Coast to Coast 2012: Tales of a (Former) Disney Virgin


I am 32 years old and prior to last Tuesday I had never stepped foot into Disney anything (well, the Disney store.  I do have children, ya know).  No Disney World, land, Tokyo, cruise, Paris, Hong Kong, Hawaii.  Nada.  No Disney.

Before we took this trip, I scored tons of Disney websites.  Tons.  I read tips on top of tips on top of tips.  Here are a few things I, as a (former) Disney virgin felt worth mentioning.

1) If you are military - active duty, retired, or spouse - you can purchase a three day park hopper pass for $99.  People.  The regular price for this type of ticket is $250.  You're saving $150 per person!  We had only planned on buying one day park hopper tickets and STILL ended up saving money (over $100!) by going with the military special. 

A few things about this promotion:

a) Your $99 purchases a voucher for a three day park hopper.  You redeem the voucher at the gate and your tickets are printed out.  You have to have your military ID in order to purchase and in order to have the tickets activated.
b) The Disney website says that each military family (mil member plus their spouse) can only redeem up to six vouchers.  However.  Both the guy at the base where we purchased our vouchers AND a Disney employee I talked to on the phone said that you can redeem up to six vouchers per ID.  We were able to redeem a total of eight (we helped out our friends too): Eddie took in five people and I took in three.
c) We bought our vouchers on base but apparently you can also buy them at Disney.  The guy I talked to from Disney told me they aren't taxed either way.  So that's an option if you don't want to go out to the base (the closest is Seal Beach, it's very small, and it's not far at all from Anaheim).

2) Disney is the happiest place on Earth.  Right?  Of course it is!  That does not, however, prevent them from employing some of the biggest assholes on the planet.  Seriously.  Of the 2394032994 websites I trolled looking for Disney hints and tips not one of them mentioned the fact that Walt's company employees some seee-rious douchebags.  Get this - someone a-hole YELLED AT MY KID for going the wrong way when he got off a ride.  He YELLED AT MY KID.  Nobody but me is allowed to do that!  I understand that Disney is sort of the mothership for pushy parents and bratty kids.  But.  People who work there should know that before they take their jobs and maybe, you know, practice a little more patience.

** For the record: there were WAY more nice people than assholes who worked there, I like to think that's true with just about any place.  But, wow, when the douchebaggery was out it was most definitely in full force.

3) My family enjoyed California Adventure way more than Disneyland.  We ended up spending a lot more time over there.  It was a lot less crowded than Disneyland (exception: Cars Land) and my kids seemed to like the rides better.

4) Cars Land is AWESOME.  It's amazing.  It looks so much like the actual Radiator Springs. It's also THE MOST CROWDED PLACE in either one of the parks.

Radiator Springs Racers is probably the most popular ride of the moment at both parks.  Eddie and Jon stood in line for about an hour just to get FAST PASSES for the kids to ride.  The lines for the ride averaged around three hours.  THREE HOURS for a ride.  Can you imagine?  The things we do for our kids . . .

5) The parades were amazing. I realize that if you've ever been to Disney then you already know this but I felt it was worth mentioning anyway.  We sat down to watch the parade at California Adventure and watched the one at Disney while we stood in line for a ride.  Both were so so so so good.  I think we enjoyed the one at Adventure a little more -- mainly due to all the Pixar characters.

I'm not really sure why people grab a spot early for the parades.  We popped a squat on the parade route about two or three minutes before it swung by us and were right there in the action.  Maybe this isn't always the case and we just got lucky.

6) Our favorite rides: Toy Story and Radiator Springs Racers (which I did not get to ride because Karis wasn't big enough and somebody had to stay with her) at California Adventure; Star Wars at Disneyland

7) Our first night, we watched Fantasmic!  I wish I could express in words just how beautiful it was.  It really put the exclamation point on the end of our first day at the park.  The kids loved it -- it was everything that they wanted to see, water, fireworks, soooo many Disney characters.  It was amazing.  I'm a little bummed that we didn't get to see World of Color but, hey, there's always next time.  (And, oh, there WILL be a next time!)

8) I pinned a travel tip before I left: take your label maker, print out your name and phone number, and stick it to the inside of your kids shoe.  This way, if they get lost, they can show their info to whomever is helping them and get back to you with no muss, no fuss.  I don't have a label maker and didn't buy one before we left.  Soooooo.  I took my trusty Sharpie marker and wrote my name and phone number on each of my boys backs.  I instructed them that if they were lost, they needed to find someone who worked at the park OR a nice looking family and show them the info on their back.  #ghettobutitworked

9) Staying in a Disney hotel just was not going to happen for us.  I'm sure they are totally worth it but I just couldn't get past the price tag.  We ended up staying at the Radisson Buena Park (right across the street from Knott's Berry Farm) and I don't think I could recommend this hotel highly enough!  It was perfect, wonderful, and saved us MORE THAN TWO GRAND over a Disney resort hotel.  Did you hear that?  MORE THAN TWO THOUSAND DOLLARS SAVED.  The rooms were spacious -- hello!  There were six of us in the room and we weren't tripping over each other.  The pool area was fabulous (Zhariah called it a rain forest).  The breakfast was yummy and included made to order omelets.  The best part?  They provided a free Disney shuttle so we didn't have to battle traffic and pay to park at Disney!  Fabulous!  All of that for less than $100 a night.  Yes..  LESS THAN $100 a night.  Unbeatable. 

I'm so happy I'm no longer a Disney virgin!  Even with the (very few) negatives of the park, we had such a great time.  It's something I can't wait to do again.
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