First DLR trip

Ok… Some of you will know me from all my WDW & Universal posts. I’m a double-digit WDW veteran who has NEVER been to DLR / DCA. I wasn’t planning on going until after 2021, but I was just given a good raise & bonus at work. Now, I’m thinking about going to DLR in December 2019. (Solo trip)

I can only afford a “Good Neighbor Hotel”. I don’t care about any amenities. I only need a clean, preferably quiet, room to put my stuff and sleep. I was looking at the standard chains like Country Inn & Suites / Best Western. I am open to any suggestions that are less than $200 / night.

Also, which airport should I fly into? I’ve never been to California, except to LAX on my way international, so I don’t know anything about transportation / distance to DLR from LAX.

I know this has probably been answered before, but I’m hoping all my good karma from answering many WDW / USF questions on the forum will buy me a little patience here!

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Hi. DLR is wonderful, glad you get to make a visit. We have stayed at many of the offsite hotels right by the gates at Disneyland. You cannot go wrong with any of these in your price point:
Park Vue Inn
Best Western Park Place Inn or BW Anaheim Inn
My personal favorite Grand Legacy at the Park
Tropicana Inn
Camelot Inn
Anaheim Desert Inn and Suites (though I do not like their pillows so bring your own if you don’t like sleeping on a brick).

Orange County/SNA is the best airport by far. It is only 12 miles from DL. It is a small airport and the difference from LAX is huge. Lyft/Uber is about $20. I will always fly in/out of here unless there is huge savings elsewhere. It really is the best of the best in So Cal.

Long Beach is also a lovely, small airport that is maybe 20 miles from DL. Lyft more like $35 or 40.
Ontario would be my 3rd choice, easy airport but have always had a rental car. 45 min drive.
Burbank is also a nice, smaller airport. ALways had rental car from here. Plan on 45-60 min drive depending on time of day.
LAX is least favorite, plan an hour or two for traffic to get to DL. Supershuttle is a good option.

Feel free to ask lots of questions. There aren’t too many of us DL people here on the Forum (most DL liners are found on Chat instead), but those of us here have a lot of experience and are happy to help.

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DLR at christmas time is my favorite! It is the only time I HAVE to ride IASW and it has to be after dark. You will have an amazing time. I just got back from a trip where we stayed at Homewood Suites by Marriot and thought it was great! We paid about $200 a night for a suite (Not bad for the middle of summer). It included breakfast. It is right next to the Toy Story Parking lot and we would just take the free shuttle to and from the parks.

I have also stayed at Country Inn and Suites and thought that was great as well. The only caveat is, it is a bit of a trek to the parks and does not have a free transportation option to the parks. There is always Uber (what we did for our stay) and ART (the bus system they have there for $5 per day). The ART bus stop is right at the parking lot for the hotel. That is my plan if I ever stay there again.

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Can’t advise on the hotel, we stayed at Paradise Pier on our first, and so far, only trip to DL and DCA. We flew into John Wayne airport. It was a pleasant airport experience. Used a car service to get to the hotel and then back to the airport. If you are interested, I will try to find the name, it started with the letter J, I think. Excellent service.

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I’d like to fly into SNA for the ease and to not ride 1 - 2 more hours to my hotel / back to the airport. LAX has non-stop flights and is cheaper. Plus, I arrive earlier and depart later by using LAX.

However, the benefits of LAX get outweighed by that commute. DLR did offer a motor coach / bus I could take from LAX for only $50 round trip. Thoughts?

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I have never taken a shuttle/motor coach so can’t help with that. From where I live, the flights are similar, and there are no direct flights to any of the 5 airports so I always have to have a connection. If I could take a direct flight, that might sway me to LAX. What time does the flight arrive into LAX, and what day of the week? Same question for the return. Depending on when you arrive, you could be looking at a pretty fast (1 hour) drive to DL, or a terrible 3 hour drive.

Arrive LAX Wednesday at 12:30pm and depart Sunday at 5:30pm. I was hoping that would give me a couple hours on each day to “pop” into the parks. I’m really only doing 3 full days + my arrival / depart days.

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You will be good with those times. You basically want to get out of LAX ASAP. Traffic is always busy, but around 3pm it really starts to get bad. Sunday traffic is a breeze. With those days, I would brave LAX if it is a nonstop flight.

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Yeah it sounds like LAX is your best option if you can fly direct. Not many airports have direct to SNA. It would only be worth it to have a layover if you were arriving and departing at a similar time. And I agree those commute times should be ok as long as you don’t arrive late on Wednesday.

As for hotel, suggestions above are great. I would highly recommend staying at a Harbor Blvd hotel - somewhere along the road just east of DLR. Preferably south of Ball and north of Katella, but if you have to walk from the intersection of Harbor and Katella that isn’t too bad, or walk to the Toy Story Lot.

Access from hotels west of DLR is much less convenient.

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I think you are getting very good advice for your travel and stay questions.

One thing I would add is do not miss the Fantasmic show at DL. It is different from the one at HS and is spectacular. I would get a fast pass dining package. Getting a meal at the River Belle Terrace or dining at the Blue Bayou (overlooking the Pirates of the Caribbean ride is a lot of fun and a really good meal. You then get seating up close and center for the show. Note the “seating” is on the ground so bring an inflatable pad.

Have a great time.

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Oh also do not miss the Frozen show in DCA. It is a hour long stage version of the movie that is Broadway quality.

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Thanks! The SNA arrival is after 5pm and departs at 8am. So, even having to commute I can, hopefully, get there earlier and depart later by going through LAX.

I’m going to have to do a street view map of Anaheim / DLR to get a feel for where all these hotels are.

Do I need to make ADRs 180 out like WDW?

ADRs are only available 60 days in advance. You don’t need an ADR more than 2 weeks out for most restaurants, but I would get one for Blue Bayou if you want to go there. You can often get one for other restaurants same day or within a couple of days even.

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The below snippet of Google maps shows what @Jeff_AZ described along Harbor. The green lines are where I would look for a hotel in walking distance (and where I routinely do look). The aqua circle is the pedestrian walkway where you will enter Disneyland to give you a frame of reference of what your entry point is. The black arrow at the bottom right signifies that the Toy Story Lot is just off the frame right there & so if you were to stay further away than the dark green, would be more beneficial to use that lot for the free shuttle.

My favorite place to stay when being super budget conscious is The Anaheim Hotel as it has my favorite off-site place to eat in Anaheim (The Pizza Press) and the rooms are large, clean & somewhat recently redone. The Grand Legacy is just slightly closer & very similar but sometimes their lack of customer service (front desk only, not parking or housekeeping) can be maddening. If you can’t find a super deal along Harbor then my favorite go-to is Park Vue Inn. Their prices tend to be higher (closer to $180/night) but their customer service is spectacular & they are the closest hotel to the pedestrian walkway just behind the Coldstone (Best Western Park Place is also very close). Park Vue also has free hot breakfast that is decent & free parking (which may not matter to you but they are the last hotel on Harbor that does this & we drive so it ends up making a difference when we price things out when everyone else is now charging $15/night).

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To start off I lived in SoCal for 45 years and known the area around DLR and beyond like the back of my hand.
I am not sure where you are flying from but small Long Beach Airport is your best bet for convenience. SouthWest and JetBlue fly in and out but American, Delta, and Alaska does too. Long Beach is a small airport with 2 baggage claims and where you literally walk across a small street to get your rent a car. If not, Uber is pretty cheap for the 20-25 min drive to DLR. My 2nd choice would be Orange Co. Airport but its larger and in the middle of Orange County horrible traffic. Stay away from LAX, Ontario, and Burbank. They are TOO FAR and the traffic will make you pull your hair out!
Do your research on hotels and pricing. The earlier in Dec. the better for cheaper rates. We have stayed at Springhill Suites Anaheim Maingate which is a good moderate hotel. The best thing about it is the easy access to the parks. It’s about a 10 min walk from the DLR trams. You just have to walk through the Disney Employee parking lot which is behind the hotel and walk through the Mickey & Friends parking structure and catch the tram to the park entrances. It’s also closer to Downtown Disney. Last Oct. we stayed at the Hyatt Place at Anaheim Resort/Convention Center. It’s another good moderate hotel that is a 20 min walk from DLR. We took Uber which was about $7. The key thing is that far less planning is involved with a vacation at DLR. Just get a couple of ADRs and be sure to use the MAXPass. Otherwise, relax and enjoy. Disneyland is truly the best themed amusement park in the world.

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I have never experienced this. I think I have stayed there 10-12 times by now, and they are always wonderful. I always request a top floor, they always put me in one. The last 2 trips in May and July, I have had an additional night (on a separate reservation) on either the front or back end, and they have let me stay in the same room both times. Not sure what has been maddening about your experiences? Maybe I have just been lucky?

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The Grand Legacy looks perfect except they have a disclaimer stating that the new suite rooms in the new building can be loud bc of events at the Fifth night club that is located in the same section. Have you experienced this at all? They look like the best rooms for bigger families like mine.

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I have stayed in the front tower once, but that was before the lounge opened on the rooftop. I have not (on purpose) stayed in the tower since, as the lounge is very noisy and loud until late, especially on the weekends. I am a light sleeper so I would hear the music. Others I know have stayed there and are not bothered. The suites are really nice, so if you are not bothered by music it is a great choice.
You can also get connecting rooms in the regular buildings so 2 rooms might be better if you are noise sensitive. We tend to book the Premier rooms, and they do come connecting. It is very quiet, you cannot hear the noise from there.

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Thanks for the input, normally I would think it would be ok, but we had a recent visit to St. Mary Lodge at Glacier National Park and the Karaoke at the bar next door kept us up all night…for 4 nights. We have also stayed at the Hyatt Place Laguardia airport with airplanes flying over our heads all night long without losing a wink of sleep, bc the Hyatt Place had sound proof glass must be. It would be a tough choice.

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