Christmas Week - 2018

Ds (13yo) and I are traveling to CA for the week after Christmas. Dd and dh are traveling separately w/ the Cavalcade Honor Band to perform in the Rose Parade on 1/1/19. Ds and I are going out early on our own to spend some time at DLR, then joining up w/ the Family & Friends group w/ the band, for the rest of our stay.

Basically, it looks like this:

25/Wed - Arrive late evening at LAX, transfer to hotel on Harbor
26/Thurs - DLR
27/Fri - DLR
28/Sat - DLR (transfer to Newport Beach hotel late evening)
29/Sun - DLR (Band performing @ DLR, bus transportation provided)
30/Mon - “Hollywood/Beverly Hills Tour” and Band Fest (bus transportation provided…and I have NO idea what is included in the tour as of right now)
31/Sun - “Free Day”
1/Mon - Rose Parade (reserved parade seating, bus transportation provided)
2/Tues - Lunchtime departure from SNA (free hotel shuttle to airport)

  1. My first ask is transportation from LAX to our hotel on Harbor on Christmas night. We used Super Shuttle’s Execucar during our last trip and it was fine, but I’m wondering if there are other/better options especially given the holiday.

  2. I’m thinking of taking ds to the Griffith Observatory during our free day on the 31st and am trying to figure out the best option for transportation. I’m not overly excited about renting a car for the day and battling LA traffic, but an Uber from Newport Beach to Griffith park and back may be $$$. I have driven in NYC and Philly…is LA traffic that bad or should I find other options?

The planner in me is freaking out w/ the lack of info from the tour people running this trip, and I know that our last day at DLR with the band will be on their schedule, not mine, so I’m expecting a late arrival and have no idea how long they are staying.

I have yet to plan our time at DLR. Basically it will be two full days, one day until dinnertime or so before we head to Newport Beach, and then the last day is w/ the band. We last visited in summer of 2017 so we don’t have to do EVERYTHING, but I definitely want to get the holiday stuff in and do some favorites.

Any thoughts or opinions are welcome!

  1. We used zippy shuttle and we were perfectly satisfied

  2. LA traffic is certainly heavy but I found it easier to manage and significantly less stressful than NYC

I have found this to be true as well! NYC is very stressful, many aggressive drivers. LA is just very many drivers so the challenge is being in the traffic, but the drivers are certainly less aggressive, more assertive & even then on the whole considerate.

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Have you considered joining Zipcar? May be useful for your free day, not sure of car availability in Anaheim though…

We will be in Newport Beach on our free day. I will look into Zipcar… hadn’t thought of that.

Just made our dining reservations!

With our arrival late on the 25th, we will have the 26, 27, 28, in the parks with an additional day on the 29th with the honor band. I am planning almost nothing for the 29th because the trip planners have no info about schedules and I have no idea where or when they will be performing!

So, ds (13yo) really enjoyed Blue Bayou on our last trip and Fantasmic! was closed so we will do the lunch package there, the Plaza parade package, and an early breakfast w/ Minnie at the Plaza.

12/26 - Blue Bayou 12:50pm meal/9:00pm Fantasmic! (then stay right there for the fireworks)
12/27 - Plaza 7:10am
12/28 - Plaza Christmas Fantasy Parade Package; 2:30pm meal/4:30pm parade

I’m going to keep an eye on the site to see if I can get a later breakfast on the 27th, but that works too since we will still likely be on east coast time.


Does Disneyland open at 7am or 8am that week? The schedule isn’t out yet.

We are staying at a Good Neighbor hotel and have early entry on the 27th. I think I’m going to move my reservation to 7:10 on the 26th instead. Even though I generally don’t do two sit down meals on the same day, this leaves almost 6 hours between them and we will have some jet lag so we should be okay.

Typically the week in between Christmas & New Year’s both parks (DL and DCA) will have early entry everyday at 7:00am with regular park opening at 8:00am. That is what Touring Plans is projecting right now & that’s what I’ve seen since I started paying attention in 2014.

That doesn’t guarantee they’ll do the same this year so check back when the hours for your dates are released (6 weeks in advance). If they do stick with the same schedule as past years, then you’ll be able to use your early entry any of your 3 days.

I highly recommend doing your early bfast with Minnie on a day when you aren’t using your Magic Morning (if you enter through the specifically marked dining gate & show your reservation to get through, they should scan your ticket for regular entry & not use up your Magic Morning). This way you get a 2nd day of early entry to DL. If you can get something like a 7:50 time, then that will allow you to enter at 7:00am and do some rides before heading to bfast just before regular park open.

Then for your other morning start in DCA (b/c being behind the early entry crowd won’t be as bad there with only the 3 onsite hotel guests having access to it) & I would again make sure to be lined up early as they will usually let non-early entry guests into the park by 7:30am (held in Grizzly Peak & Carthay Circle areas). You’ll be able to then start selecting your first MaxPass & if Soarin is on your list of must-do’s, the line is open in Grizzly Peak & doesn’t usually require you to prove you’re an early entry guest to join. It’s possible to even finish it before the park opens & be able to still rope drop (or be just behind rope drop) for something like Guardians of the Galaxy or Toy Story Midway Mania.

I would definitely do breakfast and our Magic Morning on separate days.

That is good to know about DCA. We have three mornings and will be on east coast time so arriving early shouldn’t be a problem. We can do MM and breakfast at DL for two and leverage this info at DCA for the third. This helps a lot.

I can adjust my reservation on the 26th from 7:10am to 7:30am…is that worth it? There aren’t any other times available on the 27th or 28th.

So now I have three…
26th 7:30am
27th 7:10am
28th 7:40am

I was trying to avoid going on the 28th since we are doing the lunch package at 2:30 at the Plaza for the parade…but there are 7 hours in between so we should be okay.

I’m leaning towards morning at DCA on the 26th, MM at DL on the 27th, and breakfast entry to DL on the 28th.

I do think you have enough time in between the 2 meals. Plaza is early enough & even though it’s a buffet, I find myself leaving there the least full of all the Disney buffets (lots of our time is spent taking photos, plus it has the least amount of options of the Disney buffets so it allows you to be quicker about your meal, it’s still a great meal!).

I like the plan you’re leaning towards! If you have budget for one more TS on the 27th now that it won’t have Plaza, I think you’ll really appreciate having that downtime. I really enjoy Cafe Orleans & Carnation Cafe both. Carnation Cafe has a great value on breakfast & often has late breakfast reservations and their lunch/dinner options are also tasty & shareable portions. Cafe Orleans has the Monte Cristo & pomme frites & beignets & I love all of them, but all of those need to be shared among 2-3 people, more if you’re not big on heavy/rich foods.

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I think we could stop in for a snack of beignets at Cafe Orleans. The picky 13yo won’t eat any meals there.

Carnation Cafe could work for breakfast, lunch, or dinner so I will put it on my list!

The Mint Julep Bar in New Orleans Square has a window to order beignets (and mint juleps) and makes for a perfect 10am break after tackling the whole west side of the park. The only downside is the window doesn’t have the sweet dipping sauce that is served with beignets at Carnation Cafe. It’s possible you could ask for a to-go order of beignets from Carnation Cafe, but they may also refer you to the Mint Julep bar.