We had an early start this day and it was going to be a long day. We would be moving hotels today so we had to have our bags packed and ready by 7 am. A great feature of Adventures by Disney is how your luggage is handled. We had luggage tags that had our names of them. We had to leave our bags inside our hotel room ready to go with those tags attached. When we were at breakfast, the guides asked us how many bags were left to be transported. They pick up your bags, transport them to the next hotel and deliver them to your room at the new hotel. It was excellent. A big perk to Adventures to Disney!
We had breakfast (buffet again at Preston’s) and then met for the bus at 8:15. This morning we were going to Disney Imagineering and Walt Disney Studios. Both locations are not open to the general public. We were not allowed to take any photos in Imagineering. We were allowed photos in most, but not all areas of the Studios.
At Imagineering, we were met by 2 Imagineers. I don’t want to give away too much about what we saw there. It is a tour that is apparently always changing as they are always working on different things. I had read that previous tours got a sneak peek of new attractions coming to Walt Disney World or Disneyland. We didn’t experience that. There was actually a large area inside that was completely walled off. The Imagineer that gave us the tour said it is so top secret that even he doesn’t know what is in there. He knows the concept (and wasn’t sharing) but not what the specific attraction will be. It was really cool to be in the building where attractions are created and designed.
As we came out of that building, we walked across the campus to Mickey’s of Glendale which is basically a Disney store for employees. We were given time to shop there. Many items were things you can find in the Disney store or at the parks but the big draw were apparel and other items that said “Walt Disney Imagineering” because that is the only place you can purchase items like that. I managed not to go crazy though and just got a sweatshirt.
We were then back on the bus and headed to Walt Disney Studios. Our first stop there was lunch / shopping. There was another store which was more like a regular Disney store and the commissary where all the employees eat. We were given a voucher for our lunch and then had about an hour to get lunch and go shopping. The commissary was very good and had a wide variety of hot foods that were made fresh. Our voucher got us a main dish, side dish, dessert and beverage. I had a meatball calzone with a bag of chips, a brownie and a water. It was all very good and filling.
After we were all gathered again, our guides gave us a tour of the Studios. Walking on the grounds alone was very cool. Especially after seeing Saving Mr. Banks. Not only did the movie depict events that actually occurred on that lot, but many scenes of the movie were actually shot there so it was fun to see. We got to walk around Legends Plaza where there are plaques honoring all those people who have received a Disney Legends award. We went briefly into the Disney Archives area where we were able to look at some of the displays and do something really cool (SURPRISE ALERT). We got to hold an actual Oscar that was won by Disney (it was for a nature documentary)!! I was very excited about that!!
When we were finished it was time to head to Disneyland!! It was about a 90 minute drive. But of course, Adventures by Disney wanted to make it as pleasant as possible. So they passed around snacks and water and we watched a movie for the drive. They also recommended trying to take a nap because it was going to be a long night! Normally the trip would involve dinner at Disneyland and then we would have been free for the evening. But this was the night we were going to the Halloween party so we had a lot more activities to go!
We arrived at the Grand Californian and again experienced the advantage of traveling with ABD. As we stepped off the bus, the guides handed us a folder with all of our room information and our keys and we were off. No dealing with luggage, no waiting online to check in. We went right up to our room and our luggage arrived within 10 minutes.
We had about an hour to get settled and then we had to meet downstairs for dinner. We would be eating at the Storyteller’s Café in the Grand Californian. There was a bit of confusion with the staff of the restaurant when we arrived. This location was a change from the original itinerary due to the Halloween party. At first they had the wrong number of people and then the restaurant staff said that we were all to have the buffet while our guides insisted that we were supposed to be able to order from the menus. In the end, it was the buffet, which was fine with me and everyone seemed agreeable to that as well. I was actually happy because the Storyteller’s Café makes the BEST corn chowder. I knew it was on the buffet and it was as good as I remembered!
We all enjoyed dinner and then gathered outside of the restaurant for the walk over to Disneyland. We lined up as a group with one guide at the front and one in the back. Summer, at the front, told the cast member that we were the group from Adventures by Disney and they just started putting wristbands on us and we were in! Our guides said they would help anyone that needed direction but other than that we were free to go and just needed to meet up for the parade at 8:30.
I have never been to the Halloween party at Walt Disney World (though I have done the Christmas party). I thought the energy of the party was amazing. There were so many people in full costumes, children, adults and whole families. There was Halloween music playing all down Main Street and I loved the decorations. (Planning note: if you had never been to Disneyland before, I think starting with the Halloween party would be very overwhelming. I was at least a little familiar, but it is dark and there are so many people that I had to use a map a few times to figure out where we were going).
A few other notes about the Halloween party: They were checking for wristbands a lot. Much more than I saw at the Christmas party in WDW. Also, the lines for the character greeting were not bad at all, except for the stormtroopers. And though the party ended at 11, it seemed that a lot of the characters were gone by 10. There may have been a schedule in the map but I didn’t pay much attention.
We headed into Tomorrowland and took advantage of short wait times to do Star Tours and Buzz Lightyear. We also did some trick or treating. There were trails set up which were basically a line that would go around to 4-5 different treat stations. There would be a cast member at each station that would put a few pieces of candy in your bag (everyone gets a bag when you enter the park). There were also apple slices and baby carrots in bags if you wanted a healthy choice. The lines weren’t that long for the treat lines but there was a bit of a wait. Honestly, I couldn’t understand why because you get the candy in your bag and move along… but it wasn’t too bad and we ended up doing 2-3 of the trails and came back with a good amount of candy.
Reserved seating for the parade is the way to go! Jason and Summer Rose were in a roped off section with benches for seating. We arrived at around 8:25, had a seat and the parade started. There were two rows of benches and we were one of the last few of our group to arrive so we were in the back row. But it was still a great view and totally beats sitting on the curb for 2+ hours staking out your spot.
The parade was cute though I thought it was a little short. It maybe lasted 15-20 minutes. When it was over, our guides said the Disney folks were going to turn the benches towards the castle and we should come back around 9:25 for the fireworks. It really wasn’t much time to do anything so we just took a restroom break and then headed back. Again we were in a roped off area with benches. It was great. I really enjoyed the special Halloween fireworks. They used projections on the castle and had Zero, Jack Skellington’s dog, flying around similar to Tinkerbell at Walt Disney World.
It was going on a 14 hour day at that point but it wasn’t over yet!! The party ended at 11 pm and our guides told us where to meet them at 11 for a special option activity. Of course, we couldn’t miss that! So we rode Space Mountain, which had a special “Ghost Galaxy” overlay for Halloween, and had a snack and met up with our group at 11.
Sorry, once again, this activity was a surprise and I’m not going to spoil it. But it was very cool and when it was over (around 11:30) we were walking through a “closed” park. Yes, the party ended at 11 and where we were it was empty. But as we were headed down Main Street there were still quite a few people in the park. And even though it had closed over 30 minutes ago, no one seemed in a rush to leave. There were still families taking photos in front of the decorations and just taking their time. Someone asked the guides how long it takes to completely empty the park at closing and she said “a while.”
So our day that started at 7 am, finally came to a close at midnight. It was time to go to bed because the next morning we would be opening up Disneyland at 8 am!
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I have been a huge Disney and travel fan since childhood. I love going to new places and, of course, heading to Disney as often as I can.