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Was that real? There are incredible moments in travel when you just have to pinch yourself, and Adventures by Disney’s Disneyland Resort and Southern California Short Escape excursion is filled with them. It may only consist of four days and three nights, but the schedule is bursting with behind-the-scenes visits to not only Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, but also to The Walt Disney Studios, Walt Disney Archives and Walt Disney Imagineering.
The itinerary can be reserved as a self-contained vacation or as a pre-voyage option for Disney Cruise Line sailings out of San Diego. Packages are available on select dates in the fall of 2018 and spring of 2019, bookending the Disney Wonder’s Alaska seasons.
Making the Adventures lead-in all that more special are accommodations at Disney’s Grand Californian. The newly remodeled premium property is unquestionably posh with craftsman architecture softened by cozy furnishings and a touch of whimsy. Keep an eye out for playful nods to Chip and Dale. Modern luxuries extend to plenty of USB charging outlets and showers with a welcome corner seat.
A pair of expert Adventure Guides serve as private concierges during the trip and ensure all your clients’ needs are taken care of. In fact, transportation to and from the airport or cruise terminal is included as are rides to other locations during the half week. Just about the only thing they need to take care of are meals beyond the complimentary two breakfasts, one lunch and two dinners.
A number of those dining opportunities as well as preferred viewing of evening shows occur within the two resort gates, so the trip also includes a four-day park hopper ticket.
The first stop is the famed Walt Disney Studios. This is where the company produces most of its animated and live-action films and where Tom Hanks captured the essence of Walt himself in the movie “Saving Mr. Banks.”
It’s also home to the Walt Disney Archives and its most cherished relics. Imagine gazing upon props from the “Tron” franchise, theme park treasures and perhaps an iconic surprise — of which Adventures is known. All of this is before dining at the commissary and shopping at the studio store.
Mind you Disney is not one of the film studios to ordinarily offer tours, and Walt Disney Imagineering does not open its doors to the general public. Such chances might be rarely available to members of the D23 fan club individually but not collectively except via Adventures.
Meanwhile, the best way to describe Imagineering — which comes with its own coveted shopping opportunity, soon dubbed by our group “shopportunity” — is like a real-life Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. This is where Disney crafts all its dreams into reality for theme parks around the world: shoreside and at sea.
The highlights here can vary — we were privileged to get demonstrations of spectacular on-ride sound mixing in a room with a staggering 400 channels, read speakers, as well as the Digital Immersive Showroom, also known as “The DISH,” which virtually simulates projects with 360-degree, 3D projections. In laymen’s terms — at least nerdy laymen’s terms — it’s the holodeck from Star Trek realized.
Another wow moment came when we got a peek at detailed models for the new “Frozen” expansion coming to Hong Kong Disneyland. We saw the area’s attractions as well as one of the vehicles used on the ride — plus hilariously, Maria von Trapp from The Sound of Music atop the mountain. The hills were alive, for scale that is.
Featured on the final day are behind-the-scenes glimpses into Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, where without giving away any specifics, let’s just say clients will learn the technical secrets of the resort’s most advanced attractions.
Bringing it all home is visiting Walt’s apartment in Disneyland. Sitting above the fire station on Main Street USA is a reminder of the visionary’s continued presence — courtesy of an always-lit lamp in the center window.
The best part of this Adventures by Disney trip, though, is its value. When you consider the cost of accommodations, a park-hopper ticket and meals, not to mention all the exclusive experiences, a starting price of $2,239 per adult seems reasonable. It’s no wonder why guests frequently repeat this one.
The DetailsAdventures by Disneywww.adventuresbydisney.com