California Backstage Magic DISUnplugged Podcast Tour: 04/13/10 Trip Report w/Pics

Discussion in 'Adventures By Disney' started by TheTXTaylors5, May 14, 2010.

  1. TheTXTaylors5

    TheTXTaylors5 He's the Mickey to my Minnie

    Joined:
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    ABD California Backstage Magic Tour - DAY FOUR (April 16, 2010)
    Breakfast at Club 33

    The History of Club 33 (from wikipedia):
    When Walt Disney was working with various corporate promoters for his attractions at the 1964–1965 New York World's Fair, he noted the various "VIP Lounges" provided as an accommodation for the corporate elite. This gave him the idea that culminated in Club 33. When New Orleans Square was planned, this special area for corporate sponsors and VIPs was included. Disney asked artist Dorothea Redmond to paint renderings and hired Hollywood set director Emil Kuri to decorate the facility. While originally intended for exclusive use by Disneyland's Corporate sponsors and other industry VIPs, when Club 33 opened in May 1967—five months after Disney's death—individual memberships were also offered.

    Club 33 is a private club located in the heart of the New Orleans Square section of Disneyland. Officially maintained as a secret feature of the theme park, the entrance of the club is located next to the Blue Bayou Restaurant at "33 Royal Street" with the entrance recognizable by an ornate address plate with the number 33 engraved on it. When riding Pirates of the Caribbean, just as the ride departs, the Blue Bayou restaurant is visible, but the balconies above it are actually a part of Club 33.

    Club 33 members and their guests have exclusive access to the club's restaurant, and the premises are not open to the public at large. It is the only location within Disneyland to offer alcoholic beverages, though Disneyland has a park-wide liquor license and has set up bars throughout the park for private events. Club 33's wine list includes vintages priced at $200. In addition to beer and wine, Club 33 has a full bar, though patrons may not order directly from the bar and must place orders through their server.


    We were on a mission to find 33 Rue Royale, the secret address of Club 33.

    Bill and I had been down this road before and even took our pictures in front of the Club 33 sign last year. So, we knew exactly where the “secret” door was located. It’s honestly not very hidden. It had a BIG 33 on the outside.

    Outside Club 33
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    We waited outside for a few minutes and then the door opened. A nice CM named Dan greeted us and waved us in. He didn’t have to ask us twice. Everyone headed through the door without hesitation.

    DISers charging into Club 33.
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    I have seen Club 33 on a couple of travel shows. So, I was excited to see the elevator, trophy room and of course the “throne”. We were escorted past the breakfast buffet into the main dining room. A server came around taking drink orders. Bill and I just sat for a minute to soak in the atmosphere.

    Bill and I enjoying Club 33.
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    We waited for the buffet line to die down a bit and then went to get some food. It was the normal breakfast buffet items with a few extras like steak and potatoes.

    The buffet.
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    My plate of yummy Club 33 food.
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    That steak was yummy!!!! I even went back to get seconds later on. After I took a few bites, I couldn’t sit any longer. I can eat anytime. I wanted to explore Club 33. We had the run of the place. We were the only ones in the restaurant. I was snapping pictures left and right.

    Bill and I in front of the elevator.
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    Bill and I in front of the fireplace in the main dining room.
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    The ladies room.
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    "The Throne"
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    The Trophy Room
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    Walt had microphones installed in the chandeliers to spy on his guests.
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    I noticed a line forming in the hallway. The line was to purchase exclusive Club 33 merchandise. After I took all the pictures I wanted, I hopped into the still long line to place our order. There was a display cabinet in the hallway. A CM was taking people’s order and then having to run out back and gather the items. I don’t think they were prepared for this shopping bunch. Bill came and joined me in line. Once our order was placed, we were told to wait at our table and someone would come around to get our payment and give us our goods. That was fine with me, because it gave me time to get that second piece of steak. Initially, we were supposed to be out of Club 33 already by this time. But, I heard an announcement that our time there was extended. A loud cheer was heard around the restaurant.

    The display cabinet of Club 33 merchandise.
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    Bill and I purchased:
    (3) keychains
    (5) pins
    (2) Mickey ears
    (1) collared shirt


    We relaxed for a bit around the restaurant, soaking in our last few moments there.

    Bill getting comfy on a couch.
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    The view from Club 33 looking down onto New Orleans Square.
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    Our time at Club 33 flew by and sadly we all made our way down the stairs back out into New Orleans Square. The whole experience was surreal. Did we really just have breakfast at Club 33???? It honestly lived up to the hype. What a great experience!

    Bill and I on the staircase on our way out of Club 33.
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    COMING UP: Time to explore Disneyland Park and some Backstage peaks.
     
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  3. TheTXTaylors5

    TheTXTaylors5 He's the Mickey to my Minnie

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    ABD California Backstage Magic Tour - DAY FOUR (April 16, 2010)
    Disneyland Park Backstage Tour

    By the time we exited Club 33, the park had been open for about an hour. The park was already crowded!!! We followed our Guides into Adventureland where they stopped in front of Indiana Jones Adventure.

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    We followed our Guides into the exit and made our way to a backstage door. No cameras allowed!

    DISers heading backstage.
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    We were met by two CMs that work on the ride vehicles for Indy. We were led into a work room, where they test and do maintenance on the Enhanced Motion Vehicles (EMV). We got an up close look at one of the EMVs. Then, one of our travel mates got to control an EMV with a control panel. When our time with the ride technicians ended, our Guides wanted to know if anyone wanted to ride Indiana Jones Adventure. Bill and I did. So, we followed one Guide through a back entrance to the ride loading area. Those that didn’t want to ride followed the other Guide to wait outside. It was times like this, I felt like a VIP. We bypassed the long line and were escorted to a waiting EMV.

    Indiana Jones Adventure
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    This is a bumpy ride! The last time I was on it was pre-lasik surgery. Because it was so bumpy, I took my glasses off last time. This time, I could see everything. It made the experience so much more enjoyable. I’d definitely ride it again! After our ride, we met back up with the rest of the group outside.

    We heard the Guides say we were heading towards It’s A Small World. Once entering Fantasyland, the Guides stopped for a potty break. Then, we continued on to It’s A Small World. I guess I misunderstood, because I thought we were riding the attraction. But, we entered a backstage door to the right and before I knew it, we were officially backstage at Disneyland Park. Being backstage meant, put your cameras away. So, I don’t have any personal pictures from backstage. Just the wonderful memories.

    This was exciting! A train was going by and our third Guide Julie told us to wave because they’re always onstage for the guests. We crossed under a bridge to a waiting engine on display. This is also where they have a roundhouse for locomotive storage (the other one is behind the Indy ride). Waiting for us were two CMs that take care of the trains.

    A Disneyland steam engine waiting for guests.
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    We were given the ins and outs of the engines and how they work. Each steam engine modeled after antique ones. There are five engines currently used at Disneyland park (E.P. Ripley, Fred Gurley, C.K. Holliday, Ernest S. Marsh and the Ward Kimball). As of 2007, all of the Disneyland Railroad locomotives have been converted to burn biodiesel. Disneyland recycled its own cooking oil into biodiesel. Each engine must stop several times a day to take on water. I was surprised that to be a train engineer at Disneyland, you have to be a fireman with all the proper training and certifications.

    Our very knowledgeable Disneyland locomotive Guides.
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    (The above pictures were taken by our ABD Guides.)

    Too soon, we were being whisked off to our next backstage location. Along the way, we saw some ride vehicles and props just sitting on the side of the road. The one that stood out to me the most was a set of bobsled cars. It was so hard to not take pictures back there. I contained myself. We were led to an area outside the parade float storage hanger. I put hanger, because it was as big as an airplane hanger. They can keep two full parades worth of floats in there. We didn’t get to go inside. But, there was a Christmas float waiting outside for us to look at.

    Also, while still standing outside the float storage building, our Guides pointed to a little building no bigger than two guard shacks put together. That was the command center for the fireworks each evening. Also, behind us was where they shoot the fireworks off. Our Guides told us that each evening a test balloon (just a normal white balloon) is sent up to see which direction the wind is blowing. Since Disneyland is located in a residential area, if the wind is blowing towards the houses behind the property, the fireworks are cancelled for the evening. Also, the Guides joked that the CM parking garage is right next to the fireworks launch area and that they have been warned NOT to park on the top level in the evenings due to ash and sparks falling and damaging cars. If cars are left up there, they are towed now. So, there is usually a mad dash of CMs rushing in the evenings to get to their car before the fireworks start. Once the fireworks start, no one is allowed outside the backstage area. I found all of this very interesting.

    It was now time to mosey on over to the Circle D Corral (A.K.A. The Pony Farm) backstage. This is where Disneyland keeps the animals that are used in the park including the horses used to pull the trolley cars and the animals for the petting zoo at Big Thunder Ranch. For the holiday season, they care for reindeer here too. There was also a very talkative bird taunting us while a CM (Stable Attendant) gave us some history on the corral and the house that still sits there, The Pope House. It is named after horse trainer Owen Pope and his wife Dolly. They were hired by Walt Disney in 1952 to train the animals for the soon to be opened Disneyland. They lived on the property to take care and train the animals. The Popes are the only people to actually ever live at Disneyland.

    The Pope House.
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    A sign hanging from the porch of the Pope House.
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    A 1953 photo of Walt Disney with a new pony is on display.
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    (Since we couldn't take pictures backstage. I found the above pictures on a Disneyland website.)

    COMING UP: A change of plans for lunch.
     
  4. TheTXTaylors5

    TheTXTaylors5 He's the Mickey to my Minnie

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    ABD California Backstage Magic Tour - DAY FOUR (April 16, 2010)
    Lunch at Celebration Roundup
    The Disneyland Story, Featuring Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln


    By this time, we had worked up an appetite from all the backstage super-speed walking. We had spent more time than expected at Club 33 this morning. So, the rest of the day was kind of hectic. We had a schedule to keep! We were led out of the backstage area under a tunnel. We came out right next to Big Thunder Ranch. CMs were waiting at the entrance to Celebration Roundup and herd our group in for some vittles. On the trip itinerary, we were suppose to have lunch at Café Orleans today. With our large group, this actually worked out better. We sat at picnic tables and enjoyed an all-you-can eat family-style lunch. There was chicken, ribs, corn bread, beans and coleslaw. Our drinks were served in mason jars. The food was tasty and there was plenty of it. While eating, a stage show started and the entertainers were singing old country songs like “Deep in the Heart of Texas”.

    Lunch at Celebration Roundup.
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    The Entertainment
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    (Thanks Heather!)

    My plate of yummy vittles.
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    My Rating: ::MickeyMo ::MickeyMo ::MickeyMo

    After lunch, we walked as a group back down Main Street toward the flag pole hub. This is where our Guide Michael pointed out the plaque with Walt’s opening day speech engraved on it.

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    Our Guide Michael going behind the rope. Shhhhhh!
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    The plaque with Walt’s Opening Day Speech.
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    By this time, the park was bustling with people. Main Street and the hubs were like Grand Central Station. The streets were filled with horseless carriages, horse-drawn trolleys and an omnibus. We had to look out to make sure we didn’t get hit. There were way too may vehicles in my opinion.

    This is when we split up into three groups. Our Disneyland Guide Julie took the third group. We were to rotate between The Disneyland Story, Featuring Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, riding on the Lilly Belle and touring Walt’s Apartment above the fire station.

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    Our group was first to watch Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln. We walked into the building and had some time before the next showing. So, we browsed the Disneyland memorabilia on display and the many pictures on the walls.

    Waiting in the lobby ...
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    This plaque was on display inside the building.
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    Prior to the trip, I read about the history of this attraction … Back in 1964, Walt Disney presented Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln at the New York World's Fair. This was the debut of the first animatronic human figure, Mr. Lincoln. I didn’t realize it until we got home, we were treated to an enhanced version of the attraction. It was refurbished and returned to the Opera House late last year.

    COMING UP: Riding the Lilly Belle and a tour of Walt's Apartment.
     
  5. TheTXTaylors5

    TheTXTaylors5 He's the Mickey to my Minnie

    Joined:
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    ABD California Backstage Magic Tour - DAY FOUR (April 16, 2010)
    Riding the Lilly Belle
    Touring Walt's Aparment


    After our time with Mr. Lincoln, or should we call him Mr. President, it was our group’s turn to ride the Lilly Belle.

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    A view out the window of the Main Street station.
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    Jennifer looking out the Main Street Station window.
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    Bill relaxing before boarding the Lilly Belle.
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    Our Guide Jaime waving us aboard.
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    The Lilly Belle is a caboose car that is lavishly decorated in Victorian furniture and tapestry. Walt had the idea for a VIP car to transport Walt’s Family and VIP Guests through the park. Walt named it after his wife Lillian. Sadly, Walt never saw the renovation of the train car complete. After Walt’s death, the idea was scrapped due to the decay of the antique train car. Someone found the plans in the 70’s and made Walt’s dream a reality.

    DISers take over the Lilly Belle.
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    Our group onboard.
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    It was fun boarding the Lilly Belle knowing we were now part of an exclusive group to ride on her. She has transported presidents, celebrities and even the Disney family around the loop of Disneyland. She is very posh. It was a very comfortable ride.

    Bill and I enjoying the Lilly Belle.
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    (Thanks Tonya!)

    The interior of the lavish caboose.
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    Someone asked what on the caboose was original ...
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    That's it!

    While on the train, our Guide gave us the history of the train car and a little audio tour of the sites we passed. Along the train route Between Tomorrowland and the Main Street Station is a Grand Canyon and Primeval World Diorama. It was really neat to see the detail and forward thinking of the Imagineers because it was created under Walt’s supervision. Too soon, the train chugged it’s way back to the Main Street Station and we had to hop off the beautiful caboose.

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    We were told that our Guides were able to talk Disneyland into giving us each a special keepsake train ticket for the Lilly Belle. They don’t give them out anymore. Somehow, our Guides were able to pull some strings. Yea Guides!!!

    Our Lilly Belle Ticket
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    (Thanks Tonya!)

    They saved the best for last with our group. It was finally time to step foot inside Walt’s Apartment above the Fire Station.

    Bill in front of the Fire Station.
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    We made our way backstage and up the staircase to the infamous apartment where we were met with a Disneyland Ambassador. I had seen photos prior to the trip. However, it looked much smaller and quaint in person. There were two couches in the parlor. One was Walt’s bed the other was Lillian’s bed. They use to have a picture of their parents above their bed. Now, there is a picture of Walt and Lillian above each couch. We got to relax in the parlor for a bit, even sitting on the couches and chair. I can say, I sat on Walt’s bed/couch! The apartment is like being in a time warp with the old furnishings and appliances. I was shocked at how “modern” the bathroom was for it’s time. We got to go out onto the patio area where Walt used to look out at the guests below. This was definitely a highlight of the trip for me. Bill and I appreciate Walt’s vision. We get “it”. I am always sad to know I was never alive when Walt was alive. I could never personally give him a proper “Thank You” for creating such an amazing place for us to take our children and create lasting memories. Being in the apartment was emotional for all of us. I still can’t believe we got to see the infamous lamp from the inside. There is a lamp that is kept burning in the front window as a tribute to Walt’s memory, except at Christmas where a Christmas tree replaces the lamp. Our Disneyland Ambassador told us the apartment is decked out during the holidays.

    The Lamp.
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    We got to take a group picture in front of the lamp and window.
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    During our trip to Disneyland last year, Bill and I stood outside the Fire Station on our last night staring at the lit lamp in the window. We know Walt’s presence will always be there and within our hearts. He is forever our Uncle Walt.

    We didn’t want to leave the apartment. But, the rest of the group was waiting outside for us to continue our touring day. We reluctantly climbed down the stairs and back out into the hub in front of the Fire Station. We were greeted by a Firemen band playing.

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    Our group outside Walt's Apartment with our Disneyland Embassador
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    COMING UP: A ride on Pirates of the Caribbean, The Enchanted Tiki Room and a tour of the Disneyland Dream Suite.
     
  6. TheTXTaylors5

    TheTXTaylors5 He's the Mickey to my Minnie

    Joined:
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    ABD California Backstage Magic Tour - DAY FOUR (April 16, 2010)
    Riding Pirates of the Caribbean
    Touring the Disneyland Dream Suite
    Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room


    We stayed in our three groups for our next set of Disneyland fun. We were to rotate between a ride on Pirates of the Caribbean, a tour of the Disneyland Dream Suite (above the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction) and a viewing at the Enchanted Tiki Room.

    Our group was first to ride the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction.

    Pirates of the Caribbean
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    Again, we were given the VIP treatment with no wait. We were led into the exit of the attraction in New Orleans Square and waited for the next boat. Our group took up the whole boat. Bill and I had ridden this attraction last year. We both agreed that it is better than it’s WDW counterpart. It is longer with some extra scenes.

    The extra scenes ...
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    (Thanks Lynne!)

    Also, the history knowing it was Walt’s last project makes it a true Disneyland gem. Once again, a great ride. I could have gone around again. But, our Guide Jaime was waiting at the dock to whisk us to the entrance of the Disneyland Dream Suite, located above the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction.

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    A little about the history of the Disneyland Dream Suite …
    On October 1, 2007 the Walt Disney Company announced that the recently closed Disney Gallery would be remodeled and turned into the Disneyland Dream Suite. The remodeled suite would be the realization of Walt's dream to have a larger private apartment built at Disneyland, and would be made available to randomly selected guests of the park. This was made a reality during the Disney Parks “Year of a Million Dreams” promotion back in 2006-2008. Mickey's Penthouse at the Disneyland Hotel was used in 2006 and 2007 for the Dream Giveaways until the Disneyland Dream Suite was completed in 2008. In remodeling the space into the “Disneyland Dream Suite”, the Imagineers used the original 1960s designs created by designer Dorothea Redmond and set decorator Emile Kuri in consultation with Walt Disney. The Disneyland Dream Suite includes a living room, open-air patio, two bedrooms and two bathrooms.

    The Disneyland Dream Suite.
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    We were led to the left of the POTC attraction to a waiting elevator. The front stairs of the Disneyland Dream Suite are not used. Guests are taken to the second floor by a private elevator. Our group was too big for the elevator. So, we went up in two groups. Once upstairs, we were greeted at the door by a Disneyland Ambassador. She was to give us a tour of the suite, pointing out articles of interest and creating some magic along the way. We were allowed to take as pictures as we wanted in here. The place was one big photo op.

    Our group inside the Disneyland Dream Suite.
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    Bill on his way into the Disneyland Dream Suite.
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    Jennifer with our Disneyland Ambassador/Dream Suite Host.
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    As mentioned above, the suite was modeled after plans drawn up while Walt was still alive. So, the plans were in a frame and then our Guide would show us how close the room of today was in comparison to the plans. They were all spot on and kept with how Walt and Lilly truly wanted to furnish and decorate the space for their personal use.

    The hallway with the plans.
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    Each bedroom had a special good night kiss element that was truly amazing. The master bedroom had a light show on the ceiling and walls. The second bedroom had a train that went around the room. Also, a park map picture lit up. I know the Disney Imagineers had fun creating this Suite.

    Click the switch for some Disney magic ...
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    Main Bedroom
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    Second Bedroom
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    The living room had a special feature too. The grandfather clock lit up. The wall in the living room had a painted mural of the inspiration for Sleeping Beauty Castle (Neuschwanstein Castle built by King Ludwig II).

    The Living Room.
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    As expected, the main bathroom had some pixie dust. When you turn off the lights, the back wall and ceiling above the tub lights up like a thousand stars. Someone could have a very relaxing bubble bath in there.

    The Bathroom
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    Our Guide had to move us from room to room to get the tour rolling because we had another group coming in after us. Otherwise, we probably would have hung out up there all day.

    After we toured every inch of the Suite, we were ushered out and back to a waiting elevator to take us back down to “reality”. The Suite is still used for Disneyland Guest. I assume celebrities and those with money have the option to stay here. Surprisingly, it is also still used in sweepstakes and to surprise random guests to spend a night in the lap of luxury. Who knows … you could be next!!!!

    We were off to our next destination ...

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    We were heading back through Adventureland to Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room. Our Guide Michael ushered us into a back row just as the show was about to start. What timing! We have seen the WDW version and honestly can’t stand it. However, we actually liked the Disneyland version. It was cute! For some reason the normally annoying tune "The Tiki Tiki Tiki Room" didn’t bother me quite so much today.

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    After the show, we were told to wait and let the rest of the guests exit. Then, the lights came on and we were the only ones in the theatre. We were given a little history on the Enchanted Tiki Room. The bird in the cage we saw at the Disney Archives is what inspired Walt/WED Enterprises to create the Audio-Animatronic birds for the Tiki Room. The show was originally going to be a restaurant featuring Audio-Animatronic birds serenading guests as they ate and drank. When that idea was scrapped, it was turned into a show. Our Guide pointed out that the seats along the back walls are actually the booths intended for use in the restaurant. Also, the fountain in the center of the room was originally planned as a coffee station for the restaurant. Our Guide opened the doors to show us that it is currently used for storage. Then our Guide said he wanted us to meet a little friend. That is when he went behind a door and came out with one of the singing orchids from the show. It was neat to see it up close and personal. It was very delicate. So, Michael had to wear gloves while holding it.

    Michael with the singing orchid.
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    We were done with our “official” touring for the day. Our ABD Guides gave everyone five FPs and our pin for the day. We were on our own for the evening. By this time, Bill and I were so tired and in need of a nap if we were going to make our dinner that evening at Napa Rose. So, we left the park without using a single FP. We went back to our room to take a nap and refresh before dinner.

    COMING UP: Dinner at Napa Rose. One word teaser ... YUMMY!

     
  7. TheTXTaylors5

    TheTXTaylors5 He's the Mickey to my Minnie

    Joined:
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    ABD California Backstage Magic Tour - DAY FOUR (April 16, 2010)
    Dinner at Napa Rose (On our own.)

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    Prior to our Adventure, Bill made a Priority Seating at Steakhouse 55 for this evening. We looked at the menu for Steakhouse 55 and Napa Rose and thought Steakhouse 55 fit our tastes better. However, after our first night dinner fiasco, Bill changed the PS to Napa Rose. I believe, sometimes things happen for a reason. If we didn't eat at Steakhouse 55 that first night, we may never have eaten at Napa Rose this trip.

    Napa Rose was just an elevator ride away from our room. It was conveniently located inside the Grand Californian Hotel. We arrived about ten minutes before our PS and were told they were running behind and that we could wait in the bar area. We made no other plans for the evening. So, we were fine and appreciated the slow-dining experience here. We sat in some comfy chairs near the bar and a waitress came over and took our cocktail orders. It was a nice relaxing way to start dinner after our hectic and fast-paced day at Disneyland Park. Before I could finish my cocktail, our table was ready. The Maitre’ D carried our drinks to the table. Now, that’s service! We were seated at a prime table near the kitchen.

    Bill and Jennifer at Napa Rose.
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    We could see the hustle and bustle behind the line. Chef Andrew Sutton was there that evening overseeing the kitchen and I actually saw him cooking a bit. He’s from Dallas. So, we knew of him.

    Chef Sutton in action.
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    To be honest, the reason this wasn’t our first choice this trip was because I wanted a casual non-stuffy meal. I was pleasantly surprised. Yes, it is a four star restaurant with a price tag to prove it. But, I never felt uncomfortable. We even saw a couple of children enjoying dinner with their parents when we first arrived. By the time we left later in the evening, it was strictly adults. The staff was very friendly unlike some upscale restaurants we’ve dined at. I think sometimes, servers forget WE control their tip. Luckily, this was nothing but a positive experience.

    Bill and I are not big wine drinkers. But, we do appreciate a good wine when we find one. Bill had a Riesling at our Steakhouse 55 dinner and really liked it. So, he was looking to try one here. Every server at Napa Rose is a sommelier. That really helped with wine novices like us. Our server was great. She picked us out two wines she thought would compliment our entrees. Bill had two glasses of his Riesling this meal. He really must have liked his wine! I had one glass of a red wine. I honestly can’t remember the name. But, it was good.

    Bill enjoying the evening (and wine).
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    Jennifer showing off the menu and enjoying the evening.
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    We weren't at the table for more than a minute when our water glasses were filled and an assortment of breads were offered. We're in California. So of course, we both went for a piece of sourdough bread. It was hard on the outside and soft and warm on the inside. However, we didn't want to fill up on the bread. We wanted "real" food. So, we only ate one piece.

    Our bread assortment.
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    It was time to order ...

    The Menu
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    Appetizer

    Signature Pizzetta - smoked American Prosciutto, red flame grapes, caramelized onions and cambozola cheese.
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    At first, I was going to ask them to hold the grapes. However, I didn’t and am glad. The pizzetta was so good and the grapes added a little sweetness to it that complimented the onions. It was light and not too bready (I like thin crust pizza). The pizzetta was a great appetizer to start the meal. We had more food to come …

    Entrée/Main Course

    Jennifer ordered …

    Zinfandel Braised Angus Beef Short Rib - risotto of wild rice, pine nut and dried cranberries with winter squash sauce
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    Bill ordered …

    Grilled Petit Filet of Angus Beef - Crispy Yukon Gold Potato Gnocchi, Grilled Onions, Green Beans and Merlot Jus.
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    Instead of the potato, Bill asked for onion rings. He saw some on another dish and our server was happy to make the substitution.

    The rib was so tender, the meat fell right off the bone. My mouth is watering right now remembering this meal. It was so good! Bill gave me a bite of his steak. It was perfectly cooked and had great flavor. If you have a high quality steak, you don’t need to fuss with it too much. The meat will speak for itself. Now, this is what a steak is supposed to taste like! Yum! We also ordered some side dishes to accompany our entrees. We’ve been to enough upscale restaurants to know, the side dish for the entrée listed on the menu is just garnish. If you want a “real” side dish, you need to order one. We decided to order two side dishes.

    Side Dishes

    Roasted Brussells Sprouts - with parsnips and hazelnut brown butter
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    Truffled Mac and Cheese - orecchiette pasta with parmigiano-reggiano and infused with truffle oil.
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    Growing up, my two favorite veggies were brussels sprouts and parsnip. Yes, I grew up a weird child. They are still my favs to this day. I was in heaven with this dish! The brussels sprouts were cooked perfectly and the parsnips still had a little snap to them.

    The mac and cheese was served piping hot in a copper kettle with what looked like panko breadcrumbs on top to make a nice crisp layer. Bill took a couple heaps of the mac and cheese and then concentrated more on his steak. He didn’t care for the “upscale” mac & cheese version too much. He said it tasted “fishy”. So, of course I tried it. Why is that? Someone says something tastes bad and you have to try it too. To me, it was creamy and a spoonful of goodness. I think what he tasted and didn’t like was the truffles. I give it a thumbs up on the decadence factor. It was very rich and filling to be a side dish! Sadly, we only ate about half the dish. Such a waste.

    We cleaned our plates of our main entrée though. Both were delicious. Normally, we don’t have dessert. But, we’d come this far on our Napa Rose food journey. So, we opted to look at a dessert menu.

    Dessert

    Flourless Scharffen Berger Chocolate Cake - with double chocolate chunk ice cream
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    Freshly made mango sorbet
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    I like anything chocolate and recognized the name Scharffen Berger. They make the best baking chocolate. However, I was stuffed at this point. So, I asked if I could eat the ice cream now and take the cake to go. Our server was fine with that and had the cake put into a box for me. Bill’s favorite fruit is mango. So, a mango sorbet was a perfect choice for him. Bill said it was very refreshing and the perfect way to end this excellent meal.

    We were in the restaurant over two hours. However, the time went by quickly. With great company and fantastic food, this experience was well worth the sticker shock of our bill. You don’t want to know how much this meal cost. But to me, it was well worth it. A great evening with my husband is priceless.

    When exiting, I noticed some wine bottles on display with Pixar characters on them. I thought they were cute. So, I took a picture. Little did I know, I would learn more about these tomorrow.

    The Pixar wine bottles.
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    When outside the restaurant, I asked Bill to take a picture of me in front of the sign. Some passerbyers asked if we wanted one together. So, they took a picture of us ...

    After a wonderful evening at Napa Rose.
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    My Rating: ::MickeyMo ::MickeyMo ::MickeyMo ::MickeyMo

    After dinner, we headed up to our room. We had to meet the group downstairs tomorrow morning at 7 am. That wake-up call comes all too soon. We've been having so much fun though. We can sleep when we get home. Tomorrow morning, we head over to Goofy’s Kitchen at the Disneyland Hotel for a breakfast buffet with some Disney characters before our touring day at Disney's California Adventure. It should be an entertaining breakfast with our bunch.

    TOMORROW: Breakfast at Goofy's Kitchen and our DCA Tour. Also, we had a surprise celebrity siting at DCA. Hint: My "Pixar" Idol
     
  8. TheTXTaylors5

    TheTXTaylors5 He's the Mickey to my Minnie

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2006
    Messages:
    7,381
    ABD California Backstage Magic Tour - DAY FIVE (April 17, 2010)
    Breakfast at Goofy’s Kitchen

    Today's Theme: Behind the Orange Grove
    Word of the Day: Forced Perspective
    Pin of the Day:

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    (Thanks Tonya!)

    We were getting use to this getting only ourselves ready in the mornings. I felt pampered as I could actually properly brush my hair and apply make-up. However, today I felt casual and threw my hair into a baseball cap. We made the usual trek down to the lobby to meet our fellow Adventurers for breakfast. Once all the gang arrived, we headed over to Goofy’s Kitchen at the Disneyland Hotel for our breakfast buffet.

    [​IMG]

    We had no wait. We were escorted right into a back room. It was about 7:30 am and the place was half empty. Yea! More character interaction. After the server took our drink orders, we followed the herd to the buffet to scout out it’s offering. Again, the normal breakfast buffet items including an omelet station and pancakes station. I chose to get a made to order omelet and some other yummy items. Since we were at Goofy’s Kitchen, I felt the need to revert to my childhood and I grabbed worms in dirt for breakfast too. Nothing says breakfast like gummy worms in the morning. Yum! Yum!

    There was a variety of characters here. I honestly didn’t see any rhyme or reason to the characters. We encountered Goofy, Chip, Dale, Balou, Snow White and Mulan. I saw Pluto on the way out waiting for guests.

    Goofing around ...
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    Bill is as tall as Goofy! (Do I see a future profession in his future?!?!?!)
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    It was fun watching all these adults interacting with the characters. Snow White is my all-time favorite princess. So, I had to have a picture taken with her. However, she came by while I was up at the buffet. When our Guides heard she was my favorite, they went and got her for me. She even showed me how to do “princess hands”. It was cute. She was a really good Snow White.

    Jennifer and Snow White.
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    Then, Goofy had to get into the picture too.
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    Pluto bidding us an Adieu ...
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    After our bellies couldn’t eat one more Mickey waffle, we exited the restaurant and back out to Downtown Disney. We headed back to the Grand Californian to pass thru on our way to Disney’s California Adventure. The Grand Californian has its own entrance into Disney’s California Adventure park.

    My Rating: ::MickeyMo ::MickeyMo ::MickeyMo

    COMING UP: Ever wonder what is behind the Soarin’ screen? 44 DISers know …
     
  9. TheTXTaylors5

    TheTXTaylors5 He's the Mickey to my Minnie

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2006
    Messages:
    7,381
    ABD California Backstage Magic Tour - DAY FIVE (April 17, 2010)
    Disney’s California Adventure Tour:
    Soarin' over California
    Turtle Talk with Crush
    Animation Academy
    Tower of Terror


    Disney's California Adventure park.
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    The next time we visit DCA, the CALIFORNIA letters will be gone. I know the renovations to the park entrance will be amazing and very fitting for the park. It’s still sad to know that there will be no more pictures of the kids in the letters.

    We entered Disney’s California Adventure park thru the guest entrance at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel.

    DCA entrance at GC.
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    It was still before park opening. So, we entered an empty park. We headed towards Condor Flats. We passed by Goofy. He gave us all a salute as we were on our way to “soar”.

    Pilot Goofy
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    Our Guides stopped in front of Soarin’. I was excited that this was our first stop. This is one of our favorite attractions at Epcot (WDW).

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    Bill waiting to enter Soarin'
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    The group made its way into the empty hangar. We split into two groups at this point. It wasn’t the same groups from before. They just split the line in half.

    Waiting for our flight instructions.
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    For those that haven’t ridden Soarin’, you want the front row. That way, you are the highest without feet dangling above you. We got the front row!!!! It was such a relaxing ride. I didn’t want to get off. As the other group exited the room, our Guide Michael asked if we wanted to ride again. Of course we all said “YES!!!!” So, our group hopped back on for another soar over California.

    Up, Up and Away!
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    After our second ride, we were led out of the theatre and then through a restricted door. Where were we going??????

    What is behind this door?!?!?!
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    The other group passed us as we went down the stairs. They all had BIG smiles on their faces. Whatever was ahead must be good. Then, we were led into a room where I felt like I was under the bleachers at a football game. That is when a CM came out and told us that we were behind the Soarin’ screen! It is HUGE. Then, we hear the other group enter the theatre for their second ride on Soarin’. We got to experience the ride from a different perspective. It was neat seeing the lights reflect off the screen. I never knew the screen was made of metal. I thought it was like a big movie theatre screen. We were so close to the screen, we could see all the holes in the screen. Pretty cool! I will never look at Soarin’ the same way again. If we had more time, the CM said she would have shown us the big pellets they use for the different smells on the attraction. Again, our group was very large. So, sometimes it took double the time to do things like this. After the ride ended for the other group, we met at the front of the building.

    I didn’t hear what we were doing next. I just followed the ABD sign. We entered the Hollywood Pictures Backlot section of the park.

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    Our Guides led us into the Disney Animation building.

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    This is home to Turtle Talk with Crush, Animation Academy and the Toy Story Zoetrope. We missed this building during our last trip. So, this was all new to us or at least for this park. We’ve been to Turtle Talk at Epcot and the Animation Academy at DHS. Our first stop was a private viewing of Turtle Talk with Crush.

    [​IMG]

    This technology amazes me. Luckily, neither Bill or I got called upon to speak. Always when we do the one at Epcot with the kids, our kids get chosen to speak and somehow we get roped into it too. It was nice to sit back and watch others interact with Crush for a change.

    Turtle Talk with Crush
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    [​IMG]
    (Thanks Lynne!)

    After our meeting with Crush, we headed over to the Animation Academy where a Disney Imagineer was waiting for us.

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    I will be the first to admit, I don’t draw Disney characters very well. However, I did pretty well at our DHS lesson. So, I was looking forward to this. The Imagineer announced that we would be drawing the big cheese himself. Everyone let out a big cheer. I have the experience at DHS to compare this one to and THIS was a crash course on how to draw Mickey Mouse. I don’t know if the Imagineer had a lunch date or what, but he was going way too quickly for me and the others.

    So, this is how you quiet a group of DISers ...
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    I know I could have done better with more time. But, here’s my masterpiece …
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    Bill and others with their Mickey Mouse artwork.
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    The group showing off their artwork.
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    Our Guides gave every couple a tube to put their artwork in. The Guides would take the tubes and give it to us at dinner this evening. That way, we didn’t have to lug them around the park. We all met back in the lobby of the Animation building. Bill and I went over to check out the Toy Story Zoetrope.

    Toy Story Zoetrope
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    It went on while we were standing there. It is amazing! It really looks like Jessie is swinging the rope and Woody is riding Bulleseye. I'm glad we got to see it.

    In the lobby area, our Guides gave everyone their pin for the day and five FPs. This was the end of our tour for the day. We had the rest of the day to do as we wish. We just had to be down in the lobby at 5:30 pm to meet for our Farewell Dinner. While in the Animation lobby, our Guide Jaime asked that if anyone wanted to ride Tower of Terror to follow him. We were game! So, we followed the group to Tower of Terror.

    The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
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    We went right through with no waiting . Our whole car was nothing but DISers. It was a hoot!

    DISers on Tower of Terror. The hotel will never be the same again!
    [​IMG]

    COMING UP: DCA on our own. What will we do?!?!?!?!
     
  10. TheTXTaylors5

    TheTXTaylors5 He's the Mickey to my Minnie

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2006
    Messages:
    7,381
    ABD California Backstage Magic Tour - DAY FIVE (April 17, 2010)
    Touring Disney’s California Adventure with some new DIS Friends
    Lunch at Disney’s California Food and Wine Festival


    After riding Tower of Terror, we met up with a group of DISers that were heading towards California Screamin’. We had Fastpasses in our pocket and we were ready to use them.

    Follow that Mickeysaber (Tonya our fearless leader)
    [​IMG]

    We made our way through A Bug’s Land towards Pacific Wharf (This was a new pathway since our last trip.). I have to say, A Bug's Land is very cute. We spent some time there on our last trip. However, we had no kids with us this trip. So, we rushed through there as quickly as possible. There was a parade or something about to happen (I think it was the High School Musical 3 party thing), so we had to make a detour through the Pacific Wharf area and then made our way over the bridge to the Paradise Pier area.

    When were here last year, this is what Paradise Pier looked like …
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    It’s had a few changes since last year. It looks like this now …
    [​IMG]

    Since we had our trusty ABD FPs, we could get into the FP line immediately. We waited maybe five minutes and then were boarding the cars. Bill and I both went on this last year. However, we rode it separately because we have two children that don’t meet the height requirement. We still have to do the Rider Switch thing. Only for a couple more years and then we can tour the parks like “normal” families. So, this was our first time riding together! It is fun sitting at the beginning right before you go up the hill because you know that fast start is going to happen. You just don’t know when you’re going to be slingshot into space.

    A few people in our group didn't ride and took this picture.
    [​IMG]
    (Thanks Dodie!)

    I love, love, love this ride! It is so much fun. I kept my hands up the whole ride. It’s times like this, I am so glad I have a big kid for a DH. He was next to me laughing and screaming with the rest of us.

    Having fun on California Screamin'
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    We survived!
    [​IMG]

    Our group decided to go on Toy Story Mania next. However, the line was pretty long and they don’t offer FP (like at DHS). So, we couldn’t just whip on in like at California Screamin’. Someone in our group was looking at their park map and time guide and noticed the next showing of Disney's Aladdin – A Musical Spectacular started in about 30 minutes. We had wanted to see it during our last trip. But, it was never playing because we were there during the week. Since they are removing Aladdin from the park, we wanted to see it before it was too late. So, we made our way back over to the Hyperion Theatre in the Hollywood section of the park.

    [​IMG]

    There was already a crowd waiting to enter the theatre. We got into line and waited about 20 minutes before the doors to the theatre opened and we were ushered in. I don’t know how, but we got amazing seats. We were in the second section on the ground level center stage. These seats gave a full view of the stage and were perfect when Aladdin came in on the elephant because he passed right in front of us. This show needs to be brought to Broadway. It was spectacular. For the time in the theatre, I forgot we were inside a theme park. I’d highly recommend it, but it is leaving DCA. I hope you can see it before August 15, 2010.

    Bill and Jennifer waiting for the show to start.
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    Some pictures from the musical ...
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    [​IMG]
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    (Thanks Lynne!)

    You’re probably wondering what will take its place. I found out that Toy Story – The Musical that is currently playing on the Disney Cruise Lines will take over the Hyperion Theatre in early 2011. We’ve seen Toy Story – The Musical on the Disney Wonder. It was cute. But, Aladdin was better in my opinion. I haven’t heard where Aladdin will make a new home? The new Disney ships might be a nice place …

    Our little group exited the theatre. We were all starving by this time. By luck, we were visiting during Disney’s California Food and Wine Festival. By chance, we found the entrance to the Taste of California Marketplace. If we hadn’t been following our group leader, Bill and I definitely would have been having Award Wieners for lunch. The entrance was hidden without any arrows or major signage pointing people in the right direction.

    [​IMG]

    The venue was set-up with one section roped off for the wine seminars and the other side had a bar area with tables. We got into line and ordered some tastings for lunch.

    [​IMG]

    Jennifer ordered …

    White Cheddar Soup featuring Karl Strauss Pale Ale with smoky bacon served in a Boudin’s sourdough bread boule.
    [​IMG]
    The soup in a boule of sourdough was quite good. Okay, it was better than good. Normally, I use the top and dip it in the soup or chowder and leave the boule. I ate all the soup and all the bread. I didn’t want to leave any to waste. I wanted to savor every morsel of the soup.

    Bill ordered …

    Beer Battered Halibut featuring Karl Strauss Woodie Gold beer battered halibut with traditional malt vinegar.
    [​IMG]
    Bill liked his fish. He said it was crispy and hot. Since all the entrées were a sampling, the piece of fish was pretty small. I asked him if he wanted another piece. But, he was fine.

    Dessert …

    Ghirardelli Chocolate Profiterole - A cream puff filled with vanilla pastry-cream topped with chocolate ganache.
    [​IMG]
    Bill and I split the profiterole. It can best be described as an éclair. It was delicious.

    Bill and I both ordered soda as our drink. I was really thirsty and wine just didn’t sound very refreshing. Instead of a regular soda fountain, they had a Coca-Cola freestyle machine. The touch-screen gives you the option from 106 varieties of drinks. You could have a cherry coke or a peach Sprite. You got to add flavorings to the basic Coca Cola products. Since this was such a new concept not just to us, but to most visitors, there was a CM nearby to answer questions. It was a neat concept. However, it kept breaking down. We eventually just got whatever soda was currently working. Our group found some tables near the bar and we started munching on our lunch.

    Bill trying to figure out the Coca Cola freestyle machine.
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    [​IMG]

    We were sitting at the table relaxing for a bit after our meal, when I hear the announcer at the wine seminar introduce a familiar name ... Mr. John Lasseter and his wife Nancy. I hopped out of my seat and had to see with my own two eyes if it was really him. I had two people on my “Disney Dream Wish” of people to meet. The first was Marty Sklar. Bill and I got to meet him at DISapalooza this past December. He was the nicest man.

    Bill with Marty Sklar.
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    Jennifer with Marty (I had such a cheesy grin because I was sooooo happy to meet him.)
    [​IMG]

    The other man was John Lasseter. We just love the Disney/Pixar movies. The man is a genius! Come to find out, The Lasseters own vineyards in Sonoma Valley. I never knew there was a Lasseter Family Winery. They make and sell their own label of wine. Now, I’m really glad I took a picture of those wine bottles at Napa Rose. I want one! We weren’t part of the seminar. But, a nice man let me and some others just stand there for a few moments to listen and take some pictures.

    John Lasseter at the wine seminar.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    (Thanks Lynne)

    We were now fed and ready for more park action ...
     
  11. TheTXTaylors5

    TheTXTaylors5 He's the Mickey to my Minnie

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2006
    Messages:
    7,381
    ABD California Backstage Magic Tour - DAY FIVE (April 17, 2010)
    Disney’s California Adventure on our own.

    Our group was moving on. We made our way over to the attraction Monsters Inc.: Mike and Sulley to the Rescue.

    Monsters Inc.: Mike and Sulley to the Rescue
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    [​IMG]

    We rode this last year and like it. So, we were happy to ride it again. The queue area is cute with all the pictures, phone booth and vending machine. Soon, we were boarding a car on our way to Monstropolis. Very cute!

    The queue ...
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    [​IMG]
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    I really liked the vending machine.
    [​IMG]

    She is such a ray of sunshine. Love it!
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    (Thanks Heather!)

    This is where we left the group and went on our own, just the two of us. On our way through Sunshine Plaza I had to stop and take an obligatory "balloons shot" ...

    [​IMG]

    Since we were there during the California Food and Wine Festival, there was a huge tent set up in front of the sun for the cooking demonstrations. Guy Fieri was going to be cooking today. We only watched one Next Food Network Star show and it was the year he won. Since then, we've followed his career. He did a really good Disneyland Christmas special this past winter. If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it. Of course we watch Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. That show always makes me HUNGRY. So, it really would have been nice to see him cook in person. However, his presentation wasn't for another few hours. We would've had to wait in line for an hour pre-show too. That would have been cutting it too close to get back and change for dinner. So, we kept on and started heading back towards the GC entrance inside the park.

    The tent set-up for the cooking demonstrations.
    [​IMG]

    On our last trip, Grizzly River Run was down for most of our trip. So, we never got to ride it. We planned on heading back to the resort to relax. But, this was the perfect time to ride GRR. I knew we were going to get wet and were heading straight to our room at the Grand Californian afterwards. So, we got into line using our ABD FPs.

    Grizzly River Run
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    Waiting in line.
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    This ride looks so innocent. I will tell you now, you don’t get wet on this ride … you get SOAKED!!!!!! There wasn’t a dry person in our raft. Even if you don’t get soaked on the falls, you get soaked by sprayers.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    (Thanks Lynne!)

    Bill and I both came off the raft soaked with our clothing stuck to us. But, you know what … it was fun!!!!!!

    Post Grizzly River Run ... Bill and Jennifer are soaked!
    [​IMG]

    We were heading to the GC entrance from the park when I spotted an ice cream cart. I could not believe that we leave tomorrow and I haven’t had a Mickey bar. That would be blasphemy to come all this way and not have my “must have” park treat. So, Bill and I grabbed a Mickey bar and sat outside the entrance to GC eating our treats.

    Enjoying our Mickey bars.
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    While sitting there, some DISers/travel mates were coming in for more park fun. They sat and chatted with us for a bit. Bill and I finished the heaven on a stick and we exited the park. We were semi-dry by this time. So, we popped into the resort gift shop to pick-up some souvenirs for the kids, my Mom and the Nanny. Initially, I wanted to visit World of Disney in Downtown Disney to do some souvenir shopping. But, this store had everything I needed. It was a quick shopping trip and then we were on our way to our room. We had about two hours before we had to be back downstairs to meet for our Farewell Dinner. That gave us enough time to shower, change and relax a bit.

    COMING UP: Our Farewell Dinner.
     
  12. TheTXTaylors5

    TheTXTaylors5 He's the Mickey to my Minnie

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2006
    Messages:
    7,381
    ABD California Backstage Magic Tour - DAY FIVE (April 17, 2010)
    Farewell Dinner

    Now it's time to say good-bye to all our company,
    M-I-C ... See you real soon.
    K-E-Y... Why? Because we like you!
    M-O-U-S-E!


    We made our way down to the lobby to meet the group for the last time. Familiar faces were waiting. This dinner was a mystery. So, we put our faith in our Guides and followed them through the hotel towards the conference center section of the hotel.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    We were led into a conference room that was set up with round tables set for dinner. It reminded me of a wedding reception. It was very nice. Also in the room was a tv set-up, an easel and dessert was on display. The dinner buffet was waiting for us outside on the patio. There was a nice spread of meats, pasta and salads.

    Dinner Buffet
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    My very full plate.
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    I sampled a little of everything. Everything I ate was delicious.

    Dessert Buffet
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    I chose a trio of desserts. All were yummy and devoured.

    My plateful of goodness.
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    Since, we took this trip for Bill's Birthday, he was presented a birthday card and specially decorated dessert plate.

    Bill and his Birthday dessert.
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    [​IMG]

    While eating, our ABD Guides introduced us to Disney Artist and Historian, Stacia Martin. She has been with Disney for over 30 years. This evening, she was there to be our Character Sketch Artist. We got to pick which Disney character we wanted her to draw just for us. Bill and I agreed on Mickey Mouse. Then, we would get to take it home. With 22 couples, this would take awhile. So, we were called up by couple. Our Guides had our earlier Animation Academy sketches waiting in their tubes. The sketch by Mrs. Martin would fit safely in the tube for our trip home.

    Stacia Martin working on our sketch.
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    While she was sketching, we had dessert and then our ABD Guides pointed our attention to the tv. They compiled all the pictures they took all week into a highlights video. We laughed as a group on some pictures. It was fun reliving the trip with our fellow Adventurers.

    Once the highlights movie finished, Pete from the DISUnplugged Podcast stood up to address the crowd and our Guides. He thanked our Guides for such an amazing Adventure. At this time, he told everyone that we would be getting a disc of all the pictures from the Adventure compliments of Dreams Unlimited. Normally, ABD charges for the disc. Everyone was excited.

    We knew it was Walter’s (from the Podcast) birthday this evening. One of our fellow travelers took the initiative in getting the group to contribute for a special birthday present for Walter. Karen found out the exact tribe Walter is from and had this amazing artwork created just for him. He was speechless and very thankful.

    Walter's Birthday Surprise.
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    Just when I thought the evening couldn’t get any better, we had surprise guests. Mickey and Minnie made a grand entrance. They waved to everyone and then waited in the hallway to have a meet and greet with all the Adventurers.

    Mickey and Minnie making an entrance.
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    Hurry Minnie! Let's get away from these crazy DISers ...
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    Bill and Jennifer with Mickey and Minnie.
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    The dinner was winding down and our Guides made their last announcement, they arranged a special viewing area for the fireworks that evening. What a way to end the evening. We also, still had FPs left from that day. They were good at both parks. So, we were off for an evening at Disneyland Park.

    COMING UP: Our last evening with our fellow Adventurers.
     
  13. TheTXTaylors5

    TheTXTaylors5 He's the Mickey to my Minnie

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2006
    Messages:
    7,381
    ABD California Backstage Magic Tour - DAY FIVE (April 17, 2010)
    Last Evening at Disneyland Park and Fireworks

    The fireworks were scheduled for 9:30 that evening. We were told to be at our designated area at least 20 minutes before the fireworks. So, we had time to run up to our room and drop off the tube with our sketches and some little gifts from fellow travelers. While up there, we grabbed jackets. It was supposed to get a little chilly that evening. It was quick in and out trip.

    Bill and I casually walked through Downtown Disney to Disneyland. It was nice to walk at a slower pace to take in the sites and soak in the atmosphere. Being a Saturday night, the park was busy as expected. People were already lining Main Street to watch the fireworks. We made our way over to our specially roped off area near The Plaza. When we arrived there weren’t any seats. Over time, the men of our group went and swiped chairs from the Plaza to let the ladies sit. Who says chivalry is dead.

    Our VIP Area ...
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    (Thanks Heather!)

    Our Guides arrived and kept non ABD Adventurers out of our VIP area. Watching our Guide Jaime keeping the traffic moving in front of our area was entertaining. He was stern, but polite. Saying things like. “You don’t really want to stand there. You’d be better over there.” There was even one instance when this older woman bent under the rope and proceeded to join our group. Jaime politely helped her back under the rope. We all had a good laugh.

    Sleeping Beauty Castle
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    The view of the fireworks was spectacular. We had a clear view of Sleeping Beauty Castle and could see Tinker Bell flying all around. We’re used to the Magic Kingdom fireworks where Tinker Bell just flies down once. The Tinker Bell here was flying all around. It was neat. I honestly can say, these were the best fireworks I have ever seen and experienced. The fireworks coordinated with the sound track from all the different attractions made this a very unique experience.

    Tinker Bell
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    The Fireworks
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    (Thanks Lynne!)

    After the fireworks, we were free for the evening. When someone says “Disneyland”, what is the first attraction you think of?????? The Matterhorn Bobsleds. During our trip to Disneyland last year, I never got a chance to ride The Matterhorn. That is the only ride I wanted to ride this trip. Due to annual maintenance, The Matterhorn was only open on Saturdays and Sundays in April. So, this was going to be my one chance to ride it this trip. I asked if anyone wanted to ride The Matterhorn with us. A few said yes. So, we headed that way. I would finally get to ride the first tubular steel track roller coaster!

    The Matterhorn Bobsleds
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    Since this attraction doesn’t have the Fastpass option, we headed for the standby line. The line was around the mountain. The wait time was posted as 40 minutes. Some were hesitant due to the wait time. But, we got in line anyways. After about five minutes, the line moved forward pretty quickly. That is when some guests walking toward us said that the ride is broken and it probably won’t be fixed for at least 45 minutes if at all. NOOOOOOOOOO! The others in our group didn’t want to wait. I really wanted to ride. So, we parted ways. Bill and I waited in line. We could hear a cover band playing in Tomorrowland. So, we had entertainment while in line. Over time, other guests gave up and got out of line. Before we knew it, we were close to the entrance of the attraction. I believe patience is a virtue and will be rewarded. After about 35 minutes, we could hear them doing safety checks on the attraction in each zone. That was good sign. After about 40 minutes from when we first got into line, the wonderful sight of a bobsled came down the mountain. We were clear to ride. Yahooooo! I couldn’t wait!!!!!

    Jennifer patiently waiting in line.
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    I felt like a kid hopping into the sled. I barely had my seatbelt on when we were whisked into the darkness of the mountain. This is a really cool ride at night. When going in and out of the mountain we could see the park all lit up. Having never been on it before, it was a cross between Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Expedition Everest (DAK). It was fast and jerky. But, it was lots and lots of fun. I will definitely ride it next time. It’s now a “must” for every Disneyland trip.

    Bill on the Matterhorn.
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    After our trip around the mountain, we wondered into Tomorrowland. We rode Space Mountain the other day and didn’t feel like making the mile walk through the queue to the ride. So, we decided to ride Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters. This is our DS4’s favorite ride at Disneyland and at the Magic Kingdom (Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin). Bill and I both like the Disneyland version better because you can take the laser out of the holster. It was a lot easier to aim and shoot.

    Bill and Jennifer defeating the Evil Emperor Zurg.
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    It was getting late and we wanted to be at the farewell breakfast in the morning early enough to see everyone before we parted ways. So, we headed back down Main Street towards the exit. That is when we decided to pop into the Emporium to pick-up some last minute souvenirs.

    Main Street Emporium
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    Bill got some souvenirs for co-workers while I got another plush Mickey to add to my collection. I got a Mickey with ’55 on him celebrating the 55th Anniversary of Disneyland.

    When coming out of the store, we were right in front of the Fire Station. It was very fitting to end our evening here. We paid our respects to Walt and the lit lamp in the window.

    Bill in front of the Fire Station.
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    Jennifer in front of the Fire Station.
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    We slowly made our way out of the park back through Downtown Disney to the hotel. We both just fell onto the bed of exhaustion. I had no problems falling asleep this evening. I can’t believe we leave tomorrow. I didn’t mess with packing this evening. We’d have plenty of time after breakfast to get everything zipped up and ready to go.

    TOMORROW: Farewell Breakfast at Storytellers Café
     
  14. TheTXTaylors5

    TheTXTaylors5 He's the Mickey to my Minnie

    Joined:
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    Messages:
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    ABD California Backstage Magic Tour - DAY SIX (April 18, 2010)
    Farewell Breakfast at Storytellers Café
    Today’s Theme: Now It's Time To Say Goodbye
    Word of the Day: Imagination
    Pin of the Day:

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    (Thanks Tonya!)

    Breakfast this morning was at the Storytellers Café in the Grand Californian Hotel. This is a character breakfast with Chip, Dale, Brer Bear and characters from the movie Brother Bear.

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    The breakfast was scheduled from 7am – 9am. It was a come and go breakfast. We knew some ABD Adventurers had early flights. So, we wanted to be down as early as possible to say our goodbyes. We walked into Storytellers Café at about 7:30 am. There were already two large tables full of people eating and socializing.

    The Last Breakfast
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    This breakfast buffet is small, but good. There was an omelet station for made-to-order omelets. So, I grabbed some fresh fruit and then placed my omelet order. While visiting the buffet, my well-needed coffee arrived. I normally only drink coffee if I am really tired. I think the past week was catching up to me. I was exhausted this morning. We had fun meeting with the characters in between bites of food.

    Breakfast with some characters ...
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    Everyone was in good spirits until the first few people had to leave. Then, I could see the waterworks start to form in some eyes. Even though I have tried with this Trip Report, words cannot express what we experienced this past week with our fellow Adventurers. Through the many meals together, bus rides and amazing experiences, we built a camaraderie with these 42 other people. It was sad to see it end.

    After I couldn’t drink one more sip of coffee, we hesitantly gave our last hugs and headed for the exit. We headed straight upstairs to start packing. We were heading home with more than what we came with. We thought ahead and packed a smaller suitcase inside a larger one. So, we had one extra suitcase to bring back home. Since we flew Southwest, we could bring the extra bag at no charge. So, it was actually pretty easy to pack. After the room was checked and double checked, we had some time to relax before we had to meet the car service downstairs. Sitting in the room was making me stir crazy. So, we lugged our bags downstairs, checked-out and waited in the atrium. While waiting, we saw some fellow travelers. It gave us more time to socialize before departing for the airport.

    About 15 minutes before our car was to arrive, we headed outside to wait. Our ABD Guides knew of our departure time and were suppose to be waiting to see us off. They weren’t there yet. After about five minutes, another couple from the Tour arrived. We were going to share the car to the airport with them. They were a nice couple that we had chatted a bit during the Tour. So, it would nice to share the car and chat on the way to the airport. About five minutes later, we see our Guides with another couple heading towards us. I guess all of us were supposed to share the car. However, there wasn’t enough room for everyone’s bags. The Guides called another car for the last couple. So, we said our goodbye and thank you to the Guides and were off to LAX. Soon, I saw the familiar LAX sign and we arrived at our terminal.

    Sad sign to see ...
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    It felt like we just got here. Time flies when you’re having fun.

    Since this was a Sunday, the airport was crowded!!! We waited in line to get our boarding pass and to check our bags. The man at check-in only weighed one of our smaller bags and then tagged the rest. I wasn’t complaining because the largest one “might” have been a little heavy. After checking-in, we were told to bring our bags to the security area where they screen the bags before sending them down to baggage. There were piles and piles of bags waiting to be scanned. I was a little worried our bags would get lost in there and miss our flight. We headed towards security check and waited in an even longer line to be screened. Once again, I held my breath as I passed under the metal detector. It didn’t go off. Yea!

    By this time, we were hungry for lunch. So, we scouted out the terminal. What first caught my eye when we passed the security check point was a little food court that had California Pizza Kitchen in it. I’ve had their frozen pizza before (four cheese) and it was really good for frozen pizza. So, I wanted to try it fresh. So, we both agreed it sounded good for lunch.

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    Bill ordered pepperoni and Jennifer ordered The Original BBQ Chicken (Barbecue sauce, smoked Gouda and Mozzarella cheeses, BBQ Chicken, sliced red onions and cilantro.) The BBQ chicken pizza was really good! Yummy!

    While sitting eating lunch, I noticed a place called Pinkberry. I had heard of it. So for dessert, we got Pinkberry frozen yogurt. Bill got mango and Jennifer got chocolate.

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    It was “okay”. I’m not sure what all the hype is about? People in California rave about this stuff. I did see a lot of people pile tons of toppings onto their frozen yogurt. Which to me, defeats the purpose of having frozen yogurt as opposed to ice cream. Oh well. To each their own. We had two really California things for lunch before heading back to Texas.

    The flight was once again sold out. But, it was the last flight to Austin that night. So, there was no way we were giving up our seats. The flight and drive home were very uneventful. We pulled into our driveway at 12:14 am. What a long day and night. It was good to be home and plop into our own bed for the night. However, I would be somewhat lost the next day without an itinerary planned for me.

    UPDATE:
    We made some great new friends on this trip. During the trip, we heard the question … “Are you going on the Podcast cruise?” numerous times. It made us feel like people actually wanted to travel with us again. That was a good feeling. When we got home, Bill booked us on the Podcast Cruise 2.0 for this upcoming December. We would get to see many of our ABD Adventurers again. I can’t wait to take this adventure on the high seas!
     
  15. Miss SD

    Miss SD Mouseketeer

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2008
    Messages:
    312
    Thanks so much for posting your trip report! Your descriptions of the tour activities and meals were outstanding! My DD (then 10) and I took this last August and we're going again on July 18 with my husband. You definitely captured the excitement and flavor of Backstage Magic!

    It must have been exciting to eat at Club 33 and visit the Dream Suite, which we didn't see last year. I did cringe, though, when you talked about a day trip up Highway 1 to Monterey. You guys must have been exhausted that night!
     
  16. 2GirlsMama

    2GirlsMama Happy Wife and Mom

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2009
    Messages:
    272
    THANK YOU, JENNIFER!!! What a great trip report. This is my dream trip. Some day... Thanks for sharing your insights and wonderful pictures. I am glad you had such a great adventure!
     
  17. Bobo912

    Bobo912 DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2008
    Messages:
    2,709
    Thanks for the awesome trip report! I keep thinking we shouldn't take this trip because we've already been to DL and there are so many other places we want to visit and then I read a great trip report like this and I think, weeelllll, maybe....

    Michael was our guide in Costa Rica. He's great!
     
  18. adambomb85

    adambomb85 Earning My Ears

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2009
    Messages:
    56
    Wow Jennifer! This was an incredible trip report! I am going on this ABD in June 2010 (34 days to be exact). Even though we won't get all the surprises you did, your amazing trip report made me even more excited to go! Thanks for taking the time to share all this :)
     
  19. Dodie

    Dodie <font color=green>Survived the big crash<br><font

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 1999
    Messages:
    6,674
    I loved reading your report Jennifer! It's so much fun to see things from someone else's perspective (event though Phillip and I were usually in the same small group as you and Bill whenever we split up)! Thanks for writing it. I feel like I just relived our adventure.

    But where's the picture of Bill with "his" poster? ;)

    :goodvibes
     
  20. nmoore14

    nmoore14 Is there life outside of Disney? If so, I don't w

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2009
    Messages:
    363
    Thanks for the great trip report. I loved all of the pics. I am glad everyone had a great time! :thumbsup2:thumbsup2:thumbsup2:thumbsup2
     
  21. TheTXTaylors5

    TheTXTaylors5 He's the Mickey to my Minnie

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2006
    Messages:
    7,381
    I think that will be making an appearance on our stateroom door ... :rotfl:

    :goodvibes Jennifer
     

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