Keys to the Kingdom, The Magic Kingdom!
Have you ever been intrigued with the behind the scenes of Disney? Then you should take the Keys to the Kingdom tour at Magic Kingdom. This tour is one of many backstage tours that Disney offers to satisfy your inner Disney geek, and answer all questions you may have! You get a peek into the elusive backstage areas and into the elusive utilidors beneath the park. The tour costs $99 per person and does require valid park admission on top of that. Each tour group has about 10-15 people and tour times start from 8am, every half an hour and the latest time is 10am - the tour lasts about 5 hours. There is rarely any stopping on the tour, so nearly the entire tour is on foot so wear comfy shoes!
NO PHONES are allowed, and NO PHOTOS. Therefore photos included in this post are not from the Keys to the Kingdom tour!
Before the tour starts you are offered a choice of food for lunch, which is included in the $99, and a bottle of water. The location for lunch can change, so I've heard, this tour we ate at Tomorrowland Terrace.
Firstly the tour starts with walking down Main Street. Walking down Main Street we learnt about the History of Walt Disney, and took a small turn to the right onto Center Street. While we were standing down this small street we learnt about the history of the buying of the land Disney owns, and the construction of the park. Here was the best time to ask about all your history questions. OOOOO and you also learn about what the names mean on the windows along Main Street! Most of them are alias that Walt and Roy used to purchase the land.
After we finished with some history we moved down Main Street to the Hub, while here our guide (Jordan who is THE best!) told us about the design of the hub, and how it's literally a hub as a point to meet but also like spokes of a wheel for all the lands to connect to it. The lands are visually set up so that each entice you in, but once behind the archways / gates of the land you then feel immersed into it. But walking towards the land you see small subtle changes like plants changing to fit the theme of the land. He also gave us every bit of info we wanted on the castle and the Partners statue in the middle of the hub!
So without giving away too much, we then ventured through nearly all the lands and hit key points in each land, which were pivotal to the success of the park and also very key to Walt. Oh and also the steam train is the quickest way round the park - which we got to ride, and I never knew this before! SO now it's my new tip.
One of the coolest parts was going Backstage, over by Splash Mountain. Our guide explained that there's a line of sight, so the characters and cast know when to be ON stage and off stage, and when they're across the line they are ON, which means they can be seen by guests. (Oh and they're not called staff at Disney, they're called Cast Members!) So behind the scenes over here we got to look at the floats and have a detailed explanation about how they're made, and some had even come all the way from Hong Kong!
Two of the main talking points were Liberty Square, and The Haunted Mansion, both of these were after lunch, as well as the Utilidor Tunnels.
Majority of people take the tour for the famed Utilidor Tunnels! Of course this is what most people look forward too. Whilst down there we got to see cast members in the gym, half in costume, the costume room, and all sorts. It's very busy down there! There's a lot of golf cart activity of them whizzing everywhere, this is where the medical team zip about and can get to any part of the park with a response time of 4 minutes. Oh, one cool thing that I didn't know, is that there a cast member pin exchange area, so they can replenish pins and trade with guests around the park! Once we finished under here we headed back out of the tunnels and the tour was over! Jordan knew literally everything there was to know about Disney, it has been his life and dream to work for the company and he's full filled his dream!