I’ve been going to Walt Disney World since I was little, we moved to Florida in the early 80s and my parents bought annual passes for us to all the theme parks, Busch Gardens, Sea World, Cypress Gardens, WDW, Epcot, MGM, etc. I consider myself to be very lucky and privileged that my parents did enjoy spending time with us and taking us places. In all those years of going to the Magic Kingdom, or the other theme parks, we never took a guided tour. My husband, a native Floridian, has also never gone on any tours, despite going to the parks since he was little as well. I thought it would be nice to plan a tour during our stay at WDW for my husband’s birthday.
I studied the list of tours that were being offered at the WDW website. I finally settled on the Keys to the Kingdom Tour, it seemed to offer a perfect combination of sight-seeing and value, the tour would take about 5 hours – and included a lunch break with food provided by Columbia Harbor House, and costs about $74 per person, we paid slightly less due to our Annual Passholder discount, which gets us 15% off. We would have gone to Columbia Harbor House for lunch anyways and I’m sure it would have cost $25-30 for lunch, so it was better to put that towards the tour cost. The only downside for us is that it is a morning tour, and we aren’t morning people.
We headed out from Wilderness Lodge on the big day to the Magic Kingdom. I wish I knew then what I know now, if you need to get to the MK from WL – TAKE THE BUS, not the boat. You will thank me for that little gem one day. That would have saved us about 45 minutes of waiting on the dock in the morning sun. Once we got to City Hall, we checked in, they greeted us by name and gave us our name tags and had complimentary coffee and water set up for the tour guests – wow, they read our minds. We didn’t stop to get anything for fear of arriving late for the tour, so we were very happy to find that they had coffee for us, nothing feels more VIP that getting special treatment. Once the tour got started, we met our guide and were given ear pieces and little radios, where we can turn up the volume to listen to our guide. This was ingenious, it made the tour much better, I couldn’t imagine doing it without the earpiece.
The tour starts right there on Main Street USA, you will get a lot of history about the Magic Kingdom and Walt Disney; your tour guide will stop and point out the small details all around you, that you probably have never even noticed before. The tour works its way down to the center hub and then over to the Jungle Cruise. We got to see some back stage areas, we also got to ride on the Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion.
We stopped for lunch at the Columbia Harbor House, we had our own private dining area upstairs and our meals were already there waiting for us with our names on place cards at the table. Inside the place card was a special memento of our tour. We got 30 minutes for lunch and then continued our tour.
The last leg of the tour was where we got to see the Utilidors, it’s how Cast Members get around the Magic Kingdom unseen, the tunnels run beneath the park, and the Cast Members use it to transport merchandise and food around from point A to point B. It was really something to be able to see it first hand.
Overall it exceeded my expectations, it was great to be in a small group of people with our own guide. Our guide was very friendly and knowledgeable. Best of all, my husband really enjoyed it. It’s been a tradition of ours to visit the Magic Kingdom on his birthday each year, and the tour was something new and special for both of us. I look forward to going on the tour again, even though we’ve gone once, I wouldn’t hesitate to do it again.