Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Busy times ahead

Despite my lacking health and my waning stitch mojo, busy times are ahead.

This weekend is the International Hermit and Stitch Weekend and Rainy Wedding is going home to get some much needed attention (hopefully). We won't be having Needle Club for a week or two while another member escapes the ice for a family trip to Miami (if it wasn't Miami, I'd say lucky duck, but that has never been a favorite city of mine). I'm also gonna try to focus a bit on Maleficent this weekend. I think maybe I'm just getting bored of Alice.

Today is also TUSAL day, but the picture will have to wait until I get home tonight...I didn't feel like doing it last night.

It was also time to sign up for the April A to Z Blogging Challenge Theme reveal. I'm still on the fence as to what my project will be this year (although I have something lined up in the wings), so hopefully by March 23rd (the date of the reveal), I'll know for sure.

I'm also being extremely wishy-washy about Disneyland plans. Vacation planning and Asperger's don't go well together, especially with Social Anxiety Disorder and a massive dose of OCD thrown in for good measure. It's why I love Disney World so much, it's home...I go every year, I know it like the back of my hand, and although there are aspects of planning that are stressful, I still thrive on it. Can't say I've had even one inkling of thriving going on with Disneyland yet, just constant headaches and nausea. My bestie and I decided on this trip a couple of years ago, but luckily Disney World has kept me occupied and I haven't had to think much on it...that's biting me in the ass now.

Problem #1 - Number of days
I can't decide on dates because I'm having trouble believing that five days will be enough for both parks and a day in L.A. I'm aware of the fact that DL is way smaller than WDW, but when half the first day is wasted on travel, an entire day has to be dedicated to an L.A. tour, and departure day means wasted time for packing, baggage storage, and airport departure, technically that only leaves three good park days for two parks. Even if it's smaller, three days can't be enough time. Plus, a Halloween Party will have to be scheduled for one night, one night will have to be dedicated to World of Color, one for Fantasmic, and another night for fireworks, and I'm already over-extended. I know T is not going to want to spend every waking moment in the parks like I will...he's mentioned a spa day in addition to the L.A. day and he wanted to sit in an audience for a show (one of my worst nightmares and I flat out refuse to do either), so I'm going to have to plan things on my own as well. I know once I'm there and in the parks I should be OK (or at least at DL, California Adventure might be a whole different ballgame since only aspects of it are similar to WDW parks). There is no way I can add another day because the cost of of the Grand Californian is horrendous which leads to problem #2.

Problem #2 - Where to stay
My mind is pretty much already set on the Grand Californian. It's close to Wilderness Lodge in style (which means I'll be more comfortable) and more up my alley. The more I look at pictures of the Disneyland Hotel, the more I realize it's just not for me. But the cost to stay at the GCF is far more than I have ever paid in Disney World, even more than when we had a Tower Room at the Contemporary with this view every morning:
The answer to the day shortage would just be to add another day, but there is no way I can swing it at the GCF. It's just way too much money. Four nights in Disneyland is going to cost us far more than 10 nights at Disney World ever would (of course my WDW Annual Pass has a bit to do with that, but still). I've tried to wrap my mind around dropping down to the Disneyland Hotel to be able to afford the extra day (and only just), but I know I would be miserable staying there and, if there is one thing I've learned, at least for me, where I stay matters to the overall happiness of the trip. It may not matter to some, but it does me.

Problem #3 - Transportation Part A - Airfare
The number of days directly leads to picking flight travel days and times. I had it all worked out perfectly...non-stop flights, one arriving at 9am freeing up an entire day, the other departing at 12:45am the morning after we check out so we could depart at 9pm check out day and sleep all the way home. But in typical airline fashion, it has already changed for the dates we decided and they dropped the non-stop flight home. Yes, there is a layover flight that only arrives home a few hours later, but I have enough issues with airports and layover flights push me over the edge. Atlanta is the only one on the list I'm familiar with, but seriously? LAX to Atlanta back to Memphis sounds completely idiotic...leaving Minneapolis. I've never been to the Minn airport which means a whole new set of panics. We could adjust our days up or back, but what happens if those non-stops get dropped as well? Why couldn't we just have driven? But again, a whole other set of problems (although I think I could handle those better...well, other than the driving in L.A. part). There are closer airports to Disneyland, but LAX is part of the "experience" and isn't negotiable, so I have to work around it.

Problem #4 - Transportation Part B - airport transport
We always use a car service at Disney World. It's cheap, private, and a lot more comfortable than Magical Express (Disney's free bus service that is a nightmare in more ways than one). You get a grocery stop to pick up sodas and snacks (saving on those expensive Disney ones) and it's just an enjoyable, relaxed experience. Disneyland doesn't have Magical Express (although they do have a paid variation of), but it's still a bus that you have to wait until it's full of other tourists, you stop at numerous locations to drop others off, it's crowded, noisy, messy, and a nightmare. There is no way we're renting a car and driving in L.A., so that just leaves car services. Can't book one through Disney because they don't do pickups past 6pm (which sounds stupid and won't work for us if we need to depart at 9pm). I've found one that comes highly recommended (or DisBoards recommended, which can be misleading), but, as it seems to be the case across the board at Disneyland, it's twice as expensive as Disney World...more money down the tubes. They do also offer a grocery stop, but in L.A.? How stressful would that be? (although it will be the only way T will be able to have his Diet Dews, so we'll have to do it).

Problem #5 - L.A. Tour
This is the one I'm struggling with the most. Yes, there are things I'd like to see like the Pacific and Duran Duran's star on the Walk of Fame (and that's probably about it), but overall, wasting 10 hours on a bus tour of L.A. when I could be in the parks (where I would be far more comfortable) sounds ridiculous. The tour is expensive and, although I will get to see the Pacific, Duran's star will be out of the question (although I will be within 10 blocks of it). There are some cities which have never appealed to me and L.A. has always been one of them. But, as I have to keep reminding myself, this trip isn't all about me and T really wants to do this (although he wants to see WAY more than any tour offers). I can't back out and I can't leave him to do it on his own. The options would be to choose a different tour, but the only other L.A. one is four hours and they just drop you off to do you own thing. For me, that means sitting at the bus stop for four hours waiting for the bus to return. I don't explore well. Not taking a tour and exploring on our own would be entirely out of the question, as would be renting a car and driving around. What if the tour is interactive? I don't do well with interactivity. How much can you really see from a bus window anyway? And when we do stop, I'll be so panicked at the crowds, I won't be able to see/enjoy anything anyway. It's Boston and Salem all over again, I just know it (long story involving high expectations, overwhelming fear, and extreme disappointment).

Problem #6 - Purchases
For Disney World, when we fly, we ship boxes down ahead of time and all kinds of packing supplies. All purchases are packed up and shipped back home at the end of the trip. This works out well for us. We're handling the packing (Disney is HORRIBLE at packing...although they are excellent at replacing broken items, which they have to do, a lot), and we control our purchases. Driving is even better because you just load up the car. You can also ship to DL (from everything I've read), but I'm not sure I want to. It's familiar at territory at DL. That means I can't buy my usual hoard of merchandise. Again, shouldn't be an issue because I'm not going to have very much spending money anyway (although, I tried to have that philosophy last trip and it bit me in the behind...I must SPEND). But taking everything home on the plane increases the need for a non-stop flight to lessen TSA thefts (we've all been there). If I can limit myself to just pins and maybe a shirt or two, I should be fine, but I ended up crying uncontrollably last trip because I didn't have enough money to buy things. I know the TSA at MCO rolls their eyes when I come through airport security with a large bag full of pins, but how is LAX gonna feel? What if they take them away? Thousands of dollars worth of pins gone? And if it takes hundreds of dollars to ship the boxes back home from Florida, what would it cost to ship them home from L.A.? I can't even imagine. Another notch for driving cross country (but T won't have it).

Problem #7 - Food
Despite the fact that I'm an extremely picky eater, the great thing about Disney World is the dining plan. I can't remember the last time I had to pay for three meals a day in the parks and budgeting it in has been a nightmare! I don't understand why DL can't do a modified plan of some sort (well, other than the crappy voucher thing they have that is utterly useless). WDW would mean an incredible sit down restaurant every single night with carte blanche entrees...DL means I'm looking more at big lunches instead of nice dinners. Food is just as much part of the Disney experience as rides and shopping, so how is that going to work? Plus, DL doesn't do dining reservations 120 days out like WDW, more like 30...again, major scheduling issues! I can't have a final schedule until 30 days before we leave? I will be shitting bricks by then! What am I supposed to do for the next 194 days before that 30 day window? Guess since I can't even decide on days, airfare, or hotel, that's a good thing (although my planning gene is spastic).

I had fully planned to have made my final decisions this week and to have booked things, but it's not looking like that is going to happen just yet. Disneyland is not like WDW planning wise, it's a lot more loose and free and a "fly by the seat of your pants" kind of place. I am NOT a "fly by the seat of my pants" kind of girl. I need to plan for every eventuality so that when the worst (or best) happens, I'm prepared, it's why I love Disney World so much...plan, plan, plan, then plan some more. The more I read up on DL, the less I feel prepared and the more out of my depth I feel. I know I always have to remind myself it's not all about me, but I do feel that the burden of making sure that T has the time of his life falls on my shoulders. If we were going to Disney World, I could almost guarantee it (although, after promising Kate the same thing and falling way short, I'm doubting that ability as well). But he doesn't want to go to's his 50th B-day year and my 45th, we're celebrating and this is as much about him as me. At least I do get some comfort in the fact that I will have a touch of Disney, even if it's not MY Disney. But right now, I would give my back teeth if we were going to Disney World instead.

I don't want to hold out booking it anymore, so decisions will have to be made soon. I'd already have a chunk of the trip paid off and a preliminary schedule by now (probably at least five prelims, minimum) if it was Disney World. Halloween Party tickets come out in May/June, so schedules would be rearranged a couple more times, but a final schedule would be finished hours before the 120+10 dining booking window became available. My little personal itinerary book would be augmented for the current year and ready for publication and I could enjoy the time before all reservations would need to be confirmed. I don't even know where to begin scheduling for Disneyland considering nothing can really be "scheduled". How in the hell did anyone plan vacations before the internet? Oh yeah, travel me, the thought has crossed my mind more than once!


Tiffany Pincombe said...

Good luck, and I mean it sincerely.

Linda said...

Don't keep stressing out about it Keiley. You will get it all figured out.
You could stay at one of the nice motels across the street from DL for a whole lot less then you could stay longer. They all have little shuttle buses that will take you to the park.


Vickie said...

My thoughts on visiting another Disney Park:

1) I think 5 days should be fine.

2A) Have you looked into renting DVC points while you are there? That might lesson the costs. Check out Daves It might be cheaper

3) Check alligent air...I know they fly direct flights from NWA. Just a thought.

4) Does the airport have a small shuttle? I have used those and they arent so bad. Check to see if any grocery stores will deliver which means you don't have to go to the store.

5) I would have him do the tour by himself. Just have do it....

6) Call the airport and see what their thoughts are on Disney pins. I am sure they will be fine.

7) Buy GC at can get $150 for $142. That $8.00 is quite a bit of savings. Plus it will help off set the cost of a meal.

Hope these Ideas help!

Heather said...

Have you thought if staying at a hotel other than a disney hotel? They have tons that are literally across the street you could just walk over. You may be able to find one you're comfortable with. That would save a ton of money. We stayed at the Fairfield inn and it was gorgeous. In that same note there's tons of places to buy food and drinks across the street as well. And it's all safe because it's a tourist area. The reason dl doesn't do dining reservations far out is because a: dl is more about annual pass holders and b: there really aren't that many restaurants to eat in. They're more about taking people as they come. In fact there's only one place I can think of that you need them and that's blue bayou. Airport security will be fine with pins theyre used to it.

Justine said...

Show this post to T and ask if he really wants to go to LA enough to cause you all this stress. Sounds to me like WDW is way better value anyway!

Alyssa F said...

Good luck with your planning. Like I said earlier, long time Disneyland attender here, so if you have any questions you want to run by someone, just let me know.

Here's my thoughts based on this post:

From past experience, I can say 3 full days is usually enough for our family to hit everything we want to do and do some things twice, especially if you're not wanting to do every single little show and attraction (some of them are repeats from WDW). We do Fantasmic and fireworks in the same night usually by staying over in the New Orleans Square area.

It sounds like you're going in October-ish of 2015? If so, I'm not sure if they'll be doing Fantasmic, because of all the 60th celebration stuff, so you might want to double check that. But if they are, with the new 60th anniversary fireworks show premiering in May, you'll get to see lots of cool effects and projections even if you're not right in front of the hub. DL is being very mindful of that as they design this new show.

As far as food goes, our family usually stays in a hotel that has complimentary breakfast, loads up on snacks before heading to the parks, and then eats a large lunch/dinner either in the parks, or slightly off property. There's several dining locations that are more "quick service" and quite good without the price tag. We're going to the Blue Bayou for the first time this trip, which I'm excited about, but usually we hit up Rancho del Zocalo or the Boudin factory in California Adventure, or the Jazz Kitchen quick serve in Downtown Disney for our meals.

The tour of LA, depending on where you're going, might not actually be worth it. I would suggest focusing on maybe a smaller tour that just hits on things you for sure what to see? We did do a tour of the star's homes a couple years ago in Hollywood, that was fun and only a couple hours.

Unfortunately I can't suggest any travel/airport recommendations for you. As California residents, we always just drove the 7 hours it took to get to Disneyland, so I'm no help there.

However, I would second the fact that there are lots of really nice hotels available off property that are much cheaper than Paradise Pier (the cheapest Disney offering). For Disneyland, it's not nearly as crucial to stay "on property" as it is in WDW. Many of said hotels are literally right across the street (again, so different from WDW). Also, many off property hotels offer a shuttle service (especially if it is a "good neighbor" hotel) so you can get to the park relatively quickly without walking. It is good to remember that everything is indeed smaller. DL is probably about 2/3 the size of just Magic Kingdom, and DCA is not much larger, even with the Carsland expansion. They just don't have the room to expand out there like they do in Floria.