We had to wake up bright and early for our first full day at the Disney World parks because we had tickets to the Keys to the Kingdom behind-the-scenes tour at Magic Kingdom! I found out about this tour when doing some research and it sounded like an amazing experience that we would probably never do when we go back with future kids someday.
The tour lasted 5 hours and included lunch at the Columbia Harbor House inside the Magic Kingdom. We rode two rides – the Jungle Cruise and the Haunted Mansion with our small tour group of about 15 people. Our tour guide, Robert, was so fantastic! He was informative, passionate and made the tour completely worth our money.
Pictures weren’t allowed on the tour at all, but we were in the park before it technically opened to the public, so we snapped a few pictures before the tour since we were able to avoid the crowds on Main Street. Here are a few we took:
This one is my favorite:
This was one of the days that the Cardinals played, obviously.
Kev snapped this one of me as we waited for our tour to begin.
On our tour, we were taken behind-the-scenes (literally!) to see where the parade floats are kept. While we were back there, we also caught a glimpse of one of the parade rehearsals! One of my favorite parts of the tour was going “underground” to the utilidors. Fun fact: those mystery utilidors are not really underground (you can’t really dig in swamp land). Magic Kingdom is technically built aboveground, making Main Street USA the “second floor” of the Magic Kingdom and the utilidors being the “first floor.” Ever notice how you have to walk slightly uphill to get to the ticket turnstiles at the park? That’s why! I was expecting these really Disney-like looking tunnels, with stone archways and all, but it really just looked like a bunch of hallways. It was refreshing for Disney to show us the non magical side of how things work – it made us appreciate all the magic above ground that much more.
I don’t want to ruin the tour for people who may take it some day, but here are a few of the things that we enjoyed learning about the most:
- In Cinderella’s Castle, there is the Cinderella Suite which sounds like a dream. It’s so exclusive, that you cannot book a stay there – rather you have to win an evening there. Sign me up for every contest! Robert, our tour guide, is actually a concierge Cast Member for the Suite. Dream job!
- Walt Disney died before Magic Kingdom opened to the public as most people know, but what some may not know is that Roy Disney, Walt’s older brother, took over and dedicated Magic Kingdom on opening day. Right before Roy went to give the dedication speech, he knew he was missing something, so he went and found Mickey Mouse to stand right by him while the park was being dedicated. Robert, our tour guide, told us some think Roy needed Mickey there as a symbol of having Walt standing next to him. A few months later, Roy himself passed away. (I may or may not have had chills/wet eyeballs when Robert told us this story.)
- In The Haunted Mansion ride, all of the names on the tombstones are from Disney Imagineers who helped create and design the ride.
- The way Magic Kingdom manages their trash is mind blowing. I don’t remember all the details but think massive tunnels and air flow and compressors and efficiency.
- In the era that Liberty Square is modeled after, the window shutter hinges used to be made out of leather and over time, the leather would wear down and the shutters would sag. To replicate that look, Imagineers specifically designed the metal hinges crooked so the shutters don’t look so perfect. Kevin was particularly fascinated by this one because it truly shows the amount of detail Disney goes into this.
Robert also told us that there are four Keys to the Magic Kingdom: show, safety, courtesy and efficiency. Every single thing that Cast Members do, the way the park was created, how the park operates, why decisions are made, etc. have those four keys in mind. Throughout our tour, we talked about different aspects and it really showed us that the four keys were applied to everything!
Okay I’ll stop spoiling everything now. We highly recommend the tour and what I disclosed above isn’t even 5% of the things that we learned.
Once our tour was over, we decided to cash in some of our snack credits on ice cream! I’ve been craving one of those Mickey ears for months leading up to this trip.
One of the greatest things (I think) about going to Disney World as an adult is not feeling the need to rush around or see everything. Perhaps it was the honeymoon mentality, but we definitely felt relaxed the entire time we were there. The next few hours were spent on a few different rides throughout the park. Here are a few snapshots of those:
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh – so adorable; I wish this was around when I was a small kid because I know I would have loved it even more.
Although we strategically avoided lines by using the both the new FastPass+ and traditional FASTPASS (not to mention going during a non-peak time of the year), we had one of our longest waits at the Winnie the Pooh ride! We waited about 40 minutes, which wasn’t too bad because we were still enjoying our ice cream.
Splash Mountain – truly one of the best!
Our tired feet really enjoyed the lovely train ride around the park.
It’s a Small World – some people are creeped out by the tiny moving dolls, whereas I find it a great ride to nap during. 🙂
I had to take a snap of one of my favorite spots in the park. “I only hope that we don’t lose sight of one thing — that it all started with a mouse.” – Walt Disney
Pretty soon, we started to get hungry so we decided to take the Monorail over to the Grand Floridian resort for a quick/counter service dinner. Neither of us had ever see the inside of the Grand Floridian so we decided it was worth the short Monorail ride over.
The view was great!
Kevin ordered a ham and cheese panini.
I ordered their sushi platter.
And we, again, were forced (rough life) to eat dessert.
Another recap coming soon!
But now, it’s Parenthood and Scandal time! Thursday night TV is the best.