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Old 11-30-2012, 12:50 PM   #16
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I am loving your report!
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Old 12-02-2012, 03:48 PM   #17
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AHHHHH!!!!
What a cliff hanger! Waiting for the rest of cars land report


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Old 12-03-2012, 02:50 PM   #18
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Part 5: Welcome to Radiator Springs
Day 3, Part 2
Parks


Walking into Cars Land... talk about surreal. It looks exactly like the movie. The Imagineers have done an excellent job. I know we say it with everything they do, but this time they have truly outdone themselves. Wow.


Crowds were not the sardine mess I expected based on the Fastpass experience.

Up first was just some leisurely strolling and exploring. I didn't want to rush right into the attractions quite yet. And what better way to be welcomed to town than by Mater himself! We stopped and met him at the Cozy Cone Motel. Him and Lightning seemed to switch off pretty much all day long, even well into the night. There was never a time that I didn't see either of them meeting Guests there. They talk, but the dialogue is sort of awkward. It's just random phrases, not live conversation, and the mouths are clearly not moving, so to me it felt like the talking made the characters seem less real than more real. But that's just my opinion, if I was a little kid I'd probably think it was the coolest thing ever. I'm really, really glad Lightning and Mater drive through the town on the way to their meet & greet instead of just staying put all day. It adds an extra level of believability, much like seeing Mickey in Toontown, that makes Cars Land seem all the more real. Hopefully more citizens of Radiator Springs will make their way to the Park soon.


It was so cool to watch everyone's faces as Lightning drove through town.

Still getting over the fact that I was actually in Radiator Springs, we arrived at Flo's V8 Cafe for breakfast. I got the brioche French toast. Very good! Not very filling, but I knew snacktime would be soon, and it was still very tasty. I'd recommend breakfast at Flo's simply to avoid monster dinner rush-type crowds. We ate around 9:30, had speedy service, and were able to choose where we sat from many empty tables. The smaller crowds allowed us to appreciate the atmosphere in a way we might not have been able to do during peak dining hours.
Overall Flo's V8 Cafe rating:




After breakfast, we explored some more for a good 40 minutes. So much fun detail to soak in! We stopped by Ramone's, Lizzy's, and Sarge's. I ended up buying some DCA pins and my grandmother bought the Cars Land soundtrack because she liked the background music so much (GREAT album). We took our time and enjoyed looking around, and even ran into Red the fire truck all by himself over near the path to a bug's land. Even though his show was having issues when we visited (anybody know if it ever get around to performing??), I'm glad Disney still kept Red as a meetable character. I'd definitely recommend some time in Cars Land to not schedule anything specifically, but to just stroll around and enjoy. Not only does this embody the whole theme of Cars, but there is also so much to look at that you'll have lots of fun exploring.




I really didn't understand this hat. I'm all for fun Disney headgear, but... ??? Which brings me to another WDW/DL comparison: I noticed a lot less silly Disney outfits and hats. This might have to do with (though this is just a guess) Disneyland being a more local resort than WDW, meaning WDW Guests are more likely out-of-town tourists who want to buy something and wear it to commemorate their trip, whereas locals to DL don't have a need to buy as many things because they'll be back soon. That's just speculation, though. I saw so little headgear that I felt out-of-place wearing my graduation Mickey hat to the character breakfast on the last day and ended up leaving it in the hotel room, something that I would not have hesitated to wear at WDW because everyone would be wearing similar items.


This was about 10:30, crowds still very reasonable, but keep in mind RSR was still not open.


Next up, the plan was to experience either Luigi's Flying Tires or Mater's Junkyard Jamboree, or maybe both if the lines were ok. Luigi's was 75 mins, so we opted to check back later, but Mater's was 30 so we hopped in line. Ordinarily I honestly would not have waited so long for either attraction if it were just the attraction itself, but I really wanted to experience all that Cars Land had to offer and especially wanted to look at all the details the Imagineers placed in the queue. Lots of fun stuff in both for sure!

Something that really brings extra value to Mater's is the music. It's Mater singing random songs, but they describe his personality to a tee and make for a nice background to the ride as it spins. My grandparents loved the "Big Bulldozer" song and were singing it the rest of the trip. I later found out the Billy and the Hillbillies from Frontierland performed the music for the songs. Very neat.
Overall Mater's Junkyard Jamboree rating:


Next up, we exited Radiator Springs for the time being and checked out the Imagineering Blue Sky Cellar. Before entering, I took a shot of the now-pretty-dense Cars Land. This was around 11:15, just 45 minutes after the previous crowd picture.


I guess I expected the Blue Sky Cellar to be a bit bigger for whatever reason, but in any case I am really glad it's still in use despite the fact that the expansion is complete and there is nothing left still in development. It focuses on the creation of Cars Land, both real in the Imagineering sense and fictitious within the Cars story. You could really spend a long time searching around. The new short Time Travel Mater plays, as do several behind-the-scenes videos. I loved the Radiator Springs newspaper... part of it said, Tow truck Mater said he had never seen a firetruck do anything like that. "Mostly," Mater added, "because I ain't never done seen a firetruck." I had never really thought about the truly colossal amount of work that goes into developing something for the Disney Parks, as the displays here shed some insight on. Sure, I had thought about creating stories and engineering the attractions, but I had never considered that everything down to paint selection and CM costumes' fabric choice are part of it. Lots of hard work!!
Overall Blue Sky Cellar rating:

And now, on to soak in the sights and sounds of California Adventure's other newest crowning jewel: Buena Vista Street.
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Old 12-05-2012, 04:35 PM   #19
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Part 6: I Love to Laugh
Day 3, Part 3
Parks

I didn't allow myself to see too many spoilers of all of DCA's new things because I wanted to leave the majority of it a surprise, but I did do some research about what neat things might enhance our trip. One of these things was Clarabelle's ice cream, specifically the create-your-own ice cream bar. I sent my grandparents pictures of it a few weeks before our trip and we were all really looking forward to it. It did not disappoint! If I remember correctly, I got vanilla ice cream with milk chocolate shell, and then added chocolate chips as a topping. SO GOOD. We decided to eat outside to soak in the atmosphere, and in those moments, I fell in love with Buena Vista Street. Wow. The background music, the trolley gliding past, Chip and Dale making trouble a few paces away, and in the middle of our snack the Red Car News Boys even began their performance. And to top it all off, I was leisurely enjoying these sights and sounds all while taking in the Buena Vista Bugle. Excellent, excellent job with Buena Vista Street. Really one of the best atmospheres in any Disney Park. Food, music, live entertainment, brilliant theming... it's just all there.


Buena Vista bliss

One minor note about the Red Car News Boys... great show, but the constant modern "remix-ish" beat that accompanied almost every song was definitely not needed. To me it took away from the rest of the magic Buena Vista Street tries to convey, and it's a good enough show to not have the need for a modern element to attract an audience. It was still a great show, but the beat was distracting I felt.

After our ice cream, I spotted one of the locals and decided to talk. Donna the Dog Lady was very happy to tell me all about herself and introduce me to her dog, Lady. I introduced her to Perry and she was over the moon about him. She said Lady and Perry could be great friends. Another reason why Buena Vista Street is just brilliant.


We also met up with Mickey in his 1920s attire. In front of us in line was a little boy who was off-the-wall ecstatic about getting to meet the real Mickey Mouse. He kept jumping up and down saying things like, "I can't believe it's really him!" It really reminded me how much of a celebrity the Mouse really is. Also while in line, a family passed by and a child said, "Mommy can we meet Mickey?," to which her mom replied, "No, he's at work right now. We'll visit him later in his house when he's not working." Nice save.

Next up, we hopped on over to Disneyland (Park hopping is so much easier in California lol...). We stopped for a bit to enjoy the Dapper Dans, as I realized that although I had seen the Dapper Dans many times over the years in the Magic Kingdom, I had never actually stopped to watch one of their performances. Well that to change real fast! We caught most of their show, and they even pulled my grandmother into a few of their songs.


But what we were really hopping to Disneyland to see was, in the Mad Hatter's words, the "world-famous Disneyland musical chairs." I've been watching the crazy antics of Disneyland musical chair on YouTube for years, long before I ever dreamed I'd ever visit Disneyland, so the thought of seeing it in person was thrilling and surreal to say the least. The DIS really saved the day on this one. Back in the spring when I was making our trip plans, I asked what time musical chairs started, and just assumed that it would stay the same until our trip. At the last minute, the day before the trip, I asked again just to make sure and wouldn't you know it, the time had indeed changed. It was at 1:00 in July, not sure if that's still the case. But I really would have been bummed if we missed it, so thank you, DISboards!!

Since musical chairs isn't on the Times Guide and is really meant to be something that you stumble upon and not wait for, most people in Coke Corner were minding their business as usual. Eric, alone, approached the ragtime piano and began playing at 1:00. He played for several minutes and nothing else seemed to be happening, and for a second I feared the time had been changed again. Just when I was about to admit defeat and try again another day, I spot something approaching in the horizon... a man with a large green hat and a girl in a popping blue dress. SCORE.


The next 30 minutes was absolutely wonderful. While we weren't part of the game, we very much enjoyed watching the madness unfold. The Mad Hatter had my grandparents and I in stitches. He is such a great character in the Parks... we had breakfast with him in WDW a few years ago, and were glad he could entertain us again. For instance, in the last round, two girls were left and the Mad Hatter instructed them to follow Alice around Main Street and do everything she does. Well they went off, and the Mad Hatter turns around to talk to Eric the pianist. A few seconds later a boy comes into the musical chairs circle and starts dancing to the music, and the Mad Hatter turns around and says, "You turned into a boy!"

Afterward, Alice and the Mad Hatter held a meet & greet. They took their time with each and every Guest, whereas I would've thought they'd rush through everyone quickly since they had already been in the area for a good 30 minutes even before the meet & greet started. When it was my turn, we talked about why Perry wasn't wearing his hat today (Alice seemed very informed about Phineas and Ferb haha), they asked me which of my pins was my favorite, and a few other things. It was finally me who made the "Why don't we take a picture" comment, not them.

Next we headed back to the HoJo for a few hours of napping. I think I had some of the leftover Cafe Orleans in lieu of lunch (because there was certainly plenty of it left!).

After resting up, we re-entered California Adventure... it was Radiator Springs Racers time!!!!!!!! Based on what I had read, I was expecting a bit of a wait even though we had FastPasses... but I guess since the ride opened late on that day things were different, because we literally walked right on!! My grandparents were tripping out about walking right passed the 3-hour line of people waiting. In all honesty, a lot of RSR was spoiled for me ahead of time. Despite my best efforts to stay away, a lot of the details were simply unavoidable in my Twitter feed and such (and in a Disney 365 TV spot when they basically gave away the entire indoor portion of the ride... though I should have known better on that one). In any case, despite knowing what was coming, there were still a few surprises, and RSR is, as I'm sure you've heard by now, stellar. It combines classic Disney storytelling with the exhilaration of a thrill attraction. It’s engaging, it’s exciting, and it’s fun, with brilliant Randy Newman music from the film seamlessly woven into the ride (in a masterful way that I don’t remember ever being done before on a ride) accentuated by incredibly lifelike Audio-Animatronics figures—it’s everything a Disney attraction should be.
Overall Radiator Springs Racers rating:

We had some time to kill before World of Color and I didn't really have anything specific planned, which turned out to be somewhat of a problem because we ended up deciding to go to Little Mermaid, but then had to walk behind the end of the Pixar Play Parade to get there, slowing us down and slightly spoiling the parade when I planned on seeing it later in the trip. Our time could probably have been spent more efficiently elsewhere, but it's all good. Little Mermaid was a walk-on, even with the thick post-parade crowds pouring into it (that Omnimover system is really something!). I didn't really have any expectation for this ride... not sure why, but it amidst everything else in the trip it really wasn't at the top of the radar. That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a great blend of traditional Fantasyland-style storytelling with 21st-century Imagineering magic. Well done!
Overall Ariel's Adventure rating:



We ate dinner somewhere in Pacific Wharf... nothing great to be honest, in retrospect we should have gone to the Carthay Circle's first floor... I got home and realized we never even stepped foot in the Carthay Circle. Anyway. We still had some time to kill before World of Color, so I checked the Times Guide and saw that Five & Dime had a performance starting really soon. We headed over to Buena Vista Street (it was slowly becoming our favorite go-to spot!) and enjoyed their show. It was really fun, and again another great piece in the grand BVS project. I liked how they incorporated the Three Little Pigs song into their show.


It was nearing 8:00, so we headed to Paradise Pier for our World of Color FastPass return time. However, the moment we arrived around 7:55, I knew I had misjudged the situation and we should have arrived earlier. With all the protocol with RSR, I assumed Disney would be strict about the 8:00 time to let Guests in to grab a spot for World of Color. Not so, because many Guests had already been let in with 8:00 times. We still had an ok spot, but not the best. Pole was in the way... but front row!


Wow. What a show. Since World of Color (for the most part) focuses on the last 20 years' worth of Disney animation, it was practically my entire childhood wrapped up into one show. There were some scenes that I knew were going to be awesome right when they started, like the Buzz Lightyear scene (ASDFKJHSADFKJWAHFRI) and the Pirates scene. EXCELLENT show.
Overall World of Color rating:

World of Color made me realize something about Disneyland Resort that WDW really can't do. Only having two Parks, DLR has a very definitive line in dividng two distinct eras of Disney history. Disneyland recalls the classic stories and characters that gave The Walt Disney Company its groundbreaking start—stories and characters that have been beloved by families around the world for decades and are still just as beloved today. California Adventure, on the other hand, celebrates the modern face of Disney entertainment with stories and characters that fuel the Company’s growth today. It can almost be viewed as Disneyland embodies Walt’s lifetime while California Adventure exemplifies Walt’s legacy that has remained after his passing. Of course, there are several exceptions (like Buena Vista Street, for example), but for the most part, this remains true in a way that doesn't in Florida because of everything being spread out across four Parks instead of two. In this way, Disneyland Resort as a whole—with Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure—tells the complete Disney story to the Guest while Walt Disney World’s four Parks present many individual Disney experiences to the Guest. I felt a wider, more genuine appreciation for the Disney name in Disneyland Resort, perhaps because of the rich history that derives there.

After World of Color, the last thing on the agenda for the night was another ride on RSR, but this time in the single rider line. I knew I would want to ride multiple times, and also hoped it would be a slightly different experience at night. My grandparents decided to wait for me at Flo's. (Let us pause for a moment to realize how cool the essence of that sentence is.)

As I approached the single rider line, a very nice Guest approached me out of nowhere and asked if I was a single rider, to which I said yes. Honestly I thought she was going to ask where single riders were supposed to go, but instead she said she had one FastPass that her family wasn't going to use and asked if I wanted it. Awesome!! The FastPass line was, at this point, no longer a walk-on as it was earlier, but the wait was still reasonable. Probably about 30 minutes? It was insane riding at night, I highly recommend it. The kindness of the Guest giving me the FastPass made me want to be a little nicer to my fellow Guests, as well, so from that point on anytime we got FastPasses but not all of us wanted to ride (mostly for the thrill rides that my grandmother opted out of), I still used three tickets to get three FastPasses so that we had an extra to give away. Something small, and it was hit or miss whether we found anyone who wanted them, but it was fun to spread some magic ourselves, and I think that'll be a tradition I'd like to keep up in future Disney trips.

And Cars Land in general at night... dang. Words don't even describe how cool it is. You are really in the movie. It's unbelievable.

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Old 12-06-2012, 02:54 PM   #20
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Old 12-06-2012, 09:43 PM   #21
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I can hardly wait to visit DL and CA soon! I love your style of taking in all the best attractions and yet still enjoying relaxing times like on Buena Vista Street. Did your grandparents enjoy the World of Color? How do you think this show compares to Fantasmic? Also does DL have Fantasmic still? (I'm sorry for all of the questions!)
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Old 12-07-2012, 03:41 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by heaven2dc View Post
I can hardly wait to visit DL and CA soon! I love your style of taking in all the best attractions and yet still enjoying relaxing times like on Buena Vista Street. Did your grandparents enjoy the World of Color? How do you think this show compares to Fantasmic? Also does DL have Fantasmic still? (I'm sorry for all of the questions!)
Thank you! I like to plan to not have a plan, if that makes sense... planning to have time to just explore without an agenda, but knowing the general area you'll be in.

My grandparents loved World of Color, but they liked Fantasmic a lot more. That's one of their favorite things at WDW too, so that's probably why. Disneyland does have Fantasmic still, on Tom Sawyer Island. I enjoy both shows so much but if I had to choose a favorite, probably Fantasmic. They're just so different in their styles, one being all water and the other being mostly characters. Another instance about the dividing history line----Fantasmic is classic Disney up until early '90s with Beauty and the Beast, World of Color is classic Disney from the '90s through today. Both are so quintessentially Disney.
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Old 12-09-2012, 09:48 AM   #23
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I am so enjoying your TR! I've been to WDW 9 times and I'm going to DL for the first time in March, and this TR is exactly the information I've been looking for! Thank you for sharing!
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Old 12-10-2012, 07:43 PM   #24
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I am so enjoying your TR! I've been to WDW 9 times and I'm going to DL for the first time in March, and this TR is exactly the information I've been looking for! Thank you for sharing!
Thanks! That was almost exactly me haha. Let me know if you have any specific questions.
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Old 12-10-2012, 08:21 PM   #25
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Part 7: Step In Time
Day 4
Ronald Reagan Library


Road trip! We rented a car and headed to Simi Valley to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library to see D23's Treasures of the Disney Archives exhibit. It's running there through April 30, 2013. This was a relatively last-minute plan. About a week before the trip, I realized we had an entire extra "chill" day scheduled just for Downtown Disney and exploring around DLR but without going to any Parks. I was struggling to come up with good ideas to fill this day with, so eventually decided to scrap it altogether and introduce the Reagan Library as an idea. My grandparents were very receptive to the new plan, and so we shuffled a few days around and ended up scheduling the Reagan visit for day 4.

Earlier in the trip, we stopped by the Alamo car rental place in Downtown Disney, but ended up finding a better rate from a car rental service from a nearby hotel on Harbor Blvd. (I think it was Camelot, but I'm not entirely sure.)

In any case, we headed off listening to our new Cars Land CD (great product!). The trip maybe took 2 and a half hours. I guess I never noticed it on the bus ride to DLR because I was so excited, but on this car ride I really paid attention to the California freeways.... and, well... they're disgusting. No green grass, litter everywhere, and overall just a very unpleasant look. Not quite the same as the roads back home!

But the unsightly ride juxtaposed the contrast wonderfully for Simi Valley. The place is beautiful. Clean, aesthetically pleasing, and mountains everywhere.


We arrived to the Reagan Library around maybe 11:30-12. The main, permanent museum plays as a walkthrough biography of President Ronald Reagan, which I found to be far more fascinating than expected and spent a lot more time looking through than I thought I would. Artifacts, videos, messages, photographs, and artwork tell the story of Reagan's life before getting to board the actual Air Force One, the presidential private plane that was used through Clinton's tenure.


The tour includes a recreation of the Oval Office as it was when Reagan was president.

After Air Force One, we stopped to have lunch at the in-house restaurant. I think I got pizza or something.

Then it's on to some more historical stuff (which looked great, but I skipped for time's sake because I was fearful of running out of time before the 5:00 closing), and then finally the Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives!


Presented by D23, this is the largest public showcase the Disney Archives has ever done. Its presentation is very, very akin to Walt Disney: One Man's Dream over at Disney's Hollywood Studios in Florida, though here the artifacts hold greater historical significance and are in much greater abundance. (Truth be told, you'll see much more here than you will on the quick trip to the real Archives on Adventures by Disney's Los Angeles tour.)


The exhibit touches every major area of the Disney legacy, from Walt's early beginnings all the way to Tron, and everything in between, with something that is sure to fascinate every member of the family. My favorite had to be the jar of dirt from Pirates of the Caribbean. Given the location, history aficionados are kept in mind with a whole room devoted to the film National Treasure and another dedicated to The Walt Disney Company's many ties to United States presidents, both of which probably wouldn't be featured if the exhibit were showcased somewhere else.


It's important to keep in mind that even though this is indeed the largest collection that the Walt Disney Archives has ever put up for public appreciation, the exhibit is not a full-fledged museum itself like the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco. We covered it all in about an hour when taking it all in slowly and going back to my favorite parts twice. By comparison, we spent about two hours looking at the Ronald Reagan things. Some elements are just lightly touched on when thinking about what could have been particularly animation after Walt Disney's lifetime, but we must be thankful for what is present rather than griping about what isn't, because truthfully what is here is nothing short of stellar. The Maleficent head from Fantasmic? The original book copy of Mary Poppins that Walt used as reference when making the film? This stuff is awesome.

To get a scope of the magnitude of seeing these treasures in person, take a look at the pencil drawing below that Herb Ryman drew in one weekend; it was the first, initial plan for what Disneyland would look like. I had seen this drawing many times before on the Internet and in various books and documentaries, so I barely glanced at it when strolling through the Archives exhibit. That was, until a museum employee saw me taking pictures of other artifacts and pointed my attention to the Ryman artwork. "Now this is something that you want to take a picture of," he suggested, before recalling the story of the drawing. That's when it really hit me--yes, I had seen this sketch many times before, but this was the real deal, the original artwork, with the fine pencil detail visible in a way that just isn't clearly seen in copies. That was when I took a minute and realized how special a lot of the pieces on display were (and are). I may have seen some of them before, but to get a chance to see the actual real McCoys and not reproductions or pictures was incredible.


After having our fill of the awesomeness of the exhibits, we soaked in the view outside for a while before heading back to the car. However, since we were so close, we couldn't pass up a trip to the Pacific Ocean on the way back to Anaheim...


For it to be July, that water was COLD! It was so windy that we literally pulled up to the beach, got out of the car, ran to the water, stuck our feet in, and ran back to the car just to say we had stuck our feet in the Pacific Ocean.

Anyone making a trip out to Disneyland between now and April 30 should definitely set aside a day for an excursion to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum. Including the somewhat roundabout trip to the coast (read: we got lost), the entire day took about ten hours (you can subtract about two to three hours from that if you cut the visit to the ocean). Plan on spending about three to four hours at Reagan. Pricing is very reasonable, with the highest ticket being the $21 adult ticket (plus there's a discount for D23 members and their families).

It might be a little out of the way, but it is so worth it. From the looks on visitors' faces and the positive impression I got from employees for how the exhibit seemed to be pleasing guests, I hope that the Archives will consider other opportunities like this in the future, because this one is excellent. When one visitor was peering at a pirate ship vehicle from Peter Pan's Flight, a museum employee remarked, "Brings back a lot of memories, doesn't it?," to which the visitor struck up a whole conversation that I had the pleasure of overhearing about how Peter Pan's Flight was her favorite ride as a child, and so on. There are true personal connections a lot of people have with these treasures, and the opportunity to see such iconic pieces of Disney history up close and personal, especially considering they have never been offered in such vast capacity before, is a real treat.

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Old 12-13-2012, 01:16 PM   #26
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Taking our first DL trip next year, and I'm loving your insights and writing!
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Old 12-14-2012, 12:29 AM   #27
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Thanks for sharing your trip to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library! I haven't made a trip to DL yet since moving here and want to go see the Disney artifacts at the museum.
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Old 12-20-2012, 05:38 PM   #28
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Part 8: Jolly Holiday
Day 5
Adventures by Disney: Lights, Camera, Magic


I was really looking forward to this day. It was our Adventures by Disney tour day, and all three of us were really excited. I will preface the report of our ABD experience with these two notes:

1.) This particular ABD tour is being discontinued as of January 18. It was first introduced in late 2011 and I suppose Disney has decided it's not worth the effort. We initially had to reschedule our tour date because Disney called and said we were the only party signed up for the day, so my guess is that not enough people know about the Lights, Camera, Magic experience.

2.) That is a real shame, because it exceeded our expectations tremendously. Excellent service (one of the best showings of the Disney Difference I have ever seen), a full day (around 11 hours), unprecedented access, entertaining, insightful, and jam-packed. At $200 per person, it's also a bargain for what you get (especially considering transportation, lunch, and snacks are included). And there is absolutely no hassle involved, which we certainly appreciated after getting lost en route to the Reagan Library. For the Disneyland Guest who also wants to include Hollywood in their vacation itinerary, this tour is perfect. If more people knew about it, I'm sure it would be sold out every day it was offered. In fact, we were originally planning on coming back to Hollywood for another day on our own, but decided we had seen so much on this tour that we scrapped the extra HW day and added another Disney day to our Park Hoppers.


Anyway.... this trip report will include all spoilers and surprises for this ABD tour, so if you happen to be taking it between now and January 18, don't read any further! It is also said to be a condensed, one-day version of the multi-day Backstage Magic ABD tour (which is not discontinuing), so same if you're taking that adventure. Know that you will have a wonderful time, but don't spoil all the fun for yourself.

The day started with check-in at the Grand Californian at 8 a.m. We met our Adventure Guide, Robin, and she told us that things would officially get underway at 8:30, but in the meantime we could enjoy complimentary goodies in a nearby lounge. SCORE. One thing you will realize very quickly about this tour (and I would assume all Adventures by Disney excursions) is that they spoil you, so take advantage of what they offer! It's all-inclusive! I think I got hot chocolate or something, and after that we strolled around the GC for a bit.

8:30 arrived and it was time to get things started. Robin introduced us to our Assistant Adventure Guide, Natalia, and our bus (excuse me, motor coach) driver, Don. All three of them were wonderful. The ride to Hollywood was pure Disney. Games and trivia with everyone onboard, Hollywood videos on the TVs, and Disney background music playing (!) when nothing else was going on. We ended up at the back of the pack and thus at the back of the bus, which was still fine, but I felt a bit distanced from everything during the trivia and such. I'd suggest being intentional about where you position yourself for an ABD experience.

On the way into town, my nerddom was about through the roof as we started to pass landmarks and altogether just very exciting "things."




Excitement was through the roof for everyone as we officially arrived in Hollywood and found out our first stop would be viewing the Hollywood sign! The bus dropped us off right near the Dolby Theater (formerly the Kodak Theater), where the Oscars are held each year. It was no more than a few steps from the parking deck where we arrived for our Hollywood sign photo-ops. I was expecting a bit closer, but the opportunity was awesome regardless. It's the Hollywood sign!


The only bad part was that our camera is really good at focusing... which ordinarily is great, but in this case, we later saw that in all the pictures with us in front of the Hollywood sign (rather than just the sign itself)... you can't even tell that the sign is there. Oh, well.


We headed out into the thick of Hollywood next. As I said, we were near the Dolby Theater. Also very close by in this area is the El Capitan Theater and Grauman's Chinese Theater, with the Hollywood Walk of Fame stars all around on the ground.

Next up, the trip's first Disney surprise. There is a station on Hollywood Blvd. that offers families the chance to pose with a blank "star" (as in, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame), and when the picture is printed out, your family's name appears on the star. Robin announced that we would all be getting these complimentary. Very cool!

For the next 10 minutes or so after the picture, we were able to roam the area as we pleased. That wasn't too much time considering there is so much going on in the area. I tried to take pictures of as many neat things as I could find!








I know this opinion isn't across-the-board, but I was a little surprised to see that the Harry Potter handprints were right next to Twilight... as limited space as there is in front of the Chinese Theater, I didn't expect to see Twilight included in the first place to be honest. I know it has been a really popular series, but... has it really made the same impact that Harry Potter has? I just don't think it has left its mark on Hollywood enough to (pun alert!) cement its actors forever in front of the Chinese Theater with the likes of Shirley Temple and Edgar Bergen. That was just a bit puzzling to me. Also sort of weird to put it right next to Harry Potter.

Anyway. A quick 10 minutes later, we met back up with Robin and headed into a private tour of the Dolby Theater! Robin turned it over to an employee at the theater (I can't remember his name), who was extremely knowledgeable and shared loads of great info about the theater itself, as well as all the preparations that go on to prepare for the Academy Awards. No pictures were allowed inside the theater itself, but we did get to go inside! It is a lot more vertical that the cameras make it out to be. The guide shared a ton of fun stories about his years working the Oscars. One of the ones I found funny---commercial breaks are a mad rush of people running around and everything has to be just in place by the time the break is over. No seat is left empty, either. If someone in the audience has to leave (like to present, perform, or use the restroom), there are people whose sole job for the night is to be a "seat filler" and take up the seats for people who temporarily get up!


We probably spent a good 45 minutes inside Dolby listening to the guide's info. Afterward, Robin explained that usually there is more time to roam around Hollywood Blvd, but we had gone a little over inside Dolby so we needed to get on the motor coach without another set of free time. We crossed the street and made our way to behind the El Capitan Theater to board the motor coach. I hope that the extra roaming time is allotted for this side of the street, because there is a lot that was missed, and some pretty fascinating info that the Adventure Guides did not talk about. I think Robin briefly said that the El Capitan is owned by Disney, but didn't mention that almost every Disney film has its premiere here, or that the finale of The Muppets was filmed on the very ground we were walking and that the El Capitan's exterior (but not interior) stood in for the Muppet Theater in that movie. I would think that that stuff is relevant for a Disney-run tour, but it wasn't even mentioned.



Also since the El Capitan is Disney-owned there are a ton (and by a ton, I mean... a ton) of Disney-themed stars on the Walk of Fame just in front of the theater, but not a one of them was pointed out by the Adventure Guides. I about had a freak out every time I spotted a new one, and tried to snap quick pictures of each one while also keeping up with the brisk pace of the group. It was like "Aaskdjflajdf Tim Allen's star!" then "IOuoirag Alan Menken," followed by the excitement of "IGuroajgjoifsjfkl John Lasseter," "Tildjioajrga Tinker Bell," "Igjaofigjrfj Donald Duck," "Piaorghituahgs Winnie the Pooh," "IHrioahgorigijs Disneyland," "AKjvhioahgireh Annette Funicello," and finally "AWGOIRAJGIORJSIOAEJG THE MUPPETS!" Muppets was the only one I managed to get a decent picture of (some of the other pics are either blurry or have feet in them lol).



The lack of sharing that info didn't take away anything from people who didn't know about them, but I would think Disney fans taking this Disney-themed tour would be interested in learning about the El Capitan and seeing the Disney stars on the Walk of Fame, so I'm surprised nothing was mentioned.

We drove through the heart of Hollywood to get to the world-famous Farmer's Market. I'm not sure what makes it so renowned, but apparently it is. It was on this ride that we really got to see that Hollywood is not really all glitz and glamour, and most of it is actually quite run down and touristy. There are well-kept places for sure (particularly those of historical significance), and the studios and filmmaking facilities are of course state-of-the-art of top-notch, but as for the city itself, it's sort of I was glad we were with a group and had an itinerary and not just roaming by ourselves without a clue of what we were doing.


And speaking of that, it was at the Farmer's Market that my grandparents and I came to the conclusion that, even if we did come back to Hollywood on our own a few days later, there really wouldn't be that much more to see. I wanted to take a picture outside of Jim Henson Studios and it would be nice to go back and thoroughly explore the Walk of Fame, but we didn't think that justified a whole extra Hollywood day. This tour had exceeded our expectations so much that we really didn't need the extra day like we thought we would (which again makes me puzzled as to why it's closing).

Everyone was given a $15 gift certificate good for anything in the whole Farmer's Market (and there was definitely plenty to choose from). I think I ended up getting Mexican. If the balance of the meal did not meet $15, I was surprised to find out we would be given the change in cash that we could keep. Fine by me! To be honest, the Farmer's Market was a bit congested and didn't exactly scream "Hollywood!" to me, but lots of choices and historic (I guess?) location.

After lunch, we continued to cruise en route to Burbank, and along the way, our driver, Don, shared excellent information about everything we passed along the way. For instance, on one street we were on, he said the left side's homes have a Hollywood address while the right side's homes have a Beverly Hills address. Even if homes on both sides were the exact same building, the Beverly Hills home would be twice as much money simply because it has Beverly Hills in its address!

We passed by several noteworthy places, including the Hollywood Bowl.



Warner Bros., where The Middle is filmed. My family loves that show. ("Whoop!")



And NBC!



The second half of the day would be spent exploring the thing we were all waiting for, practically bouncing out of our seats in anticipation for, quite arguably the reason every single one of us had booked the tour in the first place: The Walt Disney Studios.
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Old 12-22-2012, 12:08 PM   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lsulindy View Post
Taking our first DL trip next year, and I'm loving your insights and writing!
Thank you! You will have such a great time.

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Originally Posted by heaven2dc View Post
Thanks for sharing your trip to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library! I haven't made a trip to DL yet since moving here and want to go see the Disney artifacts at the museum.
You should! It is really neat out there.
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Old 12-22-2012, 12:30 PM   #30
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I was a little surprised that they took so long at the Dolby Theater when you could have visited the Disney Soda Fountain and taken more time along the Walk of Fame. But def worth all of the history learned - I've always wanted to be able to go in there! Since I moved here, I've been up to Hollywood a couple of times and on my last visit was pleasantly surprised to view the Hollywood sign from the walkway on an upper level of the Kodak Theater and found a few more stars related to Disney. I agree with you about Farmers Market - I go up to The Grove/Farmers Market at least once a month to see what is going on there (never had a chance to see Mario Lopez taping live for "Extra" since I work days). I always get a headache after walking thru the shops at Farmers Market but maybe its because I go on weekends when it's more crowded).


It's too bad Adventures by Disney is discontinuing this tour. Is there another way to tour the Walt Disney Studios?
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