You can be a Disney VIP, too

March 24th, 2011

**For a price.

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Last weekend I had the most exciting, magical Disney experience I could ever hope for.

While at the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration, one of my conference roommates won a night in Cinderella’s Castle and invited 5 of us to join her for an amazing  overnight VIP experience.

Sure, sleeping in Cinderella’s Castle right in the middle of Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom was incredible enough, but we also had VIP treatment and backstage tours hosted by enthusiastic, friendly and super-knowledgeable cast members.

Steve was our first guide and he was a walking, talking encyclopedia of all things Disney. Plus he was funny, polite and just a blast in general.

He told us more stories than I’ll ever remember and tons that I will never forget.

Like when we were standing in the secret first floor of Walt Disney World, looking at black and white photographs and he told us the story of how Walt Disney World became Walt Disney World instead of Disney World:

Basically Roy Disney, Walt’s brother, was expected to take the stage to dedicate the park. But he just wouldn’t get up, go in front of the cameras and do it. He said he just couldn’t do it without his brother. You see, Walt was the creative guy and Roy was the business man. Since Walt had passed, Roy was concerned that people would  associate the park with him alone, when it hadn’t just been him.

The clock was ticking. The show needed to go  on. The park needed to be dedicated on live TV, but Roy wouldn’t get up.

“I can’t do this without my brother,” He was overheard saying.

A castmember went to get Mickey Mouse.

Eventually Roy took Mickey’s hand and walked onstage and dedicated what was supposed to be Disney Word as Walt Disney World so that his brother would be ‘in’ the park and Roy wouldn’t get sole credit.

I had no idea. And that is one story I will never forget.

Steve also shared the story behind every single ride we rode, explaining that Disney was first movie makers, not theme park makers, so every ride was, and still is, created like a movie with a storyline and sub plots.

Just listening to him share the stories and point out the details on the rides was amazing in itself. The next time I ride each of those rides, I am going to be looking for more evidence of the stories he told. I’m also going to be searching for the hidden Mickeys he pointed out and hunting for more.  And I’m going to score big on the Buzz Lightyear ride, because he pointed out a few high-point targets there, too. (I plan to share those with you in a later post so you can wow your kids.)

Exploring with park with Steve also got us near the front of every ride line… we started calling him the “Human Fastpass.”

When I learned that I could return to the park with my family and pay for such an experience, I couldn’t help but to ask more. Before this, I thought the concept of hiring a guide for Walt Disney World was a bit silly, but now, I am sold on the idea.

When asked, Steve explained that hiring a guide from Guest Services costs between $175- $215 an hour for one park or $290- $315 an hour for all four parks with a continuous six hour minimum. The ranges are because of different seasons. A maximum of 10 people can tour with one guide. You can book your guided experience up to three months in advance and the tours do sell out, so if you are thinking of booking, do not delay.

With a guided tour, your guide will use his or her knowledge of the park to know what rides to ride when and will collect your Fast Passes for you to minimize waiting. They also know the prime spots to sit during shows and will answer any question you may have about anything Disney. Plus, just like Steve, each Guest Relations guide has a stockpile of Disney information they would love to share with you. And the stories are interesting and beautiful, I promise!

Plus, with any VIP package you get prime seating for the fireworks and parades and that, my friend, is a true value!

To be honest, I am not a bargain hunter. I don’t like to throw money away, either, though. And when I first heard that a friend of mine hired a guide to take her and her kids through the park a few years ago, I thought she might have gone a bit over the top. But after having a taste of the experience first with Steve Friday night and then with Michael Saturday morning, I would say it is definitely worth it if you can swing it. You will minimize wait time, experience the best of Disney, and get the stories behind the stories. Hiring a guide is most definitely worth consideration.

Disclaimer: As a guest of the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration I was given discounted Walt Disney World hotel rates and tickets to experience the park as well given other tangible gifts. The VIP tour and overnight Cinderella Castle stay was also a gift awarded randomly. My opinions and reviews are my own.
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