I have just returned from my honeymoon and we booked the tour as we are both huge Disney fans and really thought this would improve our knowledge. However, our 22 year old 'guide' who had only worked for the company for 6 years told us nothing we did not already know. Like in previous reviews they do talk about the windows on Main Street, and hidden Mickeys and signatures etc from Imagineers, but nothing new that we didnt already know. I have read countless books on the history and the magic of the Disney parks and at one point I felt like I was informing our guide. I was staggered to see how some apparent Disney fans were amazed by information that is readily available in books and on the internet?! I felt this was a huge waste of $$$ and time at the parks, much cheaper to buy The Hidden Magic of Disney book by Susan Venness, I really thought that you would reaaly get an insight into the working of the parks and a real behind the scenes look at the working of the rides etc, and yes there is an $8 lunch included! Not bad for $75 each!
My parents and I took the tour October 2010, during MNSSHP. We have frequented Disney many times and this was a must see for us once we heard about it. I was not aware that lunch was included, so this was a bonus when we arrived! Lunch was delicious. The only negative is that you have to use a park admission as well as pay for your tour.
We took the earliest tour and entered the MK when no one else was around. We checked in and when the tour started, we strolled down Main Street, learning about the "show" and our tour guide pointed out all the different windows above the shops. To the right abotu halfway down Main Street, we sat and he asked us what our most favorite job would be on the WDW resort. As the park opened for the day, hundreds of people ran past where we were sitting.
Afterwards, we meandered down Main Street again and then rode Pirates and Jungle Cruise. Our guide told us all kinds of information that we would not have known. He pointed out some hidden Mickey's and threw in other tidbits. After we rode Pirates, we walked backstage to look at the parade floats. They were practicing for the Christmas parade and the old signs and stuff were so cool to see! Think Mickey's Birthdayland.
When we were walking backstage in Frontierland, we passed Jessie and Woody doing a meet and greet. While our guide was explaining that they have to be in character until the yellow line and can only take off their costumes after they get past the fence, Woody and Jessie took off their costumes and they were two men hankering for a cigarette! So glad they have plastic smiles on their faces. It just made us realize that even though they are always smiling, they are always waving and dancing too. That they actually have to do.
The Utilidors were amazing, even though our video kept skipping. When we were leaving the Utilidors, the afternoon parade came by on its way to Main Street, so we got a personal wave from all the cast members.
Overall, it made the magic even more special because you realize how much work actually goes into the flawless Disney experience. A must see!!
I was just at the Parks (10/2010) and did the Keys to the Kingdom Tour. Our tour guide (Scott - he brought along a wand) was great. Amazing Tour.
Keys to the Kingdom is a great tour. Its full of interesting history about the Magic Kingdom and some glimpses of backstage areas. I've done the tour twice in the past two years and each time I learned something new. The experience is highly dependant on how good your guide is. The cost is a bit high but I think it would be worth it to any die-hard Disney fan. It is a long walking tour so be sure to wear comfortable footwear. Cameras and bags are not allowed, you'll be asked to rent a locker to store your belongings if you bring anything along. Lunch at Columbia Harbor House (30 minutes) is included as well.
Had a great time. We were just a group of 2, so at lunch, we got to sit with the tour guide and grill him even more. Learned a lot and loved it.
I took the 9:30am tour in late April 2010, with tour guide Evelyn.
The tour begins with check-in at the Tour Gardens, where each member of your group is given a name tag, security ID, and ear piece. We were shown a menu of Columbia Harbour House, and asked to make a selection for lunch. Complimentary water bottles and coffee was also available at check in.
The tour began promppty and began with a walk along Main Street and onto Center Street. The tour guide explained the 4 keys, Safety, Courtesy, Show and Efficiency, and how they apply to various elements of Main Street USA.
From there we headed to Adventureland, with a look at some details that are often missed by guests. We took a ride on the Jungle Cruise, with the tour guide taking the mic to explain a lot of backstage info on the Jungle Cruise. (We boarded through the exit).
From the Jungle Cruise, we headed backstage near Splash Mountain to get a backstage look at the Pirates Show Building, Splash Mountain water facility and show building, and the Parade Buildings. Fascinating to see how industrial Splash Mountain is backstage, some serious hardware running that. Splash was also surprisingly noisy backstage. Inside the parade buildings we got a close up look at SpectroMagic and the daytime parade. We also saw the Move It Shake It floats drive by - amazing how noisy those things are when there is no parade music playing - they are also quick!
Heading back onstage, we headed through Lilberty Square and arrived at Columbia Harbour House at exactly 12pm for lunch. The food was all laid out at preassigned seating, and we had around 20 minutes to eat. Very well organised with typical Disney efficiency. A well timed break for a recharge.
Next up was the Haunted Mansion. Entrance was via the Servants Entrance - neat little corridor. We had lots of backstage info ont he Mansion, and headed on fvor a ride to take in some of what had been talked about.
More details on Liberty Square followed, and then onto Cinderella Castle for a look at forced perspective.
Next we headed over to the Crystal Palace to head backstage and into the Utilador tunnels. It was fascinating to see down there, and all the infrastructure that is in place. I would have liked to have seen more of it, but security protocol nowadays rules that out. We spent about 30 minutes there, including a video that shows some of the functions of the tunnels.
Another walk backstage led us back to our starting point to conclude the tour.
Running at 5 hours, it's a non-stop detailed look at the Magic Kingdom. Our tour guide Evelyn was great, she really knew her stuff and had great enthusiasm. It's also worth mentioning that the headset audio system makes a huge difference. We could hear every word without constantly having to gather around. It was especially useful in the noisy Main Street USA environment.
I would highly recommend this tour for anyone - it's difficult to fault. For someone new to the parks, it may well give them a whole new appreciation for what goes on. For regulars, it's an absolute must. I'm not sure how much of a re-do-ability the tour has, but do it at least once.
Very informative and eye opening. I would not suggest this tour for youngsters who believe in the characters.
I did a 9:30AM tour in early May 08. Arrived at the park before it opened and there was a looooooooooong line, but if you just head over to the right, you can simply tell them you are there for the tour and they let you right in.
The reason I mention this is because if you can do this before the park opens, you get into the park when there are about 50 people in it. That in itself was just as good as the tour! I was able to get pictures on Main Street and in front of the Castle with NOBODY in them! It was like a ghost town! Also, I was able to do all my shopping on Main Street and send it all back to my room BEFORE the park even opened. So this is something to take advantage of if you can get the 930 AM tour.
Checked in at City Hall and got our ear pieces and passes. I forget our guides name, but he did mention that he worked in guest relations and normally didn't do the tours. However, he was very knowledgeable although it sometimes felt like he would only provide information if you asked specific questions. Most tour guides point out things and give info even if people don't ask questions. It seemed he only talked about things in detail if we pressed him on it.
Overall, it was an interesting tour and neat to get to see how the magic happens and why. Although its glaringly obvious that WDW has attention to detail bar none, once you do the tour, you will see that their attention to detail is beyond the average person's comprehension. You learn as a fact that they really do think of everything.
Lunch was a the Columbia Harbor House and was good. They rope off a private area upstairs so you can eat in peace ;) Plus they give you trading pins you can only get if you do this tour.
You can hear fine through the ear pieces as the tour goes through. I'd say the range was easily 30 feet although sometimes you can get a little static if you wander away from the group too much. But for the most part, it was easy to follow along as a group and list to the guide even though you were intermingling with regular part foot traffic.
I would have given it a 10 if my guide was a little more forthcoming, but there is no doubt this tour was worth the $60.
This is a wonderful tour, the information that our tour guide Jeff gave us was worth it's weight in gold. I really did not care for the under the kingdom section of the tour, I was looking forward to seeing costums begining made, none of that but the information above ground was great from learning about things on Main Street like the sidewalks on the right are wider because people walk to the right and the names on the windows and how they are set up. Roy Disney is the first one and Walt is the last one. We went on the Jungle Cruise and Haunted Mansion. Learn some of the history the Liberty Square and why there is a difference in the pavements and what the cobblestone area represents. Lunch was good. I would not recommend this tour for the first time WDW person, because you look at the Magic Kingdom is an entirely different way after that. When I return in October I will schedule another tour
My family and I took the keys to the 9:30 your this past week with Daniel as our tour guide. We meet around 915 and recived headsets, name tags, and a backstage id. There were a total of 21 of us on the tour from various parts of the world. We started off the tour walking down main street and stoping every now and then to talk about different aspects of the park. from there we ventured into adventureland and rode the jungle cruise. From there we headed into frontierland and went backstage. We saw the parade floats and the backside of splash mountain. Then it was time for lunch. We ate lunch at the columbia harbor house as a group in a small section upstairs reserved just for the tour. Everythign was all set up when we arrived. Our tour guide even ate lunch with us and talked more about the park. From there we went on small world where 22 adults fit in one small world boat. (wow..i thought the boat was gonna sink! but it didnt). From there we walked back towards main street adn heading backstage and into the highly anticipated tour fo the utilidors. That was really fun. Our your guide Daniel was very knowledgeable about the park and life of walt disney. I highly recomend the tour for anyone who wants to know more about the park. i hope i am not giving anythign way. it was a fantastic tour!!!
We took this tour in 2000. At that time, lunch was not included so I am sure that it is even better now. We really enjoyed the behind the scenes portion of the tour. We were taken to the makeup and costume rooms and shown the detail that goes into preparing each character for presentation. The Utilidors were fascinating. We would have liked a better behind the scene ride experience. All we got to see was the Haunted Mansion. I understand that now they do the Jungle Cruise, Splash Mountain and Pirates of the Caribbean. We plan to do this tour again when our girls turn 16. I have found that all of the tour guides are well informed and very enthusiastic. This greatly adds to the tour experience. We especially enjoyed the behind the scene parade experience. It was fascinating to see the staging area and learn about the "visual" deception practices. All in all this was a great tour and well worth the money if you want to learn more insider information about Disney.
I took the Keys to the Kingdom tour on May 10, 2006 and I had a wonderful time. We started with a general overview about the Magic Kingdom in Florida and how Walt obtained the land. We proceeded to walk down Main Street to lean where some of the names on the store windows came from. A lot of time was spent on the history of the Magic Kingdom, which I found very interesting. We rode Haunted Mansion with special direction on looking for certain Hickey Mickey\'s. We were given the history of all the lands plus several of the attractions. We also visited the backstage area behind Splash Mountain. Of course, we had the visit to the Utilidors which was fun. This tour is just full of interesting information and is great fun. I highly recommend it. Please note that tour is not for children under 16.
Basically, the problem I found with the tour is that I am one of those theme park people who rushes A to B to C and this was slow for me - too slow.
The other thing is that the rides you go bac kstage on are not the best - I would love to see behind the scens of splash mountain, etc.
But all the other stuff is good - good guides, good info, lucnch included, utilidors. If never done, definately give it a go and it is bvery good value
The Keys to the Kingdom Tour is an excellent one! Our tour guide made the tour worth it... so hopefully you will have a good one.
Reasons to take this tour: you've really wanted to see the Utilidors... you want to see what the parade float storage unit looks like...
Otherwise, the tour is really about describing the magic of the Disney theme parks, as well as share the history and heritage of Disney. If you are a big Disney expert, Backstage Magic has a lot more and may suit your interests better!
A rated kid very poor becuase it tells secrets and good unmask the magic.
We went in 2002 when you could us it for the Silver Plan. It was very good. You were taken back stage and under ground. You were taken on some rides and given the history of those rides. Lunch was provided and it was excellent.
You learn alot about the history of Magic Kingdom. It does require a lot of walking. We should have taken a mid day break after the tour ended. We were very tired by time the park closed
You cannot take pictures, but they will lock up your personnel belongings while on the tour.
I did the 8:30 tour. Our tour guide was Matthew. He is by far, the best tour guide I have encountered. He was very knowledgeable and made the tour really fun. The tour started out with a trip down Main Street. This part of the tour deals a lot with Walt and his dreams and ideas. Next, we made a quick stop at Cinderella Castle. He explained how all the buildings in Main Street and all around the park, are built with a forced prospective, giving the illusion that the buildings are taller than they really are. Next stop - Adventureland. The tour guide explained how Disneyland was a complete failure at first and put the Disney brothers in a lot of debt. But from that, came a good lesson which helped them when it was time to make Disney World. He also explained how the idea for the Utilidor came about. After that quick chat, we took a trip backstage behind Splash Mountain. For most of us, this was our first glimpse at "backstage". After that, we took a private tour of the Jungle Cruise where the guide pointed out a lot of things not usually pointed out by the skippers. Ding! Time for lunch! Lunch was served at the Columbia Harbour House. 11:00 is a bit early for lunch, but I liked the fact that we had the 2nd floor all to ourselves and lunch was already waiting for us when we got there. After lunch, we took another quick look at Cinderella Castle from a different angle where we were better able to see the forced perspective come into play. From there, we went behind Crystal Palace and into the backstage area again and went into the Utilidor. Seeing the utilidor was a neat experience. There's really nothing out of this world down there, but it's pretty cool knowing that you're one of the few, non-CM people that has ever seen the utilidor. My overall rating of the tour is Excellent. I really learned a lot about different parts of the park and I would recommend it to anyone.
OK, age is 16+ (to not spoil the magic) so I rated it very poor for kid friendly.
All of these tours are somewhat dependent on your tourguide. This tour I have only seen and heard of very good and excellent. It is about 5 hours long so you need to be comfortable with the group. Also on this topic, the makeup of the group can really impact the tour.
Even someone that thinks they know all about Disney will learn some things and look as Disney a little differently after. You get a good backstage experience and visit the utilidors. There is opportunity to ask the kinds of questions of Cast members that you didn't feel appropriate in a private setting and generally get back an answer that is not necessarily "the party line". Lunch is included. If you do one, this should be it.
I was very excited to do this tour, mainly to see the Utilidors. I was not disappointed with the back stage portion of the tour, even though we didn't get to see the intricate workings of the attractions. I was disappointed, however, that we didn't get a full tour of the Utilidors. Only shown a small portion of them. Other than that, the tour was great. Our guide was knowledgable and very helpful with any questions we had for him.