After a long day and a late night, we were up and ready to meet the group at 8 am. We met in the lobby of the Grand Californian and then walked all together over to Disneyland. Once again, our guides led the way and we were escorted right into the park which didn’t open until 9 am. There were already people lining up waiting to get in and we overheard some comments questioning why we were allowed to go in… the perks of Adventure by Disney!
We took a group photo in front of the station and then walked down an empty Main Street. The guides were encouraging us to run, skip, and do whatever we wanted because when do you have Disneyland to yourself! It was also a great chance to get some photos without a single person in the picture…when does that ever happen!!
After some photo ops with our individual families and as a group, we were taken over to the Plaza Inn for breakfast. The breakfast there is a buffet and character dining. Again, we had a reserved section and were free to help ourselves to whatever we would like from the buffet. The characters that visited us were Minnie, Captain Hook, Tigger, Chip and Dale.
After breakfast, it was time to begin our backstage tour of Disneyland. We divided again into our two smaller groups for this part of the tour. And once again, I don’t want to give anything away and I would think that some of the attractions change anyway from time to time. Basically, we got to ride one of the attractions and then we were able to go backstage and see how that attraction worked. We got to see a ride vehicle and ask any questions about the ride and how it operates. It was really interesting. We also got to get right on a few attractions with no wait using the power of Adventures by Disney!
Also included in this part of the tour was a visit to Walt’s actual apartment above the firehouse on Main Street. (We were not allowed to take photos. The guides took one photo of each family in the apartment.) It was really incredible to be up there where Walt and Lillian Disney and their family used to stay. It was very small and nothing fancy but what is cooler than living inside of Disneyland! There were photos on the walls and a lot of stories were told about his time there. He loved to watch the guests in the park and you could really see how he could watch without calling attention to himself, from the window of the apartment and from patio connected towards the back of the apartment. There is lamp in the window that used to be lit to signal that Walt was in the apartment. It stays lit all the time now as a symbol that Walt’s presence is always in the park.
From there, we all came back together for instructions on the rest of the day. It was around 2 pm and we would now have the afternoon and evening free with the exception of meeting back together at 7 pm for the non-Halloween Disneyland parade. We were each given a $20 food voucher that could be used in Disneyland or Disney’s California Adventure or any of the Downtown Disney or resort food locations. They also gave us our park ticket, which was a 4 Day Park Hopper. And they gave us each 5 “super Fastpasses.” These Fastpasses could be used for any attraction in either park (except Radiator Springs Racers) at any time. Cool!!
** A note about the park hopper ticket. Now, I knew we would get a 4 day park hopper. And I knew that Chris and I would be staying for a 5th day. I asked prior to the trip if I could upgrade to a 5 day park hopper by paying the difference and I was told ‘no.’ So we had to purchase a single day ticket for our extra day at $100 each (and it wasn’t a park hopper because that would have been another $50 each). Because this trip included the Halloween party and we were escorted through the gates, we only used the ticket for 3 days. So there was really a day left on the ticket…. but it had an expiration date of the last day of the ABD trip so we still weren’t able to use it and had to pay for the single day. Out of the whole trip, that was the only thing that bothered me. Many people in our group added at least a day to the trip to spend time in the parks. Why not let us be able to upgrade the tickets? **
So we were off on our own in Disneyland! Several people in our group chose to go back to the hotel to rest / nap. But not us! We were out to use those Fastpasses and make the most of our time in the park. The Fastpasses were only good for that day so we looked on the map and located all the attractions that took Fastpass. We weren’t happy to find that none of the Fantasyland rides take Fastpass (unlike Walt Disney World) so those would have to wait. We also found that some of the attractions that took Fastpass (like Autopia) had a 5-10 minute wait so we didn’t want to waste them there.
After riding everything we wanted to, we ended up going on Indiana Jones 3 times in a row! It is a really cool ride and parts of it are different each time. And you get a really different experience depending on where you sit in the vehicle. We found that the front row had a milder ride while the back row really experienced a lot of movement. We still had enough Fastpasses to go for a 4th time, but we decided we would rather pay it forward to someone else. There was at least a 30- 40 minute stand by wait most of the time, so we stood at the stand by entrance and waited until we saw a party of 2 and then handed our Fastpasses off to them.
We used one of our food vouchers to share a counter service meal at the Hungry Bear Restaurant in Critter Country. I had a fried green tomato sandwich and Chris had an order of onion rings. And before we met up for the parade, we stopped at Starbucks to get a coffee and a cookie to have during the parade.
The set up for the parade was the same as during the Halloween party. There were 2 rows of benches reserved just for us and our guides were there. We were early this time so we got a seat in the front row. The benches were a little pushed back from the curb this time and we had several people not from our group that came to sit in front of us. Our guides would come over and tell them that the area is reserved. We actually felt bad because there really was room there but one of the guides explained they used to allow that if the group was ok with it, but then it led to problems so they keep a completely reserved area. They told us that we weren’t to say anything to the other guests and they would take care of it… and they did.
The parade was cute. I’m not really a big parade person but I liked seeing everything without people in my way and this one lasted longer than the Halloween parade. When it was over, the guides gave us a time to meet for breakfast and again we were on our own.
We were going to call it a night but then decided to see how long the wait was for Haunted Mansion. It was 25 minutes (and doesn’t accept Fastpasses during the holiday season) so we decided to go ahead. The line moved along and we enjoyed the ride again.
Then we really decided to call it a night. We made our way into Downtown Disney and I stopped in the World of Disney megastore while Chris continued on to the room. I picked up a few items and then went back to the room myself. There were treats waiting for us! There were 2 Mickey shaped rice krispie treats with chocolate dipped ears and a carafe of milk from Adventures by Disney. There was also a framed photo of one of our group shots from the day before and an envelope with 3 photos of Chris and me from that day. Another great surprise and perk from Adventures by Disney!
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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.