Adult Exclusive- Backstage Magic Trip Report

tgeorge

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jul 19, 2013
Hello all

Okay, I'm going to try my hand at a Trip Report. I'm not promising journalistic brilliance (or, really, any brilliance for that matter), but I know it has been a bit since someone has done a BSM report and this trip we also stayed at the Disneyland Hotel instead of the Grand Californian. So, there are some differences.

Before I begin, do any of you Trip Report gurus have suggestions for picture uploads. If I just use the image insert at the top of the page, will it work okay, or is there a better way?

It was a fantastic trip and the holiday decorations really made it out of this world. ABD has won over another person, I know, HUGE shocker there, right? :rotfl2:

More to come soon......
 

OKW Lover

Retired and living 2 miles from The Castle.
DIS Lifetime Sponsor
Joined
Apr 29, 2004
Looking forward to the trip report!

As far as pictures go, I like when they are interspersed with the text so I can see what you're describing. Either way, hope its a great trip!
 

sayhello

Have Camera, Will Travel
Joined
Oct 28, 2006
I've been using the upload here on the DIS for photos. It works really well. Make sure your cursor is where you want the photo to appear, and then hit the "upload a file" button on the bottom right. Select your photo, and once it uploads, select "full size" to insert your photo where your cursor is. You can embed 10 photos per post. Let me know if you have any issues!

Sayhello
 
  • hilarys

    Hilary S
    Joined
    Sep 5, 2008
    Looking forward to reading your trip report. We really loved our trip and our great guides. Can't wait to hear about your trip and the differences with staying at the DL hotel.
     

    tgeorge

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 19, 2013
    Hello fellow Adventurer’s! I’ve long enjoyed reading these boards and taking in all of the tips that everyone has shared and wanted to add my little contribution to the mix. My husband feels this forum is hazardous since it just adds trips to my list, which is already quite substantial, but I say everyone has to have a hobby. His hobby is cars, mine is travel. We make it work. :-)

    My friend, Nicole, and I took this trip together. My husband and her boyfriend do not understand our love of Disney and Harry Potter, so we are quite lucky we have found one another. We planned this trip when booking opened in April 2016, so we had a bit of a wait, but, boy was it worth it! Our next trip is to NYC in July to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. We were lucky enough to get tickets, so we have something else to look forward to!

    A little about me- I’m Tonia from Kansas City, MO. I’m a big kid at heart. In my civilian career, I’m a research scientist who works on biological vaccine development. I’m also a microbiologist in the Army Reserves. I’m married and we have a 5 year old English bulldog. So, if anyone is ever in the Kansas City area and needs a good recommendation for BBQ, I’m your girl.


    IMG_0165.JPG


    And now…let the Adventure begin!
     

    tgeorge

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 19, 2013
    sayhello...thanks for the info! It helped, unfortunately, some of the photos I took with my good camera aren't uploading (they are too big). I shot in raw and used LightRoom to edit and export to jpeg, but the resolution is too high for the boards (I even tried to reduce the size, to no avail). So, we're going to have to work with the few photos I took with my iPhone. More to come later....
     

    sayhello

    Have Camera, Will Travel
    Joined
    Oct 28, 2006
    sayhello...thanks for the info! It helped, unfortunately, some of the photos I took with my good camera aren't uploading (they are too big). I shot in raw and used LightRoom to edit and export to jpeg, but the resolution is too high for the boards (I even tried to reduce the size, to no avail). So, we're going to have to work with the few photos I took with my iPhone. More to come later....
    There's a free program I got called FastStone Photo Resizer. Easy as pie to make your photos smaller (you'd need to do it to the jpeg, probably. I don't think it supports raw.) I usually size mine to 800x600 pixels, and that seems to work great.

    http://download.cnet.com/FastStone-Photo-Resizer/3000-2192_4-10319476.html

    Sayhello
     
    Last edited:
  • tgeorge

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 19, 2013

    tgeorge

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 19, 2013
    I forgot to mention how INCREDIBLY JEALOUS I am that you got tickets to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child!! I *SO* want to see that!!

    Sayhello
    I will tell you, it was not for the faint of heart :-) I had about 6 people sign up to try to get an access code. My brother, who lives in NJ, ended up getting an access code with the very first time slot! He's also a Harry Potter fan, so the three of us are going. I waited and counted down the time. Everyone at work knew not to bother me and as soon as the clock chimed 1000 central time, I was in and worked as quick as I could. I had them mere moments later, which shocked me because my Hamilton tickets took longer (I'm assuming due to them splitting up the time for the access codes). I was ecstatic! After I heard how many problems people had with later time slots, I knew we got incredibly lucky!
     

    tgeorge

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 19, 2013
    Pre ABD

    We arrived at LAX on Friday at 5:00 pm. Yes, you read that correctly, someone (yes, it was me, I admit it) thought it was a great idea to land in LA on Friday night at 5:00!!! FYI… in case you’re wondering, it was not :-) Our driver picked us up, loaded up our luggage and we SLOWLY made our way to Universal Hilton. When we finally arrived, we checked in, got up to our room and then we ran off for some dinner. The hotel had upgraded us to a theme park view, which was hilarious because we were trying to figure out where things were and we couldn’t see a thing because it was so dark. The next morning, this is what we saw:
    Hogwarts-day.jpeg

    We laughed at our very bad guessing skills from the night before, but were incredibly excited to get to the park and start our VIP experience tour! Our tour time was at 0945 and we had to arrive by 0925. We got into the park, checked into the VIP area, and they led us upstairs for a continental breakfast buffet. We sat around and waited patiently for out tour time to start. Owen, our tour guide, gathered our group of 14 and off we went. The first thing we did was the back lot tour. I have never been on a studio tour, so this was pretty cool for me. To see where some of the filming has occurred for various movies and TV shows was a lot of fun. We learned how they did the plane scenes on the Hudson in Sully, saw some sets for different movies and even got to tour the studio that currently is shooting Cloud 9 with America Ferrera. I don’t watch it, but it was still neat to see an actual studio set up that is currently filming. Here is one of sets that we saw:

    Who-Ville
    IMG_7231.jpg

    There was SO much to see, but since they were celebrating Grinch-mas, I felt it was appropriate.

    After the backlot tour, it was time for lunch. They took us to this really cute restaurant away from the hustle and bustle of the crowd in the parks and we were treated to a fantastic lunch buffet. It was really good. Let me caveat this by saying I am not a foodie, so, food isn’t something I get excited about, but everyone commented on how good it was. 14 out of 14 can’t be wrong, right? :-) They get the executive chefs who cook for the studio to prepare the meal, so it isn’t your typical theme park food.


    After lunch, it was back to the tour. We got on all of the rides without hardly any wait. Universal rides are mostly the motion simulator rides, so I did have to close my eyes occasionally, given all the movement, but it was fun. And then, the part we really came for, Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Nicole and I have been to the Universal Park in Florida and we wanted to see the Universal Hollywood Wizarding World too. The one in Florida is bigger, but we still had fun. Owen left us at 5:00 and we were on our own for the rest of the night. We waited for the highlight of our day; the holiday light show on Hogwarts. It was nothing short of spectacular! Incredibly crowded, but well worth it.

    IMG_0088.JPG

    IMG_0092.JPG


    After the show, we made our way to the City Walk, had a small dinner and then made our way back to the hotel. Tomorrow our ABD starts and we’re both incredibly excited!
     
  • tgeorge

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 19, 2013
    ABD Day 1


    Let me start off by saying, I intend to lay out the entirety of our trip. I don’t think I’m giving away any ‘secrets’ that most of you don’t already know about, but I wanted to make sure I didn’t spoil anything for someone if they did want to keep something a surprise.

    We woke up and lingered around the Hilton for a bit since we had late check out. We made our way over to Loews Hollywood around 1:00 and up we went to meet our guides. Michael and Dean greeted us and we knew, immediately, that this was going to be a fun trip. They were hilarious and so excited about the upcoming days. They introduced us to their intern, Danny :-) Danny is an Adventure Guide who has previously only done the River Cruises and he is going to be a guide on the BSM coming up on December 17th, so he was tagging along to learn the ropes of the difference between the river and a land based trip. Danny only added to the hilarity that ensued over the coming days and it was phenomenal. I picked his brain on all things river cruise, since that is what I’m looking at next, and it was awesome. I did tell him that if I ever am lucky enough to have him as a guide, he will be forever known as ‘the intern’ LOL


    Our fantastic guides- Michael and Dean
    IMG_7293.jpg

    The three of them
    IMG_0131.JPG

    They got us all of our hotel info, we went to get settled, and walked a bit around Hollywood Blvd. The hotel is in a great location! While it was the least favorite of the three hotels we stayed in, you really can't beat the location.

    IMG_7263.jpg

    We met at a conference room in the hotel and had a nice buffet dinner. Michael and Dean introduced themselves, gave us a rundown of what to expect throughout the week and other logistical information. Then we each had to get up, introduce ourselves and what we were most excited about. Then it was time for our first photo op (many, many, many more were to come, I quickly learned) and we ate and had some wine/beer. This was an adult exclusive trip, so I’m not sure if that is the same as the normal trips, but it was nice to have a glass or two of wine and mingle with our fellow adventurers. Over the next couple of days, as relationships grew, the group became pretty cohesive and I can see how people meet others that they plan future trips with! You already know you have something in common and it makes it easy.

    It was time to call it a night. We said our good nights to everyone and we went off to prepare for our first full day!
     

    tgeorge

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 19, 2013
    ABD Day 2


    Our first full day! I will learn that each day is packed full of activities and the days are long, so be prepared for early wake ups and lots of walking!

    We met at Preston’s in the Loew’s for a breakfast buffet at 0800. All of the choices were great and we had some time to chat with our fellow travelers to get to know them a bit better. Then we were off to Hollywood Blvd and the Chinese theatre. Along the way, Michael and Dean showed us where the starts walk up into the Dolby Theatre for the Oscars, and explained how people receive stars on the Walk of Fame. When we arrived at the theatre, we were escorted inside and given a tour. The history of the theatre is fascinating and it culminated with seeing the concrete hands/feet impressions left by stars over the years.
    IMG_7272.jpg

    IMG_7274.jpg

    IMG_7273.jpg

    We returned to our hotel and met again in the lobby to head off to the Jim Henson Studio Tour.

    Upon our arrival, they played an introductory film that was created for ABD to talk about the history of the studio and what it is currently used for. It was quite interesting to learn about the history! It was built by Charlie Chaplin and houses a recording studio that is still one of the most highly sought after recording studios in LA. Once you are inside the compound, it is actually quite peaceful, so I can see why recording artists enjoy using it. The guides said they’ve seen Joe Jonas, Kanye West and Miley Cyrus, just to name a few.

    IMG_7280.jpg

    Then we got to meet with Grant, one of the puppeteers. He gave us a demonstration and invited one of us to come up and take a shot with the puppet. The guy in our group who went was absolutely hilarious. It turned out to be a pretty awesome activity.

    Kermit and his Emmy

    IMG_7278.jpg



    Then we were off to lunch at Tam O’Shantners. We had ordered our lunch yesterday, so they knew what we were having. As we arrived, they confirmed our choices, and lunch was out in a jiffy. We sat and ate while the servers gave us a bit of history and the guides took us, table by table, to Walt’s booth. The food was really good and the ambiance was definitely worth it.


    This is where we broke off from the group. They went off to Griffith Park and rode the Carousel. Nicole and I got an Uber back to the hotel and made our way to Jimmy Kimmel! I had requested tickets as soon as they became available. About a week and a half out, they confirmed we had tickets. Jimmy wasn’t there, but Chris Pratt was the guest host. I’m a huge Chris Pratt fan, so, I was definitely happy with the choice!


    After the show, we walked around a bit and then headed back to our hotel. The next morning was a 0700 bag pull and breakfast and we knew we should try to get some sleep.
     

    sayhello

    Have Camera, Will Travel
    Joined
    Oct 28, 2006
    I will tell you, it was not for the faint of heart :-) I had about 6 people sign up to try to get an access code. My brother, who lives in NJ, ended up getting an access code with the very first time slot! He's also a Harry Potter fan, so the three of us are going. I waited and counted down the time. Everyone at work knew not to bother me and as soon as the clock chimed 1000 central time, I was in and worked as quick as I could. I had them mere moments later, which shocked me because my Hamilton tickets took longer (I'm assuming due to them splitting up the time for the access codes). I was ecstatic! After I heard how many problems people had with later time slots, I knew we got incredibly lucky!
    Wow! So lucky! I didn't even get an access code! Enjoy! I so hope I'll be able to get tickets at a later date.

    Sayhello
     

    tgeorge

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 19, 2013
    ABD Day 3


    TODAY is the day! This is the day I’ve been waiting for! Okay, I was excited about them all, but Imagineering was the biggest reason this trip appealed to me and I’m finally getting there. I definitely geeked out a bit (okay, a lot a bit).

    Nicole has met with the Imagineers before. She’s done two of the Disney Institute workshops and she met them through that. However, she said this was good because we actually went to their office and got to see their cool toys.

    Bags were pulled at 0700, we met at Preston’s again for breakfast, and we were on the bus for our first order of business; Walt Disney Studio Tour.

    Michael and Dean gave us the tour and took us through the history of the Animation and the Color/Inking buildings. It was so informative. After that, we made our way to the Archives and the courtyard with the Disney Legends plaques. Michael went over all of the items in the Archives in the cases and the Animator’s desk that they have on display. Along with a couple of cool Star Wars items they have. I love Star Wars, so this was an added surprise.

    IMG_7310.jpg

    IMG_7288.jpg

    This cracked me up. Definitely not something they would put in the parks, but, hey, if Pluto has to go, what can you do
    IMG_7292.jpg

    What is left of the color and inking department. It was cool to see that they kept some remnants of their past
    IMG_7298.jpg

    After the tour, we had the chance to look around the Studio Disney store, but they all warned us that, while this store has some cool things, the store you really want to wait for is Mickey’s of Glendale at Imagineering. So, I resisted the temptation, which was the absolute last time I resisted the temptation. I *needed* everything I bought!


    Then we were off to Imagineering! Building 1401 is very plain and you would never know it houses the brains behind the Disney Magic. It did not disappoint! Of course, we weren’t allowed to take any photos, with the exception of one supervised photo taken by Michael or Dean, but that’s okay.

    We got see some of the upcoming things they are working on, which was so cool. They let us ‘ride’ the Pirates of the Caribbean ride in Shanghai. It was the computer generated model they used before building it to make sure the boat timing was correct and how the visuals looked. The other part of our group apparently got to put on some type of helmet and virtually walk through a small section of Star Wars land. I was so bummed I wasn’t in that group.

    We toured a sound area and we got to see them working on a foam mock up for a new area of Hong Kong Disney that will be built in a couple of years. As an FYI, in the new Star Tours they clear flight 1401 for take-off. A little nod to Imagineering- Building 1401


    Did it live up to expectations? Absolutely! Would I do it again? In a heart-beat! If they needed a molecular microbiologist, I’d apply tomorrow. I’m thinking I went into the wrong science for Imagineering though.


    After shopping, I lugged my very large bag back on the bus and we were off to Anaheim to see Walt’s dream come to life. It took about 1.5 hours due to the traffic, but I guess it could have been worse. Once we arrived, we got out hotel rooms and we went to wait for our bags to be brought up to us. Then we met in the lobby and went up to a suite in the hotel where we had a cocktail party awaiting us. They had small versions of all the famous food from the park. It was a fun evening and a good way to end a busy day. We also learned that we would need to meet the next morning at 0645, so after we were done, many of us said good night and were off to get prepared for another long, fun day.
     

    tgeorge

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 19, 2013
    A few more pics

    They like me, they really, really like me
    IMG_0111.JPG

    The room at DL hotel was huge! Two beds, couch, bathroom with two sink vanity and separate toilet area. Very nice. I don't know what the GC is like (we only walked through the lobby and it was gorgeous), however, a couple of people in our group have stayed in both and the consensus was that the DL hotel was definitely better. While GC is convenient for access to DCA, the DL hotel is not that much further. The headboard lit up and it plays a little tune. It was incredibly cute and I would definitely stay there again if I had the chance.
    IMG_0116.JPG

    The suite where we had our cocktail party. I feel like it was what the decorators in 1955 would have envisioned the future to look like. It was very 70's mod :-) It was fun. Unfortunately, I did get another photo of the suite.
    IMG_0117.JPG
     

    sayhello

    Have Camera, Will Travel
    Joined
    Oct 28, 2006
    So cool! I've put off taking this ABD because I grew up in Southern CA, and have seen a lot of this stuff, and need to visit family when I'm in L.A. :-) But I'm really thinking one of these days I need to pull the trigger & do this one.

    I'm a little confused about intern Danny. He was one of our Guides on the Danube River cruise, and I thought he'd been a Guide for ages! He certainly seemed to know his stuff!! He has worked for Disney for ages, as a performer, though. That's pretty funny if they called him an "intern"!

    Sayhello
     

    tgeorge

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 19, 2013
    So cool! I've put off taking this ABD because I grew up in Southern CA, and have seen a lot of this stuff, and need to visit family when I'm in L.A. :-) But I'm really thinking one of these days I need to pull the trigger & do this one.

    I'm a little confused about intern Danny. He was one of our Guides on the Danube River cruise, and I thought he'd been a Guide for ages! He certainly seemed to know his stuff!! He has worked for Disney for ages, as a performer, though. That's pretty funny if they called him an "intern"!

    Sayhello
    'Intern' is definitely tongue-in-cheek. He's very adept at being an Adventure Guide and very, very knowledgeable. It was like we had 3 guides, really :-) I asked him and he said that since he's only done river cruises as a guide, never a land based trip, he wanted to make sure that he knew all the proper things to do, people to call, etc. He's a riot and he showed us pics of him as the genie in Aladdin. So cool! He definitely knows his stuff, that is for sure. And, just like Michael and Dean, you can tell he loves Disney. It just showed through every single interaction we had with each of them.

    I don't think this trip could disappoint, even with growing up in the area. You really do get to do some pretty cool things that don't seem to be accessible (or, at least easily accessible) to others.
     

    Calfan

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 31, 2009
    I will tell you, it was not for the faint of heart :-) I had about 6 people sign up to try to get an access code. My brother, who lives in NJ, ended up getting an access code with the very first time slot! He's also a Harry Potter fan, so the three of us are going. I waited and counted down the time. Everyone at work knew not to bother me and as soon as the clock chimed 1000 central time, I was in and worked as quick as I could. I had them mere moments later, which shocked me because my Hamilton tickets took longer (I'm assuming due to them splitting up the time for the access codes). I was ecstatic! After I heard how many problems people had with later time slots, I knew we got incredibly lucky!
    That's awesome! I was also lucky enough to get an access code for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in the first time slot! We're going in June, and I'm surprising DH, DD and DS with it as a "family" holiday gift. Back on topic, I'm looking forward to this TR. We're finally doing BSM in Aug. 2018 after booking and moving it around a couple of times.
     

    Calfan

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 31, 2009
    Pre ABD

    We arrived at LAX on Friday at 5:00 pm. Yes, you read that correctly, someone (yes, it was me, I admit it) thought it was a great idea to land in LA on Friday night at 5:00!!! FYI… in case you’re wondering, it was not :-) Our driver picked us up, loaded up our luggage and we SLOWLY made our way to Universal Hilton. When we finally arrived, we checked in, got up to our room and then we ran off for some dinner. The hotel had upgraded us to a theme park view, which was hilarious because we were trying to figure out where things were and we couldn’t see a thing because it was so dark. The next morning, this is what we saw:
    View attachment 287928

    We laughed at our very bad guessing skills from the night before, but were incredibly excited to get to the park and start our VIP experience tour! Our tour time was at 0945 and we had to arrive by 0925. We got into the park, checked into the VIP area, and they led us upstairs for a continental breakfast buffet. We sat around and waited patiently for out tour time to start. Owen, our tour guide, gathered our group of 14 and off we went. The first thing we did was the back lot tour. I have never been on a studio tour, so this was pretty cool for me. To see where some of the filming has occurred for various movies and TV shows was a lot of fun. We learned how they did the plane scenes on the Hudson in Sully, saw some sets for different movies and even got to tour the studio that currently is shooting Cloud 9 with America Ferrera. I don’t watch it, but it was still neat to see an actual studio set up that is currently filming. Here is one of sets that we saw:

    Who-Ville
    View attachment 287929

    There was SO much to see, but since they were celebrating Grinch-mas, I felt it was appropriate.

    After the backlot tour, it was time for lunch. They took us to this really cute restaurant away from the hustle and bustle of the crowd in the parks and we were treated to a fantastic lunch buffet. It was really good. Let me caveat this by saying I am not a foodie, so, food isn’t something I get excited about, but everyone commented on how good it was. 14 out of 14 can’t be wrong, right? :-) They get the executive chefs who cook for the studio to prepare the meal, so it isn’t your typical theme park food.


    After lunch, it was back to the tour. We got on all of the rides without hardly any wait. Universal rides are mostly the motion simulator rides, so I did have to close my eyes occasionally, given all the movement, but it was fun. And then, the part we really came for, Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Nicole and I have been to the Universal Park in Florida and we wanted to see the Universal Hollywood Wizarding World too. The one in Florida is bigger, but we still had fun. Owen left us at 5:00 and we were on our own for the rest of the night. We waited for the highlight of our day; the holiday light show on Hogwarts. It was nothing short of spectacular! Incredibly crowded, but well worth it.

    View attachment 287932

    View attachment 287933


    After the show, we made our way to the City Walk, had a small dinner and then made our way back to the hotel. Tomorrow our ABD starts and we’re both incredibly excited!
    That light show looks amazing! We are also doing Universal before our ABD, staying at the Hilton on points. Love your upgraded view :) I plan to book the VIP tour for us, but it is still a little early....
     


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