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For years, the Disneyland hotel has been the black sheep of the Disney owned hotels in Anaheim. It’s age and location left it the least desirable property of the three hotels. But the culmination of upgrades made over the last 5 years have finally paid off. AAA has bestowed its coveted 2012 Four Diamond award upon the landmark Disneyland Hotel making it the second property at the Disneyland Resort to secure such a high rating.

Only four percent of the 31,000 hotel properties AAA reviews achieve this enviable distinction. In fact, in order to become a five star resort you need to have a golf course and on-site spa. These are conditions Disneyland’s hotels can never meet. So four stars is really a great score.

“This is tremendous news, especially for the 1,000 Cast Members who work at the Disneyland Hotel and create magical experiences for our guests,” said Tony Bruno, vice president resort hotels and Downtown Disney. “The award underscores our continued investment in the guest experience and all our ongoing work, which has transformed the Disneyland Resort and Anaheim into Southern California’s world-class, multiday tourist destination.”

Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa also is a AAA Four Diamond award winner and is home to yet another AAA Four Diamond recipient: the popular Napa Rose restaurant.

“North America’s AAA Diamond Rating System is a long-time trusted systematic method of rating lodgings and restaurants,” said the Auto Club’s Approved Accommodations Supervisor Patricia Marenco. “Southern California’s hotels and restaurants that earn the AAA Four Diamond award maintain a very high standard of service in their hotels and restaurants in order to continue pleasing their guests.”

Earlier this summer, the Disneyland Hotel marked a milestone in the property’s major “re-imagination” project with the opening of a new courtyard, restaurant, bar, pool and water play area.

The monorail station could be looking like this a lot more when Disney institutes its new reduced hours for the trains.
The monorail station could be looking like this a lot more when Disney institutes its new reduced hours for the trains.

One of my favorite Robert Heinlein short stories is “The Roads Must Roll.” Written in 1940, it speculates about a rapid transit system that would move people across the country in speed and comfort. The high speed nature of the rolling roads meant that maintenance was a huge deal. When the employees decided to organize for better working conditions, well, the shit hits the fan. In some ways it foretold the air controller strike of the Reagan era. These days there is an odd tie-in to the Walt Disney World monorails system too.

Walt Disney World just announced they would be reducing the operating hours of their monorail fleet. They used to run 1.5 hours after the parks closed or after the last scheduled event (extra magic hours, christmas party, etc). Sometimes these hours were stretched even further on the EPCOT line. Now they will all shut down 1 hour after the posted closing time for the park with no allowance for extra magic hours or other events. Guests will be placed on buses or water craft to be returned to their hotels or the TTC and EPCOT parking lots.

Initially, there was a lot of outcry directed at Disney for reducing benefits to resort and park guests at the same time they are raising prices, but soon word leaked out that there was an important reason behind the shift. The reason? The monorail fleet is just breaking down under the strain.

The crowds were out in full force at Disneyland this weekend. Of course this is to be expected. School is out and two new rides have just opened.

Tomorrowland could be best described as very very crowded. If you do not need to approach Tomorrowland from Main Street at the moment just don’t even go there. Access Space Mountain from the other side of the park and avoid the Jedi crowds.

I had a plan of action to get the most possible rides on Star Tours. I booked a room in one of the Disneyland Resort hotels so that we could get the Soundsational Summer Package. Not only does this give you early entry into the parks on certain days it will give you something even more valuable. 2 Fast Passes per guest. This is a huge deal if you want to avoid standing in the line for Star Tours.

The early entry hours this Sunday meant that Disney resort guests could enter Disneyland at 7am which is one hour ahead of the rest of the park guests. This should have got us a head start but of course after leaving the park at midnight the night before things didn’t quite work out as planned. So we were a little late reaching the Fast Pass kiosk at 8:15am.