Looking for something special to do on your next Disney Vacation? I am often asked for ideas on ways to make a second, third, or 20th trip to Disney extra special or ways to help someone celebrate while on their trip. Buttons are a fun way to celebrate and can often lead to unexpected celebrations! Ordering specialized cakes is another fun way to celebrate. Maybe a special story room or character experience for the kids.
But you may be looking for something bigger, an activity, maybe just something different to do. If so, consider a tour! I recently did the Keys to the Kingdom Tour and LOVED it. I cannot recommend this enough or say enough great things about it. Let me tell you why a tour is just the right addition to your next Disney trip.
1. Get in the park before it opens!
We scheduled our Keys to the Kingdom Tour for first thing in the morning. We chose the earliest tour of the day and where asked to check in at the Chamber of Commerce in Magic Kingdom at 8:15 am. We got off the bus, stood in a short line for guests with dining or tour reservations, gave our name to the cast member and voila! We were in.
I was completely enamored with the park at such an early time of day with almost no one in sight. Music was playing but there was a neat calmness. The sun was shining bright and I just wanted to run down Main Street right to the castle. We checked in at the Chamber of Commerce. We were given a special nametag, a bottle of water, coffee, and a special lanyard with a radio and earpiece so we could always hear our tour guide. They told us to wander around and meet back at 8:45. AWESOME. I had plenty of time to wander up and down Main Street and get some great shots of the park with no one in them. It was really something special to experience.
2. See the park from a new perspective.
When we began our tour, the park was about to open. We still had a few minutes of quiet and our wonderful tour guide walked us through town square and gave us SO many interesting details about Walt and the park. I was eating it all up! As the Magic Kingdom Welcome show began, we were on Center St. just off Main Street and we watched the crowds pouring in. I have been in that crowd before and it is so exciting to be walking quickly (not running) to wherever you are trying to get to first. When the rush began I was a bit jealous that they were getting into the park and having such excitement to begin their special day. It was hard to sit and watch. But, as the crowd got bigger, I realized how great it was to just sit calmly with our group and watch. We had all day, our own private tour guide, and lots to see, learn, and do.
Since you cannot take pictures during the Keys to the Kingdom tour that also provided another perspective for me. I usually walk around Disney with my camera out taking pictures of everything I see from every angle imaginable. Without the camera out I took in SO much that I would have missed. I was forced to create memories in my mind and try to take in every sight, sound, smell, and feeling. It really was a great exercise for me and it taught me that I don’t always need my camera out, that being in the moment can be the most enjoyable.
On this particular tour, you will also get to see some backstage areas, including the famous utlidors. Some people wonder if this will ruin the magic. For me, it just intensified my love for the Magic Kingdom and made it feel even more magical. When you get an inside look at all the details and imagination that go into each experience, each view, every possible scenario that a guest could be in, you realize just what a magical place it is.
3. Make the most of your time
On many of the tours you get to ride some of the rides in the park. On our Keys to the Kingdom tour we rode Jungle Cruise and Haunted Mansion. And when we got there, we walked right on! This made the tour even more enjoyable as we got to see a little behind the scenes of the actual ride but also saved time that we would have had to spend standing in line.
I was very impressed with the way the tour guide used our time. I couldn’t imagine we would get to do as much as we did in just 4-5 hours. We walked at a leisurely pace, took breaks, had lunch, and rode rides. Never did we feel rushed or tired. In fact, it was a nice break from the crazy fast pace I tend to take in the park. I find myself usually rushing around from attraction to attraction trying to do as much as possible in a day. The tour gives you a chance to slow down and really notice some amazing things you have probably been overlooking. Every time I am in Magic Kingdom, I now have a greater appreciation and love for what I am seeing and experiencing. And I do tend to slow down a little more now.
4. Ask anything!
Not just anyone can be a tour guide at Disney. They train and study hard to be in this position. While they have certain things they want to share with you and tell you, each tour will be different because of the tour guide and the group. Our guide shared some great stories with us that no other guide could have shared. It made the experience come alive. Our group also asked a ton of questions which also made the tour more enjoyable. When you are on a tour, be sure to ask any question you think of. How often do you get to walk the parks and eat lunch with a cast member? They are happy to answer your questions and you can tell they love their jobs. This is a great opportunity to ask anything you have wanted to know about being a cast member, Disney trivia/history, secrets of the parks etc.
5. Choose your tour.
Again, I highly recommend the Keys to the Kingdom Tour. You must be at least 16 years old to do this particular tour. We had a guy in our group who turned 16 that day and had been waiting for that day to be able to do the tour.
There are a lot of other tours you can do as a family or just for adults. Some tours would be great on a first trip to Walt Disney World, and others I would recommend once you have been there before (Keys to the Kingdom being one of them).
Tours for Adults Only: Backstage Magic (all 4 parks), Backstage Safari (Animal Kingdom Park), The Undiscovered Future World (EPCOT), Wilderness Backtrail Adventure (Disney’s Ft. Wilderness Resort), Holiday D-lights (EPCOT), Keys to the Kingdom Tour (Magic Kingdom),
Tours for Tweens/Teens/Adults (age restrictions vary): Dolphins in Depth (EPCOT), Aqua Tour (EPCOT), Wild Africa Trek (Animal Kingdom Park), The Magic Behind our Steam Trains Tour (Magic Kingdom), Yuletide Fantasy (EPCOT), Walt Disney: Marceline to Magic Kingdom (Magic Kingdom)
Tours for the Whole Family (age restrictions vary): Behind the Seeds (EPCOT), Night Safari (Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge), Sunrise Safari (Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge), Family Magic Tour (Magic Kingdom),
Need some help planning your next trip to Disney? Or, are you planning a trip for the first time? Contact me! I am Aleshia Sokoloski, a Travel Agent with Travel with the Magic.