I’m going to throw it right out there. On our Palm Springs trip last March (Day 1, Day 2, Day 3) we made it to Disneyland, and whether it was by chance or serendipity, we had an unforgettable VIP Experience there. I meant to write this post a few weeks ago, but honestly I just started laughing every time I thought about it. Finally I have pulled it together to share Minnie Mouse’s story.
Our Disney fortune (due to this Minnie backpack) reminded me that while I can count on one hand the number of times in my life that I’ve had the opportunity to roll as a VIP, I could never begin to count the volume of times I’ve reminisced about those memories. Every single one of them is priceless. Lucky happenstance has now convinced me that splurging on experiences is NOT an elitist way of life and it is not frivolous. Spending your hard-earned bucks on an amazing adventure is an investment in living a great life, and living a great life is totally worth it!
The Spooky Haunted House Disneyland
Let’s talk about how this darling Minnie Mouse backpack led to some of the greatest hours ever for these three Musketeers, because this story needs to be told. Be sure to read to the bottom though for some other not-to-miss VIP Experiences to put on your bucket list!
Painting the picture a little, we had just driven over from Palm Springs in the morning. We spent a lot of time noodling over whether to leave at 4am and make the Disney Magic Morning work, but that was likely going to leave us in rush hour Los Angeles traffic, which wasn’t the morning magic we were looking for. We opted instead to get some sleep and leave at 8:30am. We arrived around 10:30am. That plan worked perfectly, and we were pretty hyped when we got there to hit the ground running. Yep we can confirm, that Spring Break is one of the busiest weeks ever at Disneyland, so Main Street was a mashup of hundreds of Mouseears. No biggie, the sun was out and we were “slowly” working the “FastPass” system.
At approximately 1:30pm, we made it on to the recently renovated Indiana Jones ride. Tori was super excited because she had never been on it before. Midway through the ride, my Mom leans over to me, throws her hands up and mouths the words “The backpack flew off. Everything is gone!” To be honest, it made me pause but it didn’t stop me from enjoying the rest of the ride. After all, nothing bad can happen at Disneyland, right? It’s the Happiest Place on Earth!
Happy Baby Niko at Disneyland on a different trip.
Exit stage left. The slippery, plastic Minnie backpack of my childhood slid right off the floor of the Jeep during the ride, and is for sure lost somewhere within Indiana Jones’ massive Temple of Doom (anyone else see the irony here?) It had in it, the car keys, the cell phone, the wallet, and the two-day passes. Ouch.
As the realization set in, and still donning Mouseears, we had a somewhat panicky conversation with a ride attendant who explained that they had 90 minute wait times and wouldn’t be able to shut the ride down until the park closed at 12:30 AM that night! However, another attendant mentions to us that the “ride has been breaking down a lot today and we should keep checking back.” With Disney’s assurance they likely would be able to find it, they sent my Mom to Disneyland City Hall to fill out paperwork. We did not have Parkhopper Passes and were only there for a day, so my Mom encouraged Tori and I to “leave her with a latte” and try and have some more fun. She was bummed to be spending her precious time at Disneyland filling out paperwork though, and understandably stressed about the situation.
Tori and I decide to sneak back and “see if the ride is broken.” In a funny turn of events, the new ride attendants think the ride has been shut off while we were away and they say they did a walkthrough (as it turns out, the shutdown had occurred earlier in the day, before we lost the backpack). When everyone realizes the problem, we are speaking to a ride attendant that surprisingly looks, and is dressed, exactly like a young Indiana Jones himself. I simply explain to him how disappointed we are, because we only have ONE DAY HERE and WE’VE LOST EVERYTHING. We are just having such a “CRUMMY DAY” I say. Here’s where it goes VIP. Disneyland DOES NOT WANT YOU TO HAVE A CRUMMY DAY my friends. He immediately leaves the area and returns with the Manager who presents us with “3 personally signed VIP passes” good for ANY ride in the park – which is pretty amazing, because it’s about 3:30 pm, getting super hot, and Disneyland is literally “splitting at the seams” in terms of park capacity. The Manager tells us the lines are too long to shut down now, but they will try during the parade and we should keep an eye out.
Long story short… we get Mom back from City Hall, we use these 3 VIP passes in coordination with the FastPasses she still had in her pocket, and for the next few hours we get Disney’s magic royal treatment. First up, Nemo Submarine ride. We walk straight to the front of the line, show our “Crummy Day Pass” and voila… enter submarine. This particular ride doesn’t have a FastPass option and the line was a sweaty mess of diehards. We absolutely would have missed it without our VIP passes, and it turned out to be a great ride.
Next up… Autopia, where the attendant says our pass doesn’t work because it’s only for FastPass rides. At which point, I have to explain again that we are totally having a crummy day, and that they gave us these passes and said we could get on any ride with them. That’s all she needed to hear. The attendant wished us a better day, let us keep our VIP ticket, and we were in our Autopia cars in less than a minute. Super fun.
We carried that joy rush all the way through the night (although we were regularly checking the Disneyland mobile app to see when Indiana Jones might be closed down). They DID shut the ride down for us during the parade! When we went back to the ride they had found the backpack and absolutely everything was still in it. While my Mom clutched the bag to her chest, I said to the attendant “I would hate for her to always have a bad impression of this ride. Do you think she could go again?” I think Mom was in shock I would say this, but Tori broke out in to a huge smile with the possibility, so of course she couldn’t turn it down. The attendant said “Here’s where you hook the bag to the pocket in front of you, and don’t lose it again, this is your last chance.” Disney escort to special elevator and immediately we are back in Indiana’s Temple of Doom… this time it’s more dynamite than doom. We are riding “high” and “soaring” now. To everyone at Disneyland that helped to change a Crummy Day in to a Dream Day for these three Musketeers we are forever grateful!
The next day we get to talking at California Adventure, and my Mom says someone told her Disneyland has a real-life “not-lose-everything Crummy Day pass” VIP experience you can buy. The cost is pretty expensive, but for four hours you can get VIP passes to all of Disneyland. Some smart cookies have figured out that this is the best way to go, because if you don’t have to spend 3-4 days waiting in line to see what you could do in 4 hours, you can save a lot of money and have time to see other sights too. You have to admit, it’s an interesting Disney offer!
Back to those other VIP Experiences on my hand…
- Two years ago in Europe, we bucked up for a private treasure hunt of The Louvre in Paris. I had been to the Louvre once before as a teenager, and my memory of that experience is more like being in a herd of tourist cattle. I could honestly say I was “in the same room as the Mona Lisa,” but I actually didn’t “see it” above all the crowds, which is kind of sad. I didn’t want to make that mistake twice and our privately led treasure-hunt tour was nothing short of phenomenal. We saw and truly enjoyed the most exquisite pieces in The Louvre in under two hours, and it was like taking a magical journey through art history. WORTH EVERY PENNY. If you ask my daughter what her favorite part of a two week trip to Europe is, she’ll tell you The Louvre. For an 11 year old to pick a museum as her best memory is pretty awesome in my book! We followed it up with a stroll through the park across from the museum where we found the cutest little Parisian trampoline park. It was a day of priceless Paris!
- Two times in my life my husband and I have splurged on VIP concert experiences together, and they are the two times I remember the most. Once was for front-row tickets to see RUSH. My eyes were glued to the stage. The songs I had heard before, but this was so different. These guys have their PhDs in music, and to watch their genius talent on their instruments from arms length left me spellbound. The other time, we went to a local Pepper concert and had VIP access for only about $50 more. The sound check experience was unique and fun. Meeting the band was great. It brought the evening alive in a way that the top row never could have.
- When I was a young girl, one of my favorite things to do was go see my Uncle Sam perform on stage in Washington. Although it was community theatre, he was a Broadway Star in my eyes! My favorite was seeing Hello Dolly, and I’ll never forget when my Uncle took me back to meet Dolly herself!
If you made it all the way here, you deserve some other great ideas for VIP Experiences. These are new ones I’m adding to my bucket list.
- Macy’s Day Parade. I’ve always wanted to go to NYC during Thanksgiving for the Macy’s Day Parade. I’ve actually physically been there before on that weekend, but I missed it all. So crowded all I can remember is my short self looking up in to a sea of umbrellas and shuffling along the sidewalk with the crowds. Not really a memorable trip. I’m convinced the only way to see this event is to go VIP … get behind the scenes on the balloon prep and meet the people behind the magic. Watch the parade, warm and cozy with mimosa in hand, from INSIDE the ballroom of a lovely NYC hotel. I bet it’s A-mazing!
- I went to college in Washington, D.C. and would love to take my family back to see the sites someday. I recently learned you can contact your Congressional office and reserve your spot for a free VIP tour of Capitol Hill.
- I know some lucky ladies headed to Nashville in the Fall, and I noticed there is a VIP Experience to have a local musician take you around to the sites and includes a private performance. How spectacular and unforgettable would that be??!
Sadly we eventually had to put our feet back on the ground after our Disneyland VIP Experience and face the long drive back to Eugene. Headed back to Oregon the view isn’t half bad though. Adventure awaits at home (a story for another post). We just had no idea how much.
Happy Memorial Day Weekend All You VIPs,