Sunday, 1 September 2013

When onstage just isn't enough at Walt Disney World

You might not believe this, but there are only so many times I can go on it's a small world. Even with its green and purple koalas.

I'll let Larry and Chuckie explain.

Originally commissioned to celebrate UNICEF, it has a classic history and is now part of America's art scene with classic stylings by Mary Blair.

It is a great example of what this post is about - everything at Disneyworld has a story behind it.

Walt didn't just whack up a bunch of amusement rides. He created backstories for every little detail in the parks and resorts. Every hotel has a story, every ride and show, even the entry gates are part of a story.

And the easiest way to discover all these stories are to take a backstage tour.

Disney run a pile of them and they are changing all the time. A tour makes for a very different experience of the resort. Always full of background stories, hints, information, some give you unique experiences or some make it easier to experience to experience a park.

These babies are expensive. You can score discounts using Disney Visa Cards, Disney Annual Passes or purchasing a special "My Way" dining plan which can include the tours among all the offerings.

I've done a number of tours now, and for first timers let me recommend the one not to bother with: Backstage Magic.

Expensive at about $250+ p.p., 8 hours, and you see lots of this:

Magic Kingdom parking lot - I suppose I could have guessed. What else would be backstage! (source:
This tour is TOTALLY backstage - so no free rides in the parks. In hindsight it isn't that bad. We saw:
  • the topiary work area at the nursery
Minnie's let herself go in her older age. What?

... and a whole lot of other places in which photography was banned! Like one of the sewing/costuming rooms; a machinery shed (where they paint and repair signs and ride vehicles); the parade float holding sheds; and the back door to the Tower of Terror ride.

We did see backstage at The American Adventure at the huge mechanical rotating stage sets; and the water holding pond for Splash Mountain!

Back of Frontier Land in Magic Kingdom - kind of what you'd expect really. (source:
Lunch was pretty good - Whispering Canyon Cafe at the Squirrel Wilderness Lodge. An all you can eat BBQ skillet affair with tin plates, mason jars and YEE-HAH entertainment! Whispering is really the last thing happening here.

Umm ... yeah .... don't ask for the ketchup.

Disney has heaps of other tours - long and short - to suit all interests.

Train fanatic? You're accommodated, but get up very early.

At least this is more credible than the creepy bus spotters. (source:
African Safari Trek? Wander through the back of the Animal Kingdom Zoo and visit the hippos and crocodiles, then enjoy some refreshing snacks looking out over the savanna  - all without the danger, smells or tsetse fly.

For the keen gardeners, you can go Behind the Seeds at Epcot to learn how 1981 saw futuristic hydroponic gardening.

space age brussell sprouts taste just as bad. which must be why they are grown in such low density. (source:
If you think Disneyworld is just kiddie rides and amusement attractions - well - maybe one of these tours can show a different side to the resort.

I do have one tour I enthusiastically recommend for all first time visitors. But in the true spirit of any reality programming, you have to wait for next week for the big reveal.

What do you think? Would you like to see backstage? or would that break the magical illusion for you?

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