Monday, September 19, 2016

Anaheim Camelot Inn and Suites Review (across the street from Disneyland)

We love to stay as close as we can to Disneyland so that we can go back to our hotel room for naps and to eat in the middle of the day when the weather is hot and the crowds are large. The Camelot Inn and Suites is the third different hotel we've stayed in that is right across the street, within walking distance of Disneyland. The other two we have stayed in are The Tropicana and the Del Sol Inn.

We typically don't spend any leisure time in our hotel so what we are looking for is a refrigerator for precooked meals that we bring with us, a microwave to re-heat those meals, a coffee maker to make hot water for our cup-o-noodles, and two nice beds to sleep on.

The Anaheim Camelot Inn and Suites offered our family of 5 everything we were looking for. Of the three hotels we have stayed at, the Camelot Inn and Suites has the most curb appeal. There are 5 stories, which is 3 more than either the Tropicana or Del Sol, and I would imagine a little tedious to get to if you had a room up there. Our room was on the second floor and instead of waiting on the elevator, I always took the stairs.
Here's what the Camelot Inn and Suites looks like from Harbor Blvd. 
Here's a look at the Camelot Inn and Suites once you've pulled in the drive way. 
The staff we encountered was very helpful and friendly. I chatted a little with the employee at the desk when I checked in about the forthcoming demolition of the Carousel Inn and Suites in October who seemed to think the noise wouldn't be too bothersome. I also had an encounter with an parking employee who saw me going to my car from Disneyland and then walking back out of the parking lot. He confronted me, thinking that I might be parking my car there and then going to Disneyland (which I'm sure many people try to do). He asked if I was staying at the Camelot Inn and for my room number. I also gave him my name and that seemed to satisfy him. While I did feel slightly interrogated, I understand the position he is in and felt that he handled the potentially challenging situation in a professional manner.

The parking situation at the Camelot Inn and Suites was much better than the parking situations we have encountered at either the Del Sol or Tropicana. The parking fee is $14 per night (same as the Tropicana) but we were able to find parking spots without needing to have our car valeted which we have never been able to do at the other two hotels. There is also covered parking and more shaded parking in general at the Camelot Inn and Suites.

Price-wise the Camelot Inn and Suites was slightly more expensive than the Del Sol Inn, which is the least expensive of the three mentioned hotels.

Here's a look at the rooms:
Here's a view of the room as you first open the door.
Although their website said Queen size beds, I believe these are doubles. They were slightly smaller than  the beds at the Tropicana and Del Sol Inn, but once my head hit the pillow, I was out after a long day at Disneyland,
A nice little seating area to eat a little lunch. We actually put the two chairs together and made a little bed for our 2 year old to sleep in at night. It worked out perfectly.
Here's a look at the mini-fridge, microwave, safe, TV, and dresser drawers.
Another feature that the Camelot in and Suites has that the Tropicana Inn and Del Sol Inn don't is a cabinet area to hang clothes.
Here's a look at the coffee maker, ice container and cups and the vanity area. The cleaning staff kept it well stocked with shampoo, conditioner, and soap.
The bathroom had a tub with shower and the towels were re-stocked every day.
One final look at the layout of the room.
I also have a blog post detailing all the hotels I've stayed at titled, Where to Stay at Disneyland which might be helpful in comparing the different hotels to one another.


Saturday, September 3, 2016

PinQuest Disneyland

The Disneyland PinQuest scavenger hunt is a fun way for pin collectors to solve clues and use a decoder tool to reveal the location of the next clue - all for the opportunity to purchase a series of 7 limited release pins. We took our time in completing the scavenger hunt, going on rides in the different lands the clues took us to. Because of this, the hunt took us about 8 hours from start to finish. If you solely focused on the scavenger hunt, I'd imagine it could be completed in about one to two hours. The Disneyland version of PinQuest began on August 4th 2016 and has no official end date, but it is a limited release. I asked one of the Cast Members how long they anticipated PinQuest to be available and they said they didn't know for sure. When I further pressed them and asked specifically if they thought it would still be around during Christmas time, they replied that they didn't think so. In this post I'll detail the cost and contents of the hunt, explain the basics of how it works and then at the end of the post go step by step through each clue, revealing the answers to the clues at the end of this post, and where to find them.


  • Adventure Kit. The Adventure Kit can be purchased at any of the 6 participating stores through out Disneyland - 20th Century Music Store on Main Street, Westward Ho Trading Co. in Frontierland, "it's a small world" Toy Shop in Fantasyland, Little Green Men Store Command in Tomorrowland, Pooh Corner in Critter Country, and The Pieces of Eight Shop in New Orleans Square. It contains a Lanyard, Decoder Medal, Map/Legend, and a Pouch to store the Map and/or clues. 

The Adventure Kit. This is what you need to get started along with a clue card.

The reverse of The Adventure Kit
The lanyard and pouch.
The Decoder Medal
The Map.
This is the back side of the Map, which is also the Legend. When you first get the Map, the 7 numbered boxes on the top right of the Legend are blank. Each time you solve a clue and get a pin, the Cast Member will also stamp the Legend.

  • Clue Cards.There are six numbered clue cards that you purchase at each of the 6 participating stores. Clue number one is purchased at the 20th Century Music Company on Main Street.

A look at one of the Clue Cards. This one happens to be Clue 3.

  • Pins. Although the Clue Cards and Pins are basically interchangeable (I'll explain later) each pin is a separate item which is received when you solve the clue. There are 7 pins in all - the six pins that correlate to each clue card, and the final Completer Pin.

All seven pins in order from Pin #1 on the top to the Completer Pin on the bottom.
Each pin has a different character on it. Pin #1 features a penguin. Pin #2 features a Little Green Man. Pin #3 features a Hula Girl from small world, Pin #4 features Pete in Cowboy garb, Pin #5 features Tigger, and Pin #6 features Captain Hook.


Adventure Kit: $14.99
Clue 1: $9.99
Clue 2: $9.99
Clue 3: $9.99
Clue 4: $9.99
Clue 5: $9.99
Clue 6: $9.99
Completer Pin: $4.99

Total: $79.92 + tax

I'll add this in here so it's clear - when you figure out the clue, you turn it in and receive a free pin, so basically the $9.99 you're paying for the clue card is really for the pin.

The Hunt

To begin the PinQuest scavenger hunt, you must purchase the Adventure Kit and a clue card at any one of the six participating stores - 20th Century Music Company on Main Street, Westward Ho Trading Co in Frontierland, "it's a small world" Toy Shop in Fantasyland, Little Green Men Store Command in Tomorrowland, Pooh Corner in Critter Country, and The Pieces of Eight Shop in New Orleans Square.

While you can purchase the Adventure Kit at any of these locations, the scavenger hunt is designed for you to purchase the Adventure Kit at the 20th Century Music Company on Main Street. That is because, as mentioned above, along with the Adventure Kit, you also purchase a clue card and Clue #1 is found at this store. The hunt will still work even if you start with a different clue number by purchasing the adventure kit and clue card at another one of the stores, but if you can start with Clue #1, why not start with clue #1?

Once you receive clue #1 and think you have figured out the answer, you scratch off the option on the clue card that you think is the correct answer (don't worry, there are no penalties for multiple scratches), and then show the clue card to a Cast Member in the shop They will then remove the bottom part of the Clue Card, stamp the corresponding box on your Legend, and give you your Pin.
The Cast Member stamping the Legend (back side of the Map)
Once you have your pin, use the Decoder Medal and the Pin you just received to figure out where to go next to purchase the next clue. You do this by putting the Decoder Medal on top of the Pin while aligning the triangular pointers. This will reveal a number and a letter (the coordinates of your next destination).
A look at the first Pin and the Decoder Medal. I've indicated where the triangular pointers are in the picture above. 
The next step is to put the Decoder Medal on top of the pin while aligning the triangular pointers. As you can see in the picture above, this reveals the letter "C" and the number"6"
So looking at the map and using the coordinates "C" and "6" we see a green rocket ship (which I circled on the map for emphasis). On the back of the map in the "Map Key" it says that green rocket ship is the Little Green Men Store Command in Tomorrowland. That's where you head to next to purchase your next clue.

On the far left side of the Map you'll see letters and on the bottom of the Map you'll find numbers. As shown in the picture above, follow the letter and number on the map to an Icon, in this case a green rocket ship. Then turn the map over and look at the "Map Key" on the back side to see what store correlates to the icon. That's where you go next to purchase the next clue.

You'll repeat that entire process 6 times, solving six different clues and thus receiving 6 different pins. On the back side of each pin is a letter. Once you have all six pins, write down and unscramble all the letters to reveal a hidden password. To purchase the completer pin, show your map with all 6 stamps from each store and reveal the hidden password to a Cast Member in the store.

I'll now show in pictures how the entire hunt is done. Beware, SPOILERS AHEAD! If you'd rather be surprised when you do the hunt, skip down to the end for my summary!
Here's a look at the 20th Century Music Company on Main Street. It is located on the right side of the street as you are walking into the Park. 
Clue #1 says, "So many sights to see and sounds to hear! With music all around, what instrument is not featured inside of the 20th Century Music Company on Main Street U.S.A?" The three choices are Trumpet, Accordion, and Bassoon...Let's take a look... 
...there's the accordion...
...and there's the trumpet. So the answer is the Bassoon.
The Decoder Medal and Pin give you the coordinates "C" "6" which is the Little Green Men Store Command in Tomorrowland. As you walk into Tomorrowland from Main Street, it is on the left hand side.
Clue #2 says, "To infinity, and beyond! When you look about Little Green Men Store Command, what award do you see the Little Green Men bestowing upon Buzz Lightyear inside of Little Green Men Store Command in Tomorrowland Area?" The choices are: Galactic Emperor, Space Hero, or Galactic Hero. 
Although it's difficult to see in this picture, the medal that the Little Green Men are handing Buzz says, "Galactic Hero" on it. That's the answer.
The next coordinates are "A" "6" which means that it's time to head over to "it's a small world" Toy Shop in Fantasyland. The Shop is located right next to the exit of the "it's a small world" attraction.
Clue #3 reads, "Take a trip on the happiest cruise that ever sailed! How many "it's a small world" characters can be found on the attraction sign outside of "it's a small world?" The choices are 11, 12, or 13.
Ready for a laugh? Lets count the characters on the sign, shall we? 1...2...3...4...5...6...7...8...9...10...11...12...13...14. Uh, 14? That's not one of the choices...13 is the closest to it so we marked it off, inquired of the Cast Member if we had counted correctly and she replied that yes, the answer was indeed 14 but that for the sake of the errant clue card, to mark of 13.
The coordinates given from this Pin in conjunction with the Decoder Medal are "C" "4" which leads us over to Westward Ho Trading Company in Frontierland.
The Westward Ho Trading Company is located on the right hand side of Frontierland just as you enter the land from Main Street.
Clue #4 reads, "When you look around Westward Ho Trading Co. in the Frontierland Area, you can't help but feel at home. What home felt message can be found inside this location, punctured onto a tin frame?" The answers are, Home is where the heart is, Home Sweet Home, or There's no place like home. 
Besides the "wrong answer" from the small world clue, this was by far the hardest one to find. The little tin frame is hiding up on the far wall of the shop and blends in well with the surroundings. The words on it were very difficult to read but say, Home Sweet Home. There's your answer.
The next coordinates are "C" "1" which lead us to Pooh Corner in Critter Country.
The Pooh Corner store is located in the far corner of Critter Country.
Clue #5 reads, "Oh Mr. Rabbit, how does your garden grow? When Mr. Rabbit is not busy keeping gophers out of his garden, what two vegetables can be found growing in his veggie patch just outside of Pooh Corner in Critter Country Area?" The choices are, Carrots and Cabbage, Radishes and Cabbage, and Tomatoes and Cabbage.
Looks like Carrots and Cabbage to me!
The final coordinates are "D" "3" which takes us to The Pieces of Eight Shop in New Orleans Square.
The shop is found at the exit of the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction, on the right hand side as you are exiting.
Clue #6 reads, "The captain's quarters are hidden away inside The Pieces of Eight Shop in New Orleans Square Area. What pirate icon can be seen hung above the captain's bed?" The choices are, Stashed loot, Swashbuckling swords, or Skull and cross bones. 
Above "the captain's bed" is a skull and cross bones.
Once you have solved the last clue and received your last pin, look at the back of all the pins and you'll see that there is a letter on each one. You are to unscramble these letters to make a password to be able to purchase the Completer Pin. The letters are: W, R, E, A, T, and L. The password is Walter.
Once we completed the scavenger hunt, we were given yellow and purple Mardi Gras style costume necklaces to celebrate.
Our complementary Mardi Gras necklaces for completing the hunt.

My Take:

My family and I enjoyed the PinQuest scavenger hunt. It actually got me to go into stores in Disneyland that I had never been into and may not have ever gone into had it not been for this scavenger hunt (yes, I realize that's exactly what Disney's strategy was with this scavenger hunt...). 

The Negative: 
  • While searching for the answers for the clues was actually very fun, some of the shops we were in were extremely small and maybe a little too crowded to do a scavenger hunt in. 
  • I also felt somewhat guilty asking the Cast Members to help me redeem my clue for the pin when there were other customers who were waiting to buy merchandise. 
  • Obviously the error on the small world clue answer is almost inexcusable considering the total cost of the hunt and considering that by the time we did the hunt, Disney had a whole month to correct the mistake by printing new clue #3 cards but chose not to. 
  • I also felt that the way some of the clues were written wasn't up to the normal Disney standards that I'm used to. 
  • The Pins featured pretty obscure characters for the most part with the exception of Tigger and Captain Hook. I would have liked to have seen better known characters on the Pins.
  • The main drawback to the PinQuest scavenger hunt though, is the price. For as much as guests pay for admission tickets to Disneyland, I would think that Disney could at least supply the pins and starter kit at cost. After all, Disney's strategy in the scavenger hunt is to get you to go into stores to spend more money anyway. Maybe I'm spoiled because I remember the nicer Map I received from the 45th Anniversary in 2000 that I have framed and up on the wall in our Disney Room. I paid $9.95 for that map and we were given 2 complementary pins and 1 button for completing the challenge. That hunt had more of a feeling of getting to know the history of Disneyland whereas PinQuest felt like more of a ploy to get me to spend more money (and hey, it worked!).

The Positive: 
  • I really enjoyed solving the clues. The Westward Ho Trading company clue took our family quite a while to figure out! In Critter Country I had never even paid much attention to Rabbit's garden so it was fun to discover things like that as I tried to solve the clues. 
  • I also enjoyed visiting shops that I had never been in before. It felt like I had discovered some of Disneyland that I didn't know existed. 
  • I like that PinQuest was contrived as a limited time offer and that the pins are part of a limited edition. I hope in the future there might be some sort of PinQuest 2, just at a more affordable price. 
  • It was a great way for my entire family to spend time together at Disneyland instead of running off to different rides. The concept is great for people of all ages!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Disneyland Trip Report: August 27-28, 2016

With the Paint the Night parade and World of Color: Celebrate, nearing their end on September 5th, I thought I better get back to the happiest place on earth to enjoy them one more time. Couple that with a new PinQuest scavenger hunt and there was no way I was going to wait all the way until next summer to make the trip! Below is my trip report in pictures...

First, a look at Disneyland:
The crowds early Saturday morning were extremely light until about 10:00am.
A look back towards the Main Street Train Station which remains closed until work on the new route of the tracks is complete, in the summer of next year.
A look down Main Street. Some construction was being done, as you can see on the right, but all the stores remained open.
Just a little goofing around...

Guests lined up outside of Adventureland for the Rope Drop.
A rare look at the uninhabited Bazaar shop across the vacant Adventureland walk way.

First stop...Jungle Cruise -my favorite ride!
Schweitzer Falls, named after the famous adventurer, Dr Albert Falls.
Aww! Isn't that nice! That pride of lions is protecting the sleeping zebra. He looks dead tired! 
Trader Sam, the head salesman of the jungle. He'll trade two of his heads for one of yours!

Heading towards the Rivers of America...
Past Tarzan's Tree House...

My first look at the Rivers of America, one of my favorite areas of the park. I was so happy when Disney decided to put in coffer dams to keep water in the front portion of the river as they do construction to shrink Tom Sawyer Island and shorten the back half river to make more room for Star Wars Land.
I love this area under normal conditions but devoid of people (other than my family) gives it an even more peaceful, serene feeling.
Now off to Frontierland to do some pin trading - an addictive hobby my daughters got me started with last year.
A fun informative piece that, during the normal hustle and bustle of the day, I usually walk right past.
A closer look at the plaque...
Typically during peak days and at peak times, a pin trading cast member is stationed in the corner there.

One of, if not the best pin shops in all of Disneyland.

A look back at Frontierland as I exit and head toward the hub.

Entering the magical world of Fantasyland!
Peter Pan was having some work done to the outside of the building but the ride was open, boasting some of the longest wait times of any ride in the park.
Casey Jr Circus Train - one of the classics!
Any guesses as to what ride this little guys sits atop of?

On to Storybook Land Canal Boats - another classic!
Jasmine's Palace
Cinderella's Castle
The small details are what makes this one of my favorite attractions!
Prince Eric's ship.
A view of Fantasyland from Dumbo...
...and another...
...and one more.
Time for It's a Small World!
When I was here in July, the hippo had been removed for refurbishment. Now he's back with a nice new look!
For whatever reason, this sun always captivated me as a child when I would go to Disneyland with my Mom, and it still holds a sentimental place in my heart.
Snow White's Grotto. 
I thought it might be fun to add a picture of what this area looked like back in 1987 when my Mom and I were there. Most of the figures are in the exact same spot, some just rotated slightly.
Before we headed over to CA Adventure, we stopped in Star Wars Launch Bay in Tomorrowland to meet Chewbacca.
A brief mention of the limited time scavenger hunt called PinQuest at Disneyland. Our family had a lot of fun deciphering the clues and collecting the pins at each of the different locations. I will have a separate post devoted to this scavenger hunt published shortly, if you'd like more information.
Now on to CA Adventure!
My daughter has a fascination with tractors and when she saw Mater's Junkyard Jamboree she just had to go on it! Shortly after it started though, she decided that it was a little too scary for her, with how much it was whipping her around... we headed over to A Bug's Land to try something a little more her speed. She loves Heimlich's Chew Chew Train (or the caterpillar ride as she calls it).
Now it's off to Disney Jr Live on Stage!
She loved this show!

But The Little Mermaid is her favorite ride in CA Adventure.
Recognize where we are headed next?
The Redwood Creek Challenge Trail.
We also tried Luigi's Rollickin' Roadsters for the first time. It is actually really neat to see the cars drive, turn, and spin to the music as you're waiting in line. The problem is, it's probably more fun to watch than it is to ride. I find it a little disappointing that Disney replaced a rather unique Flying Tires ride with another ride extremely similar to the Tea Cups, Francis' Lady Bug Boogie, and Mater's Junkyard Jamboree. I can understand the thinking behind the need to replace the Flying Tires due to the many injury lawsuits (as frivolous as most of them were) and because of the difficulty getting in and out of them, but I wish the Imagineers would wipe the dust off of their creativity and think of something a little more different than what is already there...
A night at CA Adventure wouldn't be complete without seeing the World of Color: Celebrate show! Unfortunately Celebrate will be replaced with the original version of the World of Color beginning September 6, 2016. Hopefully they will bring back Celebrate in the future!
A Final Look:
A final look at The Hollywood Tower of Terror. In January of 2017, it will be closing permanently for a transformation into Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout, opening in the Summer of 2017. Admittedly, I'm not a thrill seeker so I had never been on it but knowing that I would never get another chance, I decided to give it a try. I survived! My teenage girls love this ride and will be sad to see it go. I also think the theming is fantastic! Apparently, and somewhat understandably, Disney wants to create a similar ride with a brand that they own (Guardians of the Galaxy) instead of one which they just pay for the rights to use (Twilight Zone). This may be the first step into a major Marvel injection into this area of CA Adventure...
Star Wars Land Construction:
My trip report wouldn't be complete without an update on the Star Wars Land construction. Unfortunately all the areas I typically go to to take pitures of the construction were given more attention to keep people out! But fortunately my ingenious 16 year old, Alley Kapcsos found a way to snap a few shots as she was enjoying Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Here's a look:

Here's a closer look at the new route of the Disneyland Railroad (the posts sticking out of the ground) as it approaches the Mickey's Toon Town stop. 
,,,and one last look.
That wraps up our trip report! Be sure to check back for more Disney News and Rumors, Ride spotlights, and other tips to make your Disneyland vacation even more enjoyable!