Backstage Magic – Hollywood, Walt Disney Studios and The Disneyland Resort

Posted:  Disneyland Resort Trip Reports

An Adventures by Disney vacation is an expertly planned, guided vacation to some of the most intriguing and beloved destinations around the world. The service is extraordinary and the accommodations are among the best each area has to offer. All the trips offer the authenticity of experiencing the destination with Disney’s magical touches and surprises incorporated.

Each adventure has its own unique character that appeals to different people. Some of the trips focus on the outdoors, with whitewater rafting, horseback riding and hiking being some of the optional activities. Other trips explore highlights of cities, with historical tours, theater and gourmet meals. Depending on the destination, trips range from 6 to 14 days in length. Visit Adventures by Disney for more information on all the tours.

Cathy and David recently took one of the tours offered by Adventures by Disney – a fantastic Southern Californian tour. The 6 day/5 night trip gave them an insiders look at Hollywood, Walt Disney Studios and The Disneyland Resort. Here’s Cathy’s day-by-day account of their Backstage Magic trip.

Day 1

D1 hollywood sign

On our first day we arrived at the airport and were met by a driver holding a sign with our name on it. He got our luggage and took us to the hotel in the heart of Hollywood. There we were met by Jason, the Adventures by Disney (ABD) guide outside the Loews Hollywood Hotel. With big smiles he took us inside and gave us gifts, which were a duffle bag and two water canisters with the Adventures by Disney logo. There we met Summer-Rose other ABD guide. We had a welcome dinner with everyone on the tour where we introduced ourselves to everyone and learned where they were all from. After dinner we were treated to Madame Tussauds Wax Museum. It was pretty fun to see the people and the sets of their most famous roles and performances.

D1 tussauds D1 Hollywood night lights

Day 2

D2 chinese theater front

Our second day started very early with breakfast. We then took a walk to the Chinese Theatre. On the way we saw them filming a movie with Kevin James and Wayne Brady. It was very exciting. We went into the theater for a tour with Levi, our guide, showing us around. He talked about the original costumes and the original art work in the theatre starting with the day it was built. The renovation was documented and we got to watch it on the new IMAX screen. We loved seeing how they did everything.

D2 chinese theater lobby D2 chinese theater

After that we took the bus to the Jim Henson studio. We were shown how they work the hand and digital puppets.

D2 kermit on roofD2 HENSON sign D2 puppet up D2 lg puppet face

Lunch was at Walt’s favorite restaurant, Tam O’Shanter. It’s one of the oldest restaurants in Los Angeles. They told us that table 33 was Walt’s table, which is still there today.

D2 the Tam sign D2 The Tam Pic D2 Tam room with backpacks D2 inside Tam

Then we got to go to his barn were he tinkered with his trains and his ideas. It was cool to imagine him there back in those days, working and bringing his dreams to life.

D2 red barn

Day 3

D3 Imagineering studio

We left Hollywood and proceeded to Disney’s Imagineering studios. We were able to see the mold of Johnny Depp’s head, which is created by a laser and a 3d printer. We also were able to see Lucky the Dinosaur. He was at Animal Kingdom in 2003. We learned about the advancement of animatronics by the Disney architects, designers, engineers, technicians and about how they developed interactive video like Turtle Talk with Crush.

D3 walt and mickey D3 model train D3 model monorail D3 mickey floor

From there we went off to Walt Disney’s studios. We had lunch at the commissary, which was actually very good. They had a great selection of fresh foods. We went through the Disney archives and saw Walt’s passport and reading glasses. There were many different items like books, Oscars, pictures and a lot of memorabilia. They were taping the show The Voice. I am pretty sure I saw Adam Levine from behind which was pretty exciting! Unfortunately it was a closed set and we were not able to see the taping.

D3 Disney studios D3 Disney studios plaqueD3 Disney archives

Then, onto the bus and off to Disneyland. We arrived at the Grand Californian Hotel, got our room keys and checked out the room, which was very nicely furnished and decorated with rich woods and deep colors. We had dinner as a group at Big Thunder Ranch Barbecue. We had barbecued chicken, ribs, sausage, corn bread, beans and coleslaw. It reminded me of the Whispering Canyon Café at the Wilderness Lodge in Walt Disney World. This was outdoors and we had dinner entertainment with a cowboy and a cowgirl playing and singing. After dinner we went on a couple of rides, and then we called it a night to get ready for a long day tomorrow.

Day 4

Our tour started off at 7 am today. We were able to get into Disneyland with no one else in the park. The pictures that we were able to get were fantastic as it was only us and employees. They whisked us off to breakfast at the Plaza Inn with Minnie, Chip and Dale, Captain Hook, Tigger, Winnie the Pooh and Eyeore.

D3 DL entry D3 DL main street D3 DL walt and castle D3 DL castleD3 DL Tigger

After breakfast we went on a backstage magic tour. We saw Walt’s apartment, which I wish I could share some pictures from, however photography wasn’t allowed. It was wonderful. You were transformed back to the days he spent there with his wife, children and grandchildren. The original furniture, pictures and glassware were all still there. It was very special and heartwarming to hear how much he loved his family, how they always came first in his life. The park was about family and not becoming rich. It brought several tears to the eyes.

Then we were taken to see the Dreamsuite. All I can say is WOW! Again, I can’t share pictures but I can talk about how special it is. It has two bedrooms, a sitting area, patio, two bathrooms and a dressing room. The one bathroom was refitted for a roll-in shower. The main bedroom was themed as Adventureland. It had different shades of green with a four poster bed covered over with soft green netting. The second bedroom was themed as Frontierland. Model trains ran along a shelf built close to the ceiling, with models of horses and cows and little villages. The horses heads would move as the train went by. It was spectacular! The rest of the afternoon was spent riding rides.

Tonight we received a special treat. It was tickets to Mickey’s Halloween Party – lots of fun and candy. You do have the option to receive healthy snacks if you please, but who wants that?

D4 Halloween parade D4 hal Parade pumpkins D4 hal parade mickey D4 hal parade 2

Day 5

We started with breakfast, then were on our way to California Adventure. We went behind the scenes of Soarin’. It was amazing. I didn’t ride it and was instead able to go to the control tower to see how it is operated. Everyone is on camera. They are watching for any medical emergency and making sure everyone is safe in their seats. It was amazing to see the seats go up and move during the movie.

D5 cal adventure

Next we went off to Carthay Circle restaurant. It’s a replica of the original theater where Snow White premiered. Since Club 33 has reopened the membership, they have built another place in the same building. It has a separate door and of course is very discreet. It is called 1901. It is a lounge where you can get a drink or two and relax. After that we were off to Cars Land. It is very cool and the backstage very cool also. The ride is a blast.

D5 cars ride

Sadly, the end of the trip has come. Our last dinner together was in California Adventure at an outdoor restaurant called Wine Country Trattoria. They followed this by taking us off to World of Color. It was a spectacular show.

D5 CA Adventure night lights

The tour ended in the morning with a Chip ‘n Dale Character Breakfast at Storyteller’s Café in our hotel. All in all, this was a wonderful trip. We met a lot of great people and made new friends. The tour is, without a doubt, full of special moments. When you’re finished with this tour you really understand Walt the person and what his dream really was. Goodbye Walt, and thanks.

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