I’ve been to Walt Disney World more times than I can count, or even remember. Part of the territory of being Disney born and raised is that after a while, there isn’t much you haven’t seen or done (and I’m completely okay with that, it makes for much more relaxing trips). That being said, Academy Travel recently hosted me and a group of other Disney Moms, to a Private VIP Tour of Disney World a few weeks ago, and it was a game-changer! Aside from never having done the tour before, I got to see Disney World in a way I never had.
There are numerous tours available for guests at Walt Disney World, in all honesty, there’s a tour for everyone. Before I get into my personal opinion of the tour, I want to provide you with all the details and options that the VIP Tour provides for its guests. If you ever wanted to feel like a Disney VIP and receive the celebrity treatment, this tour is for you.
Depending on the season, the VIP tour starts at $425/hour and the tour is (at minimum) 7 hours. The tour accommodates up to 10 guests, small children and infants count towards the 10 guests allowed for each tour. Everyone who requires a park ticket on your Disney vacation is also required to have a ticket for the tour. Assuming you’ll be park hopping during your tour, your ticket will also need to have the Park Hopper option linked to it. I know, the sticker shock has hit you and you’re contemplating closing this article and moving on. I can assure you, this tour is within reach and I’ll provide some scenarios later in this article on how to make a VIP Tour happen for you.
A VIP Tour Guide will travel with you for the entire tour. Affectionately referred to the “people in plaid,” your guide will make sure your dream day at Walt Disney World is everything you hoped it would be.
How To Book
I highly recommend using a Disney Travel Agency when booking anything in regards to your Disney vacation, but most especially- the VIP Tour. Admittingly, planning certain parts of our family’s Disney vacations comes naturally to me. However, when it comes to something I’ve never experienced before or I know will require extra planning and attention, I reach out to Academy Travel.
Not only do the agents at Academy know Walt Disney World like the back of their hand, but they’ll also take the time to get to know you. The more they know about you, the better they can work with Disney and customize your VIP tour for you (or your entire vacation, for that matter). The VIP Tour and any other tour at Disney can be expansive, that’s why I choose to leave it in the hands of professionals who will help me maximize my family’s time and making sure we don’t miss a thing (especially those things that are extremely important to us).
You can also go onto Disney’s website and book the tour by calling guest services. Tours will need to be booked 180 days before your vacation and are limited.
What Will My Day On The VIP Tour Look Like?
Try to imagine the most magical day and unforgettable day at Walt Disney World and that’s exactly what your day will look like on your VIP Tour.
There are some tours with pre-planned itineraries, this isn’t one of them. You are in complete control of your day and as long as it follows the rules and guidelines- no request is too extreme (see what I did there?). Your tour guide will try their very best to make sure everything happens for you, just like magic.
No FastPass? No problem! You’ll have minimal to no lines during your tour. If the attraction you wish to ride has a FastPass +, you’ll go directly to the FastPass+ line. Want to ride Slinky Dog Dash, and not just once but several times in a row? You got it, after all, you’re in charge of your day!
You can begin your tour at any time of the day. Ours began at 9:00 AM, as we were picked up by our tour guide at the Yacht Club. You can choose to be picked up at a specific location, or meet the guide at a specific attraction in the park.
The part where you start to feel like a celebrity is when you pull up to all the behind the scenes locations where you’ll be dropped off and enter the parks via the Cast Member entrances. Being behind the scenes of Disney always fascinated me and this tour delivered when it came to seeing the other side of things. I took in the details of what it looks like to see a ride behind the scenes, the operations of attractions and parts of the park, right down to the control panels that were fixtures on the walls of the hallways and corridors we walked through. Our entrance at Hollywood Studios was right behind the Tower of Terror. I couldn’t believe how we just pulled right up to the back of this iconic ride and walked right in!
Part of going through the Cast Member entrances and backstage area means you will avoid any and all traffic you’re accustomed to when it comes to visiting the parks. Although your Magic Band won’t be scanned at the main entrance, your tour guide will scan your band upon exiting each park. You’re also still subject to bag checks, only they will be performed by your guide.
How Can I Make The VIP Tour A Reality?
After listing everything that’s included in the tour, I’m sure you’ve added it to your Disney bucket list and have already started brainstorming on ways to make it a reality. I strongly recommend sitting down before you plan your vacation and set a budget for the entire trip. This is also where working with an Academy Travel Agent would be beneficial. An agent would deliver a non-biased opinion and advise you on how to get the most out of your budget. Travel agent or not, you still need a budget. I’ve talked to many people who wanted the VIP Tour and would go back to their initial budget to see what they could change or omit, in order to make the tour happen. Think of it as your financial compass.
Here are some ideas and suggestions on how you can make the VIP Tour a reality on your Disney vacation:
Shorten your length of stay. Having a VIP Tour Guide to yourself all day is extremely valuable. You’re able to get several things done in one day, that normally you wouldn’t be able to accomplish during your entire vacation. That being said, you won’t need to stay in Disney as long. If you’re planning on spending 7 days in the happiest place, you could always shorten it by a day or two. The money you’d save would go towards booking the tour. Again, and I say this with confidence and from experience, you’ll be able to accomplish at least 2 days worth of visiting the parks within the 7 hours of your tour.
You could also stay at a different resort on property, which would allow for you to put the money you would’ve used on a resort, towards the tour. Every resort on Disney property is beautiful, but my first choice is to always stay at the ones in the Magic Kingdom area. However, if I wanted to fit the tour into my budget, I would gladly switch to a moderate or value resort to adjust our budget. The same goes for checking when Walt Disney World is offering discounts or special savings on vacation packages. Currently, they’re offering free dining on select travel dates in the Fall. If you were to go during the dates for free dining, the money you’d normally spend on the dining plan could be used towards a tour.
Splitting the cost with other families or couples is an option, as well. During the tour, I kept thinking about how this is something our family could easily do with another family and split the cost. We’ve vacationed several times with my sister and brother in law’s family, and the tour is something we would all love to do together. You could also split it between 5 couples. The beauty is, you get to choose the people you invite and even just splitting it between one other family is a huge way to save money on the tour.
Peak/Off-Peak Times: As I said earlier, the price of the tour per hour varies depending on which time of year you’re going to Disney. The busier or peak time you’re going, the more expensive it gets. This also applies to your resort cost and ticket prices. If your schedule allows for it, try planning your vacation and tour during a less crowded time of year. It will cost you less and the money you initially budgeted towards your vacation, could go towards a VIP Tour.
Lastly, I suggest omitting the “Extras” you’re thinking of adding into your vacation and go directly to booking a VIP tour. Rather than spend additional money on dessert parties or after-hours parties, I highly recommend doing a VIP Tour. I’ve yet to experience an add on that compares to the tour. Also included in your tower is private viewing parties for parades, shows, and fireworks. If you’re feeling remorseful about not doing a fireworks dessert party, know that if you start your tour later so that it coordinates with a fireworks show, you’ll have your own area to view the fireworks. Just like you would a dessert party.
Tips & Tricks To Make The Most Of Your VIP Tour
1. Time is money. If you truly want to maximize your time, meet your tour guide in the park. You can take it a step further, and meet them at the specific attraction you want to start with. Your tour time begins the moment you’re picked up at your resort. Depending on where you’re staying, it could be a 15-20 minute drive before you’re in the parks. Get that time back by meeting your guide at your first destination.
2.Plan for all four parks, but assume that’s the best-case scenario. The larger the group, the slower the speed of your tour. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, just that 10 people move slower than a family of 4 taking a tour. For our tour, Epcot was the one park we were okay with leaving out if we had to skip a park. Depending on how much you want to do in each park and how long you’re there for, it’s ok to not get to all 4.
3. Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize! Whether you plan it out or not, you will need to decide what is your absolute must do, and work your way down from there. For myself, I had never been to Pandora or gone on Flight of Passage. Obviously, that was the number one item on my list of things I wanted to accomplish on the tour. Once I had a game plan of the most important experiences for me and my party, we planned our day from there.
4.The tour clock doesn’t punch in and out for lunch. You’re still on the clock whether you’re stopping for a dole whip or sitting down to a fine dining experience. I suggest eating a big breakfast, a breakfast much bigger than you normally would before hitting the parks. Starting the tour with a belly full of Mickey waffles is the best way to start the tour. I suggest eating a meal during the tour (you’ll some nourishment, but also some A/C), but making it a quick service meal. On top of that, I suggest mobile ordering your meal so that it’s ready by the time you arrive to pick it up. Water and snacks are provided during the tour, but you can also bring some of your own. I suggest doing so and will make a point to when I’m on the tour again.
5.Consult as much as possible with your tour guide. During our tour, we wanted to see the Festival of Fantasy Parade in the Magic Kingdom. The parade is daily at 3:00 PM. Initially we had planned on doing the Magic Kingdom first, but after discussing it with our tour guide at the beginning of the tour, he suggested ending at Magic Kingdom and the parade being our last stop. It made sense and worked out great. Never shy away from conversation with your guide. They can better assist you in planning your day, but they are also some of the most knowledgeable Cast Members you will ever come across! They can fill you in on the history of the parks, where all the hidden Mickey’s are and so much more!
My Disney Mom Opinion
For what it’s worth when it comes to planning Disney vacations, my husband and I are always on the budget-friendly side of things. Especially being Florida residents and Annual Passholders, we’re there too often to treat ourselves every single time. It’s not often we go all out, but when we do, we want it to be on something spectacular and that we’ll remember forever. The VIP Tour is one of those unforgettable and once in a lifetime moments on a Disney vacation where you won’t regret splurging on it.
I was shocked at how little or how much input you could have on your dream day. If you’re like me, you planned it down to the very second. If you’re not a planner or don’t want to plan everything, know that you’re in good hands. The VIP Tour Guides are extremely knowledgeable and are more than happy to assist you in maximizing your time on the tour.
A VIP Tour allows you to experience Disney with no worries or frustration. I didn’t have to plan out FastPasses because I knew we would hit every ride we wanted to during the tour. You don’t realize how much time you have to do other things in life when you aren’t on the My Disney Experience App stressing over which passes you did and didn’t get. If you’re a mother to small children, like myself, FastPasses stress me out more than anything else when it comes to planning. I don’t know where I’m going to be tomorrow with my kids, let alone months from now and having to commit to certain times and days for rides (that I’m not even sure they’ll end up going on). The crowds are also limited on your tour, as you’re behind the scenes as much as you can be and you have your own private transportation.
Whether you’re Disney obsessed like I am, or it’s your first time visiting the Happiest Place on Earth, a VIP Tour is a Disney must-do! Disney wouldn’t be Disney if it didn’t make dreams come true and trust me when I say, all your Disney dreams come true on the tour! This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, seize your moment and book a VIP Tour of Walt Disney World.
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