Cruise with Disney and DLR for Grownups

Deluxe Ocean view Stateroom on the Disney Wonder.

Deluxe Ocean view Stateroom on the Disney Wonder.

If you have ever wanted to go on a Disney cruise, you've probably looked at the prices and decided not to go,  because Disney cruises can be pricey. (I'm not sure anything Disney does is cheap, but you can be sure, they usually do it RIGHT!)

Well, here's your chance to go on a Disney cruise at the lowest price per day that you'll find for awhile. The Disney Wonder leaves from San Diego on May 17 and arrives in Vancouver, British Columbia on May 22.  In between these ports, you'll have three days at sea and one day in San Francisco.  All for about $1000 per person. See this page (showing prices for 2 people in a stateroom) for more basic information (and to compare the cost with other similar length Disney cruises. For example, the 5-day Baja cruise to Mexico is $400 more per person).

Now, before you dimiss the idea of a Disney cruise to Vancouver, consider several things.

1. The ship is beautiful (and just got back from being refurbished). The Disney Wonder has just returned (in October 2016) from a 3-month dry-dock in Spain, where all sorts of big improvements were completed. The Disney Cruise Line blog says that the ship was "reimagined." Take a look at these photos published in a USA today article.  The ship is mostly Art Deco, and the Adults-only areas have received some serious refurbishments.

2. It's all you can eat. Now before you think "Oh, no. Not another Vegas-style buffet,"  just remember that all the food is included (with a few exceptions). If you want two appetizers, just order them. Or two desserts, then go crazy. Almost every place you can get food on this ship is included in the price of the cruise. Even room service is included, if you decide you'd rather watch Disney movies all day and not leave your stateroom.  

3. You can bring your own wine. Each adult can bring one bottle of wine on the ship. You won't be able to drink it in the public areas, but you can bring it with you to dinner in the main dining rooms only. The ship will charge a $25 corking fee per bottle.

4. Adults-only areas. The Quiet Cove pool is reserved for passengers 18 years and older. There's also an adults-only bar and coffee shop next to this pool. And a special Adults-only Italian restaurant that I've read is AWESOME in many websites and blogs.

5. The deck chairs. All of the deck chairs are teak with comfy cushions.

6. Fitness. With all that food, you might feel the need to burn off some of it. The Wonder has a full gym, various fitness classes, and, of course you can always do laps around the deck. And take the stairs to the buffet instead of the elevator.

Of course, there's more. This video provides a lot of good information about the ship (it's beautiful!), dining, activities and other features adults would enjoy. 

 

Saving Money at DLR: $50/day tickets for Southern California Residents

UPDATED April 16, 2017

Nope, the Southern California Resident ticket prices aren't as low as these old, old ticket book prices. But hey, we get to ride on ALL the rides as many times as we want without buying more E Tickets.

Nope, the Southern California Resident ticket prices aren't as low as these old, old ticket book prices. But hey, we get to ride on ALL the rides as many times as we want without buying more E Tickets.

Yes, you read that correctly: you can get tickets to DLR for $50 per day (actually, it's $49.67) for one park. And for $63 per day, you can go to both parks in one day!

You can buy a three-day ticket with one of the following choices:

  • 3-day ticket with choice of one park per day for $149 
  • 3-day Park Hopper ticket for $189 

The Southern California Resident tickets include one Magic Morning early entry to Disneyland park, letting you in (on specific days) one hour before the park opens to the general public.

The 3-day Southern California Resident tickets must be purchased by May 22, 2017. Tickets expire after May 25, 2017. There are specific dates blocked out, which can be found on the Disneyland website (see link below). 

You DO NOT need to use the ticket on consecutive days, or even within 14 days of using the first day, the common restriction on DLR's multi-day tickets   

You MUST live within specific Southern California zip codes (90000 through 93599) and northern Baja California (20000-22999)  DLR cast members WILL check your ID at the ticket booth if you buy these tickets at the Parks, or at the turnstiles if you buy them online).  

For details and restrictions, see this page.

Smartphone Smarts at DLR

Smartphone Smarts at DLR

Using your cell phone at Disneyland Resort: saving the battery, charging, and more.

COOL DEAL! (A SALE ON ANNUAL PASS RENEWALS!)

Disneyland Annual Pass

a 13-for-12 Annual Pass RENEWAL Sale

Renewing your Annual Pass?  Don't miss this one! Login to your Annual Pass account online to renew using this deal. If you renew within 40 days of your pass expiration date and before November 17, 2017, you'll also get 13 months for the price of 12. Blockout dates still apply, and this offer is not valid for the Southern California Select Pass or the Southern California Pass (sorry, don't shoot the messenger about that last part).  

For more details and to renew your Annual Pass, see this page, where you'll log into your account, then select Annual Passports>Renew My Passport. 

Login screen if you are renewing your Annual Pass.

Login screen if you are renewing your Annual Pass.

Tip: If you live in California (zip codes 90000-96199), I HIGHLY recommend that you use DL's monthly payment plan. Disney doesn't charge interest for this plan.  I think that paying a monthly payment is easier than paying the entire amount. You'll pay a down payment of $95 and then monthly payments if you renew at the DLR ticket booths AFTER your pass has expired. There is no down payment if you renew online BEFORE your pass expires. (And you can renew online, in the car--or on the train?--on the way to Disneyland. A Grownup DLR friend (no, not me) actually renewed on her phone during the tram ride from the parking garage to the Downtown Disney!

Another Tip: If you are thinking about not renewing your pass, but you are planning to visit Disneyland more than two or three times during the next 13 months, look at the various Annual Pass (AP) prices, and then divide the price of the cheapest AP by the number of days you'd reasonably expect to visit the parks in a year.  As an example, one-day single park tickets are $97 to $124; Park Hopper 1-day tickets are $157 to $174. (The ticket prices vary depending upon how crowded Disneyland expects the parks to be. More crowded = more expensive tickets.)

Sample blockout calendar (for Signature Annual Passport) (from Disneyland Resort website)

Sample blockout calendar (for Signature Annual Passport) (from Disneyland Resort website)

Use the calendar on this page to see ticket prices for your next visit, and this page of Annual Pass prices to determine if renewing your Annual Pass would cost less than paying for individual tickets. Be sure to look at the Blockout Calendar for the specific AP that you are considering; you'll want to make sure your pass is good for the days you'll want to go to the parks. You may also want to look at Multi-day tickets, which are also cheaper per day than 1-day tickets.

WARNING: If you plan a visit to Disneyland when your pass is blocked out, the only way you can still get in the parks that day is to upgrade your pass to one that is not blocked out on that day.

Where to Stay

Review: Grand Legacy at the Park

Photo credit: Grand Legacy at the Park website

Photo credit: Grand Legacy at the Park website

This hotel is really close to the Disneyland Resort. Literally a 7 minute walk from my room to the Disneyland entrance. It's on the east side of the Disneyland Resort DLR, on Harbor Boulevard near the DLR Transportation Hub.   

Location of Grand Legacy at the Park: Harbor Blvd & Disney Way (formerly Ramada Maingate)

Location of Grand Legacy at the Park: Harbor Blvd & Disney Way (formerly Ramada Maingate)

After riding Amtrak from Ventura to Anaheim, I rode the ART (Anaheim Resort Transportation) bus to Disneyland and then walked (5 minutes) across the street to the Grand Legacy at the Park Hotel (formerly Ramada Maingate at the Park). The Disneyland Transportation hub is the closest ARTS stop to this hotel. The lobby staff was very friendly, welcomed me enthusiastically, and found my reservation quickly. 

This was a budget trip for me, so I got the cheapest room in the Grand Legacy’s original building ($131 including tax and fees, on the Thursday following Labor Day--dates vary by season, day of week, and during special events at the Parks). The Grand Legacy also has a new tower with newer rooms that opened earlier this year, and the rates for those rooms and suites are $20 to $400 more per night than the "classic" rooms in the original buildings. (I'll stay in one of their newer rooms soon; I'll report back when I do). The room was functional, with two double beds, a nightstand and lamp, microwave, coffee maker (with coffee only, no tea), small refrigerator, large flat screen TV, table and two chairs, and a wall-mounted rack for hanging clothes. The bathroom was small, but ok since I was traveling solo. It had a standard size tub with a showerhead high enough for a tall person. Nice bathroom toiletries provided. Everything was really clean, which is very important for me.

After a short visit to Disneyland that evening, I walked back to the hotel, had a cup of tea and went to bed.

The bed was comfortable and the curtains blocked out light from the parking area. However… if you are a light sleeper like me, I recommend asking for a room above the ground floor. I heard people walking (especially those with rolling suitcases) toward their rooms along the walkway in front of my room until late in the evening. The air conditioner kept the room cool and blocked out almost all of the outside noise. 

Breakfast room, with view to dining patio.  Photo credit: Grand Legacy at the Park web site.

Breakfast room, with view to dining patio.  Photo credit: Grand Legacy at the Park web site.

UPDATE: As of late January 2017, the hotel has begun giving a "Snack Bag" instead of serving breakfast. According to the website, it includes water, a granola bar, cheese and seasonal fruit. I'll report back on it after my next visit.

On Friday morning, I thought I was up and out of my room early enough to beat the breakfast crowd, since the Parks didn’t open until 9 am. However, even at 7:30 am, the breakfast room was full of excited park visitors (the photo above doesn't show them, I know). My table on the outside patio was a pleasant place to enjoy my breakfast. Breakfast foods included cereal, fresh fruit (apples, bananas and oranges), scrambled eggs (maybe it was an egg casserole?), hard-boiled eggs, sweet rolls/pastries, biscuits and gravy, along with milk, coffee, tea (basic black), and juice. I would have liked some yogurt as a healthier protein source, but other than that, the breakfast was good. The to-go cups were great for taking my tea with me, the breakfast room and patio were clean, and the staff kept the food well-stocked.

Unlike some hotels that provide your bill under the door in the early morning hours and allow you to leave the key card in the room, the Grand Legacy asks you to check out at the reception desk. Fortunately, checking out was quick and easy. I really appreciated that the staff allowed me to leave my overnight bag at the hotel while I visited the Park for the day. They promptly retrieved it for me when I returned later that afternoon before my trip back to the Amtrak station.

The Grand Legacy also has a convenience store (Alpha Mart) with snacks, beverages (including alcoholic), Disney souvenirs at good prices, and quite a few other helpful items. An ice cream shop and pizza restaurant are also on-site away from the rooms and facing the street, and several other restaurants (Tony Romas, Denny’s, etc.) are nearby.

There’s a rooftop lounge (The 5th) that serves beer, cocktails and small plates, and I’ve heard good things about it, but I didn’t make it there on this visit.

By the way, check out their website: they have discounts for Annual Passholders, AAA and RACQ members, and Government/Military. 

All in all, it was an enjoyable stay, made even better because of the Grand Legacy’s close location to the Parks. I will definitely stay there again… maybe even next week!

How to Eat Healthy at DLR (resources)

Breakfast

Baked (High Protein) Oatmeal

Makes 4 servings (adult size= 1/2 of each pan).
This is a great recipe for taking with you to the DLR. It makes a lot, tastes yummy, has lots of protein, no added sugar, can be made in advance and is easily adaptable for different flavors. It's part of my "Eating Healthy at Disneyland" plan.  Enjoy!! 
BakedOatmeal1.JPG

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup rolled oats (I use Whole Foods bulk organic or Trader Joe's gluten free rolled oats, too. If you don't have a Trader Joe's nearby, Amazon.com sells Trader Joe's gluten free rolled oats.)

¾ cup oat flour (Bob's Old Mill Gluten Free Oat Flour preferred, also at Amazon.com)

½  tsp baking soda (or ½ tsp Xanthan gum)

1 tsp baking powder

½ to 2 tsp EACH ground ginger, cinnamon and/or pumpkin pie spice (to taste)

12 large egg whites (equivalent amount of refrigerated egg whites works too)

4 servings vanilla protein powder (I use MetRx Protein Plus Vanilla from Trader Joe’s.  Optimal Nutrition Cinnamon Bun flavor (from Amazon.com) also makes this recipe really tasty)

1/2 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix)

Approximately 1 to 1  1/2  cups water (or milk of choice, or combination); see directions

2 tsp vanilla extract

OPTIONAL: (either one; I haven’t tried both together)

1 tbsp psyllium husks

1 tbsp chia seeds

Directions:

1.       Preheat oven to 360°  F.

2.       Prepare two 8- or 9-inch square baking pans by spraying with cooking spray (bakes faster and more thoroughly in two square pans than in one larger pan). 

3.        In a large mixing bowl, use a whisk to mix the oats, baking powder, baking soda, and spices (and psyllium and/or chia seeds, if desired). Set this mixture aside.

4.     Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites in another medium bowl (on medium to high speed) until very fluffy; then mix in the pumpkin puree and vanilla extract (on medium speed) until no pumpkin lumps are visible.

5.      In another medium bowl, use a spoon to combine the protein powder with 1 to 1 ½ cups water--a little at a time, mixing well to remove all lumps. You'll want the mixture to be like a barely-pourable pancake batter or soft pudding. (The amount of water used will depend upon your protein powder. ****VERY IMPORTANT: Use a protein powder that you like, since it really affects the taste of the final product.) 

5.       Add the protein powder mixture to the egg, pumpkin, and vanilla mixture, beating well with an electric mixer (or spoon) until smooth (no lumps). 

6.       GENTLY fold the pumpkin/protein powder/egg mixture into the dry ingredients mixture (use a bowl scraper, aka spatula. .  . not a pancake turner), and mix until the dry ingredients are just combined with the wet ingredients (too much beating will make the dough very tough).

7.       Pour into prepared pans and bake for about 25-28 minutes, checking at 25 minutes for doneness. Top should brown nicely and a toothpick should come out clean when inserted in the center.

Cool on a wire rack. Best served warm; room temp is good too. Store refrigerated in an airtight container.

OPTIONS: Try adding shredded carrots and pineapple for a carrot cake-like taste. I've made it with chocolate protein powder too (I wasn't crazy about it, but others might like it). Bananas are also a good flavor addition.

8/13/2016 UPDATE: Yesterday I made this with shredded zucchini and it was absolutely fabulous! Tastes a bit like zucchini bread.. but not as heavy (and much healthier!).

Save $50!

Do you have something at DLR that you really, REALLY want to do? Whether it's the World of Color Dessert party, the "A Walk in Walt's Footsteps" tour, or a character meal, you can do it for less than full price.

I finally decided to splurge on the World of Color Dessert Party for my trip to the Parks this week. It's been a BEAR of a week (not the Pooh bear type, though sometimes I felt like I had very little brain), so I deserve it, right?

So I went to this page on the Disneyland Resort Website, made my reservation for the $79 World of Color Dessert Party, and this other page pops up telling me that I can save $50 on the purchase in my cart if I sign up for a Disney Reward Visa card right now. It also has NO annual fee. And they can approve the card RIGHT NOW. (The Disney Premier Visa Card has a $49 fee and some additional perks. For example. you get $100 back from the first $500 you spend in 3 months, so if you would use this card as your primary card, it might work for you.) 

So there you have it, World of Color Dessert party for $29 instead of $79! I'll report back on it next time I see you.

PLEASE NOTE: Since you're a grown-up, I don't need to tell you to READ THE FINE PRINT on these credit card offers. The interest rate is fairly high, so these cards are best suited for people who don't carry over a credit card balance.

THIS IS NOT AN ENDORSEMENT OR ADVERTISEMENT FOR DISNEY, CHASE BANK OR THE DISNEY CREDIT CARDS.