Trip Report - ONE Amazing Day

We are home from a 2 night stay at the Grand Californian Hotel with 3 day park hopper tickets from 12/26–12/28. Why was it only ONE amazing day? Sickness and inclement weather at home. But still I thought I’d run down the trip for you guys.

Day 1 - We arrived at the hotel at 7 AM on 12/26 so that we could store our bags and get to the park for rope drop. We were met at the car by a bell hop who helped unload our car and took the bags to storage. So quick and efficient! Even though I did online check in, I went to the front desk to request a room with a pull down sofa bed while DH went to self park the car. Sofa bed was not guaranteed over the phone reservation and DS13 and DS16 do not like sharing a bed lol. The front desk cast member was able to accommodate the request, and even said that our room was already available! And guys, the room was INCREDIBLE! It was room 3355 for anyone’s reference. We had a view of Grizzly Peak, and were right next to

the entrance to DCA. So convenient! The reservation was for “woods view“ but honestly I would consider it to be “partial park view“.

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We made it to the turnstiles at 7:30 and into the park at 7:40. Purchased Genie+ right away and we lined up for rope drop at the Adventureland entrance. I had been stalking the Disneyland app watching the Lightning Lane return times since Genie+ became available, and tweaking my touring plan like a thousand times lol. I wish I had paid more attention at the time to each step just so I could share with you guys, but here was the breakdown as I remember it

  • 8:00 Rope Drop at Adventureland
  • BTMR walk on
  • PotC walk on
  • 8:30 reserved Indiana Jones return time for 9:10-10:10
  • JC 5 minute wait

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  • I kept refreshing the app looking for a RoR ILL for between 12-2. Finally got the time of 12:45, went to purchase, got through the payment info (we used a gift card so that took a bit of time) and by the time I was through it changed to 10:05. An annoyance since that didn’t fit my touring plan but we reoriented and made it work
  • 9:15 Haunted Mansion 5 minute stand by

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Oops forgot to turn off the Flash :grimacing:

  • Rode IJ with LL but didn’t book another LL yet. I didn’t find Genie+ super useful in the morning. All of the return times were early, and stand by was so short.
  • At that point we walked over to Galaxy’s Edge. It was the main attraction for us, as my family are huge Star Wars fans and when we moved from California three years ago it was not open yet. Even though we needed to get to RoR ILL, I wanted to get the “full effect“ and we had about an hour so we walked over to the Fantasyland entrance
  • We had our picture taken by a Photo Pass cast member and did some exploring on our way to RoR

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  • 10:30 used ILL RoR. Posted wait was 120 mins. At the time I questioned the $80 purchase, but on the third day DF stood in that 120 minute line (which ended up being 150 minutes) and they said it was SOO worth the purchase the first day. Especially since we had such a tightly scheduled TP. Doing stand by would have ruined the one amazing day we ended up having. Lots of factors to consider there when deciding if it’s right for your family

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  • 10:45 booked LL for MFSR 11:15-12:15. Did some more exploring

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  • 11:00 mobile ordered food from Docking Bay 7. I have multiple food restrictions (wheat, dairy, egg, soy, nut, fish, raw fruit and veg) so there was nothing there I could eat. While DF waited for the order to be ready I ran over to Ship to Shore Marketplace and grabbed a turkey leg which is safe for me. Yum! And DF really loved the Fried Tip Yip and Batuu-bon at Docking Bay.
  • 11:30 rode LL Smugglers Run. Made me and DH nauseas. Did not do my research ahead of time on the different positions you can choose, and I chose pilot. I’m not very coordinated with that kind of stuff lol. Definitely made the wrong choice there! No one chose to ride it again during the trip.
  • Finished exploring SWGE and got another Photo Pass opportunity

  • 1:25 booked LL for Splash with immediate return time. Both boys were soaked and freezing and miserable. What can you do? Tried to warn them :woman_shrugging: DH and I had the sense to stay dry

  • After tap in booked Space for return from 3:15-4:15
  • Had some time to kill until Space so I took the opportunity to wander my favorite land (prior to SWGE that is) New Orleans Square. Mobile ordered beignets at mint julep bar

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  • Space ended up Temporarily Closed and they gave us an anytime pass so we went back to the hotel to let the miserable teens change and settle in to the room before dinner. The anytime pass thing really got my gears spinning though, and here is where I wish I had thought to record things better in order to help out you guys. I noticed that Roger Rabbit was down, so I booked it just to see what we would get with the anytime pass. We were not impressed with the available selection rides and did not end up using that one at all. Wish I had screen shotted what they were though! Once that window expired I booked Matterhorn at 5:30 for return of 7:00-8:00
  • 6:00 reservation at Storytellers. Notified the reservation cast member at the door of my multiple food restrictions, and a chef came out to speak to me before our table was even ready. She took me inside and walked me through the line, pointing out what I could and could not eat. All of the meats were allergy friendly, along with the roasted veg, and she sent a side of plain white rice from the kitchen along with a special dish she whipped up for me of roasted fingerling potatoes with shallots and garlic. It was the best meal I’ve eaten in years! And DF was all thrilled with the selections available to them at the buffet
  • 7:30. Made our way back to the park towards Matterhorn for LL and ended up with perfect timing to catch the lighting of the castle with snow

  • Booked LL for IASW after Matterhorn tap in and went to ride the anytime Space Mountain LL
  • Rode IASW

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  • 8:59 managed to snap a pic with the castle seconds before fireworks started

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  • 9:00 exited the park during fireworks. We aren’t ones to stand around for parades, shows or fireworks. Not our thing we are all in for the thrills! But took a selfie video while we walked so teens and I could see them explode behind us lol. Got separated from DH in the crush but managed to keep both teens in tow

  • After our LL for IASW I had booked LL for Guardians. We entered DCA for the first time that day (did not think to take that convenient shortcut for our Storytellers reservation) and DH and DS16 decided they were beat and walked through to the GCH entrance. DS13 and I rode Guardians (my favorite ride. I like the straight up and down drops) and walked to the GCH entrance. So convenient being right there!! Ran into our first instance of being unable to download an attraction photo pass due to others not complying with the mask mandate. Super annoying. Would have taken a better screen shot of the posted pictures but I was just wanting to get the number to link with the app

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This wrapped up our ONE PERFECT DAY. It truly was perfect. On to the not so perfect next two days lol.

Day 2- I woke up with bodyaches. Did not think much about it, after all we had walked 25,000 steps the day before, had gotten up at 5 AM and not gotten into bed until 11 o’clock only to wake up at 6 AM again the next day so who wouldn’t be sore, right? Ended up being dead wrong but more on that later. Entered DCA through GCH entrance. The line stretched all the way to the hotel lobby. Purchased Genie+ and reserved LL for Incredicoaster for 10:20-11:20. Got to the Pier rope drop area at 7:55. The plan was to rope drop RoR by taking the Pier shortcut but the Pier was closed do to ice. By the time the Pier rope drop merged with the Buena Vista St rope drop at the Cars Land entrance, there were already hundreds of people ahead of us.

  • [ ] 8:05 arrived at RoR entrance. The ride broke down briefly 4 times while we were in line. Got on at 9:30 so nearly a 90 minute wait for “rope drop”. That was very disappointing. We felt we could’ve better utilized that time with some shorter standby lines and waited the same 90 minutes for RoR later in the day. Our attraction photo never loaded on the screens even though everyone had their masks on which was another disappointment.
  • [ ] Went to explore Avengers Campus. Like SWGE it was our first time there and we were excited. Wah wah wah. Maybe it’s just because SWGE was so amazing? But we really did not care for the avengers campus at all. It seemed pretty lame. There were lots of characters around, but characters really aren’t our thing. We like scenery and rides. The plan was to ride Web Slingers but the wait was 140 minutes. We hopped on the phone and looked at a YouTube video of the ride and decided it just wasn’t worth our time. It reminded us of buzz light year but just themed to be Spider-Man. We didn’t feel that there would be much more to gain from it than just watching the video. I’m sure some people will disagree, and I did keep checking the wait times but we never did ride it

  • [ ] 9:53 time limit for LL was up so booked Monsters at 10:10. Not bc we intended to ride it but bc it was down and I wanted to see what we could get on an anytime pass. The available selections were right up our alley! I don’t remember all of them, but Guardians, Incredicoaster, and Soaring were all available options, and those were actually the main three rides we had planned to use LL for on that day

  • [ ] 10:40 rode Incredicoaster with LL

  • [ ] 11:00 stood in line to order food at Cocina Cucamonga. I needed to request some modifications which were not available on mobile order or we would have utilized it. It was a fantastic meal! DF loved the Quesabirria and Horchata. I was able to eat the Carne Asada street tacos, the Tacos Dorados de Papas (which are fried and so much better than the street tacos) and the rice and beans. Highlight of our quick service meals!

  • [ ] Walked back to Pixar pier and went to check out Bing bong‘s sweet stuff. Were disappointed there again. We were expecting a huge assortment of candies etc. but really it was more merchandise and less sweets than even at the confectionery locations :woman_shrugging:

  • [ ] Had planned to ride Pixar pals swinging Ferris wheel, but the line stretched WAY down the boardwalk. Posted time was 45 minutes but I thought that was highly doubtful. We decided to check back later.

  • [ ] Had booked LL for Guardians with return time of 1:15-2:15 but wanted to ride it multiple times anyway so we went back to the other side of the park and used the Monsters anytime pass. Interesting glitch happened there. Even though it was nowhere near 1:15 and I had redeemed the Anytime pass at the scanner, it used the Guardians specific pass and we retained the Anytime one. Don’t know how that happened but it was an error in our favor. Once again, attraction picture will not load in Photo Pass due to maskholes :rage:

  • [ ] At this point, it was obvious that I was more than just sore and was actually sick. My throat started hurting and I had chills. It was chilly in the parks, and we had just got done screaming on Incredicoaster and Guardians so normally I would’ve tried to write it off and push through. But with the pandemic situation I felt the responsible thing to do was not expose other park goers and DF walked me back to the hotel :pensive: DS13 walked onto Grizzly River Rapids 3 times bc it was raining and dashed back up for dry clothes. Can’t say enough about how convenient it was being RIGHT THERE! He could wave at me in the window as he walked to the ride!!

  • [ ] DF poncho’d up and hopped over to SWGE just to walk around and explore some more because it really is so amazing! Posted RoR was 90 so they passed on it. The entire day was pretty much shot, my TP had gone out the window, and they were bummed and reluctant to do anything without me. I spent the time in the hotel room booking rides that were “temporary unavailable“ just to rack up the anytime passes. Because of the rain many of the rides were down. I think I ended up getting them 5. More than they used, anyway. Again I really wish I had taken a picture of the available attractions and I don’t remember all of the rides I booked, but I do remember Roger rabbit cartoon spin and Goofy’s sky school. And all of them gave availability for Incredicoaster, Guardians, and Soaring. Plus they still had the Monsters one from the earlier glitch.

  • [ ] DF rode Soaring and then stopped at Smokejumpers Grill and got a to go order and brought it back to the hotel because they refused to eat dinner without me. Smokejumpers has an allergy friendly burger that I was able to eat. Even with bacon on it! But the bun was super dry and my restrictions stem from an esophageal condition which makes it difficult to swallow so I ended up choking on it after a few bites :pensive:

  • [ ] DF returned to DCA where it had stopped raining. They got themselves a churro, and went to do the swinging Ferris wheel. Then they rode Incredicoaster twice and Guardians twice with the anytime passes. Came back to GCH and got a treat from the GCH holiday cart and were up in the room with me at 9:00, when we tuned our TV to the “fireworks channel“ and listened to the music and the booms in the distance. Thus ending the second, not so “amazing”, day. They were able to check of everything on their must do list of rides though so not a total wash.

Day 3, 12/28 - our plan had been to drive home to northern Washington on 12/29 and 12/30, but we woke up to some concerning weather reports. We knew if we did not make it home by 7pm on 12/29 we would be snowed out and not be able to get home until New Years, and I was still feeling poorly. So we made a plan to be on the road from the parks at noon. Did not happen! DF really wanted to ride RoR one last time but got a late start getting into the parks because we were scrambling to cancel and book hotel reservations and make our plan for driving home. They ended up getting into the parks at 9:00 and missed out on early ILL availability. But TP predicted the expected wait time for RoR would drop at 10:00 so they rode single rider on Matterhorn and then rode Pirates. Pirates ended up being a 45 minute wait. Got to RoR about 10:00 and it was posted as 120 minutes but they were hopeful that time was inflated and we could still get on the road at noon. Nope! 150 minutes. Not even on until 12:30. I mobil ordered them Refreshment Corner hot dogs for on the way out. They said the macaroni and cheese hotdogs are really good! But by the time they ate and picked up a couple souvenirs and got to the car it was close to 2:00. We drove until midnight and then drove all day the next day. Stopped at the clinic and got a (thankfully!) negative Covid test, made it home 30 minutes before the snow started. Currently writing this looking out my window at 6+ inches of snow with a temp of 101.5°. And I heard that they ended up having to shut down the grapevine. I know we made the right decision with getting on the road early, but it does really stick in my craw that we paid for that third day of park hopper tickets and they only ended up able to do Matterhorn, Pirates, and RoR. What a waste! Still, I do have our ONE Amazing Day to hold in memories :two_hearts:

I have read every single post on this forum since booking our reservations in October, so I just wanted to thank everyone who posted their trip reports and tips and tricks. I know that it made a huge difference in our trip!

*sorry about all of the “edits”. My pictures would not load right

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Sorry you fell ill on your vacation. Glad you had a great day on the one day. Feel better soon!!!

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Sounds like an amazing trip, despite the disappointments. Glad you were able to pack so much into that first day! And glad you didn’t end up with Covid! :fearful:

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