Backstage ABD review with SWGE

Steven G

Mouseketeer
Joined
Jun 7, 2016
Hi,

I’ve gone on two backstage abd so I will compare the two...

Overall, both were awesome, and the guides were awesome.

about 90% of the trip was the same, but there were a few things different

The first trip was about 3 years ago in 2016.

We actually had 3 guides this time, with one of them in training, where he is going to start being one of the guides next week. He was great. Note that we only tipped two of the guides, but it was nice having him available for pics, etc.

Things missing last time: fantasmic, which was closed due to construction.

Differences this time:
on first night, there was no group activity, first night last time we all went to wax museum, this time it was all on our own.
Second day was mostly the same. We visited the carousel in Griffith park instead of Walt’s barn, but both are cool.
Third day: mostly the same, but we went to French quarter quick serve this time instead of river belle table service for our dinner. I enjoyed French quarter better.
Fourth day: swge basically means we missed some things. Last time we got a BTS of the where they launched fireworks, and a parade viewing. As well, I’m pretty sure we saw both Walt’s apartment and dream suite last time, and this time was Walt’s apartment only. I didn’t mind missing the parade this time, last time was paint the night.
Fifth day: before we got a tour of club 1901, this time just a tour of Carthay circle.
Sixth day: we went to steakhouse 55 for breakfast this time, I don’t remember what it was last time, but it wasn’t that.

As well last time, we got paper fast passes, this time we just got fast passes added to our ticket. They function nearly the same in that they could be used at any time for any fast pass enabled ride. This time, for some reason GOTG was excluded, and we were only able to visit it once with the fast passes they gave us. Note that MaxPass was not added, so either you would have to add it yourself, or use the kiosks. I ended up not gettin any extra ones.
 

Steven G

Mouseketeer
Joined
Jun 7, 2016
As a side note on the fast passes, this time they gave us one fast pass on the third night, 5 fast passes on day 4 plus an extra that could only be used at star tours, 5 fast passes on day 5 plus an extra that could be used at only GOTG and another extra that could be used at radiator springs, and on day 6 only one fast pass. Note that the fast passes could only be used that day and you lost them if you didn’t use them that day, which was crappy I thought.

Only GOTG and SWGE was excluded from the main fastpasses. I am not sure why they excluded GOTG, the guides kind of gave a non answer.
 

Steven G

Mouseketeer
Joined
Jun 7, 2016
My only complaint on both trips, is that even though we got reserved areas for viewing, none of them were with chairs. Also the fantasmic viewing was kind of poor, it was to the side near hungry bear seating, with hungry bear getting better view.
 
  • acndis

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 6, 2012
    Thanks for the review! It’s so helpful. We are going after the reservation period so it will be interesting to see how things change. Was Shannon one of your guides?
     

    Chirple

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Sep 30, 2009
    Thanks for the rundown of activities. My husband has never been to the Los Angeles area so there are a couple of things we want to do pre-ABD and with any OYO time available.
     

    Steven G

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jun 7, 2016
    I didn't include all the activities, just the ones that were different from my two ABDs.

    Here is a breakdown of all the activities that I remember:
    Day 1: Met at airport by driver at baggage area. Real nice guy. We had major problems with our luggage, because LAX couldn't figure out what baggage claim to put the luggage in, took over an hour to get our luggage. Drive to Hollywood uneventful, but slow due to traffic. Room wasn't ready yet, but we met our guides and we had our luggage held. Went to lunch on our own. Room was ready, so we rested there until group dinner. Dinner was in hotel conference room, quite fancy buffet (included wine). Got noticed by the guides since it was our second trip. Met lots of cool people. On our own, we went to the El Capitan theater to see Aladdin, guides gave us other suggestions as well.

    Day 2: Early start (like most days). Breakfast at hotel restaurant, again buffet. Did the Hollywood tour. The Chinese theater was busy when we went with a high school graduation, so we had to visit it later in the day. We saw the Dolby Theater (but not the inside), the walk of fame, the chinese theater, muppet studios. We loved the Muppet Studios, such a cute and cool place. We had Tam O'Shanter for lunch (very good) but it was from a limited menu, and alcohol was extra. The tour guides pointed out many places in Hollywood during our bus ride. We also saw the Carousel in Griffith Park (almost 100 degrees at that point). The guides invited us to an Ice Cream Social at the Ghiradellis. We were too tired for dinner, and the ice cream filled us up.

    Day 3: Early start again. Had to get our luggage ready for the morning. Breakfast at hotel (same place), buffet. Studios (including archive), and Imagineering. I won't go too much into these. Note that we didn't get to see Walt's office, although it was pointed out to us. (I think the only way to see that is sometimes on D23 Studio tours, because that is how I saw Walt's office a couple years ago). Had buffet lunch at Studios. Long bus ride to Disneyland (had Muppet Movie and Tangled playing). Checked in, got our luggage, and went into Disneyland. Had dinner at French Market. Went as a group into Haunted Mansion. Saw Fantasmic as a group (to the left of Hungry Bear, not best view). Rest was on your own.

    Day 4: Early start again. First people to be in Disneyland in front of the castle (the SWGE people were going to Tomorrowland.) The BEST experience for me on the whole trip. Had character breakfast at Plaza Inn. Met the Disney ambassador. Did the Disneyland tour. Behind the Scenes at Indiana Jones, and then rode the ride as a group. Rode Matterhorn as a group. Rode Peter Pan as a group. Saw Mickey at his house as a group. There may have been one or two more that we rode as a group. Gave us $25 in dining credits (each) for lunch (we had enough left over for dinner too). Saw Walt's apartment as a group. Went to SWGE at 2pm, but without the guides, so it was on our own. Saw the fireworks as a group. (note that we didn't see parade, presumably because of SWGE). The fireworks area was in front of Plaza Inn, so a little off center, but still great view. Note that there is no visit to Dream Suite.

    Day 5: Early start again. Character Breakfast at Storytellers. DCA tour. Behind the Scenes at both Soarin and Radiator Springs. Rode Toy Story Mania as group. Visited Carthay Circle as a group (before it opened). Had most of afternoon (and parts of the evening) on our own, including lunch. We met at the hotel, and went to a conference room where we talked about our trip, and the guides had a nice slideshow of events of the last few days. Had dinner at Carthay Circle as a group. Watched World of Color as a group. We had a great view of WOC, it was pretty close to center, but a little to the right. You had to stand, because of the people in front of us.

    Day 6: Breakfast at Steakhouse 55 as a group. Said our goodbyes. The guides were nice enough to set me up to get an Uber to my car rental location (I continued our trip for a couple days outside of the resort).


    All in all, Fantasmic definitely had the worst view of the 3 spectaculars.

    Day 2 and Day 3 were very hot. Day 4 was still hot, but not quite as bad. Day 5 and 6 were great.

    Highlights:
    Day 2: Muppet Studios
    Day 3: Imagineering
    Day 4: Being the first in Disneyland
    Day 5: the Behind the Scenes tours of Soarin and Radiator Springs



    As a reminder: Fastpasses they give you can be used FOR THAT DAY at any time. This means that if you don't use the fastpass that day, you lose it (no rollover). For whatever reason GOTG was not included (and neither was SWGE). They did give us one fastpass for GOTG. As well, MAXPASS was not included.
     
    Last edited:
  • scrappinsandie

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Sep 5, 2009
    Hi I have a question - I notice a lot of reports mention the early starts. I don't think it will bother me as I normally lave for work at 5.30 am and rarely sleep in past 6.30 on the weekends however my travel buddy is a night owl - if I get an idea of how early is early I can prepare her now!
     
  • minnie4ever

    I work to travel...where to next??
    Joined
    Oct 3, 2014
    Yes, we had shopping time at both the Studios and at Imagineering.
    Yippeeee... Can't wait for this trip! I am so glad World of Color is back on, parks all decorated for Halloween, SWEG, Mint Juleps, and beignets and just being able to go to Disneyland one more time (last time was in 2017) for this East coast girl
     

    dt14890

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Jul 29, 2007
    Question about the group meals. Several look like they are in rather fancy restaurants. How dressed up do you need to get for these? I was thinking of just shorts to pack for this trip as Southern California is still hot in mid September but I don’t want to be underdressed at times either.
     

    dolewhipdreams

    Counting days until my next Dole Whip
    Joined
    Feb 24, 2017
    Thanks for the report! We are going on this ABD in three weeks and I'm so excited for it!
     

    batsonator

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Jun 8, 2019
    I didn't include all the activities, just the ones that were different from my two ABDs.

    Here is a breakdown of all the activities that I remember:
    Day 1: Met at airport by driver at baggage area. Real nice guy. We had major problems with our luggage, because LAX couldn't figure out what baggage claim to put the luggage in, took over an hour to get our luggage. Drive to Hollywood uneventful, but slow due to traffic. Room wasn't ready yet, but we met our guides and we had our luggage held. Went to lunch on our own. Room was ready, so we rested there until group dinner. Dinner was in hotel conference room, quite fancy buffet (included wine). Got noticed by the guides since it was our second trip. Met lots of cool people. On our own, we went to the El Capitan theater to see Aladdin, guides gave us other suggestions as well.

    Day 2: Early start (like most days). Breakfast at hotel restaurant, again buffet. Did the Hollywood tour. The Chinese theater was busy when we went with a high school graduation, so we had to visit it later in the day. We saw the Dolby Theater (but not the inside), the walk of fame, the chinese theater, muppet studios. We loved the Muppet Studios, such a cute and cool place. We had Tam O'Shanter for lunch (very good) but it was from a limited menu, and alcohol was extra. The tour guides pointed out many places in Hollywood during our bus ride. We also saw the Carousel in Griffith Park (almost 100 degrees at that point). The guides invited us to an Ice Cream Social at the Ghiradellis. We were too tired for dinner, and the ice cream filled us up.

    Day 3: Early start again. Had to get our luggage ready for the morning. Breakfast at hotel (same place), buffet. Studios (including archive), and Imagineering. I won't go too much into these. Note that we didn't get to see Walt's office, although it was pointed out to us. (I think the only way to see that is sometimes on D23 Studio tours, because that is how I saw Walt's office a couple years ago). Had buffet lunch at Studios. Long bus ride to Disneyland (had Muppet Movie and Tangled playing). Checked in, got our luggage, and went into Disneyland. Had dinner at French Market. Went as a group into Haunted Mansion. Saw Fantasmic as a group (to the left of Hungry Bear, not best view). Rest was on your own.

    Day 4: Early start again. First people to be in Disneyland in front of the castle (the SWGE people were going to Tomorrowland.) The BEST experience for me on the whole trip. Had character breakfast at Plaza Inn. Met the Disney ambassador. Did the Disneyland tour. Behind the Scenes at Indiana Jones, and then rode the ride as a group. Rode Matterhorn as a group. Rode Peter Pan as a group. Saw Mickey at his house as a group. There may have been one or two more that we rode as a group. Gave us $25 in dining credits (each) for lunch (we had enough left over for dinner too). Saw Walt's apartment as a group. Went to SWGE at 2pm, but without the guides, so it was on our own. Saw the fireworks as a group. (note that we didn't see parade, presumably because of SWGE). The fireworks area was in front of Plaza Inn, so a little off center, but still great view. Note that there is no visit to Dream Suite.

    Day 5: Early start again. Character Breakfast at Storytellers. DCA tour. Behind the Scenes at both Soarin and Radiator Springs. Rode Toy Story Mania as group. Visited Carthay Circle as a group (before it opened). Had most of afternoon (and parts of the evening) on our own, including lunch. We met at the hotel, and went to a conference room where we talked about our trip, and the guides had a nice slideshow of events of the last few days. Had dinner at Carthay Circle as a group. Watched World of Color as a group. We had a great view of WOC, it was pretty close to center, but a little to the right. You had to stand, because of the people in front of us.

    Day 6: Breakfast at Steakhouse 55 as a group. Said our goodbyes. The guides were nice enough to set me up to get an Uber to my car rental location (I continued our trip for a couple days outside of the resort).


    All in all, Fantasmic definitely had the worst view of the 3 spectaculars.

    Day 2 and Day 3 were very hot. Day 4 was still hot, but not quite as bad. Day 5 and 6 were great.

    Highlights:
    Day 2: Muppet Studios
    Day 3: Imagineering
    Day 4: Being the first in Disneyland
    Day 5: the Behind the Scenes tours of Soarin and Radiator Springs



    As a reminder: Fastpasses they give you can be used FOR THAT DAY at any time. This means that if you don't use the fastpass that day, you lose it (no rollover). For whatever reason GOTG was not included (and neither was SWGE). They did give us one fastpass for GOTG. As well, MAXPASS was not included.
    Stephen,

    Did you get your El Capitan tickets ahead of time or did you just buy walk up tickets? We want to do that the first night, but don't know how we'll be feeling after a travel day with time changes. Just wondering if it's something that needs advance planning or not.

    Our teenaged kids are on this trip with us. Would you recommend something nicer than shorts and t-shirts for dinner? Park dress code may be way too casual for dinner with the group, I'm thinking.

    Thanks for your help! Glad you had a great time!
    Andrea
     

    batsonator

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Jun 8, 2019
    I didn't include all the activities, just the ones that were different from my two ABDs.

    Here is a breakdown of all the activities that I remember:
    Day 1: Met at airport by driver at baggage area. Real nice guy. We had major problems with our luggage, because LAX couldn't figure out what baggage claim to put the luggage in, took over an hour to get our luggage. Drive to Hollywood uneventful, but slow due to traffic. Room wasn't ready yet, but we met our guides and we had our luggage held. Went to lunch on our own. Room was ready, so we rested there until group dinner. Dinner was in hotel conference room, quite fancy buffet (included wine). Got noticed by the guides since it was our second trip. Met lots of cool people. On our own, we went to the El Capitan theater to see Aladdin, guides gave us other suggestions as well.

    Day 2: Early start (like most days). Breakfast at hotel restaurant, again buffet. Did the Hollywood tour. The Chinese theater was busy when we went with a high school graduation, so we had to visit it later in the day. We saw the Dolby Theater (but not the inside), the walk of fame, the chinese theater, muppet studios. We loved the Muppet Studios, such a cute and cool place. We had Tam O'Shanter for lunch (very good) but it was from a limited menu, and alcohol was extra. The tour guides pointed out many places in Hollywood during our bus ride. We also saw the Carousel in Griffith Park (almost 100 degrees at that point). The guides invited us to an Ice Cream Social at the Ghiradellis. We were too tired for dinner, and the ice cream filled us up.

    Day 3: Early start again. Had to get our luggage ready for the morning. Breakfast at hotel (same place), buffet. Studios (including archive), and Imagineering. I won't go too much into these. Note that we didn't get to see Walt's office, although it was pointed out to us. (I think the only way to see that is sometimes on D23 Studio tours, because that is how I saw Walt's office a couple years ago). Had buffet lunch at Studios. Long bus ride to Disneyland (had Muppet Movie and Tangled playing). Checked in, got our luggage, and went into Disneyland. Had dinner at French Market. Went as a group into Haunted Mansion. Saw Fantasmic as a group (to the left of Hungry Bear, not best view). Rest was on your own.

    Day 4: Early start again. First people to be in Disneyland in front of the castle (the SWGE people were going to Tomorrowland.) The BEST experience for me on the whole trip. Had character breakfast at Plaza Inn. Met the Disney ambassador. Did the Disneyland tour. Behind the Scenes at Indiana Jones, and then rode the ride as a group. Rode Matterhorn as a group. Rode Peter Pan as a group. Saw Mickey at his house as a group. There may have been one or two more that we rode as a group. Gave us $25 in dining credits (each) for lunch (we had enough left over for dinner too). Saw Walt's apartment as a group. Went to SWGE at 2pm, but without the guides, so it was on our own. Saw the fireworks as a group. (note that we didn't see parade, presumably because of SWGE). The fireworks area was in front of Plaza Inn, so a little off center, but still great view. Note that there is no visit to Dream Suite.

    Day 5: Early start again. Character Breakfast at Storytellers. DCA tour. Behind the Scenes at both Soarin and Radiator Springs. Rode Toy Story Mania as group. Visited Carthay Circle as a group (before it opened). Had most of afternoon (and parts of the evening) on our own, including lunch. We met at the hotel, and went to a conference room where we talked about our trip, and the guides had a nice slideshow of events of the last few days. Had dinner at Carthay Circle as a group. Watched World of Color as a group. We had a great view of WOC, it was pretty close to center, but a little to the right. You had to stand, because of the people in front of us.

    Day 6: Breakfast at Steakhouse 55 as a group. Said our goodbyes. The guides were nice enough to set me up to get an Uber to my car rental location (I continued our trip for a couple days outside of the resort).


    All in all, Fantasmic definitely had the worst view of the 3 spectaculars.

    Day 2 and Day 3 were very hot. Day 4 was still hot, but not quite as bad. Day 5 and 6 were great.

    Highlights:
    Day 2: Muppet Studios
    Day 3: Imagineering
    Day 4: Being the first in Disneyland
    Day 5: the Behind the Scenes tours of Soarin and Radiator Springs



    As a reminder: Fastpasses they give you can be used FOR THAT DAY at any time. This means that if you don't use the fastpass that day, you lose it (no rollover). For whatever reason GOTG was not included (and neither was SWGE). They did give us one fastpass for GOTG. As well, MAXPASS was not included.
    Stephen,
    One more question for you -- did you feel like the ABD Hollywood tour was sufficient? I'm wondering if we should use some of our free time to book a tour with another company. I don't want to overload on touring, but would hate to visit Hollywood and feel like we missed some must see spots.

    Thanks again,
    Andrea
     

    Steven G

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jun 7, 2016
    Stephen,

    Did you get your El Capitan tickets ahead of time or did you just buy walk up tickets? We want to do that the first night, but don't know how we'll be feeling after a travel day with time changes. Just wondering if it's something that needs advance planning or not.

    Our teenaged kids are on this trip with us. Would you recommend something nicer than shorts and t-shirts for dinner? Park dress code may be way too casual for dinner with the group, I'm thinking.

    Thanks for your help! Glad you had a great time!
    Andrea
    I purchased the tickets on my phone about 2-3 hours beforehand, there were plenty of tickets available. I guess it depends on the movie as to whether you can wait.

    For dinners with the group I went with shorts and a polo shirt. Some people were dressier, some were not.

    Note that the guides don't always announce where we are eating (although with my review, now you know!) until a little before. They did announce Carthay Circle a few hours beforehand, so if you wanted to change for Carthay Circle, you would have to return to the hotel and change (not a problem being in GCH hotel).
     

    Steven G

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jun 7, 2016
    Stephen,
    One more question for you -- did you feel like the ABD Hollywood tour was sufficient? I'm wondering if we should use some of our free time to book a tour with another company. I don't want to overload on touring, but would hate to visit Hollywood and feel like we missed some must see spots.

    Thanks again,
    Andrea
    It was a whirlwind tour of hollywood, with a focus on Walt Disney. You would likely have to arrive a day or two early if you wanted to do anything extensive.
    If you wanted to see the Hollywood Sign closer, or visit Griffith Park, or see some of the other places on Hollywood Blvd (like see the inside of the Dolby Theater where they have the academy awards, or a wax museum), you would want to do that before the tour, unless you only wanted to see one or two additional things.

    On my tour, when me and my son went to El Capitan, there were a couple people who got an Uber and went to Griffith Park Observatory
     

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