TP&T’s California Adventure – Part 3 – A Day in the Happiest Place on Earth!

In August of 2015, the TP&T team hopped on a plane and flew out for an incredible adventure in California. The visit included visiting several of Southern California’s incredible list of theme parks and learning about the history of the Walt Disney Company. In our visit, we went to The Jim Henson Company, Walt Disney Studios, Imagineering, various Hollywood attractions, and the Disneyland resort as part of the Adventures by Disney Backstage Magic tour. After the five day tour, we continued our journey as we visited Knott’s Berry Farm, Universal Studios, and Six Flags Magic Mountain before returning home. In this article and several other articles full of photos, we invite you to join us in TP&T’s California Adventure! So sit back, relax, and get ready to journey into the Wonderful World of the entertainment industry!

For those of you first reading this series, welcome! I strongly recommend reading some of the previous articles. Links are below!

Part 1 – Hollywood – We visit several Hollywood destinations as our Backstage Magic tour begins! Enjoy photos and information from Disney Studios and our fantastic visit to Imagineering. You can find the article here!

Part 2 – An Evening in Disneyland – In this trip report, we journeyed through endless traffic on the Los Angeles highways and wound up at the happiest place on earth, Disneyland! This article will take you within the gates of the original theme park as we spend a very exciting evening in the park. You can find the article here!

BONUS – I’ve got a Fantasmic! video up on the YouTube Channel! You can view the video here!

After staying in Disneyland until shortly before closing time, which meant we left around 10:30 or 11pm, we went to sleep only to wake up around 6am. I woke up in my five foot long bunk bed not ready to go into the park. We wandered down to a place I honestly am not a fan of, Starbucks. Luckily, my hot chocolate (I am not a coffee person) was actually good (it had enough chocolate in it for once) and helped me wake up and get ready for an incredible day in Disneyland! Shortly afterwards, we continued our trek through Downtown Disney as we made our way to the gates of Disneyland, where we entered before anyone else!

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We were the very first guests to walk through Disneyland’s turnstiles that day!
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Upon entry, it appeared that I found a hidden Mickey! 🙂
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Disneyland 60 decorations looked fantastic on the train station!
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It’s amazing what a simple banner can do in terms of aesthetics!
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Here’s another beautiful decoration at the train station!
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As always, the decor of Main Street was beautiful, but the lighting of the sunrise gave it an even better glow.
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Here’s Elias Disney’s window! 🙂
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As we were walking down, there were a number of items that we were not allowed to take pictures of. Staff was cleaning, so I only took pictures of the buildings. Here’s the Crystal Arcade!
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Eventually, I was able to get a shot of the castle!
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I love the way the sun looks in this shot!
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I wish every town in America looked as good as Main Street’s facades do.
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Decorations for the Disneyland 60 celebration were lining several of the buildings on Main Street.
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This shot almost looks like an illustration (it was edited to look that way).
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Here’s a shot of the famous partners statue. If you look behind it you can see filming of what I believe was a RunDisney New Balance shoe commercial at the castle!
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The members of the Adventures by Disney tour were the only people on Main Street! It was fun to see it so empty!
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The California sun looked beautiful over the Plaza Inn!
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The filming of the New Balance commercial halted for us to get pictures in front of the castle.
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The decorations on the castle looked fantastic!
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The decorations were detailed and beautiful, I love the look of this tower.
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Again, simple banners go a long way!
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Another castle shot!
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Off to the right, you could see the first ever steel coaster!
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The park was still closed as we got ready to walk over to breakfast.
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Poor Peoplemover, I wish you were still operating!
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As we explored the hub, a Disneyland ambassador came over and talked with the group for a minute.
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Next, it was time for a character breakfast at the Plaza Inn! We were the first in the restaurant and had a Mickey Waffle buffet to start our day. As always, the waffles were delicious and we met several characters who I rarely see, such as Max and Rafiki. Eeyore was there too! 🙂
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After breakfast, we walked over to Adventureland!
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It was time for what was one of the most anticipated attractions for me to ride, Indiana Jones Adventure!
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Indiana Jones Adventure was our first backstage experience for the day! We went into the machine room and got an incredible tour of the area. The highlight of the tour was when they allowed us to take a vehicle which was in storage at the time’s motions into control. We launched it up and down and jerked it from side to side! It was an awesome experience!
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Afterwards, we rode the ride. It was INCREDIBLE! The theming was amazing, the ride was thrilling, and it was all out fun! I liked it SO much more than Dinosaur at Animal Kingdom, which was not operating correctly when we rode and resulted in us getting stuck for 45 minutes and eventually evacuated from the ride. We unfortunately got stuck in the downhill moment seconds before the Dinosaur ended, and we were the last to be evacuated. It was uncomfortable and not fun. On the other hand, Indiana Jones took the ride system and put it on an incredibly higher level!
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Shortly afterwards, we passed by the world famous Enchanted Tiki Room, but we were not going there yet.
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Instead, our group walked its way down Main Street USA.
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Crowds were beginning to rise as we walked back down Main Street.
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Does anyone want some ice cream?
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The Disneyland 60 banners looked great!
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Does anyone know what’s up there, because it was our next destination!
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While waiting to go up into Walt’s Apartment, I got some shots of some little details on Main Street. I love all of the tiny textures on the Main Street buildings!
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Just look at the curves bordering the window!
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So many little tiny elements combine to form a beautiful land!
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Next, we entered the apartment. It was small and we could not take pictures in it. The inside had designs to the tastes of Lillian Disney.
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A light always shines on the inside of this window in honor of Walt.
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While the other half of the group toured Walt’s apartment, we toured Main Street!
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Again, I love the Disneyland 60 banners!
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DIAMONDS!!!!!!
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“To all who come to this happy place: Welcome.”
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he crowds were definitely high by the time we were on the tour.
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As part of the tour, we went into one of the buildings (I believe it was Town Hall, but I’m not completely sure). Inside, there were a number of interesting Disney historical artifacts!
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The coolest artifact was this early Disneyland model!
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Fantasyland
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Main Street, Adventureland, and part of Tomorrowland.
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Tomorrowland
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Frontierland
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This window on Main Street is a tribute to the previous owners of the land Disneyland sits on.
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So was the one above it (I think, it has been long enough that I am uncertain of this).
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It was 10:23ish and I was getting ready to ride an attraction. As much as I love history, I like riding things much more!
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After our Main Street tour, we made our way back to New Orleans Square!
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New Orleans Square is just as detailed and beautiful as Main Street!
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Ooh, the leaves are beautiful in this shot!
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In New Orleans Square, we rode Pirates of the Caribbean again with half of the tour group while half of the group was touring the Disneyland Dream Suite above. I’m happy I got to ride Pirates again, it is an amazing experience at Disneyland and my camera ran out of batteries the original time. Shortly after riding, we walked into the exclusive suite!
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The suite was elegant and beautiful. Every room had hidden surprises.
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In particular, Walt had “goodnight kisses” installed to several of the rooms.
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At the flip of a switch, the rooms are transformed into different environments!
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The picture changed to include a mermaid.
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The Dream Suite had a fantastic view! Soon, this view will completely change as the Rivers of America are changed forever!
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It’s the Mark Twain!
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There’s Big Thunder Mountain Railroad!
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Again, I was reminded how amazing Fantasmic is!
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Below, we observed guests eating their meals.
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By far the coolest room in the Dream Suite was the Wild West themed room. It was incredible to watch the room’s goodnight kiss, which featured a train and several western themed items zooming around the room on shelves above!
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After a delicious lunch at the French Market Restaurant, we took the Disneyland Railroad around to It’s A Small World!
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The facade on Small World is beautiful, it’s much nicer than the version at WDW.
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Another shot of the beautiful art!
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The only bad thing about Disneyland’s Small World is when you get stuck trying to get back into the station. The California sun is HOT!
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This was one of the only times the Disneyland Railroad has been re-routed.
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This small world exits into a gift shop.
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Shortly after our independent Small World adventure, the group was set to meet again in Mickey’s Toontown!
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This land is a very wacky, but cool land. It is one of Disneyland’s biggest differences from WDW.
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The land was so cheesy it was fun.
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For those who are wondering if we got the credit, no we did not.
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What were we in ToonTown for? We were meeting Mickey Mouse himself!
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After meeting Mickey Mouse, we were escorted backstage.
Fireworks
Backstage, photography was prohibited, so the following backstage photos are from Google Earth. We walked backstage and eventually, we arrived here. This is where Disneyland launches their fireworks! We were fortunate to meet with the man in charge of launching the fireworks (I forgot his name). Once every few months, the buildings surrounding the fireworks launch zone, which is pictured, or possibly other buildings such as Small World, catch on fire. This tells me that Star Wars Land, which will not be too far from here, will be catching on fire a lot. Okay, back to our normal talk! After chatting with us, we had the privilege of watching as they did the daily test of the fireworks system! It was a fun experience that very few get to do!
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Here’s what ToonTown looks like from backstage (via Google Earth). I forget the exact number, but that wall cost Disney a lot to build!
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After our backstage adventure, we decided it was time to do one of Disneyland’s FastPass free attractions (we had five passes valid for any attraction that accepted passes at any time). What is it? Well, it’s what was the first ever steel roller coaster, the Matterhorn!
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I have to say, the Matterhorn might have better animatronics than Expedition Everest after its renovation. It was a fantastic experience!
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The Matterhorn Bobsleds were a very fun attraction. I was going to do a mounted POV of the ride (it’s not against any Disneyland rule from what I saw when reading the rules on their site), but my GoPro didn’t actually charge the night before. Luckily, I happily used my regular camera!
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After riding the Matterhorn, it was time for another Disneyland exclusive attraction, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride! Mr. Toad was a fun attraction. I had never been on it at WDW, so I really had no idea what to expect, but I did definitely enjoy it!
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It’s definitely a unique ride compared to other theme park attractions.
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Shortly after riding Mr. Toad, we hopped on Pinocchio because why not? Then we walked back around Big Thunder and into Adventureland. I love the look of this Big Thunder shot!
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In Adventureland, I went in the Tiki Room for the first time ever! That may be an old attraction, but I loved it! I wonder where we went next?
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It’s somewhere in Tomorrowland – The land with SEVERAL abandoned attractions in plain sight!
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The answer, it was time to ruin WDW’s Space Mountain forever!
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After riding, WOW! With an overall better ride, fantastic soundtrack, and more noticeable stars, the Disneyland Space Mountain was SO MUCH BETTER THAN at WDW! It was a great attraction!

Since it was getting late in the afternoon, we decided to go back to the hotel room for a short break. Later in the evening, we walked out to Downtown Disney feeling refreshed and ready for an evening in Disneyland! After grabbing some dinner at Downtown Disney’s Mexican Restaurant, which was delicious, we walked down to the park and rode Star Tours. As always, Star Tours was a fun simulator. Next, we made our way to the hub to get reserved seating for both Disneyland Forever and Paint the Night! Disneyland Forever was a fantastic fireworks show. The fireworks were spectacular and projections on the Castle and Matterhorn were cool. Paint the Night was alright, but I’ve realized I’m not much of a fan of the parades. It was enjoyable, but not as good as Disneyland Forever and Fantasmic. What probably didn’t help was the emphasis of Frozen on the parade. Finally, to end our night, we went back into Tomorrowland to ride a couple more rides. Since it had no line and one member of our party wanted to ride it, we rode the most claustrophobic attraction in any theme park, Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage. That ride was awful. I felt almost as sick as I did after Mission Space. If it were bigger and had better A/C, I would have liked the ride, but it just wasn’t good for me. To end my night at Disneyland, I used a FastPass to hop on what could have been my favorite attraction in the park, Space Mountain. It was a wonderful ending to a wonderful night! I ended up leaving the park after closing, which is something I had not done in the past! We went back to the room, I hopped into the bunk bed (I cringe thinking about how cramped it was), and got to sleep! After all, we were going to have a California Adventure the next day!

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