Planning the Trip
We flew in on Sunday, had MTW in the parks, and came home Thursday. We really packed in a lot of rides during our trip, and it never felt rushed. Three days for two parks was perfect. I planned this trip for the off season for low crowds. I think it worked, since most rides never reached 1 hour wait time, and most were 10-25 minute stand-by lines.
But there was a new ride in Galaxy’s Edge, The Rise of the Resistance, that inflated crowds a bit. Especially in the morning, because you had to be in the park at exactly opening time in order to get a boarding group for the ride. So there were massive lines to get through the turnstiles, and then roaming around Main Street prior to rope drop. I think more locals were visiting than usual, and sticking around until their boarding groups, because of the new ride. Even so, compared to the previous week and the weekend crowds, we had a relatively low crowd situation.
I also rocked the Fastpass system. In Disneyland they use kiosks to distribute paper tickets for Fastpass, or you can pay a daily fee per ticket to use the phone app called Maxpass. We took this option and we certainly got our money’s worth. We were able to practically walk on to the most popular rides, and using my phone I was able to stack up many Fastpasses as soon as we were eligible to get more. The Maxpass also lets you keep all the ride and pro-photographers shots from the park. I had fun collecting those and trying to get some good family shots.
Oh, let me add that a downside to the off-season is that they do a lot of closures for refurbishments. The biggest disappointment was that the Haunted Mansion was closed. It’s my favorite attraction and I had even talked with customer service back in November, to try to make sure it would be open when we came. It usually closes/reopens to remove the holiday overlay, and should have been open for us the last week of January. But in late December, after we booked, they announced it will stay closed until Spring for major cleaning and repairs. Dagnabbit! Other (less important) closures were the Carrousel, Snow White Scary Adventures, Grizzly River Run, the Red Trolley, the canoes and the riverboat.
Sad faces. Jack bemoaned its closure every time we walked by.
(Side note here: I was SICK. Like, seriously ill. I had had a head cold for a week, and then Friday night I got food poisoning or a virus of some kind. Saturday I had no strength. Literally, Ben had to pack for me and I could barely sit up on my bed to fold my clothes into the suitcase. It was miserable. We thought we might have to cancel the trip. I slept most of the day and worked on taking in water and simple carbs. Sunday morning I felt somewhat functional when we woke at 5 AM – meaning I could walk without feeling faint and eat/drink a little more. Still had a stuffy nose and head, but we decided we could continue our trip. So that first day I was pretty out of it still.)
(PS Ben was amazing at rallying everyone and doing double duty on the kids, plus making sure I was comfortable. He’s the best!)
We flew Southwest Airlines to California on Sunday into John Wayne airport. I strongly prefer using this little airport over LAX because of its size and proximity to Anaheim. We took a ride-share to our hotel with almost no traffic. When we got to the hotel it was too early to get our room, but they held our luggage so we could explore.
We toured the hotel and then Downtown Disney. Our vacation package included a free pin and lanyard from the Pin Trader’s shop. We collected our freebies and thus sparked a collecting quest for Jack (more on that later). We got burgers for lunch, picked out Mickey treats, and toured the Lego Store. Needing to sit down, we found the observation deck in the hotel and enjoyed the view until our room was ready.
The room was great (more on that later). The kids went swimming in the barely warm pool. After I had a good rest we went out for dinner and dessert again, then back to an early bedtime. Gotta be rested so we could hit the park early!
The next three days were all park days. We had park hopper tickets, so we could go back and forth as we pleased 😀 Here’s a rundown of all the attractions we saw:
- Sleeping Beauty windows in the castle
- Pirates of the Caribbean
- Rise of the Resistance
- Space Mountain
- Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters
- It’s a Small World
- Pinocchio’s Daring Journey
- Tarzan’s Tree House (I sat out and had a Dole Whip)
- Splash Mountain (Jack and Ben only)
- The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
- Big Thunder Mountain
- Frontierland Shootin’ Arcade
- Indiana Jones Adventure
- The Jungle Cruise
- Enchanted Windows at the Emporium
- Soarin’ Around the World
- Radiator Springs Racers
- The Little Mermaid
- Toy Story Midway Mania
- Pixar Pal-A-Round (the ferris wheel)
- Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout
- Star Tours
- Snow White’s Wishing Well
- Sleeping Beauty windows in the castle (again)
- Peter Pan’s Flight
- Mad Tea Party (I sat out)
- Explored Toon Town houses
- Gadget’s Go Coaster
- Big Thunder Mountain (again)
- Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run
- Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride
- Alice in Wonderland
- Storybrook Land Canal Boats
- It’s a Small World (again)
- Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin x2 (no line)
- Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run (again)
- Rise of the Resistance (again) (just half the ride: it broke down and we were escorted out)
- The Enchanted Tiki Room (with Dole Whips and Floats for all!)
- Tarzan’s Treehouse (again) (just Sam and Ben)
- Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout (again)
- Monsters, Inc.
- Soarin’ Around the World (again)
- We spied a resident Disneyland cat!
- Redwood Creek Challenge Trail
- Radiator Springs Racers (again)
- Rise of the Resistance (again) (third time and it worked)
- Splash Mountain x2 (2nd and 3rd time for Jack and Ben only)
- Main Street Cinema (me and Sam)
- World of Color water and light show
So that was a lot!
Last time we came it was for two days. It felt very luxurious to have three days. No frantic planning to try to get it all in quickly, no stress when we came upon an extra long wait, we could come back later!
By the end of the first day I felt fully recovered with just that lingering stuffy nose and cough. Good thing too, for all the walking and crazy rides we did!
Thursday we slept in and got breakfast at the hotel Craftsman Grill. We did some last minute souvenir shopping in Downtown Disney, then left for the airport as late as possible. The flight choices were either early morning or mid-afternoon. So we got to the airport with no security lines to fight, and hours to rest, have lunch, etc.
A straightforward flight home took us from the land of warm palm trees to an icy snowfall. Ben said he felt ready to go home, but me and the boys were sad to see it end. It was really a top notch vacation. Jack and Sam are already talking about what they want to do on their next Disney trip 🙂