Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Day 7 - Our Last Full Day at the Resort

Friday, October 22, 2004

In spite of having a full and exciting day planned today, there was a bit of sadness as realized that today was our last full day at the Resort. Tomorrow afternoon we would have to begin the long journey home.

We headed over to Disneyland at a little after 8:00 AM and arrived at the main entrance gate with plenty of time to spare before the Walk in Walt’s Footsteps Tour began. We were to meet outside the entrance gates near the newsstand. After a quick trip to the restroom, we sat down to wait for our tour guide and the rest of the group to arrive. Shortly before 8:45 AM, a cart was wheeled out and we wandered over to check in with the Cast Member. She took our tickets and asked us what we wanted for lunch. We looked over the menu and both chose the croissant sandwich. As we waited for the rest of the group to check in, we chatted with a couple of the tour guides. We were surprised to find that one of guides was “Gracie” from our Mysteries, Myths and Legends Tour. His real name is Jamal and his personality was completely different from the dark and mysterious “Gracie” character he portrayed on the other tour.

Our main tour guide was named Melinda. She was the absolute nicest person we had met so far. We began our tour at Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, which also includes a short film about Walt Disney as well as an exact replica of his office at the Disney Studios in Burbank. After his death, the contents of the office were moved to Disneyland and setup in the lobby of the theater. Melinda shared many interesting facts about Walt and his family. One of the most endearing bits of trivia involved his wife Lillian. They first met and fell in love while she worked for him at the studio. On their wedding night she presented him with a box containing every paycheck she ever earned while working for him. She never cashed a single paycheck. Now that’s true love.

Next we headed down Main Street, where Melinda stopped periodically to tell us stories about some of the dedication windows. These windows were Walt’s way of honoring people who were important to him and who helped him realized his dream.

Our first ride of the tour was the Jungle Cruise. When we reached the entrance, we were met by the four tour guides we had mingled with at the start of the tour. We were ushered through the exit, bypassing the large line, helped aboard our own private boat, and treated to a special tour. We felt like VIP’s as we cruised past the line of people waiting to board the ride. Each of the tour guides took turns telling us some little know facts about the Jungle Cruise. For example, Walt’s grandchildren used to sneak into the ride through the back entrance located behind the Fire Station on Main Street and jump out and scare the passengers on the boats as they passed by. The Cast Members would have to radio over to Walt asking him to come and remove his grandkids from the ride.

We also rode the train to Tomorrowland, again boarding through the exit so we didn’t have to wait in line. Jason sat between me and Melinda and took this opportunity to ask her about the locations of some of the hidden Mickeys. She also confirmed that the Country Bear Jamboree mouse heads were hidden in the ride that is now Winnie the Pooh. We were anxious to ride that ride to see them for ourselves.

One of the more interesting parts of the tour was a visit to the lobby of Club 33. Club 33 is a very exclusive private club located in New Orleans Square, right next to the Blue Bayou Restaurant. The entrance is very discreet and unassuming, marked only by a brass plate bearing the number 33. There is currently a five year waiting list to join and the dues are extremely high. We were allowed to visit the lobby which contained an elegant antique elevator and a staircase leading to the restaurant located upstairs. Jason and I each had our pictures taken inside the elevator. The club actually has a separate address from the rest of Disneyland because it is the only place where alcohol is served and Walt didn’t want the regular Disneyland address to be used for alcohol deliveries.

Our tour ended at the Golden Horseshoe where we were led upstairs to the balcony and seated in reserved seating overlooking the saloon. At each place was the lunch order we had placed in the morning, along with Walt’s favorite dessert, cheesecake. Also at each place was a white envelope with our name written on the outside. Inside was a 8 x 10 black and white photo of Walt Disney and an exclusive “Walk in Walt’s Footsteps Tour” commemorative pin. I was seated next to Melinda and she shared with me and Jason some facts about the Golden Horseshoe, including the location of Walt’s private box that is rumoured to be haunted. As we ate our lunch, we enjoyed watching the hilarious Billy Hill and the Hillbillies show. After the show ended, we said goodbye to Melinda, thanking her for a great tour. She in turn hugged both of us. In fact, we were the only two she hugged. As soon as the tour ended, we headed right over to City Hall to write out a Cast Member compliment card.

By now we were both exhausted from the events of the morning, so we decided to head back to Hojo’s for a rest. A couple of hours later, rested and refreshed, we headed back to the Park. This time we went to DCA to ride the Tower of Terror one more time. This time we knew we wouldn’t be forced to ride it twice. Although we knew what to expect, we were both still really nervous and the ride was still very intense. But we both enjoyed it.

Next we headed over to ride Soarin’ Over California. The line was really long and we knew we wouldn’t be able to make the Fastpass return time, so we were debating whether or not to ride it. It would probably be our last time to ride it this trip. Then we noticed a single rider entrance and decided to give it a try. We went right to the front of the line and waited just a few minutes until they determined if there were any single empty seats available. Fortunately, we both were able to ride at the same time, even though we were seated at opposite ends of the theater.

After riding Soarin’, we knew that we had to ride Winnie the Pooh one more time to see if we could spot the moose heads from Country Bear Jamboree. We made the long trek over to Critter Country. For those familiar with the Park, Critter Country is the land that is the absolute farthest away from anything else. There is no shortcut. We arrived at the ride only to discover that is was broken down and no one knew when it would be up and running again. So, we decided to ride Pirates to see if we could spot some hidden Mickey’s. When we arrived at Pirates, it too was closed. Just our luck! Since we still had a couple of Fastpasses for Splash Mountain, we headed back to Critter Country to ride Splash.

For dinner this evening, we had priority seating reservations at the Wine Country Trattoria Restaurant in DCA. Our reservation was for 7:50 PM, timed to coincide with the Electrical Parade scheduled for 8:00 PM. We arrived early in hopes of getting a table next to the wall overlooking the parade route. Unfortunately, we were not able to get the table we wanted. Instead, we were seated at the next row of tables in from the wall. We found that DLR generally caters to groups with children, so if you want to get any really good seating, you’ll need to bring some children along.

In spite of the disappointing seating, dinner was very good. We both ordered the Lasagna and it arrived promptly and was quite delicious. When the parade began, we stood up and were able to see the parade go by. When the dinner and parade were excellent, the service was not. Even though we requested refills on our beverages, they never arrived.

When the parade ended, it was time for DCA to close. We decided to sneak over to the Tower of Terror to try to take some pictures of it in the dark. The Hollywood Backlot area of DCA was totally deserted and it felt strange to be there when no one else was, especially with the creepy looking Tower of Terror Hotel looming over us. We quickly took some pictures, which didn’t turn out all that well and then went back over to Disneyland.

We headed back to Critter Country and found that Winnie the Pooh had opened up again. We rode it and saw the moose heads as well as a hidden Mickey among the drops of honey painted on the wall near the end of the ride.

Next stop was Pirates, which was still closed, then over to the Mercantile for some souvenier shopping. By this time it was getting late and we were both tired. The park opened early tomorrow and we wanted to get here at the rope drop in order to ride the Fantasyland rides one more time. We decided to get a cookie and a mug of HoCho in a souvenier travel mug at the Blue Ribbon Bakery and take it back to the room.

When it’s our turn at the Blue Ribbon Bakery, lo and behold who should wait on us but Jason’s arch-nemesis, Kathleen. Of course, she doesn’t realize she’s Jason’s arch-nemesis. Kathleen is the Cast Member who assisted us on our first day at the Park when we had sandwiches and cookies for lunch. Apparently, she wasn’t quite as friendly as we expected a Cast Member at the DLR to be so she earned the dubious honor of being Jason’s arch-nemesis. However, this time she was really friendly and called us by name, thus totally redeeming herself.

We took our cookies and HoCho back to HoJo’s and watched some TV before turning in for the night. The park opens at 8:00 AM the next morning and we wanted to be there bright and early.


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