Baja in my Westy: Side tracked by Disneyland

I got side tracked by Dinseyland. On Thursday AM my traveling companion Jenny landed at LAX. She'd never been to the Magic Kingdom and we had a day to kill before heading to San Diego. What else could I do?

It was amazing. We had a wonderful time and even I, a far too frequent visitor, found some new things to marvel at. Most interestingly, we had an incredible customer service experience.

For some strange reason we were admitted to California Adventure at a time it was closed to regular guests and only open to Annual Pass holders. We didn't have bracelets and were turned away from the few attractions we wanted to see. Upon returning to the Grand Californian, I mentioned my surprise at this to a cast member (are they cast members if they work in the hotel?) and then went to meet Jenny in the bar. A few moments later Steven, a member of the hotels management, came and found me. He apologized and then told us that our visit to the parks was on Disney. He credited us back the cost of our tickets and invited us to enjoy the park the next day. It was completely out of the blue and I was shocked. Steven made two fans for life.

We had a wonderful time and then Jenny drove us down to San Diego. Her first experience behind the Jupiter 2.3's wheel. We met up with another couple, also joining this VW caravan to see the whales, and had a lovely dinner.

By the time you read this we should be in Mexico. I hope the next update includes some prettier pictures. I am also planning to document the kitchen set up I put together for the trip, the camera gear I chose to bring, and all the other various bits and pieces I've thrown together, especially the van-mounted BBQ.

I hope I have internet connectivity!


Baja in my Westy:driving to Mexico in an '87 Volkswgen bus

Baja in my Westy: ready to leave LA


  1. Is the wheel huge and just about totally horizontal?  I’ll never forget driving an ancient vanagon across the Millard E. Tydings bridge in gusting high winds.

  2. Every employee AFAIR is a “cast member”, even those working in the retail shops in malls.

  3. Yes, even the people that work in the Animation studio are Cast Members.

    Also, if you make a return run for and have an hour or so to kill…Try “Trader Sams” at one of the hotels, I forget which one. So, there’s no admission price and you can just swing by for a bit. I think Cory did a link about it a while back.
    It’s a Tiki bar with animatronics that activate for some drink orders and heavily themed after the Tiki Room and the now gone “Adventures Club” in WDW. 

  4. Did WDW just a couple of weeks ago, the customer service was the stand-out incredible part of a generally excellent (except for my health) vacation.  Every single cast member was perfectly helpful and friendly — every reasonable request, and some unreasonable, were smilingly granted, every question was cogently answered, and every single cast member was nice about it and seemed so glad to help.  Every “can you” was answered with a “yes” or “no, but”, and the “but”‘s were good alternatives.

    Customer service is so important, and so generally neglected, that Disney Parks have won my loyalty forever.

    1. Do visitors to Disney resorts really refer to the paid employees as “cast members”? – I always thought this was some unbelievably perverse and misguided rumour! How funny! – I guess if calling themselves “cast members” helps their egos a bit, then more power to them!

      1. The term “cast member” was started by Walt Disney himself, as he felt that the people he was hiring for his new park each had a special and unique role to play, and weren’t just run-of-the-mill employees. Also, the park is “onstage,” and the employee areas are “backstage.” 

      2. Disneyland was conceived by moviemakers, and was deliberately intended to be a theater set- “Backstage”, “Onstage”, and “Castmembers” are not corporate-speak euphemisms. Everyone involved takes it incredibly seriously.
        When you go to Disneyland, what you are witnessing is a continuous show, and everyone there is conscious of that fact.

  5. We go annually to Walt Disney World. Every trip I email both the good and bad to customer service, making sure to mention the names of cast members that went the extra mile. Cast members get recognized for good behaviour, culminating in a Disney Legacy award (not to be confused with Disney Legends). Yee-ha Bob from Port Orleans Riverside was this years recipient.

  6. Much as I hate to reveal my secret formula for a successful Disneyland experience to so broad an audience (for fear it will prove self-defeating), I can’t help but blurt out that you picked a pretty good time of year for it.  Best thing, however, is to pick a Wednesday in January that is not too close to New Year’s or MLK Day.  The holiday crowds have gone home, and you’ll find at least half-a-dozen attractions closed for maintenance (Small World out for the count both this year and last, but who misses that?), but from opening until school lets out around three, you’ll pretty much be able to walk right on to any ride you like with practically no waiting.  And the cast members seem especially relaxed, as if the pressure’s slightly off when they’re not dealing with weekend/summertime/holiday crowds.  And for those who might balk at January weather, I’ll just note that it somehow happened to be sunny and 80 degrees both last January and this on the day.

    For the first time since my youth in the 70s, Disneyland feels totally worthwhile.  I’ll never go there again except on a January Wednesday.

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