First time

Shows:

World of Color is an absolute must-see. I have seen it several times and am blown away each time, even if I’ve seen the particular show before (in comparison, I thought RoL at AK was meh). Fantasmic is better at DLR than WDW, though it’s much more stressful to get good seating. A dining package helps if you have the dough. Frozen was great but just once for me due to the time commitment. MMM is easy enough to get into.

Lodging:

I adore GC and you can usually get a “deal” (still usually $400+/night) if you watch 2-3 months ahead of time, or use Orbitz as has been suggested. DH and PP are fun but not worth the premium, IMO. It’s still quite the walk to DLR and the monorail can get choked if you want to RD. If you are staying offsite, choose one of the new Marriott hotels (Fairfield/Courtyard) on Harbor Blvd or one of the other Harbor hotels - MUCH closer than any comparative good neighbor.

Attractions:

For a WDW veteran, I recommend you definitely check out RSR, Incredicoaster, IJ, and PotC.

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I am in the off property camp but that is mostly to be able to get in more trips. Plus we never schedule any downtime in the hotel/pools so really the room is just a place to crash and the DLR onsite hotels are quite a premium when we will be spending all our waking hours in the parks AND most of the offsite hotels we frequent are much closer than DLH or PPH and with younger kids it has been so convenient to roll out and 6 minutes later be in the respite of our hotel room away from crowds and in the AC.

However, the 2 trips we have done onsite stays once each to DLH and PPH have been full of magic. The DLH is definitely my favorite for the history & grounds. The Grand Californian’s location just can’t be beat and the lobby is astounding but bc of the astronomical price, we’ve never been able to convince ourselves to splurge. The PPH can be a mixed bag. There isn’t much to the hotel in the way of restaurants and nothing in the way of any kind of grounds (the pool is on a rooftop on the 3rd floor & everything around it is a parking lot or a busy road), plus the elevators can be a nightmare if staying on a lower floor.

However, our one PPH stay was in a theme park room and at check-in we were upgraded to a 1 bedroom suite on the 10th floor. The VIP feel of having that room and the gorgeous view of the pier in DCA was worth every dollar. We watched WOC in our pjs eating popcorn we’d bought on our way out of the park and when we stayed it was one of the last runDisney events in DLR and we awoke to the pier lit up & rides running (empty) for the racers who were out on the course already & it was just more magic.

So in sum, if in budget, spring for the on-site magic. But if you need to be more budget conscious then there are many great offsite recommendations I can give. Regardless of onsite or off I would NOT try to come in from LA but would make sure you were somewhere in walking distance. Parking at DLR is a bit of a mad-house & only expected to be compounded with the opening of SWGE at the end of this week with no relief coming until the new parking structure is completed (but not expected until July).

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Looks like your thinking is right in line with mine as far as shows. If time allows I will try to see Frozen but I think it will be ok if we give it a pass.

I am currently on a wait list for GC so I am hoping that works out. If not then I will pursue the Orbitz route. It is only 2 nights so why not stay there?

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Forgot Dining:

  • For QS, Corn Dog Castle in DCA is my favorite, if you like hand-dipped corn dogs. :slight_smile: Cocina Cucamonga on Pacific Wharf and Hungry Bear in Critter Country are our other standbys. Pizza Planet is decent as well.
  • I haven’t tried them but Lamplight Lounge and Carthay Circle get high marks from friends.
  • River Belle Terrace is my favorite full service in DL. Blue Bayou’s ambiance can’t be beat and is worth trying, but the food quality wasn’t as good as I was hoping. It was closer to Red Lobster than Ruth’s Chris. (I wasn’t really expecting it to be that good, but you sure pay as if it were!)
  • Food is much better at DD and is much more accessible from the parks than DS at WDW. Try Naple’s for excellent Italian-style pizza. I hear Black Tap and Ballast Point are good as well.
  • Don’t forget beignets at Jazz Kitchen in DD or Mint Julep Bar in NOS! Much better than the POFQ.
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Thanks for all the great insight! I just waitlisted 2 nights at the GC using my DVC points. I may make a back-up reservation at a nearby hotel, or a DLR hotel, or keep searching for rates to drop. Any of these will be super options since I’m not aiming at maximizing, since this will be a first trip. I honestly think I will be happy walking around as actually riding (no, not really!).

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Even if you don’t stay at DLH, try to head over to have a drink (trader Sam’s) and explore the grounds and the lobbies of each of the Towers. It is like a mini museum.

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Thanks!

Has anyone tried to rent DVC points to stay at the GC? How much does it come to when all is said and done?

There is a calculator on the rental co sites, but I haven’t actually rented them.

Here is the cost calculator at David’s:

https://www.dvcrequest.com/cost-calculator.asp

I couldn’t believe my eyes - during the off season you can get a studio for less than $300/night. I will have to do that next time. They recommend booking 10 months in advance though.

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