In a joint educational organised by California Dreaming, American Airlines and Continental, 80 agents travelled to California. Divided into three groups, they visited Disneyland Resort, Sea World Adventure Park and Universal Studios, and spent time in Anaheim, Long Beach, Los Angeles and San Diego. We asked three agents for their impressions before and after the trip.
Before: I have been to Disneyland Paris and to Walt Disney World in Florida, but I hadn't been to California. We sell quite a lot of holidays to the US and specialise in tailor-mades to California, but I hadn't been able to give any personal recommendations about the area. I knew Disneyland wouldn't be as big as Disney World but imagined it would be fairly similar to Disneyland Paris. I liked the sound of Los Angeles and was looking forward to visiting Hollywood.
After: Disneyland is certainly a lot smaller than Walt Disney World and you really only need a couple of days there rather than the fortnight required in Florida. It has a lot more atmosphere than Disneyland Paris and somehow seems more magical. I love Los Angeles and would certainly go back - the whole place feels really glamorous and it isn't at all like visiting British cities, which don't have the same glitzy appeal. Hollywood itself was rather touristy and a bit disappointing but I am definitely recommending clients pre-book the tour of the stars' homes and spend a bit of time in LA.
Leah Boaden, Travel Consultant, Brewood Travel, Staffordshire, Age: 24
Before: I had only ever been to Miami in the US and although I really wanted a Disney holiday I had never been able to afford one. I have been selling a lot of Disney product so I knew all about them from the brochures but obviously it is not the same as seeing it all yourself. I thought the brochures probably oversold everything and that Disney was just one of those things you had to do but was really just a glorified Alton Towers. I imagined California would be full of very slim models, 24hr gyms and a lot of people walking around with face-lifts.
After: The whole trip was fantastic. Disneyland and Universal Studios are both just out of this world. I haven't seen any other Disney resorts but I would certainly pay to go back to Disneyland - it was all very exciting and turned me into a kid again. I enjoyed Hollywood and Beverly Hills but I wouldn't recommend spending that much time there because there is so much else to see and do in California. One of the highlights for me was the Amtrak train - that really gives you a different view of the landscape and I can't stop talking about it. I really benefited from the trip and my sales have rocketed since my return.
Vicky Mitchell, Sales Support Manager, Fly the World Travel, Ashford, Kent, Age: 20
Before: I had been to Florida and to Walt Disney World but not California. I had images from the TV in mind - I expected a great deal of glitz and glamour in Hollywood and Venice Beach and knew people get great kudos from saying they have been there. I'm involved in training more than selling so I wasn't directly involved in making bookings but the Disney products are important to our business. Having seen Walt Disney World I was interested to make a comparison and identify the differences.
After: If you have never been to a Disney park you won't be disappointed with Disneyland. It is not as big as Walt Disney World but in some ways that is better because it is more compact and intimate and easier to get around. I really like San Diego - it is quite different from other parts of the US I have seen, much more relaxed and laid back compared to the rush of Los Angeles and far less commercialised. I enjoyed Long Beach a lot too but I felt Hollywood was living off its past glory. The trip has brought the place to life for me and has given me more confidence to discuss it and make detailed recommendations.
Paula Graham, Sales Trainer, Keith Prowse Travel, Belfast, Age: 22
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