Matt's Sunrise Safari Report - Breakfast on the Jungle Cruise!!

Discussion in 'Disneyland (California)' started by whoever, Sep 26, 2015.

  1. whoever

    whoever DIS Veteran

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    Please bear with me on this report... I'm slapping this together pretty quickly to get it out there for anybody on the fence on whether the experience is worth it (It ABSOLUTELY IS), so there will likely be updates, especially when Disney provides me with the pics they took.... and here we go....

    Matt's Sunrise Safari Report - Breakfast on the Jungle Cruise!!

    Thursday 09/24/2015 - As several of my Trip Reports start, work finds me in San Diego. I awaken at 02:45 and grumpily stare at the alarm clock which will start ringing in twenty minutes. As before most big things in my life, I can’t sleep and my mind is running a million miles a minute. I grab my phones, deal with some emails, check what’s happened in the world of Facebook since I went to bed four hours ago, and most importantly re-read the first reports of the Sunrise Safari which had been posted on the Disney forums. I double check my route and estimated travel time and determine I better get a move on at 03:10… too much lollygagging… much to do!!!

    Thirty-four minutes after getting out of bed, I was pulling out of the parking garage of the hotel, and jumped right on the 163 a few hundred yards north of the hotel. A quick shift to the 805 for a few miles and I was on the 5 North and making great time. I passed the Immigration Checkpoint at 04:28 on a wave-through, no need to even roll down the window. They were pre-occupied with running mirrors under a van in the adjacent lane. Thirty minutes after cruising through the checkpoint and I was taking Exit #110 for Ball/Harbor. In the fog of the early morning, I completely ignored my past experience and GPS lady talking to me and turned left instead of right like I was going to stay offsite….A quick U-turn later, a few left turns and I had reached my destination, pulling into the Grand at 05:02. At the gate I told them I was here for the Sunrise Safari, and they didn’t even ask my name or check my reservation, which was kind of odd, instead merely waving me through to the Valet area where I left my car and headed in.

    They had two CM out front dressed in jungle attire, one holding a lantern… this was already good… Upon the stained glass doors sliding open I see two more, again, one with a lantern. I tell them I’m here for a tour of the African Veldt and they tell me check-in will begin in a little bit. I decide this is a good time to swap my Grand Californian Hotel and Spa shirt for my prized Jungle Cruise Shirt and dig out my camera. My transformation complete, I return to the lobby to mill about while I wait. This was my first Disneyland trip trying out my new 14-24mm f/2.8 lens and I was eager to exercise its maximum 114 degree field of view at 14mm (Yes, you read that right….. ONE-HUNDRED and FOURTEEN DEGREES). This lens is astounding at the short-end, and relatively distortion-free…(straight lines stay straight… this isn’t a fisheye.) I had brought my 24-70mm f/2.8 as well, but it ended up never getting mounted to the body. I could have used some additional reach at times, but the 14-24mm served quite well for most situations I intended to shoot on this trip. I would regret not bringing any of my 1.4 primes at times, but that’s another story… maybe one of these days they’ll figure out how to make an f/1.4 zoom and all will be right in the world for the low-low price of a slightly used vehicle.

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    After taking a few pics of the lobby including some bracketed sets to try to play around with for HDR (High Dynamic Range), I noticed more people had arrived and additional CMs had appeared and were giving a tutorial on how to pronounce certain animal names in Jungle-speak…Weega for Giraffe, Fatu for an animal I did not hear, and Simba for Lion were just a few. Upon my approach, I was greeted with “Jambo”… this was a word we would hear with great frequency to discover the meaning of later…but for now it was the default greeting for the group. I did a quick scan of the room, and counted seventeen attendees, however I would later hear we had a full-crew at 32. I think some may have not made it as I believe the final count was 29 based upon the number of tables and people at each table. We were kept engaged by six cast members at this point, Cristian, Dylan, Rasan, Byron, Shelby, and Ron. Rasan was doing most of the discussion leading and Ron was orchestrating the activities with the other CMs herding this boisterous crew of future F.L.O.S.S. inductees. For the uninitiated, that would be the Fraternal League of Secret Skippers.

    At 05:21, we were herded over towards the far registration desk down at the end of reception adjacent to Concierge/Information. We were greeted party by party, checked in, asked of any dietary restrictions, and given a table assignment and some water. I would be dining at table 7.
     
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  2. Bud Ice

    Bud Ice Disneyland Knowledge

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    Well done.
     
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  4. Speechphi

    Speechphi Mouseketeer

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    Can't wait to read the rest! Your TRs & photos are always top notch :)
     
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  5. mommamonster

    mommamonster Mouseketeer

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    Your photographs of the GCH are absolutely beautiful, and I am looking forward to hearing about your breakfast! If they were offering the sunrise safari during my upcoming trip I am pretty sure I would do it, so I'm living vicariously through yours and others' trip reports :)
     
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  6. wdwfan22

    wdwfan22 Totally Obsessed Disney Nut!

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    Loving the report so far. I could never afford this, so I am very happy to go along with you on your report! Your pictures are amazing and I can't wait to see more!
     
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  7. Hannahinwonderland

    Hannahinwonderland DIS Veteran

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    Can't wait to hear the rest of this! I was a Skipper at WDW :)
     
  8. whoever

    whoever DIS Veteran

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    Disclaimer: Please excuse the image quality on most of the pics in this segment as they were shot in near-darkness.



    Twenty minutes after we began the check-in process, it was time to start our journey into the wild and untamed jungle. We started by exiting the lobby via the South entrance to the Brisa Courtyard adjacent to the elevator bank. We made our way around the back side of the courtyard up against the kitchen for Story Teller’s. I had never really spent much time in the Brisa courtyard before despite having a view of it on two previous trips. It had usually just been something we walked by on our way to the park. The theming here was strong, as they had wilderness sounds like crickets chirping in the planter beds.

    We entered Downtown Disney via the usual method and started making our way towards the esplanade. There were trucks parked in DTD working on various things. By 05:46, we hit the bag-check station which had 3 CM working it. It didn’t take long to make our way through even after a close examination of my backpack with its various preparations for the trip. We made our way to the West gate adjacent to the exit booths and were instructed no pictures until we made our way to the Jungle. We entered the park, and as we made our way through the west underpass for the railroad, we were greeted by Disneyland photographers. The light booms were extended on the tops of all of the Main Street buildings and the lights were cranked to 11 illuminating the adjacent facades. Zamboni-esque pavement cleaners were doing laps in the square cleaning the pavement to a brilliant finish. We paused and took a group picture in front of the Mickey Pumpkin before heading on down the West side of Main Street towards the hub. Along the way we passed a horticulturist on a ladder who was pruning one of the plants hung from the light poles. She waved at us and smiled as we made our way deeper into the park. Having already read a previous TR on this, I was disappointed to see Sleeping Beauty’s Castle was DARK.. It had been illuminated for that party and they had gotten the opportunity to take photos in the deserted park. It was not to be for us.

    Past the hub, we made our way under the forbidding entrance to Adventureland. Here again, the lights were on, and modern trucks packed the area even more so than the usual sea of strollers and people you usually find. The maintenance crews were spray painting some of the trellis as we passed the courtyard at Aladdin’s Oasis. We made our way into the Indy queue at 05:56, and worked our way down the exit to the point immediately before you would enter the bat guano area, and paused where the enormous gates ripped out of a King Kong movie were thrust open into the alluring abyss beyond which we would get to explore.

    We were greeted by our MC for the morning…. Eagle Eye Edith. I must say she played her roll to PERFECTION. One of the MOST ENGAGED and in character CMs I may have ever had the pleasure of interacting with. She was dressed in perfect period clothing including monocle and was going to be with us for the duration keeping us going with one challenge or another through the event all in a perfect British accent. After some instructions, we made our way up an incline and the vista opened up before us. Eight tables were set up in true British campaign manner complete with fine linens, china, silver, and glassware. As we passed on our way to the tables, there was a line of servers with platters of POG (Passion fruit juice, Orange juice and Guava juice). We each took a glass and made our way to our designated table and grabbed a chair. As previously mentioned, I was seated at table 7, and I grabbed a chair on the North West side of the table facing into the seating area. I was soon joined by my two table-mates, Kurt and Julie. They were from the Pacific-Northwest, and Julie was down on business with Kurt just visiting for the day. We chatted briefly before Parfaits were placed in front of us, and coffee offered. I elected for some, and it was astounding, served from a French Press, and every bit as good as some of the best coffee I’ve ever had. Between that and the POG, I was going to be drinking a LOT.

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    It was time to dig into the parfait, and what one it was!!! A yogurt of steeped chia seeds which lent itself to an almost tapioca consistency with a band of raspberry in the middle topped with Dragon Fruit, Papaya, and Honey Dew with a topper of an edible orchid and star fruit. I could have eaten two or three of these. How I wish I could have this for breakfast every day instead of my usual Yoplait with some dried chia seeds mixed in. We were also presented with a plate of pastries for the table. There were some croissants, some guava-filled tarts, and some pineapple bread. I went for the guava tart and boy was it GOOD!!!! Around this time, we were offered more drink refills (more POG and coffee for me!!), and Robert, who I can only assume was from Disney Dining came by and made sure we had the full details on the food. We chatted briefly about what an orchestration dining in the jungle was to pull off, and he explained that our food was being prepared a mere 10 feet away behind a bamboo wall to ensure nothing but the best in freshness.


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  9. Misskitty3

    Misskitty3 DIS Veteran

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    Oh my....this looks as fun and amazing as I imagined it would! Terrific photos and I love your descriptions!
     
  10. Sherry E

    Sherry E Currently tag-less...

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    While the price is still out of my ballpark, this is looking much more appealing to me than I expected it would! I think that some of us, when we first heard about this event, were not sure what to expect. Now that we have the visuals to reference, they really paint a clear picture of how interesting this experience really is.

    I love the look of the sky in the photos! I also like the edible orchid (I just ate a fruit salad a couple of months ago, with one of those edible orchids perched on top of it). And the Halloween Treat Tree Cake in the GCH lobby is both new and wonderful!
     
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  11. barbaraann

    barbaraann Chicago Gal

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    Glad I caught this thread. I will be following it for all of your amazing photos and commentary.
     
  12. DizMe

    DizMe Here we gooooo...

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    Totally agree with Sherry! Not something I can do, but it certainly is more than what I was expecting. Looks like you had a lot of fun :)
     
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  13. whoever

    whoever DIS Veteran

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    I must say if Disney starts doing other experiences like this I'm going to go broke. Breakfast on TSI.... A meal on the HM or Pirates.... The possibilities are endless....
     
  14. Sherry E

    Sherry E Currently tag-less...

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    Are you doing the Mystical Spirits of the Blue Bayou event too? And then there is MahaloWeen, back for a second year at Trader Sam's.... I can picture a "Breakfast in the Caribbean" in the not too distant future! :lmao:
     
  15. whoever

    whoever DIS Veteran

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    I seriously considered the Blue Bayou Event, but we decided to pass. I wasn't willing to give up my MHP time for an extended dining experience.
     
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  16. whoever

    whoever DIS Veteran

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    While we were enjoying our parfaits, Edith came around, provided us with some cards with a Jungle Cruise scene on them and the accompanying lines for that scene. We were encouraged to write our own lines for it with the provided jungle writing instruments (sticks with pen heads), however I chose to remain tried-and-true to the script. I’m sort of a straight-laced guy after all…. Adherence to canon is a big thing for me. Edith also gave us each a Safari name…. Kurt was KURT!!!! Said with a guttural inflection. Julie was Bejeweled Julie. I became Meat-eater Matthew…. How apropos to particular dietary preferences…..

    Once those pleasantries were dispensed with, I noticed it was getting lighter in the east sky. I got up to take a few pics and survey my surroundings. They had a phonograph at the East end of the encampment… it was playing some 1930s tunes (which I am a huge fan of… Cole Porter Pandora station anybody??) The theming here was absolutely elegant with vintage trunks, travel cases, and suitcases along with a bellows camera. My hat goes off to you Disney and please…. Employ me to source you props… I’d LOVE that.

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    By now, our main course was being delivered, so I returned to the table and dug in. It was Honey glazed pork belly, berbere-spiced potatoes (Ethiopian spice blend consisting of chili peppers, garlic, ginger, basil, korarima, rue, ajwain or radhuni, nigella, and fenugreek), Duck Sausage, and some scrambled eggs in a cast-iron ramekin with some berbere spice dusted on top. A split sweet pea-pod served as garnish along with some wild mushrooms. Let me just say EVERYTHING WAS ASTOUNDINGLY TASTY. Yes, I just yelled that from the roof tops. My plate was practically licked clean… SO GOOD. I loved every bite, and it was all done to perfection.

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    While eating, Kurt, Julie, and I chatted. Talked about where we lived, what we did for a living, etc. Found out I related to each on different levels. Kurt was big into Haunted Mansion and showed me some pics of one of the rooms in his house decked out in HM regalia. He was big into one of my other interests as well.. movie props. Julie and I connected on a food level and discussed the specifics of the differences between pork belly and bacon (cure/smoke and cut largely). Discussed Disney Dining at WDW and their upcoming trips. I was envious of their bi-coastal Disney fix and wished I could do that type of travel…. (tickets for a family of five somewhat makes that a big deal though). They did clue me in on a way to obtain WDW dining reservations though which I’m infinitely grateful for because a WDW trip is in our near future, and they clued me in on the pools at the Wilderness lodge going down for refurb for a whole year… good info to help me with planning. Around this time, I started to notice another Disney “suit”. Enache was walking around observing everything. I can’t help but think maybe Robert’s boss, or somebody in special events. I may have to inquire further because I want Team Disney Anaheim to know what a smashing HIT this was.

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  17. whoever

    whoever DIS Veteran

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    One of the more unique views you get from this perspective is of the elephant bathing pool. Much like Pirates, Jungle Cruise is VERY tight with the divisions between the show scenes being VERY close together. A few feet from the Veldt was the Elephant Bathing Pool. One thing I love about Disney is attention to detail…. You will NEVER see this elephant from the river, however it is fully finished and completely in harmony with its environment. LOVE it!!!

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    Before we headed back to the dock for our Skipper Training, most of the party made a quick washroom stop. To do so, we would go down the exit to the loading room, past it, and into the CM backstage area. There, two facilities were made available for our use, and if you looked further down the hallway, you could see light to the backstage area by DTD. So cool!!!! No pictures allowed obviously, but there were the shift schedules, postcards from traveling/past CMs, a competition board in the shape of the temple, and paper ring snakes in the style of the snakes in Mara’s room. LOVE IT!!! I really wish I could get some real time back stage to just soak it all in. I’m going to have to get in on the run Disney events one of these years…

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  18. ADLFAN

    ADLFAN DIS Veteran

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    Woah! That food is certainly not standard buffet quality breakfast, is it?! I'm very impressed with the theming of it all!
     
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  19. stephanie22

    stephanie22 Earning My Ears

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    Oh my! This looks like so much fun! I wish this was in the cards for us, but my husband vetoed it as soon as he hear the price. Thank you so much for sharing this. :-)
     
  20. saiforigis

    saiforigis Earning My Ears

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    My heart says yes but my wallet says no. These pictures are great.
     
  21. Hannahinwonderland

    Hannahinwonderland DIS Veteran

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    This sounds like so much fun!! I've gotten to walk on the African Veldt scene before but never gotten to eat there!! :)
     

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