Playing with Pluto at DCA 7/30/08

So there we were, visiting Disney’s California Adventure on Wednesday morning, July 30, 2008, hoping to knock out a lot of DCA’s attractions we hadn’t seen yet before we headed over to Disneyland for Carol to make penny wishes for ourselves and our friends on the Disney Echo. First off we rode Soarin’ over California, a great hang-glider simulation ride that instills pride in the beauty of that great state. Then we went to DCA’s version of the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror and when we finished riding we browsed a bit in its gift shop. Then we were exiting the TOT Store and we had a pleasant surprise…. Right there was Belle from Beauty and the Beast leaving the street area to return backstage, but she was still literally on stage. And Pluto was coming out to play on stage for the first time: AKA “shift change.” Pluto came out to do the character meet and greet thing, but he never stood still! Belle, in her golden-yellow ball gown suddenly had a green tennis ball in her hands (which were encased in elegant full-length gloves) and she started teasing Pluto with it! Pluto, like any lively cartoon dog, was really into it. Belle and Pluto played fetch together. Then Belle really needed to go backstage so she threw the ball down the street.

Pluto bounded after it!

The ball, with Pluto close behind it, bounced over to a character meet and greet area where Mrs. Incredible and a boy character from Playhouse Disney were interacting with Guests the way that the Disney Characters traditionally do (standing in one place, posing, signing autographs, Guests standing in line to meet them, etc.).

We couldn’t hear it, but Mrs. Incredible seemed to talk to Pluto, like people talk to pets, and teased him with the ball, “Wanna play fetch, boy?” Cast members called out that Guests should make way and stand to one side, Pluto was going to play fetch. So then it was Mrs. Incredible’s turn to toss the ball, and off it went bouncing and Pluto literally ran after it, sometimes on all fours, sometimes upright.

Guests, and we were among them, were intrigued by this. Camcorders and cameras were out. Pluto went down the street and never returned to the starting point location. We, Pluto’s peeps (his fan people), followed along “What’s this going to be like next??”

We went far from the starting point of all this, Tower of Terror, and having a lot of fun!.

We kept following Pluto as he followed the ball. We saw other Characters we could have interact with, but we and others kept up with Pluto rather than stopping.

Rich did pause long enough to take a quick photo of Sulley from Monsters Inc posing with Guests.

But we still managed to keep up with Pluto to see what he’d be up to next. And we’re glad we did!

Award Weiners is a place we all wound up at in DCA. It has a reputation as having very good hot dogs.

In fact, there really are places in L.A. that have some of the best hot dogs and wieners in the U.S. Pluto went there to barter his tennis ball for food… a hot dog — or cookies (dog biscuits).

And Pluto went right up to the counter at Award Wieners on his hind legs, tried negotiating with the Cast Members to get them to give him food in exchange for the tennis ball, and he had his head really stuck into the service window, too! Then Pluto also tried bargaining with a Guest there who had just gotten his own hot dog, but no sale.

“I’ll let you have my bag of chips” said one Guest, but Pluto wanted a hot dog, not chips. Poor starving Pluto! He hung his head, then shook his head in sad frustrated sorrow.

Another Cast Member took pity on him and tried to redirect Pluto with the tennis ball, “C’mon boy! Tennis ball!” The CM (a character interaction “handler”) tossed the ball down the street again. Bounce, and bounce, and bounce, and Pluto caught up to it. But he noticed the red fire hydrant right there…

Uh… Pluto, looking at the fire hydrant, suddenly had the idea it was time to “go”… But we were all watching him “do his business”, and he bounded around on all fours a bit, sat up and begged, then on all fours lifted a hind leg towards the hydrant. A small little girl got in close to see, oooops! Rich asked Pluto if he could do it again, in order to get it on camera… and it turns out Pluto had still more he could “do” against the fire hyrant, as the little girl innocently watched.

Then it was time for more play now that Pluto was “relieved!”

A different CM handler threw the ball down the street again! Bouncy ball, far it goes, and Pluto chases it and we chase Pluto, we’re all laughing and enjoying how cool this is, parents, kids, all having fun, with cameras and camcorders taking it all in! Now we’re in a totally different part of California Adventure than where we started! Rather than standing still, posing, autographing, and saying hello, Pluto is no longer rooted to the spot. He moves around, and CM handlers for him are stratgically placed to enact that part of the “show” and playtime. It went flawlessly!

We ended up in the DCA entry plaza, in a shady park there where other Characters were meeting and greeting. Pluto went up to them, on hind feet, licking and nodding and welcoming himself to the Characters who started off being there in the first place, and “bothered” some of them there as a pet might be overly friendly when greeting people it recognizes and feels very friendly toward. It was funny, and fun, chasing a “dog” all over DCA!

Many Guests noticing Pluto moving around followed along and were delighted.

We noticed this back in March on our last visit: The Disney characters who interact with guests are far more animated and lively than in Florida. This experience with Pluto “plussed” that even further.

California’s heat is not as bad as in Florida, so Pluto wearing what he was could move around more actively and farther and be very very physical in July vs. in Florida in July anyone wearing that would just melt in 90+ degree summers in Florida outdoors.

It was delightful, and extraordinary.

Experiences like that, happening to be in the right place at the right time, you don’t go finding Disney magic, it finds you.

And maybe they do this all the time at the California Disney park, I don’t know, but it was different than anything we’d ever seen in Florida the last time we were there, Easter 2005.

-Carol Koster

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The Disney Echo at DisneyEcho.emuck.com is your interactive online magazine to discover new wonders and share magical Disney memories.

The display on this page is set up to show the posts in reverse chronological order of when they were posted originally, so if you want to read the reports from the beginning, go to the last post on the last page and work forward. The first entry about the Koster family's July 2008 Disneyland trip can be found by clicking here and the first entry about their Easter 2008 Disneyland trip can be found by selecting this link.

That link goes to the very first travel-related article on this website: Welcome to our Trip Report.

The entry made after that first one is found after clicking the link named "Our Vacation Plans At-A-Glance" and that link is found above and below the first entry.

The third entry is similarly found after clicking the link above and below the second one, where the link is named "Packing Up"

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FTC-Mandated Disclosure: As of December 2009, bloggers are required by the Federal Trade Commission to disclose payments and freebies. Unless otherwise noted, Rich Koster did not receive any payments, free items, or free services from any of the parties discussed in these articles. He pays for his own admission to theme parks and their associated events, unless otherwise explicitly noted.

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