Now that Thanksgiving has passed, it is time to finish shopping for the hard to buy for Disney Fan. Well, have we got the gift for them: a tour!
As a lifelong fan, I jump at any chance I get to see or learn something new about a Disney theme park and Backstage Magic was seven hours of a dream come true. For those who have not had a chance to take a tour in the past year or so, there has been a major change to all tours. Adventures By Disney now oversees many of the larger tours because, basically, that is what they do best.
The tour consisting of 25 to 30 guests starts at Epcot and visits many locations all around Walt Disney World property — most of which is unseen by park guests, hence the “Backstage” part of the name. The first stop, and what I was looking forward to the most, was a visit under the American Adventure attraction to learn and see how this massive production works. I have enjoyed the show 100s of times, but seeing how in the late 1970s early 80s the Imagineer’s came up with a flawless way to switch between 35 Audio-Animatronics mixed with other multi-media up close makes me appreciate this attraction even more.
After seeing the American Adventure up close, we hopped on our bus and headed to Creative Costuming. If you have ever watched a parade, seen a Disney stage show, or met Mickey Mouse, you have seen some of the handy work that comes out of this area. This location out of all really impressed me the most. Having so many talents under one roof working from design to finished product was amazing and learning that sometimes all that hard work goes into a costume or costumes that are never seen by the public. For example, the storytellers that were originally part of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Rivers of Light just blew my mind.
The next stop was Textile Services, where we saw how thousands and thousands of pounds of sheets, towels, and blankets are cleaned per day. One of the world’s largest laundry facilities is a sight to behold. Being able to see the process in which a sheet is dropped off from one of the Disney Hotels before going through all the washing, drying, and folding and back on the truck back to a room in a matter of hours was surprisingly fascinating. One of the fun things about this tour is, even though guests can’t take pictures, they do have some great photo spots set up for the tour and the pictures are emailed to you a day or so later.
Now that we had seen how the sheets got clean, it was time for lunch! Our lunch break (covered with the price of the tour) was at one of my favorite locations: Whispering Canyon at Wilderness Lodge. There we had the All You Can Eat Skillet and finished off with cobbler with vanilla ice cream.
Moving on to where the real park magic is maintained, we headed to the Central Shops. This area is where everything that moves or moves you across Walt Disney World is taken care of. If there is a Wonka Factory for the Disney nerd, this is it. From Country Bears to Space Mountain Rockets, my head was moving non-stop as we walked through this huge facility. We learned all about the different type of “skins” are used on Audio-Animatronics to the different types of AAs used in the parks and had another special photo spot.
Our final stop was the mythical Utilidors of the Magic Kingdom. The true first floor of the park spans over a mile and provides unseen passage for Cast Members to get to most locations without a single guest knowing where they came from. After a brief walk and learning about the AVAC (automated vacuum collection) system that helps collect all the guest trash, it was time to hop back on the bus to end our day.
This tour was by far one of the best tours I have taken of any Disney Park. Our tour guides Amber and Pieter were great, lots of fun, and knowledgeable and could answer just about anything we threw at them.
As of this writing, the tour is $275 per person. That price includes lunch, transportation, the photos, and a keepsake given at the end of the tour. For more information and to book, visit HERE.
Our main correspondent for Walt Disney World and the Orlando area and a heck of a paleontologist if he does say so himself.