Adventures by Disney Backstage Magic & Bonus Disneyland time

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alicemouse's picture
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Adventures by Disney Backstage Magic & Bonus Disneyland time

So this is easily the most excited I've ever been to go on a trip in my life! Dining is still up in the air a little bit because we can't make reservations until 60 days out at DL, but here's the base plan:

Arrive LAX Friday AM, SuperShuttle to Grand Californian where we have a DVC 1BR for the weekend. It used up mega-a-lot of points, but I didn't have my plan in place properly and missed the opening of the 7-month window, so it was either 1BR or pay cash for our room. *facepalm*

Spend Friday and Saturday tooling around the parks. I thing we're going to grab lunch at Rancho del Zocalo on Friday and have dinner at Catal. Then Saturday we'll do breakfast at Storyteller's Cafe. We'll probably grab a light lunch at Jolly Holiday and dinner at Napa Rose. I'm not too concerned about nighttime entertainment because we'll pick up World of Color, MSEP, and fireworks (are there any? I don't even know yet.) on the ABD portion of the trip.

Sunday, we're planning to leave EARLY to head into Hollywood so we can do the Warner Bros. studio tour and see Griffith Park before our adventure begins. I'm still not 100% sure if we'll do a rental car or taxi or uber yet, but after the studio tour, I want to go to Walt's Barn, which is open one Sunday/month and it just happens to be the Sunday that we're there! Of course we want to stop at the famous Griffith Park merry-go-round and then we'll head back to the hotel to meet up with our adventure group!
We know very few details about the actual adventure, but I know that we'll do a dinner in Hollywood the first night. I'm not sure if we have an evening activity or not. The daily descriptions are very vague. It's driving my inner planner a little bit crazy.

Monday is a private Hollywood excursion, a visit to the Jim Henson Company, lunch at Tam O'Shanter, and a special afternoon activity in Hollywood. In the evening we'll be on our own. I don't have anything in particular planned, but I assume we'll get dinner and then probably call it a night. I think we'll need some rest by that point.

Tuesday is a visit to Walt Disney Studios/Archives and our Imagineering tour!!! yay stars banana After the tour we transfer to Disneyland Hotel and have dinner at a "favorite Disney eatery", which I suspect is RiverBelle Terrace, but we have no confirmation on that. We have a group experience that evening, which is most likely a visit to Walt's Apartment.

Wednesday is a VIP visit to Disneyland in the morning with a backstage experience. Breakfast should be the character breakfast at the Plaza Inn. Lunch is provided, but I don't know if there's one location or if we get to choose where we eat. For the afternoon, we receive a set of FastPasses and get to go out on our own to explore and I think I'll make a reservation for Blue Bayou in the evening.

Thursday starts with breakfast at Goofy's Kitchen. In the morning, we have a VIP experience at DCA with a backstage tour of Cars Land. We'll spend some park time on our own and finish with dinner at Carthay Circle and reserved viewing for World of Color.

Friday is listed as a character breakfast, but I think this is one of the "surprise" experiences because they list the same character meal two days in a row. We'll probably have to change rooms at DL Hotel, but that's where we'll be continuing our weekend. We're tentatively planning Carnation Cafe for lunch and Storytellers Cafe for dinner. There is major construction planned for Grand Californian for several months, but it doesn't seem to affect Storyteller's during this time.

Saturday we'll be on our own to continue exploring. I'm planning on breakfast at Tangora Terrace. They have Loco Moco for breakfast and their french toast sounds suspiciously like Tonga Toast! For lunch, we're going to do Ariel's Grotto and then probably Cafe Orleans if we feel like we need dinner. We'll definitely remember to split a sandwich this time!

Sunday will be breakfast at PCH Grill, which will mean that we've tried every character meal at DL. Lunch will be my favorite fried chicken in the world at Plaza Inn and if we need a bite to sustain us on the ride home, it will be a toss-up between Earl of Sandwich and Tortilla Jo's on the way back to DL Hotel to catch our airport shuttle for our red-eye flight home.

Less then 3 months to go!!!!

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Trip Reports:
December 2013: 10th Anniversary, 1st DVC Stay | April 2014: Birthday on the Boardwalk | May 2014: Star Wars Weekend, Navigating WDW with a wheelchair | August 2014: Villains Unleashed | September/October 2014: MNSSHP, F&W, Tower of Terror 10-miler | March/April 2015: Disneyland and California Coastal Cruise | November 2015: Wine & Dine Half, Food & Wine, 1st Disney Cruise | February 2016: Presidential Classic Gymnastics Meet | March 2016: "Work" Trip, Tours, F&G Festival | April 2016: Conference at Disneyland | Fall 2016: Festive Fall Fun | January 2017: Festival of the Arts

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I'm beyond jealous! Can't wait for this TR!! clapping

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Sounds awesome

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My friend Kristy did this tour and they LOVED it. Hearing all about it makes me want to do it too!

I can't wait to hear your take on it.

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The ADR days are falling like dominos, which means....less than 60 days to go!!! yeah

So far we've confirmed Catal, Storytellers Breakfast, and Napa Rose.

I don't even care if the last days' mystery breakfast also ends up being at Storytellers. I love it so much I would eat there twice in the same trip. I can make the rest of our ADRs on Wednesday.

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Be good at something. It makes you valuable. Have something to bring to the table because that will make you more welcome. --Randy Pausch

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Trip Reports:
December 2013: 10th Anniversary, 1st DVC Stay | April 2014: Birthday on the Boardwalk | May 2014: Star Wars Weekend, Navigating WDW with a wheelchair | August 2014: Villains Unleashed | September/October 2014: MNSSHP, F&W, Tower of Terror 10-miler | March/April 2015: Disneyland and California Coastal Cruise | November 2015: Wine & Dine Half, Food & Wine, 1st Disney Cruise | February 2016: Presidential Classic Gymnastics Meet | March 2016: "Work" Trip, Tours, F&G Festival | April 2016: Conference at Disneyland | Fall 2016: Festive Fall Fun | January 2017: Festival of the Arts

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Yesterday was our 30-day mark! (Pay no attention to the ticker. I added it to my signature before we booked the first weekend. We've received our welcome kit and from what I've read on other blogs, the current version is a little bit scaled down from the original backpack version. We received a nice drawstring bag and a cosmetic type bag about the size of a bank bag. Inside was our adventure book, which is still lacking all of the information I want. I am not much of a surprise person. I just can't stand to wait for awesome things. Christmas is torture.

I have learned some pertinent things so far. My vacationista continues to deny that Walt's Barn and the Griffith Park Merry-go-round are among the surprise extras on our trip, so we are gambling on doing those on the morning that our adventure begins because I would be so disappointed to be in Hollywood on the one day per month that Walt's Barn is open and miss the opportunity to see it. It seems that Walt's Apartment is still part of the tour. It's status was in flux because of it's lack of accessibility compliance. It is confirmed in the itinerary booklet that we received. We have an "on your won lunch" that AbD is providing to us in Disneyland Park and apparently that is a here's-a-meal-voucher-go-wherever-you-want kind of deal, so now I have to restructure ADR's a little bit. Lastly, we got permission to leave our larger suitcases at Disneyland Hotel during the two days that we are in Hollywood, so we will have to do less baggage toting than originally anticipated.

When I re-work the reservations, I am toying with Steakhouse 55. I thought when I toured the restaurant that it smelled faintly of stale cigarette smoke, so I really didn't want to eat there, but I'm having second thoughts. We are doing Napa Rose and Carthay Circle, so part of me wants to do Steakhouse 55 for comparison, but I was so turned off by the smell. Has anyone eaten there? Has the smell of the dining room bothered you? I can't decide.

Right now, our ADRs are:

Friday - Catal
Saturday - Storytellers Character Breakfast, Napa Rose dinner
Sunday - none (in Hollywood)
Monday - none (in Hollywood)
Tuesday - none (arrival dinner with AbD)
Wednesday - Plaza character Breakfast w/AbD, River Belle Terrace dinner on our own
Thursday - Goofy's Kitchen character breakfast w/AbD, Carthay Circle dinner w/AbD
Friday - Goofy's Kitchen character breakfast w/ AbD, Storytellers dinner on our own
Saturday - Ariel's Grotto character lunch, Blue Bayou dinner
Sunday - PCH Grill character breakfast

I could move River Belle to lunch and book Steakhouse 55 for dinner or I could book Carnation Cafe or Cafe Orleans for lunch that day (and we could split a Monte Cristo).

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Trip Reports:
December 2013: 10th Anniversary, 1st DVC Stay | April 2014: Birthday on the Boardwalk | May 2014: Star Wars Weekend, Navigating WDW with a wheelchair | August 2014: Villains Unleashed | September/October 2014: MNSSHP, F&W, Tower of Terror 10-miler | March/April 2015: Disneyland and California Coastal Cruise | November 2015: Wine & Dine Half, Food & Wine, 1st Disney Cruise | February 2016: Presidential Classic Gymnastics Meet | March 2016: "Work" Trip, Tours, F&G Festival | April 2016: Conference at Disneyland | Fall 2016: Festive Fall Fun | January 2017: Festival of the Arts

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Those plans sounds awesome I can't wait to hear about it. biggrin

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It's single digit day! It's single digit day! It's single digit day! It's single digit day! It's single digit day! It's single digit day!

yay clapping banana yeah stars biggrin

(my ticker is set for the start of AbD, not the start of the trip)

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Be good at something. It makes you valuable. Have something to bring to the table because that will make you more welcome. --Randy Pausch

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Trip Reports:
December 2013: 10th Anniversary, 1st DVC Stay | April 2014: Birthday on the Boardwalk | May 2014: Star Wars Weekend, Navigating WDW with a wheelchair | August 2014: Villains Unleashed | September/October 2014: MNSSHP, F&W, Tower of Terror 10-miler | March/April 2015: Disneyland and California Coastal Cruise | November 2015: Wine & Dine Half, Food & Wine, 1st Disney Cruise | February 2016: Presidential Classic Gymnastics Meet | March 2016: "Work" Trip, Tours, F&G Festival | April 2016: Conference at Disneyland | Fall 2016: Festive Fall Fun | January 2017: Festival of the Arts

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banana banana banana banana

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Yay for single digit day!!! clapping yay clapping yay clapping

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******TRIP REPORT BEGINS HERE*******

We have returned! Ok actually we got home on Monday morning at 6:30am, but you know how that goes--adjusting back to your native time zone, laundry, cleaning up work and mail, getting back into the routine...fun stuff. I'm still working on photos. Flickr and I are having a fight about uploading photos.

So I think I'll tackle this by Disneyland experiences at large and then AbD experiences by day because unlike Disneyland, AbD is vastly different from day to day. I think I'll start with accommodations:

Grand Californian
We stayed at "The Grand" for the first two nights of our trip and we had stayed here before, so we kind of knew what to expect. We had a 1BR theme park view on the 3rd floor on the DVC side, which is a fantastic accommodation. We stayed in a 1BR at Boardwalk a few years ago and the 1BR at the Grand felt significantly larger and more luxurious. Of course, it's also a very large number of points to book a 1BR at the Grand. The only reason that we chose this room is because when I waited two days too long to book our stay and the studios were gone. The room sleeps 5 and has a full kitchen and 2 full baths. The kitchen table seats 8, so it would be an ideal space to have another family meat up with you for an in-room meal. The feel of the resort is Wilderness Lodge, but the ambiance mixes in elements of the Grand Floridian.

I love this resort more every time we stay here and it will probably be my go-to for future reservations because of the new security policies. You can no longer enter the Grand from Disneyland Dr. unless you are a hotel guest or presumably if you have a dining reservation. This is a new policy and it does not seem to have uniform enforcement yet and the rules have not been explained to all cast members in the same way because we were told conflicting versions by different people on different days. If you are staying on the Disneyland Drive side of the parks (Paradise Pier, Disneyland Hotel, Hotel Anabella), plan to enter the secure space into Downtown Disney via the security checkpoint near the sorcerer's hat at Disneyland Hotel. This is especially annoying if you are staying at Paradise Pier (or in our case, if you are eating breakfast at Paradise Pier and staying at Disneyland Hotel and you plan to go to California Adventure after breakfast). As a hotel guest at the Grand, I love the new policy. As a hotel guest at any other Disney resort, this policy is horribly inconvenient.

The pool slide was closed during our stay, so I took the opportunity to hop to Paradise Pier's pool and I will say that their rooftop pool and waterslide were quite enjoyable, but the view of the parking to from the pool deck kind of spoiled the atmosphere.

Disneyland Hotel
This was our first stay at DLH and we were in a king pool view room in the Adventure Tower for 5 nights. Despite the fact that I had booked our last two nights separately from Adventures by Disney and had not to my recollection paid for a pool view, we were guaranteed the ability to stay in that room for all nights form our first point for check-in, which I very much appreciated. The room was the smallest of those that we stayed in on this trip, but I've seen the 2 queen rooms and they are considerably larger, so I would not hesitate to stay at DLH with a family of 4. There are rooms that accommodate 5, but that would be a tight squeeze. The room was very charming with Mickey hands holding up the bathroom lamps, hidden Mickeys on the lampshades and carpet, and--my favorite--kiss goodnight fireworks on the headboard that played "When You Wish Upon a Star" at the flip of a switch. To the best of my knowledge, every room at Disneyland Hotel has this feature that gives you a little taste of staying in the Dream Suite inside Disneyland Park.

I LOVE the pool at this resort. The monorail water slide is everything I hoped it would be! The trick on the DL water slides is (after any tube tunnel portion of course), lean forward and touch your toes to go faster. Allegedly you can also lay back and press your shoulder blades and heels down while elevating the rest of your body, but I went super slow doing that method. I think the lay back method generally seems to work better for men and the lean forward method generally seems to work better for women. This worked at both Paradise Pier and Disneyland Hotel. Grand Californian's slide was closed for refurbishment, which is why I got an opportunity to try Paradise Pier's pool.

Disneyland Pool & Monorail Water Slides

Which is better? This is mainly for Robyn because I know that she is waiting for this information!
I actually really like both hotels and with price factored in, there is a compelling reason to choose DLH, but overall, I prefer the Grand to DLH. The tipping point is that the entrance from the Grand into DCA can now only be accessed by guests of that resort and you must present a Grand room key to even enter the hotel from Disneyland Drive. Plus, I LOVE having a balcony and from what I could tell, you have to reserve a mega suite on the top floor to get a balcony at DHL. At the Grand (at least on the DVC side), we've always had a room with a balcony. Plus, the Grand has a World of Color viewing area and while WOC is significantly better dead center in the park, the wait that is required to get a good spot is ridiculous. I am absolutely thrilled that we had an opportunity to stay at DLH. It's a fun hotel with lots of Disney history and special touches, solid table service choices, and (once it's running again) convenient access to the monorail. I loved it and I would stay there again, but I personally prefer the Grand when circumstances allow even though I think that the lobby needs to be a little bit brighter. It's somewhat dismal in there right now. Until the construction is completely finished at the Grand, I would probably opt for DLH just because access to resort amenities will vary at the Grand for some time yet.

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Be good at something. It makes you valuable. Have something to bring to the table because that will make you more welcome. --Randy Pausch

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Trip Reports:
December 2013: 10th Anniversary, 1st DVC Stay | April 2014: Birthday on the Boardwalk | May 2014: Star Wars Weekend, Navigating WDW with a wheelchair | August 2014: Villains Unleashed | September/October 2014: MNSSHP, F&W, Tower of Terror 10-miler | March/April 2015: Disneyland and California Coastal Cruise | November 2015: Wine & Dine Half, Food & Wine, 1st Disney Cruise | February 2016: Presidential Classic Gymnastics Meet | March 2016: "Work" Trip, Tours, F&G Festival | April 2016: Conference at Disneyland | Fall 2016: Festive Fall Fun | January 2017: Festival of the Arts

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Dining at Disneyland...including our meals at Disneyland restaurants during the AbD portion of the trip. We tried all five character meals on this trip as well as most of the signature restaurants that we hadn't tried previously. Pictures to follow once I have time to finish my argument with Flickr.

Plaza Inn Lunch
This is one of my favorite places to eat at Disneyland because to me, this is the best fried chicken in the world. The mashed potatoes are also great--I'm not talking gourmet. I'm talking like the "real" version of the fried chicken and mashed potatoes that used to come in the Swanson frozen dinners when I was a kid. I'm not a huge fan of the green beans here. Too much pepper. But I love the chicken and mashed potatoes. It's probably not actually the greatest quality in the world, but it sure is tasty and it takes me back to those nights when I was a kid and dad was still at work and mom was too tired from work to cook, so she'd pop a fried chicken dinner in the microwave. Good memories. If Plaza Inn could master that microwaveable brownie that was in the upper center of the tray, they'd really be on to something.

Storytellers Cafe Dinner
We ordered off the menu since I had just listened to a podcast the week before that panned the buffet. We took a look at the offerings, but honestly, the menu looked more appealing. I ordered the quesadillas and they came with a side of delicious guacamole. I also had the Nebraskan Corn Chowder. It was an inexpensive combo--around $20 total for my self-constructed meal--and it was really delicious. Benn went with the spaghetti and meat sauce. It wasn't my taste, but he liked it very much. I would definitely eat here again for dinner.

Storytellers Cafe Character Breakfast
We had a good thing going here, so we thought we might as well come back for breakfast! I really enjoyed this meal when I ate at Storytellers last year. Meeko has been replaced with Pluto, which is really a shame. I had even worn my Meeko celebration button for the day, so I was definitely disappointed with the change, but Storytellers is definitely the best option for a fresh and healthy character breakfast. There are more selections here than at PCH Grill and a higher percentage of healthy options than at Goofy's Kitchen. Also, the character interaction at Storytellers is 2 for 2 on my visits for being the best that Disneyland has to offer at a character meal. We saw Chip, Dale, Pluto, and a bear from Brother Bear. I have no idea which one it was, but I should really find out before I go there again because after so many times, he's going to start to recognize me and I still have no idea who he is and THAT'S going to be awkward... laugh

Because in California, not only am I a morning person, but I love breakfast. Chilaquiles (egg nachos) for breakfast? Yes please!

#iwishmeekowasstillhereinstead

Award Wieners & the Tamale cart
A bit of frustration followed by a delightful surprise. We tried to eat at Fiddler, Fifer, & Practical Cafe before the Captain America/Spiderman meet & greet, which is the Three Little Pigs Cafe located at the "hub" of DCA. I had read that their grab & go sandwiches are quite good, so since we needed something relatively fast, it seemed like a good plan. Grab and go is a great idea--as long as the sandwich line and the starbucks drinks line isn't the SAME LINE. I was in line for 20 minutes and was only half way to the front when I quit. We decided to go to the meet & greet and just eat somewhere else later. Well, the meet & greet was 10 minutes late starting, so we abandoned that and I took the first available option--a tamale cart. While I could not get an AP discount at the tamale stand, the tasty treat was well worth the wait and the extra money. For hot snacks from a cart that can replace a meal, these are a close second to Magic Kingdom's Cheeseburger Spring Rolls. Benn walked a little but farther and went to Award Wieners. A big fan of Casey's Corner, he was disappointed in his hot dog. He said it was good, but not as good as Casey's. However, the Banana Corn Dogs (which appear to be off the menu this summer to make way for the Summer of Heroes special offerings) were amazing.

Napa Rose
Hands down the best meal of our trip. Benn declared it to be the best meal he has ever eaten. At nearly $200 without wine, this was not a place I'd go "just because", but if you are looking to mark a special occasion with a fabulous meal, Napa Rose is a fabulous option.We shared everything except our entrees, so we tried the Diver Scallops with Strawberry Rose Essence Rhubarb Fennel Relish and the Smiling Tiger Salad with Tempura battered Lobster Fritters (I'm usually a little bit iffy on tempura, but this was fabulous). I had the Fish of the day (Swordfish) with Lobster relish and Benn had the Grilled Petite Fillet Mignon. For dessert, I had the Chilled Strawberry Lime Soup with the White Chocolate-Coconut Semifreddo and Benn had the Warm California Cherry Crumble Cake. This meal was phenomenal. It was all down hill for the rest of the trip! Haha. I honestly wish we had saved this meal until the end of our trip because even though we had at least two other standout meals, nothing else compared to Napa Rose.

John Lasster's Wine...

Plaza Inn Character Breakfast
Characters, Characters, Characters! If I had to choose one Disneyland Character meal, this would probably be it. Except for the food being so absolutely forgettable, this was a rare character gold mine. We met Minnie, Fairy Godmother, Captain Hook, Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore, Pinocchio, Geppetto, Chip, Dale, Max (Goofy's son), and Rafiki. That's TWELVE characters in one meal! eek

Red Rose Tavern Lunch
This is the former Pinocchio's Village Haus, so Benn went with a flatbread since they are still on the menu. I tried the cauliflower sandwich and I know it may be an off choice, but it is now perched atop my favorite Disneyland quick service options. The breading pretty much negates the health benefits of the cauliflower, but this is one tasty sandwich. A very enthusiastic two thumbs up.

River Belle Terrace Dinner
I had eaten here last year and thought it was phenomenal. This year, it was good, but relative to some of the other places that we tried, it was kind of average. Benn really enjoyed his Brisket Wedge Salad. I had the California Salad, which I love and enjoyed. My Grilled and Chilled Shrimp was good, but it didn't recapture the magic-on-a-plate version that I had at River Belle last April. I like the items that I like here, but nothing else on the menu really appeals to me.

Steakhouse 55 Lounge
We wanted to stop by Trader Sam's for a drink, but we didn't really receive a war welcome and were kind of put off by the experience. When we finally found a server, I asked for a drink to be made with orange juice instead of pineapple juice and I was told that it was impossible because the drinks were pre-mixed. Sorry, for $12 a drink, you can bust out the ingredients and mix it from scratch. So we left and went to the Steakhouse 55 Lounge instead where we shared a cheese plate and had a drink. The cheese plate was good, but to be honest, the one that Alaska Airlines serves is better and less expensive. That's not to say that the one in the lounge was BAD--Alaska Air's is just seriously delicious. We met some awesome people at the lounge who had received more cake with their order than they cared to eat and they shared it with us. WOW! I'm not a cake fan. Like at all. I dread the cake cutting at birthday parties and the inevitable "Oh you have to have some cake! It's a birthday!" No I don't. And cake is gross. This cake was freaking AMAZING. It was moist to the point of almost tasting like it was mixed with chocolate syrup and the icing wasn't that sickeningly sweet garbage. It was light and creamy and it complemented the cake perfectly. I actually ate like half a slice.

Goofy's Kitchen Character Breakfast
This was the largest and most diverse character buffet, which makes sense because it's technically a brunch. It is VERY heavy with dessert options, so if you are trying to maintain healthy eating on vacation, this place is temptation city. If you are throwing caution to the wind and looking for the most cake-laden, pizza-filled brunch you can imagine, Goofy's Kitchen is your go-to. Bread pudding, Monkey Bread, Dirt Cake, PB&J Pizza, Mac & Cheese Pizza, Mickey Waffles...you name it! There was a fruit buffet, but it paled in comparison to the one at Storytellers. The character interaction was just ok here and there is a charge for the formal photo with Goofy if you want the shot that is captured by the PhotoPass photographer at the entrance. If you have free downloads because of having an Annual Pass, the easiest thing to do is just to go to the photo shop in the park at the very end of Main Street. Tell them where you were at what time and they will find your photos. The photographers at the character meals act like it's a huge inconvenience to scan your Annual Pass or get you a photo code for the photos that you are entitled to download for free. Characters here were Chip, Dale, Minnie, Pluto, and Goofy. Apparently Goofy's Kitchen is a favorite of celebrity children. Apparently that evening, Angelina Jolie was there with the kids.

Flo's V-8 Cafe Lunch
Benn had a burger and I had a 1/4 chicken with mixed vegetables. We both really enjoyed our lunch for what it was. For a quick service joint, it wasn't half bad. I wouldn't put it among my favorites, but I haven't found a go-to quick service at California Adventure yet, so Flo's could be in the running. At least it was quasi-nutritious after a few days of desert upon dessert upon dessert.

Carthay Circle Dinner
We had lunch here on our first trip in 2015 and I thought it was horrendously overpriced for the quality and quantity of the dishes that we had ordered. While this meal did improve my opinion of Carthay Circle, I would still choose Napa Rise, Steakhouse 55, and Blue Bayou over Carthay. I did really like the signature fried biscuits. I had the Halibut and it was good, but not as spectacular as other things we tasted this week. Benn had the Ribeye and once again, good, but not extraordinary.

Steakhouse 55 Breakfast
Aside from the fact that our server didn't understand my request for hardboiled eggs and brought...fried eggs? our breakfast was very good. Benn said that the pancakes were the best he's ever had. Even though my eggs weren't really what I was after, there was a step of blistered cherry tomatoes that was served with my eggs and they were fantastic. I had previously thought that this restaurant still had some lingering cigarette smoke in the air, but I didn't detect that at all this time.

Rancho del Zocalo Lunch
I love Rancho del Zocalo and I finally remembered to go all the way to the left and get the tostada salad this time. Honestly, it was a little bit disappointing. The shell tasted kind of stale. Benn's Street Tacos had good flavor, but they were poorly constructed and they fell apart while he was eating them. This was one of my favorite quick service locations, but it fell a hair short of my expectations on this occasion.

Steakhouse 55 Dinner
It was so good, we thought we'd do it again! I had heard some rumblings about Steakhouse 55 being overrated, but I had an agenda with my restaurant choices because I was trying to use them to gain as much dining knowledge as possible. Benn had the Wagyu Beef, which was very reasonably priced relative to what I've seen on other menus. It. was. fabulous. It practically melted when you touched it with the fork. I opted for the Maryland Crab Cake and the Wedge Salad. After I ordered, I asked our server Beth if that was an ok decision or if I was crazy to order a Maryland Crab Cake in California. She assured me that the chef is from Maryland *sigh of relief* and that he is the former chef at Club 33. Her advice to stick with that order was spot on. That crab cake was delicious. The wedge salad not so much. The ingredients were good, but mine had WAY too much dressing on it. The lettuce was drowning. Just a fun little aside--Beth is the one who told us about Angelina Jolie at Goofy's Kitchen. She also makes margaritas for Matt Damon. Matt Damon like our server's margaritas. We are now only two degrees of separation from Matt Damon.

Flo's V-8 Cafe Breakfast
Lunch two days earlier had been good, so since we skipped Tangaroa Terrace this morning to make it to California Adventure by rope drop, we thought Flo's was a good breakfast option. Wrong! Breakfast is terrible. Bland. Devoid of flavor. Awful. Go elsewhere. There's got to be something better SOMEWHERE.

Ariel's Grotto Character Lunch
I had really been looking forward to this meal and it was 50/50. Our character interaction was very forced and for a number of the princesses, we had to work to get them talking. Tiana and Ariel were very good and Cinderella was decent. Belle didn't even take the opportunity to comment about my Bell shirt or take offense to Benn's Gaston button. And I had to point out my "I'm the lost princess" button to Rapunzel. Snow White was so wooden that I forgot she was there until I looked at my pictures. The food, on the other hand, was fantastic. From a purely food perspective, this was my favorite character meal by a long shot, but to be fair, it's the only once that wasn't a breakfast. I had a delicious seafood chowder and Benn had a California salad for starters. My entree was the Lobster salad that had a full lobster tail with a large salad filled with dark greens. Very tasty. Benn had a ship pasta dish that he really enjoyed. The desert trip looked like the desserts at our local Chinese restaurant--you know, the ones that are really pretty, but don't taste like anything. Well luckily, these were both pretty and tasted delicious. There was a dipped cookie, a mini creme brulee, and a chocolate dessert that reminded me a little bit of Cape May Cafe's Flourless Chocolate Cake with slightly more of a mousse texture. Despite the below average character interaction, I would eat here again.

It's hard to see, but there is a fun lobster tail on this salad

Blue Bayou Dinner
I thought I had made our reservation for 6:30, but it was actually for 7:30. I was starving by this point, so we went down to French Market for a beignet--super disappointing. It just tasted like a regular donut and they had no chocolate sauce to drip it in. It was nice that it was Mickey shaped, but I am clearly spoiled by POFQ's beignets. This is such a fun place, but if you have an allergy to mold or are bothered by damp places, this might not be the best choice. We did not have a river view table, so we couldn't see the boats on Pirates, but the ambiance was still really nice. Benn started with salad and I started with Gumbo and both were lovely. I think I would have preferred the salad, but I wanted to choose at least something in my meal that reflected the theme of the restaurant. I have Surf & Turf (sirloin & lobster tail) and Benn had Jambalaya. My steak wasn't quite as good as Benn's had been at Steakhouse 55, but it was still delicious and my lobster tail was done perfectly. The Jambalaya was a little spicy for my taste if I was going to make a whole meal out of it, but I enjoyed my small taste of it.

PCH Grill Character Breakfast
This was hands down the WORST meal I have ever eaten at Disney and unfortunately, it was the last table service meal of our trip. Apparently the regular protocol is for the hostess to escort you to have your picture taken with Mickey. Well, when we were seated, Mickey was having dance party with the kids. The hostess did not tell us that she had intended to take us for a photo, nor did she tell us that we were welcome to visit Mickey for a photo at our leisure. We were seated in a different room than where Mickey was taking photos and had no idea that we were supposed to go to Mickey instead of him coming around to our table. The food on the buffet was lackluster, both in selection and in quality. It wasn't quite as bad as Flo's, but it was close. The chilaquiles, my favorite thing at Storytellers breakfast, were soggy and flavorless. The Mickey Waffles were burnt. The eggs were practically rubber. Half of the bacon looked undercooked. Our server brought our check in less than 30 minutes. We had seen 2 of the 4 characters. I told her about the issue and THAT was when we learned that we were supposed to go to the front to see Mickey on our own. Our server acted like we should have known the restaurant policy on how to Meet Mickey Mouse. I'm sorry...who is the guest here?? The fact that Minnie hadn't been to our table yet? She couldn't have cared less. We went up to get our picture with Mickey and I asked the photographer for the photo pass code. She said that we had to wait for the photo salesman to come around with our photos and that he could get the code for use. We explained to her that the timing of our meal was and photos was off because of the mix-up. She assured us that if we had a seat that someone would be with us momentarily. 15 minutes...20 minutes...finally the photo guy came to our table and offered us photos. We asked him for the code. He proceeded to tell us that he couldn't give it to us (even though three days earlier, the photographer at Goofy's had done just that) and that we had to go into the park. I informed him of the amount of time that we had wasted, the misinformation that I had received from multiple cast members during the meal, and that the quality of the experience was pathetic at best. His response? A FastPass for Soarin'. Nice gesture, but how about giving me the VERY reasonable thing that I am asking for--a code to download a photo that is included free with the annual pass that I purchased. Bridge successfully burned. I don't care how cute those characters are in their surfing outfits. I will never eat at PCH Grill again. The characters here were Mickey, Stitch, Minnie, and Daisy.

Jolly Holiday
I enjoy the theming of Jolly Holiday immensely, but it's far from the best food in the park. I had the grilled cheese and tomato soup, which was good, but standard. Nothing spectacular, but nothing bad either. Good, solid, wholesome fare. Benn had a salad with chicken and his assessment was the same--good, but not memorable. We did have a great seat on the patio to catch Mickey's Soundsational Parade.

So that's our Disneyland Dining. I'll add in the Hollywood dining when I get to the day by day section. Disneyland does move their characters around for dining experiences, so there's never a guarantee of who you're going to get. Only the host is guaranteed, so Mickey is always at PCH Grill, Goofy is always at Goofy's Kitchen, Minnie is always at Plaza, Chip & Dale are always at Storytellers, and Ariel is always at Ariel's Grotto.

Napa Rose was the best. No contest. For me, second place goes to Blue Bayou. For Benn, second place goes to Steakhouse 55.

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Trip Reports:
December 2013: 10th Anniversary, 1st DVC Stay | April 2014: Birthday on the Boardwalk | May 2014: Star Wars Weekend, Navigating WDW with a wheelchair | August 2014: Villains Unleashed | September/October 2014: MNSSHP, F&W, Tower of Terror 10-miler | March/April 2015: Disneyland and California Coastal Cruise | November 2015: Wine & Dine Half, Food & Wine, 1st Disney Cruise | February 2016: Presidential Classic Gymnastics Meet | March 2016: "Work" Trip, Tours, F&G Festival | April 2016: Conference at Disneyland | Fall 2016: Festive Fall Fun | January 2017: Festival of the Arts

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I've really enjoyed reading through your breakdowns, I love the all the detail and descriptions it's only 10am here and I am starving now laugh .

It's such a shame about your experience at PCH grill, like you say it shouldn't be left to the guest to sort out the issues they should have explained the procedure or even when they failed to do so been more apologetic and sorted out the problem.

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Thanks for the great dining reviews, it's a great help for my upcoming trip. muchlove

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wow thats a lot of food I'm so hungry right now! the one thing getting me is that chicken it sounds delicious! i could really eat some chicken right now!

also I remember seeing pictures on facebook of the meal at Napa Rose and the food looked delicious!

also all those characters you met at Plaza Inn thats a lot!

I need to get to Disneyland!

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alicemouse wrote:
Just a fun little aside--Beth is the one who told us about Angelina Jolie at Goofy's Kitchen. She also makes margaritas for Matt Damon. Matt Damon like our server's margaritas. We are now only two degrees of separation from Matt Damon.

This is one of the best things I've read in a while!! laugh

Great descriptions and I'm glad you enjoyed most of your experiences.

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So glad I was eating lunch while reading that! Everything sounded amazing (with the exception of Flo's and PCH, of course). We have Disneyland on the docket for 2019. We were thinking 4 days but now I'm convinced we have to do 5 or 6 just to fit in all the yummy food! I'm totally impressed with your Plaza character score...that is an awesome line up of characters!! You only get four or five characters in one character meal shot at WDW!

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Thanks everyone. I've resigned myself to having to add pictures to the upload screen one at a time on Flickr. I'm about 2/3 of the way done, so I'll have pictures soon! I also realized as I was going through my pics that I missed two quick service locations. I'll add them to the original post when I add the photos.

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Trip Reports:
December 2013: 10th Anniversary, 1st DVC Stay | April 2014: Birthday on the Boardwalk | May 2014: Star Wars Weekend, Navigating WDW with a wheelchair | August 2014: Villains Unleashed | September/October 2014: MNSSHP, F&W, Tower of Terror 10-miler | March/April 2015: Disneyland and California Coastal Cruise | November 2015: Wine & Dine Half, Food & Wine, 1st Disney Cruise | February 2016: Presidential Classic Gymnastics Meet | March 2016: "Work" Trip, Tours, F&G Festival | April 2016: Conference at Disneyland | Fall 2016: Festive Fall Fun | January 2017: Festival of the Arts

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alicemouse wrote:
Just a fun little aside--Beth is the one who told us about Angelina Jolie at Goofy's Kitchen. She also makes margaritas for Matt Damon. Matt Damon like our server's margaritas. We are now only two degrees of separation from Matt Damon.

laugh laugh laugh

Oh my lord - so much food! What a great breakdown though. *sigh* I need to get back to Disneyland in the next few of years. It is my favorite Disney Park and I really miss it.

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Allie wrote:
So glad I was eating lunch while reading that! Everything sounded amazing (with the exception of Flo's and PCH, of course). We have Disneyland on the docket for 2019. We were thinking 4 days but now I'm convinced we have to do 5 or 6 just to fit in all the yummy food! I'm totally impressed with your Plaza character score...that is an awesome line up of characters!! You only get four or five characters in one character meal shot at WDW!

I hear all the time that 3 days is enough. Honestly, the first time we did 2 full park days and the 3rd day we split with the Walk in Walt's Footsteps Tour. I could have definitely done 5 days on that first trip. We had 5 "on our own" park days plus 2 full days with AbD park touring. I was still having a great time, but Benn had gotten to the point where he was kind of done riding and I felt like I was dragging him at the end a little bit. I think 5 park days in total is enough. If you arrive early on the first day and stay later on the last day, you can knock out some resort dining and do DTD without squandering park time. Just make sure you hit a weekend because Anaheim's noise ordinance governs when fireworks can happen. You still might not catch them because the Santa Ana winds cancel them more often than not. There is an alternate show, but obviously it's not as good. Right now they are running Remember: Dreams Come True. It's basically Wishes except it's narrated by Julie Andrews and it showcases Disneyland's classic attractions. I adore it.

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Trip Reports:
December 2013: 10th Anniversary, 1st DVC Stay | April 2014: Birthday on the Boardwalk | May 2014: Star Wars Weekend, Navigating WDW with a wheelchair | August 2014: Villains Unleashed | September/October 2014: MNSSHP, F&W, Tower of Terror 10-miler | March/April 2015: Disneyland and California Coastal Cruise | November 2015: Wine & Dine Half, Food & Wine, 1st Disney Cruise | February 2016: Presidential Classic Gymnastics Meet | March 2016: "Work" Trip, Tours, F&G Festival | April 2016: Conference at Disneyland | Fall 2016: Festive Fall Fun | January 2017: Festival of the Arts

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alicemouse wrote:
I hear all the time that 3 days is enough. Honestly, the first time we did 2 full park days and the 3rd day we split with the Walk in Walt's Footsteps Tour. I could have definitely done 5 days on that first trip.

I find 5 at Disneyland to be absolutely perfect for me. You can see everything at a leisurely pace, take mid-afternoon naps, eat all the great food, have nice pool day. With 3 I feel rushed, and why rush when you're on vacation? I also hear all the time that it's not the same as being in "the bubble" at Disney World. I think that is BS. If you stay at the Disney hotels, especially Disneyland Hotel or Grand Californian, you are totally still in a happy Disney bubble.

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Kristen K. wrote:
I also hear all the time that it's not the same as being in "the bubble" at Disney World. I think that is BS. If you stay at the Disney hotels, especially Disneyland Hotel or Grand Californian, you are totally still in a happy Disney bubble.

Absolutely. In fact, I think that there is more of a "bubble" in Anaheim if you're at a Disney resort because you can literally go 5 days without being out of site of a park or your resort--especially at Grand Californian.

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Trip Reports:
December 2013: 10th Anniversary, 1st DVC Stay | April 2014: Birthday on the Boardwalk | May 2014: Star Wars Weekend, Navigating WDW with a wheelchair | August 2014: Villains Unleashed | September/October 2014: MNSSHP, F&W, Tower of Terror 10-miler | March/April 2015: Disneyland and California Coastal Cruise | November 2015: Wine & Dine Half, Food & Wine, 1st Disney Cruise | February 2016: Presidential Classic Gymnastics Meet | March 2016: "Work" Trip, Tours, F&G Festival | April 2016: Conference at Disneyland | Fall 2016: Festive Fall Fun | January 2017: Festival of the Arts

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This post shall be dedicated to attractions. I know I've posted about them before, but here is just a quick run down of our collective thoughts on DL vs. WDW and what we love at DL that we can't get at WDW:

Disneyland favorites--with all of that space, how is there seriously not enough room for these gems at WDW?!

Alice in Wonderland: I seriously love this ride. It's one of my favorite movies and I think it is the epitome of what a dark ride should be. Benn was scolded by a Cast Member for taking this photo!

Toontown: I miss this at home and Disneyland's version is so much better than ours ever was.

Storybookland Canal Boats/Casey Jr. Circus Train: Yet another pair of attractions that I could ride over and over and over again. I love this nod to Walt Disney's idea for Lilliputian Land.

Mr. Toad's Wild Ride: We missed Mr. Toad entirely at WDW and the first time we rode it at Disneyland, we were kind of "meh" about it. The more we ride it, the more we love it! It's such a fun, quirky little ride and we have developed so many in jokes and memories with that ride. It's one of those rides were if something has gone wrong during the day, you just hop on Mr. Toad and it's all better.

Castle walkthrough: It's a fairly simple attraction, the retelling of Sleeping Beauty in animated sequences peppered with storybook pages, but it's such a fun thing to see.

Pinocchio's Daring Journey/ Snow White's Scary Adventures: Dark ride classics. We do them multiple times each visit. I love the appearing/disappearing Evil Queen and the apple that cackles like the Evil Queen when you touch it.

Matterhorn Bobsleds: I bailed on this one at the last minute when I saw how low the seats set and how small the cavern opening was for the ascent hill, but Benn thoroughly enjoyed it. It's the first tubular steel coaster in the U.S., so if you're into that sort of thing, you've got to check it out. For science!

Shows: Mickey and the Magical Map and the shows at the Royal Theater are fantastic! Definitely grab a times guide and make them part of your day. MMM has fun technology that makes it look like characters are coming to life in front of your eyes. It's also a great place to see Mulan, Tiana, Stitch, Pocahontas, and Rapunzel all at the same time. RT is currently showing Beauty and the Beast. In the past, we have also seen Tangled and Frozen. This is a Renaissance Festival-style show with two stellar storytellers who help set the stage for the production.

What's California Adventure got on Hollywood Studios?? A lot, actually

Paradise Pier: The Jumping Jellyfish, Golden Zephyr, Goofy's Sky School, and my personal favorite, The Silly Symphony Swings are all delightful, uneventful little rides that add a little bit of fun to your day without waiting for an hour to ride something. As the name of the land suggests, they are pier-styled amusements.

A Bug's Land: This land is definitely intended for the youngest park goers, but we get a kick out of it. Flik's Flyers lets you fly in a cookie box, a raisin box, or a discarded Chinese food container. Heimlich's Chew-Chew is an adorable train ride. Tuck & Roll's Drive 'em Buggies is the world's slowest bumper cars ride. And there's one more carnival style attraction that is adorably themed.

Mater's Junkyard Jamboree/ Luigi's Rollickin' Roadsters: Junkyard Jamboree is a "whip" or "Srcrambler" type of motion and it a lot more intense and enjoyable than it looks. The same goes for Luigi. The cars look like they are jut calmly driving around in their area, but there is a forced spin that you may want to avoid if you're not a teacup fan. Personally, I love them both.

Mickey's Fun Wheel: Apparently a "fun wheel" is a specific type of Ferris wheel that has swinging cages that slide based on the gravitational pull at specific points during the ride. I believe this is the 2nd tallest fun wheel...in the...world?

Redwood Creek Challenge Trail: I love this attraction because it is so unique from anything else in the domestic parks. It's basically a giant recreation area with ropes course-style entertainment.

Frozen Show at Hyperion: There is no comparison to this show at WDW. It's an hour-long condensed Broadway show and it is remarkable.

California Screamin': Yeah I'm not touching that thing with a 10' pole, but everyone who rides it says that it's really smooth.

Who wore it better? The coast to coast park battle

Space Mountain: Well, until a few days after our trip, DL's Space Mountain was Hyperspace Mountain, but I've ridden with both with and without the overlay. I love how much smoother the ride is at DL. I also love the 2x2 seating and that there are flashes of light so you can catch a glimpse of where the track is going next. While it still scares the pants off me, I like Space Mountain at DL MUCH better than I like it at WDW.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Ours is better. Pirates at DL is interesting because there are more scenes, there is integration with Blue Bayou Restaurant, there is a second drop, and you actually go back up the waterfall at the end. Also, I like the queue differently than I like our queue. It's not better or worse. It's just an interesting difference to enjoy. The reason that I think ours is unequivocally better is that the drops are not in the correct sequence with the scenes for the "waterfall= going back in time" storyline to work out. Also, because of the Blue Bayou tie-in, the story begins in Louisiana. It's Pirates of the Caribbean, not Pirates of the Gulf of Mexico. It's interesting and I can't go to DL without riding Pirates and more than I could go to WDW without riding it. It just seems weird.

Haunted Mansion: Ours is better. One of the things that annoys me to no end is when it gets really busy and the Cast Members make the stretching rooms too full without regard for the absolutely insanity that happened between the stretching room and the loading area. Well, the loading area at DL is about 4x's longer and twice as wide at the loading area at WDW. Try to keep a group together in that chaos. It's so miserably crowded in there mid-day I can hardly stand it. Also, the changing paintings and the busts are in the loading queue instead of in the attraction, so the ride is slightly shorter. There are three really awesome things about HM at DL--the hatbox ghost, the Nightmare Before Christmas overlay, and the bullet hole in the glass in the ballroom scene. Apparently a guest (shortly after the attraction opened) wanted to participate in the duel in the ballroom and actually shot a hole in the glass. Well, each pane of glass is something like 7'x35' and the roof of the attraction would have to be removed to replace a panel, so the bullet hole is still there!

Peter Pan's Flight: 'You Can Fly' is played at a normal tempo instead of the slow, dreamy version that we have at WDW. Also, your pirate ship does more dips and turns, making the ride much more thrilling. Our version is smoother, but I like DL's better. Like Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan got "the diamond treatment" before the 60th. The projections and animatronics are crisp and clean. It doesn't ride like a 60-year-old attraction.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad: This is one of my favorite rides at WDW, but I hate it at DL. If you think ours is the wildest ride in the wilderness, baby, you ain't seen nothin' yet. A larger portion of the ride is in the dark. It's fast and it's rough. I am not a fan!

Tomorrowland Speedway/ Autopia: Night and day. First of all, the cars on Autopia actually work and just in case you get stuck, there are helpful cast members all along the track to jump your car. The track is longer, more relaxing, and more scenic. Plus, you get an Autopia Driver's License! Autopia has 2 mascots--Robot and Bird. Bird does the safety speech and after he says everything in English, he repeats it in Spanish. It absolutely cracks me up when he does it in Spanish and I couldn't figure out why. Benn pinpointed it. The first line in English is "Hi everybody! This is Bird!" In Spanish, it should have been "Hola amigos! Yo soy ave!" bust instead, he says, "Yo soy BIRD!" and it has that weird tempo thing that happens when there's a voiceover in another language but some of the original words remain. I walked around all day after we rode randomly shouting "Yo soy BIRD!" at Benn.

It's a Small World: DL wins hands down. No contest. Not even a fair fight. From the outdoor queue with the topiaries and stunning vistas of the clock (especially at twilight) to the characters integrated into their respective countries, you can't top the original.

Buzz Lightyear: DL wins. You can take the gun off of it's mount and actually use your arms to aim it at the targets and get some reasonable idea of which laser is yours. TSM is still way better, but at least Buzz is fun at DL.

Tower of Terror/ Mission Breakout: I've never ridden either, but they are different from each other now. (I know, I know...worst review ever.)

Test Track/ Radiator Springs Racers: As a complete package, I like Radiator Springs Racers better, but there's no question that Test Track is more "thrilling". RSR is just beautiful. It's a man-made theme park ride that can truly make you believe that you are in one of the world's most stunning landscapes. If that isn't awe-inspiring, I don't know what is.

Jungle Cruise: There is no scary cave full of ruins on the DL version. I definitely prefer it to the WDW version.

Kali River Rapids/ Grizzly River Run: Grizzly is way better. Kali is okay, but it's message of logging = bad/ conservation = good doesn't make for a very beautiful ride. Grizzly is much more attractive nestled in among the "Redwoods" and has better motion. It has more of a rafting quality. I think Grizzly is longer, too.

Great Moment with Mr. Lincoln/ Hall of Presidents: Honestly, I think that Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln is more impactful even though the show is about one person instead of 44. I enjoy Great Moments more than I enjoy HoP and it actually combines a little bit of American Adventure into the storyline.

Attractions that are basically the same: Star Tours, Dumbo, Soarin' (Though DCA has a much better queue than Epcot--it's dedicated to the history of aviation in California), Toy Story (except that the queue is outside. I't s charming, but it doesn't give you the feeling of becoming a toy like ours does), Mark Twain Riverboat, The Carrousel, Mad Tea Party (DL's is outdoors with beautiful lanterns, but the ride, itself, is exactly the same.)

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Trip Reports:
December 2013: 10th Anniversary, 1st DVC Stay | April 2014: Birthday on the Boardwalk | May 2014: Star Wars Weekend, Navigating WDW with a wheelchair | August 2014: Villains Unleashed | September/October 2014: MNSSHP, F&W, Tower of Terror 10-miler | March/April 2015: Disneyland and California Coastal Cruise | November 2015: Wine & Dine Half, Food & Wine, 1st Disney Cruise | February 2016: Presidential Classic Gymnastics Meet | March 2016: "Work" Trip, Tours, F&G Festival | April 2016: Conference at Disneyland | Fall 2016: Festive Fall Fun | January 2017: Festival of the Arts

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We're almost to the AdB stuff. Just two more quick categories for DL...

Characters
In addition to the 25 characters we met over the course of 5 character meals, we did stop for a few meet & greets in the parks.

Moana - Probably my most sought after to-do item for this trip was to meet Moana. I was very nervous about whether or not this was going to happen because a few months ago, Moana disappeared from the DL app. Even though I kept asking on the Kenny the Pirate FB group and they kept assuring me that she was in Adventureland, I was very nervous. I figured that AbD would be my ace in the hole. If I couldn't meet her on my own, they may have a way of making a meet & greet happen. As it turns out, Moana appeared on the app two days before we left! Hallelujah! So our first priority upon entering the park on Friday was...wrong. It was lunch. We had been awake for 14 hours and we were living on breakfast and an airline cheese plate by that point. But our second priority was finding Moana. And find her we did! Honestly, this was probably the very best character meet & greet I've ever done. Our Moana was so perfect. She looked like Moana, she acted like Moana, she even sounded like Moana. It was awesome. I wore my Moana shirt and took along my HeiHei tsum tsum. It was pure magic, the kind of magic that makes you feel like you're 5-years-old again. Wow. The only bummer was that there was no photo pass photographer, but the handler did get some good shots with my phone.

Captain America & Spiderman - We didn't actually meet Captain America and Spiderman. We waited at their meet & greet location for about 20 minutes. They were already 10 minutes late and we were hungry, hot, and tired, so we abandoned ship.

Nick Wilde & Judy Hopps - This was right after our failed Captain America meet & lunch. We got in line for Nick & Judy and they had already started greeting guests, but unlike at WDW, there was no Cast Member there to tell us not to get in line. After about 5 minutes, a CM informed most of the line that Nick & Judy would walk past us and pause briefly for a quick photo, but that there would be no opportunity for posed photos or autographs. So we got close up in-motion pics, but that's all.

Darth Vader - We met Darth Vader, which was nice since Kylo Ren is the current bad guy at DHS, but sadly we missed Boba Fett. Boba Fett's appearances are apparently more intermittent and he just roams the cantina area as opposed to Darth Vader and Chewbacca, who have regular meet & greets with a photo pass photographer.

Pins
This was a little off property trek that we did on our own. A friend who used to live in SoCal had told us about this little shop on Katella Ave. called D-Pins and Collectibles. It's set up like an antique store with independent vendors who rent display case space and they sell pins and collectible toys. The space is probably 60% pins and 40% toys. I would say that there are around 10,000 pins in that store at any given time and they are mostly rare, LE, special event, DSF pins. It's a little over a mile from the DL "onsite" hotels and it is well worth the walk. We actually walked the long way because I had never walked Katella the whole length of California Adventure and I wanted to. I also wanted to scope out the good neighbor hotels. (My personal opinion--if you're used to staying onsite at WDW, stay onsite at DL unless your budget absolutely will not allow it. The good neighbor hotels that are across the street from DL definitely look like they would be a letdown.) The pin store is probably about the size of the Art of Disney store at Disney Springs. I limited myself because I had already spent quite a lot at the Disney Studio Store and Imagineering (more on that soon) and I know I can go back in January when I take dad to California, but I did pick up two "Once Upon a Wintertime" pins from the Walt Disney Family Museum and an "Alice in Wonderland" LE hinged storybook pin. There was actually a trading event going on, but I didn't think to pack my good traders and I knew I didn't have anything in my park traders that this group was going to be interested in. It was quite hot that afternoon and I was working on a pretty good burn from the trek, so we decided to uber back to DL hotel. It was only about $6.

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Trip Reports:
December 2013: 10th Anniversary, 1st DVC Stay | April 2014: Birthday on the Boardwalk | May 2014: Star Wars Weekend, Navigating WDW with a wheelchair | August 2014: Villains Unleashed | September/October 2014: MNSSHP, F&W, Tower of Terror 10-miler | March/April 2015: Disneyland and California Coastal Cruise | November 2015: Wine & Dine Half, Food & Wine, 1st Disney Cruise | February 2016: Presidential Classic Gymnastics Meet | March 2016: "Work" Trip, Tours, F&G Festival | April 2016: Conference at Disneyland | Fall 2016: Festive Fall Fun | January 2017: Festival of the Arts

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Great advice! 5 days (at minimum) it is! And your Moana looks adorable!

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I need to go back to Disneyland. Won't happen for a couple of years at least, but dang, I really want to go.

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your report is really making me wanna go to california now!!!!!!

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The Adventure Begins! Sort of...

While Adventures by Disney offers a very comprehensive and immersive tour, there are some things that they just don't include. For example, Warner Bros. Studios and Universal City Walk. So we decided to strike out on our own in Hollywood for the day and see a few extra sites, so this is AbD Day 1 prior to actually meeting our Adventure group.

We checked out of Grand Californian around 6am (about an hour earlier than necessary as it turned out, but we didn't really know how long transferring, checking-in, and transportation would take in a practical setting and we didn't want to miss our tour) and hauled out suitcases over to Disneyland Hotel where we would be staying later in the trip. This is one place where the new security can trip you up. The most efficient way to do this would have been to cut through DTD, but now the DTD entrance has bag check, so you have to go out the front entrance of GC, cross the street, and walk through the entire Disneyland Resort. This was much more cumbersome in reality than it was in my head when I created the plan. The older I get, the higher value I place on luggage services! laugh I had pre-arranged through AbD that we could drop off one large bag each at DLH on Sunday morning and pick it up when we returned on Tuesday evening. It just made no sense to haul ALL of the luggage to Hollywood for two nights. So of course when we arrived, the Bell Services CM's had no idea that we had been told we could do this. They hassled us a little bit because DLH does not have a secured luggage area, but the ultimately agreed to hold our bags as long as we understood that they were not responsible for damage or theft.

We grabbed a cab to Loews Hollywood Hotel, arriving around 7am at a fare of roughly $120 I believe. We only chose a cab because of having luggage to transport and didn't know how well that work with uber. It wasn't really that outrageous as it is about an hour ride to get to Hollywood. This is the only bad thing about Disneyland and trying to couple a visit with other LA stops. The transportation options between DL and LA are limited, costly, and, as we'll explore in a later post, impossible to time reliably. A rental car is really your best bet, but the parking fees are outrageous and then you have traffic and the liability of driving in a congested, unfamiliar area to consider.

Check-in at Loews was very easy. Of course our room wasn't ready yet, but I didn't really expect it to be, so we just checked our bags with Bell Services and hailed a cab to Warner Bros. I wish we had chosen uber for this leg of the trip and will not make the mistake again. The driver was crazy. He kept muttering to himself and asking us odd questions and with his very thick accent (Russian maybe?), it was difficult for us to know of we were responding correctly or not. I'm pretty good with accents and deciphering what the person is trying to communicate, but not so much with this guy. When we arrived at a very empty Warner Bros. parking lot (we were MEGA early--our tour was at 9:30 and I think it was about 7:30 at this point), he demanded that we pay cash and "save credit card for next cab". It was the sketchiest cab ride I've ever taken and lesson learned. Uber only from now on.

Warner Bros. wasn't quite open yet, but they had a cafe advertised on their website that was supposed to open at 7:30. After a few minutes posing with the Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck statues, we spotted a side door where there was a security guard at a desk, so we popped in and chatted him up about how to get to the cafe and where we would assemble for our tour. He was very nice and he informed us that the cafe is closed on Sunday (I don't think I missed that detail--I think it was omitted from the website), but that there was a Bob's Big Boy about a mile down the road and it was a reasonably pedestrian-friendly area at that time of day. I had never been to a Bob's Big Boy, but Benn used to go there all the time when we was a kid and he was very excited about the idea, so we trekked down the road. It turns out that we were at the ORIGINAL Bob's Big Boy! It was a great old crappy diner style establishment complete with vinyl seats and a retro color scheme. I can't say it was the best breakfast I've ever had, but it was far from the worst, which is high praise form me. I am not a breakfast fan. Benn had waffles and I had an omelet with spinach and tomatoes. The tomatoes looked a little under-ripened and I like my bacon cooked crispier than what Benn got, but overall, decent meal at a decent price and everyone we interacted with at the restaurant was just delightful. After breakfast we did a few photo ops and trekked back to the studio. The weather was gorgeous that morning and it was a nice walk.

We almost got on an earlier tour than we had booked, but the group was over capacity by 1 person because they had let too many of us in, so we just bowed out and waited for our correct time about 10 minutes later. Our tour guide Ashley drove us around in an oversized golf cart and we got to see the only outdoor jungle set in Hollywood, tons of houses from shows that we don't watch, the prop warehouse (that was pretty cool), the bat mobile collection (wicked awesome), the sets for The Big Bang Theory, and the soundstage for the Ellen Degeneres Show, which is the most extensive show that films on the lot. The prop warehouse mostly has things stacked the way they were on the old Backlot Tour at Hollywood Studios with everything kind of helter skelter, but they have basically an entire replica White House in there mostly set up for the tours. It was a really interesting tour even though I hardly watch anything Warner Bros. At the end, there is a little museum-type building where you get to sit on the couch from Friends and ride a bat cycle or a Harry Potter broom against a green screen. There's a charge for the professional photos, but both are free to do and you're allowed to take your own pictures.

our bus

a dangerous criminal behind bars laugh

For lunch, we requested an uber to go to Universal CityWalk because Benn has been dying to check out Blaze Pizza and I found out that there is one at CityWalk. It was good pizza for sure, but I like so many different types and styles of pizza that I could eat there again or I could go somewhere else instead and really not have a preference either way. Benn also spotted a Voodoo Donuts, so he had to stop in and check them out. I opted for some spaceship wafer candy (it's like little sugar beads between two fused communion wafers. I know it sounds gross, but I love them) from It's Sugar.

Originally I wanted to go to Walt's Barn in Griffith Park after the Warner Bros. tour, but we felt like we should get back and rest a little bit since it had been a long morning and we weren't really sure what the evening had in store for us. I wish we had decided to stay in Hollywood for the entirety of our pre-trip time. That way we could have gone to Universal Studios and Walt's Barn and we wouldn't have felt so rushed. We ended up with more than ample time in Disneyland, but I felt like I needed more time in Hollywood.

We uber'd back to Loews and we were just around the corner when we received a call from our guides checking to see when we would be arriving, which I thought was odd because AbD told us that as long as we arrived by 5:00, we were good. Our guides mentioned that we were supposed to have checked in by 2:00 (not in a guilt-trip kind of way, but the information that they gave us verbally was different than what we had been told prior to departure). So I was glad that we had decided not to go to Walt's Barn because we would have been out about 20 minutes away when they called.

When we arrived at Loews, we were greeted in the lobby by Abby and Michael, our Adventure Guides. It was a very different experience than we'd had in morning. They buzzed about and grabbed our room keys, arranged for our luggage to be sent up, gave us an itinerary and welcome gift (a very stylish duffle bag with the AbD logo to match our cinch bag and cosmetic bag that we had received in the mail prior to the trip) and explained our next meeting time and location and 10 minutes later, we were in our room with our bags delivered. The room reminded me of the Contemporary a little bit--lots of gray, but everything with clean lines and clearly luxurious, but simple. It was a major downgrade from our 1BR at the Grand, but we saw that coming! laugh Our view was great and if you stood all the way to the right hand side of the window, you could see the Hollywood sign from our room.

We had about 3 hours until dinner, so we decided to explore the complex. Loews Hollywood has a large plaza with shops and restaurants attached to it that also houses the Dolby Theater (home of the Oscars until at least 2071) and abuts the TCL Chinese Theater. When you exit the complex, you are standing on the Walk of Fame directly across the street from the El Capitan and the Ghiradelli Soda Fountain, home of the Disney Soda Fountain exclusive pins. yay So the first thing we did was go on a pin purchasing mission. We also checked out the shops in the complex, my favorite being the sock shop. Novelty socks seem to be huge in California. Afterwards, we returned to the room to rest until dinner.

Next up: AbD welcome dinner!

__________________

Be good at something. It makes you valuable. Have something to bring to the table because that will make you more welcome. --Randy Pausch

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Trip Reports:
December 2013: 10th Anniversary, 1st DVC Stay | April 2014: Birthday on the Boardwalk | May 2014: Star Wars Weekend, Navigating WDW with a wheelchair | August 2014: Villains Unleashed | September/October 2014: MNSSHP, F&W, Tower of Terror 10-miler | March/April 2015: Disneyland and California Coastal Cruise | November 2015: Wine & Dine Half, Food & Wine, 1st Disney Cruise | February 2016: Presidential Classic Gymnastics Meet | March 2016: "Work" Trip, Tours, F&G Festival | April 2016: Conference at Disneyland | Fall 2016: Festive Fall Fun | January 2017: Festival of the Arts

alicemouse's picture
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AbD Day 1: Welcome Dinner/ It All Started with a Mouse

We returned to the lobby to meet our group and to be honest, I was feeling a little bit shy that day and not into starting the conversation with strangers. Most days I'll talk to anyone, but I was feeling kind of tired, so when two people appeared wearing Mickey shirts, I assumed that they were in our group, but I declined to wander over and say hello until Abby & Michael showed up and started breaking the ice. We did chat a little bit with a couple from New Jersey who approached us and they were nice, but they were definitely there because Mrs. wanted to go to DL and Mr. got drug along because she was excited and he was too cool for school. I decided to try to gravitate towards other folks in the group because I was not about being around anyone who was even remotely trying to be a Negative Nancy. I had been waiting way too long for this trip to deal with anyone else's cynicism.

Abby

Michael with Kathy & Kevin who became our go-to hang out buddies

Abby and Michael turned up and went over the ground rules, which were basically:
1. Be on time. When we say "Meet at 8:15, 8:14 is fine. 8:16 is NOT.
2. When "family photo" is called, participation is mandatory
3. If you want to see something in more detail, ask in the moment. Don't wait and tell us on Friday morning at the farewell breakfast.
4. Have FUN!

To test the level of cooperation of the group, the first thing they did was call a family photo op. laugh They had a whole box of props related to our adventure and it was interesting to see the group's preliminary knowledge of the items on the itinerary and see everyone's personalities start to emerge.

I expected that our dinner was going to be in the hotel restaurant since that's where we met, but Abby & Michael escorted us to a private banquet room so we could talk and move about more freely. We had to play an ice breaker game to win the glory of being the first of our three table to visit the buffet. So Abby & Michael asked who at each table considered themselves a Disney trivia expert. So of course I raised my hand and I got appointed as team captain. The task was to take each of the 6 pictures of Disney castles that we were handed, put them in order by opening date, and write down the year that each of their parks opened. I knew exactly 50% of the answers and the folks at my table weren't any stronger on this particular vein of knowledge than I was! Fortunately, we did a great job of identifying each castle's park and we seemed to be evenly matched with the other tables because we tied with another table. We lost the tiebreaker question, so we got to be the 2nd table to the buffet. The table we tied with had a College Program ringer. laugh

As for dinner, the food was good, but not great. It was your typical salad, potato dish, vegetable dish, beef option, chicken option, vegetarian option. There wasn't anything that was over the top as far as having fabulous quality or being a premium selection, but everything was prepared well and had decent flavor. I would consider the food forgettable relative to some of the other outstanding meals we had on the trip, but at least it wasn't memorable for the wrong reasons.

Dinner gave us an opportunity to get to know our tablemates. We had two couples who met on their first AbD and now planned their annual AbD trips together. I believe one couple was from Miami and one was from Ohio. The next couple ended up giving the group a lot of its character. It was a retired doctor and his wife from Florida and they were a hoot. He had been on 97 cruises. When he said it, I was thinking ok, my parents have been on a lot of cruises, too. Then I asked my mom how many they'd been on when we got home and she said they've only been on like 32. eek They were actually leaving three days after this tripped wrapped to go to WDW. laugh #lifegoals The last couple at our table was the one we ended up hanging out with the most. They were from Long Island and they were in their upper 60's/early 70's, so it was similar to vacationing with our parents, which we do often and very much enjoy. There were three other groups at other tables that we really enjoyed chatting with and wished we had gotten an opportunity to spend more time with. Two were couples and one was the only person on the tour who was close to our age and her aunt. This was an adult exclusive adventure, so the crowd skewed quite a bit older. I would say that with the exception of the one girl close to our age, one girls who was on the trip as a high school graduation present, and one early-20-something who was on the trip with her mom, everyone else was mid-40's to mid-70's. Luckily, Abby is two years younger than me and Michael is two years older than Benn, so that leveled the playing field a little bit and we spent a fair amount of time chatting with them outside of the tour.

After dinner, it was time for the presentation of the pins. Each day we received a different pin and the first day's theme was "It All Started with a Mouse." There was also a presentation of pins for guests who were repeat AbD travelers and anyone celebrating an Anniversary or birthday with AbD. Next, it was game time again--this time, it was Jeopardy style. My favorite! Our table mopped the floor with the other tables on this one. There were 4000 total points in the game and I think we had like 3200? After Disney Jeopardy, Abby & Michael went over the next day's itinerary in detail including meeting times, any wardrobe requirements, and details that might be relevant to those who are on medication schedules or have dietary requirements. They did a very thorough job of this each day. We stayed and chatted with our new friends until the banquet staff kicked us out. We briefly considered going out afterwards, but opted for sleep because we had no idea what the next few days had in store and we wanted to at least start off the adventure well-rested.

__________________

Be good at something. It makes you valuable. Have something to bring to the table because that will make you more welcome. --Randy Pausch

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Trip Reports:
December 2013: 10th Anniversary, 1st DVC Stay | April 2014: Birthday on the Boardwalk | May 2014: Star Wars Weekend, Navigating WDW with a wheelchair | August 2014: Villains Unleashed | September/October 2014: MNSSHP, F&W, Tower of Terror 10-miler | March/April 2015: Disneyland and California Coastal Cruise | November 2015: Wine & Dine Half, Food & Wine, 1st Disney Cruise | February 2016: Presidential Classic Gymnastics Meet | March 2016: "Work" Trip, Tours, F&G Festival | April 2016: Conference at Disneyland | Fall 2016: Festive Fall Fun | January 2017: Festival of the Arts

alicemouse's picture
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Posts: 2772

Day 2: Lights, Camera, Adventure!

So today was our first full day on our adventure and heres where the fun really begins! We had an option to meet at breakfast as early as 7am or meet in the lobby as late at 8:15am and here is where being an East Coaster on a California itinerary comes in handy--breakfast start time was like 10am to us! Easy-peasy. Breakfast was in a reserved room in Preston's, the hotel restaurant. The room had ample space and breakfast was a buffet, but to be honest, I thought the food was lackluster. I'm not a huge breakfast fan, so it takes a lot to have me jumping up and down about breakfast, but a good place to start would be to NOT put mushrooms that I didn't request in my omelet, have at least a few pieces of crispy bacon, and have some decent looking baked goods. It was ok and I didn't go hungry, but it was a let down after our breakfasts at Storytellers Cafe and Bob's Big Boy.

From the restaurant, we walked out on the third (I think) level of the plaza and turned right to arrive at the exterior of the Dolby Theater. Benn and I had stumbled upon the theater the night before, but although I watch the Oscars every year, I really hadn't ever given much thought to where hey might be held. Turns out, it's at the Dolby. So we learned a little bit about the plaza--it has literally won a well-deserved award for being the worst-deisgned shopping plaza in the world--about the theater, and about the Oscars. Everyone searched the area in front of the "red carpet" stairs for the best picture winner from the year they were born, which is how we figured out how old Abby and Michael are, and then we went out to the walk of fame. The first star that we saw was Muhammed Ali, who is the only star that is not on the ground. His is positioned on a wall in deference to his name and the meaning of the name to Islam.

Michael talking about the Dolby Theater

Abby looking up at us

looking down at Abby

on the red carpet steps

We learned that while you have to be invited to have a star on the Walk of Fame, inclusion in the club carries a $40,000 price tag and that money supplements taxes in Hollywood. Stars are also required to attend their unveiling, a rule that was put in place after one of the celebrities failed to show up. When I pictured the Walk of Fame in my head before arriving, I pictured one street with 2-3 blocks worth of stars, but in reality, it's all over the place! It runs up side streets and goes on for blocks and blocks and blocks. In contrast to TCL Chinese Theater where a tremendous number of celebrities are squeezed in on little slabs of concrete, the walk of fame takes up an amazing amount of space.

The only animated character at TCL

Our next stop was the TCL Chinese Theater and here is where those little special touches start to appear. When we walked into he theater, we were greeted by a step-on guide with complimentary popcorn and a bottle of water. He told us the history of the theater and how the artwork in the front lobby has never been repainted, but due to the lack of functional consideration in the design of the roof, the artwork in the wings was regularly retouched, but could only be done by a few select individuals. Inside, we watched a film about how the theater had evolved with time. The front of the theater was excavated to make room for the giant IMAX screen. TCL is the only IMAX with a curtain. It was also the first theater to have air conditioning and it boasts the largest IMAX screen in the world. I hadn't ever really thought much about these old theaters, but it turns out that they are fascinating. Not only was the theater an impressive structure in its own right, but it was important to the subject of our tour because this is where Mary Poppins premiered.

After the tour we had a few minutes to poke around the courtyard area and pose with the real McCoy of the concrete handprints before meeting back in the lobby. Once we were reassembled, we boarded a bus to Henson Studios. Our guides, not ones to slouch on the job, pointed out various points of interest like the world's busiest In & Out burger and the church of Scientology (it's ENORMOUS--it looks like a hospital) on the way.

Henson Studios, the former site of Charlie Chaplain Studios, one of the first studios in Hollywood, is located right in town. It's so small and inconspicuous that you might drive right past it if not for the giant Kermit the Frog adorning the top of its wall. The studio is not open to the public, which is a double-edged sword. It's super exclusive to get to go there, but since they don't get many visitors, there's not much to see. We did get to pose with Kermit, hold a real live Emmy, visit a really cool giant Muppet mural, a meet a puppeteer. Our puppeteer was Vanessa and she was the highlight of the tour. I actually got to do a mini puppet show with her on camera. I couldn't believe that no one was volunteering! I was like, DUDE, you get to hold and play with a real puppet from Jim Henson Studios on camera with an actual Jim Henson puppeteer. What are you waiting for??? This was a cool thing to do, but I had been hoping for Benn that we would get to see the creature shop, but it outgrew the facility and had to be moved offsite. I'm not a particularly huge fan of Henson. I love Kermit the Frog and a few others, but the Henson puppets were never ones that I was super attached to, so as a whole, this stop was kind of a low light for me. It was cool, but relative the the other things that we did, this was a drop in the bucket. I will say that the pacing was very good. If you were a fan, we explored every area that was reasonable to access. For those of us who were along for the ride, we also didn't linger anywhere longer than necessary.

Yep, this is the same Kermit that's at Hollywood Studios!

Charlie Chaplin's original film vault!

Some of the interesting facts that we learned on the tour were that both Perry Mason and George Reeve's Superman were filmed at Henson. Henson is the most sought after recording studio in Hollywood because there is just one sounds stage, so the performer is the center of attention.

After the studio tour, we departed for the Tam O'Shanter, Walt's favorite Hollywood restaurant for lunch. They are a Scottish establishment known for the Prime Rib. Apparently the Disney employees at there so frequently in the days of the studio at Hyperion that they called it simply, the commissary. They often hit the Tam if they were stuck on a story idea and the design of the restaurant looks remarkably like the 7 dwarfs cottage. Also, it is said that Walt drew inspiration for how to theme an experience in 3D from the interior of the Tam. The relationship meant something to the restaurant, too. Walt's regular table has been preserved and labeled with a plaque to recognize their famous patron. Usually Benn and I like to try different things, but here, it's just silly not to get the specialty--prime rib. Our meal was quite tasty, but to be honest, this isn't my favorite entree, so I'm afraid that its splendor was a little bit lost on me. I enjoyed the food, but I enjoyed being inside this space more.

The site of the first Disney Bros. Studio in Hollywood. (The Hyperion Studio was level and is now a Supermarket! eek sad )

After lunch, Abby & Michael asked if we were interested in a little bonus excursion. Of course we said yes and they took us to the Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round. Julio, the proprietor of the Carousel came in to open it up especially for us. He informed us that the Carousel reaches a top speed of 25mph, but that we would only be riding at 14mph. It was fast, but no much so that I expected to be flung off. The horses were very special--painted all different colors, but in a matte finish and allowed to chip and peel to give a more rustic look. Each horse had real horseshoes on its hooves and a fiber tail. The carousel was HUGE! I wish I had thought to count the horses on it. Around the sides were benches, including one of the green benches that would have been around the carousel in 1953 when Walt Disney was first imagining his park. These benches are also on display at Disneyland and at the Walt Disney Family Museum. The carousel itself was placed into service in 1937. It is a manual carousel with a 1919 clutch and a live organ.

We had a little break before our optional ice cream social activity at Ghiradelli Soda Fountain, so Benn and I started making plans for what we'd like to do with our free evening. We had talked about Griffith Park Observatory, but the bus ride to Griffith Park was longer than we had expected, so we decided on discount tickets for Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum and maybe braving the line at In & Out Burger just to say we did it. Before joining the group at Ghiradelli, we went out in search of Walt Disney's two stars. We not only found his, but we found Roy Disney, Tinker Bell, Donald Duck, and others. On the way to the ice cream social, we tried to stop and get some pictures of the El Capitan theater that is right next door, but we were denied access because if a private event that evening. We had eaten so much (mostly bad for us) food that I really wasn't in the mood for ice cream. Luckily, Benn was, so we did get a pin trader's delight sundae, which included a Katrina van Tassel pin. I would have sucked it up and eaten a sundae to get the hedgehog from Alice in Wonderland, but he was sold out, so I had a rootbeer float.

We said our goodbyes rather quickly because we wanted to use our evening as wisely as possible. I thought the wax museum was really cool.

Benn was less entertained than I was, so when we got a call half way through that Abby & Michael had gotten permission to take us to the cast & crew premier of the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie, he jumped at the chance. I'm glad he did because I was little ambivalent about whether or not I wanted to go and it turned out to be really cool! We were smuggled in through an underground tunnel that connects the soda fountain the the El Capitan theater. It turns out that the holding area where we were waiting was where the display of movie props, costumes, and artifacts was housed, so we were actually the very first members of the public to see that collection assembled. Once we were escorted upstairs, we were issued our 3D glasses, a souvenir bucket of popcorn, and a beverage of our choice. Where was that theater attendant who told me I couldn't take pictures of the theater now, huh? Joke's on her. I was part of the VIP party. laugh The theater was gorgeous! Again, there was a real curtain in front of the movie screen. The screen sat atop an actual stage that had an organist playing Disney songs to entertain us until the movie started. No "first look with Maria Minunos" of silly advertisement trying to con you into buying more popcorn. Just fun times in a beautiful theater. The only thing I'll say against it is that I think the same people who manufacture airline seats built these theater seats because I've never been less physically comfortable watching a movie before. It was totally worth it though. Not only was the movie great and we got to listen to Jerry Bruckheimer introduce the movie, but we actually ran into him in the hallway and got to shake his hand. It was just an all around awesome experience.

We capped off the evening by splitting a burger form Johnny Rockets in our room. since we never did quite make it to In & Out Burger. I should note that although only Breakfast & Lunch were listed as inclusions today, our only out of pocket food expense was the burger that we split at Johnny Rockets.

__________________

Be good at something. It makes you valuable. Have something to bring to the table because that will make you more welcome. --Randy Pausch

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Trip Reports:
December 2013: 10th Anniversary, 1st DVC Stay | April 2014: Birthday on the Boardwalk | May 2014: Star Wars Weekend, Navigating WDW with a wheelchair | August 2014: Villains Unleashed | September/October 2014: MNSSHP, F&W, Tower of Terror 10-miler | March/April 2015: Disneyland and California Coastal Cruise | November 2015: Wine & Dine Half, Food & Wine, 1st Disney Cruise | February 2016: Presidential Classic Gymnastics Meet | March 2016: "Work" Trip, Tours, F&G Festival | April 2016: Conference at Disneyland | Fall 2016: Festive Fall Fun | January 2017: Festival of the Arts

Allie's picture
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Joined: 06/26/2012
Posts: 4848

The Pirates premier sounds awesome! So I noticed there are a lot of candid photos of the group throughout the tour. Did one of your guides take those and you were provided them afterwards?