Backstage Magic Tour Review - Part 3
by Kevin Klose
DIS Content Editor
Backstage Magic Tour Part 3
Ok….let me re-cap. I didn’t really want to take this tour because I thought they were going to tell me things I had already heard and show me sights I had already seen. In other words…..I was jaded. The morning had proven that this wasn’t the case. I had already been surprised by the things I had seen and “secrets” I had been told.. But nothing prepared me for the rest of the day.
After leaving MGM, our bus took us behind the Magic Kingdom. As we approached the back entrance, our guide was asked about the security measures we had experienced. We had to have our bags checked upon entering Epcot, when the bus took us to MGM, a security guard boarded the bus and did another bag check and third was done upon entering the Magic Kingdom area. She explained that this was standard procedure. As a park veteran, I am aware of this being done in front of the parks, but I guess it never crossed my mind that it was being done behind the scenes as well. It made us feel good to know that Disney is that diligent.
Ok….now….as self proclaimed Disney fanatic….there are certain places that I never thought I’d get to go. Places that I have only seen in my imagination. Places that were just….untouchable. Well guess what…..not on this tour.
I was stunned when I was told that we would be visiting the Christmas warehouse and after she said it….I figured we’d be allowed to peek inside. Nope…..you get a full scale tour. It was amazing. As you walk through the floor to ceiling aisles, you can see the decorations for the different resorts. After Christmas, all of the decorations are brough back to the warehouse and stored. Once everything is back, the Christmas staff begins the process of refurbishing everything for the next year. Each tree is taken apart and redecorated. Ornaments, lights and the tree itself are check for wear or damage. Once redone, the tree is wrapped in plastic wrap and stored. This process is done methodically throughout the entire Disney property We got to watch a team of workers making new wreaths for Port Orleans Riverside. As a bow was attached, the folds were stuffed with tissue and each ornament individually wrapped. They too are wrapped in plastic wrap and stored for the next holiday season.
As we continued our tour, we came upon the Disney florist. We watched as the room, divided in two swarmed with Cast members. One side of the room does resort flowers. The huge centerpieces in hotel lobbies are an example. The other side of the room does the retail orders. One of the secrets I learned was that the gorgeous floral displays in the lobby of the Grand Floridian Resort are changed on Wednesday morning between 8am and 12pm. As the fresh flowers are put in place, the older flowers are given to whoever would like them. These are some amazing displays. You might want to stop by and get a bouquet.
After the florist came the Gift Basket room. We watched with desire as beautiful gift baskets were created.
As we left this area, I kept thinking that it was AMAZING that I had been able to see all that. It was then that our guide dropped the biggest bombshell. We were on our way to the Central Shoppes warehouse. This might not seem like a big deal…….but wait.
The Central Shops warehouse is the place that ride vehicles are built and the carousel horses are refurbished and the large fiberglass icons at the All Star resorts and Pop Century are made. The Sign department and the paint department and the department that makes the molds of all of the Small World kids are in this building and you get to walk by all of it. You are allowed to look, ask questions and in some circumstances actually touch this stuff.
***ok…I have to catch my breath****
You get a tour of the Audioanimatronic workshop. The guide explains that when Walt Disney World opened in 1971, Disney was using the A One animatronic model. Think of the Tiki Birds. They are now using the A 100 model. Abraham Lincoln in the Hall of Presidents, Ben Franklin in the American Adventure and Stitch in Stitch’s Great Escape are all A !00 audioanimatronic models.
I don’t; know how many of you go back as far as the 1982 opening of Epcot Center, but in the Land Pavilion in Future World, there was one of my favorite attractions. I adored the Kitchen Kabaret. It used to be in the place now occupied by Soarin..As the pavilion was sponsored by Kraft, the attraction was based on the old “4 food groups” philosophy.
At this point, you are probably wondering why I am telling you this. The reason is…..in the animatronic workshop, there is the original hostess of the Kitchen Kabaret. Her name is Bonnie Appetite. She is used to show the advances in audioanimatronic figures. While that is totally amazing…..it was also very nostalgic. It makes you realize that what once astounded you has been surpassed over and over. The differences in what was…and what is….are hard to describe.
It was at this point that I realized that anyone who is a Disney fanatic needs to take this tour. Yes…it’s expensive…..but the experience is beyond your imagination, and it’s not over yet.
After you leave this area behind the Magic Kingdom, you are taken to the backstage area inside the Magic Kingdom and allowed to enter the famed Utilidors. These are the tunnels beneath the Magic Kingdom. While everyone refers to them as tunnels, they actually are not. They are the first floor of the Magic Kingdom. They were built to allow Cast movement to go unseen by guests. After they were built, they were covered with the dirt that was removed to make the man made Seven Seas Lagoon. That’s the body of water between the Magic Kingdom and the Ticket and Transportation Center. When you walk down Main Street, you are actually on the 2nd floor. Hard to believe huh?
After your tour of the Utilidors……you re-enter the onstage area. We found ourselves in the middle of Main Street as the crowd was gathering. for the 3:o’clock parade. Our guide explained the names on the windows over the shops and then led us to a special place to watch the parade.
This was the end of the tour. We boarded our bus, were taken back to Epcot. Each tour participant was given a wonderful pin showing Mickey going through the Looking Glass. It’s not a pin that can be purchased, but only given to folks taking this Magical Tour.
As I started this whole tale……I didn’t want to take this tour.
I cant explain how happy I am that I did.
Where I thought this might ruin some of the magic, instead, it gives you a deeper appreciation for it and the sense of how many people and how much time shape every little detail.
I started out jaded and came out awestruck.
Go and see for yourself.
End of part three.
- Changes coming to Move It, Shake It, Celebrate It Street Party? - An update is rumored for this parade later this year, possibly around October. Possible changes are new music; Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and Donald moving to the top of the floats; and Stitch joining the fun. Sebastian, Lumiere, and The Mad Hatter will leave the parade.
- During pool rehab, Polynesian guests will have free admission to Blizzard Beach - Originally, the resort guests were just going to be given one-day tickets to the water park, but that has been changed. They will now have complimentary unlimited admission to Blizzard Beach during their stay at the Polynesian.
- List of restaurants participating in the 2015 Disney Dining Plan - This list will be updated as more restaurants are added. Epcot and Downtown Disney restaurants don't normally finalize their participation until later in the year.
- 2015 Magic Your Way Disney World packages released! - A Walt Disney World package is a resort room and theme park admission. The Disney Dining Plan may also be added.
- Happy 15th Birthday to Rock 'n' Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith! - The attraction originally opened its doors at Disney’s Hollywood Studios on July 29, 1999.
- Victoria & Albert's will no longer accept Tables in Wonderland - This begins August 1, 2014.
- Summertime Pals Ink & Paint Cel release - This limited release will be available at the event, or pre-order by September 25 at 5:00pm EST.
- Haunted Mansion merchandise shop coming to Magic Kingdom - The former Yankee Trader shop will become a Haunted Mansion merchandise location in the near future. The decor will be inspired by Madame Leota and will carry items from the Haunted Mansion Authentic program, such as apparel, home goods, souvenirs and more.
- Merchandise Events and Artist Appearances/Signings for August - List of authors and artists coming to the theme parks for signings and merchandise releases.
- List of characters updated for Villains Unleashed! event - Over 50 Disney villains will be taking over the park until the 13th hour!
- Beginning today, PhotoPass print packages are no longer offered table-side at character meals - This includes Chef Mickey's, 1900 Park Fare, 'Ohana, Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue, Disney's Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show and Tusker House Restaurant.
- Disney Visa cardholders can book Food & Wine Festival events early - Disney Visa cardholders can book special events two days earlier than the general public - on July 29 and July 30 from 7:00am-11:00pm EST.
- Tables in Wonderland adds blackout dates for several restaurants - The Tables in Wonderland program offers Florida Residents, DVC members and Annual Passholders 20% off of all food and beverage purchases at the participating Disney restaurants.
- Information on Holiday sleigh rides at Fort Wilderness - This horse-drawn "sleigh" ride is a fun way to celebrate the season.
- Marketplace menus for Epot International Food & Wine Festival - List of menu items for the marketplaces set up around World Showcase.
- Rehab planned in November for Magic Carpets of Aladdin - The Magic Kingdom attraction will be closed 11/10 - 11/21/2014.
- Food & Wine Festival Special Dining Experiences released - Bookings for these experiences begin July 31.
- 10 Places to Wait Out a Thunderstorm at Walt Disney World
- Disney Castaway Cay Challenge added to Princess Half Marathon Weekend - Runners who are registered for any of the Disney races (5K or longer) during the Weekend have the option to complete the Disney Castaway Cay Challenge when sailing on the Disney Dream February 23-27.
- Fantasia Miniature Golf Course rehab planned off and on for the next two weeks - Gardens Course closed 7/22-7/25/2014, 7/28-8/1/2014, 8/4-8/8/2014. The Fairways will still be open.
- Blog - I Can Go The Distance: Deciding is one thing, registering is another
- Save up to 30% on a Room Only reservation at Walt Disney World! - Valid for stays most nights 10/4/14 - 11/25/14 and 11/29/14 - 12/23/14.
- 2015 WDW hotel discount released for U.S. Military - Valid for stays most nights 9/28/14 - 10/3/15.
- All 3 remaining weekends sold out for Harambe Nights - July 26, August 2 and August 9 are sold out.
- Annual passholder discount for Spice Road Table - Through 9/17/14, Annual Passholders can get a 30% discount on their bill.
- 2015 Military Ticket Discount info released - Members of the military can purchase 4-day Magic Your Way tickets with Park Hopper option for $177 each.
- Changes to reservation times for Wishes Dessert Party - Reservations are all being set for 6:00pm, no matter when Wishes is taking place. The dessert party will actually take place one hour before Wishes.
- Frozen Summer Fun Premium package is sold out for all remaining dates - This package gives guests at Frozen Summer Fun Live reserved viewing for several events.
- Wild by Design tour to be discontinued after 9/26/14 - This tour takes place at Disney's Animal Kingdom.
- Fantasy Football Convention coming to ESPN Wide World of Sports - The convention will give attendees access to ESPN talent, a live fantasy football draft and more.
- Blog - Sneak Preview of What's Coming to the 2014 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival
- Dates and pricing released for ICE! at Gaylord Palms - Using two million pounds of ice, this Gaylord Palms Resort special ticket exhibit will be transformed into the North Pole.
- Blog - Disney's Magical Express Age Limit Changes: A Parent's & Teacher's Perspective
- Blog - Five Reasons Why We're Not Seeing "Planes: Fire & Rescue" in Theaters
- Blog updated - I Just Spent $20 on FastPasses! Would You? - The author has taken the tour she discussed in the blog - check out her thoughts to see if she would do this again!
- Blog - July 2014 Magic Kingdom Construction Update
- Information for Food & Wine Festival special dining experiences - book 7/31 - Premium events will be announced July 24 and can be booked on July 31 beginning at 7:00am EST. To book, call 407-WDW-FEST (939-3378).
- Princess Half Marathon fills in less than 24 hours - The Princess Half Marathon, the Princess Enchanted 10K and the Glass Slipper Challenge are sold out, filling less than 24 hours after registration opened.
- Dolphins at Epcot will be offstage through August 7 - Guests will not be able to see the dolphins at The Seas with Nemo & Friends. The Dolphins in Depth Tour will be unavailable during this time as well.
- Changes in parking due to Downtown Disney Remodel - Speeds in the area will be reduced, as well as lanes closed. Buena Vista Drive will be expanded to 10 lanes.
- Blog - Disney Responds to Disability Access Service Lawsuit
- Walt Disney World 2015 packages now available to book
- High-speed train will link Shanghai Disneyland to city
- "Clyde and Seamore Take Pirate Island" show cancelled at SeaWorld
- PBS plans Walt Disney biopic
- Release date set for 5th Pirates of the Caribbean film
- Man arrested at Typhoon Lagoon for molesting 4 teenage girls
- Standby line to be cut off in Anna and Elsa meet and greet
- Disney's second quarter injury report: 12-year-old boy cuts fingers on Pirates ride
- 30 years in prison for man who molested girl at SeaWorld
- Possible agreement reached between Disney and unions
Today's Theme Park Hours
Epcot Future World:
Epcot World Showcase:
|9:00 - 11:00
9:00 - 9:00
11:00 - 9:00
9:00 - 10:00
9:00 - 8:00
9:00 - 8:00
9:00 - 8:00
Extra Magic Hours Morning: Animal Kingdom