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Old 07-25-2012, 08:44 PM   #1
FrankPhillips
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Default DONE! Frank’s Photo-tastic VGC Trip Report (282 Pics)

Frank’s Photo-tastic VGC Trip Report
with 282 Photos!


This is my third trip report, so I’m starting to get the hang of it….I hope everyone enjoys it as much as I enjoy reading other MO’s trip reports (especially the ones with photos). There is a limit of 10 photos per post, so I will need to break this into as many posts as required to fit it all, since there are hundreds of photos. Also, I think there is a way to subscribe to this thread without actually posting in it, if that’s what you choose to do.

Who: Just my immediate family… me, DW, DS16, DD13, and DD7
Where: Villas at Disney’s Grand Californian (then a trip to Santa Monica for a few days)
When: July 2012, only a few weeks after the grand opening of Cars Land
My Cameras: I left my 5DMkII at home this trip in favor of three very small and light Panasonic micro 4/3rds cameras fitted with the 7-14mm, the 14-42mm, and the 45-175mm lenses.

This was our 2nd trip to Disneyland, with the first one being exactly three years earlier in July 2009. The second trip was even better than the first because I felt like I knew what I was doing this time, and I really didn’t feel rushed since we had 3 full days plus two partial days to spend there. And here’s a special note to my MO friends who are very familiar with DL (Cardaway, BRP, etc): please feel free to jump in and clarify where I may have made a mistake… I feel like an expert, but I’m far from it, so your input is very welcome.

I am going to make this report primarily chronological – as most trip reports are – but I also plan to veer off “topically” since I know so many MO’s are experienced with WDW and might want to gain some specific insight into Disneyland and VGC if I make it subject-oriented in addition to day-oriented…so you will see me divert the report every now and then to pursue a particular topic.

We flew into John Wayne (Orange County) Airport on Southwest Airlines.



We had to get up really early to catch a 6:40AM flight from Alabama, but we arrived in California just past 10AM their time, and we were at the Grand Californian around 11AM – so we had half a day to have some fun. Our room was not yet ready (we had requested a theme park view on a high floor), so they told us they would send us a text when the room was ready. The guy who checked us in wouldn’t tell us what room number or what floor it was on, but he winked and assured us that we will “like” it (that would be an understatement). Also, I had placed an online Von’s grocery delivery order for delivery between Noon and 1PM, so we stayed close to “home” by walking around Downtown Disney (see photos below). For those of you who have never been to Disneyland: the two parks, three hotels, and DTD are all packed closely together…it takes about 5 minutes to walk just about anywhere.

















The Grand Californian borders DTD, even to the extent of having rooms overlooking DTD. In the photo below, the central portion is the “tunnel” where you can enter/exit directly the Grand Californian, and you can see some rooms directly above the stores overlooking DTD.



To be continued...

Last edited by FrankPhillips; 07-29-2012 at 10:46 PM.
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Old 07-25-2012, 08:50 PM   #2
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Frank’s Photo-tastic VGC Trip Report, continued…

After getting a look around DTD, it was getting close to the grocery delivery window from Von’s, so we headed over to the pools to hang out until the groceries arrived (we had to be there to sign for delivery of adult beverages, otherwise they can just leave the delivery and the bell services will store it for you, even refrigerated items). While walking to the pool area, we passed the Storytellers Café, which has been compared to the Whispering Canyon at VWL in some podcasts I’ve listened to, but without the noise and food fights.



While at the pool, I got this shot of Mickey’s Fun Wheel through the landscaping and the buildings (that’s the Kiddie Slide at the bottom of the frame):



That is the first photo that I think will give DL newbies an appreciation for the SCALE of Disneyland: it packs a similar punch to WDW, but everything is simply on a smaller scale…it’s so compact…more on that later.

While at the pool I noticed these gorgeous lemon trees – with real lemons - (unless they’ve been artificially imagineered). Those are “pool view” GC rooms in the background.



And if you’ve ever heard of Mandara Spa, it’s at the Grand Californian, and this is what the entrance looks like:



So the delivery guy from Von’s shows up at 1PM and I signed for it all and we got Bell Services to keep it all in storage for us, even refrigerated and frozen items…how convenient. I can highly recommend Von’s grocery delivery because it was easy to set up and order online, surprisingly affordable (no huge markups and a small $7.50 delivery fee – although you should tip your delivery guy for sure), and punctual. And if you don’t order beer, wine, or booze you don’t even have to be there when they deliver!

Our room was not ready yet, so we decided to venture into the parks, starting with California Adventure. As many of you know already, there is a dedicated entrance from the GC into the DCA park, putting you right in between “Condor Flats” (where Soarin’ is) and “Grizzly Peak” (where Grizzly River Run is). This is a great value when staying at the VGC or the GC, and below is what this “special” entrance looks like from inside the park…the green umbrellas are where the turnstiles are, and you enter the flow of the crowd on the far right of the frame:



We took a right turn and headed toward GRR (but not to ride, that will come later), and here is what we saw:





We took another right after GRR and headed toward Ariel’s Undersea Adventure, which we would end up riding more times than I can count because 1) there’s hardly ever a wait, and 2) it really is a very nice attraction. Here’s what the queue in the Ariel ride looks like, and I’ll have more photos of the interior later:



After Ariel’s ride, we walked across the bridge to Paradise Pier, where we found a 10 minute wait for the California Screamin’ rollercoaster.



I failed to ride this last time I was there (2009) so I was determined to ride it this time…and I must say that this is the BEST rollercoaster in any Disney park (in my opinion), and I’ve ridden them all. Expedition Everest comes in a close 2nd, but California Screamin’ is the BEST. Below is where the coaster stops briefly before the “launch”.



To be continued...
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Old 07-25-2012, 08:50 PM   #3
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I'm in. Great pictures and looking forward to more!!
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Old 07-25-2012, 08:53 PM   #4
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Great start! Looking forward to hearing more!
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Old 07-25-2012, 08:53 PM   #5
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Frank’s Photo-tastic VGC Trip Report, continued…

After riding California Screamin’ we walked back over the bridge for our first look at Cars Land. We took the back entrance behind Pacific Wharf, where you have a great view of some of the scenery from Radiator Springs:





While in Cars Land, we saw several familiar sights (as everyone has already heard, they made this place look EXACTLY like the movie):





AND NOW, A WORD ABOUT SCALE. After seeing Cars Land, and knowing that our room would be ready sometime soon, we decided to venture across the way to Disneyland Park. How long does it take to “change parks” in WDW? If you’re lucky, it takes 15-20 minutes to go from MK to Epcot, or from Epcot to DHS…and that’s using automated transportation. But here – in Disneyland California – all it takes is your feet and a few short minutes. We simply walked up Buena Vista Way, out the turnstiles (getting a hand stamp), across the “whateveryoucallit courtyard”, and into Disneyland Park…all in about 6 minutes. That’s one of the great things about Disneyland…the SCALE.





We didn’t have much time for rides, so we just looked around, did a few short-wait rides, and then headed for the Monorail just to take a ride around on it since we missed that on the last trip (2009). For those MO’s unfamiliar with the DL Monorail, it’s more of a “ride” than actual transportation as it is in WDW. There are only 2 Monorail stations…one in DLP and one in DTD. This is the Monorail station (at left) inside of DLP, above the submarine ride:



…and this is where you would exit the Monorail in Downtown Disney, if you so choose (if you don’t, it will take you right back to where you started in the photo above).



Anticipating that our 1BR villa would be ready soon, we decided to head back to the GC lobby to wait. Below is the reception area desks (on the right) and below that are my feet cooling off waiting for the notification.





To be continued...
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Old 07-25-2012, 09:16 PM   #6
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Frank’s Photo-tastic VGC Trip Report, continued…

Our villa finally was ready, and we were NOT disappointed! The view was fantastic, and this is what a 1BR villa at VGC looks like, and yes, I used the 7mm wide-angle lens for these:

















…and here is the view from our balcony:



To be continued...
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Old 07-25-2012, 09:19 PM   #7
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Frank’s Photo-tastic VGC Trip Report, continued…

Apparently there are only 3 villas on our floor that have this view: a studio, a 1BR, and a 2BR. Next door to the 2BR is an observation deck that requires a key card to get into, but I don’t know how restricted it is. My assumption is that it will work for DVC villas and club room guests. Anyhow, here are a few shots of what the deck looks like (including restrooms) and what you can see from it. If you don’t have a direct view of World of Color from your room, this would be a great place to watch if you don’t want to fight the crowds.





















To be continued...
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Old 07-25-2012, 09:21 PM   #8
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Frank’s Photo-tastic VGC Trip Report, continued…

Obviously, one of the great things about the view we had was that we could watch World of Color from a pretty decent angle, and we could see portions of the Pixar Parade that went by several times each day. Here are some photos from the Pixar Parade, and yes, that is an acrobat swinging on the gizmo in Rex’s mouth.











To be continued...
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Old 07-25-2012, 09:23 PM   #9
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Frank’s Photo-tastic VGC Trip Report, continued…

…and here are some shots of World of Color from our villa balcony, and yes, that is fire shooting out from the water where it looks like fireballs:















Isn’t this a fantastic view? I highly recommend it.



To be continued...
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Old 07-25-2012, 09:31 PM   #10
dvcnewbie1212
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Default great photos

Love it! We haven’t been to Disneyland yet, but this makes me want to plan one very soon. I look forward to the rest of the report.
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