Friday, July 11, 2008


Its been over a month since we returned from our Backstage Magic Adventure and not a day passes that we do not think or talk about what a wonderful time we had.
The Disney Photo Pass album has been completed as now we just wait for
it to arrive so we can once again relive those days of Magic.

Forgetting that we are Disney Fans ( 1 Fan and one Fanatic), we found the product that Disney has designed and delivered in its Adventures By Disney program is just another
example of their commitment to excellence in customer service.

There is nothing except a few more days that I could have asked for during our adventure.

Our guides made sure there was nothing we wanted that was not delivered and they usually thought of it first.

Here are just a few examples:
With an allergy to feathers, checking into a hotel with feather pillows, could and usually does present a problem – not on this trip, our guides personally checked our room before we arrived to make sure the “no feathers” request had been granted.
A bus ride for a 7 yr old can get real boring – not when the guide whips out her personal Nintendo DS to entertain the child
Loving Caesar Salad and not liking much else in the lettuce family can present a problem when it is not on the preset menu – not a problem for us – it just appeared on the table when ever salad was served.
In need of water, on a bus ride or in the heat of the day in Parks – it was always there.
Umbrellas that appear out of no where to shade us from the sun – sort of like Magic.

I probably could go on forever, but I won’t.

I believe the secret to the Magic that Adventure By Disney produces lies first and foremost in those that they employ as their Adventure Guides.
Anyone can stay in a 5 star hotel and be provided with great food and entertainment.
That is where other tour operators stop.
The adventure guides have a passion for what they do and it shows every moment of your trip. There is an exuberance that is never ending with them, even on the 13 th hour of a long hot day.
This is something I have never experienced in my 30 years of traveling. No cruise director, ship’s captain, or tour operator has ever made me feel the way I felt during our 6 days on this adventure.

When “its time to say goodbye” at your farewell dinner, and your guides are the first to grab the tissues .You know then how real your journey has been and how cherished the memories will always be.

Finally- to Quinn and Robyn ( our adventure guides) our lives are truly a little brighter because of the 6 days we spent with you.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Quinn and Robyn at Disneyland.....Question of the day is what is the word of the day ."Attraction" is the correct answer and you may not proceed into the park. This group learned quick
The Parade - what a view from our priority viewing section

Lunch with a ho yo ho A pirate's life for me

Sleeping Beauty's Castle

This is Disney Trivia like you have never seen it. The Host is Mat and he makes sure somebody wins

It is time for a little wine tasting..Robyn and Quinn seem to be ready

Strange and frail puppet outside Brian's Office

Brian Henson's office - previously his father's office

One of Walt's Trains

Riding on the railraod at Walt Train Barn at Griffith Park, LA

Walt Disney Studios - The legends courtyard

My favorite shot of the Partners, The Castle and an empty Disneyland Park.
It was so still , you could hear a mouse.

Prince Caspian and his horse marching in the parade

Robyn and Baloo enjoying a few berries at breakfast.

Robyn, Goofy and Quinn with the Paddle. It might be safer to leave it with Goofy.

Captain Hook and a Happy Disneyland first time visitor

Minnie with two of her Friends - Carole and Bill

Mickey Topiary - Disneyland Hotel

The June 3- 8 Backstage Magic Adventurers pose, for that final group shot with Mickey and Minnie.

The Boss arrives with Minnie to bid us farewell. So Cute in their adventure garb

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Day 5
June 7, 2008 (continued)

The Farewell Dinner

I have held off writing this because it will be the final installment of what we considered to be a trip of a lifetime. When this blog is complete, the Photopass Album arrives and
Stacia drawings are framed and up on the wall, it really will conclude the trip in my mind. I so desperately don’t want it to be over but like all good things, they do come to an end. The solution to feeling sad, PLAN ANOTHER ABD TRIP!!!!!!!!!!

The group met at the Hyperion Theater at 5:45pm and waited for Quinn and Robyn who appeared within 5 minutes and walked us to our Farewell Dinner location.
Stage 12 a backstage area used for private events. The tables were beautifully decorated, with clapboards and Oscar centerpieces and our final pins of the adventure. Dinner was a delicious buffet of steak, chicken, and pasta.

On one side of the room was Stacia. A Disney historian and artist who would draw for each of us , our favorite character. (Remember those tubes from our morning at the animation studio, well they are back, so we can take our drawing home)
As she drew each character she spoke of the character and what was near and dear to her
about each one she drew. We left that evening with Dumbo and Donald Duck.

While we eat dinner, Quinn and Robyn spoke about the highlights of the tour, both
had moments of being choked up as well as many of us in the room.
I did find it amazing that 21 strangers, (17 adults and 4 children) from all across the country came together as a family almost instantly. Everyone looked out for one another.
I do believe that it was the passion and true Disney magic that Quinn and Robyn possess that made this possible.
We each took turns telling about our most memorable moments during our adventure. Some of us cried and others laughed.
Here are just a few of those remembrances:
The Magic of Main Street with no one else there
The visit to Walt’s apartment
The Ride on the train at Walt’s Barn
The friends and memories that were made that will last a lifetime
The one grandmother in the group who took her 7 year old grandson on this
adventure by herself thanked all us for making sure she did not loose him during the adventure.

The next surprise, was the video slideshow of the photos, Quinn and Robyn took
during our adventure. There were no dry eyes left in house after that.
The final surprise was an appearance of the"boss" himself, Mickey and of course
Minnie dressed in adventure garb. There was an opportunity for many photos and
hugs from both.

Robyn and Quinn had arranged for a roped off section in the hub at the Disneyland Park
to view the fireworks. We had about an hour before meeting for the fireworks. Some went off to ride few more attractions while others just stayed and tried to savor the moments of the last 5 days.
The fireworks viewing area was spectacular. Much longer then fireworks I have seen at WDW and “tink” flys all over the place.

It was time to say goodnight and pack. Luggage would be picked up in the am and town cars would be there to take us all back to our next destinations tomorrow.

Day 6
June 8, 2008
Now it’s time to say goodbye
Word of the Day: Imagination

Breakfast was at the Storytellers café at our hotel and was at your leisure. We met Quinn and Robyn and our fellow adventures at breakfast to say goodbye and exchange emails. What would a breakfast be without a few characters? Today was no exception. Chip and Dale and Baloo to name a few where there to entertain us.

Some of the group was staying another day or two in the area, others were traveling elsewhere and many were ending their adventure today. For us it was on to San Francisco. Some how I knew it would not be the same in San Francisco with “The Paddle”.

Final Thoughts and a few more pics will follow

Friday, June 27, 2008

Day 5
June 7 , 2008
Behind the Orange Grove
Word of the Day: Forced Perspective

Today is another bright and sunny day in Southern California. Although the day holds much anticipation of things to come, it is also a sad day in some respects. Today is our last full day on this adventure of a life time. So long in the planning this adventure has been and now it is nearly over. It seems like only yesterday we boarded a plane for LAX.

Our first stop of the day was Goofy’s Kitchen at the Disneyland Hotel. Another wonderful character buffet breakfast with delicious food and endless interactions with the characters. We also celebrated the birthdays of two of the members of our group. They each received special birthday Mickey ears and a cupcake.
Following breakfast we walked back to the hotel and entered The California Adventure through the Grand Californian entrance and headed down to condor flats, home of Soarin over California before the parks official opening .
We were met by a cast member from the attraction who gave us a little introduction and showed us the crystals that are used for the orange scent. It was time for us to break up into the Minnie and Mickey groups and enter the attraction. The Mickey group went backstage while the Minnie group rode Soarin . Then the Mickey and Minnie groups switched and now we were backstage at Soarin, behind the huge screen where we got to watch our fellow adventures Soar over California. This was a great perspective for viewing the operation of this attraction.

We left Soarin and walked to the Hollywood section of the park and the animation building, where the rolling marquis read “Welcome Adventures By Disney”.
Here we had our Private Talk with Crush, which was totally cool dude and continued on to the animation studio where we all learned to draw Mickey Mouse. Robyn and Quinn had tubes for us to put our drawing in, which we would get later on that evening.

Leaving the animation studio, water was once again waiting for us.
According to our itinerary this should have been the last stop as a group until dinner that night. But there was another surprise in store. Quinn told the group to follow the paddle and we did. We walked through the park, and ended up looking at Mr. Potato Head. We were at the new Toy Story Mania attraction which was in cast member previews. Another Wow for our incredible adventure guide, Quinn. The group got to take a ride on the newest attraction, before it was open to the public and what a great attraction it was.

The group received their super fast passes for the day and had the option of priority seating for the Aladdin show around 11:30. The show was great and is one of the longer Disney Theme Park Live performances. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and I would say it is a not to be missed show.

The rest of the afternoon we were on our own to enjoy using those super fast passes in the parks.

We were to meet at 5:45 pm in front of the Hyperion Theater for our
Farewell dinner, the location was to be a surprise.

To be continued

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Photos from Backstage Magic June 2008

Welcome to Hollywood, a view from the room.
Robyn and Quinn greet us in Hollywood.

Donald' s Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame - Hollywood

The El Capitan Theater- Hollywood

A special puppet at Jim Henson's Studio

The Partner's Statue at Walt Disney Imagineering.

Wine Tasting at the Wine Cellar at Hooke's Pointe

The Paddle , works it way down a deserted main street.

Walt, Mickey and Sleeping Beauty's Castle before the park opened.

The Fairy Godmother grants Quinn a wish?
The Parade down Main Street- Disneyland Park

Robyn, Goofy and Quinn - breakfast at Goofy's Kitchen
Stacia disney artist and historian draws Dunbo at our Farewell Dinner.

Mickey, Minnie, and two incredible Adventure Guides- Quinn and Robyn at our
Farewell Dinner.

Day 4
June 6,2008
Walt’s World
Word of the Day : Attraction

Today’s wake up call was from Mickey telling us to “hurry up , there were so many things waiting for us today”….What a great way to wake up.
The group met Robyn and Quinn in the lobby and we headed out for a thrilling day at Disneyland Park, which began before the park opened to the public. Just imagine 2 guides and 19 adventurers and the park is all yours……all I can say is wow.
We began our walk down main street with one very proud member carrying that paddle.
This is a once in life time experience . Our first stop of the day was a private character breakfast at the Plaza Inn featuring Minnie and so many of her friends., Minnie greeted us at the front door and gave each of us a pin. The Fairy Godmother, Chip and Dale, Captain Hook, Pooh, Tigger, and Eeyore were all available for photos and autographs and it was so special to have all those characters to yourself. Breakfast was a delicious buffet

After breakfast it was time to move on to Sleeping Beauty’s Castle for a photo op.
while there were still no other guests in the park. Our adventure guides made sure to capture all those memories on their camera’s which we would see later during our adventure.
Next we headed to Adventure Land for a ride on the Jungle Cruise. There is nothing like entering an attraction through the exit as you follow that famous paddle and people just look at your group with amazement
We continued on to the “behind the scenes area” at Indiana Jones.. During our time behind the scenes we saw how the attraction operates and a few got to play with the controls that move and jerk the cars around. Through a side door and the group was lead past the line to the boarding area and on to the attraction.
We continued our day walking towards the backstage area of the park, and our first stop was the roundhouse, where the trains are kept. We spent time learning about the history and operation of the Disneyland trains, had another photo op and continued to the parade
warehouse where the floats for all the parade are kept. and then on to the area where the fireworks are loaded.
Our final stop before lunch was the Pope House and ranch. This was the house that Mr. Pope and his wife lived, the only occupants ever to live at Disneyland Park. He was responsible for the horses at Disneyland. We got to spend time with the horses and other animals at the ranch.
I think it would be appropriate to mention that today was a very hot and sunny day.
By the time we reached the roundhouse many of us were feeling the heat.,. Then like
magic, Quinn appeared with Umbrella ‘s to shade us from the sun and Robyn walked around with spiriting fans cooling us all off. And when we arrived at the Pope House, cold water was waiting for us. They simply think of everything.
Lunch was at Café Orleans and was like all our meals very good. Of course not before long, we were joined by a pirate who passed out pirate hats for the group and entertained us while we ate lunch and posed for photos.. Gold Coins of chocolate were passed out with dessert.
Our next stop of the day was obviously, Pirates of Caribbean and , of course we entered the attraction through a side door. No lines, no waiting, just follow the “paddle” and it will lead you to an amazing world.

Leaving Pirates we walked down main street and stopped at the firehouse. We were met by a cast member who would now take us to a place, where so few are ever allowed to go.
Walt’s apartment above the firehouse. This was one of those very, very special moments.
As we all climb the stairs at the back of the firehouse, you could just feel the anticipation
and excitement of the group. It was for many a highlight of the day.. There we were standing in the very small apartment that Walt and Lillian shared A very special hurricane lamp sits on a table in front of window and always remains lit. This allows all
cast members and guest who see the light, to realize that Walt’s spirit remains at Disneyland. We were all given a special pin, that resembles the lamp. Our guides made sure to capture this moment since our camera were not allowed.

After leaving Walt’s apartment we headed to the train station for a private and very special ride on the Lille Belle, parlor car.

The group had the option of priority seating for the afternoon parade , above the crowds at the train station. There is nothing like having a section roped off for your group with unobstructed views of the parade.
The group received their super fast passes before parade and some members of the group opted to brave the heat after the parade and use those fastpasses on a few more attractions. I opted to return to an air conditioned hotel room .
Dinner tonight was on your own, some grabbed at bite in the park or the hotel, and there were those diehards that just skipped dinner and rode space mountain a few dozen times.
After dinner, the group had an option of viewing Fantasmic and the fireworks from a private viewing area . Robyn met us at a designated location in the park, guided us through the crowds with the Paddle, provided us with snacks and the best viewing area I have ever had.

It was an amazing day with two incredible adventure guides in Walt’s World. Full of special moments and memories that many us will cherish for a lifetime.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

June 5, 2008
Day 3 Part 2

Now its time to shop at Mickey’s of Glendale…..this is a Disney fan’s paradise. From clothing to pins, to collectables and artwork it is all there.
The 40 % off coupon on one item makes it even more delightful.
It is a large store and we only had 30 minutes. For those of us old enough to remember , I felt like I was on supermarket sweep and had very little time to fill up my shopping cart. We left with many treasured items including pin sets and they have some beautiful ones, a few statues and assorted other

Next we loaded our coach again, for a short trip to the Disney Studios.
We had lunch at the commissary , which is large and has numerous food stations, both hot and cold and had about 20 minutes to shop in their store. This was also an employee store, but after Mickey’s of Glendale
there was really nothing of interest to most of us.
We began our walking tour of the studios. The sites included the famous, dopey drive sign , pluto’s corner at the fire hydrant and the hand prints across from the animation building. We toured the animation hall which had numerous cell and prints of classic Disney animation. Next stop was the Disney Legends Plaza which is home to the partners statue, the statue of Roy and Minnie and all the legends hand prints. This was a great photo op with the seven dwarfs in the backdrop holding up the roof of the administration building. From there we went into the back lot area , which was exactly that…a working backlot of a movie studio. We stoped briefly in another building which has Walt’s multiplane camera on display and for those not on a bathroom break we got to peek into the Disney archives.
We boarded our coach for our trip to Disneyland our home for the next 3 days.

We arrive at the Grand Californian Hotel and one of the front desk managers boarded the bus to tell us about checking in and the resort.
Check in was simple , we followed the manager to a separate area, He called out our names and handed us a folder with room keys, park tickets, maps and other resort information and then we were off to our rooms., after Quinn had given us our time and location to meet later that evening. Our luggage arrived in less then 20 minutes.
There was only about an hour or so between the time we checked in and
our next event, so most of us , just unpacked and changed for dinner.

The group assembled in the lobby of the hotel at 5pm and were greeted by the Hotel ambassador, who gave us our pin for the day.
Now we were off to the Wine Cellar at Hooke’s Point for a private wine tasting before dinner.
Carlos the host of the wine cellar, gave us a little history on the wine cellar.
Originally used by Walt for entertaining his guest. It was a lovely start to a great evening. The group snacked on appetizers and wine while the sounds of a guitar played in the background.
Next we went upstairs to Hooke’s Point for dinner, where we had a choice of Chicken or Salmon. , both were reported to be very good. Key Lime pie was served for dessert and ice cream for the kids and kids at heart.

Now it was time for our first trip to Disneyland Park…..we entered the park following the famous Paddle and went directly to the Haunted Mansion, where we met with our butler who took us into a side door , for our private
experience in the stretching room and then on to our doombuggies. This was great….no lines, no waiting. After the Haunted Mansion Quinn walked us into New Orleans square, gave us some Disney history and pointed out
some of the designs in the buildings. The next stop was well all I can say
was one of a millions dreams. Quinn had arranged for a special treat for the group, but made us promise not to blog or write about it…and we agreed.
This was Grad night and the park was closing at 9pm, since it would over run from 11pm till 6am with noisy highschool grads.
It had been a day of thrills and memories, but it was time to call it a night.
The group followed the paddle through downtown Disney back to the hotel
for a goodnight sleep.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

June 5, 2008
Day 3 -Making the Magic
Word of the day - WED Enterprises
Part One

Our day began with our luggage pick up at 7am for transfer to the Disneyland
Grand Californian Hotel. Breakfast was at the Hotel's Twist restaurant and was a buffet served from 7 - 8:15 am.

At 8:15 we all met in the lobby and boarded our coach for the part of the trip that many had been anticipating...our visit to Walt Disney Imagineering.
We given ID Badges that we had to wear at Imaginerring and the Disney Studios.
This place is so off limits to the rest of the world, that as we approached the turn off, Robyn had to make a call on her cell to announce our arrival and our guide Dave for the tour at Imaginerring met us at the entrance to the building.
If you were driving down the street where imagineering is, you'd drive right past it. It looks like any ordinary set of buildings except the address markers
resemble cast member name badges.
As with other stops on our adventure cameras were off limits and left on the bus. However our guides, were allowed to take pictures in areas we were not.
Dave, who is a writer on the Imagineering team walked us through a long corridor of offices to a room where a video presentation was to be given. The offices we walked by didn't look like any office I have every worked in or seen.
There was pixie dust all over, things hanging off the ceilings , toys and miniatures of everything Disney imaginable. I thought what a cool place this would be to work at, oh yeah the dress code..not ties...jeans and any kinda shirt they pulled out of the closet that morning. Well back to the tour & video.
It educated us on what imagineers do, they do every . Think of almost an discipline that could be involved in a new attraction and over the course of time they all will be involved in some respect. Dave spoke about being an Imagineer
and all things WED Enterprises is involved in.
At the end of the video a small side curtain in the room was pulled back and
there stood before our big ,very big eyes Lucky the Dinosaur. The newest in audioanimatronics. He had just return from a visit in NYC ,so we were so fortunate to have an private audience with Lucky. He moves , he walks, interacts with guests, makes moaning sounds and even signs his name with a pen drawing a 4 leaf clover.
We were all allowed a few minutes with Lucky and had photo's taken with him.
After Lucky, and what really could follow him, we went to the sound room
which featured a new sound technology . We sat in this room and had head sets placed on and then the lights were turned off, and it was black in the room.
We listened to some great sounds like paper crumbling over our head, doors opening and closing, a buzz haircut in process. The sound is recorded in such way that you think you are listening in 3 D. The haircut you felt it was so close that it was your hair being cut.
Great experience in new sound technology.
Next we moved on to room where the premolds or maquettes are kept. The room was lined with tall glass enclosed cases with hundreds of maquettes. Everyone was able to find the premold for their favorite character.
In the center of the room secure to pillars were the original Snow White and the 7 dwarfs that once sat in snow whites grotto at disneyland. These were carved from marble. Years of exposure to the elements began to show erosion , so
duplicates were made from a different material that could weather the test of time better then the original marble pieces. The duplicates now sit in snow white's grotto. We also got a lesson in forced perspective, since Snow White was casted the same size as the dwarfs this technique was applied when she was placed in the grotto. She appears larger then the dwarfs, but she is not.
The next stop was a performance by an audioanimatronic who had been named Joe Cocker, by his imagineer. He was just wires and plastic but sang a complete version of "Feelin Alright". When leaving Joe we walked down the hallways with contained sketches on the wall and Dave said...this is a great place to can write all over the walls.
Dave led us into a courtyard and on other the side was "Mickey's of Glendale" the employee only imagineer shop....We had been given a 40% off coupon for one item.....we have 30 minutes to shop ....................
to be continued

June 4,2008

Day 2 - Lights, Camera, Adventure!

Word of the day: Hollywood

The day began at 7:50 am as the group met Robyn on the mezzanine of the Hotel and she guided us with the use of the famous paddle to our first stop of the day. As short walk to the Disney Soda Fountain and Studio Tour were we

had a private breakfast before the store opened. I did find it truly amazing the things that Disney was able to open specifically for this group.
Breakfast was a choice menu of "mickey waffles, scrambled eggs, or oatmeal
along with fresh fruit, bacon, sausage, juices, yogurt, bagels and beverages.

It was very neat to have the store and soda fountain all to ourselves.
There is some great flip clip artwork and stain glass ceiling panels in the store.
The store also sells limited edition "Disney Soda Fountain Pins" as well as other
Disney merchandise.

As we were leaving the store through theside door all the servers and staff lined up and wished us a magical day as we entered the El Capitan Theater.

Our guide for this part of our tour of the El Capitan was Ed, who was part of the team the undertook the restoration of this beautiful theater.
The lobby of the theater was decorated with props used in Narnia - Prince Caspian and you felt like you were on a movie set , not a movie theater.

We began our tour on the balcony , as Ed put it, so you can see the grandeur of this amazing theater. The artwork in the ceiling, walls and entrance hall in this massive theater was breathtaking.

As we walked down the stairs, a Wurlitzer Organ was playing " Hooray for Hollywood" This Organ was restored and one of only a few left for that gone by era. The organist showed how the different sounds are made and how this one organ can sound like an entire symphony. ( picture above)
The curtains were pulled and we entered the backstage area, saw the inner workings of the theater and then went on to an area used for private functions that housed many other props and costumes from Narnia- Prince Caspian.

It was time for us to move on to our next stop of the day, Jimmy Kimmel Live at the Hollywood Masonic Temple.

Two members of the crew along with Uncle Frank greeted us at the door and we began our tour which included a short clip of Jimmy Kimmel highlights, the sound room, the make rooms, the production center, and the green room, which is not green and no one knew where the term came from.
The green room had a complete bar, pool table, video games, plush couches and guitar signed by many of Jimmy's guests.
The next stop was the studio where the show is taped. This is where we had
many photos taken with Uncle Frank while we sat at Jimmy's Desk.
Uncle Frank is really Jimmy's uncle and he just loves to talk.
Uncle Frank pointed out his dressing room, which he said was a janitor's closet.
Our final stop on this tour was an area outside and behind the building where the live bands perform. This area is directly next to Hollywood High , which could be seen from the parking lot.

Now it was time to board our coach, for a short trip to the Jim Henson Studios.
This was also no ordinary bus. Our coach was complete with plush seats, overhead compartments, a bathroom and audio and video.
Our driver John, very familiar to Hollywood, pointed out famous sites and landmarks as he drove us to our next stop.

We knew we had reached our destination when the coach pulled up in front of a gated building with very large Kermit the Frog on top.
This group of buildings was once home to Charlie Chaplin Studio and on one of the doors is a painting of Charlie. This was one of the many areas throughout our six days that no camera's were permitted in certain areas.
As we entered the courtyard there was a sign" Welcome Adventures by Disney".
We broke up into two groups - Mickey with Quinn and Robyn with Minnie as we toured the different areas of Jim Henson's Studio.
We began our tour with a short film on the Henson history, next on to the creature shop where we learned about and some got to make the puppets work , had a demonstration from one of the master puppeteers on the new technology
being used in "Sid the Science Kid". Next stop was the sound studio, where we got to watch , what I would call the rehearsals for the taping of a new episode.
I never knew how much went into making an animated film or TV show. The final stop before lunch was the office the is now Brian Henson's , formerly used by his father, Jim. We were allowed to take photos of this area , since no one was there.

Lunch ( which we had preselected on our arrival day) was in the courtyard at Jim Henson's. Towards the end of lunch a puppet who the group named ,came out and spent time entertaining us and taking individual photos.
The final part of our tour was a short movie that had been designed for the Adventure by Disney groups and had Brian Henson as one of the voices.

Now it was time for the famous group shot in front of the Jim Henson sign with someone holding the Adventure By Disney Paddle.
Group shots became a regular event throughout our adventure. I still can hear
Quinn's voice saying" if you can't see me , then I can't see you and your not in the picture. "

As we left Jim Henson's Studio and boarded our coach a cooler filled with bottled water was waiting for us.
According to the printed itinerary this should have been our last stop of the day,
but there was another surprise in store for us. We were going to Griffith Park
the home of the Carolwood Pacific Railroad Historical Society and Walt's
Barn, which houses many of Walt's train memorabilia and many of his original pieces.

Walt's barn and the memorabilia were incredible. To think that many of the items were used by Walt , was, as one person put it "simply spiritual ".

The group got to ride the train 3 times and the adults were having as much fun, if not more then the 4 kids on the tour."

Robyn and Quinn had a picnic area set up with coolers of bottled water and snacks.

Roger Broggie , son of Michael Broggie, founder the Carolwood Pacific Historical Society along with his wife Sharon were on hand to tell the stories of Walt and his railroad, as well as sell limited edition merchandise and yes they do take credit cards. This was one of many shopping expenditures.
The trip to Griffith Park and the Barn was for many an experience of a lifetime.

This is not part of the printed itinerary because the opening of the Barn and the
train ride is completely dependent on the volunteers.
We boarded our coach for our trip back to Hollywood.

Jimmy Kimmel Live offered the group tickets to the live show that evening for those interested. Many of us chose the other option of going back to the El Capitan for a showing of Narnia- Prince Caspian.

Following the movie, a few of us went to dinner at the California Pizza Kitchen,
strolled around the walk of fame and called it a night after wonderful time in Hollywood.

Sunday, June 15, 2008


Caution: This blog contains spoilers, if you do not wish to know some of the surprises or magic involved with this trip please do not read any further.

June 3, 2008
The word for the day is Mickey Mouse

The day began with a 4am wake up call from our phila. hotel to get us up and moving in time for our 6:55am flight to LA. Since the excitement had been building for weeks , I don't think either of us slept very excited , too much anticipation of what the next week would hold.United Airlines was on time and the flight was relatively smooth. A little over 5 hours and I am now in California. Lax is a large and confusing airport, I would opt for the other airport for this trip if possible. We made our way to baggage claim and there was the man holding the sign I was waiting to see "ADVENTURES BY DISNEY" with our names underneath, how exciting. He introduced himself as John and said he would be our driver to Hollywood and would handle our luggage. Off we went outside the terminal to our Town Car that was waiting, when a woman came running up behind us and said " Hi, I'm Robyn, one of your adventure guides and we are so excited to have you on this adventure. John will take care of your luggage and take you to the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel, where Quinn your other adventure guide is waiting. After a short ride in our town car we arrived at the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel and there waiting inside was Quinn, with a bigger then life smile on his face and few welcoming words.
He gave us our story book ( which is the detailed itinerary for the week)
handed us our room keys,( no checking in at the front desk , it was all taken care of by Quinn) instructed the bellman to take our luggage upstairs and reminded us that all gratuities for bellman, driver, housekeepers are all ready included. We asked for directions to the Kodak theater and the Disney soda fountain & studio shoppe ...he gave us our directions which was to walk to the corner, turn left and we'd be there
Reminded us to met the group at 4:00 pm on the mezzanine of the Hotel for our welcome reception.
We were escorted upstairs to a lovely and well appointed room.
One the desk we a few gifts from adventures by Disney. Mouse ears luggage tags,
cooldanas, H2O lip balm, H2O mist, portable fan, Adventure by Disney pens, folding duffel bag, which comes in handy later in the week and a Disney Rubik cube.

We unpacked the one bag for Hollywood quickly and headed out to see Hollywood. We had a quick lunch at the Disney Soda Fountain and Studio shoppe, the food was very good , browsed the merchandise and then headed to the Kodak theater (home of the Oscars) for a 45 min. tour. We found the tour to be interesting and the areas we were shown included the backstage areas, dressing rooms, wall of fame, and the private VIP lounge . At the end of the tour the give you a commemorative postcard that can not be purchased.

Tip: If you are interested in this tour...go to the Kodak theater web site and print a coupon for discount on the admission.

After our tour of the Kodak theater we walked down to Grumman's theater, took photos of many of the old time stars hand and foot prints and then strolled back towards our hotel looking for famous stars on the Hollywood walk of fame.
We found Donald Duck, Snow White, Roy O. Disney and many many more.

It was nearing 4pm , so we hurried back to our room to change for the welcome reception and dinner.
A t 4pm we met at Twist Restaurant in the hotel for cocktails, soda and snacks and what I would call a met and greet session.
The entire group, all 19 of us and our 2 guides Quinn and Robyn who we fast grew to love mingled snacked and drank.
We were given a questionnaire that we had to go around the room and ask the other adventures questions, many Disney related. We had about 10 minutes for this and then Quinn ( our MC) reviewed the answer with the group.
I must say it is a nice way to meet and introduce yourself to others.
Following a few more minutes we headed thru the hotel to the Hollywood & Highland center for our first dinner as a group at Trastevere Restaurant.

Dinner began with antipasto and salad served family style and of course wine.
Entree orders were taken and there was choice of chicken, veal, salmon or pasta.
While we waited for dinner we played the craziest game of Disney Trivia.
The MC had many of us laughing so hard , tears we're falling down our faces.
While everyone was eating Robyn and Quinn moved around to all the tables and chatted with everyone. Dessert which was Tiramisu or cheesecake was served and shortly thereafter most people left for a good night's sleep
But not before Quinn's nightly reminder of where and when we were to meet in the morning. This became a ritual , as well as the theme for the day, and the word of the day, which you will see as the days go on.

Tip: If feasible come in a day or two earlier if traveling from the east coast,
it will help with the time change exhaustion and there is plenty to do in the area
before the tour actually starts.

Summary: It was a great start to a wonderful vacation. We felt like once we were in Disney's hands, well more specifically the hands of Robyn and Quinn we
were well cared for and the only thing we had to do was have one of the best vacations of a lifetime.