Hello! You may remember from my last post about traveling to Disneyland for TouringPlans #Everywhere that I am totally “California Dreamin” (on such a…uh, spring’s day?). Well, now I am back to give you a little more insight into everyone’s favorite subject: budgeting!
What?! You don’t love to budget? I guess that’s probably normal, which explains why I do enjoy it (e.g. I’m not normal). The sad fact for those of you who do not like to discuss vacation budgeting is that it is an essential part of the trip. My plan here today is to go through my experience budgeting for a Disneyland trip, tell you my thought process, and give you some tips.
As you may recall (but probably don’t), I will be travelling with my wife and two children, ages 5 and 3 at the time of the trip. We live in beautiful, scenic Pennsylvania, which, if you have a knack for geography, you will notice is quite far from California. And yes, my wife has to go although “if I didn’t tell her I could leave today.” We will be traveling in early October, specifically, around the weekend of October 11-13.
Last Tuesday I arrived at Disneyland’s Mickey & Friends Parking Structure with my camera at my side. My main goal that day was to take pictures and talk about my time in the park for our Observations series of posts. As I walked from my car to the tram loading area I started my ritual of going through my last minute mental checklist to make sure I have everything I’d need for my day in the parks. Cell phone? Check. Keys, wallet, annual pass? Got all those. After I went through my list I look down at my camera and I got the feeling that something wasn’t right. I stop in my tracks and reluctantly held my camera in my hand as the feeling of dread starts to take over, almost like when you pour yourself a bowl of cereal in the morning and then realize the milk in the fridge has gone sour. I flipped open the memory card slot on the side of my camera and realized that I forgot to take my memory card to Disneyland. I instantly remembered that I left it in my computer at home after I cleared it off for the day. Obviously this isn’t a huge problem for me because I only live 20 minutes away. But what if I was on vacation and a plane ride separated me from my house? I decided to take advantage of my forgetfulness and use this experience as blog post fodder.
The big news this week at Disneyland Resort was the sudden price increases for all park tickets and annual passes. Unlike last year, there was no warning before the prices went up. Disneyland simply closed one day with the old prices, and opened the next day with new prices. I won’t go into much here, but the price increases have had a negative reaction. Also like clockwork, the local media has picked up on it again.
It’s been almost 2 weeks since Little Mermaid ~Ariel’s Undersea Adventure reopened with its improvements. I went into detail about the changes on this post, but now I’ve had some time to really soak in all the details. It really blows my mind that something as simple as a new paint job can make the ride so much better. In my opinion these changes took the Little Mermaid attraction from a simple dark ride, and made it into a future classic. I think people would consider it a must-do if this ride would have opened in the heyday of the Little Mermaid craze in the early 90s.
Over the years I’ve noticed that Disneylanders avoid the park if the weather is extremely bad in either direction. Anaheim has great weather for most of the year, but there are the few weeks when it is either cold and rainy or, like today, very hot. Here I caught Snow White walking through the hub, and no one bothered her. No one bothered her because no one was around.
This was the wait time board at 11 AM. Wait times for the past week or so have been a bit higher than usual because so many attractions are down for refurbishment. Today that factor was hardly even noticeable.
They say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. This is especially true if you are planning on spending a full 24 hours inside a theme park. TouringPlans is here to help! Join us in the seating area of Rancho del Zocalo on May 23 as we help you prepare for the day. The meet will take place bright and early at 8 AM and we will provide snacks like bagels, danishes, muffins, and fruit. Look for Guy in his cranberry-colored TouringPlans shirt.
One thing I’ve learned over time is a Disney cruise can be very intimidating for even the most seasoned of Disney veterans. It’s a whole different vacation! Well, Disneyland isn’t a “whole different” vacation than Walt Disney World, but there are enough differences it can confuse Walt Disney World vets. I know I was confused the first time! So here’s some info which may help you out.
1. Staying Offsite – I’ve said before staying offsite at Disneyland is totally different than staying offsite at Disney World. At Disney World, I don’t like staying offsite. It alters the homing signal and that’s not good. DINOSAUR reference, anyone? Too obscure? Okay, moving on… Offsite at Disney World is too far removed from the magic for me. While I prefer onsite at Disneyland as well, I don’t mind staying offsite when I have to. Some of the offsite hotels are a closer walk to the main park entrance than some of the onsite hotels. Disneyland knows this and is trying to make staying onsite more enticing with the addition of an Extra Magic Hour at Disney California Adventure only for onsite guests. The good news is offsite guests can still get into Disneyland early on select days by purchasing a ticket or three days or more..
2. FASTPASSes Are Still Old School – No FastPass+ yet at Disneyland! FASTPASSes are still old school, rush-around-the-park-to-acquire-them adventures. Ending times are now enforced, but other than that, it’s the FASTPASS of old we all knew and loved. Disneyland also “disconnects” some of their machines from the central system from time to time enabling you to hold more than one FASTPASS at once. If, say, California Screamin’ is disconnected you can get a FASTPASS for it and then get another FASTPASS immediately afterwards. It’s worth a try when you visit! Radiator Springs Racers is always disconnected by the way.
A scene from Escape from Tomorrow, now available on DVD and Bluray
When Escape From Tomorrow — the creepy monochromatic movie director Randy Moore surreptitiously shot inside Disney resorts –debuted at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, it was widely speculated that Mickey’s lawyers would never allow the unauthorized flick to be widely released. As it turned out, the movie was released online last year through online services like iTunes, and (as a counter on their official website attests) the creators have not yet been sued. In fact, the cult film is now set to reach an even wider audience, as Escape From Tomorrow DVDs and Blurays are now available from retailers, and for rental through Netflix’s mail service (sadly, it is not yet offered through Netflix Streaming).
Take a look at the Disneyland side of that unavailable attractions list. That’s a lot of rides down for refurbishment. It’s not like the list is made up of second tier attractions, there are some major rides closed. More importantly some huge people eaters are down, like Pirates of the Caribbean and “It’s a Small World.” Because of these closures, Disneyland has seen some higher than usual wait times thanks to several rides being closed that would normally soak up thousands of people per hour.
In other news the churro carts around Disneyland Resort have raised their price to $4.00 per a churro.
A little while ago we announced that Touring Plans would be spending a weekend this October at every Disney-operated destination. Well, I managed to draw the California-shaped straw, which my family and I could not possibly be more excited about. To hopefully help any of you who are, or would like to be, planning a Disneyland Resort trip, I will be writing a few posts over the next few months explaining our planning strategy.
Since I’m sure many of you are wondering how we at Touring Plans decided who would be going where, I’m going to let you in on a secret: I don’t know. I honestly have no idea how it was determined, and frankly, I don’t care because I’m going to Disneyland! (Ed. – it was based on sending people places they’d never been before plus trying to keep transportation and lodging prices down. That’s why all the FL based people are cruising or going to Vero Beach.)
I have been visiting Walt Disney World in Florida since 1984, but have never once been to Walt’s first park on the west coast. In fact, despite much travel, I have only been to California one time and that was a long weekend for a wedding. My wife and children (girl who will be almost 6 and boy who will be 3) have also never been to Disneyland, making this a very special experience for us.