Hello! I am Middlebrow and I am your new Disneyland Resort Reporter for WDWNT. Going forward, you and I are going to try and keep up with all of the changes at the Resort as we head into the busy holiday season and the exciting Diamond Celebration next year.
You can also bet that we will take some West Coast detours that might include The Walt Disney Family Museum in The Presideo of San Francisco, next summer’s D23 Expo, The Walt Disney Studios, Walt Disney’s Carolwood Barn in Griffith Park and the environs of what I might call “Walt Disney’s Los Angeles.”
Today let’s take a spin through Disney California Adventure.
As DCA cruises into the tail of its second summer since its massive re-making, it is interesting to see a bit of a maturation process kicking in.
California Adventure is no longer the “first click” king like it was when it had that “new Cars smell.” Most Resort Guests again choose to begin their day at the original Magic Kingdom, but DCA is pulling its weight and distributing guests evenly around the resort.
Radiator Springs Racers fast passes now “count,” whereas before, when the ride was new, that “appointment” did not prevent one from getting another FastPass while the other one was outstanding. Now it counts.
Guests really seem to warm up to Buena Vista Street, responding to a chance to visit a nascent Los Angeles, albeit manufactured. In this way it is the counter part to Main Street at the time of Disneyland’s opening – a visit to a less complicated, more benign time. Grandpa’s time.
As part of the maturation, DCA resently got its first Guided Tour. I have had the pleasure of taking the “Disney California Story Guided Tour” at DCA and I will touch on some of the things that were discussed and places we visited. Keep in mind, this is only a small selection of the tons of great information offered.
The tour starts at the Park’s equivalent of Disneyland’s City Hall – The Chamber of Commerce, next to Oswald’s Filling Station – in a V.I.P. lounge where meet your guide and are outfitted with audio equipment that helps tell the story as you go.
The tour then heads down Buena Vista taking in the sights while the Tour Guide explains many of the references to Walt Disney’s career and his move to California.
The above photos are: a tribute to Ub Iwerks, Walt’s early Master Animator who later in his career invented several “Special Processes” that made Disney film magic, the Nine Old Men (a nickname that refers to the FDR Supreme Court) who were the Directing Animators, and at bottom an amalgam of the addresses of the Hyperion and Burbank studios.
Along the way, your guide will share interesting stories involving everything from architectural signage to shop window displays. One that comes to mind is the Big Rock Candy Mountain display in the window of Trolley Treats. My excellent Tour Guide told the story of a ride concept gone awry. Certainly a true story. In my mind though, being a life-long Angeleno I thought of the legendary Pacific Electric Red Car trip to Mount Lowe. I think the designer certainly had both in mind.
The next stop is a tour highlight. A visit to the exclusive Member Lounge 1901, just off the entrance to the Carthay Circle Restaurant. No photos are allowed in the lounge so a word picture will have to suffice.
I think of 1901 as a sort of an alternate universe version of the Tam O’ Shanter Restaurant that sill exists today in the Atwater Village section of Los Angeles. The “Tam” was the hangout of Walt and the boys when the studio was nearby. It was also considered to be the un-official studio commissary.
Bar stools in 1901 sport the names Walt, Lilly, Roy, and Edna. Caricatures of the Ol’ Moustro and other animators give it a lived in and living atmosphere, while mis-matched chairs evoke the ever expanding and casual atmosphere of the early Los Angeles studio. One really feels that Walt Disney casts a shadow over the space.
The whole tour is excellent. Guides bring up well known and not so familiar stories of Walt’s life in California that everyone can enjoy. You also get priority boarding on a couple of rides and a nice lunch. The Disney California Story Tour only runs in the morning so Tour Guests can access 1901. So make plans accordingly.
Next time we will go to Disneyland Park.
See ‘ya real soon!