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Old 04-23-2010, 12:17 PM   #16
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Loving your report so far! I was just in LA in January for 2 days and I already want to go back and see some of the stuff you mentioned! Would you recommend the haunted Hollywood tour?
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Old 04-23-2010, 12:56 PM   #17
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Hi Dodie!

I'm enjoying your rather unusual report... thanks so much for posting it here! It gives those of us who don't normally hang out on the Unplugged board a chance to "meet" you all!

I love how you gussied up all the flatties! LOL


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Old 04-23-2010, 02:15 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dodie View Post
I'm sure Paul does NOT feel the same way. I don't know what got into Tonya and I for a couple of days when we dressed him in sparkles. I redeemed myself later by getting his flattie into a beautiful Mulan's hands.
It was so much fun putting Flat Paul into sparkly clothes since it was so out of character for him in real life!!! (We only tease the ones we love.)
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Old 04-23-2010, 02:17 PM   #19
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Tour Day Two (Wednesday 4/14):

Theme: Lights, Camera, Adventure
Word of the Day: Hollywood


This was the first of our early starts. We met on the mezzanine of the Hollywood Renaissance and headed toward breakfast by walking through the Hollywood and Highland Center and the Kodak Theater. We learned about how they convert the area for the Academy Awards and talked a little bit about the tributes to “old Hollywood” in the architecture of the complex. This was also our first opportunity for a group picture. Group pictures were quite an undertaking, as the guides offered to take pictures with our cameras as well as their own.





Breakfast was at Disney’s Soda Fountain and Studio Store. The shop isn’t usually open for breakfast and they had never served this many people at one time before, but it was obvious that they had coordinated their efforts and we were all treated to our choice of breakfast and given the opportunity to shop in the gift shop, which stocks primarily pins that cannot be purchased anywhere else. (They also had some Alice in Wonderland merchandise.)





Then we made our way to the El Capitan Theatre next door. The theater is beautiful. Amazing. Gorgeously restored. Phillip and I, personally, didn’t see a movie there later, but I know some in our group did.



We were first treated to a demonstration of the theater’s massive Wurlitzer organ.



Here is a short video we recorded of the Wurlitzer demo: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4jxMmTUgEOU

We were then taken backstage and onstage to truly understand the workings of the theater.



There was also an exhibit of costumes and props from Alice in Wonderland displayed throughout the lobby areas and downstairs.



We then walked next door for a tour of the Jimmy Kimmel Theater, which is actually an old Masonic Lodge Hall. Because this is a working studio, we were not allowed to take any photographs or video.

I was actually surprised at how small and thrown together everything seemed to be. The equipment didn’t even appear to be state of the art. It’s like Jimmy and his friends just decided to put on a show and ABC gave them just enough to do that. It was actually pretty cool.

The green room was the best part. It looked like someone’s basement rec room from the 1970’s. There was a bar, a pool table, some pinball and video machines, and some seating. Apparently it’s quite the party while filming is going on.

The guides later held a lottery by pulling names to see who would get the 12 tickets that the group was allotted to actually go to the taping later that day. The studio was so small that, if all of us had gone, we would have taken up well over half of the seats. Phillip and I wanted to go, but our names weren’t chosen. Those who went had a good time.

We then boarded our motor coach for a quick Hollywood tour and trip to the Jim Henson Studio. I can honestly say, as a Muppet and Henson fan from WAY back, this was almost my favorite thing on our itinerary.



This studio actually used to be Charlie Chaplin’s studio back in the silent film era and has been other things since then, but the coolest thing is the feeling/vibe you get while you’re there. The buildings are historic. The grounds are beautiful. You can feel the history and the current creativity everwhere.



How many Henson employees does it take to take a group photo of this group using everyone’s cameras?



We saw a lot of this during group photos on our trip:





We were divided into two groups to make our tour more manageable. We viewed a Henson Studios background movie, saw a live puppetry demonstration (by an awesome Henson employee named Grant who is the host of the Henson.com podcast and has since joined the DIS Boards – Hi ToasterBoy!), did a small walking tour, and saw how they do the computer generated animation that they do now for shows like “Sid the Science Kid” on PBS. We then had a lovely outdoor lunch catered by the studio, followed by a quick trip into their reception area to see the many Emmy awards and other awards and, finally, the opportunity to have our pictures taken with Grant (aka ToasterBoy) and his panda puppet friend, a dinosaur from “The Flintstones” movie, and a huge Kermit.







Then it was time for another real treat! We boarded the motor coach again for a trip to Griffith Park. Griffith Park is where Walt first sat watching his girls on the merry-go-round and thought to himself that there ought to be a place that children and their parents could enjoy together. (Hmmm. Wonder what THAT place turned out to be?) It is also the home to barn that used to be in Walt’s backyard. The one that housed his miniature trains. It has been moved to Griffith Park and railroad enthusiasts manage replicas of Walt’s trains, a barn full of memorabilia, and lots of track! We were going to get to ride the trains! (This was something that Phillip was really looking forward to. Apparently it’s usually included in this tour, but they don’t include it on the itinerary because its availability is dependent upon the availability of the volunteers.)

I can’t describe how much fun this was. We were divided into three groups. Each group was to have a turn riding the train and then was to have a chance to peruse the memorabilia and shop for souvenirs by the barn. Kevin and John weren’t interested in riding the train, so they told Phillip to go again for them. I think he ended up riding three of the four times it went around the park.

Here is a short video we took while riding the train with our friends: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uC4ZW4zct-w









We then reboarded the motor coach and headed back to the hotel. Some of us were going to see Jimmy Kimmel Live. Some of us were going on a side adventure to the nearest In-N-Out Burger. We were in the In-N-Out Burger group.

Our ABD guides must have been worried about us, because they escorted us the few short blocks to the In-N-Out, even though they turned around and went back, not eating with us. They obviously didn’t understand the power of the lightsaber. We can and will follow it (and Tonya) anywhere.



The place was packed. The food WAS good. After we ate, Tonya and I sat on the sidewalk where she dumped out flattie clothing and accessories and we all redressed our flatties. The locals thought we were insane.

I borrowed Alissa's picture for this...



On our way back to the hotel, we paused to look at the footprints and handprints in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theater once last time and did a little bit more shopping in the Disney Soda Shop store. We called it a night after that. We were going to have to pack everything up and be ready to vacate our rooms by 7:00 a.m. for breakfast, because tomorrow we were moving to Disneyland!

To be continued…
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Old 04-23-2010, 03:13 PM   #20
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Awesome job, Dodie!!! Loving your TR.
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Old 04-23-2010, 06:14 PM   #21
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OMG - I'm loving your trip report!

I'm going on this tour August 8th - 13th and am getting so excited after reading your review.

I'm hook and can't wait for your next installment.

meg
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Old 04-23-2010, 06:26 PM   #22
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Glad so many of my buddies and fellow adventurers are along for the ride here! It's been a long time since I've taken the time to write a trip report. It's nice to have readers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by auroralark View Post
Loving your report so far! I was just in LA in January for 2 days and I already want to go back and see some of the stuff you mentioned! Would you recommend the haunted Hollywood tour?
Thanks so much. As for the Haunted Hollywood Tour, it was okay. We got to see a lot of stuff in the two hours. Like I said, it was kind of a mish-mash since our guide was kind of "odd." I wouldn't say we saw much "haunted" stuff. Some murder scenes (i.e., Manson), where Marilyn Monroe died, stuff like that. But, it was only $35 apiece - not too bad.

Quote:
Originally Posted by meg8182000 View Post
OMG - I'm loving your trip report!

I'm going on this tour August 8th - 13th and am getting so excited after reading your review.

I'm hook and can't wait for your next installment.

meg
Welcome. I hope I don't spoil anything for you. Please remember that this was a "special" version of this tour, since it was sponsored by the DIS, we were a much larger group than normal, they were testing some new things with us (restaurants and such), and so many of us already knew one another beforehand. However, even without all of that, I would highly recommend this trip! It exceeded my expectations at every turn. I'm not even to the "good stuff" in my report yet!
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Old 04-23-2010, 07:03 PM   #23
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Great update Dodie!

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Love the bag Tonya!!!
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Old 04-23-2010, 07:15 PM   #24
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Super job Dodie! Can't wait for the next installment.
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Old 04-23-2010, 09:42 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dodie View Post

We then boarded our motor coach for a quick Hollywood tour and trip to the Jim Henson Studio. I can honestly say, as a Muppet and Henson fan from WAY back, this was almost my favorite thing on our itinerary.



...the coolest thing is the feeling/vibe you get while you’re there. The buildings are historic. The grounds are beautiful. You can feel the history and the current creativity everwhere.

Wow! That would've been my absolute favorite, too!

(Although riding the replica train of Walt's would be pretty fantastic, too!)

Loving your report...


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Old 04-24-2010, 12:57 AM   #26
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Welcome. I hope I don't spoil anything for you. Please remember that this was a "special" version of this tour, since it was sponsored by the DIS, we were a much larger group than normal, they were testing some new things with us (restaurants and such), and so many of us already knew one another beforehand. However, even without all of that, I would highly recommend this trip! It exceeded my expectations at every turn. I'm not even to the "good stuff" in my report yet![/QUOTE]

Thanks for the welcome and not to worry - I am aware of this being a "special" group trip which had some extra perks but it's still fun to read. I'm also skimming some of it as like you said I don't want to spoil every surprise but just trying to get an idea really.
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Old 04-24-2010, 08:11 AM   #27
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Great update Dodie!



Love the bag Tonya!!!
I saw the bag too and just smiled
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Old 04-24-2010, 10:24 AM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Renysmom;
I saw the bag too and just smiled
It's even better when you know that bag was FULL of ziploc bags of flattie clothing and accessories!
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Old 04-24-2010, 02:34 PM   #29
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Tour Day Three (Thursday 4/15):

Theme: Making the Magic
Word of the Day: WED Enterprises


Our luggage had to be packed, tagged, and left inside our hotel room door by 7:00 a.m. Our breakfast was a buffet at Twist, the restaurant on the mezzanine of the Renaissance. After breakfast, we all gathered in the lobby to wait to board our motor coach. This was going to be an action-packed day and we were all excited about it.

But we were late departing. There were other buses loading before ours. We were held up almost an hour, which would keep us behind schedule for the rest of the day. Not insurmountable by any means, but with an itinerary as packed as this one, it certainly didn’t help.

Once we boarded the bus, we headed to one of the places most of us had been waiting for most, Disney Imagineering headquarters! The traffic was horrible (probably worse because we had gotten a late start) and we were late in arriving. They never rushed us though. They just continued to adjust the schedule throughout the day to accommodate this.

The complex is in a series of non-descript buildings in an industrial area. The only tip-off as to what may hide inside is that the buildings are numbered with signs that look like Cast Member tags.



We were absolutely not allowed to bring any cameras or video equipment to Imagineering. It all had to be left on the bus. So there’s nothing to SHOW you about this part of our adventure, but it was the HIGHLIGHT for me, for sure!

I can barely describe how cool all of this was. We were all given guest badges that we needed to wear both at Imagineering and later at the Disney Studios. We then met our host for the day, Disney Imagineer David Fisher. Our tour started with a background movie about Disney Imagineering. Then suddenly, a black curtain in the room opened up and there stood Lucky the Dinosaur! If you don’t know about Lucky, he was the first free-roving audio-animatronic figure ever created by Disney's Imagineers.

Here is a link to a video of Lucky as background: http://disney.go.com/videos/more/?co...&content=10773

Lucky was SO EXPRESSIVE! It was shocking actually. The sounds he made, the facial expressions, his movements. It was awesome to interact with him and we each got a chance to do so. The guides had each party stand with Lucky and we got our picture taken. I can’t wait to see these! I’ll come back in and share them once we do get the CD. It seems like such a little thing, but it was a complete surprise and just very cool

We toured Imagineering, seeing an audio-animatronics demonstration in a room that was filled with priceless original molds and models from the parks – president’s heads, movie stars from the great movie ride, animation models, and the original Italian marble statues of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves from the Disneyland Park, which have been removed and replaced by reproductions in order to save the priceless originals.

We then walked through the room where the Imagineers work on the huge scale architectural models for the park changes and other large projects. We saw the model of the new Fantasyland. We could see parts of the model for the new Cars Land for DCA in the background. People were painting and doing detail work on these models. You couldn’t help but notice huge models (10-12 ft. tall maybe) of brooms with buckets (like the ones in Fantasia) in the corner of the room. Someone in our party asked what those were for. David said he thought they were for the new cruise ships. WOW! COOL!

After returning home, one of our fellow Adventurers noticed this picture on the official Disney blog. Sure enough, there they are! The brooms! Looks like they’ll be hanging off of the ship by the logo just like the statues on the current ships. And we saw them first!



This is the point when the group gets to shop at Mickey’s of Glendale. Mickey’s of Glendale is the Cast Member shop located in Disney Imagineering headquarters. Most groups get 30 minutes. Because there were so many of us, they had promised us an hour instead. However, because we were running late, they shortened that hour to 45 minutes.

Um. Yeah. Right.

As we entered the store, the guides handed each of us a 40% off coupon that was good for any one item that we purchased (obviously to be used on the most expensive item we purchased). We were reminded about the 45 minute time limit.

The store was amazing for many reasons. Because the intended audience is Cast Members, the prices were incredibly reasonable. Most of the merchandise was specifically branded with “Walt Disney Imagineering.” Almost everything in the store was only available from that location.

44 Disney fanatics (we warned them), two cash registers, Disney merchandise you can’t get anywhere else, 45 minute limit? Let’s just say, by the time the motor coach actually pulled away from Imagineering, it was TWO HOURS LATER!

Personally, Phillip and I shopped separately so we could make the best use of our time. The thing we were happiest about was, as soon as you walked in the door, there was a huge display of Haunted Mansion Imagineering merchandise. If you are a Haunted Mansion fan, you know that there is just not much of this merchandise in the parks. Here, there were polo shirts, sweatshirts, jackets, caps, t-shirts, mugs, pens, pins, prints, etc.!!!! We both did quite well in this area. In fact, this is where Phillip made his most expensive purchase – a Haunted Mansion letterman style jacket. You know the kind. Wool body with leather/vinyl sleeves, snap front. This one is black and has a HUGE Haunted Mansion logo on the back.

Like I said, the prices were very reasonable. As an example, I purchased a Walt Disney Imagineering university-style hooded sweatshirt. Something similar in the parks would probably be $65. Here, it was under $30.

My big purchase was a watch. They didn’t have a lot of jewelry or watches, so I was pleased to find a women’s black faced rectangular watch with a Sorcerer Mickey and Walt Disney Imagineering on the face. Even this was priced originally at $48, but I used my 40% off coupon. Quite the bargain.

Some in our group purchased framed artwork. Lots bought limited edition Imagineering pins. As members of the group checked out, we made our way to the tables in the courtyard outside and watched others walk out with their bags and bags of purchases. Cheering for each person. Counting bags. Joking about who had purchased the most. Like I said, we had taken two hours instead of 45 minutes. It was a blast!

Once in the bus, we were able to pull out our cameras again during the short trip to the Disney Studios. Once we arrived, the first activity was our tour of the Disney archives. Because we had started late, and had grown even later as the day progressed, we unfortunately missed our opportunity to have famous Disney archivist Dave Smith present to us, but one of the assistant archivists made the presentation and, surprise, we were able to take pictures (we had thought we wouldn’t be able to)!

There were cases of really cool memorabilia everywhere and we were shown some very special pieces like opening day Disneyland parking passes and tickets, awards, etc. We each got to hold one of Walt Disney’s Oscars and have our picture taken with it. Literally a chance of a lifetime type visit.





A parking pass from Disneyland's opening day...







We made the short walk to the Disney Studios Commissary where we were handed meal tickets and sent to choose our (very late – I think it was almost 2:00 by this point) lunch. The food was good. It was foodcourt style. Unfortunately we didn’t see anyone famous.

We then set off on a walking tour of the studios. I loved these buildings. Everything was very Art Deco. The buildings and grounds were beautiful.

A friendly, well-fed, Disney Studios squirrell...







Our guide, Michael, tells us about the Animation building...



Legends Plaza at the Disney Studios...





Look closely. "Dodie" is a Disney Legend...



We ended our studio tour with another QUICK shopping stop at the Disney Studio Store. Again, there were items here that were only available for purchase at this shop. The shop is very tiny though, so this shopping stop wasn’t quite the same frenzy as the earlier one.

Loaded back onto the motor coach, we discovered what was probably the worst ramification of our running-late ways. We were in LA rush hour traffic on our way to Disneyland. The trip took about an hour! Once we arrived, we all checked into the Grand Californian, and had a few minutes in our rooms before it was time to meet downstairs in the lobby for our walk to dinner.

Phillip and I had stayed at the Grand Californian once before, but I just have to say that this resort is just stunning. Especially if you’re a fan of Arts and Crafts/Craftsman style architecture. Our room faced the courtyard and the Disneyland monorail runs through this courtyard at regular intervals.









We met to walk through Downtown Disney to our dinner.



We had known we were walking to the Disneyland Hotel at the opposite end of Downtown Disney, but we thought we were having dinner at Hook’s Pointe, but we learned instead that we would be dining at Steakhouse 55! Upgrade baby!

We had a lovely small pre-dinner reception with our choice of wine and some wonderful appetizers. We then made our way to the dining room (we filled up an entire one) for dinner. The meal was very, very good.



After dinner, it was finally time for Disneyland! We were given our 4-day park hopper tickets and followed our guides into the park. Many in our party (probably about half) had never been to Disneyland before, so that initial entry and first glimpse of Main Street USA and Sleeping Beauty’s Castle was a milestone.

As a group, we made our way to the Haunted Mansion, where we were taken in through the exit, given a stretching room all to ourselves, and taken through to the doom buggies as a group! Such cool access!



Next stop was for the group to ride the Finding Nemo Submarine Ride, where they proceeded to load about 40 of us into a single sub. Maybe this was not such a good idea. Apparently they don’t usually load 40 adults into one of these subs at a time. The sub hopped. Then it dragged bottom. We could hear the pilot frantically talking to homebase about the situation. He was told to “just keep going.” Not the best experience if you are slightly claustrophic and basically trapped inside a tin can with 39 of your closest friends. Eeek.



We had been given one fast pass for this night, along with our park hoppers. We didn’t have long, maybe an hour or an hour and a half, as it was probably 10:00-10:30 at this point. We met up with Tom Bell (DIS Unplugged Podcast Disneyland correspondent) at this point and twelve of us made our way to Space Mountain, where our spaceship immediately stopped and was detoured to the left because our “train was too heavy.” Again? We’d bottomed another ride out? We all blamed Steakhouse 55. We were taken back up and reloaded into separate cars and got to take off the second time! (Disneyland’s Space Mountain is awesome!)

We hit Big Thunder Mountain Railroad too. This ride is twice the ride as the one at WDW. It’s faster. It’s longer. It’s GREAT!!!!

I don’t remember what else we did. I do remember that we closed down the park at midnight. This would become a trend that’s tough to keep up when you have to keep starting your following day by meeting at 7:00 a.m. However, tomorrow morning we had something GREAT to look forward to. Breakfast at Club 33!

To be continued…
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Old 04-24-2010, 03:10 PM   #30
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Great update Dodie!
Love the bag Tonya!!!
I noticed it too.

Quote:
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It's even better when you know that bag was FULL of ziploc bags of flattie clothing and accessories!
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