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Old 12 Nov 21, 10:11 PM  
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LOU LOU DISNEY
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Originally Posted by Bad Pink Tink View Post
oh wow, you will also be in Seattle in June I will be there the end of June, I will just have one full day in the city. Monday 20th June. I havent booked a hotel yet, I need to do a bit more research. I am thinking about doing a walking tour as I have such a short time there.
Aww we will just have missed you! We arrive Thursday 23rd weve 7 nights there we might venture to Vancouver for the day if weve time, then we head to SF for 5 nights. Ive been twice before to SF so not much planning is needed for there!
Weve so much planned for Seattle so I think itll take the week!
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Old 23 Nov 21, 03:51 PM  
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UPDATE

Next on my list is to sort out travel adaptors so that I can charge my phone and laptop when I am in USA. As I haven't been to USA since 2019, I took this as a good chance to get new adaptors and upgrade to ones with USB ports. The ones I have, I have gathered over the last 10 years, so its time to get new ones. I will bring the old ones to an electric recycling depot.

These are the ones I bought.



As I don't drive I use the bus and underground transport system in LA. A few years ago I bought an LAP TAP CARD and I just keep loading money on it as I need it. The TAP CARD is a pay as you system valid on all bus and underground in the greater LA area, not just LA County.

Even though my last visit was in June 2019, when I logged in, I found I still have $15 on the card. The system has updated since 2019 and there is now an APP so that you can use it on your phone and don't actually need the physical card any more. The flat fare for a bus journey for an adult is $1 and the flat fare for an underground train journey for an adult is $1.75.

$15 is probably plenty of money on the card to cover the journeys I plan to do, but I put $10 more on the card , just for peace of mind.

I also checked out the timetables for the routes I will be mainly using.

For this trip, I don't really plan on doing much sightseeing in LA, so the two routes I will mainly be doing is to Hollywood and Downtown LA and to my friends house.

I printed out the timetable for the train to where my friend lives so that I can figure out on the day which one I want to take. I will have to get myself from Universal to Downtown LA on the Red Underground Metro Line, so its handy to have the times of the bus to work out what time to leave the hotel.

The LA METRO website has all the bus and train routes and timetables, and they are dated, so its easy to make sure that you are checking the most up to date timetable and route. There is now also an APP for LA Metro for real time timetables and when the next bus / train is due.

Any other journeys or places I might go to on this trip I'm not really planning out. The Red Underground Metro Line from Universal goes to Hollywood and Downtown , so on the day I will just head out and get on the next train.

Having done these journeys many times over the last 10 years, I know how long it takes to get to various places, so its easy for me to plan my day and allow time to travel to various places.
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Old 4 Dec 21, 02:55 PM  
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UPDATE

Well this week has been a big week for changes to international travel. The new variant has caused the Governments to re introduce restrictions and change requirements.

USA Changes For International Travel
The first thing at the start of the week was the news that the USA Government would be changing entry requirements. This caused a huge amount of stress and uncertainty here on The Dibb. There were all sorts of rumours , mostly from people in the media and on social media who do not understand the separation of Federal and State Law in America.

On Thursday stress levels started to ease and then when we watched the press conference and heard the words spoken by Biden, there was a huge sigh of relief.

The main thing that Biden announced on Thursday that affects us as international travelers to USA is that we now have to have either a LFT / Antigen test or a PCR test 1 calendar day before our flight to USA. Currently it is 3 calendar days. The change will come into affect Monday 6 December.

This change this does not affect me. I had already planned to book a LFT / Antigen test the day before my flight in January. I fly on a Sunday and will be working right up to the Friday before, so Saturday would be the only day I could take the test anyway.

UK Changes For International Travel
The second thing that happened was that The UK Government changed the requirements for people arriving back into The UK.

This new UK requirement does not affect me for my Christmas trip to England to visit my sister due to the Common Travel Agreement. The UK Government are not requiring people who travel from Ireland to The UK to test or quarantine on arrival.

Ireland Changes For International Travel
The third thing that happened was that The Irish Government changed the requirements for people arriving back into Ireland. From Monday 6 December anyone travelling to Ireland needs to have a LFT / Antigen test 48 hours before the flight or a PCR test 72 hours before the flight. This is a huge change as before now, The Irish Government only required proof of vaccine or proof of recovery to enter Ireland. This new requirement also applies to anyone travelling from The UK to Ireland, even though we have a Common Travel Agreement.

This new requirement by The Irish Government is supposed to get reviewed on December 17 but everyone is expending it to be extended. This new requirement does affect me for my Christmas trip to England to visit my sister. I have booked LFT / Antigen tests for both me and my mom at a place near where my sister lives for the day before our flights back to Ireland.

I decided it is better to be prepared and book the tests, as its Christmas and a lot of people will be traveling that week. We can always cancel the tests if the requirement is not extended after December 17.

This new change for entry requirements also affects my trip to California at the end of January. Thanks to all the Canadians over on Disboards I have lots of information about testing places in Anaheim and at LAX. I have booked a hotel at LAX for the day before my flight back to Ireland and I will book a test at the center at LAX airport.

Yes there is a risk I might not get a negative result but I just have to cross that bridge if it happens. There is also a chance that by the time of my trip the Irish Government have removed the requirement about testing before arrival.

I have to prepare for every eventuality and just be hopeful that I don't need my contingency plans. I know I am in a very privileged position, I am a solo traveler and I work from home. The cost of travel and covid testing and having contingency plans is far less for me than it is for a family with kids.

Dining Reservations

On a happier, more positive note, I made my ADR this week. Disneyland Dining Reservations open at 3am LA time 60 days in advance. 3am LA is 11am Irish time so I set an alarm for 10.45am just to make sure that I didn't get lost in my work and forget the time.

Last weekend I made draft plans for my 3 Park days and my 1 non park day. I looked at menus and put together a draft touring plan for each day, with the times and locations of the restaurants and snacks. I then wrote down a list of each day, the restaurant I wanted a reservation for and the time I wanted the reservation for and put this list on my pinboard at my work desk.

I also double checked the payment card on my Disney account. For some reason, my prepaid currency card would not be accepted by Disney's system, so I added my normal Irish credit card.

The first day for making reservations and I start to go through the process. I log into my Disney account right at 11am Irish time / 3am LA time and everything goes smoothly and I make my first reservation.

I then repeat the process and make my second reservation for the same day. Uh Oh, card declined. Then I get a notification on my banking App to authorize a transaction. I authorize the transaction, then go back onto Disney and repeat the process and whew, my second reservation goes through.

I get the confirmation emails and continue on with my working day.

After lunch, around 3pm I get a call from the fraud department of my bank. They have noticed some unusual activity on my account and want to make sure its me. Yep, I haven't been to America since 2019, so Disney Dining reservations is unusual in my life right now. So I go through the process and confirm, yes thats me doing the transactions. The guy is very professional but I can hear in his voice that he is envious of me booking Disney in America. Anyways he puts a note on my account and confirms that when I make more reservations my card wont be blocked. He also reminded me to make sure to fill in the section for international travel on my online banking the day before my flights, so that my cards wont be blocked by the fraud department when I use them in America.

Phew , thats all sorted. So over the next few days, as each new day opens, I do my dining reservations. I guess because I will be in Disneyland in January during a low crowd time, theres not that much demand for reservations at 60 days out. I was able to get the exact restaurants at the exact times on the exact days I wanted, right at 11am Irish Time / 3am LA time 60 days in advance.

The only change I made to my plans is to switch out Blue Bayou for Cafe Orleans. With all the news of the new variant and the possibility of having to test before return to Ireland, I am really being conscious of not doing indoor dining. I have made 2 reservations for Ogas Cantina. I just had to make the reservations, knowing how difficult they can be to get. Most likely I will cancel them the week before my trip, but I just wanted to have them just in case I am comfortable going there.

OOPs this is turned into an epic update but there has been a lot going on this week
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Old 7 Dec 21, 09:24 AM  
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I might be late on this, but I have just learned that Genie + will launch in Disneyland this week. We are January visitors so I am so pleased about that!
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Old 7 Dec 21, 09:39 AM  
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Originally Posted by Claudette View Post
I might be late on this, but I have just learned that Genie + will launch in Disneyland this week.
Yes I saw that last night This is so exciting, I can't wait. I have my tour plan for each day made, so I know my must dos and what times I will be eating.

At the weekend I'm going to have a good look at Genie, the free version.

Most likely I will buy Genie+ before my trip for all my days. That way its one less thing to do each morning when I'm there and I can concentrate on buying an individual attraction Lightning Lane for Rise of the Resistance, Web Slingers and Radiator Springs Racers.

Some difference between Genie+ at Disneyland
  • It costs $20 per day
  • Photopass is included
  • There is no onside advantage for hotel guests to buy individual attraction Lightning Lane passes.
  • There is no mad dash at 7am to buy individual attraction Lightning Lane passes.
  • Individual attraction Lightning Lane passes can only be bought once a ticket has been scanned in to the park.

Originally Posted by Claudette View Post
We are January visitors so I am so pleased about that!
When in January will you be there? I will be there at the end of January
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Edited at 09:41 AM.
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Old 7 Dec 21, 12:17 PM  
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Originally Posted by Bad Pink Tink View Post

When in January will you be there? I will be there at the end of January
We fly on the 7th but Disney is last stop so we will be there from the 16th.
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Old 1 Jan 22, 11:13 AM  
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UPDATE

Back in Ireland after my Christmas trip to England. This was my second international travel and it was a bit different but still well worth the effort. This time coming back to Ireland we had to have a negative test and a Fit To Fly Cert. The Irish Government do not allow at home tests, so me and mom had to go to a testing centre. It was such a professional and efficient service in the centre of town. The test was actually an at home test but done by a clinic nurse, so we got the unofficial results within minutes. We then got our travel certs emailed within 30 minutes. The tests cost 45 each.

Then when we got back to my sisters house we checked in for our flights. We had to do a Passenger Locator Form on the Irish Government website and upload our Covid vaccine certs to the airline App. I had screen shots of my boarding pass, passenger locator form, Covid vaccine cert and the Fit To Fly negative Covid test on my phone. At the boarding gate we had to show all 3 before they scanned the boarding pass. Then at Dublin airport, they checked everything at passport control before bag reclaim.

Wearing a mask at the airport and on the flight was fine. It was only a 45 minute flight, so I didn't eat or drink but I did at the airport. I double masked and put them back on between sips of coffee and bites of food.

I am so glad that we did go to England for Christmas, as even though both countries are surging with record high Covid cases, I am able to manage the travel anxiety and I am now in a much better headspace for my California trip. The unknown fear of airports, planes, other peoples behavior and general travel anxiety in Covid times has been lessoned now that I have done the short trip to England.

The booster vaccine program in Ireland has been accelerated in the last few weeks, and my age group opened up earlier than expected. Here in Ireland like with the initial vaccine program, the booster program is strictly by age group. The first announcement said that my age group would get appointments starting 27 December, but then 24 hours later they announced that my age group would open Sunday 19 December and we could wait for an appointment or go to a walk up centre. Now this I wasn't expecting, as my flight to England was on Monday 20 December. So On Sunday 19 December, instead of packing and getting ready to travel, I went to the walk up centre. I was lucky I went earlier, the centre opened at 8.30 and, I got there at 9.00am and they closed the line for walk ups at 930am! I had to wait in line for 2 hours in the carpark, but it was fine, I just looked at it as getting my brain back into Disneyland mode

So at least now I have my booster which reduces the risk for my trip to California.

So back to the countdown to California.

Being at the airport was so nice, away from the doom and gloom, and other than everyone wearing masks, it felt so normal. The gate announcements, the people running through the concourse, the noise of the planes, after not travelling for almost 2 years, you don't realize how much you took for granted before March 2020.

Its starting to feel real now, that I'm actually going to get back to California. My check list is getting shorter. The park hours for my days are now on The Disney App.

The Genie has arrived and I've been spending a lot of time figuring things out. My trip planning spreadsheets are starting to be more detailed. I know know what time the parks open and close so my touring plans are more accurate. Ive put in my must dos into Genie and I'm keeping a watch on wait times and Lightning Lane return times.

Lunar New Year and Sweethearts Nites were announced for my park days. For the first time I can actually get to experience some of the special events and festivals.

Most of the trip planning is done for now, my hotels are booked, my transport is sorted, I have my Disney tickets, park reservations and dining reservations, my savings budget is done and currency changed and so much more.

On 17 December al the reservations for Oga's were suddenly cancelled by Disney. I was one of the lucky ones, I went back into the booking system and managed to rebook both my reservations. Disney sent us all a $25 gift card as compensation.

I am most likely going to eventually cancel my Oga's reservations. As the weeks go by, this new surge is really making me nervous for indoor dining and as much as I want to go to Oga's, I really don't think its worth the risk for me on this trip. And especially now that I have the gift card from Disney, it kinda makes it easier to cancel.

Santa was very thoughtful this year. I now have a new wallet / purse with RFID blocking. RFID blocking is important for travel now, as many bank and credit cards are contactless payment cards. I have read many travel reports of peoples cards being skimmed and cloned by thieves just walking or sitting beside them with a skimmer machine hidden in their bag or pocket.

I also have a new carry on bag, a backpack with wheels. I used it on my return to Ireland and it was really handy to be able to switch between a roller bag and a backpack.

I have been building up a stock of at home antigen tests and I plan to test myself every few days while in LA.

I have booked my Fit To Fly Covid test at Boots. The USA Government require a negative Antigen or PCR test taken 1 calendar day before arrival in USA. I have booked the test for 10am the day before I fly to California. It cost me 35 which I will pay on the day. That way I can spend the rest of the day packing and getting ready.

The Irish Government have not said if or when the return to Ireland negative test and a Fit To Fly Cert requirement will be removed. So at this stage I am expecting it to still be a requirement when I return to Ireland. Thanks to all the Canadians on Disboards they have posted lots of information about Covid tests for travel in Anaheim. I have decided to go to LAX the day before my flight and stay at an airport hotel. That way I can use the free shuttle from the hotel to LAX and book a test at the LAX testing centre. The Antigen test cost $80 with the result in 1 hour or less.

I also have to think about the what if and what to do if I don't get a negative test result. The first thing I did was to check my travel insurance. They have updated their Covid policy and I am now covered if I am refused boarding of the flight due to a positive result. They will cover the costs of food, extended hotel stay and any fees for changing flights. However I will have to pay out of pocket and then put in a claim when I return home. I am lucky that I am in the financial position to have access to extra emergency money if I need it.

I have booked a back up motel near LAX with a no fee to cancel before arrival policy. I have booked a motel specifically so that if I have to isolate I can still have access to outside. I also checked to make sure that the room I booked has a microwave and fridge and laundry facilities. I have also bookmarked food delivery services. I booked at LAX airport area because I will have to get another test to return home after the isolation.

Hopefully I will be cancelling this extra hotel but I'm sure most people would not have thought about this aspect of international travel.
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Old 8 Jan 22, 08:19 PM  
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UPDATE

Well the big news this week is that the Irish Government have removed the test to return to Ireland. This is a big relief for me and takes a big stress away. I am not cancelling the extra hotel just yet and of course I will still be doing the DIY antigen test throughout my holiday. Last week I created an account for the testing center at LAX and found out that they only book 5 days in advance, so I hadn't booked with them. I am still keeping my contingency plan, as now if the worst happens, I have everything sorted and I don't have to figure it all out last minute.

I have now sorted out my money. This morning I went to my local post office and got my cash US Dollars. I am doing things a bit different this year, I am bringing less cash but putting more onto my prepaid currency card. Its a little unnerving, having the prepaid card as my main money source, as I'm used to mainly cash in USA.

My friends sent me their shopping list for Irish chocolate, crisps and sweets as well as some items from Boots. I do this every time I travel to LA, and as its been over 2 years since they have been home, I know that it will mean so much to them to have things from Ireland.

On my last trip to LA in June 2019, I discovered Instacart and did a food delivery to my hotel on my arrival day. I logged in this week and checked that all my details are correct and made a shopping list. I rang the Hilton Universal Studios and confirmed with them about Instacart delivery procedures. I will put in an order for my arrival evening for breakfast items and water.

On my last trip to LA in June 2019, I also bought a USA Pay As You Go Sim Card from T Mobile. I rang customer service to top up, but unfortunately as its been over 2 years, the card is not inactive and the phone number has been reassigned. This means I have to buy a new one but thats ok. I had planned to go to Target anyway when I am in LA. I really only need a USA Sim / USA Data in Disneyland anyway, as I use WhatsApp for my friends and family, and as long as I have Wi-Fi I'm fine.

All my plans are starting to come together now and I'm finally on a countdown. I'm actually using my Lindt Advent Calendar as a trip countdown. It makes it more fun, I refilled it after Christmas.

Theres not much more to do now until the few days before I travel, when I start to pack. I have a box with all my travel items but its a bit too soon to go through it. I'll do that next week and figure out any last minute items I need to get.
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Old 17 Jan 22, 06:00 PM  
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UPDATE

Down to single digits

Its starting to feel real now, and now I can officially say this time next week I will be in LA.

This weekend I started on the last round up things on my to do list.

I put the travel notifications on my bank cards. I know this does not guarantee that I wont have issues but at least I have put the notes on my account.

I added my API info to the airline website. I had a bit of a panic when I logged into the airline and saw a flight change notification but its all good. It looks like they have changed the planes, as my prebooked seats have been been changed. As far as I can see, thats the only change, all the arrival and departure times are the same.

I have also started packing, as I will be working for the rest of the week and the day before my flight I have to go for my Covid test. I am packing enough cloth masks for 2 a day and each day my masks will be coordinated with my clothes This wont matter so much for the first week but for my park days, I will be Disney Bounding and I have cloth facemasks as part of my outfits. I am also bring a box of disposable masks and will most likely double mask every day. I just need to buy some Universal themed masks when I get to Citywalk, as I kinda dont feel right wearing Disney masks

I have also been checking the flights every day. With all the cancellations due to the surge and now the winter storms, I am a bit nervous, but so far every day all the flights have been as scheduled. I have also been checking the departures at Dublin airport to see what time US Pre Clearance opens at. Ireland with Canada and a few other countries have US Homelands Security before the flight. This is a separate and second security check at Dublin airport and it means that I get my passport stamped before getting on the plane and that I land in America as a domestic passenger. This is such a great way to start a holiday, and for this trip, it means that my layover is a far easier process.

So now its just work for the rest of the week and then once I get my Covid Test I can check in for my flight.

Goodness, I'm almost there
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Old 24 Jan 22, 08:24 AM  
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FINAL UPDATE

I'm writing this from the boarding gate at Dublin airport, I'm on my way to USA

This last week went fast. I was working all week, right up to Friday, so each night I did a little bit of packing. I use packing cubes, so it was easy to sort things bit by bit and put them aside.

Saturday morning and I was off to do my Fit To Fly Covid test. I had a slight panic attack during the week and did a home test, even though I knew I was clear as I hadnt left my house for 2 weeks, but still there is still that fear. Of course it was negative, but it eased my mind.

I had booked the Fit To Fly Covid test at my local Boots, so I could walk there. It was really fast and efficient. I had booked weeks ago, and put in all my details, so at the appointment time, they just checked me off the list.

The pharmacy nurse did the test and that was it, I was only there about 5 minutes. I didn't have to wait for the results, as they had my contact details. She said I would have the results in about 20 minutes.

To give me something to do while I waited, I walked around the shops but I wasn't really in the right mood to buy anything.

Eventually I heard my phone ping, and my results were in . Negative, phew. I sat and looked at the email for a few minutes, as up until now, I still had that fear of what it.

I walked back home and had lunch and then started packing properly.

One I had the negative test cert I could then start the check in process.

The first thing I had to do was electronically sign the airline attestation form that I had a negative test result.

I then had to upload my Fit To Fly Covid test cert and my Irish Vaccine Cert.

I tried to complete the online check in process but when I got to the adding my passport number, I couldn't go any further.

I rang the airline customer service number and they reassured me that everything was ok, its just that with the new rules and documents, I had to check in at the airport.

The last thing I did was fill in the City of LA Traveler Form

So thats was that.

I managed to fit in all the chocolate and crisps for my friends and still be under the weight limit, success

So all packed and as much of the online check in process done on Saturday.

On Sunday, I got a taxi to the airport. Due to having to check in at the airport, I gave myself extra time, as I didnt know how full my flight would be.

I had been checking the flights during the week and saw that there were other flights to America leaving around the same time, so I wanted to give myself enough time to get through security and not be rushed.

The check in process at the airport was really quick. There was no one in the line ahead of me.

An airline staff member checked my documents at the start of the line and then I went to the check in desk.

Everything sorted, my bag checked straight through to LA and I have 2 boarding passes.

Next it was up to security. Again empty and very fast through.

This is my first flight from Terminal 2 in Dublin since Covid and there are big changes. Theres lots more seating areas, with plugs / phone charging areas and some new shops.

After browsing the shops and getting second breakfast at Starbucks, it was time to go to US Preclearance.

It is a second security check and then the check with US Homelands Security Agents. USA passport holders can use the self service machines.

So now I am sitting at my gate, passport stamped and technically in America, even though I am still in Dublin airport.
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