We had had such a great time during our Adventures by Disney trip last year that it was a no-brainer we would travel with them again. We started planning our trip mid-to-late last year (right after we had gotten back from Southwest Splendors, actually) and were all ready to book the The Emerald Isle (Ireland, of course), except by the time Joe’s vacation time was finally approved, the Adults Only tour was sold out. So were the Germany/Austria/Czech Republic and the Spain tours we were considering as alternate choices. That led Joe to ask, “OK, what IS available for Adult Only tours during that 2-week time frame?” and that is how we wound up going on Backstage Magic.

Our plane on Monday had a 7:25am departure time from MCO (the tour didn’t actually begin until Tuesday afternoon, but with the questionable reliability of the airline industry nowadays, we figures it would be in our best interest to arrive a day earlier). I had all intentions of closing the Club on Sunday night (ahem, mission accomplished) and, with a 5:30am pick up from “Dad’s limo and taxi service,” I just stayed up after getting home from the AC…finished packing, caught up on a few websites, etc.

The drive to the airport was uneventful (save for my once-a-minute yawns; I had woken up at 10am Sunday morning and it was now almost 20 hours later), as was takeoff. And once we were safely in the air, I crashed into a handful of 60-to-90-minute naps.

As we were landing, the pilot had a special greeting for those who were from “Disney”, who would be flying home that evening. Yep, we apparently got on one of “the” Disney flights where Suits from FL shuttle to CA for meetings and then go back to FL on the same day, via the Red Eye. How fucking ridiculous is that? I mean honestly, I realize business people have to travel sometimes but I know this process is a regular occurrence. In this day and age of teleconferencing, why on earth can’t they figure out a more efficient way to handle this situation? Idiots.

Although we were arriving early, Adventures by Disney still had us covered and had a greeter, Tony, waiting for us when we got to Baggage Claim. He took our carry ons and then got our big suitcases…I need to share that Little Miss Independence was DYING because she wasn’t “allowed” to get her own suitcase off the conveyor belt (grin). Anyway, he loaded us and our stuff into a Town Car at 9:45am and we arrived at our hotel, the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel & Spa, at 10:30am. Check-in was a breeze and our room, although only on the 8th floor, had a GREAT view of the “HOLLYWOOD” sign.

The Renaissance Hollywood Hotel & Spa, as seen from the Hollywood & Highland complex. You can see the Hollywood sign through the breezeway of the building on the right

Above and below: our hotel’s lobby

Our room:

The view from our window

Breakfast has been paltry (Joe had a bagel, I had a half of a bagel) and we were both hungry, so we decided to get a snack at the Hollywood & Highland Center, which was connected to our hotel via walkway. We looked at the directory and HOLY CRAP, they had a Beard Papa!!! We fell in love with “that” style of cream puffs during our last trip to Japan, and then we discovered that Beard Papa was a worldwide chain that sold that very style of pastry treat. The closest one to us had been in NYC and we enjoyed ourselves during our last trip. But we had NO idea they had them in CA too (lots of them, actually – Check it out. Also notice the upcoming location in November! HAPPY DANCE!!!). So yeah, we ate dessert first. And THEN Joe got a sandwich (grin).

Beard Papa!!!

Naps notwithstanding, we were still VERY sleep deprived, so by 11:30am we were in bed and took a delicious 2.5-hour nap. When we woke up, I got the high speed access up and running and caught up on my computer-related stuff.

We left the room around 5pm to walk around for an hour or so and get a better idea of the stores and stops in the complex. Then, since it was starting to get a little dark out, we went back up to the room to drop off our sunglasses. A few minutes before 6pm, we got the call that my cousin and his family were in the lobby, so we could go out to dinner.

Eric (my mom’s sister’s eldest) is 4 days older than me and when we both lived in NY, we got along beautifully. Unfortunately, they moved to CA when we were 8 and although we kept in touch via letters for a few years, that sort of dropped off when we were 11 or so. We got back together when I visited L.A. in ’89 and it was like we picked up right where we left off. We keep in touch via IM nowadays and still try as hard as we can to get together every time Joe & I go to Southern California. This trip was no exception.

Since we had their 9-year-old and 12-year-old in tow, our eating options were a little limited but we agreed to go to a place Eric had visited in the past, uWink. Every table had 1 or more touch screens (our table sat 6 and had 3 such screens) and you ordered your meal and refills, as well as contacted your server through the screen menus. Once your food was served, there was also a variety of online games to play, movies previews to watch, etc. (not surprisingly, the founder of the restaurant also founded Chuck E. Cheese and Atari). The idea was novel, the food wasn’t bad and the company was great, so there was nothing to complain about.

When we were done eating, we walked around the complex some more, figuring out where to go for dessert. We finally agreed on Cold Stone (yay, twice in the same week for me!) and continued talking and catching up on old times. It was really nice to see them all again! The party broke up around 8:30pm, since the kids were getting a little slap happy, they had school tomorrow and they still had an hour-long drive home. So with hugs goodbye, we parted ways, them to the parking garage and us back to our room.

We had a VM on our phone when we got back to the room; “Quinn” from Adventures by Disney had heard we had checked in and waned to make sure everything was OK. He said he would be in the lobby tomorrow morning to meet people, starting at 10am. He also told us when and where our “welcome reception” was going to be. He said he also had some ABD gifts to give us (I’m assuming it’s the same suff we got last year…oh boy, another pin lanyard. Sigh.) and just needed our permission for him to enter our room to drop them off.

Welp, as of this writing it’s 9:10pm Pacific time, which means it’s 12:10am our time. And I’m still sleep deprived so I’m going to BED! So until tomorrow…