Welcome to Part 2 of the VIP Tour Review
Thanks for coming back to read the second half! Last I left you, Shannon, Raymond and I had just entered our third park of the day, Hollywood Studios, via a backstage entrance adjacent to Rock n Roller Coaster. I’ll tell you, coming in via the Cast Members Only areas never got old. #castmemberwannabe
We had two things in mind to do at Hollywood Studios: Toy Story Midway Mania and to get Shannon her official “Walt Disney World Historian” certificate from the Walt Disney Presents exhibit (formerly “One Man’s Dream”). If you have never heard of this certification, read all about my experience here.
As we walked down Sunset Boulevard, Raymond took a moment to point out a stamp in the concrete and give us a history lesson/fun fact. The stamp reads “Mortimer & Company Contractors 1928”. You may know that Mortimer was the original name for the mouse Walt Disney created while returning home from a crushing business meeting, where he learned he lost all rights to his beloved Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. This all happened in 1928. The stamp pays homage to that fateful day and reminds us that yes, indeed, it all started with and was built by a mouse, just not Mickey!
While we surely knew the story of Mortimer Mouse, neither of us had ever noticed the stamp in the sidewalk, so that was really neat to learn and be able to share. On to Toy Story Midway Mania!
Once again, we entered via the FastPass entrance. At this time, the wait was 75 minutes. It was early afternoon and the park was jumping! It took us all but 5 minutes to get on the attraction. I got the highest score in the ride vehicle. Luck? Perhaps. Skill? I think not. Seriously, I just pull on the string like a madwoman and hope for the best. It worked out this time!
Time to get Shannon over to the Walt Disney Presents exhibit to earn her Honorary Historian certificate. This took about 15 minutes only because I REALLY love to look at all of the displays, models and memorabilia in there. Shannon took her quiz, signed the book and got her official historian status. Definitely do this! It’s fun, free and you learn some great trivia. Plus you end up with a cool souvenir.
Alas, our time was running low and we needed to get to Epcot, our fourth and final park of the day. At this time, the clouds were rolling in and Raymond assured us he had both umbrellas and ponchos (the cute Disney ones-which we got to keep) for us. But first a quick PhotoPass Photo opportunity. Can’t pass those up!
We made it back to the vehicle just as the skies opened up, so by the time we arrived at Epcot it was raining pretty hard. We drove all around the backstage perimeter and saw the construction progress on the new Guardians of the Galaxy coaster taking over the old Ellen’s Energy Adventure Space. There are NO PHOTOS ALLOWED backstage, so sorry! It’s going to be HUGE! We had four items on our Epcot wish list: Soarin’, Frozen Ever After, Test Track and Gran Fiesta with the Three Caballeros. Unfortunately, due to weather, Test Track fell off the list, but that’s OK, because it left us with enough time at the end to take field trip AFTER Epcot!
Raymond first drove us to Soarin’ and we entered backstage near the Living with the Land attraction and the area where they hold the Behind the Seeds tours. Soarin’ was our longest wait. Not only because the FastPass line was long, but because Raymond insisted we wait for the highest row for the best experience, so we did. The Cast Member loading the attraction escorted us personally, arm-in-arm to our seats, how nice! He had a really cool Irish brogue too-being of nearly 100% Irish decent, I could’ve listen to him talk all day. We should have gotten a selfie with him!
Minimal walking happens on this VIP Tour, so we hopped back into the car and Raymond drove us backstage behind the Mexico Pavilion. We entered in just to the left of La Cava de Tequila via a Cast Members Only door and went straight to Gran Fiesta. The Cast Member there ushered us to the front of the line and we sat in the front row of the next boat. Definitely VIP feels there. I know not many people would “waste” VIP access on this ride, but I LOVE it and since I really have a strong feeling it will be overhauled to a “Coco” theme sometime soon, I need to get my fill of it. And Shannon is a BIG Donald Duck fan, so we just had to.
Our final attraction at Epcot, and on the tour, would be Frozen Ever After. We were able to walk backstage from Mexico to Norway. Since it was raining, this was very helpful. Once again, we entered the FastPass line and had about a 7 minute wait. This photo cracks me up! Shannon and I look like we are having the time of our lives (which of course we are) and poor Raymond who probably rides this attraction several times a week does not look impressed at all. It’s just caught him at an off moment, he was a pleasure!
We had a bit of time remaining, but Test Track was still shut down due to weather and we had seen and done all we wanted at Epcot. As we made our way in the car back to the Grand Floridian, the topic of the Golden Oaks Community (where you can live on Disney property) came up and we mentioned that we would like to visit those homes someday. Turned out that day would be THIS day. Raymond took us over to Golden Oak for a scenic tour (albeit from the car and in the rain) through the multi-million dollar neighborhood. It was a nice way to end the VIP treatment with another taste of how “the other half” lives.
Our tour came to end an end at the very place it began, the Grand Floridian Resort. Though Raymond would have dropped us off anywhere we would have liked, we wanted to freshen up for the evening. Unlike other guided tours offered at the Walt Disney World Resort, these VIP Tour Guides do accept gratuity. That’s important to know. It was never mentioned, but we did know this.
Did I love this experience? YES! I felt so fortunate to have the opportunity to be treated to such an amazing way to see the theme parks. Not to mention all the looks we got from people wondering who we were, definitely got a kick out of that! Plus, you all know I am a tour junkie and this one is the tour to end all tours. And I’m not ashamed to admit, being a Disney travel planning professional, it gave me some serious (Main) “street cred” to say I’ve done it. As I mentioned earlier, I love going backstage and seeing “behind the scenes”, with this tour, you do get a lot of that especially if you are park hopping like we did. I surely recommend doing this tour once as a splurge if you have the means or 9 close friends to split the cost with, since you can have up to 10 guests per VIP guide. You’ll have a blast!
So would I do this again? Surprisingly, I don’t think I would, unless I was traveling at an extremely busy time of year, like Christmas week, and I came into a lot of cash. While it’s really exciting to skip all the lines, you do miss so many things in taking the fast-lane to every attraction. Not only the details of the ride queues, but the conversation and companionship of your friends and family. There is very little downtime to talk about what you’ve done, what you’re doing or what you hope to do next, because everything is happening so fast-you are always on the move. At least we were, in trying to pack everything we could into our 7 hours. I personally feel that waiting isn’t always a bad thing. It’s where many memories are born, photos are taken, plans are made and stories are told. I’m sure many will call me crazy, but I say good things happen to those who wait. (I’m from a modest upbringing so this privileged lifestyle-on the regular- wouldn’t really suit me). The VIP Tour was a real treat, but to have a blast at Disney, you don’t need to spend an extra $4,200…all ya gotta do is have a good plan! 😉
So, now that you have the full rundown, what do you say? Will you be splurging for the VIP Tour or will you just continue to Get Down to Disness with a solid plan of your own? Post in the comments, I would love to hear your thoughts and of course I’ll answer any questions! -Kat