneyland Hotel Update - 11/18/11

The new E-Ticket pool was open for guests.. but due to the temps being in the low 60s there were no real takers.

Disneyland Hotel Update - 11/18/11

New signs for Goofy's Kitchen.

Disneyland Hotel Update - 11/18/11

All the walkways were open today. Remember this area? The old Dancing Waters. The wall has remained but nothing else.

Disneyland Hotel Update - 11/18/11

Looking back.

Disneyland Hotel Update - 11/18/11

There is quite a bit of grass back here now. The building is where the fitness room and guest laundry used to be.

Disneyland Hotel Update - 11/18/11

Looking down the walkway toward the Frontier Tower

Disneyland Hotel Update - 11/18/11

Disneyland Hotel Update - 11/18/11

One good thing with the bad weather and no guests is it was easier to get some pictures of the completed pool area.

Disneyland Hotel Update - 11/18/11

Goofy waving goodbye, also this helps to show where the Fantasy Tower sign is.

Disneyland Hotel Update - 11/18/11

Hope you enjoyed these photos of the Disneyland Hotel. For additional photos and details from this trip you can check out the full Disneyland Update I posted on my site,

August 16, 2009

Disneyland First Time Visitor - Your Tips

Last month I asked for your tips to help AllEars® reader Nancy plan her first trip to Disneyland this fall. Thanks to everyone who responded. In the interests of length, I have edited and combined similar responses.

Before we start, though, I wanted to mention that AllEars® blogger Jack Spence wrote a couple of blogs sharing his thoughts on Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom, and I think those would be helpful:
Disneyland vs. Magic Kingdom Part 1
Disneyland vs. Magic Kingdom Part 2

Several of you commented on preparing yourself and setting your expectations.

From Craig:
I think the most important planning step for a frequent WDW visitor going to Disneyland for the first time is attitude. When you're a frequent visitor to one Disney property, half of the fun of visiting another Disney location for the first time is to see the many similarities and many differences between the two. Be prepared for smaller, but don't make the mistake of equating smaller with not-as-good. I'll allow for one disappointment: arriving at Main Street for the first time, be prepared to wonder what happened to the castle.

From Amanda:
The first thing I would suggest is to go into the trip realizing that DL is a lot different than WDW. Some WDW vets express disappointment when they see DL for the first time, because they expect it to be the same. It isn't, but it's wonderful and so much fun in its own right! :)

From Maureen:
For the first time DL visitor:
-read some history of DL so you can appreciate its past as well as its present
-be sure to do the rides and attractions that are unique to DL
-take time to notice the little things;the shops are filled with wonderful, charming detail
-start planning your next trip because you'll want to go back !

From Dan (a first time visitor last year!):
I would suggest taking two full days (at least) to see the Magic Kingdom. There's just so much packed into the space (yet it doesn't seem cramped).

A number of you mentioned concentrating on the attractions that are at Disneyland but not at Disney World, such as the Matterhorn, Indiana Jones, Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, Roger Rabbit's Cartoon Spin, Grizzly River Rapids, and Monsters, Inc.

From Dayle:
Ride the Storybook Land Canal boats - charming and amazing examples of bonsai. Matterhorn Bobsled since this is a Disneyland original. Indiana Jones - much better than Dinosaur. I also think Space Mountain and Autopia are better than the Magic Kingdom counterparts.

From Kameo:
[After arriving at park opening] I'd recommend heading straight to Matterhorn in Disneyland. It is fantastic (though a little rough) and does not have fastpasses. The line can be unmanageable if you wait to ride it later in the day. Also, you absolutely must hit Indiana Jones. It is a great ride (think of the ride vehicle for Dinosaur at Animal Kingdom) and you should hit it or Space Mountain immediately after Matterhorn.

From Dan:
I'd say make sure to take the Disneyland Railroad for a complete circuit of the park, as my suggestion to first timers.

From A.D.:
Others will have plenty to say about attractions - the only one I want to highlight is the Sailing Ship Columbia, a very under-appreciated attraction; don't miss the museum!

From Barb:
Couple of things they really gotta go for in Disneyland. Our Pirates of the Caribbean, just a much better start and finish than WDW, our Peter Pan, for the amazing fiber optic stars :)

From Shirley:
You absolutely, positively, must experience the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland. I still do not understand why they don't have this fantastic ride at WDW. The waiting area is not to be missed as well.

The #1 recommendation was the Aladdin show at DCA, where I received several comments such as the following:

From Dayle:
Biggest recommendation for first time visitor to Disneyland Resort is to see the Aladdin show at the Hyperion Theater within California Adventure. This is a Broadway caliber production with fantastic sets and performers.

From Amanda:
At California Adventure, definitely make time to see the Aladdin musical! There is one character especially who makes the experience very entertaining! This is something I would go see multiple times on a vacation because it's that good!

And of course there were lots of recommendations on places to eat! :-) Quite a few of you suggested the Blue Bayou (I have to admit it's not one of my favorites, though).

From Gabriela:
While dining at DLR isn't as big of a deal as WDW, I would suggest at least one meal at the Blue Bayou. The best food may not always be guaranteed, but there's just something about eating right next to PotC.

From Suzie:
I think that the Pirates of the Caribbean and the Blue Bayou restaurant are must dos. The ride is awesome, of course but the eatery is wonderful and themed so well!

There were quite a few other less-well-known recommendations, though:

From Dayle:
In Disneyland, skip the ice cream carts and go to the Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor on Main Street. For maybe a $1 more, you get a large hand scooped ice cream sundae with the fixings.

From Kameo:
For food, be sure to try the corn dogs! They are in the little red cart just to the right of main street when walking toward the castle. They are the best value in food at Disneyland.

From Barb:
They gotta head to DCA for a swirl ice cream at Catch A Flave- absolutely the best ice cream in the park. We actually will make the drive up from San Diego just to get a taste of it ;)

From Gabriela:
And if you know someone who can get you into Club 33, then go for it!!! Other table service restaurants worth a stop include the Carnation Café on Main Street, and Wine Country Trattoria over at DCA. Great counter service places for me include the French Market at DL (good t.s. food at c.s. prices, mint juleps and live music! what's not to love?), and the choices over at Pacific Wharf at DCA.

From Connie:
If you enjoy character dining, do go to Disneyland Hotel's Goofy's Kitchen. It is one of the best character dining experiences-I have been to many. So many unique characters that you do not usually see or meet. The characters intermingle with the children so well. Another very nice dining experience is at Paradise Pier in California Adventure. It is Ariel's Grotto. Here it is a restaurant, in Disney World it is a meeting area. I would strongly suggest arranging a Fantasmic package with dessert so you can really enjoy the show.

And there were quite few miscellaneous, but very helpful, suggestions!

From Kameo:
As with Disneyworld, always arrive to the parks at open as this is the time you will get on the most rides in the least amount of time.

From Van:
Just returned from DL for the first time with my son. I would recommend going on the welcome to Disneyland Tour if for any other reason than the priority seating to Aladdin and the fastpasses which can be used for any ride, even those that don't normally take fastpasses, like the Matterhorn. It is relatively cheap by Disney standards and you can save money with your Disney Visa Card or AAA.

From A.D.:
For the convenience factor, many of the "Good Neighbor" hotels located near Disneyland are just as close as the Disneyland Hotel and Paradise Pier. (The monorail will save you some walking *if* it's open, but it won't save you much time, especially if you have to wait.) Disney's Grand Californian Resort is the only place that really will save you walking time over the other hotels in the area.

From Shirley:
The New Orleans square is beautiful as well (another "why don't they have this at WDW"). Be sure to stroll through it and grab lunch there as well.

From Brittany - a Jungle Cruise Skipper!:
Ride the Jungle Cruise at night, it's more exciting that way. It is not like the WDW one in many ways! The Celebrate parade is fun, IF you have small children, but please don't wait around for an hour for it, it's good, but not that good. You MUST watch the fireworks in Sept. if Magical is still the show going on then try to stake out a spot before 9pm. The very best spot in my humble opinion would be in the Plaza, which is that little area just after Main Street USA but just before the Hub.


Disneyland AllEars® Meet and Greet!

AllEars® Team members Deb Wills, Laura Gilbreath, Lisa Berton and Cathy Bock invite you to come by and say "Hello!" at 11 a.m. on Sunday, October 11, 2009, at the Disneyland Plaza Garden Stage.

Directions: Walk down Main Street until you reach the statue of Mickey Mouse and Walt Disney. The entrance to the outdoor covered stage with tables and chairs will be up and to the left.

Let us know you plan to attend by emailing allearsnet at yahoo dot com

October 20, 2008

Getting a Disneyland Annual Pass

When my friend Kristin(e) and I went to Disneyland last month, Kristin got her first Disneyland Annual Pass, so I thought I would share that experience with you. (Those of you who have WDW APs will find it's quite a different process!)

Here's she's smiling with anticipation as we take the tram from the parking structure to the park entrance. :-)


First thing, Kristin had to decide which kind of Annual Pass she wanted. If you live in Southern California you have a choice of 4 different ones. The main difference is the price and the number of blockout days.

Premium Annual Pass: No blockout days, $389 (also includes parking)
Deluxe Annual Pass: 60 blockout days, $269
outhern California Annual Pass: 150 blockout days, $174
Southern California Select Annual Pass: 195 blockout days, $134
(Parking can be added to any non-premium AP for $59 - since parking is $12/day now, if you're going to go to the park more than 5 times a year you'll want the parking feature.)


Kristin chose the So Cal Select - yes, it's quite restrictive, but the days she is likely to go are on Fridays with me, and most Fridays when we would go are open.

She purchased her ticket at the Disneyland Main Entrance Ticket Booth - but she could have gone to the website and purchased it on-line and printed it out at home. Since it was one of the Southern California-type passes she was required to show proof of residence (Driver's license in her case, though they also accept utility bills, etc.) Another thing to be aware of: if the day we had purchased her AP had been a blockout day for her pass (it wasn't), she still would have been able to get in and activate/use her AP on that very first day.


Once we entered the park we went straight to the Annual Pass Center at the Bank of Main Street so that she could actually get her REAL Annual Pass (unlike WDW, where the ticket they give you at the ticket booth before you enter the park IS your Annual Pass, at Disneyland you must go to the Annual Pass Center to get your permanent AP).


After a brief wait she went up to one of the "teller" windows where they asked various information of her (at this point she would have been able to upgrade her pass if she'd changed her mind and/or add the parking feature):


And then took her photo:


And then handed her her bright, shiny, new AP, customized with her picture on it! They also gave her a nice color blockout day calendar and a copy of the October issue of Backstage Pass, the Disneyland Annual Passholder news magazine that we receive ~quarterly.


After we were finished at the bank we went into the park to Haunted Mansion Holiday where she used her AP for the very first time to get a Fastpass.


And then, as I wrote in this blog entry, we went on to have a wonderful day at Disneyland and DCA - and since she's now got an AP, I look forward to at least one, and hopefully more, fun days at the park with Kristin in the next year!

Other miscellany:

If you're adding parking to an AP, bring your parking receipt with you to the AP Center - they will credit the money you already paid that day to the cost of the parking feature. Note: the parking feature is not valid on your AP's blockout days.

If you want to go to the park on a blockout day you can do that by purchasing a blockout day ticket for $40 at any of the ticket windows. (If you're staying at any of the Disney hotels they are also available for purchase at the Front Desk.) Disney advertises blockout day tickets as "subject to availability", so it's possible that on very busy days you could still be denied entry.

Once you have your AP, you can register it on the AP section of Disneyland's web site: This area of the web site lists offers available only to AP holders, such as sneak previews of attractions, hotel and restaurant discounts, etc. You can sign up there to receive special AP-only email from Disney.

Disneyland APs can be renewed either by mail or via the web site. There is a small discount for doing so, and it also means no standing in line at the AP Center again! In addition you usually receive a 20% off merchandise coupon, plus choice of AP design - the standard one available at the park or a special design available only to renewing passholders.

If you must vist the AP Center, go first thing in the morning right after park opening - the line can get pretty long as the day goes on. Though I have occasionally seen a short line in the afternoon on a not-so-busy day.

Have you visited the Disneyland Resort recently? Share your experiences in our Disneyland Rate and Review Area!

September 20, 2007

Quick weekend trip to Disneyland

I made a quick weekend trip to Disneyland and actually spent the night up there for a change - mainly because I was doing the Segway tour which started at 7:15 a.m., and would have meant getting up *really* early if I left from San Diego!

I met my friend Patty at my hotel on Saturday (Best Western Park Place Inn - more on that in a later blog), and she surprised me with a Disneyland birthday button! My birthday was the day before - I've never had a birthday button before. And it was fun - CMs at the turnstiles and in the park said "Happy Birthday, Laura!", and so did several guests, and I got singled out for some special attention by the Laughing Stock Company, and the Mariachi Divas over at DCA sang "Las Mañanitas" (the Mexican birthday song) to me and two other birthday people who were watching.

There were banners up at the parks (mostly where you saw them on your way out) advertising this year's Disney's HalloweenTime, which starts on September 21 - a week earlier this year. It was very festive last year, with great decorations! I hope to visit this weekend.

Now that summer is over the park is a lot quieter (even on Saturday it wasn't horribly busy, and it was a beautiful day - sunny and shorts weather, but a lot cooler than it had been in the last month!), and the Nemo line is down to something semi-reasonable - 45-60 minutes most of the time.


I don't think I've mentioned this before - the "yellow submarine" monorail that they premiered at the Finding Nemo grand opening is still decorated and has been in use ever since the opening (though they removed the conning tower!) - it's really cute - we saw it zooming around a number of times.


The construction of Toy Story Mania at DCA is beginning to take a more visible shape - as Patty pointed out to me the facade is taking on more of a Victorian look than the seaside amusement park look of the rest of the area. There's rumors that there are lots of changes coming to DCA (especially Paradise Pier) in the next few years, so maybe this is the start of it?

I saw the Remember fireworks at Disneyland that night from a spot near the castle where I could actually see the projections on the castle for a change. There's some really cool stuff - stars during the Main Street portion, flying spooks and hitchhiking ghosts during the Haunted Mansion section, skull and crossbones for Pirates, a moving duck target during the Frontierland Shooting Gallery bit (that's my favorite - it just quacks me up), crazy swirls for Toontown, "water ripples" for the Submarine Voyage, and a "light speed" pattern for Star Tours. I like that show more each time I see it.







The next morning Patty and I did the Segway tour - but you can read all about that HERE. It was a lot of fun - I liked it even more than the Epcot Segway tour, I think.

While waiting for the tour to start I *finally* got a decent picture of the new cloud-patterned "CALIFORNIA" letters in front of the park - just in time for them to change to the Halloween candy corn, I'm sure!


After the tour I wandered around the Disneyland Hotel taking pictures - and eventually found the Disney Vacation Club (DVC) sales office and models that are way on the far side of the Dreams (aka Bonita) Tower. I asked about the Grand Californian DVC, and they said they had no news on that...but it was finally announced earlier today. The press release is HERE.

Other news bits...

Ariel's Grotto at DCA will be starting a daily character breakfast on September 21, which runs through January 6. Breakfast will be served from 8:30 to 11:30 - $25.99 for adults and $13.99 for kids. Since the park doesn't open until 10:00, Cast Members will direct guests to the restaurant either from the main entrance or the Grand Californian entrance. Priority seating arrangements can be made up to 60 days in advance by calling Disneyland Dining: 714-781-DINE (3463).

And there's a new tour for the Halloween season - Disney's Happiest Haunts tour runs daily September 21-October 31. It starts at 6:00 at night and visits three attractions - Tower of Terror, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and Haunted Mansion Holiday. From what one of the guides told us, each tour guide gets to assume the persona of a character of their choice - like a pirate, or a miner or a psychotic actress. The tour includes creepy stories, and it's not for young children or those who might be easily frightened. Lee and I are signed up for the tour on September 28, so we'll know more after that. In the meantime, what we know about the tour is HERE.

It was a short trip but a lot of fun!

July 4, 2007

Disneyland Tips

I've been asked about "Tips" for visiting here's a few
things that I hope will be helpful.

Main Street 1. Be at the park when it opens. You can do a LOT of rides in the first couple of hours after the park opens when most of us lazy southern California people (who have to drive in from somewhere else) are still arriving. If you're not staying within walking distance make sure you allow enough travel time to be at the front gate when the park opens - if you're driving and parking at the Mickey and Friends parking structure, make sure you allow time for the tram ride, too. The parking structure usually opens an hour before the park does - though it opens at 7:30 on mornings when the park opens at 8:00.

2. Use Fastpasses, especially for popular rides like Indiana Jones, Space Mountain, and Soarin' Over California. Here's a tip...the Fastpass machines for Roger Rabbit's CarToon Spin at Disneyland and Grizzly River Rapids at DCA are not linked in with the rest of the Fastpass network, so you can get a Fastpass for either of those, and then right after that get a Fastpass for some other ride.

Toontown City Hall 3. If you want to eat at the Blue Bayou, Ariel's Grotto, the Plaza Inn Breakfast with Minnie, or Goofy's Kitchen, make Priority Seating arrangements in advance by calling Disneyland Dining at 714-781-DINE (3463). And if there's *any* table service that you really, really want to try, make a PS in advance so you won't be disappointed. Sometimes you can walk up to table service restaurants and be seated without much of a wait, and sometimes you can't.

4. Toontown opens an hour after the rest of Disneyland does - and right after it opens is a great time to be there and interact with the characters before it starts to get crowded.

Pooh and Tigger 5. Saturdays and Sundays are going to be busy days at any time of year - unless it's raining. If you must be there on a weekend, be prepared for crowds and long waits. Attractions that are usually uncrowded even on busy days are: Disneyland, The First 50 Magical Years in the Opera House on Main Street, Innoventions in Tomorrowland, The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh in Critter Country, the Enchanted Tiki Room in Adventureland, and Honey, I Shrunk the Audience in Tomorrowland. The first two shows of Aladdin and Jasmine's StoryTale Adventures are usually walk-ins, though later shows fill up.

6. If you have a ticket that allows you to parkhop, then do that. Disney's California Adventure (DCA) doesn't open until an hour or two after Disneyland does, so start your day at Disneyland, and when people start pouring into the park around 10-11:00, head over to DCA and get a Fastpass for Soarin', see Aladdin, ride Monsters, Inc., etc, and enjoy DCA while it's least crowded. If you want to head back to Disneyland later in the afternoon for the parade you can easily do that.

Animation Building 7. By all means spend time in the Animation Building at DCA. There's two different shows (Turtle Talk and Animation Academy) in there, plus interactive activities in the Sorcerer's Workshop. We like just sitting in the main gallery and watching all of the animation on the video screens - there are clips from almost all of the Disney animated movies. It's a nice place to relax and take a break, especially on a hot day.

8. See the Aladdin show at DCA. It's a wonderful live show with great musical numbers, comedy, elaborate staging and special effects. My favorite place to sit for overall viewing is the front row of the Mezzanine level, but I think if you're in the first couple of rows of the Orchestra section you feel like you're part of the show yourself!

Until next time,


May 14, 2007

Decisions, Decisions - Some thoughts on Disneyland's Annual Passports

When it comes to purchasing an Annual Passport (AP) at Disneyland, Disneyland AP
holders have something that most WDW passholders don't - choices.
Disneyland offers four different types of annual passes at different
prices, the major difference between the passes being the number of days
the passholder gets admission to the parks.

There's the Premium and Deluxe APs, which anyone can purchase, and
also the Southern California and Southern California Select APs, which
are only available to residents of southern California.

Got all that? There will be a test later.

All of the passes provide admission to both Disneyland and Disney's
California Adventure, but as I mentioned earlier there are
limitations with some passes. With the exception of the Premium
AP all of the other passes have some number of "blockout days" -
days which the AP is not valid for park admission. Not surprisingly,
as the price of the pass decreases the number of blockout days
increases. Blockout days are scattered throughout the year, and
as you might imagine, the times when Disneyland is busier are the
days that are most likely to be designated as blockout days. These
generally include weekends, holidays, the two weeks around
Christmas/New Year, and spring break. (We view blockout days as an
indicator of the days we really don't want to visit, because the parks
are just too busy!)

Here's a list of the currently available APs:

Premium: $359.00, no blockout days
Deluxe: $239.00, 45 blockout days
Southern CA: $154.00, 149 blockout days
Southern CA Select: $124.00, 195 blockout days

Now, as you can see, the So Cal Select is a pretty good deal at $124 -
less than the price of two single day tickets! But with all those
blockout days, which include all Saturdays and Sundays, most of June and
August and all of July, unless you can go during the week in the
off-season it's not very useful.

AP holders *do* have the option of going to the parks on a blockout
day, but must purchase a blockout day ticket at the main entrance
ticket booths to do so. This costs $30/day, and must be purchased
on the day that it is going to be used. For park admission, you
must show your AP *and* the blockout day ticket.

Another choice for Annual Passholders is parking. It's included in the
Premium AP, but it's an option on the others. For $59/year you can
add parking to your AP, which allows you to park as many times as you
want in the Mickey and Friends parking structure. Since it currently
costs $11/day to park, if you plan to visit more than 5 times it's worth
doing. Only one person in the car needs to have the parking
feature on their pass.

Something Disney has recently added as an option to APs is stroller
rental - for $49/year you can present your pass at the Stroller Rental
location and get one stroller per day.

For those familiar with the Walt Disney World AP, one thing that's nice
about the Disneyland AP is that it's plastic, like a credit card. (Yes,
I know the WDW APs aren't made of paper, but they sure feel flimsy!) And
it is personalized with your picture on it. Though unlike a WDW AP you
can't purchase/activate it at any ticket booth - after purchasing the
ticket part you MUST go to the Annual Passholder processing center inside
Disneyland. They'll take your picture and create your real AP on the
spot. After that you can renew by mail or on Disneyland's AP web
site, and they'll mail the new AP to you. (I recently renewed on
a Saturday and my new passes arrived in the mail on Tuesday!)

APs provide passholders with a number of discounts around the Disneyland
resort - dining, stays at resort hotels, and even merchandise and
services. It's always a good idea to ask if there's an AP discount
anytime you make a purchase at the Disneyland Resort!

My husband and I are a mixed passport family - I have the Premium AP and
he has the Deluxe. It makes sense for one of us to have the parking
option (which is included on the Premium AP), and there are times when I
visit on Deluxe pass blockout days. This year we knew that he
would be going twice on blockout days to attend events at this
year's Food and Wine Weekends, and we thought about spending the
additional $120 to upgrade him to a Premium, but in the end we
decided that even with $60 in blockout day tickets we were still
$60 ahead in staying with the Deluxe.

But here's a little ditty I composed when we were thinking about it...

To Premium Pass or not to Premium Pass...that is the question.
Whether 'tis nobler to stand in line
And suffer the stings and purchase price of a blockout day ticket
Or to sigh and lay out the additional $120,
And by purchasing a Premium, avoid them.

And now for the test (what, you didn't believe me???):
If Laura has a So Cal Select AP, and Lee has a Deluxe AP, on how many
blockout days can she accompany him to the park before she would have been
better off getting a Deluxe AP to begin with?

Until next time...when I will probably talk about "Taste", the AP event
at Disney's Food and Wine Weekends this Saturday...


Return to Blog Central

About Planning

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Salute to All Things Disney but Mostly Disneyland in the Planning category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Off-site hotels is the previous category.

Resorts is the next category.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.