On a recent trip to Disneyland Resort, we decided that we would take one of the guided tours offered by the Resort. The tour that interested us was the Disney California Story Tour.
The tour is offered daily beginning at 10:00 am. It is described as “Discover the story behind icons, attractions and landmarks as you experience California, much like Walt once did! Set within Disney California Adventure Park, this trip back in time begins by giving you an intimate look into the members-only 1901 Lounge, before moving on to 3 of the park’s most timeless, innovative and interactive attractions. And as the tour reaches its conclusion, you’re invited to top off your experience with a delicious lunch on Buena Vista Street—specially created just for tour participants!”
We met at the Chamber of Commerce building inside Disney California Adventure Park and were taken to a lounge area inside the building while we waited for the starting time of our tour. We were given pins with our names on them, water and coffee were offered and we were also given menus to choose our lunch from.
Lunch options were: Roast Beef Sandwich, Turkey Sandwich, Apple Cheddar Salad or Turkey, Apple Cheddar Salad. For the kids, the option was an Uncrustable Sandwich. We also could select a cookie or brownie for dessert and a bottled soda or water.
We were given headsets so that we could not only hear our guide better but we would also hear clips from Walt and other Disney executives.
We started our tour at the top of Buena Vista Street where we learned about some of the names that appear on the buildings of Buena Vista Street. The Five and Dime is named after one of the cities that Walt and Lillian lived in. Kingswell Camera Shop is named after the first street that Walt Lived on in Los Angeles and also the first location of the Disney Brothers Studio.
Then we walked further down Buena Vista Street where we entered Club 1901 at the Carthay Circle Restaurant. This is the lounge that is for members of Disney’s exclusive Club 33. We were not allowed to photograph inside the lounge but we allowed inside and spent quite a bit of time looking at the many photographs of Walt Disney throughout his time once he moved to Los Angeles. There are also specific chairs for Walt, Lillian, Roy and Edna Disney. We even got to see the shadow of Walt Disney walk through the lounge.
Our next stop was to learn the history of Condor Flats. This section of the park is designed to look like Edwards Air Force Base. The base has many condors that live there and so this land got it’s name. We learned about the design of Soarin’ Over California and then got to go on the attraction.
Next we walked to the Grizzly Peak section of the park and learned more hidden references in the park. For example, Grizzly Peak’s posted elevation is the address of the second Disney Bros movie studio. Also the devotion Walt had to nature and his work with the Mineral King resort prior to his death.
Then on to Paradise Pier. This area of the park has many ties to the history of Animation at the Disney Company with attractions like the Silly Symphony Swings taking its inspiration from The Band Concert, Goofy’s Sky School taking its inspiration from Goofy Cartoons in the 50s and the Pixar attraction Toy Story Midway Mania.
Out next stop was at Cars Land. We stopped at the entrance to the attraction and learned about the history of how this land came to be at Disney California Adventure. We also learned about the details built into the land. For example, in the movie we find that every third light on the traffic light is out of sync. Guess what, that is the case in Cars Land as well. Then it was time to ride Radiator Springs Racers and get a chance to see the detail in that attraction.
After riding Radiator Springs Racers, we walked to Bugs Land where we talked about forced perspective and how it is used in this area of the park as well as the history of Bugs Life, the movie this section of the park was designed after.
Then we walked past the Hollywood Tower Hotel and into the Animation Building where we got a front row seat at the Animation Academy and learned to draw Steamboat Mickey. We learned that each Red Car Trolley has a unique number. 717 and 623. One represents the opening day of Disneyland and the other represents Walt’s arrival into Los Angeles.
Our next stop on the tour was at the Carthay Circle Restaurant Lobby. As we walked toward the restaurant, we learned about the night that Snow White had its world premier at the theater. When we were inside the lobby of the restaurant, our guide showed us the details that went into the design of the restaurant and then we got to hear, in Walt’s words, his feelings from the night of the premier.
Our guide took us outside to the Storytellers statue to wrap up the narration of the tour and then it was on to the Fiddler, Fifer and Practical Cafe where our lunch was waiting for us at reserved tables. While we were at lunch, we were given a pin as a reminder of the tour.
We really enjoyed the tour. We thought that it was worth the money we spent and feel like we learned a little more about Walt Disney, the man and the company as well as Disney California Adventure.
The tour is currently $109 per person (as of October 2014) with an Annual Pass, DVC or Disney Visa discount available. The Magic for Less Travel Agents would love to help you plan your vacation to Disneyland.
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