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  1. #1

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    Talking CommuniTOUR AS IT HAPPENS + Gumball Rally 2014 (4/27 - 5/4)

    Edited to add: as a note, this trip report includes spoilers for the surprises that were in store for us on our tour. If you choose to take this trip, you may or may not get the same surprises that we got. Please do not spoil these surprises for the other adventurers on your tour, as part of the fun was in the surprise. And if you want to enjoy the Backstage Magic Tour without any spoilers, then please stop reading here until you return from your trip.


    I am hopeful that I will be able to keep this up for the whole week... the plan is to write my trip report AS IT HAPPENS this time, since I know so many people are going to be interested in what this trip entails.


    First of all, for those who don't already know, this trip is the CommuniTOUR combined with Gumball Rally 2014. The CommuniTOUR is a group of Communicore Weekly (the Greatest Online Show) fans getting together for an Adventures By Disney tour. (This will be the Backstage Magic tour, and sounds like a lot of fun.) In addition to what ABD has on the schedule, there are rumors that Jeff and George (the Communicore Weekly hosts) have other fun things planned for us as well.


    And as to Gumball Rally... well, there are already tons of threads about it in the "Contests, Meets, and Events" section of the forums, so if you need to know what the Rally is, you should go there.


    In any event, I hope you decide to follow along with me as I post about the trouble we get into for this next week... Hopefully some of you will be joining me for some (or all) of it as well!
    Last edited by bookwyrm; 05-02-2014 at 11:45 AM.
    proud member of Rally team It Doesn't Matterhorn, winners of the 2012 Team Spirit award

  2. #2

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    Re: CommuniTOUR AS IT HAPPENS + Gumball Rally 2014 (4/27 - 5/4)

    It's the first day of the CommuniTOUR! Yay!

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    Today was our travel day, with everyone flying in and getting driven to the Loews Hollywood Hotel for our first stop. We had some time to ourselves in the afternoon before meeting up for dinner. Since Dave and I had stalked Jeff and George the last time there was a Communicore Weekly event (and had become friends as a result), we didn't feel at all strange about pestering them until they arrived and we could hang out. Scarlett also joined us for the fun.

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    We wandered the Hollywood Highland shops a bit and saw some of the Walk Of Stars.

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    We also stopped in the Roosevelt Hotel to look at the architecture. Looks an awful lot like the Hollywood Tower Hotel, yes?

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    At the appointed meeting time, we wandered back to join the rest of the group for dinner.

    Dinner was great: a nice salad (with potpourri, as one of the guys said), mushroom chowder, chicken, tri-tip, AND salmon, and cheesecake and chocolate cake for dessert. So tasty.

    At the end of dinner, Dave and I presented George and Jeff with the shirts we had made them for the event: Grumpy George and Alligator Jeff shirts, based on one of the episodes of Communicore Weekly.

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    After dinner, our Adventure Guides Natalia and Dean took us to Madame Tussauds wax museum. The entire group had a blast wandering around and taking photos with the statues.

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    our Adventure Guides


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    When we got back to the hotel, we wandered down to the lobby bar for a nightcap. (Me, Dave, Scarlett, Jeff, George, and Jeff L.) We hung out there quite a while, just talking. There was a bit of singing along with the music playing in the bar, as well as an attempt to sing Communicore Weekly The Musical for Jeff L.

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    And finally, it was time to call it a night. Just think: today was the WELCOME day. The tour proper starts tomorrow. I'd better get some sleep.
    proud member of Rally team It Doesn't Matterhorn, winners of the 2012 Team Spirit award

  3. #3

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    Re: CommuniTOUR AS IT HAPPENS + Gumball Rally 2014 (4/27 - 5/4)

    Looks like a blast. Can't wait to see more.

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    Re: CommuniTOUR AS IT HAPPENS + Gumball Rally 2014 (4/27 - 5/4)

    Ooooh I'm jealous I saw the ads for that Adventures by Disney trip and really wanted to go... then I saw the price lol. But I'm glad I get to live out parts of it through you guys!!!

    Looking forward to this trip report and seeing you guys at the rally
    2014 Gumball Rally Team- Skyway Sweethearts
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  5. #5

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    Re: CommuniTOUR AS IT HAPPENS + Gumball Rally 2014 (4/27 - 5/4)

    I hope you are able to take pictures of the Muppet Studios!

  6. #6

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    Re: CommuniTOUR AS IT HAPPENS + Gumball Rally 2014 (4/27 - 5/4)

    The first full day of the CommuniTOUR started with a short walking tour of Hollywood. We started just outside our hotel, in the Hollywood-Highland Mall, and got photos of the Hollywood sign.

    From there, we walked to the Dolby Theatre, took a group photo on the red carpet stairs (not on my camera, so I can't include it here), and then walked over to the TCL Chinese Theater.

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    It was a treat to see the hand and foot prints with nearly no one blocking our view - the bonus for getting up early, I guess. As an unexpected bit of magic, we got to go inside for a tour of the theater given by the manager!

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    The inside of the theater was amazing!

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    Naturally Jeff and George took a bathroom break photo at the Chinese Theater.

    After the amazing trip inside the theatre, we headed up the piano stairs and back to our rooms for a (very) short break before heading over to the Jim Henson Studios. That part was AMAZING. We had our first celebrity spotting of the trip, too, since Brian Henson was walking around the lot. (We were very good and polite geeks. We kept our enthusiasm under control - barely.)

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    Me and Dave with Kermit!

    We got some pictures around the Henson lot (outside, where it was okay), and got a demo of the digital puppetry rig they use for a lot of the characters onsite. After more pictures, we went over to the sound stage, where we got to see how they film the traditional puppets. Jeff even got a chance to work one of the puppets, alongside our guide (Grant), who was being the puppeteer for DJ Panda.

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    Adventure Guide Natalia with Grant and DJ Panda

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    Following the amazing tour of the Jim Henson Studios, we had a wonderful lunch at the Tam O'Shanter. (Prime rib FTW!) The manager there also gave us a little history of the restaurant, including showing us Walt Disney's favorite table and letting us all take pictures sitting there.

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    Adventure Guide Dean took pictures of us at Walt's favorite table

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    Tam O'Shanter bathroom selfie!

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    I think Jeff plans to go inside every phone booth we pass... just in case. You never know. The phone might ring.

    After lunch was the first surprise of the day: a trip to Carrolwood to see Walt's Barn and trains!

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    The Three Caballeros!

    I've wanted to go to Carrolwood ever since finding out about it but had never made it, so this was a great experience. We got a tour of the barn itself and all the train models inside, plus we got to take photos on the combine car, and we got to hear a history of the combine while sitting inside it.

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    inside the combine car

    The volunteers who helped us at Carrolwood were all fabulous, and were so passionate about their work there. It was great to see so many people that enthusiastic about something that Walt loved. Really a great place, and everyone should go there to check it out.

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    A hidden Mickey at Carrolwood!

    After our surprise trip to Walt's Barn, we headed back to the Loews Hotel, where we had a moment to freshen up before the second surprise of the day: sundaes at the Ghiradelli shop across the street. Yum!

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    And then it was time to rest and relax for a few hours... until later in the evening, when it was time for DISNEY LEGEND BOWLING at Lucky Strike. (Jeff was Rolly Crump, as should be obvious. The others were Rory (Harriet), Melanie (Alice), Scarlett (Ub), and Dave (Bob). George and I sat out of the bowling, the better to enjoy our food.)

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    Bowling - or at least watching bowling - was an absolute blast. The food was good, too, so this is definitely somewhere I would return if the opportunity came up. The prices on some of the things did seem a bit high, but since we were in Hollywood no one really though much of it.

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    The hotel pool at dusk

    And now, we're back in the hotel packing up and getting ready for an early night, since tomorrow is an early morning. Tomorrow we relocate to the Disneyland Resort after a day touring the Disney studios and Imagineering, so I'm REALLY looking forward to that. Have a great night!
    proud member of Rally team It Doesn't Matterhorn, winners of the 2012 Team Spirit award

  7. #7

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    Re: CommuniTOUR AS IT HAPPENS + Gumball Rally 2014 (4/27 - 5/4)

    Wow, they really planned a great trip for you guys. I guess I should watch Communicore more often. Thanks for posting such a detailed report on the go, it's been very enjoyable to read so far.
    The Mickey audience is not made up of people; it has no racial, national, political, religious or social differences or affiliations; the Mickey audience is made up of parts of people, of that deathless, precious, ageless, absolutely primitive remnant of something in every world-wracked human being which makes us play with children’s toys and laugh without self-consciousness at silly things, and sing in bathtubs, and dream and believe that our babies are uniquely beautiful. You know…the Mickey in us.
    -Walt Disney

  8. #8

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    Re: CommuniTOUR AS IT HAPPENS + Gumball Rally 2014 (4/27 - 5/4)

    I've been to some of those places you've shown in your report, but to go there with a fun group of people who are all passionate about the subject seems like it would really elevate the experience beyond merely visiting it.

  9. #9

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    Re: CommuniTOUR AS IT HAPPENS + Gumball Rally 2014 (4/27 - 5/4)

    I'm in DCA all day today - I'll keep an eye out for you all!! Fantastic trip so far!

    Thank you to Poisonedapples for my awesome signature!
    KellyMcG86's Disneyland To Do List

  10. #10

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    Re: CommuniTOUR AS IT HAPPENS + Gumball Rally 2014 (4/27 - 5/4)

    Today's post, sadly, will contain a limited amount of pictures, as we weren't allowed to take pictures inside Walt Disney Imagineering. That's where we started the trip, and we took a handful of shots outside before we went inside (and had to put the cameras away).

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    We got a tour from Cast Member Dave at Imagineering. The first stop was a room that is used as a green screen / sound stage and a meeting room. My Dave talked to the A/V Cast Member there (whose name I didn't get unfortunately) and got all kinds of details on how the room was used both now and in the past. One of the examples that I heard was the close-up sections of the pre-ride videos, such as showing the close-up of buckling the seat belt in Star Tours.

    Dave showed us a "sizzle video," and then talked to us a bit about the way that Disney brings the show to life. Next (in the same room) was another video about the Autonomous Audio Animatronic. The video showed us examples of Lucky the Dinosaur, Wall-E, and the Mobile Muppet Labs. At the end of the video, Dave quietly pulled aside a curtain, and LUCKY WAS STANDING THERE, LOOKING AT US.

    (Fortunately our Adventure Guides were able to take photos of us with Lucky, but we don't have them yet.) It was incredible to see just how interactive Lucky was with the group. He was a great character, and I'm really sad that he's not in the parks any more. Still, I'm so floored that we were able to meet him.

    After that, we went to the main sound production area, and got to see the room where they used to record the CircleVision sound. They did a demo of the audio system that they used to create Stitch's Great Escape, but half-way through the demo the fire alarm went off. We thought we would be evacuated from WDI, but luckily we didn't have to. (While it would have been neat to get exac'd, but didn't want to cut anything out due to the fire drill.)

    Next on the WDI tour was a stop in the sculpture room. We saw a variety of maquettes, and models of heads for the different Audio Animatronics (such as in the Hall of Presidents and Pirates of the Caribbean). We were distracted while there, though, by the original statues of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs from Disneyland. (The ones that are up in the park now are duplicates.) Again, we got pictures, but they are on the Adventure Guides' cameras.

    The last full stop was Mickey's of Glendale's, though there were brief stops along the way to look at the Graffiti hallway. But there was plenty of shopping! Hooray for specialty swag!

    After the WDI tour, we headed to the Walt Disney Studios for lunch at the commissary. We enjoyed lunch, and then got a tour of the Studios from our Adventure Guides.

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    Dean and Natalia took us around the Studios lot, and showed us Pluto's Corner (aka Dopey Drive & Mickey Avenue). We also saw the Animation Building and the outside of the Theatre.

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    We walked through the old ink & paint building (which is now used for music), but the next big stop on the Studio's tour was the Archives. George, as a librarian, studied the book collection, and Jeff immediately searched for It's Kind Of A Cute Story. (He found it! Yay!)

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    The next stop was the Legends Plaza. We all ran around getting photos with the replica of the Partners statue in the plaza (since we could TOUCH this one, unlike the one in Disneyland) and looking at the handprints of the legends. (Again, Jeff looked for Rolly's plaque, and found it.)

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    Once we were done at the Studios, we got back on the bus and headed to the Disneyland Resort. We got to the Grand Californian quite quickly, when you took traffic into consideration, and all piled out of the bus and into our hotel rooms. One of the first things we did was head out onto the balconies and figure out whose room was where.

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    After freshening up and before dinner, some of us headed down to the Hearthstone Lounge for a drink before dinner. Jeff and George also recorded a small section for the podcast, and we got to chime in.

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    Next was dinner at the Big Thunder Ranch BBQ. That was a lot of fun, and our group enjoyed singing along with the performers.

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    Finally back in Disneyland!

    Following dinner, we all went on the Haunted Mansion as a group, and after the ride we got to go around the side to see the second pet cemetery.

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    Next was a ride on the Matterhorn as a group, and then the "official" part of the day was over. We still hung out with the Communicore Boys, going on Big Thunder as a group (using AbD fastpasses). So much fun! And then most of the remaining group went on Space Mountain together while I did some quick shopping.

    The last event of the night for us (in fact, where we are right now) was Trader Sam's for drinks and laughs. It has been a great way to end the evening, but now I think we're all about three minutes away from crashing, so it's about time to go to bed. See you all tomorrow!

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    Selfie by Jeff!
    Last edited by bookwyrm; 05-01-2014 at 09:50 PM.
    proud member of Rally team It Doesn't Matterhorn, winners of the 2012 Team Spirit award

  11. #11

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    Re: CommuniTOUR AS IT HAPPENS + Gumball Rally 2014 (4/27 - 5/4)

    Quote Originally Posted by bookwyrm View Post
    Dave showed us a "sizzle video," and then talked to us a bit about the way that Disney brings the show to life.
    Sounds like you are having a fantastic time on this trip! I am curious, however: Just what is a "sizzle video?"
    Proud member of Team It Doesn't Matterhorn, winners of the 2012 Gumball Rally Team Spirit Award.

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    Re: CommuniTOUR AS IT HAPPENS + Gumball Rally 2014 (4/27 - 5/4)

    Quote Originally Posted by bookwyrm View Post
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    Me and Dave with Kermit!

    One of these things is not like the others,
    Take a close look and see what I mean,
    One of these things is not like the others,
    (Hint: It's not easy being green!)

    Proud member of Team It Doesn't Matterhorn, winners of the 2012 Gumball Rally Team Spirit Award.

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    Re: CommuniTOUR AS IT HAPPENS + Gumball Rally 2014 (4/27 - 5/4)

    I was curious about the CommuniTour! I'm so happy to see that you're doing a trip report for us! It's been super awesome so far! I can't wait to see what else George and Jeff have planned for you guys! I'll be seeing you guys near the end of this trip report so see you all real soon!

  14. #14

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    Re: CommuniTOUR AS IT HAPPENS + Gumball Rally 2014 (4/27 - 5/4)

    What an excellent trip.
    You can never run out of imagination. The more you use, the more you gain.

  15. #15

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    Re: CommuniTOUR AS IT HAPPENS + Gumball Rally 2014 (4/27 - 5/4)

    This is a GREAT TR.

    Do they do just a tour of WDI? We'd LOVE that.

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