What do you get for the Disney fan who’s seen it all, done it all, and knows it all? If you are, or know, a die-hard Disney fan who recites Disney trivia facts every time you walk down Main Street, U.S.A. or tells you how every animatronic works as you ride an attraction, then the Backstage Magic Tour* may be needed in your future. (*Note: not to be confused with the Adventures By Disney multi-day trip in California which was formerly called by this same name – this is a 7 hour parks tour but run by ABD!)
You may have heard of the various tours held within the Disney Parks: Keys to the Kingdom, Behind the Seeds, even a VIP tour, but the Backstage Magic Tour blows them all away in terms of behind-the-scenes access, one-of-a-kind experiences, and insider knowledge. What makes this tour different is that while booked the same way as the other Walt Disney World theme park tours, it is completely facilitated by Adventures By Disney cast. It can be booked by calling (407) WDW-TOUR or (407) 939-8687, or your Mouse Fan Travel agent can do the booking for you with your existing Walt Disney World vacation package.
If you have anyone interested in what it takes to not only run this 43-square mile world class resort, but also what it takes to create the magic, you will not be disappointed by this tour.
Here are the highlights of the Backstage Magic Tour:
Explore the inner workings of The American Adventure as we reveal the feats of engineering and artistry behind this inspiring Audio-Animatronics stage show.
- Magic Kingdom Park
Become immersed in the story that started with Walt himself on Main Street, U.S.A.—navigate the “utilidor” tunnels, a network of underground passageways constructed beneath the theme park so Disney Cast Members and delivery vehicles can move around undetected.
- Creative Costuming
Observe the talented professionals who design costumes for Character, show and parade performers.
- Central Shops
Get up close with the artisans whose skill and craftsmanship make dreams come true all around the park—from the tiniest details to elaborate stage sets.
- Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
Settle in for a delicious family-style barbeque lunch at Whispering Canyon Café—included with your tour.
- Textile Services
Unfold an experience like no other within one of the world’s largest laundry facilities—complete with a unique photo opportunity!
Disney was kind enough to invite MEI & Mouse Fan Travel out to experience this tour first hand, and let me tell you, it was life-changing. As a fan from about age 7, a former cast member, and someone who’s pretty much surrounded by the magic every day, even I learned something new, saw things I’d never seen before, and had quite a few jaw-dropping moments. I fell in love with EPCOT Center back in the 80’s, so to see how the audio-animatronics run and just how unique and incredible the process is backstage at the American Adventure, would be worth the price of the tour alone. It truly almost brought me to tears to be pretty much face to face with Benjamin Franklin and Mark Twain in their animatronic forms behind the scenes. Imagineer wannabes, aspiring engineers, or just plain old fans will be thrilled with the access and information you get to see and experience here.
I thought the American Adventure section would be my favorite, but we then traveled to Creative Costuming, and I was again blown away by what happens on a daily basis right on property as we are riding rides and eating popcorn. We were shown the entire costuming process from design to pattern, to construction, and there are quite a few surprises within the Costuming building too (of course we couldn’t take photos but I’ll just say Great Movie Ride fans and original Red Head from Pirates of the Caribbean will be very happy on this part of the tour!). There is so much history there, and you’ll see a lot of old favorites as well as how much work goes into creating new costumes from front line cast members to performers to characters in the parks.
Another surprise winner on the tour was the Textile Services building. One of four on property, they are the 4 largest facilities of their kind in the nation. You might be thinking, “what could possibly be exciting about laundry?!” but just you wait. When you see the largest track in any them park (think a laundry bag roller coaster – no loops tho), machines washing 150lbs of laundry and drying 300lbs at a time, other machines folding or pressing and folding, resulting in 2.5 million pounds of laundry washed and folded a week…you may change your mind. It is an impressive and efficient assembly line which, while you may not think about it, is an extremely important part of the Walt Disney World Resort experience!
The next part of our tour took us to Central Shops, which is the favorite of many guides for a reason: you just never know what you’re going to see when you step inside! Here at this backstage location is where ride vehicles, animatronics, props, and even trash cans receive maintenance, updates and refreshing. Some items may just need a quick fix or a coat of paint, but every item in the parks also undergoes “cyclical maintenance” stripping each ride vehicle, animatronic, etc, down to its frame, replacing hardware, getting new paint, skins, or whatever it requires to appear as fresh as when it first appeared in the park. While we were there we saw several ride vehicles, including Expedition Everest, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Space Mountain, Primeval Whirl, even Pandora’s Flight of Passage vehicles, along with several animals from Jungle Cruise undergoing maintenance. It was truly awe-inspiring, as was the photo-op in front of the now-retired giant polar bear from the former Maelstrom attraction in Epcot’s Norway pavilion.
We ended our day with a tour of parts of the underground (well, it’s at ground-level really) Utilidor beneath the streets of the Magic Kingdom. As a former Main Street, U.S.A. cast member, this was like going back home for me, but it’s always exciting to see the bustling activity under the kingdom, and there have definitely been improvements since I walked to work this way back in 1995!
Included in the tour is a lovely lunch, at Whispering Canyon Cafe, where you can enjoy an all you care to eat skillet, and any food allergies or dietary needs can be met here as well. It is a nice break, and a great way to get to know your fellow tour members and your guides a little better. I definitely felt like our guides were old friends by the end of our 7 hours together. Throughout the tour we are treated to stories, trivia, and tales of Walt Disney World history that you may have wondered about over the years. It is a very full 7 hours, which seem to have flown by by the end of the day.
Again, this tour is a must-do for any Disney fan. Part of what makes this tour so great is that it is organized and run by Adventures by Disney, which is without a doubt the leader in group travel experiences, so it’s no doubt that this tour is top notch. If you have traveled on an Adventures by Disney vacation before, you’re already aware of the attention to detail, the attention to guests, and the surprises you enjoy along the way!
The best part about this tour is that unlike the Keys to the Kingdom tour, guests aged 12 and up can experience this tour. So if you have a budding Imagineer or Cast Member, you’ll be able to enjoy this tour with them too! I know when my youngest turns 12 in 2 years, we’ll definitely be going on this tour again.
At the end of our tour, we were provided with some insider info which Disney will be announcing next week – Starting June 1, the Backstage Magic Tour will experience two new changes! Lunch will now no longer be at Whispering Canyon, but rather Tiffins restaurant inside Disney’s Animal Kingdom park. This change is because the Textile Services tour will now be replaced with a backstage tour of Rivers of Light Nighttime Experience! So now you are faced with a choice – do you want to book this tour in the next 3 months to experience the mind-boggling Textile Services building which will then be inaccessible to tours after June 1? Or do you want to wait and experience behind-the-scenes at one of the newest attractions in Walt Disney World resort?! A tough choice – maybe both?!
We hope this overview lets you realize how amazing this tour is and not something to be overlooked. I definitely think it is worth the cost, and know I’ll be taking my family on this tour again soon. You’ll have memories for years to come, and because photos are not allowed along the tour, there are several photo ops taken along the way by your guides, which you’ll have access to at the end of the tour, so you can share your amazing experiences with your friends and family!
You can contact your MEI & Mouse Fan Travel directly for more information and to book the amazing Backstage Magic tour! The cost is $275 per person, but in our opinion, worth every penny! There are also 3 other Adventures by Disney facilitated tours:
Gardens of the World – which takes place during the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival and in partnership with the Epcot Horticultural Department.
Yuletide Fantasy – a look behind the scenes of all it takes to create and display the holidays at Walt Disney World
Holiday D-Lights – an enchanting evening where your host reveals some of the secrets behind the most special traditions at Walt Disney World
Have you experienced an Adventures by Disney tour? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!
Disclaimer: Disney invited us to experience this tour at no cost, but our thoughts and opinions are our own.