ABD Backstage Magic: Pre-Tour (Part 1)

It was time for us to arrive in California.  As I mentioned in my last post, my mom and I decided to extend the packaged Adventures By Disney tour on both the start and end of our travels. That gave us a full week to soak in the warm California sun.  We used our pre-tour twenty-four hours to get to all of the “must do”s that would not be covered by ABD, and explore Hollywood and Greater Los Angeles. Of course I had more on my list than we could get to, but we did our best.

One of my silly thrills on this trip was to land at LAX. Architecture, mid-century design, and historic locations are just some of my really cool interests, so flying into the spider at LAX was a real treat. For those of you uninitiated, as our pilot informed us, the terminal can not handle modern sized planes so you get towed into the gate. These, folks, are the exciting fun facts you learn when traveling with me.

A fabulously blurry photo of my first car service, complete with wildly misspelled name plaque.
A fabulously blurry photo of my first car service, complete with wildly misspelled name plaque.

The price of the tour includes ground transportation, which attach to flights if the arrival and departure are within twenty-four hours of the tour. Neither of us were itching to try out Los Angeles highway traffic, particularly on a weekend evening, so the valet was a welcome sight.  He was a great help with the luggage, and worked magic to never provoke my motion sickness.

To ease our overall vacation stress we decided to spend our extended nights at the same hotels used by ABD.  Normally, we would we chose less luxurious accommodations, but skipping the trouble of moving for one night (twice, plus dealing with check in/check out times) was worth the extra cost.




The recently renamed Loews Hotel at Hollywood and Highland became our first home away from home.  The night before arriving we scrambled upon realizing we had not received any sort of “How to Check In” information for the tour, and as our hotel reservation was under the tour’s name, had no idea how to check into the hotel. We attempted to call the help line, but it was outside the office hours, and got on our flight still wondering. Turns out, as we often found, this was one of the silly travel things that you do not need to worry about with ABD. We simply checked in and mentioned that we were with the group. The room was much more spacious than either of us expected, pleasant, and cleanly decorated (a bit too sparse and modern for Mom). A wall just blocked our view of the Hollywood sign, but we still managed a solid hour of people watching as a special event was being held at the Magic Castle.



We were on our own until the welcome dinner the next evening so we ventured out for a quick exploration of Hollywood before getting much-needed rest for our upcoming early mornings. The golden sun was just going own over the famed Hollywood Hills as we headed out onto Hollywood Boulevard (who hasn’t wanted to write that sentence). We quickly passed on some of the food options such as Mel’s Diner, fast food chains, and Disney’s Soda Fountain. Sadly, this is where I missed my moment to try In & Out Burger just a few blocks away, but as darkness descended and nightlife came out we stuck closer to home.

The whole area, including our hotel, was abuzz with preparations for the Academy Awards.
The whole area, including our hotel rooftop pool, was abuzz with preparations for the Academy Awards.

As a fan of old cinema, I was itching to see the famed Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. On a forgotten recommendation, and a little poking around, 25 Degrees proved to have great food and spectacular milkshakes (perfect for splitting) in a modern, upscale take on diners. The good news, there was a wedding reception in the lobby we got to watch during dinner, the bad news, it blocked off the lobby and put the kibosh on my explorations. Luckily, our own hotel and the adjacent Dolby Theatre had plenty of areas to hunt around.

It was time to head to bed before the excitement to come


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