MouseFanTravel President Beci Mahnken was part of the first ever Adventures by Disney Backstage Magic Tour!
Making the Magic – Day 3 Part 2
Back on the bus and a few minutes later we are driving through the gates of The Walt Disney Studios. In 1937 Disney released his first full length animated feature, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs which received wide acclaim. Walt saw a need to expand the studio and used the profits from that production to build this studio in Burbank. For this reason, the dwarfs are shown holding up the roof on the main administration building.
We walked onto the lot and wandered streets to the animation building. Once inside we walked down the long hall that was covered in original background art and animation cells from some of the famous films over the years. Directly across from the animation building is Inking and Painting. The cool thing is they are connected by an underground tunnel to protect the artists work from the elements when being transported from building to building.
We exited the animation building and headed to Disney’s Legends Plaza. In 1998 this plaza was dedicated to commemorate 75th anniversary of the company and the plaza features bronze plaques and sculptures to honor the gifted animators, imagineers and others who have had a significant impact on the company. We spent quite a bit of time looking around, taking in the history and taking pictures too.
The picture shows a bronze of the Legends award that is given.
According to the website:
The Spiral … stands for imagination, the power of an idea.
The Hand … holds the gifts of skill, discipline and craftsmanship.
The Wand and the Star … represent magic: the spark that is ignited when imagination and skill combine to create a new dream.
Our lunch stop was at the Commissary at the Studios. We were given a voucher good for entrÃ©e, side, beverage and dessert – in a counter service style. there were many choices from soups and salads to deli sandwiches, pasta, burgers and pizza. Of course we were on a working studio lot so were on the lookout for familiar faces. This visit the group reported seeing Marty Skylar of Imagineering fame.
After lunch we had more shopping time, then it was back to the bus for the drive to the Disneyland Resort. The drive had a soundtrack. In Hollywood we heard classic TV show tunes of the 70s like the Love Boat, and as we got closer to Disneyland the theme changed to monorail and current Disney themes. We had a blast singing the classics and giggling like little kids. I think Walt would be proud.
Going back to the first day when we met at the welcome reception, the guides asked how many people had never been to Disneyland. I was amazed at the number of people who raised their hands! One of them was Haydee (below). Her son Alex had asked her on this trip and she was very excited to experience the magic of her first Disneyland trip with her son. When we took the exit I looked back at her and she was all teary-eyed.
Being a veteran of many visits to Disneyland, this caused me to stop for a moment and remember what it was like to walk through the gates of Disneyland on my 7th birthday with my Daddy in tow. Then again on my 21st birthday, after driving all night from a show in Las Vegas, seeing it for the first time from and adults eyes. Now I am going to be blessed to see it again, this time watching this wonderful lady who is about to turn into an 8 year old right in front of us. This is what I love about the power of this place and the magic of Disney.
We pulled up to Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa which is the flagship of the 3 Disneyland resorts, and we were escorted into the lobby to receive our room keys and info packets. Right away we headed for our rooms, with all the bags from the shopping spree as I wasn’t about to let those out of my site. Thanks to Brent & Brock, we managed to get everything where it needed to be. And we aren’t even talking about the luggage. The bellman will deliver those shortly.
Here is where we hit the first room snag, and frankly 3 days in was pretty good considering we were the inaugural group on this itinerary. We found our room and opened the curtains to find … gravel and a wall. Now I’m not normally the kind to push the issue when I get unlucky on the draw, especially when standard room view is what’s promised when you book this tour, but frankly I didn’t even know there was such a room that had nothing but a gravel wall in front of you.
Putting my vacation planner hat on, I decided it would be best to raise the issue so this doesn’t happen to others in the future. I went downstairs and found our guides. One of the Adventures Managers was also on property and he immediately took on the action item to take a look at the problem. I was very impressed by the care and concern they displayed and left it win their capable hands to work out.
In the meantime, 4 of us adventurers were ready to go Soarin! Michelle, Brent, Brock and I had just enough time to run over to California Adventure and go thru the single rider queue before returning to prepare for the welcome reception. I met the Adventure staff in the lobby who advised they have moved us and the bell staff has moved our luggage as well. They handed us new room keys and stated they would ensure that particular view will no longer be assigned to Adventures Guests.
Wow. How wonderful to see in action what I have come to expect from the Disney brand. Great customer service and a fast resolution to a challenge complimented by a smile and a sincere “thank you for bringing this to our attention.” We head up to the new room and indeed, we have a nice standard view with barely a hint of gravel. This will due very nicely.
After unpacking and a change of clothes, we headed to the lobby to meet the gang for the evening festivities. There we were greeted by the David, the 2008 Disneyland Ambassador who officially welcomed us to Disneyland. Michelle and I were also presented with special repeat guest pins!
We walked over to the Disneyland Resort and enjoyed a wonderful welcome reception featuring a wine tasting at the Cellar. We were offered a selection including a Pinot noir from Camelot, a chardonnay from Century Cellars and finally a Johannisberg reisling from Robert Mondavi Private Reserve. (yum!).
The guides also choose this as the setting to congratulate the anniversary couples in the group, presenting them with appropriate head wear.
The reception also featured a selection of appetizers as well as a guitar player who sang and set the perfect mood for the festivities. As the reception was winding down we were lead upstairs to Hooks Point Restaurant for dinner. We were offered a salmon dish or a mesquite grilled chicken entrÃ©e with accompaniments and Key Lime pie for dessert.
“You’ve just been on quite an adventure and enjoyed a wonderful dinner. Now what are you going to do?”
Why, we are going to Disneyland of course!
After dinner we are ready for some theme park fun! We head over to the gates together and group all the first time visitors at the front of the line so they are the first to enter the park. Once inside we are lead down main street by way of “the paddle”.
No not THAT kind of paddle! THIS kind of paddle!
It tends to draw attention thus has become the symbol that you have attained the coveted “teachers helper’ spot in the group.
We were led to the Haunted Mansion, but we walked right past the front entrance and made our way around the right hand side of the building to a special entrance across from the pet cemetery. We entered into a special stretching room where the cast member asked 5 bodies – err guests – to lay down in the dead center of the room and just about gave them a heart attack when the lights came back on by standing directly over them. (reminds me I need to blog about my haunted mansion experience that left me not only speechless, but breathless as well)
Anyway, after that we were given some special fast passes and given the rest of the evening on our own to explore the park.
Its an early day tomorrow. We are set to explore Walt’s World! Stay tuned!
Beci Mahnken is the President/CEO of MEI & MouseFanTravel.com . To date she is a veteran of 3 Adventures By Disney trips, more then 40 cruises including 16 with Disney and countless Walt Disney World and Disneyland adventures. Read her blog on the London and Paris Adventure by Disney.