Monday, September 14, 2015

"Walk in Walt's Disneyland Footsteps" Review

I have been fascinated for years in Walt Disney, his early beginnings, the creation of the Disney company and how he came up with the concept of Disneyland and its various attractions.  When we were planning our trip to Disneyland and found out there was a tour that I could do that would give me some extra insight on all of that, called “Walk in Walt’s Disneyland Footsteps”, I jumped on the chance to take it.

I was told to arrive 30 minutes before my tour at the Guided Tour building next to Main Street’s City Hall.  I checked in and they gave me a cool, personalized pin to wear labeled “Walk in Walt’s Disneyland Footsteps” and a menu to choose a meal that we would eat later.  I put my pin on my left shoulder, as instructed, and ordered a “Jolly Holiday “ salad, Flourless Chocolate Cake and a Coke.  A man named Phillip came out and gave each of us an earpiece to put on and told us to adjust the volume to make sure we would be able to hear him.  Then, around 10 minutes later, when everyone had arrived, he rounded us up and we began our walk.

We started towards the front of the Fire Station where he told us about Walt’s birth, the small town of Marceline and how he may have only lived there for 6 years, but it formed how he later wanted Main Street in Disneyland to be designed.  We got to hear in Walt’s own words what he thought about his boyhood town and how much he loved it there.  We also heard about where Walt’s apartment was and why he had an apartment in Disneyland during the construction of his new park.

Then, we walked down Main Street and stopped near the entrance to Sleeping Beauty’s castle.  We heard more in Walt’s words about the start of construction of the park.  We also heard the recording of Walt at the opening of Disneyland.  When I hear that speech he gave, I always get teary eyed!  Then, we walked to New Orleans Square, heard of the concept of Pirates of Caribbean and of the Square itself, both in the guide’s words and Walt’s.  He told us about how the Haunted Mansion came to be, what is was supposed to be like originally, how it ended up becoming the ride it is now and then we got to go to the head of the line to ride it!  I have to say I felt pretty important as we walked right past this huge line and jumped on Haunted Mansion.
  
After we got off, we met back up outside and learned about Walt’s love for steamboats and the concept of his Mark Twain Riverboat.  We also heard a little bit about his love for his wife, Lillie, and the “wonderful” gift he bought her that is still at Disneyland today.  (You have to do the tour to find out what that gift is!)  Our guide also pointed out where the famous “Club 33” is, why it exists & why the now Dream Suite is where it is.  We also learned that there is a private Jazz Club on the second floor in one of the buildings of New Orleans Square.  Walt loved Jazz music very much and wanted the private club in the heart of New Orleans Square.  We then went to the front of the line at the Train Station to ride over to Mickey's Toontown.
  
After we got off the train, we got a ten minute break to go to the bathroom and get a drink.  We proceeded over to "it’s a small world" and heard, in the guide’s words and in Walt’s, about how it came to be along with 3 other attractions for the New York World’s fair.  I really enjoyed hearing the clips in Walt’s words.   So fun!  We walked over to the Alice in Wonderland ride and got another “front of the line” privilege to ride it.  Once everyone was off, we listened to a long clip of Walt discussing why he came up with the idea of Disneyland, how important the project was to him and how excited he was to see his dreams come true.  As we listened to that clip, we took a long walk from Alice back over to the front of the castle.  Once we were there, our guide talked to us about Walt’s dream to have a park in Florida and the beginning of the plans for it.  His last dream was designing Epcot, but he never saw that come true because of his passing in December 1967.  His death was shocking to so many, and we were told in detail about some of the people that expressed their sorrow, but Walt’s dream lives on through his parks.  It was a sad way to end our tour, but was nice to be reminded of his wonderful contributions to people worldwide.  We then walked over to the Jolly Holiday CafĂ© on Main Street to eat. 
  
The meals were pre-packaged with our names on them and set at the tables already.  We had 30 minutes to enjoy our meals (which were quite yummy), rest our feet and enjoy some conversation with a few fellow Disney fans.  Before we finished our meal, our guide, Phillip, came around and gave each of us a collectible pin with Walt’s picture on it.  It’s a little book that opens.
  
After our meal, the finale of our tour was to go inside the Dream Suite!  We were all anxiously awaiting this moment.  We walked with our tour guide along with another guide who has the job to specifically show you around the Suite, which is located right above the Pirates of the Caribbean ride.
  
We went in 2 groups up the elevator to the second floor of the building.  Then, we walked in the door and it felt like you were walking back in time.  The construction of this area was originally made to accommodate Walt’s daughters and their families when they would come to the parks, since his suite wasn’t that large.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t completed before he passed away, so it sat empty for many years because they didn’t feel right to use it if he wasn’t there.  When Disneyland had the “Year of a Million Dreams” celebration, it was decided to finish off the suite so guests could enjoy a night in the middle of this magical place.
  
We were told about several paintings that hang in the entryway that were the inspiration for how the Dream Suite was decorated.  Then, we walked into the Master Bedroom.  It isn’t overly large or ornate, but it is definitely decorated in true Disney style.  You learn quickly that each room is decorated to represent a different section of the park.  The Master Bedroom was decorated for Adventureland, with leaves and vines on the large rug, netting hanging from the posts on the bed and birds on the lamps on the nightstands.  When you are at Disneyland, they always want to end the night with a “Good Night Kiss” to make you feel good after a long day at Disneyland.  Well, in the bedroom, there is a switch on the wall labeled “Good Night Kiss.”  Our guide picked me to push the button and wow, it became quite magical in there!  You were suddenly transported into Adventureland, with the birds chirping, mermaids suddenly appearing on paintings, pirate ships sailing on the wall, fireworks illuminating over your head.  It was quite amazing!  There is also another rule that you can only push the button 3 times in one night because you don’t want to ruin the magic.  I’m sure people would push it all night long, if they could!
  
We were then led into the bathroom.  Again, not huge, but it had a really large closet, a beautiful bathtub with a mural next to it and all themed for Fantasyland.  There was another “Good Night Kiss” with more fireworks and a little hidden Mickey revealed.
 
We walked into the parlor/living room and were told about the meaning of some of the pieces and artwork in the room.  Then, we saw another “Kiss Good Night” that can only be described as magical.  Even though the castle at this park is for Sleeping Beauty, this room was all about Cinderella.  It was touching.
  
The last room in the Suite to be seen was the “Children’s Room.”  Even though it is called that, parents have been know to fight their children for the room and I could see why.  It is themed for “Frontierland” with a ledge above the 2 Queen Beds that went around the entire room.  It was covered in Indian dolls, horse statues, trains, ships and other trinkets dealing with exploring a new land.   When someone pushed the “Good Night Kiss” button in here, a train that looked like it was in a case, suddenly started chugging down the train track around the room.  As it drove past a couple of dolls, they moved, the horse nodded it’s head and the ship began to move as if it was sailing.  Why I would be surprised by this added touch, I don’t know, but it was so much fun!   The guide told us that children just love it and then, just when the children are about to fall asleep, someone, somewhere, will flip a switch and the train will start around the track one more time.  I can only imagine how excited those children become when that happens. 
  
We took a walk out on the balcony to look out over New Orleans Square, gaze out at the Mark Twain boat, listen to some wonderful Jazz music and just imagine how incredible it would be to have a night staying in this suite.  It truly would be a dream.  

We walked back inside to the living area to hear one last bit of trivia about Walt and his dreams for Disneyland.  We weren’t allowed to take any pictures inside the suite except one by the mantle of the fireplace.  To me, getting that picture was like my own personal “Good Night Kiss.”

After each of us had our picture taken, our guide walked us outside, thanked us for coming and sent us on our way.  I walked very, very slowly down the stairs.  Before I removed the chain to leave, I took one last look back to the Dream Suite.  I thought about all that I had seen and heard that day about Walt Disney, his life and career and Walt’s endless dreams to make magical memories for families day after day by creating Disneyland.  That was an afternoon well spent!  I highly recommend the “Walk in Walt’s Disneyland Footsteps” tour for anyone who wants to enjoy some of Walt’s “Pixie Dust.”

-Agent Pam G

Our author for this piece (Pam G) & the rest of the team at Kingdom Konsultant Travel can help you book this amazing tour or any other adventure you can imagine.  Remember..."you dream it, we book it".

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