We begin this day with a meet in the lobby then head out for Disneyland Park for our Character breakfast at the Plaza Inn located at the end of Main Street. Some of the best memories I have our since we are the first group on this trip, Quinn or Diana hold up an Adventures by Disney sign as we walk around and we get the best stares as we head into the park before anyone else or just walk around. I love that. We head into Disneyland and no one else is there and we are a group of 36 walking down Main Street And no one else is there! Have a said that! Wow, it is so cool! We go to Plaza Inn and have an elaborate breakfast with lots of goodies and are inundated with many, many characters. Again, our group is off in the Bird cage room along until just before we leave. We get pictures with Chip/ Dale, Fairy Godmother, etc etc. Jim from ABD Operations has been with us on this whole trip now too and has a funny encounter with the Fairy Godmother. He really is wonderful and has been a great extra added member.
From breakfast we head to our first backstage experience at Indiana Jones. We actually are given the chance to see how the Jeeps really are moved around on the chassis which has hydraulics and moves much more than I thought. Matt, the 15yr old young man in our group is given the chance to use the joystick which moves the jeep around.
From Indy we head to the Big Thunder Ranch area and are greeted by Cortney who tells us the history of Walt’s love of horses and how at one time they had horses and animals throughout the park itself, even Indians riding on horses on Tom Sawyer Island etc. This building also displays the many ribbons awarded to the horses all over California. So not only do they work here, they are also shown at County fairs etc for competition. We are given the opportunity to go in and feed the goats there are here in the petting area. They also have donkeys and a cow here. We get to walk through the park and then enter backstage to see where the Steam engines and Monorails are kept and Ed and Vern our hosts tell us more about the history of Walt and his love of trains and how these engines came to be in Disneyland. We walk through from here over to the Circle D ranch area to see the small house in site which was once the real home of the Dolly and Owen Pope. The Pope’s are the only people who ever lived at Disneyland and actually took care of the ranch which at one time had 220 horses etc. Cortney tells us how now the horses only work 2 hours / day and have 1 week off per month. They are allowed to work 5 years in total and then are sold. We get to see where all the other animals from the park live. The day is very hot and we are given time to rest here and get water too. Then we head back on stage for our lunch.
We head to New Orleans Square and CafÃƒÂ© Orleans and get to try Gumbo, Monte Cristo Sandwiches, salads and have Beignet’s for dessert. All of us are given Mardi Gras beads as we enter (yes, no one else has them) and have the pleasure of having TK the Pirate as entertainment for our lunch. He tries to recruit Nate in to becoming a pirate but Nate holds out. Nice lunch in a great location. After eating we are taken into the exit of Pirates of the Caribbean ride. All of fit into two boats and you can hear the group all singing away. Again, the bonding, the funÃ¢â‚¬Â¦
Our next two events are magical on their own since again they are never done except for rare times or VIPs. We break into 3 groups now for Mickey, Minnie and Goofy (sorry Jim). The Mickey group is escorted by a Tour Guide into Walt’s Apartment. The amazing thing here is she gives us a little history and tells us no one really ever gets to see this. The dÃƒÂ©cor is Victorian with heavy pink, white and dark burgundy’s. The original grilled cheese maker is here along with glass baby bottles the Disney’s used for their grandkids. The bathroom is retro pink tile with a 4 headed shower stall. The carpet look brand new and there is an old Victorian phone with an actual working number and yes I wrote it down. Then there is the lamp that has been lit since Walt died and this sits in the window overlooking Main Street. There are only about 4 people who are allowed to change the 120v bulb when it burns out and our Tour Guide is one of them. We then get another Magical moment surprise which again brings several to tears and are allowed to take a group photo in the Apartment. It’s amazing to know Walt actually sat here at times and looked out of this window onto his park.
Just when you think you cannot take any more surprises we are given real train ticket that the conductor punches *spoiler alert* and get to ride in the Lilly Belle! This coach car has been refurbished to the original state and is decorated in Victorian again, much like the apartment with antiques and inlayed wood, brass roof ornaments and special low lighting. A conductor always rides with the coach when there are guests inside. Our conductor also relays the history of the train more and the things you see on the train like the Grand Canyon scenes etc. We all get to sign the guest book too which is so neat and not very full until we get here. We end back on Main Street just before its time for the Parade of Dreams. Most of our group takes the VIP tickets the ABD group is given for viewing of the parade up on top of the Train station in rows of bench seats. Fabulous location. Beci and I opt not to do this and spend the afternoon on our own.
We meet up with the group later for a special viewing of Fantasmic. We are given a roped off area right in the front of Orleans cafÃƒÂ©, dead center. This is a great location and a great show. Much better here than in Florida in my opinion. And we also get to see the fireworks from here. After both shows our small group (now adding Brad, Scott and Tracey to our Power Group) decide to head off for more rides. We are given 5 fast passes for any rides for the night. We head to Jungle Cruise (not boat!) and get a very funny host then from there walk over to Space Mountain. We decided to do a good deed and each give one fast pass away to guests in the standby line…Gave us a warm fuzzy before heading into Space Mountain. In the ride I must have been oxygen deprived because I could not stop laughing and it starts to catch and I think we just begin to get giddy from lack of sleep and over stimulation. ("what do you mean I can’t use a fast pass in the water line, I thought these were good for any line?") and (Fast passes from heaven, ahhh….you had to be there). We end the night by riding Buzz Lightyear
fore heading home for the night. Really the best time and with great friends.