Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Before it was the dream suite

Now that Disneyland has turned the Gallery into the Dream Suite, there's been a lot of talk in my circle about the Gallery it used to be. The Dream Suite does sound pretty cool now that I have seen pictures and read about it a little. But this is not about the Dream Suite.

Before it was the Dream Suite, it was an art gallery. Before it was the art gallery, it was meant to be Walt and Roy Disney's private apartment. So, there is a patio overlooking the park and the Rivers of America.

At one time, Disneyland sold tickets for seats on the patio to view Fantasmic! at night. I think they were $40 each and they tried to sweeten the deal by serving a catered dessert that you couldn't get anywhere else in the park.

But before that, patio seating for Fantasmic! was by park invitation only. And my sister and I got an invitation.

It was sometime in the 90s and we had annual passes and visited the park once a month or so. We liked to visit the gallery because at that time it had cool exhibits (the quality of the exhibits declined later). There was a lady who worked there who treated us (and everyone else, I assume) like we were her dear friends. I think her name was Julia.

We had seen people sitting on the patio at night, watching Fantasmic. So we asked Julia about it one day. What do you have to do to get to sit on the patio to watch the show? She told us that the patio was reserved for guests of the park, like members of the fire department or city council. But, come back tonight, she said.

So we did, somewhat shyly, climb back up to the gallery after dark. And she opened up the patio doors and let us out. Another family joined us, a party of 3 or 4. So that was it, just us, in the dark, enjoying the show from our private balcony.

We wrote a thank you letter to the park, and Julia told us later that our commendation earned her a prestigious award. We saw her a year or so later and her name tag had the word "Ambassador" on it. She was now a Disney ambassador, traveling around the world doing publicity for the parks.

My sister said she doesn't remember the patio viewing, but her husband remembers her telling him about it. Now I don't feel so bad about all the things I have no memory of, all the things I have to rely on Shannon to remember for me.

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