February DLR trip recap (2/15-19)

About two weeks ago I stumbled onto $157 roundtrip non-stop flights from DFW to ONT. I couldn’t pass that up, so I checked the park reservation calendar and pulled the trigger. Then I booked the Candy Cane Inn, which was my original plan on our last trip. Glad to see they’re finally ready. We arrive Wednesday morning 2/15 and fly back on the red-eye late Sunday night.

This is a shorter turn for planning than I’m used to, so please check my tentative plans and let me know if you see any issues. I bought 5 day hoppers. The first day and last day will be travel days. I thought about 4 day but the price difference was so minimal.

Background: traveling party is myself, DW, and DS6. This will be our third trip to DLR. Previous trips were in Sep 2019 and Dec 2021. We also went to WDW in Oct 2018 as a family, and I had been there several times previously. I’m pretty much a DLR person now though.

I really want to hit the things we missed last trip due to closures or time constraints. Top of that list includes - Tom Sawyer Island, canoes, Lincoln, Nemo subs, Main St vehicles, character meal, WOC, Red Car Trolley, bakery tour, and most entertainment.


  • We will wake up and get the kid ready a regular school day, but then drive to the airport instead. So far he has no idea this is coming. No school on Friday or Monday, so he’s only missing two days.
  • I’m not sure if we’ll just come out and tell him when he notices we’re not driving to school or drag it out a bit more. I did just buy the new little man of DL book. Maybe we’ll work that in.
  • I’ve never flown into ONT. We used SNA in 2021 and LAX in 2019. Hopefully the longer trip on Lyft or Uber won’t be a problem. Scheduled to land at 10am.
  • Arrive at Candy Cane Inn prior to check-in. Drop off bags and walk to DCA.
  • This is the final day of Lunar New Year and taking that in is the main goal. I want to see the Mulan processional, see a few of the special characters, and eat some food. Is the line to see Raya bad?
  • DS will want to go on a few rides, so we’ll probably try to knock out a few of the less popular ones in the area (Jumping Jellyfish, Symphony Swings, etc).
  • Call it an early night and get settled into our room.

This is probably getting too long, so I’ll stop here for now. :grinning:


So exciting! You guys are pros so I don’t think you need much help.

Should be fine.

When I was there it didn’t seem too long … maybe 20 minutes? The big wild card is whether it will be open that late, or at all depending on your arrival time. Redwood Creek Challenge Trail is open from noon to 8:45pm today. And Raya will sometimes come and go as all the characters do, leaving you to wait 15 minutes for her to return.

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Oh yeah, one other background item is this will be the first trip without a stroller. DS6 has outgrown it and would likely turn it down if offered. I think we’ll be ok as long as we don’t push too hard. Extra incentive to avoid criss-crossing the parks though. And we should probably try to use the Candy Cane bus.

One new thing from the last trip that I’m not sure how to plan for is the 30 minute early entry for resort guests every day. Any consensus on if it’s better to rope drop “behind” them or hit the areas that don’t open early? And what time does the security screening start? If I understand correctly, we can get into the parks earlier now but can’t cross a certain point if staying off site. FWIW we went 5 for 5 on being on the rope last trip, so we’re not snoozing through it.


I would avoid going to the big RD rides (RotR, Webslingers, and RSR) and go to any other ride instead. Use ILL if you can on RSR. (Honestly RotR is the easiest of the ILL rides to find a time with a shorter wait - it’s not bad at all).

Usually about 40 minutes before early entry, I’d say. You can probably just arrive around when EE starts, get through security and turnstiles, then get in position for regular RD.


What time would you suggest getting in line for security for Early Entry? Early Entry starts at 7:30. I was thinking in line at 7:00?

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Yeah 7:00am would be fine. I wouldn’t arrive much earlier than 6:50am - diminishing returns, especially when opening is that early.


That’s about as good a time as you’ll find for getting from ONT to Anaheim. It’s a haul, though not worse than LAX in mileage. My husband used to commute that direction every day over the Carbon Canyon Road, we were kinda hoping to fly into ONT this trip and recreate the commute, but LAX times were just so much better.

February is my favorite month in SoCal, it’s usually the greenest and the spring flowers are blooming! Enjoy!


Expert level planning. When we’ve bought tickets this has always been our way. The price difference is so minimal that even if you only spend 3-4 hours in the park on that 5th day it’s more than worth it.

I am a big fan of surprising at the latest point possible, especially if it was just supposed to be a routine day. We’ve done it once where we decided to leave that night (in the pre-reservation days) while the kids were at school so we took a half-day to pack & then when we picked them up from school took them home to mostly packed suitcases where they found out we were leaving for a 3 day weekend.

This will be everyone’s thought this day too (and we’ve been there for the last day of the Lunar New Year at least once and maybe even twice) so just a heads up that the food & character lines at the Gazebo near Goofy’s Sky School will be insane. For the characters, people will show up 1-2 hours before characters are scheduled to start to be early & the line will only grow from there. Raya being in the Redwood Creek Challenge area shouldn’t be too crazy, especially since she’s been there in recent times, but I would wait too late at night as sometimes she does leave earlier than scheduled. But it doesn’t seem like you have too much else slotted in around that for this day so it’s totally doable. Just be sure you’re ready to be enjoy the celebration wrap-up with lots of other people excited to see it one last time.

Big milestone! The Candy Cane Inn with their grandfathered shuttle is for sure the perfect choice for this kind of trip. Ever since my older two stopped being stroller age the first question they ask about any trip is “where are we staying?” and the closer the hotel is to the parks the happier they are. Giving them a bench or snack break when they need it is key. Also we still plan for midday breaks for all of us. It allows us to burn the candle on both ends to enjoy the least crowd both at rope drop & then if we get decent sleep/rest midday, close out the parks (or come close to it).

And then @Jeff_AZ has given you spot-on advice for lining up. Definitely want to be at RD as they’ll have the EE crowds filtered in you still able to be in prime position at the rope to accomplish things. I would also add Guardians in DCA and Peter Pan in Fantasyland to the list of rides not to try behind EE crowds, but in DCA the Pier rides (Toy Story, Incredicoaster & the Fun Wheel) are all good ones to rope drop still as are the smaller two rides in Carsland. And then in DL, really anything but RotR & Peter Pan. Even the areas that have been open (Fantasyland & Tomorrowland) won’t have too much built up on most of the rides. The entire west side of Disneyland (Frontier,Adventure Lands & New Orleans Square) will be open to everyone all at once with the very small minority of EE’s that choose to line up on the west side having a small advantage (and most likely to be headed to RotR anyway so no sweat to try for Big Thunder or Pirates or Splash).

We drive overnight and most times we can leave home early enough that we beat the morning traffic rush and right about when we hit Ontario on those mornings, seems like we’re just about there (to DL). But boy if we don’t, that last little bit can be such a slog.

We’ve always had more rain than sun in February for sure (but obviously being just mostly there for quick weekends we have a much more limited sample than someone who lived there). I love end-March through early May for the good balance of sun with the flowers but February will have the glorious advantage of being even beautiful temperate temperatures!


I always think, “If we didn’t go to Disney and we went bowling or watched a movie instead, would it cost more or less? And would we have as much fun doing another activity?”

Usually by the time you get to adding days 4 and 5, the answer is that it’s cheaper than just about any alternative and probably a wider range of options to keep you busy and happy.


This is how we ended up buying repeat AP’s. Our very first AP was purchased on a trip where we upgraded tickets. The first day of the trip had been our oldest DS’s 3rd birthday so that first AP expired the day before his 4th birthday. And of course we planned a six day trip to enjoy the last days of our AP and were split on if we should renew or not. I tried for weeks to find something else we could do that would be fun & enjoyable for that birthday. And by the time I priced any of them out, the price of the AP just seemed so reasonable. And DH kept bringing up, how do we tell the DL loving DS that we can go to DL the 6 days leading up to his 4th birthday but not his 4th birthday? So we renewed. And haven’t yet found a year we’d keep our trips below the threshold of renewing (or buying new some years where we do take a quick 2-3 month break).


That’s definitely the goal. DW is a much bigger fan of the midday nap than DS is, but we will try. I’ve been known to hang out in the park and watch the marching band or something during nap time. Although I can also be tempted to put my feet up and enjoy a beer from the mini fridge.

With no stroller, we will also look to catch rides on the Main St vehicles for the first time.


similar situation for me- we found $350 or so RT tickets from Hawaii, so I jumped on it. I have a kid in LA, and I really wanted to check out Lunar New Year so I’m taking my daughter out of high school (gonna do a college tour so she is excused) and we are doing DL one day, one day only, with an emphasis on the lunar new year at DCA. I really hope all the food booths are still up and running!! I am deciding between seeing the WoC show or the projection show at DL. I don’t know… Leaning towards DCA tho, just to finish out the Lunar New Year stuff. We are starting at DL and hopping to DCA.

It’s handy (but expensive) having a kid who lives in LA. Mind you, she sleeps in a daybed in an apartment she shares with someone else, so we can’t crash at her place. But it’s a quick hop from Hawaii which makes it pretty nice- Not unheard of to have tickets for around 119$ one way…

Also, since we have a kid in LA, we have 3 other DL trips planned this year already!! :slight_smile:


I was thinking about Matterhorn first at RD, since I want to try the left side. LL only uses the right side IIRC. Any EE crowd issues with that?

Then we would make our way around the rest of FL. Likely in this order - Alice, Toad, Dumbo, Casey Jr, Pinocchio, Snow White, Peter Pan. Saving carousel, Storybook, and tea cups for an evening.
Then use LL for BTM and HM before lunch at French Market.

I believe this is the final day of French Market, so I’ll have to remember to get a mobile order in early.

Exactly one week from now I’ll be walking down Main Street USA! :partying_face:


Matterhorn is fairly easy to RD behind EE. In fact you could do Dumbo, Alice & then Matterhorn and probably still be ok. But if Matterhorn is a higher priority than Dumbo for you, I would stick with Matterhorn first, Alice second is great. I would move Dumbo up ahead of Toad tho as anytime we’ve hit Dumbo after our 3rd ride, we end up skipping it to come back at night because once it gets to 30+ minutes it stays that way most of the day and my family just isn’t quick enough to do 3 rides of anything to get to Dumbo 4th before it builds. Peter Pan for sure & maybe Snow White are ones I would save for the last hour of park time if their lines are longer than 25-35 min. Snow White might not be building as fast though as it’s been some time since the new refurbish so it might be ok to slate it in with Pinocchio.

With the last day, I would definitely be looking at that the first hour of your day. The regulars that love it & have a specific park reservation to get it one last time will have the same idea.

:star_struck: :partying_face: :star_struck: :partying_face:
That’s a fantastic feeling!


I like the Dumbo/Alice in front of Matterhorn idea. We actually did Dumbo first at our first RD last trip after seeing how quickly the Pan line backed up. Maybe I’ll make that a family tradition - “Operation Dumbo (Rope) Drop”.


I finally got a touring plan to mostly align with how I want Thursday morning to go. I just couldn’t get LL to work for BTMR. Even with obtain LL as the very first step it shows a return time around 2 or 3pm, which is clearly wrong.

I simulated a double run of Matterhorn (one standby, one LL) by telling it I was using rider switch. So I’ll get a LL for Matterhorn prior to rope drop and ride sometime before 9am, get a LL for BTMR and ride before 11am, and then get a LL for HM and ride either right before or right after lunch at French Market. Close out the morning by taking the railroad from New Orleans around the park to Main St. Then back to the room to rest and plan the afternoon/evening LLs.

I’m not sure yet if we’ll go back to DL or head to DCA after the break. DL closes at 8 for sweetheart night. Has anyone seen the projections only version of Wonderous Journeys? With the early close it’s scheduled for 7:30 that night, which works much better with DS6’s normal bedtime. Our other option is to see it Saturday, which would probably mean skipping Fantasmic this trip. Friday night we have WOC dessert party.


I had the same problem with the BTMR LL. I had to manually schedule a 3 hour rest period to get the TP return times to align with the Thrilldata return times.

I loved the Lunar New Year portion of the WoC show - I would totally pick that over the projections on the castle. The Lunar New Year kiosks were great in my opinion. I just completed a trip report with a lot of details about them.


Great trip so far! Yesterday we were able to check in early at Candy Cane, unpacked, and then stopped at Pizza Press for lunch before heading into DCA.

We were in the park in time to jump on Little Mermaid before the 1:45 Mulan processional, which was lovely. DW said it was her favorite parade ever.

While waiting on it to get to our spot I noticed Incredicoaster had a 15 minute wait, so we went there next. It was supposed to be a low key day but one thrill ride won’t hurt. DS6 was just barely tall enough and laughed the entire ride. Except for when the picture was taken of course.

The only other ride we went on was Jumping Jellyfish. But DS had a great time running around Redwood Creek for an hour, since Raya was running late. We talked to her too, which was fun. Then got some popcorn and decided to head toward Turtle Talk.

On the way we ran into the Mulan processional so we got to enjoy it again from a different spot.

After Turtle Talk we loitered in Avengers Campus a bit and ran into a few of the characters. At this point we rapidly became both tired and cold, so we sat down with some bread bowls in Pacific Wharf.

It was only 6pm or so, but we had been up 15 hours so we called it a night. DS got to stop three times on the way out to make his first three pin trades ever. Back to Candy Cane to rest up for a big day two…


Fell asleep while writing this last night, so please excuse any typos…

Thursday was one of the most productive(?) days I’ve had in any Disney park. We tapped in at 7:31 and very slowly made our way up Main St checking the windows. With resort guests already in FL/TL I felt very little pressure to be on the rope. We had a plan and G+… we were going to be more than fine.

Buzz was already listed as down so I booked a LL. It converted to an all day select experiences just after 8, so I immediately booked another one. Same thing. Now Splash was down, so I switched to that. Within the first hour and a half or so we had more passes than we could use. Stack was up to 7 when I stopped.

During this we were having a blast in FL… Dumbo, Toad, Alice, Matterhorn (once stand-by, once LL), and Tea Cups. Then Casey Jr, which unfortunately broke down right after we boarded.

Moved on to Pinnochio and Snow White. Also got to see the Pearly Band with Mary Poppins, Burt, and a penguin.

Next we used one of the extra LL on Nemo. Much improved from the last time we rode it, and a great line to skip. We all enjoyed it.

Space LL was next, followed by some shop browsing. Then LL for BTMR. Now it was time for lunch at French Market, which was surprisingly quiet for its last day. A quick hop from there to HM LL. It had been way too long since I had seen the classic version, since our last two trips were Oct and Dec. Love it so…

The original plan was to immediately grab beignets and get on the Railroad next. But I added Splash LL so DS and I took our chances on a cool day. Luckily we were seated to the back and came away mostly dry.

And we quickly got back to the plan. Except the original plan had us taking the train around to the front entrance where we would depart and head back for a rest. A successful 1:00 virtual queue was enough to convince us to power through.

We got off at the Toontown stop and took a cruise on small world. Then it was time for MMRR. I loved the indoor portion of the queue, but unfortunately the line was moving too fast through there and then bogged down at an unexpected boring outdoor portion. Fantastic ride though.

Will finish later. We are wrapping up our Friday break (spoiler)…