The other aspect of the trip Mary and I particularly enjoyed was meeting up with Adrian Fischer, former buddy of mine and currently Director of Entertainment Operations at Disneyland. I remember 20 years ago asking Adrian what he wanted to be when he graduated, and he talked at length about his interest in being a theater producer, perhaps on Broadway, and then pausing and saying, "either that, or maybe running Disneyland." Well, 20 years later darned if he isn't indeed running all the theater at Disneyland. He oversees approximately 1500 productions a week, including the aforementioned Alladin.
Posing with Adrian Fischer, Director of Entertainment Operations, Disneyland, in his Long Beach, California home.
Talking to Adrian was amazing because within five minutes it was like old times again; and Mary and Tigana took an instant liking to him. Adrian was full of amazing anecdotes about his experiences as a producer and executive, which Mary (being a management professor) found as fascinating as I did; and since we introduced Adrian as "The Boss of Disneyland" to Tigana, he was pretty much guaranteed a place on her list of favorite people! I got to spend three evenings with Adrian, which I felt a bit guilty about because he was of course working during the week and had house guests on the weekend, but it was the first time we'd seen each other in person in nearly 15 years, so what the heck. I was surprised at how easily we found picking up the conversation from where we last left off, and how comfortable it felt; or to put it another way, just how much I had missed Adrian.
It was also great seeing Adrian's home. He has an astounding place, with the kind of furniture and décor one usually only sees in magazines. I was particularly impressed by some of the pieces that Adrian had designed himself. (I asked, "Where do you find a carpenter to do this kind of craftsmanship for you?" To which he made the obvious reply, "One of the guys from Dinsey in his off hours." Well, duh!) I often wonder what happened to that old gang of mine, and Adrian is certainly one of the success stories.
On the Cheap
We did the flights down on airline points, so airfare was essentially free. We had originally intended to stay for free with Adrian in Long Beach (his home includes a guest suite complete with separate entrance), but in the event, Mary's first trimester condition required frequent naps, so we needed to be within walking (wheelchair) distance of Disneyland, so we opted to stay in one of the three Disneyland hotels instead. We decided to splurge and go for concierge service which gives you free breakfast, videos, and so on, and had a great 14th floor view of California Adventure (the Disney theme park adjoining Disneyland.)
The view from our Paradise Pier Hotel Room
Fortunately Adrian was able to give us one of his employee vouchers so we paid about half what the room normally goes for. And Adrian was able to sign us in to Disneyland for free each day, so that was another huge savings! But we still managed to spend a bundle. I don't know how most families manage it, but I must say I thought Disneyland provided value for the money, and was a much better experience than I had expected.