Additionally, we wanted to see as much as we could that was related to Imagineering and the parks in general.
To keep things a bit simple I will describe the layout of the expo. The expo covered a total of three floors of the Anaheim Convention Center. The first floor - by far the largest, included the main expo floor which housed all the exhibits from different divisions of Disney, the shopping venues (including the Dream Store with expo merchandise, the Disney Store, Mickey's of Glendale with merchandise usually only available to Imagineers, and the Collector's Forum featuring small kioskes manned by vendors selling Disney collectibles), the Stage Pass distribution (more on that below) and the main arena and overflow area. The second floor included Stage 28 (the smaller of the two seminar venues), The Treasures of the Walt Disney Archive and the D23 Charter Member lounge. The third floor had Stage 23 - the larger of the seminar venues.
One of the changes for 2013 was the addition of "Stage Pass". This is a lot like Fastpass at the Disney parks. The idea was that you get a Stage Pass and this guarantees you a spot in a particular seminar, releasing you from the need to line up at the event itself. These passes were only available for events in Stage 23 and Stage 28, and only the shows later in the morning and afternoon (late morning session Stage Passes were available first thing, later afternoon passes were available at noon). For me and Kirk, not only did we know what to expect on account of this being our first expo, nobody really knew what to expect in terms of the Stage Passes. We arrived at the expo at 7:00. There were a couple of lines and we were not sure which we should get in. If anything, I was expecting lines for the Stage Passes, but no such thing existed. I asked around and got different answers from different people. There were volunteers wearing red shirts. They were friendly enough, but often they did not know what they were talking about. Anyway, eventually we figured out that we needed to get in the line that was going to the main expo floor, and that the Stage Pass distribution was on the main expo floor.
There were a couple of different lines. There was the line we were in for the main expo floor. There was another expo line for non-D23 members (which we never saw). There was also a line to get into the arena - we never saw that either. While in line we chatted to 2 other couples. One of the gentlemen's names was Kent - and I have to admit I don't recall the other's names. One interesting thing, Kent made a comment (about Starbucks, in fact) that made me realize that we probably did not see "eye to eye" politically. I said I understood what he meant and that it was something that we probably disagreed on, and I said "So let's not talk about that, let's talk about Disney!".
They finally started letting people in about 9:00. This brings me to what is probably my biggest complaint about the expo - they let folks into the building in a single file. This took forever. Then, once we got inside, we stood in another line. Finally we made our way through to the main expo floor. The first thing for us was to get a Stage Pass for "Undiscovered Disneyland" with Tony Baxter and Imagineer Josh Shipley. I really did not know what to expect - I had no idea how many Stage Passes were being distributed and whether we were early in the line, or toward the end of the line, or whether they would run out before we got there. Well, we did get there and did get our Stage Passes, and judging by the stack that I saw there we were in no risk of being too late.
Stage Passes in hand for the later show, we headed to one of the first presentations of the expo: "Mayhem, Mischief, and Monkeys: The Magic of Mystic Manor" hosted by Imagineers Joe Lanzisero and Mark Schirmer. This presentation went through the details of Mystic Manor - Hong Kong Disneyland's all-new (and very cutting edge) dark ride. This ride uses some pretty amazing technology including the same trackless ride system used on Pooh (and other attractions) in Tokyo Disneyland and some really cool effects combining state-of-the-art projection technology with Disney's audio-anamatronics. All this and a musical score by Danny Elfman. And a monkey named Albert. I mean, really. In reality the presentation didn't just go through Mystic Manor in great detail (I think we ended up seeing footage of pretty much the entire ride), it also went through Mystic Point (the new "land" which plays host to Mystic Manor) and all of the cool things to do there. Besides the signature attraction this includes The Garden of Wonders, an interactive area highlighting what look to be some very interesting illusions, and the Mystic Point Freight Depot, which contains some of the oddities that have been brought back to Mystic Point by it's eccentric owner Lord Henry Mystic. In fact, the Imagineers went to great pains to illustrate the level of detail that they went into in developing a back story for Mystic Point. The back story even has ties to The Adventurer's Club!
An interesting thing that the Imagineers pointed out was that they developed three small "lands" (Toy Story Land and Grizzly Gulch along with Mystic Point) because guests in Hong Kong feel like they get more "bang for the buck" with three small lands than they would have with one big one (like "New Fantasyland").
After the presentation we checked out the Charter Member Lounge (no big deal) and the silent auction. There were a lot of cool things in the silent auction, but the one that really got our attention was a giant, electric "Disneyland Park" sign. Could you imagine having a really big house with a huge family space with that thing hung on the wall? How cool would that be? The bidding was up to $580 and I said that I doubted it would go for less than $5,000. In fact Kirk later told me that he went back later and saw that the bidding had, indeed, gone over $5,000. I'm not sure how much it eventually went for.
Next up was "Undiscovered Disneyland" with soon-to-be Disney Legend Tony Baxter and Imagineer Josh Shipley. This would end up being my favorite presentation of the expo. Tony got up and talked about how they had done similar presentations at previous expos and how they wanted to do something a bit different. So, he said that this presentation might better be titled "Re-discovered Disneyland". He and Josh then went on to show some wonderful old photos and home movies of Disneyland. I absolutely love this stuff. Depending on when they were taken, the photos and film can either remind me of how Disneyland was when I was a kid or give a glimpse into the Disneyland that was already in the past by the time I went for the first time in 1967. I think that perhaps the biggest surprise for me was how funny they both were - but especially Tony. One thing they focused on for a few minutes was the long-defunct "Holidayland", a Disney-owned and operated playground and picnic area right next to Disneyland. Tony and Josh talked about how there you would be, close enough that you could hear the whistle from the Mark Twain, but all you could do was go down a slide and have sack races. Priceless.
The highlights of the presentation were at the end. First, they presented a "ride through" film of "Journey into Imagination" (yes, the original) which they compiled by melding the soundtrack with photos, drawings and even some old footage of the ride itself. It was a very cool nostalgic trip. They even had a picture of a bunch of Imagineers (including Tony) testing out this thing they had at the end of the ride that superimposed your picture over another setting - very high tech for 1983.) Finally, Tom Staggs - chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts - came out and praised Tony and his career at Disney. He then announced that, not only would Tony be becoming a Disney Legend (which we all obviously knew), but that he would also be presented with a window on Main street in Disneyland. He then did something really cool - he announced that 3 people from the audience would be selected to go to the ceremony. They dimmed the lights and spotlights came up on the three lucky guests. None was me, unfortunately.
Next up we wanted to get Stage passes for "Disney Imagineering Legend Marty Sklar Presents… Dream It! Do It!". We were late to get the passes and were afraid that we might miss out. And, in fact, right after we got ours they announced that they were all gone! Whew!
I'd like to touch on some of the costumes we saw folks wearing. I was very impressed. I actually expected to see more costumes, but the ones I saw were very high quality. Perhaps the best was a young lady dressed as the main character from "Enchanted" - sorry, I don't recall the characters name. However, I did later note that a picture of her ended up on the main D23 expo page. There were also several Mirida's and most of the men were dressed as Flynn Rider. And I also ran into a very awesome Jack Skellington!
For the first time all morning we had the chance to take in the expo floor. This place was amazing! An absolute Disney geeks dream! There were booths from all of the major divisions. Some, granted, we did not really care about (like the Disney Channel stuff), but there were presentations on upcoming films, a huge Parks and Resorts area called "Journey into Imagineering", a big stage, lots of places to shop and, right in the middle, a mysterious area covered with a blue tarp.
Of the shopping areas the one that seemed to have the longest line was, fortunately, the one we were least interested in - The Disney Store. Peeking in it did look like it had some cool stuff, but not so cool as to justify an hour wait on line. Instead we headed to the Dream Store.
This store had all the D23 Expo merchandise. There was a line but it went quickly. The store was also pretty crowded, but they had lots of cashiers so you could get out pretty quickly once you made your selection. I was looking for one thing only: a t-shirt. It's really the only thing I collect. I have to say - I was not really all that thrilled with the selection of T's. I settled on one that was sort of a grey color with a silhouette of Mickey and a logo stating "D23 Expo 2013". Nice, but I'm not totally thrilled with it. Still, getting a T for the event was a must-do for me, and that was my favorite of the ones I saw, so I got it. We both also picked up a copy of Marty Sklar's book "Dream It! Do It!", hoping to get the author to autograph it later.
We were both hungry so we decided to have lunch. There were some lunch trucks outside the arena, and after looking at their menus we decided on one with a pulled pork sandwich. We both got the same thing. Holy Cow. This would end up being one of the best meals of the trip. Absolutely delicious! Unfortunately I don't recall the name of the truck - I should have noted it but I didn't. I do think that the owner of the truck - a very large man with a shaved head - might be on one of those food channel shows or something because a little girl said she wanted a picture with him and I had the sense he was somewhat well known. Anyway, the sandwich was amazing. The pork was tendter, the bun was frech, the sauce was mild and very tasty and they also put a dollop of cole slaw on the sandwich which gave it extra zing. Wow.
After that it was time for "Disney Imagineering Legend Marty Sklar Presents… Dream It! Do It!". I have to say, as great as it was to hear Marty tell stories, this was not my favorite. Marty was actually quite charming and often funny, and I can't wait to read his book, but his presentation was really mostly an extended ad for his book. Still, he did talk about one thing that was quite funny - his propensity for showing up, barely visible, in the back of photographs of famous people. he showed several examples. Quite fun.
After the presentation we got in line to get his autograph. We were given strict instructions to hand the book to him opened to the title page, and were informed that he would not be doing any personalized signatures. Still, we were at least able to get a picture of both of us with him. We had hoped to get Stage Passes for "Broadway & Beyond… Celebrating the Stars of Disney on Broadway", but my Expo iPhone app informed me that the passes were already gone before we got out of the Marty Sklar presentation.
We then split up with Kirk going to a local 7/11 and me heading off to the Collector's Forum. I had sent a text to Annette from Mousefan Travel asking where she was because she told me she was going to be manning a booth and I said I'd stop by. Turns out she was in the collector's forum, right next to where some folks were broadcasting live for WDW Radio. I felt a bit sorry for her because she had to listen to the non-stop chatter from the broadcast but she seemed to be taking it in stride. I had told Kirk I would meet him there so I stuck around, talking to other Disney fans as well as some of the Mousefan Travel folks, and listening to the broadcast. Once Kirk came back we headed off to explore the Collector's Forum. I'm not much of a collector so I was not tempted to buy, although Kirk is more of a collector and I could tell that he could have caused some serious damage had he not showed some self-control. At any rate he did spy a few things that he said he might pick up later. The one thing that did tempt me was a Cast Member badge with my name on it for $15 at the Theme Park Connection booth. I assumed "John" would be an easy one to find, but the guy at the booth told me that the common names were actually harder because they are more in demand. The name badge did have "John" on it, but the logo was the modern "Disneyland Resort" logo and I didn't like it. In retrospect, for $15, I should have gotten it. Of course what I really want is "B'rer John".
After leaving the dream store we called it a night. I had to get up early for a "long run" so I headed back to the room. Kirk went out again and I was asleep by the time he got back. We had agreed that he would get in the line at about 7:00 the next morning and that I would join him once I was done with my run. Our first day at the expo was a rousing success!
Day 2 of the expo, for me at least, started with a long run. In my training plan I was scheduled for 14 miles but I got a bit of a late start. Still, when I left the room about 4:45 I was a bit confused by the line of people outside - it took me a minute to realize they were lined up for the expo. I won't get into details about the run - I have a running blog and in a few days I should have something up there - I will say that I started getting worried that they would let folks in earlier than they had the day before so I ended up cutting the run short a bit and I ended up doing about 11 1/4 miles.
After showering and changing I joined Kirk in line at a bit before 8. Even though indications were that this would be a busier day than the first day, Kirk was much further up in the line than we had been at the same time on Friday.
First up was Stage passes for "Charles Phoenix Presents". I had heard a lot about Charles Phoenix but never had a chance to see him so I was really excited about this presentation.
Kirk then went to get some food while I got in line for "Let the Adventures Begin: Live Action atThe Walt Disney Studios" which was happening in the Arena. The plan was for Kirk to call me when he was done getting food and I would tell him where I was so he could join me. This plan was foiled when they made us put our phones in plastic bags to prevent us from taking pictures. I figured Kirk would make his way in - but I found out later that he got there too late to get in (which more than likely would have meant that he would not have been able to join me anyway.) At any riet I was too late for the main arena and got into the overflow room. This room, which held I would say 2 or 3 thousand people and had 5 giant screens. Honestly, IMO it turned out to be a fine - albeit a lot less exciting - way to view the presentation.
The host of the presentation was Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn. The first thing he did was to talk about the major acquisitions that Disney has made including Pixar, Marvel and, of course, Lucasfilm. He started with Lucasfilm and talked a bit about Star Wars, including the fact they JJ Abrams is "hard at work" on episode 7. He also talked about how they were planning additional films, with different characters and alternate story lines.
He then moved on to Marvel.
First up: Thor 2 (Thor: The Dark World). They showed a trailer and a new, unfinished scene where Natalie Portman's character arrives in Asgard (Thor's world). Thor was one of my daughter's favorite movies of the Marvel films, and her favorite character is Loki (yes, I know, he's the bad guy). And Charlotte is completely enamored of Tom Hiddleston, who plays Loki. Thor 2 looks really good I must say - I'm really looking forward to it. I know a lot of folks didn't care for the first Thor movie but I found it to be quite entertaining. After showing the trailer Horn introduced Tom Hiddleston (judging by the reception I'm guessing that my daughter is not the only one with a fan-girl crush), Natalie Portman (who looks an awful lot like my other daughter) and, most surprising of all, Sir Anthony Hopkins.
Next up was Captain America 2 (Captain America: The Winter Soldier). Again, they showed a trailer and an unfinished scene (this one was very rough and involved an attack on a ship) as well as a very cool scene that involved Cap taking out about 6 guys in an elevator. I have to say that this movie looks absolutely awesome. Again Horn introduced some cast members including the Captain himself - Chris Evans. Also there was Sabastian Stan (The Winter Soldier) and Anthony Mackie (The Falcon). Mackie - who I think I recognize and is perhaps a comedian? - was particularly charming and funny.
They then showed a scene from a new Marvel Movie called "Guardians of the Galaxy" that looks like it might be really fun (I mean, a super hero raccoon! What's not to love?). Finally they showed a teaser for Avengers 2 which, if nothing else, confirmed that Iron Man will, indeed, be back.
After that I had to leave to get to the Charles Phoenix presentation. I got in line and called Kirk, but by the time he got there he was not able to meet me on line No big problem, though, I simply saved a seat for him. Charles Phoenix is a pop culture historian and comedian. I had heard many accounts about how funny his presentations are. And he did not disappoint. Basically he showed a bunch of old Disneyland photos and gave a very funny rambling commentary. A large portion of the show was dedicated to the motels that can be found surrounding Disneyland, comparing pictures of how they looked originally and how they look now. Phoenix lamented that the new designs were not nearly as interesting as the original designs, and I have to agree. the only hotel that still looks pretty much the same is The Alpine Lodge. Of course now you see the backside of Ornament Valley looming behind the property. If you ever get a chance to see Charles Phoenix (most of his shows are not about Disneyland) I would highly recommend it.
Charles Phoenix was scheduled to end at 1:00. From there our plan was to go to the arena for "Disney Legends Awards Ceremony" which was at 2:00, with hopes of getting into the main room not the overflow room. Well, Mr. Phoenix ran over and did not finish until 1:30. We dashed over to the arena and got in line as they were letting folks in. As we approached it looked like they were still loading into the main arena. About a dozen people ahead of us, one of the staff members started counting people. I thought to myself "I don't know what he's counting, but I want to make sure that we are among the people he counts!" so I made sure that we were in the right place to be counted. Sure enough we were one of the last he counted and we were ushered into the main arena - and put in the third row! Amazing! We were among the last to get into the arena and apparently we were used to fill a row that (I'm guessing) was reserved for VIPs. Awesome!
The ceremony, hosted by Tom Bergeron and Disney CEO Bob Iger. It was a wonderful ceremony to watch and I was struck by how sincerely humbled the recipients seemed. Here is a list of the recipients in the order that they were presented (as best as I recall):
- The aforementioned Tony Baxter - as charming as ever. What a great guy.
- Animator and Imagineer Collin Campbell - hs son accepted the award and told some charming stories including the fact that one of his father's works in hanging in the bathroom at Tangaroa Terrace.
- Actor John Goodman - I must confess that when I heard this I questioned why he was getting this honor, but when they went through his career I was taken by his long relationship with Disney including ABC and Touchstone Films. He seemed genuinely touched by the honor.
- Actor and comedian Billy Crystal - I had less of an issue with Billy Crystal getting the honor, but in fact I know think that his relationship with Disney is not as strong as Goodman's. He also seemed very touched, and was also (of course) very funny.
- Actor and comedian Ed Wynn - his daughter accepted the award and her speech was very classy.
- TV icon Dick Clark - his wife accepted. Also a touching, classy speech.
- Legendary animator Glen Keane - this was one I was really looking forward to. I have admired Keane's work for years. He gave a very interesting speech, revealing that he only got into animation when he was placed in the wrong department at CalArts! Lucky for us!
- And finally tech icon and visionary Steve Jobs - John Lassiter accepted the award in what was a heartfelt and emotional speech. "When I lost my brother" Lassiter confided, "Steve became my brother." Not a dry eye in the house.
An absolutely fantastic presentation. I know that a lot of folks have sadi that it paled when compared to last years ceremony, but no complaints from me.
After leaving the Legends ceremony we saw that a line for "Richard M. Sherman and Alan Menken: The Disney Songbook" was already forming. We got in the line but, after some deliberation, we decided we did not want to stand on line for 2 1/2 hours. So we got out of line and went out to get something to eat. We ended up going to the food court at the Hyatt.
Upon returning to the expo we got back in line for the concert. We ended up in the overflow room - not ideal but it was fine (although the vibe in the room was very different). The concert was fantastic. Richard Sherman was charming and energetic as he went through his extensive playlist of Disney songs. Menken came out after and did the same. A couple of difference I found interesting. First, Sherman shared the stage with a gentlemen (sorry, I don't recall his name) and they had a nice banter going back and forth while Menken was on by himself. Also, Sherman played his music from memory while Menken used sheet music (although I got the sense it was mostly there to remind him what to play). The show went a fair bit over but I don't think anyone was complaining. For the finally they shared the stage and both played "world" songs - Menken played "A Whole New World" from Aladdin and then he joined in with Sherman (and most of the audience) for - you guessed it - "It's a Small World". A terrific show and I loved seeing it - even from the overflow room.
That was it for day 2 at D23 - another action-packed day!
For day 3 it was my turn to wait on line while Kirk slept in. While waiting for coffee at the Starbucks in the hotel lobby I actually ran into legendary Imagineer Bob Gurr! I said "hi" to him and shook his hand. "I must have shaken about ten thousand hands this weekend!" he said to me. I was not surprised. I went to take a picture but realized I left my phone in the room. I ran up to et it but by the time I returned he was gone. I tweeted "Bob Gurr this morning at Starbucks - shook his hand. No pic - left my phone in room". I then got some coffee and headed out to get in line.
Day 3 of the D23 Expo was dedicated to the 60th anniversary of Walt Disney Imagineering, and as such there were several presentations centered around Imagineering. Interestingly, although this was the area that interested me and Kirk most, the only presentation that we were extremely interested was the first: "Walt Disney Imagineering’s 60th: Working with Walt". After filing into the presentation hall I looked up on the screen to see that my text from that morning was one of the texts that they were displaying on a big screen (they displayed texts throughout the day in the presentation halls). This panel discussion, lead by Marty Sklar, featured Imagineers who had worked with Walt telling stories of their experiences. They included Bob Gurr, Alice Davis and X Atencio. It was a bit difficult because, obviously, they are all aging and - Atencio in particular - had a hard time speaking. Still, they had many fascinating stories to tell and it was thrilling to listen to such legendary Imagineers and to get the chance to see them in person. A highlight for me was hearing X Atencio actually singing the Pirates of the Caribbean song - which he wrote.
|Bob Gurr (and Alice Davis)|
As I mentioned, that first presentation was the only one we had a strong desire to see. Additionally, we had not really been able to explore the expo floor all that much. So we decided we would spend most of the final day checking out stuff on the floor. I had eaten at Starbuck's but Kirk had not eaten yet so he went off to get something to eat while I started to explore.
Earlier I had eluded to a mysterious area on the floor that was covered by a blue tarp. The tarp had been removed, revealing a large section labeled "Tomorrowland". It looked intriguing so I went to get in the line. There was a staff member with a sign that read "End of Line - Ask me about FastPass". "OK" I thought, "I'll take the bait", so I asked about FastPass. He handed me a ticket with a return time of about an hour later printed on it. I asked for another and he gave it to me. I then walked around the Collector's Forum where I picked up a free book about planning luxury Disney vacations from a travel agency called "Glass Slipper Concierge". I also saw the booth manned by Russel Flores, author of "Seen Unseen Disneyland". This was a book I had been meaning to get so I picked up a copy and had the author sign it.
I then met up with Kirk and pointed out that they were offering Stage Passes for that day's presentations, which initially was not going to be the case. I suggested we get passes for "Walt Disney Imagineering’s 60th: Leave ‘em Laughing", which sounded like it might be fun. So we picked them up and headed to the Tomorrowland exhibit as our Fastpass time was up.
The Tomorrowland exhibit was interesting but very confusing. It was all about a mysterious case labeled "1952" that was found in the bowels of one of the Disney buildings. It contained a bunch of cryptic and seemingly unrelated items - newspaper articles and notes from Imagineers and such - that seemed to indicate that Walt had been planning a second "Progress City" somewhere in secret. It was set up as if it was all true - which of course it is not. It all appears to be part of a marketing campaign for the Brad Bird film "Tomorrowland" which is currently in development. If the plan was to build interest in the film, it certainly worked for me. I am very intrigued.
From there we headed to the Parks and Resorts exhibit "Journey into Imagineering". This was an exhibit we both were very interested in, but had not yet had the chance to visit. There was a line to get into the exhibit but it was only about 15 or 20 minutes long. Upon entering the exhibit we were shuttled into a room where we were shown a short and very well done presentation about the history of Imagineering. The large doors then opened and we were ushered into the main hall. Inside there were many exhibits focusing on different Imagineering projects including Avatar (which had a cool display featuring what looked like an Imagineer's office), Star Wars (a bunch of crates marked "Orange Harvest" - a nod to the secret working title of "Return of the Jedi") and the new Magic Bands that are being rolled out in Walt Disney World. There were also lots of really cool models that had been used over the years for designing attractions. This exhibit was one of the highlights of the expo for me.
We then went to the "Mickey's of Glendale" store - featuring merchandise usually only available to Imagineers. There was a lot of interesting merchandise, and I noticed that a lot of it was actually sort of cheap. And I mean that both in the good and bad sense. Some of the items
seemed cheaply made, but the prices were surprisingly low (by Disney standards). I really wanted an Imagineering t-shirt and I saw several designs I liked. Unfortunately my favorite - featuring the old WED logo - was made of very cheap material. (WED was the original name of Imagineering). The thing was, I also found a Tommy Bahama style shirt with the "Walt Disney Imagineering" logo that I really liked. I deliberated for some time and decided on the Tommy Bahama style shirt. I also bought a water mug and a pin. Kirk bought a t-shirt, pencil and the same pin.
By the time we got out of Mickey's of Glendale we were too late for "Leave 'em Laughing so we missed that. One thing that had been offered each night was to have Bill Rogers, the "Voice of Disneyland", record a voice-mail message for you. This was something I wanted to I got in line for that while Kirk went back to the Collector's Forum (he bought 2 posters). We were told that those of us in the part of the line I was in might not be able to get our voice-mail messages recorded, but I got through no problem. Mr Rogers asked me what I liked best about Disneyland and I said "The Haunted Mansion". So, he recorded a message with a Haunted Mansion theme. Very fun.
Well, that was it for us for the D23 expo. We had wanted to see "Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives" but didn't get to it. Other than that we saw most of what we wanted to see. This was an absolutely amazing experience and I really hope to be able to come back in 2015 - assuming they have it (which as of now they are saying that they will). As much as I enjoyed experiencing this with my buddy Kirk, I would also really love to come with my daughter some day.
After leaving the expo we went to The Garden Walk for dinner, where we ended up going to McCormick and Schlick. This dinner was delicious. I had an awesome wedge salad and a very good trout. Kirk had a bisque that he said was very good.
|My office for the day|
We both were scheduled to fly out of LAX late Monday, so we had one more day. I spent the early part of the day working, and the time difference from New York allowed me to stop working at 2 PM. Kirk told me he wanted to go back to Earl of Sandwich for lunch, but I new we were planning to make In-N-Out our last meal before leaving and I did not want something quite so heavy. but then, in the end, I still did end going to another of my SoCal favorites for lunch: El Pollo Loco. Once I finished up working, Kirk and I went back to Downtown Disney (including a side trip through the Disneyland Hotel were we saw Goofy) and spent the rest of the afternoon there. It was a very nice, low stress way to squeeze every bit of Disney into our vacation. After that we drove to the airport, stopping at In-N-Out on the way. A good SoCal way to end what was an absolutely fantastic vacation.
John and Kirk's Epic Trip Our West:
Intro and Planning
Part 1: Las Vegas and San Diego
Part 2: Disneyland Resort
Part 3: D23 Expo