March 2 2015

Getting Around While On Vacation




Getting Around While On Vacation

As we mentioned in this post, where we stay while on vacation is something that we spend a lot of time researching before we make our decision. Once we have our accommodations locked in, we then start to figure out how we are going to get around while we are on vacation. As a general rule we do not enjoy driving once we get to our destination as neither of us like to drive in places that we are not familiar with and we find that it just adds unnecessary stress and anxiety to the trip. There are times, however when the best option is for us to rent a car, but we try to avoid it if possible. (We have fond memories of a trip to Florida where Betsy had to back up out of a toll booth on the expressway because we didn’t have the pass needed to open the gate. Fun times.)

bus

When we went to Disney World we did not need to rent a car as we stayed at one of the Disney properties and thus we received free transportation to and from the airport as well as to all of the parks. That worked perfectly for us! When we went to San Francisco, we didn’t rent a car either. Instead we used all of the various public transportation options available to get around once we left the airport and overall that worked well as soon as we figured out how it all worked.

When we went to Disneyland we did not rent a car either even though we were not staying at one of the Disney hotels. Instead we utilized SuperShuttle for transportation to and from the airport and because our hotel was close to the parks we were able to walk to wherever we wanted to go. SuperShuttle is an airport shuttle service that can take many people to and from the airport at one time and is an affordable transportation option as long as you don’t mind sharing the shuttle with people who you do not know.

 

wing

 

The Experience

We made reservations with SuperShuttle in advance on their website for our Disneyland trip. It was quick and painless and we even found a promo code that saved us a little bit of money! It pays to search for those promo codes! Because SuperShuttle had our airline information they knew exactly when we landed and even sent a text message welcoming us and giving us some shuttle information. We found the SuperShuttle pick up at area at LAX with relative ease and we checked in with the SuperShuttle agent. Once checked in we received another text message letting us know what number van we would be getting on and it even gave us the option to track the van so that we could see how far away it was and how long it would be before it would pick us up.

While we waited for our van to arrive a different SuperShuttle agent replaced the one that had checked us in (possible shift change?) and that resulted in a bit of confusion when we tried to get into the shuttle that we were assigned to. The new agent told us that it wasn’t our shuttle despite our attempts at showing him the text message with the van number we were assigned to. The driver of the shuttle quickly resolved the issue and we boarded the shuttle headed for our hotel. The drive from LAX to the Disneyland area takes about 40 minutes but we also had to stop at other hotels before we got to ours as the shuttle was filled with people going to neighboring hotels so it took longer than 40 minutes. Not a big deal for us but something to keep in mind if you decide to book SuperShuttle. The way back to the airport is the same situation. The SuperShuttle picks everyone up from various hotels and then goes to the airport.

 

The Opinions

Betsy: I found SuperShuttle very easy to reserve and I really liked the text communication that we received when we landed and while we were waiting for our shuttle to arrive. The only thing I was a bit irritated by was when the SuperShuttle agent wouldn’t let us board the van that I knew was ours. I didn’t appreciate the way that he dismissed what I had to say without actually looking into it first. Overall my experience with SuperShuttle was positive though and I wouldn’t let that small snafu dissuade me from booking with them again.

Chris: In addition to this trip, I had to use SuperShuttle once before in Chicago when Betsy and I had to return home separately. Each time went smooth and easy. I was dropped off right in front of the terminal where I needed to be so there was no guess work. I will definitely be making use of this service again!




Category: Disney, Transportation | Comments Off on Getting Around While On Vacation
February 18 2015

Disneyland: Where to Stay




Where To Stay When You Go To Disneyland

The Planning

If there is one thing that we have learned through all of our traveling it is that where you stay can make or break your trip. Even if most of your day is filled with sight-seeing, where you rest your head at night can still have a huge impact on your experience. Don’t believe us? Click here to read our review of the cabins that we stayed in when we went to Mackinaw City. That was a great experience but the year before that we stayed at a budget hotel that was friendly to our wallet but not friendly to our senses. It made our skin crawl and dampened what would have otherwise been a great trip.

Because of that knowledge we spend a considerable amount of time selecting where we are going to stay when we go on a trip. Some of the items that we consider before booking a hotel include proximity to the attractions we want to visit, reviews on TripAdvisor, amenities and price.

When planning our trip to Disneyland we considered the hotels at Disneyland itself which included: The Disneyland Hotel, Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa and Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel. All of which turned out to be too expensive for our budget. We then started exploring Disneyland’s Good Neighbor Hotels which are hotels in the area that are not owned by Disneyland but have a relationship with Disneyland and have received the Good Neighbor approval. We eventually choose the Anaheim Marriott Hotel which was in fact a Good Neighbor Hotel and was within a mile of Disneyland, California Adventure and Downtown Disney. The hotel had great reviews on TripAdvisor, it had excellent amenities and we ended up getting it at a price that was perfect for our budget!

The Experience

Marriott is known for its world class service and this hotel was no exception!

We received a friendly greeting from the front desk when we arrived and we were able to check in even though we had arrived several hours before the official check in time. We did have a bit of a snafu at the elevators only because we were not using them correctly. Ha! Turns out there is a keypad outside of the elevator banks where you make your floor selection as opposed to inside the elevator. We saw several others make them same mistake as we did throughout our stay so we didn’t feel so bad. We even had a couple that got stuck riding the elevator with us to our floor because they hopped in at the last minute without knowing they had to push their floor button before getting in the elevator.

Our room was clean and nicely furnished with a modern touch. But really the best part of our room was the balcony and the view!

Marriott Anaheim View

Marriott Anaheim View 2

Quite a change of scenery compared to what we see every day in Michigan!

After getting settled into our room we made the walk from the hotel to Downtown Disney! We knew that we were in for a mile walk but that didn’t bother us. The route from the hotel to Disneyland turned out to be very easy to navigate and it appeared to be very safe. (Although one night we did encounter police officers handling a disturbance.) The route was also lined with palm trees and it was very pretty a night when it was all lit up!

Anaheim Marriott Walk to Disneyland

As far as the amenities of the hotel go, we really didn’t take advantage of them since we were gone for most of the day but we liked knowing that they were there if we wanted to use them. We did attempt to use the pool but unbeknownst to us it was closed for renovation. Womp womp. That was a bit of a disappointment but it wasn’t a deal breaker.

Tips

– If you are not able to check in early or if you need some place to store your luggage on the day of your departure until it is time for you to head to the airport they will store your luggage for free! We used that service on our last day in Anaheim so that we could spend the day at California Adventure before flying home that evening.

– Shop around online on the various sites to get the best deal at the Anaheim Marriott Hotel or any other hotel for that matter!

The Opinions

Betsy: It is no surprise that I am a bit of a hotel snob since I have worked in the hotel industry for many many years. Because of my hotel experience, I see things that other guests may not notice. I am especially critical of customer service. All of the employees at the Anaheim Marriott were very friendly and ready to assist with anything that we needed. Our housekeeper in particular was very nice and every morning while cleaning she would sing while she worked. I like seeing employees so happy as it is indicative of the culture at the hotel. I really enjoyed my stay there and would definitely stay again! Hopefully next time the pool will be open!

Chris: The hotel was very conveniently located and so close we could actually see parts of Disney’s California Adventure from our window. They offered a shuttle to Disney but it probably wasn’t any faster than it took us to walk the distance. I was pretty bummed about the pool though… we came from 10 degrees and snow to 70 and sunny so I wanted to get some pool time in and soak up the warmth. Ah well …I just had to settle for going to Disneyland lol.




Category: Amusement Parks, Disney, Places to Stay | Comments Off on Disneyland: Where to Stay