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Need some advice from the Disneyland experts

ray_p ray_p Profile

Posted:
3/1/13 at
8:17:24 AM

I always say I hate to be "that guy" who asks the lame questions, yet I do it all the time, so here I go with some more.

I am contemplating a trip to Disneyland in September and had a few questions. Please keep in mind that I did check the Disneyland website and have done some Google searches, but since I know there are some real DLR experts here, I thought I'd ask.

1) How are the crowds in September?

2) What are the usual operating hours? I saw on DL's website that the calendar only runs through April for now.

3) Would staying at a "Good Neighbor Hotel" a mile away be a bad idea? I would be renting a car either if I stayed on or off property. I just look at the rates on DL's website and see $1440 for 4 nights at the the "low-end" Paradise Pier with a 5-day hopper pass included and then they show a Staybridge Suites located a mile away for just $890 with a 5-day hopper pass. That $550 savings is pretty big. I stayed at a Staybridge in Salt Lake last year and thought it was very nice.

4) How long does it usually take to reach the DLR from Santa Ana/John Wayne Airport?

5) And finally, are there any major attractions that are usually down for refurbishment around this time? I know Big Thunder is out of service thru October.

I still am not 100% sure if I will end up going, but I am definitely leaning in that direction. As always, thanks to anyone who may have some advice. It's greatly appreciated!

* This post was modified at 3/1/13 8:18:11 AM *

Re: Need some advice from the Disneyland experts by drachen drachen Profile at 3/1/13 9:33:14 AM
Ironically, Ray, there is a decent chance I make my first Disneyland trip this fall as well. Unfortunately, I'm no expert at this point and can't answer your questions.

From everything I hear, it's fantastic - better than anything Florida has to offer.

My question for you is, have you been to Knott's and Magic Mountain? I totally understand if you want to devote your time to Disney, and get everything out of it as is possible.

But, since you live not too far from Cedar Point, perhaps a Platinum Pass would be in order, since you'll also be within a few miles of Knott's in September.

Californian's may tell you differently, but as an East Coaster guy, I thought both Magic Mountain and Knott's were great parks - especially when you consider their coaster lineups. If you have time, and you haven't been to either park, I would suggest taking a day to enjoy each of them.

Knott's can be done in a day - maybe even half of a day. Magic Mountain can be done in a day, if the crowds cooperate. But if I wanted to make sure I did everything, I would allow 1 1/2 days there. Just some food for thought...

drachen
Coaster to Park Ratio: 4.90 / Steel to Wooden Ratio: 2.55 / Wooden Coaster Percentage: 28.2%
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Re: Need some advice from the Disneyland experts by ray_p ray_p Profile at 3/1/13 11:00:16 AM
drachen said:

From everything I hear, it's fantastic - better than anything Florida has to offer.

You'd be right drachen... at least in my opinion, DL's Magic Kingdom is superior to WDW's. My last visit to DL was in 1997 and I feel I am WAY overdue for a return visit!

My question for you is, have you been to Knott's and Magic Mountain? I totally understand if you want to devote your time to Disney, and get everything out of it as is possible.

I have been to both parks, but that was back in 1988. I would have three full days and a half day to spend in the area and since I have a Platinum CF pass, Knott's is on my agenda for the half day. The other three I planned on devoting to Disneyland and California Adventure. I believe SFMM is closed on the days I want to visit (September 3-7), so that rules them out. Not to mention, the less driving I do in the Los Angeles area, the better! :)

Re: Need some advice from the Disneyland experts by KevinReid KevinReid Profile at 3/1/13 11:32:38 AM
Wish I could help ya! I am sure there will be plenty of Ray_p Video TR's.

Regards,
Kevin Reid

Re: Need some advice from the Disneyland experts by SirWillow SirWillow Profile at 3/1/13 4:01:52 PM
It's been a few years since I was at Disneyland, but used to be there all the time.

Your crowds in September should be pretty light. School will be back in session and they usually drop off pretty well at that time of year. We used to pull the kids out of school then to take them and lines were short.

I would encourage you to look at hotels right around the park. We usually stayed at a non-Disney hotel across the street or on the corner (Candy Cane Inn and a couple of others.) You can easily walk over to the parks from them saving you the hassle and cost of parking. It's a little extra walking, but the costs are much much cheaper than if you stayed at a Disney park. Look at some of the guides to help you know which ones are close and then go from there.

Re: Need some advice from the Disneyland experts by dburdan dburdan Profile at 3/4/13 12:41:30 PM
To answer some of your questions:

The crowds aren't too bad as parents tend not to take kids out of school the first few weeks of school.

You can be to DL with about 30-40 minutes from John Wayne. In fact years ago, we left Columbus Ohio on an early morning flight, flew to John Wayne, picked up the rental, Checked in the hotel and were at Knotts by noon. DL is about the same distance away. I love flying into John Wayne. Great airport.

In Florida, its best to stay on property due to the size and transportation convenience. At DL, I would always stay at the Best Western right across the street. Its literally a 3 minute walk to DL/CA or DTD.

Re: Need some advice from the Disneyland experts by ray_p ray_p Profile at 3/4/13 2:02:05 PM
Thanks guys for the advice. I had planed on visiting Knott's on the day I may fly in, so it's good to know it isn't that big of a deal to get there from John Wayne Airport. It's also good to know that crowds are lighter at this time. Even though I plan on spending 3 full days at the DLR, I still want to be able to do everything I want to do, and of course, film certain attractions for Kevin. ;)

I'll probably be booking my trip this week. Found a great deal on a rental car, which means I may upgrade to the Residence Inn or DoubleTree Suites closer to the park, which are still $400 cheaper for the length of my stay than any of the DL hotels.

Again, thanks to those who responded. I greatly appreciate it.

Re: Need some advice from the Disneyland experts by SirWillow SirWillow Profile at 3/5/13 3:50:59 PM
ray_p said:


I'll probably be booking my trip this week. Found a great deal on a rental car, which means I may upgrade to the Residence Inn or DoubleTree Suites closer to the park, which are still $400 cheaper for the length of my stay than any of the DL hotels.

.

If you're looking for cheaper but still nice, again there are a very large number of hotels that are right across the street from Disneyland- ones that you aren't going to need a rental car for, a shuttle bus for, or any of that. Among those right across the street are:
Ramada Inn
Best Western
Best Western Plus (2 of them)
Tropicana
Carousel
Park View
etc
etc
etc.

they are going to get you as close to the park as you possibly can be, and for $100/ night or less in some cases. Shop around a bit. You don't need to spend a lot of money on the hotel, or to be close to Disney.

If there is anything, anything, I would tell you to shop around a little bit on it's going to be that hotel because you can get inexpensive, fantastic location, amenities if you don't go with the first things that come to mind. Don't just go with Disney Resorts or the first thing that comes up on a hotel site. Take a look at google maps and see what comes up with "Disneyland hotels" and make some phone calls and check out some reviews. You are going to be far better off that way- especially if you're planning on 3 days at the park. Those hotels are closer than the parking area and much more accessible for breaks or at the end of the day.

Re: Need some advice from the Disneyland experts by Eric_Gieszl Eric_Gieszl Profile at 3/6/13 12:05:25 PM
ray_p said:

I am contemplating a trip to Disneyland in September and had a few questions. Please keep in mind that I did check the Disneyland website and have done some Google searches, but since I know there are some real DLR experts here, I thought I'd ask.

I finally have a moment to chime in here.

Crowds are moderate during September and especially during the period you're talking about.

Not all schools go back the day after Labor Day. Also, the lower level Annual Passes have been blocked all summer so the passholders who've been blocked are returning in mass. Disneyland Resort because of the sheer number of passholders is rarely uncrowded anymore. My favorite day of the week to visit is Saturday.

I spent 10-days (Sep 6 - 17) at the Disneyland Resort last September and nearly every day the parks were busy, but very tolerable. I planned my trip to overlap with Halloween Time and I wanted to be at the resort over two weekends.

I plan to be there again this year for about the same period.

Normal operating hours for the theme parks during this period are usually as follows:

Monday - Thursday 10:00 am - 8:00 pm
Friday: 9:00 am - 11:00 pm Disneyland, 10:00 pm California Adventure
Saturday: 8:00 am - 12:00 am Disneyland, 11:00 pm California Adventure
Sunday: 9:00 am - 11:00 pm Disneyland, 10:00 pm California Adventure

Operating hours at Disneyland have been scaled back this year so I suspect that on Saturday Disneyland will close at 11:00 pm instead of Midnight and California Adventure usually closes one hour before on nights when Disneyland is open to 10:00 pm or later.

Parades are once a day in both parks, twice a day Friday to Sunday at Disneyland. World of Color has one show nightly and two shows on Friday and Saturday. Fantasmic is presented twice a night Friday to Sunday. Fireworks are nightly Friday to Sunday.

Attraction refurbishments vary every year and aside from Big Thunder Mountain Railroad the only other regular closures in September are Space Mountain and Haunted Mansion for the Halloween overlays. Haunted Mansion will be probably be closed Aug 26 - Sep 12. Space Mountain closed Sep 9 - 12.

I usually Priceline 3 star to 3 1/2 star hotels in this area and I can regularly get a room at rates ranging from $35 - $49 a night. Most of the time the hotel is within walking distance like the Crowne Plaza (Anaheim Area South) or Holiday Inn S. Walnut (Anaheim Area North) and sometimes it is not Holiday Inn, S. Manchester Ave (Anaheim Area South). Residence Inn by the way is a distant walk, but doable.

John Wayne Airport is 15 minutes away with no traffic. Car rental rates are also lower than LAX.

Re: Need some advice from the Disneyland experts by ray_p ray_p Profile at 3/6/13 1:37:12 PM
Crowds are moderate during September and especially during the period you're talking about.

I can live with moderate crowds. Last time I visited was in May of 1997 and the lines were in the 20-30 minute range, and that was pre-FastPass.

I spent 10-days (Sep 6 - 17) at the Disneyland Resort last September and nearly every day the parks were busy, but very tolerable. I planned my trip to overlap with Halloween Time and I wanted to be at the resort over two weekends.

I plan to be there again this year for about the same period.

I will most likely be at the DLR from the 4th through the 6th. I thought it would be cool to be at The Happiest Place on Earth for my birthday!

Thanks for the operating schedule. For some reason i thought the parks were only open until 6. Nice to know I have an extra two hours now.

Parades are once a day in both parks, twice a day Friday to Sunday at Disneyland. World of Color has one show nightly and two shows on Friday and Saturday. Fantasmic is presented twice a night Friday to Sunday. Fireworks are nightly Friday to Sunday.

Is World Of Color worth going out of my way for? I have heard mixed reviews, but it seems to be a huge hit with the GP.

Attraction refurbishments vary every year and aside from Big Thunder Mountain Railroad the only other regular closures in September are Space Mountain and Haunted Mansion for the Halloween overlays. Haunted Mansion will be probably be closed Aug 26 - Sep 12. Space Mountain closed Sep 9 - 12.

Hearing that Haunted Mansion will be down is a bummer as it's one of my favorites. Thankfully I'll just be missing the Space Mountain closure. It wouldn't be a trip to DL without a ride on Space Mountain, and I haven't ridden it since the days of the Dick Dale soundtrack. If I'm not mistaken, the whole ride was rebuilt, so I'm looking forward to that.

Residence Inn by the way is a distant walk, but doable.

After reading reviews on TripAdvisor, the Residence Inn is now the preferred hotel for my stay. Good to know that it is in the "walkable" area, even if it is a bit far. Heck, I've heard that DL's own Paradise Pier hotel is quite a hike to the theme park entrances.

John Wayne Airport is 15 minutes away with no traffic. Car rental rates are also lower than LAX.

Airfare from CLE to SNA is $360 with a stop in Houston. I could get a cheaper flight to LAX, but to me, dealing with the longer drive and the general hassles that LAX has, I'm more than happy to shell out a few extra bucks to fly into SNA.

Eric (and SirWillow and everyone else), thanks a lot for all the info. Now all I need to do is go and book this trip and start counting down the days!

Re: Need some advice from the Disneyland experts by Eric_Gieszl Eric_Gieszl Profile at 3/6/13 2:02:53 PM
Last September I experienced larger crowds in California Adventure than Disneyland, but the only ride with a significant wait was Radiator Springs Racers- 60 minute stand-by on weekdays and FastPass gone by 11:30 am. Single rider line was 5 minutes or less in the afternoon hours.

I have a mixed review of World of Color. Disney has executed a beautiful show with amazing technology and effects, but it sorely lacks a story. If you're a fan of Disney's animated films then it's a great show since it's a montage of clips from many of the best films of the past 20 years. However, if you're not familiar with them then the show really falls short. My parents saw it and both gave World of Color a thumbs down. The animated clips are meaningless to the two of them.

Monday - Thursday World of Color is presented at 8:15 pm, so it's after the park has closed.

Beware that attractions in Paradise Pier (Toy Story Midway Mania, Little Mermaid, Goofy's Sky School are exceptions) close early because of World of Color. Night rides on California Screamin' are not possible in September.

Haunted Mansion is a bummer, but the Nightmare Before Christmas overlay is amazing and original to Disneyland. Also, the periods of closure in late-Aug to early-Sep and early-Jan allow the park to keep the attraction in tip top shape. I wouldn't trade it.

Space Mountain was completely refurbished in 2005 with the majority of the track replaced, new trains, updated effects, redesigned queue and a new soundtrack.

I can't really comment on airfares since I rarely book trips more than three weeks out, but $360 is an slightly higher than average fare to Santa Ana from your destination. However, airfares so far this year are significantly higher this year than last year and Santa Ana is a much better airport than LAX.