The Disneyland Resort started offering a new guided tour — Disney’s California Story. The 3-hour tour gives guests a closer look at some of the park’s details as well as a peek inside the exclusive 1901 lounge.
The tour begins on Buena Vista Street where we learn about Walt’s move to Los Angeles in 1923 with only $40 to his name. Much like Main Street USA across the esplanade, Buena Vista Street contains many nods and references to this history of Walt Disney and his company which are explored during the first leg of this new tour.
Next up is the reason many Annual Passport holders will want to take this tour — a brief trip to 1901. What’s slightly peculiar is that photographs are forbidden during this part of the tour (when the “A Walk in Walt’s Footsteps” tour in Disneyland visited the Club 33 lobby photos were permitted). Once inside, guests are invited to take a look at many of the photos on display in the lounge and learn a bit more about their context.
After an all-too-short visit to 1901, guests are lead into Condor Flats and given a no-wait ride on Soarin’ Over California. Tying this modern attraction into the early days of Disney animation, the tour guide speaks on Mickey’s first cartoon Place Crazy.
Moving on, the tour wanders down the Grizzly Peak Pass as we hear a bit about the plans for the Mineral King resort. As you may know, this proposed ski resort was the original reason The Country Bear Jamboree was developed.
After a short break, the group heads into Paradise Pier to learn about the seaside parks that inspired the theme. Of course no visit to this land would be complete without a discussion on the pie-eyed Mickey at its center.
Continuing on, guests are taken to Route 66 and welcomed to Radiator Springs. After learning a bit more about the history of the land’s concept, the group is given a super-fast-FastPass as they travel through the exit to skip the over two hour wait for Radiator Springs Racers.
Of course before CarsLand, there was the land of Bugs. If for no other reason than to enjoy the shade the area provides, the group takes a moment to appreciate the theming of area and to locate the land’s singular four-leaf clover.
Nearly completing the circle, the tour is lead to the crossroads of Hollywood and Sunset for a look at some of the shout-outs to Los Angeles geography and architecture. But Walt’s life in Hollywood was about animation and that’s exactly where the tour takes you next. Just in time to make the 12:30 class, tour guests are ushered into the Animation Academy for a lesson in drawing the Steamboat Willie-era Mickey Mouse.
Returning to Buena Vista Street, the tour relives that cold night in 1937 when Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs premiered at the Carthay Circle Theatre. Taking a slight turn away from the 1901 entrance, guests are brought into the restaurant’s lounge for a discussion on how the premiere was the culmination of Walt’s 14-year rags-to-riches California adventure.
After a concluding moment in front of the park’s “Storytellers” statue, the tour guests are invited into the Fiddler, Fifer and Practical Cafe for their pre-selected lunches and some extra time to ask the tour guide any final questions.
Essentially, this tour is the Disney California Adventure version of Disneyland’s “A Walk in Walt’s Footsteps” tour. If you’re an avid Disney fan there’s a great chance you’ll know much of the trivia discussed, but that won’t stop you from choking up with nostalgia and emotion along the way.
Bottom line: the $109 price tag can be justified by the the visit to 1901, the walk-on availability for two of DCA’s best attractions and the lovely commemorative pin given to attendees at the tours conclusion (not to mention the included lunch). Ultimately, the tour is a great addition to DCA’s offerings and really completes the theme presented in the 2012 rededication. If you’re looking for a slightly different experience in California Adventure, I’d recommend giving it a shot
Kyle is a writer living in Springfield, MO. His deep love of Disney and other pop culture finds its way into his stories, scripts, and tweets. His first book “The E-Ticket Life: Stories, Essays, and Lessons Learned from My Decidedly Disney Travels” is available in paperback and for Kindle. http://amzn.to/1CStAhV