This day began with something I have been looking forward to for a few months. It began as a Keys To The Kingdom tour, which got cancelled at the end of September because of the taping for the Disney Christmas Special. And, I was really bummed! But, I called a few days later and discovered that the Backstage Magic tour still had room within my scope of vacation. So, I booked it!
We all met up just outside EPCOT near the Guest Relations area to the right of the entrance gates. Our guides were pleasant and engaging right from the start. Once all of the administrative things were completed, we were off to a VIP Motorcoach that would be our chariot for the day.
Our first stop? The American Adventure! I am kind of bummed because I didn’t actually see the show this trip and it is one of my absolute favorites! But, this was a different view of the pavilion. We got to see the backstage workings of the show. And, without giving too much away, it was awesome to see how the mechanics make this show what it is! The projection system is an old 70mm, but they stick with it because it still provides the best quality for the presentation. And, did you know that the front of The American Adventure is five, that’s right five, stories high? Disney forced perspective at it’s finest.
Our next stop was Disney’s Hollywood Studios where we got to see, first hand, the costuming department. This area is responsible for the entire on stage cast members costumes. From the Princesses to stage performers, this department clothes them all! And, I got to see a little preview of some of the costumes being put together for the new Magic Kingdom parade coming in Spring 2014. Let me just say…BEAUTIFUL!!!
Then, it was on to the Hollywood Tower of Terror! We saw one of the ride vehicles up close and learned how well these pieces are maintained. Disney’s first priority is what they call Safe-D, and it shows in the facilities used to work on these cars. And, it is at the base of the Tower, so it’s all right there!
At Disney’s Animal Kingdom, we visited the parade float housing area. It was explained to us how all of the detail is mapped out to be just right on each float. These vehicles are propelled in different ways. Sure, some use powered vehicles, but many make us of human power to get them down the parade route. In addition, I got to see the progress, from behind, on the new home for The Festival of the Lion King. It looks to be coming along quite well, and it is BIG!! The exterior steel framing looks to be complete and they are working to skin the outside. I wasn’t able to get a target date, but the latest rumor is that the transition may be more seamless that last predicted.
The Horticultural area is located adjacent to Animal Kingdom and is the home of all of the topiary designs, trees, and flowers that are used throughout the Walt Disney World Vacation Kingdom. I did see a preview of some of the Flower and Garden topiaries. There appear to be a few new ones that will be amazing! Most of the smaller flowers and plants are bought from local vendors. This is done to help maintain a few costs, and it helps the local economy as well.
Lunch was at the Whispering Canyon Café at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. Normally a buffet, the tour has servers for you and they bring plates to your table to share family style with pulled pork, bbq ribs, bbq chicken, Italian sausages, and mashed potatoes. This is all followed up by, what I think was, a strawberry/cherry pie served in a deep dish skillet and served with vanilla ice cream. It was delicious! I must try to find a recipe for that one!
From our lunch break, we traveled to the Central Shops. This is where all of the actual creating, repairing, and refurbishing of all of the US parks attractions gets attention. I got to see some of the new cars for The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train in various stages of finish. And, if what I saw is an indicator, it may not be too long now! This facility is huge, roughly the size of six football fields. It houses everything from the metal shop to the paint and sign shops and everything in between. In fact, they even paint the Disney Transport buses in this location.
It was finally time to head over to The Magic Kingdom. We walked around Main Street U.S.A. a bit, and then got to see the legendary Utilidors. It really is a small city under there! The Utilidors are actually the first floor of the Magic Kingdom, so it was fun to see how Cast Members get to there stages. All of the merchandising, food services, and dry good stores are housed in this area, as well. One thing I learned, that pleased my heart, is that any food that has not been cooked on a given day, is distributed to the Second Harvest Food Bank, where is it given to those in need through six outlets around the Orlando area. Just another example of how Disney gives back!
We looked a few specific windows around the Main Street area, and then we went to our VIP viewing area for the 3:00 parade. It was right in front of the firehouse, and what a view! I got it all on video, and may post on YouTube once I get to look at it. It may be old to some, but it’s the first time I have seen this one. And, as stated earlier, a new one starts in the spring.
So, there you have it…The Backstage Tour gives you a glimpse of how the magic is created. And, for me, it doesn’t spoil what I see On Stage, it only enhances my appreciation for what I am seeing when in one of the parks.
Unfortunately, there are no pictures to post, because the use of cameras is not allowed in the backstage areas of the parks.
I joined my family for our last evening in The Magic Kingdom…but that will have to wait another day! For now, have a blessed and magical day!!