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INTERCOT > Interactive > INTERCOT Insider Archive > INTERCOT Insider

INTERCOT Insider
Disney Newsletter

Brought to you by INTERCOT's network of sites:
INTERCOT - Walt Disney World Inside & Out
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<<Introduction>>

Summer may feel right around the corner, but another INTERCOT Insider has already landed in your mailbox hot off the presses.  In this edition we check out the latest Disney Deals, take a look at Star Wars Weekends, get the latest Walt Disney World News, and take an in-depth look at Disneyland to celebrate the kick-off of the 60th Annivesary.  Hang on to them hats and glasses, cause this here's the most informative ride on the internet!

<<Disney Deals>>

with Magical Journeys Travel Agency

 

-- Fall into Free Dining-

Get a free dining plan when you purchase a non-discounted Walt Disney travel company package that includes park hopper or water parks.  Arrival window is August 28 to October 2, October 25 to the 31st, November 8 to 19th, December 15 to the 21st. Offer excludes villas a grand Floridian, Polynesian villas and bungalows, Baylake tower, mermaid rooms, movies and both French quarter And Riverside ( for select dates). Booking window is open now through July 10, 2015. Contact INTERCOT's Official Travel Agency - Magical Journeys today to book your vacation!

>>Details and Discussion

>>Contact Magical Journeys Today!

 

<<May an INTERCOTee Be with You>>

INTERCOT was live on social media earlier this month with a detailed look at the kick-off to Star Wars Weekends at Disney's Hollywood Studios.  From the new Rebel Hanger to classic Star Wars characters; the 2015 event is a Galactic Gala not to be missed.

In case you missed these updates or if you just want to take a look back, check out INTERCOT's Facebook:

>> Star Wars Weekends 2015 Album

<<Our California Adventure with faline>>

We recently had the pleasure of spending a week in California. This was our third visit to the original Disney park with the most recent visit before this one occurring ten years earlier.

Travel/Transportation:
We live on the East Coast so heading to California is a long trip. Although pricier than I had hoped, we had a direct flight from Boston to Los Angeles with a direct, return flight from San Diego to Boston. We flew on Jet Blue which has become my favorite airline and did pay extra for the additional leg room seats. If it’s in your budget, I would recommend direct flights (less hassle) and the extra legroom (much more comfortable).

To get from the airport to our Disneyland resort, we used a car service which had been recommended by others on Intercot. The Disney web site suggests using Disney Express, a bus service, which I looked into and found the prices to be $30 per person one way. It also appears the bus runs on a fixed schedule which could entail a rather long wait for the next scheduled bus. For the car service, we were met upon arrival by a driver who had already secured a cart for our bags and would have made a grocery stop for us if we had requested it. The cost, including gratuity was $95 – only $35 more than the bus would have cost but, for us, worth the personalized service and quick transport.

While at Disneyland, we got to ride the monorail for the first time ever. We took the monorail from the Disneyland park to Downtown Disney. That same day, we also rode from Downtown Disney back to the park. If you do this, be aware you have to have park tickets and show them in order to get on the monorail in Downtown Disney. This is because the monorail station is inside the park when you exit.

Because we were spending a few days in the San Diego area, we had reserved a rental car through Alamo which is located in Downtown Disney. It was very easy to walk over to the rental car location and pick up our reserved car which was parked in a parking lot just beyond the rental office.

Accommodations:
As Disney Vacation Club members, I had reserved a studio at the Grand Californian right at our seven month window. I was delighted that I did not have any difficulty in booking this as I have heard that it can often be difficult to book this resort at the seven month mark. When booking, we were not given a choice of views – only of the type of accommodation you are requesting. Our room was not ready when we arrived and we were texted with our room information a few hours later. Our reservation is for four nights.

The Grand Californian is quite impressive in the style of Wilderness Lodge and/or Animal Kingdom Lodge. The public spaces are large with plenty of places to lounge. There is a fireplace in one alcove and also one in a lounge around the corner from the main lobby.

We are assigned to Room 2504 which is a typical vacation club studio room. The bed is queen size and, while I do prefer having a king, we can make do. We have a balcony and a view over California Adventure. From our room, we can see the ferris wheel, California Screaming and a few other rides. During our stay, we enjoy the sights and sounds from our balcony. We can hear the folks who are riding the Goofy coaster (this ride is not wholly visible to us as there are trees blocking our view) scream. When the park closes, the absence of screams makes it a bit eerily silent. We were also able to see many of the effects from World of Color and I saw many of the floats from the California Adventure parade – all from our balcony.

We made it to the pool one afternoon. I found the pool water to be extremely chilly!! One quick chilly, plunge and I was done with that. I spent the majority of my time in, or around the hot tub, which is huge!!

Unlike other trips to Disneyland, we did not spend any time at all at Disney’s Paradise Pier (where we have stayed before and would gladly stay again) and only visited the Disneyland Hotel on the morning we were leaving (We have stayed here before as well).

Park Tickets:
From our Disney Visa card, we had accumulated enough points to pay for our park tickets. Before our arrival, I ordered a Disney Rewards card and transferred the right amount of money needed to pay for our 4-day park hopper passes. In retrospect, we did not need the park hopping option and, basically, we did not do any park hopping – the one exception was on our first day when my husband thought it would be nice to cut through California Adventure to get to our destination which was the Disneyland park. This proved to be a mistake especially due to construction in the park which caused us to have to wend our way through the entire park to get to the exit and finally to the entrance of Disneyland. Walking through Downtown Disney to enter the Disneyland park is a much better option!!

Dining:
I only made a few reservations in advance of our arrival and a couple of those were made just a few days before we arrived. Prior to arrival, I had booked a lunch at Blue Bayou and then, just before the trip, added a dinner reservation at Napa Rose and a breakfast at Steakhouse 55.

Uva Bar and Grill – Downtown Disney: Had lunch here on our arrival day. Nothing special. It was just nice to be out of doors after a brutal New England winter which included lots of below normal temperatures. After a late lunch here we are not hungry in the evening.


Hearthstone Lounge – Grand Californian: One evening, we had drinks here while sitting near the fireplace. Cute spot and quite relaxing. This spot offers continental breakfast in the morning. Nothing huge – think muffins, Danish, coffee etc. Still it’s a relaxing spot for breakfast if you’re looking for something quick. One evening, we stopped here quite late (close to 10) and found the place to be really hopping. We ordered a flatbread and drinks which hit the spot for us.


La Brea Bakery – Downtown Disney: We hax croissant breakfast sandwiches here – so huge we could easily have shared one – especially since each sandwich is also served with breakfast potatoes!


Blue Bayou – Disneyland Park: We have a lunch reservation at this location. Although it has gotten mixed reviews, this turns out to be my favorite meal of the trip. We also enjoyed that we were seated right up front and could watch the boats from the Pirates ride glide by us while we dined. My husband had the Monte Christo sandwich and I had a steak. Food and service were both excellent.


House of Blues – Downtown Disney: If you dined at the House of Blues anywhere else, you know the menu and food. I had a Shrimp Po Boy while Gene had a burger. The biggest draw was the ability to eat outside in pleasant weather.


Carnation Café – Disneyland Park: Made a lunch reservation for this spot on the same day we dined there. We requested outdoor seating which was granted. I had a turkey sandwich while Gene had a burger. Both were good. This location is a favorite and I’m glad we stopped here again.


Napa Rose – Grand Californian: This is a Disney signature restaurant. We dined here once before (10 years earlier) and I actually found that first experience to be better than this most recent one. However, that impression may be colored by not feeling well on the evening we dined here. We shared an appetizer for two which includes shrimp with beans, pork ribs with noodles, and chicken with corn. For dinner, we both order the filet mignon which is quite yummy. My husband had a strawberry dessert while I opted for a specialty coffee. I had a misunderstanding with the server over my coffee and was initially delivered a cold coffee. This is quickly rectified and I am happy.


Steakhouse 55 – Disneyland Hotel: Having not spent any time “across the street” at the Disneyland Hotel this trip, we get a little turned around on our walk over there but finally get to our destination only to find that I’ve messed up on the time of our reservation and we should have been there earlier. It’s all good, though, and we are quickly seated. This restaurant is lovely, and the service and food are good but I am still not feeling well so do not eat much. I had ordered eggs benedict which were excellent. I don’t recall what my husband ordered but he ate it with relish. I wish I had made a dinner reservation at this location.

Parks:

We enjoyed both parks. While we were there, fastpass as we used to know it at Disney World was still in use though we did not use fastpasses often. Most of the lines were 20 minutes or so – at least for the rides we wished to experience. A few were a bit longer. One thing that was quite notable to us was that it seemed park visitors were nicer and more patient than what we have experienced in Florida. People waited patiently in line. We saw very few instances of possible “line cutting” while we often see this in Florida. I’m not sure what causes this difference. The only thought I had was that Florida tends to get a lot of infrequent or single time visitors from all over the world while California tends to get more folks who live locally and visit often so don’t have the same sense of urgency in getting on the rides.

During our park time, we greatly enjoyed experiencing the rides that are unique to California and/or no longer exist in Florida. I’ll mention some of my impressions here though this does not cover all the rides/attractions we experienced.


Pinocchio’s Daring Journey: Well worth a ride
Snow White’s Scary Adventure: Different than the former ride in Disney World but certainly worthwhile.
Casey Jr. Circus Train: Cute, but don’t wait on line for this one unless it’s a must do for a toddler with you.
Alice in Wonderland: Love this ride!! Wish they would transplant it to Florida. No wonder it seems to attract longish lines.
Storybook Land Canal Boats: Again, cute, but I wouldn’t wait on a long line for this one and you see many of the same things while on the Casey Jr. Circus Train.
Roger Rabbit Ride: Fun
Finding Nemo Submarine: As a long time fan of the former 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea ride, I really wanted to ride this. It did not disappoint. It is a mixture of scenes reminiscent of the old 20,000 Leagues ride along with the Finding Nemo ride in Disney World in which you ride through the attraction in a clam shell instead of a submarine
Space Mountain: I’m not a big fan of Space Mountain in Disney World – one ride per trip is more than enough for me but I LOVE this version. It is so smooth a ride!!
Pirates and Haunted Mansion: These rides, of course, are must sees!
Autopia: Again, don’t wait on a long line here unless you are with a child for whom it is a must do.
Indiana Jones: We didn’t get fast passes and this was one of our longer waits. In my book, it’s just an okay ride.
Enchanted Tiki Room: This show is a long standing favorite of mine. One thing of note, is that the stand that serves Dole Whips has two lines – one out on the pathway outside the show entrance and one inside the waiting area for the show (The line inside the show area seems to be shorter than on the other side). Also of note, folks are encouraged to bring their Dole Whips into the show with them. Seating in this show is far more uncomfortable than in Florida. Sit in the back where the seating has higher backs you can lean against.
Carsland: Wow!! I’m impressed!! Do not miss this area of the park!! Make sure you ride Radiator Springs Racers!! It’s sort of like Test Track with a Cars theming though much more of it takes place outside and you are matched up with another car for a “race”. We only got to do this once. Hint: Go get fast passes before you get on line for your first ride. Even getting on line at park opening means you will be in a long line!!
Monsters Inc: This ride was having mechanical troubles. It was closed when we arrived. We got on the moment it reopened but some of the effects were not working while we were on the ride and it was already closed again as we exited. From a past trip, I know this is a worthwhile destination.
World of Color: We got fastpasses for this. Hint – getting a fastpass for this show does not interfere with your ability to get any other fastpasses in the park. The show was quite good and I’m glad we took the time to see it but I would not rush back. The concept is similar to Fantasia using water as screens for the show. There are some sections of the performance in which fire in incorporated into the show and that is pretty cool. The show is also quite lengthy – longer than I expect it to be.

Beyond Disneyland:

 

Following our stay at the Grand Californian, we rented a car and headed south to San Diego – Coronado to be more precise. Here we spent three nights at the Del Coronado – a very impressive old hotel. I’ve heard the Grand Floridian was modeled on this resort. The resemblance is quite noticeable. We have an ocean view room located in the old section of the hotel which was built in 1888. The room is huge and includes a king bed and walk in closet. We don’t have a balcony but do have huge windows that open, letting in refreshing breezes.

Touring:
USS Midway: We spent one full day exploring the USS Midway, a retired aircraft carrier which is now a floating museum in San Diego. You can wander through the ship on a self-guided tour (You receive headphones as part of your admission price). There are many airplanes on board to view and learn about. There is also a guided tour through the bridge of the vessel.


San Diego Zoo: Another full day was spent at the San Diego Zoo. The zoo is much hillier than I expected but a number of transportation options are available for getting around including buses which circle the zoo and have set stops; escalators; and a tramway. We paid extra for a bus tour which we took first thing. It helped us learn the layout of the zoo how to organize our visit. Favorites from the visit include the koala bears, polar bear, sun bear and pandas. Hmmm – you’d think they only had bears!! They actually have a wide variety of animals here.


Balboa Park: The San Diego Zoo is located right at Balboa Park. These grounds are beautiful and I wish we had time to fully explore. As it was, we went to a restaurant located in Balboa Park for lunch on our zoo day. There are a number of museums and shops on the grounds – all of which seem quite interesting though we did not get to do any of them.


Walks along the beach: Since the Del Coronado is an ocean front resort, you have quick access to the beach. It’s a really large beach. You can take long walks on the sand or along the sidewalk.

Dining:
Most of our dining in the San Diego area was “on the fly”. Of note:
Sun Deck – Del Coronado: We were there on the weekend and this location was “hopping”. It was hard to find a seat without walking up and down a couple of times. We had lunch here on our arrival day – quite yummy. On our last evening, we were able to score seating by a fire pit and enjoyed relaxing with drinks around the fire.


Bluewater Grill – Coronado: Located just down the street (walking distance) from the Del, we had an excellent meal here. This location used to be part of the hotel and is built in the same style as the restaurant but is now independent from the Del Coronado. It’s located on a marina with very nice water views. Service and food were excellent and we would return here in a heartbeat!!


Prada Restaurant – Balboa Park: This spot was recommended to us and I am glad we went even if just for the walk through Balboa Park to get here. It is a charming restaurant with indoor and patio seating. We ate on the patio. We each had burgers and fries. The quantity of fries served to one could easily have fed three and the burger was quite large as well.

We could have easily spent another week (or more) in the Coronado/San Diego area and still have left wishing we had more time!!


<<INTERCOTee News Reel>>

The news reel just unrolled three big changes coming to the Walt Disney World resort.  From more new venues at Disney Springs, to an expansion at the Wilderness Lodge, to Brunch at Chef Mickey's; it's been a busy couple days in the INTERCOT News Room.

Get more details and join in the discussion on these two refurbishments on the INTERCOT discussion boards:

>> 8 New Stores & 5 New Restaurants Announced for Disney Springs

>>Permits Reveal Expansion Plan for Disney's Wilderness Lodge

>>Chef Mickey's to Offer Brunch Beginning 5/31/15

<<Conclusion >>

As many start to prepare for the Holiday Road, this edition is on its way out. Whether this edition has given you reasons to hit up Walt Disney World for Star Wars Weekends running now through June 15th or experience Disneyland for their 60th Celebration kicking off May 22nd, we hope it's given you some great ideas for an early Summer Disney trip! We'll be back in a few weeks with more great tips, news, and deals.  See ya real soon!

<< Thank You To Our Sponsors! >>

The INTERCOT Insider and INTERCOT.com are supported by the following sponsors who in turn, help us bring the Magic to you!

All Star Vacation Homes
Website: Vacation Home Details Here
Choose from the finest selection of vacation homes and condos in the closest locations to Walt Disney World.

Magical Journeys
Website: http://www.yourmagicaljourneys.com
INTERCOT's Official Travel Agency.  An unconventional Travel Agency for the unconventional client, Magical Journeys is dedicated to finding the best pricing for your next magical journey. We work hard to save you money, and still give you the quality service you deserve.

The Official Ticket Center
Website: Buy & Price Tickets Now!
The Official Ticket Center is Walt Disney World's, Universal Studios and Sea World's #1 guest service provider for the last 3 years. The Official Ticket Center sells tickets only, at a discount price.

Quicksilver Tours & Transportation
Website: http://www.quicksilver-tours.com
Our drivers are the first personal contact you have when you arrive in Orlando.  No other transportation company goes to the lengths we do to ensure that your trip is exactly how you imagined it. At Quicksilver, we truly believe there's no such thing as going "above and beyond" for our clients. Instead, it's all part of doing our jobs correctly.

The Timeshare Store
Website: http://www.dvc-resales.com
This Disney Vacation Club resale site offers the largest selection of DVC Resale's anywhere!  They are the number one Disney Vacation Club Reseller in the world. See how easy and affordable it is to purchase your very own piece of the "MAGIC".

Universal Orlando® Resort
Website: Universal Orlando ResortAdvertisement
Universal Orlando® Resort is more than a theme park. It's an entire universe of action and thrills featuring TWO spectacular theme parks unlike anything else in Orlando.

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