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Old 04-26-2010, 06:28 PM   #46
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Thanks for sharing this TR with us. It's awesome!!!
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Old 04-26-2010, 08:36 PM   #47
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Outstanding trip report Dodie. Love it! I'm going back to the beginning to read through it again!
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Old 04-27-2010, 03:42 PM   #48
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I read everything through today and can't wait for the next update - this trip sounds absolutely amazing! Thank you so much for sharing it with the rest of us!
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Old 04-27-2010, 04:57 PM   #49
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Hi Dodie . I went on this trip in Dec 2008 & I am so enjoying reliving it with you.
We went to the Roosevelt for burgers too & they were delish. I really want to go back there & stay sometime.
Reading about the changes they have made is interesting. Not big ones, but I really wanted to see what had changed.
We didn't get to do the archives on our trip. Loved the picture of Mary Poppins hat. I am a huge MP fan!!!!
Loved your Club 33 experience. Jealous!!!!
Can't wait to read more. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 04-27-2010, 06:49 PM   #50
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Tour Day Five (Saturday 4/17):

Theme: Behind the Orange Grove
Word of the Day: Forced Perspective


We met at 7:00 a.m. again in the Grand Californian and walked through Downtown Disney to have a character breakfast at Goofy’s Kitchen in the Disneyland Hotel. This was a really good buffet breakfast and the characters were bountiful!









After breakfast, we entered Disney’s California Adventure before it officially opened and headed straight for Soarin’ over California (as the ride is known here – where it originated).

Isn't the Disneyland monorail just so much neater in a retro sort of way than the WDW one?







Once again, we were divided into two groups, although we had no idea why.

The group Phillip and I were in was loaded onto the ride – everyone on the top row! No dangling feet! We love this ride anyway, but we really enjoyed our private ride very much. Once it was over, everyone was cheering “Again! Again!” They had us sit back down and ride a second time – and we actually thought it had been because of our pleading.

As we exited the ride, we met the other group coming up some steps. They were very psyched. Pete was saying that he had experienced the most awesome thing he’d ever experienced. The group was raving, but they wouldn’t tell us why.

We then turned down those same steps and found ourselves behind and below the screen of Soarin’. The screen is actually perforated metal, so you can see through it from the back. We watched our counterparts being loaded onto the ride and they hollered at us, the difference being that they knew we were watching them, where we had not known.

It was an amazing vantage point. We could see the pictures on the screen, hear the music, and see how HIGH OUR FRIENDS WERE REALLY BEING LIFTED on that contraption! Holy cow! (I almost wish I hadn’t seen that part.) The "cars" really move around quite a bit, side to side, up and down, tilting. More than you realize when you're on the ride. It was funny to watch everyone lift their feet at the same times too. It’s one of those things that you have to experience to appreciate probably, but I’ll just say that most in our group were as impressed by this experience as they had been by anything else on the trip.

Oh – and it ended up that our group had gotten the second ride NOT because of our persuasiveness, but because a door had been locked, preventing the other group from getting down the steps in time to witness our first ride.

Once reunited, we made our way together to Turtle Talk with Crush. Phillip and I have never done this in Epcot, so it was interesting to experience. We then had an animation experience where we all learned to draw Mickey Mouse.



We were assigned cardboard tubes to save our “artwork.” These tubes would become even more important later that night.

We were each given five fast passes for use for the rest of the day and told that the day was ours, but, if we liked, we could have an optional group ride on the Tower of Terror. Most in our group chose to do this, although some did not. I was in the “did not” category, but went with the group to experience the pre-ride and queue. The interesting consensus of most who rode was, although it was fun of course, this was the first attraction they’d experienced that was actually better at WDW than at Disneyland. The line area was not nearly as detailed and “boiler-room-like” as the one at WDW for instance. And the effects weren’t the same on the actual ride.



Some of us then made our way to the California Screamin’ rollercoaster to use a fast pass.



Tonya’s mom Carol and I sat this one out, but we got pictures of those who rode, just before their “launch.”





After that, Tonya remembered that the Aladdin show is nearing the end of its run. Everyone had heard such good things about it (including seeing it on one of Samantha Brown’s shows), that we decided it would be worth the wait for the 1:00 show. We made our way back to the Hollywood area of DCA and found our place in line. I think we waited about 30 minutes before they seated us.

It was well-worth the wait. Broadway caliber show for sure. It was a very entertaining hour. I can see how, by fleshing the story out a bit, this could be Disney’s next Broadway offering.

Starving, we decided to sample some of the Food & Wine offerings from the main area.

You’ll find more information about the Food & Wine offerings in other places. I just know that what I had was good (cheese soup and a wonderful pear salad) and Phillip had some sliced beef sliders and a cheese plate. He played with the interactive Coke machine and I had a small glass of beer. The best part of this meal was that we met up with Don (SFBayDon) and had a nice chat while we ate.

Inadvertant post-meal hidden Mickey, captured by Phillip...



After this, Phillip and I were just completely wiped out. We returned to the Grand Californian for a much-needed nap. It wasn’t that this particular day had been so taxing. It was more that we had just reached our limit for a bit.

Our farewell dinner was scheduled for that evening. We all met in the lobby once more and made our way to a lovely conference room in the Grand Californian Conference Center where tables had been set for a rather formal meal. Wine was offered for this meal as well and there was a buffet serving line set up just outside in a small courtyard area. This meal was truly very good, especially for “conference center/convention” food.

Pete stood up and made some comments about the trip and the fact that we were celebrating Walter’s birthday, even though Walter had conveniently slipped out of the room at this point. Seems Walter is not much for a “fuss.” Pete quite eloquently expressed what most of us had been feeling about the trip, the people, the guides, ABD, and how our expectations had been surpassed.

Pete also told us then that Dreams Unlimited would be picking up the tab so that we could each receive the 1000+ Photopass CD of all of the photographs the guides had taken throughout the trip at no charge to us. Classy and unexpected!

When Walter returned to the room, the group presented him with the special birthday gift to which we had all contributed. I’m going to borrow Karen’s (klam_chowder) words to explain what he received, since she was the one who coordinated the gift (with help from Katherine and John).

Quote:
Originally Posted by klam_chowder
Walter's mother is a full status Lumbee tribe member and Walter is interested in his heritage. The pinecone patchwork design is recognized by those knowledgeable about Native American artwork as being unique to this tribe.

The artist, James Malcolm, is well known in the arts circles, active in his community, and was one of the highly recommended artisans by the Curator of a university which specializes in Native American culture. James is a frequent contributor to juried art exhibitions and is often travelling to Unity conferences, etc. He was wonderful to work with. If you want more information on him or to see more of his incredible work, check out his website: http://www.darkwaterdesigns.com/
Here is a picture of Walter with the gift that our ABD group presented to him for his birthday:



Walter was very surprised and quite touched by the gift. It was wonderful to have been a part of something which Walter (and therefore Pete) found so moving!

Here was Walter’s response, which many of you read here on the boards…

Quote:
Originally Posted by WalterAKAscar
I have to especially thank the wonderful group of people attending the Adventures by Disney trip with us who gave me one on the best gifts that I have ever received, a gorgeous pinecone patchwork from an artisan that belongs to the same Native American tribe that I belong to, the Lumbee. They had this beautiful piece of art shipped here from North Carolina. I was moved to tears by their thoughtfulness. I can never thank you guys enough. You have no idea how much this gift means to me. I will truly treasure this the rest of my life.
The ABD guides then showed us a slideshow made up of some of the pictures they had taken throughout the trip. I was surprised at how moved I was. Spending this kind of time with people, even if it’s a large group of 40+ people, with this kind of itinerary, sharing things that you all have an affinity for, creates friendships beyond what one would expect. I would have been much sadder if I didn’t know that we were going to see most of these folks again in December on the Podcast Cruise.

While all of this was going on, Disney artist and historian, Stacia Martin, who has been with Disney for over 30 years, was calling each party up one-by-one to draw a personalized sketch of our favorite classic Disney character – signed specifically for and to us. Phillip and I chose Pluto and, although I don’t have any pictures of it to share, we will be matting and framing it to hang in our family room. She was amazing. She talked to us the entire time she was drawing about the history of Pluto and all of his classic cartoon shorts!

Those cardboard tubes from this morning’s animation activity miraculously reappeared and the drawings were carefully placed in them for transport home! It is AMAZING!

Then, to top it all off, the big cheese himself and his best gal showed up for photo opportunities with all of the adventurers! Mickey and Minnie joined in the fun and were quite gracious in posing with everyone.

When it was time to depart, we were reminded about our fast passes and told that we would have a special private VIP viewing area near Main Street USA for the Disneyland fireworks scheduled for 9:30 that evening.

We ran back up to the room, dropped off our loot, grabbed a jacket, met up with Kathy again in the lobby, and headed over to Disneyland for the fireworks.

Our fireworks area was roped off near the Plaza. It was a great location. We slowly gathered there as people began to arrive. ABD guide, Jaime, earned his pay that night by showing his stuff as a Cast Member who’s done a little bit of everything at Disneyland. He continually ran folks off who stood in front of our ropes (and even one person who slipped under them). He was like a bulldog. It was great to watch.

The Disneyland fireworks are impressive. More impressive than Wishes in my opinion. It was a great way to cap off our farewell dinner.

After the fireworks, we added a few local DISers to our party and began to make our way round the park, using those wonderful fast passes (and sharing them with the locals). Pirates, Big Thunder Mountain, Space Mountain, we did them all. Phillip, Kathy and I shut down the park by finally getting the chance to ride the Matterhorn, which had been down earlier and only seems to be open on weekends. It’s a rough ride, but it’s a classic and THOSE 40+-year-old Yeti monsters actually work!

It was almost 1:00 a.m. by the time we made it back to the hotel room. We were very glad we’d added an extra night to our trip (as had many in the group), so tonight wasn’t our last night.

To be continued…
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Old 04-27-2010, 07:04 PM   #51
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Originally Posted by Dodie View Post

After that, Tonya remembered that the Aladdin show is nearing the end of its run. Everyone had heard such good things about it (including seeing it on one of Samantha Brown’s shows), that we decided it would be worth the wait for the 1:00 show. We made our way back to the Hollywood area of DCA and found our place in line. I think we waited about 30 minutes before they seated us.


[/I
Although I would love to take credit for remembering and suggesting the Aladdin show (mainly because it was on my must do list and can't believe I didn't even remember it), I think it was actually Sharon or Alissa or Lynne who suggested it. (Can't remember who at this point - that is how tired we all were at this point in the trip.)

No matter who suggested it, Aladdin was a great show and well worth the short time we waited to see it.
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Old 04-27-2010, 07:11 PM   #52
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Originally Posted by Tonya2426 View Post
(Can't remember who at this point - that is how tired we all were at this point in the trip.)
I hear THAT!
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Old 04-27-2010, 07:36 PM   #53
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Dodie you must have been right up front when that girl Julie was taking us from the tiki room to the Haunted Mansion. She lost about half the group and when I realized we did not know where to go I paniced. I thought just b/c she knew where to go she should have made sure the group stayed together. If it had not been for Bill hearing me yell I am sure there would have been half the group that would not made it the the Haunted Mansion.
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Old 04-27-2010, 07:48 PM   #54
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Post Tour Day (Sunday 4/18):

Theme: Now it’s time to say goodbye…
Word of the Day: Imagination


Our farewell breakfast was the Chip ‘n Dale Critter Breakfast at Storyteller’s Café in the Grand Californian and scheduled for 7:00 a.m. So, with barely any sleep, we again managed to get ourselves up and going and headed toward breakfast.

We sat with Pete and Walter, who had to eat quickly to catch their ride to the airport. We had the rest of the day, but we did joke about who was going to “snap” at the sight of a furry character first, Pete or me. We actually both ended up handling it quite well, I’m proud to say.





Phillip’s best “bear face”…



Loved both of these guys - each unique in their skills and Disney background! (ABD Guides Jaime and Michael)...



We decided to get to Disneyland early and head to Fantasyland to ride all of the classics. Kathy came with us. We went to the monorail station in Downtown Disney because we hadn’t done that yet. It deposited us inside Disneyland and we headed for Fantasyland.





I think because it was a Sunday (a locals day apparently) and we got there so early, the lines were non-existent to manageable all throughout Fantasyland.

We hit all of the things that exist there that are not at WDW, like the Casey Jr. Train, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, and the Storybook Land Canal Boats. Of course, we went on Peter Pan and Snow White too. It was a lot of fun.





Inside the “wild animal” car on the Casey Jr. Train…



Phillip cannot stand to ride It’s a Small World, so he sat that one out, letting Kathy and I go while he waited for us on a nearby bench.









We headed for some other favorites like Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Pirates. As we stepped off of Pirates, the Blue Bayou restaurant was just opening for lunch. On a whim, we checked and there was availability! I can now say that I’ve eaten there. The ambience is wonderful, I just wish Phillip and I would have split the Monte Cristo. We wasted quite a bit of food.

After one last ride on the Haunted Mansion, we split up to do some shopping on Main Street. Phillip and I then decided to head over to the monorail station, to take it back and see the other half of the loop. The weather had suddenly taken a brisk, cool, windy turn for the worse and the temperature probably dropped ten degrees while we were standing there waiting for the monorail.

Once we got back to the hotel, we sorted through all of our precious, irreplaceable purchases, figuring out how to carry those on the plane vs. putting them in our checked luggage. (Several folks in our group actually shipped their things back home, but we managed to not have to do that.)

Phillip wanted to nap, but I was afraid if I did that my day would be over because I wouldn’t want to get back up. I went downstairs to use the computer to check us in for our flight and picked up a really nice DVC Member fleece pullover in the GC gift shop. As I was headed back to the room to stash my new fleece, I nearly bumped into a couple walking through the lobby. The first thing that drew my attention was the fact that the man was wearing a really cool “Cars” themed Hawaiian shirt. Phillip and I love that movie and always complain about how there is no adult merchandise for either it or “Bolt” (our other favorite). I was thinking about asking the guy where he’d purchased it, until I realized that it was John Lasseter himself! (I knew that he had done a presentation at Food & Wine the day before, so I assume that’s what he was doing again.) I chose not to bother him (even though I do wish they had adult “Cars” merchandise). This would be the first of two brushes with “greatness” on this day.

I texted Kathy to see if she was back and if she wanted to meet me. We had a glass of wine and spent an hour chatting before saying our goodbyes until December and heading back up to our respective rooms.

I woke Phillip from his nap and we decided to head back through Downtown Disney doing some window shopping, especially since it was still a little windy and cold. Our goal was to go back into the Disneyland Hotel to look at the memorabilia on the walls that we had missed on our other two visits.

After we had walked back to the Grand Californian, he and I stopped for a couple of appetizers (dinner) and a drink in the bar to top off our trip. Once we were seated, I looked at the table next to us and saw this (stealth photo taken with my iPhone)…



There’s no mistaking that hair and those glasses on the back of his head. It was Guy Fieri of the Food Network. I knew he was also there for Food & Wine, so I wasn’t surprised to see him necessarily, but it did count as my second brush with “greatness” for the day. I didn’t bother him either, although a couple of annoying people did.

Even though we’d already bid our farewells, I texted Kathy again about our famous table neighbor. She was nearby, so she stopped in to share in the drinks and appetizers. It was now, honestly, time to call it a trip, go upstairs, and really pack.

To be continued…
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Old 04-27-2010, 08:06 PM   #55
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Glad you got the 2 sightings that must have been wonderful.

I have to say the farewell dinner was fabulous!

I got a Snow White drawn, but I guess that is no surprize to anyone.

I too am glad we had the extra day. We spent about 2-3 hours in the hot tub in the late afternoon. That made my feet feel a little better, and then we headed into DL in the evening to ride a few last rides.

We then started out of the park at about 11pm and John wanted to check at guest relations for a few last pin trades. So Anna Kim and I walked slowly back to the hotel. Well John had my wallet and roomkey card in his park bag, so I called him and told him I was going to wait in Anna & Kim's room. He said he was on his way.
So a few minutes later he showed up with a very special gift for me.
We then went and dropped off my gift in our room, and headed for a last drink in the bar. We sat sipped our drinks and talked by the outdoor fireplace. It was a wonderful end to a very wonderful trip!
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Old 04-27-2010, 08:54 PM   #56
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Dodie you must have been right up front when that girl Julie was taking us from the tiki room to the Haunted Mansion. She lost about half the group and when I realized we did not know where to go I paniced. I thought just b/c she knew where to go she should have made sure the group stayed together. If it had not been for Bill hearing me yell I am sure there would have been half the group that would not made it the the Haunted Mansion.
Julie was terrible leading our group through the park. She just took off like a bat out of heck and was clueless as to whether anyone was following. It was all I could do not to pull out the lightsaber and take over.
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Old 04-27-2010, 09:29 PM   #57
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Julie was terrible leading our group through the park. She just took off like a bat out of heck and was clueless as to whether anyone was following. It was all I could do not to pull out the lightsaber and take over.
I wished you had of I would have felt sooo much more secure knowing I had the lightsaber to follow!
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Old 04-27-2010, 10:42 PM   #58
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twelve of us made our way to Space Mountain, where our spaceship immediately stopped and was detoured to the left because our “train was too heavy.” Again? We’d bottomed another ride out? We all blamed Steakhouse 55...


I love this report! Goin' back for more....


... now I'm finished, but I still want more!!

Glad you had such an incredible, unique, and above all, fun experience with so many great people!



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Old 04-28-2010, 12:16 AM   #59
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No! Don't let it be over again!

I finally just got the first installment of my trip report up. My dad is extremely ill and I have scheduled an emergency trip to see him this weekend. Things have been crazy because of this, so I'm behind in all of the things I have meant to be doing. Once I get to New Hampshire there may be some quiet time to work with my photos and the report.

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Old 04-28-2010, 09:36 AM   #60
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As for Julie, I agree. Her short stature, the fact that she was dressed all in black, her fast pace, and the fact that she wasn't holding up an ABD sign made her VERY difficult to follow.

Jaime also had quite a brisk, take-charge attitude regarding pace, but he always held the sign up high so, even if you couldn't keep up, you could see where you were going.

I found Michael the easiest to follow. His pace was more reasonable, he held the sign high, and he tended to just be more aware of the whereabouts of the group in general.

Joey, although he didn't necessarily lead us, was very knowledgeable and helpful. I loved how he explained the many different combinations of experiences you could get on the Indiana Jones ride by using coins on the table. He also helped me find a "hidden restroom" near the Tiki Birds when that was a necessity! (Those restroom breaks were sometimes few and far between in my opinion - but I'm sure this was made even more difficult by our sheer numbers.)

I'm not finished with this trip report yet. I want to talk about the trip to the airport and our return home. Plus, I have some gushy summary type stuff I want to say. I'll try to do that yet this week.

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