Adventures by Disney - Backstage Magic - Now It's Time to Say Goodbye
Our last breakfast was at Storyteller's Cafe at the Grand Californian, but it seemed a bit lonesome since not everyone was there. Some of our tour family had very early flights and were already gone; others had much later flights and were sleeping in on their last day. But for those of us there, it was a bittersweet time.
I can't say enough nice things about everyone in our group. We had all sorts of personalities and a wide variety of ages and interests, but everyone just meshed together perfectly. If any of you happen to be reading this blog, thank you for the pleasure of your company and thank you for helping make this trip so memorable.
Gary and I left the Grand Californian in grand style, a shiny black town car to take us back to LAX and our totally uneventful trip home.
If you've followed along this far, you've probably done so because you might be considering this or another Adventures by Disney trip.
I cannot begin to tell you how first-class the Adventures are. Prior to booking, when we looked at the cost of the trip, it was definitely in the "pricey" range. After having actually been on the Adventure, I know why. Everything was absolutely top notch and that is the "signature" of all the Adventures.
We were met at (and returned to) the airport in a private town car. Our meals were wonderful. The accommodations couldn't have been any better. The Hollywood Renaissance Hotel where we spent the first two nights was connected directly to the Hollywood & Highlands center and the Kodak Theater (where the Oscars are presented). Perfect location; perfect tours.
There was not one little item that our guides Quinn and Julie did not think of and take care of for us. Thirsty? Here's a bottle of water. Hungry? Here's a snack. Too hot in the sun? Here's an umbrella to use.
Second, if you are a pin collector, the trips are the only way you can get pins specific to your trip. We received one pin each day. I'm assuming it's probably the same on all the trips.
Overall, our Adventure exceeded every expectation I had for a "tour." I did virtually no planning and just went with the flow.
A number of attractions at the park were under refurbishment. Since this is probably the only trip I'll make to California for a long time, I was disappointed not to be able to see the Haunted Mansion, Fantasmic, The Main Street Electrical Parade, Small World and the Aladdin show. If you take the tour at another time, you probably will not experience as many closures. But, as I said, that was a bit of a disappointment. I wish I had known beforehand; I might have booked for a different date.
A minor disappointment was with the "backstage" part. I loved everything we did; I just wanted to do more. When I took the day-long Backstage Magic tour at WDW, we went into costuming, the paint shop, the carpentry shop, some of the storage facilities, computer central for the MK parade, etc. I was expecting this same sort of backstage experience, but it wasn't there.
I asked our guides about this and they pointed out reasons why those types of experiences were not included. First (and probably foremost), the upper management at the California parks has a different philosophy about "backstage" than does the management at the Florida parks. They are more protective of the "magic" and are less willing to share how the magic is made; they do not want to spoil it for the guest.
Second, Adventures by Disney tours are designed for families with children as young as 5. (They do not design a special tour when it's adults only.) At WDW, you must be 16 to go on the Backstage Magic tour ...so, sights (like rows of Mickey Mouse heads) that might be interesting for teens and adults would be totally inappropriate for smaller children.
There is also a safety factor, especially when children are in a group as well as a "space constraint" factor. Disneyland does not have the luxury of space that the Florida resort area has. We had 24 on our tour and often had to split into two groups. (Some tours have as many as 40.)
Even with the rehabs and less of the "backstage" than I would have liked, this Adventure was wonderful and worth every penny. Could you go to California and see the parks for less money? Absolutely! Could you have the same experiences? Absolutely no way!!
Would this trip be right for you? Maybe yes, maybe no. Think about what you want to get out of your trip. If you want to go and spend maximum time in the two parks, ride every ride, see everything there is to see, then, no, it's probably not for you unless you add on a day or two more to your trip. Yes, you can see a lot, but there's no way to see it all in the amount of free time you have.
Do you like Disney history and learning about the company philosophy passed down by Walt Disney himself and how it shapes the parks today? If so, this trip will be a dream come true. On the other hand, if you could care less about the history, then skip the Adventure and just go visit the parks.
Do you like a good bit of structure to your trips? Your Adventure is VERY structured for most of the time. Yes, you do have some free time on your own, but often it's just a couple of hours. You do have to be up early for breakfast and morning activities. You do need to meet with the group on time for various elements of the tour. You do walk a LOT, but it's a "comfortable" trip. Sneakers and casual clothes are appropriate most all the time.
So back to that earlier question, is this trip right for you and your family? Only YOU can make that determination, but I give the Adventure an A+ and I give our Adventure guides Quinn and Julie and A++ for their knowledge, their willingness to share, their hard work and their wonderful, warm and welcoming personalities.
If you have specific questions, you can e-mail me at ggkons at gmail dot com and I will try to answer as quickly as I can.