Magic Kingdom - Keys To The Kingdom Tour
We did this tour this morning. It gives you an in-depth view of how Disney do things and takes you behind the scenes at the Magic Kingdom, including entry to the utiladors - the underground tunnels beneath the Magic Kingdom. It was totally fascinating and I would certainly recommend it to any seasoned MK visitor (over 16's only).
We met our guide and the rest of the tour party (22 people) in the "tour garden" to the left of City Hall on Main Street USA. We were given a name badge and a yellow "Guest" pass which we had to wear at all times. We were given a brief introduction to the tour and had to introduce ourselves to the rest of the party in the way all Disney new recruits do: name, where are you from, what is your favourite Disney character.
My name badge for the tour
We then had a detailed look at Main Street USA including lots of hidden gems such as the names of the park designers and the companies Disney used to buy the land being used on the upper windows of the shops. We were also told about lots of interesting details such as forced perspective (makes Main Street look long when entering the park and short when exiting the park) and the fact that Main Street actually slopes up towards Cinderella's Castle.
We then jumped the line (queue) at Jungle Cruise to be taken on a special tour where our guide told us all about how the cruise was done, it's history and it also served as an introduction as to how Disney keep each ride / show looking in pristine condition.
Next we went to look at Pirates of the Caribbean and how the animatronics brought rides to life. The line (queue) was too long (no line jumping allowed this time) so we made our way slowly round through Frontierland stopping to be told about the legend of the McDonald fries cart and how it slid down Splash Mountain, through the fence and is now where it is.
Next stop, the Haunted Mansion. We were told the story behind the house with Master Gracey and Madame Leota. We then proceeded through the exit and onto the ride via the disabled guest entrance (which is in the normal exit to the ride). The disabled entrance is actually a door marked "Servants Quarters" and is a long corridor with bells on the wall for all the main people in the house.
Inside the ride we were told to look out for quite a few "features", including the hidden mickeyâ€™s on the ride and something new for me - hidden donald's.
Then it was on to lunch at the Columbia Harbour Tavern. We had a roped off area reserved upstairs for us and our food was ready and waiting on the tables (we'd chosen what we wanted before the tour started).
Keys To The Kingdom Pin
After lunch we went to try Pirates again but the line was even longer so we ended up taking in the Tiki Rooms as they also use the animatronics that Pirates does.
From there we proceeded to Main Street USA and out through the back of one of the shops into the backstage area. We were shown how the behind the scenes jobs that keep the park running are done, including trash collection and we saw some imagineers repairing an elephant from the Jungle Cruise ride. We also saw some of the characters in various states of dress on their way to entertain their guests.
Next we were taken upstairs behind the shops on Main Street to see some historic pictures of the park, including some of the building of the park and some old maps with rides that are now just a distant memory. We were shown how the characters are dressed and how Disney ensure that things like the make-up on the princess characters is uniform and always looks true to the original.
Then it was down into the utiladors (a cross between the word utility and corridor). We were shown various areas including rest areas and the guide explained how the utiladors helped the park function to perfection. We were also shown a huge map of the tunnels which showed the extent of their reach.
Next it was up to the ground level, backstage on the other side of Main Street for a question and answer session. We were shown the other end of the rip cord that Tinkerbell slides down during Wishes.
Then off back to the tour garden for the end of the tour.
We paid $58 each for the tour and pre-booked on 407-WDW-TOUR a few days before. They seem to have 3 tour's a morning leaving at 8:30, 9:00 and 9:30.
It all took about 5 hours from start to finish and was worth every penny.