As of January 1, 2019, we have closed our forums. This is a decision we did not come to lightly, but it is necessary. The software our forums run on is just too out-of-date and it poses a significant security risk. The server software itself must be updated, and it cannot be without removing the forums.
So it is with a heavy heart that we say goodbye to our long-running forums. They came online in 2000 and brought together so many wonderful Disney fans. We had friendships form, careers launch, couples marry, children born ... all because of this amazing community.
Thank you to each of you who were a part of this community. You made it possible.
And a very special thank you to our Guides (moderators), past and present, who kept our forums a happy place to be. You are the glue that held everything together, and we are forever grateful to you. Thank you aliceinwdw, Caldercup, MrsM, WillCAD, Fortissimo, GingerJ, HiddenMickey, CRCrazy, Eeyoresmom, disneyknut, disneydani, Cam22, chezp, WDWfan, Luvsun, KMB733, rescuesk, OhToodles!, Colexis Mom, lfredsbo, HiddenMickey, DrDolphin, DopeyGirl, duck addict, Disneybine, PixieMichele, Sandra Bostwick, Eeyore Tattoo, DyanKJ130, Suzy Q'Disney, LilMarcieMouse, AllisonG, Belle*, Chrissi, Brant, DawnDenise, Crystalloubear, Disneymom9092, FanOfMickey, Goofy4Goofy, GoofyMom, Home4us123, iamgrumpy, ilovedisney247, Jennifer2003, Jenny Pooh, KrisLuvsDisney, Ladyt, Laughaholic88, LauraBelle Hime, Lilianna, LizardCop, Loobyoxlip, lukeandbrooksmom, marisag, michnash, MickeyMAC, OffKilter_Lynn, PamelaK, Poor_Eeyore, ripkensnana, RobDVC, SHEANA1226, Shell of the South, snoozin, Statelady01, Tara O'Hara, tigger22, Tink and Co., Tinkerbelz, WDWJAMBA, wdwlovers, Wendyismyname, whoSEZ, WildforWD, and WvuGrrrl. You made the magic.
We want to personally thank Sara Varney, who coordinated our community for many years (among so many other things she did for us), and Cheryl Pendry, our Message Board Manager who helped train our Guides, and Ginger Jabour, who helped us with the PassPorter-specific forums and Live! Guides. Thank you for your time, energy, and enthusiasm. You made it all happen.
There are other changes as well.
Why? Well, the world has changed. And change with it, we must. The lyrics to "We Go On" for IllumiNations say it best:
We go on to the joy and through the tears
We go on to discover new frontiers
Moving on with the current of the years.
We go on
Moving forward now as one
Moving on with a spirit born to run
Ever on with each rising sun.
To a new day, we go on.
It's time to move on and move forward.
PassPorter is a small business, and for many years it supported our family. But the world changed, print books took a backseat to the Internet, and for a long time now it has been unable to make ends meet. We've had to find new ways to support our family, which means new careers and less and less time available to devote to our first baby, PassPorter.
But eventually, we must move on and move forward. It is the right thing to do.
So we are retiring this newsletter, as we simply cannot keep up with it. Many thanks to Mouse Fan Travel who supported it all these years, to All Ears and MousePlanet who helped us with news, to our many article contributors, and -- most importantly -- to Sara Varney who edited our newsletter so wonderfully for years and years.
And we are no longer charging for the Live Guides. If you have a subscription, it's yours to keep for the lifetime of the Live Guides at no additional cost. The Live Guides will stay online, barring server issues and technical problems, for all of 2019.
That said, PassPorter is not going away. Most of the resources will remain online for as long as we can support them, and after that we will find ways to make whatever we can available. PassPorter means a great deal to us, and to many of you, and we will do our best to keep it alive in whatever way we can. Our server costs are high, and they'll need to come out of our pockets, so in the future you can expect some changes so we can bring those costs down.
Thank you, thank you, thank you for your amazing support over the years. Without you, there's no way us little guys could have made something like this happen and given the "big guys" a run for their money. PassPorter was consistently the #3 guidebook after the Unofficial and Official guides, which was really unheard of for such a small company to do. We ROCKED it thanks to you and your support and love!
If you miss us, you can still find some of us online. Sara started a new blog at DisneyParkPrincess.com -- I strongly urge you to visit and get on her mailing list. She IS the Disney park princess and knows Disney backward and forward. And I am blogging as well at JenniferMaker.com, which is a little craft blog I started a couple of years ago to make ends meet. You can see and hear me in my craft show at https://www.youtube.com/c/jennifermaker . Many PassPorter readers and fans are on Facebook, in groups they formed like the PassPorter Trip Reports and PassPorter Crafting Challenge (if you join, just let them know you read about it in the newsletter). And some of our most devoted community members started a forum of their own at Pixie Dust Lane and all are invited over.
So we encourage you to stay in touch with us and your fellow community members wherever works best for you!
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Myself, my wife, and our eldest daughter (adult) our taking our first trip to Disneyland after about a dozen trips to Disney World. (Also, included are side trips to Knott’s Berry Farms and an all-day “Walt Tour” with Anaheim Tour Co.)
The sedan from the limo company picks us up at 5:00 a.m. on Wednesday 5/9. Traffic is light to O’Hare Airport. We arrive, zip through security, and are soon at the gate for our 7:25 flight. Boarding is on time, but lightning delays the ground crews for over an hour. The pilot says he will step on the gas to make up for lost time. He sure does! We arrive at LAX in Los Angeles only 10 minutes late.
Many have expressed concern about the size of LAX, but it was a short walk to baggage and then only about 50 yards to our Super Shuttle. We waited only 10 minutes for the shuttle, and we were on our way!
I was hoping for a scenic drive, but on the expressways it’s 8 to 10 lanes of concrete and the tops of buildings and trees. It’s a shared shuttle, and the first stop is actually a drop off of one person at his house in a somewhat out-of-the-way area. Fortunately, the next stop turns out to be Harbor Boulevard for one more person, and then our stop on the same street. We are staying at the Best Western Park Place Plus Inn & Suites. Sure enough, it’s right across from the entrance to Disneyland!
We check in at about 12:15 and yes our room is ready! We walk outside, take an elevator to the second floor and room 231 is ours. The room is a suite, with 2 queenside beds and a sleeper sofa. It’s all clean and bright and reasonably decorated. Fridge is ample size and the micro-wave looks fine. TV is a good size. Bathroom and water pressure are good.
After getting settled a bit, we take a very short walk to Panera Bread. Line is short and the sandwiches are delicious.
Next, we walk down Harbor Boulevard to Katella and cross the street to the CVS for some beverages and snacks for the 9 days. Selection and pricing are good.
We are not going to the parks today. (We have a 5-day park hopper to spread over 9 days.) At 5:00, we head to Downtown Disney. We go through the security in the Disney parking lot that services both parks and Downtown Disney. Once there, I buy 4 Disney pins and then we do some window shopping at some small stores.
Our evening meal is at the Uva Bar and Cafe outside. Weather is perfect -- sunny and in the low 70’s. I have the French Dip, which is delicious, and the Electric Lemonade, which is blue and refreshing. My wife and daughter both have the All American Burger (one with onions strings and one without), which they both enjoy.
Afterwards, we take a stroll to the Grand California Hotel. We walk around a bit and are impressed by the size and décor. We then head to the lounge for a drink (Captain’s Mai Tai, thank you). Nice lounge, but we picked a drafty spot, and I managed to spill my drink when reaching for my camera. Ugh!
We walk back into Downtown Disney, traverse the full length, and are soon back at the hotel. We call it an early night, as it has been a long day with the very early rise and the extra 2 hours we gained flying West. Day 1 has been a great start to our vacation!
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As guests of Park Place Inn & Suites, we head to the free breakfast buffet at Captain Kidd’s next door. Up the stairs we go, give our name and room number, and get in a short line. The place is bright and clean with ample seating – it’s about 2/3 full now. The breakfast selection is good with cereal, muffins, pastries, potatoes, eggs, sausage, etc., but bacon. Food is fresh and flavorful, no complaints.
Down the stairs, out the door, and straight to the crosswalk we go. The signal turns to “walk” and with a large crowd we cross to the Disneyland entrance! After about 75 yards we reach security. A lot of people, but it moves reasonably fast. We are in the turn style line by about 7:40 for an 8:00 open.
We are at Main Street before 8:00. Everything looks so magical – and we see Sleeping Beauty Castle in the distance. Strolling down the sidewalk, we notice that Main Street is a bit shorter than WDW but the sidewalks are noticeably wider here – odd that WDW has narrower sidewalks.
While waiting for the rope drop, I use the Disney App to get MaxPass. I get it only for myself, as my family cannot ride any fast or turbulent rides. It includes PhotoPass, so not a bad deal for $10 per day.
At 8:00 the ropes are dropped. We head straight through the castle to Fantasyland. First up is Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. Short line and I’m in. It’s all new so I enjoy the rather zippy ride through various scenes. (I know nothing of the back story on this, but the ride is “interesting” anyway.)
Onto Matterhorn Mountain. The line looks a little long, so I go into MaxPass and actually get a FastPass for the current time – that was easy and saved about 15 minutes. The ride is long and fun, but a little rough. The splash at the end is minimal (perhaps they lessened it for the cooler weather). Hey, at least the Disneyland Yeti/Abominable Snowman is actually working!
Next, all of us ride the Alice in Wonderland caterpillar – a beautiful, well-themed, smooth ride. We then all ride Pinocchio’s Journey, which follows the story very well with a lot of scenes. Snow White’s Scary adventure is fun too, although we had seen it before its demise at WDW.
Compared to WDW, “it’s a small world” has a beautiful façade and the ride starts from the outside – very lovely for the great weather we were having. The inside is fairly similar, notably however, the “white room” is a lot smaller.
We go to Toon Town to explore and walk through the various houses. Unfortunately, our first choice, Minnie’s house, had a line that wasn’t moving. A cast member told me that Minnie really likes to interact with her guests. When we visit again in a few years, we’ll give it another try. We still were able to walk through Donald’s playground and most of the other areas.
The railroad takes us to the New Orleans area, and we go to the Haunted Mansion, which we all love. The mansion inside is mostly similar to WDW. The hatbox ghost is new, and I did not see the stairs and mirrors that WDW has. I’m sure there were many other differences too.
We eat at New Orleans Square outside. It’s a beautiful sunny 70-degree day. The Monte Cristo Sandwich is tasty and BIG. The jam is a nice touch. My wife enjoys the 3-Cheese Monte Cristo and my daughter enjoys the Steak and Potatoes.
My wife and daughter go back to the hotel for a break. I head to Splash Mountain, which is the same as WDW except each row is only one person, except last row is 2. Beautiful ride as always, but splash is minimal.
Next, I head to Trader Sam’s for some afternoon refreshments! It’s crowded at mid-afternoon, but I find a seat at the bar. I start with the Hippopato Mai Tai, add a Zambezi Sour, and end with a Krakato Punch. The drinks and atmosphere are awesome.
I return to Disneyland for Thunder Mountain, the wildest ride in the wilderness! Except for special effects, it seems the same as WDW. I love it as always!
The 3 of us meet up at the Main Street restaurant, the Carnation Café. I had the Baked Potato Soup and the Chicken-Fried Chicken (with mashed potatoes, gravy, and vegetables) – both were very tasty. My daughter enjoyed the Main Street Cheeseburger. My wife also had the Chicken-Fried Chicken too, but said it was too peppery.
After lunch, we re-entered Sleeping Beauty Castle and, after some searching, did the walk thru upstairs of the story of Sleeping Beauty. Very nice --- it tells the story in surprising detail!
Onto the Jungle Cruise (with FastPass), which seems mostly similar to WDW. Our skipper tells all the jokes, but she is hard to understand several times, so the ride is just OK.
I enter the single rider line at the Indiana Jones Adventure, but after waiting about 15 minutes, the ride is down and the crowd exits. We all head to Winnie the Pooh, but cast members are telling everyone that the ride is down! I do a repeat ride at Thunder Mountain. Hurray!
Onto the railroad, but the line looks long and the train is just sitting there full. Guess what, the computer tracking is down so only one train is running at a time. But we wait anyway and get on the next one, taking it to Main Street.
We watch the presentation of Mr. Lincoln. The audio-animatronics are very impressive. The surrounding presentation includes elements of the American Adventure at WDW (the Civil War era of course). The sad “Two Brothers” song always touches me.
Despite the crowds, we find a reasonable area on Main Street to watch the 9:30 Pixar fireworks. It’s very entertaining with many Pixar songs and constant Pixar projections on all the Main Street buildings – and, of course, fireworks!
That’s a wrap for Day 2, as we briskly walk back to our hotel in minutes. (Walking is our favorite form of transportation.) Overall, another great day!
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A good breakfast at Captain Kidd’s again, through security, and at the gate at about 7:30 or so. We are soon through the turnstiles and are at the ropes at about 7:45. We enjoy our new surroundings and check the map for our first planned stop at Toy Story Midway Mania.
The rope drops and we walk briskly toward Paradise Pier as nearly all of the crowd soon turns left to Carsland. “This is great,” I think, until we get close to our destination and are a greeted by 2 cast members who proclaim that Toy Story Midway Mania does not open to 10:00 am. “10? 10!” I respond with an air of annoyance. Sigh, time to move on.
I review our list of plans, get a MaxPass for Radiator Springs, and we head to Carsland. First I ride the Junkyard Jamborie. It’s basically a tractor-themed interlocking spin ride, but not too crazy. Next, I ride the Rollickin’ Roadsters, which is small cars “dancing” to music. An amusing little ride. Now, onto the e-ticket Radiator Springs. (Before I get to the ride, we all take some time to marvel at the detailed streets and buildings in Carsland.) I enjoy the Radiator Springs queue theming. On board, my vehicle moves briskly through some sharp curves and avoids a couple collisions. The sheriff car says to “slow down,” and then we visit the town of Radiator Springs, get new tires, and it is race time! Another car pulls up beside us, we point at each other, and zoom! We win by the nose of the car.
By now it’s getting close to 10:00, so we head to Midway Mania. There’s already a line @ 9:45, but once the ride opens, we are on quickly. We all had a great time. Daughter get the high score in vehicle (this will be a recurring theme).
I do the Jumpin’ Jellies (very mild, but fun) and the Silly Symphony Swings (loved it with the music, but the ride was way too short). During this time, the family rides Under the Sea, which they enjoy as always. The Golden Zephyr ride is down.
Back to Carsland -- it’s time for lunch at Flo’s V-8 Café. I had Flo’s Beef & Cheddar – delicious! My wife had the Citrus Salad (excellent), and my daughter had the Spit-Fired Rotisserie Chicken (perfect). Churros and soft serve ice cream followed at Cozy Cone!
My family heads back to the hotel for a break, and I go to Guardians of the Galaxy. The theming is awesome. (The ride mechanics are similar to the Tower of Terror in WDW except the elevator car does not travel horizontally to a different shaft.) The different Guardian battle scenes at each stop between the ups and downs are quite cool. Well done!
Walking around a bit, I really enjoyed the singing and dancing of the Red Trolley News Boys and the jazz act, Five and Dime. I find the colorful Pixarmonic Orchestra on the Paradise Garden Bandstand at the far end of the park. They played all Pixar songs and threw in some light comedy and banter. They also played a little jingle several times for their “sponsor,” Triplement Gum.
Soarin’ was awesome as usual, one of my favorite rides. It’s the same as WDW, except here it’s in a nicely -themed building. Time for a new ride, Grizzly River Run. The ride was longer and more enjoyable than Kali at WDW. We all luck out at the end and avoid the random geysers. Overall, I just get slightly wet.
I ride Guardians of the Galaxy again (love it!) and rejoin my family at the Hyperion Theatre for Frozen. We are early enough to be at the front of the line for mezzanine. After climbing a lot of outdoor stairs, we enter and get our seats in the front row of the mezzanine – perfect view! The show is very well done and is very true to the movie. As a father of 2 daughters, I always find Frozen very moving. Show is long at 65 minutes, but it moves at a good pace – worth every minute.
Our dinner reservations are at Cathway Circle. The building is beautiful with many Disney pictures adorning the walls. I had the Grilled Angus Ribeye (delicious), my wife had the Braised Short Ribs (good) and my daughter had the Roasted Strawberry Rubbed Chicken (enjoyed). They shared the Mashed Yukon Potatoes (amazing). Desserts followed, including a birthday cupcake for me, which was a surprise since my birthday was 3 days earlier. Celebrity sighting! At a table across the room we see “Lucy” (Raj's shy girlfriend) and “Romona“ both from the Big Bang Theory. (They also do a comedy together called “Garfunkle and Oates.”) Lucy (Kate Micucci) looks like she could walk right onto the Big Bang Theory set as is!
After the great and long meal, we walk around a bit, and then we all ride the Monsters Inc Taxi. The posters in the queue are very funny and the ride itself is quite detailed and very well done. We all loved it.
A bit of shopping and we head back to the hotel – another great day!
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Today is the “Walt Tour” with Anaheim Tour Co. (We chose to do it on a Saturday because we understand that Saturday is the busiest day for Disneyland and California Adventure.)
We are picked up right outside our Hotel at 9:00. Tour allows up to 7 people, but we are the only 3 on it, so it will be like a private tour. Our driver is Tom, who has a big comfortable black van.
Tom treats us to a video on the early life of Walt Disney as we head off toward LA. Our first stop is Uncle Robert’s garage where Walt had his first studio. The garage is not at its original location, but is preserved along with several other non-Disney historic buildings in Garden Grove, CA at the Stanley Ranch Museum & Historical Village. We meet the caretaker of the garage (and other buildings) as he opens the garage to a generous display of Disney pictures, knick-knacks, and Disneyana type items. We take a lot of photos and Tom takes pictures of us and also with the caretaker.
Now, we head to the streets of Hollywood. First, we briefly visit the lobby of the ornate Pantages Theater and take a few pics. Next, we are dropped off at the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. We enjoy all the foot and handprints and take a lot of pics. The “stars” of Hollywood Walk of Fame is nearby – a lot more pics. (There are over 2,600 “stars” total.) The entire area is very “entertaining.” We see people dressed up fully as "Minnie" and "Mickey" , as well as 2 different “Spidermans” -- a thin one in constant motion and a stout one who arrives later. We also take pics of the fronts of buildings for: the Disney Studio Store, El Capitan, Hard Rock Café, and Jimmy Kimmel Live. Afterwards, we climb a lot of stairs at a nearby mall to get a decent view of the “Hollywood” sign.
We head to Griffith Park and ride the Merry-Go- Round that Walt’s daughter rode when they were little , whereby Walt began dreaming about Disneyland. In fact, they have the park bench that he sat on too. The 3 of us each ride a carousel horse that goes up and down for several laps. Fun! (Tom took a video that he sent us.)
It’s time to eat at one of Walt’s favorite places, Tam O’Shanters. We get to sit at the same table Walt often used! There are small etchings of little dinosaurs cut into the table top and a few Disney pictures on the walls. I had the Fish and Chips (excellent), my wife and daughter both had the Tam Burger (good and perfect). We take lots of pics.
Next, we visit Forest Lawn, where Walt and Lillian are buried. Forest Lawn Is HUGE. Walt and Lillian’s grave site memorial is pretty modest with a small plush Minnie and Mickey doll next to it. We also view some large mausoleums for several famous people.
Our tour now takes us to various point of interest:
The Walt Disney Concert Hall – a quick stop for a photo op.
The current Walt Disney Studio – we do a drive up outside the gates and take a few pics, including pics of the wizard hat and the 7 dwarves holding up the roof of one of the buildings.
A historical marker for the Hyperion Animations Studio – we take a pic of the marker as we drive by – that’s all there is too see as there is a grocery store there now.
The first homes of Walt & Lillian and Roy & Edna on Lyric Avenue -- we take a couple pics.
A copy shop which was the place that Walt had his next studio, after he moved out of his uncle’s garage, from 1925 to 1931. The copy shop has many newspaper articles and pictures on the wall regarding it's history and a plaque from the Disney archive department official recognizing the site.
The Hollywood Tower Hotel, the source of inspiration for the Hollywood Tower of Terror.
After all of the above, our tour takes us to the Biltmore Hotel, home of the Academy Awards in most of the 1930’s and early 1940’s. It is a beautiful and spacious building. Lots of celebrity pictures on the walls of course. Walt Disney won his share of Academy Awards -- 32 in all.
We then ride an elevator of a very tall building so that our tour guide Tom can show us a few sights of LA.
Time to head back. Tom plays another Disney video as we have a relaxing drive back to our hotel. We thank Tom with a generous tip and relax a bit before heading to dinner. (Tom later sends us a DVD of Walt’s Epcot vision and a DVD of famous Hollywood homes.)
Dinner is at the Jazz Kitchen in Downtown Disney. We have a 6:45 reservation. The band starts at 7:00. I had the Blackened Salmon (delicious), and my wife and daughter both had the Grilled New York Steak, which they enjoyed. For dessert, my wife and daughter both get a full order of 5 beignets, which are excellent. (My daughter shares one with me.) The band begins on time (if you count warming up). They play up-tempo jazz (as opposed to the more bluesy Chicago jazz) with gusto. I love it; family seems to like it too. After our meal, they go back to the hotel, but I stay until the band is done at 11:00 for more good drinks and great music.
Afterwards, I stroll around a bit and call it a day – an especially great one!