There’s no doubt. Disney World is a mission.
It takes money, it takes time. It sometimes even takes your sanity.
You imagine the perfect fairy tale day but end with a crazy 25,000 steps on your FitBit and a case of heat stroke. And forget about doing more than 1 park in a day, that would be the definition of insanity.
This is exactly what I thought when Visit Florida asked me to visit 3 Disney Parks in one day. I thought they were nuts. But I pulled on my new favourite shoes, confident they could handle the miles. I made sure my FitBit was charged. And I stepped into my big girl panties. No turning back now.
Bright, bubbly, vivacious Emily greeted us at the front of a sparkling clean white unmarked van. She wore a red plaid skirt with matching suspenders. A crisp, white blouse with giant gold buttons. And long red hair, like the Little Mermaid come to life. Our very own Disney princess.
She explained to us that we were about to take the almost-secret Disney World Premium VIP Tour. This tour runs anywhere from $450 - $700 per hour, with a minimum of 7 hours. If I had been drinking coffee it would have been sprayed on the back of her head, as we drove down the road. What?! Who pays that?
Turns out plenty. People who don’t want to spend months planning the ultimate Disney day do, parents who don’t want to stand with crying kids for hours in long queues under the hot sun, men who have executive jobs to get back to, women who have more important things to do, people who have done Disney before and just want to re-live their favourite rides… Or people who want to see 3 Disney Parks in one day… like our group of travellers.
This tour can take a group of up to 10 people, so if you throw a couple of families into the mix, it might even be considered excellent value.
Once booked, your VIP tour guide takes care of everything. Just let them know your favourite rides, restaurants and parks and they will orchestrate the entire day to make sure everything fits in, in the most sensible amount of time.
What does that mean? Ultimate ease. You’ll spend less time waiting and more time soaking up Disney’s unique magic. The way Walt intended.
We were picked up and escorted right to the chosen Disney park, and then using employee-only backroads, to the front door of the actual ride. Often we would leave our van parked behind-the-scenes and walk through a non-descript door that opened up right where we wanted to be. Outside the Tower of Terror, beside California Soarin’ or next to the Animal Safari. No long walks through miles of park and no heat stroke. The van was perfect air-conditioned comfort!
Expedited entry to rides with FastPass+
No more waiting. We simply walked straight to the FastPass+ queue. And you get to go as many times as you like. Regular Disney visitors can obtain a maximum of 3 FastPass+ tickets per day, but not with your guide. It’s any ride, as often as you like.
Don’t confuse that with front-of-the-line, but a FastPass+ is just as good. Especially when it comes to meeting Disney characters. Those lines can be intense, but we managed to hug Chewbacca so quickly.
And because we got to go as many times as we like, we enjoyed rides like Mount Everest at Animal Kingdom four times. Screaming every single time.
Speaking as a tourist who has been to a Disney park and not taken a single ride because of the ridiculous wait times and hordes of kids, this VIP tour is worth every penny.
We didn’t need to race to any shows with our VIP tour guide, there was always a seat ready for us. We watched “The Jungle Book: Alive with Magic” nighttime show at Animal Kingdom in fabulous seats. And by the way that show was awesome, highly recommend. Stop by the Tree of Life afterwards – it’s incredible.
Inside Disney secrets
The guides have extensive training about all of the theme parks, as well as Disney's history. You'll be amazed at the information they are privy to. Our VIP guide was full of knowledge. Knowledge of working at Disney, knowledge of celebrities who visit, knowledge of rides and restaurants. She never seemed to run out of answers to our endless list of questions. If you ever wanted to know about the inner workings of Disney, this is a real plus.
Three parks in one day
Doing one park is hard enough, but on a VIP tour we had plenty of time to do three parks, plus enjoy a delicious, laid-back meal at one of Disney’s fine dining restaurants. More about that in a minute.
Getting between Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom can normally take up to 45 minutes by shuttle, let alone walking through the parks. This door-to-door service really means you can maximise your time in the park.
The newest and longest rides
One of my favourite benefits was that Emily knew exactly what was happening at Disney that was worth showing off. The brand new Frozen ride had been added to Epcot the day before we arrived. The California Soarin’ had just changed to “Soarin Around the World”. No research necessary. She had us heading to brand new attractions and, of course old favourites as well.
Booked Meal Times
Your Disney guide, of course, is also going to be able to book you a great meal. We ate at Nomad Lounge in Animal Kingdom. The food was impeccable and I loved the travel theme. The bar had hundreds of travel stories pinned to its walls. But the best part? We had so much time to sit and enjoy it, because we knew afterwards we could head to any ride and hop in the FastPass+ lane.
Feeling Like A VIP
Oh, and did I mention there is the ultimate rock-star feeling that goes with this tour? It’s pretty special. You might want to keep a big pair of dark sunglasses handy to hide from all the wistful stares or curious bystanders trying to work out who you are. Totally glam!
Ok, so it’s expensive. No doubt about it. But I know what goes into planning a trip to a Disney park and I know how much time is spent in queues. So yes, your wallet is going to feel a very fine pinch.
You also might feel you lose some of the pizzazz of Disney, walking through the front doors with the music and the fanfare. But the good news is, you can book that in with the guide and then skip the rest of the walking.
Lastly and probably the most important non-perk is knowing that after you’ve done a VIP tour… you are not sure how you will ever be able to do Disney again without it. How you will ever stand in queue, walk thousands of FitBit steps and spend an hour waiting for a show or parade to begin? After all, don’t they know who I am?
The real secret to this secret tour
What makes the Premium VIP Tour within reach of regular holidaymakers like you and me is this simple economic principal – when you add up the cost of premium accommodation and food for a 5-day stay in Orlando for Disney World (and schlep around like everyone else), it’s not cheap.
The VIP Tour will save you money because you can squeeze a 5-day vacation into just 1 (or 2) days. If you’re paying upwards of $400 per hotel room per night, and require 2 hotel rooms for a large family (or extended family), shaving 3+ days off will reduce your vacation expenses by $2400. Adding meals and your total saving will probably exceed $3000. So what seems like an extremely expensive and indulgent tour will, in fact, put you in front financially… plus (and this is a big plus) you’ll be much more relaxed and enjoy the whole experience as a family all the more. Bam!
So what do you think? Would you like to do Disney like the rich and famous? I would love to hear your opinion in the comments below.