For the ultimate in Walt Disney World vacation experiences, I booked a day with Disney’s VIP Tour Services for our trip in March. Many people think of that tour as a way to “skip the lines,” but not only is that description not completely accurate, there is so much more to it. It is definitely indulgent; there is no comparison to a standard day at the resort. In fact, it was so wonderful that I found a way to do it again in May when I took my sister for her first trip.
The first time we did it, I wasn’t completely sure what to expect. Our VIP treatment, though, began even before our trip. My contact at VIP Tour Services was Meghan. Not only did she set up our tour for us, but she also was available to answer questions and make reservations for us.
On the day of our first tour, we met our guide Aaron at Guest Services at Epcot. He found out more about what we wanted to do. My son really wanted to ride Test Track so he walked with us there. Using his badge, we got our first experience of “skipping a line.” Actually, what we did was went to the FastPass Return line, he used his badge, told the Cast Member how many guests we were, and we got in the FastPass line. It was definitely shorter than the standby wait, but we did still wait in line like other guests except they had FastPasses and we didn’t need them.
Here’s where one of the perks began, however. My son wanted to ride it again. So, back we went to the FastPass Return line and we went through again.
After that, he decided he wanted to ride Soarin’. I was prepared to walk across Future World, but instead, Aaron took us out a back, cast member only door to a parking lot where he had a van waiting. He drove us right to a back entrance of Soarin’ where we again entered the FastPass Return line. So, not only did it take us a shorter amount of time to get to Soarin’, we were able to get on that ride in under 15 minutes.
At that point, we decided to head over to Magic Kingdom. We again went out the back entrance of Soarin’ right into the van. He drove to a cast member entrance near Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin where there was another Guest Services Cast Member to scan our tickets before entering the park. It was great not having to go through the main park entrance! We rode a number of rides, always using the FastPass Return entrance. We learned a lot of neat things that made our trip more enjoyable such as where the high scoring targets are inside Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin. My son can now easily score 600,000 or more and sometimes even gets the coveted 999,999. Then, we headed over to the VIP viewing area for the Main Street Electrical Parade.
This is probably the part that I enjoyed the most. Our seats for the parade were on benches on the bridge that goes from the hub in front of Cinderella’s Castle to Liberty Square. Most people have probably not noticed that bridge, but it’s relatively narrow. There is just enough room for the floats to go by with a little alcove for the benches. Because of this, it was like a private showing of the parade. VIPs were the only guests in that area and we were all on one side of the parade so every character and dancer interacted with us. Those that could actually came over to the kids in the group and danced with them, high-fived them, or talked with them. It was absolutely wonderful.
After that, we went to the FastPass viewing area for Wishes for a great view of the fireworks, and then, unfortunately, it was time to bid adieu to Aaron. He had become like a part of the family and it was sad to say goodbye. Little did I realize that to my joy, I’d be seeing him again in just a couple of months.
For my next VIP tour, I knew more of what to expect so I put poor Aaron to the test. First, since it was my sister’s first trip, we asked a lot of questions. We also had another Cast Member (on her day off) in our party so she had questions as well. Let me just say that Aaron was very, very knowledgeable. I wish every first-time Walt Disney World visitor could spend a day with him. The rest of their trip would be greatly improved by knowing how to find shorter lines, the best places to eat, and how to easily get from place to place even when crowded. Anyway, since we were in Hollywood Studios, we also learned some tricks for high scores on Toy Story Midway Mania! and rode and rerode Star Tours so that we could see several of the different versions of the ride.
Since we had very limited time on this visit, I also wanted to do Fantasmic!, Wishes, and the Main Street Electrical Parade all on one night. Impossible, right? Not for Aaron. On the night we went, Fantasmic! started at 9pm, Wishes was at 10pm, and the Main Street Electrical Parade was having a second run at 11pm. We went to the VIP viewing area for Fantasmic!, which was in the Mickey section toward the top. Aaron did not join us for the show and we found out after it was because he was moving the car. After Fantasmic!, he escorted us up the steps to where the sound and light booth is located. We went through a Cast Member only portion behind the booth, down some steps, and right into the waiting car. He then drove us to that same Magic Kingdom Cast Member entrance we had used on our last trip next to Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, scanned our park entrance tickets, and got us to the FastPass viewing area for Wishes with time to spare. We watched Wishes and then discovered we could even get in a couple of rides before again being seated in that wonderful VIP viewing area for the Main Street Electrical Parade.
Having gone back and reread what I’ve written here, I still don’t feel like I’ve been able to convey how wonderful the VIP Tour is. Yes, you get to use the FastPass Return entrance for any attraction that has one, but it’s more than that. Aaron quickly became one of our family or friends, albeit a very knowledgeable one. We learned so much about the parks that helped us on days that we didn’t have a guide. Even someone like me who has probably over-researched Disney travel learned a number of tips and tricks that I tried out on subsequent visits. Plus, we saved a ton of time using Cast Member areas for going from attraction to attraction and park to park.
The only drawback I really saw was the price. It is pricey. It is $360 to $500 per hour depending on the time of year and whether or not you are staying on Walt Disney World property. There is also a 6-hour minimum. That price, though, is good for up to 10 guests so if you can split it among a few families, it helps some.
WARNING: If you can find a way to afford it, you’ll never want to do another visit without it.