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Unread 25 Aug 19, 04:30 PM  
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Wonder on the West Coast

Welcome, fellow Dibbers, to the beginning of another Sear trip report. This one comes with a little twist, as not only are we back on board a Disney Cruise, but were also taking our first trip to the original Disneyland - and were super excited to be sharing our plans with you!

First things first, as this is a pre-trip report, I shall begin with introductions. For those that dont know (or need reminding) the Sear family consists of:

  • Stewart: 42. Designer/creative director and prolific trip report writer
  • Joanne: 34. Teacher turned science/psychology tutor and accomplished trip planner
  • Isabella: 7. Disney veteran despite her age, trip planner/trip report writer in training

The Sear family

So whats the plan, and how did it come about?

The planning actually began last year before our Norwegian Fjord Disney Cruise on the Disney Magic, when we discussed booking another cruise while onboard to take advantage of the discounts.

Having fun on the Norwegian Fjord Cruise

After ruling out a Mediterranean cruise on the Magic due to expensive flights to Barcelona, and then eventually ruling out a Bahamian cruise from New York - again on board the Magic and including stops to Castaway Cay and Walt Disney World via Port Canaveral - we settled on a West Coast seven night cruise from San Diego, down to the Mexican Riviera onboard the Disney Wonder - sister ship to the Disney Magic. The flights to LAX were cheaper than the New York flights, Mexico is somewhere that Jo has always wanted to visit, and I liked the idea of visiting the West Coast as its not somewhere Ive been before.

This will be our sixth Disney Cruise which makes Jo and I Gold Castaway Club members, meaning we got to check in earlier for a better chance at booking onboard activities (including the wonderful Palo restaurant), as well as a 10% discount on the shops and other perks. Despite being Gold Castaway Club members, this will actually be our first time onboard a Disney Cruise ship that isnt the Magic. As I mentioned, the Wonder is one of the original (smaller) ships, and the sister to the Magic - more on the differences between them later.

Proximity to Disneyland also made this an attractive proposition, as did the chance to see Jos friend Kimberly who lives in San Francisco and came to visit us in Walt Disney World a few years ago; Jos not seen her since February 2018 when she spent a week with her.

Taking Kimberly to Epcot, Summer 2017

So with our minds made up, whilst enjoying our wonderful Norwegian Fjords Cruise we found the time to make our booking and get our 10% discount and $200 onboard credit. In terms of what stateroom we chose, we were hoping to book one with a Navigators Veranda - a fully enclosed veranda with a large, open-air porthole - but inexplicably they werent available, so instead we booked an Oceanview stateroom (sans veranda) on deck 2 - the same as we had for the Norwegian Fjords cruise - but with the intention of upgrading to a Navigators Veranda if they became available.

A few months later these rooms did become available, but instead of upgrading to the regular Navigators Veranda we instead book a secret veranda room, of which there are only four on the ship. They essentially have a full veranda but due to it the view being slightly obscured they are priced the same as a Navigators Veranda.

Our 7-Night Mexican Riviera Cruise departs from San Diego on the 27th October, and well be flying Air New Zealand from Heathrow to LAX on 21st October - so well have a full five days until the start of the cruise.

After arriving at LAX well be getting an Uber from the airport down to Anaheim where well be spending four nights, and visiting Disneyland on a 3-day hopper pass (bought from AttractionTix.co.uk).

The stay in Anaheim was originally to be at the Kings Inn Anaheim - a basic motel only a 15 minute walk from Disneyland with decent reviews - but we got cold feet and decided to upgrade to somewhere nicer. After eventually deciding upon The Residence Inn by Marriott at Anaheim/Convention Centre, also a 15 minute walk away, we then changed our minds again, and just last week booked the Homewood Suites by Hilton Anaheim Resort - Convention Center, which saved us 180. Although Homewood Suites is a 20 minute walk away, its around the corner from the Disneyland Toy Story parking lot which means we can get the free shuttle bus from the lot to the park, so well actually save time getting to and from the park. It also has a lovely pool area and good breakfast, with evening drinks and light dinner included, so were (finally) really happy with where were going to be staying.

As its Halloween season, we couldnt resist the Oogie Boogie Bash Disney Halloween Party at California Adventure. Weve done Mickeys Not So Scary Halloween Party at Magic Kingdom a couple of times, and enjoyed dressing up, trick or treating, the characters, and the parade - so this should be a lot of fun. And yes, we will be dressing up... but its a surprise!

Dressing 'UP' for MNSSHP 2015

The Hops family at MNSSHP 2017

Getting a ticket for that on the Thursday (entry from 3pm) means we could either spend our final morning on Friday in the parks or we save it for after the cruise. Initially we were going to do the former and spend the final day of our holiday visiting some of the sights in LA (we even had a hotel booked), but weve now decided to head back to Anaheim after the cruise instead and use up the final day of our holiday enjoying Disneyland one last time. For this final night well be staying at the Fairfield Inn by Marriott Anaheim Resort, a 7 minute walk across the road from Disneyland.

It goes without saying that not only are we very excited about our first visit to Disneyland, and a chance to check out the two parks (plus Downtown Disney), were also excited that well get to experience the West Coast version of Galaxy's Edge.

Hope Galaxy's Edge is as fun as this...

And this

Judging by various vlogs weve been watching, Pixar Pier also looks like a lot of fun (especially the Incredicoaster), and lets not forget all the other unique attractions that we get to visit, including Roger Rabbit, Indiana Jones, Guardians of the Galaxy and Hyperspace Mountain to name but a few.

Eating plans include Carnation Cafe on Main Street USA in Disneyland, the Lamplight Lounge at Pixar Pier, California Adventure, (both now booked as of this weekend) and drinks at Ogas Cantina in Galaxys Edge - we have to wait until two weeks before our visit to book that one.

Outside the parks there are plenty of places close by including Cheesecake Factory, Tony Romas and IHOP, so no doubt well be visiting one or two of those over the few days that were there.

We'll make sure IHOP has enough room for Isabella's elbows...

After our four nights in Anaheim, we check out on the Friday morning (25th October), pick up a rental car from Alamo, and make the 1.5 hour drive down to San Diego for two nights prior to the cruise. This may be where we spend some time with Kimberly (nothing is confirmed at the time of writing), and hopefully get to check out some of the many craft breweries throughout the city. We are planning on exploring Balboa Park, as well as hopefully visiting La Jolla.

Our hotel is the Best Western Plus Bayside Inn; it includes free breakfast, and is only a ten minute walk from the port. We have Puesto - a slightly upmarket Mexican restaurant - booked for Saturday and were looking forward to some Baja tacos!

After a couple of days in San Diego, well be checking out of the Best Western on the Sunday morning (27th October) and heading onto the Disney Wonder for our seven night, three stop cruise.

Leaving San Diego later that day, this is the itinerary:

  • Day 0: Departure from San Diego
  • Day 1: At sea
  • Day 2: Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
  • Day 3: Mazatlan
  • Day 4: Puerto Vallarta
  • Day 5: At sea
  • Day 6: At sea
  • Day 7: Debark at San Diego

Sea days are the best days!

Plans for the three stops in Mexico are as follows:

  • Cabo San Lucas. No real plans here, so well probably just go for a wander, maybe visit the mercado before heading back on board to enjoy what the ship has to offer
  • Mazatlan. Weve booked something called Salsa and Salsa; we get to make our own salsa and margaritas then have a salsa dance lesson at a local hotel. The five hour excursion includes time to make use of the hotel facilities - including a lovely looking pool area - where it is, and access to the Golden Zone shopping area. Cost is about $212 for all three of us
  • Puerto Vallarta. The port here is quite far from the city so weve booked an excursion that includes a tour of some of the sights the city; the waterfront, cathedral, free time to wander, lunch at a restaurant which includes quesadillas and beer, and a piata party for the kids. Cost for this is about $115

Onboard the ship there are so many things wed like to do including the evening stage shows The Golden Mickeys, and Frozen: A Musical Spectacular which are different to the ones weve seen on the Magic. Well also be doing Margarita & Tequila tasting, Palo Brunch, the Fish Extender gift exchange, Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique (Isabella only!), eat, drink, relax, eat, drink, swim, eat, drink, relax!

Palo Brunch

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique

Well be checking out what films are onboard too, as weve been trying to get to see film onboard for the last three trips, without success.

Other differences between the Magic and the Wonder which were looking forward to checking out (as theyre sister ships there are a lot of similarities) include Tianas Place (Princess and the Frog themed restaurant), the Crown & Fin English pub, and the overall different theming - the Wonder is Art Nouveau vs. the Magics Art Deco.

While onboard it will also be Halloween. In fact this is billed as a Halloween on the High Seas cruise - so there will be lots of fun Halloween activities for kids and adults, including trick or treating, Mickeys Mousequerade Party (where everyone gets to dress up in their Halloween costumes, including the characters) and the chance to meet Jack Skellington and Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas.

As with (most) Disney cruises, theres still a Pirate Night party, which will be on day 4 so the usual Pirate themed activities will be taking place, including fireworks, which we might try and watch from our veranda - well see.

Pirate Night

A final note on the cruise: The Disney Wonder is actually going into dry dock in September and the most significant of the planned work includes more Princess and the Frog theming in the shape of the French Quarter Lounge - in place of the current Promenade Lounge (which also exists on the Magic).

As already mentioned, once we return to San Diego, the original plan was to hire another car, then drive up to LA to spend the final day/night there before heading home. Instead were now driving as far as Anaheim to spend the final day at Disneyland. We do hope to spend some time in LA one day, mainly so we can visit Griffith Park and the La Brea Tar Pits, but that will be in a future California trip, which would hopefully include a return to Disneyland!

Flying home day is the 4th November, and for the return flight to Heathrow on Air New Zealand weve booked a Skycouch. Were hoping this helps Isabella actually get some sleep - going home on the last few flights from America havent been great for her. Were actually really looking forward to flying Air New Zealand as it gets great reviews.

As with all trips, plans are subject to change, in fact just this afternoon (Sunday 25th August) weve been discussing ditching the plan for Mazatlan and just staying on the boat - its a long excursion, its expensive, its not the safest area in Mexico, and were worried that were going to run out of time on the ship to do all the things that we want to do.

At the time of writing, we have just under 60 days to go and the excitement is building. I may share an update with you closer to the time - Ive not mentioned anything about the Fish Extender gifts, or plans for the parks (what we want to ride and when) or loads of the other stuff, Of course I may just keep it all to myself and let you read about it after its happened!

For now though, thanks for reading.

Stewboy's Trip Reports

Edited at 01:02 PM.
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Unread 25 Aug 19, 05:14 PM  
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Fabulous trip planning - really looking forward to reading your trip report.

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Unread 25 Aug 19, 05:53 PM  
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We stayed at home wood suites in Anaheim last year and it was great. Lots of choice for breakfast and dinner. The wine and beer was nice too. We were able to make this our evening meal on mon-thur when it was on. It was a great location. We got the bus from the parking lot but also walkable to the park. Like you, we have been to Florida many times and really enjoyed Disneyland as a wee change. Your trip sounds fab.
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Unread 25 Aug 19, 06:17 PM  
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Sounds amazing. I just booked the same cruise but October 20-27!
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Unread 25 Aug 19, 07:02 PM  
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Unread 26 Aug 19, 07:28 AM  
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Ooh, excited to see your new plans. We got off the Magic yesterday after out 1st cruise and had a fab time. DS is 13 and really wants to go back but would prefer more sea days. Think the westbound transatlantic crossing would suit him but unfortunately its not in the school holidays. Weve booked a placeholder with the intention of picking something when 2021 is released.

Looking forward to seeing the differences on the Wonder and also the different rides at Disneyland. Happy plan tweaking
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Unread 26 Aug 19, 08:54 AM  
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Cant wait to read this! We also disembarked the magic yesterday after our second cruise and are doing a west coast road trip next summer. We plan Orlando again for 2021 but will definitely want to do another Disney cruise in 2022 so maybe the new ship or Alaska on the wonder.
Hope you all have a fab time.
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Unread 26 Aug 19, 10:31 AM  
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Fab! looking forward to reading, have a fantastic time!
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