Keys to the Kingdom Tour at Magic Kingdom
All I can say is WOW!! I hesitated to take this tour for many years because I thought it would take the magic away, I was sooooo wrong! I think it really created more magic.
This report may seem a bit general at times, but I don’t want to ruin the tour for anyone who is lucky enough to take this great tour!!
I signed up for the 10 AM tour, the park opened at 9 AM but I was looking only to do the tour for my last day at Disney, so it worked out well. The check-in was at the City Hall by 945 AM. Upon arriving at 940 AM we were issued our personalized name badges and hearing packs (see photos). Our lunch was from a choice of 8 items at Pecos Bill (I decided on the Jerked Chicken Lettuce Wraps and water). You could take ‘one or couple’ of bottles of water with us onto the tour. There were 20 people in our group.
Our guide Michael arrived promptly at 10 AM and moved us out onto the porch area where he introduced himself and gave us a history about who he was, where he was from (Buffalo NY) and his Disney history. He then showed us how to work our ear pieces and intercom. These were great as we walked through the park or even behind the scenes to hear him. Michael was great about asking for questions and repeating it so we could all hear before he answered.
We moved out to town square where we learned about the Roy and Minnie Mouse statue as well as the history behind the upper windows on Main Street. Michael is obviously, and rightly so, a huge Roy Disney fan. For those that may not know, Walt was the idea man and Roy made it possible for so many of Walt’s dreams to come to life.
When the group continued down Main Street we were treated to more hidden secrets and cubbies. As I have said, there are quiet places to relax at Disney and Michael showed us many of them.
Then it was onto the front of the castle and how everything was about the “show”. Michael showed and explained to us how the original four Disney keys are still very much a part of Disney culture. You are probably wondering what the Disney Keys are. They are guidelines that the company started with and still use today to create a magical time for every person that visits a Disney Park or Resort. The keys are:
These keys all work together, and you learn and see as you go through the park.
You may notice that customer service is not specifically listed but you learn how all four keys work together to create that special level of customer service that we know and love. You learn what each term means to what we see and do at Disney.
It was also interesting to learn that for the term show, there are three different levels. The majority of what we see is “on stage”, that is everything in the park that is visible to us. Then there is a transition area which you may sometime see (like a door opens and you see where a cast member is going, you are in the back end of a ride or taking a special route due to a disability), where the theming is still apparent. The third and final is “off stage”, this is only where cast members (or special tour groups) go. The divisions are clearly marked for the cast members as we walked through but most people only ever see “on stage”.
The group toured through Adventureland making a stop at Jungle Cruise and going for a ride. I learned more history than I ever knew existed (note see the “hidden Mickey” of Gooseberry Jam just before you get on the ride). Not all hidden Mickey’s are the Mickey Mouse Heads we have come to know and love.
Next the tour took us behind the Splash Mountain ride where we saw floats and so much more! We learned how the water is treated with bromine and not chlorine (so it doesn’t hurt a person’s skin). The water at Jungle Cruise and other rides is dyed to have that green color we know, it is NOT dirty water. It is amazing to see the water treatment area that runs the water for the rides.
We got a peek at the Electric Water Pageant Parade Floats (this was the first night time parade at Disney). It was supposed to have been just for the opening, but it was liked so much that it has stayed all this time. You can see this water parade as it goes through the Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake every night. Check the times it passes The Polynesian Resort, The Contemporary Resort, Magic Kingdom, Grand Floridian Resort, and the Wilderness Lodge Resort and Campgrounds. It is a 15-minute parade.
Now it was time for lunch at Pecos Bill. The great thing was the reserved area for us to eat at. When we arrived, our food was on a table with our own Keys to the Kingdom Pin. I enjoyed my meal and was ready to press on.
Moving right along, we then toured through Adventureland and over the “Little Mississippi River” to Liberty Square while learning all about that waterway as we went. We made our way over to ride The Haunted Mansion and were given a great history lesson about that ride and everyone involved. This information was given to us prior to going on the ride so we could look and listen for all the things we had learned. Hint: next time you are there, check out the Haunted mansion Building for the chess pieces-you will notice one is missing………
Lastly were off to Fantasyland where we made our way “off stage” again into the Utilidors. This was amazing to see even in its plain decor. It is so alive down there and I think you get a small taste of what it is like to be a cast member and see that they are real people.
I have to say I saw a wall full of AMAZING cast member Disney pins produced through the years that I would have loved to have had more time to look at. We saw pictures of Cinderella’s Castle through the years – the 25th Anniversary Cake Castle of 1996, the one day of Stitch papering the castle, the Disneyland 50th Anniversary celebration with gold added to the castle and starting in 2007 the icicle lit castle which continues today for the Holiday Season.
We saw pictures of Cinderella’s Suite and learned you can’t pay to stay there. You can only win a night there with the various contests and giveaways that the marketing department does. Sorry.
We came back up in the Utilidors behind the Ice Cream Shop and walked back to the front of the park. Michael asked if we had any other questions and when they were over, he took back the headsets and sent us on our way to enjoy the park. Or to look for more hidden Mickey’s or other Disney secrets.
Everyone saw so much, and I learned so many things about Disney. I totally enjoyed the tour, learning even more than what I already knew about Disney. I recommend taking the 5-hour tour and really getting to know not only Magic Kingdom but Disney itself. You will not be disappointed. The tour currently runs $99 plus you must have a park ticket for the day as well. You can call 407-939-8687 as early as 180 days out, the fee is charged when you make the reservations.
I am now deciding which tour I need to try next at Disney (so many choices and so little time). Each park has a variety of choices and price options. It is worth your time to try them. Until next month, have an amazing day!!