We woke up in time to meet at the front lobby at 7:45am. After a quick jaunt to the Magic Kingdom, we walked up Main Street and got to take pictures in front of the Partners statue, as well as Sleeping Beauty Castle, without anyone else in the shots (grin).

Just us on Main Street

Nobody in the picture of the Partners statue

Big ass spiderweb (and spider) running from Walt’s face to his hand

Hey, it’s the castle! It’s so tiny…

All of us

Today’s breakfast was with Minnie & Friends at the Plaza Inn, in the MK. The food was on par with Crystal Palace at WDW (which doesn’t say much for the food). Anyway, besides Minnie, we also got to eat with Max, Chip, Dale, Tigger and The Fairy Godmother. Those of you who know my feelings about characters, especially eating with them, well, then you know why I have so few pictures of the meal (grin).

Joe and Minnie

More for Tyler and Lyne’s benefit than mine

Today was our day to go backstage at the Magic Kingdom. After breakfast we walked over to Adventureland and went through a Cast Member entrance by Indiana jones, to get a better idea of how the attraction works. That’s where we met Jerry, who was a Reliability Manager. He verbally described the ride, room by room. He said the ride has 1900 ft track and had 450 volts of electricity under the track. He showed us the computer that was in each car and explained how it was responsible for the variable sounds and movements of the car (it can choose from 3 different movement profiles and several more sound profiles, so the audio and car movement ride is randomized from ride to ride). The computer is also responsible for the vehicle not moving, if a safety belt is not fastened. The vehicles use hydraulics for movement and it is the same system that the Star Tours attraction “vehicles” use. All 17 vehicles are inspected every night and receive a complete teardown every 4 weeks to check for safety. Tires are replaced once a year (more often if needed) and each vehicles weighs about 10,000 pounds.

After some questions and answers with Jerry, we were backdoored onto the attraction so we didn’t have to wait on the 45 minute line.

We worked our way from Adventureland to Fantasyland, while Quinn and Julie gave us bits and pieces of information along the way. Walt decided to build the Matterhorn after being inspired from the film, “Third Man on the Mountain”. They are in the midst of introducing the new monorails at DL – Monorail Red was just added to the track not long ago, Monorail Blue will be next, followed by Monorail Orange. Walt wanted It’s A Small World to be trimmed in 23 karat gold but Roy said it would be too expensive. So Walt ordered the trim for it (as well as for Sleeping Beauty Castle and Dumbo) while Roy was on vacation.

We went back backstage through the Cast Member entrance to the right of Small World, where we walked to the roundhouse and met Bill, who worked on maintaining and repairing the steam trains on the Disneyland Railroad. He explained that Disneyland had a fleet of 4 trains, 2 of which Walt had built at 80% scale and were original to the park when it opened in 1955. The other 2 are authentic steam trains that were built in 1893 and 1924. The trains work on biodiesel and they are currently experimenting with using used food oil for fuel. Bill explained how the trains’ steam engine works, and used an engine currently under repair as a model. Finally, they brought out Train 4, named the Ernest S. Marsh, built in 1924. Bill explained how they blow sediment out of boiler at the Frontierland station every hour or so and how they often frequent subcontractors, as well as eBay for parts.. They also explained the system of training to become a DLRR engineer: First you must be a fireman (the person who maintains the fire to make the steam), which in itself requires five months of training. After a year of being a fireman, you can can train to be an engineer. After 6 months of training, THEN you can take the test to be an engineer. So as you can see, it’s a long, arduous process that not everyone completes successfully.

Our next stop was to see the fireworks launch for the Wishes pyrotechnics show. Quinn & Julie explained how Disneyland currently uses an air launch system, which increases accuracy while decreasing some of the need for gunpowder (therefore making it greener). Wishes, a 17-minute long show, uses 360 shells behind park and 260 inside the park 17 min long. There are 7 technicians who take care of it all, including getting unlaunched duds out of launching tubes. Needless to say, they are VERY well paid.

Next up was the building that houses the Parade floats. They’re preparing for the Christmas parade and are currently reflocking the floats (which are composed, for the most part, of fiberglass and plastic) with artificial snow – we got to see a CM using a hose to spray the old flocking off the artificial trees on the parade floats.

Our next stop was the area where they house Disneyland’s animals, where we were introduced to Christa, one of the people who take care of the animals. We stopped in front of the Pope House (formerly owned by Owen and Dolly Pope), which is the only building that is original to the property that eventually became Disneyland. After a quick trip inside the front room of the Pope House, Christa introduced us to Larry, who is the tamest feral cat you’ll ever meet (grin). Christa explained how Disneyland owns a variety of animals (horses, goats, sheep, donkeys, parrots, etc.) for different areas and locations (goats and sheep are in the petting zoo, the Clydesdales walk up and down Main Street, other horses are used for weddings, etc.). The animals lead an ideal life – generally 2 hours per day, 2-3 times per week, for about 2 weeks per month. We had to stay a good ten feet away from the horses for safety, but were able to pet the goats and sheep in their pens.

After some pictures in front of a vintage Disneyland Stagecoach, we walked back on stage for lunch at Cafe Orleans. We were saddened to hear that they only had 10 shrimp salad sandwiches left (I was lucky enough to get one of them) but they had bunches of Monte Cristo’s, so all was good. We had a Streetmosphere-type pirate interacting with us during the meal, stealing pocketbooks and picking pockets. It was very cute!

The menu we got to choose from

Eating lunch

When lunch was finally over, we were backdoored into POTC.

After POTC, we again divided into our Mickey & Minnie teams. Quinn led us to the Main St. Station of the DLRR and, after waiting 15 minutes or so for “our” train to arrive, we were invited to board the famed Lilly Belle car! Even I, a Disney fan-turned-cynic, was impressed with this! Quinn explained the history of the car, which was that it was an original observation car on the DLRR and, in the mid-1970’s, transformed it into a parlor car for VIPs. It was restored in the mid-1990s and let me tell you, it was just beautiful! We were able to ride the entire DLRR in the Lilly Belle, enjoying its (her?) Victorian-themed grandeur.

On the Lilly Belle

Empty Lilly Belle car

Next up was another super-special opportunity…to go to Walt’s Apartment. Under the supervision of Cindy, our guide, we went to the right of the firehouse, through the super-narrow CM entrance and, after about 10 feet, walked up a set of narrow stairs on our left. After getting up to the second floor, we walked a short (< 8′) hallway and there we were – in Walt Disney’s apartment. The one where he sometimes stayed overnight while Disneyland was being built and where he stayed even after the park was open to the public. COOL! It was a studio apartment, maybe about 25′ by 25′ in total. You walk into the living room (again, Victorian-themed – Lillian had control over the design of this one), which had 2 couches that opened into twin beds (Walt and Lilly slept separately). Behind each couch was a table with a picture of Walt or Lilly’s mother. There were also 2 cushy armchairs for sitting, footstools with embroidered tops, a Regina music box, an Edison Victrola. To your immediate right was a kitchenette with a sink and a refrigerator that still works. Above the sink were cabinets that held the Disneys’ original plates, glasses, ashtrays and Evenflo baby bottles (all 11 grandkids would some come over – they would sleep on the floor). Around back was a very utilitarian 1950’s-style bathroom and shower – how many people can say with certainty that they’ve seen where Walt Disney peed and pooped? (VBEG) – as well as a double closet. Cindy explained some stories – about the lamp in the window that rarely (not never) goes out (it’s part of her job description to check the lamp every day – on rare occasion the bulb burns out before its monthly automatic change), how the grandkids used to scare the crap out of the Jungle Cruise skippers by making themselves “part of the show” (“Hey Walt, better gather your grandkids…they’re terrorizing Jungle Cruise!”), the fireman’s pole that used to go from the firehouse up to the apartment (until someone managed to shimmy UP it and invade the apartment without permission). Some of the people in our tour were teary-eyed about visiting the apartment – I didn’t go that far (far from it) but yeah it was cool.

Outside view of Walt’s Apartment, over the DL Firehouse

Vintage shot of Walt’s apartment

Once we were done visiting the apartment, we went back to the Main Street Train Station for a debriefing. We had reserved seating for the 3pm parade so if we wanted to play for a little while and then come back, we could. Then we had a 4:45pm appointment for a reserved boat on the Jungle Cruise. After giving each of us 5 Fast Passes that we could use at whatever Fast Pass location we wished, we were on our way.

Joe and I decided to use our time by going on Indy again. We gave the CM our Fast Passes, he looked at them, let us through and then gave us back the passes. OoooooKay. Actually, that happened several times – apparently the FPs that Adventures by Disney give out look very much like the VIP “Re-use the same FP over and over” FPs. On top of that, it was off season and we hit hardly any lines. So although we got, ohgod, a good 10 or 15 FPs during the course of our vacation, I think we used 2. Maybe 3.

After Indy we went back to the Train Station to watch the parade. It wasn’t bad, as parade goes…the floats were pretty and the music was OK and very Disneyesque. Apparently I better get used to it because I heard WDW is getting this parade as a hand-me-down pretty soon.

Anyway, before we left the train station, Quinn & Julie gave each of us a commemorative ticket to the Lilly Belle, which will give us entry onto the car again, any time in the future, if we so please. Nice souvenir.

As a group walked to the Jungle Cruise and again were backdoored in. With so many people in the group, we had our own boat. Nothing special with the spiel. Then again, nothing really special about this attraction, period.

After the JC, we were on our own for the rest of the night. We focused on attractions that were either different from WDW’s or that simply didn’t exist there. So we did Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (5 minute wait), Pinocchio’s Darling Journey, Snow White, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, Alice in Wonderland and the Matterhorn in the course of about 2 hours.

Despite a huge breakfast and decent-sized lunch, now we were hungry. We wanted to eat a Napa Rose, but the first reservation they had available wasn’t until 8pm. That was a little too late for our plans so we agreed to eat at the bar. We shared an appetizer and then I had the filet mignon with brie, while Joe had the Alaskan halibut. Both were awesome.

We went back to Magic Kingdom after dinner – went on Buzz Lightyear (it was posted as a 20 minute wait but was really closer to 10 or 15 minutes) and then on Nemo, which had a 30 minute wait.

By this time we were getting tired and still had a full day ahead of us so we went back “home” and called it a night.

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