What does a Disney fan do when they’ve exhausted all attractions, shows and eateries in every park but still craves something new? Well if they’re anything like me…obsessed with Disney history, the Disney Company and the behind the scenes organisation of the parks…they’ll book up one of the Walt Disney World tours!
During my last visit to the World I FINALLY got to attend the Keys To The Kingdom tour in Magic Kingdom. I’d spoken to friends and family who raved about it…I’d read reviews that were ‘so, so’ about it. Knowing that I have a craving for knowledge of what goes on behind the magic I knew that I had to experience it for myself in order to have my own opinion of the experience.
Now I’m not going to go into the finer details of the tour as I don’t want to spoil it for any of my readers that have yet to take part but I will say that personally I thought this tour was AMAZING!!!
I understand from reading reviews that your tour guide can make or break the tour. Our guide was knowledgeable, with a fun but dry sense of humour and even strict in some places. By the way, their costumes are awesome! We had a great time with our guide and he even let us know that he used to be a ‘friend’ of Goofy’s!
We booked the first tour of the day which meant that we got into Magic Kingdom before the park opened…cue photos on an empty Main Street! As an extra bonus we were waiting outside City Hall for the tour to start when the performers turned up for the park opening ceremony and one of the male dancers stopped to make a fuss about my “awesome” hair!
You are given a ‘guest’ badge to wear on the tour and boy did I feel special walking around MK all morning showing off my ‘guest’ pass Other guests look at the group; you can see them wondering who you are and why you are part of a group with a guide…it makes you feel like a VIP.
There were so many highlights of the tour for me. We got to ride Haunted Mansion, but jumped the queue by using a cast member entrance! We got to go backstage; seeing the back of Splash Mountain, some of the parade vehicles being worked on and we might have even seen one or two characters on their break!
And then…the moment I had been waiting for all my Disney fan life….we went into a shop on Main Street, passed through a ‘cast member only’ doorway, descended some steps…and entered the Utilidors…..
Yes, I know they are only corridors, there’s nothing magical about them….or is there? You see to me there is….I like stripping back the pixie dust and seeing what makes Walt Disney World operate. Down in those corridors it felt like any other workplace, in any other part of the world. There were notice boards with motivational messages, staff rooms, training rooms, lockers and tired looking staff. To me it’s important that we don’t forget the effort and energy these people put into making our special place so magical….and that’s why seeing the Utilidors was so important for me.
Were there any negatives of the tour for me? At a push I would say the lunch at Columbia Harbour House…the food was just okay…but then again, it was nice to eat somewhere I hadn’t been before.
And if that wasn’t enough magic for one morning something else happened that will always make me smile when I think about this tour. When you arrive at MK for the tour you report to a cast member in City Hall who is responsible for signing you in, giving you your badge and taking your lunch order. That same cast member is also around at lunch time to show you to your tables. Well, a few days later we were walking around Epcot and I saw that same cast member walking by talking to a couple of people in smart dress. The cast member interrupted his conversation with these important looking people and went out of his way to say hello to us and asked if we were enjoying our vacation. I felt so humbled that he had remembered us from the tour a few days before and that little gesture made me feel like a valued guest.
So would I recommend the Keys To The Kingdom tour? Yes…if you want a small glimpse of what goes on behind the magic…but don’t expect to learn every secret of Walt Disney World…. because some things do have to be left to your imagination