Being Disney nerds, we are always interested in special events and behind the scenes offerings at Disney Parks. We really enjoyed the "Keys to the Kingdom" tour at Walt Disney World and decided that for our latest visit to Disneyland we should take advantage of being in such a historic place. “Walk in Walt’s Disneyland Footsteps” is roughly a three hour tour that takes guests through the history of Disneyland and Walt Disney himself. Along with the history of the park, guests experience three attractions without waiting and also enjoy lunch served at the tour gardens just inside the park near the Main street USA train station. We were lucky enough to block out an entire tour time (max of 15 people) for our entire large party. It ended up feeling like a private tour and we were even able to use our Disney Vacation Club discount of 15% off for everyone!
We started that morning by checking in at the Tour Gardens area. We placed lunch orders for selections from Jolly Holiday bakery, then were all given personalized name tags and headphone sets to be able to easily hear our guide J'Amy. We started down Mainstream U.S.A. with the first stop being the Firehouse, with Walt's private apartment on the second floor. We then worked our way towards Sleeping Beauty’s Castle while we learned more facts and history along the way. The next stop was Fantasyland to go on our first attraction, Alice in Wonderland, where we walked through the exit, right to the front of the line. As with all three attractions we experienced during the tour, we were told many interesting facts.
We left Fantasyland through Frontier land, to head over towards Adventureland for some insight on the Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, and Club 33/Royal 21. We then boarded the Disneyland Railroad for a scenic trip to the Tomorrowland station to learn about rides in that area, as well as learning some unique history about It’s a Small World. As we passed from location to location there would be accompanying music and/or historic audio clips on our headphones to accompany the topic which was a nice touch.
We covered quite a bit of ground and essentially made a big circle to find ourselves heading back down Main Street. The last attraction we experienced was Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln. Before going into the theater, the tour guide provided an overview of the park as a whole using the maps and other pieces of history in the waiting area for the attraction. Upon departing the theater, we were given a somewhat emotional recap of Walt’s final days that left us all in awe.
And now for the grand finale where the complete Disney geeks came out in us... To conclude the tour, we were able to go up into Walt’s apartment that is restricted to the public. We climbed a small set of stairs behind the firehouse to find the space was quite small and decorated in Victorian decor, it truly felt like taking a step into the past. Two cast members accompanied us and provided incredibly fascinating history to include discussing many of the items that are still on display. It was neat to imagine Walt and his family using these items while staying there so many years ago. We were also allowed to take take just one photo inside, right next to the famous lamp in the window.
Finishing up back at the tour gardens there were private tables waiting with our lunches. Everyone had chosen an entree such as a sandwich or salad, a bottled beverage and a dessert. The Jolly Holiday Bakery dessert options were delicious and it was hard to choose between the Chocolate cake, Mickey sugar cookie or Matterhorn Macaroon. Another nice surprise is that we all received a beautiful keepsake pin that opened like a book featuring the partner statue on one side and the dedication plaque on the other. We thoroughly enjoyed the experience and loved to hear that our friends and family did as well. Someone even said to us "We get it now. This is why you love Disney so much!" We found this experience to be the perfect mix of history/knowledge and a personal/emotional touch, with a bit of exclusivity mixed in. We highly recommend it for huge Disney fans or Disney newbies. Everyone can appreciate the fascinating insight into Walt's life and the Disneyland story.
Continue reading about the rest of our 10th Anniversary Celebration: