Hey all! Back in January my wife and I took a great trip to Disneyland and CA Adventure. We were there for the Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend and we ran the 10k. While we were there we got to experience all the great rides, food, and even a couple of tours. We took the free Carthay Circle Restaurant tour at Disney California Adventure so make sure to check that out and share it if you haven’t already. We were also fortunate enough to be able to take the Walking in Walt’s Disneyland Footsteps tour. This tour follows the life of Walt Disney as it relates to Disneyland and many of the attractions at the park. It is not free, but completely worth the cost!
Our tour guide Cassie was fantastic! She was clearly experienced and knowledgeable on this subject but also had a gift of being well spoken which brought weight and emotion to the tour. We began our tour by gathering near the Main Street train station. Here we all got our name tags and out headsets for listening to our guide and sound clips. Cassie then described what the tour would entail and then she led us to our first stop in front of the Disneyland Fire Dept. building.
As many know Walt built an apartment in the room above the building. The reason being that in the early days of the park there wasn’t much in the area and Walt’s home was nearly an hour away. It was much more convenient for Walt to have somewhere to stay. Whenever he was in the park Walt would turn on the lamp in the window to let everyone know the boss was in. As a tribute to Walt and how his influence is lasting the lamp stays on all day every day.
We were then led down Main Street U.S.A. while listening to the dedication speech and other opening day audio as we made our way to the next stop.Cassie paused in the middle of the so called “hub” where the “Partners” statue of Walt holding Mickey Mouse’s hand.
The hub is the middle of the wheel spokes design that branches off into each land of the park. This hub and spokes design was created in conjunction with the idea of “weenies”. A term coined by Disney Imagineering it is the idea of drawing people into different areas of the parks by having “visual magnets”. Sleeping Beauty’s castle pulls people down Main Street, Space Mountain pulls people into Tomorrowland and so forth. We follow Cassie from the middle of the hub and through the castle into Fantasyland while listening to an interview with Walt describing why he built Disneyland. Sitting on a bench in the park watching his daughter’s play he had the idea of a place where both children and adults could have fun together.
We made our way through Fantasyland over to the Alice in Wonderland ride and got to get right on and ride through it. From here I will skip a little ahead to one of the most interesting parts of the tour.
We were allowed to go into the Dream Suite! For those who are not familiar with it, it is a suite of rooms above Pirates of the Caribbean near New Orleans Square. It is fairly exclusive as you can only stay there if you are given the chance by Disney. In fact Cassie believed that Sir Elton John stayed in the suite the previous evening when he recorded his portion of the Disneyland 60th Celebration program. We met the Dream Suite concierge and he let us in the gate to enter the suite. From here we got in an elevator to get to the second floor where you actually enter the suite.
We were not allowed to take pictures other than a few of us in the sitting room in front of the fire place so my descriptions will have to do and I want to apologize for that in advance. The entire suite was amazing with many touches added to the rooms that Walt would have loved. Each room had an element of magic in it. We walked down the entrance hallway which was lined with photos of the original designs by Dorothea Redmond. These original designs were the inspiration for the creation of the Dream Suite and Disney pay homage to this by placing them where everyone first enters the suite. From here we made our way to the outdoor seating area which was an intimate central courtyard. Two points of interest here: First the imagineers borrowed from Pirates of the Caribbean ride by incorporating the dancing fireflies into the decorations; second the painted the Disney family crest on the wall.
From here we moved on to the first bedroom which the Dream Suite concierge called exotic Victorian. It reminded me of a room a British aristocrat would have on safari in an exotic land. The walls were a powdery blue color with jungle themed art and there was a beautiful canopy bed. However, the most impressive element of this room was the “Kiss Goodnight”. This room like the others have a switch installed that works only 3 times after 6pm to make the room come alive with magic. In this room we pressed the button and the lights dimmed and the familiar soothing flute sounds of Jungle Book began and special lights came on showing leaves on the walls. Then the concierge called our attention to the painting at the head of the bed. The scene looked familiar and we were told it was the mermaid lagoon from Peter Pan but there was something missing. Then suddenly the mermaids appeared right on the painting and to the right on the same wall the Jolly Roger was projected as well. We then took turns looking at the adjoining bathroom which was very opulent with gold touches and even a grotto that the bath was in. Again a little bit of magic was incorporated and at the flick of a switch stars appeared in the purply-blue sky of the grottos ceiling including a hidden Mickey constellation!
I will end this first post here. Expect a part two soon to finish out our journey as we walked in Walt’s Disneyland footsteps. I hope you find something you enjoy here!