Disneyland’s Haunted Parking Garage Trip Report, Day 3 Part 1

Day 3 Part 1: The Haunted Parking Garage

We had been dreading this moment since we first heard about DCA replacing the parking lot at Disneyland. As long as we stayed onsite and parked our car in valet parking, we didn’t have to face it. My old high school friends often talked about what a pain it was to go to Disneyland since DCA was built. Staying onsite, we hadn’t felt their pain. Finally, it was upon us: to face the dreaded parking garage, which we quickly dubbed the new Haunted Parking Garage attraction at Disneyland.We arrived before park opening and CMs were doing their usual orchestrating of where to park. Now this may not be too bad in an open parking area, but in a parking garage it’s aggravating and claustrophobic. We park in parking garages regularly in Las Vegas, but nobody tells us where to park. When you arrive in the morning at Disney parks, the CMs tell you where to park. So even if you’re early, you may end up parking at the far end of the garage because they park you in order instead of roping off the back end of the garage for later arrivals. Then you have to walk for what seems like forever to get to the escalator at the far end near the trams.

There is absolutely no setting of theme or atmosphere in this ugly, creepy, claustrophobic parking garage. How can you feel excited about arriving at Disneyland in such dank surroundings? After walking this huge distance, we chose not to get in line for the tram, but chose to walk the short pathway to Downtown Disney, to enjoy the flora, soak up some fun atmosphere, and to be on our own schedule. Besides, it was faster to walk and we weren’t alone in making that choice.

There are several things that Disney could do to improve the situation at the parking garage. Here are 3 things they could add to the garage that would greatly enhance the guest experience as soon as they’re on Disney property:

  1. Technology. The Las Vegas and Portland airports (to name 2) both have technology in their parking garages that show which parking spaces are available. A green light above the space shows it’s empty, and a red light shows the space is occupied. Plus there are lit numbers at the end of each row indicating how many spaces are available. Disney should adopt this. This allows Disney to know how full the garage is, and points guests to where the open spaces are, eliminating the need to be shoveled into wherever Disney CMs want you to park.
  2. Moving walkway. Like many airport parking garages, Disney could add a moving walkway to move their guests from one end of the giant garage (holds 10,000 cars) to the other.
  3. Theming. In the Las Vegas airport baggage claim area, there are video screens and audio recordings with Las Vegas personalities. Disney could add these screens or audio recordings at the very least. Mickey and friends could greet guests, offer tips, and advertise “big doings” in the park, including where to eat, shop, or otherwise spend extra money.

After that horrid experience, we vowed to never step foot in that garage again, even though it’s free for Annual Passholders. Imagining we might find ourselves being Disneyland locals again, we wondered what do locals do? Surely they don’t go through that experience just to drop in on Downtown Disney for a couple of hours. No, of course not. There is short-term parking near Downtown Disney where the first 3 hours are free. You can get an additional 2 hours if you eat at a restaurant that validates. After that you pay $2 for every 20 minutes or $6 per hour. It also pays to drop in on Disneyland during the less busy times, before all parking lots are full. Attendance this summer is already reaching maximum capacity even on Mondays. Guess the Birthday promotion is working…

Maybe Disney is already working on this. Who knows? Expensive – yes. But worth it – yes. We feel they could take this as an opportunity to creative a more pleasant experience for their guests while also advertising other money-making options. It’ll be interesting to see what happens after they open the new Cars Land in DCA, and the renovation of the Disneyland Hotel. Will they turn their attention to Paradise Pier and other guest attractions/hotel experiences?

In the meantime, we’re thinking we’ll only want to go to Disneyland when we can afford to stay at the Grand Californian.

Once we made it to Downtown Disney, we realized we were hungry so we headed for our favorite breakfast spot at DD: La Brea Bakery Cafe. The sitdown restaurant had a loooong line, so we chose to do the quick-service – La Brea Bakery Express. We each ordered the scrambled eggs plate, which came with applewood smoked bacon and their amazing bread. We had a small cup of coffee in the room, but we definitely needed more coffee. It was a great place to sit before entering the park.

We were seated right by the bag check so we did a little people-watching before proceeding to the entry to Disneyland Park – getting busy already – especially for a Monday morning. Later, somebody told us they thought maybe people stayed away on Sunday worried about the crowds on Father’s Day. Instead, we all showed up Monday morning. We also heard the previous Monday had been so crowded, the park reached capacity and had to turn people away. Huh? Guess the free birthday promotion is working.

A few of the morning clouds had yet to burn off – such a different weather pattern from Walt Disney World.

Fortified with a yummy breakfast, we were rarin’ to go! Off to Neverland, uh, Disneyland.

Next: Riding Some Oldies But Goodies

About Kathy

Novelist & Music Producer