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Old 04-28-2010, 02:17 AM   #1
Circusgirl
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Magic for 44, Please! ABD Backstage Magic DIS-Style

I’m meeting you here in this moment with an end of summer camp high, a state of heightened reality attributable to time spent sequestered away from regular life, pursuing marvelous adventures with fellow travelers and waking up each morning to new discoveries and extraordinary experiences. Although I know the intense glow will gradually fade away, the memories of this trip will be on my favorites list forever.

I don’t remember exactly where I first read or heard about the Adventures by Disney Backstage Magic Tour, but I do remember thinking that it looked incredible, but very pricey. It went into the category of very cool, but unlikely to happen. Then I read a trip report about it on the Disneyland boards, A Once in a Lifetime Adventure in Walt's Wonderful World, and I went from thinking I would never go to having it be a must. The first hand description of moments spent in Walt’s apartment, visiting Imagineering and riding the trains at Carolwood made it irresistible. When the DIS Unplugged and Dreams Unlimited crew announced they were booking a certain week in April, 2010, it became NOW. The initial spots on the trip booked up in a day. I was a moment too late in hearing about it, and wound up at the top of the waiting list. I was hopeful for a bit as people’s plans changed and a couple got onto the tour from the list, but then things stayed the same for a very long time. I had absolutely given up and hadn’t considered the trip a possibility in months when I found a message from Toronto, Canada on my cell phone after turning on my phone at the end of a flight from New Hampshire to Seattle.

I had been at a family reunion in rural Vermont and had not checked my home machine all weekend. The message was from a fellow DIS Boards habitué, Katherine (katscradle). (“Who do I know in Toronto?” I was thinking) Katherine’s news was that a spot had opened up on the tour and that I should call Kevin RIGHT AWAY!! I sent him an e-mail from my phone before the plane doors were open. When I got home I found many, many phone messages from him, increasingly urgently offering me the spot on the tour. I called to apologize for what must have seemed like an insane e-mail from me, since I hadn’t heard his messages at the time I had sent them, and thanked him for practically moving to Seattle to get in touch with me.

I was on the trip!! What was I in for? Two nights in Hollywood and three nights at Disneyland, in the company of what would turn out to be 43 other DISers. Who am I? I am a trombone playing, Cancan dancing veterinarian mad crazy for Disney. I was thrilled to anticipate traveling with people as mad crazy as myself, and their lovely, supportive partners. Who did I travel with? When the tour started on April 13th, we were the biggest tour group in the history of Backstage Magic, with twice as many travelers as the average group. We were from all over the United States and Canada, with the strong common thread of intense Disney appreciation.

Of our group, some traveled partnerless, and some as pairs. Disney runs so deep in some people that I started thinking of it as a genetic trait. Of our pairs, some were homozygous for Disney love, like Bill and Jennifer. Others, like Tonya and her DM Carol, or Jim and Linda, were heterozygous, with one of the pair affected. If you asked those pairs if one of them was the primary Disney motivator they would say, “Oh yes, she (he) is.” There were some folks new to the DIS, and others with many friends along. I shared a room with Alissa (spokanemom), who I had met on the initial thread about the trip when she posted asking if anyone wanted to share a room. There was a hefty $900 single supplement, and after talking on the phone Alissa and I decided we would not only get along, but enjoy having someone to share the trip with, not to mention freeing up some big bucks for much better things.

The travelers were also accompanied by the flatties, a legion of paper doll images of friends with changeable outfits, shoes, and even underwear, magnificently created by Tonya and escorted on our trip by an army of volunteers. The flatties even had their own thread, This is the place for live photos and updates from the DIS ABD Backstage Magic Trip!

We had two primary guides, Jaime and Michael, and were joined by a third when we departed Hollywood, with the further addition of a fourth for our huge day at Disneyland.

The whole bloomin’ lot of us had been brought together by John, Kevin, Pete and Walter. What we ended up with because of them was what had to be the coolest and best Backstage Magic tour ever.

One of the high points of the planning was anticipating and then hearing about what Kevin told us would be a “head exploding” surprise that was being arranged for our tour by John with the help of some friends. We learned about the surprise at Disapalooza in December, and much anticipatory fun was had as we waited without any patience at all to hear what we would be doing. On February 23rd, in a special chat, the dizzifying news that we would having breakfast at Club 33 on the Friday of our tour was revealed. Shortly after that Kevin reported that ABD had also asked him to ask us to submit “blue sky” ideas for other things we’d like to do, and they would see what they could arrange. We asked for all kinds of things like slumber parties in the park, special food and wine experiences and previews of the WOC. It would remain until the tour to see what, if any of these would emerge on our schedule. Kevin reported to us that he had been told there would be surprises even for the planners, and indeed there were special things!

The tour would end on Sunday April 18th after breakfast, but I had booked two post night stays, correctly anticipating that leaving any sooner would have been impossibly difficult. I loved gently coming down from the intensity of the trip into a regular Disney kind of day.

Our first hotel was the Renaissance Hollywood, smack dab in the heart of the area bounded by the Kodak Theater, The El Capitan Theater and Grauman’s Chinese. The Hollywood Walk of Fame was right outside and people costumed as famous figures from the movies prowled the streets. After two nights there, we’d move to the Grand Californian for three nights.

The dining schedule was laden with giant breakfasts (most notably Club 33!!!, but also Goofy’s Kitchen and Storyteller’s Cafe as well as a brunch at our Hollywood hotel.) We would have a special breakfast at the Disney Soda Fountain, with the restaurant open early just for us. We had a lunch in the park at DL and dinner at Hook’s Pointe planned. Our farewell dinner would be a private affair at the Grand Californian.

Everything about this tour was special. Jim Henson Studios! Imagineering! Club 33! Walt’s Barn! Mad shopping orgies at Mickey’s of Glendale and Club 33! Things we didn’t even know about! Best of all was doing all of these things with an exuberant gang of new friends.

As highly anticipated as our adventure was by everyone both separately, and together on our pre-threads, April 2010 Backstage Magic: California Here We Come!!!, and ABD 2010: Disers go West - Let the Fun Begin, the reality of it was shinier and more amazing than any of our expectations. Looking forward to individual events and moments didn’t prepare me for the whole of the experience, and the sheer rush of the whole brought tears made of elation and exhaustion when it was time to part at the end of the trip.



Day 1 - Hollywood is Ours!





We had counted down together, with the group gradually assembling in Los Angeles over a few days as some people did pre-trip days in California. I was one of the last to leave home, departing Seattle at 9 am on the 13th, arriving into LA at 11:30.
I had carefully folded my gear into the stated ABD guidelines of one checked bag, one carryon and one personal item, attached the gay yellow Adventures by Disney Luggage tag to my big bag and then delightedly handed off said bag to Alaska airlines at about 7 am on Tuesday the 13th. One of the things I was really looking forward to about the tour was not having to schlepp my luggage, and I had been instructed by my pre-departure tour booklet to look for my friendly ABD representative at baggage claim, so I was happy to think I didn’t have to mess with my luggage again. I picked up my favorite bacon-cheddar strata at Dish D’Lish and hiked out to the gate. I enjoyed my breakfast and was pleased to have an empty seat next to me when I boarded the plane.

I snoozed some on the way, waking up to clouds and then the expanse of LA to the sea. I walked in from the pod at the end of the wing of the terminal and found my way to baggage claim. I looked with eager anticipation for the ABD sign held by a charming friendly greeter, but saw only strange names held aloft by a listless crowd of drivers. The luggage was arriving already, so I went down to the luggage area, thinking I would perhaps find my person there. No person, but my bag popped right up, so I retrieved it. I sadly contemplated the luggage carts.







I decided that since my flight had been a little early maybe I was there before my person arrived. I went back to the greeting zone and found no friendly face. The unfriendly ones were beginning to wonder why I kept looking at them hopefully. I fished my ABD pre-tour booklet out of my bag and called for instructions. The cell phone connection was terrible and we were disconnected so I dragged my stuff outside and tried again. They also called me back, and when I got on the line it was like 911. They really didn’t want to lose me again - I was on hold and on the line with several of them at once. After being passed along the line of information, I got friendly Al on the line, who told me I needed to hop on a inter-terminal bus and go to the United baggage claim for my ride. As quickly as possible. Apparently everyone was there, waiting for me.

Sad to be schlepping my bag, I checked with the information desk about where to go for my bus, and then hiked there somewhat grumpily.

Non princess-like inter-terminal bus:







I hauled my bags onto the bus and then off again at Terminal 7. It was a bit of a walk to the baggage claim for United. The info ladies at the desk right inside the door I entered fortunately had seen the ABD sign and motioned me down the room toward the group. There they were! Eight of us, ready to go with my arrival. Someone from the group pulled my big bag for me, restoring some of my princess fantasy.


Finally, someone with a sign of sorts:







I later remembered some mention in some discussion of being picked up at the United Terminal (sorry, guys!) but my pre-departure handbook didn’t contain that information, and at that point I was moving strictly by the book.

We moved out to the curb and waited for our van to pull up. Everyone chatted about their adventures thus far. Most had arrived a few days ago and were just returning their rental cars to the airport. The van pulled up and I jumped on. I ended up sitting in the far back with the luggage and no seat belt. I was a little nervous about going on the freeway unbuckled, not wanting to become a grisly vacation statistic, but we arrived safely, passing by the El Capitan theater just before getting to the hotel.







The hotel had somewhat of an Eames theme, which I liked, and featured Eames loungers in the lobby.







Our guide Jaime was there at a table in the lobby, waiting to check us into the hotel.







Jaime had our room keys, and also gave us a new tour booklet which contained our daily itinerary. We took some pictures and were given instructions for meeting later, at 3:50 on the mezzanine level outside Twist restaurant. We would go to our opening reception and then walk a short distance to our first dinner.


I made Frank and Cathy pose with the clapper board.






Finally, really someone with a sign! Even if it was me!







My room was ready, and Jaime told me that I had just missed Alissa. I headed up to the room to settle in and unpack. We had a fantastic view of the hills, the Hollywood Sign, and the Magic Castle. The decor was spare, modern and comfortable. The bathroom had Aveda products, although we only received one set for the two nights.






















My luggage was in the room when I got there, and there were goodies from ABD waiting for us - a somewhat odd assortment of cute little binoculars in a cute little case, a duffel bag, a pen, antibacterial wet wipes and bag tags to label our stuff for the move to Disneyland.



c



I was driven out of the room by gnawing hunger. It was 2:00 and I hadn’t eaten since my airport snack at 8:00. Although our meet time was soonish, I realized I needed a bite so as not to descend into terminal grumpiness so headed down to the mezzanine for the exit into the Hollywood and Highland shopping mall. In the mezzanine there was a fun exhibit about Charles and Ray Eames with holographic images of the many types of things they built and designed.







Once out in the open air shopping structure, I looked around at the available options and decided to go with a favorite travel meal of yogurt-fruit-granola mix from Starbucks along with a coffee pick-me-up. Feeling a little silly starting my big fancy trip with my totally Seattle snack I found a table in the courtyard under the to scale replica elephants from the D.W. Griffith movie “Intolerance” and watched delighted children shrieking and playing in the fountain.







While I finished my treat I made some notes in my travel journal, and then went back to the room to get ready to meet the rest of the group.




Handy-Dandy Short-Cut Guide:

The Adventure Begins!
Our Adventurers Meet, Dine, and Get Presents!
Meet, Dine, Presents, Part 2
Trio of Theaters, Disney Soda Fountain
Theater Trio, the Hollywood that Once Was
Muppets Make Me Happy

Last edited by Circusgirl; 10-02-2010 at 01:09 AM. Reason: Fixing this and that...
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Old 04-28-2010, 02:35 AM   #2
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I'm here!

Looking great so far!
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Old 04-28-2010, 02:44 AM   #3
Circusgirl
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 3guysandagal View Post
I'm here!

Looking great so far!
Wow - you got here super fast!!

Last edited by Circusgirl; 08-16-2010 at 11:40 PM.
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Old 04-28-2010, 02:50 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Circusgirl View Post
Wow - you got here super fast!!

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Old 04-28-2010, 03:37 AM   #5
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Me too, me too!!! I'm here!!!!!!!

Fantastic start, loving it already, but can't help the "curiouser and curiouser" thing!

More please!!!

Oh, and I love this:
"I was on the trip!! What was I in for? Two nights in Hollywood and three nights at Disneyland, in the company of what would turn out to be 43 other DISers. Who am I? I am a trombone playing, Cancan dancing veterinarian mad crazy for Disney. I was thrilled to anticipate traveling with people as mad crazy as myself, and their lovely, supportive partners."

Mad crazy...as are the very best people!
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Last edited by tothesea; 04-28-2010 at 03:57 AM.
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Old 04-28-2010, 03:49 AM   #6
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Already laughing!

Hi John!!!
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Old 04-28-2010, 04:50 AM   #7
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Can't wait to hear more!
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Old 04-28-2010, 05:54 AM   #8
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We too are so very NOT into traipsing through the dark when a bucket will do just great
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Yay! Yay! Yay!! I have been wondering if you were going to share your incredible, amazing adventures with us!!! You're already off to some really big fun!!

I had to chuckle at your "Seattle snack" reference. Too funny!

Schlepping your own luggage- BOO! No seatbelt.

What a view!!!!!!!
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Old 04-28-2010, 09:12 AM   #9
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This is the 2nd TR for the Adventure at Disneyland. I'm glad you posted here. Welcome.
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Old 04-28-2010, 11:16 AM   #10
Circusgirl
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tothesea View Post
Me too, me too!!! I'm here!!!!!!!

Fantastic start, loving it already, but can't help the "curiouser and curiouser" thing!

More please!!!

Oh, and I love this:
"I was on the trip!! What was I in for? Two nights in Hollywood and three nights at Disneyland, in the company of what would turn out to be 43 other DISers. Who am I? I am a trombone playing, Cancan dancing veterinarian mad crazy for Disney. I was thrilled to anticipate traveling with people as mad crazy as myself, and their lovely, supportive partners."

Mad crazy...as are the very best people!

Hi Missy! So glad you're here!


Quote:
Originally Posted by AlexJB View Post
Can't wait to hear more!

Welcome aboard!


Quote:
Originally Posted by All7OfUs View Post
Yay! Yay! Yay!! I have been wondering if you were going to share your incredible, amazing adventures with us!!! You're already off to some really big fun!!

I had to chuckle at your "Seattle snack" reference. Too funny!

Schlepping your own luggage- BOO! No seatbelt.

What a view!!!!!!!

Yay, you're here!

I was so excited when I got into our room at the Renaissance and found we had that classic view of the Hollywood sign.


Quote:
Originally Posted by OhMari View Post
This is the 2nd TR for the Adventure at Disneyland. I'm glad you posted here. Welcome.

Thanks! I debated whether to post here or on the DL board, but since I hang out here more, and also because I thought it would be fun for this crowd to hear more about a west coast trip, I decided to be here. With 44 of us on the trip, and many dedicated Disers, there may be more to come!
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Old 04-28-2010, 11:26 AM   #11
All7OfUs
We too are so very NOT into traipsing through the dark when a bucket will do just great
What a fun way to meet new folks and say howdy
 
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I see your ticker says another trip is in the works- and only 16 days from now!! WOOT!

Any more thoughts on a Sept. trip to WDW?
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Old 04-28-2010, 11:42 AM   #12
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I'm hitching a ride down memory lane.
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Old 04-28-2010, 02:00 PM   #13
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I'm so glad you are posting about your trip. Can't wait to share in the magic!!
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Old 04-28-2010, 02:22 PM   #14
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Wow! I'm excited to read you TR. Your first post seems so action packed and you've only just gotten to the hotel!
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Old 04-28-2010, 04:08 PM   #15
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Yay! I'm so glad someone else is writing a trip report for our big trip!

Excellent job so far, Heather!

Plus, your photos are better than mine. Anyone interested in another version of the activities, feel free to click on the link in my signature for my trip report!
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