Disney Vacation Club member Rita Fetter recently participated in an Adventures by Disney tour offered exclusively to DVC members. Today she shares her trip report / commentary regarding the event with detail on the features added just for Vacation Club members.
I recently took the Adventures by Disney Backstage Magic Tour. The Backstage Magic Tour is part of the standard Adventures by Disney offerings for 2008, but this particular outing was billed as a special perk exclusively for Disney Vacation Club members. As DVC members we were given access to a number of locations and perks that are not part of the regular Backstage Magic Tour.
One of the special stops was at the Kodak Theater. This is where the Academy Awards are held every year. Photography is prohibited in the Kodak Theater. In fact, it was explained that the interviewing/filming of the winners "backstage" during the Oscars actually takes place at another nearby location. We were also told that most of the stars attending the Awards stay at the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel, located just around the corner, but they still arrive at the awards in a limo. The limo picks them up at the hotel, and drives around two corners and deposits them at the entrance of the Kodak Theater.
While at the threater we got to see where they were "blocking" (i.e. setting up) for an upcoming telethon for childhood cancer.
Another special, but not exclusive, event was a trip to Griffith Park in Los Angeles. Griffith Park is the home of the Carolwood Pacific Railroad--the railroad that Walt Disney originally had in his own backyard.
Only a few Backstage Magic groups have been scheduled for a trip to Griffith Park. As we approached the park we could see Griffith Observatory--which was featured in the Disney film The Rocketeer--on a nearby hillside. We got to meet Michael Broggie (son of Imagineer Roger Broggie), who was instrumental in renaming the Iron Spike Room at Disney's Villas at Wilderness Lodge to the Carolwood Pacific Room.
If you're ever in the Los Angeles area, the Carolwood Pacific Railroad is open to visitors on the third Sunday of the month, from 11am to 3pm. Parking and admission are free.
Our original schedule featured lunch at Walt Disney Studios but instead we were able to dine at Walt Disney Imagineering in Glendale. We were told by our tour guides, Robyn and Quinn, that we were the first Imagineering guests to see the planned layout for Carsland at Disney's California Adventure. Photography was not allowed within Imagineering, but our tour guides were permitted to take some pictures for us. Everyone got their picture taken with Lucky the Dinosaur.
Another exclusive stop was a visit to Prospect Studios, where Grey's Anatomy and General Hospital are filmed. We visited (and photographed) the Grey's Anatomy set, but General Hospital was filming so we didn't get to visit the set.
Next up on our schedule was Walt Disney Studios where we had an exclusive visit with Dave Smith at the Walt Disney Archives. Each family group (we were all groups of one or two people) received a signed copy of Dave Smith's book, Disney A to Z.
Then we were off to Disneyland Resort. Our first stop was at the DVC sales center to see what the Grand Californian Villas would look like. We had a welcome reception at the Grand Californian Hotel in one of the suites that overlooked the construction ocurring on the new wing. At the reception they had a scale model showing what the completed construction would look like.
Dinner at Disneyland Resort was scheduled for Hook's Pointe but they moved it to the ESPN Zone in Downtown Disney. While I would have preferred Hook's Pointe for ambiance, the food at ESPN Zone was very good.
Sadly, Disney's California Adventure closed at 6:00pm that day and Disneyland closed at 8:00pm. Our scheduled events, surprises, and dinner ran past 8pm so we did not have time to visit either of the parks on our first day.
The following day, we got a backstage peek at Disneyland's fireworks launching area. During our visit a Cast Member stopped by to chat and answer a few of our questions. They even did a test of the system for us. Robyn and Quinn later told us while this backstage visit is part of the normal tour, there usually is not anyone available to discuss the fireworks. Interesting bit of trivia: Disneyland uses an air launch system for its fireworks while Walt Disney World still uses the traditional powder launch system.
On Saturday our farewell dinner was scheduled for the Golden Vine Winery, but had to be moved to a backstage area. On a brighter note we did get to meet both Disneyland Ambassadors for 2008. I don't believe that is part of the standard tour.
A few days after returning from my trip I receive a survey from Adventures by Disney. The final survey question asked if I wanted to say anything that wasn't covered by the survey. I told them that I would like to see more DVC-exclusive tours with extras not in the regular tours. Time will tell whether or not they take this recommendation to heart.