lost weekenders

May18

The Worst Mistakes We've Made in Disneyland

Basics, BeginnersKatComment

Listen: here at Lost Weekenders, we spend a lot of time giving out tips to make your Disney experience not suck, but when it comes down to it, some of the best advice we’ve got has been learned through our mistakes. While it is the Happiest Place on Earth, Disneyland has a way of surprising you with curveballs that could threaten to destroy your whole experience, or at least your day.

We’re no exception to these curveballs. We’ve been threatened by near-failure many times in the parks, and we’re here to tell about it. So please, feel free to learn from our mistakes - or at the very least, take comfort in knowing that you are not alone!

not eating enough mickey waffles

Not Eating Enough    

Nothing spoils a good few hours like being hangry. Not eating enough is still one of the things we battle with, because sometimes you really have to force yourself to snack in Disneyland (that might come as a shock), because you’re too involved with what ride you’re going on next. Do yourself a favor and pay attention to your stomach, and always make time for a snack, even if it’s just a Mickey pretzel.

Oh, another valuable life lesson to be learned from this one - COMMUNICATE. If someone in your group is hungry, let them get a snack. Better yet, if you think someone in your group is hangry, suggest that you all get a snack. The easiest way to turn hanger into anger is to tell someone that you think they should eat something because they’re being a jerk.

disneyland water

Not Drinking Enough Water

Every time we go to Disneyland, at some point we complain about how tired / achy / etc we are. Nine times out of ten, when we drink some water, the problem resolves itself - or at least we feel a whole heck of a lot better. 

Disneyland is the perfect recipe for dehydration. Even in the winter where it isn’t too hot out, you’re walking at least 9 miles a day under the California sun, consuming pretty much nothing but sugar and salt - and usually a whole lot of caffeine to keep you going. Dehydration can set in in no time!

Be sure to have at least a cup of water every time you sit down for a meal (most restaurants have free water, so you really have no excuse not to). We also grab water throughout the day, whenever we’re having a snack, or just happen to think of it. Make hydration a priority, and your trip to Disneyland will be a whole lot less exhausting!

That Time We Went to the Park on Mother’s Day

Y’all, Disneyland gets CROWDED. We’ve been there at full-capacity days, and we’ve been in crowds so large that we’ve left to drive home early, because there’s no point in trying to do anything.

Don’t despair if you happen to plan your trip at the worst possible time of year. Make sure you get to the park before opening so that you can maximize the limited ride time you’ll have. Download MaxPass so that you can fastpass anything and everything. But mostly, embrace that the day is going to be tough, and don’t try to accomplish too much. Try some snacks you haven’t had a chance to try before. Find one of the many places to get a drink and booze it up. Enjoy a stroll down Main Street. See some shows. Believe it or not, there are still things to do when you can’t do anything in Disneyland.

fantasmic mickey mouse

That Time We Couldn’t Figure Out the New Fantasmic! Situation

Have you tried to get a seat for Fantasmic! (without a dining package) since it reopened? It’s a nightmare. It’s such a nightmare that we were completely baffled the first time we made an attempt to see it.

We got a fastpass as usual, but showed up too late (? Maybe?) and had a catastrophic view. Assuming there were other fastpass entrances (the Cast Member barely glanced at our passes and looked particularly stressed out when we tried to ask some questions), we walked around toward Haunted Mansion and were let in to a separate viewing section. Turns out, it was the dining viewing section, and we wound up having to stand around and hope there was room for us to scoot in to some random other section.

It was frustrating and we were hungry and it was a perfect storm. Do yourself a favor and learn from our mistakes - show up to your show early enough to get a seat, or at least ask Cast Members where you should be going. Also, pretty much assume that your viewing is going to be sub-par unless you get a dining package (which is super annoying). Or heck, wait until the last show of the night and swoop in for a seat at the last second - sometimes that's less stressful. 

That Time Kat tripped on Winnie the Pooh and Had To Go to the Medic

Yes, you read that right - I tripped exiting WINNIE THE POOH. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a clumsy person, so when I tripped initially I wanted to just walk it off because it is super embarrassing to trip in front of your friends (and complete strangers), even more embarrassing to trip getting out of a ride for TODDLERS, and EVEN MORE embarrassing to actually hurt yourself.

Unfortunately, within a few minutes my ankle was swelling, and I didn’t want to put even more of a damper on the trip by, say, not being able to walk for the rest of the night. So we went to the medic off Main Street to get some ice (interestingly, as they asked me what happened and I admitted that I tripped on Winnie the Pooh - did I mention I tripped on Winnie the Pooh? - the other adult in the medic office admitted the same thing), and all was well.

It’s a funny story now and ultimately nothing was wrong, but things can go a lot worse, especially in a place like Disneyland. Just remember, if you ever find yourself injured, there is a medic nearby, and it's never a bad idea to go, even if it's just for some ice for a swollen ankle from tripping on a ride for toddlers. 

That Time We Didn't Check Traffic and Got Stuck in the Grapevine for 6 Hours

We’ll cut to the chase and let you know the lesson here before we begin: if you’re road-tripping to Disneyland, for the love of God, check the traffic before you leave! We probably could have driven another route if we had planned ahead, but instead, our 6-hour drive became a 12-hour one. Being stuck on a highway for 6 hours in the same spot is absolutely no fun, and neither is being 2 hours from home and being terrified that the driver is going to fall asleep at the wheel, so you desperately spend the next terrifying hours of your life shouting out conversation topics like “TELL ME ABOUT THE HISTORY OF TOMORROWLAND” and “WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE TYPE OF MOVING LIGHT”.

Not advised.

Here’s what it comes down to: you’re going to make mistakes on your Disney trip. It’s unavoidable. Just remember that it doesn’t have to ruin your trip. There are a lot of ways to recover (and fast), and you can always ask a Cast Member if you're having a particularly hard time with something. Don't let minor setbacks spoil your trip!

 

 

The Pros and Cons of Staying at the Disneyland Hotel

Hotels, Disney HistoryKatComment

There comes a point in Disney vacation planning when one has to decide: do you stay at a Disneyland Resort Hotel, or some other (far cheaper) one? Nine times out of ten, we opt for the cheaper choice - really, all you need is a place to crash for the few hours between park closing and park opening anyway, right? The thing is, staying at a Disney Hotel has a whole lot of perks, and the more often we splurge and stay at one, the more often we find that we really, really like it. If you’re on the fence, here’s our relatively unbiased opinion on why you should consider the Disneyland Hotel, the most iconic of all Disney Resort Hotels:

disneyland hotel pillow

PROS

Location

Obviously, the main reason people choose to stay at the Disneyland Hotel is because of the location. Being right at the end of Downtown Disney, the hotel is closer to the park than most hotels and the parking structures, so when you’re leaving the parks exhausted at the end of the night, you don’t have far to walk at all.

The Monorail also conveniently stops just a few yards from the hotel entrance, so if you find yourself with no bones and unable to manage to walk even one more step, the Monorail can do most of the work for you.

Being close to the parks has another bonus: you won’t need to rent a locker for the day. Having a locker is great for when you want to shed a jacket mid-day or change into warmer clothes in the evening, but being within a short walk of the main gate of the parks means that you can just drop by your room to change whenever you feel like it. Worth it!

Extra Magic Hour

Every person who stays at the Disneyland Hotel gets Extra Magic Hour added onto their ticket for the entire time they are at the Hotel. Yes, even Annual Passholders. This means you get to enter a specific park per day an hour before the park actually opens, and you can get a TON of stuff accomplished in this time.

Sometimes, DCA is the park that opens early, and sometimes its DCA twice in a row, which can be frustrating if you really really want the best shot at getting on Peter Pan’s Flight. Also, Disneyland doesn’t open all lands when it opens early, which is kindof annoying, but it’s still a huge plus to staying at the Disneyland Hotel.

disneyland hotel aerial

The Pool

Most hotels in Southern California have a pool, and the Disneyland Hotel’s pool isn’t all that huge or special except for the dope Monorail-themed waterslides. The best part of the Disneyland Hotel pool is that it’s so close to the park (see: Location) and also that you can get food and drinks brought to you while you lounge poolside. This brings us to our next point:

trader sams menu

Trader Sam’s

We’ve talked at length about Trader Sam’s, the Happiest Tiki Bar on Earth, and staying at the Disneyland Hotel means you are within stumbling distance of Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar at all times.

Sending Merch Back

One of the hugest perks of staying at the Disneyland Hotel is that when you buy something in the parks, they will send it back to your room. You heard that right - you don’t have to do anything but make a purchase, and come back to the Bell Services desk at the hotel the next day (after 7AM) to pick it up. Did we mention this is free? Talk about convenient.

Reservations

Did you know if you’re staying at a Disneyland Hotel you get access to special dining reservations? That means that even if the calendar for the restaurant you want to enjoy looks booked solid, if you inquire at the Hotel, they might be able to get you a reservation.

Parking

Yes, you have to pay for hotel parking, but you don’t have to move your car at the end of the night - this means that, if you’re like us and drive to Disneyland, if you’re staying at the Disneyland Hotel you can park your car once and completely forget about it. Special bonus: if you forget anything in your car at any time, it’s super closeby and convenient - you won’t have to trudge all the way back to Mickey & Friends for a coat.

Fireworks Viewing

You can request a room with a fireworks view, or you can just hope you luck out. Either way, if you wind up with a view of the park from your room, odds are you’re going to be able to see the fireworks - and don’t worry, the Disneyland Hotel has a special TV channel that plays the music along with the show so you don’t miss a thing (except standing in the cold with the bajillions of other people in the park).

Movies

The Disneyland Hotel offers free movie viewing on select nights, which is both adorable and a great way to take a break from the parks without spending money and while still keeping in the Disneyland spirit.

History

The Disneyland Hotel is iconic in that it was the first resort hotel on the property, and you can’t help but notice the bits of Disneyland history scattered throughout. From the model of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in Frontierland tower to the vintage attraction poster wallpaper in the restrooms to the Mary Blair art scattered through the lobby, you’d be hard pressed to not get swept up in a wave of vintage Disneyland nostalgia.

fantasia gift shop

Merch

Okay technically you can get merchandise pretty much everywhere in the park, but the beauty of the Disneyland Hotel is that you have an official Disneyland merch store in your hotel. Plus, you can get exclusive souvenirs from the Disneyland Hotel itself - down to the duvet cover or the pillows on your bed. You better believe we walked away with Disneyland Hotel bathrobes, and if they sold the light-up headboards we would be sorely tempted.

Characters

If character meet-and-greets are important to you (they aren’t that important to us), one thing that makes the Disneyland Hotel unique is the fact that at any given time, there might be a Disney character wandering the lobby for you to grab a photo and an autograph from. The Hotel also houses Goofy’s Kitchen, a character dining buffet where multiple characters come visit your table as you horf down at least 7 plates of Mickey waffles (just us?).

Bellhops

One of the best features of the Disneyland Hotel (and ok, most hotels) is a freaking bellhop because there is nothing on earth better than having someone else carry your bags to and from your room. Usually we just make Stephen carry everything, but at the Disneyland Hotel, even he gets to take a break!

CONS

Price

This is going to come as no surprise, and it’s probably the biggest con the Disneyland Hotel has against it - the ginormous price tag attached to reserving a room. While not as expensive as the Grand Californian, the Disneyland Hotel is wildly expensive for a hotel, and definitely a treat-yourself expense that’s only worth it once in a while (unless you’re rolling in dough, in which case, good for you, and do you want to send some of it our way to sponsor a trip?). Booking a weekend can be staggering and will definitely eat up a huge chunk of your Disneyland trip budget.

disneyland hotel room

Not as Luxe as you’d think

For the overwhelming price tag associated with the Disneyland Hotel, you’d think the rooms would be palatial, grandiose, and luxurious as heck. Unfortunately, there really isn’t much difference between a room at the Disneyland Hotel and a room at the Motel 6 - except for the light up singing headboard and the hidden Mickey touches and the vicinity to the pool and Trader Sam’s and you get the idea. Really, it’s just an average hotel with average hotel problems and average hotel sized rooms, but hey, you’re really paying for all the other benefits.

Should You Stay at the Disneyland Hotel?

We went a very long time without staying at the Disneyland Hotel. I’m talking years of Disney trips staying at the Motel 6 or the Holiday Inn or whatever was cheapest on Hotwire, because we figured there wasn’t much point in staying at a nice hotel if you’re going to spend all day at the Parks anyway. The first time we stayed at the Disneyland Hotel was a game changer. The entire time we stayed there, we were constantly saying things like “Oh right we don’t have to walk back to the car because our hotel is RIGHT THERE” or “Oh we could just take the MONORAIL HOME NO BIG DEAL.” For us, it is SO worth it to be able to have a nap mid-day or a quick costume change and still feel like we aren’t missing out on the Disney magic.

Should you book a stay at the Disneyland Hotel? It depends on what’s important to you on a Disney vacation. If you’re ok with spending a bunch of money to really feel like you’re treating yourself, then we say: GO FOR IT.

 

 

The Original Lost Weekenders Backstory

Disney History, Behind the Scenes, UsStephenComment

Walt Disney grew up in Chicago with one of his many passions being art and illustration. In his work , he was adventurous, adding synchronized sound, exclusive rights to Technicolor, the invention of the multi-plane camera, and creation of feature length cartoons like Snow White. 

Disneyland Model

After the war, Walt and his family moved and started planning for the construction of a backyard railroad. This along with trips to Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen and Children's Fairyland got Walt excited to build a theme park that could be enjoyed by the young and old alike. 
Sidebar: Having been to Disneyland so much and other theme parks so little, it wasn't until I heard stories from family members and friends about visiting much smaller local theme parks that had many rides, over 75%, that the parents couldn't fit with their kids. Blows my mind. 

View through a multi-plane camera at the Walt Disney Family Museum

View through a multi-plane camera at the Walt Disney Family Museum


One day in 1953 Walt was meeting with an art director, Dick Irvine, at Walt Disney Studios in Burbank. Walt called one of Dick's old co-workers, Herb Ryman and asked him to come to the studio. In all that I've read, Walt spoke with such certainty to these two, non-employees, that they were going to design a theme park as Walt's brother Roy had a trip planned less than one week later to pitch businessmen and get funding and Roy needed a set of plans. Neither Dick or Herb had any prior conversation with Walt about the park, its location or any elements about it at all and were caught by complete surprise that he would be asking this of them. 

Main Street Railroad

Like any sane individual, they denied his request to jump off the deep end on such a whim. Not wanting to be humiliated by being coerced to design a failure of an investment or ruin any possibility of future design and illustration work that may present them. But somehow, Walt persuaded them to make it happen. With Walt being a master storyteller, he painted the picture of each street, land and attraction with words that Herb drew to life. Over the next two or so days, Walt and Herb stretched their imagination and engineering knowhow to create a cartoon-like rendition of what would open July 17 1955.