It started out at 7:30 am. My wife and I drove from our hotel to the Grand Californian and self-parked across the street. We walked to valet parking as instructed and met Disneynut there. There were others milling about, waiting for Martha Blanding (Director of Walt Disney Event Services) to meet us.
Disneynut suggested we hand out the little surprise that we had arranged for the other participants for this event. We opened up a rectangular box and handed out baseball caps with a replica of the lamp from Walt's apartment and the words," Breakfast at Walts Apartment, December 27, 2005". Everyone was really appreciative of the nice gift that Disneynut had surprised them with (I helped with the embroidery and design).
My jacket patch
Presently, Ron Dominguez, our host for the morning arrived with his wife and we also gave him a commemorative cap as well.
Shortly thereafter, Martha arrived with another castmember. She instructed us to go with him thru the maingate and she would take Mr. Dominguez and his wife in thru a castmember entrance. Martha also received a commemorative cap.
We went into the Park and waited at the gate next to the firehouse to be let into the backstage are so we could go up to Walt's apartment. The little door next to the large gate opened and we were granted access.
Just inside that door was a full length mirror advising castmembers that they were going on-stage and to check their appearance and their smile. That was kinda cool.
We went up the staircase and just before Martha opened the door she turned around and said, "We have to ask that no photographs be taken inside the apartment. If we see you photographing inside, we will ask you to remove image from your camara. But it is okay to take pictures and video on the patio."
Although everyone complied with the request, nobody with a camera was happy about it!
I was disappointed that we were not allowed to take pictures inside the apartment, but as a non-paying guest of Disneynut's I wasn't in a position to start complaining about it. Having said that, I think it was terribly unfair, (and unethical) to auction off the opportunity to visit Walt's apartment (for $9000) and not let the bidders know that photography would not be allowed inside the apartment.
What would have been appropriate is this: Disney could have had their photographer take a picture of each participant in the apartment with Ron Dominguez and Mickey Mouse (who was also in attendance at the end of the event), and then possibly one group photo. A group photo was taken outside on the patio, but inside would have been better.
We walked inside the apartment and I was surprised at it's small size. It is one room, probably 20' x 30' (if that). Here is a link to some pics inside the apartment. http://www.rainbo.net/apt.htm (as a sidebar, I noticed that these people won dinner for 2 at Walts Apartment thru NFFC, and they got to take as many pictures as they wanted)
We walked thru the apartment and went out on the patio.
Mr Dominguez and his wife were there already with Martha, and some Foods castmembers. The event was sold as a continental breakfast, but it was more than that. Eggs benedict, potatoes, sausage, bacon, and much more. I can't fault them for the breakfast, it was pretty good.
Disneynut and I sat down at a table for 4, and who should join us but Ron Dominguez and another event participant!!
I haven't met most of you Micechatters, but I am a gregarious person. I'm glad that I didn't put very much food on my plate because I was busy asking Mr. Dominguez many questions about his time at Disneyland, and his family home that was sold to Disney to make room for Disneyland.
Mr Domingez was featured in the current issue of the E-Ticket magazine. I had already received that issue and read it thru from front to back, so I had a great point of reference for discussing things with Mr. Dominguez.
Ron Dominguez is such a humble man! He has so much info about the Park and it's beginnings, but if it involves him directly he won't bring it up until he's asked. The man does not brag about himself in the least. Fortunately, I already knew that from the article, so I asked him lot's of questions about relocating his family home to the rear of Main Street for use as executive offices, his interest in local charities, and his being the perfect (local) guy to represent Disneyland to members of the Anaheim community. What a fantastic experience!
After breakfast, we were allowed to look around the interior of the apartment. Plenty of period chairs had been brought in, so we all sat down with Mr. Dominguez and he gave us a short presentation on his history with Disneyland, the history of the apartment and then he fielded questions from everybody that asked. He was very gracious and not in a hurry at all. We must have sat there with him for at least an hour. It was great.
At 9:45 am, Martha came inside and informed us that there was someone outside that wanted to meet us. Mr. Dominguez said, "show him in" and in walks Mickey Mouse all dressed up in a tuxedo with gold glitter lapels.
We then went outside for a group photo, and then we were allowed to take more pictures outside and have Mr Dominguez sign autographs. One of the participants had brought us all copies of the E-Ticket magazine, so some of the participants had him sign their copies. I had him sign my E-Ticket
and a copy of my auction catalog
All in all, I had an amazing time! After the event, Disneynuy and I joined up with my wife. Disneynut had arranged for us to have reserved seating for the 50th Anniversary parade, lunch at the Blue Bayou, the "Holiday Time at Disneyland" tour with reserved seating for the Christmas parade. Break for dinner on the patio at the Plaza Inn, watch the fireworks show from there, then off to reserved riverside seating with dessert buffet for Fantasmic! MY GOSH! We were beat!
I even got to take a picture with Maynard!
I'd like to thank Disneynut for inviting me to be his guest for Breakfast at Walts Apartment, and for all of the other wonderful events that were planned for us that magical day! Words cannot express my gratitude!
Thanks, Circarama, for the wonderful report...too bad they didn't tell you sooner about the photography ban. Pardon my ignorance but why are some of the faces blanked out in your photos?
Sounds like you and DisneyNut had a D-land day for the ages.
PS - I met Mr. Dominguez a few times during my working years there and found him to be the same gracious man you described here.
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
what a great report Circarama! I too am sorry about the pictures. I think that was mainly Martha Blanding's rule since this was her event, although I can't disagree with her regard to maintaining the dignity of the appartment. Did you like the nice garlands resort enhancement draped around the central pillars for the holidays? I'm glad you got a chance to experience the appartment! Oh, and did you get to hear the music box???!!! I sure hope so!
-"We can see a new horizon...built on all that we have done..and our dreams begin another thousand circles 'round the sun!"
-- Epcot: Illuminations "Reflections of Earth"
-"...Each dream that you chase, each wish you embrace can lead to a fabulous faraway place...!"
--DCA: World Of Color
Circarama beat me to the trip report. I have to say that spending time with Ron Dominguez was a pure joy and it made the trip worthwhile. We learned a great deal about the history of the park and the way that old school management believed in giving a true show.
I had the pleasure of spending a few moments poking around Walt Disney's bathroom. A cast member friend stated to me that Walt was a somewhat lazy person when it came to bathing (who knows if it is true). Walt had four shower heads installed in his shower at different levels so he did not have to bend over to wash everything...Call me lazy, but I am calling my contractor today to see what he can do with my shower!
Some original furnishings are still in the apartment. Overall, it was a joy to see a space that made you feel like you were at Disneyland in the 50's waiting for Walt to walk up the stairs and greet you. My appreciation to our guest relations hostess Mary and Timm from Merchandise Event Services. Both were a true class act and very forthcoming with facts and information (Martha could learn a lot from these two).
Thanks to Circarama for dealing with a bitter unpleasant person such as myself the entire day and for allowing me to call him at 3:00 AM when I was being showered with assistance, food and gifts by the friendly folks at the Grand Californian (only a joke, read my other posts). It was a pleasure to spend the day with Circarama and his wife. Let's hope to do it again soon!
I too am sorry about the pictures. I think that was mainly Martha Blanding's rule since this was her event, although I can't disagree with her regard to maintaining the dignity of the appartment.
Oh phooey balooey!
"Maintaining the dignity of the apartment"? By not allowing a small group of guests to photograph it? It's not like these folks were shooting porno, for cryin' out loud!
I feel that Martha once again did the typical Martha Thang™, and simply exceeded her authority. Given that members of both NFFC and the DL Creative Advisory Council have been permitted to take photos of Walt's apartment during various tours over the past two years, not to mention Pixar animators and their guests at an after-hours event hosted by Tony Baxter this past August, Martha's decision makes no sense whatsoever. It's not as though everyone visiting that apartment has been told to put their cameras away, as a matter of official DL policy. Far from it.
Folks who attended this breakfast paid through the nose to do so, and should have been told upfront last July, that inside photography would not be permitted. I'm guessing that no such restriction existed when the auction was originally held, and that this was a last-minute decision made by Martha, for who knows what reason.
If I had paid that much money for this breakfast, but wasn't permitted to take photographs, knowing that Pixar animators were permitted this activity just four months prior, I'd be asking for a partial refund, if not outright demanding one.