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Old 07-26-2008, 03:34 AM   #1
SusanEllen
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Yet Another Happiest Place on Earth Report Disneyland--Day Four, June 12th, 2008

[So, now I’ve reached the page in my journal that’s neatly dated Thursday, June 12 with the words A Walk in Walt’s Footsteps on the next line and then not another word!! What little there was on the page was written before we left the room that morning. I’m sure I thought I’d have lots to record when we returned from the tour for an afternoon break and to dress for our dinner at Napa Rose. As it turned out, we did manage to get back to the hotel to change out of our park clothes, but with little time for anything else. Then after dinner we went to Disneyland where we stayed until midnight. It isn’t that I forgot the journal, but when we returned at 1 AM it was easy to convince myself that I could leave it to catch up later. We now see the sad results of that decision. The thing is, I know better. Many times I’ve seen Kevin writing notes in the parks, while standing in a line or when we stopped for a drink, but apparently that knowledge didn’t transfer and it never dawned on me to carry along my notebook. I’ve read trip reports by writers who said they were writing from memory and my hat is off to them. I can’t imagine doing an entire report that way after struggling with this one day. Luckily I did have help from our itinerary, the structure of the tour itself, and our photos. Especially helpful was the electronic brainstorming through e-mails with Sharon. I think I’ve patched together a fair representation of what Day Four was for us. Sharon has suggested I tell you that anytime you suspect that times don’t quite match or you think I surely left something out here or there, you can just plug in “shopping” and you’ll probably be right.]

Finally, we had a day that didn’t have to start before the sun was up—and that was a good thing, especially as it followed the jam packed day we’d had in DCA. Neither Sharon nor I are of the You-have-to-keep-going-we’re-at-Disney-for-goodness-sake! School of thought and “leisurely” would almost always be our preferred speed for moving through the parks. Somehow, though, the ambitious itinerary we’d set for ourselves was sweeping us along at a faster clip. The wake up call came the night before when we discovered that we were both too tired to carry on shopping in the World of Disney after dinner. Unbelievable to both of us, that we could be surrounded by thousands of Disney items to see, consider, caress, and/or buy, and neither of us could carry on shopping for longer than 10 minutes. I will admit to you now that before we left the World of Disney last night, I was this close to crying—or worse, whining! Sharon hadn’t been in much better shape. So, this morning we had a conversation about what we could do to make sure this never happened again. (What if Howard found out that Sharon actually had a shopping limit?! This could not happen!) I suggested that we could lessen the pressure to rush if we removed a Priority Seating or two. I thought that might give us a little more flexibility and allow us to avoid the feeling that we had to hurry and do things before it was time to return to the hotel to get ready for a dinner. We only had three dinners left—tonight’s Napa Rose (the reservations for which you would have had to pry out of our cold dead hands as neither of us was willing to let go of that PS—Sharon, because she’d never been there and me, because I had!), Friday night’s dinner at Steakhouse 55 (a Disneyland Hotel restaurant, recently re-imagined and refurbished and new to both of us), and Saturday night’s at Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen (the most difficult to change as I had arranged for friends from LA to meet us there). We hated to miss any of these restaurants, but agreed it was the thing to do. Steakhouse 55 seemed the easiest to let go and so I called Disney Dining and with a catch in my voice, cancelled the reservation. (Don’t feel too sorry for us, though, because in less than 24 hours Fate and organized labor were going to lend a hand.) That done, it was time to head for Disneyland where we were supposed to be at City Hall on Main Street by 9:20 to check in for the A Walk in Walt’s Footsteps tour that began at 9:30.




Lucky again to be part of a smaller than usual tour group, we were two of the five guests our guide and hostess Andrea would have to herd through the various lands of Disneyland. She was dressed in the modified riding outfit that Disneyland hostesses have always worn. She carried a riding crop that she was quick to tell us (as she flashed a Stepford wife smile) was never referred to as a whip.

[Editorial opinion about Disney Hostesses: Here’s where I’d like to mention that Andrea was very good at her job. Very good. She told us that she grew up just a few miles away and visited here countless times before she started working for Disneyland when she was a teenager. She recently graduated from university and though she didn’t tell us this, we know that by working in Guest Relations, particularly as a hostess, she is on the Disneyland management fast track. Andrea spoke in pleasant tones, moved and walked with perfect posture, but we know she hadn’t gone to any old modeling school. She’d been trained by Disney, to embody Disney excellence. I believe that in a Disney hostess we are as close as we’ve ever come to creating an American geisha.]

Andrea distributed and demonstrated the audio devices we would be wearing on the tour that would allow us to hear her as we traveled and when we were close to crowds without her having to raise her perfectly modulated voice. The tour itinerary was explained to us, questions answered, and we were off.




Straight up Main Street where things that most of you reading this already know were told to us—the names stenciled on the windows in the fashion of businesses a hundred years ago are all people who have been honored for their contributions to Disney and particularly Disneyland; the screened grates on the fronts of some of the Main Street stores that look like speakers are really for the disbursement of “baking scents” in the afternoon and evening when baking on Main Street has ceased for the day, so that it always smells like warm cookies even when there aren’t fresh ones coming out of the oven; that sort of thing.






You all know this view from the end of Main Street at Walt Disney World, so this should give those of you who haven't been to Disneyland yet a better idea of the size difference between Sleeping Beauty's Castle and Cinderella's. You, no doubt, know that Sleeping Beauty's Castle is the smallest of all the Disney castles. That can't be argued, nor can the fact that this one was and always will be the first Disney castle. When it was built in 1955 there was nothing else like it in any amusement park in the world. It was the castle in my childhood dreams.


We stopped at the hub for photos and then moved on to Adventureland where we rode the Jungle Cruise. (Speaking of this later Sharon and I said we probably would have skipped the Jungle Cruise on Tuesday if we’d known it was part of this tour, but you know, twice is better than once anyway.) We headed next to Frontierland with Andrea dropping pearls of Disney lore along the way. She really did know her Disney history and the route of the tour was logical and helped to keep the narration cohesive. In Frontierland we took a closer look at the Golden Horseshoe Saloon than I’d ever taken before and were told how the interior designer had built the set for the Doris Day movie Calamity Jane just before he was commissioned to design the Golden Horseshoe and if we’d take a look at that old movie we'd see the saloons were almost identical.





The Golden Horseshoe Saloon will look familiar to those of you who have been to the Hoop-dee-Doo Review at Pioneer Hall in Fort Wilderness at WDW.


Andrea pointed out the Fess Parker window above the store next to the Golden Horseshoe. In addition to Fess’ name, his Disney character name, Davy Crockett, is on the window.




We moved on to New Orleans Square and the attraction that was worth the cost of the tour, Club 33. For years I’ve wanted to get in that place! I’ve read its history in many books and read trip reports written by lucky people who’ve dined there. I’ve stared at the tiny photos posted online and imagined myself sitting in that Victorian opulence glancing casually around the room to see Tom Hanks or Johnny Depp at the next table. But the closest I’ve gotten to a Club 33 guest is my niece’s husband, who was the guest of a client there a couple of years ago. Sharon almost got us in this trip. She has a friend, who has a brother-in-law who maintained a Club 33 membership for years. When Sharon’s friend called him he said he would have been happy to let us use his privilege, but regretted having to tell us that he no longer had the membership. (About belonging to Club 33, though neither the price for membership nor the annual fee was mentioned, Andrea did tell us that the waiting list is so long and openings are so rare that the list was closed and no new names have been added for years.) So, I can’t buy my way into the Club, but the price of the tour (less the 20% VISA discount) could get me into the lobby!





Club 33 is above the Blue Bayou, the restaurant at the start of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. It famously is the only place in Disneyland where alcohol is served. It was designed and built for VIPs, celebrities, and Disney brass and you can bet that Andrea wasn’t going to let any of us up even one single step of the staircase that leads from the lobby to the Club. Call it a crop. Call it a whip. Whatever you call it, Andrea held hers subtly but noticeably higher as she spoke about the most exclusive part of Disneyland just at the top of the stairs.



[Club 33 is adjacent to what was originally intended as an apartment for Walt and Roy and their families. The space was never used for that purpose because Walt died while New Orleans Square was being built and apparently Roy no longer cared for the idea. The apartment space was used for years as an art gallery where guests could buy prints and see a rotating collection of Disney concept art and models from the Disney Archives. It was still being used for this purpose when the Stringers and I were there in 2005 and it was on the apartment’s balcony that we sat watching Fantasmic and enjoying the dessert buffet. The balcony is no longer available for Fantasmic viewing. The gallery was moved out to make way for the Dream Suite as part of the Year of a Million Dreams celebration.]

Although Walt never got to see Club 33 finished, his influence is all around, evident even in the lobby. The beautiful old elevator (which I suppose I should call “lift” as it came from England, I think, although it was called a French lift) was discovered, bought, and sent to Disneyland by Walt for this Club. We got to step inside for just a few seconds. What a shivery feeling that was, standing where you know not only Walt stood when he was choosing this lift, but hundreds (thousands!) of very famous people have over the past forty-five years.






Think of the Adventurers Club at WDW as I tell you this next thing. Walt didn’t want the Victorian interior decoration of Club 33 to be as stuffy as he feared it might be, so in addition to the fancy, gilded, and hand painted decorations that he knew were being chosen for the walls of the Club, he asked the Imagineers to make three talking heads that would pass for ordinary animal trophies but would be programmed to startle unsuspecting guests as they dined. Sound familiar?

We were in the Club 33 lobby longer than I imagined we’d be allowed. There was no problem with us taking as many photos as we wanted although there were only so many things to photograph in this small area. It was fun to see this place, to get inside the door I’ve looked at longingly from the outside so many times. I left thinking that now that I’ve gotten my foot in the door, it’s just a matter of time until I get up those stairs.

We walked through the back streets of New Orleans Square to the train station where we moved past dozens of guests/passengers to the conductor who opened a gate just for us when Andrea waved her crop toward him and smiled sweetly.

[No doubt you know that the Disneyland Railroad is one of the oldest rides in Disneyland, operating from the day the park opened. I just wrote—then unwrote—a bunch of stuff about Walt and his love of trains. I deleted it because it wasn’t part of the tour spiel and because as a Disney fan you probably already know about Walt’s fascination and personal history with trains. You may already know that one of the reasons Walt designed Disneyland as he did was to accommodate his beloved narrow gauge railroad. If you haven’t read about Walt & railroads and you’re planning a trip to Disneyland, I suggest you do read up on the subject as it will add so much to your experience when you actually see and ride on Walt's beautiful trains.]

From New Orleans Square we traveled through Critter Country and for awhile followed the Rivers of America, seeing wildlife both real and Disney, pioneer settlements and Native American villages along the way. For a few seconds we were inside Splash Mountain and able to see the riverboat with the talented animals singing “Zippity Do Da” below us. We stopped briefly for passengers to get off and on at the Toon Town station that’s between the back of Fantasyland and Toon Town. Immediately past the station we moved through the Small World exterior currently draped for its year long refurbishment--and yes, some things are being changed and some dolls are being added. Let's see how that goes over with the Disney Purists.

[You may have read Debbie’s and Tony’s replies to my Day Three report in which they both commented on how very different the same attraction can look in different parks. Debbie expressed her surprise at the uninspired facade of Muppet Vision in DCA. There are many attractions that can be compared this way, among them It’s a Small World. Here, too, there are extreme differences, only this time it’s in reverse with Disneyland having the elaborate façade.]



Here's the traditional look of Small World. It is the exterior that's been used ever since the ride was installed following its appearance at the 1964 World's Fair. I have lots of pictures of Small World with the original pastel colors but none that is digital, so I borrowed this photo from Google Images. The color is too saturated, but you get the idea.



This is how Small World has looked since it was done up for Disneyland's 50th Anniversary three years ago.

We got off at the Tomorrowland station. [When you go to Disneyland, I suggest you hop on the train and stay until you’ve done a complete circuit. It won’t take long and it will give you a better idea of Disneyland’s size. The Imagineers have been very clever in their use of space and in masking one area from another so that you may be tricked into thinking it’s much bigger than it is. Disneyland is, of course, smaller than the Magic Kingdom, and yet it has attractions not found at MK and still others worked into one land or another here that are actually in entirely different parks at WDW.]

We walked past the submarine lagoon and got our first look at the newest Disneyland ride (a reincarnation of one of its oldest) the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage. We were circling the Matterhorn—“World’s first steel roller coaster, etc” when all of a sudden Sharon was not beside me anymore and I heard this sound of distress coming from behind me. I turned to see her fumbling with her camera. “Darn battery,” she was saying as she tried to pull out the old one and put in a new one. “Darn. Darn,” she was saying and it was obvious it was not the camera that was upsetting her.

SUSAN: What’s the problem?
SHARON: There are some people from Sierra over there! (Sierra meaning Sierra College where until this past year Sharon worked in the office of the president; “over there” meaning the exit from Matterhorn.)
SUSAN: So, what’s the problem?
SHARON: They were holding hands and laughing!!!
SUSAN: Well, what’s the problem?
SHARON: They’re married!!
SUSAN: And the problem . . . ?
SHARON: Not to each other!!!
SUSAN: Oh!



Here’s the shot Sharon finally got of the scandalous couple (an affair rumored for years, but now here was the proof—nearly! You’ll have to look hard because they had just disappeared around the curve in the walk when Sharon finally got her camera back on.) This is a small park-like area at the edge of Autopia. The track at the top of the picture was originally Disneyland’s TTA track, then the magnificent but ill-fated Rocket Rods, and it now stands unused.

Andrea, apparently unaware of this bit of soap opera happening on the fringes of her orderly little tour group, was leading us out of Tomorrowland, on our way to Adventureland and the Enchanted Tiki Room. We entered with the next group of guests, the CM at the door letting our little party in first, and watched the show that, like the Jungle Cruise, we’d done on Tuesday. When the other guests exited after the show, we stayed behind and heard the story of how on a trip to New Orleans Walt found a charming little music box--a bird in a cage whose beak opened and closed in synchronization with its song. He bought two of the birds—one for his collection and one for the Imagineers to take apart. Thus Audio-Animatronics was born. We were also told that originally the Tiki Room was planned to be a restaurant with the Animatronics being a dinner show. The cupboard in the center of the room was actually a bussing station and Andrea opened one of the doors to demonstrate. She then left us, returning in a couple of minutes wearing a white glove on the hand in which she was carrying a precious Disneyland artifact--Miss Lily, one the original flowers in the Tiki Room, still operational, but now retired.



Miss Lily is one of the oldest Audio-Animatronics in the world.


Our tour had now been to every land. Andrea had been regaling us with vast amounts of Disney history for nearly three hours. We certainly had gotten our money’s worth, but we weren’t done yet. Back up Main Street we marched to the Main Street Cinema, where we stepped into the small viewing room where ancient Mickey cartoons run continuously. What a perfect way to end this tour, to follow Walt’s Footsteps to the Mouse who made it all possible. Here Andrea recounted the story we all know so well about the swindle pulled on Walt and his loss of Oswald Rabbit in 1927, the event that forced him to create a new starring character--Mickey. She reminded us that two years ago (almost 80 years after he was stolen away) Oswald was returned to the Disney Company when Bob Iger (yeah, Bob!) did a deal with Universal and traded ESPN Monday Night Football announcer Al Michaels for Oswald. (Al has said that he believes his place as a Trivial Pursuit answer was cinched by that deal.) I haven’t told you by half what we heard on this tour. It was an excellent tour—format, content, and pace. If you get a chance and you’re the kind of person who enjoys knowing the back stories of familiar places or if you just love Walt, take this tour.

We left the Cinema at 12:30, three hours after the tour had begun, but still not done. Lunch was included with the tour. Once more we walked back up Main Street, this time to the Plaza Garden Stage area just to the left of the Castle, in a spot wedged between the Castle and Frontierland where it's fairly hidden by a wall of shade trees that have grown large since their planting half a century ago. I don’t know how many times I’ve been in this park, but I truly thought I’d been everywhere. I hadn't! I'd never been here! But I’d seen this stage many times when I was a little girl watching the original Disneyland TV show, programs with young entertainers that Disney hoped to make pop stars like Annette Funicello (Mouseketeer in the 1950s Mickey Mouse Club) and Hayley Mills (star of several Disney movies including Pollyanna and Parent Trap). Week after week I would watch them standing on this very stage singing songs the Sherman brothers had written for them (always with the synergy those Disney folks!). I had been reminded of those concerts on this stage years later when old black and white kinescopes of those early episodes were resurrected and shown on the Disney Channel program Vault Disney . I had no idea this stage was still here. I assumed it had been dismantled years ago to make way for something else. Disneyland is hemmed between four Anaheim streets and so has always been hard pressed to find space for new things. Often a new attraction here means an old one has to be retired to the great Yesterland of our memories. So, it was a delight to find this historic stage still here and still being used--today by a large high school choir. They were singing show tunes to a small audience of friends and chaperones, but sang like it was a packed house. Umbrella covered tables bordered the back of the audience area and it was here that we met another hostess who was waiting for us with our lunch. We were given the sandwiches that we'd chosen when we checked in this morning, really good ones from the Main Street Bakery served with a wonderful fresh fruit salad. Our cookies were from the Bakery, too, of course. Andrea sat at our table and was charming company. She talked a lot and only ate a few potato chips. She told us she would eat her sandwich later when she was “off stage.” I stand by my Stepford wife reference at the beginning of this report, but even so, I have to give Andrea proper due for being Disney perfect in her role as hostess. She was very serious about her responsibilities, but her genuine enthusiasm for her work shone through just a little bit now that she was sitting with us and breaking bread. She told us she loved her job; that tours like ours were fun, but she really liked the days when she served as a VIP hostess. She said Julie Andrews had been in the park recently. I asked her if she’d gotten many autographs. She said that she, like all CMs, was not allowed to ask for autographs, but if a celebrity offered to sign something, she could take it. I asked who she’d met. She really couldn’t tell us because Disney policy protects the privacy of VIPs. She said she enjoyed those VIP assignments because on those days she takes the VIPs from ride to ride and she gets to ride whatever they are riding. She told us that sometimes park guests said ugly things as she moved her VIPs to the front of lines, but, she reminded us, it’s always about show here and the show is always DISNEY. And here’s where Andrea’s veneer cracked! She didn’t exactly cross the policy line, but she just couldn’t help herself any longer and had to drop a name as she elaborated her point about how it’s always Disney’s show. She said, "For instance, when I have David and Victoria Beckham and their children here, I can’t have them stand in a line or else everyone would forget about the ride and the ride's story and all anybody would think about are the Beckhams!" She was way off the script now and the sparkle in her eye was genuine. Andrea, bless her heart, is a real person after all.

. . . to be continued

Day Four, Part 2 here: Day Four, Part 2

Last edited by SusanEllen; 10-18-2008 at 01:10 PM.
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Old 07-26-2008, 08:47 AM   #2
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Fantastic report of the tour, it sounds so interesting and something i'd love to do in the future It's funny.. I'm actually listening to Doris Day and 'The deadwood stage' was on when I read the bit about the saloon and Andrea is absolutely correct about it being the same as in the movie. I'm a bit of a fifties movie buff and a huge Doris Day fan
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Old 07-26-2008, 12:14 PM   #3
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it's great to see the other main disney park and so well recounted.!
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Old 07-26-2008, 02:08 PM   #4
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Sounds like a great tour
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Old 07-27-2008, 02:34 PM   #5
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Fantastic, Susan! And I must say ... not bad for not having taken notes (since you are an educator, I'll request your pardon for the double-negative). Can't wait for the remainder!
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Old 07-27-2008, 04:06 PM   #6
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Dear Sharon,
Believe me, I would never use a red marking pen on words written by someone kind enough to reply to my report. I have enough to do checking my own work in the hope of not embarrassing myself on this Board. However, since you brought it up, let me assure you that your concern about making an error was unnecessary. The word "not" used twice in the same sentence did not constitute the dreaded "double negative" we were always cautioned to avoid by our high school English teachers. Your reply is correctly written and communicates your thoughts in a clear and vibrant manner. I give you an A+

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Old 07-27-2008, 05:52 PM   #7
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Thanks Susan - I have not seen a grade that high in quite some time!

Oh - and I have to add that even Evan got a chuckle out of the exchange between you and Sharon prior to her snapping the "elusive" proof.
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Old 07-29-2008, 06:47 AM   #8
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Great report Susan and you did a fine job in remembering everything.

By the way, when you see me making notes when I have an odd minute to spare in the parks, it actually says:

'Two hours since my last beer'
'Three hours since my last beer'
'Had a beer'
'One hour since my last beer' etc.

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Old 07-29-2008, 07:04 AM   #9
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What a fantastic review of your day. I really appreciate all the detail you have put into your reporst, thank you. x
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Old 08-01-2008, 09:05 AM   #10
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Brilliant, well worth my day off for just reading these, fabulous report of the tour and one I would love to do
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Old 08-02-2008, 05:17 AM   #11
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Well I have had to come back to this day Susan as I was intrigued about Club 33, I had never heard of it, so googled it and found out loads of interesting facts about it. There is a website pretty much dedicated to it with pictures and facts and I now so want to have a look inside Or maybe when I finally get there I will be the one hanging around outside the door celebrity spotting
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Old 08-12-2008, 03:21 PM   #12
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I am still meant to be packing for our drive to Spain and have not had a bath yet, these reports are so good and will not have a laptop when away so have to try to get them finished before I go.

Absolutely brilliant


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Old 08-20-2008, 04:51 AM   #13
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What an exciting tour, especially getting to see Club 33, wow, I would love to do that.

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Old 10-18-2008, 02:30 PM   #14
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I love the shots of Club 33 - I'll keep my fingers crossed you make it up the stairs on of these days. Hopefully Andrea and her "crop" will be absent
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Old 10-21-2008, 07:54 AM   #15
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Posts: 1,373

Quote:
[So, now I’ve reached the page in my journal that’s neatly dated Thursday, June 12 with the words A Walk in Walt’s Footsteps on the next line and then not another word!! What little there was on the page was written before we left the room that morning. I’m sure I thought I’d have lots to record when we returned from the tour for an afternoon break and to dress for our dinner at Napa Rose. As it turned out, we did manage to get back to the hotel to change out of our park clothes, but with little time for anything else. Then after dinner we went to Disneyland where we stayed until midnight. It isn’t that I forgot the journal, but when we returned at 1 AM it was easy to convince myself that I could leave it to catch up later. We now see the sad results of that decision. The thing is, I know better. Many times I’ve seen Kevin writing notes in the parks, while standing in a line or when we stopped for a drink, but apparently that knowledge didn’t transfer and it never dawned on me to carry along my notebook. I’ve read trip reports by writers who said they were writing from memory and my hat is off to them. I can’t imagine doing an entire report that way after struggling with this one day. Luckily I did have help from our itinerary, the structure of the tour itself, and our photos. Especially helpful was the electronic brainstorming through e-mails with Sharon. I think I’ve patched together a fair representation of what Day Four was for us. Sharon has suggested I tell you that anytime you suspect that times don’t quite match or you think I surely left something out here or there, you can just plug in “shopping” and you’ll probably be right.]
.... oh dear, Susan, the trippie police won't be pleased! Rule 23D clearly states that
Quote:
"whilst trippists are normally permitted to leave credit cards, keys, passports, elderly dependants and children behind, they must under NO circumstances forget their trippie book/journal whilst on active park duty"


From Seaworld, 2006:



..and, as Kev remarked above, I always keep it handy to be sure I record every brandy stop that we make...

Rome, 2007:



and, Barcelona, 2008:




I trust it won't happen again?

Nice reporting... I love the idea of a 'secret' club in a Disney Park! (Mine would be snuck into the top of Spaceship Earth for preference!)

Mike
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