With all the hoopla surrounding the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, one thing is certain: the crowds will be out in full force (no pun intended)! You can bet that Neil Patrick Harris, John Stamos, Steven Tyler, Tina Fey and all the other celebs that love Disney won’t be battling the crowds. Will they just skip Galaxy’s Edge? Avoid Walt Disney World and Disneyland altogether? I can assure you that won’t be the case. They will simply hire a VIP Tour Guide for the day! Now you are probably thinking, “That’s nice for them but what about me? I’m not a celebrity!” You may not be, but you CAN be a VIP for the day! I am definitely not famous but I have been spoiled by a VIP Tour!
The VIP tour concept was created by Walt himself. Back then it was referred to as the Ambassador Program. The very first Disneyland Ambassador was Julie Reihm Casaletto. Although the name changed, VIP Tour Guides still wear the signature plaid uniform! Today’s VIP Tour Guides, affectionately referred to as “Plaids” by Disney fans in the know, are hand-picked and extensively trained. They are culled from a pool of experienced cast members. Aside from those plaid uniforms, Plaids have the distinction of wearing a special “D” pin, signifying that they are representing Walt Disney as they showcase his parks.
Growing from that first Ambassador Program, Walt Disney World now boasts 5 different VIP Tours!
Private VIP Tours
The VIP Tour that comes to mind when you think of VIP Tours is the Private Tour. This is the VIP Tour I have been lucky to experience in the past. The Private VIP Tour is an exclusive, customized experience lasting a minimum of 7 hours. Private Tours can accommodate groups up to 10 guests. Groups larger than 10 would require another tour guide, but can still tour together. Every person in the group is counted in that total, including infants. A Private VIP Tour includes rides, shows, parades, and nighttime spectaculars! The itinerary is completely up to you, as is your start time. Your Private VIP Tour provides door-to-door service via private round-trip transportation to and from your meeting location and the Walt Disney World Theme Parks. Since they provide door-to-door service, you can opt to meet in a park or at your resort. Bear in mind though that the clock starts ticking the moment you meet your VIP Guide so you may not want to waste precious (and expensive) minutes riding from your resort to your first park.
If you are park hopping, you will be whisked from park to park via private vehicle through backstage access. Fun fact: there will be cold water and snacks awaiting you every time you get back to your vehicle! Because you don’t already feel like royalty by having special entrances, being escorted through the park, and skipping all lines!
Sounds great, right? But I know what you are thinking—“How much is this going to cost me????” Private VIP Tour pricing varies seasonally but ranges between $2975 – $4375 for the first 7 hours. Additional hours may be added at a rate of $425 – $625 per hour. Cancellations must be made 48 hours in advance or cancellation fees will be assessed at a minimum of 2 hours’ rate. Valid Theme park admission is required and is not included in the tour price. If you plan to park hop, your ticket must include the Park Hopper® option.
Disney’s Ultimate Day of Thrills VIP Tour
The Ultimate Day of Thrills Tour is also a 7-hour tour. One main difference between this and a private tour is that this is a semi-private tour and you will be in a group with others besides just your own pre-selected crew. You can expect a small group though. Another difference is that the Ultimate Day of Thrills VIP Tour is a set itinerary. You do not choose the attractions. The Ultimate Day of Thrills VIP Tour includes VIP access to all the best at three parks: In the Magic Kingdom, you will breeze past the lines on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Splash Mountain, Space Mountain, Haunted Mansion, and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. In Epcot, experience Soarin’. In Disney’s Hollywood Studios, you can wave at everyone in Toy Story Land as you skip on by to the front of the line for Slinky Dog Dash and Toy Story Mania. Then scoot on over to Rock n Roller Coaster, Tower of Terror, and Star Tours. During all the VIP fun, you will also enjoy a quick service lunch, included in your tour price. Speaking of price, The Ultimate Day of Thrills VIP Tour is $349 per person, plus tax. Tours are held Monday, Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday with a start time of 8:30am. Valid theme park admission with Park Hopper® option is required and is not included in the tour price. Transportation is also not included and you will meet your VIP Tour Guide at the Liberty Square Ticket Office in Magic Kingdom.
The Ultimate Disney Classics VIP Tour
Similar to the Ultimate Day of Thrills, this is a semi-private tour with a set itinerary. The Ultimate Disney Classics VIP Tour is perfect for families with small children! Taking place solely in Magic Kingdom, you will have VIP access to Dumbo, Haunted Mansion, “it’s a small world”, Jungle Cruise, Mad Tea Party, Peter Pan, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, and Under the Sea-Journey of the Little Mermaid. The Ultimate Disney Classics VIP Tour lasts 4 hours and is offered Sunday, Wednesday, and Thursday with a 10:00am departure time. Cost is $249 per person, plus tax. Valid theme park admission is required and is not included in the price.
Disney’s Ultimate Nights of Adventure VIP Tour
Animal Kingdom transforms at night which makes it a magnificent time for this tour. Beginning 4 hours prior to the scheduled start of Rivers of Light, your VIP Tour Guide will whisk you to the front of the line for Expedition Everest, Kilimanjaro Safaris, DINOSAUR, and both Pandora attractions: Avatar Flight of Passage and Na’vi River Journey. You will end with VIP seating for Rivers of Light. The price is $249 per person, plus tax and this tour includes snacks and a specialty beverage. The Ultimate Nights of Adventure VIP Tour also offers 15% discount for Annual Passholders, Disney Visa Cardholders, and Disney Vacation Club Members. While this tour is offered 7 days a week, certain blackout dates apply. Valid theme park admission is required and not included in the tour pricing.
Disney’s Taste of Magic Kingdom VIP Tour
Do you love Disney food? Ever wondered how it all comes together? Do you want backstage access? Then this is the tour for you! This 3-hour tour takes you behind the scenes to learn more about the magic behind the meals. You will talk to Disney Chefs and Culinary Imagineers to discover how menus are created, new items developed, and how it all works to feed millions of guests annually. This tour includes tastings of both sweet and savory items, including not just fan favorites but also future menu items still in development. At $99 per person, tax not included, this tour is a bargain! Disney’s Taste of Magic Kingdom VIP Tour takes you backstage to the kitchens of Disney parks Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. To participate you must be age 12 and up, show no signs of illness of any kind, and sign a waiver. Closed, flat shoes are required. No tank tops are permitted. Service animals are permitted on the tour but are prohibited from entering the kitchens or food prep areas. Valid theme park admission is required and is not included in the tour pricing.
To book a VIP Tour you can call 407-560-4033 between 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Eastern Standard Time daily or contact your travel agent.
Photos courtesy Disney®
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