we arrived at the studio about 15 minutes after the event started, and realized when we had difficulty finding a parking spot in the massive structure that this was a pretty well-attended event. this was further confirmed when we finally made our way down to ground level and got in the line to check in:
to their credit, in true disney style they really know how to make a long line move fast. we weren't stuck in any one spot for very long, and it was fun to see the little touches of mickey as we moved forward.
this is where general hospital is filmed too. it's on my bucket list to find my way onto the set one way or another someday.
finally, we reached the front of the line where we received our wristbands, commemorative ornaments and event guide.
as we made our way into the party, we found little booths where local vendors had set up shop.
and although it wasn't particularly cold that evening, we couldn't pass up a cup of hot chocolate.
our first photo op was here:
and then while the old lady and her special friend wandered off to see what else there was to see, the bean got sidelined at a craft table. every. single. time.
there was a toy drive going on, and i was bummed that i'd totally forgotten to grab some toys to donate.
more photo ops, because why not?
the bean was dying for a glow-in-the-dark wand of cotton candy, so we stopped to grab some when we finally found the booth for it.
and we grabbed a couple of peppermint fairy dusted cookies on our way to see santa.
there were games to play:
as much popcorn as you wanted to eat:
and screenings of an old disney christmas cartoon every half hour.
"one day, this is where i'll have an office, right mom?" indeed. never stop dreaming, little girl.
as we made our way to the studio commissary, we were serenaded by the choir.
there was a limited menu available, which included walt's favorite chili. the bean, of course, opted for the mac & cheese. shocking.
once we were done eating, we headed out to the back of the studio where minnie was posing for pictures by the giant christmas tree. the line was super long, so we passed on it.
we did get to ride the super slide though, which is always fun. the bean loves this stuff.
and then it turned out that we'd waited a little too long to make our way towards the typically employees-only studio store. the line had already closed for the evening, so we didn't get a chance to do any shopping. that's a yay!/boo. right there.
but we found a few more photo ops and then the "snow" started to fall, which made everything better.
and even better? we turned around and found minnie sashaying her way towards us on her way out of the party. she made a beeline for the bean and pulled her in for a hug before making her exit.
while this was happening, the old lady had found a way to do at least a little bit of shopping in the employee center. there was a bit of a line, but the cast member was still allowing people to enter. huzzah!
there were a few fun studio exclusive items, but at $195 for a puffy jacket and even more for a cool laptop backpack, we opted to pick up just a couple of small items. as i stood in line to pay, i noticed the hidden mickey on the wall:
and we found this interesting too:
and then the party was over. the announcer gathered everyone around for a final song - the old "mickey mouse club" farewell. you know the one..."now it's time to say goodbye...to all our company..."
we made a quick pitstop at the potty on our way to the parking structure, which was located in the studio gas station.
and in the car, the bean happily cracked open the coco blind box figurine she'd picked up at the store and found this:
so much fun! and it'll have to tide us over for the next two weeks while our disneyland passes are blacked out. i don't even know what to do with myself right now. but at least they'll open back up during the second week of her christmas break. it'll still be crazy busy, but you know we'll make our way over there at least one day so we can soak up the last of the holiday decorations before they go away for another year.