Friday, December 24, 2010

Days In The Park Takes The Holiday Time At Disneyland Tour

Today's post written by guest blogger Stephanie Elliott

In case you haven't noticed, my husband, Chad, loves The Park.  For a very short period of time, I was the afficionado in the family since I grew up in Southern California.  Quickly, though, his passion and knowledge exceeded mine.  So, when he suggested doing the Holiday Tour together, I was eager for the chance to do something at The Park together that would be a brand new experience for both of us.  And, since we did the tour with a number of his "Disney" friends, I knew it would be a chance to get to see a different side of him.  After 12 years of marriage, those opportunities don't come along as often as they used to and they are always exciting!

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The crew (left to right): Al & Joyce from Tales From The Mouse House, Amy from Days In The Park, Julie and Jenna, Stephanie and Chad from Days In The Park, Loren, and Nathaneal, Rosemary, Noah and Neil from FindingMickey.com

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Jason begins our 3 hour tour... a 3 hour tour...

The Tour began with the gathering of the group, pictures being taken and applause for our tour guide, Jason.  Magically-lit candle in hand, he led us to the steps of City Hall and told us that this tour was originally given by Walt Disney himself.  It made me feel like I had been admitted to some sort of secret society within the walls of the Magic Kingdom, and I liked it!  Also, he told us that the Tour would share information about the holiday traditions observed at The Park, as well as around the world.  As we walked up Main Street, we learned about the enormous tree (and the accident that makes fire-proofing it a definite must-do each year), the menorah in the dentist's window, and the joys of sweet treats at the Candy Palace.  At this location, we were delighted to sample two flavors of Disneyland fudge -- chocolate and peppermint, made fresh in The Park.  I talked all the way up to the Castle about how amazing that fudge was -- yum!

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The fabulous, impossible to replicate Yuletide Tree!

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Did YOU know there was a menorah on Main Street?  Color us now educated.

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Stephanie and her fudge

Jason continued to regale us with a bounty of information about incarnations of Santa Claus around the world -- did you know in Spain he is a she?? -- and the gifts he brings -- firewood in the Bayou and candy or coins in the zapatas left outside the front door in Mexico.  We learned about how the decor in New Orleans Square includes a statue of the angel Gabriel and why Santa's reindeer bear names like Donner (Donder, originally) and Blitzen (translated as thunder and lightning).  Being a proud and self-proclaimed nerd, this part of the Tour was wonderful.  I anticipated each stop and the student in me wished I had brought a notepad to jot down all of the stuff I was learning (like Neil from FindingMickey.com did).

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Gabriel watches over the 'Court des Anges' (and also ensure Jason doesn't forget any lines)

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Our tour guide Jason getting his gesticulation on

I'd be lying if I didn't also admit that another aspect of the Tour I loved was the way other Park-goers were drawn to Jason and his candle.  When we stopped, a small crowd would sometimes gather and listen, but not being in "the Tour," they'd have to be on their way as we were ushered to the next attraction.  One poor woman found herself pushed into our train of Tourees due to the crowded quarters and she exclaimed to her family with a frantic voice, "Am I still in the Tour??  I can't get out!!"  In a place with shoulder-to-shoulder guests, being on the Tour definitely made me feel special (Of course, I paid $50 to be special, but that's beside the point!).  This VIP treatment extended to our experience of the two attractions we went on -- Haunted Mansion Holiday and "it's a small world" Holiday -- where we went right to the front of the lines -- no waiting necessary!

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"it's a small world" Holiday

The Tour didn't go without a glitch or two -- I almost lost Chad when I commanded him to snap a picture of Pocahontas for our son Michael (who refuses to admit his crush on her).  Being the nimble squaw that she is, he had to chase her a bit before he could get the picture.  In the meantime, the Tour, myself included, went on.  He did catch up with us, though, as we learned about Christmas in Frontierland, and forgave me for not waiting.  Another bit of trouble ensued as we attempted to embark on "it's a small world" Holiday.  In a move intended to benefit the other family we were touring with, I was caught out of line and the Cast Member charged with keeping the line running smoothly had to speak to me quite sternly until I found my appropriate spot back against the wall. These being minor incidents, and both of them being my own fault, they did not detract from the excitement nor enjoyment of the Tour.

I would have to say that the highlight of the Tour, though, came at the end.  First, we were served up de-lic-ious hot cocoa in a souvenir mug and a chocolate-dipped gingerbread Mickey at Clarabelle's in Mickey's Toontown.  (I now echo the sentiments of one of the younger Tourees when I say, "I just  LOVE Clarabelle's!")  And as if that weren't enough, we were then escorted right up the middle of the street, both sides lined with eager parade-watchers, and seated in actual chairs, front row for "A Christmas Fantasy Parade"!  My eyes were sparkling as bright as Sleeping Beauty Castle as I asked Chad, "We get to sit HERE?!"  He confidently assured me that these were indeed our seats and in that moment my love for him might have doubled.  Little did either of us know that the way to my heart is a front-row folding chair!  As the Parade came by, I could not stop smiling.  I felt like I was six years old and visiting The Park for the very first time.  I booed the Ugly Stepsisters, waved to Mickey and Minnie, and "oohed and ahhed" when Santa rode by high atop his sleigh.  I did not threaten to eat the dancing Gingerbread as my husband did, but I definitely enjoyed the parade.

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Stephanie and her Clarabelle treats!

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The proclamation that the seats were indeed ours and no-one else's

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Nom Nom!

On our own, as we began to make our way out of The Park, we also saw the final Sleeping Beauty Castle lighting of the evening.  I felt my eyes begin to tear up as the thousands of white lights twinkled atop its towers.  The beauty of the moment, of the evening, of the season -- all of it came whirling up inside me.  For me and for many, Christmas is a time of comfort and memories, but also a time for magic.  And because Christmas is when I became a bride, and my husband kissed me and said "I do", it is certainly a season of love.  I so enjoyed experiencing a new side of The Park and as my husband joked and laughed with his new Disney friends; I was able to see a fun and confident side of him.  In a way, that is what The Park's most wonderful gift is and what love's most wonderful gift is, too --  the chance to see the world in a new way and a reminder of the magic all around us.

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A perfect way to end an evening in The Park

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Amy and Julie being "rabbit bombed" by Chad (who was ignoring Jason at the time)

If you are interested in information on the Holiday Time At Disneyland Tour, or any of the other tours offered at The Disneyland Resort, contact The Park directly at 714-781-4400. AP holders get an additional 20% off!

3 comments:

findingmickey said...

good times! it was also fun seeing people try to jump in line for free fudge.

stephanie, if you need to look at our notes, we can hook you up with a cheat sheet. just don't let the teacher catch you with it.

Merry Christmas & Happy Anniversary!

Sippy Cup Mom said...

All I read was peppermint fudge!

LOL, just kidding!

Great post! The tour sounded wonderful and just magical!

Henryka Lucjan said...

Hey thanks for sharing this blog. I love Disney land. Its really nice place for tour. There are lots of adventure.
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